Global warming and the ice age

Looking up at grey skies in August, I’d say many of us have flippantly said “Global warming? Bring it on!” More seriously, opponents of action on climate change have made claims of beneficial effects of warming for agriculture and the economy as a whole. Maybe the storms and flooding of the last few days, repeating and exceeding the floods of last year and the year before have provided  a more sombre idea of the effects of global warming on our weather systems. In  this post, Phil Ælse explains why global warming won’t be a pleasant experience!

What does the term global warming means to you? Do you envisage yourself  enjoying balmy days on Blackpool beach, strolling along the promenade at Llandudno in shorts and sun-glasses, and picking coconuts from the palm trees along Skegness front?

Unfortunately, whilst the general temperatures will increase in the short term, the specific effect on Britain could be less pleasant.

Think Costa Rica not Costa Brava: increased humidity; sweaty, smelly bodies; respiratory illnesses and skin disease on the increase; viruses and bacteria that flourish in dank conditions running riot; food spoiling rapidly and drinking water that needs boiling before use.

Britain’s Geography make it a damp place – even Julius Caesar commented on that: “The nights are short and the weather miserable, with frequent rain and mists.” Global warming won’t change that.  The Pennines cause water vapour to rise and that soon comes back down as rain.

phil1

In general terms the east of Britain suffers more from this effect than the west, as the colder air streams across the North Sea are more ready to dump rain than the typically warmer Atlantic and its beneficial Gulf Stream to the west.

The Gulf Stream is a continuous current of warm water that runs from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic and up the west cost of the UK. This is what gives places like North Wales and Lancashire relatively warm coastline, compared to places at the same latitude, such as Newfoundlgulfstreamand on the Canadian east coast. But whilst the sea and air temperature of the west coast is higher than the US east coast it is the welsh mountains of Snowdonia and the Pennines that then cause the cloud vapour to rise and dump rain on us.

 

Now, imagine if we warmed the ice cap at the North Pole. This will result in a stream of cold water pushing down the Atlantic and could cause a diversion of the Gulf Stream, pushing it south and away from the UK. This would remove the beneficial warming effect from our coast line and seas, and would means that we wouldn’t get the same comfortable temperatures, but we would still get the same clouds hitting the Pennines and rising to fall as rain. Except this is now more often going to be as snow and ice during the winter.

gulf2

So, yes, an initial rise in global average temperatures may give you a slightly warmer climate –  with all the problems of warm humid climates. But by 2050 we could start to see the diversion of the Gulf Stream, meaning that the climate our children will ensure will be more like that of Canada, with three metre deep snow drifts, transport chaos and frozen water pipes. The worst case result of the diverted gulf stream is that there will no longer be any warmer water streams being sent up to the Arctic Circle’s seas. The glaciers and ice caps will ultimately spread, not shrink, and northern Europe and the UK will eventually (and whilst not in our grand-children’s life time, fairly rapidly in geological terms) be brought in to the next ice age.

This has precedent. Ice core samples have been taken from the Poles and from ancient glaciers that show there is a direct correlation between rising  CO2 levels and an eventual decline in to an ice age. The last big ice age, some 11,000 years ago caused the Gulf Stream to shut down. The regional climate of the Northeast Atlantic became considerably cooler and as a result north-western Europe dropped back to ice age conditions within tens of years of this diversion.

icecore

So how is this our fault?

Humans have only been around for a few thousand years, and ice ages have happened for millions of years and multiple times. Cows and pigs haven’t just started pooping and parping. What’s changed?

The difference in this case is the speed in which carbon dioxide (the most prominent greenhouse gas) is rising during the global industrial age compared to previous pre-ice-age periods. Each ice-age has been preceded by a gradual increase in carbon dioxide over thousands of years. In the last three hundred years, the rate of carbon dioxide has increased vastly, meaning that the rate of increase of the ice core graph is not a curve as in previous occurrences, but a near vertical line as can be seen on the extreme right of the graph.

