The Ecologist


Joss Garman

Miliband's leadership on climate is tested

Joss Garman

Joss Garman

The climate secretary has been lauded for his coal-fired proposals, but beyond the smokescreen it’s business as usual says Joss Garman

You have to hand it to him. The climate and energy secretary, Ed Miliband, has had a good few weeks. It began when he stood up in Parliament and told the House, ‘the era of unabated coal is over’. Already fondly thought-of by those on the left, Miliband Junior is increasingly the star of the moment, and seen as having the potential to be ‘the one’ to lead Labour out of its political crisis, particularly as one of the few heavyweight MPs not to have got his fingers caught in the till with the
expenses debacle.

With his review of energy policy, he is widely credited with having craftily defused the row over proposed new coal stations such as Kingsnorth in Kent. Admired by Westminster-village-types as a political fixer in the first place, the chattering classes are now muttering that maybe he can defuse Labour’s woes in much the same way.

As usual with this sort of conversation, the establishment has completely missed the... Read More...

European elections - will Brussels go Green?

Joss Garman


It probably isn’t too much of an exaggeration to suggest that most people are hard pushed to name a politician they really admire. In Britain, however, one name will come up time and again.

The leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, is consistently appearing on lists of politicians people recognise, like and consider ethical. For good reason: Caroline can often seem like a lone voice marching the grey corridors of power on our behalf, wrangling with the intricacies of energy policy or trying to clamp down on the aviation industry’s free-for-all.

Caroline is in fact just one of 43 Green members of the European Parliament who can take credit for pushing through some of the best environmental protections anywhere in the world. Take the recent Renewable Energy Directive – perhaps Europe’s most important green law – which commits the whole of Europe to generating at least 20 per cent of its energy (heat, transport and electricity) from renewable sources by 2020. It was drafted by Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes, who together with his colleagues took on huge coal and nuclear special interests and ensured they failed in their attempts... Read More...

An eco injection

Joss Garman

Green Living_51.jpg

Barack Obama and Ban Ki Moon, Labour and the Conservatives, green groups and trade unionists, Nicholas Stern and even Peter Mandelson - everybody is talking about a 'Green New Deal'. Faced with an economic downturn, climate breakdown and an energy system in need of billions of new investment anyway, the idea is simple and attractive.

You pour billions into efficiency and a smart new energy grid based on clean, renewable technologies, and in doing so stimulate a sustainable economic recovery and millions of new green jobs.

By embracing this sort of ‘new energy economy’, the thinking goes, we can also secure our power supplies, reduce our dependence on fossil fuel imports, cut our climate change emissions, reduce rates of fuel poverty and shift the country’s economic dependence away from an increasingly irrelevant ‘financial services’ industry. It’s no wonder everyone likes the idea. The business secretary himself said, ‘This transition to low-carbon is an environmental and economic imperative. It is also inevitable’.

With so many prominent voices talking up this plan, and with so much popular support, you could be mistaken for believing it really is as ‘inevitable’ as Mandelson suggests. After all, it was our Prime Minister who said,... Read More...

Youth driving the environmental movement

Joss Garman


'We're here because our parents' generation has failed us and it's up to young people to stop climate change by whatever peaceful means we have left.'

Much more than just an off-the-cuff soundbite, this reported comment to the BBC from 21-year-old Plane Stupid activist Lily Kember after the occupation of the runway at Stansted was really profound and really resonated. It touched on a theme I predict we’ll come to hear a lot more about. I’ve lost count of the number of people who told me that hearing this quote on every news bulletin that day led to a bit of an ‘epiphany moment’, as they were forced to contemplate why the same young people that don’t usually vote, and whom they usually dismiss as apathetic, were risking so much to go to such extraordinary lengths.

Yet the media establishment, obsessed by the class and personalities of a handful of those involved, continues broadly to miss the significance of the new wave of youth activism it is witnessing and the important question of intergenerational justice.

The naive popular narrative that ‘every generation has their... Read More...

UK’s nuclear arsenal - time to disarm

Joss Garman


We can’t tackle today’s threats using Cold War weapons. That’s why what the UK does with its nuclear arsenal has never been more pertinent.

On the same day the Government announced its approval for a third runway at Heathrow, something else momentous happened that concerns that other major threat to the world – the proliferation of nuclear bombs.

As if from nowhere, three of Britain’s most prestigious military commanders called on the Government to scrap Trident. Field Marshall Lord Bramall, a former chief of defence staff, General Lord Ramsbothom, a former adjutant-general, and General Sir Hugh Beach, former master general of the ordinance, said Trident had become ‘virtually irrelevant’, and argued: ‘It must be asked in what way, and against whom, our nuclear weapons could be used’.

Encouragingly, the debate over the nuclear arsenal is making a comeback, but this time the most vocal critics of the weapons system are coming from the most unlikely quarters. Set against the context of climate change and international terrorism, as well as a biting recession, it is... Read More...

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