The environment

"The Silvertown Tunnel will be a disaster"

Victoria Rance, a spokesperson for the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign, spoke to Solidarity. If it goes ahead the Silvertown Tunnel [a road tunnel under the Thames between Silvertown and the Greenwich Peninsula, supported by London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan] will be a disaster for people in East London and for the fight against climate change. It’s being justified as a way of easing congestion. The Blackwall Tunnel always has jams, and there’s not many river crossings in the East of London. But what they’re doing is making a crossing right next to the Blackwall Tunnel – it’s the same...

Workers, trade unions and climate politics

Calvin Lawson - an RMT rep in Newcastle, part of the RMT Environmental Action Group, and co-lead on trade union strategy for Labour for a Green New Deal - spoke to Solidarity. Our trade union group within Labour for a Green New Deal is working with local groups to establish union link officers who can connect with trades councils, union branches and so on to support workers’ struggles but also take up environmental questions. We’ve organised some roadshows to encourage discussion and engagement, for instance in the North East where I’m based and working with Unison in the Manchester area. That...

Coal-mine backtrack

Cumbria’s Labour county council has announced that it will reconsider the development of a new deep coal mine. A spokesperson for the council said this was due to the official Climate Change Committee’s advice in December 2020 with regards to the UK’s sixth carbon budget. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that digging coal to burn, whether for electricity or steel-making, is not a good way to reduce carbon emissions. Whilst the current trend might look like it is going against new coal, the inconsistency and lack of alternative economic opportunity undermines any climate ambition...

Capital is the culprit

“Things are harder for our generation than they were for our parents. But in one respect we are luckier than our parents. We have begun to learn and are rapidly learning to fight — and to fight not as individuals, as the best of our parents fought... but for our slogans, the slogans of our class. We are fighting better than our parents did. Our children will fight better than we do, and they will be victorious.” Lenin, The Working Class and Neo-Malthusianism (1913) This article takes up from the review of David Attenborough: A Life on This Planet in Solidarity 580. Fossil fuel — mostly coal —...

Blaming all of humanity

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, the critically acclaimed late 2020 documentary, is a powerful watch. Awe-inspiring natural beauty, captured on film, is interwoven with his signature emotive narration, plus a personal touch from this infamous presenter. It’s no surprise that this environmental call-to-arms caused ripples. This “witness statement” tracks a lifetime studying nature: and its continual destruction and decline. Humans increasingly dominate and destroy the natural world, consuming more and more of the earth which supports us. The great disaster he focusses on is...

The fight on climate adaptation

Fish returning to ponds not spotted in in decades, birdsong becoming more audible, goats invading Welsh towns, and pterodactyl spotted flying above the river Tyne. Such were the reports of the ecological bounce back in the first UK lockdown of 2020. Indeed, the most featured climate paper of the year in mainstream and social media was on reduced global CO2 emissions, globally, due to lockdowns. Nonetheless, emissions were still vast, and built on years and decades of ever-accelerating greenhouse gas emissions, to deliver the joint-highest global surface temperatures on record — alongside 2016...

Why banned pesticide is being used

Twenty-twenty: an epidemic proliferated across Europe, wreaking devastation, hitting the South of England badly, and continuing into 2021. The government is legislating emergency measures. No, I’m not referring to CoV-SARS-2. I’m talking about Beet Yellows Virus. On 8 January, the government authorised use of thiamethoxam for tackling BYV. Thiamethoxam was banned in 2018 across the EU, with UK support, as part of wider restrictions on the neonicotinoid family of pesticides. There is no relevant change in the evidence for restricting those pesticides. The virus infects and kills sugar beet, the...

Official report calls for 50% less meat and dairy

“Veganuary” in 2020 was unprecedented in size and publicity. 2021’s veganuary is predicted to break the record once again, reaching even bigger heights as individuals worldwide experiment with being vegan for a month. This comes the month following the “Sixth Carbon Budget” by the UK’s official Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s. The report is politically and economically conservative, and as a result ecologically conservative, aiming for net zero carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050. Its most ambitious “scenario only reaches Net Zero in 2042, with a reduction of 87% by 2035”. This stands...

Four climate futures

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future by Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright is an interesting read, with much to criticise, but some interesting and important questions raised.

Pandemics and the drives of capital

With SARS-Cov-2 after H5N1 (or avian influenza), SARS, MERS, swine flu, Ebola, and Zika, we are living in an age of pandemics. A widening circuit of agricultural production, consumption and exchange is pushing deeper into forests and back out into cities. Host species that historically would have been confined to deep forests are now transported to peri-urban regions with high concentrations of human bodies. Traversing a globally integrated air traffic network, pathogens previously not on the global stage are being brought to it. The context of Ebola and other diseases emerging in and from...

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