Scotland Needs System Change, Not Climate Change, by Ian Paterson

We are a proud people, in Scotland. To what extend varies from person to person, but it’s a common Scottish characteristic and one that, at times, is a hindrance when addressing political issues.

There are sections of Scottish society who will not accept any criticism of the Scottish Government and this prevents a healthy level of scrutiny over much of its policy.

We have developed a narrative that plays into our desire to be seen as a modern and progressive nation, but we need comprehensive political system change badly in Scotland, of the type described by XR Founding member, Stuart Basden recently.

After staging our mock Citizens Assembly and occupying the Scottish Parliament, the BBC sought comment from a Scottish Government source and true to form the response came back that:

“The UN has praised the Scottish Government for our progress in dealing with Climate Change”.

Let’s just take an unbiased look at that record.

The fairest measurement is CO2 per capita – this way small countries can be compared to large ones, in a robust and fair way.

Scots output net 4.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person, per year, according to the cited data sheet (one page) from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2016).

So, is Scotland in the top-ten least polluting countries per capita?

No.

Is it in the top 100?

No.

Scotland lies at 147th out of 217 bespoke countries or territories.

The UK as a whole is 170th

If Scotland is in the worst third of countries for CO2 pollution, why does it get so much praise?

It is true that Scotland’s pollution levels used to be higher and it has reduced somewhat over the past two decades.

In doing so however, the Scottish Government have adopted an approach of providing much of our energy needs from green sources, whilst still supporting tax-subsidised North Sea oil drilling and sale of oil to foreign countries, so the pollution is attributed elsewhere, when the oil is burned.

We live in a relatively unpopulated country, meaning we have large swathes of natural land that contribute to CO2 mitigation and reduce our figures in a net carbon model.

In Scotland’s plan for Independence, prepared for the 2014 referendum, known as the ‘White Paper’, written by the Scottish Government, the document mentions oil 80 times. It was made clear that oil was central to any plan for Independence.

The plan was narrowly rejected 45% to 55% because it wasn’t comprehensively convincing, not because it was based on the destruction of our environment.

Whilst the SNP are the party of government in Scotland currently, it has to be said that if either of the two potential alternatives were in power – the Scottish Conservatives or Scottish Labour – that any deviation from a pro-oil stance would be highly unlikely.

The tone might differ, with the SNP claiming oil is vital to Scottish autonomy, the Tories voicing their support for oil business and Labour stating their support for oil-sector workers and jobs – but support would remain.

It is currently the policy of the Scottish Government to abolish Air Passenger Duty. This policy will make it cheaper for airlines to fly in and out of Scotland, and will reduce demand for greener forms of transport, along with reducing motivation for airlines to use less-polluting aircraft.

This is a clear statement of intent, to put the Scottish economy before environmental concerns.

It begs the question, does the Scottish Government value money above all else?

After reviewing how many lobbyist meetings have taken place in recent years, I would challenge every MSP to address their clear and obvious corruption.

Value does not come from how we are viewed on the world stage or by others but how we evaluate ourselves. For that reason, we cannot accept false praise, generated because we are gaming the system. We must not defend our government blindly, when it is not working in the interests of its people, but for commerce.

This is why a Citizens Assembly in Scotland is an imperative, to discuss climate inaction (and indeed to fairly tackle lingering questions of Independence and devolution too).

Holyrood must become the people’s parliament, which it emphatically is not, right now.

We must challenge our rose-tinted view, for our own health as much as for the sake of others. We are already beginning to see huge devastation in Global South countries, which are less polluting but more vulnerable than we are.

That’s on us.

To deny it is to condemn huge swathes of the global population to perish, at our expense.

For more information on the latest published statistics (38 pages), from 2016, please see here.

Why I sleep on a hard floor

By Matthew T-hanu

I can’t sleep, so I got up to write this. The possibilities of XR are on my mind. What will Brexit, or an absence of Brexit, throw up? Will the UK government be weakened to the point of collapse? Will an emergency general election be called, and if so, will that be the moment for XR to ramp up the civil disobedience to achieve the aim of a Citizen’s Assembly for the UK, decided by sortition?

Personally I am inspired by the historical example in this country of the monarchy gradually losing power as Parliament gained power, (aided by the beheading of a king, but we don’t need to go that far. Have mercy on Theresa May, please. It can’t be easy for her). Could the same happen again, with Parliament fading to play a role similar to that which the queen plays now? Could a Citizen’s Assembly usurp the majority of the current Parliament’s executive roles, and could the unfolding ecological catastrophe make that process swift -could it happen in 5-10 years?

I am inspired by the possibility of a fairly rapid, peaceful revolution. It may be unlikely. About as unlikely as someone like Trump becoming the president of America.

***

Whatever lies ahead, we can sure there will be some hardship to endure in this country in the coming decades. With increasingly erratic weather and potentially even temperature rises enough to stop wheat germination, food shortages are not unlikely to occur.

