Monthly Archives: November 2013

Endless Stalemate: How Fossil Fuel Interests Are Killing Climate Action

Excellent article.

“This sums up how the world works. The planet is rapidly and dangerously overheating, but elite economic and financial interests, with bought-for governments under their corporate thumbs, will nevertheless continue to do whatever they can to retain profit and power. So, for instance, they’ll devise a ‘toolbox’ in a ‘global market’ for that to happen, and it will be cynically sold to the public as a means of ‘battling climate change’.”
…… email_logoClick here to view it online
26 November 2013

Endless Stalemate: How Fossil Fuel Interests Are Killing Climate Action

By David Cromwell

The devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has led to heart-wrenching scenes of human suffering, with the death toll now put at over 5,000 and likely to rise still further. Yeb Sano, the head of the Philippines climate delegation, gave a moving speech at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, linking the typhoon to global warming, and then went on a hunger strike which would last, he said, ‘until we stop this madness’.

Sadly, the madness looks set to continue if we recognise that the corporate media is an integral part of the problem: pulverising us with corporate advertising to encourage increased levels of consumption and planetary resource depletion, while averting our gaze from the root cause of the climate problem; namely, corporate-led global capitalism.

News reports and editorials were ultra-cautious not to link Typhoon Haiyan directly to climate change; either not mentioning climate change at all, or providing the worn-out disclaimer that individual weather events cannot be attributed to global warming. But as Kevin Trenberth, senior climate scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, said last year:

‘The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.’

Climate scientist Peter Gleick noted that data in the form of ‘unusually high sea levels and warm temperatures’ supported the claim that climate change had influenced Typhoon Haiyan.

Peter Hart, a media analyst with Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, emphasised the point that mattered:

‘There is no way that one massive hurricane will be stamped “Created by Climate Change,” while another would be considered a “normal” hurricane.

‘These catastrophes are occurring, and will continue to occur, in a climate that has been undeniably altered. Waiting for the “real” climate change-caused storms to hit before talking about climate change is illogical and irresponsible.’

Sadly, the corporate world, with the corporate media a vital supporting pillar propping up the system, has long shown that it isirresponsible.

The Business Fix Of False Solutions

Meanwhile, politicians have been paying lip service, at best, to the risk of climate catastrophe, just as they have since UN climate talks led to the ineffectual Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The latest fix bandied about at climate talks is a ‘global carbon market “toolbox” ‘ thus ‘making climate change targets more achievable’. The farce quickly becomes evident on further reading: ‘governments have proposed launching a framework‘ to create ‘a single voluntary platform to share ideas, with a view toeventually launching a global market to battle climate change.’ (Emphasis added.)

This sums up how the world works. The planet is rapidly and dangerously overheating, but elite economic and financial interests, with bought-for governments under their corporate thumbs, will nevertheless continue to do whatever they can to retain profit and power. So, for instance, they’ll devise a ‘toolbox’ in a ‘global market’ for that to happen, and it will be cynically sold to the public as a means of ‘battling climate change’.

Indeed, for years corporate elites have lobbied intensely behind the scenes at UN climate talks to steer any agreement in their direction. Worse, they don’t want any ‘sweeping international treaties’ at all, as these are seen as:

‘no longer the key for charting the planet’s path to sustainable development. Instead, partnerships among governments, businesses, and NGOs hold the most promise for measurable progress on sustainability issues, including climate change.’

As for the climate talks themselves, the campaigning group Corporate Europe Observatory has exposed what the corporate media is happy to overlook; namely that corporate polluters are poised to gain most from the talks:

‘The EU aims to expand carbon markets that would benefit big polluters at the UN climate talks, COP19 in Poland, says a Statement signed by 135+ groups, movements and networks from all over the world. The Statement denounces the corporate capture of COP19 by the same companies that stand to profit.’

The Brussels-based group, which monitors and challenges the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporate lobby groups in EU policy making, added:

‘COP19 is the first UN climate talks to have corporate sponsorship, with some of the biggest climate crooks as official “partners”, including ArcelorMittal, Alstom and BMW.’

