Activist News

Where do the political parties stand on ending plastic pollution?

Greenpeace UK - Fri, 2019-12-06 12:21

We’re in a climate emergency and using more plastic than ever before. Oil companies are investing more money to produce more and more trash we can’t get rid of or recycle. The time to act is now – the need has never been more urgent and retailers can’t make the changes alone.

Plastics pollution is a big issue for voters. In recent polling, 75% of the British public now believe that single-use plastic products should be banned as soon as possible.

All the UK political parties vying for votes in the general election have now launched their manifestos. Here’s what they have to say on tackling the worsening plastic problem.

Brexit

The Brexit party make vague commitments to recycle and ban waste exports. They give no dates and no plans, so they don’t present a viable proposal for reducing plastics in the future.

Conservative

The Conservative party suggest some good policies but do not go nearly far enough. They talk about banning waste exports to non-OECD countries. But, as Unearthed discovered, 62% of the waste we export goes to OECD countries like Poland and Turkey anyway. These countries also have weaker labour rights, so it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. They also missed an opportunity to back a proper “all in” deposit return scheme, one which accepts all sizes and types of plastics. Most importantly, have no real plan to reduce the amount of plastic we use in the first place.

Their main strength is that they plan to make producers of plastic waste (including supermarkets) financially responsible for cleaning it up. This will relieve the unfair burden placed on local councils and create incentives for manufacturers to use more packaging that can be recycled.

Green

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Green party’s plastic plans are the most ambitious, including a pledge to ban single-use plastic entirely in the long term. Most helpful, however, is their promise to tackle plastic production – truly meeting the problem at its climate-damaging source.

In general, they think more holistically than any other party about our use of natural resources and their proposals are most in line with what’s needed to tackle the climate emergency.

Labour

The Labour party have some good policies. What sets them apart is that they have actually promised specific funds (£4.5 billion to be exact) for recycling infrastructure. This is what the UK desperately needs and which they hope will reduce the amount of waste dumped on other countries.

They also want to “encourage sustainable design and manufacturing processes”. This is great for a plastic when its production has huge environmental impacts, but Labour give no details about how they would like this to happen.

They don’t present a real plan to reduce our production or use of plastic. They also fail to mention plans to usher in a revolution in reusable, refillable and packaging-free products. Their proposed grants for local authority “reuse centres”, though important, refer to reuse at the end of a products life, not designing it for reuse in the first place.

Liberal Democrat

The Liberal Democrats have committed to legally binding plastic reduction targets, a Zero Waste and Resource Efficiency Act and a deposit return scheme for all types of containers. They didn’t come out on top in our overall manifesto rankings, but in this area they are to be commended. Plastic use is going up, and we need long term plans set in law to tackle it.

The only negative point was failing to be specific about whether producers of waste would be held responsible for cleaning it up. This needs to be in any law passed to deal with plastic pollution.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru want to ban single-use plastics by 2030, which is far more in line with the public mood than some of the other parties. It’s their long-term ambition to make Wales zero-waste by 2030 – an ambition that should be mirrored by the government in Westminster.

The only area in which they fall down is failing to be specific about what kind of deposit scheme they would like to introduce. Also concerning is their idea of encouraging the development of “sustainable alternatives” to plastic. The best alternative is rarely (if ever) switching to another material, but to a reusable, refillable or packaging-free solution.

Scottish National Party

The SNP have been light on plans to tackle plastic pollution at a systemic level. They have committed to some great ideas – an “all in” deposit return scheme and a charge aimed at reducing the use of plastic cups – and are currently introducing them into law in Scotland. But many of their plastic policies are simply requirements of the European Union’s single-use plastic directive. This includes bans on plastic plates, cutlery, straws and cotton buds, for example.

That’s the rundown of what promises political parties are making to tackle the problem of plastic pollution. See how the party manifestos measure up on the climate and nature emergency.

The post Where do the political parties stand on ending plastic pollution? appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Despite their slick spin, supermarkets put more plastic than ever on their shelves this year

Greenpeace UK - Thu, 2019-12-05 14:36

The past few years have been a turning point for our oceans. Viral footage of beached whales with plastic in their stomachs, turtles with straws jammed up their noses, and crabs stuck in plastic cups have travelled the world. 

We’re all waking up to the damage plastic is having on our environment. As a result, a wave of public outrage led to a host of commitments and pledges from supermarkets to reduce plastic. 

But how much was actually done? Greenpeace UK and the Environmental Investigation Agency investigated their commitments, and how their promises on plastic measured up to actual achievements.

The results are shocking. Supermarkets now put over 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging on their shelves a year. Like most plastic, it finds its way into our oceans or goes into landfill. 

Last year Greenpeace published its first league table ranking UK supermarkets’ plastic footprint. In this year’s updated league table there have been some shifts in the ranking, some backtracking, and more hopefully, some breakthroughs.

Supermarkets are creating a sea of plastic that just keeps getting bigger

The big news is that supermarkets put even more plastic than ever before on their shelves this year. Seven of the 10 supermarkets ranked increased their plastic footprint. All of this at a time when over 1.5 million people have called on them to make dramatic reductions! 

