Tim Farron MP writes…Green Climate Fund shows this government is leading the world

We often forget to say thank you, because we’re straight on to the next thing. But today, I want to say thank you to everyone – from  our members, activists, staff, councillors, MPs and Peers to Ed Davey for the success we’ve seen as a party on the Green Climate Fund. Even if climate change doesn’t get your heart racing, if you want evidence that the Lib Dems in the Coalition are alive and kicking – look no further. Cameron’s “green crap” attitude hasn’t stopped us leading the world on climate change. We’ve got a lot more to do – but this is good news that should give us confidence.

Set up five years ago at the Copenhagen climate conference, the Green Climate Fund is designed – over time – to replace the spaghetti system of existing funds, and become the main channel for finance to help developing countries reduce emissions and protect themselves from dangerous climate change. It was one of the outcomes which saved the Copenhagen climate conference from complete failure.

Like Ed Davey, I’m proud that our government today helped to kick-start this crucial fund, which I’ve previously written about. Climate finance is central to the international climate negotiations, and having the fund up and running in time for COP 20 in Lima this December is an important trust-building measure. For the first time, poor countries are being asked to commit to reduce emissions as part of the global climate agreement in Paris next year – yet developed countries have consistently failed to deliver on their side of the bargain to provide promised support. As a result, the Green Climate Fund is seen as a key test by developing countries on whether developed countries can really be relied on to deliver their promises.

The timing of the pledging conference today – with the other two parties trying to UKIP-UKIP in Rochester – has provoked questions about whether this money would be better spent on flood defences in the UK. The idea that this is an either-or choice misses the point. Supporting emissions reductions abroad, and bringing the world onto a pathway to avoid dangerous climate change, is quite simply the best insurance we can buy to prevent future devastating flooding in the UK.

And for many communities on the front-line of climate change, from the Philippines to Ethiopia, they are facing impacts on an altogether different scale. Increasingly common and severe storms are wiping out harvests and livelihoods – and farmers are already struggling to adapt to droughts, closely followed by floods. Charities like Oxfam have warned that climate change risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against hunger. And the injustice is that it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who are being hit hardest by climate chaos caused by rich, industrialised countries. But these communities and governments are already getting on with the job of adapting and reducing emissions.

I’m glad our government is right behind them supporting them in these efforts – and I am proud to be the party making it happen.

* Tim Farron is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Refugees and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

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  • Mr Davey has taken £650 million from hard pressed taxpayers who have trouble heating their homes and is giving it to the rich leaders of poor countries. Speaking on the BBC, Mr Davey said that developing countries should use solar panels and must not use fossil fuels to generate electricity. So he condemns them to having no electricity during the hours of darkness.

    Perhaps he should get them to use wind turbines as well. While he was on air, this country was using 43 gigawatts of electricity with our thousands of wind turbines generating just 2%. It appears that Mr Davey is planning for the UK to have the same electricity security as the developing countries.

    Mr Davey claims that the huge payment is to counter climate change but has no control over how the money will be spent. He said that climate change is happening now. Climate change is always happening, but that is poor justification for throwing away £650 million.

    Climate change is the meaningless term adopted when global warming ceased over eighteen years ago. Mr Davey uses the term frequently. He is after all, climate change minister. He talks of sea levels rising. They have been rising since the last glacial but in recent years the rate of rising has become smaller. He implied that climate change was causing extreme weather. He must know that most extreme weather events are at record low levels.

    Climate change has become an ideological crusade rather like a religion. It is driven by faith. Facts are not required.

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Nov '14 - 10:12pm

    Peter 20th Nov ’14 – 9:17pm

    Well, fancy stumbling on David ‘green crap’ Cameron on LDV.

    You have no idea do you. Not even a twinkle of enlightened self-interest.

  • Does it not strike you as strange that on the day that LDV is congratulating the party on its world leading policies the party polls less than one percent of the vote?

  • @ Stephen Hesketh – I base my opinions on the latest findings of climate science and in particular the large discrepancy between observational data and the output of general circulation models. If you want to be truly enlightened, follow the science.

    If you want to understand more about the global movement to counter the greatest threat ever to face our planet, follow the money.

  • Duncan Brack 21st Nov '14 - 9:09am

    Peter – if ‘global warming ceased over eighteen years ago’, how come 2005 and 2010 were warmer than 1998?

  • @Duncan Brack – It is not possible to determine the trend in climate change by comparing two data points. By selecting which two points you compare you can get any trend you want. Data collected on a daily basis over many years is statistically analysed to find the trend. There has been no statistically significant warming or cooling for about 18 years and 2 months.. During that period, the temperatures have fluctuated up and down as you would expect due to natural variability.

    Basically, temperatures vary a great deal, so think of the data as having a lot of noise. We need to use statistical techniques to extract the underlying trend.

  • Daniel Henry 21st Nov '14 - 10:17am

    “I base my opinions on the latest findings of climate science”

    Why do these random people who’ve read a couple of books written by climate change deniers suddenly think they know better than the scientific community?

  • Sorry don’t agree if you wanted money for this it should have came from the aid budget

  • Duncan Brack 21st Nov '14 - 12:06pm

    Peter – thanks very much, you are absolutely right, you need to look at trends, not individual data points – which is why I was querying your very precise statement that global warming came to an end eighteen years and two months ago (presumably at half past three in the afternoon …) .

    The reality is that in 2013 the annually-averaged temperature across the world was 0.62°C above the 20th century average and marks the 37th consecutive year (since 1976) that the annual temperature was above the long-term average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010, which was 0.66°C above average. Nine of the ten warmest years on record have occured during the 21st century. The global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.06°C per decade since 1880 and at an average rate of 0.16°C per decade since 1970 – and has continued rising in the 2000s, though at the lower rate of 0.06°C per decade.

