Airports, such as Heathrow, may soon be able to operate to a much larger extent during the night.
Euro-MP Jean Lambert has warned that Londoners living near Heathrow and City Airports – and under flight paths to and from Gatwick, Luton and Stansted Airports – could suffer increased noise level, especially at night.
The European Parliament has voted on revisions to EU rules dealing with airport noise which let economic interests override rules on noise. Green MEPs hit out at the agreement, which will enable the European Commission to overrule flight restrictions – such as night bans - at airports.
Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said:
"This review is a blow for all those European citizens living near airports. It will leave many more people being subjected to the noise, pollution and all other miseries caused by planes.
“Instead of working to ensure stronger EU rules, to reduce the nuisance, pollution, health problems and safety risks posed by airports, the European Commission gave in to heavy lobbying from the aviation industry and the US administration.
“Now MEPs and EU governments have cleared these wrong-headed plans for take-off.”
Commenting on the UK context, where the Airports Commission is considering increased aviation capacity, Ms Lambert added:
"This vote today in Brussels takes on an added significance in the context of the UK Government’s desire to cater for ever-increasing numbers of flights. A new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow would leave more people affected by noise and air pollution and more climate-damaging pollution.
“This is exactly what European laws should be aiming to prevent, and today's vote is a source of regret to this end. We can’t just keep catering for rising growth in flying. Instead, we need to reduce demand and explore how aviation could function within environmental limits.”]]>
Members of the European Parliament have called on national governments to enforce rules designed to protect foreign workers posted overseas from ruthless employers.
The decision should give so-called 'Posted Workers' – those temporarily sent by an employer to work in a different country – the same rights as anyone else at work.
It will protect them from tax scams, ensure they are paid at least the minimum wage, given holidays and so on.
London's Green MEP Jean Lambert said there were a large but ever-changing number of 'Posted Workers' in the capital, and that many had suffered exploitation.
Ms Lambert, a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, said: "This new legislation is an important step forward for the rights of those posted to work temporarily in other EU member states.
“Proper enforcement of EU rules on posted workers will help prevent the exploitation of posted workers and ensure they are granted their rights.
“With countless examples of exploitation, some here in London – most undocumented but particularly in the thriving construction and food processing sectors, it was essential for the EU to take action.”
She added: “The responsibility for ensuring 'Posted Workers' get the protection at work to which they are entitled rests very firmly with national governments – and they really need to co-operate better and ensure the rules are enforced.”]]>
Stricter laws on disposable plastic bags will "massively benefit our environment" says Jean Lambert. Photograph courtesy of Pauline Eccles.
Using plastic shopping bags could become a thing of the past after Euro-MPs agreed to Green proposals to end their use, which creates massive amounts of waste and litter – as well as posing a danger to wildlife and spoiling the environment.
MEPs agreed that new rules proposed by the European Commission didn't go far enough, and called for mandatory targets to reduce bag use by 50% in three years and 80% over five, as well as requiring that shoppers pay for their bags.
London's Green MEP Jean Lambert said the rules would make a real difference in the capital.
“Parts of London have discarded shopping bags in trees as far as the eye can see – they are unsightly and dirty and present a real threat to wildlife,” she said.
“Any measures to dramatically cut their use are to be welcomed: they'll massively benefit our environment by significantly reducing plastic waste, and quickly.
“We've see, in Ireland, for example, that where plastic shopping bags are taxed, and alternatives provided, their use drops off very quickly, and ambitious targets to reduce them can be achieved: putting a price on single-use bags is a proven and highly effective policy tool for reducing their excessive consumption."]]>
New legislation will improve cyclists' safety on the road says Jean Lambert. Photograph courtesy of Jeremy Hughes.
MEPs in the European Parliament have voted to support measures which will improve the design of lorries to make them safer for cyclists.
The new legislation, on the dimensions of trucks in Europe, will force manufacturers to improve windows and mirrors to heighten cyclists' visibility – which in turn could save hundreds of lives in London and across Europe. In 2013 nine of 16 fatalities on London's roads involved lorries.
MEPs also voted to improve the efficiency of trucks and lorries, and vitally, voted to hold back measures which could pave the way for 25-meter long ‘mega-trucks’ to hit European roads.