There are no real winners or losers in our league table – across the board we are seeing far too much single-use plastic hitting the shelves. This is plastic that customers have overwhelmingly said “no thanks” to – sometimes literally, at the tills.

The bottom performers are yet to embrace refillable and reusable packing at scale and grew their overall plastic footprint from the year before. 

The percentage ranking was decided from scores across four categories: Promises made on reduction and reuse, Future plans on reduction and reuse, Recyclability/recycled content, Influencing suppliers and Transparency.

Sainsbury’s were one of the big climbers this year. Having come bottom of the league last year, they now sit more comfortably (but far from perfect) at third place. Sainsbury’s announced plans to reduce plastic by 50%, and introduced reusable produce bags for loose fruit and vegetables. This came as tens of thousands of outraged customers took action against them – the UK’s second biggest supermarket business – for their plastic apathy. 

Topping the leaderboard this year we have Waitrose and Morrisons – they’re there because of their enthusiastic approach toward refillable and reusable packaging. Waitrose also achieved an actual decrease in their plastic footprint this year, along with Tescos and Sainsbury’s. Morrisons have also made their loose and refillable ranges cheaper than packaged counterparts.

If refill stations and reusable packaging were introduced in all supermarkets, it would lead to a dramatic reduction in supermarket plastic. 

Bags for life are bad for life in our oceans

One area all supermarkets could improve on easily is plastic bags. While the 5p charge may have driven down demand for carrier bags, it’s just shifted the problem. Supermarkets sold 1.5 billion “bags for life” last year – roughly 54 per UK household! That’s not a bag for life, that’s a bag for a week. 

This is a solvable problem. By charging more for bags for life, giving discounts to those who reuse them or bring in their own reusable bags, supermarkets can reduce demand. 

Supermarkets need to be doing much more on throwaway packaging. They pumped out roughly 58 billion pieces of plastic packaging last year – and our oceans mustn’t be where they end up.

Shoppers show supermarkets the way

Thanks to ordinary people, speaking up and taking action, there is hope. Whether you’re tweeting your supermarket about ridiculous plastic-wrapped bananas, or taking in tupperware and reusable bags when you shop, supermarkets are taking notice. 

Because of you, pumping out pointless plastic is becoming less and less viable for supermarkets. We need to see a refillable revolution hitting the shop floors, and more productive measures to reduce plastic. Thanks to you, supermarkets know what they need to do, now they need to get on with it. 

Join over 1.5 million people and tell supermarkets to ditch pointless plastic packaging!

The post Despite their slick spin, supermarkets put more plastic than ever on their shelves this year appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Top tips for lobbying your MP

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2019-12-04 17:36

My key piece of advice for anyone wanting to successfully lobby their MP on any issue is to put yourself in their shoes!

Imagine a huge inbox that never empties, umpteen people wanting to bend your ear about their particular concerns, the ongoing and very real needs of your local constituents (known as casework) – not to mention the demands of your party and the House of Commons.

And if the MP’s not in government, all this work must be done without civil service support. I really don’t know how they cope!

Do your research and try to build trust

To lobby successfully you need to be friendly, clear and succinct in your ask – and able to back it up with reliable and well-researched information.

If you and your MP share common values and interests, you can become a useful resource over time, as trust grows.

However, if you have very little in common, you have to start from square one – even to try and convince your MP of the science of climate change, as my friend had to do with the “member for the eighteenth century” (no prizes for guessing who!).

Luckily, some MPs are more receptive to understanding environmental issues. I first met Thangam Debbonaire (former Labour MP and now Labour candidate for Bristol West) when a group of us travelled up to Westminster to greet her just after she had been elected in 2015.

Fi Radford (right) with Labour candidate Thangam Debbonaire

Share information and find common ground

I remember giving Thangam Debbonaire a copy of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein, which at the time she did not seem too thrilled to receive. Later she told me she had read it whilst convalescing from breast cancer, which assailed her early on in her parliamentary career, but from which I am glad to say she has fully recovered.

Then in 2016 and 2017 I organised two one-hour sessions with other Environmental Groups to ask her questions on a variety of green issues. These went really well, and it was clear that with the exception of the big “N” (nuclear energy) there was a high degree of agreement, especially since Labour changed their policy and withdrew support from fracking.

Over time we’ve built a strong relationship and I consider her an ally. I recently went to meet her at her MP’s “surgery” with a shopping list of three requests on plastics, fracking and a fierce watchdog in the new Environment Act meant to replace EU regulations. In every instance she agreed with me and gave me good advice to pass back to Greenpeace UK.

Thank them for their time and follow their work

I always follow up our meetings with a letter of thanks and listing what actions have been agreed. It is also a good idea to make a friend of their parliamentary aides, too.

Between meetings I follow her on Facebook and theyworkforyou.com, which does not cover all the questions she raises, but most of them. I often write and thank her for a particular question she has raised on an environmental topic. Very occasionally I will send her articles which I think she will find useful, knowing that she is keen to learn much more about renewables, for example. I always try not to send her petitions having heard her heartfelt plea as the MP who always receives the most!

