Notes from Green Is The New Black online session 2020/04/01


Hosted by Paula Miquelis


These sessions will be coming out every Wednesday 12pm London time, 7pm SG/HK time. Continuing the discussion about environmentalism. But there will also be sessions about wellness, an alternating weeks.

New “Take Action” page on the website:

Each week celebrate two or three of our members who are social enterprises. This week animal-welfare companies:

- A Billion Veg: an app/website for plant-based dishes and ingredients available to buy near you.

CTA: Download the app and review all the vegan products you have at home. They will donate $1 to charity for every review you post!

- Laces Shoes: Conscious sneakers made with upcycled leather, cork or tencel.

Their CTA: Use the code FIGHT20 before 14/4, for a $20 discount. A portion is donated to fight human trafficking.

Pierre Gilbert

Pierre is a journalist and also worked for the French Ministry of Defence on climate change and security issues. Now chief of ecology column for

Was also consulted by Ubisoft video game company for expert information on climate change.

What is the link between COVID-19 and biodiversity loss?

Destabilising ecosystems and atomising territories is forcing animals into human environments. Deforestation can produce the same result as the Wuhan market, pushing species together, and allowing viruses to cross over.

Deforestation and loss of biodiversity also destabilises predator-prey relationships, resulting in e.g. mosquito populations can grow after deforestation.

What are the main causes of deforestation and destruction of natural habitats?

Much of deforestation is made for cattle, or crops for cattle. Another is palm oil. Another is mega-fires (Australia, Amazonia, California, Russia). Finally unregulated wood poaching.

What can we do?

The IPCC says to meet emissions targets, European countries need to reduce meat consumption by 2/3rds.

We should also switch to an agro-ecology model, change trade agreements e.g. with Brazil, plant biodiverse forests, help developing countries to build strong states, regulations and infrastructure.

With tree planting projects, we must ensure they are biodiverse. Number of trees or carbon absorption is not enough. One monoculture planted forests burned in Portugal.

How does climate change affect disease?

Climate change means changes to the water cycle, more droughts and more floods, harder soil, stagnant water, which assists the development of cholera and mosquitoes.

Melting permafrost may release unknown viruses.

By destroying human infrastructure and supply changes, climate change makes it more difficult to deal with outbreaks.

Climate related migrations facilitate the spread of diseases.

So tackling climate change and health risks go hand in hand.*

How are immune systems affected?

Collapse of biodiversity also happening inside the human body. Our body contains 2 kilos of microbes, billions or organisms.

Over the last 40 years, there has been a dramatic decrease in intestinal biodiversity, because of the impoverishment of the food, which no longer feeds out microbe diversity. Also our food is full of antibiotics which kill our microbe biota. Half of the world’s antibiotics come from animal farming, although it is restricted in Europe.

Endocrine disruptors.

How about air pollution?

Study in Bologna and Milano. Why was Lombardy hit so hard by coronavirus? Lombardy has the highest level of fine particles in Europe, due to industry and transport.

The virus _may_ attach to fine paticles, allowing it to stay in the air for longer.

Also we know that air pollution weakens populations.

Air pollution is responsible for 9 million premature deaths in the world each year.

Is pharmaceutical industry harming or helping?

It’s a complicated question. A resilient body is not a profitable body.

We could be better prepared for viral and bacterial outbreaks, but research has been concentrated on areas of profit.

It’s very important to fund research on new antibiotics.

Now 50% of active ingredients needed for medicines are manufactured outside of Europe (mainly in the east) [so if supply chains are disrupted, medicines cannot be manufactured so easily].

Lobbyists for pharmecutical companies are very active in the EU Commission and French Parliament. We really need to fight them [somehow!].


Fight on all fronts. Same causes, big industry. One solution: a Green New Deal (Sanders, ?? Research Institute). What is missing is the political will.

Regarding climate, pressure is coming from campaigners marching, awareness is rising (thanks in part to national disasters).

Q and A

How can people working in the pharmaceutical industry continue to do so without taking responsibility?

Psychology. Everyone denies resposibility, always the responsibility of someone higher up [even the CEOs hands are tied by shareholders and the competitive market].

[Joey: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Change the game, and the players will change. E.g. one change could be to make individuals accountable, another could be democratisation of decision making in companies.]

Are there any plans for the EU or WHO to better arrange better lobby-free laws in 2020?

UN multilateralism has been growing weaker over the last year [countries separating from each other, visibly US and UK]

But the UN and WHO are very precious institutions. The WHO has been warning about the possibility of a pandemic, but governments did not respond. We should focus on our own governments first.

Pierre also thinks the EU is weakened at the moment.

How can we switch to a more localised economy without acknowledging protectionism and nationalism?

Protectionism is not nationalism, it used to be a left proposition.

Fruit and veg coming cheaper from globalisation. But only because foreign workers are paid half as much.

Sometimes protectionism is good for the people on both sides. Encourages local resilience and diversity of economy.

How could we better prepare for the next pandemic, so we don’t just lockdown again?

Localise supply channels, to reduce external dependency and have more resilience.

Encourage biodiversity, to help protect ecology. Localise energy production (rely less on oil imports).

[Although some economic interdependence is good for global peace!]

Don’t buy from Amazon! (One job created in Amazon means two jobs destroyed in smaller businesses.)

When confinement ends, how to convince people to consume less, and companies to produce less?

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* [Joey: Tackling climate change and health risks and capitalism go hand in hand in hand!]

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My random thoughts:

When people have more free time, do they consume more or consume less?

What really drives consumption? I always thought it was advertising! (And need. But in that case it is justified.)

We can also think about better forms of consumption, involving more sharing of items in the community, and more repair instead of replace. (Encouraging repair could create jobs.)

But how to bring about cultural change? Could we gamify anti-consumption? Have people bragging about how little they bought last month?!


If we plant trees and burn wood, that could be a sustainable (carbon-neutral) way to generate energy.

A concern with that is air pollution, but if we could effectively capture the smoke, that could become a form of carbon sequestration (carbon-negative).

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