Ecological Justice

Industrialised countries are dramatically out of balance with nature. It would take a land area more than twice the size of Britain to produce all our food and raw materials, and to absorb our waste and pollution. Because there is only one Britain, we use other people's land and expect the environment to soak up our pollution and waste.

The results are all around us: climate change, deforestation, toxic chemicals in the environment, the spread of deserts and the loss of species and habitats.

This must stop. We must find a new way of living that delivers justice to the future.

Safe food

Public confidence in food safety is at an all time low. The market is dominated by a few large manufacturers. Suppliers' and consumers' interests are represented by the same ministry. This has delivered repeated public health scandals - notably BSE and salmonella. Added to this, the US biotech giants force unwanted products such as hormone treated beef and GM food onto European markets, often with British government support, and farm animals are treated with appaling cruelty.

The Green Party demands food justice: the right to eat wholesome food and an end to the exploitation of farm animals.

Trading food

Trade in food should be removed from the scope of WTO rules, freeing individual states to set their own health and environmental standards and achieve self-sufficiency by barring unnecessary imports. The UK market should be localised through farmers' markets, subscription farming and regional marketing.

Food safety

A Ministry of Food should be established to protect food safety by representing consumers' interests separately from producers'.

Going organic

An Organic Targets Bill should be introduced to achieve 30% organic production by 2010, and 50% reduction in the use of pesticides by 2005. Agricultural subsidies should be redirected to boost organic research and help farmers convert their land.


The import and production of GM food and animal feed should be banned and strict laws introduced to make biotech companies liable for any harm their products cause. The genetic engineering of farm animals and patenting of life forms should be stopped.

Justice for farm animals

Factory farming should be ended and subsidies provided to shift farmers from intensive to humane husbandry. Slaughter methods should be improved and live exports replaced by trade in meat.

Reach for the future
A just economics
The just society
Ecological justice
Securing justice globally
Democratic justice

Only 30% of organic food sold in the UK is grown here. The rest has to be imported.

Photo: Cherry Puddicombe

"It is a commonly-held fallacy that the European Union is self-sufficient in food. This is not correct ... the livestock of Europe require an area of vegetation seven times the size of the EU to meet their feed requirements".

Vandana Shiva, 1996


Genetic experiments will "result in the creation of novel types of infectious DNA elements whose biological properties cannot be completely predicted in advance".

James Watson, joint discoverer of DNA, 1974.








A future for farming

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) dominates Britain's agriculture. It has more than achieved its original goal of eliminating food shortages. It has caused wasteful over-production and widespread habitat loss, soil erosion and pollution. Monoculture has replaced thriving and diverse rural economies. Meanwhile food prices are inflated, small farmers are driven off the land, and millions of people in poorer countries are forced to export animal feed, rather than feed themselves.

The CAP should be phased out and control returned to the national level. We must produce good food whilst promoting bio-diversity and regional self-reliance. This will naturally favour mixed, sustainable and job-rich forms of agriculture.

Sane subsidies

National control of CAP spending should be increased to reflect local social and environmental conditions. Subsidies should guarantee farmers' incomes, not prices. They should only be paid up to a ceiling level and only if strong environmental and animal welfare criteria are met.

Rescuing the rural economy

Agri-environment schemes in the UK must receive 500 million by 2005. At least 20% of Structural and Cohesion Fund budgets should support sustainable rural development.

Feed the world

To free developing countries to produce food for themselves, not export, we must end the dumping of EU surpluses on their markets, reduce meat consumption and stop promoting factory farming abroad.

A future for fishing Britain's fisheries are in crisis. Populations of commercial fish species are driven to collapse by over-fishing. Fishing communities and the eco-systems they exploit are under threat.

The EU's 'total allowable catch' must be reduced by around 40% if fish stocks are to recover. Yet technological 'advances' in fish detection have increased the British fleet's capacity by 3% a year over the last thirty years.

Controlling the fisheries

Britain must work for fundamental reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Fisheries should be controlled at local and national levels, subject to international agreements to protect transnational marine eco-systems and migratory fish stocks. Fishing activity should be controlled according to its impact on the marine environment, not just the target species.