Jean Lambert, London's Green Party MEP, said:
“MEPs have voted today to introduce EU measures which will make cyclists more visible to lorry drivers. These improvements will reduce the number of accidents which sadly occur on our roads.
“In the UK alone, thousands of cyclists are seriously injured on our roads each year. I’m therefore delighted that measures which will improve visibility for lorry drivers have been supported. As a Green MEP, I believe we must do all we can to make our streets safer and cleaner, and this can begin by making roads safer for cyclists.
“I really welcome this vote today: We need to upgrade the cab design of lorries in order to keep vulnerable road users safe. We have seen too many deaths and serious injuries to cyclists on our roads and of the 16 fatalities in London last year, over half involved lorries. Changes such as better visibility from the cab, and better wing mirrors will help responsible drivers avoid tragedy.”
The new regulations are expected to come into force in 2016.]]>
Responding to the news that MPs are to launch an investigation into the state of London's air pollution, London Green Party MEP Jean Lambert said:
"We welcome the news that politicians are finally taking seriously the threat posed by London's air pollution epidemic. The London Green Party and organisations such as Clean Air in London have been campaigning tirelessly for the Mayor Boris Johnson to sit-up and take notice but all we've seen is bluff, bluster, and buffoonery as 4000 Londoners are killed prematurely every year by this silent killer".
This investigation is a positive step and sends Mr. Johnson a clear message: if you won't take this matter seriously, others will. We hope this inquiry will result in the kinds of action we've been calling for that will cut air pollution in the city and protect Londoners' health: introducing 20mph speed limits to make it easier to get about by bike and on foot; working with the European Union to ensure internationally agreed air pollution limits are enforced; and raising standards in the Low Emission Zone so that polluting, heavy, and old diesel vehicles are included and charged. Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air."
What the BBC described as “Germany’s dirty secret” is really not much of a secret at all. Most school children in Germany know that lignite, a form of coal, is still being mined across the country. That’s because in Germany, discussions about energy are factual, balanced and open. We know the score. The British public are deprived of such an honest debate. The press stir up hysteria about climate change and about the “vast” subsidies being paid for renewables whilst neglecting to mention the subsidies fossil fuels and nuclear power plants receive – not to mention the terrible impact these industries have on wildlife and the environment and the deadly affect they are having on human existence.
The truth about the lignite story is that there really is no story to tell. The minor upturn in coal production right at the end of the graph featured in the BBC’s article ignores the fact that Germany’s CO2 emissions have fallen by some 20% since 1990 and that German energy consumption has been falling for the past two decades. Germany is, as the article states in its opening, very much still a “world leader” in the battle to reduce emissions. The article fails to mention the fact that between 2002 and 2012 Germany installed enough capacity from renewables to increase electricity supply by over 92 terawatt hours to 136TWh – equivalent to over one-third of Britain’s electricity needs for one year.
It isn’t just Germany that is leaving Britain behind in renewable energy production. Over the last 10 years enough renewable energy sources have been installed in Spain to generate 50% of the country’s electricity needs and they are now looking to upscale that figure to 100% by 2020. Not only is this pumping cleaner energy into Spanish homes but this growing industry has also provided a buffer against the impacts of the economic crisis – a lesson there for a certain Mr. Osborne.
Now to put this in the British perspective. In 2012 all nuclear reactors in this country produced some 64TWh of electricity and received vast subsidies in the process. Rather than talk about “Germany’s dirty secret” we could so easily be talking about “the nuclear industry’s dirty secret”. The money that has been wasted on new plants that produce no more than a trickle of energy has been widely discussed in Germany but never in Britain. Alternatively we could speak of “fracking’s dirty secret” and discuss the extremely high levels of methane this process of gas extraction pumps into the atmosphere or how it pollutes local water supplies.
There is cause for some hope, however. A recent comment piece in the Telegraph talked about how investment in solar energy could soon overtake the money being pumped into fossil fuels and it is undoubtedly government funding and leadership that is needed. It was this major investment initiated by the German Green Party between 1998 and 2005 that kick-started a whole new energy sector and created millions of jobs and no emission energy.
Though such stories are encouraging, we have to keep challenging world governments to invest in energy supplies that have longevity and will protect the environment and humans alike. The world is not flat, we can fly to the moon. There are so many possibilities out there – all we need is the political will to make them a reality.