By this Christmas, we’ll have a new government and the UN climate negotiations will be held in Glasgow next winter, so 2020 is an essential year to lobby MPs to take action on the climate emergency.

It helps to be part of the Greenpeace Political Lobbying Network as advice and information is always available to give you confidence and support. I would definitely encourage anyone with an interest in politics to get involved in lobbying. Even though our democracy is flawed, it is only our MPs who have the power to change things for the better at a national level – and even in opposition they have soft power and influence.

Feeling inspired?

The Political Lobbying Network is made up of hundreds of Greenpeace supporters who contact MPs and other elected representatives about our campaigns and broader environmental issues.

Join the Political Lobbying Network

Thanks in part to lobbying from members of the Network, the government committed to backing the creation of an Antarctic ocean sanctuary, legislated for the UK to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and more than 200 MPs have signed a pledge on single-use plastic reduction.

The post Top tips for lobbying your MP appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Greenpeace report highlights severe threats to Earth’s largest carbon sink – the ocean

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2019-12-04 14:04

A landmark Greenpeace report today highlights our reliance on the ocean as Earth’s largest carbon sink. It warns that our changing climate, biodiversity loss and habitat destruction are endangering the processes which underpin the ocean’s ability to sequester and store carbon. This will have ‘far-reaching implications for biodiversity and humankind’.

The report, In Hot Water: The Climate Crisis and the Urgent Need for Ocean Protection, makes the case for a global network of ocean sanctuaries, off limits to human activity. These would build the resilience of marine ecosystems, protect natural “blue carbon” stores, and safeguard the systems that underpin them. Stores of “blue carbon” are the largest carbon stores on earth, containing 50 times the amount of carbon held in the atmosphere and 10 times the amount of carbon in terrestrial vegetation, soils and microbes combined.

Louisa Casson, an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:
“The climate crisis is an ocean crisis. The ocean is fundamental to keeping our planet healthy, but for too long we have treated marine protection as a separate issue to the climate crisis. We must protect our ocean, the biggest carbon sink on earth, and stop burning fossil fuels.

“From mangroves and seagrass meadows, to whales and krill, the ocean’s biology is one of our best allies in the fight against climate change. But overexploitation and our addiction to fossil fuels has pushed our ocean to the brink of collapse. We need urgent, concerted action on a global scale to properly protect at least 30% of our ocean and safeguard its vast stores of blue carbon. Ocean protection is climate action, and if we can save our ocean, it can save us.”

The report identifies ocean ecosystems at the frontline of the climate crisis and recommends priority areas for governments to protect within a global network of ocean sanctuaries. These include both poles, whale hotspots, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows, the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic, the mesopelagic zone and the deep ocean, which Greenpeace believes should remain off-limits to the nascent deep sea mining industry.

Burning fossil fuels has increased levels of CO2 being absorbed by the ocean, causing substantial changes to marine physics, chemistry and biology. These changes are ‘rapid and large scale, already disrupting ecosystem structure and functions across the globe’ warns the report. Warming, acidification and deoxygenation are all compromising the ocean’s health and damaging vital ecosystem structures and processes, including the ocean’s ability to store CO2.

Greenpeace is urging the world’s governments to take urgent and concerted action to tackle the ocean crisis and safeguard the ocean’s ability to store carbon. Governments must seize on a series of events over the next 12 months which present a ‘window of opportunity’ to address the crisis. Governments should agree a strong new Global Ocean Treaty at the United Nations before the end of 2020, and commit to protecting at least 30% of the world’s ocean at the Convention on Biological Diversity summit in China in October 2020.

Ends.

Notes

The full report, In Hot Water: The Climate Crisis and the Urgent Need for Ocean Protection, is available upon request, and will be made available at the following link after the embargo lifts: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/27261/in-hot-water/ 

For a collection of images related to the report, see: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJ8EUQHJ 

30×30: A blueprint for ocean protection, is available here https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/21604/30×30-a-blueprint-for-ocean-protection/ 

The post Greenpeace report highlights severe threats to Earth’s largest carbon sink – the ocean appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

‘They’ve got guns!’: how the soya industry is linked to violence and intimidation

Greenpeace UK - Tue, 2019-12-03 17:21

It has been a little over six months since I visited the traditional rural village of Geraizeiros in the state of Bahia, Brazil. I was taking a group of journalists to interview people in the community, who have been under enormous pressure to leave their native lands. When I got out of bed that morning, I thought I understood the mortal danger facing this community. But I was still not prepared to find myself staring down the barrel of an assault rifle, in a room full of people praying for our lives.

This has become the reality in the Brazilian Cerrado, a region where small farmers are surrounded by never-ending industrial farms of soya beans and corn and they are never sure if they will make it home at the end of the day. For over 200 years, the Geraizeiros and their ancestors have lived in an area of economic interest in Brazil, where agribusiness has been expanding aggressively, sparing nothing and no one in its way.

In the late 1970s, a large agricultural enterprise called Agronegócio Estrondo was established in the region, destroying an area of forest almost four times the size of New York City to make way for soya farming. And almost 20 years ago, the company started to expand into the villagers’ lands, turning their lives into hell on Earth.

