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.

The Brexit campaign was predicated on fear of immigration, spearheaded by Farage, a man who denies that the collective actions of the human race are changing the constitution of our atmosphere. This is a view which effectively dismisses 97% of the world’s scientists.

I am proud to have been part of the Britain Stronger In campaign over the past few months, to be part of a team of folk determined to protect and enhance prosperity, our jobs, and to preserve the desperately-waning notion of internationalism within our shores.

I have been up all night watching the results. I feel broken, beat, emotionally damaged. This morning, this grown man was reduced to tears. I’m passionate about democracy, but I simply cannot accept the severity of this referendum. When the result came in, it felt like a loss of a loved one. The most important issue of our time – tackling climate change – barely featured in the debate over recent months, overshadowed by a campaign bolstered by a false prospectus of lies and deceit, obsessed with immigration and the propagation of division.

This morning I am shocked and appalled. My children are still sleeping soundly in their beds, shielded by the innocence of youth. When they wake, I will look them in the eye and tell them that I love them; in my eyes they will see fear.

This is a dark day for Britain, for the European project, and for the prosperity of our children.

* Jim Hodgson is an environmentalist who joined the Liberal Democrats on 8 May 2015.

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  • Aside from all the speculation, half-truths and lies you present as truth you at least acknowledge that climate policy makes people poorer. Well that’s the problem isn’t it! Folk just don’t want to be as poor as you would like them to be! It clearly isn’t scepticism preventing legislation either since that didn’t prevent the suicidal Climate Change Act which has forced us towards certain blackouts in the coming years: The UK has tougher climate targets than the EU so the main thrust of your argument is fallacious.

    Bernard Levin used to refer to folk like you as ‘single issue fanatics’. You should broaden your perspective by reading those opposing viewpoints and you will find there is a lot of room for compromise. That 97% percent btw is that warming is happening, not that it’s wholly our fault and not that it will get worse just because poorly-performing models said so. 97% of skeptics, including Farage, also agree with the rather benign IPCC warming rate of 0.6 K/century since the well-known ‘little ice age’. Only the now-disproven models predict anything worse and in fact the CO2 sensitivity based on actual observations has been dropping in the scientific literature for some time now as more and more scientists realise they had ignored mother nature too much.

  • Nick Collins 24th Jun '16 - 3:20pm

    Climate change denier, Donald J Trump, speaking from an ecological disaster area known as a golf course, has congratulated the UK on making the right decision. Some might think it was a little crass of him to do so while visiting Scotland; but, hey, he was never one to let such elitist considerations as tact or good manners to inhibit him from saying what he (for want of a better word) “thinks”.

  • David Cooper 24th Jun '16 - 11:42pm

    What has being in or out of the EU to do with progress on climate change? The money given to farmers by the EU via the Common Agricultural Policy does enormous environmental damage. The EU has been responsible for the diesel emissions debacle. The EU is a disaster for climate change.
    The most successful environmental initiative from the EU has been the spiteful cap on vacuum cleaner wattage, drafted by Eurocrats who drive around in gas guzzling Mercedes limousines and who have never touched a vacuum cleaner in their lives.

  • Good lord the neo-puritans want us to feel guilty about playing golf now. What’s next?

  • Nick Collins was referring to this particular Trump-owned golf course, which was built, over the objections of the local council, on top of a formerly protected sand dune habitat.

    What one would like to be next would be demolition of the course and restoration, insofar as possible, of this fragile ecosystem.

  • All – Thanks for reading and for your comments. My responses as follows…

    James G – I struggle to understand your claim about speculation and half-truths, when the majority of the article was a reflection of my emotions as an environmental professional. I also do not understand why the Climate Change Act can rationally be viewed as suicidal. It represents the first, legally binding agreement on climate change of its kind. Many other countries have followed suit as a result of the legislation.

    I also reject the notion that I’ma single issue purist. If you were expecting a thesis on every argument against Brexit you are looking in the wrong place. Lib Dem voice is a platform for publication of short articles and ensuing debate. I unashamedly stand by my conviction that protecting the earth’s life-support systems is worthy of a 500 word article. On modelling, you are entitled to your opinion, but you have the weight of empirical reality weighted against that.

    David Cooper – Good question, I’m more than happy to elaborate. The EU has provided:

    – the energy efficiency directive to help meet the 20% emissions reduction target by 2020
    – The renewable energy directive to support member states in meeting renewables targets
    – Targets for vehicles and emissions reduction from road transport
    – The EU Emissions Trading Scheme
    – The EU Energy Efficiency Directive (transposed into the ESOS Regs in UK law)
    – A scientifically-informed forum for progress on climate change within member states
    – We also negotiated in COP21 as part of Europe, not the UK, resulting in the world’s first international agreement on emissions reduction.

    Those are just the regulations relating to emissions and climate. There are countless others relating to water and air quality and other environmental issues.

    I 100% agree with you about the CAP. But this is a case of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We need to be in Europe to change Europe, hence my sense of loss regarding the referendum.

  • Just one example of several….
    “..we can expect global poverty, food shortages, more extreme weather, civil unrest, and gargantuan levels of refugees as a result…”

    Global poverty has by any measure been reducing. See Dr Hans Roslings work.
    Food yields per acre are still increasing everywhere.
    More extreme weather is a myth. Even the IPCC SREX said that there has been no trends that indicate warming causes bad weather even if the reams of actual data didn’t tell you this. All history books remind us that warmer is better for life on Earth. The question is only what is the cutoff point from beneficial warming to harmful warming and that is the purest guesswork.
    There has been no civil unrest due to any warming. Some folk speculate this with no foundation but others debunk it.
    If you are suggesting that current ‘gargantuan levels of refugees’ come from warming thus far then that is a definite lie. Yes there was one speculative paper from Dr. Richard Seager but this was comprehensively debunked by everyone else.

    The climate change act directly prevents us from having affordable energy from reliable sources. That affects jobs. Ultimately more people will die in Winter.

    What too many environmentalists singularly fail to even bother to understand is just how much harm can and will be done by cutting emissions before adequate substitutes are ready.

    The trilemma is cut emissions, keep prices down, ensure security of supply. These last two are undermined by the first, which is why it is a trilemma. Wild speculations about possible outcomes if the worst scenarios of the now-disproven models come true do not allow anyone to wilfully ignore the reality of the hardships that climate policy will cause.

    I dearly hope that renewables come up with some miracle to become reliable, dispatchable and cheap enough to be affordable to a near-bankrupt country but 30 years working in the energy industry tells me it is outright criminal (and yes suicidal) to encourage the closure of coal power and to discourage gas use when there is no adequate replacement yet for these fuels.

  • David-1
    Trump was actually speaking from Turnberry, home of many Opens for 100+ years. It was upgraded to the tune of 200 million much to the delight of everyone in the local community.

    If Trumps other courses had sound objections from the council I’m sure they would have been stopped since environmental policy has certainly stopped onshore and unconventional gas installations – to my mind unreasonably.

  • Jim Hodgson 26th Jun '16 - 1:31pm

    James G – I’m going to exercise my right to wholly disagree with all of your statements. Ignoring the problem achieves nothing. Just because poverty has been decreasing doesn’t mean that current trends will continue. Food yields per acre may be on the increase, but at what expense based on current practices? This doesn’t mean that we ignore ecological limits. It was in Brussels after all, where the Soil Framework Directive – our best chance at curbing the relentless degradation of our soils and safeguarding the future of sustainable agriculture – was quashed by several governments, including ours. I could go on…but I sense you are committed to a view which ignores empirical reality.

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