Tag Archives: climate change

New SLF publication on the European carbon market

As Brexit continues to hog the spotlight in the British media, there are still important issues being discussed and votes taking place in the European Parliament that Liberals everywhere should care about.

On the 15th February 2017, MEPs voted on a package of regulations intended to strengthen the proposed reforms to the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and added their own amendments.

Tellingly, the vote was welcomed by a number of high-emissions sectors as well as the European Commission but heavily criticised by a number of NGOs and advocates of carbon market reform, with Climate Action Network, for example, describing the compromise as a betrayal of the spirit of the Paris Climate Agreement. Next week (on Tuesday 28th Feb) EU environment ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss how EU member states will respond to the vote.

The environment and its stewardship have long been and remain part of the DNA of Liberals everywhere.  As part of its series of publications that challenge and progress thinking in a number of policy areas, the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) is pleased to announce the publication this week of “The European carbon market isn’t working – and social liberals should be worried”  by SLF Council Member Edward Robinson

The article looks at the history of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), analyses why it has not been working in the way it was intended, and looks at possible reforms to the system that would make it more effective at stimulating carbon price inflation and driving the uptake of clean technologies.

As Edward says:

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WATCH: Tim Farron speech: How a clean energy revolution means Britain can lead the world

This week, Tim Farron gave a speech on clean energy and its potential to boost Britain’s economy.

Watch it here. The text is under the cut.

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Why politicians can’t solve climate change

Now, I don’t want to launch into a political rant but it often appears that politicians are only concerned with winning the popular support of the electorate. They avoid confronting the difficult issues and students of BBC sitcoms know that the words most likely to strike fear into the heart of Jim Hacker MP, were: ” … a very brave decision minister.”

In some ways, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It broadly supports continuity and stability, avoiding the potential calamity of politicians who pursue their own passing whims with little regard to the hopes and aspirations of the voting public. However, effective democracy does presume that people understand the implications of the policies that their governments pursue. A successful society needs an electorate that is informed, critical and motivated to participate in the political process.

The political process works less well when a country is led by popularist politicians offering sound-bite policies to an electorate that is poorly informed. And no, this is not a rant about Brexit or political developments in America. This is a warning that all democracies have this flaw and we ignore it at our peril.

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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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