How is the UK doing on its Pledge for Nature?

On 28 September 2020, along with 76 other national leaders, Boris Johnson signed a 10 point ‘Pledge for Nature’ ahead of the UN Summit on Biodiversity ‘to send a united signal to step up global ambition for biodiversity and to commit to matching our collective ambition for nature, climate and people with the scale of the crisis at hand.’

Now Martin Harper of the RSPB has published an assessment of  how the government is doing so far with regard to these ten points.  You can read his excellent blog here.

The Stop Ecocide Foundation

We were sent this from Jenny Langley, our recent speaker on Extinction Rebellion:

The Stop Ecocide Foundation would be really good for your group to know about.
They are trying to make ecocide an international crime through the UN – on a similar basis to genocide.  They are making progress. Greta gave them £100,000 of the £1M prize she was awarded recently. 
You can sign up to be an Earth Protector (5 euros), make a donation or just spread the word. If for no other reason, do it in memory of Polly Higgins, an amazing barrister who left her career to make this happen and she died young from cancer in April 2019.
This is a worthy cause for us to support.  As Polly Higgins said
“The rules of our world are laws, and they can be changed. Laws can restrict or they can enable. What matters is what they serve. Many of the laws in our world serve property – they are based on ownership. But imagine a law that has a higher moral authority… a law that puts people and planet first. Imagine a law that starts from first do no harm, that stops this dangerous game and takes us to a place of safety….”
Polly Higgins, 2015

Extinction Rebellion Conversation Evening 26 October 2020 – Report

from Linda Whitebread

Cambridge XR members Jenny and Derek Langley talked to us about Extinction Rebellion and answered questions.  They stressed the need to act now on the threats to life on earth; the usual democratic means (via Parliament, petitions, letters, demonstrations etc) are not working quickly enough.

Key XR principles:

  • Non violent
  • Respect for other people even if you disagree with them
  • Acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of your actions
  • Shared mission to create a world safe for everyone: respectful, compassionate, sustainable, equable, connected
  • No alcohol, no drugs
  • No shame, no blame
  • Decisions decentralised and ideally reached by consensus

(LW: this is a personal take on what was said: to see a full list of XR principles and values visit their website)

Afterwards Jenny sent us the following information and follow-up links:

Science/Info about Climate and Ecological Crisis

Science and biodiversity loss – there is loads online and I’d point you towards the XR ‘Heading for Extinction and what to do about it’ (Larch Maxey talk on YouTube).

Cambridge Climate lecture series   (Especially the second one 21st Feb 2019 Professor Schellnhuber  ‘2100: A Climate-Space Odyssey’ – a really good overview of the climate science)

WWF Living Planet Report 2020

Absolute Zero. A collaborative research programme led by Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at Cambridge, aims to cut the UK’s emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of future industrial strategy. Very good on practical aspects of what has to be done to achieve zero carbon by 2050.

Extinction Rebellion – useful websites

Cambridge XR   including divestment campaign

Sign-up for newsletters: (bottom of page)

Facebook page

Rebellion Academy: (online training and info for lots of roles in XR)

The only regular action that is happening in Cambridge at the moment is Silent Rebellion, a meditative action, online 9.30 and at Christ’s Pieces 11.30 every Saturday, organised by the Buddhist Affinity Group.  They are keen to spread Silent Rebellion – you could start one of your own!

Jenny Langley

 

 

Green Alliance Blueprint for a resilient economy

The reports are coming thick and fast now!  See the Green Alliance Blueprint for a resilient economy, published 29 June, here.

They say:

“We set out the five essential building blocks that would support new long term employment opportunities, thriving businesses and a healthier, fairer society, whilst protecting against the potentially devastating future impacts of climate change and nature’s decline:

1. Invest in net zero infrastructure
2. Restore nature
3. Stop wasting valuable resources
4. Ensure clean air and healthy places
5. Make the recovery fair

Committee on Climate Change: 2020 Report

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advises the government on emissions targets and reports to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  CCC is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

It has just (25 June) published its 2020 report entitled ‘Reducing UK Emissions’, which includes new advice to the UK Government on securing a green and resilient recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.  It recommends that Ministers seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change.   For the first time, the Committee sets out its recommendations government department by government department.

The report highlights five clear investment priorities in the months ahead:

  1. Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future
  2. Tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure
  3. Energy networks must be strengthened
  4. Infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely
  5. Moving towards a circular economy.

There are also opportunities to support the transition and the recovery by investing in the UK’s workforce, and in lower-carbon behaviours and innovation:

  1. Reskilling and retraining programmes
  2. Leading a move towards positive behaviours
  3. Targeted science and innovation funding

Unfortunately the report has gone large unnoticed because of all the attention focused on the latest information about Covid-19.  However, you can download the report here.

 

 

Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change – interim Covid-19 report

The UK Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change was created by MPs last  year.  It has just published an interim briefing on Covid-19, recovery and the path to net zero.

The briefing looks at Economic Recovery and Lifestyle Changes.

Key findings

●79% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that, “Steps taken by the government to help the economy recover should be designed to help achieve net zero.”​​

●93% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that, “As lockdown eases, government,employers and/or others should take steps to encourage lifestyles to change to be more compatible with reaching net zero.” ​

Note: Climate Assembly UK was commissioned by six cross-party Select Committees of the UK Parliament to explore how the UK should reach its legally-binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The assembly’s 108 participants are together ​representative of the UK population​ in terms of demographics and levels of concern about climate change.

The final report will be published in September.

 

Protecting food standards – petition

At a time when we are negotiating post-Brexit trade deals with the US and others, many people are worried that in future our food may not be produced to the same high environmental and welfare standards that we currently have in the UK.  The government has maintained that no compromises will be made but has also rejected parliamentary moves to enshrine this in law.

The NFU has organised a petition about this which you can sign here.

Greenpeace ‘Speaker Shorts’ Events in June

(Taken from the Greenpeace website)

Join our ‘Speaker Shorts’ talks in June

Throughout June Greenpeace is running an exciting new programme called Speaker Shorts. These are free 15 minute talks followed by an interactive Q&A on areas that Greenpeace is campaigning on. From protecting our forests and oceans, to plastics and the climate crisis, Speaker Shorts will give an introduction to the topic and simple things you can do to help!

Speaker Shorts talks will be delivered by members of our Greenpeace Speakers network – passionate and knowledgeable volunteers who know a lot about our work.

The talks will run as a Zoom webinar, which is a secure and private way for you and your family to participate in these fun and interactive talks. You’ll need to download Zoom for free in order to join.

Find out more about each talk and register at the links below:

Family friendly:

Young people and students:

Adults and general audiences: