Thank you for stepping up to do your bit for the planet.
As a friend of the earth, you and I are working together to change the world for good, creating a cleaner, healthier, fairer world for everyone.
Everything we achieve relies on people like you.
Over the coming months we’ll be in touch most weeks to tell you how you can make a difference – keeping dirty fossil fuels in the ground, protecting bees and combatting climate change. The Earth needs us to stand together more than ever. We need it.
I would be so pleased if you choose to fight with me side by side.
Here are some of our wins in 2017.
Highlights of the year
Bee-harming pesticides – could this be the end?
Our bees campaign celebrated big wins in 2017. We want a ban on bee-harming pesticides called neonicotinoids – or neonics – and we’ve seen progress among local authorities, retailers and government.
The year got off to a good start as we celebrated Cornwall council’s decision to restrict neonic use in its parks, highways and other public land. Devon, Dorset and Somerset have also committed. Great news for the South West and huge thanks to our local groups and campaigners in their communities.
In May, after campaigning by our colleagues and supporters, B&Q became the first of the UK’s big 10 garden centres to commit to stop using neonics. And in November Homebase became the 10th: days after we’d handed over an 18,000-strong petition, the company said that by the end of 2018 it would stop using bee-harming pesticides on garden plants and in other garden products.
Also this year the UK government rejected the National Farmers’ Union’s latest request to lift restrictions on neonics. Thousands of our supporters emailed their MPs to help bring about this win.
And in the biggest victory of all, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced in November that the government now backs tougher restrictions on neonics.
We’ll be keeping up the pressure in 2018 to help our precious polinators.
Coal, oil and gas: cutting off investment
We’re part of a growing global alliance persuading people to divest from fossil fuels – in other words, move their investments out of coal, oil and gas.
We want to prevent new coal extraction and stop coal being used to generate our electricity. It’s the dirtiest of fossil fuels. So 21 April 2017 was a landmark for Britain – it was the first day since the 1880s that we hadn’t used any coal to produce electricity. The UK now gets more of its electricity from wind power than from coal.
But we’re not resting easy. In June we took part in a public enquiry into a proposed opencast coal mine near beautiful Druridge Bay in Northumberland. We’d spent months focusing media attention on the contradiction between this huge new project and the government’s commitment to phasing out coal.
Our pressure, along with thousands of signatures from local communities and others, persuaded the government to call in the Druridge Bay coal project – the first time this has ever been done for climate reasons. A decision on the project is now the government’s rather than the local council’s. And we’re hoping for good news around March 2018.
Also this year, Barclays Bank announced it will sell its investment in Third Energy, the company that wants to frack in Ryedale, Yorkshire. Barclays had faced increasing pressure from Friends of the Earth and our partners in the divestment movement.
And we had more reason to celebrate when oil company UKOG withdrew plans to drill 4 oil wells under the South Downs National Park. We’d been campaigning against the plans with local residents. Big environmental concerns included the company’s plans to pump chemicals into the wells, potentially endangering drinking water in the area.
Throughout 2017 more organisations have announced they’re moving away from dirty energy investments. Friends of the Earth local groups have played a big part in keeping up the pressure. The list now includes Hackney council – joining the likes of Waltham Forest, Southwark, Haringey and South Yorkshire – as well as over a third of our universities, the TUC, UNISON, and large parts of the Catholic church. Pressure is even growing within parliament to de-carbonise its own pension investments.
Shedding light on air pollution
In late 2016 we launched one of the biggest-ever nationwide citizen science experiments – and revealed the dirty truth about air pollution.
Since then more than 4,000 of you (including schoolchildren) have tested the air quality all around the UK using our unique Clean Air Kit. Many of the results have been alarming.
By uncovering hidden pollution hotspots you’ve helped put Britain’s dirty air firmly on the political agenda. Our National Air Pollution Map and groundbreaking report [pdf] show dirty air is a far wider problem than national and local government suggest.
Now our Clean Air Schools Pack, endorsed by the National Union of Teachers, is helping to educate a generation of children on the dangers of air pollution – and what we can do about it.
In the run-up to the June General Election we produced a 6-point plan for tackling air pollution. It led to dramatically improved commitments from two of the main political parties, including a pledge by Labour to end illegal air pollution by 2018 – in line with Friends of the Earth’s position.
We’ve unmasked diesel as a dirty fuel of the past. By the end of 2017, diesel sales were in an unprecedented decline, with 8 consecutive months of reduced year-on-year sales.
And garages are no longer allowed to advertise the practice of removing vital air pollution filters from cars after we launched a complaint.
These are just some of our victories. We hope that you win join and have more victories together with us for a better world.
Thanks for all your support.