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By Greg, Young FoE steering group

In 2012, Young FoE were given a stall at People & Planet’s student conference, Shared Planet. This year, Friends of the Earth approached us and asked if we wanted a shared stall at this year’s conference. So on the 1st and 2nd November, a group of Young FoE campaigners made their way to London. This was particularly exciting for us as we were also asked to help with delivering some training sessions alongside Friends of the Earth. These sessions focused on media training and how to give a good interview. By being able to help out with these, not only did we gain facilitation and training skills, but we also learnt some excellent media skills too.

On the stall we had the Bee Cause campaign petitions for students to sign, whilst also telling people about our Lord Browne stunt, and signing the petition on change.org (which by the way we’re now over 500 signatures!!). There was also an opportunity for students to sign up to the campaign organisers programme and Young FoE. And by the end of the weekend, 21 people signed up to our mailing list.

We’ve not long ago had our steering group meeting where we have been laying out plans for the coming year. I really hope that these new campaigns and ideas will provide people signed up to our mailing list the opportunity to get involved with Young FoE.

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Headline- Coalition of European youth protest the corporate capture of UN climate summit 

A Europe-wide coalition of youth environmental organizations dumped coal outside Polish Embassies across Europe today in protest against the Polish Government’s decision to give unprecedented access to dirty energy corporations at the upcoming COP 19 climate summit in Warsaw.

 Some of the dirtiest corporations including steel giant ArcelorMittal, power company Alstom and Poland’s biggest energy company, PGE, have been made official partners of COP 19.

 The International Coal Summit, which will be opened by Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the economy Janusz Piechociński and held at the ministry of the economy, will push for clean coal as part of the solution to climate change.

 Richard Sagar from Young Friends of the Earth UK commented

“With COP19 looking to be the most corporate COP yet, young people need to send a message to the dirty energy corporations who continue to prevent the effective action we need to tackle climate change”

 Paul Cohen, from the Young Greens of England and Wales said

“At a time when the world should be promoting clean, community owned, renewable energy, the Polish Government is helping big corporations continue to push false solutions like clean coal.”

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Notes for editors

1. The action will be performed as part of ‘Reclaim Power’ Dirty Energy Month. A global month of action on energy which brings together groups fighting dirty energy and promoting renewable alternatives. For more information- http://pusheurope.org/reclaimpower/

2. The coalition includes national Young Friends of the Earth groups, members of the Federation of Young European Greens and Push Europe.

For further information please contact:

Young Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Richard Sagar, 07730231009, richardsagar1@gmail.com

Young Greens of England and Wales

Paul Cohen, 07709208975, paul@younggreens.org.uk

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Guest Blog by Martin Porter

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John Browne, former CEO of BP, was a hero of the Green movement.

Well, sort of.

He certainly said the right things. In 1997 he acknowledged that Climate Change “cannot be discounted”, which was actually quite something at the time. He was on the telly, he was on the radio, he wrote articles for worthy magazines and in 2000 he gave a Reith Lecture on Respect For The Earth, He was the poster boy for the sustainable corporation.

imageMost obviously he changed the name of BP to Beyond Petroleum and adopted a big green sunflower as their logo, thus helping to create the appearance of being a post-oil corporation. 

But appearances, especially in the oil industry, can be deceptive. BP’s performance on sustainability was unfortunately just as bad as the other energy companies that went ‘Green’ at the same time, Enron and Shell. Basically, they went for the low hanging fruit. They put a bit of money in wind or solar, cleaned up their act in numerous little ways and got the staff to recycle their syrofoam cups.

imageAs a BP share holder (i.e. I owned one share. And still do) I was a regular at their AGMs as we usually had something to gripe about, mainly oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope. I thoroughly recommend the catering. One year there was a bit of a Spinal Tap moment when a banner, that had been ordered as five feet by seven feet, arrived measuring five meters by seven meters and required something resembling the rigging of a sailing ship to keep in up.

I don’t recall ever chatting to Browne myself, but at least one of their board would normally say hello. One even told me he could reduce the cost of solar panels six fold.

Well, that never happened. Indeed, neither did any of the other things Browne promised. To move any further would have required BP to actually turn down the chance to make money out of drilling for new oil, and that they would not do. Their renewable side line, which always cost them less than the board paid themselves in bonuses, was sold off and business as usual was soon restored.

Or rather something less than business as usual.

imageThe first inkling that all was not well came in March 2005 when an explosion destroyed a refinery in Texas, killing fifteen people. A subsequent investigation revealed the company had cut the maintenance budget by 25% the previous year.

Almost exactly a year later an explosion destroyed an oil transit pipeline at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska causing exactly the sort of oil spill that we’d been campaigning to prevent. Once again cost cutting was a major factor.

All of which leads rather inevitably to the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, by which time BP had the worst safety record of any company operating in the USA. John Browne wasn’t in charge by then, having had to retire rather earlier than he planned after lying in court about his relationship, his only regret being he didn’t push harder for tar sands, the dirtiest of dirty fuels. However the Deepwater Horizon was very much his true legacy.

