October 2, 2009

Mbewa Self-Help Project in the news

To help with fundraising for my Malawi project, I recently gave an interview to our local paper, The Warrington Guardian.

A scan of the article appears below. You can read it online at:

September 18, 2009

Campaigning for the Simultaneous Policy - film clips

Clips from the 2004 DVD Campaigning for the Simultaneous Policy are being posted on youtube.

September 1, 2009

Film of my Malawi visit

Here's a short (7 minute) film of my return to Malawi in 2009. Highlights for me were visiting the projects in Mbewa village I have been supporting with family and friends and being a guest of honour at the 13th Mulanje Mountain Porters' Race - I organised the first race in 1996, shortly before leaving after working in Malawi for 4 years.

Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries. Life expectancy is 39 years and under-5 mortality is 140 per 1000 live births (the UK rate is 6 per 1000 live births).

You can help development projects in Mbewa village by providing money for loans at:

Here's the film:

August 12, 2009

Listening to people in one of the world's poorest nations

In a world of inequality, suffering and early death, what can be done?

Supporting the Simultaneous Policy is something tangible and straightforward to achieve the structural change we need.

But we can also do something more immediate to help those whose lives are not so fortunate as the majority of those who have access to the internet to read this blog.

The most important thing is to first listen and to learn. For example, what is it that people in a village in Malawi want to improve their lives? A maize mill. See:

I have tried to listen while returning to Malawi, one of the world's poorest nations, where I worked for four years in the 1990s. Since leaving I have been doing what I can do support some of the friends I made at Mbewa Village at the foot of Mulanje Mountain, the highest in Central Africa.

I've kept contact since those days with Francis Atiya, a mountain guide, who organised the first Mulanje Mountain Porters' Race with me in 1996, just before I left. There were 33 participants, mainly porters and guides, but me and a friend from the Mountain Club of Malawi, which sponsored the event, also took part. The route I chose covers 25 kms up one side of the Likhabula valley and down the other. The winner, Hamilton Makhalila, completed the course in 2 hours 39 minutes. After the prize giving (first prize - walkman, second prize - hurricane lamp) we had a slap up meal to celebrate and as a thank you to the porters' service over the past year.

I billed it as the First Mulanje Mountain Race, in the hope there would be more. And some dedicated people have kept it going. Last month, I was able to attend the 13th event and gave a speech as the founder of the race.

Amazingly, there were about 300 participants, including from outside Malawi, and the winning time was 2 hours 5 minutes. The event is now being promoted by the Ministry of Tourism to try to draw more people to Mulanje Massif. (The mountain has gained some unwanted publicity since then as a tourist attempted to climb the highest peak without a guide and died after becoming lost.)

While some people gain employment as porters and guides or carving the unique Mulanje cedar, the majority are subsistence farmers. Priorities are producing enough food to live through the year and finding a way to earn a little cash.

With the help of donations from family and friends, we set up a chicken raising project, profits from which have been used to help pay school fees for some of the village's orphans.

These small donations have also enabled the village of about 3,000 people to employ an agricultural advisor. One of his own innovations has been to implement an irrigation system for growing maize in the dry season as a cash crop. Water is routed from nearby streams through channels to the maize fields as shown in the clip below:

This scheme started with 7 farmers and proved so successful that many more have joined this year. My friends and family have been making loans for the fertilizer needed for the maize. Members of the farmers' club will pay for this when they sell the maize and those lending money will receive their repayment by 30 November. A little extra is raised at the same time to build up a fund for fertilizer for the next time.

I discussed many ideas for other schemes with the Project Committee, which has been elected by the village and we have a list to develop over the next three years of so. Their priority is to set up a maize mill for grinding maize into flour.

We've investigated the economics of this and put together a project to proceed in a phased way.

The Committee has identified suitable land, which the owner has donated. They were then to produce the bricks for the house for the mill, but another villager quickly donated a stock of bricks.

So they are ready to start as soon as I can raise the loans for the cement, roofing sheets and other materials.

While building proceeds, I will also be seeking funds for buying the milling equipment. Hopefully this money will be available to transfer to the manufacturer in Malawi once the house is ready, so the mill can immediately go into operation and generate income.

All the self-help projects aim to repay the investment and be self-sustaining. Income from the maize mill will be used to repay loans over the following 18 months. Additional income after running costs will contribute to a maintenance fund, other projects and for support for orphans and other vulnerable people in the village.

If you want to help by contributing a sum of money, be it large or small, then you can contact me or make a pledge via the website I've set up for the project. See:

This has information on other projects under way and some of those in development and lots of great photos.

Here's one of a mother working her irrigated field.

July 3, 2009

Climate change action in Malawi - building from the community level

This is not about global action for a change - it is about grassroots action.

I am presently in Malawi supporting a community project called the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise.

One aspect of it is using hydraform bricks for construction. These are made without the need to cut down trees to fire them. Here's a clip I put together showing how they are made. You can support the project by purchasing bricks for buildings. See:

June 5, 2009

Simpol and elections: publicity and progress

Voting in the UK election for Members of the European Parliament has ended, though results will not be known until Sunday.

