German Greens refocus on environment to win voters
German Greens turn grey as party leaders hold on
Germany: Opposition German Greens Back German Troops In Afghanistan
Germany: Claudia Roth: "Mit der Union gibt es keine Schnittmenge"
Germany: Grüne werden beim Klimaschutz radikal
Germany: Grüne fordern Umbau des Sozialsystems
EU: REACH wrecked by compromise says MEP
EU: Tuna quota agreement - why I beg to differ, by Arnold Cassola
Malta: Alternattiva Demokratika holds annual general meeting
Ireland: Green Party links with NI counterpart
Ireland: Greens 'to target Assembly seats'
Ireland: NI 'cannot afford election delay'
UK: Green Party slams Microsoft OLPC involvement
Canada: Greens took voters from all parties
Canada/Quebec: Greens look beyond the environment
USA: The Green Party: offering a real challenge to business as usual, or just Capitalism Lite?
Australia/Qld: Greens deny Qld Labor preferences
Canada: Dion's environmental record prompts interest
Stephane Dion's green agenda threatens to cut the Greens' grass. And it might scorch the NDP's turf. In promising to make the environmental a top priority, and to uphold Canada's targets under Kyoto Protocol, Dion is taking over political ground the smaller parties have long occupied. [...] Pollster Bruce Anderson said the Greens are at most risk in the new political scene. "If the environment issue does turn out to be fairly central in the next election campaign, is there a squeezing-out scenario, where people say, 'I care about the environment but if I vote Green instead of Liberal then I wind up in a situation where I have the Conservatives? "This is probably the worst outcome for the Green Party." But Deputy Green Leader David Chernushenko dismissed that theory, describing Dion's victory as "fantastic" and pointing hopefully to future collaboration. "In many ways, although we're not sitting across the table working out a deal, I would say there is much lining up of similar thinking here. "For the Green Party to continue to be strong can only help Stephane Dion accomplish what he wants because he's not only fighting other parties, he actually has a battle within his own party to make sustainable development a key issue." Chernushenko suggested it was the Green Party's near-win in the London, Ont. byelection that drove many Liberals to Dion's camp. "We're applying pressure," he said. "Our platform and ideas are popping up in the most unlikely places." [..] Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has always downplayed partisan goals, saying she will support environment reform from whatever source.
Ireland: Boyle's law to clean up at elections
THE Green Party may once have been seen as "naive and dangerous for the economy", admits TD Dan Boyle, the party's finance spokesman - but that has changed. While they're not quite wearing pin-striped suits yet, the Greens are courting business. Boyle is even wearing a tie. Much of recent oomph behind the green lobby has come on the back of the ground-breaking Stern Report on climate change published by the British government. To save you reading all 575 pages, the gist of it was that the cost of combating the effects of climate change are far outweighed by the costs of preventing it. If nothing is done, climate change will plunge the world into economic meltdown. It scared the bejaysus out of many people, not to mention the polar bears. "The Stern Report justifies a lot of what we've being saying," Boyle says, unsticking a jug of milk from a low table in a cafeteria to the side of Leinster House. "It's a good time for us. "The whole climate-change debate has changed with the publication of the Stern Report. It is the first time that a national government has linked economics to the environment," says the deputy who is otherwise known for his singing performances on RTE's Celebrity You're A Star. The Greens have been rebranding themselves as a creditable alternative for business rather than a bunch of wackos in woolly jumpers. "We're trying to become more user-friendly - more busi-ness-friendly - demolishing some of the old myths," says the South Cork TD. "I'm confident that some of the Green scares will be hard to justify," he says. Essentially, what Boyle suggests is that the Greens won't tax the life out of business and drive the economy into free fall.The Green's business policies are not that far away from the principles of economist Adam Smith. Both preach the creation of lots of small companies all competing to create a dynamic market. "The multinationals and Foreign Direct Investment can only bring us so far. We need to boost the indigenous sector," Boyle says, taking a peep at his top-end mobile phone. Boyle is seen as one of the more tech-savvy TDs - although his blog hasn't been updated since May 13. He's not able to prod my brand new (and soon to be smashed with a hammer) Olympus VN-960PC digital voice recorder into action either. When they're not cycling round or making hummus, many prominent Green Party members are or have been involved in small business. Energy spokesman Eamonn Ryan ran a cycling tourism outfit, with John Gormley building up a translation business. Boyle was involved in charity shops. This gives them SME cred, something they are keen to