First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, October 2020.
The future of Our World
Very many of us will have watched Sir David Attenborough’s programme, ‘Extinction: The Facts’. He was saying that we are at a critical moment if we want to save our planet’s ecosystem. Extinction is happening right now. The documentary showed how over a million different species are at risk of extinction. The consequences could threaten our food and water security. The issue is important because everything in the natural world is interconnected. The loss of insects has implications for the pollination of crops, which impacts on the food we eat. One in four plants is threatened with extinction and we waste 40% of the food we produce! One of the most used anti-cancer drugs was derived from a Pacific yew tree – it saves 30,000 lives every year. Sir David also warned that we could be suffering from further pandemic diseases.
“We are at a turning point.”
However, he did finish with hope as he revisited a group of mountain gorillas who were once endangered but are now thriving. He warned that we need to make the right decisions to save our planet. As Sir David said, “What happens next is up to all of us”.
Hope from renewable sources
The first six months of 2020 have seen more records set for sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Thanks to a combinaton of low air pollution, an exceptionally sunny May and some very windy months, both solar and wind generation peaked in the UK. The country has been powered coal-free for more than 125 days. A decade ago 40% of our electricity came from coal. Globally, wind and solar power has accounted for 10% of the world’s electricity needs over this time.
There is a huge potential for renewables to underpin our economic recovery. With the right government policies in place, onshore wind, solar and hydro power could boost the economy by £29bn and create 45,000 new, green jobs by 2035.
Curb tax breaks for tech giants
Although the Tech Giant Apple raked in £1.37bn in sales in the UK in the year ended September 2019, according to accounts filed at Companies House, it paid just £6.2million in UK tax. Similarly, Facebook UK paid only £28million on record £1.6bn revenues from British sales. Big companies are apprently able to use clever tricks to slash their tax bills by the transfer of large dividends to tax havens as close as Ireland.
Labour believes UK tax laws need to be reviewed so that it is no longer legal for companies to send billions in sales to head offices in other countries with lower tax rates. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has proposed a global shake up of taxation rules so that governments have more power to tax these companies in the countries where they sell products and services.