Extinction Rebellion demands action from Boris and warns ‘our numbers are growing’

EXTINCTION REBELLION has lashed out at the government over its slow response to their climate change protests, warning: “They’re simply not enough – we’re running out of time!”

For the past eight months, the climate change group has been protesting for Westminster to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to commit to reducing emissions down to net zero by 2025. Since taking its first public action on October 31, 2018, Extinction Rebellion has grown into a global movement with more than 360 groups across 59 countries. The group has significantly ramped up its demonstrations this year, with more than 1,000 protesters arrested at five sites across the capital in April, some of which bought public transport to a complete standstill.

The Metropolitan Police was left overstretched by the chaos, which cost the force around £16million.

Dozens more arrests, including those of a 14-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy in Westminster’s Parliament Square – were made last week at the conclusion of another Extinction Rebellion “summer uprising” aimed at causing disruption to Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and London.

On Wednesday, demonstrators from Greenpeace tied to block the wide ceremonial avenue leading to Buckingham Palace as new Boris Johnson was being driven through it in a convoy to meet the Queen to officially soon in as Prime Minister.

But speaking to Express.co.uk, Extinction Rebellion member Zion Lights said although their message is partially getting through to the Government, there hasn’t been a quick enough response and soon it will be too late.

extinction rebellion protests
Climate change news: Extinction Rebellion have launched mass protests across the UK (Image: REUTERS)

The statements and promises from the Government are simply not enough and we are running out of time.— Zion Lights

The group member said: “It’s a slow process, but I think we’ve at least raised the alarm along with the school strikers.

“Although Parliament declared a climate emergency, the government is continuing with business as usual. We need to start paying attention to what scientists have been telling us for decades, and start acting on these recommendations now. The longer we wait to take drastic action the greater the risk that we trigger irreversible feedback loops and start down a road of runaway warming.” SOURCE

This Ontario town is trying to be Canada’s first carbon-neutral community

If Eden Mills can do it, why can’t Prince Edward County do it?

The tiny village of Eden Mills is closing in on its goal, proving what collective action can achieve


Zawadzki used green tech like solar panels and rainwater barrels for his new Eden Mills home (Photograph by Cole Garside)

An hour’s drive from Toronto on the northwestern edge of Milton, Ont., is a little-known town with a little-known story of climate-change activism. With about 350 residents, Eden Mills has long sought to preserve its 19th-century charm, making it a haven for big-city escapees who enjoy cycling or placid walks along the Eramosa River. More recently, though, its inhabitants have worked toward a distinctly 21st-century goal: becoming Canada’s first carbon-neutral community.

The project has defined the past 12 years of Charles Simon’s life. He got the idea after watching a TV program about Ashton Hayes, which is aiming to become England’s first carbon-neutral village. It also happens to be located near where Simon, a retired engineer, grew up. After a summer visit to the U.K. in 2007, he returned to his own community with a vision. And to his surprise, his neighbours bought in.Other cities, provinces and entire countries currently grappling with climate crisis would love to be able to boast about Eden Mills’s results so far—at last count in 2013, the town was 75 per cent of the way to its goal of neutrality, thanks to an 18 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint and its abundant existing forest canopy that sucks up CO₂. Household emissions were down by 554 tonnes annually, while carbon sequestration resulting from greenery added by the community increased by 277 tonnes, or six per cent. (Preliminary results from a more recent count suggest the village is even closer, with the footprint down by 22 per cent.)

The carbon footprint of the 100-year-old red-brick community hall has decreased by 96 per cent, the result of a massive retrofit that began in 2009 (Photograph by Cole Garside)

The enduring symbol of its achievements: the village’s 100-year-old community hall, a red-brick edifice whose carbon footprint has decreased by 96 per cent. Its need for purchased energy has dropped an astonishing 91 per cent annually since a massive retrofit involving everything from a solar-panel array to programmable thermostats.

