My Speech at SWE Campaign launch March 11th 2016

The Wales Green Party stands for an agenda which puts the protection of people and planet above greed and corporatocracy. From equal pay to climate change to the plight of the honey bee, the common thread running through our manifesto is a commitment to developing strong communities, the need for social and environmental justice, and a pledge to take action to achieve this.

 

In the latest Welsh Barometer Poll, Greens are showing at 4% in SWE. This means with just over 2% more of the vote under the proportional system, you’ll be sending a Green from SWE to the Senedd.

 

Wherever Greens are elected, things get done. In Ireland, Scotland and across the European continent, Greens have been at the forefront of justice. From the banning of bee killing pesticides to the cap on bankers’ bonuses, Greens have been the frontline of successful ecological politics, and we are ready to bring that energy and commitment to Wales.

In the 5th richest economy in the world, poverty should not be tolerated. A succession of governments has barely made a dent in abolishing poverty in Wales.  Greens will use EU money for the purpose for which it is intended, and lift our poorest people out of poverty.

 

The Wales Green Party will put the well-being of future generations at the heart of our programme. We will reduce your fuel bills, cut pollution, and keep wealth in our local communities.

Greens know that we cannot afford to lose our biggest employers such as Tata Steel (1500 people)  Admiral Insurance (450 ), and PHS Group in Caerphilly (700 in Wales).  We will help them to innovate with energy efficient measures, funding for research and development, apprenticeships and reduced business rates.

 

In South Wales East, Greens support community groups, such as the United Valley’s Action Group, to end open cast coalmining and other polluting industries. We will increase monitoring of air pollution, and raise penalties for local councils who fail to deliver improvements – because cleaner air means healthier people, and healthier people reduce the cost to the NHS. It’s joined up thinking. It’s Green thinking.

 

Wales needs to build thousands of houses every year. If we build to carbon zero standards, fuel poverty will be the nightmare of the past. But housebuilding needs to be strategic and sensitive. In Caerphilly we are supporting local groups to save meadows for the sake of 600 houses. In Newport we support the Glan Lyn brownfield settlement for 4000 houses. We probably don’t need both. It’s about joined up thinking.

 

We will promote the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and work for the development of 2 further lagoons off the coast of Newport to bring in sustainable jobs and energy supplies. We have the tides, we have the manpower, and of course we need the energy. Low carbon energy is the future, and with cities in Texas, Germany and across the world going 100% renewable, we know it’s the way forward.

 

Greens will spend more on public transport such as the South East Wales metro. We will abandon construction of the overpriced M4 relief road and use that £1billion+ to enhance healthier travel options, such as safe cycling networks and pedestrian friendly routes.

 

We will continue to support free local transport for pensioners and extend free transport and bus passes to younger people to help form low carbon travel habits.

 

Lets face it. Wales is not going to meet its own binding carbon reduction targets if we do what we have always done. We have to invest, we have to be bold, and we have to join up our thinking.

 

Greens have heard the cries of hard pressed commuters whose wages are not going up whilst almost everything about them is. So we will reduce tolls on the Severn Bridge, and give concessions to drivers who live and work in the close vicinity, and who drive low emission vehicles.

 

And what about our Older People? I instigated the OPM to pave the way for a less – stressful older age. Simple, but important adjustments to our public spaces – such as covered places to sit and rest, and lots of public toilets. These things make the difference between a staying at home or having a life. The OPM manifesto is online right now. Developments such as Friars Walk do not properly cater for our fastest growing demographic, and the needs of older people should be actioned up front, at the planning stage.

 

Let us not forget that this day is the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, which created a toxic wasteland for humans and wildlife alike. A disaster still unfolding as attempts to contain the radioactive waters teeter on the brink of failure, and 22 million square meters of radioactive waste pile up in – would you believe – in black plastic bags, waiting for a miracle which will never happen. To suggest that a new generation of unproven, untested, and hopelessly expensive nuclear reactors is the way ahead for Hinkley C or Ynys Môn is a fallacy of the greatest magnitude. We have abundant resources for alternative energy and the means to create alternative employment. What is required is a coherent and credible strategy underpinned by a vision, which details the kind of society we want for the future, and not one which creates even more mountains of toxic waste.

