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Comment - Social Justice

The Philosophical Basis of the Green Party - For the Change by Jean Robertson-Molloy.

Why are issues of Social Justice and Environmental Protection Inseparable?

The recent Green Party Conference in Nottingham voted to strengthen the Social Justice part of the Greens' statement of basic principles. For me, issues of social justice are fundamental; first for our reasons for trying to protect the environment, then for our methods for protecting the environment, and finally for our policies for dealing with today's clearly deteriorating environment.

And to look at it from the other side as it were, it also seems to me that anyone campaigning for social justice must sooner or later accept that our present way of dealing with the environment is destroying the lives of many people around the world, but especially the poor.

Caroline Lucas herself made these connections very clearly at a recent parliamentary session when she stated 'It has been estimated that for the cost of one nuclear reactor, 7 million households could be lifted out of fuel poverty'.

And the people who are suffering most from climate change today are not the rich western countries, but those in many parts of Africa and Asia where land has been eroded, water has been drained off to promote big business enterprises, and food is being exported to richer countries just as potatoes and grain were imported from Ireland to England at the time of the potato famine.

So how are we protecting the environment today? Do we object to fracking because of its effects on the environment or because it may well harm people living near such activities? Or both? And how do we deal with pollution? Do we put incinerators in leafy Hampstead or Islington, or dump them in deprived areas where people are too exhausted to fight against them?

And what is our attitude to protecting the future of the environment? Our government seems quite determined to avoid much thought about climate change because, frankly, the rich can always avoid the worst of it, by simply flying off to somewhere more comfortable whenever they like.

Perhaps, now that even the short term effects are staring them in the face, they will start to get interested? I doubt it. So those of us who do care, must speak up now, to show people there are better ways of organising our lives.

First published in the EGP members newsletter, May 2013

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