Saturday, December 13, 2014

The cost of the illusion and can we avoid a slide to a totalitarian state.

Talk given on 12th Dec at Swindon, click here or here

As the cost of climate change mounts can we avoid a totalitarian state?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

2nd email to all MPs linking climate change and nuclear weapons

The following email has been send to Ed Davey, climate change secretary and copied to all other MPs. At the time of writing, Ed Davey is attending the COP talks in Lima as the prognosis for climate change continues to exceed the worst case scenarios by increasingly severe margins:

Attn: Mr Edward Davey MP Climate Change secretary 

Dear Mr Davey,  

I recently circulated an email to all MPs questioning the logic of pursuing a nuclear deterrent when the overwhelming evidence is that a complete and devastating economic collapse will occur during its operational life time due to the combined effects of climate change and energy shortages. In fact, the financial constraints that the government is now having to manage and which are evident in the Autumn Spending  statement are indicative that the economic collapse has already started.

My email highlighted that by pursuing Trident, it makes agreement on climate change impossible due to the massive military industrial complex that must be kept operational and which can only be funded by an expanding economy. Both of these reinforce competitive engagement between nations at a time when co-operation is desperately needed. It therefore extinguishes any slight hope we may have.

MPs from all parties responded. However, with the exception of the smaller parties, few responses demonstrated any acknowledgment of the extreme danger that climate change is likely to cause in the very near future (i.e. within 10 years).  Indeed, the Labour Party front bench said in its response that climate change and nuclear weapons were separate issues and back benchers from from the governing coalition continued to virtually dismiss climate change as a serious issue. This is demonstrating the old adage that if it is easier to avoid taking hard action than facing it, this is what will be done, irrespective of the evidence.

In your interview in the Telegraph, you have admitted that any agreement in the Lima COP talks is unlikely to be adequate to stop the global temperature rising above 2 deg C and that we have only one year to take action to save the planet. In this case, if you stay silent you are contributing to the writing of our suicide note.

You have no choice. If you are serious about climate change and Britain playing a full role in developing a global agreement to give life on this planet just the slightest hope of survival, then you must link climate change and nuclear weapons talks together at the highest level.

This email will be copied to all MPs

Kevin Lister

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Talk in Swindon, 12th December

This Friday, 12th December, from 7.40pm at the Friends Meeting House, Kevin Lister will be speaking on “The Cost of the Illusion” and positing the further question - can we avoid a decent into a totalitarian state.
The talk comes at an apposite time. It is shortly after the government’s autumn spending statement and the climate change talks in Peru.

In the spending statement, the government has revealed the many stark conflicting messages that it must manage.  The Chancellor claims that GDP has increased, yet tax receipts are down, wages are down and the budget deficit is worse than expected. But, we are told not to worry because it will be okay be 2018.

The talk will explain why these contradictions in financial policy exist and that things will definitely not be okay in 2018. In fact, the opposite is true; things will be an awful lot worse driven by the economic impacts from climate change. However just as the Chancellor does not want to acknowledge these drivers, nor do the organisers of the UN climate change conference.

The result is that an illusion of affordability is created, which is masking a dangerous drift towards a new form of totalitarianism. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Response from the Labour Party Front Bench on climate change & Trident

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your email regarding the threat of climate change, and Labour’s policy on Trident.

Labour is committed ensuring that, domestically and globally, Britain plays a leading role in fighting climate change. The next Labour government will pursue an ambitious a ten year plan to make Britain a world-leader in green technology.

Climate change is real, man-made and happening, and tackling it is one of the greatest challenges facing Britain and the world today. All of the forecasts say that over the coming years and decades, we are looking at more extreme weather, with more severe droughts, and more severe flooding.

The last Labour government led the world with our Climate Change Act, committing the UK to legally binding emissions reduction targets, building consensus around action at home and abroad. Britain’s new technology and energy industries put us at the cutting edge of innovation in exciting new technologies like carbon capture and storage, offshore wind and tidal energy. But our competitive edge is being eroded under David Cameron’s Government. Since 2010, investment in large clean energy projects has fallen and we are investing less than half the amount we need to each year to meet our emissions targets.

Despite David Cameron’s promise that his would be the ‘greenest government ever’, he has prioritised shale gas while deterring investment in low-carbon energy; shackled the Green Investment Bank by denying it borrowing powers; weakened the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) on energy efficiency; and appointed a climate change sceptic as Environment Secretary.