There were 16 candidates who supported Simpol, 6 of them lead candidates who are first on the list for taking up a seat if their party gains enough votes.

The UK campaign in the build up to the elections was regrettably low key, with the onus falling on local groups and individual campaigners and the indefatigable John Bunzl to contact candidates.

With a general election due within a year, and possible only months away, now is a time to be thinking about promoting Simpol to voters and politicians so we are ready. Personally, I would love to see at least one Simpol-UK training and preparing day, which we can start planning for now.

I have recently been invited to join the Simpol-UK Strategic Planning Group and would love to hear from anyone who is interested in being involved in helping to prepare for the general election, either in organising such a day, producing materials, contributing ideas or as a participant looking for support.

It can be immensely rewarding to take action - and taking action can be as simple as sending a message to candidates in your area: there is no need to commit to more than you are able.

As an example, I contacted candidates in the Eastern Region with the message I posted on my blog at:


I was pleased that the Green Party candidate, Rupert Read, gave Simpol his support, as a long-time Adopter himself. His comment was: "I have long been a signatory to Simpol, and hope that this election campaign will bring more power to your arm."

Rupert's support for Simpol will have benefited his campaign, with Adopters checking the website to see who had signed up or receiving updates I sent out. I even had someone telephone me directly just before election day to check who had made the Simpol pledge.

This benefits candidates and helps to put those supporting Simpol into power, so bringing us closer to the time when the policies developed through our democratic process can be implemented.

At the same time, Simpol gains publicity. Rupert posted news of his support on his blog as follows, available at:



Rupert Read Pledges Support For Simultaneous Policy

In the Eastern Region, Green Party candidate, Rupert Read, has become the first to give his support to the Simpol approach. Other candidates have also been invited to do so.

The Simultaneous Policy is a package of measures being developed democratically by people around the world to address global problems.

Simpol proposals include creating a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority (WTCRA) and 'Contraction and Convergence' - a policy aimed at addressing climate change.

Supporting the Simpol campaign does not mean you have to support individual policies however! It is free to sign up as a Simpol Adopter and all Adopters can vote on policies or put forward their own proposals.

Simpol policies have been picked up widely - the WTCRA policy (developed in Cambridge by Mike Brady) has been published in the newsletter Jus Semper in English and Spanish, for example. See:


Click here to sign up or to learn more about Simpol.


---quote ends

This shows Simpol synergy in action! In this case, not only does the candidate gain votes, people have been encouraged to sign up as Adopters. And proposals that have done well in past voting have been highlighted, demonstrating once again how putting proposals forward for inclusion in the policy package brings them to the attention of a wider audience.

Obviously I'm pleased that my own proposal comes in for special mention – though it remains to be seen if it survives future voting rounds to remain in the process.

Repeatedly I see how the strategy developed by John Bunzl proves itself time and again in all its facets. This should encourage us all. All that is missing is wider involvement - but that will surely come.

Even with a relatively low level of activity in these elections we will see MEPs elected who have pledged to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments.

With the general election on the horizon we can make a breakthrough in every constituency where there Adopters if we think ahead.

So if you are interested in helping to prepare, whether on the internet, at a future event or in your community, please contact me directly.

I'd welcome suggestions or requests and can take these forward to the Strategic Planning Group for approval.

The Group itself is open to new participants, so if you are interested, let me know and I'll pass it on.

June 1, 2009

Euro election press release

Global justice campaigners call for voters to turn out in the European Parliament elections

Press release 1 June 2009

Supporters of the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign for global justice are calling for people to use their votes in the forthcoming European Parliament election (4 June 2009) to help to solve the pressing problems the world is facing. The campaign is not aligned to any party and seeks support from all candidates. Lead candidates for parties in several constituencies, as well as other candidates, have already pledged support for the campaign.

Simpol brings people together around the world to propose, develop and approve the policies they wish to see introduced to address global problems. In the last annual vote, the top problems were identified as: climate change, the power of transnational corporations, environment, international financial markets and other financial issues (fuller list below). Simpol campaign supporters, known as Simpol Adopters, give a preference to candidates who pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments or, if they have a party preference, to encourage their prefered party to make this pledge. Simultaneous implementation is intended to remove the fear politicians have that their national economy will suffer if they act unilaterally. It is not intended as an alternative to other ways of working for change, but as a parallel strategy to overcome the obstacle of competition between nations.

Voters in most constituencies already have the choice of a candidate (many of them lead candidates on party lists) who has signed the Simpol pledge, and the pressure is on for other candidates to make the same pledge.

Cambridge SP Adopters' Group (CAMSPAG) Coordinator, Mike Brady, said:

"The Simpol campaign is a way for people to reclaim democracy. Our leaders are currently failing to deal with global problems such as climate change. Anyone can sign up as a Simpol Adopter free of charge and shape the policies they want to see implemented. With Simpol the European elections are critically important: the more MEPs elected who have pledged to introduce these policies, the sooner they will become reality. We are fortunate to already have a lead candidate who has signed the Simpol pledge.”

In the Eastern Region, which includes Cambridge, Rupert Read, Green Party candidate said today: “I have long been a signatory to Simpol, and hope that this election campaign will bring more power to your arm.”

