The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which oversees appointments of senior civil servants after they leave their roles, has given the green light for former senior civil servant Sue Gray to join Labour as leader Keir Starmer’s chief of staff.
Wonder if she’s any good at anything & Starmer seems to be poor at spelling, ei? I sometimes wonder if he’s just a bit intellectually challenged tbh but undecided as yet.
Our system is killing us. The root of the wreckage we see around us is a broken democracy, not a broken climate. Climate chaos is just a symptom of the endless greed of the powerful – who won’t stop until they’ve trashed even what they need to survive.
This reality is so terrifying that we all want to believe it’s not true. Surely our lives are in good hands, minus a few bad apples. But for more and more people, these last shreds of comfort are going up in wildfire smoke. We’re told to watch the world burn while politicians license new oil – and still obey?
If that makes your head and heart explode, there’s only one place to go: Civil Resistance. It’s the step we take when we definitively turn our backs on the criminals in power, refusing to give them one more second of our time and respect.
All over the world, this is happening. A Glasgow community spontaneously gathers to save neighbours from deportation. The Stop Cop City movement in Atlanta refuses to let the police raze the forest for a vast training complex. People block the subway in New York, in rage and defiance, after homeless black man Jordan Neely was murdered. Just Stop Oil’s partners in the A22 network send shockwaves across Europe – blocking roads, throwing paint over private jets, turning fountains black.
Like these sister movements, Just Stop Oil is clear about what civil resistance means: we no longer consent to a system that doesn’t care if we live or die. A system so dysfunctional it’s willing to sacrifice us to a clique of criminals profiting from shortened lives, hunger and despair. Resistance means we no longer cooperate with a state that holds us in utter contempt, lies to us and treats us as worthless. If the State has no regard for us, we owe it nothing in return.
The good news amongst all this darkness is that civil resistance works. It’s not a miracle cure by any means, but the balance tips decisively in its favour. It’s got rid of dictators like Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, brought down segregation in the US, won votes for women, removed the British from India, and helped Polish trade unionists free themselves from Soviet oppression. Just Stop Oil could be just months away from joining this roll of honour.
The techniques of civil resistance can include strikes, boycotts, blockades, cultural disruption and occupations. Its results are just as varied. Civil resistance sometimes wins by sparking mass mobilisation, compelling people to leave the sidelines and join in. Sometimes by dividing the State against itself, winning over police and the judiciary. Victory can also come from raising the costs of keeping a system going – until it’s easier for the oppressor to give way. But behind all these tactics and objectives is the absolute withdrawal of consent from a system that’s failing in its duty to provide protection, care and justice for ordinary people like us.
Here, this failure is stark. Our government takes our hard-earned money, via taxpayer subsidies, and pours it into new oil and gas projects, which will lead to misery, deprivation, suffering and death. It breaks its own climate targets, marching us towards social, economic as well as environmental collapse. It lies to us and gaslights us – telling us new oil will cut our energy bills when we all know it’s going to be sold for profit on the global market, at a global price. As one of our spokespeople, Emma Brown, put it so clearly in an interview: ‘The British public isn’t silly.’ We know we’re being lied to. We know we’re being thrown to the wolves.
If you can’t un-know these horrifying truths, join us in civil resistance before it’s too late. Policy and legislation can’t get us the change we need. They can codify the progress we make – but that will come afterwards. Now is the time to resist and that means all of us. The method will work its magic, but not without you.
Join Just Stop Oil on a slow march at midday every Saturday, at Parliament Square until we win.
1. This is an Uprising, Paul Enger & Mark Engler
2. Blueprint for a Revolution, Srdja Popovic
3. The End of Protest: A new blueprint for Revolution, Micah White
4. Don’t think of an Elephant, George Lakoff
5. From Dictatorship to Democracy, Gene Sharp ( PDF Available free online)
Scientists have warned that 2024 could mark the year when global warming exceeds 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. They attribute these predictions, at least in part, to the emergence of an El Niño event.
An El Niño is declared when the sea surface temperature in large parts of the central or eastern equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean warms significantly – sometimes by as much as 2℃. This additional heat in turn warms the atmosphere. During El Niño years, this warming contributes to a temporary rise in the global temperature by a fraction of a degree.
You can listen to more articles from The Conversation, narrated by Noa, here.
El Niño primarily affects weather in the tropics. Intense downpours that would usually fall on parts of south-east Asia or eastern Australia instead fall on the west coast of South America. This change can cause major drought and flooding on different continents, affecting food production and even weather-dependent sports like cricket.
But changes to the weather in these regions can have knock-on effects all over the world. Even thousands of kilometres away in northern Europe, El Niño tends to cause colder and drier winter weather.
Yet many factors affect European weather, especially during winter. So care is needed when linking unusual weather events in Europe to El Niño.
What is El Niño?
The Pacific Ocean spans over 13,000 kilometres from its eastern edge on the South American coast to its western margins near Indonesia. The sea surface temperature changes considerably over this vast distance.