The Tories believe there is a trade-off between protecting British jobs and tackling climate change, but they are wrong. The global market for green technology is currently worth £3.4 trillion a year and growing, and countries that move first will become world leaders.

Labour is committed to ensuring the UK wins the race to create and sell solutions which enable the transition to a low carbon global economy, creating one million additional high technology jobs by 2025. That means making Britain the most attractive place in the world to invest in low-carbon technologies, by setting a legal target to remove the carbon from our electricity supply by 2030 and developing an active industrial strategy for the green economy. We will unshackle the Green Investment Bank and give it borrowing powers so it can invest in the technologies and industries of the future.

Our plan is to adapt our homes, businesses and infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and build resilience to the effects of climate change. So we will insulate 5 million homes over the next ten years, reducing households’ energy bills, making homes warmer and cutting carbon emissions. To do this, we will devolve the delivery of energy efficiency to city-regions, local authorities and communities. And to improve our resilience, we are looking at how we can prioritise upfront investment such as flood protection.

Climate change is a global issue that requires global action. By providing international leadership, through the EU and globally, the UK can help to ensure an effective and enforceable agreement to cut global carbon emissions is in effect by 2020. So Labour will support an ambitious, legally-binding international agreement on climate change at the Paris Conference in 2015.

If you would like to share your ideas to reduce carbon emissions, build our resilience to climate change and seize the opportunities that green technologies present, please make a submission to our Living Standards and Sustainability Policy Commission.

Regarding the separate issue of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, the Labour Party believes in working toward a world free of nuclear weapons. That’s why, in government, we reduced the number of deployed missiles and warheads on British Vanguard submarines, and took a lead internationally on global anti-proliferation. A Labour government would work with the United States and other allies for multilateral disarmament, and to advance the objective of ‘Global Zero’. The non-proliferation conference in 2015 will be a key moment to make progress on global disarmament and anti-proliferation, and we want to make the most of this opportunity.

The nuclear deterrent is an issue which evokes passionate views on all sides, but we believe that now is not the time for unilateralism. As long as we live in an uncertain world in which other nations possess nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation remains a deep concern, it is right that the UK retains its own deterrent, while seeking multilateral commitments to disarmament and anti-proliferation.

Labour has said that we are committed to the minimum credible independent nuclear deterrent, which we believe is best delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent. It would require a substantial body of evidence for us to change that belief, and the Government’s recent Trident Alternatives Review does not appear to offer such evidence. We will continue to look at ways in which that minimal credible deterrent can be delivered most efficiently and with the greatest cost effectiveness.

The nuclear deterrent was discussed by Labour’s National Policy Forum last year, and also by our Britain’s Global Role Policy Commission. It is an important issue which will continue to be discussed through the Labour Party's policy making structures.

With kind regards,

On behalf of the Labour Party

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1st Letter sent to all MPs in the lead up to the General Election

The dangerous link between climate change and Trident

Dear MP,

In six months the country will be going to the polls facing the two most contentious decisions in human history -  what to do about climate change and what to do about nuclear weapons.  The decisions made will affect the rest of the planet forever. However, these will probably hardly feature in the debates because discussion of these topics is too awful.

The consensus of scientific opinion is that levels of CO2 have reached such dangerous levels that feedback loops are being activated which are leading to additional CO2 and other greenhouses gases such as methane being added to the atmosphere. This is now well know and supported by overwhelming evidence.

The Keeling Curve is the best measure of our failure to deal with the crisis.

The following graph shows the 12 month moving average of the Keeling data. By drawing a line from the first to last point the convexity of the curve is evident. It shows the rate of growth steadily increasing over the measurement period and continuing to do so today.

With this trend, simple maths shows we will reach the 450 ppm level in about 10 years. It gives us far less time to take the urgent actions than we are generally led to believe. The curve also warns that when we hit 450 ppm we will be on an accelerating curve and CO2 will explosively burst through this limit.  After this, the worst nightmares of runaway climate change are impossible to avoid.

Already the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is underway and the Greenland Ice sheet is melting far faster than models suggest. Paleontological records suggest a rapid catastrophic collapse is most likely. This will flood many of our major cities, nuclear power stations, ports and oil refineries in tens of years, not in hundreds. These crises will have to be faced against a background of other climate change driven catastrophes such as droughts and food shortages.

It is into this maelstrom of ecological disaster that the next parliament must make the decision on the Trident replacement. Trident is the ultimate statement in preserving  the business as usual status that is destroying the planet. Its planned operational life extends to 2060, yet the exponential explosion in atmospheric CO2 means society will collapse long before then.

