Friday, 13 April 2012

Million Jobs for Climate Change Caravan - a liveable future

Climate Jobs Campaign Leaflet
The One Million Jobs for Climate Change Caravan (see http://www.climate-change-jobs.org)  is coming to Lancaster on Thursday 24 May with a festival of events to explain its plan to persuade the government to invest £18 billion a year in sustainable electricity, transport and heating jobs. You can watch their short campaign video here.

EDF has scrapped its plans to build a third nuclear power station at Heysham, and Wyre Power has dropped its proposals for a gas-powered station near Blackpool.  The UK's old nuclear reactors are nearing the end of their lives. Increasing scarcity means that petrol and diesel prices can only keep on rising, forcing people and goods off the road.  The climate is already changing - yet another reason why we can no longer depend on the 'safety' of nuclear power and waste storage.  Where will power and fuel will come from over the next 20 years?  Going on as we are faces us with a time within 10-30 years when most of us will be spending periods shivering in the cold and dark, which will be a Very Bad Thing.

The main political parties are counting on traditional economics to fix everything and create 'growth'. This depends on a constantly increasing number of people making, buying and selling a lot of lifestyle products, despite the rising costs of materials, land and production. However the trillions of pounds pumped into banks to maintain an illusion of 'growth' keeps trickling invisibly away and more crisis bail-outs are inevitably in the pipeline. Cuts will get harsher and prices will keep on rising while common assets such as the NHS and pension funds are liquidated.

The world is changing faster than ever, facing a perfect storm of climate change, peak oil energy shortages and population growth. In 1960 the global population was 3 billion, now it is over 7 billion. Every five days the global population  rises by 1 million. Our government's current response is to build more housing on greenfield sites, make family planning less accessible, widen the separation between rich and poor, clamp down on social mobility and  increase surveillance.  And squabble over pasties.

History tells us flatly what happens to species and societies that can't adapt their ways to face new challenges. Prayer isn't enough.  Even Noah had to build an arc.  So let's hope that this new initiative from the Climate Change Campaign can make a start. The Million Jobs for Climate Change campaign aims to persuade the government to create national incentives for businesses that will help our society meet the challenges of both climate change and predicted energy shortages with new combined technology. It's an exciting and positive proposal and Lancaster is just one of many UK towns and cities on their tour that hopes we have enough taste for life to step up and make it work.

As well as the Million Jobs Climate Change Caravan in  Market Square there will be film screenings at the Dukes, a climate change business day for local sustainable businesses and students at Lancaster & Morecambe College, meetings, talks and social events.

According to the campaigners (download and read their pamphlet here), we need drastic cuts in the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases we put into the air. This will take government regulation and international agreements. It will also take a lot of work - jobs. We have to build wind, wave, tide and solar power. We have to develop more efficient technology and products. We have to renovate and insulate our homes and buildings to make them as energy efficient as they can be. We have to provide a cheap public transport and haulage infrastructure. We have to fix our leaky water pipes and update water systems to meet changing rainfall patterns. We need to maximise local food production and minimise waste.  We have to develop 21st century training, careers and occupations for our millions of unemployed young people as they will have the worst of it to deal with.  Time is running out on us.

One local example of how we need to change our thinking is obvious. The hundred and fifty million pounds the government wants to spend on the Heysham - M6 link road would be better spent on sustainable public transport and haulage infrastructure. EDF no longer needs a new driveway to build their reactor and petrol will cost a prohibitive £5 a litre and rising by the time the proposed road could be built.   By then the world's population could be doubled. We have wind, tide, water, arable land and resourceful people. We need locally produced energy, nutritious food, clean water and warm homes.  We need useful skills and jobs and new technology. If we don't supply these things we may have to do without.

For more about the Million Jobs for Climate Change Campaign visit http://www.climate-change-jobs.org/ , where you can also sign their petition.

Visit the Lancaster Climate Change Caravan Group on Facebook for more about forthcoming local events.

Visit the Transition City Lancaster website to find out more about the local initiatives to deal with peak oil transition and  sustainable futures.

Download the 2009 report commissioned by the City of Bloomington, Indiana on local government strategies to manage energy descent and community resilience.

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