We start our coverage of this year’s UN Climate Change Talks in Poznan Poland with a look at an alternative proposal for a global climate deal called “Kyoto2”. The scheme would limit emissions by rationing the production of fossil fuels at source and would generate a trillion dollar fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change, to preserve forests and to help decarbonise the globe. There is also a strong component of direct regulation. We speak to the scheme’s architect, Oliver Tickell.
As a result of a massive civil society campaign, the UK will soon pass historic legislation which will bind the government to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. However a major loophole remains which threatens the credibility of the Bill – there is no limit on the amount of international credits the UK can buy up in order to meet this target. Will this loophole be closed before the law is given Royal Assent?
- Eliot Whittington (Christian Aid)
- Martyn Williams (Friends of the Earth)
- Steve Webb MP (Liberal Democrats)
- Dr Alice Bows (Tyndall Centre)
It is clear that we need to display greater commitment to tackling climate domestically if we are to have a credible voice in international negotiations. The leadership demonstrated in the commissioning of the Stern Review and bringing forward the Climate Change Bill is in danger of being undermined by policies such as airport expansion plans or an over-reliance on international credits in meeting domestic emission reduction commitments – Environment Audit Committee, July 2008
We urge caution about the use of international carbon credits. The argument that a tonne of carbon reduced abroad is the same as a tonne of carbon reduced at home is an over-simplification of a complex issue. Permitting the use of too many international carbon credits will drive down the cost of carbon, but this will also make renewables and air pollution targets more expensive to reach and potentially slow down the long term shift to a low-carbon economy in the UK – Environment Audit Committee, July 2008
It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts – David Victor, Stanford University
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is asking the international community to pay him to leave oil in the ground beneath the Yasuni National Park – possibly the world’s most biodiverse region and home to three indigenous communities who live in voluntary isolation. We speak to Georgina Donati of the Yasuni Green Gold campaign and hear Naomi Klein ponder the wider significance of this proposal and its connection to the idea of Ecological Debt.
We examine the Tories’ climate change policies in an interview with Zac Goldsmith – former editor of The Ecologist magazine who was invited by David Cameron in 2006 to co-chair the party’s Quality of Life policy review.
Here are some of the key climate-related policies that appear on the Conservative Party website:
- No third runway at Heathrow
- Constructing a high speed rail line between Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London starting in 2015 and completed by 2027
- Build new roads (yes, really)
- A “fair fuel stabiliser” tax so that when the price of petrol goes up, petrol tax goes down
- Feed-in Tariffs to encourage renewable energy and combined heat and power production by householders, businesses and public buildings etc.
- An emissions performance standard for new electricity plants that would rule out coal plants without carbon capture and storage (CCS)
- At least three CCS demonstration projects over the next 5-10 years
- A rise in the proportion of green taxes, with revenues used to reduce taxes on families
- Offer Green ISAs – tax-free savings for individuals which are invested in green projects
- Create a Green Environmental Market – a trading market for green technology companies
We ask Zac about:
- The Tories favoured approach to the international deal
- The loophole in the UK Cilmate Change Bill which allows government to buy its way out of reducing emissions at home
- How the Tories would tackle demand – which the Tyndall Centre says is the most critical aspect of climate policy
- Why current Tory policies would allow for an increase in aviation
- How the proposed high speed rail line would be funded
- Whether he is disappointed that so few of the Quality of Life Review’s recommendations have been taken up
- Whether the Tory’s dislike of regulation and public investment makes them ill-equipped for tackling climate change
Apologies for failing to raise the critical issue of Agrofuels…
We continue our look at the UK political parties climate policies by zeroing in on the Greens. If the Green Party have the policies to deal with the climate crisis and the other parties policies fall short or even head in the wrong direction, why are they not a more prominent feature on the UK’s political landscape? The desire of the party not to be left out in the political wilderness at this critical time is the principal rationale behind the decision to elect their first leader at their conference in London earlier this month – in the person of Caroline Lucas.
We speak to Jonathan Essex a Green Party member from Surrey and the Party’s former campaigns co-ordinator, about the Party’s climate policies.
- energy independence and a zero-carbon Britain by 2050
- an efficiency standard for new power stations that would rule out unabatted coal
- no nuclear power
- no replacement for our Trident nuclear arsenal
- green taxes
- investment in public transport including a high speed rail network and complete electrification of the network
- virtually no airport expansion
The Lib Dems have also been actively working to strengthen the UK’s Climate Change Bill. But has the profile of their green policies taken a back seat as the economy takes a downward turn? We travel to Bournemouth to their party conference to interview the party’s shadow secretaries for the environment – Steve Webb MP – and transport – Norman Baker MP.
Dr Pachauri has made news recently by advocating eating less meat as a personal contribution to combating the problem of global warming and climate change. This advice has its basis in a recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” which showed that beef and dairy farming was responsible for a massive 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transport sector. The lecture is entitled “Global Warning – The impact of meat production and consumption on climate change.”
If the rest of the developed world followed the pathway envisaged in the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Bill, dangerous climate change would be inevitable – United Nations Development Programme
In June 2008 a press release by UK development charity Christian Aid announced that the government had “eviscerated” the Climate Change Bill – a potentially groundbreaking piece of legislation which will put greenhouse gas reduction targets into UK law. The UK government had announced its intention to remove key ammendments that have been made by the House of Lords.
We speak to Eliot Whittington, Christian Aid’s senior advisor on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, about their concerns and how they might be addressed. They include:
- an outdated target of 60% reduction in CO2 by 2050
- removal of a reference to the 2C global threshold
- shipping and aviation still not included
- no limit on the amount of carbon credits that can be bought to meet targets
- removal of an obligation on UK companies to disclose their carbon footrpint
The Second Half of the Age of Oil now dawns … it is a devastating development because it implies that the oil-based economy is in permanent terminal decline, removing the confidence in perpetual growth on which the Financial System depends … This in turns leads to the conclusion that the World faces another Great Depression. – Colin Campbell, 2007
Could we be heading towards economic meltdown in the face of the triple challenges of the credit crunch, climate crunch and energy crunch?
A new group calling itself The Green New Deal has put forward a policy package that aims to address this triple crunch. Their inaugural report looks at how the UK and US recovered from the Great Depression of the 1930s and also draws important lessons from Britain’s Wolrd War II experience, oil-crunched Cuba in the 1990s, as well as the New Economics Foundation (nef)’s work on well-being.
Could The Green New Deal form the basis for a broad new alliance outside the traditional party structures that would bring the financial sector back under proper control, create jobs and lay the foundations of a new low carbon society?
We dedicate this week’s programme to an interview with one of the report’s authors, Andrew Simms, who is also policy director of nef.
A moratorium on coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and storage … should be the rallying issue for young people. It seems to me that [they] should be doing whatever is necessary to block construction of dirty coal-fired power plants. – Professor James Hansen, 8 July 2007
A report on this year’s Camp for Climate Action at Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent including interviews with some of those involved in some of the associated direct actions.
- Camp for Climate Action
- Indymedia full coverage
- 228 MPs ask for a public inquiry into Kingsnorth
- Environment Audit Committee – report on Carbon Capture & Storage
- The Poyry Report – the UK does not need new coal or nuclear if we meet our renewable energy targets
- Cashing In On Coal – RBS, UK Banks and the Global Coal Industry
- Letters to Cargill from communities in Brazil, Paraguay and Papua New Guinea