Thursday, 22 December 2011

final weekly compilation of 2011

Here's our last news round up of 2011:

Energy & Climate Change
Press release up on our website "Government Solar Cuts are Illegal, says High Court":

So BP is axing all its renewables programmes other than US onshore wind and biofuels (can be worse than fossil fuels):

Balsall Heath now has an Energy Plan to create a more energy-efficient neighbourhood, & one that uses energy sources available in the area. You can see the summary of their Energy Plan on the Balsall Heath is Our Planet blog:

RT @wwwfoecouk: Blog: Our solar legal case: why we're in court

RT @mcrfoe: Anti wind turbine Sunday Times spike own poll that shows public support MORE #windturbines

RT @guardianeco: 'Green deal' will fail, government's climate advisers warn - definitely needs more ambition!

RT @dpcarrington: Even Canada's government doesn't believe its own spin on tar sands #tarsands#oilsands

This article has reassured me somewhat about the dangers of methane being released from the oceans:

The BeBirmingham Summit report conveniently leaves out a lot of what was said which doesn't fit with council policy:

Good stuff by @bcualisterscott on radio 4 today programme about housing development and the reform of planning law:

RT @BirminghamPress: Stirchley, is primarily residential area with a declining shopping street-but change is on the way

RT @birminghammail: Birmingham Labour MPs demand talks with council leader Mike Whitby over wholesale markets' future:

Historic court ruling today to uphold the EU law to reduce carbon pollution from airplanes: - hope for another on FiTs.

RT @jonwalker121: Anti #hs2 protest song Oak Tree Lament at numbers 4 & 5 in HMV download chart, above Coldplay etc

Waste & Recycling
Look forward to campaign on using our resources better next year.@MikeChilds1 reviews a book dealing with such issues:

The next Sustainability Forum is on 'Love Where You Live', Wed 25 Jan 2012, Highbury Hall, Birmingham, 18.30 - 20.45.

Good Food for Our Money Campaign from Sustain to stop public money being spent on bad food in schools and hospitals:

Merry Christmas and here's what we've been doing in 2011:

RT @mwarhurst#FOEE - Biodiversity on the brink: Environment ministers fail to tackle global challenges:

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Highlights of 2011 Part 3

The campaign to save environmental protections within the planning system was taken up by many organisations this autumn and we played our part in pointing out the damage that will be done if developers just have free reign to build what they want where they want.
Friends of the Earth gave us the campaign slogan "Talk half as much rubbish" earlier in the year, but we found most people didn't associate David Cameron with their bins (strange as it may seem), so we put our focus on lobbying the council to halve the amount of rubbish. We got about 800 signatures on a petition for food waste collections and better recycling, as well as producing reports on the waste system and the damage done by the incinerator. We are now engaging with the Municipal Waste Review being conducted by the scrutiny committee to whom we'll give evidence in January.
This was the tenth year we've done a Santa Parade in Birmingham for Buy Nothing Day. This year we got a big piece on the radio about consumption and Christmas as well as press coverage and lots of people dancing round the streets with us :-) This video provides pictures from many of those ten years and the radio piece:
As part of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, we always put on events to raise awareness of what is happening amongst the public and politicians. This year it was a screening of the film Dirty Oil at the BMI, followed by a discussion.
The talks in Durban weren't as bad as we feared they might be, but still haven't done anything yet to prevent runaway climate change. Here's Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth talking about it:
All that makes it even more important that our Final Demand campaign makes a big impact both on the way the energy market is run and the carbon emissions it's responsible for. We are hoping to get thousands of signatures to show the government that people really want a shift in power away from the Big 6 with people taking control over producing their own energy, not just pouring money into shareholders' pockets.
This shot is from Bristol, but we are all ready to hit the streets of Birmingham next year and make a real difference to the carbon emissions of retailers by getting them to close the doors. We have the materials and just need an army of volunteers to go round speaking to shopkeepers. Let us know if you want to help.
The last slide is for our wonderful volunteers, without whom, none of this would happen:

