Stephen Lloyd MP writes…Ed’s climate change deal shows how UK can reform EU

Yesterday the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament reminded us thatthere are two EU stories around at the moment. Sadly one is getting far more attention than the other! One is about the Prime Minister “standing up to Europe” and refusing to pay a £1.7bn demand. The other which is ultimately of much greater significance, concerns the EU agreeing an ambitious climate change deal, under British leadership, as described by Catherine Bearder and Ed Davey recently on LDV.

Liberal Democrats can rightly be proud that as the greenest of the main British political parties and as “the party of in” we have shown both why the EU is so important in tackling global issues such as climate change and why the UK has the opportunity to be far more influential as a member of the EU than we would be outside. The British role did not go unnoticed by other member states either. The Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb told the Guardian after the ministerial summit in Milan earlier this month which paved the way for this agreement that Britain had “taken a much stronger role than it used to and that is good news. The UK will be needed for brokering a deal…”

So what does the deal do? As Matthew Spencer Director of the Green Alliance describes it:

The EU 2030 carbon reduction agreement is real progress because it locks 27 other European countries into the same emissions reduction trajectory set by the UK’s Climate Change Act. The fourth carbon budget pathway has now been adopted by the world’s largest trading block which makes it many times more powerful, and avoids the UK being isolated.

Liberal Democrats can be doubly proud that this vital deal which Europeanises our UK Climate Change Act ambitions would quite simply not have happened without us in government. From the outset, over two years, our Secretary of State Ed Davey persuaded sceptical coalition colleagues to be ambitious. Indeed it is rumoured that the only reason the Tories agreed to aim for at least a 40% reduction in GHG by 2030 was because they were privately advised by senior civil servants that there was no chance that other European countries would agree!

So at the behest of Liberal Democrats the UK was first out of the blocks in declaring what the target should be, but then the rest of the EU had to be brought onside.

That’s where the Green Growth Group of Ministers set up by Ed had such a critical role to play,  as recognised by those closely involved in the detail. The Danish Energy and Climate Minister Rasmus Helveg Petersen told the Guardian earlier this month that “Ed Davey is taking a leadership role on setting ambitious targets and it is very much to his credit that we’ve made so much progress”, while Joss Garman, until recently a leading campaigner at Greenpeace and now at the IPPR, writing in the New Statesman this week said:

Britain’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been something of the unsung hero of the negotiations. He assembled a pan-European coalition of Ministers to champion more ambition on cutting carbon pollution and he commendably remains the primary advocate for leaving the door open to upping Europe’s effort on emissions.

So the next time someone concerned with environmental issues asks what Liberal Democrats have achieved to tackle climate change, you can be pretty vigorous in response. We have done more for the green agenda than any UK Government ever, and this significant climate change ruling is another part of the jigsaw that shows our party delivering real positive change in government, a line I suspect I’ll never have the pleasure of reading in either the Daily Mail or the Mirror.

* Stephen Lloyd was MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon until 2015. He was chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education. In March 2013 the Group published a report called ‘RE: the truth unmasked’ on the supply of and support for RE teachers. In June 2013 Stephen tabled an Early Day Motion on RE’s role in tackling extremism.

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  • Words fail me.

  • I’m very pleased that the Lib Dems take responsibility for this initiative. Someone needs to.

    If it runs its course, it will have cost the UK £1,300 Billion. It will have caused manufacturing companies to relocate and it will have reduced our energy security to third world status. It will be responsible for thousands of winter deaths due to fuel poverty. It will make a negligible difference to global atmospheric CO2 since China can exceed the amount reduced in just one week.

    It is a response to alarmism about anthropogenic global warming which, so far this century, only exists in falsified computer models. Well done, Lib Dems. I’m sure a grateful public will show its gratitude in due course.

  • Stephen, thank you for the article.

    What is showing is that the UK asks the EU to spend €1b on Ebola they give us a bill for €2b the extra is so they can make up the loss from the sanctions against Russia

    How being a leader with climate change leading the EU is not Sean as cheap by the poor of this country, I hope that once the MPS get their 11% pay rise and sit warm and cosy in their well insulated homes they give a thought for those who would prefer coal Fired power stations

  • Peter
    If words fail you again on this subject just use as your comment “Hello my name is Peter and I am a climate change denier”.

  • @John Tilley
    Thank you for lowering the discussion with your rather insulting use of the word “denier”.

    Climate changes. That is what it does. I understand the science that underpins climate change and the alarmists are exaggerating their claims and not admitting the levels of error or uncertainty.

  • On 24th October we had a piece in LDV by Catherine Bearder singing Ed Davey’s praises on this subject.
    Then on the same day we had another piece from Ed Davey himself singing his own praises.
    Today we have a very similar piece from Stephen Lloyd singing Ed Davey’s praises and also with no intended irony Stephen is saying that Ed Davey is an “unsung hero”.

