Friday, 26 February 2016

Garbutt calls for Khao Yai Declaration for Kent Climate Change

2016 as you probably know now heralds the start of the SDG Sustainable Development Goals though to 2030.

The challenge isn’t so much achieving the SDG goals as how fast they can be achieved.

And it is fitting that Thailand as 2016 Chair of the UN G77 Group (essentially every nation except EU, Russia and USA – so a powerful development bloc within UN) has called for an emphasis on Climate Change and Disaster Reduction. On the latter we’ve seen in just the last few weeks, massive Winter storms in New York, an earthquake in Taiwan and typhoon in Fiji.

Both issues are important given the continued impact of Climate Change – not just the hottest year ever (again), but now the warmest and wettest ever December in UK. And also one of the coldest ever Winters in East Asia and a drought in Thailand.

While Philippines is facing yet another battering of over 20 storms this year from the El Nino weather system.

#G77 Reform Opportunity.

Surely a mix of military procurement on cargo helicopters rather than gunships or fighter jets is of more use in combatting Climate Change and Disaster Reduction. And an emphasis on reforestation to prevent landslides from erosion of soil – and reduced harvests. All the more important given the UN Year of the Soil last year confirming perhaps no more than 20 harvests left in existing top soils.

And with the first G77 review meeting in Turkey in May – an apt bridge of Europe and Asia - surely greater consideration of hispeed rail systems linking Europe and Asia would facilitate aid relief as well as providing lower emissions that generate Climate Change.

Here in Kent we’ve faced 90 mph winds from Storm Imogen and an increased need for flood defences given the likely repeat soon of the Margate storms of 1954 and 1978 causing hundreds of deaths in UK and Holland.

While 90%of Kent orchards have been destroyed since 1945 and most UK farmers are over 65 so a real danger of both Climate Change and Food security with a failure of both land management and modernisation and investment in Smart Farms.

Thailand in contrast emphasises the Sustainable Development philosophy of King Bhumibol from the famous Khao Yao Declaration of 1977 – one of the world’s first national Climate Change plans - to plant trees for fruit, firewood, reservoir protection and soil protection.

#Kent Cement Cabal

Wise words that Kent could do well to heed given no Climate Change policies at all and even recycling only provided on a mass scale in the last few years. Kent now has relatively fewer Grand Projects of Cement – the disasters of Manston airport and Pfizer and Medway generation have proven salutary - which is sensible and provides the basis for a review of such projects:

• Rochester Riverside – part of the mega-Thames Gateway Project (from Southend through Docklands and East London and down to Medway) could be rolled out with a greater emphasis on solar power and far more green spaces
• Operation Stack requires a much more detailed response than the knee-jerk initial plans to tarmac much of East Kent for lorry parks
• Paramount Theme Park rounds out the mega-entertainment offering around Bluewater Europe’s largest shopping centre and could provide the basis for links to Dreamland and Kent Film Office and East Kent Film Office and Studio
• Nemolink Belgian windfarm link and Shard aerial seem weak and certainly initial plans to refuse to bury pylons seem outdated along with the bizarre insistence so far on digging up Pegwell Bay UNESCO wetland
• Dartford Crossing and 4th Thames bridge/tunnel are in need of more detailed review and transport plans given the above megaprojects

Overbuild plans in the Garden of England seem to crop up with tedious regularity badged as Green Towns or Garden Towns or some such cement-mixer-flannel and perhaps linked to the KCC cosy club of developers such as Costain, Murphy, Balfour Beatty et al that have grown up around Carter’s Toxic Three– but of little real need given the reductions of most of Kent’s 30 small towns and swathe of empty houses across Kent.

#Kent fossilised

While Kent’s failure to revise its public sector pension fund to remove Fossil Fuels – compared to say Paris, Munster, Oslo and dozens of other French, Scandinavian and German towns - is both bad economics and bad Climate science. As is the latest Environment Agency report of 1,264 landfill sites located in coastal areas plus another 2,946 located in flood plains from the UK’s 21,027 landfill sites dating back to 1890.

And no plans as yet for both landfill mining to remove such toxins and rubbish in Kent’s c.30 landfill sites, and clear up and better regulation of at least 3 rubbish mountains reported by BBCTV.

No wonder the rivers Medway and Stour through the heart of both County Towns of Maidstone and Canterbury are two of the UK’s most polluted rivers.

As Police Commissioner in the 2016 election I have pledged Meiji reforms to end Police investment in fossil fuel pensions, and switch every one of the c. 5 headquarter offices and c.21 police stations to solar power, and review electric police cars for Kent’s c.2,200 police vehicles. While a merger of Kent, Surrey and Sussex police would provide further cost savings and procurement standardisation of uniforms etc.

In the Age of Climate Change Kent is failing and could do well to create its own Khao Yai Declaration for future generations.

Tim Garbutt is standing for Police Commissioner in 2016 and KCC Leader in 2017 to develop better relations and Meiji reforms with Thailand and East Asia and to Stop the Pollution. Stop the Corruption. Stop the Construction: @timg33

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