It creates the ultimate illogicality of stretching collapsing societies to the limit by building hugely expensive weapons that will have the capability to destroy the planet long after it has been destroyed through climate change. 

It drives three questions that must be answered before you give your support to Trident, or any other nuclear weapons system, in the next parliament:

  1. Will the intensifying international competition that climate change drives make agreeing on nuclear disarmament impossible in the future?
  2.  Will the ensuing economic collapse make it impossible to guarantee that Trident submarines will be remain safe from accidents or premature launches.
  3.  Will Trident submarines and their missiles become an eternal liability for the survivors of climate change struggling in a dystopian environment?

The motivation to replace Trident is a response to the global instability that the forces of climate change and unconstrained industrialisation are driving. However, this requires a high carbon military industrial complex to be kept permanently operational along with an expanding economy to raise the taxes. This is the antithesis to the responses that we need to tackle climate change.

Trident is thus a stick through the spokes in the wheels of the climate change negotiations. In this context and at this dangerous time, Trident and the nuclear arms race it supports, are far more dangerous than we ever first thought.

I would therefore urge you to be clear in hustings and in your campaign literature leading up to the election, that while the above questions remain unanswered, you will not support the replacement of Trident and in the light of the explosive increase in atmospheric CO2 you will make clear that there can never be a tenable case for Trident.

Kevin Lister

Further References:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why do climate change talks fail ?

The Vortex of Violence and why we are losing the war on climate change is now available in Kindle and Kobo book stores.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Letter sent to David Cameron prior to the New York Climate Change summit

Dear Prime Minister,
On the 23rd Sept you will be in New York to attend the climate change conference.
The future of the world now hangs in the balance. The emerging science and evidence on the ground makes this unambiguous. However, the prospects for the meeting are not good. Already reports are being prepared by Lord Stern amongst others claiming climate change can be tackled and in so doing economic growth can either be maintained or improved. This is delusional.
It takes no account of how the politics of a zero carbon global economy must be significantly different from the fossil fuel based economy of today. It takes no account of the under-estimations that the IPCC models have consistently delivered. It takes no account of the critical warming already in the pipeline due to the 30 year time lag between carbon injection into the atmosphere and the subsequent heating. It takes no account of the wars that are breaking out around the planet driven by the combination of climate change and energy shortages, nor the intensive preparations that are being made for war by the all the main industrial nations.  It takes no account that during the last 30 years the same amount of fossil fuel has been burnt as had ever been burnt up to that point. The unavoidable truth is that far greater disruption is to come than that which we are experiencing today. This is irrespective of even the best actions that you may agree to on the 23rd Sept. To continue deluding ourselves that despite all this evidence we can actually improve economic growth is a recipe for under achieving on climate change efforts and ensuring that the worst case scenarios materialise.
As these crises unfold the main economic blocks will be forced to compete harder against each other for food, energy and other critical resources. It will make achieving the type of co-operation that we need to tackle the coming crisis increasingly difficult, but without this co-operation our fate will be sealed. Instead, nations will be tempted to make every effort to protect self-interest by developing fossil fuel economies thus exacerbating the risks that they are trying to avoid. This path leads to a dangerous downward spiral.
Your government has already taken the first inadvertent steps down this spiral. In contrast to extending out the hand of co-operation to the rest of the world, you have committed to pursuing the Trident replacement. Your party has justified this by the increasing instability in the world, much of which has its origins in climate change. To support this decision, the country requires a massive, energy intensive military industrial complex and expanding economy to raise the taxes. This is the antithesis of what is needed to tackle climate change.
There is no comfort in the decision that Trident only constitutes a couple of percent of GDP. The costs of maintaining the huge industrial complexes it needs must be amortised across civilian markets. It forces these to be sustained, irrespective of the ecological damage they cause.
As a measure of this, DECC has already proved unable to provide a comprehensive carbon budget for Trident. This is despite the commitments that the Conservative Party agreed to in the last parliament to provide carbon budgets for all major decisions.
It is therefore imperative that you consider far bolder actions on climate change than are normally accepted within the current discourse. You must advocate for nuclear disarmament and climate change talks to be integrated. These are the flip sides of the same coin, industrial competition. Doing this forces the question of the rationality of maintaining high carbon industries and a competitive environment that drives international relationships at this time of planetary risk.  Failure to do this guarantees failure in the fight on climate change.

Yours sincerely, 

Kevin Lister