Tag Archives: climate change

Leaving the EU hampers progress on climate change

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that those of us blessed with the safety and prosperity of life in the developed world have a moral duty to support those who are in need and less fortunate. So, for the past ten years I’ve been determined to do all I can to support the biggest issue facing our planet, to fight with others to find a pragmatic, achievable response to the problems of climate change and environmental protection.

I’ve often been frustrated at how this issue – the habitability of our planet – has been stuffed down the back of the political sofa, removed from public life, and quashed by contemporary discourse. It’s pained me to witness and learn how the severity of this challenge has been continually undermined by conventional economics…the system which perpetrates the false notion of unlimited growth on a finite planet.

Climate change is the primary driver behind my internationalism. Without working in union to find solutions immediately, we can expect global poverty, food shortages, more extreme weather, civil unrest, and gargantuan levels of refugees as a result. These are the very real risks we face in a rapidly globalised world. Quite simply, we cannot solve such an enormous problem with an isolationist, inward looking attitude. We cannot face this issue without cooperation with our friends and neighbours in the European Union. The EU is perhaps the best hope we have got of sending an example to the rest of the world: profiling a model of hope, collaboration, prosperity, peace and progression.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: The Tories continue to attack the planet

Lynne Featherstone today tries to get the House of Lords to oppose Tory cuts to renewable obligations, which, as she points out in an article for Politics Home, is hardly consistent with the protocol they signed up to in Paris.

I do not have the space to list the full litany of destruction that has been wrought since the election by this government but it includes such worrying measures as privatising the Green Investment Bank, ending support for onshore wind power, weakening the zero carbon homes standard, and reducing the incentives to purchase low-emission cars.

Now to add to that list we have rooftop solar, a cornerstone of the Solar Strategy produced in April 2014. The tariff that has been set for the 1-5MW solar band is much too low to incentivise rooftop deployment in that size range, leaving larger rooftops with essentially no route to market. The large-scale rooftop market is potentially the most significant and cost-effective solar market. This market dominates across Europe and is expected to reach grid parity first, and yet the UK is not taking this market seriously.

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Willie Rennie reaffirms Scottish Lib Dems’ opposition to fracking – despite Conference vote

Last Friday, Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference passed this amendment to a motion on climate change.

After line 21 insert:
“The report of the Independent Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Oil and Gas published in July 2014 which states that “The technology exists to allow the safe extraction of such reserves, subject to robust regulation being in place” and “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock.”

Delete lines 36 to 38 and replace with

“Lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction, granting the potential for Scottish-sourced unconventional gas to supply our important petrochemical industry.”

The original lines 38 and 39 read:

maintaining a complete moratorium on planning permission and licensing for tracking and unconventional gas extraction in Scotland for the next parliamentary term to allow for a full assessment of the risks involved and the long term implications.

We all thought that was that until an email came to Scottish members last night entitled “We need to talk about fracking.”

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Scotland’s choices on fracking

Last week Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference debated lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction.

It was an erudite debate, and I think that it is fair to summarise the argument in favour of lifting the moratorium as follows:

Liberals believe in evidence-based policy making and the scientific method.
The moratorium was put in place to allow an independent expert scientific panel to examine how unconventional oil and gas extraction could work in Scotland.
Just such a panel published a report in July 2014.
The experts say “The technology exists to allow the safe extraction of such reserves, subject to robust regulation being in place” and “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock.”
Therefore the moratorium has served its purpose and should now be lifted. To maintain it, in the face of scientific evidence, would be a cynical politically-motivated move.

However, it is worth remembering that the 2014 Independent Report was a large document and the two sentences quoted do not cover its complete findings. In fact the quote “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock” is immediately preceded by “The impact of unconventional oil and gas resources in Scotland on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases is not definitive,” and immediately followed by “…but lifecycle analysis of an unconventional hydrocarbon industry is required to inform the debate, and provide a clearer view on the impact of their development.”

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Featherstone: Lib Dems will fight to protect renewables sector

Lynne FEatherstone 2007 Brighton conference by Liberal DemocratsEnergy and Climate Change spokesperson Lynne Featherstone has accused the government (perfectly reasonably) of making “ideological cuts” to the renewables sector. Speaking ahead of a Lords debate on the Energy Bill tomorrow, she said:

Liberal Democrats have made changes to the Government’s Energy Bill in the House of Lords, and will be fighting to protect onshore wind subsidies in the debate.

We will be fighting to keep these changes, which will help protect our renewable energy industry in the face of brutal Conservative cuts.

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Tim Farron: Government should hang its head in shame over fracking in national parks

Tim Farron has reacted to the Commons vote which enabled tracking under national parks in England. His constituency has two national parks.

He said:

The Government today relaxed the rules on fracking around and under National Parks and other protected sites. The Government used a parliamentary wheeze to pass the change with no parliamentary debate.

Last week the Government signed up to a landmark climate change deal and is now abandoning those pledges to create a market for another fossil fuel.

Our National Parks and areas of Scientific Interest are now at risk and the Government should hang its head in shame.”

It is disgraceful that the government are ploughing ahead with fracking at the same time as scrapping the Carbon Capture and Storage scheme which is important for mitigating against climate change.

He was on Radio 4’s PM programme this evening. You can listen here at around 8.35 minutes in.

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Farron calls for flood protection for small businesses and much more in Commons speech

Tim Farron has rightly been preoccupied with helping his constituents with the aftermath of the terrible flooding which has hit his Cumbria constituency. His most recent initiative is to ask the Government to extend the Flood Re scheme, which will give insurance protection to home-owners in areas at risk from flooding, to small businesses from April next year.

He cites 125,000 businesses which have either been refused cover completely or quoted an unaffordable price for insurance.

Tim said:

As devastating as the floods have been for home owners here in Cumbria, it has been equally catastrophic for the small businesses which are the backbone of our local economy.

With the impact of climate change this isn’t going to be the last time communities are hit by flooding and it will become more and more difficult for small businesses to get affordable insurance.

The Government needs to get serious about the situation we are in and extend the Flood Re scheme to small businesses, before even more see their businesses devastated by the financial cost of flooding.

Tim won praise from the Federation of Small Businesses yesterday for making the point that Cumbria’s businesses were open and looking for custom:

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