Tag Archives: environment

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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WATCH: Alex Cole Hamilton on the SNP’s “smog and mirrors” and singing the recycling song

This week, Edinburgh Western and Lothian list candidate took part in a Scotland 2016 debate on energy and the environment. After his success at getting in John Swinney’s face on tax, expectations were high, and he didn’t disappoint.

Here are some of his highlights:

Pointing out that the SNP consistently miss its climate change targets while they cut the budget for measures to tackle climate change.

“There is no question in the climate change challenge which shows that tracking is part of the solution”

Describing SNP MInister Fergus Ewing’s justification of a planned cut to Air Passenger Duty as a “smog and mirrors approach”

Outlining the Liberal Democrat plan to make sure houses are energy efficient and warm.

Explaining how good habits on recycling are being embedded in today’s children – and singing the song his 4 year old sings every day at nursery. Whether that latter part was entirely necessary, I’ll leave to your judgement.

You can watch Alex’s highlights below:

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Failed flooding policy finds a scapegoat

Whenever a government loses control of the situation there has to be a scapegoat, and on the issue of flooding it’s not Sir Philip Dilley the Environment Agency chairman who resigned on Monday.  After his PR blunder of refusing to interrupt his holiday to visit the flooded areas he gave up his £100k position on the grounds that what had started out as a part-time non-executive post was now looking suspiciously like actual work. No, this winter’s devastating floods we are asked to believe, weren’t so much the result of government failings, but of an over concern for the protection of wildlife! “If we have to choose between people and wildlife, we will always, of course, choose people,” Sir James Bevan Chief Exec of the Environment Agency told the BBC at the turn of the year.

Like me, you may have been puzzled by this message and couldn’t quite see its relevance to what was happening across the North on that day, and the plot thickened to Bisto consistency a few days later when Liz Truss announced in a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference that Defra will be allowing farmers to dredge ‘ditches’ without seeking permission from the Environment Agency because they ‘know their land best’. Her own experts say that dredging is useful for improving navigation and land drainage, but has little value in flood prevention. So again, what was going on?

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Blue foxes, red greens and a gold star

Boxing Day saw the Countryside Alliance wrong footed. The Countryside Alliance for those not in the know is an organisation that masquerades as the champion of rural life but is in fact merely the mouthpiece for blood sports such as fox hunting and grouse shooting. It is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing and on Boxing Day like many others it was caught out by the weather.

Boxing Day is fox hunting’s showpiece day and the Countryside Alliance went wild on Twitter to proclaim that a quarter of a million fox hunters and their supporters had taken to town squares and village greens across the land to celebrate what they see as the impending and inevitable demise of the Hunting Act. With Christmas card scenes of scarlet clad gents and gentesses on horseback trotting ceremoniously in a sea of hounds and polished hunting horns heralding a return to Merry England we were treated to an endless stream of romantic snaps.

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Climate change dangers show why Liberal Democrats are needed in government

Next week the fate of the world is going to be decided. That is a statement that we have rarely, if ever, been able to say with any certainty. But the consequences of another year, five years or decade without a global climate change agreement in the form of a legally binding treaty on all major global polluters could see the progress of degradation accelerate to a point where any further action would be mostly damage control. That is the solemn mandate of the Paris Cop21 Climate Conference, co-operate or face consequences, consequences that will be more tangible than ever before.

As global temperature rise being successfully held at 2 degrees Celsius looks more and more improbable, and unprecedented ice-cap melt (like that of Greenland in 2012) continues to stun Arctic communities and swell the global oceans, the level of climate disruption is now undeniably enormous. Even the kind of serious concerted action we all hope for in Paris will not be enough for those who are already set to face the horrors of the degree of environmental disruption we have now made inevitable. The most striking case of all? The chain of Pacific islands that form the state of Kiribati. Climate scientists have suggested that by 2100, or even earlier, rising sea levels will result in the full submersion of the islands.

This will be a decisive moment in human history. At this point our human capacity for destruction will have been fully realised, we will have effectively destroyed an entire nation. Global leaders in Paris who think that at their feet is placed an impossible and sobering task should be reminded of just how sobering a task lies at the feet of Anote Tong, Kiribati’s President, who every year must plan for the future awaiting a people who will lose the very land they call home to the sea, on account of our actions.

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Tim Farron and a wonderful song

This excerpt is from Tim Farron’s main speech to the Bournemouth conference:

Since May, the Government has threatened the human rights act, demonised refugees, penalised working families, abandoned green energy. You know, if ever you doubted the effectiveness of the Liberal Democrats in Government just look at what’s happening without us. In the words of Joni Mitchell

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone “

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