Tag Archives: renewable energy

Britain could transform its role from military aggressor to one of conflict prevention and conflict resolution: John McDonnell

awp-coverExtracts from A WORLD OF PEACE, a chapter in ‘Another World is Possible’ by MP John McDonnell, 2007. As readers valued and kept their copies, none are available online. He writes:

The British and US governments have taken on the role of self-appointed global enforcers of the new world order, or rather disorder, that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Far from solving issues like terrorism, their approach has more often than not made them more intractable.

“Britain was committed by New Labour to a perpetual ‘war on terror’ now rebranded by Washington as ‘The Long War’ that is based on simplistic notions of ‘good and evil’ and the imperial concept of a ‘clash of civilisations’ “.  (Ed: following Conservative governments have made the same commitment).

After listing the number of Iraqi civilian deaths McDonnell ends, “Some 55% in Britain say they feel the government’s policies have made the country a more dangerous place” (link added). A radical new approach is needed, John McDonnell’s recommendations for a new policy framework included,

  • The development of a principled foreign policy based on co-operation, mutual respect, fair trade and adherence to international law.
  • The establishment of a Ministry for Peace at the heart of government.

Based on its experience of securing peace in Northern Ireland, Britain could transform its role in the world from military aggressor to one of conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

NLW logoThe European Working Group on Nonlethal Weapons (EWG-NLW) has members from many countries, drawn from NATO and the naval, scientific, technical, policing and defence research sectors. Its mission statement follows:

nlw leaflet

Could it go a step further and work towards the use of these technologies to halt armed conflict and enter mediation, followed by long-term economic and cultural peacebuilding?

And, George MacPherson urges (paywall): “redirect our spending towards, for example, disaster relief; housing and services; renewable energy; rapid response to pandemics; the United Nations and international law and order; and environmental conservation.

As John McDonnell says:another world is possible’

 

 

 

 

o

 

 

 

 

FT: Shinzo Abe has called on all countries to join Japan and act now to save our planet

The admirable Japan Times reports that for the past three months, this phrase: どうなっちゃってるの今年の夏 (Dō natchatteru no kotoshi no natsu, (What’s up with this summer?) was a standard greeting among friends and colleagues in Japan. The summer of 2018 broke meteorological records, devastating entire regions along the coast of western Japan. There were unprecedented levels of rain, heat, landslides and hurricanes.

The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called on all countries to join Japan and act now to save our planet. In the Financial Times he writes:

This summer western Japan was battered by the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 25 years. Unprecedented torrential rain and landslides ravaged the residents of western Japan this summer, killing more than 200 people, and ruining hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

Roads are cut off by a mudslide at a section of the Kyushu Expressway in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture (all pictures and emphases added)

Meanwhile, severe scorching heatwaves struck the country and resulted in approximately 160 deaths. Fierce heat also gripped North America and Europe, and hurricanes and typhoons hit the US and Philippines.

Global warming increases carbon dioxide and acidifies the ocean, damaging its ability to self-purify. Even worse, proliferating marine plastic pollution threatens marine ecosystems and eventually, our own health.

The international community has taken steps to address climate change with forward-looking and long-term goals. An agreement was adopted in Paris in 2015 with the participation of all major economies including China and India. The following year, I went a step further at the Ise-Shima summit in Japan, as G7 members committed to devising long-term strategies.

Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations, be it the elderly or the young and in developed and developing countries alike.

Rescuers help local residents to evacuate in the town of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture

The problem is exacerbating more quickly than we expected. We must take more robust actions. And swiftly.

The way forward is clear. We must save both the green of the earth and the blue of its oceans.

Our goals must be firmly based on the latest scientific knowledge. As we learn more, through the work and expertise of the scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the entire world should take appropriate measures accordingly.

All countries must engage with the same level of urgency. Some are still increasing greenhouse gas emissions and emit more than 2bn tonnes annually according to the International Energy Agency. All countries must put promises into practice. Developed countries should provide support to developing countries for fulfilling their obligations.

As part of their long-term strategies, governments should promote innovation to drive new growth and spread the net widely for new ideas.

No alternatives should be excluded. Japan has goals such as creating ultra-high-capacity storage batteries, further decentralising and digitising automated energy control systems, and evolving into a hydrogen-based energy society. Countries should also rank the competitiveness of a company based on its development and dissemination of future-oriented technologies. This would encourage companies to invest for the long term.

Momentum is already growing in the private sector. The number of companies engaging in environment, social and governance-focused investment or issuing green bonds is rising dramatically. Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund is one of them. Investors now require businesses to analyse environmental challenges and disclose potential risks as well as opportunities.

We must also focus on reducing emissions from infrastructure.

In Japan, our Shinkansen high-speed rail network prevents congestion and boosts the overall fuel efficiency of transportation nationwide. We also have set our carmakers a goal to cut the greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle they produce by 80 per cent by 2050 so as to realise “Well-to-Wheel Zero Emission”.

We must simultaneously boost economic growth and reduce the use of fossil fuels. That means cutting the costs and improving the reliability of renewable energy. In Japan, the volume of electricity generated from renewable sources has increased 2.5-fold in the past four years. Japan will host the world’s first ministerial meeting focused on hydrogen energy. We cannot overlook safe nuclear power generation and controls on emissions of methane and hydrofluorocarbons.

Manufacturers with large-scale greenhouse gas emissions should be encouraged to update their production methods. Countries should stop excessive steel production, which causes massive greenhouse gas emissions and creates imbalances in markets.

