Chester Stop the War Coalition Stall. Bring the Troops home from Afghanistan. Free Joe Glenton. Thursday 17th. December, 2009 Chester City Centre

At five o’clock yesterday evening, as Christmas shoppers crowded into Chester City Centre for late-night shopping members of Chester Stop the War Coalition held a stall at their traditional pitch on the Cross. It was the second stall held this month.

Petition signatures were collected and Christmas cards had been sent to Joe Glenton in prison. (see this link)

Petitions calling for the troops to be brought home from Afghanistan are to be handed over to Downing Street by members of the organisation Military Families Against the War on the 21st. December, 2009.

To sign the petition online follow this link.

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Blogs seem to join up different issues. Climate Change. Working conditions. I’ve got various tags, categories and trends on this one now. The future of the Royal Mail and it’s staff is something I keep coming back to. Things have quietened down on the news front as far as the postal strike is concerned, but that doesn’t mean the issues go away.

The blogger Roy Mayall is featured on Radio 4’s Book of the Week “Dear Granny Smith” this week. Catch up with it in the Radio 4 archive. Billy Hayes (General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union) is discussing some of the issues Roy raises on the BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme “You and Yours”.

As for me, on this last day of the Climate Change talks in Copenhagen – I’m thinking – if they scrapped the Royal Mail’s current transport infrastructure altogether (including all it’s bicycles) – surely that would mean increasing carbon counts all round?

For some of my previous blog posts on this subject click on the categories  Royal Mail and Postal Strike.

Update:

I’ve just listened to the You and Yours BBC Radio 4 programme I mentioned earlier. The following points occurred to me. Firstly, I think the speakers underestimated the cultural (and political) impact of Roy Mayall’s work. From what I know of the postal service (having worked there myself) and from conversations with postal workers Roy is not simply presenting a sentimental view of what is happening, but he is also analysing current problems, some of which are hugely relevant to the recent postal strike and the current negotiations taking place.

Roy writes about walk-sequencing machines. He actually says they help the workload ‘a bit’ but not very much.  This is a really, really important point, which none of the speakers picked up on, I felt. It echoes what other postal workers have told me about the ways in which machines are being used (or not) and how effective (or ineffective) they actually are. See this post which I wrote during the strike. It includes a quote from a CWU union rep. Surely the question we need to be asking is: “How useful are they?”.

If you listen to this programme carefully you will hear one of the speakers say that the closure of mail centres will be a part of the ‘modernisation’ process. I’d like to hear what postal workers have to say about that one.

We approach the final day of the Copenhagen Climate Change talks and today’s timetable looks like this.

To access citizen journalist reports at the Climate Change Summit – live coverage at this link.

The Guardian blog from the protests is updated every minute. See this link:

A Guardian report gives some indication of the scale of restrictions being imposed on activists and mainstream lobbying groups. See this link.

A message from Jeremy…

“Hello from the climate summit, where the next three days will have a major say in whether children born today have a liveable world to look forward to when they reach the age where they can understand what their predecessors have done to the planet.

The outcome is far from certain, but I remain cautiously optimistic based on patterns of behaviour reminiscent of Kyoto in 1997. Then, the world came together to negotiate a legally-binding climate treaty, against expectations, in a drama that ran to the final hour.

The Kyoto Protocol wasn’t perfect, but it kept hope alive. I have posted the story of that night in history (the final pages of The Carbon War) on my homepage. On it, you can find links to my daily blogs for the Financial Times. These relay one person’s view of the unfolding story. I have also updated the triple crunch log through today, and in it you can find concise summaries of the developments in the first week of the Summit if you feel the need to catch up. I will be posting blogs daily through to the end on Saturday morning.”

www.jeremyleggett.net

is the link

I’m running out of appropriate words for what is happening (or not happening) in Copenhagen right now. This song covers it. 350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.. For the science and numbers click here.

Joe Glenton still in custody

December 15, 2009

I received this message today from a member of the Stop the War Coalition. It’s about Joe Glenton (see also previous posts in category Joe Glenton).

“Joe Glenton is being held in custody despite being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
 
He faces charges for refusing to go back to Afghanistan and for speaking out against the war.
 
He is woken up every morning at 6am by a loud kick on his door.
 
On learning of his disorder an army doctor told him he was still able to “run from a bullet”.
 
His wife Clare says “The support that he has been getting from the outside has made his time easier for him”.
 
According to the Ministry of Defence’s own figures, 67 soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan have committed suicide.”
 
Please send a Christmas card and a message of support to Joe Glenton, Military Correction Training Centre, Berechurch Hall Camp, Colchester, Essex, CO2 9NU

Faith at the summit. Odyssey Networks on the trail of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was asked “Should good Christian people be on marches with big placards?” He answered: “In a word ‘yes'”. Rowan Williams referred to the demonstration as “one of the most important events in our lifetimes”.

Go to this Christian Aid site link for ongoing coverage and videos of the climate summit and the protests. (Includes a video of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Copenhagen).

See this BBC report. “Fury at Copenhagen Police Tactics”.

At this late hour on a Saturday I haven’t been able to locate coverage as discerning as I might like. But here is the Guardian news on this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/12/hundreds-arrested-copenhagen-protest-rally

Note the parts which say those accused of ‘throwing stones’ weren’t able to because they were dressed in ‘cow’ costumes.