This meteoric rise is a result of our massive increase in carbon emissions from our altered way of life. Flying, driving and heating with fossil fuels means we are creating CO2 in spades.

Demanding fresh meat on our table every day means we have millions more cattle animals than we ever had before. To satisfy this demand, animals are now raised in factory conditions. Raising animals on pastures can be a means of absorbing CO2,  but these intensive methods add to the emissions that are changing the climate on which we depend.

An economy based on producing and marketing ever increasing numbers of  disposable consumer products means more and more energy is used in creating, transporting and disposing on giga-tonnes of products, many of which are used once then thrown away.

What can we do?

We need a different kind of economy. One that serves the needs of our communities rather than a continual treadmill of production for production’s sake. We need to get rid of the nonsense of long supply chains for goods that can be produced locally.  We can make a start in our own lives by buying local produce and supporting local shops, by sharing tools and equipment that aren’t needed every day –  but in the end the system must change.

We need to move a distributed modern energy system based on renewable energy with people in control of their own energy supply. The UK already has some community energy projects – other European countries, such as Germany have a lot more. If there is no community project, what about installing solar panels or switching to an  energy provider that provides equitably generated electricity, and tell the fuel guzzlers WHY you switched.

And even when it seems like talking to the wall, we need to make sure our MPs know how we feel when they vote for things like fracking.

Ultimately, it may not be enough. But what you do will affect your community and your grandchildren. Doing nothing at all, you only allow the disaster to strike and  when your grand-child looks at you and asks “Why is it so cold?” will you be able to say “Its just a cold snap, dear”, or will it be “Because my generation destroyed it all for you!”

 

Climate Change Summit – Paris 2015

Paris 2015: A Place for Hope

On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who cop21 gathered at Derby Cathedral for a public meeting on climate change,  designed to give people the opportunity to hear about and discuss the issues to be debated at the Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit.

John Selwyn Gummer – now Lord Deben –  addressed the meeting. He chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will represent the UK at the Paris 2015 conference. He began by outlining the three arguments he uses to counter climate change deniers:

  • Risk – the choice between acting on climate change and not acting. If the promoters of climate change are wrong and we act, nothing will have been lost – the atmosphere will be healthier. If the climate deniers are wrong and we do nothing, we shall face catastrophe.
  • Care – he said that as a result of centuries of astronomical exploration planet earth is the only planet to support life as we know it. That does not rule out the possibility of discovering life on another planet; it does mean that for the time being, planet earth is rare and therefore needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  • Act Responsibly – in other areas of life we do not choose to act stupidly and therefore it is wrong to go on acting stupidly by increasing CO2 emissions. The link between climate change and CO2 emissions was as true as the link between smoking and cancer. We must therefore keep our CO2 emissions down to avoid crossing the critical 2 degree rise in temperature threshold to prevent disaster happening.

Lord Deben went on to describe how we get to that target. He emphasised that the Climate Change Act 2008 was achieved by an All-party consensus in the UK and that was key to its success. He was very optimistic and positive when he talked about his hopes for Paris 2015. He pointed out that in Australia and Canada political changes had meant that both countries were now committed to taking climate change seriously. He remarked on the co-operation that now existed between China and the USA. He pointed out that there is now a scientific basis for the reality of climate change and that all the nations responsible for 85% of carbon emissions now all have climate change legislation.

Lord Deben concluded his talk by stating two key things that he saw as essential to progress being made in Paris.

  1. The need to recognise that Paris will not achieve an answer that is perfect – it may get the best answer that can be had for the time being but it will need to be improved on and modified over time.
  2. The importance of achieving a binding agreement in Paris – something to hold people and nations to, rather as the British Climate Change Act obliged the Government to take carbon emissions into account in any budgetary proposals that were put to parliament.

