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Local elections preview: the Green party

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Struggling to decide who to vote for in the local elections on Thursday May 2? Don’t worry, as all this week, Blue & Green Tomorrow is outlining the energy, environment and investment credentials of all five major parties.

We’ve already covered the big three: the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats in this mini-series. Next up is the Green party – which has grown in popularity in recent years, and whose leader as of September 2012 is Natalie Bennett.

For a full list of local authorities that are voting, and for more details on the elections more generally, see here.

Green New Deal

For the Green party of England and Wales, the cornerstone of its governing policies is the Green New Deal (not to be confused with the coalition’s flagship energy efficiency scheme, the green deal), which “is all about investing massively to create jobs and move towards a sustainable, zero-carbon economy”.

Upon examination of the party’s 2010 manifesto, it is clear to see that it champions renewable and low-carbon energy.

Affordable and renewable electricity will be generated, stored and distributed as close to users as possible, with maximum local control”, it says.

Instead of shackling our nation with expensive new nuclear power and environmentally reckless shale gas, we will control energy bills and create more jobs by investing in warm and efficient homes, energy storage and smart grids and in renewable energy supply, owned by public, private and community enterprises.

We will ensure energy resilience by expanding our international grid interconnectors.”

On climate change, it adds, “A Green government will take bold, responsible and scientifically credible action to avoid catastrophic climate change.

We will apply a contraction and convergence strategy to reduce emissions to a safe and equal per-capita level. Pursuing the necessary annual reductions of around 10% will create many jobs.

We will provide free monthly carbon emission allowances and people wanting to use more than their fair share could trade allowances. Total emissions will be capped and will reduce each year in line with our 2030 emission reduction target of 90% on 1990 levels.”

Responsible investment

For the Green party, banking reform starts with the very meaning of ‘GDP’ and ‘economy’. The Greens therefore look to “abandon gross domestic product as the key measure of economic success, and seek instead to increase our overall welfare”.

Its manifesto says, “‘Gross Domestic Product’ measures all the economic activity in Britain – even the money spent on picking up the pieces of our unfair and unsustainable society.

Prisons and pollution are as ‘productive’ as schools and sanitation in the world of conventional economics.”

This includes an environmental taxation where “those most able to pay bear their fair share”.

Similar to the big three political parties, the Greens also pledged to found a Green Investment Bank in order to set the standard for financial institutions. However, it was to then supplement the bank by creating local community banks in the financial sector, as well as new ways of investing in the green economy, such as green national savings bonds.

Green MPs will fight to move the management of money from the casino capitalism underlying the current collapse to productive, useful investment. This will relieve unemployment and kick-start the move towards a zero-carbon energy system.

It will stabilise the economy generally, lead to new and attractive ways of investing personal savings and pension funds, create more fairness, and bring back a sense of purpose to an economy characterised by drift, profiteering and consumerism.

To protect our economy we will separate retail and investment banking and limit the size of banks.”

Environment

The Green party does of course prioritise environmental and energy concerns above all else, as demonstrated by the Green New Deal already mentioned.

One of the policies at the forefront of the party is reforming the tax system, putting far greater emphasis on taxes that discourage environmentally or socially damaging behaviour than ever seen before in government.

Such taxes include raising fuel duty by 8% a year, VAT and fuel duty on aviation, as well as increasing the climate change levy and landfill tax. Such rises were estimated to raise £16.5 billion in 2010 alone.

Other taxes include new taxes on use of water by businesses and waste heat from power stations.

Furthermore, the Greens planned to invest £2 billion a year to introduce incentives to encourage homes to become more energy self-sufficient by introducing incentives aiming for solar roofs, as well as generous feed-in tariffs for micro-generation. This would have in turn created 40,000 jobs in installation industries.

Providing energy education for young children and those unaware of the benefits was also something pledged in the 2010 manifesto. The party wanted to introduce children to “renewable technologies at school by ensuring that most schools get the bulk of their energy from on-site renewable sources”.

Another Green party reform was on the concept of recycling. Although important, the party was quick to point out that recycling should be the last form of waste prevention.

Reduce, reuse – and only then recycle” was stated in bold in the 2010 manifesto, with an overall aim of recycling 70% of domestic waste by 2015. This was planned to be achieved through providing free compost bins for anyone that asked, as well as designing products with better and more recyclable packaging.

Energy

At the centre of Green party environment policy are the three Rs – remove, reduce, replace. This involves removing demand wherever possible, followed by reducing demand, and accounting for any demand left for energy with renewables.

The Green party is strongly against nuclear energy, with the intention to completely phase existing plants out and oppose any new-builds. Instead, the Greens believe strongly in wind

Its manifesto says, “Carbon isn’t the only footprint we have. We have water footprints, and other footprints too.

Added together, these different footprints add up to our total ecological impact.”

In order to achieve renewables investment and the application of renewable energy in homes, the Green party intended to “enlarge and develop renewable energy feed-in tariffs paying premium rates for large and small producers of renewable electricity”.

Joseph Iddison is a student in his final year of an English degree at the University of Leicester.

Further reading:

London Green Parties to move money to ethical banks

Four decades of Green Party progress

International Green Party success

It’s not easy being the Greens

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution in July 2013 in English, Joseph will start the global environmental change course in September.

Features

What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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