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-> Greens Press -> Caroline Lucas June/July 2006..
21912006-08-15

Brussels / Strasbourg

June and July have seen busy European parliamentary sessions, with
Carolines efforts focussed on a debate and full plenary vote on her
own-initiative report calling for a package of measures to tackle flyings
growing contribution to climate change including an aviation-only
emissions trading scheme and an end to the tax breaks and hidden subsidies
enjoyed by the airlines (see below).

July saw the rotating EU presidency pass to Helsinki, for just the second
time since Finland joined the EU in 1995. The European Parliament in now in
recess and returns to business on August 28th.

Aviation and Climate Change

The European Parliament has adopted proposals drafted by Caroline to address
the aviation sectors growing contribution to climate change. During its
July session, the Parliament voted overwhelmingly to accept Carolines
own-initiative report previously adopted near unanimously at the
influential Environment Committee to introduce a range of measures to
reduce the airlines greenhouse gas emissions, including an end to state
subsidies and tax breaks and the establishment of an aircraft-only emissions
trading scheme.

We hope Carolines proposals are translated into law by becoming the
official position of the European Commission whose proposals for
legislation are due to be published later this year and could be on the
statute book by the end of 2008.


Written Declarations

Caroline has co-sponsored parliamentary Written Declarations on a number
of issues. Like Early Day Motions in the House of Commons, they are open to
signature by any member, and serve to raise the profile of the case
concerned often resulting in changes to legislation or policy. Carolines
current Written Declarations concern human rights in India and China, the
treatment of stray animals in Eastern Europe, US nuclear weapons in the EU
and banning imports of seal fur.

For further details on Written Declarations and how you can support them,
follow the link to Written Declarations from the main menu on
www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk


Constituency visits and case-work

Campaigners fighting plans for nearly 900 homes and a new supermarket to
be built on ancient woodland near Worthing occupied the site and built a
network of treehouses and platforms in June to prevent any construction
work. Caroline intervened asking Worthing Council and the developer to go
back to the drawing board. People living near the Titnore Woods site have
warmed to the protestors, but relations with Sussex Police have been fraught
since they occupied the site and filmed without permission or any warrant
just days before a High Court hearing which ordered the eviction of the
camp. As this bulletin went to press, Titnore Woods were still being
occupied pending an appeal by the Protect Our Woodland group. For latest
news see http://www.freewebs.com/titnore/

A Sussex businessman has spent more than two years on bail in Vietnam
for a crime he says he didnt commit. Working alongside Fair Trials Abroad,
Caroline has written to the Vietnamese authorities calling for then to speed
up the fraud proceedings against Peter Laking, who has run a quarrying firm
there since 1993.

Caroline visited the Furniture Now! recycling charity in Lewes, East
Sussex, after plans were revealed to give the riverside site currently
taken up with light industrial units over to a new housing development.
She described the plans as madness: both as the area is known for
flooding, and as it will force the recyclers and other valuable local
employers out of town.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will consider whether or not to block
a planned waste depot in a residential area of Brighton after Caroline
demanded he call in the application and hold a full public inquiry. The
proposed waste depot in Hollingdean, Brighton, was granted planning
permission by Labour-run Brighton and Hove Council in June, despite it being
just yards from a primary school and in spite of thousands of objections
from local residents and the plan breaching Government guidelines on
traffic, pollution, noise and negative community impacts.


Campaigns and Issues


GM

The Government signalled the go-ahead for commercial planting of Genetically
Modified (GM) crops in the UK in July despite admitting there could be no
safe barrier between GM and non-GM crops. This poses a direct threat to
biodiversity in the UK, the booming organic sector and may be harmful to
human health too. But perhaps worse, it runs counter to the clearly-stated
wishes of the majority in the UK (only two per cent of participants in the
2003 GM Nation consultation said they would be happy to eat GM produce)
and as such it is a subversion of democracy in line with the wishes of the
agri-business lobby.


Peace and Human Rights

With almost 500 people dead in Lebanon mostly civilians since Israel
began its bombardment of the Mediterranean country, Caroline has signed a
letter to Tony Blair and joined the thousands across the country calling on
the UK to back calls for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict. Israel has
said it regards Blair and Bushs refusal to join the rest of the world in
calling for a ceasefire as giving it a green light to continue its attacks
on its northern neighbour.

