Tag Archives: climate change

We have to defend open debate and democratic government against fears of dark forces and betrayal

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Most of us never see most of the social media that feeds conspiracy theories about the European Union. As we have all learned, the algorithms operate to feed back to consumers stories that confirm their existing views, not challenge them. When the wilder beliefs filter through into letters to newspapers, the deepest prejudices have often been removed.

A letter in the Yorkshire Post last week, for example, warned of the threat of German domination, and referred to the re-emergence of ‘militarism in Germany’. Anyone who follows German military expenditure will know that German forces are under-equipped and poorly trained, suffer from a budget allocation much smaller than the UK spends on defence, and are rarely deployed. But the anti-Brexit blogosphere, taking its cue from the Bruges Group and other sources, has latched onto German calls for a ‘European army’ – an ill-defined concept that enables them to avoid hard questions about national defence and strategic priorities – and mispresented it as a wicked German plot to conquer us all.

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Message to Extinction Rebellion: Flying is here to stay – but we need to reduce its carbon footprint

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It was 13 July 2005, and I was sitting in an office in Madrid when I got the dreaded phone call to tell me that my father, who had been suffering from cancer, was slipping away. By that evening I was by his bedside in Surrey, and held his hand as he died the next morning. I am very glad, to this day, that I got back in time.

Extinction Rebellion had the intention on Good Friday of disrupting flights at Heathrow. ‘Terribly sorry’ – they said – ‘if your Easter getaway is delayed’ – fortunately none were. Delaying an Easter skiing break might be annoying, but not the end of the world – is how their argument goes.

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Press Release: Cross-Party Climate Change Statement

On Tuesday 23rd April 2019, sparked by the visit of Greta Thunberg to the UK, the Westminster leaders of the UK political parties, except for the Prime Minister and the DUP (both invited), took part in a private round-table with a number of the leaders of the youth climate strikes to discuss the UK’s response to the deteriorating ecological crises.

At that meeting, the Westminster Leaders present agreed to three actions. These actions mark a significant cross-party response to Greta’s visit to the UK; the UK youth climate strikes and ongoing climate protests; the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 Degrees; the upcoming Committee on Climate Change report on a net-zero greenhouse gas target for the UK on May 2nd; and above all, the knowledge that it is young people across the world who will bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

There is an open invitation for the Government, and all other political parties, to sign-up to these cross-party actions.

Ongoing Cross-Party Cooperation & Dialogue with Young People

By working together collaboratively, political parties, even without the Government, can start to build the bold solutions and public consent needed to ensure young people are guaranteed a secure, safe and prosperous future.

Westminster party leaders therefore agree to ongoing cross-party roundtables with the youth climate strikers – and to increased cross-party collaboration on climate change, including an agreement to issue a statement endorsing the UK’s bid to host COP26 in 2020.

Supporting the UK Youth Climate Assemblies

Over the coming months, the UK youth climate strikers will continue to expand and build their movement – and it is essential that the views of young people are incorporated into the decision-making of politicians and political parties and that politicians have chance to engage directly with young people across the UK.

Westminster party leaders therefore agree to actively support and engage with youth climate assemblies in towns and cities across the UK.

Stress-Test UK Climate Policy

The United Kingdom has signed and ratified the Paris Climate Agreement – the international treaty negotiated in 2015 part of the United Nations’ climate framework – which places a commitment on the UK to meet the targets in the Paris Agreement, including efforts to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Greta Thunberg to Parliament: “Is my microphone on?”

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Here is the full text of Greta Thunberg’s speech to Parliament today, via the Guardian:

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

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Greta Thunberg speech in Parliament today should help everyone to take notice of protecting our planet – Cable


Today, schoolgirl Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Houses of Parliament. Vince Cable has said that he hopes that this event will greatly increase the profile to our climate emergency.

He remarked:

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Extinction Rebellion isn’t funny or clever

Well, I suppose they might have been that day when they made their protest in the Commons chamber. It was a visible reminder that we are preoccupying ourselves with Brexit when the entire future of our planet is in doubt. And it was quite funny watching MPs trying to maintain their composure and keep their faces straight.

