On 9 February the Hornsey & Wood Green Labour Party Climate Change & Environment Group organised a public meeting to discuss climate change initiatives in the light of Brexit and now Trump. I was delighted to see that local MP Catherine West was in the Chair. Speakers were Labour shadow climate change spokesman Barry Gardiner MP and Councillor Andrew Cooper, leader of the Greens in Kirklees Council. Great to see such a large audience on this vital subject which has languished unheard during the upheavals of 2016.
Highlights from Barry Gardiner’s speech were:
1) In the House of Commons Labour asked for an amendment to the vote to trigger Article 50 to require an assessment on the environmental impact of leaving the EU. This failed due to a shortage of 20 Conservative MPs who cared enough about the environment (my words here).
2) US under Trump. Barry had spoken with Jonathan Pershing (Obama’s former Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State and lead U.S. negotiator to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change but now forced out onto pastures new). Pershing said that he was not depressed by the Trump administration’s climate approach, because US states and cities and business have got the climate message and would drive decarbonisation forward.
3) The UK is way off hitting its carbon budgets to 2032, by 47%. The Government is way behind writing its implementation plan for hitting its 4th carbon budget, which is delayed until sometime in 2017. The UK climate consensus is falling apart.
However, the Government was committed to the end of coal by 2025 (the Government had earlier cancelled the trial for abatement of coal pollution). Barry was encouraged by moves within the national grid to install many more systems operators, which will make the grid more flexible and energy-saving, able to accommodate renewables more easily, etc.,
The Government supports fracked gas, and so to discourage fracking companies, Labour has said it will ban fracking, and this jeopardises fracking’s potential profits. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/26/fracking-no-shale-gas-wells-to-be-drilled-in-uk-this-year
4) The Great EU Repeal Bill will stop enforcement of the many EU environmental protection laws by the EU. The Tories will go for deregulation , and have told the NFU that they will take away all the regulations the NFU doesn’t like. The pull out from Euratom will lead to chaos in nuclear industry.
5) The way to get people engaged in the climate change and decarbonisation issues is via microgeneration, which empowers people and communities, has worked with great success in Germany where community windfarms are very popular, and will work for Africa and Asia too.
Councillor Cooper spoke inspirationally about Kirklees and more widely, my report on his speech will follow separately.
Barry Gardiner, MP, Catherine West, MP, Norman Beddington, and Cllr Andrew Cooper of Kirklees