Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Spring 2005

Heat turned up on Kyoto Protocol

On Saturday 12 February, four days before the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol, members of Cardiff Friends of the Earth travelled to Lincoln Fields in London to tell the countries that refuse to accept responsibility for massive climate change and the devastating consequences we will face that enough is enough.

It wasn't long before a small industry was underway, with over 500 people assembled, handing round banners, and fixing flags to bamboo poles. Soon all 141 national flags, representing all the current signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, were distributed and ready to take to the US Embassy.

With flags waving, and a samba band striking up, the crowd of hundreds set off. We paused briefly at the ExxonMobil offices and at the Australian Embassy. Australia is the only major developed country apart from the United States not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. We then streamed down The Strand into Trafalgar Square, while dazed shoppers and tourists looked on. Many responded favourably to leaflets, while some actually joined the march.

Finally we reached the US Embassy, where speeches by Phill Thornhill (Campaign Against Climate Change), Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party), Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson), Tony Juniper (Director of Friends of the Earth) and Muzammal Hussain (The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences) addressed the irresponsible actions of the US. They highlighted the danger of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, coming away with a useless 'paper' agreement from President Bush on climate change.

Phil Thornhill pointed to our next big opportunity to get a significant mobilisation on climate (apart from the G8 summit). This is the 'MOP' climate talks in November. He asked everyone to focus on this well in advance.

Although it was a spectacular rally, which succeeded in showing the significance of the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol and highlighting the irresponsible and immoral stubbornness of the US in doing nothing to prevent a global catastrophe that it has played (and continues to play) such a large role in creating.

Splat Mandy green

On Sunday 10th April we marked the first day of the Global Week of Trade Justice by meeting an old friend at Riverside Community Market, and then literally turning him green!

The fun began when the EU Director General for Trade, Peter Mandelson, arrived at the Fair Trade stall to pay a surprise visit. He recently remarked that his negotiations won't be seeking to balance the three pillars of "competitive, social and environmental" needs any more, but will instead be striving for competitiveness above all else. It wasn't the real Peter Mandleson, just a life sized cardboard cut out, but that didn't stop the enthusiastic members of the public from having a great time splatting Mandy with sticky goo and putting the green back into trade.

As football fans gathered for a match at the Millennium Stadium joined in the fun, we asked shoppers to cast a vote for green trade justice by putting pressure on the Government to keep its promise to help meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals by 2015. We collected over 100 voting cards and gave out all of our leaflets on an issue the public is keen to engage with.

Trade Campaigner, Alex Nute, said "Our global trade system must work towards co-operation and environmental sustainability to meet the millennium goals. The system can't just be for the benefit of Mr Mandelson's big business friends. Everyone deserves an equal voice."

The UN Millennium goals are to:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development.

The battle to save our reservoirs

Residents of north Cardiff are united in trying to save an important wildlife site from a housing development. Western power Distribution, an American-owned utility company, has identified Llanishen Reservoir as a good investment opportunity. It bought the land from Welsh Water and has submitted plans to drain most of the reservoir and to build up to 326 houses and apartments on the 60 acre site.

Although the reservoir has long been known as an important site for over-wintering ducks, in recent months, survey work has shown that the unimproved grasslands on the reservoir embankments are much more significant in terms of their conservation value. These grasslands are home to a stunning array of rare waxcap fungi.

These fungi were once common throughout the grasslands of northern Europe but, as a result of the change to intensive farming methods, they have disappeared from many areas. Twenty-four species of waxcap fungi have been found on the reservoir embankments. This means it qualifies as a site of international importance for these rare fungi.

Llanishen Reservoir Action Group is campaigning to save the reservoirs from development, and to have them incorporated into a country park. This would allow part of the site to be properly managed for grassland fungi, and to protect this unique urban site for future generations to enjoy.

GM-free scarecrows march on the Welsh Assembly

On 23 February 2005 scarecrows descended on the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff. Friends of the Earth Cymru, Welsh Friends of the Earth local groups, the Farmers Union of Wales, GM-free Cymru, and the National Federation of Women's Institutes Wales, organised a rally outside the National Assembly to demand the right not to grow or eat genetically modified food.

The campaigners heard Assembly Members from all parties pledge their support for the campaign. There was a clear agreement from the AMs that they want to keep Wales GM-free. They were proud that the Assembly refused to agree to the listing of the GM maize seed ChardonLL, and they are determined to make GM 'coexistence' legislation as tough as possible. The Assembly is expected to consult on 'coexistence' laws in the coming months.

G8 uncommitted to tackling climate change

On 27 May 2005 fears about the lack of commitment to tackling climate change were increased. A leaked G8 discussion document reveiled the lack of commitment from world's leaders to cut back the amount of carbon emissions needed to prevent disastrous climate change.