But the recent spate of protests by the climate change campaigners are doing their cause more harm than good. Ok, so they get attention, but what on earth is the point of gluing themselves to trains, for goodness sake?

I thought public transport was a good thing. Obstructing it, potentially making low paid people with not much power in their workplaces late, is neither big nor clever.

And holding up the traffic might grab headlines but it doesn’t do much for air quality in the vicinity.

The powerful message of children walking out of school to tell us to secure their future is so much more persuasive.

And I think Extinction Rebellion went a bit foo far yesterday by attaching themselves to Jeremy Corbyn’s house. 

People’s homes are off limits for this kind of stuff, whether there are politicians or heads of companies. If you want to protest go to their public offices. Nobody’s family should have to feel like they are under siege.

Back in 2012, UK Uncut organised this mass protest of 400 people outside Nick Clegg’s house, a move I criticised at the time.  

The Clegg family was not home – but what if they had been? What about their neighbours? Whatever you might think about Government decisions, politicians’ partners and children should not have had their lives disrupted.

Imagine if they had been home when these 400 people descended? The children are 10, 8 and 3. To a 3 year old, people outside having a go at your daddy, however nice they think they’re being, could be really scary, the stuff of weeks of nightmares.

Now, note that I am not saying that such protests should be illegal, but with rights come responsibilities. UK Uncut have done their cause no good whatsoever this weekend – and that’s a shame because when it comes to some of the welfare reform cuts, as you know, I agree with them.

UK Uncut will have had to have distributed Nick Clegg’s private address to a fairly large number of people, for a start, the 400 there and anyone they tell. How can they guarantee the conduct of every single person who would turn up. It was ok this time, but at some point, if this continues, someone will turn up with malevolent intent.

And that was before an MP was murdered. In the current, febrile climate, when you have emboldened fascists taking to the streets, going to politicians’ homes is not a good look.

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Climate Protests: Show me what democracy looks like

I imagine that you are rarely met with a party atmosphere when stepping out of Westminster tube station on a February afternoon. But on the 15th February 2019 at 1 o’clock, the sun was shining, people were singing and smiling, and that distinctive smell of cannabis smoke was in the air. It felt more like Reading Festival than the epicentre of the British political system.

This being said, most of the 2000 students weren’t there for a party. This wasn’t a day off school or an early half term get-together. The majority of people were there to get their voices heard by politicians — perhaps for the first time in their lives.

As I walked up towards Westminster Bridge, a protestor excitedly filled me in on the day’s events. “And then this guy climbed up a bus,” he told me breathlessly. I couldn’t tell if the act was inspired by genuine frustration or perhaps it was the result of soaking up a bit too much of the protest atmosphere, and maybe a bit too much alcohol as well.

Aside from a small cohort of people who couldn’t get enough of climbing things, most of the protestors had remained very much on the ground level. Two roadblocks had been organised. One over Westminster Bridge and the other on Parliament Street. The students chanted for stuck drivers to turn their engines off.

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AOC is right, we need unprecedented action to prevent climate catastrophe

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been US Representative for New York’s 14th District for less than two months, but she has already made waves in US politics so large that they have spread across the pond.

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC, as she is popularly known) tabled House Resolution 109. The “Green New Deal” it outlines would transition the US to a carbon neutral economy and 100% renewable energy generation within ten years. These changes would be accompanied by massive investment in infrastructure, from improving the energy efficiency of buildings, to developing new …

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Tony Greaves writes…”There really is no Planet B” Scenes from the Schools 4 Climate action demo

Fantastic atmosphere in Parliament Square today as some thousands of mainly school students gathered to protest against what is happening to our climate and our planet. This was one of the most extraordinary demonstrations I have witnessed.

There was none of the usual organisation, attempts at order and regimentation, agenda of speeches and actions. No stewards and precious few police, who were clearly taken unawares by the scale of the protest and were standing around looking a rather lost at how to cope with quite a big disruption with no organisers to talk to! People just turned up, often in school groups, and did their own thing as they felt fit.

Some just stood about with their placards. Some sat in a circle, chanted or sang or made impromptu speeches – at first on the grass, later on in the road. Some stood in the streets or marched off down Whitehall or towards Westminster Bridge. Parliament Square was completely blocked, partly by the young demonstrators but also – by a curious bit of serendipity – by the black cabs whose drivers were staging another protest against being kicked out of London bus lanes.