ArcelorMittal is the world’s biggest steel company and Alstom is a French conglomerate with major interests in power generation and transmission.

A new report, ‘COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying: Climate Crooks and the Polish Government’s Partners in Crime’, published jointly by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute (TNI), shows how:

‘Big business, industry and finance, keen to set the agenda and shape the rules in the interests of their profits – and at the expense of climate justice – have infiltrated COP19.’

These elite actors not only include giant fossil fuel companies, but wider business groups, financial interests, agribusiness and agrofuels, as well as other polluting industries. A sobering infographic on the TNI website displays the power interests ‘behind the scenes’, explaining succinctly ‘why UN climate negotiations never work’.

It is therefore unsurprising that NGOs finally had enough of the climate talks in Warsaw and walked out in protest last week, with one campaigner saying:

‘It has become quite flagrantly obvious that progress to reach any legally binding climate treaty is being obstructed by the lobbying forces of the fossil fuel industry.’

Even after campaigners had walked out of the climate talks, our searches of the Lexis database found not a single newspaper report into the real extent and intensity of corporate lobbying on climate in any of the national UK newspapers. At best, there was just a passing mention in a tiny handful of opinion pieces about ‘vested interests’ or fossil-fuel lobbying that sought to‘deliver watered down versions’ of the ‘effective instrument’ of carbon markets. In particular, there was not a single news article about the eye-opening report on corporate lobbying by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute exposing the hollowness of current UN climate talks.

Following the NGO walkout from the UN talks, the Guardian did go as far as publishing an online opinion piece by Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, which touched on the ‘corporate sponsorship’ of the climate summit, quoting one of the campaigners responsible for the report on industry lobbying:

‘This is perhaps the most corporate climate talks we have ever experienced.’

But this was a rare and brief foray into the reality of the huge corporate forces that are obstructing climate sanity.

Climate Science ‘Really Clear’ That ‘We Need Radical Change’

Goodman presented Democracy Now! from the UN climate talks and interviewed Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows-Larkin, two British scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. They rightly observed that ‘runaway global warming’ is not being addressed by world leaders, and they pointed to the urgent need for ‘radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the United States, EU and other wealthy nations.’ This was a welcome and much-needed intervention from two climate scientists who have refused to be hidebound by academic conventions of what it is ‘politic’ to say – or not say.

They called for ‘reparation’ to be paid by the ‘traditional polluters’, namely the industrialised countries, to poorer nations to help them develop ‘renewable, low-carbon energy systems’ and a decent quality of life for their people. The scientists also supported the walkout by climate campaigners and, admirably, encouraged other climate scientists to be more vocal in demanding the radical action that is needed to avert catastrophic climate change. Professor Anderson spoke bluntly:

‘I think the scientific community has for too long really let the policymakers, and indeed the wider public, down, that we haven’t been as vociferous as we should have been about what our science is telling us. So, our science is telling us, and has told us, to be honest, for 10 to 15 years at least, that—you know, explain the situation that we’re in and that we need these radical levels of change. But we have not—we have not translated that in a language that indicates how important that is. We have used language which is more acceptable to the policymakers. It’s more politically palatable. So we’ve converted, you know, “impossible within the current economic framework” to “a little bit challenging.” Now, that’s not a fair reflection of what our analysis is showing us.’

He added:

‘Our role as scientists is to stand up for the analysis that we do. And if it is misused, we should be louder and louder and louder about how it is being misused. But at the moment, there is pressure […] for us as scientists to stay quite quiet about this, just to say, “Oh, it’s an issue, a problem that we can resolve in the current way of thinking.” You know, that’s all rubbish. The analysis and the maths are really clear about this now. We need radical change.’

As Naomi Klein notes in a recent piece titled, ‘How science is telling us all to revolt’:

‘So what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules.’

