Tag Archives: climate emergency

Taking decisive climate action

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On the 7th March 2020 I watched a Premier League football match at Burnley. We all knew about coronavirus, but the League continued as normal. It would have been hard to cancel the Premier League on the 7th March. We were all afraid of what was coming, but at that time only 2 people had died in the UK.

Later, as Britain recorded many deaths – deaths that were the result of infections spreading rapidly during March – we blamed the government for being indecisive. What are the lessons?

On 8th August 2021 I drove from the Midlands to a school beyond Cambridge. I was taking a family member to a course and I felt that the Sunday trains weren’t reliable. I decided to drive, despite the fossil fuel burn.

I’d known for 30 years that using fossil fuels was dangerous. Was I mad? No, I was acting logically. I knew that this one trip would make little difference to the planet. Why risk the uncertainty of Sunday trains for no reason? It is billions of decisions like that that are killing the planet.

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Is there really a Climate Emergency?

The science seems clear – the answer is yes. The reason for the question mark is that there is so little evidence of emergency action.

Our Parish Council, like many others, has declared a climate emergency, and we are doing what we can, but it isn’t much. In the UK the big decisions rest with Boris Johnson.

Johnson’s trade deals mean that we are importing more and more food and consumer goods from countries that do not respect the environment. We are building new houses on green fields. Our roads get busier and our government is building more. The Tories will do a few green things to win votes but have no proper plan for zero carbon.

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COP26 will fail unless we grant it the powers of a supra-national council

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H.G. Wells’ ‘end of the world’ fantasy saw civilisation saved by a friendly virus, but in 1951 a new type of apocalyptic fantasy appeared in cinema screens.  In The Day the Earth Stood Still humanity was given an ultimatum: put aside petty squabbles and come together, or be annihilated.  Michael Rennie’s authoritarian ‘alien’ was clearly a depiction of human reason triumphing over the insanity of armed conflict, and the film reflected the founding principle of the United Nations; endless wars were the problem the human race faced.

We are now living the reality, and the problem isn’t wars.  We face the end not only of human civilisation but of much of the natural world, and one of the millions of species headed for extinction could be our own.  However, the message of hope from 1951 is as powerful as it was then.  By uniting behind a single purpose, the concerted efforts of the human race could overcome the challenges we face.  We don’t have the stern, but kind-hearted, alien laying down the law, so what we need instead is a world council tasked with creating a survival plan, and empowered to enforce it.

We already have the UN, but that was created after the horrors of World War II, and felt its first duty was to render impossible future invasions and annexations, so its founders sought to guarantee the sovereign right of countries to be free from the fear of invasion.  Individual national sovereignty is an idea which is now hopelessly out of date, and it has become positively harmful.

Climate summit meetings still accept that each country has a right to act as it will within its own borders.  They try to achieve consensus about what each can realistically do about climate change, but those that don’t want to sign up don’t have to.  Sovereignty is a meaningless luxury when the damage to the environment affects the entire world, and sovereignty was probably always a delusion (Imagined Communities,  Benedict Anderson, 1983), with the lines on today’s maps mostly just the residue of past wars and arranged marriages.

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25 June 2020 – the overnight press release

PM must show global leadership in tackling the climate emergency

Responding to the publication of the Climate Change Committee’s annual report to Parliament, Liberal Democrat Climate Emergency Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The climate crisis is doing irreversible damage to our planet. As this report shows, we need greater Climate Action Now so we can protect our planet for future generations.

Since the Conservatives adopted a net-zero target last year, we have seen agonisingly little progress. This Government are all talk and no action when it comes to the climate emergency .

With the UK taking a leading role at COP26, the Prime Minister must

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5 June 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Lib Dems: Ministers must commit now to any recommendations from inequalities inquiry
  • ONS figures highlight the devastating COVID-19 care home crisis
  • Lib Dems call for legally binding targets to restore natural world
  • Lib Dems: Extend Brexit transition now

Lib Dems: Ministers must commit now to any recommendations from inequalities inquiry

Responding to the announcement that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission will lead an inquiry into the racial inequalities exposed by the coronavirus outbreak, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The consequences of the coronavirus crisis are exacerbated for some communities by the existing inequalities in our society. The announcement that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission will investigate the disproportionate impact the virus has had on people from different ethnic minorities is particularly welcome considering Public Health England’s report earlier this week offered no proposed Government action.

The EHRC’s Inquiry will set out clear recommendations and Ministers must commit now to following them. The Liberal Democrats want to see a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, with a review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether its funding is adequate. Once the Inquiry has been carried out, the Government should set this in motion with their recommendations.

Too many individuals have lost their lives to coronavirus, and we know that a disproportionate number of those we have tragically lost are from BAME communities. It is clear that not only does the Government need to do more to tackle the spread of the virus, but it also needs to do more to tackle the injustice and inequality in our society.

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Stop the carbon offsetting Greenwash

The current virus has temporarily reduced carbon emissions, but climate change is still important.

Carbon offsetting is used to enable an organisation or person engaged in an activity that emits CO2 (or other Greenhouse Gas (GHG)), such as flying, to pay to support project(s) that reduce emissions so they can claim a neutral net effect on climate change. There is a wide range of such projects on offer commercially, an example being planting trees. The cost in £/ton of CO2 varies very widely, and the control and auditing of the validity of their claims is weak. Naturally, both organisations and …

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Daily View 2×2: 2 April 2020

I’m celebrating a glorious third place finish in the first Creeting St Peter online quiz last night, and thus in a good mood today…

2 big stories

The number of ventilators that will be delivered this weekend is… 30.

No, that isn’t a misprint, but whilst more will follow, it’s not what people might have been expected of the “first of thousands” announced by Michael Gove on Tuesday. It was Alok …

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A private member’s bill to keep fossil fuels in the ground – where they belong

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Last year Theresa May’s government declared a climate emergency and put into law the aim to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

But here’s the rub. The UK government’s current primary objective for offshore oil and gas is to enable as much as possible to be extracted. This is written into the Petroleum Act 1998.

To many people it is a matter of common sense that opening up new oil and gas fields – and building new fossil fuel infrastructure – is incompatible with acting to tackle the climate emergency and meeting the net-zero target by 2050. It is also incompatible with our commitments to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The bald truth is that even if current developed reserves of fossil fuels are realised, we will easily pass the aspirant 1.5 degrees centigrade rise in temperature agreed in Paris; in fact we will hit the 2 degree rise in global temperatures that the IPCC have said will be catastrophic for the planet. To put things into perspective, currently global temperatures have risen to 1 degree centigrade (compared to 1880). According to NASA, the last five years are, collectively, the hottest on record.

Attitudes are changing. The World Bank announced in 2017 that it will phase out finance for oil and gas extraction. Mark Carney, when he leaves the BoE at the end of January, will take up a new role as UN envoy for Climate and Finance. He has already penned articles warning that divesting in fossil fuels by large institutions is happening too slowly and has warned that up to $20 trillion of “stranded assets” could be wiped out by climate change. There is growing acceptance that an economic transition is already underway, and we ignore it at our peril.

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28 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors
  • Liberal Democrats: Huawei decision shows no regard for its human rights record
  • Davey calls for ‘Net Zero’ department to slash UK greenhouse gas emissions
  • Liberal Democrats: Trump’s negotiations a sham

Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors

Responding to the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report which has advised against against a full points-based system for UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Conservative Government wants to impose an entirely new immigration system in less than 12

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10 December 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Lib Dems: Brexit is already costing our public services more than £350 million a week
  • Swinson warns of Johnson threat to human rights
  • Business backs the Liberal Democrats
  • Lib Dems are listening to Gen Z’s climate emergency fears

Lib Dems: Brexit is already costing our public services more than £350 million a week

The Liberal Democrats have revealed that Brexit is already costing the government £380–470 million a week – money that could have been spent on the NHS instead.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that GDP is £55–66 billion lower this year than it would have been without Brexit, mainly …

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9 December 2019 – today’s press releases

Apologies to our regular readers for the temporary disappearance of this regular feature – I was away and had some surprisingly poor internet access. Anyway, on with the show…

  • Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency
  • Lib Dems: Brexit leak on Northern Ireland checks shows Johnson is lying to the public
  • Lib Dems: Johnson refusing to look at picture of sick child shows mask has slipped
  • Question Time debate shows Jo Swinson is a next generation leader

Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency

The Liberal Democrats have …

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16 November 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Lib Dems announce plans to plant 60 million trees a year
  • Lib Dems: EU staff crucial to our NHS

Lib Dems announce plans to plant 60 million trees a year

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will plant a tree in Hampstead today (Saturday 16 November), as the party announces ambitious proposals to undertake the largest tree-planting programme in UK history. A Liberal Democrat government will plant 60 million trees every year, increasing UK forest cover by 1 million hectares by 2045.