Having been lucky to escape perjury charegs you’d think an anonymous retirement would be on the cards but, no. Once you’ve reached the dizzy heights of the 1% you’re stuck there unless you actually murder someone.  (And maybe even not then, especially if you’re Russian.)

And so, as well as his lucrative pension, and the proceeds of his self serving autobiography, Browne also got to enjoy a job in the government as Non-Executive Director in the Cabinet Office.

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It also seems he hasn’t yet kicked his addiction to hydrocarbons. He has a 30% stake in Cuadrilla, who you may have heard of as their fracking operations in Lancashire, the one that cause the earthquake, and West Sussex, the one where Caroline Lucas got arrested.

Needless to say Cuadrilla stands to make a packet out of fracking, and the only thing standing in their way is the pesky Environment Agency who are reluctant to license fracking if it’s not safe - which it isn’t.

imageSo it must be damn convenient for them to have one of their top dudes sat round the Cabinet table.

Young Friends of the Earth now have a petition to get rid of him.

Please sign it.

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By James, YFoE Comms group member

Global Frackdown! A few days ago I helped play a tiny role in the international protest that was Global Frackdown, a worldwide demonstration against the dangers and damages of fracking for oil and gas.

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While other members of YFoE went to London to directly protest against Lord Browne and his vested interests in fracking (photos here), I stayed home in the warmth and helped coordinate social media. This involved sharing photos of the event via Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Flickr, as well as sending the YFoE Global Frackdown press release to the national and local press. Information is power!

The monthly Skype meeting for the Comms team was last night. We debriefed regarding Global Frackdown and now consider our next steps. It’ll be interesting to see what we do next, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with the new members who have joined the Comms team.

See you next time!

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Young Friends of the Earth* press release

Embargo:        For immediate release, Saturday 19th October 2013

Contact:           Greg Hewitt, 07582 320346, info@youngfoe.org.uk

Subject:            PRESS RELEASE: Stop fracking with Young People’s Futures in the UK

Stop fracking with Young People’s Futures in the UK

Young Friends of the Earth today called on Lord Browne of Madingley to resign from his position in the House of Lords due to his vested interests in profiting from fracking. This amounts to an enormous conflict of interest because of his influence in government.

Lord Browne was former BP oil chief and is now head of the fracking firm Cuadrilla, which started drilling in Balcombe this summer resulting in huge anti-fracking protests. 

The campaign group, made up of young people aged 18 - 30 from across the UK, protested outside of Riverstone House, an energy and power-focused private investment firm where Lord Browne is a key partner.

The action was part of Global Frackdown, a global day of action against fracking. Young Friends of the Earth are raising awareness of the dangers of ‘fracking’ for young people and for future generations and continuing the use of fossil fuels is likely to lead the world towards dangerous and irreversible climate change.

John Wilson, campaigner of Young Friends of the Earth, said:

“Young people in the UK are already facing rising debt due to unemployment and university fees.  Now they face the threat of a toxic future from climate change.”

The group spoke to dozens of concerned young people and passers-by through the course of the day.

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Greg Hewitt, another campaigner in the group, said:

‘With the price of gas continuing to increase the Government should be investing in clean affordable renewable energy, and not the dirty, expensive dash for gas.’

‘Everybody we spoke to today said that they don’t want to see fracking in the UK.’

‘Fracking produces more dirty fossil fuels that will cause more climate change and even the Government and the frackers admit is unlikely to lower our bills.’

Next year the Government’s dash for gas could quicken as it hopes to open vast swathes of the country to possible fracking with a new round of licensing. This could bring the threat of fracking to thousands more people’s doorsteps although Lord Browne and the Government have the power to prevent this.

 The Government’s plans to punch thousands of holes across the country is at odds with public opinion. Recent polling shows that 52% of people would support wind turbines being built within 10 miles of their house compared to just 18% who would support shale gas wells1.

Notes to editors

  1. Fracking is a dirty word. The Government is threatening to puncture our green and pleasant land with countless fracking wells in a headlong dash for gas, with little thought to local people. Shale gas is a dirty fossil fuel that contributes to climate change, and it poses serious local environmental risks such as water contamination and shortages. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it won’t lower fuel bills, and it risks taking much-needed investment away from renewables and energy saving. For more information visit www.foe.co.uk/fracking.
  2. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk
  3. 1Opinion polling for Carbon Brief on 19 August: http://www.carbonbrief.org/media/224340/carbon-brief-shale-polling.xlsx

* Young Friends of the Earth is a grassroots network of young people and youth organisations working together on social and environmental justice issues. It works collectively on the local, national and European level, to inspire young people, organise actions and events and get attention in the media, in politics and among the general public on issues important to young people. 

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We’re now really excited about our upcoming Global Frackdown stunt in just over a week on the 19th October.

For those of you who can’t make it to London on the day, we’d like to invite you to run your own solidarity stunt.

Gather a group of young people aged 18-30 in your area, make some banners and signs that say ‘Stop fracking with young people’s futures’ and ‘solidarity with Young Friends of the Earth’ and send us the images! We’d love to see lots of action happening across the UK.

Send your images and stories to us and we’ll post them up in the next few weeks.