Jurgen Huber, Co-Chair of West Central London Green Party
Place du Luxembourg, European Quarter of Brussels, photograph courtesy of J Logan.
The EU must remain focused on environmental policies – and not just concentrate on economic revival, London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert said this week.
Speaking at a conference entitled 'A Better Europe Now' organised by the Spring Alliance – an umbrella group of civil society groups and trade unions working in Brussels - she said we faced an environmental crisis as well as a social and economic one.
“The Spring Alliance has today called for a lot of great policies for the future of Europe – and I'm delighted to be here offering it my support,” she said.
“The 'Spring Alliance' brings together many of the organisations working to try to improve EU policies on development, equality, workers' rights, the environment and the economy.
“It's vital that the EU tackles the triple crises the world is facing: environmental, economic and social. They are all intimately linked, and unless we tackle them together we can't really hope to solve any of them.
The Spring Alliance has called for a more democratic EU, a reduction in poverty, an end to austerity measures, job creation, environmental improvements, more renewable energy generation, and a more just tax system.
“I hope the European Parliament has the necessary representation to put pressure on the European Commission and Member State governments after the May 22 election to make sure that happens.”]]>
Migrant workers are vital to the UK economy and work in important sectors such as healthcare and education. Photograph courtesy of Louise.
Anti-immigration and poor labour market policies mean the UK is missing out on the skills and abilities of migrants, especially women, according to London's Green MEP Jean Lambert.
Speaking at a conference organised by the European Network of Migrant Women, Ms Lambert said that London would grind to a halt without the skills of the thousands of migrant women working as nurses, carers, teachers, office and shop workers, engineers and doctors – and in many other professions and temporary roles.
Migration brings net benefits to all Londoners, but the anti-immigration and poor labour market policies of some politicians means we all miss out on what many migrant women have to offer, she said.
“The reality is that the economy, in London and much of the EU, is dependent on migration, yet too many politicians seem to be arguing that we should make it harder for migrants, even those from the EU, to work here in the UK,” said Ms Lambert, who is also the Green Party's Spokesperson on Immigration.
“In fact we should be welcoming the role that migrant workers – and especially migrant women – play in making our economy work.
“We need to make it easier, not harder, for women to use the skills and qualifications they already have: far too many are working in jobs which don't match their skill levels, and there are practical measures we can take to address this at national and EU level.”
The conference, which brought together academics and policy-makers – including Jitka Markova, the director of Tower Hamlets young people and women's centre The Arbour - saw the launch of a new series of pamphlets about how migrant women are seeking to improve access to employment in the EU.
The series includes pamphlets addressing some of the most common problems facing migrant workers abroad: recognition of qualifications, how to prevent de-skilling, and how to set up in self-employment abroad.]]>
The "It Starts With You" campaign from streetchildrenday.org
Euro-MP Jean Lambert has backed a call for the UN to launch a new campaign to improve the lives of 'street children'.
Speaking at a Brussels event to mark the International Day for Street Children, which takes place tomorrow (April 12th), she said a global effort was needed to improve the lives and prospects of the estimated 700 million children forced to call the streets home – as many as 100,000 of them a year in London.
The Green MEP, who is also a member of the European Parliament's cross-party Intergroup on Youth Issues, said: “A child runs away from home every five minutes in the UK – that's 100,000 children a year – many of whom end up on the streets of London.
“Though many return home quickly, some don't: and we know that however long a child is on the streets she is more likely to suffer violence and sexual exploitation, to become malnourished and suffer disease - with little or no access to healthcare – and to have their education disrupted.
“In many countries, it's much worse of course, with children starting life on the streets.”
She added: “We really need a global focus on this: and the UN is the body to co-ordinate one. There is lots of good work happening on this issue, not least at EU level, but it really needs to be joined up. Our children, in London and around the world, deserve better.”
Campaigners say the International Day for Street Children is a platform for the millions of street children around the world – and their champions – to speak out so that their rights cannot be ignored.
They want the UN to adopt the Day – when the UN adopts a Day it gives the issue greater global exposure and increases pressure on governments to act.
You can add your support for the campaign by signing the petition at streetchildrenday.org]]>
A #smogselfie in London, part of the London Green Party #smogselfie campaign.