Normally, the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean is more than 5℃ colder on average than the western Pacific. This is primarily due to the upwelling of cold water near South America, a process in which colder water is pulled up from deeper down in the ocean.
However, this temperature contrast flattens or steepens every few years in a natural cycle called the El Niño southern oscillation (Enso). During this cycle, the strength of trade winds that blow westwards across the Pacific can strengthen or weaken, causing more or less cold water to upwell and flow along the equator.
We’re currently entering a period where the eastern Pacific will be warmer than it usually is – an El Niño event. Forecasts suggest that a part of the equatorial Pacific, regarded as a key indicator of Enso, has a 50% chance of warming by over 1.5℃ by the start of 2024.
La Niña is the opposite phase of the cycle. It is instead characterised by cooler sea surface temperatures in these waters. This year brought an end to three successive La Niña years.
The western tropical Pacific region has some of the warmest ocean temperatures on Earth. Humid air tends to converge here, creating unstable conditions characterised by turbulent rising air known as convection by meteorologists. The result of this is towering clouds and intense rainfall.
The region with the highest ocean temperature tends to experience the greatest amount of rainfall. As the warmest ocean temperatures shift eastward during El Niño, so too does the location of maximum cloud cover and rainfall.
Each El Niño event is different. Some mainly warm the eastern Pacific Ocean, such as the 1997-98 event. Others cause more warming in the central Pacific, like in 2009-10.
How does it affect Europe’s climate?
Towering clouds and intense rains in the western Pacific create atmospheric waves known as Rossby waves. These waves extend over thousands of kilometres and travel into and along the eastward-flowing jet streams that encircle the planet’s mid-latitude regions. When the Rossby waves interact with the jet streams, they cause them to undulate.
As unsettled weather in the Pacific moves eastwards during an El Niño event, it influences the location of the peaks and troughs of these Rossby waves. This results in subtle changes in the positions of the jet streams. These alterations in the jet streams, which play a significant role in shaping weather patterns, can have notable effects on weather conditions worldwide.
Depending on the specific movement of the jet stream in a particular area, the effect can either lead to warmer or cooler weather, despite El Niño warming the global climate as a whole. El Niño tends to slightly warm Europe in summer and slightly cool northern Europe in winter.
For instance, the quasi-biennial oscillation – a regular reversal of winds that blow high above the equator – can alter wind patterns in the stratosphere. This can subsequently affect the position of the North Atlantic storm track, which influences Europe’s winter weather.
But even then, the underlying warming trend caused by climate change is making higher temperatures more probable in all seasons. Together, these other factors make any climatic signals from El Niño harder to detect and forecast. Caution must therefore be exercised before attributing anomalies in European winter weather to El Niño alone.
Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?
Freedom Flotilla will attempt to break sea blockade to deliver medicines and urgent supplies to besieged Palestinians
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s ‘Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s boat ‘Handala’ will arrive in Liverpool this weekend as part of its European tour to raise awareness of Israel’s ongoing land, air, and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. The boat’s tour aims to draw particular attention to the conditions faced by children in Gaza, who make up more than half of its residents. The boat is named Handala after the famous cartoon image of a refugee Palestinian child.
The boat will arrive in Liverpool late on Sunday 2 July and the crew will meet journalists and residents on Monday. The crew includes Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli citizen who has been part of previous attempts to break the blockade of Gaza, and Musheir El Farra, a Gazan who lives in Sheffield and has lost many family members in Israeli attacks, to tell his personal story of life for families under the siege.
Later on Monday, the crew will visit a local mosque and will spend their evening at St Bride’s church in Liverpool, where they will take questions from members of the public. Eddie Scraggs will talk about an inspiring project in Gaza where a Liverpool medical team from Liverpool has been performing kidney transplants free of charge and there will also be a short film about a youth project in Gaza called “We are Not Numbers.”
The Handala will leave Liverpool for Cardiff on Wednesday.
The 16-year blockade of Gaza has had devastating effects on the local population of the territory, many of whom are refugees. Water consumption is well below the internationally recommended minimum, while electricity is often only available for a few hours a day. The blockade is aggravated by Israel’s regular bombing of the Gaza Strip and attacks on Gazan fishermen. Earlier this year, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed 49 Palestinians, including 17 children.
After finishing its tour of Europe, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has announced its intention to sail to the Gaza Strip next year, despite the blockade. A 2010 attempt by the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to break the blockade saw a brutal attack by Israeli commandos – while the boats were still in international waters – that killed nine passengers and wounded dozens.
Helen Marks, Secretary of Liverpool Friends of Palestine, said:
The blockade of Gaza is illegal, immoral and barbaric. It is designed to punish and control an entire population by limiting their access to the resources required to live fulfilled lives. It needs to be brought to an end alongside Israel’s wider system of apartheid exercised over all Palestinians.
The flotilla’s visit to Liverpool is an important means of raising awareness of these injustices and building the pressure on our Government to take meaningful action to hold Israel to account for its violation of Palestinian rights and of international law.
The prime minister praised Policy Exchange, which received $30,000 from oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in 2017, for shaping laws that target green activists.