   

40,000 activists hit the streets of London demanding "Climate Justice" at "the Wave" London, 5th. December, 2009. Photograph by Frances Laing

 Two pointers for today’s International Day of Action for Climate Justice. First: check the Huffington Post today. You can upload your photos and videos and see coverage from around the world. Second: look out for the candlit vigil in your area which takes place early this evening. 3,000 events have been registered so far. It’s organised by Avaaz an effective global campaigning organisation and the message is: “THE WORLD WANTS A REAL CLIMATE DEAL”
 
 To find the venue and exact time for your location  follow this link:

"The Dragon". Climate Justice Demonstration. London Saturday 5th. December, Photograph by Frances Laing

 

40,000 Climate Justice Activists encircle the Houses of Parliament in "The Wave". Climate Justice Demonstration. Saturday 5th. December, 2009. Picture by Frances Laing

  Who doesn’t have information overload about the Copenhagen Summit?  Today I’m taking an angle which connects up the micro with the macro. We know up to  eighty per cent  emissions cuts per head in industrialised nations would be something sensible to strive towards. We know there are deep divisions and vested interests at the Copenhagen summit. A lack of political will and/or evidence of sheer greed which may prevent a constructive agreement being reached. It’s looking like the huge Copenhagen circus is not going to make it. Did we ever think it would?  

This is the last blog post I’m able to write this week. (I’m not part of a PR media circus (no-one is paying me to write this…). Let’s put Copenhagen aside for a moment and look forward. Even without a legally binding agreement, we need to carry on taking action. In our local authorities, in our political parties, meeting houses, churches and homes. As groups and individuals.   

In order to reduce emissions you need to have some idea how much you’re producing in the first place. Carbon calculators have been around a long time and you can find these online with your search engine. Some are specially designed for individual households to use and some are geared towards corporations, small and medium sized enterprises. (SMEs).    

I feel we’re at the point in Britain where we need to demand that every public institution should, as a matter of law be required to measure (and publish) their annual carbon count and their planned carbon reduction targets. We’ve done it with M.P’s expenses. Yes, well carbon counts for M.P’s M.E.P’s , M.S.P’s and Welsh Assembly Members too, why not? Of course many organisations have done this already on a voluntary basis: I visited Manchester Metropolitan University this week and noticed their new building was kitted out with solar panels. Some realised long ago that measures like this stand a chance of future-proofing investments.   

"The Wave". Campaign Bus. Climate Justice Demonstration. An initiative supported by thousands of organisations. London Saturday 5th. December, 2009. Picture by Frances Laing

But at present progress is a post code lottery. Our local papers tell the story of how Cheshire West and Chester authority spent 14 million on a brand new headquarters building (HQ) despite the fact that the old building did the job perfectly well. There has been a public outcry and I’ve yet to see a credible energy audit for the new acquisition. Our city signed up to the Nottingham Climate Change declaration some years ago. This is a statement of intent and a voluntary agreement. It does not seem to have made a significant impact on local authority policy. So much for international agreements – political, philosophical or otherwise.   

At this point we should also have carbon emission reduction measures for every school, hospital and public building. Carbon emissions reduction should not be an add-on for schools. A lack of ‘Climate Change Numeracy’ costs lives.   

We may need greater incentives for private companies to publish their carbon count. We need education, but we also need enforcement and engineering.   

If you’re running a household – you need to watch the pennies. On a macro level – wasting energy means wasting public money. And anyone who produces large amounts of carbon emissions is ultimately putting everyone else in danger.   

We’re still in the middle of a global recession and we don’t know when this is going to ease up. It makes sense to avoid waste and cut down on energy costs. At it’s best, this is what good government energy-saving policies are designed to do. There needs to be a shift in thinking. And yes, I know you can’t legislate for that but I’m saying it anyway.   

"The Wave". London. Climate Justice Demonstration. Picture by Frances Laing

Transition Towns movements are trying to cut carbon from the ground up.

Cornwall Transition Banner. "The Wave" 5th. December. London. 2009

 Judging by the banners on last Saturday’s demonstration in some places (like Sheffield) they are thriving. We need more of this.   

More banners and more evidence of the diversity of the groups calling for change. World Wildlife Fund, lots of Women’s Institute banners…  
“Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament” banners were visible too – along with banners from local wildlife trusts. Here’s the scene near Westminster tube station…CND makes some important points here:
 
  • “Nuclear power is not carbon emission free! The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power. Even if we doubled nuclear power in the UK it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. This is because nuclear power only contributes to electricity generation which only accounts for up to a third of all carbon emissions (transport and industry account for most of the rest).
  • Climate change is happening now. A new nuclear power station will take at least 10 years to build and longer to generate electricity. Wind farms can be up and running in less than a year.
  • It’s expensive. The nuclear industry is massively subsidised by the British public. Sizewell B, the UK’s most recent power station cost the taxpayer around £3.7billion just to install Decommissioning and cleaning up all of our current nuclear sites is costing more than £70 billion.
  • It’s not sustainable. The reserves of uranium ores used to generate nuclear power are going to run out. There is only 50 years worth of high uranium ores left in the world. There may be only 200 years left of all uranium ores including poor uranium ores which take more energy to mine and process and thus release more carbon emissions.”

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Banner at Climate Justice March "The Wave". 5th. December, 2009. Photograph by Frances Laing

Food and food production is also a huge issue for climate justice activists…  

Banner. "The Wave" Climate Justice Demonstration. Dec. 5th. 2009

 All in all, those of us on modest incomes (with a minimal carbon count) I’m sure are fed up though of being lectured about saving resources. We breast-fed our children (carbon neutral). Chose cloth nappies rather than disposables (Ed. Miliband didn’t even manage this). We installed energy-efficient boilers and loft insulation. We walked or cycled instead of taking four-by-fours on the school-run. We converted disused land to grow food and kept allotments and kitchen gardens. We taught ourselves how to ‘grow our own’ organically(see this link). We’ve been carefully seperating (and composting) our household waste for years. We’d like to see our elected representatives put their households in order  now, thank you very much. That’s what we pay you for, after all.