For once, the young people were being allowed to stand on the plinths of statues and hang placards on Mr Churchill and his friends. One glorious incident happened when a big red open-top tourist sightseeing bus, blocked on the corner of Bridge Street and the Square, was commandeered by a group of young people waving their placards and leading the chants. What any tourists thought about it, I know not!

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Why the Liberal Democrats must be at the forefront of a UK Green New Deal

Since it was first introduced in the US in 2007, the idea of a Green New Deal has received substantial support amongst a wide range of the electorate worldwide, who are increasingly rallying their governments to tackle the imminent threat of climate change.

Recently gaining traction after the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to US Congress, the growing need to put a Green New Deal into practice is once again making its way to the forefront of global politics. Who will speak up for a deal like this in the UK?

A recent European Commission report revealed that the UK currently leads the way in fossil fuel subsidies, providing a staggering £10.5 billion to support the industry. The continuous commitment to propping up such environmentally harmful practices against the will of a large percentage of the UK populace is not only damaging to our mutual trust, but the future of our world.

The current state of British politics is at a critical point. At a time of great political upheaval across the nation, the Liberal Democrats have a chance to take centre-stage in refocusing the national agenda and rebuilding national trust in our party. 

A UK Green New Deal is a way in which we do exactly that. A progressive, positive agenda which underlines the importance of protecting our nation’s economic interests as well as our environmental prospects. By wielding much more focus towards supporting renewable and cleaner energies and protecting our natural earth, we can also thousands of new jobs and lessen inequality in a fresh, booming new industrial sector. 

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Looking beyond Brexit

The sense of things going horribly wrong is likely to get much worse as 2019 gets under way and #BrexitShambles becomes #BrexitFarce.

In the probable chaos of the coming months the country needs us to articulate our hope for the future.

Putting some flesh on those bones, in no particular order:

  • Improve Benefits. Universal Credit could have been a good idea, but under-funding has hit it hard and people are suffering. Improving the funding is a good place to start. We also need to go further. It is a scandal to have people needing to use food banks or losing the roof over their head because of the way the system works. I’ve spoken with people struggling to live on benefits, who voted Leave in the desperate hope that things would improve.
  • Wealth inequality. Back in the autumn, Vince Cable put forward a raft of tax reforms to make the system fairer, especially around inheritance and investment income and pensions. Univeral Basic Income has been on the edge of discussions for a long time. It is time to take it seriously — it can’t be done overnight, but it is time to start the conversation as a way to pick up where we are, and fears around the way in which technology is reshaping the world.
  • Brexit has pushed climate change from the top of the agenda. People have every reason to be worried. That means is that it is high time to turn that worry into action — around renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, zero carbon housing, improved public transport, and more.
  • The Blair government had some good ideas on devolution, with elected regional assemblies and pulling government offices and development to the same boundaries. The imbalances around devolution to Wales, Northern Ireland and particularly to Scotland would look very different if there was meaningful devolution in England.
  • It’s time to talk openly about federalism. Too often it’s a dirty word in British (or at least, English) politics. It’s time to dispatch the myth that it is about centralising power and put the case for doing centrally only what needs to be done there and pushing decisions as close as possible to the people they affect. That applies as much to devolving power from Westminster as it does devolving it from Brussels.
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22 November 2018 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Our Press Team have been incredibly busy today, so much so that I’m going to have to deal with this in two parts, both of which are going to be larger than usual. So, without further ado…

  • Lib Dems: Levels of homelessness an ‘absolute disgrace’ (see article here)
  • Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims
  • Health Sec knows UK in critical condition
  • PM’s deal goes from fudge to farce
  • Tory bucket list for pupils ‘an insult’
  • Lamb: Tories must not neglect young people with mental illness
  • (see article here)

  • Davey: Reducing climate-changing gases demands real leadership

Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims

Responding to official statistics published …

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29 October 2018 – today’s press releases (part two)

As promised, part two of today’s output from the Party’s Press Team…

Fiscal Phil’s sticking plaster Budget

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

This was all very modest stuff, with more in it for potholes than schools and the police. A standstill non-event.