Rishi Sunak has confirmed that a fossil fuel-funded think tank helped to draft his government’s laws targeting climate protests.
Speaking at Policy Exchange’s summer party on Wednesday (28 June), the prime minister boasted that the think tank’s work “helped us draft” the government’s crackdown on protests, according to Politico.
OpenDemocracy reported last year that Policy Exchange’s US wing, American Friends of Policy Exchange, which provides funds to the UK branch, received $30,000 (roughly £23,700) from oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in 2017.
Two years later, Policy Exchange published a report entitled “Extremism Rebellion”, in reference to the environmental protest group, calling for the police and the government to clamp down on eco protests.
An Extinction Rebellion spokesperson told DeSmog that this story “exemplifies the stranglehold that private interests have on our democracy.”
Ministers have been clear that new police powers are designed to stop climate protests. The former Home Secretary Priti Patel cited tactics used by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain when arguing for what became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
Sunak’s statement yesterday appears to confirm Extremism Rebellion’s allegation that sections of the 2022 law were ‘directly inspired’ by Policy Exchange’s report.
The “Extremism Rebellion” report said that legislation relating to public protest needed to be “urgently reformed” in order to “strengthen the ability of the police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass lawbreaking tactics”.
This was implemented in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which came into effect in April 2022 and awarded the police new powers to decide what constitutes a ‘disruptive’ protest and to more harshly punish those involved.
In the year to April 2023, more than 2,000 people were arrested and 138 spent time in prison for their involvement in campaigns by Just Stop Oil, the climate protest group.
Those encarcerated included two protesters who were each sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison – the longest sentences for peaceful climate protest in British history, according to the group – for causing a ‘public nuisance’ by scaling the Dartford Crossing.
This crackdown on protests has been continued by current Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a vocal critic of the UK’s net zero targets, who singled out Just Stop Oil when advocating further powers in the Public Order Act 2023, which received Royal Assent in May.
The legislation, which has been labelled as “draconian” by its opponents, allows the police to pre-emptively intervene to shut down protests and creates new offences for what it describes as “guerrilla tactics”, all of which have been used in recent climate protests.
The law criminalises protesters for attaching themselves (or coming equipped) to lock on to other protesters or buildings, threatening a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.
For organising protests that block key infrastructure including “airports, railways, printing presses, and oil and gas infrastructure” protesters are threatened with up to 12 months in prison, while tunnelling is set at three years.
The law follows a November report by Policy Exchange that said it was “imperative” for protesters who repeatedly obstruct the highways to be “swiftly arrested, convicted and punished”. It further urged that “magistrates and judges should be imposing severe sentences on repeat offenders who aim deliberately to harm the public by breaching the criminal law”.
Sunak, who worked at Policy Exchange before his 2015 election to parliament, also used the summer party to make a jibe about the Labour Party’s links to Just Stop Oil, one of whose funders, Dale Vince, has donated £1.4 million to the party since 2014.
Sunak’s comments echoed the claim made often by senior Conservatives, that Labour’s opposition to new North Sea oil and gas projects is linked to Dale’s donation. Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, has repeatedly attacked Labour over the connection, writing in the Daily Mail that Labour has become “the political wing of Just Stop Oil”.
In fact, the International Energy Agency has said that new oil and gas projects are not compatible with keeping warming below 1.5C – an international climate goal that has been adopted by the UK government.
Meanwhile, DeSmog revealed in March that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million from fossil fuel interests, high-polluters and climate science deniers last year alone.
Policy Exchange and Climate Change
Policy Exchange was co-founded in 2002 by Michael Gove, who has been a mainstay in the cabinet since 2010. The think tank continues to retain significant influence in Westminster: Policy Exchange alumni make up a greater number of special advisers in Rishi Sunak’s government than any other think tank.
At the 2022 Conservative Party conference, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the time serving as Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, said: “I believe that where Policy Exchange leads, governments have often followed.”
Lord Frost, is currently a senior fellow at the think tank. He was also recently appointed as a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – the UK’s principal climate science denial group. This week, Frost – who also attended the Policy Exchange summer party – gave a speech criticising Sunak’s government for offering voters “more net zero”.
Since 2016, Policy Exchange has hosted events at the Conservative Party conference sponsored by energy companies and trade groups including: wood-burning bioenergy firm Drax, gas and electricity supplier E.on, British Gas parent company Centrica, the gas and electricity industry body Energy Networks Association, gas generation company Cadent Gas, trade association Hydrogen UK, and the Sizewell C nuclear plant.
According to VICE News, while the think tank does not advertise the cost of sponsored meetings at party conferences, other similar organisations charge over £12,000 to host an event, which lasts about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, the chair of the Policy Exchange board is Alexander Downer, who served as Australia’s Foreign Minister from 1996 to 2007. Downer has expressed climate science scepticism in the past, claiming that we are “going through an era” of global warming, and saying that Australian climate leadership would be expensive “virtue signalling”.
Downer was appointed as the High Commissioner to the UK in 2014 by Tony Abbott, who also recently joined the board of the GWPF.
Policy Exchange and 10 Downing Street have been approached for comment.