    It is not disputed – even, I assume, by Peter – that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing (in 2013, that of carbon dioxide was 142% above pre-industrial levels). The greenhouse effect hypothesis, first proposed in 1824, suggests that as concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rise, the warming effect rises too; studies since have repeatedly confirmed this hypothesis . So if global warming really ground to a halt in 1996, what mechanism can Peter et el put forward to explain why greenhouse gases are suddenly having no greenhouse effect any more?

  • Duncan Brack 21st Nov '14 - 2:21pm

    And Allan – it does come from the aid budget.

  • Duncan – Good points. The 2 months bit is accurate but tongue in cheek. The climate science community is looking at the length of the pause very closely indeed so each month gets a flurry of debates.

    This warmest year stuff is good for alarmist headlines. Imagine climbing the highest hill around, 1 km high to find a flat area on top. Everywhere you go on the flat bit is the highest. place around. Very slight variations then allow you to claim new records that are even higher. It is not surprising that the warmest years occurred after temperatures reached the warmest year and then went static.. Don’t forger you are comparing temperatures to one hundredth of a degree when the actual temperatures measured were not that accurate.

    Another point is that the warmest ever is since records began. There are a few older recordsets especially in the UK but most records go back about 100 years, a flea bite in our human history. We know that it was a lot hotter in the past and it got very cold too. Most people think we are still gradually warming up from the Little Ice Age which lasted about 100 years around the mid 18th century.

    Yes, green house gases are increasing. They too have varied a great deal, being up to 1000 ppm in the more distant past. About two thirds of the carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans and the rest is in the atmosphere. The solubility of the gas in water is temperature dependent so warming up over the last 250 years has increased the proportion in the atmosphere. Man has contributed to that as well.

    And yes, greenhouse gas theory is correct. There are lots of assumptions and uncertainties but green house warming is not disputed. What is disputed is the sensitivity of the atmosphere to greenhouse forcing.

    During the 20 years or so when temperatures soared, there was an excellent correlation with atmospheric carbon dioxide. This was taken as evidence of green house warming and everyone started to panic. Climate scientists insisted that CO2 was the most powerful factor and it dominated our climate. Then, in 1998 the temperature rise stopped, even though carbon dioxide kept rising. The old saying, correlation does not imply causation comes to mind.

    Today, it is clear that carbon dioxide is not dominant, other narural factors have the power to stop its effect. If they can do that, they may have been responsible for some or all of the warming in the first place. Nobody knows.The models developed during the warming years show huge warming while Mother Nature shows no warming. The models have failed. The climate sensitivity has been revised downwards on a regular basis which means that the warming is probably very gradual if it happens at all and may even be benign. We are not quite at that point yet and a lot of people have vested interests in not getting there.

    It is fair to say that the science is split and very polarized. Some people think that the solar effects and ocean oscillations are what drives our climate. Nobody knows. Time will tell.

  • Sorry – I didn’t answer your last question. There are lots of possible mechanisms. The period of warming coincided with the of greatest solar activity ever recorded.. Now that solar activity is reducing people wonder if we shall see global cooling.

    My favourite is that a warming atmosphere means more water vapour. Many people think this will lead to runaway warming because it is a greenhouse gas. Others believe that it will mean more clouds. These will block incoming solar radiation that would normally heat the planet. So we might have a thermostat effect from clouds.

    The bottom line is that we are not going to fry any time soon. There is no cause for alarm, no need for drastic action. Gradual adaptation is the current thinking of some top scientists, if there is any warming at all. This is why I am scathing about throwing millions as a blank cheque and destroying our economy with unilateral pointless gestures on 80% use of renewable energy when it doesn’t work at night or when the wind doesn’t blow.

  • @ Duncan Brack

    Thank you I for one feel far better about that money then, I wonder if you happen to know is the Ebola help from the aid fund. If this is the case I think LibDem should tell people as I for one thought this was all additional funds

    I think many would support the aid budget if we got information who recieved it another example Syrian people who escaped when the public are kept in the dark it’s easy as I have done to jump to the wrong conclusion

    I understand you may argue many support the aid budget, many more might if it did not feel we are paying for the Indian Space program that I feel sure we aren’t but who does get the aid

    Thank you again

  • Duncan Brack 23rd Nov '14 - 6:34pm

    I know I’m two days behind this post, but just for the sake of completeness:

    Allan – yes, as I’m aware, UK spending on tackling ebola is from the aid budget – see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nhs-volunteers-deployed-to-fight-ebola-in-sierra-leone for some more details. Actually the Department for International Development publishes a lot of information on UK aid spending – see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/368798/SID-2014a.pdf for more details than you probably want! And here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-development/about#where-we-work for projects broken down by country.

    I’m not going to answer Peter at length, because I have too many other things to do; sorry, there is a limit to what I can manage. Just to note that in general the scientific mainstream had repeatedly rejected the idea of a ‘pause’ in global warming, though it’s true to say that there are many potential contributory factors.

    And it is wholly misleading to claim that ‘It is fair to say that the science is split and very polarized’ – there is an overwhelming consensus behind the evidence for accelerating climate change. It is true to say that ‘some people think that the solar effects and ocean oscillations are what drives our climate’, but very few of them have any credibility. It is also true to say ‘Time will tell’, but by the time we know the precise impacts of climate change for certain it will be far too late to stop it – which is why I, and the vast majority of Liberal Democrats, and Liberal Democrat policy for as long as the party’s been debating it, choose to accept the increasingly clear and well-evidenced warnings from the scientific community about the dangers of climate change, and have decided to act now.

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