Climate change

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Aviation: a third option

At the end of April, British Airways announced intentions to lay off 12,000 people, up to 30% of its workforce. Heathrow’s Chief Executive has warned that they may decide to follow suit, while on 20 May Rolls Royce — which constructs, among other things, airplane components — announced plans to make redundant 9,000, or 17%, of their global workforce. Airbus is planning redundancies. Easyjet, a UK-based company, plans 4,500 redundancies, 30% of their workforce. In 2018 it was estimated that the UK aviation sector directly employs 341,000 people. Bailouts to the tune of tens of billions have...

Looking ahead to November: COP26

Later in this year, assuming the UK has recovered enough from Covid-19, environmental activists will be active around 2020’s UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow (9-20 November). Probably very little radical or adequate policy will be decided at that conference, even though the world faces a pandemic and continuing climate crisis. A lot of trade unions had been organising for a demonstration to put pressure on the conference. Work on that may now be suspended. Nearer the time we need to get it restarted, and gett trade unions in Glasgow and Scotland are involved, including on the...

A year of climate strikes

It is nearly exactly a year since the first Global School Strike for Climate took place, and whilst the participation and coverage of the movement may appear to have peaked for now, the resolve and commitment of climate strikers across the globe remains strong. Last year I was a climate striker during my last year of sixth form and I continue to be involved in the UKSCN branch in Newcastle, organising the climate strikes and trying to build links with the local labour movement. While far from the strongest in terms of numbers, the UK strike movement particularly has taken on a strong political...

To fight climate change, fight capitalism!

The climate crisis has, is, and will likely kill thousands of times more people than Covid-19 - yet why aren’t governments and international institutions responding to it with the same urgency? Thoughts, questions, accusations like this have been posed by many environmentalists. On Thursday 5 March, scientists at the European Union’s CS3 declared that Europe has had the hottest winter on record by far. UK’s floods and Australia’s bush-fires are just two of the recent environmental disasters stoked by the climate crises. On top of these alarming symptoms of the crisis new research, on 5 March,...

Expand public transport, not the airport

A serious campaign is picking up momentum against the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA). The private owners of LBA want to build a new passenger terminal that will increase the number of passengers from 4 million a year to 7.1 million a year by 2030, and 9 million by 2050. In March 2019, in response to pressure from youth climate strikers and XR, Leeds City Council declared a “Climate Emergency” – committing Leeds to carbon neutrality by 2030. Research from Leeds University has shown the planned expansion will lead to a massive overspend on the city’s carbon budget, making the 2030 net...

Clive Lewis on the left after Corbyn

Clive Lewis talked with Sacha Ismail What Corbynism started to talk about in 2015 was an end to austerity, and trying to return to a sort of 1945 moment, trying to recapture a Keynesian economic approach — redistribution of wealth, trying to use social democracy to move us towards a more socialist economy in stages. But also at the beginning it was about democratising the party, which I think is what attracted so many of us. The idea of democracy and membership engagement and members having a real say over policy really resonated. New Labour came in and put their boot on the throat of the...

Green New Deal, not airport expansion!

Existing plans for Heathrow airport to be expanded with a new third runway have been ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal, in the latest move in a battle stretching back the best part of two decades. On 27 February the court ruled that in June 2018 Chris Grayling, then the transport secretary, was acting unlawfully by not taking into account the government's commitment - under the Paris agreements - to tackle the climate crisis. The Government said it would not appeal, though Heathrow airport itself will. Air travel is extremely emissions-intensive, releasing a much higher quantity of...

What should be done about floods?

As I write on 25 February, yet more “severe flood warnings” are being issued — currently in Shrewsbury and Ironbridge — indicating “danger to life” with suggestions that floods could reach “highest ever” levels for that area. This follows a fortnight of deluges sweeping much of the UK, with exceptional rainfall bought by Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara. What is causing these floods? Climate change? Bad “land management”? Austerity? Or a mix? These storms come only three months after similar — record breaking — floods in the Midlands and Yorkshire; and nine months after the Peak Districts and...

From 14 February, build towards COP26

The latest round of climate strikes, on Friday 14 February, the first of 2020, marked a year since thousands of school students first walked out to protest at political inaction on climate change. This round of walkouts was smaller, but the underlying political commitment is still strong. As the year progresses and in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow (9-19 November) the movement is likely to expand again. Around 1000 people, a mix of older school students, parents with younger school students, and a range of other people attended a demonstration in London, marching through Parliament Square....

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