Newsletter n.85


A. EXPERIENCES: … Bring on Judgment Day!


GNE (European Commission): The European Green Deal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Suggestions for changing behaviour:  Hidden arms spending

C. NEWS ON THE SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS:  Consumer footprint calculator



…Bring on Judgment Day!

… Bring on Judgment Day!

These are not the words of some new messiah or an announcement of the imminent end of the world. No, rather they bring news of an initiative undertaken by more than 200 Italians who have decided to charge the Italian State with inadequacy and inaction in relation to the problems connected with climate change. This is why 24 different organisations – together with adults and minors (represented by their parents) – have taken the path of legal action, as has already happened in France, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Colombia, Ireland …

The organisers’ words are very clear:

“The climate emergency is here: it is already affecting our lives and will spare no one. All Italian governments have postponed courageous decisions to prevent the disaster. But now we cannot wait any longer: our future depends on it. This intolerable inaction prompts us to address the State and its responsibilities. We are citizens, students, scientists, lawyers, activists and volunteers. We are all climate victims.

We are citizens who, every day, carry out small and big battles for the protection of the environment, the climate and people’s rights and we are aware that there is very little time left to save ourselves and the Planet. Like millions of other people all over the world, we are mobilizing to demand social, environmental and climate justice, aware that climate change increasingly translates into inequalities and violations of fundamental human rights.

From the southern coasts to the northern mountains, many have decided to join us.

Continua a leggere “…Bring on Judgment Day!”

Round Table “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future”

The Round Table “Soil is life, is Food, is Future” has taken place successfully. More than 250 people from around 30 countries registered. Most were from the EU but there were also participants in South America, Africa, the US and Asia.

The event lasted three rather intense hours, broken up by 2 videos and some illustrations to allow participants to reset attention and concentration.  

It is hard to sum up the content of the discussion in a few lines, but the most important outcome was undoubtedly that dialogue between participants with different interests in the soil is possible. The round table structure and approach can be repeated and used at different levels, from the territorial to the local to the national.

Three hours are not enough to obtain a shared document, so the work now begins of drawing up the agreed recommendations to send to COP26. An initial draft will be sent to all participants in July, the recording of the entire event and the 2 videos shown during the meeting are already available on YouTube.

The whole event “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future” registration: https://youtu.be/vnExBaT8PzM

“I am the soil” video with Riccardo Mei:  https://youtu.be/kMpOHMLmjD8

“Lumbricus terrestris” video with Barbara Geiger: https://youtu.be/3_dz30F7I5Y


A manifesto to democratise Europe

The EU will be democratised. Or it will disintegrate!

This is the title and the challenge that the Manifesto to democratise Europe is presenting to the entire EU.

The ‘call to arms’ – which is both provocative and realistic – calls on all European citizens to wake up and act, identifying the following urgent priorities:

“Our immediate priority is (A) full transparency in decision-making (e.g. live-streaming of European Council, Ecofin and Eurogroup meetings, full disclosure of trade negotiation documents, publication  of ECB minutes etc.) and (B) the urgent redeployment of existing EU institutions in the pursuit  of innovative policies that genuinely address the crises of debt, banking, inadequate investment,  rising poverty and migration.”

The Manifesto was followed by a fruitful debate which led to the production of What Europe must do now!: a Progressive Agenda focusing on public health, shared prosperity, and sustainable peace. The three sets of policies proposed by the first unified pan-European movement are absolutely consistent with the letter of the EU Treaties.

Their implementation will bring together:

•   protection of public health throughout the European continent

•   solidarity with neighbouring and all other countries, which is not only a moral duty for Europe but also the only effective measure against pandemics that do not respect borders

•   development and financing of the Green Transition without which both society and the Planet will decline

•   adoption of public funding tools for the benefit of many – tools currently widely used for the benefit of the very few.

We will return to these points in more detail in upcoming newsletters.

Manifesto: https://diem25.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/diem25_english_long.pdf  


The European Green Deal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Our attention has been drawn to an article by Laura Basu on the Green Deal with the title ‘Six reasons why the EU isn’t as green as it claims’. The subtitle is even more explicit: “Don’t be fooled: the European Green Deal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be“.