For an updated list of candidates who are backing the Simpol campaign, see


Politicians from all parts of the political spectrum in the UK Parliament have signed the Simpol pledge and there is growing support in other countries. MPs are listed on the Simpol-UK website: http://www.simpol.org.uk/

When the Simultaneous Policy was first proposed in John Bunzl's book with that title, veteran campaigner and author Noam Chomsky commented: "It's ambitious and provocative. Can it work? Certainly worth a serious try."

For further information contact Mike Brady on 07986 736179.


  1. The campaign is coordinated by the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO) - see http://www.simpol.org/. Simpol-UK is a not-for profit company formed in 2004 – see http://www.simpol.org.uk/
  2. Simpol's starting point is that we live in pseudo-democracies because governments are limited in the action they can take as they fear disinvestment and loss of jobs if they introduce policies which are distasteful to transnational corporations and financial markets. Human rights and the environment take second place to what is best for 'the economy' and voters become increasingly apathetic, it is argued. Simpol puts 'we, the people' in charge of deciding the global rules which shape our world and the campaign strategy compels politicians to implement that package of policies when all, or sufficient, other governments have also pledged to do so. Simultaneous implementation removes the threat of disinvestment.
  3. Any Adopter can put forward a proposal after gathering the required number of seconders. The top policies in the last annual vote are given in the policy zone of www.simpol.org.uk. Policy titles are
  • Contraction and Convergence (for addressing climate change): 78%
  • World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority: 69%
  • Beyond GDP: 64%
  • International Clearing Union: 63%
  • The Oil Depletion Protocol: 63%
  • A Defensive Defence Policy: 61%
  • Nuclear Disarmament: 60%
  • The Tobin Tax: 57%
  • Remodelling Companies to Become Stakeholder-Governed Organisations: 53%

Adopters were also asked to vote on issues, giving the top tem as:

1. Climate change

2. The power of transnational corporations

3. Environment

4. International financial markets and other

financial issues

5. Governance (global and national)

6. The system of international trade

7. Human Rights

8. Understanding between peoples

9. Disarmament

10. Conflict resolution

  1. Cambridge Simultaneous Policy Adopters’ Group (CAMSPAG) has contacted all parties known to be fielding candidates in the Eastern Region for the European Parliament election and will issue updates as additional candidates sign the candidate's pledge.

April 26, 2009

The Simultaneous Policy campaign creates networking opportunities

The Simultaneous Policy campaign provides a democratic space for discussing how to address the global problems we face. It is a place to meet people, share and develop ideas and have your ideas reach a wider audience beyond the Simpol campaign.

The space exists in the virtual world, with the discussion forum and email lists, and the real world, with local groups, policy fora and events such as the recent street party in Brighton and participation in G20 demonstrations. Here's a picture of Barnaby Flynn with his moveable stall at the G20. I found this on the BBC website.

The annual vote on policies to be included in the Simultaneous Policy is a particularly fruitful time for making contact with people, if you are active in promoting the policies you back.

I made contact with Álvaro de Regil Castilla of the Jus Semper Global Alliance, which promotes the Living Wages North and South Initiative. I was invited to contribute a paper on my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority (WTNCRA) to the Jus Semper publication. This can be downloaded by clicking:

The paper has also been published in Spanish.

This has helped raise awareness of my proposal further afield. The paper has been added to the Eldis website, which is a resource database of the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University:

Not only that, but it has been highlighted in the Eldis email updates. In turn, I have seen that the Eldis link has been sent to the OECD Watch email list. This is just over the past couple of days.

I think this shows there is a receptive audience for proposed solutions for global problems. Simpol encourages us to develop these and can actively link Adopters together to discuss a work in progress. You can post a work in progress to the Simpol forum at:

And, of course, as the proposals are distributed, so is information on the Simpol campaign as a way to make them a reality.

March 28, 2009

Global governance at the G20: protest on the outside, national self interest on the inside. Where will the solutions we need come from?

Simultaneous Policy Adopters are planning a visible presence at protests in London today in advance of the G20 summit.

Many other groups are also to be there. The Guardian reports disparate groups are setting aside their differences to protest.

And there is the nub of the problem of the Global Justice Movement in my view. It can unite in opposition, but has no real mechanism for debate and building consensus on alternatives. It has struck me at the European Social Forums I have attended that those seeking democratic discussion are frustrated; the slogan may be 'another world is possible', but there is no route map for bringing it about.

Even amongst campaign coalitions such as the Trade Justice Movement, I have seen how policy aspirations have to be scaled back to what is politically achievable: it is a piece meal approach that wins important concessions, but nothing like the sweeping changes advocated. A broad coalition campaigning in the UK for corporate accountability measures had to celebrate as a victory a requirement that corporations report on their social and environmental impacts; indeed, it was a significant victory given the scale of political opposition. Yet there are no standards for the reports, nor sanctions if companies lie. Perhaps those will be achieved in the decades to come once the reporting principal has bedded in. That is the best hope on offer through conventional campaigning. On climate change, some campaigners are already voicing fears that the lack of progress means there is no hope left: runaway climate change could be unavoidable.

