One of the UK’s leading climate policy researchers has concluded we need a planned economic contraction if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. We take a look at some of the links between the credit crunch and the climate crunch with Tim Helweg-Larsen, director of the Public Interest Research Centre and co-author of the “Zero Carbon Britain” & “Climate Safety” reports. There’s also an appearance by Kevin Anderson (Research Director at the Tyndall Centre) and a live performance of the “Global Meltdown Derby” by Irish poet Grassy Noel.
- Might a planned or unplanned economic contraction be our best hope of achieving climate safety?
- What does the UK need to do right now to start leading from the front and change the game at the UN talks in Copenhagen later this year?
- Should we be focusing on demand management policies and move to a steady-state economy as soon as possible?
- If so, is carbon rationing our best tool for swift action on climate change?
- When will the UK realize that we have an offshore renewable energy goldmine just waiting for us to tap?
- George Monbiot (The Guardian)
- Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party)
- Jeremy Leggett (Solar Century)
- Leila Deen (activist)
The new series of “The 300-350 Show” kicks of with a recording of the presentations given at the launch of the “Climate Safety” report last Autumn. The Public Interest Centre’s “Climate Safety” report gives a clear and simple summary of the latest science, and shows how our current handling of the problem has exposed us to serious and growing risks. With Arctic sea ice melting away faster than anyone had predicted, the climate seems more sensitive than almost anyone thought, placing us in the middle of a climate emergency that cannot be ignored or brushed aside.
The report delivers a clear message that to have any chance of maintaining a safe climate, we must rapidly decarbonise our society, preserve global sinks, and address the problem with an unprecedented degree of seriousness. Even with a commitment to 80% carbon cuts by 2050, “Climate Safety” warns that our current policy response does not match up to the scale of the challenge.
At this launch event, recorded last Autumn, the panelists discuss how we can get beyond “politics-as-usual” and achieve a full, emergency response.
Many thanks to film-maker Beth Stratford for the use of her sound recordings.
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
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.
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.
- George Monbiot – Guardian columnist and author of “Heat: How to stop the planet Burning” (Penguin)
- Richard Hawkins – co-author of “Zero Carbon Britain” (Centre for Alternative Technology) and
- Sophie and Olly from the Climate Camp
Both George Monbiot and the Centre for Alternative Technology have worked out what the UK needs to do in order to play its part in the global challenge of avoiding dangerous climate change. New scientific findings are telling us we need to act faster than we previously thought and move rapidly to a world without fossil fuels by reducing our energy usage and powering our remaining energy use from renewable sources.
– How can we galvanise the political will to make it happen?
– How will these changes affect the way we live?
– Can we, in fact, live better with less?
Recording by Indymedia.
Programme produced by Phil England.
Britain can become free of fossil fuels and self-sufficient in energy and food in just 20 years. That is the conclusion of the most ambitious report yet on what Britain needs to do to play its part in avoiding dangerous climate change. What will Britain be like and how will we get there?
We speak to the co-ordinator and co-lead author of the Centre for Alternative Technology’s new report “Zero Carbon Britain”, Tim Helweg-Larsen. Why are Tradeable Energy Quotas expected to be the most effective way to drive the changes? What will be the impacts on transport, agriculture, buildings and – most importantly – our well-being?