Meanwhile, like the rest of the corporate media, the ‘impartial’ and publicly-funded BBC News largely avoids exposing the truth behind the failure to tackle the climate crisis. Instead, it bemoans ‘the scale of what can be achieved in any new deal’, and misleadingly calls this abysmal state of affairs ‘realism’. But in a rapidly and dangerously warming world, ‘realism’ means capitulating to the state-corporate elites that are driving humanity towards the abyss of climate chaos.

Veteran environment writer Andy Rowell did not mince his words: the UN talks are a ‘charade’ and hundreds of campaigners had rightly said: ‘Enough is enough’. He added:

‘The bottom line is that the ability of current policies to achieve meaningful climate action is being undermined by the fossil fuel industry. As it has for the last 20 years. As it has been for every UN climate meeting.’

In a nutshell: ‘the political stalemate is due to the fossil fuel industry.’

Rowell suggests that we learn from the example of tobacco. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control warns of the ‘fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests.’ Just as public health policies have been protected from vested tobacco interests, so should UN climate talks ‘exclude the villains from the climate process’: namely, fossil fuel interests.

In an interview with The Real News Network, campaigner Rachel Tansey, lead author of the COP19 corporate lobbying report, cogently made the same point:

‘…do you see the World Health Organization inviting big tobacco companies like Philip Morris to its conferences on how to stop the harm that tobacco causes? No, you don’t.’

Rowell correctly concluded:

‘It is now time to kick the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry out of the UN process. There is a “fundamental and irreconcilable conflict” between the fossil fuel industry interests and those trying to fight climate change.’

Not a single national newspaper in the UK has called for fossil fuel interests to be kept out of UN climate talks. On a planet that is rapidly warming out of control, that in itself is a damning indictment of the so-called ‘free press’.

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Endless Stalemate: How Fossil Fuel Interests Are Killing Climate Action

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Agenda – Bridgend Green Party Meeting 28th November

7.00pm Thursday 28th November 2013 at theThe Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill
ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)

AGENDA:

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Apologies for Absence
  3. Minutes and matters arising
  4. Officers’ reports (Andy/John/Neil)
  5. Councillor feedback (Kathy)
  6. Elections – Target ward /Euro campaign
  7. Campaigns update – Fracking (Andy/John/Rozz); PAAA (Andy/John); Bridgend Against the Bedroom Tax (John/Trish/Andy/Gareth/Delyth); free solar energy (Andy).
  8. AOB (e.g. End of year social)
  9. DoNM

REMINDER – If anyone needs a lift to any of our meetings, let Andy know (greens) and we will organise it for you.

Latest interview with Russia Today re Fracking

Below is the transcript of the live TV interview I did for Russia Today’s English language Op-Ed news programme yesterday:

http://rt.com/op-edge/fracking-renewable-energy-policy-116/

While activists across the UK are setting protest camps to force their government to ban shale gas drilling, MEP candidate for the UK’s Green party Andy Chyba told RT that London is too intimate with big business to let that happen. [N.B. They were told I am no longer a MEP candidate – they did not mention that I am on the TV broadcast]

RT:It seems that the UK government is determined to go ahead and boost fracking so do you think you’ll actually be able to turn the tide here?

AC: Well, I remain very optimistic that we will. At the moment there’s relatively few parts of the country directly threatened – it’s mostly to do with testing applications. But everywhere they turn up, local opposition soon gets organized. The local opposition groups are now part of a nationwide network and we are winning the arguments everywhere we go.

RT: What are the basics of your arguments?

AC: The arguments work on different levels – on the local scale there’s the direct threat to water supplies, the health risks , the traffic implications and the water supply issues. At a wider level there’s the whole issue of direction of energy policy. We’re winning that argument comprehensively as well. At the global level, of course, is the implications for global warming. Research coming out of the UK now suggests we need to leave 2/3 of known fossil fuels in the ground if we’re going to stand any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, and therefore going down the road of exploring for extreme fossil fuels is the very last thing we need to do.

RT: Talking of fossil fuels, of course, fracking will definitely mean the closure of any coal plants existing in the UK existing – that’s surely got to be a better option hasn’t it?