 

Greens will eliminate tuition fees for Welsh students studying in Welsh universities. We will legislate for a truly proportional and fair voting system for the next Welsh local government election, and all other elections, and lower the voting age to 16. Importantly we will encourage NGOs, charities and trade unions to critically evaluate every speck of government policy.

 

Greens really have the edge on policy in this election. We have some big challenges too. But most of all we have the kind of candidates prepared to work hard at scrutinizing laws, with the imagination to think outside the box, and the guts to bring lasting and measurable change to Wales.

 

The Green Surge of 2015, together with previous election results, indicate we can get enough votes this time to win 3 regional seats, so if you want to dump rhetoric and see some action, vote Green on May 5th.

Letter to the Planning Inspectorate regarding Rhiw Las One Planet Development

Dear Madam or Sir,

We would like to see the Planning Officer’s recommendation of approval for this project upheld in line with the laudable One Planet Development (OPD) planning policy, the criteria of which the Rhiw Las development certainly meets.

The trend for truly sustainable zero carbon dwellings must be encouraged if Wales is to meet its carbon reduction targets of 40% by 2020. Connecting to a low carbon lifestyle will not be an easy cultural shift, and we need trailblazers to show us the way through innovation, reinvention of old methodologies, and the training of those who will inevitably follow in their footsteps.

The Rhiw Las project will improve the environmental quality of the site as it transitions from low quality grazing to a rich and diverse mix of orchards and horticulture free from artificial pesticides and fertilizers. It will also provide a rare haven for our beleaguered pollinators.

If the Well Being of Future Generations Act is to be taken at all seriously, Wales must transform its agricultural outlook away from monoculture land use and toxic chemical interventions. We need to address the malady of normalisation of poor land husbandry and chemical spraying in favour of a more organic approach.

Fifty years ago we were organic by default, now it seems as though we are toxic by default, whilst to gain organic certification can take 4 years. Surely it should be the other way round, with the use of unnatural pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers needing to go through stringent legal hoops, and the organic methods returning to their rightful default criteria.

It is therefore most concerning that a true One Planet Development has been rejected, whilst vast housing estates of low building and environmental standards are encouraged.

We trust the Planning Inspectorate will share our concerns, and the inevitable concerns of generations to come, who will not thank us for discouraging this type of small development. We trust that the recommendations of the Carmarthenshire planning officers will be upheld.

The 1% will never vote Green

This week I was invited to join a Labour group working for animal rights on Facebook, which I was glad to do. I explained I was a Green, and it was no problem for them either. We have the same aims and objectives when it comes to respecting the welfare of other sentient beings.

However, I have become increasingly tormented by the plethora of groups I have been invited to join on social media. These groups work right across the spectrum, many of them have a huge amount in common. Often I have thought ‘if only they would all get together’. By getting together they would unleash an immense volume for their cause.

The 1% are laughing at us. We vent our spleen on social media, share snippets of news and views, but achieve practically nothing. We waste inordinate amounts of time writing throw away comments on social media and email, instead of thinking through a workable strategy. The chatter has gone up, the wisdom is evaporating. Divided we fall, but divided we largely insist on being.

I doubt that many of the 1% are on facebook. They do not hear us, nor do they want to. Facebook is looking increasingly like a release valve for the disaffected, a wonderful tool for the 1%. It probably wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for Facebook software to discover the common ground and put all similar groups in touch with each other, but that sort of unity would be counterproductive to the aim of those who wish us to remain in little pieces, reverberating endlessly around the echo chamber of our own small worlds.

How will the 99% overcome the walls of their self-made enclosures ? The Occupy movement started something, but just like the Climate Camps of yesteryear, they largely dissolved into the fabric of everyday life. Maybe it was work, family, or simply the fact that they thought they had achieved something, and that something was enough.

Very few movements of this type achieved anything lasting. Greenham Common is a notable exception, where dedicated non-violent protest (without the internet) over 19 years, by thousands of indomitable women greatly contributed to the popular demand for disarmament that led to the signing of the INF Treaty in 1987 (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty) which mandated the removal of Cruise missiles from the site.

