March against Trump – and for the Planet

Photo: Greenpeace USA

There are many reasons for supporting the anti-Trump protests this week, writes Alan Thornett. It has become increasingly clear that Trump can do immeasurable damage not only to politics across the planet but to its life support systems.

During Blair’s premiership, when he was moving rapidly to the right, he was accused of doing this in order to win right-wing and middle England votes. His reply was: no, it is worse that than that, ‘I really believe in all this’.

It’s the same with Trump. The debate as to whether the reactionary, alt-right, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, and nationalist agenda on which he fought the election was just designed to drum up votes from the red-necks or whether it would be the basis of his presidency is also over. In fact the reality has been worse that his campaign presaged. He didn’t mention, for example, dragging the children of migrants from the arms of their parents and putting them in cages in his election campaign.

Trump frightening

Most frightening of all are his actions in term of the long term future of the planet itself—its future as a viable life support system. He has withdrawn the USA –the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gas – from the Paris agreement, which could prove to be the crucial tipping point which spins the whole climate system out of control. He has also ended all federal expenditure on both climate research and climate monitoring that will impact on the global preparation to defend the planet.

He has halted all federal funding for alternative energy and is vigorously promoting fossil energy including reopening coal mines and expanding all forms of fossil fuel production, including fracking and tar-sands.

In its 2019 budget plan, the Trump White House has cut the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) spending on environmental initiatives to roughly two hundred million dollars, a reduction of seventy per cent from typical Obama-era spending.

Such cuts include US funding to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which studies climate change to develop strategies to minimise its impact in a highly vulnerable region. It is prey not only to extreme weather events but to the effects of climate change; rising sea levels, coral-reef bleaching, droughts and their effects on agriculture, and the infrastructure on which the Caribbean’s forty-four million people depend.

The poorest countries in the world, including those in the Caribbean, emit about one-fifth of global carbon emissions, yet they are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. But when over 4000 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath Trump said that it was ‘not a real catastrophe‘.And in Africa, the Trump has moved to eliminate all funding for climate-related or environmental projects, including reforestation, across the continent, including Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Indonesia—one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world.

It is true that Obama’s ecological policies were weak and inadequate. But we are now at a new level of danger – both in terms of how close we are to tipping points and how bad Trump’s agenda is. If he is not stopped, we could end up looking back and saying that he was the final straw that pushed the planet over the ecological edge.

Resistance

It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda in the USA. His withdrawal from Paris is unpopular and even big business is reluctant to reinvest in fossil fuel which they recognise as historically outdated. It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda at the level of the individual states, in California for example.

But none of this can be relied on. Trumpism has to be broken. There is no guarantee that he would not win a second term and if he did it would be even more environmentally destructive than the first.

There will be many protests in different parts of Britain to greet Trump when he arrives. The Campaign against Climate Change is organising a climate bloc on the London demonstration on Friday, which RedGreenLabour supporters are urged to join.

 

Heathrow: step up the campaign against expansion now

Tory Transport Minister Chris Grayling announced to Parliament on June 5th, after endless prevarication, what he called the government’s ‘final proposal’ on airport expansion in the shape of what he called an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), writes Alan Thornett. Heathrow, he said, is already full and the other London airports won’t be far behind. The proposal, therefore, is for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow—to the north west of the existing runways.

The aim is to make Heathrow into a major European hub which would take the passenger capacity of Heathrow to around 120 million a year.

If this plan is allowed to go ahead it would further pollute what is already one of the most polluted parts of London, where air quality is already at illegal levels. Around 4,000 homes will be demolished and hundreds of thousands of people will be exposed to additional aircraft noise. This will suck economic activity even more into London and the South East away from the rest of Britain. It will further congest roads in West London that are already bursting at the seams. Continue reading “Heathrow: step up the campaign against expansion now”

Free public transport

Photo: Bernard Spragg

The Labour Party’s consultation document, A Greener Britain, seeks proposals about different aspects of environmental policy. In this series of articles, Redgreenlabour supporters offer their thoughts. Please comment on these contributions which the authors may well revise and submit to the consultation in due course. We also urge you to submit your own responses to the Party – whether as individuals or through your branches, CLPs, unions, SERA or other environmental groups. The deadline is 24th June.

Q: What action should be taken to address poor air quality?

Labour’s 2017 election manifesto pledged to introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with today’s plummeting air quality in particular in the big cities, writes Alan Thornett. Such an Act, however, needs to be radical if it is to be effective in getting large numbers of cars off the road.
Continue reading “Free public transport”

The extinction of species

Photo: Barta 1V

The mass extinction of species, currently taking place before our eyes, is arguably the most damaging aspect of the whole global environmental crisis, writes Alan Thornett.  The Earth is losing species 1000 times faster than the normal background rate, resulting in what is known as the ‘sixth extinction’ the greatest extinction of species since the demise of the dinosaurs.

Continue reading “The extinction of species”