Labour Government Complacency on Climate Change Exposed [Eastern Region Press Release]

 
– Reports confirm UK carbon emissions have risen sharply under Labour
 
– Government advisor says UK should prepare for 4 degrees C temperature rise
 
The Green Party’s longstanding concerns about Government complacency and Labour’s misleading use of statistics on dangerous climate change have been further vindicated with the publication of reports showing that instead of the often repeated Ministerial claims about UK emissions falling since the 1990s, greenhouse gas emissions have actually been growing in line with the economy.

The Government has relied on a system for carbon accounts, that whilst internationally agreed, excludes emissions from aviation, shipping and imported goods. Yet these have been growing sharply due to the surge in cheap flights and as multinational companies move their manufacturing abroad, particularly to the Far East. Adding those catagories on to the UK’s emissions total actually makes the UK’s emissions 18 per cent higher. It also means that the Government has failed the climate policy of decoupling emissions from the economy.

The reports have come from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) – a respected institute based at York University. One of them, which was for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), showed that rather than going down 5 per cent as the Government claimed, CO2 emissions have gone up 18 per cent between 1992 and 2004 when all emissions are counted.

 
According to the BBC, the Government received these results in February, but sat on them until July. It then sent out an “obscure” press release on 2 July.

In a seperate development, one of the Government’s chief scientific advisers has said that the UK should prepare for a 4 degrees C rise in temperatures.

In policy areas such as flood protection, agriculture and coastal erosion Professor Bob Watson said the country should plan for the effects of a 4C global average rise on pre-industrial levels, double the 2C limit agreed to by the EU.

“There is no doubt that we should aim to limit changes in the global mean surface temperature to 2C above pre-industrial,” Professor Watson, the chief scientific adviser to the DEFRA, told the Guardian this week.

“But given this is an ambitious target, and we don’t know in detail how to limit greenhouse gas emissions to realise a 2 degree target, we should be prepared to adapt to 4C.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/06/climatechange.scienceofclimatechange

Cllr. Rupert Read, Norwich City Councillor and Lead Green candidate in Eastern Region for the June 2009 European Elections commented:
 
“Government failure to curb emissions, and the likely scale of the climate crisis facing us is very clear from these reports. Not only has the Government been selectively using statistics to make false claims on emissions reductions, as I have been arguing for the past year (see e.g. http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=1616 ) but one of their own senior advisors is now warning of temperature rises that poses huge risks to the UK – particularly here in Eastern Anglia, due to sea level rise.
 
“Yet still the Labour Government appears set to press on with expanding airports, major road bulding, more incinerators and imposing massive urbanisation on Eastern Region and many other parts of the UK, all of which will raise emissions even higher.
 
“Unlike the other parties, the Green Party is ready to take urgent and radical action on climate change, to move towards a Green economy where the top priorities are sustainability and fairness. Business as usual growth economics should be off the agenda. As the Stern report made so clear, action now will cost far less than delay.”
 
 
Cllr. James Abbott. Braintree District Councillor and national Green Party Spokesperson on Climate Change added
 
“As a major western economy, the UK needs to take a lead on tackling climate change. We know we cannot solve the crisis on our own, but we can set an example. The tragedy of the Labour Government is that Ministers have strutted around the globe making claims about cutting emissions which have been proved to be completely misleading, wasting years when opportunities should have been taken to move to a Green economy.
 
For the second summer in a row, it looks as if the ice cap melt in the Arctic will be at record levels. This is a stark warning that climate change is already upon us. There should be no more complacency from Gordon Brown’s Government. The first important decision his Ministers should announce this autumn is the scrapping of plans to expand Heathrow and Stansted.”    

Olympic Smog – its not-so-hidden message

If anyone has any doubts about the seriousness of the environmental challenge facing us as a species, just sit back and watch the Olympic Games.

 

With smog literally hanging in the air despite Herculean efforts from the Chinese authorities, there is surely a real danger to the athletes from around the world taking part.

 

With Chinese carbon and particulate emissions expected to increase dramatically over the coming decades, as well as those in India, the disastrous environmental situation in the world today – which we are all witnessing on our TV screens in Beijing – is destined to get even worse.

 

And why are there all these dangerous emissions? Because international capital is moving to China and India to exploit their relatively light environmental regulations — that is what happens, under unrestrained globalized neo-liberalism, this is what happens without Greens in charge — and because we — we Brits, we Americas, etc. — are still buying / consuming masses of the unnecessary stuff that these factories are producing.

 

The Olympics, by contrast, is supposed to symbolize being the best as a part of a wider team or national effort.  Everyone pulling together, not just for personal gain, but for shared goals.  We now have the opportunity today as people around the world to compete in a new shared and unifying cause and engage resolutely in a new spiritual and moral challenge.  A challenge that requires the most determined team effort in history to resolve.  A challenge that requires the most radical and co-ordinated action we can deliver.  A challenge that needs the spirit of the Blitz with people all around the world pulling together, working for the common good of the eco-system we must all share.

 

Dangerous climate change isn’t all doom and gloom, however, like the murky vision of Beijing on our TV screens today.  If we can take the necessary action today, as people of the world, we can together make the world sustainable for all our tomorrows.  And in the process, unite as people of the world.  Unite in a way that overcomes divisions between people; unite in a way that overcomes discrimination between races and religions; ultimately unite in a way whereby diversity is celebrated.  This kind of unity would be unprecedented by any other time or epoch in history.
 
But then again: so is the threat.
 

