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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Embedding Sustainable Development: An update

E-mail sent to all members of the Environmental Audit Committee

I note that the above session will be held on the 11th July.

I note with extreme concern that the referenced document “Embedding sustainable development: the Government’s response,” is premised on the oxymoron that development can be sustainable. As such, the measures in this document are totally insufficient to meet our 2050 climate change targets or provide an example to the rest of the world.

I trust this committee will be cognisant of the following facts and ensure they receive adequate consideration:  

  1. All critical measures of climate change now exceed the worst case scenario of the 2007 IPCC report. This puts us on track to a 6oC heating profile by the end of this century. This will lead to the loss of virtually all life on the planet. The further heating in the following century will render the planet totally lifeless. Far from addressing this threat by decreasing greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere, greenhouse gases emissions are increasing super-exponentially. As a result of this trend we will exceed all key climatic tripping points by 2030 if not considerably beforehand. No recovery will be possible past this point. The committee should also be aware that in 2010 significant methane gases releases started in the high Arctic  indicating that worse case climatic runaway scenarios may already be upon us.
  2. This government has not considered its obligations to the Durban Platform. It did not present any proposals “to increase the level of ambition to tackle climate change” and is ignoring the future aspiration to have legally binding cuts in CO2 emissions from 2020. This is evidenced amongst other things by government pressure to expand airport capacity in South East. This environmental audit committee should note with extreme alarm that climate change has been virtually censored out of the debate. What few discussions there are have been limited to statements that aviation emissions can be catered for by carbon trading within the EU ETS. This has not been subjected to any scrutiny.  It is despite all the evidence pointing to the concept of carbon trading being totally flawed and aviation emissions doubling every 17 years.
  3. The environmental audit committee should also consider that the military industrial complex is never considered in any climate change documentation or initiatives. However, to maintain our ability to compete with other nations on the international stage, we need huge energy intensive manufacturing facilities. These are  are funded with arms sales to other countries, usually oil rich countries, and through an economy which must continue to expand to raise the taxation. The high carbon industries needed for these arms races are considered “strategic” and are in receipt of considerable government support which is both political and financial.
  4. Allied to the above point, the Environment Audit Committee should also challenge the decision to build Trident. The construction of Trident requires a huge military industrial complex which can only be funded through excess consumption in an expanding economy.  Our competing nations will be forced to reciprocate by expanding their own military-industrial complexes and economies. This is the antithesis of cutting consumption to minimise greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a sustainable economy. Thus Trident and the associated nuclear weapons race across the planet makes committing to international climate change agreements impossible. The document under review states ministers will have the “opportunity to raise sustainability issues and identify where policies might otherwise compromise sustainability.” I trust that the committee will press ministers to explain how they think the decision to proceed with Trident does not compromise sustainability. The committee should also note that under the Low Carbon Transition Plan, which all parties agreed to, Page 36 states that, “To stay on track, the Government is moving to a radical new approach. Every major decision now needs to take account of the impact on the carbon budget.” The committee should be aware that no carbon budget has been produced for Trident despite this being the most major decision any government can take.  
Yours sincerely, 
Kevin Lister
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