The soya produced by Estrondo at the cost of the lives and livelihoods of the Geraizeiros community is sold to traders like Cargill and Bunge and then shipped all over the world to become food for cows, chickens and pigs. Fast food companies like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King all buy soya from those traders.

Threatened with guns

On 28 May 2019, we were visiting the community, our plan was to take a German TV news team to see the devastation caused by Estrondo up close. As well as the security around the clock to the illegal watch house built by the company, what struck me the most was the gigantic ditch, three metres deep, which Estrondo built around the land they invaded. Not only are the community residents unable to cross it, neither can the wildlife that lives in the region. Many animals die trying.

Things started to go wrong when we were at the village and a white pickup truck pulled up. Four men in khaki clothes emerged, assault rifles in their hands. “They’ve got guns!” said a woman from the community. “Ladies, go to my house.” I could see it was not the first time she had been through this.

We skirted around the manioc fields and met in one of the rooms in the village, hoping it was all a misunderstanding. While some of us were sobbing and others praying, it occurred to me how sad it would be if I died without being able to make some calls, say “thank you” to my parents. These are the things we think of when faced with imminent danger.

Then we heard fists pounding on the door and a man yelling, “Come out with your hands up, this is the police.” They broke into the room and ordered us to lift up our shirts, to show we weren’t armed. When we had to leave the room, the woman from the village fainted from the stress.

Outside, the rest of the men had gathered and the intimidation began. “We came here because we received a complaint and we need to enter your house to investigate.”

‘We’ve been through this many times before’

Many things about their story didn’t add up. They had no warrant to enter the house, the men did not wear police uniforms, nor did they have any identification on their vests. Their weapons, however, were very much real. Rifles as big as those used in war. I had never seen anything like it before.

The men pressured the residents for around two hours. But when the sun started to set on the horizon, and knowing that the press had recorded the entire episode, the men decided to leave. They told us it was not over, that they would be back.

We were all terrified, not just for ourselves, but for those who would remain behind. When were they going to come back? Would they come during the night? What will happen when they return?

If I was in a state of shock, I couldn’t imagine what the Geraizeiros were feeling. I couldn’t conceive this being part of their lives. But unfortunately, this is the harsh reality the community has had to deal with.

“Don’t worry about it,” said Edvaldo Lopes, one of the community members, “this has been happening for a long time. We’ve been through this many times before. But at least now you are here to tell our story.”

And it was then that we all died a little inside. Is that it? Is telling their story all we can do?

Human and environmental rights are deeply connected. Indigenous Peoples, traditional communities and those on the frontlines are the ones affected the most by the greed of corporations, often being tortured and even murdered.

We cannot allow these companies to continue looking the other way and making millions while people are living under constant threat of violence, fearing for their lives, and their rights are being abused. The world needs to know that there are people who risk their own lives, to protect the land, the planet.

Demand change now, before it is too late not only for the Geraizeiros, but for all of us.

The author is anonymous to ensure their safety.

The post ‘They’ve got guns!’: how the soya industry is linked to violence and intimidation appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

9 reasons to quit fast fashion this Black Friday

Greenpeace UK - Fri, 2019-11-29 13:00

We all need to wear clothes, so the massive reductions on fashion at the Black Friday sales are certainly tempting. But how much will end up in the charity shop bag come January?

Arguably no consumer goods industry benefits from our throwaway culture more than fast fashion. That’s why buying carefully, and only what we need, can be a powerful act of environmentalism.

Here are nine compelling reasons to buy better and less – and make do and mend more.

1. Fashion is the world’s second-largest polluter after the oil industry

Production of fabric is a huge carbon emitter, releasing the equivalent of 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – more than international flights and shipping combined. (I know right?!)

2. People buy 80 billion garments around the world every year

Fast fashion is getting faster: US shoppers buy five times more clothing than they did in 1980, around 80 billion pieces according to Dana Thomas’s new book Fashionopolis. That’s on average 68 items per person per year. In the UK, we buy more clothes than any other country in Europe.

3. A rubbish truck of clothes is burned or landfilled every. single. second.

Every single second, 2,625 kilograms of clothing becomes waste that needs dealing with in some way. This is enough to fill the Empire State building one and a half times every day, and Sydney harbour every year.

4. Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester

Polyester is essentially fabric that’s made from plastic fibres. It is now the most commonly used fibre in our clothing. As plastic is made from petroleum, it requires seriously enormous quantities of oil.

5. Polyester takes more than 200 years to decompose

Fast fashion is produced and consumed quickly – but hangs around in our environment for two centuries. So polyester is the source of serious plastic pollution especially considering the enormous amounts of fashion dumped or burned. 

6. Polyester microfibres are released every time polyester clothes are washed 

Tiny bits of polyester that shed from our clothes account for 85% of all human-made debris found on shorelines around the world. In 2017, Greenpeace even found microplastics in the waters of the Antarctic.

7. It takes around 10–20,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of cotton

While cotton is biodegradable and not polluting to wash, it is one thirsty plant – using 10–20,000 litres of water, depending on where it’s grown. Producing a kilo of cotton, enough to create a t-shirt and jeans, sucks up as much water as one person drinks in 13 years, according to Oxfam.