Public Health England has released statistics today on the number of people dying because of air pollution. Across England it is estimated that 25,002 people died because of air pollution in 2010. In London alone it is estimated that nearly 3,400 died.
Jean Lambert, the Green Party’s MEP for London and a clean air campaigner, said:
“These new statistics, which show that thousands of people are dying because of air pollution, make it clear that urgent action is needed to clean up our air.
“The fact that thousands are dying because of air pollution each year should be a source of shame for Ministers. Yet, despite the mounting evidence of this major public health threat, the Government is doing far too little to reduce air pollution.
David Cameron, who last week flippantly blamed the smog entirely on Saharan Dust, should be ashamed of himself. The Government knows that the smog last week was in part caused by the high levels of pollution we have in this country, yet, shamefully, they refuse to accept responsibility. Now that these stats reveal thousands of deaths are caused by air pollution, it is time for Ministers to take this issue seriously and take urgent action to protect people’s health.”
In Ms Lambert's London constituency 3,389 deaths in 2010 were associated with air pollution. Public Health England's report estimates that 7.2% of deaths in London were attributable to air pollution.
Ms Lambert, who is a founder supporter of Clean Air in London, went on to say:
“With almost one in 12 deaths in my London caused by air pollution it is abundantly clear that action is needed.
“We need to radically rethink the way they are dealing with air pollution. To protect people’s health we need both the UK Government and the Mayor of London to be bold in tackling air pollution – and stop trying to water down the rules.
“We need a 'very low emissions zone' for central London, cleaner buses, a strategy to reduce pollution from taxi exhaust, 20mph speed limits as standard in residential areas, and more steps to encourage walking and cycling.
“It’s time we recognise that air pollution is a political issue. We can clean up our air, but we need to force politicians to take the issue seriously.”
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in 2011 reignited the debate on the safety of nuclear energy.
A proposed taxpayer subsidy of more than a billion pounds to two new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point in Somerset would be illegal under EU law, according to London Green MEP Jean Lambert.
Adding her name to a submission made by scientists from University College London, Ms Lambert said the payment would distort the European energy sector and make it harder to invest in cleaner, safer, renewable energy in future.
“The proposed subsidy would breach EU law,” she said, “and, as governments around the world are realising in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, would be promoting a dirty, unsafe energy technology at the expense of the renewable and community-level solutions we need to combat climate change and keep the lights on.”
Ms Lambert made her comments as more than 100 academics and politicians of all parties – including a number of Greens - responded to a European Commission consultation on the proposed funding of new nuclear power stations in the UK.]]>
Photograph courtesy of Kevin Pluck.
Green MEPs Jean Lambert (London) and Keith Taylor (South-East England) have launched a bid to ban 'canned hunting' - the practice of shooting captive lions and other wildlife for trophies.
They have asked the European Commission to ban the import into the EU of any such trophies, which have increased in popularity since hunting lions and other endangered wildlife has been outlawed in many countries.
According to UK-based charity Lion Aid, as many as 8,000 lions are being bred in captivity for holiday-makers to shoot with bows and arrows and even pistols in South Africa alone.
“So-called 'canned hunting' – the practice of shooting a captive-bred animal for trophies – is an abhorrent and sordid business, and should be banned immediately,” said London MEP Jean Lambert.
“While it is mainly happening outside the EU we can't directly put a stop to it, but we can ban the import of any such 'trophies' that result to discourage EU holiday-makers from taking part in this unacceptably-cruel activity.”
South-East England's Green MEP Keith Taylor, who has co-signed the request to ban the import of canned hunting 'trophies' into the EU, said: “We must try to stop the breeding of mammals simply for holiday-makers to kill for fun: banning the import of these 'trophies' is something we can do almost immediately.
“As a recent World Trade Organisation ruling observed, it is perfectly lawful to restrict imports on moral grounds.”]]>
London Green MEP candidate Amelia Womack asks: how many more people have to die before we see serious action to tackle London's air pollution?
The word “smog” conjures thoughts of a Dickensian London of blackened buildings and thick air – but last weeks smog warnings remind us that the air pollution we thought had been relegated to the annals of history is still with us.