    It is not unusual for UK ministers (of all parties) to claim all sorts of “victories” when they come home from EU level negotiations. On closer examination these “victories” often turn out to be something other or even something achieved by someone else entirely. People can best make their own judgements but some rather more objective sources may help.

    These reports from reputable sources do not mention Ed Davey at all —

  • The EU deal can be blocked at any time by any EU member. In reality, this is a smoke and mirrors initiative aimed at conning the other big energy users such as the US and China to sign up to an UN led reduction in emissions.

    None of that helps us, since a bill written by WWF and made law by Miliband commits us to a reduction of 80% which is quite impossible unless we shut down industry, transport, energy production and our economy.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Oct '14 - 6:41pm

    Ed Davey has done more for climate change than I would have done, and for someone with an ego as big as mine that is quite a compliment.

    Stephen, thanks for the article.

  • I actually agree with John Tilley’s suspicions about beefing up Davey’s achievements.

    For a start, the EU deal is about 40% reduction and we are already (in the UK) committed to double that.
    Secondly, the deal is more political in nature than reality as covered above.
    Thirdly, and probably the reason for the observations that you discuss is that the Lib Dem vote is collapsing with the Green Party being the main beneficiary.

    I suspect that there is a Lib Dem campaign to outgreen the Greens. Unfortunately, given the current dominance of the green agenda and the cost to ordinary people as the result of a myriad of unscrupulous green Quangos and get rich quick merchants milking the system, this green obsession is becoming high risk.

    The IPCC estimation of global climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide has been reducing very significantly with each scientific report. The link with extreme weather has been disproved. There could be no other outcome when most metrics of extreme weather have been at a record low for the last decade. The summary report for policymakers, which is the one reported in the press, is in fact edited by politicians and climate activists.. This is the report claiming more certainty than ever when the scientific case has collapsed due to uncertainty. The difference between both reports is now absurd, yet still the pretence continues. I would advise the Lib Dems that the green alarmism has already peaked and the only way forward is for reality to return.

    I am not going to comment further on climate change on this post other than to say that there has been no global warming this century. That is an undisputed fact. Follow the scientific evidence, not the money.

  • Jenny Barnes 30th Oct '14 - 8:34am

    October has been quite warm, though, wouldn’t you say?

  • I would hope that Ed had his plan for the UK achieving this target in his back pocket before he signed up. There is only so far you can go by incremental change before you find a step change is necessary, from my experience you do at times need to significantly raise the hurdle to get people to think and act differently.

    I suspect (and hope) that, as we are about to face up to renewing our electricity infrastructure and transforming our other energy systems and hence will be incurring significant costs – particularly as new nuclear would seem to be a key plank, that we take advantage of the opportunity the available technologies offer. As we know nuclear is a low carbon energy source, committing to lower carbon emissions targets costs use nothing, but potentially could saddle our competitors with a problem…

  • >Jenny
    October has indeed been warm, an Indian summer, a phrase that has been in use since the 1700s. Not sure this is a great proof of man made climate change/global warming!

  • Daniel Henry 30th Oct '14 - 4:43pm

    Peter, when you say you “understand the science”, are you speaking as a professional scientist yourself?

    And are you aware that the vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is manmade and that we as a race need to address this as a matter of urgency?

  • @JohnTilley

    Each EU member will in its domestic press relations process try to exaggerate the role of its Commissioner or its Minister for that policy area whenever something large gets done. The European Union itself prefers to limit its communications to informing about what its doing rather than issuing 27 separate hagiographies and then a little bit at the end about what’s actually being done.

    That said, Ed Davey is the UK’s man at the table when it comes to discussions of climate science and related policy, and the UK is one of the countries with the most ambitious targets in that area. This shifts the centre of gravity in Europe towards action and is one positive result of our participation in the EU that delivers benefits for the whole of Europe.

    The present Commission is tasked with establishing and running a single energy market across the European Union as part of our European Party’s price for participating in the broad coalition behind Juncker. This, if completed successfully, will mean that many of the climate oriented goals can be achieved without imposing the doomsday scenario painted by our resident climate science refusenik, Peter.

    Who by the way will need to provide references for his claims that the IPCC’s reports are written by politicians and activists (as opposed to scientists who are politically aware or engage in activism) and will definitely need to cite claims about extreme weather and about scientific uncertainty.

    From a political strategy point of view, it would be very convenient if Peter were correct, of course, because that would pull the rug out from under the Green Party and mean that many of the large and expensive projects we’re looking at wouldn’t be needed. But I don’t think policy should be dictated by convenience, and even if Peter’s views on climate science are entirely correct, doing nothing would leave us stuck depending on Putin’s Russia and a host of distasteful theocracies in the middle east for our heat and light. Better to make the shift away from the carbon intensive, politically loaded fuels of yesterday, and there’s no time but the present.

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