Wednesday, 7 December 2016

EU Committee of the Regions - EU Commission Work Programme - Locally Determined Contributions to deliver COP21 targets

At COP21 in Paris the nations of the world came together to commit to keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree increase and work towards achieving a 1.5 degree increase. At the same time they agreed targets for carbon emissions reduction at the national level these were called the  Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The problem is that the NDCs agreed fall short of what is required  to deliver the carbon savings we need to deliver a 2 degree of less rise in temperature. So we need more action to ensure we achieve the reductions in emissions necessary.

Establishing Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs) and/or Regionally Determined Contributions (RDCs) could be an important step in bridging the emissions gap. Actions at the local and regional level can make an important contribution towards reducing emissions through policies to promote public transport and electric vehicles. Planning policies to ensure higher energy performance standards in buildings or even reforestation projects. All these areas and more fall under the competencies of many Local and Regional Authorities in the EU. Working with the EU Commission through their work programme to develop the concept of LDCs and RDCs could provide the stimulus and structure needed across the EU for emission reduction plans that start from the bottom up. This would give substance to the 'Think Global and Act Local' approach needed to deliver COP21's higher aspirations.

The EU Committee of the Regions could play a key role in developing and promoting LDCs and RDCs further raising their relevance and profile among Local and Regional Decision makers. Once LDCs and RDCs are established as a reality we can use our global links through the Covenant of Mayors to spread the concept and the action needed to deliver these targets. We have the exciting prospect here of enabling the mobilisation of climate reduction action on the ground. Ambitious targets on their own are not enough LDCs and RDCs will give tangible goals for us all to work together to achieve. Please support this proposal.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

EU Committee of the Regions ENVE Commission - When the word 'Ambitious' means less than the word 'Higher'

Words are important. They convey meaning, intent and in these strange days, even occasional understanding. So when one of the right wing groups on the ENVE Commission of the EU Committee of the Regions sought to change the word 'higher' to 'ambitious'  with regard to the emissions targets in the work plan for the Commission that dealt with Energy, Environment and Climate Change the alarm bells started ringing.

The word they wanted rid of was 'higher' the one they wanted to replace it with was 'ambitious' with reference to the targets agreed to address climate change at COP 21 in Paris. Currently as signatories to the Paris Climate agreement the EU (and the UK) are signed up to a 30% reduction in carbon emissions but democratically elected MEPs in the European Parliament have been calling for a 40% reduction. So another 10% at least is higher. Of course if you want to replace the word 'higher' with the word 'ambitious it rather implies that you don't want it to be higher. Ambitions vary from individual to individual and from nation state to nation state. One state may have limited ambition another much greater BUT you can't dodge the reality of the science and that says we need to be striving for much higher reductions in emissions than is indicated in the Paris Climate Agreement. Those calling for 'ambitious' targets were really seeking to protect the status quo of the existing economy. The problem is that current levels of emissions supporting our polluting economy are ecologically unteneable. We need to develop a new clean economy based on renewable energy , demand reduction and energy efficiency. That is where the real ambition lies.

I and others made the case to retain the word 'higher'. We had a vote. We were successful.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Appoint Nigel Farage as UK Ambassador to Tuvalu

When US President Elect and Climate Change denier Donald Trump suggested UKIP Leader and Climate Change denier NigelFarage as being an ideal UK ambassador to the States it got me thinking about which country I would like him to be UK Ambassador for. Tuvalu seemed the obvious choice. It is a low lying island and the words 'low' and 'lying' often come to mind when thinking of Farage and also Trump come to that. It may well be one of the first places to disappear due to climate change induced sea level rise. As the sea level rises above his green wellies Mr Farage may begin to appreciate the reality of climate change more.

I'm waiting to see if the petition passes through Parliamentary Standards.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Clean Up at Hunters Waste Site begins

The festering heap of rubbish left by Hunters Waste Management at their former Queens Mill Rd site has started to be removed by a partnership comprising Kirklees Council, Suez Waste Services, West Yorkshire Fire Service and the Environment Agency. Legal avenues are being pursued to ensure those who were responsible for this stinking refuse mountain are held to account and made to pay for their crimes. It is a relief to finally see this issue being addressed after a difficult summer for neighbouring residents and businesses.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Gutted! - Newsome Mill Fire


On Thursday  morning my mobile phone started receiving messages before 6.00a.m. telling me the news that Newsome Mills was ablaze and that nearby residents had been evacuated from their homes. I saw the community rally round really quickly as St Johns Church and Newsome Scout Hut opened their doors to residents. They got the tea and coffee going and breakfast for those people who were temporarily moved from their homes. Newsome Village Store donated food for evacuated residents and the Fire Service and Police were caring and professional helping some particularly vulnerable residents who lived nearby. Kirklees Emergency Planning and Building Control were on the scene early on dealing with their responsibilities for the community and the building itself. The local response to the immediate crisis has shown the community and local services at their very best.
The question is what happens next. The structure of the Mills itself is severely compromised and as I write this it is expected that the Mill Building may have to be demolished. Hopefully  the iconic clock tower will remain. There have been 2 controversial Planning matters associated with the site. The private owners of Newsome Mills itself have been reluctant to develop on the site due to the costs of converting the mill which is/was a listed building. The private owners of the land at Hart Street near the Mills have sought to develop the site on a number of occasions. The fact that the land is part of the historic setting of Newsome Mills has been one of a number of reasons that  local people have opposed development there. With the suspected arson of the Newsome Mills site we will have to see what happens next.

