Tag Archives: environment

Lib Dems have a strong message on energy and climate change, but there are still unanswered questions

Reading through our manifesto last week, I was pleased to see us champion the UK’s green credentials with a strong set of energy and climate policies.

While the environment isn’t a hot topic in this year’s campaign, it’s good to see Tim writing in Business Green about the need to change Britain’s future and clean up sectors like power, heat and transport.

Our manifesto will see the UK use renewables to generate up to 60 per cent of electricity by 2030; invest in solutions like energy storage, carbon capture and storage, and grid infrastructure; and pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set new targets on cutting emissions.

This is a fantastic platform, and we should be proud of our record on supporting clean energy and protecting the environment.

However, I’d argue there are some areas in which we need to develop our approach:

1) Lib Dems have committed to staying a part of EURATOM (vital for our nuclear industry), but what about the EU’s internal energy market, or the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)?

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder on World Wildlife Day

 

I’m afraid we didn’t mark World Wildlife Day on LDV last Friday. Fortunately our MEP Catherine Bearder did in an engaging post covering the top wildlife wins and losses in the past year.

She writes:

2016 was a historic year in the global fight against wildlife crime. From the ivory bans to the new CITES protection for over 500 species – there is a lot we can be proud of.

But we would be kidding ourselves if we think the work here is done. Wildlife trafficking is still a top four global criminal activity and the money streams gained from it are often used to fund other illegal operations like arms trafficking and even terrorism.

Wildlife by its nature is unsupervised and therefore vulnerable to the criminal gangs who exploit it for massive profit.

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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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In pictures: Kate Parminter’s Burntwood Lecture on Brexit and the environment

Last month, Liberal Democrat peer Kate Parminter allowed us to publish her Burntwood Lecture to the Institution of Environmental Sciences in which she talked about the challenges Brexit poses to the environment.

Now the Institution has kindly said that we can publish some of their  photographs of the event.

Credit: Institution of Environmental Sciences

 

Credit: Institution of Environmental Sciences

During her lecture, Kate talked about incorporating legislation into UK law, establishing systems for compliance and enforcement, joining EU frameworks and improving on EU policy. She concluded:

It should be clear that achieving this aim – this vision of a government and society and economy fully committed to environmental goals – will require an immense amount of persuasion. There will be many voices in favour of the first vision I set out – of a deregulated cheap-labour economy which devalues nature and despoils the environment – though of course they wouldn’t describe it that way – and they need countering with argument and facts and passion.

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A longer read for the weekend: Baroness Kate Parminter’s Burntwood Lecture on Brexit and the Environment

This week Liberal Democrat peer Kate Parminter became only the third woman (after Sara Parkin (1997) and Professor Julia Slingo (2013) to deliver the prestigious Burntwood Lecture to the Institution of Environmental Sciences.. She spoke of the challenges facing the environment from Brexit in a 45 minute lecture entitled “Separation Anxiety.” Read her full lecture below:

It’s an honour to have been asked to present the Burntwood Lecture this year, and to follow in the footsteps of such an illustrious parade of former speakers. Many of your previous guests have been eminent scientists or fearless campaigners; I stand here tonight to deliver this lecture (pause) as a politician. That’s not inappropriate, however: Lord Burntwood, the IES’ first Chairman, whose name the lecture commemorates, was himself a member of parliament and a minister in Clement Attlee’s Labour government. But more importantly, it’s not inappropriate because the great challenge of our time, the subject on which I’ve been asked to speak, is itself primarily political: Brexit.

How the United Kingdom manages its withdrawal from the European Union will shape this country’s future for decades. In the absence of any clarity from the government over what it sees as the final destination of this process, I hope I can enlist everyone here in helping me to draw up the broad approach the UK should adopt in dealing with environmental policy post-Brexit. I’m going to tell you what I think, and I hope you’ll respond at the end with thoughts of your own.