AC: Some people are trying to paint that gas is the lesser of two evils, but that argument only holds any sway at all if we see gas replacing coal, and there’s no evidence of that happening. In the United States, coal production from the mines is still just as high – they’re just shipping it around the world to other places. So I don’t think there’s any real credibility in that argument at all. And of course, this gas will be used over and above the coal – they’re not going to ignore economic deposits of coal in the long term, so in the long term this is only going to supplement the use of fossil fuels and therefore it’s got to be stopped.

Climate and anti-fracking activists block the road in front of a tanker to delay its arrival to the test drill site operated by British energy firm Cuadrilla Resources in Balcombe, southern England, on August 20, 2013.(AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

RT: Surely a couple of major economic problems facing people in the UK at the moment is high energy bills, and they seem to be going higher, and employment. David Cameron is saying fracking will in fact create more jobs and lower energy bills.

AC: Well, this is the spin that they’re trying to put on it. I’m literally having solar panels put on my roof tomorrow. If everybody went down that route- that’s the way to energy security. My bills are going to go down 30 percent overnight when I get those panels installed tomorrow. If everybody went down that road they could do likewise and we’re not relying on any imports. And even if we did go down the road of exploiting fossil fuels – what are we going to do when they run out? They are fixed resources, they are going to run out, we’re still faced with the imperative to get to grips with renewables sooner or later. And the argument has got to be sooner rather than later. All that’s happening through going down the extreme fossil fuel route is putting off that imperative even longer.

Other countries have taken that initiative already. Denmark is going to be based almost completely on renewable energies in less than 30 years. It takes political will and a political decision to invest in that technology. Now, the technology is there, we just need to make those political decisions. The Tory government is wracked with links to the industry – they’re just feathering each other’s nests at the moment.

Kay Harris – standard bearer for the Bedroom Tax campaign – locally, nationally and internationally!!

Bridgend Greens’ Gareth Harris and his mum Kay have been at the forefront of the Bridgend Against the Bedroom Tax campaign since we launched it alongside our Plaid Cymru friends a few weeks ago. Jamie Insole, of South Wales Against the Bedroom Tax, has been so impressed with Kay’s passion and commitment that when the Guardian came to Cardiff a week or so ago , Jamie wanted them to meet Kay.

The result is a great feature in today’s Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/20/bedroom-tax-hardest-hit-wales-uk

Her family’s plight is well known to us, but now the whole country knows how this savage policy is biting her:

“Kay Harris is stressed. For 47 years, her entire life, she has lived in Bettws, an ex-mining village in the south Wales valleys. She’s raised her two children here, and her extended family all live nearby. But since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April, she has found herself in arrears for the second time in six months, and is worried she may be forced to leave.

The first visit from her housing association came in August, with a demand for £172. A few months later, when we meet in Cardiff, at a meeting for tenants, landlords and campaigners to discuss the impact of the bedroom tax in Wales, another letter has arrived. “It’s a real struggle. I had a letter just this morning, saying I was £122 in arrears. I can’t afford to pay it,” she says. “I’m supposed to be paying £11.41 a week for this one bedroom, and they’ve put it up to £15.01 a week so that I can clear my arrears. But I just can’t afford it”.

The bedroom is small, and only fits a bed. Harris uses it for her two grandchildren when they stay over occasionally.

Harris’s situation is typical in Wales, where 40,000 tenants have been hit by the cut in housing benefit on any bedroom deemed to be unoccupied, representing 46% of the social rented sector – the highest proportion of anywhere in the UK. Living with her husband in a three-bedroom semi-detached house in an area that was once booming, but now suffers from high unemployment, there is nowhere else for her to go because the Welsh housing stock doesn’t reflect the changing economy.

The personal fallout of Harris’s financial woes grows with each demand for arrears. “I’m depressed. I’m very depressed. It’s even causing rows. The letter this morning, that caused a row. It’s not only me, it’s everyone, everybody is getting these letters,” she says. “I had an interview with the housing association and I told them to downsize me. ‘We can’t’, they told me, ‘We’ve got no one-bed or two-bed houses.’ So there’s nothing I can do. I’ve got absolutely no options.”

