The Ecologist

 
Climate change protest

The environmental movement is accused of hampering efforts to tackle climate change by opposing nuclear power and GM (Image: WDM)

More articles about
Related Articles

What the environmental movement got right: activists respond to Channel 4 film

Tom Levitt

4th November, 2010

Green campaigners reject accusations of failure and point out success of domestic climate legislation, regulations to tackle ozone pollution and growing acceptance from the business community of environmental issues

Environmental campaigners have rejected calls to embrace genetically-modified crops and nuclear power in order to tackle climate change.

In a documentary being screened tonight green activists including author Mark Lynas say environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are 'clinging' to out-dated ideological opposition to solutions like nuclear power.

However, Friends of the Earth says its opposition to so-called 'radical solutions' like nuclear and GM is not ideological but practical.

'The solutions for how to deal with radioactive nuclear waste remain. The technology has been around for five decades now and billions of pounds of public subsidies have gone into the industry yet the problem [of radioactive waste] remains unresolved,' said director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett, who added the British taxpayer alone already faced £80 billion in liability for nuclear waste.

The Green Party said a nationwide programme  of energy efficiency, together with investment in a range of renewable  energies and decentralised Combined Heat and Power were a 'cheaper and quicker' way to reduce emissions.

On GM, green campaigners said GM was not a 'silver bullet' for poor farmers. 'In order to help the poorest farmers you must empower them to achieve food sovereignty - they are not going to get that by relying on foreign-owned seeds from foreign-owned corporations,' said Bennett.

A coalition of anti-GM campaigners, including Vandana Shiva have also complained to the makers of the documentary that both the Southern-based commentators speaking out in favour of GM crops in the programme were in employment funded by major biotech companies.

'Where it has been adopted, GM hasn't worked to deliver food security for poor or vulnerable communities in the Global South. There is no evidence that it will do so in the future - drought and salinity-resistant GM crops do not exist - and are unlikely to appear any time soon. Only two types of technology have been successfully commercialised: those resistant to a particular type of herbicide, and those resistant to one specific type of pest. Neither of these technologies in any way address the causes of hunger. But the expensive and patented seeds have made seed saving illegal, taking away poor farmers' most basic rights and resources,' said the letter sent to Channel 4 programme makers.

Green campaigners also said it was wrong to cast the movement as a failure and pointed out the 'extraordinary' success of campaigns on climate change, which brought the world's first legally binding legislation in the Climate Change Act 2008. Bennett said the corporate and business world had slowly been brought onboard to an agenda that may once have been seen as radical, but was now mainstream.

Add to StumbleUpon
  READ MORE...
INTERVIEW
Paul Kingsnorth: environmentalists have lost their way
Former deputy editor of the Ecologist, Paul Kingsnorth, tells Matilda Lee why an obsession with CO2 has distracted environmentalists, and why we may already be beyond the point of no return...
COMMENT
Was 2009 the year the world turned against GM?
Despite promising the world in 2009, biotech corporations have increasingly raised the hackles of scientists and citizens worldwide
NEWS ANALYSIS
Climate Camp: saviour of the environmental movement?
Hostile police tactics at the Kingsnorth and G20 camps has not put protesters off as climate camp goes global
HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Climate change needs persuasive art, not propaganda
What is art's role in raising awareness of climate change? In this extract from her passionate, poetic essay 'The Far-seers of Art', Jay Griffiths explains why culture without nature is as good as worthless
INVESTIGATION
Will historic deal to protect Canada's mighty boreal forest work?
The unprecedented Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement will, if all goes to plan, preserve vast swathes of the country's pristine wilderness. But as environmentalists and the logging industry begin to roll the initiative out, there are claims that not everything is as it should be

 

Previous Articles...

ECOLOGIST COOKIES

Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...

 

FOLLOW
THE ECOLOGIST