8. Fabric production is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution annually 

Textile production generally requires chemicals which need to be diluted through washing, and eventually disposed of – making water pollution another huge issue. Look out for standards like “Oeko-Tex” that provide reassurance that health- and environment-harming compounds haven’t been used in the production of certified fabrics.

9. Growing cotton uses 18% of pesticide 25% of total insecticide worldwide 

According to the seminal fast fashion documentary from 2015, The True Cost, over 90% of cotton is genetically modified (GM) – and because of this, can be sprayed with chemicals that kill insects and other pests. This means huge amounts of insects – a vital part of many ecosystems, including those that enable food production – are destroyed to feed our fashion frenzy. Appallingly, 250,000 farmers in India have killed themselves due to the stress of debt from continually needing to buy GM seeds.

 

View this post on Instagram

Are so-called ‘sustainable influencers’ really saving the planet? Or, by promoting more consumerism, are they part of the problem? Writer @ajabarber joins us on Sat, 5pm, for a debate about the ethics of being a sustainable influencer. Full details at the link in our bio. #sustainableinfluencers #ethicalconsumerism #influencer #ethics #greenfriday #takebackblackfriday #blackfriday

A post shared by Green Friday (@greenfridayfestival) on Nov 27, 2019 at 6:45am PST

There’s no doubt that navigating the – increasingly plastic-filled – waters of fast fashion to buy sustainably and ethically is tricky. But this Black Friday, as the world wakes up to the climate emergency, smarter choices are ripe for the making.

Buying far less, spending a bit more on better quality garments, and supporting ethical brands are just a few ways to become a sustainability trendsetter.

Fast fashion will be a tough habit for our society to kick – not least because of low prices on days like Black Friday. But smart buying can not only save money in the long run – it can also help save the planet.

The post 9 reasons to quit fast fashion this Black Friday appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

5 great deals for the planet on Black Friday

Greenpeace UK - Thu, 2019-11-28 15:17

On Black Friday people all over the world are cashing in on the best deals on everything from fashion to electronics – even cars. Last year people spent £1.49 billion on Black Friday deals in Britain alone, showing that the impulse to hit the sales and browse the rails is strong. 

While sizing up those awesome half-price trainers, it’s easy to forget that we only have 10 years to prevent irreversible climate damage. Amid this climate emergency it’s not these retail deals we need – but political deals containing real mandates for action to protect our environment.

Here are five great deals to support the planet this Black Friday.

1. The Paris Agreement 

The Paris Agreement is a landmark deal made in 2015 between 196 nations to create a sustainable low-carbon future. It seeks to prevent the world from warming more than 1.5C above pre-industrial average temperatures, which is needed to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. 

On 28 December it’ll be four years since it was signed. Experts are warning that attempts to meet the target are inadequate. The UN experts warn that we need to cut emissions by 7.6% every year until 2030 to stand a chance of keeping warming below 1.5C. This is very hard, meaning we have got to get going now – and keep going for at least a decade to stop the world’s climate changing dangerously.

Not meeting this target means sea levels rise, increasing natural disasters and collapsing ecosystems, making this one of the most important deals for the planet this Black Friday.

2. A great green deal for Britain’s communities

For the UK to keep its side of the Paris Agreement, the government needs to invest in its communities to help prevent future climate impacts.

Fossil fuels need to be phased out as quickly as possible and renewable energy needs to be tripled by 2030. Homes need to be adapted to become carbon zero which includes insulation for all homes. New petrol and diesel cars and vans needs to be phased out by 2030 and more money needs to be spent on improving public transport. Restoring nature is needed to boost carbon storage and protect our precious natural landscapes and wildlife.

Not only is this a great deal for nature, it’s a great deal for people too. Cleaner air, warmer homes, and green jobs will improve people’s lives and provide great value for money for the next government.

3. UK law to reduce plastic waste

It’s not only a better deal on carbon emissions we need this Black Friday, but also on plastic pollution. The government recently published its environment bill, which dictates future environmental policies within the UK upon the departure from the EU. This bill includes the measures the government will take to tackle the plastic problem.

So far the bill includes implementing a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles and introducing charges to corporations that contribute to the plastic problem. However, these changes are not enough, especially as the government has given itself until 2037 to meet any kind of target. The minimum deal that we realistically need to be fighting for is a 50% reduction in plastic production by 2025.

4. A strong Global Oceans Treaty

Currently only 1% of the world’s oceans are protected, meaning that they are at risk from huge threats such as deep sea mining and over-fishing. Our oceans help to regulate the climate by absorbing and storing carbon. Without proper protection, vital ecosystems are under serious threat.

A Global Oceans Treaty will ensure 30% of the world’s oceans are protected from threats such as these by 2030. If the deal is struck in 2020, it will create a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, ensuring that interconnected wildlife hotspots, migration corridors and critical ecosystems are protected from harmful industries. 

5. Cooperation through trade deals

Climate change is a global challenge that has to be fought by all nations working together. International trade deals and treaties, if done right, can really help to set standards for a greener future – and allow governments to be held to account if they are not keeping their side of the bargain.