Fish for the future

To protect fish populations, quotas should be based on scientific advice, not political expediency. Increased support should be provided to help fishing communities adjust. Net mesh sizes should be enlarged to protect young fish, and spawning grounds closed to fishing during the breeding season.

British sheep were left for 48 hours without water, in the blistering heat of the Italian port of Bari, 1999. Many died.

Photo: Compassion in World Farming



In 50 years of intensive pesticide use the US has doubled the crops lost to pests.

80% of UK farm subsidy goes to the biggest and wealthiest 20% of farms.

Daffodils from Cornwall go to Lincoln in refrigerated lorries. They are then flown to Holland for packaging, flown back to the North of England, put on another plane, and flown to New York for sale.

Cereal produced by industrial agriculture requires 6 or 7 times as much energy input as traditional mixed farming.

In 1996 Britain exported 49 million kg of butter - and imported 47 million kg.

Source: James Bruges, The Little Earth Book, ASP. 2000


Fishing communities are under threat.

Photo: Cherry Puddicombe










Energy and climate change

Approximately 90% of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels (see diagram 5 on inside back). This creates acid rain, air pollution and climate change. Government figures show that air pollution causes up to 24,000 early deaths every year. Extreme weather is becoming ever more frequent.

There is no shortage of solutions, just a chronic lack of political will. Energy conservation and renewables must replace fossil fuel dependency. Global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut dramatically by international agree-ment, based on 'carbon justice' - equity between rich and poor.

Carbon cuts

Global greenhouse gas emissions must reduce by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 to avert catastrophic climate change. The UK should reduce emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2005, and by 20% per decade after that, achieving net zero emissions by 2045.

Save it!

Energy demand should be cut to a level that can be met from renewable sources. Schemes that avoid wasteful transmission should be encouraged, including combined heat and power plants, distribution networks for surplus heat from industrial and sewage plants, and community-owned wind power schemes.

Planning regulations should require new buildings to include solar energy and grey-water recycling systems and be energy efficient. Vendors of houses should have to supply certified energy ratings to purchasers.

The Green Party-authored Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires local authorities to reduce domestic energy demand by 30%. The govern-ment should provide more resources to help them achieve this.

Getting the price right

Taxes on energy should reflect the environmental impact of the generation method, making renewable energy more price-competitive (see Benefits of taxes on page 2).

Renewing the supply

A target of supplying 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2010 should be set. To meet it, incentives should be provided to wind, solar, biomass, small-scale hydro and biogas generation schemes. All support for the nuclear industry, other than research into decommissioning and safe storage of nuclear waste, should be switched into renewables research. Nuclear power stations and reprocessing facilities must be decommissioned as soon as possible. Any privatised facilities should be renationalised without compensation.

All proposed energy generation schemes should be subject to an environmental impact assessment and existing plants required to fit best available technology to reduce emissions.

Pollution, waste and resources

Looked at simply, industry involves digging natural resources out of the ground (or harvesting them) and turning them into products -a simple process, but one that can be very dangerous. Many resources, perfectly harmless in their natural state, are processed into highly toxic substances and released into the environment.

We are using natural resources too rapidly and with scant regard for the consequences. The results include climate change; ozone depletion; acidification; increasing levels of waste and background radioactivity; dioxins accumulating in human and animal tissue; pollution of air, soil and water; and rising incidences of cancer and allergies.

Britain lags way behind most other European countries in the recycling league (see diagram 2 on inside front cover). The government's response is to build more incinerators, which spread dioxins and undermine attempts to reduce waste.

Pollution, waste and the consumption of non-renewable resources will be reduced by many of our policies, but their regulation must be tightened radically.

Three 'R's of waste

A Waste Reduction, Re-use and Recycling Bill should be introduced to reduce packaging, set standards for the recycled contents of suitable products, establish deposit schemes for re-usable materials and stabilise the markets for recyclable materials.