Yes, it’s a success story writ small, say residents. And yes, it’s a lot easier to move the needle in a tiny community that doesn’t rely on industry. But Simon and others say it demonstrates the impact collective action at the grassroots level can have. “We were saying, ‘We are part of the problem, we can’t wait for government, we can’t wait for powerful corporations,’ ” he recalls of the genesis of the project. “We thought, if we start something from the ground up, other people maybe will follow and maybe we will learn something along the way.” MORE

TAKE ACTION! Quebec has an offer Ontario can’t refuse – forever

Once again this week, the Ontario government turned up its nose at an offer of low-cost power from its neighbour. Despite failing to make any progress on his promise to reduce electricity costs by 12%, Premier Ford told his Quebec counterpart that he was not interested in a deal that would provide power at one-third the cost of power from rebuilt reactors.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault isn’t giving up, however. He astutely predicts that once Ontario starts seeing the real costs of nuclear rebuilds, it will be a lot more interested in what Quebec has to offer.

Quebec has a large and growing electricity surplus and the lowest power costs in North America. Ontario is already in a position to import a significant amount of power from Quebec, and upgrading our transmission capacity to bring in enough power to replace all of the Darlington Nuclear Station’s production 24/7/365 would cost much, much less than rebuilding one reactor.

Premier Ford says he is focused on making life affordable for Ontarians. So why is his government following in the footsteps of its predecessors by ignoring what Quebec has to offer while subsidizing expensive nuclear projects?

Please email the Premier<doug.ford@pc.ola.organd tell him it’s time to get serious about reducing electricity costs by making a deal with Quebec.

Greens Are the New Hope for Europe’s Center. For the Far Right, They’re Enemy No. 1.

“Governing is radical,” said Annalena Baerbock, a co-leader of Germany’s Green party. “We are ready.”
CreditCreditDaniel Kopatsch/EPA, via Shutterstock

BERLIN — When protesters in reflective yellow vests took to the barricades in France, rebelling against a gas tax that would hit hardest those who could least afford it, Annalena Baerbock was watching closely from across the border.

A co-leader of Germany’s Greens, Ms. Baerbock has seen her party steadily strengthen over the last year. But she knows if the Greens are to become a bigger force, they will have to convince voters that climate policy is not an elitist but a common cause, while also addressing their economic concerns.

“The lesson from France is that we cannot save the climate at the expense of social justice,” said Ms. Baerbock, who at 38 is roughly the same age as her party. “The two things need to go hand in hand.”

This is the Greens’ moment in Europe, or at least it could be.

The Greens now routinely beat Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in the polls and are widely expected to be part of the next German government. In recent European elections, Green parties gained significantly in other corners of the Continent, too, winning 63 out of 751 seats in the European Parliament, an increase of about 47 percent.

UK: Public-Common Partnerships: Building New Circuits of Collective Ownership

Image result for Building New Circuits of Collective Ownership

Executive summary

This report introduces a new institutional framework for a transformative socialist politics: the Public-Common Partnership (PCP).

Whilst the era of new public-private partnerships in the UK has apparently come to an end, more than £199 billion of Public Private Partnership (PPP) payments from the public to the private sphere are due into the 2040s. This accumulation of wealth for the few comes at the cost of deteriorating services for the many. The debt itself serves to foreclose political alternatives by tying the hands of future authorities with ceaseless debt repayments and the further entrenchment of market logic.

The popularity of calls for the nationalisation of utilities or services – such as energy, water, and housing – points to a widespread rejection of the marketisation of essential services. Yet straightforward state ownership through nationalisation or municipalisation, often treated as a panacea, is not the only alternative. As well as questioning when and where centralised ownership is appropriate, we need to think about the institutional forms of ownership and governance that are most appropriate to a radical project of social transformation. What are we trying to achieve, and what institutional forms can help take us there?

Drawing on partial examples such as the co-owned energy company in Wolfhagen, Germany, we provide an outline of what we call a Public-Common Partnership (PCP). PCPs offer an alternative institutional design that moves us beyond the overly simplistic binary of market/state. Instead, they involve co-ownership between appropriate state authorities and a Commoners Association, alongside co-combined governance with a third association of project specific relevant parties such as trade unions and relevant experts. Rather than a mono-cultural institutional form applied indiscriminately PCPs should emerge as an overlapping patchwork of institutions that respond to the peculiarities of the asset concerned, the scale at which the PCP will operate (whether it be city-region wide energy production in Greater Manchester or the commercial activity of a North London market), and the individuals and communities that will act together as commoners.

