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labor and environment

Analysis: How do the EU farmer protests relate to climate change?

By Orla Dwyer - The Conversation, February 5, 2024

From Berlin and Paris, to Brussels and Bucharest, European farmers have driven their tractors to the streets in protest over recent weeks. 

According to reports, these agricultural protesters from across the European Union have a series of concerns, including competition from cheaper imports, rising costs of energy and fertiliser, and environmental rules. 

Farmers’ groups in countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Romania have all been protesting over the past couple of months. 

The UK’s Sunday Telegraph has tried to frame the protests as a “net-zero revolt” with several other media outlets saying the farmers have been rallying against climate or “green” rules. 

Carbon Brief has analysed the key demands from farmer groups in seven countries to determine how they are related to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, biodiversity or conservation. 

The findings show that many of the issues farmers are raising are directly and indirectly related to these issues. But some are not related at all. Several are based on policy measures that have not yet taken effect, such as the EU’s nature restoration law and a South American trade agreement. 

Heat Strike: Workplace temperature and Climate Justice

Bus Drivers Strike with Climate Activists in 57 German Cities

By Berit Ehmke and Yanira Wolf - Labor Notes, April 8, 2024

Public transit workers across Germany have broken new ground by coordinating our contracts—nearly all of them nationwide have expired over the last four months—and shutting down bus systems with strikes in 57 cities.

To add to the pressure, we’ve done something new for our union and for Germany: we’ve formed an alliance between local transport workers and climate activists, including the students who have been leading massive school walkouts.

The devastating effects of climate change are already rocking Germany: major heat waves, flooding, and water shortages. A growing movement demanding climate action has made real headway—our energy and industrial sectors have almost halved their climate pollution over the past 30 years. But on transportation, our third-biggest source, we’ve made nearly zero progress.

To beat climate change we need more buses on the road. We’re building a movement to double bus service. After three decades of cuts and privatization, we need a major federal funding boost.

But these jobs have become so tough that most agencies have huge worker shortages. To make the climate impact real, we’ll also need to raise the floor for wages, breaks, and schedules—making this a good enough job that workers will sign on and stick around.

Baltimore Resident EXPLODES at BS DEI Propaganda

What do East Palestine and Baltimore Have in Common?

Baltimore Resident Max Alvarez Explains What Happened with the Bridge Collapse

From The Baltimore Ship Bridge Wreck To Norfolk Southern East Palestine Derailment & Vinyl Chloride

Lessons From The Environmental Catastrophe Of East Palestine Norfolk Southern Railroad Derailment

Farmer Protests: The Wrong U-Turn

By Angela Hilmi and Emile Frison - Green European Journal, March 25, 2024

While farming and nature are inextricably bound together, political bargaining often sets the two in opposition. Recent protests across Europe and worldwide show growing frustration among farmers. The European Commission is responding with row-backs on environmental standards. Could farmers be brought back onside with a Common Agricultural Policy U-turn on trade?

Imagine a job where you never get a day off. Where your work, providing an essential public service, requires you to take on hundreds of thousands of euros in debt over decades. Where you never know how much you’ll get for what you sell. Where mainstream media either ignores or vilifies you. Where your health is at risk from prevailing practices. Where you don’t earn enough to retire with a pension. Where, once you do retire, no new generation is willing to take up the reins because the quality of life is considered low. Welcome to today’s farming in Europe. And not just in Europe but worldwide. 

It’s not hard to see why recent weeks have witnessed waves of European farmers’ protests from Brussels to Madrid and Warsaw. Headlines have been filled with images of tractors blocking motorways and city centres, slurry dumped at supermarkets, police being sprayed with manure and pelted with eggs. Farmers are vociferously raising their voices demanding dignity, support for their livelihoods, viability of small farms, a future: “No farmers, no food!”

In Brussels, many of those on the streets have been demonstrating against the free trade agreements that undercut their prices and livelihoods. In Poland, Germany, and Romania, farmers are rejecting the influx of cheap Ukrainian grain and its impact on their livelihoods. In India, farmers are once again out on the streets, resisting the latest attempts to dismantle commodity price support policies, without which their already-strained livelihoods will be even further devalued.

These protests are not isolated incidents but rather a global expression of frustration and disillusionment with a system that prioritises profit and global competition over people. They are stirring up important debates about regulation, fair prices, trade agreements, and the future of our food. In Europe, the negotiations for a deal with the Mercosur trade bloc loom large, threatening to undercut local producers and exacerbate the challenges they face. 

Yet, as these protests unfold, panic-stricken politicians – in the heat of a “mega” election year – seem more inclined to throw environmental protection under the bus than address the legitimate grievances of those who feed us. The European Commission has already unscrupulously junked plans to cut pesticide use, scrapped a strategy on sustainable food systems, and loosened environmental and labour requirements that farmers must respect to access farming subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

‘If I don’t talk no one’s going to know’: Stories of pain from East Palestine move coalition members to action

By Steve Mellon - Pittsburg Union Progress, March 24, 2024

Laurie Harmon stepped from the crowd gathered in a community hall at the East Palestine Country Club around 2:30 on Saturday afternoon and told her story to a hushed crowd of about 80 people. Many had traveled from as far as California and Texas to hear stories like hers, and to offer their support.

Laurie, 48, a retired registered nurse, lives three blocks from the site of the Feb. 3, 2023, toxic train derailment that many residents believe poisoned the town.

“On the 12th, I started getting rashes,” she said, her tone matter-of-fact. “On May 1st, about the time they started digging up a pit and cleaning up, I started getting second-, third- and fourth-degree chemical burns. I had burns over 80% of my body. They burrow deep down in. It’s horrible. I was going to doctors, trying to get it figured out. Nobody knows; no one can tell me. I was diagnosed with systemic contact dermatitis due to chemical exposure. I have now lesions on my spine, cysts on my kidneys; I have kidney stones. On March 4, I had a heart attack. …”

She’s scheduled for heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic. She’s seeing seven doctors. Her medical bills total $500,000. She’s on Medicare and says she’ll have to pay 20% of that. To avoid the rashes, she quit going outside in September.

“I’m losing everything. I’m losing my home; I lost my relationship; I’m a foster parent. I lost my kids. This is more than one person can take. I just don’t even know what to say. I want to thank you guys for coming here. I wasn’t even going to come, because sometimes I feel I’m defeated, but I can’t feel that way, because if I don’t talk no one’s going to know. No one is going to know.”

Laurie’s story, and the stories of other East Palestine residents in attendance, moved the crowd, which included organizers and members from a number of unions, as well as several environmental activists, academics and some people who simply wanted to offer help to a community in crisis. Hours later, after a number of panel discussions and the performance of a song written about the East Palestine disaster by musician Mike Stout, they voted to take action.


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