Saturday, 11 August 2018

Last of the Sparkling Wine starring Michael 'Foggy' Gove


The 'Hothouse Earth' Report makes grim reading and questions whether we can 'safely park' global temperature rises at 2 degrees C and indicates that we may have set in train a series of carbon releasing events that will be difficult to stop and that we may end up with global temperatures around 4 to 5 degrees C higher than the pr- industrial era. This really is a nightmare scenario with a significant rise in sea levels, highly disrupted weather threatening food supplies and much more frequent extreme and violent weather events. It is a respected summation of current peer reviewed climate science and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A number of things have concerned me over the last few weeks. One is the cheery assertion by Conservative Government Minister Michael Gove that Climate Change and higher temperatures in the UK is a great opportunity for British Farmers to produce good quality sparkling wine. Now of course there may be some truth in this but it indicates a lack of perception of the grim reality of climate change. You could argue that what he said was taken out of context and that really he really does 'get it'. I'd like to believe that but you see the vote on the 3rd runway at Heathrow, the permission to commence Fracking at Preston New Road and the 4 new gas turbines at Drax that are on the cards and you can only conclude they don't believe and don't care about climate change. Sadly that goes for a lot of Labour politicians as well.

Michael Gove gave the impression when he was first elected that he had hugged plenty of huskies in the fashion of David Cameron when he was in his 'vote blue go green' phase. With his positive comments on neonicitinoids and their impact on the bee population I thought well this is a little bit different from before. Now it seems that this is yet another attempt to detoxify the Tory Party using 'green issues'. Actually it is difficult to work out which needs the most detoxification Gove or the Conservative Party. So yes maybe there will be a brief mini-sparkling Wine Age before the very worst impacts of Climate Change hit us but we desperately need to be acting NOW to reduce emissions for the sake of civilization and human sentience on this planet. Even if they had the time away from their headlong pursuit of Brexit I doubt it would make them act any more responsibly.

Thanks to Ros for the picture.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

The heat is on - Climate Change kills.


In my role as a local Councillor I got a call the other week from a local resident who said they had seen hundreds of dead fish in Newsome Mill Ponds in Huddersfield. I went out to investigate and there they were lying on the surface being watched over by a heron who looked like he had already had his fill of this unexpected bounty. The theories from local people came thick and fast. Poisoning and pollution were what people initially thought but following investigations it turned out it was none of these. The long hot dry spell had de-oxygenated the water and the fish had simply suffocated. The had been killed by the weather. 

In the past, as a Green, who wants to be taken seriously on climate change I've been reticent to link single weather events to climate change, but this is different. The phenomenon we are experiencing is a global one. We have had huge moorland fires on Saddleworth Moor, wildfires in Greece that have killed many, even wild fires within the Arctic Circle due to the heat and record temperatures in Japan. Comparisons with the summer of 76 are not really valid as that was very much a UK experience. This is global one and we know that extreme events such as these are going to become more common as climate change begins to have a greater impact.

Two events happened today of note. One was a new report titled 'Planning for Climate Change - a guide for Local Authorities' by the independent Local Government Information Unit. It referenced a report by the Royal Town Planning Institute from last year stating,

 "that a lack of integration of climate change into local plans was partly a result of a skills shortage related to budget cuts, and partly due to changes in national government policy that appear to de-prioritise climate change action."

Sadly this comes as no surprise. The actions of our Government appear to be those of Climate Change deniers not that of an enthusiastic signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement. The evidence is there for all to see not least of which being a huge drop in renewable energy and energy efficiency installations. 

The other event today was the Government decision to allow Fracking at Preston New Road in Lancashire against the wishes of the Lancashire County Council. Nationally the Government is pushing through permitted development rights for fracking exploration drilling overriding any local democratic objections. There is a sad lack of politicians in Westminster who 'get it' who understand that promoting these policies threatens us all.

Promoting action on climate change is so positive in terms of skilled jobs, putting money back into local economies, increasing energy security not to mention actually ensuring our survival and that of many other species that it beggars belief that any Government can turn its back on it. The disconnect between the impact of climate change on our weather and the decisions Governments and some opposition MPs make is truly worrying. These MPs must be made accountable and challenged for the stances they take. It has to be us and it has to be now. It is that urgent.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Andrew Cooper for Green Party Deputy Leader - Official Video



So here it is and thanks to Susan Jones for putting it together. It was a lovely sunny day  in the Lickley Hills looking over Birmingham. Filming had its challenges. Drones buzzing and hovering nearby, a dog owner shouting for his mutt.Yours truly may have had one or two takes and the outtakes would probably be quite amusing if they ever see the light of day.

Feedback so far has been great so a good start. A few weeks to go now in the campaigning period and like in our Local |Elections it is a case of keeping your cool, focusing on your own messages and not get distracted by things that niggle or annoy you. 

Friday, 29 June 2018

Brockholes to Budapest by train

Brockholes
Huddersfield
I'm no stranger to international train travel in my role as a member of the EU Committee of the Regions. Usually its Brockholes to Brussels for Committee and Plenary meetings. I've also travelled to the South of France by train a couple of times and to Bonn in Germany for the United Nations COP23 Climate Summit. This particular meeting was looking at different approaches to tackling plastics recycling and local community energy schemes among other things so particularly interesting and a lot to learn there from others.


Leeds
Wherever I can the train is my default position not just for environmental reasons but also as it is much easier to work on the move on trains. I used to get seduced by the speed and technology of planes but the inconvenience and unpredictability of air travel has been a significant reason for me to fall out of love with jet travel as well of course the significant climate change impacts.


Eurostar in 'That London'
Travelling to Budapest by train has been my furthest adventure so far. From Brockholes 'International' to Budapest is around 1300 miles. I used the very helpful website 'The Man in Seat 61' to plan my journey. Setting off from Brockholes at 6.38am to Huddersfield on
Paris
the most elderly train on my trip courtesy of Northern Rail. From there Huddersfield to Leeds, 10 minutes late but I factored in some UK slippage. Leeds to London on the newly nationalised LNER which I reckon must stand for 'Lovely Nationalised Electric Railway'. Across the road
Munich
from my Kings Cross to St Pancras station and the Eurostar then onto the train to Paris Gare du Nord station. A 10 minute walk by a tree lined Boulevard to Gare Du L'Est Station then onto the ICE train to Munich arriving around 9.30pm. I then had an hour or so at Munich station which was well provisioned with food outlets for my evening meal. At 11pm it was the Sleeper service to Budapest and a couchettee where hopefully my snoring wasn't too disruptive for other passengers.    

Budapest
The point for me was that I had the time to get to my  meeting this way on this occasion and doing the green thing was also an enjoyable experience and prefereable to the tedious processing and frequent delays you can experience at airports. Of course this is my view as an individual traveller but it is Government's job to make the positive experiences of international rail travel easier for more people. Instead it chose to back a climate wrecking 3rd runway at Heathrow and with the support of a majority of Labour MPs and very sadly the abstentions of SNP MPs. 

As Greens we need to promote and highlight alternatives as much as we can but not from a 'holier than thou approach' but by showing what can be done, showing how it could be made easier for more people and showing what barriers we need to overcome to make making the right choices easier and cheaper for more people.

Here's 'Pop Music' by M from 1979 which is only relevant because it mentions London, Paris and Munich but also New York but I didn't go there!



Friday, 22 June 2018

Humanity 'on the slab'

In Brussels today I saw a 10 foot tall slab of multi coloured concrete erected in a Park between the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions. There is a small plaque nearby explaining that it is cut from the Berlin Wall and was sent to Brussels in 2014 to commemorate the wall's  demise following the end of the Cold War.

As I stood there and looked it up and down I pondered its significance. My immediate thought was how reminiscent it was of the black slab in the film '2001 - A Space Odyssey'  That rectangular slab (or Monolith) was created by a benevolent alien intelligence that had been subtly but significantly influencing the progress of humanity towards the advanced technological species that we are today.

This slab however was not created by anything benevolent at all. It was part of a wall designed to divide people, to provide a physical barrier between 2 different political ideologies. The significance of this particular part of the walls relocation to Brussels was to show by its very presence that the wall did not exist any more in its previous location. Its purpose had been lost, that people divided were now united. So why relocate it to Brussels? As Europe's Capital, Brussels represents the blurring of national boundaries and a recognition that people beyond nation states can have common purpose, that walls and boundaries had less relevance than they once had.