Politics is the way you live your life as well as the way you vote.

The question of how to rein in a dominant capitalist culture and its negative ecological effects is alive. The massive protest against the Iraq war, whist being a correct judgment on behalf of the people, was not, could not, change the decisions made by the political power. Had the protest continued for months or years, the outcome could well have been different – Daesh would probably not have been brought into existence, and the desperate refugees battling their way across Europe to safety may still be tucked up in their own warm beds.

The 99% may not achieve everything it sets out to achieve, but if we want change, we do have to pay – with our time, our energy and our courage. We have to break out of our little echo chambers and explore new ways of challenging the system. A one day street protest has never been enough. A vote could be.

The surest way to change a system is to get into the inside of it. That’s what Greens are doing. Voting a Green into any governing body ensures that there will be a voice to stand up for for the rights of people and planet. One Green voice can temper the excesses of the 1%. 3 Green voices will raise the level of the fight and start to change minds. 10 Green voices will change everything.

Greens in the Senedd at this election will be be the start of the change so many of the 99% long to see. Wales need to see a solid, definitive culture of hard decision-making and robust action to support jobs, welfare and pollution-free energy . You’ve seen what the others can do. Now is the time of the Greens.

 

 

Eat or Beef?

The farming of animals is classed as a production line, and we slaughter, or kill, more than 155,000 cows a year, and that’s just in Wales. There are 19 abattoirs in Wales, 2 in Gwent. Worldwide 95% of all the mammals on the planet are the animals we keep to eat.

The overall environmental impact of beef is disproportionately higher than every other foodstuff. Cows reared for beef need 28 times more land than pigs, chickens, or lamb, and 11 times more water.

The UK imports 236,000 tonnes of beef, which is equivalent to 790,000 cows, most of which are bought in little pieces, wrapped in plastic, from Tesco.

The head of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who has openly identified eating less meat as an important step in combatting climate change, says “ Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.” A study of tens of thousands of British people’s daily eating habits shows that meat lovers’ diets cause double the climate-warming emissions of vegetarian diets.

Now I am not at all trying to ‘have a go’ at our farmers, I am in fact asking them to farm in a different way, because not only can they help in the battle against climate change, but they can prepare themselves for a changing marketplace in preparation for our changing eating habits.

According to Google, the search interest for “vegan” spiked in 2015, increasing 32 percent from the previous year.

In 2015, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the world’s largest generation. With millennials comes an increase in plant-based eating, as 12 percent of them identify as committed vegetarians.

A rough count shows there are 59 dedicated vegetarian restaurants in Wales, and every restaurant and café I know of has a good selection of veggie food – and I’m not talking about the ubiquitous pre-frozen veggie lasagna either.

In Gwent the internet tells me there are 127 vegetarian- friendly restaurants in Gwent, and 64 vegan- friendly ones – which was a pleasant surprise. Times are changing.

Farmers can grow more food on less land if they cut out beef. When compared to staples like potatoes, grains, and vegetables, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. It is expected that the population will increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, so it makes sense to free up the land to feed us all.

Compared to beef, 78 times more vegetables and grain can be grown on a single hectare of land. That will feed a lot of people.

We don’t really have a choice whether to abandon our fossil-fuel driven cars or to eat less red meat if we truly want to leave a pleasant and habitable world for the future, but the biggest single intervention we can make is to eat less beef.

And don’t tell me vegan food is boring.  Try it!

Letter to the Planning Inspectorate Wales to Object to Opencast Mining at Nant Llesg

 

I would like to register my objection to the proposed works on Merthyr Common CCBC Planning Ref 13/0732/MIN on the following grounds:

Due consideration has not been given to the potential of renewable energy on this site, such as solar and wind energy, and their contribution to the Welsh economy and to the local community.

