Archive for April, 2015

​Green MEP comment on Supreme Court air pollution ruling

April 29, 2015

ChimneyThe Supreme Court has ordered the Government to come up with new plans to ensure the UK meets air pollution targets.

The judgement was handed down this morning in ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government for its failure to meet legal limits for air pollution.

The court case was launched after Government plans to tackle air pollution showed that they will not meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits until after 2030 – 20 years after the original deadline.

Air pollution campaigners had hoped that the Supreme Court would oblige the Government to come up with new plans as soon as possible so this is a victory for them.

Experts have recently suggested that the death toll from air pollution, usually put at around 29,000 a year in the UK, could be substantially higher because of the effect of NO2, emitted during fossil fuel burning, which up until now has not been taken into account.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, said:

“Today’s judgement is a consequence of the Government ignoring health experts, campaigners and the EU to the detriment of people’s health. The Supreme Court ruling this morning couldn’t be clearer – there must now be real ambition and determination to solve the source of the problem

It’s not good enough to tell people that the air is bad and they should stay inside. Instead we should be looking at Paris good practice such as free public transport in towns and cities on days of high air pollution and prohibiting heavy polluting diesel vehicles from city centres”

What’s really at stake in this election? Asks Natalie Bennett

April 25, 2015

Just a reminder: ‘Austerity Hasn’t Worked and it Won’t Work!’ says Andy White, Local Candidate in Ashbourne, Derbyshire Dales

April 24, 2015

The Green Manifesto

April 14, 2015

‘The Elephant in the Room’, by Charlotte Farrell, Green Party candidate for the High Peak

April 12, 2015

Green Party Candidates Campaign To Lift Ban on Job-share MPs Begins

April 10, 2015

* Green Party members prevented from standing for parliament for Basingstoke on a joint, job-share candidacy

* Sarah Cope and Clare Phipps wish to stand as joint members, together exercising a single vote in Parliament

* There exists no legislative or other prohibition on joint candidature for election to Parliament

* Lifting ban would lead to a more representative Parliament and pave way for more female and disabled MPs, say Greens

Sarah Cope and Clare Phipps’ request for joint candidacy submitted to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on Thursday 9th April was rejected today by the Electoral Returning Officer on the grounds of a ban on job-shares for MPs.

Neither Cope nor Phipps would be able to serve as a full-time MP. Cope is the main carer for two young children, and Phipps suffers from a disability which would prevent her from working full-time.

Allowing job-share MPs has been Green Party policy since 2012. In 2010 Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, used her first speech as Green Party Leader to call for the post of Member of Parliament to be opened up to job-shares to encourage more women MPs and make Westminster politics more accessible to ordinary people.

Cope, 36, is a mother of two. She has been an active member of the Green Party for over a decade and is the chair of Green Party Women, the women’s sub-group within the party.

Cope said:

“Allowing job-share MPs would open up Parliament to a much more diverse group of people, including more women, those with childcare and other caring responsibilities and those with disabilities.

“At a time when people are disenchanted with ‘business as usual’ politics, it is an idea which could re-engage people. If voters have the chance to vote for people who are more like them, and who can relate to issues within their lives such as living with disabilities, or coping with caring responsibilities, they may be more likely to engage with the democratic process.”

Phipps, 26, is researching gender and health as part of a part-time PhD and job-shares a position on the Green Party Executive. Since 2009 she has suffered from a disability known as idiopathic hypersomnia, a chronic condition which means she sleeps for around 12 hours a day.

“It is now almost 100 years since women were first able to vote – yet The Electoral Reform Society predicts that on May 8th only 30% of MPs will be women. At this rate of progress, a girl born today will be drawing her pension before she has an equal say in the government of her country.

“It’s time our government reflected the people it is representing. Allowing job share MPs is just one way we can change politics for the better.”

Phipps and Cope argue that preventing their joint candidature contravenes their Convention rights, including the right to respect for their private and family lives and the requirement of respect for rights and freedoms without discrimination on the grounds of disability. Following the formal rejection of their application for candidacy, Phipps and Cope are seeking legal advice and will be continuing their campaign to become job-share MPs.

Details of Caroline Lucas’ work on the issue can be found here: http://www.carolinelucas.com/latest/job-share-westminster-mps-would-open-up-politics-says-caroline

​ ​South East England, including Northamptonshire, braces itself for extreme air pollution levels

April 10, 2015

ChimneyThe South East of England, including Northamptonshire, is expected to suffer from very extreme levels of air pollution this Friday.

According to the the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs website which is only operating with a holding page after yesterdays hack by Islamist hackers, there will be “very high pollution levels for a time in the far southeast of England, due to a flow from the south”.

Warm, still conditions are expected to combine with traffic fumes, pollution from the continent and Saharan dust from the south as it rises to level 10.

