Northern working people and their families care deeply about where they live. Issues such as litter, fly-tipping, graffiti, burnt-out vehicles, dog fouling and street crime are at the top of every neighbourhood’s list of priorities. It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to resonate with a London-centric based national government. This is backed up by several […]
James Sheerin is keen to bring some fresh air to politics in more ways than one. He wants a real change for the better for his local area and he wants to see this through a pro-European, pro-environmental agenda which will benefit all of us and especially our young people.
For one hour on 27 March millions of people across the globe will turn off their lights and unplug their TVs. Whole streets and cities will go dark and people will look out of their windows and see the stars. It will be a moment of reflection at a pivotal point in history when many of us have been confined to our homes for a year as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world from its likely roots as a zoonotic disease jumping species in the wet markets of Wuhan.
Earth Hour first started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. It was an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund designed to draw attention to the growing environmental disaster and accompanying species loss. 14 years later this symbolic action is observed in more than 180 countries. Mass action by millions of people can be a powerful catalyst for change and Earth Hour has succeeded in raising awareness of the climate emergency, forcing some governments to take notice and take action.
This year’s Earth Hour takes place in the year when the UK government will host the delayed Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow, which will focus attention on our record as a country, which is highly questionable with a new government supported coal-mine planned for Cumbria and lacklustre progress of the much vaunted Green Homes Grant scheme. Meanwhile the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is making painfully slow progress since being tabled in September 2020.
Writing in the Oxford Political Review, Harvey Phythian pinpointed the policy problem in the Conservatives’ own 2019 election manifesto where the party proclaimed, “we believe that free markets, innovation and prosperity can protect the planet”. Basically, it’s a business as usual approach which is minimally responsive to the effects of climate change rather than being vigorously pro-active in taking preventative measures, hence a tree planting programme is given headline status when what we desperately need is strong and binding legislation to stop polluters in the first place. Meanwhile, the EU is making progress on a wide range of policies to proactively tackle climate change.
Boris Johnson’s own record on the issue is depressing. As a tawdry media columnist during his period in office as the Mayor of London he pooh-poohed the warnings of climate experts and accepted donations from wealthy climate-change deniers. His voting record in parliament clearly demonstrates his lack of support for strong legislative measures to protect the environment, and he has just taken delivery of a second gas-guzzling jet to whisk him off to meetings with his Russian oligarch friends in places like Tuscany whilst the rest of us will be fined £5,000 for daring to attempt a cheap cycling holiday in France this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. And let’s not forget his refusal to participate in a leaders’ debate on climate change in the 2019 election campaign prompting the programme producers to replace him and his Brexit mate Nigel Farage with melting blocks of ice.
All the more reason then to do your bit and turn off the lights between 8.30-9.30pm on Saturday 27 March and join a global action that recognises the connectedness of all life on earth. Reducing consumption is just one of a raft of actions that can contribute to achieving carbon net zero whilst reducing your domestic energy bills. The Centre for Sustainable Energy has a handy guideT to energy consumption of household items. Not filling the kettle and doing less ironing are on my list of actions.
Across the world 1 in 3 people live without safe drinking water, and it is estimated that by 2025 half of the global population will be living in areas where water is scarce. In many of the world’s poorest countries girls aren’t going to school because they have to fetch and carry water for their families. As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world the mantra of “wash your hands” was meaningless in places where clean water is still in scarce supply.
What we can do as citizens is to ensure there is a viable planet for our grandchildren to inherit. “Eat less meat… educate yourself… hold your parents to account… follow the money… Your money is either buying a hotter or a cooler climate,” said Eno.
I’m standing below High Force on the River Tees, looking up at the most impressive waterfall in the North of England. It’s in full spate, crashing down both sides. I’ve followed the river down from Cow Green Reservoir, alongside the water as it races down Cauldron Snout, and I’m on my way to Middleton-in-Teesdale. A great riverside walk.
After centuries of conflict
weapons are finally downed.
The cruellest disease has silenced guns,
until a vaccine can be found.
Then there’s the politics. Tees Valley’s Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen has claimed ownership of the CCUS idea, a handy way of shoring up support for his new mayoral role. The South Tees Development Corporation has no Labour representatives on its board. After the May 2019 local elections of the five member councils – Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Darlington – the Labour Party controls no council outright.
Yes, the railways in 1963 may have been old fashioned and a bit dirty but they provided a space where people could talk in an unhurried environment and also, certainly if you read the references to railways in Howards End, an environment where the whole gamut of life could be seen.
