Friday, December 14, 2007

London news roundup

Campaign against Climate Change

LAST SATURDAY’S demonstration in London against global warming was hailed as a great success by the organisers, the Campaign Against Climate Change as more than 6,000 people braved wind, rain and freezing cold to show their support.
Demonstrators carried banners with slogans like "cut carbon not forests" and "actions speak louder than words". Some posters carried a picture of George W Bush and the words: "Wanted for crimes against the planet".
Media coverage was good, with the march featuring on the front pages of the Sunday Times and the Independent on Sunday, and good reports from the BBC.
At the same time protests were held in over 50 countries, with over 10,000 participants in Taiwan and Germany.
The protesters were demonstrating primarily to save the planet and billions of people on it from the horrific tide of death and destruction that will come from the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate.
But the march stressed two main points, reflected in the route chosen. It started at Millbank near the House of Commons and marched past Downing Street, where marchers delivered a letter to Number 10.
The focus here was pressure on the British government to pass a strong Climate Bill. This will establish in legislation a cap for the whole of Britain’s emissions.
The campaigners pointed out that this made it different from other climate initiatives – very good in themselves but at risk of being cancelled out by an increase associated with another sector of the economy.
Also, they said, people cannot make meaningful reductions by their own individual efforts alone – these efforts will be wasted unless they are part of an overall plan coordinated by Government.
The march finished by the United States Embassy because clearly whatever is achieved in Britain will be no use in solving this global problem except insofar as it encourages other nations to act and gives a stronger hand to those working to achieve a global agreement that will establish a cap on the global total of emissions.
That is why the "National climate march" was part of a Global Day of Action with demonstrations and events in more than 50 countries demanding real action on climate from world leaders at the United Nations Climate Talks in Bali.
But the biggest block on progress at those UN Talks is still, as it has been for a decade or more, the United States.
In particular the Bush administration has both rejected Kyoto (in 20001) and cynically manoeuvred to sabotage progress at the UN Climate Talks. It still refuses to accept binding targets (the only basis for a meaningful treaty) in a post Kyoto agreement and demands action, first, from China and India despite the fact that these countries emit far less per person, are much poorer with fewer resources to take the necessary action and do not have a historical responsibility for much the greater part of the greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere.
Most recently Bush has tried to derail progress on climate at the Washington Climate Conference on the 27th-28th September.
This was a transparent attempt to divert the world down a blind ally of "voluntary measures" and "intensity targets" and thereby pre-empt and derail real progress on absolute and binding targets (the only thing that can really work) at the official UN Talks in Bali.
This comes after he forced the final communiqué at the G8 in Heilegendam in June to abandon any firm emission reduction commitments.
Bush has been forced to change his language on climate but continues to be the major obstacle to progress. He may be on the way out but he is still doing damage and the cost of the delay he is imposing could ultimately be measured in millions of lives.
That is why the march finished at the US Embassy with a massive demonstration to show that people will not just stand by and allow Bush – or anyone else – to wreck the global effort to save billions of lives from climate catastrophe.
Meanwhile UN figures released last week show that greenhouse gas emissions in Britain have risen by nearly a fifth in the past 20 years. The figures leave out emissions from aviation, shipping and the carbon content of imports.
Oxford University experts claim that if these emissions were included then it would be seen that the lifestyle of people in Britain has a much greater impact on climate change than the Government likes to admit.


London bus pay dispute

MEMBERS of the giant union Unite employed by First driving buses in London are set to take strike action this Friday in the first of a series of strikes in a dispute over pay.
The average pay for drivers is £23,000 and members have resoundingly rejected a pay offer of 4.25 per cent on the basic rate with minor conditions improvements, which is lower than elsewhere in London.
The action will affect First Capital East services in Hackney, Dagenham and Northumberland Park garage; First Centrewest at Westbourne Park, Alperton, Greenford, Uxbridge, Hayes, Orpington, Acton, Willesden.
George Dodo Williams, Unite regional industrial organiser said: "While First enter the FTSE 100 for the first time, and the group boasts about the significant guaranteed increases for shareholders over the coming years, our members in London Buses who are helping to generate these healthy profit margins by their sweat and tears, are being hung out to dry.
"London bus workers have consistently delivered huge increases in efficiency and performance – more than six million passengers carried each day – a 40 per cent increase since the return of local government to London. Yet these workers in one of London’s top companies are being forced to take action to stake a claim to their share. They are however determined to achieve a decent settlement."

Defend Council Housing lobby in January

THE CAMPAIGN group Defend Council Housing (DCH) is planning a mass lobby of MPs on 22nd January 2008, calling on the Government to adopt the "fourth option" and invest in existing council housing and to build a new generation of first class council housing.
They are calling on all local groups and progressive organisations to send a delegation to the lobby and to mobilise support.
The lobby is timed to coincide with debate in the Commons on amendments to the Housing and Regeneration Bill.
Campaigners invite everyone to use their new leaflet to mobilise support for the "fourth option" and ensure that tenants, trade unionists and councillors from every area respond to the call by the House of Commons Council Housing group for evidence to support amendments to the Housing and Regeneration Bill.
They want MPs to be asked to sign early day motion 368.

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