LibLink: Tim Farron: Does George Osborne really want to derail the future of our planet?

Earth Day 2007 - Atlantic ReflectionTim Farron was on punchy form when taking on George Osborne’s lack of ambition on climate change in an article in the Independent this week. He did not mince his words:

Osborne’s destructive rationale for overspending on our planned carbon budget is this: without a new strategy agreed, the UK would be ahead of its planned share of emissions cuts within the EU. It can therefore weaken its ambitions and still meet the old targets – there is nothing holding us to the necessary action to tackle climate change.

In other words, the Chancellor is saying: “we would really like to spend this money on a pre-election vote winner and think we can get away with it, despite the long-term consequences.”

He was clear on why what the Tories think of as “green crap” actually matters.

1. Economic growth and jobs. As the billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, has said: “I’ve described increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as one of the greatest threats to the ongoing prosperity and sustainability of life on the planet. The good news is that creating businesses that will power our growth, and reduce our carbon output while protecting resources, is also the greatest wealth-generating opportunity of our generation. [There is no] choice between growth and reducing our carbon output.”

2. National security: This year the G7 energy ministers, including Ed Davey, publicly and unanimously agreed that speeding up our switch to low carbon emissions would be “a key contribution to enduring energy security”. What’s more, two years ago the Pentagon listed Climate Change as a national security threat.

3. Preventing widespread human misery, starvation and migration across the world. If the world’s temperature increases by two degrees, one to three billion people will suffer acute water shortages. “We used to be able to predict the rains by the time of year, and see the signs,” James Kheri, a subsistence farmer in Malawi, has said. “Now we can’t…If it doesn’t rain when you need it to, you can lose your seed.” As sea levels rise, it’s predicted that nearly a fifth of Bangladesh will be submerged.

Yuu can read the whole article here.

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9 Comments

  • Frank Booth 3rd Jul '14 - 7:03pm

    Quoting Branson. Grrrrrrrr………………

  • Richard Dean 3rd Jul '14 - 8:19pm

    A key question here seems to be what effect the overspend will have, if any, and will it actually be harmful or beneficial (as per Branson)? Climate change is a global thing, and has to be tackled collectively.

    The ever-helpful Wikipedia puts the UK’s contribution to carbon emissions at 1.57% of global emissions. The US emits about 9 times as much, and India and China’s total together is about 21 times as much. If the UK increases its emissions by one third, that will be a 0.52% increase globally.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

    So while Osborne’s action may be unwanted, it seems to me to be a bit over the top to suggest that they might create “widespread human misery, starvation and migration”.

  • Yes, Richard, because if they do not act, why should we? (Ignoring that they are acting for one moment, let us take this logic to its conclusion.)

    Well, no one else is acting, why should I act? Asks Person A.

    Person B sees Person A not acting and decides he should not act either, then.

    Person C sees Person A and B not acting and thinks why it is fair for only him to act.

    This is the logic of simple-minded people, such as George, but I would hope that people on here could understand why it is a fallacy.

    Even if other countries are failing our planet, that does not justify the UK failing, as well.

  • Richard Dean 4th Jul '14 - 12:29am

    If the only person who is concerned is A, then persons B and C can feel free to increase their carbon footprints to match person A’s reduction., so person A’s efforts are in vain.

    This is fine if person A gets a competitive advantage, as suggested by Branson, but not if the result is that person A becomes poor and less able to influence the decisions of persons B and C.

    The solution is to have agreement between all three.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th Jul '14 - 4:32pm

    Richard,
    ”So while Osborne’s action may be unwanted, it seems to me to be a bit over the top to suggest that they might create “widespread human misery, starvation and migration”.

    The question is how much over the top of other countries’ carbon output can we add before we assist in creating “widespread human misery, starvation and migration”. No-one knows. You nor I – we do not know. But going ‘over the top’ of whatever emissions will push us there – will do it some day. Are you betting on this amount or do you have a safer solution? I do. Stop adding to our contribution. Then we can ask others to join in the reduction.

  • Richard, you seem to miss the point; even if you are correct and no other countries care about climate change – which you are incorrect about – that does not justify you not caring.

    Two reasons why:

    1 – it is a logical fallacy to say others are doing the wrong thing, so I will, as well.

    2 – it assumes that your actions do not influence others, which considering that 3 countries have already copied our Climate Change Act, many others are planning to and most have utilised our 2050 calculator, I would suggest is also wrong.

    Someone needs to be the leader.

  • “In other words, the Chancellor is saying: “we would really like to spend this money on a pre-election vote winner and think we can get away with it, despite the long-term consequences.”

    However, Osborne’s tactics will most likely work. I doubt lack of ambition on Climate Change will play any part in the way people vote at the GE.

  • Peter Chivall 6th Jul '14 - 12:59pm

    We seem to forget our position within the European Union, and the effect that our cutting back on anti-Global Warming spending would have on the consensus amongst the other countries – the EU is 550million people, after all.

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