The quicker we can move to a post-oil society, the better for the environment, the global economy and for democracy

I write this from the Green party's spring conference in Cardiff, where events in Libya and throughout the Middle East are providing a deeply worrying backdrop to policy discussions and debates.

Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed an incredible wave of grassroots protest across the Middle East, which has sent shockwaves across the geopolitical landscape. We've seen courageous people rising up against the repressive leaders who have failed to respond to the economic, political and social challenges of the day – and to offer their citizens a more positive future.

And what support or encouragement has our prime minister offered to those bravely struggling for democracy and the rule of law? When I first saw him on TV in Tahrir Square, I genuinely thought for a moment that David Cameron was there to express solidarity with the pro-democracy movement. Then I realised the horrifying reality: he was there in the Middle East, at a time of such violence and chaos, with a delegation of arms traders, to sell more arms.

As well as recognising the importance of an ethical foreign policy, Greens also understand that, deep at the heart of most major conflicts – between countries or within them – is a tug-of-war over primary access to the natural resources which power our global economy.

And we know that, where dire poverty and inequality collides with increasingly scarce resources and ecological instability, the tug-of-war becomes ever more intense – and the consequences for populations ever more severe.

In a fascinating article in the Lebanese Daily Star last week, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development in London, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, highlighted the fact that economic want, environmental crisis and inequality were as crucial as political repression in sparking the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions.

And he is right that just changing governments in those, and other, Middle Eastern countries mired in crisis will not make the economic and ecological problems disappear.

The Arab world accounts for 6.3% of the world's population but only 1.4% of its renewable fresh water. Rapid population growth has demanded a huge expansion in industrialised agriculture, which in turn has driven ever increasing water consumption.

The World Bank has predicted that, over the coming decades, the availability of fresh water in the region will halve. Competition to control water is already playing a key role in regional geopolitical and local ethnic tensions as demand increases.

Add to this the effects of climate change and rising global average temperatures, and you have an environmental and economic crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions.

Thanks to our dangerous dependency on oil, the situation in the Middle East is of paramount concern to national governments and global economic actors as turmoil in Libya and elsewhere escalates.

In the UK, we are in the age of dependency on foreign oil. We currently import 8% of our oil, but by 2020, it's predicted to be 50%. Our economy is already hugely vulnerable to instability. Three out of five last recessions were the result of oil price spikes arising from geopolitical upheavals.

So the news that oil prices have surged to $120 (£75) a barrel as a result of tensions in Libya, with the International Energy Agency warning that surging oil prices could pull the rug out from under global economic recovery, should act as a loud rallying cry for more urgent decarbonisation.

Whether it is via a managed transition or by painful last-minute shock as oil stocks are depleted, the UK will and must decrease its dependence on oil. On a positive note, this could mean a new politics in which foreign policy is no longer about propping up unsavoury regimes to protect oil interests.

What's clear is that the quicker we can move to a post-oil society, the better for the environment, the global economy and for democracy.

Public bodies bill - the coalition at its most dangerous and dishonest

The fierce public debate over the government's proposed forest sell-off not only forced the coalition into its most embarrassing U-turn yet - it also shone a bright light on a particularly insidious piece of this government's legislative agenda: the public bodies bill.

This bill, which is going through the Lords as we speak, essentially gives the government the power to destroy public bodies specifically designed to hold it to account - without even consulting with parliament.

Naturally the coalition has couched this brazen attempt to dodge democracy for its own gain in the langauge of "giving power back to the people" and "increasing the accountability of public services". In tabloid terms, it's a logical continutation of the Tories' "bonfire of the quangos" rhetoric.

In fact, this bill will shrink the level of accountability and allow central government to do whatever it pleases, at mere whim and without debate, to the very bodies put in place to prevent ministers from abusing their power.

In among the complex clauses and schedules, you can find the words which give this government the power – without the agreement of parliament – to scrap the Forestry Commission, the Climate Change Committee, the Environment Agency, Natural England and others.

How are we supposed to hold ministers to account in this "greenest government ever" if all the independent watchdogs which monitor environmental policy have been abolished or disempowered?

Though the government will do all it can to convince you otherwise, the bill is an affront to our democratic processes – with worrying consequences for environmental regulation.

Brighton cycle lanes

There has been much talk in my Brighton Pavilion constituency this week about the decision by Conservative-led Brighton and Hove council to remove our cycle highway - at the cost of £1.1m.

The plans to scrap one of the most effective tools we have to encourage more people to cycle and improve road safety for cyclists make a mockery of the council's transport policy - and threatens progress towards a greener local transport system.

If the council goes ahead with this baffling proposal, perhaps it should hand back the Transport Authority of the Year award given only last year for improvements that have seen cycling in the city increase significantly?

The plans have been rightly met with anger and frustration by local people who value our reputation as a cycling friendly city - and I will be doing what I can to persuade the council to reconsider.