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Found 6 results

  1. Under the Dome, the self-funded documentary by former television news anchor Chai Jing about China’s battles with smog, has been an internet phenomenon. Within three days of its release on Febuary 28, it had racked up more than 150 million views and garnered 280 million posts on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Then the Chinese government removed it from the web, stung by the criticism the film prompted, leaving those who had hailed it as a landmark moment in Chinese environmentalism wondering if the documentary’s influence would end up being curtailed. Seemingly inspired by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Chai Jing presents some shocking facts to her audience in a TED Talk-style format. She documents the health implications of smog, such as its possible relationship with lung cancer, and attributes China’s smog pollution to factors including the consumption of low-grade coal and oil, the expansion of energy-intensive industries like steel, and the lack of enforcement of environmental regulations. Former celebrity TV anchor Chai Jing, as seen in the photo, quit her job after her baby daughter was born with a lung tumor, and after a year of rigorous investigation, launched a 1 hour 40 minute documentary about China’s smog. A wake-up call? Under the Dome invites comparison with Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s 1962 exposé of the effects of pesticides, and some commentators have predicted that the documentary will galvanise China in much the same way that Carson’s book changed America. There are indeed striking similarities between the two. Both focus on environmental issues of huge concern to their respective societies; both were made by women with national reputations for their previous work; and both spurred unprecedented national discussions. Even China’s newly appointed environment minister Chen Jining said he was reminded of Silent Spring when watching Under the Dome – although that was before the government abruptly changed its mind about the documentary. For all their similarities, there are still many hurdles facing the documentary that Carson’s book did not experience. The social context China is undergoing significant social change, with a growing middle class who are more concerned with quality of life than basic needs, and who are willing to raise their voice over issues that affect their health. This is a similar context to the postwar America in which Silent Spring was published. Yet today’s world is also more globalised than in 1962, a fact that could have two opposite effects on China’s environmental movement. On one hand, the potential solutions to global issues such as climate change, and local issues such as air pollution, may feed into each other. As my colleague and I have argued, concern over China’s energy security has become a key driver of its renewable energy industry. But on the other hand, globalisation has made people more mobile, both within and between countries. Migration has become an option for some Chinese to escape the smog, which might reduce their motivation to engage in the local environmental movement. Differing political climates In many ways, the reception given to Under the Dome is broadly similar to that received by Silent Spring. Both were challenged by economic interests, such as the chemical industry in the case of pesticides, and fossil fuel firms in the case of smog. Both were also criticised for a perceived lack of “balance” or author expertise, and were even accused of being political conspiracies. Both were also praised by the scientific community. Silent Spring’s legacy was honoured by the American Chemical Society in 2012, while a Chinese professor blogged about Under the Dome: … [compared with Chai Jing] we experts in the field of environmental protection and scientists on the smog research should feel ashamed for our incompetence to communicate with the public and our lack of courage to expose the problem. But perhaps the most important difference is in how the two respective governments reacted, especially given that both the book and the documentary broadly chimed with what authorities were trying to do at the time. Silent Spring was published when the then US president John F. Kennedy was implementing his New Frontier program, and Under the Dome has arrived while the Chinese leadership is commmitting to an “energy revolution”. Several key ideas advocated in Under the Dome to fight smog are aligned with the government’s agenda, such as reducing the share of fossil fuels in the country’s energy supply, and increasing the share of renewable energy sources. This may partly explain why the documentary was first released on the website of People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, and why the resulting media and online criticisms of the government’s handling of the smog issue were initially tolerated despite such comments usually being closely monitored and censored by the state. However, after a week of explosive discussion in the public sphere, the documentary was taken down from all Chinese websites. While the smog issue was a topic of frequent discussion during the annual session of the National People’s Congress, held in this same week, Chai Jing and her documentary were rarely mentioned by any representatives or government officials. Contrast that with the policy response triggered by Silent Spring, including the appointment of the President’s Science Advisory Committee, hearings on the issue in the Senate, and the establishment of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Chinese government seems to fear that grassroots movements may undermine its legitimacy in ruling the country. It has implemented a range of policies to transform China’s energy system, but the effectiveness of those policies are yet to be seen. The legacy of Silent Spring is beyond question. Whether Under the Dome gets the chance to have a similarly lasting impact is far from clear.
