On Friday 21st August, Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, joined local group, Greater Bristol Alliance, in the Bearpit outside Debenhams to raise awareness that free trade is driving us towards catastrophic climate change. Greater Bristol Alliance is putting up new billboards in the Bear Pit about global warming and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – the massive trade deal which is currently being negotiated in secret by the EU and the US.
This initiative was supported by 38 Degrees, The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, The Bearpit Improvement Group and The People’s Assembly.
On Saturday 22nd August supporters of 38 Degrees, the online campaigning group, marched down Whiteladies Road to the Bearpit to demonstrate against TTIP.
These protests are occurring at a critical time, as the International Energy Agency has warned that if we do not get our emissions under control by 2017, our fossil fuel economy will ‘lock in’ extremely dangerous global warming.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change conference is due to start in Paris on 29th November, but the protesters fear that if TTIP is agreed it could weaken decisions on climate change to the point of irrelevance.
Molly Scott Cato, who was only allowed to view TTIP documents after agreeing not to share the information with her constituents, commented: “I left without any sense of reassurance either that the process of negotiating this trade deal is democratic, or that the negotiators are operating on behalf of citizens. It is a corporate discussion, not a democratic one.”
She has also criticised the British government’s decision to impose the Climate Change Levy on renewable generators as “illogical and punitive”, pointing out that their “ideological opposition to renewable technologies is destroying thousands of potential jobs”.
Speaking on behalf of Great Bristol Alliance, Hilary Saunders commented: “We are appalled by the Government’s announcement this week that they have awarded fracking licences in 27 areas, and that a further 132 areas including parts of the West Country could also be licensed for fracking. Drilling for oil and gas will inevitably increase our emissions, while the toxic chemicals used in fracking could also contaminate our water, land and air.
“This is directly relevant to the people of Bristol, because the area covered by fracking licence PEDL 226 includes the reservoirs which supply our drinking water – and this area extends as far as Parson Street in Bedminster! This licence has currently been relinquished but could easily be awarded again. Anyone who thinks this technology is safe should have a look at the film Gaslands.
“Like other free trade agreements, TTIP contains measures which enable multinational companies to sue governments whose policies limit their future profits. How can governments seek to control carbon emissions by regulating, taxing and penalising companies which produce or make heavy use of fossil fuels, if this inevitably triggers thousands of huge compensation claims? It is worth noting that a fracking company is using a free trade agreement to challenge a fracking ban in Quebec. That is what we would expect to happen here if TTIP is agreed.”
Alison Allan from the Greater Bristol Alliance commented: “As free trade will make it impossible to tackle climate change effectively, we hope that our Mayor will show international leadership by declaring Bristol a TTIP free zone.
“We also want to know how Bristol can reduce its carbon emissions substantially. We would like the Mayor to consider the possibility of generating our own electricity using renewable sources, as many towns do in Germany.
“Large parts of Somerset have already experienced severe flooding, but this is nothing compared to the catastrophic climate change that our children may have to face in 30 or 40 years time. All of us need to take action now to ensure that our children have a future – and that means the Government saying no to the multinational corporations who want us to sign up to TTIP.”
For further information, contact:
Hilary Saunders: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Allan: email@example.com
Notes for Editors:
Greater Bristol Alliance is working towards the establishment of a new politics based on the principles of justice, compassion and equality. It aims to enable co-operation between locally based and like-minded campaigning groups, unions and political parties in order to highlight root causes and key symptoms of environmental, economic and social abuses.
Steve Timmins : GreaterBristolAlliance@gmail.com
Facebook: Greater Bristol