It’s time we toughened up, physically and mentally. We can do this by conditioning ourselves gradually, in a regenerative way. It is possible to be kind to ones-self whilst also experimenting with self-imposed hardship, or on a spiritual level it could be called renunciation. This is partly why I make a regular habit of fasting. It’s also why I sleep on a hard floor, with just one layer of duvet between me and the carpet. It has got to the point where the hard ground feels like a comfort, an anchor against the potentially overwhelming light-headed fear of an impending Dark Age. Sleeping on the floor also helps assuage my Global Northerner’s guilt and helps remind me of the enslaved people’s and species on which my privileged life depends.

More than anything it is a practice which helps me feel strong for whatever is coming. After a while it doesn’t feel hard at all. I hope you will try this out for one night -to make friends with what is most solid and real. In any case, where was your mattress made, and by whom? What materials went into it? How much of the Earth’s resources would we save if we all discarded the need to sleep on a mattress?

 

Distributed Decision-Making Committed to Living Within the Means of the Planet

”What I stand for is what I stand on” Wendell Berry

Since I last wrote, #ExtinctionRebellion has gone boom!   Shared by Mr Monbiot to Mr Sanders who tweeted it to the World –  what we do now on 31st Oct Declaration Day and in the subsequent direct actions,  really matters.   Just like everything we do that has consequence on the future –  though we are so far removed in time and place, we barely need to think about that – only this time, how this plays out will be replayed to us on a very short feedback loop, over and over again, and the consequences will be deeply present.

I look out on a cloudless sunset skyscape, where contrails blaze across the darkening blue like dragons,  beautiful and dangerous.   I have thought a lot about what this rebellion is asking folks to sacrifice.  Holiday flights.  No big deal, surely.  But what about those whose family are in distant lands?  Maybe growing old and dying.  Are they to deny each other a last chance to clasp hands and hearts?  Supermarkets.  I think of the empty shops in high streets and lack of community hubs across our towns.  I think of the vast over cultivated expanses of tree-barren agricultural land no longer growing food for human consumption.   I think of all our concrete gardens.   Pharmaceuticals.  I get real to the fact that many of my dearest friends’ lives rely on a daily dose of drugs.   And those so close to my heart, who have choices about how they live because of Big Pharma.   There is so much more.  Individual car ownership.   Home heating as winter is coming.   Pure Water preservation.

Remorse.  I swim in an ocean of it.

And still, #ExtinctionRebellion  appears utterly necessary to me.   It is not that these privileges will disappear from our plate immediately.  They are the kinds of policy re-evaluations that will be taken to the People’s Assemblies.    Decision-making will be distributed among real people who have to live with them,  with a firm commitment to living within the means of the planet .  A commitment to assuring there are other than human beings still available to sustain those generations, already born, who will be dealing with the exigencies of life on a planet in deep trauma.

And so, Declaration Day approaches and now has a life of her own.  The laughter of gods echoes through the corridors of our plots and plans.   Where my focus goes now is nonviolence and de-escalation.  I have been arrested for civil disobedience –  grabbed from behind and face-planted in the dirt by police protecting a lorry from my oh so slow walk.  It is not pleasant.  It is not nonviolent.

My mind goes to the nonviolent direct action training  Rising Up are rolling out to support volunteers.  I took the role of a police person in role play and felt the frustration and irritation grow as the activist in front of me refused to move, in the face of all my cajoling and persuasion and even my rising ire.  The one next to me cried, and still did not move.  It was hard to keep calm and rational.   I listened to the sharing of experiences  of my affinity group – how they stayed grounded and calm and held their positions –  deep breathing;  rooting to the Earth;  flowing like water;  repetitive statements;  songs.

Ah, songs.  I am resonant to the power of songs – the way these magically manipulative mouths of ours have been gifted capacity to carefully shape sacred sound into words layered with meaning and history.  This is a tactic I used to great effect when I spent 24 hours in a holding cell after the slow walk arrest.   Cells have incredible acoustics and I would sing for an hour – not always songs, sometimes  tones or mantras, til the vibrations were bouncing round the tiny plastic room.  Then, in the silence after the sound, when every cell in my body was resetting itself to the highest vibrations resonating around me, I would lay down and sleep – for hours.  Deep, nourishing , restorative sleep.   When I woke, I began the whole process again,  until hours later, I was released,  calm and wide awake, to the welcoming arms of the wellbeing team who met us with food and tobacco and music to shake to.

Song.  What a powerful tool in the armoury of nonviolence.  We will have songs on Declaration Day.  Songs to bind us together in nonviolence and connectedness.  Songs to raise our energies and songs to help us calm each other.  Songs to voice out loud our commitment to make a stand for where we stand.

So, bring your singing voices, rebellioneers.  Leave behind the system tools of anger and aggression.   However many come, we are a small minority of people who will sing our way back to a world that works for all life on Earth.

by April Griefsong