  2. Ahead of this week's European parliament elections (22-25 May), PollWatch has published it's latest and final prediction.     EPP, the conservative party group, would receive the majority of the seats in the parliament, according to their pre-election polls. The Socialists would be the second largest political group. EPP would get 217 seats, 16 more than the Socialists. The Greens would actually lose seats, going from their current 58 seats to 44 seats. This would mean that the main EPP candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker could soon become EU's most powerful politician.   This is just sad, albeit not surprising. Juncker is boring, white, old, and a man. He is basically the epitome of conservatism. It would also mean bad news for the climate and our environment with an EU that will continue to lack political will to combat the climate crisis. In debates, Juncker has used the term "floodgates" to talk about migrants. He has claimed he "don't know anything" about the TTIP mandate. And his political group supports "fracking" and austerity measures, among many things.   If you are eligible to vote in the European elections, please use that right and vote for a greener Europe with more solidarity.
  3. Today the first polls for the European Parliament election opened. People in the Netherlands and Britain will be among the first Europeans to cast their ballots in the marathon election spanning 28 countries in four days. And this election might be the most important one in recent history. Extreme far-right parties are making gains throughout Europe, spreading dangerous xenophobia and hate. And a low voter turnout could be in their favor. It’s therefore important to participate and vote for democracy, for equality and human rights. Let’s show these hateful and ignorant people that we Europeans have learned from our dark past. That we won’t forget. And that we won’t accept their sick and misguided worldview. It’s an important election, for many reasons. But the most pressing issue of our time is obviously climate change. It is the crisis that could destroy everything that we and generations before us have worked so hard to achieve. We have known about climate change for decades now. But we have done nothing. And we can’t blame it on ignorance – that we didn’t know any better. In a sense, the climate crisis could really be the biggest political failure in human history. The European Union is the world’s largest economy. The largest share of capital and the largest state budgets are all located within Europe. Together, Europe is an economic powerhouse capable of anything. But climate action cost. It’s estimated that we need to spend a few thousand billions annually to save the climate. That might sound like too much – especially in the wake of an economic crisis. But it’s not much compared to the EU’s total GDP, which is over €13 trillion. Combating climate change clearly wouldn’t hurt us economically. It wouldn’t even cost us one percent of EU’s total GDP. Climate change is supranational, it’s a global problem that doesn’t care about nations or borders. Therefore the solutions need to be supranational. And despite all it flaws – believe me, there are many – the European Union is this solution. Together, the European Union could create a common energy market that favors renewable energy over dirty fossil fuels. The EU could easily promote cleaner and greener modes of transportation. We could create a unified transportation system which makes it possible for people to travel across Europe, quickly and comfortable. There are of course many other examples. But none of this is possible to accomplish for nations on their own – it would simply take too long. And it doesn't help that the current energy market is based on national monopolies and cartels. These are corporations that profits from tariffs, restrictions and lousy energy transfers between countries. Changing this outdated business model is a daunting task for the EU alone, but it will be even harder to accomplish if countries try to negotiate possible solutions with neighboring countries on their own. It would be like the current railroad system, where Swedish trains cannot travel in Europe because the railway tracks and systems differs between countries. A unified Europe is something we should strive for – it’s in our best interests. But which party should get your vote? The conservatives doesn’t seem to grasp the severity of climate change. The liberals put their faith in the market, hoping the market will solve the climate crisis on its own terms - the very same solution they advocate for every problem. The Social Democrats seems too keen to safeguard national economic and industry interests. And the socialists, well they unfortunately don’t see the possibilities of a unified Europe. For a democrat, the remaining choice are the European Greens. They are the only political group that has constantly pushed the hardest for human rights, solidarity, and real and meaningful action against climate change in the EU. But PollWatch published its final election prediction a few days ago. And according to their numbers, the conservative party group, the EPP, would again receive the majority of the seats in the parliament. The Social Democrats would be the second largest political group. EPP would get 217 seats, 16 more than the Social Democrats. The Greens would actually lose seats, going from their current 58 seats to 44 seats. This would mean that the main EPP candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker could soon become EU's most powerful politician. This would be a sad outcome. Juncker is basically the epitome of conservatism. He is old, white and male. In debates, Juncker has used the term "floodgates" to talk about migrants. He has claimed he "don't know anything" about the TTIP mandate. And his political group - which includes abortion opponents, homophobes and nationalists - supports "fracking" and austerity measures, among many things. Juncker and the EPP would surely mean bad news for our environment, and an EU that will continue to lack the political will to modernize and combat climate change head on. It’s clear that the green voice must be strong if the European Parliament should make any meaningful progress on climate. I therefore ask you to take part in the elections, and that you vote for a greener and fairer Europe.