At least 60% of domestic waste should be recycled by 2007 and Landfill Tax revenues diverted to expand council recycling schemes. Landfill and waste incineration must be phased out and digestion plants introduced to produce biogas from sewage, agricultural, organic and non-recycled waste.

Cutting pollution

Strict limits must be set for pollutants, using the critical load approach for air pollution, and reducing hazardous substances in water to natural levels by 2020. Industry should be required to re-use, recycle or process hazardous waste on site and fit best available technology to reduce emissions. All toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals must be phased out and the chemical industry converted to biodegradable substances by 2020. Eco-taxes must be levied on non-renewable and polluting resources, in particular aggregates, pesticides, organochlorines, plastics and fossil fuels.

Precautionary laws

New legislation should be introduced to make producers liable for environ-mental damage. Permitted develop-ment rights should be removed from mobile phone masts. International agreements must be reached to ban trade in waste, protect the genetic diversity of crop seeds, safeguard wilderness areas such as Antarctica and minimise the disruption to indige-nous peoples and environmental damage caused by resource extraction.


Global climate change is likely to be much more severe than previously feared. Temperatures may rise by almost 6 degrees between 1990 and 2100.

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, January 2001.

"The disaster in Mozambique is consistent with IPCC predictions and is consistent with what we now must expect with climate change".

Sir John Houghton, Director-General of the UK Met Office.




Contraction and Convergence (C& C) blends rigorous science with equity. It could break the Kyoto deadlock.

'Contraction' identifies how much CO 2 could be emitted globally each year up to a safe atmospheric concentration. 'Convergence' sets each country's CO 2 emission limit fairly by dividing global annual emissions on a strict per capita basis. Time is allowed for Convergence and trading up to a limit of 50% emissions, is permitted. This allows industrialised countries to buy surplus emissions quotas from developing countries and so find the most cost-effective path to Contraction.

It is too late to avoid climate change altogether, but limiting CO 2 concentration to 400ppmv and setting a convergence date of 2030 would limit the damage. See graph 4 on the inside back cover showing how C& C with these targets would alter global CO 2 emissions.


Living wild - justice for the natural world

We are waging an undeclared war on the natural world. In just over forty years, 140,000 miles of wildlife-rich hedgerow and more than 95% of unimproved meadows have been lost. Original-growth woodland has all but disappeared and an area the size of Bristol is concreted over every year. 17% of Britain's insects and 5/ 9ths of our bird species are in decline.

Our antipathy to the natural world infects our farms, laboratories and trade practices, where animals are treated as commodities. They are even hunted for fun.

Green politics aim to satisfy human needs, in harmony with the natural world. Our economic and agricultural policies will help achieve this, but more must be done to prevent cruelty to animals and protect their habitats.

Protecting animals

Hunting with hounds and badger culling should be banned immediately, and legislative protection from unnecessary suffering extended to all wildlife.

Experiments on animals are cruel and intrinsically unreliable as a guide to human biology. Toxicity, warfare and behavioural testing should be ended immediately. Non-animal methods should be developed for medical research within five years.

'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. '

Mahatma Gandhi.

Protecting habitats

The government must implement and enforce the EU's Birds and Habitats Directives and incorporate specific targets for each threatened species and habitat into a mandatory Bio-diversity Action Plan. The practice of artificially excluding areas with development potential from protected Natura 2000 sites must cease.

Government planning guidance must give greater protection to Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, wetland areas, flood plains and green belts. Local planning authorities should be required to produce bio-diversity action plans and protect sites of local importance for bio-diversity.

Growing forests

CAP payments for rural development, agri-environment schemes and set-aside should in part be redirected to increase the UK's mixed native woodland cover to the European average of 25%.

>> Next page >>

Hazardous substances in water must be reduced.


Britain's recycling lags way behind other European countries (see diagram 2 on inside front). Photo: Cherry Puddicombe

Hunting with hounds should be banned immediately.

Photo: Cherry Puddicombe





Home | Reach for the future | A just economics | The just society
Ecological justice | Securing justice globally | Democratic justice | Conclusion