There are two competing visions for the future of the UK outside the EU. One – hinted at by some of the supporters of the Leave side during the referendum, but never fully articulated – is of a country free of the kind of burdensome regulations they liked to pretend emanated from Brussels; a fleet-footed, buccaneering, free-trading nation spotting openings in the global marketplace and exploiting them ruthlessly. This vision implies a deregulated low-cost low-tax low-value economy – with clear implications for environmental policy. In May this year, for example, George Eustice, the farming minister, attacked – quotes – ‘spirit-crushing’ EU directives, including, explicitly, the birds and habitats directives – and went on to criticise the use of the precautionary principle as the basis of EU legislation, a criticism echoed by many of his colleagues. You may remember that this kind of approach echoes Conservative ministers’ attempts, during the coalition government, to water down or scrap environmental regulations through such initiatives as the Red Tape Challenge and the balance of competences review – attempts which, happily, Liberal Democrat ministers ensured came to nothing.

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The Green Agenda: Lib Dems in Business dinner

The environment was our theme at the Liberal Democrats in Business dinner in Oxford last night (after a session of polling-day phone banking for Sarah Olney!).

We were pleased to welcome as speakers Baroness Kate Parminter, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader in the Lords and Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Dr Imad Ahmed of the Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University.

Dr Ahmed spoke of recent research into nano-particles in air pollution and how they affect our brains. The study, and how air pollution is a possible cause of Alzheimer’s, has been reported here in the UK and around the world.

Just in the news today is reporting of a move by major cities to ban diesel vehicles. This is due to their production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxide (NOx). Dr Ahmed, in his talk, showed pictures of the effect of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on the brain.

The link between our health and the air we breathe was also made by Kate Parminter. Baroness Parminter spoke to us on environmental policy and what we should be doing now.

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The disruption of green tech

Finally the report from The Committee of Climate Change on fracking has been released and produced some interesting results, raising concerns of the effect of fracking on the UKs climate change targets.

Shale gas production of the UK is not going to be the answer to our energy needs when it comes to meeting our climate change targets.  It is now obvious the UK has missed the boat on this ‘payday’ unless development is done on a huge scale, industrializing vast areas of rural England. The recommended regulations in the report to facilitate the size of expansion needed will never be in place.

The regulations needed to mitigate fugitive emissions are also not financially viable, making the cost of fracking even more expensive. There will always be methane leaks, the industry cannot stop it. The industry’s own figures of 2% to 5% expected leakage of methane from exploration, production and the supporting infrastructure needed, will put the UKs climate change targets in jeopardy.

The report states that ‘UK shale gas production must displace imported gas rather than increasing domestic consumption. Allowing unabated consumption above these levels would not be consistent with the decarbonisation required under the Climate Change Act.’  Each alternative has an almost identical climate change footprint and the imports are likely to be cheaper. If the government commits to use domestic fracked gas this will drive up energy prices and eventually hit the poorest families in the pocket!

The report does not consider the ongoing technical issues such waste disposal, water pollution, set back distances, community disruption, seismic concerns, industrialisation, etc. etc. etc! It is time for the government to stop bending over for the gas and oil lobbyists and realise they are backing the wrong horse. 

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSimon McGrath 23rd Jun - 9:28pm
    Thanks for so many supportive comments
  • User AvatarGeorge Kendall 23rd Jun - 9:17pm
    @Andy Cooke Thanks! Do write it anyway. While a fair few read these comments, far more read the articles. And what you have to say...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 23rd Jun - 9:15pm
    Simpson, I think if we have learned any lesson it is that policies from the extreme wing of the Tory Party are not popular in...
  • User AvatarMike S 23rd Jun - 9:12pm
    Ah Ok Holly - fair do's - didn't know that You obviously are an expert here and extremely passionate - just been reading your last...
  • User AvatarHolly Matthies 23rd Jun - 9:00pm
    @Mike Migration Watch are nasty islamophobes and xenophobes. They're not a good source for anyone who cares about immigrants.
  • User Avatarpaul barker 23rd Jun - 8:50pm
    The reason The Coalition was so bad for us was that we tried to make the transition from "Nice" Protest Party to Government in one...
Sat 1st Jul 2017