Some notes on local council ‘climate emergency’ action’ plans

Newcastle climate emergency

This paper (a PDF) takes the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England as a case study. Hopefully, there may be some useful material for Green Party and other ‘climate emergency’ activists elsewhere. We need to not only ring alarm bells but also produce positive evidence that there is a better way, with a programme of ‘solution multipliers’. The paper is basically a set of background notes that hopefully contribute to the on-going formulation of a fuller agenda of action. A second paper with more ‘nitty gritty’ proposals for action by local councils is under preparation.

Local council climate action – a framework



A Green City Vision for Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Newcastle from air from south

Newcastle transition to a Green City Presentation

The above presentation pulls together some thoughts on creating a ‘green city’ vision for Newcastle upon Tyne in the NE of England. A PDF version is appended.

In 2010, Newcastle did win the ‘top green city’ award from the ‘Forum for the Future’ consortium. Actually, the result was very misleading. The city has the windfall of a big open space called the Town Moor, near the city centre, something rare if not unique in the UK (the green area in the top middle of the picture above). This skewed the result in Newcastle’s favour (and, in reality, the Town Moor is far from green in terms of ecological richness and diversity).

In fact, the city is very far from green in any meaningful sense (see: It was named by the ‘Sunday Times’ for example as ‘tree-felling’ capital of England. It has been threatened with legal action because of air pollution in the city. The council has perpetrated the biggest grab of green belt land in the country, all for the sake of sprawling car-dependent ‘executive housing’ dormitory suburbs on the edge of town.

In many areas, there are empty shops, offices and housing. Indeed much of the housing stock is in very poor condition and many people do not have health-promoting parks and other green space nearby. Meanwhile, the local airport, with council backing, is seeking to expand air flights, despite the unsustainable damage it does. Action to encourage cycling and walking has been fitful while plans for big new roads keep rearing their ugly head (as in the case of the ‘Blue House’ roundabout and the expansion of the western bypass).

This presentation focuses on an alternative vision for a city that is sustainable and ‘future-proof’ in this age of rapidly worsening climate breakdown and other forms of ecological meltdown. Action on all those fronts actually provides many opportunities to build a much fairer, more inclusive, and indeed more convivial community in Newcastle. But it will mean abandoning all the growth fantasies embodied in thje city’s development plan, the Core Stategy. We need a green plan for Newcastle and this presentation is a contribution to that end.

Later, detailed notes will be added in the form of a PDF. For some historical background, see:

PDF version of presentation:

Newcastle transition to a Green City Presentation PDF




Green wine?

I like the taste of this:…/de-bortoli-aims-first-zero-wa…

Still, if the wine is being transported half way across the world to a region where wine grow perfectly well, that counteracts the gains.

It has become fashionalbe in some quarters to sneer at organic cultuvation. We did a long hike down the mid-Loire. There were dramatic differences in flora and fauna in areas of conventional viniculture compared to ones following organic or biodynamic principles. We tasted some of the latter’s produce. To be honest, we could not tell any great difference from ‘ordinary’ ones but that is only one element in the sustainability jigsaw. That said, the best wine I’ve ever tasted was indeed organic, a local wine in a restaurant in Biot in souhtern Provence, not far from Nice. Sometimes it is all gain!

Solar energy, no sodium and organic fertiliser: how one of Australia’s biggest wineries is reducing waste while saving money and energy

Backing urban wildlife in Bristol

This was featured on BBC 2’s ‘Springwatch’ (broadcast June 16, 2016) and very welcome it was too:

Together we can create a nature-rich city that puts wildlife right on our doorsteps, giving everyone the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife every day. My Wild City’s vision is for anyone living and working in the Greater Bristol area to help…

Urban farming in Chicago

This looks promising especially if disused and decrepit buildings are being rescued and reused. My main worry is food quality and total resource consumption. In tes of the first concern, our local Sainbury’s sells produce from ‘Thanet Earth’. That facility claims to be environmentally friendly ( yet the tomatoes in particular from it are very watery in texture and lack taste. ‘Sustainable’ mass production is still mass production with al its downsides.…/why-chicago-is-becoming-the-co…

With a cornucopia of new ag startups, from rooftop greenhouses to high-tech vertical farms, the city’s growing agriculture movement is looking to…