Highlights of 2011 part 2

This picture shows a couple of members of The Opera Group, with whom we collaborated on a project to take art out onto the streets and engage with people ahead of their performance at the CBSO concert hall of Seven Angels.
One of the great perks of volunteering for Birmingham Friends of the Earth is the opportunity to get a free ticket to a festival in return for working shifts on our property lockups. The money raised from this is the main reason we can afford to employ a member of staff working on campaigning for all the environmental changes we seek in Birmingham.
It may not be the most glamorous or fun part of campaigning, but responding to consultations is really essential to developing our reputation as a serious organisation whose views carry weight. As well as the core strategy, we have responded to various transport consultations, including on HS2 and aviation and the National Planning Policy Framework. Copies of these can be seen on our website.
The award that we got was largely for the work done by our Faith and Climate Change project, whose funding was unfortunately cut before we received this. There is work under way to develop an even bigger project building on the foundations created to do something across the whole region now.
We won photo of the year for this shot from last year's Santa Parade:
Richard made a totally original acceptance speech that I would love to see taken up by one of the winners at the Oscars next year!
Rossiter's and LOAF did us proud with the food and our volunteers cooked up a storm on the Barbecue for this annual fundraiser that also acts as an awareness-raising event for the benefits of organic food.
Over the summer, we took some time to pause on the active energy campaigning and have a look around the city at what is already happening in the city. We drew up 15 case studies and this information is now proving very useful as we battle cuts to renewable energy subsidies and support for our new campaigns.
In September, for In Town Without My Car Day, we did something practical this year. 5 "Bike Trains" converged on the centre of Birmingham with commuters heading to work. The atmosphere was great and we hope to have inspired a few people to repeat this in 2012. We'd like it to become a regular event to get people building up their confidence for cycling in Birmingham.
Of course, what made it the perfect start to the day was that after burning off all those calories cycling in to work, people were then given a free breakfast to give them the energy to get through to lunch courtesy of three lovely local independent coffee shops.

Highlights of 2011 part 1

This has been another great year, in which our campaigners have achieved a lot. Here are some of the highlights.
This picture comes from a session where we were making seed bombs for going out and doing a bit of guerilla gardening - getting plants growing in pieces of wasteland.
And here was another piece of guerilla gardening that we did - planting sunflower seeds around Digbeth. Did you see any growing? There were certainly a few, although not as many as we planted, but it was a good social activity, too.
As a group that believes in the political process and engaging with politicians to win arguments on the evidence base we have, it is important that we speak to politicians in person. This year we have been very active at lobbying in person, as well as sending lots of emails, letters and petitions off.
This photo is from the HS2 debate we put on in partnership with Sustainability West Midlands. We had Christian Wolmar and Mike Geddes speaking against, with Jim Steer and Martin Dyer speaking for it creating a sustainable transport system and more jobs. Adrian Goldberg of BBC radio WM did an excellent job of chairing for us on a night when passion ran high amongst the large audience.
This was from Aston University's Go Green week, where we spoke to students about environmental questions around energy and cold homes - getting them to rate their digs and then created a video of it.
This is one of a few videos we've done this year with the help of Mandy Staunton - thanks to her for all the work she's done on that.
We arranged a Green Spring Fair in May at the Prince of Wales in Moseley, where we also held regular Swap Shops in the first half of the year.
A practical way to reduce waste is to try to find people who want the things you no longer do. The Swap Shop was really successful in this, with all kinds of odd bits of wire and cables finding someone who wanted them when otherwise they would just have been in the bottom of a drawer or gone to waste. There were clothes, bags and books, too.

