Monthly Archives: December 2009

Threat to Local Newspapers

New rules for Council adverts will damage local newspapers, says Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie.

“The Scottish Government is consulting on plans to allow local authorities to advertise public notices online. Favouring online advertising over notices in local newspapers will take vital revenue away from an industry which is already facing significant challenges.

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Hyslop needs to take Antonine Wall seriously

Cathy Peattie is calling on the new Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, to give the Antonine Wall the support it deserves.

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Falkirk College Funding Gap revealed

Colleges only get a fraction of the money they need to support their students. Scottish colleges asked the Scottish Funding Council for £21.3 million, to meet the increased demands for bursaries caused by the increase in people going to college this year – £17.1 million for students who started courses in September and £4.2 million for new students starting in January. They have only been given £11.9 million.

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Copenhagen – the cycling city

Cycles for families ... Cathy with a cycle attachment for the bairns

Cycles for families ... thanks to Rob Gibson MSP for the photo.

(posted to blog at 11am)

I went with Rob Gibson MSP and Alastair Macfie, our committee Clerk, to the Climate Change Forum and a few other events. We had an opportunity to speak to people from other countries to hear their concerns and plans to combat climate change. From farmers from rural Argentine to folk from small organisations with real vision and hope for the future.

In spite of cold and heavy snow we made our way to meet the national cycling organisation. They told us about the work being done in kindergarten with children to teach them to cycle, using small bikes without pedals to help them with balance, and teaching them safety awareness to prepare them for the future. Learning through play was the ethos throughout.

We went on to meet representatives of the local council. They told us that a third of Copenhagen folk cycled to work, and about the involvement of communities in the development of new cycle routes. 90,000 tonnes of CO2 are being saved annually compared to people travelling the same distance by car. The state government has made large amounts available for local authorities to develop infrastructure – real money to make a real difference.

The Danish Ministry for Transport says that “for the period 2009-2014, the Danish government will allocate 1 billion Dkk (US$ 180 million / € 133 million) to improve conditions for bicyclists and make the bicycle an even more attractive means of transportation. Considering that the population of Denmark is 5,3 million, this is a considerable amount of money. In the United States with a population of approximately 300 million, the comparable amount of money allocated would be US$ 10.8 billion / € 8 billion.

“The government’s policy is targeted at providing financial support for coherent and innovative bicycle projects in cities and towns, enterprises and organizations, which significantly contribute to developing local bicycle traffic, including bicycle commuting. The objective is to create a number of cycle cities and cycle towns.

“Specifically, the government will help fund these projects with 30 per cent of the total cost, and in special circumstances 50 per cent if the project contains considerable innovative elements. The possibility of partial government funding creates a basis for investments in bicycle projects at a total amount of 2 bil-lion Dkk (US$ 360 million) for the period 2009-2014. This should contribute to reducing road congestion in urban areas, improve public health and the environment, and not least reduce CO2 emissions in Denmark.”

The visits were well worth the walk through the heavy snow.

The conference talk is still of stalemate. Poorer countries have been told of the importance of making changes but not to expect enough money right now to make these changes. The word is that as usual in talks these days the UK government are much more supportive towards the poorer countries. The talks continue with world leaders gathering here for the last few days, while the world watches and hopes for a positive outcome.

For me, it’s back out into the snow, back to the climate change forum. I hope Patrick and Graeme get into the centre today.

Copenhagen blog – Good News

(posted to blog at 10am)

Good news today: The African Countries appear to have gone back into the talks.

More good news: After queuing since 6am, Graeme Cook has finally got into the ‘Bella’ centre. Patrick is now about to try to get in. I am off to an activist forum, and after that I am scheduled to meet a cycling organisation.

Our hotel is in Malmö. The public transport here is amazing. Many people go to work by bike or on foot, taking children with them and dropping them off on their way to work. Everyone looks so calm – not at all like the stressed folk one sees rushing out of Waverley station in the early morning!

The most striking thing in Copenhagen is the pure enthusiasm of the folk who have travelled here for the conference. Regardless of exceedingly long lines of folk trying to get into the conference centre, and the distance between venues, there is a ‘common bond’ here. People want the conference to be success.

