People & Planet's Achievements in 2007
The Best Campaign Award for the Green League
- People & Planet won the Best Campaign award at the British Environment and Media Awards 2007, confirming our position as one of the premier campaigning groups in the country. The award was given for The Green League, which ranked UK universities by environmental performance.
Students protest outside Abbott’s UK headquarters
Image © Sarah Waldron
Hilary Benn at the meeting in Leeds
P&Pers create a real-life version of the new Action card
Image © Mika Minio-Paluello
Swansea P&P ready for Go Green action
At the start of the year the Thai government’s plans to make urgently needed HIV/AIDS drugs affordable was met with attacks from pharmaceutical companies and the US government. Warning that this pressure might deter other countries from putting public health before corporate profits, People & Planet urged the Government to support Thailand. In March student campaigners took part in the Stop AIDS Day of Action, where they met Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, to hand-in 10,000 action cards.
This event was the culmination of a year of relentless lobbying efforts from student campaigners, who have been collecting action cards and persuading MPs to sign EDMs, table parliamentary questions, and write to Ministers in support of the campaign. DFID reported that as well as the 10,000 action cards collected, over 400 MPs had written to the government about the campaign.
In case the government were in any doubt about the importance of the issue, student campaigners joined a Global Day of Action to demand that Abbott Laboratories stop its bullying behaviour and ask the UK to speak out for Thailand’s rights.
Finally, on 22 May, DFID wrote to People & Planet with an explicit statement of support for Thailand’s use of compulsory licensing. People & Planet’s campaigning was instrumental in securing the UK government’s support for Thailand. As a result 8,000 more people in Thailand will now receive life-saving treatment, and the move has also led to a significant drop in drug prices for other developing countries. It is also a hugely important reaffirmation of the right of countries to put their public health needs ahead of corporate profits.
In Fairtrade Fortnight, People & Planet organised a series of coordinated protests at Primark stores across the country to highlight the impact of clothing retailers’ purchasing practices on working conditions in their supply chains and calling on Primark to use its membership of the Ethical Trading Initiative for active change, rather than as a cosmetic exercise.
P&P’s Primark campaign reached the attention of the board of Associated British Foods, (Primark’s parent company). In November 2007 they wrote to People & Planet to say that “as a direct result of [People & Planet’s] suggestion to make a greater public commitment and to show greater transparency” it would be making their ethical trade strategy publicly available.
19 universities and colleges were awarded Fairtrade status, bringing the total to 59.
As part of our Ditch Dirty Development campaign to end the use of development aid for oil projects, P&P students twice met with government ministers to lobby them directly. Around the country, P&P groups met with local MPs, asking them to support the campaign. Many MPs signed an Early Day Motion to support the campaign, and one MP agreed to ask for an Adjournment Debate to raise the issue in Parliament.
Both the major opposition parties published reports supporting our campaign demands to end perverse subsidies for fossil fuel projects, and massively increase support for renewable energy.
In March, P&P co-published a report with PLATFORM, exposing the Royal Bank of Scotland’s massive involvement in the oil and gas industry. At Shared Planet, RBS was added to the targets of the Ditch Dirty Development campaign, and students took part in a highly visual stunt outside a local branch of the bank.
P&P published the Green League, the first ever league table comparing the environmental performance of UK universities. The Green League attracted attention within the sector and without, with more than 50 websites and news stories worldwide covering the story.
P&P groups made good progress in improving the environmental impacts of their own institutions, with improvements to recycling facilities at Birmingham Uni, Essex Uni, SOAS and UCLan, new environmental audits and reports for Coventry and Derby Unis and Imperial College, Roehampton P&P getting dedication to a new building project being carbon neutral, Swansea working towards ISO 14001 (an environmental management standard), and Manchester Metropolitan P&P convincing their university to appoint an environmental manager.
P&P extended the Go Green campaign to include schools, sixth forms and FE colleges. The new materials focus on students conducting carbon audits of their institutions, and ties in with the government’s National Framework for Sustainable Schools by focusing on specific areas for carbon reductions.