Friday, 16 December 2011

weekly compilation 16.12.2011

Here's our round-up of the stories relating to our campaigns from this week:

Energy & Climate Change
"I suppose there will be some who look more to Nigel Lawson than they do to David Attenborough.. but I doubt it.": :-)

New article on our website about the @wwfoecouk victory in the high court today on challenging Feed-in-Tariffs review:

Excellent! Another blog post by that @powellds who used to be @wee_dave - always a good read, here on energy bills:

RT @newscientist: Carbon capture and storage gets a clean bill of health

RT @dpcarrington: UK #energy bills: here's CCC's report on why "astronomical" rises won't result from green measures

RT @leohickman: By me: British public strongly support renewable energy, survey says: good for #finaldemand campaign

Former FoE energy campaigner was very happy about the Siemens plans for wind turbine factory in Hull.

RT @wwwfoecouk: Watch the reaction on #Durban from our executive director @Andy2Atkins

New blog post on Saturday's Young Friends of the Earth stunt for Final Demand campaign: - the lovely big 6 companies!

RT @AlaaKhourdajie: Durban Climate Agreement: Gap Period in the International Actions and its Economic Implications:

RT @orangejon my video's now online of of yesterday's #FinalDemand action, questioning the profits of big 6 - #energy:

Interesting. Others similar? RT @AcocksGreenFG: 2008 Acocks Green TCM survey: 45% walk to AG centre shops, 28% take bus, 35% use car.

All politicians need to understand about economics of local shops: RT @theneweconomics: Long live the Queen of Shops:

RT @RichardHebditch: Decent shopping & streets, not parking what matters for high streets: (blog on Mary Portas review)

RT @rail_media: Acocks Green rail passengers to benefit from lifts #rail

"Department for Transport’s road plans are a backward step" another one by most environmentally destructive govt ever!

Birmingham’s Cross-City line ‘one of the most accessible in the country’ - just a shame no funding for more stations:

Oh dear. When many people's pay is frozen, bus fares are going up by over 5% again: and there's no evening saver!!

New blog post on the cuts to pensioners free travel and whether there's a better solution (eg charging for car parking)

RT @sustrans: Cycle like the Danes to cut carbon emissions, says study: via @guardian

Waste & Recycling
Interesting to see how the AD industry copes with these challenges. Birmingham could be planning something soon:

Article up on our website about the Buy Nothing Day parade. Good to read with only 1 weekend left before xmas:

Does anyone think it'd be worth having a Birmingham TV station? Hard to see it being viable financially?

"Eco-friendly firm Sudscape wins Olympic Village contract" - making pavements out of used car tyres sounds good:

Good to see an article focusing on other aspects than just CO2 cuts around Durban talks - biodiversity crucial too:

RT @wwwfoecouk: Know any green heroes? Nominate allotment champs & inspiring teachers for @nationaltrust award 16 Jan:

Monday, 12 December 2011

First Event for Young FoE in Birmingham

Last Saturday Young Friends of the Earth Midlands (people aged 18-30 involved in FoE) met for its first time ever. For our first action we decided to dress up like reps from the big six energy companies to thank our faithful customers for their ongoing support, “even though your annual bill has gone up by an average of £500 our shareholders annual payment has increased by 150%..... so every cloud.”

Considering this was the first time the group had done anything, the turnout was excellent. People came from throughout the Midlands (with one notable exception who came from Leeds) to inform people about the Friends of the Earth 'Final Demand' campaign. While for the most part people understood the irony intended in the message, several people did lecture me about the evils of their energy provider and in one instance that I should be ashamed of myself! This just helped to bring home how fed up people are with the 'big six' and how urgently an enquiry into them is needed.

You can watch the following You-tube clip for a brief snippet of the day.

All things considered, I felt that it was a success and I am particularly grateful for those who took part on the day, I just hope the group can continue to flourish into the new year.
If you wish to get involved with Young FoE, please get in touch via, so together we can make our second event just as successful as the first.

Richard Sagar  

Cuts, cuts, cuts - pensioners to lose free travel?

Aside from whether cutting things is the right approach, if funds have to be found, what about a tax on workplace car parking that is currently a gift ?
Placing a fee on pensioners for West Midlands transport use, in some cases will be a burden on very low income people. With the poor standard of driving and the problems with the elderly having slower reaction times to 'jack the lad' manoeuvres, encouraging the elderly to drive more, may be unwise.
Car parking is not charged at most railway stations but has been funded by all. The person walking to the station is paying the same for the journey ticket as the person driving the same mile. Is this right?