Apart from this, he said little about his views on the compatibility of economic growth and corporate deregulation with the need to cut net global carbon emissions to zero by mid century or whether corporate lobbying is delaying action to slow down climate change.

He spoke of the stand made by the Pope making a significant difference to worldwide awareness of climate change, not least in the USA, because it made it impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. He stressed that the encyclical also made it clear that you cannot deal with climate change in isolation from other issues such as world poverty and justice for the poor.

Q & A session:

Investment in Renewable Energy

  • Q If Britain, as he stated, is a leader in combating climate change, why have we not put more investment into renewals?
  • A It seems that renewables have been too successful.  For example,  off-shore wind farms were giving a return of 40% not the 29% forecast and this created a problem for the chancellor who presumably then decided they didn’t need investment!

Fracking

  • Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
  • He appeared to imply that Fracking is a separate issue. He believes science and the evidence of science is that it is safe.
    By the mutterings from the audience, I think many people thought he must be looking at different evidence! He talked about the need to ensure that we had our “own” supplies of gas because of the dangers of being dependent upon Putin. He didn’t respond to the heckler who said that fracked gas is a fossil fuel, the implication being that we have to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

The time for questions was limited as Lord Deben had to catch a train. There wasn’t time to go into the issue of other green-house gases, including methane, with agriculture, notably animal husbandry being currently a major emitter, coupled with the conversion of natural grassland and forest to cultivation of animal fodder or ask whether he still enjoys beef burgers!

Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party

This public meeting was organised jointly by the Derby Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) of which Donald is Chair.

Stand up for climate justice

Time to act on climate change

730timetoact

Climate Change Conference

Methodist Central Hall, Oldham St, Manchester
Saturday 10th October, 10 am to 4:30 pm

It is time to act. Long past time!

In December, world leaders will meet in Paris to discuss international action on climate. After years dragging their feet, our government has gone into reverse gear. Tax breaks for oil companies, fast tracking for fracking, sabotaging clean energy projects by slashing subsidies.

The Green Party is the only party that puts action on climate at the centre of its policies for energy, for economic renewal, for transport, for housing. So, we have a lot to contribute to a conference that aims to look at the alternatives to austerity and climate chaos.

For more details: www.globaljustice.org.uk/events/time-act-climate-change-conference

System-Change-not-Climate-Change-588

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2015)

“Animal agriculture is responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry and causes unfathomable destruction of natural resources and habitats. Yet it flourishes, almost entirely unchallenged.”

This is the claim of the groundbreaking documentary which follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations refuse to tackle it.

Ian Wood, Green Party Activist in Derbyshire Dales writes:

I amIan Wood possibly the only Green in the county not to have heard of this film, but now I have, and indeed have watched the whole thing, and it is truly excellent.

We all have to go green, of course, but this film makes the bold and convincing claim that we cannot call ourselves environmentalists unless, and until, we are all vegan. Being vegan uses three times less water and grain resources than being merely vegetarian, and eighteen times less resources than being an omnivore. The entire human population could exist perfectly decently on the grain we feed to animals.

The film is a bit preachy at the end and finger-wags that it’s not enough just to cut down on meat on the grounds that, if you have Meat-free Mondays, for example, you are only doing the wrong things on six days of the week and not seven. My view is that it is better to do the wrong things on six days of the week rather than seven, especially if it helps more generally. If you cut down on meat and fish you are reducing your carbon footprint – that is undeniable.

The film is excellent on the lobbying power of agri-business and the corrupting power of money derived from meat-eating of all kinds.

I am a meat-eater and I shall certainly be cutting down on my consumption of meat purely on the basis of having seen this film.

I would now disown the things I have previously said about fossil fuels being far more important to climate change than eating meat. It is quite apparent that eating meat causes more climate change and water shortages and natural imblanaces than fossil fuels, and I am somewhat ashamed I ever thought differently.

