Monday, 4 January 2016

No friends of the earth - or democracy

UK Friends of the Earth (FOE) have caught my ire. I find them offensive. They have come out against Brexit, which is utterly shameful. My readers know that I am no subscriber to the cult of global warming but I am fiercely pro-anti pollution regulation.

FOE claim that Britain's environment is best safeguarded by the EU, citing bathing water quality regulations. Suffice to say, I am not in the least bit convinced since our beaches are cleaner largely as a result of offshoring heavy industry - but also because those very regulations were adopted guidelines from the WHO.

But that's not even scratching the surface. There is an international agreement on water quality and that is the basis of much EU law, making the EU a law taker, not a law maker. Not forgetting that the largest pollutants in the UK are the oil industry and the shipping industry.

In that regard, we have a global UN convention that makes nearly all of the rules regarding offshore drilling, the rest being governed to the letter by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

In this, every free nation on earth has its own delegation and a free vote and a veto. Unless of course, you are a member of the EU. This means we are forced to adopt the common EU position regardless of how we think our shores and seas should be governed.

What this means is that landlocked countries who want to hold us over a barrel can club together in the EU and block a proposal of ours or even block a whole tranche of regulation as a means of horse trading for something they want. That means weaker maritime regulations.

The result of which is bad regulation that is poorly enforced by the EU. So much so that Greenpeace have noted, despite EU protestations to the contrary that "Some areas in the bays of Athens and Thessaloniki are complete dead zones. For some, there is no chance of ever recovering.". Meanwhile Greek ship owners have for years been worst dumpers of end-of-life vessels sold to substandard shipbreaking yards.

That is supposedly the EU protecting our shorelines. The truth is, Britain is more inclined toward good governance and it would be true to say a culture of environmental consciousness in Britain exists regardless of any international conventions.

But FOE is blind to this. They say we should remain in the EU where we have no independent voice or veto at the IMO - an institution where corporate lobbyists get free reign - and the EU controls our access to it. That means alliances of corrupt Greek shipping corporates get more of a say in the drafting and consultation of environmental regulations than we do. And we don't get a veto.

Imagine that! An island nation that has no voice or veto at the top table when a good proportion of its economy depends on its maritime activities.

FOE would rather we, an environmentally conscious island nation, stand back and let the EU speak on our behalf, when it has more concern over asserting itself as a global entity than it does protecting our shores.

FOE has so little faith in Britain as a progressive, forward thinking nation that it would deny us our place in driving maritime law as we have always done - on the suggestion that, in spite of the EU's record in Greece, we would have worse environmental standards were it not for the EU. Not only is that wrong, it is offensive.

The basic premise of FOE is that we shouldn't have a direct line of accountability to the global bodies that regulate our seas - because that democracy thing can be frisky at times. I can find nothing but the deepest contempt for such a miserable attitude - and the fact that Natalie Bennett supports this view makes the UK green movement all the more repellent.

They are saying that we should stand back and let international shipping corporates make the rules among themselves and that we should trust the EU to do the right thing by us when it comes to the vote. Can you think of a more reckless gamble when it comes to our treasured maritime habitats? I can't.

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