Time and again Mayor Boris Johnson has been called to act on air pollution and although he has now pledged to "beat the smog", his reactive statement only serves to highlight his eight years of complacency on the issue. The Mayor’s complacency has not only caused a 34% increase in the NHS treating people with breathing difficulties but follows a consistent pattern of reactive rather than proactive legislation on toxic air.
In 1952, "The Great Smog" closed in around London. In just two days it managed to claim the lives of over 12,000 people. This impact on the population of London of poor air quality could no longer be ignored and the government felt compelled to legislate. The result was the Clean Air Act of 1956 which sought to reduce the volumes of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere.
Though the government had acted, it was not enough to save the lives of the 12,000 claimed by the respiratory problems caused by the “Great Pea Souper”. Sadly, it is this retrospective strategy towards air pollution that has characterised our politician’s approach to London’s air pollution ever since. We’re still waiting for the holistic, wholehearted effort to clean-up the capital’s air that Londoners desperately need.
Legislation has not been enacted to protect the residents of London against pollutants such as particulate matter and nitrous oxide - which are still occurring at levels above the EU’s legal limits and costing over £20 million per year in social damage. Sadly every warm day that Londoners enjoy brings with it more smog warnings, sore throats, runny noses and poor visibility. That’s the price we continue to pay for a Mayor that refuses to act on air pollution.
Air pollution doesn’t just result in these (relatively) mild irritations. The levels of air pollution experienced in London has been linked to cardiovascular problems, respiratory disease, brain disease and cancer. The worst affected are the elderly and young children, especially those with already present respiratory problems. With schools lining the busy streets of London, their exposure to harmful air pollutants has meant that around 15-30% of all new cases of asthma can be attributed to air pollution. Overall, it is estimated that over 4000 lives are lost prematurely each year in London due to air pollution.
Current air pollution strategies in London are simply not fit for purpose. Despite the carcinogenic emissions in diesel, there are still over 8,500 diesel buses and 20,000 diesel taxis on London’s roads. The UK is not even honouring the commitments it has already undertaken: though officially compelled to comply with the EU directive on air quality, the government has simply stated that it will not be possible to reach the agreed benchmarks within the foreseen timeframe. The Commission has even launched court proceedings against Britain as a result of 15 years of failure to reduce Nitrogen Oxide levels across the country.
Sadly, Boris Johnson’s approach to this can best be summed up as an “air pollution, what air pollution?” attitude, followed by sweeping statements that don't have a clear path of action. In comparison, Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP since 2009, is calling for strong actions that will ensure that Londoners can breathe safely in the capital. The Greens targets to achieve this are: to create a very low emission zone such as the one in Berlin; clean up the buses ensuring that all vehicles are hybrid, hydrogen or electric; develop a new taxi strategy to reduce emissions from taxis; safer cycling routes to encourage people out of their cars; and a 20mph speed limit to cut emission through developing smooth flowing traffic. These goals can not be achieved overnight, and with Johnson rejecting these plans when they were presented at City Hall just last month, it looks like we're going to see more delays in these changes that will fundamentally save lives. Even as smog enveloped London in recent weeks he refused even to issue a public health warning – further endangering the lives of Londoners. How many more people will die as a result of air pollution before robust laws to protect the population are introduced?]]>
A week after smog hit England, and with the UK facing EU fines because of air pollution levels, Greens across the country are calling for urgent action to clean up the toxic air threatening people’s health.
With 29,000 people dying every year because of air pollution, Greens have hit out at the Government’s record and accused Ministers of ‘astonishing complacency’.
Greens are speaking up on air pollution today as one of the Party’s MEP’s, Keith Taylor, launches a report which shows that thousands of children in South East England are going to school near polluted roads.
The new report by Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP for South East England, shows that approximately 27,920 children of primary school age are attending schools in South East England within a 150m radius of heavy traffic points. Many thousands more go to school within 450m of the region’s busiest roads. The report, which covers West Berkshire, East Sussex, West Sussex, Oxfordshire, Bracknell and Kent local authorities, comes just days after the region was hit by a serious smog episode.
The report compiles information from Freedom of Information requests sent to councils across South East England.
Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for South East England and a clean air campaigner, said:
“The last week has shown the Government’s astonishing complacency on air pollution. Despite 29,000 people dying every year because of toxic air, and the European Commission beginning legal proceedings against the UK, the Prime Minister had the audacity to blame last weeks smog entirely on Saharan Dust.