Read more in the Graeme Cook’s Scottish Parliament Copenhagen 2009 blog

Copenhagen blog – Africa walks out

(posted to blog at 7pm)

Blame the computers. That’s why it is taking so long to get into the conference centre. Graeme Cook stood in line all day, and was near the front when they closed the desk. But while thousands were queuing to get in, the African Countries that were round the table walked out!

The ‘rich’ countries need to do better. If the poorer countries of the world get nothing from this Summit then we are wasting precious time. Time that we can’t afford to waste. Hopefully, their issues can be addressed and they will return to the table.

At the Scotland Day, there were lots of men in grey suits talking about Climate Change and the Scotland Act, followed by the business perspective, and then in relation to human rights. There was a speech from Mary Robinson at the start of the Human Rights session. She spoke about women in poor countries and the effect of climate change on them and their families.

I could sit on my hands no longer and asked her a question about womens representation and the lack of women on the panel all day. She spoke of grassroots women working to ensure there was reference to women in climate change reports. There had been some success, but she regretted that there was no mention of gender in the report leading up to COP 15.

Climate Change action needs to work alongside action on gender, international development, human rights and other issues. Clearly activists will still find plenty to campaign on, whatever is agreed here     🙂

Climate Change keeps Cathy busy

A busy year on the Climate Change front is ending with a very busy few days for Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie, who is Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Transport Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, and the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party spokesperson on Climate Change.

Last week, Cathy confronted Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions, and later in the day, delivered her first speech as spokesperson at the end of a debate on Copenhagen. This week she is in Copenhagen for a busy three days at the Climate Change Conference – and keeping followers of her blog up to date with regular posts from the conference.

Cathy said: “The first few months of the year were very busy with the Climate Change Bill. I think that, working with the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, we strengthened the Scottish Bill and made it something that could be used by campaigners around the world. That’s certainly the impression I am getting from people I am meeting in Copenhagen.

“Of course delivering a strong Act was easy compared to putting what has been agreed into practice. So far, progress by the Scottish Government has not been very impressive, but I am determined to keep up the pressure on Ministers to get things moving. The longer we wait to act, the harder it will be to achieve targets.

“That is also applies to the discussions at the Copenhagen conference. It remains to be seen how things turn out. It is an uphill struggle to get an agreement that will work, but when the future of our planet depends on it, we have to pull out all the stops.”

Copenhagen Blog – https://cathypeattie.wordpress.com/tag/copenhagen/

First Minister’s Question – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-09/sor1210-02.htm#Col22101

Speech – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-09/sor1210-02.htm#Col22162

Copenhagen blog – Active Travel

(posted to blog at 11am)

Up early, we walked to the station (not too far), where they have large bike parks. Very large. I have never seen so many bikes. We saw women with what looked like prams on the front of their bikes. We have a long way to go in Scotland!

At the main conference centre, there were what looked like thousands of folk waiting to register, after which you had to join another line with more thousands of people waiting to get in. After around an hour of queuing in the freezing cold, we decided that we would be better going straight to the Scotland event, where we have managed to get a coffee and warm up enough to file this first post of the day.  I’ll let you know how the event goes in my next post.

The Copenhagen Blog begins

As Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament Climate Change committee, Cathy is in Copenhagen until Wednesday for the International Climate Change Conference. This is the first of a series of posts on the Conference.

As I drove to Edinburgh airport in dense fog, there was a report on the BBC that 900 people had been arrested in Copenhagen. The report said that these people were forced to sit on the ground for four hours in the cold and then released. Thousands of folk looking for change, police overreacting, no arrests, all released. I wondered how much we could really change, when the news seemed to be telling us that nothing much had changed.

The first thing I saw when I arrived at Copenhagen was a billboard with a man saying “We wanted to deal with Climate Change, but we didn’t. Sorry.” I think the man might be a Danish politician. Maybe I will meet him during the next three days.

So much riding on this summit, so much riding on the need for change. In my heart, I know we need change. In my head, I fear that we will say it is just too hard.