Low Carbon Communities Network Newsletter 107 Sept. 11th 2012
Welcome to the 107th LCCN newsletter! These come to you regularly with updates on what the Network is doing, other developments and, if you tell us, what you’re doing. We’re always keen to get news of what’s happening in your area that may be of interest elsewhere. And please forward this to anyone who may be interested, reminding them that they can get their own copy at: www.lowcarboncommunities.net
‘Greenest government ever’ (continued…)
The last few weeks have not been good for anyone who would like to think that this government is indeed serious about taking the green agenda forward. The ministerial reshuffle has given power to people, notably Owen Paterson at Defra, who don’t merely not like windfarms, but have been publicly sceptical on climate change. Anyone following BBC journalist Roger Harrabin on Twitter (a useful thing to do) will be aware that he has had trouble getting a clear statement out of the new Minister’s office on even his support for IPCC science.
The Stop Climate Chaos alliance is writing to Cameron and Clegg with support from many bodies including LCCN. The letter states that “Both of you played a key role in passing the Climate Change Act in 2008, with a cross-party consensus. It remains a world-leading piece of legislation, and a model to which other countries have looked when developing their own climate policy.” It calls on them both to stand by their promises this autumn especially in the context of the Energy Bill. This will go very shortly – see the SCC website for details.
A previous joint letter, on renewable energy coordinated by the Renewable Energy Association, has not yet had any response from C & C. They are now focusing on the upcoming Economic Regeneration (name unsure) Bill to realise the huge jobs and growth potential for renewables – something that the Treasury is doing its best to ignore and even rubbish.
A cross-party EDM on recognising the huge benefits of RE investment has gone down. If you have good links to your MP please ask them to sign:
487 RENEWABLE ENERGY: MADE IN BRITAIN REPORT 6:9:12 Peter Aldous
That this House welcomes the Renewable Energy Association and Innovas report Renewable Energy: Made in Britain; recognises the important contribution of the renewable energy sector to the UK economy employing over 100,000 people across the country and achieving a market value estimated at over £12.5 billion in 2010-11; (more here…) and urges the Government to take steps to fully realise the national benefits of renewable energy investment including expediting confidence in the policy framework, addressing the sector’s urgent need for skills, enforcing a long-term perspective on renewable energy infrastructure investment and systematically auditing the many benefits of renewable energy investment to the UK economy including employment, tax revenues, industrial and export opportunities and the UK balance of trade. Signed by:
Whitehead, Alan Labour Party Southampton Test 06.09.2012
Weir, Mike Scottish National Party Angus 06.09.2012
Lucas, Caroline Green Party Brighton Pavilion 06.09.2012
George, Andrew Liberal Democrats St Ives 06.09.2012
Aldous, Peter Conservative Party Waveney 06.09.2012
Meanwhile greenish Tory Tim Yeo is interviewed here and remains astonishingly gung-ho about carbon trading as the solution to Heathrow expansion: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/interview/2204249/tim-yeo-answers-his-green-critics
Anyone who’d like to think this is the answer should read this worrying article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/10/global-carbon-trading-system?
Time to get (more) active?
The current state of affairs nationally makes it ever more important (as we’ve said before) for there to be strong local action. We are discussing the idea, raised here a month ago, of a national speaking tour, to be coordinated with national NGOs and focusing on the targets of the excellent Energy Bill Revolution. If you’re not signed up to this initiative why not do so now: http://www.energybillrevolution.org/
The last year has seen a definite drop-off in publicly focused local activity on wider climate issues – many people have been focusing on community energy. This may be the time to bring in the issues of energy costs and fuel poverty and to remind people that climate change is very much a live issue.
The speaking tour would look to coordinated publicity and support for the meetings. If you’re interested email LCCN Chair Chris Church direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is Local Action delivering?
A new post on the Climate, Community and Society blog (by Chris Church) suggests that local action is not delivering the change we need. It argues that at the moment local action is not (in management-speak) ‘fit for purpose’. If you were developing work to cut emissions by half and then by 80% in any county or city you probably wouldn’t start with what we’ve got – a seemingly random mix of local action groups of all shapes and sizes, good and poor local councils, a few innovative social enterprises and poorly assessed and developed renewable resources.
It suggest that we need to look for a more strategic approach, and sets out some structures and policy that every area will need if local action is to be genuinely effective. This is a core sisue for LCCN as we move forward. Comments are welcome: read it here: http://wp.me/p13knb-2a
Bristol Community Energy Forum
Bristol Energy Network are launching this new Community Energy forum on 15th September. The forum will host keynote speakers from DECC (speaker to be confirmed) and Tobi Kellner from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), on CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report, along with practical workshops from Bristol’s community energy groups. The day will run from 10.30 to 4.30 with time for socialising before and after. The venue is next to Bristol Temple Meads station. See http://www.bristolenergynetwork.org for details
Food and Climate report
Oxfam has launched a new report which highlights what more extreme weather driven by climate change may mean for future food price spikes: ‘Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices: The costs of feeding a warming world’.
To date, research on food prices and climate change has looked almost exclusively at the averages: how gradually rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns will affect long-run average prices. It points to a future of higher food prices: Oxfam commissioned research last year suggested food prices could double in the next 20 years; with up to half the increase caused by climate change.
Alarming, but only half the story. Climate change will also lead to an increase in extreme weather, such as droughts, floods and heatwaves. Current research does not account for how these extremes might affect future global food prices. The report details the results of Oxfam commissioned research by the Institute of Development Studies, which uses CGE modelling to look at the impact of extreme weather scenarios on global food prices in 2030. The research highlights some top line trends that can plausibly be expected in a world of more frequent and intense weather extremes.
Tariffs on Chinese solar?
Clean energy is booming, but the EU has threatened to stifle this breakthrough. In the last decade, China has invested billions in solar and used aggressive subsidy strategies that have sent panel prices plummeting. Now a few companies are pushing the EU to slap tariffs on China — a move that could kill the clean energy revolution. The EU Commission has initiated an investigation into tariffs. Many in the solar industry and Chancellor Angela Merkel are against this move. On-line campaigners Avaaz have a petition to the Trade Commissioner calling for talks not tariffs: http://www.avaaz.org/en/eu_a_ray_of_hope_on_climate/?bDNxlbb&v=17596
They point out that “China has a poor human rights and environmental record, and its strategy of flooding the global market with subsidised goods could be considered overly aggressive. But while China, the EU and the US all continue to funnel tens of billions into Big Coal, Oil and Gas to destroy our planet, China is also providing loans and huge subsidies to the solar industry. And that’s exactly what our governments have failed to do. “
Windpower on Lewis (not the TV programme…)
Following major arguments over a large wind farm, RSPB Scotland has now welcomed the approval of Lewis Wind Power’s application for a smaller windfarm to the west of Stornoway on the Western Isles. RSPB originally opposed the proposal but withdrew the objection following the developers decision to reduce the scale of the project from 42 turbines to 36, reducing its impact on local wildlife and the Lewis Peatlands special protection area (SPA), designated under the EU Birds Directive. Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “We will continue to work with the developer to ensure that the construction and operational impacts on wildlife are minimised and that the development is thoroughly monitored. “We strongly support the development of renewable energy, including windfarms, to help reduce the threat of climate change to wildlife in Scotland and across the world. However, these developments must be appropriately sited and should not pose a threat to local wildlife.”