Annual maintenance of each car parking space is between £200 and £400. A charge per use of £1 would not be unreasonable. An annual all car parks sticker would be easier than paying daily.
However, all changes need to bear in mind Air Quality issues - we breathe in the consequence of wrong decisions.

Is there anything else we can do to save money, not encourage more driving and not disadvantage those most in need of subsidised travel?

John Hall

Friday, 9 December 2011

weekly compilation 09.12.11

Here are the week's main stories by campaign theme, according to the ones we're working on at the moment:

Energy & Climate Change
A few of our volunteers including @SagarRichard will be on streets tomorrow with a #finaldemand stunt similar to this:

RT @david_heller: FoE and GP stand with Africa and most vulnerable, oppose corporate polluters (video):

RT @guardianeco: Fracking may be causing groundwater pollution, says EPA report - Frack Off!! We don't want it here.

If this picture was of a solar panel bursting into flames, it would sum up the government's actions pretty well:

RT @wwwfoecouk A great free guide to community energy projects - case studies and advice for local energy solutions:

RT @guardianeco: 'Patronising and wrong': Frozen Planet scientist refutes Nigel Lawson criticism

Excellent article by @GeorgeMonbiot in the Spectator rebutting rubbish they published on sea level rises - well done:

Lord Stern: rich nations should stop subsidising fossil fuel industry:

RT @newscientist: From #Durban summit: Deforestation contributes twice as much to global warming as was thought: #COP17

RT @guardianeco: UK climate aid 'helps Walmart get cheap wind power'

RT @ali_mfoe: Not exactly best news to start the week: RT@guardianeco CO2 emissions show record jump #climate #fail

RT @londoncyclist: £27 million Tesco store a "no go area for cyclists" say campaigners

New blog post on the Including Women event I was invited to speak at last week in Balsall Heath & neighbourhood plans:

Hope a solution can be found to keep wholesale markets where they are - read this by market trader to understand why:

Can anyone explain why we need to keep building more office space when there's so much sitting empty already?

Good meeting on this Tuesday: RT @birminghammail: Report reveals impact loss of Wholesale market could have on city:

RT @centrowm: West Midlands Freight Strategy now out on consultation. See link for details:

Nice comment on the interchange station - agree: RT @CPRE: . #HS2 - Government considers new high-speed rail tunnel:

RT @AirportWatch: Government retains current APD distance & class bands - rises 10% in April against industry lobbying:

RT @birminghammail: Centro considers scrapping free train and tram travel for pensioners in West Midlands

Hope they re-examine more than just one tunnel on #HS2 route, but how it cuts carbon and integrates with rail overall:

RT @AirportWatch: Branson hoping for 50% “sustainable” aviation fuels - not defined - by 2020 -which is 8 years ahead.

Waste & Recycling
RT @recycle_this: No need for wrapping paper - old pillowcases & clothes upcycled into reusable gift bags 4 xmas - fab!

On our youtube channel there's a video with the interview Andy did on Buy Nothing Day & pics from last 10 years:

New post on the blog about the visit to the recycled paper mill yesterday:

"Strict limits on Pickles' bin fund" - stupid. We understand BCC were hoping to use money for food collections:

RT @digbeth: New DiG blog post, Digbeth Residents meet with MP Mahmood -

Please help if you can - "Birmingham food banks join forces for major food drive":

RT @hellocatfood: The reception at @Bham_FOE is looking rather nice! - it is indeed!

RT @carolinebeavon: Poll: If you can't attend a conference/meeting - what are your preferred online solutions?

Not environmental news, but cultural: RT @AdrianBurrows: A racy little teaser with @notoriouschoir

RT @buynothingday: The truth about supermarket 'bargains'

"The most environmentally destructive govt to hold power in this country since modern environmental movement was born"