How wonderful of Theresa May to make a commitment to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050 – a promise that her successor may ignore or reverse completely.
No departing prime minister or government can bind the hands of their successors and 2050 is a long way away.
It doesn’t even matter that the Tories would probably shift much of the burden onto developing countries; it’s simply unlikely to happen with Tories in charge.
You only have to look at Prime Minister’s Questions today, in which Jeremy Corbyn listed a litany of Conservative government promises that have come to nothing.
This was a last-minute attempt by a failed prime minister to create some kind of legacy – and she even failed at that.
Theresa May has sought to cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so.
The commitment, to be made in an amendment to the Climate Change Act laid in parliament on Wednesday, would make the UK the first member of the G7 group of industrialised nations to legislate for net zero emissions, Downing Street said.
Environmental groups welcomed the goal but expressed disappointment that the plan would allow the UK to achieve it in part through international carbon credits, something Greenpeace said would “shift the burden to developing nations”.
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We (meaning national governments across the world) need to act without delay to prevent the destruction of coral reefs and stop sea levels rising by as much as ten centimetres. If that happened large parts of the world could become uninhabitable.
Within 12 years.
Are we all clear on this now?
The Tories are already saying the UK has the best record of any G20 country in attacking the causes of climate change.
Artist’s impression of a six-mile sea-wall with turbines to generate low-carbon electricity at Swansea Bay, south Wales. The Conservative Government wants to ring Wales with nuclear waste instead. [Image: Tidal Lagoon Power].
Why does a certain kind of politician have to try to destroy our natural resources? What is this fascination they have with trashing our homes? And what can we do about it?
While the first two of those questions remain subjects for debate, an organisation in Wales may have the answer to the third.
Much of Wales remains startlingly unspoiled after nearly three centuries of industrialisation across the United Kingdom, but current plans by the Conservative Government would ring that country of the UK with the worst kind of polluters.
The Tories are keen to flood the UK with the nuclear waste generated by no less than 13 nuclear power plant rebuilds, including eight which will impact on the western coast of Britain: two at Hinkley in Somerset, two at Oldbury in the Severn estuary, two on Anglesey, three planned at Moorside, Cumbria, plus a recently-announced plan to build a Small Medium Reactor inland at Trawsfynydd.
There is also the issue of radioactive mud from the Hinkley A and B reactors being dumped in the sea just off Cardiff, and the rejection by Westminster of the Swansea Tidal lagoon – a renewable energy scheme that could have powered the equivalent of 155,000 Welsh homes.
And let’s not forget the attempt to bribe communities anywhere in Wales to host radioactive waste burial sites – literally sitting on some of the most toxic substances known to humanity.
The plan, it seems, is to cut back on renewable energy and increase nuclear pollution – at huge expense to the taxpayer.
So not only do they want to poison us – they want to make us pay for them to do it. Charming!
The Westminster government’s policy conflicts (deliberately?) with that of the Labour-run Welsh Government, which has three objectives:
Reduce the amount of energy used in Wales.
Reduce Welsh reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels.
Actively manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.
This plan means nuclear energy should be cut as it is neither low-carbon nor renewable. Considerable amounts of carbon are released in the mining, milling and separation of the Uranium which powers nuclear plants from the ore in which it is found – and then it has to be transported. So in the case of Hinkley C, for example, 50g of carbon dioxide are likely to be released for every unit of electricity generated – breaching the Climate Change Committee’s recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.
And, of course, supplies of Uranium are limited. This means poorer ores would be processed as supplies run out, increasing the amount of CO2 generated by the process and, once the supply is depleted, we will have prevented future generations from using it in new – and maybe less harmful – ways in the future.
So the Welsh Government should be utterly opposed to the Westminster government’s plan – right?
Of course it isn’t as easy as that. Energy is not a devolved issue, meaning Westminster still has full control over the policy – across the UK.
But the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance has devised a way of getting around that problem:
The organisation has launched a petition, on the National Assembly for Wales website. It does not call for opposition to the Westminster government’s policy because this would be pointless.
It calls for the Welsh Government to take action that will make nuclear power proliferation unnecessary.
The petition asks the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to invest in green renewable energy sources, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy in Wales. Specifically, this means:
• Supporting emerging low carbon technologies that could put Wales at the forefront of renewable energies and help to slow climate change; and
• Investing in energy sources that do not leave a legacy of radioactive waste, spoil heaps and damage to health and the environment.
If the Welsh Government was able to show Westminster that it was actively engaging in such activity, it may be possible to persuade the political polluters to put away their plans. Remember, these are long-term schemes and it is possible to demonstrate that one course of action may make another unnecessary.
And share the petition – or at least share this article – and urge anybody who may read it to sign.
This is a major opportunity – not just to oppose a hugely dangerous plan to pollute one of the UK’s great natural landscapes but also to become a world-leader in the development and exercise of non-polluting, renewable energy supplies.
Let’s take it.
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Cost shock: Even the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph has been complaining about high energy prices – as demonstrated by this cartoon from 2012.
To borrow a favourite David Cameron phrase: Let us be clear on this – any savings on your fuel bills as a result of the Coalition government’s policy change will be added to general taxation in another way and you will still pay.
Energy firms’ profits, which have tripled since 2010, will be unaffected. Cameron’s plan is akin to shifting deckchairs on the Titanic (to borrow another well-known saying).
Why on Earth does he think anybody is going to be deceived by this silliness?
Even with the changes in place, prices will still rise by an average of around £70, at a time when people were already being forced to choose between (let’s have yet another now-tired phrase) heating and eating. Average household incomes have dropped by nine per cent since David Cameron made himself Prime Minister by the back door three years ago.
Average pay for bosses of FTSE-100 companies has risen by 20 times the rate of pay growth for most workers, just in the last year. And let’s not forget that they were getting much higher than average pay already!
It should surprise nobody that all of the ‘Big Six’ energy firms are part of the FTSE-100 – or were, before foreign takeovers.
This means average pay for these companies’ bosses should be around £2,321,700, while profits have risen to £2 billion – up 75 per cent on last year (according to the Independent reports).
None of this will be changed by David Cameron’s measures, which were hastily cobbled together in a bungled bid to regain the initiative from Labour, whose plan to freeze energy prices and re-order the energy market has captured the public imagination.
Instead Cameron – who once campaigned under the slogan ‘Vote Blue – Go Green’ – will postpone green policy targets to a later date, cutting the so-called ‘green levy’ on the energy firms accordingly. This means the UK will be forced to rely on greenhouse gas-producing carbon fuels for longer.
Subsidies for people in fuel poverty will be moved into general taxation, meaning we pay for them rather than the energy firms who should.
“Even after these changes to levies, energy bills are still rising and the average household will still be paying £70 more for their energy than last winter,” said Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Caroline Flint. “Any help is better than none, but you can judge this Government by who they’re asking to pick up the tab – the taxpayer. The energy companies have got off scot-free.
“This shows why nothing less than a price freeze and action to reset the market to stop the energy companies overcharging again in the future will do.”
She was expected to tell the IPPR thinktank today: “If David Cameron and Nick Clegg think just doing what the energy companies ask of them is the answer to bills being too high, they are wrong.
“Energy bills have gone up by £120 this winter alone, so even with a £50 cut in levies, people’s bills will still be higher this winter than last year. The real reason bills are rising year on year without justification is because the energy market is broken.
“Instead of bailing out the energy companies, David Cameron should stand up to them and stop them overcharging people.”
But we all know that David Cameron never stands up to his corporate masters, don’t we?
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