It is such concerns that fuel my support for the Simultaneous Policy approach, which provides a structure for discussing, developing and approving the policies needed to address global problems. My own proposal, which gained good support in the last voting round, is for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority, something with real teeth to ensure corporations comply with the human rights and environmental standards their glossy reports claim to respect and means to ensure governments play their part in regulating wayward corporations. See:

Other top issues and policies are given in the youtube clip below.

Simultaneous Policy Adopters call on politicians to pledge to implement, alongside other governments, the policies agreed on by we, the people, of the world. Simultaneous implementation removes the principal obstacle to progress: the fear that unilateral action will put a country at a competitive disadvantage, harm its economy and lose political leaders their power. It breaks the power of vested interests to play one country of against another.

The democratic process and the undertaking by Adopters to give a voting preference at elections to candidates who have made the pledge overcomes the second obstacle: the influence of vested interests on the political process. Business leaders may gain privileged access to politicians, but their hold on setting policies to address global problems is broken.

Some politicians have already signed up, as much for the logic of the approach as the chance to pick up votes. When I briefed one MP on the strategy she immediately saw the point, having campaigned without success for aviation fuel to be taxed as other fuels; such a tax, the government argues, would shift air transport from London to Paris or Amsterdam. But not if introduced simultaneously. She returned the signed pledge a few months later.

Even the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, sees the point of simultaneous action even if the Simultaneous Policy is not yet on his radar. Look at what he was saying in New York this week, as reported in The Guardian:


"Global problems will need better global solutions. In the wake of the second world war, we managed to create an IMF [International Monetary Fund], a World Bank, a WTO [World Trade Organisation], a Marshall Plan. We had the capacity with vision and determination to create institutions based on the principle that for prosperity to be sustained it had to be shared and we had to have mechanisms by which we brought the whole world into this enterprise.

"I think we need the same vision now to say the IMF was built for the days when you were dealing with balance of payments problems of individual countries in essentially a national set of economies. Now we've got a global market place, global competition, global flows of capital, global sourcing of goods.

"The institutions you need to deal with these problems are going to be quite different for this new era, so we must shape them."


Well, that's great, but if the G20 is capable of the vision and agreement to achieve these new institutions, what guarantee is there that they will not be as divisive and flawed as the IMF and World Bank and the structural adjustment policies they forced developing countries to adopt? Ironically the IMF, controlled by rich nations, has in the past pressured developing countries not to intervene to protect their banking systems, saying they must be allowed to fail; when it suits them, rich countries do not follow the rules they impose on others.

The answer is, of course, that there is no guarantee. Even if it works, the vision is still for perpetual growth on a planet that already cannot support the demands placed upon it.

While the Simultaneous Policy campaign cannot offer guarantees about the policies developed in the democratic space it provides, the fact that people around the world are invited to participate in the process, shape the policies and vote on them does provide checks and balances missing from the rich countries' club.

The G20 will see campaigners united in opposition on the outside and leaders inside protecting their individual national interests when we need coordinated, coherent and effective action.

If all involved backed the Simultaneous Policy approach, at the very least as a parallel strategy, we might get somewhere. Global problems require global solutions, but they also merit global involvement of citizens in deciding those solutions.

You can take part by signing up as a Simultaneous Policy Adopter free of charge at:

This clip gives information on the state of policies at the moment. As an Adopter you will be able to vote against any you don't like and put forward and support those that you do.

March 23, 2009

Put People First March - London 28 March 2009. 11:00 - 16:00.

From Simpol-UK

Put People First March
Saturday 28th March, London
11:00 - 16:00 Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park
Nearest tubes - Embankment, Waterloo, Temple

We have harmonicas, amped loop stations, beat boxers, bass guitars and sensible ideas; so bring yourselves, voices, instruments and enthusiasm.

How do want the world to be? (Rap)

Let's write the next chapter of history.
Become our own world leaders
Our own global authority, by signing up to Simpol for free!
So what is your policy? X3

Governments issue interest free money internationally?
To finance existing CO2 neutral technology?
Job creation re-mechanisation of the global industry?
To save us all from impending climate change catastrophe
And civilization break down, lack of energy security.

Don't demand it, make it happen via the Simpol Voting Strategy!
Simpol is global co-operation for peace, justice sustainability and prosperity.


Sing-along "Let's Work Together"

Together we stand, Divided we fall, Come on now people and let's get on the ball and
work together, Come on come on let's work together, Because together we will stand,
every boy, girl, woman and man."

To get versed with this song see –

Sign up and invite others on Face Book - "Simpol Mobile Musical Street Stall Put People First March"

For exact location on the day call Barnaby on 07799603042

March 19, 2009

We should have acted on climate change yesterday - please do so today

At the end of 2009 our leaders will meet in Copenhagen to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol for addressing climate change. On past experience, they will stress the need for urgent action and do little, fearing the steps necessary are to unpalatable for their citizens. And it is short-term considerations and the fear of losing power that drives them, that and the industrialists whispering in their ears threatening disinvestment and loss of jobs while pushing a wadge of money into their election campaign chests.