All countries have differing resources and needs and it is important that globally we do not allow nations, peoples, or wildlife to be degraded or exploited. Globally we have a responsibility to ensure that we’re not contributing to the decline of the orangutan population, and that our food is not coming from deforested parts of the Amazon.

 

The post 5 great deals for the planet on Black Friday appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Labour’s plans for climate and nature score twice as high as the Conservatives, according to election manifesto ranking

Greenpeace UK - Thu, 2019-11-28 09:44

A new ranking, published today (28 November) by Greenpeace UK [1], evaluates the green credentials of all major political party manifestos. The Green Party tops the list with 19 out of 20, followed closely by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, on 16 and 15 respectively. Plaid Cymru come in fourth with 13 points, while the Conservatives score poorly with 7. The Brexit Party sit at the bottom of the pile with just 1 point.

Greenpeace analysed and scored policies that addressed a set of 16 criteria [2] for addressing the climate and nature emergency in each of the manifestos of the major political parties. The criteria fall into four broad categories – investing in a greener economy, climate justice and just transition; electricity, transport and homes; restoring nature and reforming food and farming; and showing global leadership on climate and nature.

The ranking comes ahead of tonight’s televised election debate on the climate emergency on Channel 4 [3], in which the leaders of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, and the SNP will go head-to-head over their policies. Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have so far declined invitations to take part.

Political party

Invest

/ 6

Energy

/ 6

Nature

/ 5

Leadership

/ 3

Total score

/ 20 1st Green Party 6 6 4 3 19 2nd Labour 6 4 4 2 16 3rd Liberal Democrats 5 5 3 2 15 4th Plaid Cymru 5 4 2 2 13 5th Conservative Party 2 2 2 1 7 6th Brexit Party 0 0.5 0.5 0 1

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said:

“Manifestos are a shop window into the next five years of economic, political and social change. The climate and nature crisis will affect all three in ways that humanity has never experienced before, and those policies deserve to be displayed with prominence and a lot of detail.

“Some parties clearly recognise that this is an emergency and have included policies with the ambition needed to meet the scale of the challenge in front of us. But some have failed to adequately prepare.

“With environmental concerns rocketing up the public and political agenda, voters want to know what politicians plan to do to get us out of this mess and seize the opportunity for a greener and fairer future. Our ranking exposes their policies for all to see, allowing people to make an informed decision on December 12th.”

Of the two main parties, Labour scored more than twice as many points as the Conservatives. With more than half of Britons saying that climate change will influence how they vote [4], this information, if digested by voters, could significantly impact the election.

In marginal seats in the North and Midlands, 70% of voters say climate change will be an important deciding factor for them in this election, according to a new poll from the New Economics Foundation [5].

The Green Party’s manifesto performed well across the board, with only a few gaps around legally binding interim targets and a fully independent green watchdog for the Environment Bill and the need for a strong Global Oceans Treaty.

In addition to the Greens, Labour are the only other party to commit to at least 5% of annual government spending that will be required to transform our economy for a greener and fairer future [6], with strong commitments to making sure the transition is fair for communities and workers. The party also has strong policies to decarbonise the energy sector, with ambitious plans to increase the efficiency and insulation of new and existing homes.

There are progressive policies in the manifesto to revolutionise land-based travel, but they are let down by a lack of ambition to tackle aviation emissions. Their manifesto did contain significant gaps on nature restoration, but their accompanying Plan for Nature [7] sets out plans to plant 1 billion new trees by 2030 and 2 billion by 2040, alongside other ambitious measures such as incentivising a reduction in meat and dairy consumption.

The Conservative Party remains committed to leading efforts globally to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. They also promise to transform the agriculture sector, replacing the EU payment system with ‘public money for public goods’, which would lead to more nature friendly methods of farming and nature restoration.

However, the Party’s continued support for a number of polluting industries, such as aviation, oil and gas, and massive spending commitments for new road-building are at odds with their net-zero target. In many policy areas where the Conservatives originally progressed a green narrative, such as plastics, agriculture, and nature restoration, their policies in these areas have been significantly outflanked by most of the other main parties.

The Lib Dems have come out with some strong environmental policies that would see a frequent flyer levy to reduce emissions from aviation, strong domestic and international ocean protection policies and measures that would ensure a strong Environment Act and watchdog, with long and short-term legally binding targets. They don’t quite meet the required investment levels needed for a greener and fairer economy however, and are not sure-footed on the need for deep reform of food production and sustainable fishing.

Plaid Cymru are aiming for an ambitious 2030 date for both zero carbon emissions and a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans. They also have strong policies for tackling waste and creating a circular economy. However they have a much more limited vision for nature restoration with a commitment to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payment scheme for agriculture, along with weak policies on ocean protection.

A complete lack of a plan to deliver a net zero future or restore nature, means that the Brexit Party scored poorly across all of the 16 criteria for climate and nature. They do however, plan to cancel HS2, which would devastate habitats and ancient woodland across the UK.

ENDS

Notes to editor:

The Scottish National Party’s manifesto was not published in time to be included in this ranking. However, Greenpeace still plan to review their policies in line with the 16 criteria for addressing the climate and nature emergencies.