  1. The fencing off of Gelligaer Common will in effect ‘privatise’ a 478 hectare site of land which is held in common for public use
  2. Merthyr Tydfil has one of the poorest health profiles in Wales with a lower life expectancy than the national average. The creation of coal dust over a wide area such as is implied in the planning document will exacerbate many health problems
  3. Linked to the pursuit of sustainable development and the Well Being of Future Generations Bill is the need to combat climate change and minimize avoidable impacts. More coal on the market flies in the face of these principles
  4. Open cast coalmining will destroy the natural landscape and the habitats of wild birds, mammals and amphibians
  5. Historic site will be destroyed
  6. There will be an adverse visual impact from the air, the land, and to residents
  7. Destruction of the last aged peat bog in the area, providing sanctuary to a variety of fauna and flora
  8. The development of new fossil fuel extraction sites flies in the face of the COP 21 agreement to limit and reduce C02 emissions in order to keep planetary warming under 2 degrees C.

Yours faithfully,

Pippa Bartolotti

Greens Call for Urgent Action on Steel

News that more than 1000 jobs are to be lost in South Wales steelmaking is devastating for the local economy, the supply chain and the affected communities.

It is not just cheap labour, but massive government subsidies which are keeping the prices down, particularly on energy, which in Chinese terms means coal. These issues have been known since 2005 when the Harvard Business Review spotted a powerful statistical correlation between growing subsidies and growing exports in China.

Pippa Bartolotti, candidate for Newport West and the South East Wales Regional List said, “The Welsh government has had 11 years notice of these job losses, and now it pleads impotence. I call on Carwyn Jones to take action now to prevent future losses. The market will not solve the problem, changing state aid rules will.

“Cheap Chinese Steel has been flooding the UK market for some years now. This steel is being sold at a loss, and the Welsh government, together with the UK Government and the EU needs to step in urgently if we are not to lose steel-making capability in Wales.”

One thing which is not being discussed is the effect of steel making industries on pollution. If we buy steel from China we not only create the associated, and higher, pollution Chinese people have to suffer, we increase CO2 through the transportation of the product halfway round the world.

Pippa Bartolotti added, “This is why steel making needs to stay in Wales. It is less polluting, our standards our higher, and it is delivered locally. We must ask Welsh businesses to support Welsh steelmaking, and ask Welsh consumers to buy Welsh products. It will be cheaper in the long run as we ensure that 1000’s of jobs are saved and our communities remain intact.”

China produces as much steel as the rest of the world combined. As China’s growth slows, the excess steel that Chinese industry doesn’t need is being marketed overseas, filling Chinese coffers with desirable foreign currency.

What a Waste

Waste for recycling
Waste for recycling

In Newport we are recycling a mere 52% of our total waste. I guess that’s the easy 52% – representing the people who are willing to recycle that which can be easily recycled.

The question is: How do we get to recycle 100% of our waste?

To have a productive closed loop system and recycle everything we buy or make is the goal. After all, why are we manufacturing anything which is not recyclable? Manufacturing products or packaging which cannot be broken back to their natural forms, or which have no further use, is surely stacking up trouble, (or piles of rubbish) for the future.

Burn it, I hear you say! It turns out that that is not a good idea either. Burning plastics release poisonous fumes. The air we breathe is not in good shape because of traffic fumes and the burning of fuel such as oil or gas, so adding to that problem should rightly be out.

There has to be a plan to tackle that stubborn 48% of  waste, and I suggest the following:

  1. Ban non recyclable packaging, like polystyrene, by law. We can manage without
  2. Allow only biodegadable nappies and incontinence pads
  3. Encourage Welsh companies to manufacture compostable ‘plastic’ film
  4. Ban plastic bottles. San Francisco has already done this, why not Wales
  5. Quantify how many jobs we are helping to sustain and create through the recycling industries. E.g. our metals go to Tata Steel which supports 6000 jobs in S Wales
  6. Look at best practice across the world and use it. Germany recycles 87% of all waste through a bar code payment scheme. In Norway they recycle 93% of bottles in a cashback scheme
  7.  Make less waste! Estonian people make 50% less waste that we do. We have to ask ourselves why we buy so much that we don’t need or use.

It is entirely possible to waste less, and recycle more. We are supposed to be heading for a circular economy where everything we buy and use can be recycled. We can’t keep mining for more metals and plastics (oil) for ever. These things are a finite resource. And then there’s the pollution caused by burning them in incinerators together with the health impacts of the toxic fumes. If we truly care about leaving something tolerable for the next generation, we have to think about what happens to our waste when it leaves our home.

