Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Climate Camp comes to RBS

Well, I see that Climate Camp has just taken a site in Edinburgh, in the grounds of the Royal Bank of Scotland. I can't be there this year, which is unfortunate, as I love Edinburgh and it is very much my home. Still, I wish them all the best. The bank is a good target, highlighting the links between City finance, climate change, environmental destruction and the bail out..

I have used this blog to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of Climate Camp as a protest movement before, but when it comes down to it, I think it is doing and important job. As the CC video says - 'every movement needs a frontline.'

I do sense however that they may struggle to get the same level of attention this year, partly because the level of hype and hysteria in 2008 and 2009 will be hard to match (Kingsnorth, Bishopsgate, police brutality, death of Ian Tomlinson etc)., partly because being outside London probably restricts the number of media who will get of their backsides to cover it... and partly because the recession and coalition government have changed the political context slightly... still here's hoping for a new round of public activism.

Good luck everyone - stay safe, and look after Edinburgh..

Monday, 16 August 2010

Is UK coalition a green disaster?

Okay, after a long pause the blog is back, and I’m going to start off with a rant.

Is the Con-Lib coalition the UK’s most environmentally unfriendly government, since, well, whenever we had our last terrible one?

Based on the proposals they have floated so far – removing pollution limits on coal power stations (despite this being an explicit manifesto promise), pushing through deepwater drilling, pointless badger culling, reducing support for renewables, slashing investment in research, privatising nature reserves, selling off the forestry commission, increasing incentives for oil companies etc. – it’s pretty bad. In fact let me rephrase that. It’s fucking awful.

Don’t get me wrong, the last government wasn’t great, but the current coalition seems to be systematically scratching away all the tiny improvements that were made over the last few years. Not that Tony Blair ever cared, but Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband did finally seem to be getting it, although sadly by 2007 they were almost out of political capital.

There are only two good things in this situation. One is that a lot of these plans may never get implemented. They may even be scare tactics designed to make whatever they do come up with look better. The second is that they may not be round for long.

No doubt someone will pipe up and ask what the strategy for clearing the deficit should be. Well, the departing government had already put in plans for up to 20% cuts in public spending, and this had calmed The Market. The extra 5% planned by the coalition seems purely ideological. Also, I would remove the ludicrous ring-fence on the NHS funding, since this is the largest department. That would take a lot of the pressure of smaller areas like the environment, research, energy and universities.

More to the point, we have no choice. We have to invest in the environment… the only other option is to close our eyes and hope it all goes away – at that strategy hasn’t done too well so far.