Tynedale Transformed is a platform for social change and a conduit for the amazing potential and disparate groups and individuals who work to make Tynedale a good place to live
Being asked to ‘trust’ the government simply beggars belief. The government would be seen to be trustworthy if it simply implemented the safeguards put forward in the amendment! Parliament is made up of elected honourable servants. It is their duty of care to protect the people’s interests and respect their wishes. The Agricultural Bill is unacceptable in its unamended form. It is not good enough to argue if the bill passes in the form Boris Johnson and the unelected advisor Mr. Cummings want, that it does not necessarily mean that chlorinated cheap chicken and all the host of other things may not be sacrificed. We have been lied to on too many occasions.
Back in May, Richard Holden failed to support a rebel Tory amendment to the Agriculture Bill, if passed, the amendment would have banned US imports of food produced to lower welfare, food safety and environmental standards than those required of British farmers.
The protests are being supported by Save British Farming. The group’s North Yorkshire organiser, Richard Sadler, said: “We want to shine the spotlight on Rishi Sunak and other North Yorkshire MPs who claim to support farmers but who have been quietly voting against their best interests.”
The North East, with its skills and industrial know-how should be at the forefront of a green revolution. As others have already advocated, it has the potential to become an international hub of carbon neutral technologies and wind-related energy sources.
Food and animal welfare standards are lower in many other countries, meaning cheaper imports but based on the widespread use of hormones and antibiotics, chemical treatments and cruel factory-farming practices. “By scrapping our safeguards, we face the triple whammy of tariffs to export, the need to maintain the EU standards we currently operate in and cheap imports as well. It will mean ruin for huge numbers who are just getting by right now” said Mr Clarke, who farms crops and livestock near Bedale.
In addition to obstructed views, residents fear the hotel in its current form, stepped up towards the quayside, would bring significant overshadowing to not only their accommodation, but amenity areas and outdoor space surrounding Baltic quays, bringing with it a lack of privacy and loss of natural light.
Every major crisis has profound consequences for the next generation. The financial crisis resulted in mass youth unemployment, Tory austerity devastated the youth service, Sure Start centres and child and adolescent mental health services, whilst hiking up university fees and creating mass unsustainable student debt.
If you care about our green and pleasant land – and want to keep it that way for your children and grandchildren to enjoy – you must let the UK government know how you feel.
How do you start becoming an investigative journalist?
Local residents from the North East held a socially distanced protest in Hexham Market Place on Saturday morning. This was joining the other 3.5% events taking place across the country. The 3.5% represents the number of people it takes for peaceful protest to succeed and has quickly taken off as a movement primarily against the […]
We need to bring forward the date of achieving net carbon zero, if we don’t invest in more innovative renewable energy, if we don’t stop relying on finite resources for fuel then we will be responsible for over 100,000 people losing their homes and livelihoods in the Pacific Ocean.
One thing that I’ve found is that the wildlife, birdwatching, and photography communities are all incredibly friendly, willing to talk about what they’ve seen and to give tips; or to leave you be, if you just want some peace and quiet. The North-East really is a spectacular region, and I’m so happy to have made it my home after years down south.
Do you know the story of the man who jumped off the top of the Empire State Building? As he passed open windows on his way down the people in the rooms heard him saying ‘so far, so good’. That story came to mind when I drove along the A69 and came across the ‘Give […]
Years ago (in the last century) I attended a conference at Lancaster University on arts and the environment where I met ‘artivists’ from Platform, a London-based collective of artists, educators and researchers who were undertaking extraordinary projects such as ‘Unravelling the Carbon Web’, which partly consisted of Platform members walking around all BP establishments including […]
Cycling is a way of being considerate to your community, as it reduces pollution. And this is linked to another current issue: there are times when pedestrians and road users would be well advised to wear facial shields such as masks.
The progress of the Agriculture Bill Can No Deal Brexit be averted? Good news. It can! If the House of Lords amendment passes when it returns to the House of Commons in September it may kill off the nightmare of a No Deal Brexit! This may surprise you. I did say “if”, but It’s a […]
The North East would likely have been net recipients in the new EU budget framework as opposed to the Tory government’s that seems to be targeted at seats they want to win rather than need.
The North East Covid-19 Economic Response Group (or ERG), could shift to put wellbeing, tackling inequalities and climate change at our core.
Brexit era brings rise in holiday insurance costs among many other things.
Prior to the 2016 referendum, the National Farmers Union (NFU) recommended their members vote to remain in the European Union. In spite of this, 53% of farmers were more swayed by the Leave campaign and voted to leave the EU. No one really knew exactly what ‘Leave’ meant at that stage. The talk of complete separation […]