Report of the Stop Climate Chaos Meeting on 8th November 2012
by David Howard
I found the experience not just illuminating and informative but reassuring and it restored my hope for the future of the country and world.
The meeting was held at CAFOD’s two year old purpose built open plan offices. They occupy a triangular shaped site that is not attractive to commercial businesses or for new homes so are using a resource that would be at best underused or left empty for many years. It has been designed to be a low energy building simple, friendly and green. Low energy lighting, thick insulation, grass roof, ground source heat pumps provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer with some of the electricity they need coming from PV panels on the roof. Rain water recycling to the toilets. The windows facing the sun are shaded to reduce overheating. The building is an exemplar of what can be done and work if the will is there.
There were about thirty people present a few of whom are over 50s and the overwhelming majority under 30. They covered a wide range of society:- Methodists, Muslims, Humanist, Anglican, Women’s Institute, Friends of the Earth, WWF, Trades Unions, RSPB and political activist to name but a few. All were confident, well informed and articulate. There is hope for the future if the next generation is taking note of what is happening and acting to raise the issues or even more.
Guy Shrubsole from FOE told us that green is working and creating an industry. 30% of the economic growth is in green firms according to the CBI with over 100000 new jobs and growing. There are financial, social and economic benefits as well as the environmental ones . We need to stand firm, speak up and move forward to implement the Climate Change Act including lobbying MPs and Ministers through emails, letters and any other means.
Energy bills are rising and this will continue leading to ever more fuel poverty
There will be a campaign launched soon to promote warmer homes, lower bills and a cooler planet. Two fold aim:-
1. To try to get hard strong targets set in the new Energy Bill.
2. To get the money raised from carbon taxes reinvested into domestic retrofit. This would supplement the Green Deal
They want local groups to set up meetings with MPs when actual stories of fuel poverty in their constituency can be drawn to their attention. Try to find local people willing to speak and tell the MPs what the real issues are for real people.
Joel Kendrick, Head of Policy for the WWF and former adviser to Chris Huhne spoke about the political scene.
Labour led by Ed Milliband support the Energy Bill. They are focussing on the cost of energy rather than setting an energy strategy longer term. Need to target Ed Balls to ensure that the money follows their aspirations.
The Lib Dems have strong views most of which support the green agenda but they do not speak with one voice hence send out mixed messages..
The Green party is pro the green agenda
The Conservatives started well with the green agenda and set up the Energy Bill and there are many conservatives supportive of the Green Agenda. This includes ministers such as William Hague, Greg Barker, Greg Clark, Oliver Letwin plus a number of other ministers.
However there a number of other Ministers and MPs who were elected in 2010 see the Tea Party as their role model and who not only do not subscribe to the Green agenda but are either sceptical or even hostile to it. They do not see the relevance to their constituents nor the benefit to the economy. The Oil and Gas companies are lobbying hard to down grade or abandon the green agenda and especially the subsidies to
The Green agenda is split between DEFRA, DECC, DCLG and the Treasury and can involve up to 12 departments before any decision can be reached which puts the Treasury in a powerful position.
There was concern among the audience that the Green Deal which should have been launched with a bang in October only had a “soft launch” and is apparently scheduled to move forward slowly next year. While £125m had been given by Government to launch it they are still waiting for the £14 Billion needed to fund it to be provided by the private sector. No one is sure when ,or even if, this will be forthcoming. The “loans” carry interest at 7, 8 or 9 % so it is cheaper to borrow from a bank at 4/5%. Credit rating checks will be taken so those in greatest need are likely to be ineligible for the loan. Many people have carried out some insulating or other cheap measures with quickest returns so again the pay back period may exceed the Golden Rule of the savings paying for the repayments. It is a very good idea in principle but is less likely to benefit those in greatest need.
The forthcoming UN climate talks in Qatar ( the DOHA summit) will keep the international show on the road, just, hopefully but is not expected to make any real decisions or have any significant impact.
President Obama has been re-elected and referred to Climate Change in his acceptance speech which means it may reappear on the American agenda.
China will soon have a new ruling body with a ten year period of office but no one knows what that will bring
Lobbying is needed for the Energy bill.
The key issues are Nuclear vs Renewables Carbon reduction programme vs do the best industry can or wants to Target of 50grammes carbon per Kw produced vs 10% current reduction
The Gas Industry is promoting “Fracking” but there is a lot of opposition both in America where it started and now in the UK as pilots are carried out. It is dirty, risky and costly
Canada is extending tar sand extraction which is very damaging to the environment as well as expensive.
There will be a National March in London on Saturday 1st December. Assemble at Grosvenor Sq at 12 noon where a pipeline will be built and speakers on Tar Sands and the US. Move on to Parliament where a Fracking rig will be assembled and more speeches
The stop Climate Change Chaos group will be launching a new website in December. This will include a better menu, more sections and room for organisations to have a slot of up to 50 words with their website or email address and brief details of what they do ( Query add the CEL details) and a link to the organisation.
There will be a section for future activities and meetings
The SCC campaign for 2013 will be based on food and hunger with the focus on the 2015 national elections.