Her story is now going international. This evening I had a German TV network ringing me to discuss the campaign in Bridgend and to ask what I knew of Kay Harris. I explain that I have known her family well for quite a few years and that it was their situation that helped prompt me to get involve in the cross-party initiative with Tim Thomas (PC).

They are going to contact Kay and look to feature her in their story, which looks set to savage this Tory class warfare.

Well done Kay! Your courage and determination not to accept this is inspiring people everywhere. I remain optimistic that you will prevail and keep your home of so many years.

Another Labour betrayal as they fail to shoot down the Bedroom Tax

Labour had called on Lib Dem MPs to defy their Conservative coalition partners and vote against the spare room subsidy. It tabled a motion calling for its abolition, but was defeated by 252 votes to 226. A majority of just 26.

But this could so easily have been defeated had Labour got its act together! Although it was a Labour motion, a shameful 47 Labour MPs failed to vote. These include Welsh Labour’s:

  • Geraint Davies (Swansea West)
  • Siân James (Swansea East)
  • Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
  • Paul Flynn (Newport West)
  • Ian Lucas (Wrexham)

So yet again, we are tragically let down by Labour.

Europe for the Common Good

GPEW Deputy Leader, Will Duckworth’s address to the Wales Green Party AGM yesterday:

Bore da Cymru

4 years at University in Bangor and that is as much Welsh as I can manage other than “Dai fish and chips yea” which works wonders for portion size.

It’s a pleasure to be here with you this morning and it’s great to see so many of you here.

I wanted to speak to you today about the Common Good. It’s a phrase we’ll all be hearing a lot more of in the months to come – particularly because we’re just over six months away from EU elections, and then in 2015 we have one of the most important General Elections in living memory: a chance to end the Coalition’s disastrous Austerity experiment once and for all!

But first, the European Elections. As we’re all aware, these elections offer us a great chance to triple the number of MEPs we send to Brussels and Strasbourg. Just a 1.6 per cent national vote swing means we’ll have six MEPs come June 2014. Nor should we stop there. We can do even more.

Earlier this week, a YouGov poll revealed that the British public are far to the Left of the Labour Party – let alone UKIP and the Coalition.

The poll found 80 per cent of people feel they are not benefitting from the so-called ‘economic recovery’ announced by the Coalition. Of course, this could be because the ‘recovery’, as it has been incorrectly labelled, actually amounts to the artificial inflation of house prices in a small area of the South East of England.

The same poll finds people who oppose private enterprise firms in the NHS outnumber those who want them there by 12 to one, that 67 per cent want Royal Mail in public ownership, 66 per cent want the railways delivered back to the people and 68 per cent demanding our energy companies be removed from the clutching fingers of profiteers in the private sector and run by the people, for the benefit of the people!

And who stands for all of these policies? Who has been arguing that these are exactly the measures which must make up part of a decent society, designed and delivered for the good of everyone – for the Common Good?

That’s right: The Green Party of England and Wales.

The fact of the current political climate is that the mood of the people is with the Green Party. That is fact.

But that’s not the end of the story. Because there’s a second fact. The mood of the people is with us. We represent the alternative to the lying, cheating and policy-making for the rich at the expense of the rest of us as practised by the Coalition and Labour. UKIP is not an alternative to that, it’s the same policies, with an irrational fear and hatred of the EU and migrants thrown in.

But the challenge facing us is that although you know this, and I know it, many potential voters – people who have previously supported other Parties and those, like Russell Brand, who feel they cannot support and Party at all – do not know it.

Our challenge, almost uniquely in the history of UK politics, is not in convincing people to agree with us. It’s in making sure voters KNOW that we and them share a common cause: a society designed for the benefit of all. A society designed for the Common Good.

By necessity, political catchphrases can’t explain everything a Party and a movement stands for. But the two words we are campaigning under DO sum up our message. And here’s how:

We need a climate for the common good:

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the fact that we are on the brink of runaway climate change. None of us in this room needs to be reminded what this means, with catastrophic impacts likely for all species – including human beings – across the globe.