Climate change scientists have been meeting in Copenhagen to discuss the latest scientific findings. It is scary stuff. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero today would not be enough: the gases in the system are already having an impact and will continue to do so. Limiting mean global temperature increases to 2C is likely a lost battle. Much above this and the human race itself is facing defeat. Here is part of the analysis from George Monbiot in The Guardian yesterday:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that "global mean temperature changes greater than 4C above 1990-2000 levels" would "exceed ... the adaptive capacity of many systems". At this point there's nothing you can do, for instance, to prevent the loss of ecosystems, the melting of glaciers and the disintegration of major ice sheets. Elsewhere it spells out the consequences more starkly: global food production, it says, is "very likely to decrease above about 3C". Buy your way out of that.

And it doesn't stop there. The IPCC also finds that, above 3C of warming, the world's vegetation will become "a net source of carbon". This is just one of the climate feedbacks triggered by a high level of warming. Four degrees might take us inexorably to 5C or 6C: the end - for humans - of just about everything.

In its last drought, the Amazon rainforest is calculated to have emitted more carbon dioxide than Japan and Europe combined. With more disruption to the climate, droughts will become increasingly common and severe. See:

Our leaders have failed us and may well fail us again in Copenhagen. There are two things that you can do about this.

Firstly, join in marches to put pressure on the leaders of the main industrialised nations meeting at the G20 in London. There are various groups organising things. One is AVAAZ. For details see:

Secondly, call on politicians to pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments. The measures that are needed to address climate change are being discussed within the democratic space created by Simpol. Anyone can join in by signing up as a Simpol Adopter, which is free to do. Adopters can propose, discuss and vote on proposals. In the last annual vote climate change came out as the top issue and 'Contraction and Convergence' to deal with it as the top issue. See:
http://www.simpol.org/ - to sign up.

http://www.simpol.org.uk/forum/ - to join in the discussion.

Combine the two actions and go on a march with a Simpol placard. Hopefully Simpol will make resources available on the website.

You can write to your elected representatives at any time. Or better still arrange a meeting. My Member of Parliament signed the Simpol pledge after a 10 minute briefing from me. A candidate in the European elections brought a signed pledge along to a local group meeting I invited her to. The more pledges from politicians, the sooner we get governments on board and the sooner implementation of the Simultaneous Policy can be triggered. If they let us down in Copenhagen and waste another decade, Simpol may be our best hope. Please support it as a parallel strategy to marching!

The European Parliament elections are coming up, so now is a key time to contact the candidates. We cannot let these opportunities pass by. For information on how to do this, see:

If we cannot move to constructive cooperation between nations to address climate change and other global problems, the future is bleak: nations battling for resources as food supplies diminish and mass movement of refugees leads to social breakdown.

Better to contact your politicians now while there is still time.

March 17, 2009

Simpol visionaries

A proposal was submitted for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy in 2007 for 'Regulation of the Sale of Debt'.

Proposer David Smith, wrote: "The level of defaults on 'sub prime' mortgages in the US affects world markets and possibly the real economies, because these debts are sold on without being understood by the purchaser. The panic has affected credit and interest rates everywhere. In an interdependent world this probably has more effect on third world economies than on us. Surely there could be some kind of regulation which would force banks to evaluate such transactions properly beforehand. Why hasnt the international financial community already set its house in order? I dont know but partly because it is not very farsighted, but also there is a lack of will."


A year later, the international banking system collapsed and the world financial system would have ceased to operate had governments not stepped in.

Good to see a Simultaneous Policy Adopter was way ahead in warning of this. Unfortunately the proposal gained insufficient support in voting in 2007 and dropped out of the process. David's proposal for the 'regulation of derivative markets' also failed to gain support:

Which goes to show that the democratic space promoted by Simpol is a great place to look for visionary ideas, but also that people who see the point of ideas need to help in explaining them and encouraging other Adopters to support them. As David said on his proposal for regulating the sale of debt: "This suggestion needs input from someone who undertsands financial markets better than I do."

Following the credit crunch, many journalists and others have investigated these issues and tried to explain them. If the proposal was resubmitted (perhaps in revised form) it would probably do much better in voting. There is now a requirement to have 9 seconders for proposals, which helps to beef up proposals and put together a team to promote them.

Some proposals do perhaps deserve to drop out. Certainly there was little support for Esperanto being made the world language. But it is also worth revisiting some of those that did not catch the imagination of Adopters in past voting. The policy development process is one of reformulation and refinement. See all policies on the discussion board at:

You can post your own 'work in progress' to gain help in developing it and to find seconders at: at:

March 8, 2009

Countdown to the European Union elections 2009

The election of the European Parliament will take place in less than three months (from 4 - 7 June 2009). These are the biggest trans-national elections in history as elected candidates will represent 500 million Europeans.

It is also an ideal opportunity to encourage election candidates to sign the pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments. No doubt the Simultaneous Policy organisations will be announcing the campaign and tools to help with this in due course.

In the meantime, it is possible to find the list of election candidates on party websites. I have started sending message like the following to candidates:

Congratulations on being the lead candidate on the party list for our regions European Election.