POLICE ARREST CLIMATE CAMP PROTESTER FOR CARRYING VITAMIN C.

Matt Wootton, a Green Party activist, was searched and then arrested at the entrance to the Climate Camp near Kingsnorth in Kent last night, for alleged ‘possession of a controlled substance’. He was handcuffed and taken away by the police to Medway Police Station in Gillingham, where he was put into a windowless cell without proper toilet facilities, for the next 5 hours. His fingerprints and thumbprints were taken, and a DNA swab from his mouth, thus putting him onto the national police database.

Only towards the end of the 5 hour period was the substance in question actually tested by the police.

As Mr. Wootton had explained from the beginning to the police, unavailingly, the alleged ‘controlled substance’ in question was in fact Vitamin C…

Said Mr. Wootton, “It is crystal clear that ordinary people such as myself are being targeted for harassment by the police. Senior officers in the police have evidently decided that, if they make the lives of concerned citizens such as myself a misery each time that we try to protest against the damage done to our collective life-support system by the greenhouse gases being burnt into the atmosphere at places like Kingsnorth, then we will give up and go home. I am not so easily put off. But I am concerned about the state of our democracy and our civil liberties, when the police are wasting their time throwing people like me into the cells on a false pretext – when what they ought to be doing is getting out there to catch criminals. I suppose it is easier to harass a climate protester than it is to catch actual criminals…”

Mr. Wootton was denied his legal right (under section 5.6 of Code of Practice C set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) to a telephone call during his 5 hours in police confinement. The police said that they were ‘too busy’ to allow him time to make such a call.

Matt Wootton was released by the police, and reunited with his girlfriend near the Camp, only at half past midnight…

Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker, commented from Kingsnorth:

“This is another example of how over-the-top policing has been at this

year’s Climate Camp. It’s more proof that the police priority here is

not to protect the public but to suppress legitimate protest.”

NUDGE

An important article on where the Tories’ thinking is, at present.
There are certainly some things to learn from this interesting book, ‘Nudge’, which a number of my friends are reading at the moment.
But, as the generally-excellent Peter Wilby indicates, there are some real problems with it. Goto http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2008/07/thaler-friedman-cameron-social
to check out Wilby’s critical review.

McKinney – not Obama


Well, I’ve had a marvellous honeymoon/break; and in a few days’ time I’ll be back in action. Meanwhile, on a very wet day here in Devon, I am dipping my toe back into the blogosphere…

And the first thing I am finding on my ‘return’ is more and more reason(s) to feel let down by Obama (already!), and to turn instead to the scintillating Green Party nominee for U.S. Pres, black former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Check her our speaking on video, and you’ll see what I mean:
http://www.runcynthiarun.org/
McKinney is the real deal. Meanwhile, Obama seems to have opted over the last several weeks more and more for a Clinton (!) -style ‘triangulation’ approach. On gun control, on Israel and ‘national security’… on a a raft of key issues, he is running to the Right in classic ‘New Democrat’ fashion, and seems afraid to stand up for his values, his record – for what a majority of the U.S. people want.
This could be fatal to him. People – including many activists, young people, enthusiasts abroad such as myself and many other radical and Green bloggers and thinkers in Britain — flocked to Obama because he actually seemed to believe in something, to have a rhetorical style that echoed the best of predecessors such as Martin Luther King … and because he seemed to be taking seriously taking the fight to the Republicans. See for example my earlier enthusiastic post:
http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=1395
All that ‘fight’ seems to have left him. But Obama will lose — and one of the reasons why is that his supporters will start leaving in droves — if he takes the lily-livered centrist approach that saw Kerry fail in 2004.
Has Obama’s team stopped learning from George Lakoff? Has Obama failed to take in the key messages of Drew Westen’s essential book: http://www.thepoliticalbrain.com/videos.php [or http://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/publicaffairsbooks-cgi-bin/display?book=9781586484255 ]?
What Westen teaches us in ‘The Political Brain’ — a book which all readers of ‘Rupert’s Read’ should read! — is that there is no way to achieve lasting political and electoral success without appealing to and activating the values and emotions of one’s target audience. One cannot win through policy-wonkery and purely ‘rational’ debate. One cannot win by simply ‘staying positive’ no matter what the provocation. …One has to lead. And one has to take the fight to the other side.
If Obama persists in his centrist strategy, he will lose and he will deserve to lose. And meanwhile he will have burnt all the new political capital that the Democrats had from seeming to have someone and something at last to believe in again.
We want back the Obama who opposed the Republican estate tax cuts (scroll down a bit in http://www.rockridgenation.org/blog/archive/2007/05/29/thinking-points-discussion-of-chapter-8-part-1-the-art-of-arguments to see this). We want back the Obama who gave that great ‘More perfect union’ speech, pointing a way beyond racism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWe7wTVbLUU . We want back the Obama who seemed the true heir to Howard Dean, to Martin Luther King, to Franklin Roosevelt.
But there has been little sign of him of late. And if this goes on, absurdly, McCain will win.

Unless Obama recovers himself as a leader, unless we see clear real evidence of his commitment to radical and sensible policies to lead a way forward for his country and for the world on environmental issues, on taxation, on peace with Iran, and so forth, then we should abandon him now.

I am proud to be a supporter of Cynthia McKinney (http://uk.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=4BFAD71E67D10CE3 ). The Green Party’s Presidential nominee this time is very strong indeed. If the U.S.A. were really a democracy, then she would be allowed into the televised Presidential debates — and by God she would give McCain and Obama a run for their money…