As a member of the European Parliaments permanent delegation to the
occupied Palestinian territories, Caroline dismissed the EUs failure to
resume full financial assistance payments to pay for medicines, food and
public salaries in line with previous arrangements. The payments were
suspended after Hamas took control of the Palestinian Authority an
emergency aid package of 70m agreed in June was too little, too late,
she told the Parliament. Caroline also condemned the ongoing Israeli
military assault on Gaza, which has seen hundreds of homes destroyed and
civilian infrastructure including power stations destroyed. She said the
attacks were acts of collective punishment of the Palestinian people for
democratically electing a Hamas government and as such are in clear breach
of international law.

Protestors including Caroline and CND chair Kate Hudson took part in a
blockade of the Ministry of Defence site at Aldermaston, Berkshire, in July.
The peaceful blockade, which was organized by local peace group Block the
Builders, halted work on the construction of new nuclear weapons-related
facilities at the site. See www.blockthebuilders.org.uk for more details on
the campaign.
Caroline has criticised the EU for failing to take action to stamp out a
growing wave of religious violence and attacks on hundreds of churches and
mosques in Indonesia. After raising the issue with EU external affairs
commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, she was told the EU wouldnt put any
public pressure on Indonesia to stop the violence. Caroline said the
decision represented a shameful dereliction of duty: The EU is committed to
the defence of human rights and, as a leading trading partner of Indonesia,
it has a duty to take the lead in applying this pressure.
Caroline has joined more than 30,000 people taking part in
irrepressible.info a campaign to protect free speech on the Internet
launched in June by Amnesty International and the Observer newspaper. She
has written to the Chinese authorities demanding the release of journalist
Shi Tao, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for sending a
political email and an end to all Government control and repression of
cyberspace. For more info or to get involved see www.irrepressible.info

Reports of the sale and trade in body parts of executed prisoners
including political prisoners in China have prompted Caroline to call for
a UN and World Health Organisation investigation into the scandal. Human
rights watchers in China have alleged that executed prisoners body parts
are harvested from the corpses of Falun Gong practitioners and other
prisoners of conscience without consent. Caroline has also tabled a Written
Declaration at Parliament calling on the EU to intervene directly.


Aviation

As well as pushing own-initiative proposals to tackle flyings impact on
climate change through the European Parliament (see above), Caroline has
remained in close contact with local and national groups campaigning against
the social and environmental impacts of aviations relentless growth.

Gatwick Airport staff have refused permission for Caroline to have her
photograph taken in a public area of the airport. They told members of the
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign that they and Caroline would be
prevented from taking any pictures to illustrate the airlines growing
contribution to climate change.

Caroline has added her support to a petition organized by campaign group
AirportWatch calling on the Government to rethink its backing for the
unfettered growth of the aviation sector. The Rethink! campaign has
already won support from Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem politicians, as well as
groups including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the RSPB and the Campaign
for the Protection of Rural England. For more details or to support the
call for a rethink!, see http://www.rethink.airportwatch.org.uk/


Animal Rights

The RSPCA awarded Caroline The Michael Kay Award for her outstanding
contribution to European animal welfare at its London AGM in June. The
citation singled out her work on trying to ban live exports, animal tests
and the sale of cat and dog fur.

The European Commission has confirmed that no EU taxpayers cash will be
spent on a controversial animal testing laboratory in Oxford. In response to
a written question from Caroline, the Commission confirmed its commitment to
the eventual elimination of all animal tests.


Climate Change

Climate change is the biggest threat we face and we are failing in our
efforts to tackle it, with UK CO2 emissions rising and the aviation sector,
the worlds fastest growing producer of greenhouse gases, receiving the
green light to build new runways and expand their operations in the UK,
Caroline told audiences at a range of literary and music festivals in June
and July, including WOMAD, the Hay Literary Festival and the Ways With
Words literary festival in Dartington.