I am contacting you to ask your position on the Simultaneous Policy campaign. I am also sending you the pledge form for supporting the Simultaneous Policy campaign in case you have not signed this already.

As Gordon Brown and other leaders have been heard to say repeatedly in recent weeks and months: “Global problems require global solutions”.

The Simultaneous Policy or Simpol campaign brings people together around the world to discuss, develop and approve the policies they wish to see implemented. Anyone can take part in this process by signing up as a Simpol Adopter, which is free to do. This democratic and transparent process is ongoing. In the last annual vote conducted in October 2008, the top five issues identified by Adopters were: Climate change, The power of transnational corporations, Environment, International financial markets and other financial issues, Governance (global and national).

You can find further details in the policy section of http://www.simpol.org.uk/

Politicians are asked to sign a pledge agreeing in principle to implement these policies alongside other governments when all, or sufficient, other governments have made the same pledge. Until such time that implementation can be triggered, it is business as usual: doing as much as we can unilaterally, while trying to address these pressing issues through attempting to forge international deals and facing down powerful vested interests that play governments off against each other, threatening disinvestment if their agenda is not followed.

If you add your pledge to those already received from other politicians at both national and European level it will move us closer to being able to implement policies that have the backing of the people of the world. The Simultaneous Policy is to be coherent package that can break through the obstacle of destructive competition between nations to move the world into a new era of constructive cooperation. The pledge is provisional as the policies can only be finalised when there is sufficient global support as they need to address the situation faced at that time and all people of voting age will be given a chance to approve or reject the package.

The campaign is undeniably ambitious, but conventional policy making has failed to address global problems adequately and may be unable to do so. By signing and returning the attached pledge you are indicating you are prepared to give the Simultaneous Policy approach a try as a parallel strategy. The pledge can also be downloaded from:

Adopters undertake to encourage their preferred party to support the campaign. Those without a party preference undertake to give a preference to any candidates at elections (within reason) who have signed the pledge. Hence the campaign makes addressing global problems an election issue and signing the pledge can provide an advantage to those candidates that have done so. In the run up to the election, Simpol’s website will indicate which candidates have signed the pledge.

Please let me know if you will sign the pledge and if so, any statement of support you would like to communicate to voters in our region. If you do not wish to sign the pledge, I would be interested to know why as I can see no disadvantage from signing. As global problems threaten to run out of control, it is surely worth a try.

Global problems do indeed require global solutions. It will be wonderful if those are introduced in the immediate future. But if that does not happen it will be wonderful to know that the Simultaneous Policy approach has your support as a parallel strategy.

March 7, 2009

The Amazon rainforest is wobbling on a climate change tipping point

On 28 February 2007 I heard Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute speak on his proposal for addressing climate change: Contraction and Convergence.

He spoke of climate change tripping points, citing in particular the risk that the Amazon rain forest could dry out to such an extent that it becomes a net producer of carbon dioxide. In other words, it would change from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. He said that an increase in forest fires (not at all common in a rain forest) had already been noticed.

Well there is a report yesterday that during a drought in 2005 the Amazon was a significant producer of carbon dioxide due to tree death. There is a report here:

The unusual and severe Amazon drought in 2005 led to the region emitting an extra five billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This exceeds the annual emissions of Europe and Japan combined, according to new research published today.
---extract ends

Previously I have written here about efforts to protect the Amazon from deforestation. The Brazilian government has set up an Amazon fund to this end. If the Simultaneous Policy (or other means of forming global policies) bring in polluter-pays taxes, some of these could go to such a fund. See:

But we should be very afraid because it was not deforestation as such that caused the Amazon to be a carbon source in 2005, it was climate change itself. As the climate changes, weather patterns become unstable, leading to droughts and flooding, unprecedented heat waves and cold snaps. The destruction of trees that took decades, if not centuries, to develop is not something that can easily be reversed. More carbon dioxide is released and there are less trees to absorb it. Weather becomes more extreme, and so on in a positive feedback cycle that could run away.

The 100 months campaign has suggested there is a very narrow and closing window for the necessary action: it has now closed to 93 months. Certainly this is a campaign strategy designed to galvanize action, nobody can be so precise. But this research suggests the tipping point on which the Amazon forest pivots is already starting to wobble.

NOTE: I recorded Aubrey Meyer and other speakers at the event in 2007 and subsequently played his talk at a virtual meeting in Second Life (international meetings without air travel), see:

You can hear the talk on the rolling programme of Second Life Simultaneous Policy Adopters' Group (SL-SPAG) radio at:

March 3, 2009

Gordon Brown calls on Obama to join a global crack down on tax havens

Once again Gordon Brown is calling for synchronised action by governments to address a global problem, this time on tax havens.

According to a report in The Guardian today, he is seeking support from the US and other G20 countries and suggesting that countries that do not cooperate should be sanctioned:

Gordon Brown has said he hopes the G20 summit in London will agree to name and shame those countries that refuse to end banking secrecy, warning that their behaviour endangers the stability of the world economy.

The suggestion is countries will be put on a blacklist: "Countries on the list are put at a disadvantage in terms of mutual cooperation and recognition of jurisdictions."