  4. Ska Keller, from Germany, and José Bové, from France, have been selected to lead the European Green Party in their upcoming European campaign. After closing the polls yesterday, the election result was presented at a press conference earlier this morning. "I’m looking forward to an enthusiastic election campaign, for the whole of the European Union," Ska Keller said during today's press conference. "It will be our task as top candidates to bring a European dimension to the national Green campaigns." "In our campaign, we Greens will be clear about what our Green alternatives are for Europe: a fair and Green way out of the crisis, putting youth unemployment on the top of the agenda, protecting the rights of refugees and migrants, fair trade not free trade, more ambitious climate targets, and more democracy," Keller said. The European Green Party, which is a transnational political party consisting of 40 green parties from throughout the European Union, asked people whom shared their "values" to choose their party's two green leading candidates for the upcoming European Elections, which are held between 22 and 25 May later this year. This was the first ever Europe-wide online election for a parliamentary group in the European parliament. But the election had quite a low voter turnout with only 22,676 people participating. It's therefore doubtful that the result is representative for the members of the green parties in Europe.
  5. The European Green Party, which is a transnational political party consisting of 40 green parties from throughout the European Union, are asking you to choose the two green leading candidates for the upcoming European Elections which are held between 22 and 25 May this year. This is the first ever Europe-wide online election for a parliamentary group in the European parliament. José Bové, Monica Frassoni, Rebecca Harms and Ska Keller are the four contenders in the Green Primary and have participated in live-chats and debates in several European cities, such as Berlin, Prague and London. All four of them are green politicians from across the EU who want to represent the Greens on a European level in the European elections 2014. Before they become contenders of the Green Primary, they were nominated by their national Green party and their candidacy had to be supported by at least four Green parties from across the EU. In an effort to counteract declining trust in the EU, the European Greens wants to give people a stronger voice in European decision-making. And they see the Green Primary as a way to reinvigorate European democracy. “This is an important step in European democracy,” EGP Co-Chair Reinhard Bütikofer MEP said. “Amidst the declining trust in EU institutions, we need new ideas. The Greens are the first to invite citizens to select our two leading candidates in an open Europe-wide online primary. Our innovative e-democracy project promotes the idea of giving Europe back to the people.” Voting ends tomorrow (Janurary 28) at 18:00 CET. So if you are an EU citizen, over the age of 16, and you share “the values, goals and work of the European Green Party” you can help choose the two leading candidates for the European Green Party. To vote, just go to www.greenprimary.eu and register. You will need an email address and a mobile phone. You can also vote with your smartphone or tablet. The contender with the highest number of votes will be elected. The second winner will be the person with the next highest number of votes who is from another national list to ensure that the two leading candidates represent different parts of Europe. Meet the four candidates: Rebecca Harms My political work began in 1975 in the German anti-nuclear movement. As Co-Chair of the Greens/EFA Group in the EU Parliament, I have always fought hard for our ideals and aims. The continuing dispute over energy transition and climate protection tells me that we Greens, being a relatively small party, need not just passion, but a lot of patience for our big ideas. This also applies to Europe. We want and we need to take new steps on the path towards political union. We need passion and patience to regain the trust of the people for this idea. In our European campaign, I want to speak out against shortsighted policies and campaign for sustainability, solidarity and a good quality of life. Learn more about Rebecca Harms. Ska Keller I grew up in the Eastern Bloc, but have lived Europe for as long as I can remember. Anti-racism and internationalism became guiding principles as I worked on cross-border solidarity in my home on the Polish border. Young Greens and Green Parties of Europe spoke to this in a way that never quietened, but still calls me today. For our shared