PCPs can help address challenges of political risk and economic cost, enabling more innovative and “risky” initiatives. However their real strength comes from setting in motion a self-expanding circuit of radical democratic self-governance. The aim of this circuit is to bypass the need for private financing and sidestep the mechanisms through which finance capital exercises its discipline and structures the economy. PCPs will function as a “training in democracy” and help foster a new common-sense understanding of how we relate to one another. They are a method for “taking back control” of the infrastructures and resources that underpin our collective well-being – from food markets to water basins – while increasing our collective ability to fight for the wider structural changes in our society and economy that are so urgently needed – from a reduction in the working week to the implementation of a comprehensive Green New Deal.

MORE

They’re Not Just Mad at AOC — They’re Scared of Her

Nancy Pelosi’s war of words with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t about clashing personalities. It’s about Democratic elites trying to undercut AOC’s bold, left agenda.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listens to testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill, February 27, 2019 in Washington DC. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

ust over one year ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) sent shockwaves through the mainstream political establishment by ousting ten-term incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in New York. Running as an open democratic socialist on a platform of redistributive economics, universal health care, bold climate action, and abolishing ICE, she lit a spark under a moribund Democratic Party, becoming an immediate media sensation and capturing the imagination of progressives and young people across the country.In the face of the incredible response to Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise victory, House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) threw cold water on all the excitement. “They made a choice in one district,” she said. “So let’s not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that.”

Flash forward to today, and Pelosi’s dismissal of Ocasio-Cortez and her role in the party is again making headlines. This time, the controversy stems from comments Pelosi made to the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd about AOC and her “squad” of fellow freshmen reps Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI): “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

Those comments elicited a response from Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti in which they defended the reputation of the four new progressives, calling Pelosi’s characterization “outright disrespectful.”

The ensuing back-and-forth has seen longtime incumbent Democrats pile on criticisms of the squad, with some members accusing Ocasio-Cortez of using “the race card” for suggesting that leadership was “singling out” the newly elected women of color. Even the operatives behind the official House Democrats Twitter account got in on the action, sending out a tweet disparaging Chakrabarti for daring to criticize moderate Democrats over their votes.

Mainstream outlets have characterized the conflict as driven by generational tensions, or (on Pelosi’s side) simply a desire to protect Democratic incumbents from criticism. But the feud in fact speaks to something much deeper: Ocasio-Cortez and her allies are pushing for bold, transformational policies that would upend the current economic and political system. That campaign is coming into open conflict with a Democratic establishment that would prefer to just keep things as they are.

Breaking Ranks With the Establishment

Consider the political backdrop to the current war of words. Pelosi’s “four votes” comment was in reference to a border funding package that Ocasio-Cortez and the squad all voted against, arguing it would provide financing for immigration enforcement more than it would address the humanitarian needs of migrants. The final version of the bill passed by Pelosi included even less aid for migrants than the previous House version, with the few measly concessions secured by the Speaker including a promise from Vice President Mike Pence “that members would be notified within 24 hours of the death of a child in U.S. custody.”

Contrast that dystopian compromise with the stated policy goals of Ocasio-Cortez when it comes to immigration: Repealing laws that criminalize entering the United States without proper documentation, massively increasing US aid to Central America, abolishing ICE — the brutal arm of the US deportation regime that she says “systematically and repeatedly violates human rights” — and even dissolving the Department of Homeland Security, an agency that has been sacrosanct to both the Republican and Democratic parties since its creation after September 11.

This approach to immigration flies in the face of decades of mainstream Democratic Party messaging around the issue, which has consistently centered militarizing the border, criminalizing those who would dare cross it, and deporting immigrants in order to claim the mantle of “toughness.” But the Democratic approach to immigration isn’t just about rhetorical positioning. It also stems from the fact that many Democrats rely on funding from the very same private prison industry that undergirds the horrendous system of migrant detention camps in the United States. MORE

How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the ‘1 percent’


A march in Ådalen, Sweden, in 1931.