stress. Green business policies are aimed at cutting bureaucracy and red tape. They are looking at easing burdens on start-up companies and small businesses, particularly with regard to innovative firms. The morass of State support and grant aid organisation - ranging from Forfas to Science Technology Ireland - would be simplified and rejigged. Employment is another key thrust of their plans, with Boyle suggesting ways to make hiring of apprentices and young workers more financially viable for small businesses, through possible PRSI holidays over one or five years. There's even a bit of a plus for SME bosses selling out, with plans to reduce stamp duty on sub-€1m turnover enterprises. While the Greens are pushing their small business credentials, they remain less attractive to some parts of big business. Spivvy builders could get it in the neck, and there may be surprises for mobile-phone-mast owners. Though Boyle is committed to retaining the corporate tax rate at 12.5 per cent, he wants to crack down on some of the capital tax shelters used by huge businesses. "We'd be a bit worried that the corporation tax take has slipped to about fourth or fifth place in the overall basket of tax, despite the performance of the economy," he says. Boyle would also like to see the bank levy reintroduced. After all, the Greens first floated the idea five years ago before it was introduced by Charlie McCreevy. Boyle suggests that it might be worth slapping an even higher levy on the banks. But aside from wooing corporate Ireland (albeit not for money, as the Greens have a strict ban on business donations), the party also has to persuade voters to convert its four per cent opinion poll ratings into seats at the next election. Tax is also one of the key vote-grabbers. In a nutshell (an organic nutshell of course), the Greens want to shift the tax burden from constructive and positive activities to those that are socially and environmentally damaging. God help chain-smoking, SUV-driving, property developers who leave the heat on. Last week it emerged that Europe was to shoot down the Government's inadequate greenhouse gas reduction programme. Missing our Kyoto obligations will see a big fat financial penalty in the next couple of years - to be paid by the taxpayer. The Greens, of course, have an answer. Chop emissions by 40 per cent by switching to sustainable and alternative energy sources. Denmark already gets 25 per cent of its energy needs from whistling gales; but we're down at under 3 per cent, notes Boyle. Throw in the Atlantic Ocean's wave power and he says we could generate 40 per cent of our electricity needs from alternative sources. Tax reliefs would pay a key role in propelling the shift to alternative energies, as well as price supports for sustainable energy production. The Greens would also like to see a mandatory percentage of energy created from bio-fuels. Costing this process is difficult, because the make-up of suppliers hasn't been determined, he says, suggesting a mix of State funding, public private partnerships or the private sector. But, ultimately, switching to 40 per cent renewable energy would pay for itself over 20 years. There's another elephant in the sitting room. And it seems to be putting on a dress. Across the water, the nuclear power industry has launched a charm offensive and the British government is making positive noises about its return to favour. Boyle says that the Green Party would welcome a public debate on the issue, but that on economic grounds nuclear power wouldn't work in Ireland. "It costs too much. It's the most expensive energy to produce," he suggests, totting up building, waste disposal and other costs. Moving to alternative energy may save the planet and keep the polar bears from sinking, but it may also cost the consumer more. "We have got to learn to adapt," says Boyle, pushing his glasses back up his nose. "The 20th century was the time of cheap fuel. We will never see oil at $10 a barrel again." While the energy industry is Ireland's biggest source of greenhouse gases, the transport sector splutters close behind. The main thrust of Green policy is to boost public transport funding at the expense of building pointless motorways. "It's cheaper to produce a kilometer of rail than a kilometer of motorway," he announces. Dumping motor tax and VRT to replace them with increased duties on petrol is also part of its plan. "We have moved from taxing car ownership to taxing car usage. We are one of the most car-dependent nations in Europe," says the Citroen C3 driver (emitting a saintly 120gs per km of the noxious stuff). Cheapo airlines like Ryanair are shipping plenty of flak for spewing out tonnes of CO2, with an increasing likelihood that they will have to enter a carbon credit trading scheme. However, Boyle says unilateral taxing of Michael O'Leary's airline would be anti-competitive. "I think it has to happen - though on a European level, rather than a country level," he suggests, pointing to the fact that Irish business would suffer if no other country walloped its aviation industry with tax at the same time. It's a clear sign that the tree huggers want to embrace business - or at least the good bits of it. But will the electorate buy it