[1] Here is a google sheet with a breakdown of the manifesto scoring

[2] For a full breakdown of the 16 manifesto priorities to address the climate and nature emergency, please email [email protected]

[3] https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status/1199032981681328128

[4] Climate crisis affects how majority will vote in UK election – poll

[5] A survey from New Economics Foundation and Survation today finds that 70% of those polled in 45 marginal seats in the North and Midlands consider climate change to be important when deciding who to vote for at the coming General Election

This survey is embargoed until 00.01 28 November 2019 and can be obtained by contacting the New Economic Foundation press office: https://neweconomics.org/contact-us/

[6] How the government can invest to tackle the climate and nature emergency

[7] Labour’s Plan for Nature will be released later today. Greenpeace were given an embargoed copy of the report for the purpose of the manifesto ranking

The post Labour’s plans for climate and nature score twice as high as the Conservatives, according to election manifesto ranking appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Supermarket plastic rises above 900,000 tonnes per year, despite plastic reduction pledges

Greenpeace UK - Thu, 2019-11-28 08:42

 

  • Seven out of top 10 UK supermarkets increased their plastic footprint 
  • Waitrose and Morrisons top the league table while Asda and Aldi lag behind
  • Retailers must reduce their use of single-use plastic by moving to packaging-free and reusable packaging solutions.

 

Supermarket plastic has risen to more than 900,000 tonnes – despite retailers making public commitments to cut down their plastic packaging.

An Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace report, Checking out on plastics II: Breakthroughs and backtracking from supermarkets, reveals that seven out of the top 10 UK supermarkets had increased their plastic footprint. Only Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s had achieved marginal reductions.

EIA and Greenpeace are urging supermarkets to work towards eliminating single-use plastic altogether, by offering packaging-free products or switching to reusable and refillable packaging. False solutions such as swapping plastic for cardboard, or simply making plastic thinner are unacceptable. 

EIA Ocean Campaigner Juliet Phillips said: “It’s shocking to see that despite unprecedented awareness of the pollution crisis, the amount of single-use plastic used by the UK’s biggest supermarkets has actually increased in the past year.

“Our survey shows that grocery retailers need to tighten up targets to drive real reductions in single-use packaging and items. We need to address our throwaway culture at root through systems change, not materials change – substituting one single-use material for another is not the solution.”

Fiona Nicholls, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Supermarkets are failing on plastics and failing their customers. We hear piecemeal supermarket announcements on plastic every other week, but in reality they are putting more plastic on the shelves than ever.

“Supermarkets need to buck up and think bigger. They must change their stores to offer loose food dispensers, reusable packaging, and move away from throwaway packaging altogether.” 

The survey revealed that big brands that supply supermarkets were a driving factor behind the rise in plastic packaging, showing supermarkets had failed to force their suppliers to take action. Only Tesco had given suppliers an ultimatum to cut excessive plastic or face products being delisted, and campaigners urge others to follow suit. 

Another factor in rising plastic was that supermarkets which saw their sales grow last year failed to cut plastic along the way, meaning that when they sold more goods, they sold more plastic too. 

Findings from today’s report include:

  • Waitrose and Morrisons were the best performers, while Asda and Aldi were bottom of the table.
  • Iceland dropped from the top spot last year to seventh place this year.
  • Sainsbury’s went from bottom of the 2018 league table to third place this year.
  • Eight supermarkets pumped out 58.3bn billion pieces of plastic packaging.
  • Other leading brands failed to respond to the survey for the second year running, including Ocado, Best-One and Booker Group .

 

League table position 2018  2019 1 Iceland Waitrose 2 Morrisons Morrisons 3 Waitrose Sainsbury’s 4 M&S M&S  5 Tesco Co-op 6 Asda Tesco 7 Co-op Iceland 8 Aldi Lidl 9 Lidl Asda 10 Sainsbury’s Aldi

Waitrose scored highly because it had reduced the amount of plastic packaging used, and is looking to scale up  innovative trials to offer refill stations in store for products like coffee, rice and pasta, as well as wine and detergent. 

Morrisons became the first retailer to set a quantified target to increase reusable and refillable packaging. It also started its own refill trials, and made loose and refillable ranges 10% cheaper than packaged counterparts. 

After Greenpeace targeted Sainsbury’s for its poor track record on plastics, it announced plans to reduce plastic by 50% and introduced reusable produce bags for loose fruit and vegetables. 

Companies at the bottom of the league table had increased their overall plastic footprint since last year and had generally made the least progress to date on trialling and expanding packaging-free and reusable solutions. 

ENDS

Spokespeople are available for interview. Press office contacts are:

  • Paul Newman, EIA Press & Communications Officer, via [email protected] or +44 (0) 20 7354 7983 
  • Emily Davies, Greenpeace UK Plastics Press Officer, via [email protected] or +44 (0)20 7865 8255

Last year’s supermarket survey can be found here

In 2018, our report noted that the ten largest supermarkets reported to have put 810,000 tonnes of single use plastic packaging on the market, however this figure did not include branded sales by Asda, which had not been reported. The 886,000 tonne figure reported here includes an estimate for Asda equivalent to its reported packaging from own-brand goods, which is the best data available. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

 1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses. Our undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers, and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil; we work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution, exposing illegal fishing and seeking an end to all whaling; and we address the threat of global warming by campaigning to curtail powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases and exposing related criminal trade.