While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

Neither country is a utopia, as readers of the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbø will know. Critical left-wing authors such as these try to push Sweden and Norway to continue on the path toward more fully just societies. However, as an American activist who first encountered Norway as a student in 1959 and learned some of its language and culture, the achievements I found amazed me. I remember, for example, bicycling for hours through a small industrial city, looking in vain for substandard housing. Sometimes resisting the evidence of my eyes, I made up stories that “accounted for” the differences I saw: “small country,” “homogeneous,” “a value consensus.” I finally gave up imposing my frameworks on these countries and learned the real reason: their own histories.

Then I began to learn that the Swedes and Norwegians paid a price for their standards of living through nonviolent struggle. There was a time when Scandinavian workers didn’t expect that the electoral arena could deliver the change they believed in. They realized that, with the 1 percent in charge, electoral “democracy” was stacked against them, so nonviolent direct action was needed to exert the power for change. MORE

Solving the ecological crisis requires a mass movement: system change, not climate change

“Solving the ecological crisis requires a mass movement to take on hugely powerful industries. Yet environmentalism’s base in the professional-managerial class and focus on consumption has little chance of attracting working-class support. This article argues for a program that tackles the ecological crisis by organizing around working-class interests.”

Image result for working-class interests Had it not been for working class movements, what would our society be like? We should ask: In Sweden and Norway, where the working class took power and set the direction for a democratic society, what were the results?

The climate and ecological crisis is dire and there’s little time to address it. In just over a generation (since 1988), we have emitted half of all historic emissions.1 In this same period the carbon load in the atmosphere has risen from around 350 parts per million to over 410 — the highest level in 800,000 years (the historic preindustrial average was around 278).2Human civilization only emerged in a rare 12,000 year period of climate stability — this period of stability is ending fast. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report suggests we have a mere twelve years to drastically lower emissions to avoid 1.5 C warming — a level that will only dramatically increase the spikes in extreme superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and deadly heat waves (to say nothing of sea-level rise).3 New studies show changing rainfall patterns will threaten grain production like wheat, corn, and rice within twenty years.4 A series of three studies suggest as early as 2070, half a billion people will, “experience humid heat waves that will kill even healthy people in the shade within 6 hours.”5You don’t have to be a socialist to believe the time frame of the required changes will necessitate a revolution of sorts. The IPCC flatly said we must immediately institute “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”6 The noted climate scientist Kevin Anderson said, “… when you really look at the numbers behind the report, look at the numbers the science comes out with, then we’re talking about a complete revolution in our energy system. And that is going to beg very fundamental questions about how we run our economies.”7

The radical climate movement has long coalesced around the slogan “system change, not climate change.” The movement has a good understanding that capitalism is the main barrier to solving the climate crisis. Yet sometimes the notion of “system change” is vague on howsystems change. The dilemma of the climate crisis is not as simple as just replacing one system with another — it requires a confrontation with some of the wealthiest and most powerful sectors of capital in world history. This includes a mere 100 companies responsible for 71 percent of the emissions since 1988.8 The fossil fuel industry and other carbon-intensive sectors of capital (steel, chemicals, cement, etc.) will not sit by and allow the revolutionary changes that make their business models obsolete. MORE

NOTES:

    1. Paul Griffin, The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017(London: Carbon Disclosure Project, 2017), 5.
    2.  Elizabeth Gamillo, “Atmospheric carbon last year reached levels not seen in 800,000 years” Science.
    3.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Global Warming of 1.5 °C.
    4.  Maisa Rojas, Fabrice Lambert, Julian Ramirez-Villegas, and Andrew J. Challinor, “Emergence of robust precipitation changes across crop production areas in the 21st century,” Proceedings of The National Academy Of Sciences (early view, 2019).
    5.  Climate Guide Blog: “Non-survivable humid heatwaves for over 500 million people,” March 9, 2019.
    6.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC approved by governments,” October 8, 2018.
    7.  Democracy Now, “Climate Scientist: As U.N. Warns of Global Catastrophe, We Need a “Marshall Plan” for Climate Change,” October 9, 2018.
    8.  Griffin, 2017.