Just 13% of the UK is currently covered by woodland, far below the European Union average of 35%. The Conservatives …

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12 November 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in flood defences
  • Jane Dodds to Unveil Lib Dem Plan for a Brighter Future
  • Corbyn can’t afford lifelong learning if he doesn’t stop Brexit

Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in flood defences

The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to create a £5bn flood prevention and adaptation fund.

As the world grapples with a climate emergency, the Tories are turning their backs on communities most at risk by failing to provide adequate flood defences. The Tory’s Brexit agenda risks the UK losing access to vital EU funds for improving flood defences and flood relief. This would starve local communities of …

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9-10 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

That’s rather embarrassing, in that I managed to fall asleep mid-edit. So, time to catch up…

  • Lib Dems respond to Conservative announcement on GP appointments
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson should call Cobra meeting over flooding emergency
  • Labour People’s Vote promise rings hollow – Lib Dems
  • Labour People’s Vote promise rings hollow – Lib Dems
  • Lib Dems: Manifestos must receive OBR scrutiny

Lib Dems respond to Conservative announcement on GP appointments

Responding to the Conservative Party’s announcement today on GP appointments, Luciana Berger, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said:

This latest Tory announcement isn’t offering any real solutions to the current

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Liberal Democrats set out bold green plan to build a brighter future

The Liberal Democrats have set out ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency by generating 80% of electricity from renewables by 2030 and insulating all low-income homes by 2025.

As one of the party’s key priorities in their ‘Plan for a Brighter Future’, the Liberal Democrats have committed to raising the energy efficiency standards for new homes alongside investing £15 billion over the next Parliament to retrofit 26 million homes. This would save the average household £550 a year on energy bills.

The party has also announced a Liberal Democrat government would prioritise accelerating the deployment of renewable power generation, …

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2-3 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems lodge election debate complaint with ITV
  • Lib Dems: Dithering Labour leadership shows they’re not fit for office
  • Lib Dems: Labour have no plan to tackle the climate emergency
  • Election debates should be set independently – Liberal Democrats

Lib Dems lodge election debate complaint with ITV

The Liberal Democrats have lodged a formal complaint to ITV for excluding Jo Swinson from their election debate and warned “failing to have Liberal Democrats in the debate is misrepresenting the current political reality.”

In a letter to ITV Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, the President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton said “voters of this country deserve …

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Ed Davey writes: Decarbonise capitalism to solve the climate emergency

An ambitious UK Climate Change plan can reduce 1% of global emissions – but the UK has the power to cut 15% of global emissions, by decarbonising capitalism.

The Committee on Climate Change has proposed a net zero carbon target by 2050 for the UK. This is the minimum we should do – within our own country.

Yet the UK plays a massive part in more than 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases – because the City of London finances the businesses responsible for those emissions. So we could make a more radical impact on climate change – if we chose to decarbonise capitalism here. And we could set a new gold standard for global climate action.

And frankly, it would be grossly hypocritical to ask the British people to change, if we then failed to force our banks and financial institutions to do likewise.

The good news is that across the City, many people get green finance. But it’s still not mainstream. We won’t be able to solve the climate emergency just by adding in a bit of green cash: we need a system change. A diet only works if you eat salad and give up the doughnuts.

Just look at the greenwash by the fossil fuel sector. There are just 100 fossil fuel firms who’ve been responsible for 70% of global emissions since 1988 – and they have allocated on average only 1.3% of their total capital expenditure on green energy. This is utterly reckless and totally out of step with a net zero goal.

To reverse this, Government has to say: London will become a capital of Green Finance, and you will no longer be able to fund the climate crisis here.

This will be hugely challenging. Today 20% of the value of the London Stock Exchange is invested in high carbon and fossil fuel firms. By implication 20% of any pension funds tracking the LSE are too. To protect the incomes of pensioners today and in the future, their savings need new profitable homes.

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