The environment

Looking ahead to November: COP26

Published on: Wed, 18/03/2020 - 16:29

Cathy Nugent

Later in this year, assuming the UK has recovered enough from Covid-19, environmental activists will be active around 2020’s UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow (9-20 November).

Probably very little radical or adequate policy will be decided at that conference, even though the world faces a pandemic and continuing climate crisis.

A lot of trade unions had been organising for a demonstration to put pressure on the conference. Work on that may now be suspended. Nearer the time we need to get it restarted, and gett trade unions in Glasgow and Scotland are involved, including on the

Dark waters, darker corporate power

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 07:42

Janet Burstall

In the film Dark Waters, released in the UK on 28 February, Robert Bilottt (played by Mark Ruffalo) is a lawyer who takes us through an exposé of chemical giant Dupont’s cover up of its toxic product PFOA.

The film shows us the obstacles thrown up by the legal system and US government agencies to redress for residents of West Virginia who had been exposed to dangerous levels of PFOA. It has parallels with other heroic corporate whistle-blower movies from the USA, such as The Informant (2009) and The Insider (2009).

It’s an excellent exposé, explaining enough of the science and the victims’

What should be done about floods?

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 12:09

Misha Zubrowski

As I write on 25 February, yet more “severe flood warnings” are being issued — currently in Shrewsbury and Ironbridge — indicating “danger to life” with suggestions that floods could reach “highest ever” levels for that area.

This follows a fortnight of deluges sweeping much of the UK, with exceptional rainfall bought by Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara.

What is causing these floods? Climate change? Bad “land management”? Austerity? Or a mix?

These storms come only three months after similar — record breaking — floods in the Midlands and Yorkshire; and nine months after the Peak Districts and

More rail yes, HS2 maybe not

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:15

Simon Nelson

More railway lines? Yes. HS2 in particular? Not really.

There are higher priorities: electrification of the railways, many of which are still running diesel trains; increasing capacity on intercity services; improving existing connections; reinvestment in branch lines; newer trains.

A well-staffed and free or cheap integrated rail and bus network is the sort of large-scale infrastructure project that should come before HS2.

Some of the arguments used against HS2 are weak. But there is also good reason to question the arguments made for HS2 as a way to create good jobs, as a way to help the

Fighting climate crises - AWL conference document 2019

Published on: Tue, 21/01/2020 - 21:27

AWL conference 2019 (Jan 2020)

1. The engine driving climate change

§1.1 The first research demonstrating that carbon dioxide released through burning fossil fuels would drive global warming was published well over a century ago, the first government warnings in the 1960s, and the first IPCC report in 1990. Now, the scientific consensus about serious human-driven climatic heating - with far-reaching effects - is over 99%. It is the greatest danger facing both humanity and the success of the socialist project.

§1.2 Beyond global warming, there are several major independent environmental threats. Biodiversity loss and species

"Phase out almost all animal products” is wrong - debate

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 10:23

Paul Vernadsky

See here for the original article which Paul Vernadsky is responding to. See Misha Zubrowski's reply to the article below, here.

The article ‘A workers’ answer to climate change’ (Solidarity 522, 23 October contains a flawed formulation, which would disorientate socialist climate politics if it were accepted. The sentence reads:

“Crucially, phasing out almost all animal products (with the added benefit of reducing the needless extreme suffering of billions of sentient beings)”.

The demand to “phase out almost all animal products” is incoherent:
• “Almost all animal products”

Reforestation: A science-based argument

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 10:12

Misha Zubrowski

The article below is a response to one written by Paul Vernadsky, linked. See here for the original article which Paul Vernadsky is responding to.

The insights from Paul Vernadsky’s discussion piece point towards an expansion of what we say on transitioning away from animal-based food production, not a deletion.

The piece also, I think, makes some spurious assertions or arguments.

A general argument and detailed backup from scientific literature demonstrate — contrary to Paul’s unsubstantiated assertion to the contrary — that an aim of “phasing out of almost all animal products” is based on

Link-ups on 29 November climate strike

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 18:26

Misha Zubrowski

Climate strikes on 29 November saw large number of school students and older people turn out, all across the country.

In many places there were smaller turn-outs than previous strikes: partly because of the election; partly because — unlike the 20 September — there was no central emphasis on trade unionists and workers joining; and maybe partly because of a slight loss of steam. There were still fairly good and energetic turnouts, even if smaller, in most places that I got reports from.

It coincided with the UCU strikes. Some places seized the opportunity presented by that, others failed to.

More needed than carbon trading

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 18:21

Misha Zubrowski

The opening of COP25, this year’s major international climate conference, in Madrid (2-13 December), has been marked by strong words by UN secretary general António Guterres. However, action to live up to these words is unlikely to be forthcoming from the conference.

Guterres said “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon… It is in sight and hurtling toward us”. He noted that the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical means to limit global warming, but “what is lacking is political will”.

“Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on

Labour’s climate policy: the fine print

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 19:16

Misha Zubrowski

The environmental section of Labour’s manifesto is more ambitious than previous policy announcements, but less so than sections of the policy passed at this year’s Labour conference.

It has received much hype but less attention to detail. This article unpicks some of the finer points.

The rhetoric, at least to start, seems refreshingly left-wing, it suggesting a direct working-class approach. “Just 100 companies globally are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions”, they recognise. They thus commit to “work in partnership with the workforce and their trade unions in every sector of

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