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By James, YFoE Comms group member

After graduating from University with a BSc in Environmental Science (and subsequently being on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for three months while I desperately sought employment to begin the process of paying back my terrifying student loans) I received an email alert from environmentjob.co.uk. This wasn’t unusual – I’d signed up to several employment websites and job agencies in order to “widen the net” of jobs I could apply for – but this time there were some volunteering opportunities. One in particular was unpaid, home-based, and involved working with the UK branch of Young Friends of the Earth.

I’d had some experience with volunteering for environmental causes. At University I worked with the Student Switch Off campaign, and I was a member of the Environmental Science and “Green Action” society. This seemed liked an opportunity to gain some volunteering experience (as well as to please the staff at JSA) while pursuing my passion for environmental causes and helping to make a difference, no matter how small. I applied to be a part of the group’s “Steering Group” and awaited a response.

Turned out I wasn’t accepted. But one of the team thought that, based on my application, I’d be good working for the Comms Group – working with newsletters, press releases, and social media – and that if wanted to be a part I could have a skype chat with the existing Comms Group team and see if I was up to it.

So here I am. The skype chat was a few days ago, and I have my allotted tasks to help out with. These entries will help document the experiences I have, the challenges I face, and help give a sense of what it’s like volunteering for Young Friends of the Earth for other people interested.

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Last month, Young Friends of the Earth stood in solidarity with Balcombe on the fight against fracking. For those who aren’t aware what fracking is, check out the Frack Off website. At Balcombe, it was decided that we shall take action against fracking with an action stunt for Global Frackdown, a global day of action against fracking, which is also part Dirty Energy Month.

We will be targeting a high profile figure involved in the fracking industry to demand to stop fracking with young people’s futures. We want a future lit by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels.

This stunt will take place in London on Saturday 19th October. To join us on the day, please complete the following form.

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Over 25,000 Friends of the Earth supporters have emailed Apple about the tin in their products. Last month, we received the fantastic news that five more top mobile phone companies (Blackberry, Sony, Nokia, Motorola and LG) have come clean and admitted they use Bangka tin in their products and have committed to finding an industry-wide solution It’s fantastic that these brands have joined Samsung and Philips in leading the way towards a fairer future on Bangka. These brands should be congratulated for facing up to and addressing the problems in their supply chains.

But Apple, still haven’t….maybe because it has been concentrating on the launch of it’s newest iPhone, which goes on sale from September. But we aren’t going to let Apple get away with this. So we want to hear from you, if you live in:
Barnet, Basingstoke, Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Bromley, Cambridge, Cardiff, Exeter, Gateshead, Kingston-upon-Thames, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Norwich, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Solihull, Southampton, or Watford.

Let’s show Apple that young people care about how our products are made as we #MakeItBetter

Email us if you’re interested in taking action

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By Charlotte Chan, Young FoE EWNI member

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"I’m feeling so inspired and enlightened by all of the amazing people I have met here at the Young Friends of the Earth Europe Summer Camp. The theme of the camp is climate change and we are all connecting the dots across our issues globally.

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We have a group here from Nigeria where Shell has decimated the environment and made it so difficult for people to live there over the last 50 years. The stories are devastating. Environmental racism is alive and well at the present time. They were also talking to us today about Project REDD which was a false solution climate solution that came down from the UNFCCC. REDD is a project to protect forests from deforestation, by getting countries to pay money to other countries not to deforest so that the forest will continue to sequester carbon. This is hopeful in principle, but in reality, the forest is then not available to the indigenous people to harvest from. Forests play an important role in food security, and the act of sustainably harvesting from a forest has been shown to increase bioproductivity and is the basis for the idea of holistic resource management. This premise uses grazing, but human sustainable harvest is of the same principle. It just goes to show how ridiculous these policies can be in practice when the motivation is profit.

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Everyone here is an amazing activist and is working on the issues they face in their own capacity. We are bridge-people who draw the connections between seemingly unconnected issues such as missing and murdered Aboriginal women, environmental racism, corporate culture and climate change. We are talking about how we can all make a difference. The rainbow tribe prophesy has been mentioned numerous times: about a time when things would become so terrible for the people and Mother Earth, that a people would rise of all colors, backgrounds and viewpoints who would come together in order to promote justice and peace.

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I am blown away by the scenery here on the Lofoten islands. This gorgeous area is currently under threat of seismic testing for off shore oil drilling. It is a nursery for many fish species that are important food sources around the world. It is home to one of the few well managed fisheries around the world and is a popular tourist destination. The jobs from off shore drilling would likely go to people who are not from these small Arctic communities and could endanger a crucial ocean fishery. The salmon here have already been decimated by fish farms and could be facing a new threat. This is just one of those places that industrial development just doesn’t make any sense. It’s frustrating, but 300 young Norwegians and 100 international youth are here to prove that they will not let this area be developed easily. I’m humbled.

Someday soon, the Rainbow Tribe will show its face as being all faces. We will prove that we are all in this together. We need tolerance, we need peace, we need to create a way forward that includes all people in abundance, prosperity and health. It’s possible. We are smart monkeys and if we all put our collective energy towards it, we can do it.