Finally we should tap data processing and communications advances to speed up the innovation cycle. Investing in energy transition and the sharing economy will ensure economic growth and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases.

Addressing climate change, marine pollution, and disaster risk reduction are critical pillars for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Japan will preside over the G20 next year and focus on accelerating the virtuous cycle of environmental protection and economic growth.

When the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development is held in Japan, we will extend support to African countries. We invite the rest of the world to join us in tackling this tough challenge.

*

Endnote:

Today the Japan Times brings news of a data processing and communications innovation from ‘informed sources’. The Japanese government plans to launch in 2019 a system in which information on earthquakes, heavy rain and other disasters collected by government agencies and local authorities is displayed on electronic maps. Work to connect central government agencies’ computers to the electronic map system is likely to be completed by next March, setting the stage for full operations.

A photo taken on April 25, 2016, shows devastation from earthquakes in Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture. Electronic maps to show information on disasters were used on a trial basis for the Kumamoto quake.

The system is intended to facilitate the sharing of disaster information and help enable adequate disaster responses by relevant bodies. During the heavy rain in the northern part of the Kyushu in summer 2017, it was used for search and rescue operations by police and firefighters. Soon after the giant earthquake in Hokkaido earlier this month, it was utilized for the supply of relief goods by the central government.

 

What Labour should do now: inspire, promote and oppose: Professor Paul Rogers

In an Open Democracy article, Professor Paul Rogers focusses on the critical need for the Labour Party to inspire its electorate and the wider public.

It should:

  • Inspire people with innovative approaches on many key issues,
  • promote specific examples which illuminate the potential of a Labour government,
  • and oppose by repeatedly focusing on the problems that the Conservative government will be facing.

Rogers continues:

“The dominantly antagonistic and right-wing national press will cause all the trouble it can, especially for Jeremy Corbyn but also for Labour as a whole. Even so, large-scale public meetings will get local print and broadcast media coverage, with these outlets much more sensitive to viewer and reader opinion. Remember that many provincial dailies have readerships in their circulation areas that are close to the combined local readership of the nationals. Moreover, social media lend themselves to useful coverage.

“In doing this, one way to have a real effect is to change the nature of the whole debate. This still means speaking to and for the alienated and the marginalised – as a transnational elite presides over a relatively sidelined majority. . But it also means bringing in major new elements, some domestic but other clearly international, the latter focussing on Britain’s potential role in a post-Brexit world.

“So here are three domestic and three international elements. They are not exclusive of others or of issues already to the fore. They are merely examples – and there may well be better ones.

First, domestic:

Business

Invest in SME support but strengthen financial regulation, especially in the finance sector itself. Demand hugely more effective action on tax avoidance, but fund HMRC to ensure it has adequate expertise. Seriously take on tax havens. Increase higher tax rates. Offer fiscal and other support for mutuals, cooperatives, co-ownerships and other forms of business organisation. Halt and reverse creeping privatisation of the NHS and education while investing seriously in many elements of the national infrastructure.

Transport 

Cancel HS2 and replace it with heavy investment in upgrading the capacity and quality of rolling-stock on all major intercity routes. Opt for modest increases in speed but more emphasis on passenger comfort, especially less overcrowding. Invest in rapid and systematic electrification across the north starting with the Trans-Pennine route. Take Southern back into public ownership now and return railways to public ownership as franchises expire but within franchise periods if companies fail to deliver to newly set higher targets for service delivery.

Energy

Cancel Hinkley Point and replace with heavy investment in renewables, with far more emphasis on wind energy, both onshore and offshore, and invest heavily in research and development of new systems for generation and especially storage. Reverse recent government downgrading of green policies and put far greater emphasis on energy conservation.

Second, international:

Post-Brexit 

Accept Brexit, but use it to argue for a new international role for Britain which combines continued commitment to Europe as a whole with far greater emphasis on worldwide links, not least the Commonwealth. Thus, argue for the UK being in the unique position of unrivalled connections to Europe, north America and the global south, in facing the common global problems of the failing neoliberal economic system and critical environmental pressures.

United Nations and Security 

Support and commit strongly to effective United Nations peacekeeping, including a commitment to lead investment into a UN Emergency Peace Service. Prepare to lead on this, including a highly trained multinational standing force with Britain at the centre. Make Britain as the lead player in this field. Accept that the wars since 2001 have been disastrous and have left countries, including Britain, less secure. Demand a complete rethink of strategies using the best available analysts given a free rein to propose new options, however radical. In the light of Chilcot and the continuing problems with ISIS, this will strike a chord.

Environment and Development

Emphasise that climate disruption is the greatest long-term security threat to everyone, but especially to the marginalised. Maintain the development budget in full but call for the reform of DfID towards a far stronger commitment to action on deep poverty and gendered and sustainable development, all in the context of persistent anti-corruption policies.

In all cases, argue with confidence and never fail to remember four elements:

* The Conservative government has already had to reverse core policies

* The 2008 financial crisis had its origins in the banking system, starting with the toxic loan debacle in the United States. It was not the fault of Labour, but Labour had failed to regulate the financial sector adequately. The party will not let this happen again

* Individual bankers, hedge-fund managers and the rest are not the problem – it is the system itself which is the problem, because it is far more deep-seated and entwined with the progressive failure of the neoliberal economic system after forty-plus years. Only Labour recognises this and is ahead of the times, not behind them. Repeat this with confidence

* The greatest global threat comes from climate disruption – repeat ad nauseam.

Source: https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what-labour-should-do-now (2016)

 

 

 

 

o