Nor do we need reminding – as some members of the non-renewable power industry seem to – that although there ARE costs associated with switching to a renewables-powered economy, the costs of NOT doing so, in terms of hard cash and human lives, will be far, far higher.

There used to be a tradition, on the Right wing, that we have to speculate to accumulate – that by making an outlay of cash now, we can reap rewards both in terms of reduced risk and increased benefit to all, in the short, medium and long terms.

When, exactly, did the Tory Party drop this idea and replace it with ‘we do nothing unless it makes us rich immediately’? Because with that single change, they and their contemporaries all over the world are risking the end of global civilisation.

But what we, on the Left, and fighting for the environment, must remember, is that the report also showed us we can fix it if we decide to act now. That is, we can deliver a means of power generation which has no fuel costs, which is not endangered by wars in other states, and we can prevent the destruction of lives – human, plant and animal here and across the world.

Our children and grand children will not forgive us if we don’t start to tackle climate change and tackle it now.  

We must work within Europe to reduce our carbon emissions and we in the Green Party are pushing to tackle climate change on a European and world wide basis. 

We are looking to do this by refocusing our economy towards consuming less, while spending more free time with friends and family, enjoying the earth’s bounty rather than exploiting if for profit. We are looking to create a power generation system, economic system, and altered system of consumption, which is for the Common Good.

We need services for the common good:

Successive governments have sold off the family jewels. They have privatised gas and electricity distribution, our water, the railways and now even the Royal Mail and left them in the hands of profiteering corporations who are paying their bosses millions of pounds a year.

Thatcher’s Tories, and the Coalition’s ‘Monetarism: Mark Two – now with extra teeth and claws’ may be the leaders in the rush to privatise. But Labour did not bring the railways, power companies or water companies back into the ownership of the people, even in the face of ever-rising bills and ever-decreasing service levels.

Labour does not even support those policies now: Miliband may demand a ‘price freeze’ for fuel, but our system does not allow for one! To control power prices, and the ways in which power is generated, we need power generation to be owned by the people, and run for them, rather than owned by a small cartel of profit-hungry businesspeople interested only in further enriching themselves at our expense.

Meanwhile, under the Coalition, private companies are taking over more and more of our services and our Government is signing deals that commit millions if not billions to foreign corporations who will be able to sue us for loss of earnings if we try to change direction. 

But there is something we can do about it. The Green Party is the only political organisation in this country campaigning to bring public services back to the purpose for which they exist: to actually serve the public. For the Common Good.

And we will reform the EU to stop these corporate captures and ensure that these businesses and individuals are properly taxed. We’re the only people who will.

We need clean air for the common good:

I was surprised when I found out that air pollution actually kills more people than cancer;  about 5% of adults throughout Britain. 

And I was surprised because it’s so easy to create an alternative.

We could have town and city centres which are attractive for people to walk and cycle in with clean air and safe streets. 

We can save lives and produce a happier, healthier population if we tackle the pollution problem. 

We can – and will – start by ensuring the European regulations on air pollution are enforced, so that we in the UK stop breaching EU law and have air that we can safely breathe. The air we breathe is shared by us all. It belongs to us all. And the Green Party stands for ensuring we can all enjoy it. Once again, on this vital issue we stand not for corporate interests, or for the prejudices of a minority of climate-change deniers. We stand for the Common Good.

 

 

We need farming for the common good:

We are a nation of animal lovers, but we still allow the slaughter of new born male calves in dairy herds.

As a nation, we allow chickens to be reared in tiny wire pens. 

Successive governments have protected a system in which farmers are forced to cast aside care for their animals to save cash, because our supermarkets insist on buying only the cheapest milk and eggs they can get. 

These pressures are not just bad for animals.

They are forcing our farmers to poison the land we all share, and the water we all rely upon, with chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides in order to increase profits for big corporations. 

It doesn’t even stop there. In the relentless chasing of profit at all cost, our farmers – having given up so much, and bent so far to the will of supermarkets’ impossible demands – are being forced out of business.