Essex is sinking by a centimetre a year, Caroline told a Flooding and
Climate Change conference in Leigh-on-Sea in June. The East and South-East
of England are in the front line of climate change, the biggest threat we
face, she said.

Energy

The Government published its long-awaited energy review in July, calling
for a mixed approach to meeting the UKs future energy needs, with a
combination of new nuclear power stations, existing coal and gas facilities,
and renewable alternatives. Caroline condemned the review as a step back in
time, with its emphasis on expensive and dangerous nuclear power stations.
She warned there could be no judicious mix of nuclear and renewables as
the two sectors couldnt simultaneously raise sufficient investment of
capital and political will.

Caroline has called on leaders of the G8 and EU to seek real energy
security by ditching plans for nuclear power stations and ending our fossil
fuel dependence by switching to renewable and more efficient alternatives.
Endorsing a report published by academics at Warwick Business School in the
run-up to a G8 meeting on energy security in St Petersburg in July, Caroline
called for governments to decentralize energy supply by encouraging
microgeneration, Combined Heat and Power facilities and the siting of
renewable generation stations near the homes and businesses they supply to
cut massive losses in electricity transmission. For the full report, see
www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk and follow the link for publications.


Food and farming

Deadly bird flu may be caused by factory farming and the international
trade in live poultry products, according to a report published in July by
Caroline and globalisation campaigner Colin Hines. In Avian Influenza: Time
to Shut the Intensive Poultry Flu Factories?' they present evidence that
the development of the bird flu strain which has now killed more than 100
worldwide and been detected in wild birds in the UK - could be caused by
industrial farming practises such as keeping millions of birds in cramped,
warm conditions perfect for virus mutation and infection, and feeding
poultry and farmed fish meal made of chicken faeces and feathers. She said
the EU must recognise the dangers to human health posed by industrial
poultry farms and close the flu factories down. For the full report, see
www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk and follow the link for publications.

Caroline has teamed up with the Farmers Weekly newspaper to call on
supermarkets to stock and clearly label more local produce in line
with the stated wishes of more than 80 per cent of shoppers. For more
information on the Food Miles campaign or to sign the petition see:
http://www.fwi.co.uk/gr/foodmiles/index.html


International trade

WTO talks aimed at freeing up trade in goods and services whilst ending the
subsidies and export tariffs crippling much of the developing world finally
collapsed acrimoniously in July, with the EU and US blaming each other for
the talks failure.
Caroline, who has represented the European Parliament at top-level
ministerial summits in Doha, Cancun and Hong Kong throughout the so-called
Doha Development Round said she was disappointed that the developing world
had been betrayed by richer nations refusal to make international trade
fairer. But she said no deal was better than the bad deal on the table and
commended developing nations for walking away in the face of US-EU bullying.


Media Highlights

Print

Coverage: Carolines activities have been widely covered in the national
press, with both The Guardian and The Independent quoting Caroline in their
coverage of Mays local election results, and (to name just a few) The
Guardian, Times, FT, Independent and Economist covering the Parliaments
adoption of her proposals to tackle aviations climate change contribution.
Caroline also authored comment pieces for a range of national and specialist
publications, including The Independent, The Guardian and The House
magazine.

Caroline has also seen a number of her letters to newspaper editors
published this spring, including regular pieces in The Guardian, The
Independent and a detailed response to coverage of her aviation report in
The Economist.

Regional and local newspaper coverage has been consistently positive too,
with highlights including a piece in the Milton Keynes News (about the role
and profile of MEPs), the Gloucester Citizen (about nuclear power and the
risks of Chernobyl) and the Brighton Argus, about arms investments held by
East Sussex Councils pension fund, water shortages, nuclear safety and the
Titnore Woods protest camp.


Broadcast

Caroline has been interviewed in the national broadcast media on several
occasions, notably on Radio 4s The Today Programme, BBC2s Newsnight and
Radio Twos Jeremy Vine Show. She has also appeared on BBC South and ITV
Meridian and been interviewed by a range of local radio stations based
around the South-East, including KMFM (Kent), BBC Solent (Hants and the Isle
of Wight), Eagle FM (Guildford), Fox FM (Oxford), BBC Kent and BBC Southern
Counties (Sussex and Surrey).






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