In a remarkable challenge to the global consensus that the climate crisis is an urgent threat to the planet, the United Kingdom has argued that a failure to act on the climate treaty agreed in 2015 can be justified. Its stance is all the more bizarre as in less than three months the UK government is to host the crucial United Nations climate conference, COP-26, in the Scottish city of Glasgow, starting on 1 November. The government’s case set out in its response to a legal action brought in May by three young Britons, Adetola Stephanie Onamade, Marina Tricks and Jerry Amokwandoh, who said their human rights were being breached by the government’s failure to act decisively on the climate crisis. The action is also being brought by Plan B, the legal charity behind a failed attempt to block the expansion of Heathrow airport, and its director, Tim Crosland.
Climate News Network 6th Aug 2021 read more »
Millions of people will pay more for gas and electricity in the UK by the autumn of 2021 as the energy regulator, Ofgem, has removed a cap on prices. For some households, this could mean bills rising by as much as £153 (US$212) a year, potentially pushing an extra 500,000 homes into fuel poverty. Many of the UK government’s flagship policies for the low-carbon transition are funded through people’s energy bills. On top of their energy use, every home in the country is paying extra on their bill to cover the cost of retrofitting programmes to increase the energy efficiency of homes, help for those in fuel poverty and subsidies for renewable generation. All of these costs are added to energy bills at a flat rate. According to a 2015 report, this means, in practice, that those on the lowest incomes pay a six times higher share of their income for the transition than the highest income group, who also happen to have the highest CO₂ emissions on average. Through energy bills, people in the lowest income groups effectively self-fund their own fuel poverty support, including measures like the warm home discount – a one-off winter payment of £140 towards energy bills – while also paying towards measures that mainly benefit higher income groups, like subsidies for rooftop solar panels.
The Conversation 5th Aug 2021 read more »
Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to apologise for joking about Margaret Thatcher closing coalmines, describing the remarks as “utterly shameful”. The Labour leader, who represented the the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in court over the pit closures orchestrated by the Tories in the 1980s, accused the prime minister of being “out of touch”. Johnson drew outrage on Thursday when he claimed Thatcher had given the UK an “early start” in the shift away from fossil fuels by closing pits and followed up by laughing about it.
Guardian 6th Aug 2021 read more »
Ellie Mae O’Hagan is director of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies: I would draw attention to the question Johnson was asked before he made his asinine remark: has he set a firm deadline for transitioning away from fossil fuels? Now why do you suppose such a question would lead the prime minister to insult thousands of families in this country, many of them living in communities that voted Conservative at the last election? I’d wager his crude little outburst was a deliberate distraction from the fact that an honest answer would have involved admitting that no, there is no firm deadline. Johnson might have also admitted that his government cut the green homes grant, which – according to the TUC – has taken a “wrecking ball” to green jobs in North West England. This reveals that the government ostensibly has no interest in addressing climate breakdown, much less addressing it in such a way that working-class people are actually protected in the transition to renewables. If we let this government lead the response to the climate crisis we will see the 1980s happening all over again, where the only beneficiaries of a green transition will be a handful of private companies. We need to join together, each and every one of us, to make sure that no worker or trade union is left behind in a green transition. We need to hold this government to account and ignore its petty distractions. And when the next general election comes around, we need to vote these charlatans out.
Guardian 6th Aug 2021 read more »
Tories need a green plan that makes energy clean, plentiful and, yes, cheap. The state should do whatever it can to facilitate business and choice, much as Thatcher did in the 1980s. An air of unreality surrounds Britain’s climate agenda. Wild targets are set; it is unclear how we will get there; the costs go undiscussed on the assumption that consumers are happy to bite the bullet. This was reflected in Boris Johnson’s joke that pit closures in the 1980s gave Britain a “big early start” in the war on carbon. The Left feigned outrage, but shouldn’t they hate coal? The work was dangerous, the product highly polluting. At present, renewable subsidies are passed on to energy bills, and consumers are expected to bankroll household changes from new boilers to electric cars that the Tories have decided are the future. Huge public spending on infrastructure will be necessary, too – and for the green lobby, no amount of investment will ever be enough. Labour is always happy to outbid. The Tory model, however, should be to unleash and encourage private sector solutions, not expand state regulation in the style of the price cap. Technology is moving fast; the market with it. The state, via tax cuts and deregulation, should do whatever it can to facilitate business and choice. The Left imagines the green revolution as hair-shirt socialism. It is time for the Tories to lay out a transparent, costed plan for going green that sets the goal, in the long run, of delivering energy that is clean, plentiful and, yes, cheap.
Telegraph 7th Aug 2021 read more »