Of course that positive vision has taken a bit of a battering in recent years. We have seen the subject of walls and barriers between nations rise as people seek to move from areas of war and poverty to countries where they see the opportunity for safety, opportunity and a living. Their actions are completely understandable. Politics has failed them, often in the most dramatic of fashions, and they are on the move. The reactions from the countries that they are moving towards has been mixed. Some have acted with humanity showing the best of what we can be. They have welcomed people often from cultures different to their own and  have understood that many have skills, abilities and knowledge that can add to their own and give some positive benefits to society. Then there are those who have been less welcoming. Donald Trump's recent actions on the Mexican border have shown him to be a 'borderline Fascist' in more than one sense and I am not one of those politicians who call someone a 'Fascist' at the drop of the hat. He has  truly 'earned' that title. In Hungary the barbaric move to make helping migrants illegal has also shown that some Governments are quite prepared to make common humanity a crime. Being a Good Samaritan has become a risky business in Hungary.

So what are we to make of the multicoloured slab in a Park in Brussels? First of all it is important to note that it remains. It may be silent, it may be inert, its purpose may not be immediately apparent but whatever turmoils happen in the political world it will stay there in the park.  As walls rise it will remain as a reminder of a more hopeful time when barriers between people were removed. The influence it has will not be of a super advanced technological basis such as the black slab in 2001 but more of a more subtle nature. It will  make people ask questions, it will demonstrate that there was widespread hope for the future once and that common humanity and a sense of a bond across national boundaries was a view held by many millions. Any piece of concrete that can make people ask questions is a one important piece of concrete.

For those of you who are desperate to understand what '2001 - A Space Odyssey' is all about but can't be bothered to read the original Arthur C Clark's short story 'The Sentinel' here is an explanation of what went on in in the film. Some folks found it a bit cryptic understandably




Thursday, 21 June 2018

Councillor Andrew Cooper's Speech to European Parliament's ENVI Committee 21st June 2018


·       
Thank you Chair ,  
Members of the ENVI committee, Let me first thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the Committee of the Regions opinion.
We welcome the ENVI draft motion for resolution on COP 24 as well as the adopted report on the role of EU regions and cities in implementing the Paris Agreement as they highlight the key role of local and regional authorities in the fight against climate change

·        Local and regional authorities are responsible for the implementation of 70% of climate change reduction measures and up to 90% of climate change adaptation measures. When national governments struggle to deliver, cities and regions take the lead.

·   Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, we have seen a rising status for local and regional governments. This was evident last year in Bonn with the launch of the Talanoa Dialogue and the Bonn Fiji commitment of Local and Regional leaders' from around the world.  It's now time this form of multilevel governance is acknowledged and the role of LRAs formalised in global climate governance.

·  Nationally Determined Contributions fall short in reaching Paris Agreement goals, of limiting global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees, let alone 1,5 degrees.  In order to bridge the emissions gap, we need a system of locally and regionally determined contributions (LDCs) that would complement "Nationally Determined Contributions.

·        A wealth of action to mitigate climate change happens at the local level and we know that action that is not measured is not acknowledged nor encouraged or valued. Yet, these local actions can be the most important actions of all. Making the difference between success and failure. That's why we call for the transparency framework to include, in national inventory reports a dedicated section on mitigation actions undertaken at subnational levels of government as a way to help track the progress towards achieving NDCs.

·   The Talanoa dialogue is of great importance for local and regional authorities as it allows them to make their ambitions, positions and intentions heard. It is also of vital importance to the UNFCCC and national Governments as the feedback we provide from the coalface of action on climate change will help them shape future policy initiatives. A dialogue is not a monologue. We need genuine 2 way communications. Yes we need to be heard but we also need to be responded to as well. We need to integrate the outcomes of the Talanoa Dialogue into the COP negotiating text. And it must also continue beyond COP24.

Members,
Cooperation and inclusivity are part of the solution to address climate challenges. It is essential that the EU and its Member States engage directly with democratically elected regions and other non-party stakeholders, civil society and the private sector. And it is crucial that we speak with a strong single voice at COP24.  As elected members at the closest level to the citizens we are ready to partner with you and contribute to make the world a better place.

 As a UK member of the Committee of the Regions I am clear that Brexit or (I still hope) no Brexit we should continue to work together to achieve the carbon reductions we need and to be frank this may help the UK Government to not slip further behind in our actions. If the UK is in a League of its own it will have no meaningful way of comparing its progress. Together with you we have a much better chance.

Thank you for your attention