The post Supermarket plastic rises above 900,000 tonnes per year, despite plastic reduction pledges appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Climate debate: how party manifestos measure up on climate change and nature

Greenpeace UK - Thu, 2019-11-28 00:20

The 2019 general election is the first in which climate change is a big issue. With demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion and the youth climate strikers making global headlines, politicians have been forced to accept that climate change is not a fringe issue or something that can be ignored.

The majority of voters have said climate change will influence how they vote. And over two-thirds want the government to deliver stronger climate measures, and faster than is the case right now. And millions of people have demanded that party leaders take part in a TV debate on climate change. So there are many reasons why climate and nature need to be at the front of this election.

Parties competing for seats in Westminster should be putting these issues at the heart of their pitches to voters. There’s certainly been a lot of noise.

But how can you know for sure what the parties are promising to do?

To help you decide where to place your vote, Greenpeace policy experts have analysed the manifestos and other relevant commitments published by the main parties. Each party has been graded on how well its promises match up to key things that need to be done in four really important areas. Whatever happens with Brexit, these have to be a priority to tackle the twin threats of the climate crisis and the breakdown of nature.

The manifestos were assessed on how they will solve four big problems, each of which is part of the solution to the climate emergency and the crisis in nature.

1. Investing to transform the economy supporting a just transition and global climate justice

The money each party will commit to climate and nature plans says a lot about their political priorities and how seriously they take these issues.

Like education, spending money on climate change and nature protection is investing in the future. The costs of not doing anything far outweigh the financial costs to the government now. It’s vital that whoever is next in power commits to delivering net zero as quick as possible, ensuring a just transition for UK communities – and taking responsibility for the UK’s historic contribution to emissions and helping support climate justice for the global south.

Changing our economy so it no longer relies on fossil fuels will need a lot of cash, as will restoring the UK’s natural landscapes to bring wildlife back from the brink. But perhaps not as much as people think. A broad group of organisations, including Greenpeace, have worked out that £42 billion per year would do it – that sounds a lot, but that’s about the same as the government spends on secondary education.

2. Transforming our transport, homes and energy generation

Changing the way we all use energy is essential, from how it’s generated to how much we use. Manifestos need to show how each party will power down from coal and oil, and power up with clean renewable energy like wind and solar.

They also need to demonstrate how the country’s homes will be made more energy efficient. Our heating systems will be made greener, and public transport will be improved and electrified to reduce the number of cars on the roads whilst cleaning up what remains. Emissions from flying also need to be contained.

Getting all this done will have additional benefits. Energy bills will be lower. Air pollution will be reduced, making cities cleaner and healthier. Homes will be warmer. And there’ll be better public transport allowing everyone to get about.

3. Restoring nature, reforming farming

Nature in the UK is collapsing. Over 40% of the country’s species have declined in the last 50 years, and 15% face extinction in the UK. The next government will have to take urgent steps to reverse the situation, on land and at sea.

Farming needs to be reformed so nature isn’t pushed out, and organic food production encouraged. Fishing also needs a shake-up so the oceans can recover and so coastal communities get a better deal. Waste and plastic pollution need to be reduced, and wild spaces have to be restored so species can recover.

More and better natural spaces will help improve the nation’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as giving a boost to tourism. Allowing nature to flourish once more will mean the effects of climate change are less severe and help reduce flooding.

4. Being a global leader on climate and nature

The next government will need to be a major player on the global stage. Showing leadership in international negotiations will help protect oceans and the climate. They must also make sure trade deals safeguard human rights and forests.

Why should the UK be a leader on climate change? It was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, which was the start of rapidly increasing carbon emissions. So over time, the UK has contributed significantly to the climate crisis. That means it has the responsibility – and, as the fifth largest economy, the resources – to show the way.

Want more detail? Read how the manifestos were analysed and see the scores.

Party leaders rightly acknowledged in previous debates that climate change is the most urgent issue facing humanity. These manifestos show how serious they are, behind the headlines and soundbites that emerge from the climate election debate.

The post Climate debate: how party manifestos measure up on climate change and nature appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Boris’ chlorinated chickens coming home to roost

Greenpeace UK - Wed, 2019-11-27 15:55

Commenting on leaked documents showing the US trade delegation urged their UK counterparts to move away from EU food, animal welfare and environmental regulations, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said:

“The chlorinated chickens are coming home to roost for Boris Johnson. As we feared, the UK government is coming under enormous pressure from the Trump administration to weaken our consumer, worker and environmental protections. After so many denials and reversals in many policy areas, the prime minister cannot ask the public to simply take his word for it that our standards will be maintained. We need a legally binding guarantee that Brexit will not be allowed to endanger the health of the UK public or our environment by letting Trump rewrite our rulebook. Until we have that guarantee written into law, it seems fair to assume that everything is on the table in a deal where America will come first and the UK could end up fifty-first.”

Read here an analysis of the documents by Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative journalism platform.

The post Boris’ chlorinated chickens coming home to roost appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News
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