Pippa

N.B. The links shown are indicative. Often there are many types of these items available. Shop around!

 

It will only be a happy new year if the money drowns before we do

It’s very hard to wish you all a happy new year when so many are experiencing hardship. Whether you are trying to get muddy water out of what used to be your home, digging your children  out of the rubble of an air strike in Syria, fighting forest fires in drought ridden Spain, or contemplating the failed COP 21 agreement, I am thinking of you.

The climate has changed, but people haven’t. The anguish of the inhabitants of low lying lands has not made as much as a dent in the profit driven consumerist society we all help to feed. In Paris the agreement was marked by what it did not include. Missing was action on compensation for poor countries unable to invest in adjusting to low carbon technologies, missing was any measure at all to clarify the status of climate refugees, missing was any attempt to make fine words legally binding.

Continue reading It will only be a happy new year if the money drowns before we do

Wales Fair Trade Festival October 2015

Official-opening-Wales-Fair-Trade-fair[1]

Welcome everyone to the 9th Wales Fair Trade fair, and especially to David and Martha for inviting me to come and ‘do the honours’.

For years I have wondered, often aloud ‘what is the reasoning behind unfair trade’. What is the concept? Why do we punish and torture, people, animals and planet. Is it really because only money is god?

We all know about slavery and poverty. We all know too many are living below the bread line both here and abroad. We all know about suffering and malnutrition. Yet we are in a world of plenty. The cake is large, but cut so unfairly.

And there is another unfairness. When we buy potatoes (for example from Egypt ), we steal their water and poison the atmosphere with untold miles of polluting transport. In May last year Britain imported nearly 20,000 tonnes of cauliflower and broccoli, and in April we imported over 50,000 tonnes of potatoes.  Our livestock and dairy industry is heavily dependent on imported soybean for animal feed, taking food and water from hungry mouths in India and Africa.

When we buy goods from China and Bangladesh we are in effect outsourcing our own pollution, our own greenhouse gasses and our own toxic chemicals. The bleach from our jeans runs foul down the rivers of China. Yet it is all too easy to wash our hands in our own clean water and turn away from the harm our own consumerism creates.

Of course I know I am preaching to the converted here today, but when we build nuclear we are in effect outsourcing the radioactive waste to the next 10 generations or more. How are they supposed to deal with it? Will they even know what is in those dilapidated yellow canisters in 500 years time?

Too often, it seems, our culture is only interested in ourselves. Jam today. And like nuclear, climate change and poverty will impose huge costs on future generations, impacting heavily on migration, political stability, food and water scarcity. These are costs this generation shows no inclination to fix, for we have talked about poverty, suffering and climate change before.

These things will not change for as long as the god is money.

There is no justification for unfair trade, no justification for climate change, no justification for poverty.

Those of us who can pay a little more to ensure our food, our goods and our services are fairly traded should be happy to. Those of us who know about the suffering of animals in factory farms and testing laboratories, should not turn their face away. It is only we, ourselves, you and me, who can fix the problem.

Whether its people, or animals, or planet in the firing line, of one thing we can be sure: when money is god, ethics and morality become unaffordable.

So please everyone, open your pockets and your hearts today. There are wonderful things here to buy and to do, excellent speakers and fabulous music. Let us for one day rejoice in the bounty of being without harming, loving without hurting, and buying without spoiling.

In the words of Zacharia Tutu, father of Desmond, ‘Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument’. That is what we Greens, and all who share our concerns, must go out and do!

My speech at the Green Party conference September 2015

Hello conference, Prynhawn Dda
We have had an incredible year in Wales. Our membership has gone up 10 fold since the last Assembly elections, we have 9 new Local Parties, making a total of 14, and we gained six times more votes in the General Election than last time.
We took part in the televised Welsh leader debates, had unprecedented coverage in the press and media, and gained new support from right across Wales.
Yes we are feeling buoyant! And with the Welsh Assembly elections coming up on May 5th 2016, we have every reason to be so, because we are tipped to get as many as 3 Welsh Assembly seats.

Continue reading My speech at the Green Party conference September 2015