Cowspiracy is a calm and brave documentary and thoroughly recommended.

http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/194765/Cowspiracy_The_Sustainability_Secret_2015/

Note: The Green Party does not require members to be vegetarian or vegan. In section (d) of its Food and Agriculture Policy http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fa.html it states:

High rates of consumption of meat and other animal products in richer countries, and rising demand elsewhere, means that the increasing requirement for animal feed competes with food production for direct human consumption. We will encourage healthy and sustainable consumption patterns, including a shift towards more plant-based foods. Such a shift would enable an increased world population to be fed sustainably and would help to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. (See FA211, FA222, FA237, FA662)

Charlotte Farrell – On the Front Line against Fracking

Charlotte&Peter Barton Moss Jan14The Green Party believes beyond question that climate change is happening right now and if we do not begin to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions very soon, global warming will accelerate beyond any hope of our control.

Green Party members Charlotte Farrell and Peter Alan were on the front line against Fracking at Barton Moss.

Charlotte is standing as Parliamentary Candidate in High Peak and also as Green Party candidate in Hope Valley Ward in the Local Elections.

Quick Quote from Charlotte:  “…17 leading scientists and economists have issued a warning – the ‪#‎EarthStatement‬ about climate change.  Again!?!  Yes, unfortunately, warnings seem to be falling on deaf ears – our current government have increased incentives for oil and gas exploration – including fracking – and decreased incentives for renewables.  It’s time to act.

The earth statement sets out eight essential actions – and they’re ALL Green Party policy.

It’s getting more and more urgent to get our voices heard. ‪#‎VoteGreen‬ – before it’s too late.”

Green Party Launch Election Campaign Video

• Greens on 25% and surging in Bristol West
• Caroline Lucas: ‘The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.’
• New video follows viral success of ‘Change the Tune’ election broadcast

The Green Party, the fastest-growing political party in England and Wales, has released ‘Vote for what you believe in’, its second campaign video.

The film underlines the tremendous achievements made by Caroline Lucas, the Greens’ first MP, and demonstrates how a Green grouping in Parliament can deliver real change for the common good in the next Parliament.

The film follows hot on the heels of ‘Change the Tune’, the Greens’ genre-busting boy band spoof video which went viral on the internet which is the most viewed party election broadcast of the 2015 General Election campaign.

Darrren Hall, PPC for Bristol West and the Green Party’s Home Affairs spokesperson, is on track to win in Bristol West where the Greens are polling at 25% and closing the gap on Labour. The Liberal Democrats currently hold the seat but have seen their vote slip by 28% since 2010.

In the video, Caroline Lucas says:
“The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.
“All of the evidence suggests that there won’t be any one single party with an overall majority, so the smaller parties are going to be more important than ever. And with just a handful of Green MPs we could make a real difference, standing up for issues that none of the other parties are. Whether that’s challenging spending a hundred billion pounds on replacing Trident nuclear weapons or bringing rail back into public ownership, or having real ambitious policies to tackle the climate crisis.”

Darren Hall adds:
“More and more I’ve heard people saying: no, I’m going to vote with my heart. Because unless you start that process, things will never change.
“We have to acknowledge the size of the climate change problem and start to tackle it today.”

The Green Party of England and Wales is polling at its highest ever levels ahead of a General Election. More people than ever before will be able to vote Green on May 7th 2015 – the Party is fielding candidates in almost 95% of constituencies.

Climate Change – Urgent Action Required

Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett

natalie-bennettThis year the most important climate talks in history will take place in Paris.

Leaders from around the world will come together to decide the world’s course of action in addressing the most important issue of modern times.

Yet, despite the looming threat of a climate crisis, during this election you could be forgiven for thinking that the threat had lifted.

The truth is, politicians from the other parties simply aren’t speaking about climate change. In fact I was the only party leader to raise the topic during the three and a half hours of Leaders debates.

You and I know both know that the science is unequivocal – fortunately we have the plan to tackle the crisis.