For now we need to take stock and let the investigation into the blaze be carried out by the appropriate services. This has been a truly awful year for the people of Newsome with the Hunters Waste site going up in flames, the vandalism and burning of Newsome Community Bowling Club's buildings and now Newsome Mills itself going up in flames. If, as I expect, Newsome Mills turns out to be arson then all these fires will be the result of the actions of people who have no regard for the local community or the people who live there. Let’s hope for a better 2017.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

PRESS RELEASE - COP22 - Marrakech - Greens call for an end to Fossil Fuel subsidies

Representatives from  governments from around the World  are meeting In Marrakech, Morocco this month to see how the targets that were agreed in the Paris Climate talks last year can be delivered.  Green Party Energy Spokesperson Councillor Andrew Cooper who will be attending in Marrakech has called for all fossil fuel subsidies to be phased out globally over the next 3 year to help acheive those targets. Councillor Cooper is part of the EU Committee of the Regions delegation that is representing the position of Local, Regional and Devolved Governments from across the European Union.

Councillor Cooper said "the International Monetary Fund has calculated the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to be in the region of a  colossal $5.3 Trillion (£4.3Trillion). That is the equivalent of around £570/year for every person on the Planet.This is  a huge expense that is damaging to our environment and the health of the people of the world. Subsiding damaging fossil fuels in this way makes it even harder to acheive the targets agreed at COP21 in Paris last year."

" This huge subsidy puts into context the recent $1 Billion Low Carbon Fund offered by Big Oil and Gas companies. This fund represents a very small drop in an ocean of oil money supported by huge subsidy from Governments around the world. We should be clear that this is no where near enough to mitigate the damage their industry inflicts on out environment on a daily basis"

Cllr Cooper called for those subsidies to reinvested into positive actions that help combat climate change

"Imagine if the amount of subsidy to the fossil fuel sector was instead invested in large scale energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes to fund the transition to a low carbon economy."

"We need a quick end to all fossil fuel subsidies. Direct subsidies should be stopped. Other subsidies should be removed by imposing carbon taxes sufficient to pay for the damage caused by burning fossil fuels. The needs to avoid major economic disruption and to protect the poor mean that this cannot happen overnight but it must happen quickly and to an agreed timetable. The poor and those on low incomes should be protected against price increases and be the first to benefit from renewable technologies and energy efficiency measures i.e. solar panels and insulation measures to homes,

For this proposal to be successful we need each country to create and publish a subsidy phase out plan within 9 months for discussion at the next Climate Summit, COP23.

It is going to be interesting is to see how the UK Government representatives in Marrakech justify their current policy decisions which fly in the face of the scientific evidence. This year has seen £1 Billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies in the North Sea, planning and financial incentives for shale gas companies, cuts in support for renewable energy and energy efficiency and the bizarre and wrong headed proposal for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The UK Government is fast reclaiming our former title  of 'The Dirty Man of Europe'. We need to see some rapid acceptance from Prime Minister May that we need less warm words on Climate Change from her Government and more properly insulated warm homes powered by renewable energy."

We also need a commitment from fossil fuel companies to change to a more positive culture by:

·         Not funding climate denial organisations and campaigns.
·         Not lobbying governments to prolong subsidies.
·         and to positively develop their own transition plans to more socially and environmentally useful activities

Friday, 28 October 2016

Green Councillor calls for more green and less red for pedestrians at busy Southgate crossing

Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper has called for more time for pedestrians to cross at a busy Southgate junction opposite the University of Huddersfield.

"This crossing is used by many hundreds of people each day such as students who go to the University, Sainsburys shoppers or those walking to Aspley and beyond. People using the crossing have to get across the road in 3 to 4 seconds from when the green pedestrian light comes on till it turns back to red. This is simply not enough time for many people to get across safely. If you are elderly or have poor mobility crossing this road at this junction safely is almost impossible. Additional seconds are needed for pedestrians if we are to reduce the risk of injury or even possible fatalities at this very busy junction off the roundabout."

Cllr Cooper has raised the issue with Kirklees Highways and asked for more consideration to be given to pedestrians on this busy route