With growth remaining stubbornly low and Brexit weighing down our economy, it is clear the big problems are still to be tackled. It was a sticking plaster Budget, when major surgery lies ahead.

If we are to see an end to austerity, then we need a proper injection of

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26 October 2018 – today’s press releases

A very diverse range of press releases today, it must be said…

Universal Credit causing unacceptable hardship

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has slammed the Conservative Government for refusing to listen to problems experienced by those on Universal Credit as the Public Accounts Committee urges Ministers to make fundamental changes to the scheme.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (26th October) published its report into the implementation of Universal Credit. The committee concludes that:

  • The DWP’s dismissive attitude to real-world experience is failing claimants
  • The recent announcement of delayed roll-out is not a solution
  • The Government must work with third-party organisations to shape programme

Liberal Democrat MP …

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This Weekend You Can Help Stop the Climate Emergency

I’ll admit it, I do not always come to conference fully prepared.  Well, to be honest, I’m often reading the motions or amendments for the first time in the hall.  As a result I have sat in debates and wondered “why has Y been carved out” or “why hasn’t this great idea been extended to X” and occasionally “how on earth has line Z made it in”!

I know I am not the only one –speakers in debates often raise everything from minor tweaks to wholly new directions in policy in their speeches and interventions, only for a summation speech to respond with the reproving reminder “some good points have been made and we would have liked to have considered them at the consultation stage but alas they were not raised…..”

Well conference-goers, do not spend your weekend being (as I have) a disappointed would-be policy tweaker. Bring your ideas to the Consultative Sessions!

In particular, as a member of the snappily-titled Climate Change and Low-Carbon Economy Policy Working Group I want to urge you to come and spend your Saturday lunchtime in our clean, green company.

The Working Group has produced an initial consultation paper, but detailed policy formulation is still at an early stage so your thoughts, ideas and inspiration on this cornerstone of Lib Dem policy would be very welcome.  We put forward some excellent policies in the 2017 manifesto that have been developed recently by the Vision for Britain: Clean, Green and Carbon Free report.  Our task as a Working Group is to build on this strong base.

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Why I became a Climate Reality Leader

For the past 15 years I have been a Liberal Democrat activist. I’ve been a local Party Secretary and Chair, fought local, Scottish, Westminster and European elections (and various referendums) as a campaigner and candidate, most recently as a Highland Councillor and Parliamentary candidate for Ross, Skye & Lochaber.

Following last years election I took some time out to reappraise my goals. There are a lot of areas for concern in the world but the question was where can I make a difference and what am I passionate about.

I concluded that I’m passionate about making things better …

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Lib Dems condemn “betrayal” of Swansea Tidal Lagoon cancellation

It was a project which would power 150,000 households for 120 year, a program of lagoons at Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay which would create over 34,000 jobs in Wales alone. And Wales does need jobs. It was championed by the Lib Dems in Government, but, as has happened with so many Lib Dem ideas, it’s been cancelled today by the Tories.

Coming on the same day as the the vote on Heathrow expansion, you would be forgiven that the Tories really didn’t give a hoot about what David Cameron is alleged to have once described as “green crap” – and he was one of the more progressive ones.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have condemned the decision as a huge missed opportunity and another example of the Conservatives’ neglect of Wales.

The lagoon was strongly backed by the government commissioned Hendry review in January 2017 and is supported by businesses, councils, MPs and AMs from all parties. The lagoon would have acted as a pathfinder project for other lagoons across Wales including Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds was furious that the opportunity to make Wales a world leader in green energy had been thrown away:

The Conservatives’ rejection of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a disgrace. The Swansea Tidal Lagoon would be a vital first step in making Wales a world leader in green energy, bringing untold environmental and economic benefits to the community, Wales and the UK.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently supported the Swansea Tidal Lagoon as a key part of our plans to develop an innovative, radical and ambitious green economy in Wales. It is deeply disappointing the Conservatives do not share our ambition.

When Ed Davey was Secretary of State for Climate Change he was totally behind the project. He called the cancellation an “historic mistake.”

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Lynne Featherstone’s speech in climate change debate

Here is Lynne Feathestone’s speech to yesterday’s climate change debate. The party passed entirely predictable policy – in summary, Paris Agreement is fantastic. Trump and the Conservatives are awful and we are the party of renewables and the green economy.