“Of course the smog that hit the UK last week was partly because of dust from the Sahara but it was hugely exacerbated by the unacceptably high levels of air pollution we have in our towns and cities.”
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
"I awoke this morning to bright clear skies in London, without the visible of last week. But we mustn't be fooled. The health-threatening nitrogen dioxide and small particulates are still there, being belched out by vehicles on our congested streets.
"Keith's report is a reminder that up and down the country many millions in cities, towns and even villages are being subjected to high levels of this pollution, with particularly bad effects on our children. Once their lungs have been effected they will carry the effects for life; we have to act to end this health threat."
Road traffic is the biggest source of air pollution in the UK. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Particulate Matter (PM) and Ground Level Ozone (O3) are the pollutants which are particularly dangerous for human health, causing both respiratory and heart problems.
Children and the elderly are most at risk from high levels of air pollution. Research has shown that living near heavy traffic points (roads where 10,000 or more cars pass daily) can be attributed to 15-30% of new asthma cases in children as well as affecting the development of lung capacity. Short term exposure to air pollution can result in irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, as well as bronchitis and pneumonia. In the long term, air pollution can result in lung diseases, cancer, nerve, kidney, liver and brain damage, as well as heart attacks.
Keith Taylor, who produced the ‘Polluted Playgrounds’ report, said:
“This report makes clear just how many children across South East England are going to school near busy roads that are likely to be very polluted.
We know that air pollution is a serious threat to children’s health, and we know that thousands of people die every year because of the effects of air pollution.
It’s abundantly clear that action on air pollution is needed. Many of our towns and cities need to radically rethink the way they are dealing with air pollution.
We need clean public transport options, plus a huge improvement in the numbers of people cycling and walking. With the EU Commission threatening to the fine this county we also need the UK Government to take this problem seriously and invest in local schemes that will cut air pollution.”
Above is a map indicating the kurdish inhabited areas in Syria.
London's Green Euro-MP Jean Lambert has visited a Kurdish Community Centre in North London to discuss the role Kurdish people are playing in bringing stability to Syria - and how best to develop the peace process between the Turkish government and Kurds ahead of August's Presidential election in Turkey.
Ms Lambert said many Kurdish people were working as a force for equality and stability in the region, and it was essential to develop peace between Kurds and the Turkish government.
"We need to get a better understanding of the role Kurds are playing in Syria - in particular developing at least one area of stability in the Kurdish region, Ain al Arab.
"It is always a pleasure to meet Kurdish people living in London, to hear about the positive contribution they are making to civic life both here and abroad."]]>
Sunday 6 April saw London's Young Greens host Racism on the Rise, a day of discussions and workshops centred on reclaiming the immigration debate from the likes of UKIP, whose language dehumanises migrants.
Opening the event, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said:
“This is a two way street - free movement applies to all of us. We have within us an innate wanderlust, and we all benefit from being in a mobile world.”
The afternoon saw a lively debate on the positives and negatives of immigration. Journalist and author of Chavs, Owen Jones, argued that the blame for government failures to tackle a lack of housing, jobs and school places was increasingly being placed on immigrant communities. But journalist Sunny Hundal disagreed, pointing out that racism was at its height in Britain during the prosperous 1960s, when jobs were plenty and immigrants relatively few:
“Now immigration is high, the number of people saying there are too many immigrants is the lowest it has ever been. It's not economics that's driving this - it's cultural.”
Green MEP candidate and Roma researcher Violeta Vajda explained that we cannot change our culture without talking openly about our preconceptions about immigrants:
“We all have prejudices. There's nothing to be ashamed of. But none of us benefit from having those messages in our head. We need to get these messages out into the open.”
Controversy was sparked with a question from the floor: do we need immigration controls? There was agreement that, at the moment, controls are necessary. But, offering an optimistic vision of the future, Jones talked of the need to eradicate factors that force people to move, such as poverty, war and inequality:
“We live in a world of misery and barbarism and injustice. It is my view that this is a transient phase. When we eradicate those things we can have open borders.”
With international students representing such a major component of net migration, as more than 218,000 came to study in Britain in the year to last September, the morning session focussed on the experiences of those that make up this backbone of higher education.
