We joined tens of thousands of people (estimates vary from 60,00-85,000) at the People’s Assembly demonstration in Manchester yesterday.
It was a large, lively and positive gathering to oppose austerity and the government’s attacks on the unions, alongside a host of other concerns: TTIP, nuclear weapons, privatisation of the NHS, conditions for junior doctors, the Bedroom Tax and, for us, the government’s attack on the green economy and promotion of fracking, oil exploration, road building and airport expansion.
Two years ago, David Cameron was reported as saying that ‘we have got to get rid of all this green crap” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/21/david-cameron-green-crap-comments-storm meaning the green levies that were increasing consumer bills.
Analysis has shown that green levies constituted a tiny part of the average rising bill (mainly due to wholesale gas price rises) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2013/oct/10/green-taxes-energy-bill-fuel-sse-price-rising Only 8.8% at that point came from ‘energy, climate change and social policies’ including the warm homes discount for pensioners and energy saving measures for low income homes as well as the renewable obligation’ subsidy of renewable power which constituted only 2.2% of the entire bill.
The government statistics in 2013 also showed that these costs were a sensible investment which would pay dividends in the not-that-distant future. They stated that by 2020 the average bill will be expected to by £1,331 with £286 (21.5%) attributable to green subsidies but that without these green measures, the same bill would stand £166 higher at £1,496. This is because not investing in renewables will leave us exposed to expensive energy imports and not investing in efficiency will mean we waste money through inefficiency. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2013/oct/10/green-taxes-energy-bill-fuel-sse-price-rising
It was only when the Conservatives shed their Lib Dem coalition partners that they could truly realise their ambition to ‘get rid of the green crap’.
In just five months they have cut funding for onshore wind, ended the Green Deal, made renewables pay the Climate Change Levy, got rid of the Zero Carbon Homes target and cut Feed in Tariff payments for solar.
Meanwhile, they have increased tax breaks and relief for oil and gas exploration, announced a new round of licences for fracking, are looking into airport expansion and have a £15bn road building scheme. http://www.campaigncc.org/climatechargesheet
Small wonder that the Committee on Climate Change, took the unusual step last month of writing to the government to warn them that their behaviour is creating confusion for investors and putting the UK at risk of missing its climate targets. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/22/uk-risks-missing-its-carbon-targets-climate-advisers-warn
At the demonstration we created a mini-stunt of David Cameron disposing of the ‘green crap’ (onshore wind, solar and Zero Carbon Homes) and George Osborne bringing in the ‘dirty crap’ (fracking, roads and airport expansion). We had a lot of interest and hundreds of photos taken. Hopefully, this helped to spread the message that the government is attacking the planet, as well as people.
There was a good turn-out from environmental campaigners on the march. Perhaps two hundred people took part in the ‘No to Austerity! No to a Fracking Hell! Yes to One Million Climate Jobs!’ feeder march from Salford and a good bloc within the main demonstration. There was also a lot of fliering for the March for Climate, Justice and Jobs’ that we were happy to help with.
It was good to see lots of Kirklees people on the march. Well done to the TUC for organising two coaches!
The march ended with a speakers ranging from Charlotte Church to Mark Serwotka of the PCS. And it was just one event in an entire week of talks, demonstrations and musical performances organised by the People’s Assembly. http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/manctimetable
If you can get across to Manchester in the next few days, go!