There could be a stronger enforcement regime. In my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority, I propose that governments that seek to gain competitive advantage by allowing their corporations to abuse human rights and the environment anywhere in the world could have punitive sanctions levied upon them. Such an approach has worked to enforce World Trade Organisation agreements. See:

With the Simultaneous Policy process, proposals are developed transparently and democratically, unlike the way global policies are usually developed. Back room (or Green room) deals, economic blackmail and other forms of threats are used by the powerful to force through their agenda.

No proposals on tax havens have been put forward for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy as yet. Whether those of Gordon Brown are the best on offer is debatable, and should be debated. Other proposals are being put forward by the Tax Justice network. See:

Anyone who has signed up as an Simultaneous Policy Adopter can put forward proposals. Simply go to the 'policy' section of:

Adopters call on politicians to pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments when all, or sufficient, have made the same pledge. Adopters call on their preferred party to sign the pledge, or if they do not have one, all parties to do so, giving a preference to any (within reason) that does so.

Gordon Brown is right to say that global problems need global solutions. But in a globalised world, democratic involvement in developing those global solutions is required. That is what the Simultaneous Policy aims to provide.

February 22, 2009

Gordon Brown calls for global regulation, but what about democracy and transparency?

The logic of the Simultaneous Policy approach to addressing global problems - at least the Simultaneous part of it, if not the democracy and transparency - becomes ever more prominent during the current global financial crisis.

Gordon Brown, writing in today's Guardian, states:

"All markets and all jurisdictions that want to benefit from the global economy should play by the global rules. Institutions with global reach should be regulated in a global way, not by a patchwork of national regulators."

I agree, to a point. In my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority (which is conceived more to end human rights and environmental abuses than regulate financial markets), I suggest that the first port of call should be the national juridsticion, particularly of the home country of the firm. If home countries refuse to act, because they gain income and tax revenue from the business, and the country were the abuse takes place does not act, perhaps fearing disinvestment, then there should be recourse to an international institution. My suggestion is the World TNC Regulatory Authority, which can present a case to a revamped International Criminal Court for sanctions on the corporation and, perhaps, the home government that profited from turning a blind eye. For more on this proposal click on the tag link in the side panel.

Mr. Brown vision at present seems to be restricted to financial systems, where the logic for some form of global regulation arises from the cross-border nature of the business, rather than the simple power of the companies to play fast and loose with their human rights obligations and face down governments who try to hold them to account.

But Mr. Brown also makes a telling comment in his article. One which places too much faith in current systems of corporate governance. He states: "Banks must act in the long-term interests of their shareholders and therefore of the economy as a whole, not in the short-term interests of bankers."

This is really an non-sequeter. Benefits for shareholders may not be the same as benefits for the economy. For example, shareholders will benefit if a bank uses every tax dodge it can think of to maximise profits and lobbies, through fair means or foul, to stymie efforts for effective regulation.

More broadly, shareholders may benefit from corporations abusing human rights and the environment. I've had the shocking experience of sitting in a Nestle shareholder meeting when shareholders have booed and hissed anyone who has the affrontery to keep them from their free junk food samples by raising concerns about pushing of baby milk, exploitation of coffee and cocoa farmers, depletion of water reserves or trade union busting. See:

Shareholders serving their own interests does not 'therefore' benefit the rest of us, as Mr. Brown suggests.

But he is right in suggesting global problems need global solutions. Those solutions should be the subject of democratic scrutiny. That is the aim of the Simultaneous Policy. Perhaps Mr. Brown should take a look.

February 10, 2009

World TNC Regulatory Authority article in Jus Semper newsletter (English and Spanish)

During the annual voting on policies for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy last year, I was fortunate to make contact with the Jus Semper Global Alliance for wage equality and was invited to submit an article for their newsletter on my policy proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority.

This appears in the new Jus Semper newsletter, Winter 2009, which is available at:

Many thanks to the editor, Álvaro de Regil Castilla, for arranging this and the translation of the article into Spanish.

I strongly believe that it is through discussing and sharing the real changes that the Simultaneous Policy can bring that we will reach more people and involve them in the campaign. The World TNC Regulatory Authority gained good support in the last voting round, being the second-best supported policy and to continue to do well, it will need ever greater support, so promoting policies is a two way street: promoting policies brings people to the Simpol campaign and helps to grow support for this approach; at the same time, individual Adopters can rally future voters for their proposals.

In this case, those interested in promoting the World TNC Regulatory Authority have a valuable resource to use in their campaigning, which is being added to my blog. Of course, Jus Semper also benefits through having their wage equality proposals promoted to a wider audience at the same time. Perhaps a member of that campaign will put them forward for inclusion in Simpol in time for the next voting round and encourage Jus Semper supporters to sign up as Adopters to vote for them.

The problems the world faces seem ever more pressing, so the more we can focus on solutions and the role Simpol can play in making them reality, the faster we will make progress.

After reading the article, feel free to leave comments on the World TNC Regulatory Authority in Simpol’s discussion forum at:

January 19, 2009

President Obama urged to use carbon tax, not carbon trading, to address climate change

As the era of President Obama dawns, the top climate change scientist in the US has warned he has to take decisive action in his first term.