This is what Lynne said:

It was a glorious moment in time

The signing of the Paris Agreement

The world coming together to do the right thing

Thinking of future generations

Accepting responsibility

Taking real action to turn the tide

A moment in time

But time is not on our side

And the battle intensifies

Even as 97% of experts – so beloved of Michael Gove – agree on climate change

Even as the world agrees on Climate Change

Even as we have had the hottest summers

The wettest storms

Sea levels rising

And the fiercest hurricanes in history

Climate deniers still propagate untruths

It’s a hoax made up by the Chinese

It’s a scam

scientists are fudging the numbers

In my time as Minister for International Development

I saw first hand the impact that climate change is already having in some of the poorest areas of the world

I stood in Darfur and felt desertification under my own feet.

I saw with my own eyes the ravages that too little water in Africa and too much in Asia can bring.

I implored governments and leaders to stop the fight between peoples over scarce resources.

I visited communities learning to adapt to climate change.

Those living in areas already deeply affected by climate change don’t question its existence.

They see it. They suffer from it. They didn’t cause it.

If we don’t succeed in adaptation, mitigation and keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade – then the tide of human misery we have seen fleeing conflict will be as nothing compared to those fleeing the worst ravages of climate change

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Lynne Featherstone writes: Smart consumers: the bedrock of the clean energy revolution

“Our roofs will power our washing machines. Our cars will be charged at home. Our homes will be warm without turning the heating on. Our energy will be British, it will be clean.”

This is the vision Tim Farron set out as part of our strategy for Britain to lead the clean energy revolution.

A smarter energy system is a key piece of the puzzle, which will mean this vision can be delivered.

Academics such as Professor Dieter Helm have frequently talked about the potential of this change to improve how our energy systems work. Not only will smarter energy benefit our environment and help to reduce our carbon footprint, but it will support economic growth, innovation, competition and choice in the energy market.

Today, our interaction with energy is simple. We pay for the energy we use, often sticking with the same energy supplier for many years.

Many consumers pay far too much for their energy as a result.

But how we buy energy could be very different and lead to far cheaper bills.

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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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WATCH: Tim Farron speech: How a clean energy revolution means Britain can lead the world

This week, Tim Farron gave a speech on clean energy and its potential to boost Britain’s economy.

Watch it here. The text is under the cut.

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Why politicians can’t solve climate change

Now, I don’t want to launch into a political rant but it often appears that politicians are only concerned with winning the popular support of the electorate. They avoid confronting the difficult issues and students of BBC sitcoms know that the words most likely to strike fear into the heart of Jim Hacker MP, were: ” … a very brave decision minister.”

In some ways, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It broadly supports continuity and stability, avoiding the potential calamity of politicians who pursue their own passing whims with little regard to the hopes and aspirations of the voting public. However, effective democracy does presume that people understand the implications of the policies that their governments pursue. A successful society needs an electorate that is informed, critical and motivated to participate in the political process.

The political process works less well when a country is led by popularist politicians offering sound-bite policies to an electorate that is poorly informed. And no, this is not a rant about Brexit or political developments in America. This is a warning that all democracies have this flaw and we ignore it at our peril.

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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.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: The Tories continue to attack the planet

Lynne Featherstone today tries to get the House of Lords to oppose Tory cuts to renewable obligations, which, as she points out in an article for Politics Home, is hardly consistent with the protocol they signed up to in Paris.

I do not have the space to list the full litany of destruction that has been wrought since the election by this government but it includes such worrying measures as privatising the Green Investment Bank, ending support for onshore wind power, weakening the zero carbon homes standard, and reducing the incentives to purchase low-emission cars.

Now to add to that list we have rooftop solar, a cornerstone of the Solar Strategy produced in April 2014. The tariff that has been set for the 1-5MW solar band is much too low to incentivise rooftop deployment in that size range, leaving larger rooftops with essentially no route to market. The large-scale rooftop market is potentially the most significant and cost-effective solar market. This market dominates across Europe and is expected to reach grid parity first, and yet the UK is not taking this market seriously.

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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:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

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.
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments
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