Tag Archives: featured

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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Energetic new approaches to stimulating Green Growth in West Midlands

I was delighted to attend a well attended Energy Capital Conference at University of Birmingham recently as part of my campaign for the election of the West Midlands Metro Mayor.

Through work I did at Birmingham City University I got involved with manufacturers first of electric vehicles and then driverless cars. It involved building collaborations and different business models required to lift us into a different future that we can hardly imagine at the moment, a future that’s clean, green and a pleasure to live in.

I see this area as an area we can ‘own’ and take leadership. The Mayor’s role for me is about building on our transport and energy credentials. The link between energy generation and connectivity has never been more vital. The two go hand-in-hand and we need to own and develop these in tandem.

As one of my colleagues has observed:

Electronics in a typical family car account for more than 50% of its value. There are no fewer than 100 microprocessors in the average car today, around 15 million lines of code running a luxury car. There are more sensors and computing power in a midsize car than the Apollo space craft. Additional electronic systems are being introduced with the development of electric and hybrid vehicles, such as battery management, electric motor drives and energy recovery systems.

We have a real chance to lead in production of electric vehicles, in driverless vehicles, in local energy, battery power and renewables production. Worldwide over 1.2m EVs were sold last year however, international climate targets anticipate 20m EVs by 2020 and 100m by 2030.

The West Midlands needs to ensure we have our share of this market. Jaguar Land Rover will be investing £650m in EVs and have been looking for government to invest £450m in infrastructure. It could mean as many as 100k new jobs directly and through the supply chain.

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Committee Reports: Federal People Development Committee – 21 February 2017

Tuesday night saw the inaugural meeting of the Party’s new Federal People Development Committee. This group oversees the Party’s work in the areas of Diversity, Membership and Training.

The committee was established by the Party’s Governance Review, with the idea being that the work in these three areas has a lot of overlap and would benefit from co-ordination.

This first meeting was mostly about us getting set up as a committee, electing our various Officers and representatives. To that end:

  • I was elected as Chair of the committee
  • Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett was elected as the Chair of the Diversity Sub-Committee
  • Sarah Green was elected as Chair of the Training Sub-Committee
  • Claire Halliwell was elected as Chair of the Membership Sub-Committee
  • Prue Bray was elected to serve as our Committee Secretary
  • Steve Jolly was elected as our Committee’s representative on the Federal Conference Committee

We discussed our future meeting dates and agreed that the four meetings the constitution sets as the minimum did not feel enough for a new committee with such a large remit.

We decided to hold an extra meeting before May, focusing on the committee’s strategic purpose, to explore how we could work as a committee, scope the different projects and ideas that committee members have and explore possible avenues of work. We felt it was important to add in this earlier meeting, since waiting until May to decide what to do felt too late to us. We were very conscious that the big membership surges happened in the summer months, meaning that those members will come up for renewal (or lapse) this summer, so we need to have engaged and activated them before that time arrives.

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P-1: Deep breath

Well after a few weeks, numerous days, endless hours and given my tiredness, countless minutes – polling day is about to commence. And yes, we have reached that point. ‘No more leaflets’ shout the notices on the doors. Some of the notices scream ‘NO MORE LEAFLETS’, some of the house don’t want UKIP leaflets specifically and some of the residents are quite articulate in their resistance. The most receptive and consistent in welcoming the avalanche of the leaflets have been the recycling boxes and bins.

What has been striking and fellow Liberal Democrats will appreciate this – has been the warmth of reception that we have had. Without a doubt the candidate who has emerged as kind, honest, respected and yes distinctive has been Dr Zulfiqar Ali.

I have worked with many many candidates and I can confidently say that you can be proud of the work, standing and respect of Dr Zulfiqar Ali. Zulfi has been beset by media and unlike virtually all of the other candidates he has not been on the run – he has been calm and accessible.

So we clear the office, bundle the good morning leaflets and prepare for a full-on count where no party really knows what will happen. Can I on behalf of the team here, and perhaps on your behalf, thank Dr Zulfiqar Ali, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central.

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Towards a world free of nuclear weapons

At Spring Conference in York, Liberal Democrats will debate a new policy paper, Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons. 

This is an important debate for Liberal Democrats, because we understand all too well the catastrophic consequences of detonating nuclear weapons. The ethical questions they raise go to the heart of our party’s values: we believe that any nuclear war is morally unacceptable and must never be fought. We appreciate that as a founding signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the UK has a legal responsibility to reinvigorate international nuclear disarmament initiatives. And we have always recognised the Government’s duty to protect the British people from attack and to play a full part in protecting the UK’s NATO allies.

We are reviewing our nuclear weapons policies because the international security situation has changed, and not for the better, since 2013 when they were last updated. With Russia’s growing military adventurism, increased instability in the Middle East and a changing balance of power in Asia, the world is a more dangerous place than it has been for many years. In this challenging environment, strengthening NATO solidarity, military capability, and coherence should be the highest priority for the UK’s defence policy, especially if we leave the EU. The policy paper concludes that this is not the right time to renounce our nuclear weapons. The UK should maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent. 

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Dear Lords – please attach a parachute to the Brexit Bill

This week the House of Lords starts its 5 days of deliberation on the Article 50 Bill. The Brexiteers in Government have basically told them not to muck about with it or else. David Davis has even told them that it’s their patriotic duty to simply vote in favour of it.

Actually, there’s a very strong argument that it is their patriotic duty to put a brake on this Government’s relentless pursuit of the most damaging Brexit possible – Tony Blair’s “Brexit at all costs.” Hard Brexit doesn’t quite capture how relentlessly difficult the lives of many of the poorest people in our society are going to become if the Government gets its way.

It’s actually quite shocking to think that a Bill of this significance should pass through all its parliamentary stages in less than a month. Invoking Article 50 will be the biggest and most major change of direction in decades and it deserves much more careful consideration. It’s not being done in a vacuum. We have Theresa May’s statement of intent to pull us out of the single market and customs union. If that had been on the ballot paper, I doubt Leave would have won their majority. The people did not vote for this and so their consent must be sought.

There is every reason for the Lords to say to the Government something along the lines of: “We will vote for Article 50 to be invoked but only when certain conditions are met.”  One of those conditions,  given that they are unelected, would have to be one which brought the people into the equation – giving them a final say on the terms of Brexit, with an option to Remain which, entirely coincidentally, just happens to be Lib Dem policy. 

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P-4: David Vigar comes to Stoke-on-Trent

When I was growing up in Lincolnshire one of the great ‘urban myths’ in the school ground was that Jimi Hendrix played Spalding. Only recently did it emerge that in fact this was no myth, but a hard solid evidential truth. On Spring Bank Holiday Monday May 29th 1967 he played at the Buld Auction Sheds. Now it is a matter of some legend as to whether people were there or not.

In fact, given the truths emerging in Stoke-on-Trent I am wondering if Paul Nuttall saw Jimi Hendrix in Spalding back then – I better check his website… (joke)

So why is this important? Well in the folklore of Liberal Democrat by-election campaigns I am going to put my neck on the line. In the way that Leeds Central, West Derbyshire and perhaps cruelly given the geography Newcastle Under Lyme were important.

Leeds Central was lost in 1999 by 2,293 votes and felt painfully close
West Derbyshire was lost in 1986 by just 100 votes
And Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 1988 by a mere 799.

Now in all of these instances the Local Party and in fact the entire Liberal Democrat Party has had to go through a process of mourning and claim that they had the badge of honour – “I was at X election.. we nearly won…” and their eyes sink regretfully. Now please help us make sure that Stoke-on-Trent Central is not on that list of regrets.

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