As I have suggested here before, the 'carbon trading' approach pushed by Europe is having little effect. For example, it is far cheaper to pay the Congo not to cut down trees than to invest in carbon capture development for power stations. The net result being that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise. See:

Here's what caught my eye in the Guardian report of the comments from Jim Hansen, described as "Nasa scientist and leading climate expert":

Only the US now had the political muscle to lead the world and halt the rise, Hansen said. Having refused to recognise that global warming posed any risk at all over the past eight years, the US now had to take a lead as the world's greatest carbon emitter and the planet's largest economy. Cap-and-trade schemes, in which emission permits are bought and sold, have failed, he said, and must now be replaced by a carbon tax that will imposed on all producers of fossil fuels.

The advantage of a carbon tax is that it enables policy makers to set a price for producing greenhouse gases that will make reducing emissions economically viable. With market-derived prices for licences for the right to pollute, it is proving to be more economic to buy the licences rather than reduce emissions. Though it seems to me it would be better to levy this on carbon emitters, rather than the producers of fossil fuels. That will drive efficiencies in use of fossil fuels as well as switching to other sources of energy. It may, however, be harder and more controversial to measure.

Another advantage of a tax on fossil fuels or the greenhouse gases they produce is tax income can be used directly for investing in sustainable energy, carbon capture and ameliorating the effects of climate change.

A third advantage is that carbon taxes, to a greater or lesser degree, could be used to offset other taxes. For example, green goods could be zero rated for sales tax, providing an added incentive for consumers to select them - and, incidentally, helping the economy out of recession as society is restructured to be low carbon.

These are the type of practical, national policy steps that could be taken within the framework of global commitments to contract total emissions, while converging the right each person on the planet has to produce greenhouse cases to be equitable. This 'contraction and convergence' approach is the best-supported proposal for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy's annual voting yet again. See:

January 9, 2009

Quantitative easing, monetary reform and green credit

In the current financial crisis it has been proposed that the Bank of England print money to lubricate the economy. This is referred to as 'quantitative easing'. This proposal has received a lot of criticism, dubbed in the press as 'helicopter money' with pictures of bankers throwing money for people to spend to avoid recession. The allegation is such action would devalue the pound, with Zimbabwe's currency collapse and hyperinflation cited as a cautionary tale.

But, as I have raised here, monetary reformers propose something very much like this. They point out that new money, required as the economy expands, is currently created by commercial banks at a profit as interest-bearing loans. They propose that central banks take over the role and provide the money to governments to spend into circulation through investment in capital projects or by funding tax cuts.

Monetary reform proposals didn't do well enough in the last annual vote to stay in the process - I think due to the apparent contradiction between the claim that commercial banks create money out of nothing and credit drying up. See:

I've been looking for those who know more about this subject than I do to explain more about quantitative easing and how it links with monetary reform proposals. So I was very pleased to receive the following email from Barbara Panvel and links from Sabine McNeill of the Green Credit campaign, which I am off to explore.

I hope that the monetary reform proposals come back stronger and clearer. Anyone interested in working up a proposal can do so in the 'work in progress' of Simpol's online forum. See:

---Email from Barbara

Will the opportunity offered by the current dialogue about ‘quantitative easing’ - a term first noticed by me a couple of months ago - be taken by people working on the Green New Deal?

The definition of quantitative easing given by those with a vested interest in opposing such measures is ‘printing money’ and warnings are given citing the example of Zimbabwe.

Philip Stephens, associate editor of the Financial Times, does not agree, describing printing money as ‘the new prudence’ now that the Washington consensus has been fractured.

However, printing and distributing banknotes – once suggested by Milton Friedman and the Fed's chairman, Ben Bernanke - is not on the agenda of most monetary reformers.

MP Austin Mitchell has for years consistently and constructively proposed to spend fiat money, issued electronically, into circulation in a focussed way, meeting unfulfilled public needs such as improving transport, education and health provision – and the range of measures advocated in the Green New Deal.

In November 07, his EDM 265 called for a policy of using publicly-created money to finance carbon neutral measures and conversions which could be adopted to create additional economic growth and recommended the Treasury to use its powers to create non-interest bearing money to fund activities to combat climate change.

The real issue is not one of bank-notes versus virtual money but of the uses to additional ‘liquidity’ could be put: as Andrew Lydon once pointed out, money issued in this way could be used for good or ill.

To date, Alistair Darling has not ruled out quantitative easing, so I hope that readers will press for the funds released to be used in the interests of the ‘real’ economy and the environment - and not to give further subsidies to the arms trade or to build incinerators and nuclear power stations.

---email ends

---Links provided by Sabine McNeill

Money Supply or Public Credit Petition
Parliamentary Scrutiny via the Treasury Select Committee.

Money as Debt also known as Credit

Green Credit for Green Purposes
our submission to the Committee’s Inquiry into the Stern Report

Green Credit campaign

In the Spirit of the Forum for Stable Currencies

Forum for Stable Currencies

Expanding Dr. Yunus' Sphere of Influence