Discussing the juxtaposition of this Government's increasing hostility towards international students and UK businesses' growing focus on trading worldwide, Green MEP candidate Amelia Womack said:
“In the UK we are closing down opportunities for people to have that international experience.”
In workshop sessions on community organising and building a positive narrative on immigration, strong methods of opposing UKIP's scapegoating tactics were proposed. It was pointed out that issues like housing and jobs can unite diverse communities, and that the language of the both the left and right ignores the people behind the cold, hard statistics of immigration. London Green Party Co-ordinator Benali Hamdache encouraged groups to build stories that get to the heart of why individuals move from one country to another – whether it was to escape hardship, build a future or experience another culture.
The message of the day was clear: if we want to hold onto our rights to freedom of movement, we must stand up for immigrant communities at home. In the year ending June 2013, 320,000 emigrants left the UK. As Natalie Bennett said, this is a two-way street.]]>
International Roma Day takes place tomorrow on the 8th April, above is the flag of the Romani people.
Euro-MP Jean Lambert has called for an end to the state-sponsored discrimination which means more than ten million Roma people in the EU remain second-class citizens.
Speaking ahead of International Roma Day, which is marked around the world tomorrow, April 8th, the London Green MEP said Roma people remain Europe's most discriminated minority.
“We need to get serious about promoting the human rights of all – and stamping out racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism– if we are to realise full equality for Europe's Roma minority,” she said.
“The EU has made significant efforts to do just this – but they haven't really taken root yet.
“It remains acceptable for politicians to make racist remarks about Roma, and this in turn leads to an increase in state-sponsored discrimination, mistrust and even violence.
“The French government, for example, continues to force Roma families into homelessness and even deportation after evicting them from 'illegal' settlements, while children with blue eyes were forcibly taken from their Roma guardians, amid false claims of child abduction, in Ireland and Greece last year.
“And the anti-Roma rhetoric and intimidation is getting worse in some places: just this week the racist Jobbik party polled 21% in a national election in Hungary.
“All EU governments must adopt specific policies to promote the welfare of all their Roma citizens and put the necessary resources into making this happen.”]]>
The World Health Day is celebrated every year on April 7th, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization.
Euro-MP Jean Lambert has called for governments around the world to promote equality to boost public health.
Speaking ahead of World Health Day, which is marked today, April 7th, she said that tackling inequality is the biggest single thing governments can do to improve public health.
“We need to concentrate on development policies – and tackle the growing inequality that's causing ill-health in the industrialised North,” she said.
“The World Health Organisation is using today to launch a new campaign on mosquito-spread diseases: and the long-term solution must be lifting people out of poverty, not least so they can afford some of the simple prevention measures.
“Malaria and dengue fever kill millions worldwide each year, and we know that climate change is spreading the range of the mosquitoes that carry them into Europe.
“This will present further challenges to healthcare providers, which means strengthening the right to access healthcare, not using austerity measures to shrink the possibilities – especially for the most vulnerable.
“The biggest difference any government can make to improving a nation's health is to tackle inequality – and that's true whether you're in London, Lagos or Lisbon.”]]>
The collapsed Dhaka Savar building, photograph courtesy of rijans.
Euro-MP Jean Lambert has welcomed progress being made on workers' rights in the Ready-Made Garment sector in Bangladesh, almost a year after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory killed more than 1,000 people.
Speaking at a conference on workers' rights in the ready-made garment industry organised with aid charity Care International last week, the London Green MEP said good progress was being made on the appointment of factory inspectors, inspection of buildings and changes to Bangladesh's employment law.
Ms Lambert, who is also the Chair of the European Parliament's Delegation to Bangladesh, said she was pleased that over 100 unions have been formed in the garment sector in the last year.
But she said there were still problems making sure all victims of the factory collapse and the earlier Tasreen factory fire received compensation – as not all companies selling the clothes made at Rana Plaza have paid into a compensation fund agreed last year.
“There remain problems – not just in relation to compensation, but also in terms of what happens to workers and their jobs if a factory is found to be unsafe and forced to close,” she said.
“But the willingness is there from many stakeholders to make progress and better the living conditions and wages of the workers.
“The European Parliament will be watching to ensure that progress is maintained and that workers – many of whom are women – will be able to make a decent living in safe conditions.”]]>