Because of a system which demands impossibly cheap food, we are at risk of producing no food at all, because no-one can afford to farm any longer.

We will reform farming so that smaller farms can provide us with safe, healthy food – even if we have to eat a little less meat. 

We will implement changes across the EU, to ensure our farmers – now encouraged and helped to change the way they farm –  don’t lose out to less environmentally and animal friendlyfarming methods in nearby countries.

Again, this is a system in which we all benefit: farmers, because they can stay in business and not be forced into practices which make them feel unhappy, and consumers because they get enough to eat, healthy produce and a better standard of food.

Only the Green Party stands for farming for the good of everyone: for the Common Good.

 

We need education services for the common good:

Education should include: the fact that every single rich person currently making money in the UK has benefitted from free-at-the-point-of-use education. Either they WENT to a state school, or their staff did.

By creating Free Schools, we are creating competition which is not likely to RAISE standards for most children, but DECREASE them: if ONE school is able to ‘poach’ the ‘best’ teaching staff, take and make more money than other schools, whose LA loses money as a result of schools ‘dropping out’ it will still only be able to serve a small percentage of youngsters in its area. Therefore, ‘competition’, far from RAISING standards, actually makes standards WORSE for the majority of students.

A question often asked – a ‘common question’ about the ‘common good’ if you like, is ‘how can we afford this?

And the answer is simple. The money is there. The money has always been there. The only thing which is not there, to deliver a more equal society, one in which everyone benefits and the Common Good is placed ahead of greed as a central part of all our lives, is the system.

As an example: the international argument since 2008 has been one couched in terms of a shortage of cash. We are continually told that we ‘cannot afford’ services. That we ‘cannot afford’ for people to be paid a decent living wage. That, like a medieval doctor, we believe we must cut to make ourselves better.

 

It’s shaped the whole argument about economics and services: should we – must we – cut or borrow to encourage growth? Must we grow? The latter question is, in fact a vital point for consideration. But the argument itself is a red herring: the money has always been there to improve our power-generation methods, to provide services, to provide an education for our children and healthcare for our sick.

It was there pre-2008, and it’s still here now. It’s just that the system is structured to ensure ever-increasing amounts of money are dropped into the pockets of the already very wealthy, at the direct expense of the rest of us – and of society as a whole.

For example, since 2008, the wages of those paid most in the UK have actually increased by 30 per cent, on average. In the same period, the UK’s average wage has fallen – the first time this has happened in more than 100 years.

In 2012, the richest 100 people in the world received enough extra money – that is, received enough MORE than they had in 2011, to pay off the debt of every nation in the world combined, four times over.

The money is there. It has always been there. And that’s why when it comes down to it, we must restructure the economy.

Because it’s bad for us all if nations containing seven billion people in total are on the verge of bankruptcy, while just 100 people increase their wealth in one year by enough to pay off every nation’s debt four times over.

It’s bad for us all if we allow a power generation system which places immediate profit ahead of preventing global catastrophe.

In the Green Party, we’re not calling for the enforced seizing and redistribution of money. But there are measures we can and will introduce which will help everyone benefit.

For example, an EU-wide Transaction Tax – also known as a Robin Hood tax, would raise 57bn euros each year – a vast sum of money.

And that’s just the start. The money is there. But, like everything, the money is useless if it’s not used for something.

In a Europe in which the worst effects of the last global crash are still being felt , wil be felt until 2030– and hitting the poorest hardest – and in a world which is teetering on the brink of ecological collapse, we need action immediately.

And here in the UK, the Green Party is the only party which recognises this. We are the only party offering the alternative not only Russell Brand, but people across the country, are crying out for.

We are the only Party which IS that alternative, and which will deliver us from poverty and disaster to a situation of shared rewards and environmental safety.

And THAT’s what we mean by the Common Good. It’s a cause worth fighting for. It’s a cause the majority of people believe in and agree with.

Our job, from this moment, is to make sure people know they have a place they can turn to, to deliver the nation, the continent, and the world they want. And that that place is here: the Green Party of England and Wales, where we are fighting for the Common Good.