Tag Archives: climate change

Willie Rennie reaffirms Scottish Lib Dems’ opposition to fracking – despite Conference vote

Last Friday, Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference passed this amendment to a motion on climate change.

After line 21 insert:
“The report of the Independent Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Oil and Gas published in July 2014 which states that “The technology exists to allow the safe extraction of such reserves, subject to robust regulation being in place” and “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock.”

Delete lines 36 to 38 and replace with

“Lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction, granting the potential for Scottish-sourced unconventional gas to supply our important petrochemical industry.”

The original lines 38 and 39 read:

maintaining a complete moratorium on planning permission and licensing for tracking and unconventional gas extraction in Scotland for the next parliamentary term to allow for a full assessment of the risks involved and the long term implications.

We all thought that was that until an email came to Scottish members last night entitled “We need to talk about fracking.”

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Scotland’s choices on fracking

Last week Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference debated lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction.

It was an erudite debate, and I think that it is fair to summarise the argument in favour of lifting the moratorium as follows:

Liberals believe in evidence-based policy making and the scientific method.
The moratorium was put in place to allow an independent expert scientific panel to examine how unconventional oil and gas extraction could work in Scotland.
Just such a panel published a report in July 2014.
The experts say “The technology exists to allow the safe extraction of such reserves, subject to robust regulation being in place” and “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock.”
Therefore the moratorium has served its purpose and should now be lifted. To maintain it, in the face of scientific evidence, would be a cynical politically-motivated move.

However, it is worth remembering that the 2014 Independent Report was a large document and the two sentences quoted do not cover its complete findings. In fact the quote “There could be minimal impact from unconventional hydrocarbons if they are used as a petrochemical feedstock” is immediately preceded by “The impact of unconventional oil and gas resources in Scotland on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases is not definitive,” and immediately followed by “…but lifecycle analysis of an unconventional hydrocarbon industry is required to inform the debate, and provide a clearer view on the impact of their development.”

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Featherstone: Lib Dems will fight to protect renewables sector

Lynne FEatherstone 2007 Brighton conference by Liberal DemocratsEnergy and Climate Change spokesperson Lynne Featherstone has accused the government (perfectly reasonably) of making “ideological cuts” to the renewables sector. Speaking ahead of a Lords debate on the Energy Bill tomorrow, she said:

Liberal Democrats have made changes to the Government’s Energy Bill in the House of Lords, and will be fighting to protect onshore wind subsidies in the debate.

We will be fighting to keep these changes, which will help protect our renewable energy industry in the face of brutal Conservative cuts.

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Tim Farron: Government should hang its head in shame over fracking in national parks

Tim Farron has reacted to the Commons vote which enabled tracking under national parks in England. His constituency has two national parks.

He said:

The Government today relaxed the rules on fracking around and under National Parks and other protected sites. The Government used a parliamentary wheeze to pass the change with no parliamentary debate.

Last week the Government signed up to a landmark climate change deal and is now abandoning those pledges to create a market for another fossil fuel.

Our National Parks and areas of Scientific Interest are now at risk and the Government should hang its head in shame.”

It is disgraceful that the government are ploughing ahead with fracking at the same time as scrapping the Carbon Capture and Storage scheme which is important for mitigating against climate change.

He was on Radio 4’s PM programme this evening. You can listen here at around 8.35 minutes in.

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Farron calls for flood protection for small businesses and much more in Commons speech

Tim Farron has rightly been preoccupied with helping his constituents with the aftermath of the terrible flooding which has hit his Cumbria constituency. His most recent initiative is to ask the Government to extend the Flood Re scheme, which will give insurance protection to home-owners in areas at risk from flooding, to small businesses from April next year.

He cites 125,000 businesses which have either been refused cover completely or quoted an unaffordable price for insurance.

Tim said:

As devastating as the floods have been for home owners here in Cumbria, it has been equally catastrophic for the small businesses which are the backbone of our local economy.

With the impact of climate change this isn’t going to be the last time communities are hit by flooding and it will become more and more difficult for small businesses to get affordable insurance.

The Government needs to get serious about the situation we are in and extend the Flood Re scheme to small businesses, before even more see their businesses devastated by the financial cost of flooding.

Tim won praise from the Federation of Small Businesses yesterday for making the point that Cumbria’s businesses were open and looking for custom:

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Ed Davey writes…Nous sommes Paris

Wow! How did that happen? The United Nations has just agreed the first ever universal climate deal – and it’s better for the global environment than anyone had dared hope for.

For once, believe hyperbole: this is the most significant international agreement since the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.

Here’s just 5 things from Paris that make this so good:

In the run up to Paris, more than 180 countries made commitments to cut emissions significantly;

  1. They agreed a surprisingly strong 5 year review or “ratchet” mechanism for bolder future commitments to cut emissions further;
  2. They backed a new long term goal to make sure global warming stays “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, heading to greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of this century – meaning the effective ending of fossil fuels;
  3. Increased support for poorer countries to help them – whether in the low carbon transition or in adapting to climate change impacts already with us;
  4. Huge progress on the “rules” for how we decarbonise the world, including key technical stuff on audit and accounting and crucially, strong transparency rules, so we know what countries are actually doing.
  5. And if you don’t believe me, listen to the majority of NGOs: from Greenpeace to Christian Aid, there’s been a huge welcome. And those businesses and financial institutions who take climate seriously are predicting a massive rise in investment in clean green technology.
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Climate change deal shows there has never been a better time to support the Lib Dems

The world woke yesterday morning to an early Christmas gift. Not a novelty knitted jumper or bottle of tipple, but something more poignant altogether. Unconventionally, the gift in question was not only immaterial, but universal, unquantifiable, and intergenerational: the prospect of a deal on climate change in Paris.

The final agreement includes a commitment to keeping temperature rises ‘significantly below’ 2C, with the aim of 1.5C as a target. Whilst 2 degrees may sound inconsequential, the difference between today’s average global temperature and that during the last ice age is around 5 degrees. Our climate has never changed so rapidly, it’s unequivocally due to human activity, and avoiding the problem could result in temperature rises of 5-6C by the end of this century. Ask a climate scientist to describe what a 5-degree-world would be like, and you might just wish that you hadn’t.

Whilst a UN agreement provides a mandate for action, the thorny issue of how we get there is likely to make the COP21 negotiations look like a doddle. To this end, we must turn to the pillars of reasoned progress: science and politics. Earlier this year, the Tyndall centre (host to some of the world’s leading climate scientists) published an analysis of future climate projections for the 21st century: exploring 400 different possible ‘routes’ to achieving what has since been agreed in Paris. Of those, 86% rely on unproven technology, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). For the remaining scenarios, emissions would have had to have peaked in the past at around 2010. Assuming technology will solve the climate problem is an aspiration, not a grounded projection. Whilst it’s unlikely that non-existent technologies will fit the bill, it’s even less-likely that Dr. Emmett Brown will be using his DeLorian to help us fix the emissions of the past.

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