What are these 6 reasons? The European Green Deal:

1) Clings to the dogma of economic growth

2) Is built on ‘green colonialism’

3) Is funding big polluters

4) Buys into false solutions

5) Is being hijacked by corporate lobbyists

6) Is kneecapped by the Energy Charter Treaty

The article attacks directly the feeble solutions that have been proposed and shows why they will not substantially alter the environmental situation in the EU. It is no longer enough to maintain an EU based on ever weaker compromises. It’s time for bold policies that stand a chance of limiting the environmental damage caused by humans. Unfortunately, neither the Green Deal nor the latest agreements at the G7 lay the foundations for a possible future that respects environmental limits.


Hidden arms spending

2020 was a horrible year for most people, including economically. For some, though, this was not the case. Think of the multinational drug companies, for example, or the tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon etc. Another group have seen their profits soar in silence: arms producers.

To find out about it we have to consult the report of the SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute): the data show that globally there has been the highest ever recorded increase: 2.6%, a total of $1961 billion.

Let’s spell that out in figures: $ 1,961,000,000,000.

The lion’s share belonged to the US, together with China, India, Russia and the UK; and, somewhat surprisingly, Africa is the continent with the largest percentage increase at 5%, even though all the African countries put together do not reach the investment levels of the other countries mentioned.

The obvious question is: how can we accept this, when the number of deaths from Covid is approaching 4 million?

The only possible explanation is that often attributed to Einstein: “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and … I am not so sure about the universe”.


Consumer footprint calculator

Those who pay close attention to environmental matters are already aware of the Ecological footprint calculator . Those who have used it, even if they are already very aware of climate change issues, have often been surprised to find that they are living in an unsustainable way.

The European Commission’s Research Centre has now created its own calculator to establish the Consumer Footprint in relation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). What is it, and what is it based on?

“The Consumer Footprint Calculator allows you to calculate the environmental impacts of your consumption pattern, as well as to evaluate how changes in your lifestyle may affect your personal footprint. It considers five areas of consumption, namely food, mobility, housing, household appliances, and household goods.

The tool is based on a life cycle thinking approach, meaning that it considers the impacts occurring along the entire life cycle of the products and the energy that you consume.

The Consumer Footprint Calculator covers 16 environmental impact indicators related to emissions generated into soil, water, and air as well as to resource use. These 16 indicators are those adopted in the European Commission Product Environmental Footprint method and can be summarised in a so-called “single score”. This Calculator allows you to evaluate the impacts of your consumption, to help achieve SDG 12 on responsible consumption, and many other Sustainable Development Goals.”

But let’s not kid ourselves! Even when replying to the calculator’s questions, the results will always be worrying since they will confirm the unsustainability of the current model of society in the EU. There is the possibility of a “consolation” compared with the other calculator, however: and that is discovering that the most virtuous, despite living unsustainably, generally have a less negative impact than the average European citizen. Careful though! This does not mean that we can be satisfied with the lesser evil and give up trying to improve our environmental and consumer footprints.

Consumer Footprint Calculator : https://knowsdgs.jrc.ec.europa.eu/cfc


Brazil champion of biodiversity protection

We would like to thank the reader who pointed out the error in our piece on Alysson Paulinelli: we said that Brazil is 22 times the size of Denmark, whereas in fact it is 22 times as big as Norway, as the image correctly showed. Indeed the difference in size between Brazil and Denmark is much greater: Brazil is 197 times bigger!

The article also attracted the attention of a number of readers who had never heard of Paulinelli and therefore knew nothing of his professional and personal qualities.

We also learned that the savannas (Cerrado) in Brazil are in the hands of agroindustry which transforms them into areas for exploitation, with high use of chemicals and of mechanized farming methods. We were interested to learn this and invite our readers to read this article on the subject:

“Can ‘Slow Food’ save Brazil’s fast-vanishing Cerrado savanna?”

The article points out the unsustainability of farming in the Cerrado and the fight for the particular character of these areas to be recognised so they can be farmed while maintaining their biodiversity and protecting their profitability for small local farmers.

Continua a leggere “Brazil champion of biodiversity protection”