Much of the South East and eastern England will see high levels of pollution, although the problem is expected to be short-lived.

Defra said overnight Atlantic winds will disperse polluted air by Saturday.

In areas experiencing very high levels of air pollution, adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems and older people are advised to avoid strenuous activity.

People are also advised to reduce physical exertion, particularly outside, and asthma sufferers may need to use their reliever inhaler more often.

In Eastbourne pollution levels are predicted to be so bad that the Met Office colour scale was broken as the air quality index prediction hit 10/10.

Experts have recently suggested that the death toll from air pollution, usually put at around 29,000 a year in the UK, could be substantially higher because of the effect of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted during fossil fuel burning, which up until now has not been taken into account.

Keith Taylor Green MEP for South East England said:

“After yesterday’s hacking of the DEFRA website it is very worrying that all Government monitors are offline as we head into a very high air pollution episode.

Air pollution is a deadly serious problem as it causes serious heart and lung problems and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year in the UK. Whoever forms the next Government one of the first things they must do is to urgently address this public health crisis that currently only seems to be getting worse”

Healthy people tend to notice air pollution as a dry throat, sore eyes or a tickly cough.

But it can have a more serious impact on health by being the trigger for a heart attack or by making asthma worse.

Even low levels of air pollution can harm the health of people who are particularly sensitive.

But on Friday pollution will hit “level 10” or “very high” – the highest category of air pollution in the UK.

It does not mean people need to stay indoors.

But it is the only category of air pollution at which at-risk people – those with heart or lung problems and the elderly – are told to completely avoid strenuous physical activity.

Even healthy people are told to cut down on the amount of physical exertion.

However, the pollution will be brief and levels will drop to low/moderate by Saturday.

People are also advised to avoid busy roads and those who carry a reliever inhaler should always have it with them.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “This latest high air pollution episode, coming so soon after the last, is troubling, and could again put people living with respiratory conditions at risk of worsening symptoms.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “This is expected to clear on Saturday and pollution levels will return to low throughout the morning.”

A case brought by environmental lawyers Client Earth against the government over levels of air pollution that breach European Union rules is shortly to return to the Supreme Court.

Philip Insall, director of health for cycling charity Sustrans, described the state of air pollution in Britain as “criminal” and a “national embarrassment”.

He said: “The next government will need to get a grip on air pollution.

“That will mean serious, dedicated investment and an effective programme of action to help more people out of their cars and choosing walking and cycling for short journeys.”

Mediocre Failures

April 9, 2015

Disappointed Idealist

My children are adopted. They were adopted at the ages of three, four and six. As with nearly all children adopted in this country over the last couple of decades, this means that their early life experiences were pretty terrible. As each was born, their collective experience of life became more damaging, as their circumstances worsened. So the eldest is least affected as her first years were perhaps less difficult experiences, while the youngest is most affected, as her entire first two years of life were appalling. I’m not going to go into detail here about their specific early life experiences, but if you want to read up on the sort of effects which can result from serious neglect or abuse, then you could read this .

Why am I writing this ? Especially now after midnight in the middle of the Easter holidays ? It’s because I’m so angry I…

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Consumer report in UK calls for radical new approach to energy efficiency

April 3, 2015

Energy in Demand - Sustainable Energy - Rod Janssen

Karl Mathiesen writes in The Guardian about a new report by Which? that says successive governments’ failures mean UK’s housing stock remains the least energy-efficient in Europe and that a radical new approach is needed. With a national election coming in May, it would be good to think that at least one of the political parties would champion the need for change.

Watchdog urges reform of UK’s ‘failed’ energy efficiency drive

Millions of draughty homes are the result of the collective failure of successive governments to tackle energy efficiency, according to UK consumer watchdog Which?. In a report published on Tuesday, Which? calls for a radical new approach to energy efficiency to deliver on historical promises to tackle fuel poverty, high energy bills and climate change.

Major consumer-funded programmes have been rolled out in the UK for low-energy bulbs, insulation and new boilers since 2002. Yet the country’s housing stock…

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Assessing the macroeconomic benefits of addressing global warming

April 3, 2015

Energy in Demand - Sustainable Energy - Rod Janssen

Arthur Neslen writes in The Guardian that, according to new analysis, stopping global warming at two degrees would create nearly half a million jobs in Europe and save over a million lives in China.

Limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits, study finds

Major economies would boost their prosperity, employment levels and health prospects if they took actions that limited global warming to 2c, according to the first analysis of emissions pledges made before the UN climate summit in Paris later this year.

Europe has promised a 40% emissions cut by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – and the report says this will bring real benefits, including 70,000 full-time jobs, the prevention of around 6,000 pollution-related deaths, and a €33bn cut in fossil fuel imports.

But if emissions were slashed by around 55% – the study’s proposed route for holding global warming to two degrees – those benefits would…

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