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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Question on climate change for a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

Hi Adam,

Thank you for your email and for expressing your concerns on climate change.

Firstly, I would like to assure you that I am absolutely committed to tackling climate change. The fact is that our response to climate change is the defining issue of our time. Most importantly, we need to accept that there are no easy solutions ahead of us. Our greenhouse gas levels by far exceeded danger levels, and worse not only are they continuing to increase, but the rate of increase is increasing. Already, it is anticipated that it will take our planet over 100,000 years to recover from the damage that we have inflicted upon it over the past 200 years since the start of the industrial revolution. See David Archers book, “The Long Thaw, How Humans Are Changing The Next 100,000 Year Of The Earths Climate.”

This situation is made worse by government policies that are either na├»ve or deliberately disingenuous. For example, we are seeing the total destruction of the Indonesian rainforest for Palm Oil to supply the biofuel industry which is only sustained by government subsidies and legislation, we are being told that by carbon trading we will be able to continue with business as usual as cuts can be made elsewhere, we have seen this government provide untold billions in subsidies to high carbon industries at a time of peak oil, we are seeing this government pursuing a third runway at Heathrow and the Conservatives supporting regional airport development everywhere else in the country.  Worse, we are seeing the cornerstone strategies of the main parties to be a resumption of economic growth with no questioning of this in the press.  The economic growth that they are selling us will mean that in the next 25 years we will require as much resources as we have consumed since the start of industrial revolution and produce the same amount of pollution.

As we move towards resource depletion in virtually every one of our supply chains, this will mean more resource wars as we scramble to grab hold of what is left. Not content with a resource war in Iraq, we are now readying our armed forces for renewed combat in the Falklands over the rights to drill for oil there. We should also be cautious of being involved in those wars that we do not notice, for example the appalling land grabs that are currently going on in Africa, South America and Indonesia where over 100 million indigenous people have been displaced from their land to make way for cash crops for the West, with a further 1 billion facing food shortages. We generally do not recognise this as war, as we win by subcontracting our battles to the militias and corrupt governments of these countries - but it is war none the less, just an undeclared one.

Whilst I recognise your target of being able to achieve 15% of our power from renewables, I would in actual fact challenge this and say that it is far too modest and that it is also the wrong measurement tool. Simply saying that we want 15% of our energy to be produced by renewables does not in itself stop an increase in fossil fuel burning. At the moment worldwide energy derived by fossil fuel energy is increasing rapidly and still outstripping the increases in renewable energy sources. What is far better, and more onerous, is to have a target that actually reduces our fossil fuel consumption by 15% per annum. 

This alternate approach forces the debate on moving to renewables and simultaneously tackles the issue of excess consumption.

Whilst I fully support the move towards renewables and believe we should introduce all financial incentives, it is clear that this will never provide the amount of energy that we need to run our economy with a population that is expanding to 70 million, see for example David Mackay’s excellent online book, Without Hot Air,

It is therefore clear that we must introduce personal carbon rationing, and there are very well developed ideas about this, such as Tradable Energy Quotas, Fundamentally moving towards a carbon rationing economy is the only way that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Relying on efficiency improvements and renewables alone will simply not do the job. All that happens is that someone else will use the fuel saved. This is already happening today – BP has recognised that market growth is not going to happen in Europe, and so are focusing their business on the Far East where environmental concerns do not feature.

I do not underestimate the challenges of moving towards a carbon rationing economy. It will be the biggest change ever since the signing of the Magna Carta. It will seal the end of unlimited economic growth, but will herald the start of a society that values the environment, which recognises fairness, which appreciates limits and the challenges of living within limits.

These are the difficult challenges we must rise to, the consequences of failure is a global temperature rise well in excess of 6 deg C which is too awful to contemplate. Unlike the other parties, I do not hold out the false hope of continued economic growth - I do however offer the chance to start the debate that we need to build the future we want to see.


--- On Wed, 7/4/10, XXXXX  wrote:

Subject: What are you promising on climate change?
Date: Wednesday, 7 April, 2010, 19:47

Adam Druett

Dear PPC,

Climate change will be one of the most important issues for whichever party forms the next government. Most observers recognise that greenhouse gas emissions must peak and begin to drop within the next five years – the maximum length of the next parliament.

The next government will have to take tough decisions and make big commitments, but the potential rewards are enormous. Investing in green technology and industry will create jobs, diversify our economy and cut inefficiency – as well as reducing the scourge of fuel poverty, where some of the most vulnerable in our society cannot afford to heat their homes. All parties must be aware of the advantages of action, as well as the danger of inaction.

We therefore need committed and enthusiastic MPs who will put environmental issues at the top of their agendas. That’s why I want to know your opinion on a number of key policy areas, which I believe can make a real difference to preventing climate change.

The UK’s meat and dairy production is reliant on the cultivation of soy in the developing world. Greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation are the result of our dependence on these crops. Peter Ainsworth MP, backed by a cross party group of MPs, has proposed a new law which will require the UK to end its dependence on imported soy and increase domestic production of animal feed – is this something that you would support if elected?

Would you back an international deal on cutting emissions – where those responsible make the deepest cuts first, and developing countries are supported to grow in a low carbon way? To do this, we need to work hard to cut our own emissions. Our current targets for cutting greenhouse gases aren’t high enough; we need to be aiming at a 42% cut by 2020, with sufficient investment to achieve it. Is this something you support?

Lastly, we need to make sure that councils do their fair share of cutting our emissions – would you back Local Carbon Budgets for every council area? They would make sure each area played its part in meeting the UK’s climate targets and create local jobs, boost the economy, and slash people’s fuel bills. Communities would benefit from better-heated homes and more sustainable transport systems.

Time is running out for us to deal with the environmental challenges the world faces. These measures are not the whole answer to the problems, but they are key steps towards ensuring that we build the low-carbon economy we need.

Please show your support for these policies by signing the Friends of the Earth Election pledge:

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely