24

24, not the TV series about tough-guy Jack Bauer battling against all odds to save the world from terrorists… but close – the one day UN climate summit in New York being held today.

The stakes could not be higher, according to UN president Ban Ki-moon:

“Climate change is a defining issue of our age, of our present. Our response will define our future. To ride this storm we need all hands on deck. That is why we are here today. We need a clear vision. The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable. We have never faced such a challenge, nor such an opportunity…”

In his address to the summit, head of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri warned:

“Acting on climate change is not a choice between the economy and the environment. The path to change is clear. It leads to a global agreement next year in Paris. To those who have grown cynical about the process, I would remind you of the words of the great poet Wallace Stevens: after the final no, comes a yes. All we need is political will. But political will is a renewable resource.”

This summit is just to set the agenda for the next major round of climate talks in Paris next year. Where previous climate talks have largely done just that and only that, the next round must deliver. Earlier this week 40,000 people protested in central London alone, around the world it was millions while earlier this year the Conservative party vowed to end subsidies for the most cost effective source of renewable energy available  – wind. Going even further David Cameron (of the ‘greenest Government ever‘ – remember that?) said he wanted to “eradicate” existing wind farms and ensure no new ones are built. While at the same time his own Department for Energy and Climate Change issued this statement:

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of large-scale renewable electricity and forms an important part of our energy mix – our ambition is to develop up to 13GW by 2020, which would power 7 million homes.”

When Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the world leaders at today’s summit he could very well have been talking straight to the climate-change-deniers in Cameron’s party:

“As an actor I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems.I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.”

With a General Election looming next year the question is – which party will actually face up to the biggest challenge facing mankind today?

Tories – “Get ready for shale”

Today’s announcement by the Tories that they will do  everything in their power to stop any further  on-shore wind turbines has been labelled as “pandering to potential UKIP voters” by many. By announcing the future policy now, so far ahead of next years election they also hope to damage investor confidence which could in turn see bank lending for such projects dry up. A double whammy.. Go Dave!

But, look at what else you’ll be getting should a majority Tory government be elected. Energy minister Nigel Fallon has been doing his best to promote fracking saying:

“The message is: get ready for shale”

Mr Fallon is urging communities around the country to “get behind fracking” touting the 65,000 jobs it will create. No mention of the same number currently working in the wind industry that would loose theirs. In December 2013 Mr Fallon said he wants to see 2/3’rds of England opened up for fracking.

In January the government rushed through pro-fracking planning reforms despite massive opposition in the Lords with the aim of making it harder for local planning authorities to block future shale gas developments. In today’s announcement they plan to do exactly the opposite for wind energy development and make it much easier for plans to be blocked by local councils and the minority of vocal objectors.

Its clear that a majority Conservative government would be a disaster for UK plans to become self sufficient with renewable energy. Remember shale gas is not renewable and will continue to contribute towards climate change. On that very subject we forget at our peril the latest warnings from the IPCC:

“The impacts of global warming are likely to be severe, pervasive and irreversible”

Meanwhile energy experts the world over agree that on-shore wind energy is by far the cheapest and easiest large scale renewable technology. In trying to kill it in favour of shale gas the Tories are showing their true colours – and they ‘aint green.

Much more expert reaction to the news can be found here.

Pickles in hot water after refusal

Communities secretary Eric Pickles faces legal action after overruling HM Government planning inspectors to refuse a wind farm development by Ecotricity. The proposed four turbine wind farm near Highbridge in Somerset had  been supported by both local planning officers and the Inspectorate who agreed that despite significant impact on the immediate landscape, it would be able to accommodate the development which would, at larger distances still appear quite small.

Mr Pickles agreed with with these points but decided [and this is key] without actually visiting the site himself that the intermediate landscape would be affected to a level that was not offset by the environmental benefits of the scheme.

A spokesman for Ecotricity said: “Following a review of the secretary of state’s decision to dismiss our appeal for four wind turbines at West Huntspill, and in particular aspects of the decision-making process relating to landscape and topography at the site, we have decided to challenge the decision.

The result of this high court action will likely set a precedent for this and other similar cases where Mr Pickles has overruled planning inspectors which appears to Ecotricity, to represent political interference in the planning system as summed up by Dale Vince, CEO of Ecotricity, who said

Mr Pickles’ decision is a political intervention in the planning process – it’s anti-wind posturing as all his interventions in the planning process have been, and par for the course from this government.

We’ve worked diligently through the entire planning process, passed every test, including a public enquiry – only to have our application refused by a man that knows nothing on the subject, and cares even less. What faith can anyone have in the planning process when this can happen, when the rules are thrown out of the window on a whim?

If the recent floods have taught us anything it is that climate change is real and we need to do all that we can to abate the carbon emissions that cause it. Our government doesn’t seem to get that. It hasn’t just cut flood defence spending, it’s blocking the renewable energy schemes that can help tackle the cause of flooding.

 

 

PM tries to halt onshore wind

Today the Guardian newspaper reports that Nick Clegg has vetoed plans by David Cameron to put a cap on the number of wind turbines allowed on-shore. A Lib-Dem spokesperson said Tory claims to be green were now dead in the water.

It is unbelievable that in the same week as the latest IPCC report (which says impacts from global warming will be “severe, pervasive and irreversible“) is published, the Tories are trying to kill off yet another renewable industry. You may remember that 50% cuts in the Feed-in-Tariff during 2012 saw thousands of workers in the solar industry loose their jobs.

This is yet further evidence, if any was needed, that should the Conservatives win a majority general election next year we will likely see a wholesale dismantling of the UKs renewable industries to be replaced with fracking or worse.

Let’s leave the last words to climate-stupid climate-sceptic MP and Environment Secretary Owen Patterson who appears to sum up Government thinking on the subject saying “we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries” and “the temperature has not changed in the last seventeen years” and better still that global warming could actually be really quite nice adding that it “would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas“.

Sadly this is no April fools-day joke.