environment, for a united Europe of peace and freedom, capable of facing social, economic and international challenges, for the things that hold us together. A Europe of solidarity of generations and regions; for all people, against austerity. With your support, I will campaign in all parts of Europe to convince people that now is the time to vote green. Learn more about Ska Keller. José Bové Member of the European Parliament since 2009, I am first of all, a farmer of the world. On the Larzac, where I milked sheep for years, I struggled to save my land against the army. From Seattle to Porto Alegre, with NGOs, I claimed that our world is not for sale! Since 1970, when my opposition to nuclear power started, my life has been guided by ecology. I fought GMO with civil disobedience and ended up in jail, but in the end, we secured their banning. Years of mobilisation forced the French government to ban fracking. With the Greens, I am ready to be one of the 2 leading candidates for 2014 for an ecological Europe, the only subversive dream which empowers citizens and protect our planet. Learn more about José Bové. Monica Frassoni To restore our self-confidence and have a positive influence on world affairs, we have to transform the next EP Elections into a real competition. We must do it noisily by stirring controversies and debates with the other parties, by mobilising our members and finding new support. We have to convince citizens that they have a say in EU affairs and that, unless they speak up, EU will split again. If they don't, we will not solve the crisis and our collective irrelevance will be inevitable. My decision to run in this Primary stems from an ambition to participate in a team with the other contenders to make our proposals visible and credible across the EU, well ahead of the EU elections. Learn more about Monica Frassoni.
  6. Green political parties from across Europe made a successful European parliament election this past week. The European Greens gained 11 new seats in the parliament and will now have a total of 46 Green MEPs, an increase with 31%. The Greens/EFA Group is now likely to have 53 MEPS (46 Greens and 7 EFA MEPs). "To have increased the number of Green MEPs from 35 to 46 is a great success. Our showing is even more remarkable when you consider that we have 11 more seats than before in a parliament with 49 fewer MEPS and that all other groups have shrunk", said EGP Co-Spokesperson Philippe Lamberts, who has been elected a MEP for the Belgian French-speaking Green Party Ecolo. In France the green political party Europe-Ecologie gained 16% of the votes and will thus send 13 green MEPs to the European parliament. Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are other countries where the greens will receive more MEPs than from the last EU election. In Greece 3.48% of the people voted for Ecologoi-Prasinoi and as a result Greece will be able to send their first green MEP to the European Parliament. "The Greek Greens' campaign demonstrated European solidarity as an Austrian-Greek Green stood as a candidate to support the Greek party". "What our 31% increase in seats proves beyond any shadow of a doubt is that the Greens are a major political force to be reckoned with and that we are gaining the trust of more and more voters, not only in our traditional areas like the environment and climate policy and human rights, but also economics and social policy", Lamberts said. The greens across Europe will together and stronger than ever work hard to gain support in the parliament for their €500 billion new Green Deal which will help solve the economic crisis and save our climate. EGP Co-Spokesperson Ulrike Lunacek, who was also elected a MEP for the Austrian Greens and managed to maintain their 2 seats despite heavy waves of rightwing populism, thanked all the people who dared to "Think Big, Vote Green". "We will fight hard on their behalf for a Green New Deal for Europe, which was at the heart of our common election campaign and obviously appealed to many voters, including many who had never voted Green before," she said. "The Green New Deal would not only create 5 million new Green-Collar jobs in 5 years but would also help fight climate change as 500 billion Euros of public and private funds would be invested in renewables, energy efficiency and other future-oriented technologies". I am happy to see that the Greens has a growing support among the voters across Europe, and that they will with the support of the voters get at least 10 more seats in the EU parliament. And I am happy to see that Sweden (for now) isn't taking part in the Europe-wide trend of sending far-right extremist, racists and anti-democratic political parties to the European Parliament.