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A Magazine for Sheffield

Green or Black

Sheffield was called a green city back in the days when 'green' meant hippies in sandals. It didn't really fit the description, and the contract with Veolia for waste incineration confirmed this in the minds of many. Veolia is a huge multinational corporation. No stranger to controversy, it's currently subject to a boycott for operating trams linking illegal Israeli settlements, against the Geneva Convention. Last November, well-respected councillor Jack Scott resigned from his environment post in Sheffield's cabinet during a long-running dispute with Veolia over the city's household waste recycling centres. Veolia sub-contracts the operation of the centres to a London-based charity which seems to absorb a lot into its management costs (35% according to the GMB union). There's been little news on Jack Scott's resignation since then, which is a shame because he was very engaged with environmental issues. He'd launched the Air Aware campaign just days earlier. The Labour group have made no comment because of the ongoing dispute.

Among the rising tide of political issues, the environment seems to hold the most potential for extinction-level events. Climate change is a clear and present danger. In Naomi Klein's words - annoyingly nicked for a TV holiday cruise advert - This Changes Everything. But the politicians aren't all convinced so, as Bishop Desmond Tutu puts it, we need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet.

In a Valentine's Day love-in, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband signed a cross-party declaration on climate protection. Then, three days later, the government voted for a non-consensual fracking free-for-all in the face of 99% public opposition, proving they're still in the greasy hands of big carbon. No change there then.

It's a chilling echo of the way successive governments were seduced by the nonsense promises of nuclear. Don’t forget that the nuclear power industry is subsidised by nearly £2 million every day – enough to employ 15,000 extra teachers. Investigations by Green MEP Caroline Lucas sparked a European Commission legal investigation unearthing a vast web of subsidies covering the legacy costs of nuclear companies, costing the British people millions annually.

These old grey fossilised ways won't pass the test. People can increasingly see that some sort of Green New Deal must be the way forward. Earlier this month, Sheffield Climate Alliance were among the thousands marching in London for the huge Time To Act protest. They say that a total change of direction is vital. If not, our children may be living with food scarcity and resource wars. We need investment in sustainable power, shifting quickly from fossil fuels to renewables. The world must become low-carbon quickly, and that means every country, every city. Climate change has to be on the agenda of all election candidates.

Sheffield City Council last year formed a Green Commission, along the same lines as the Fairness Commission. Over several months, a series of meetings and hearings is being held as it tries to create a vision and a plan for sustainability. It will take evidence from national and global perspectives to be applied in Sheffield, as recommendations for our environmental, social and economic future, in a report due in late spring of this year. Let's hope they go for the sort of radical, far-sighted planning which is needed.

Sheffield Green Commission

Protest Against Benefit Sanctions

19 March | 12pm | ATOS Centre, Hartshead Square

Revulsion at benefit sanctions is swelling, as evidence of suicide and homelessness grows. This is part of a protest called by Unite the Union throughout the UK. Even criminals are entitled to three meals a day and a roof over their head. Unemployment isn't a criminal offence.

Stand Up to Racism and Fascism

21 March | London

Far right and fascist groups are gaining support across Europe. Join the resistance saying ‘no’ to scapegoating immigrants, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and ‘yes’ to diversity. National march and rally on UN Anti-Racism Day in London. Book a seat on the Sheffield bus, £14 waged or £6 low waged, by email - [email protected] )

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