The Green Party is the only party calling for the urgent action required and at the heart of our pledge to protect the environment is our conviction that we must also reconfigure our world to work better for people.

We will cut public transport fares – because everyone should be able to afford to get to where they want to go – and because the air pollution caused by cars is a crisis that must be tackled.

We will invest in home insulation – because no one should fear family members getting ill or even dying from the cold – and because we want to cut carbon emissions.

We will generate 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 – because we know we must leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

We are using three times as many resources as our planet can sustain – we must change course, and we can.

I, like you, want to leave a better future for our children. I want the next generation to look back on what we did at this time and think ‘my parents generation did something to protect our world’. I want them to be proud of us.

To keep climate change on the agenda and to continue our fight for social justice we must elect more Green MPs.

We can do this if we have a strong Green voice in parliament – but we need your help now more than ever with a Green vote on May 7th.

Thank you,

Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

p.s. Please share this message with someone you know who shares your concerns and urge them to vote Green on May 7th.

Candidates join in April Fool’s Day Railway Actions

Return the Railways to the Public

Alice David and KimThree of our members, Alice Mason-Power, David Foster and Kim Collis joined others from Derby People’s Assembly and Derby Climate Coalition leafleting at Derby Railway Station to make links with the issue of cuts, privatizations and our railways.

There were nearly 100 such actions up and down the country on March the 31st and April the 1st, loosely organised under the Action for Rail umbrella.

Alice Mason Power with imprintAlice Mason-Power is standing in Derby North Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Darley Ward.

David Foster is standing in Derby South Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Boulton Ward.

David with imprint

The Green Party would aim to re-nationalise the railways and work to produce an integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport system.

Green Party Manifesto

Mike ShipleyMike Shipley writes:

The Green Party has launched its manifesto today, [14th April]. At the launch Natalie Bennett said “This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”

This is a long document, featuring policies relating to the economy, our society and our shared environment. It is also costed to show that it is possible to implement policies that will improve everyone’s lives and help stabilise the economy without the need for austerity.

Like most elections, this in 2015 is dominated again by arguments over the economy. No one can deny the importance of economic policy, but in a General Election that will vote in a Government for 5 years, we should be asking other, more profound questions. We should ask about priorities and about what sort of society our politicians are wanting to create with the power we will give them.

The Conservative Party is focused on money, it wants a society in which those who have it can keep as much of it as possible and do with it as they please. Labour seems now to be content with simply shadowing the Tories, accepting their economic strategy and hoping to be able to put a bit more of a human face on to it. Their real focus is power – vision has deserted them.

By comparison the Green manifesto sets out a clear vision of what we can build through our policies:
Print• a human scale economy that works for people and doesn’t damage our planet
• public services that deliver what people need
• a society that cares for the future of the young and the welfare of the vulnerable
• a more equal society that accepts diversity and offers opportunity regardless of background, governed honestly by elected representatives dedicated to the common good.

None of this is wishful thinking, neither is any of it unaffordable. What is wishful thinking is the idea that we can go on trying to solve through ‘growth’ the endlessly recurring crises that the economic strategies of the post war period have created. Perpetual growth in the economy is not possible; forever increasing the rate of consumption of natural resources is not possible, any economic strategy based on either or both will fail. Chancellors may engineer a temporary upturn of the indexes that they control in order to win an election, but in the long term the “growth and consume” economic plan dooms us all to failure.

The Green manifesto catalogues the failure of successive governments to which our present leaders seem to be blind. More than one in four children growing up in poverty, nearly one million people reliant on food banks, growing levels of inequality that sees the wealth of the richest 1% greater than the poorest 55% of fellow citizens, and the spiralling growth of debt that will see more that 2 million households paying half of their disposable income paying off loans by 2018.

For many, these grim realities do not add up to the success story that the Coalition Government is trying to claim in its bid to hold on to power. They spell out failure, and what the other manifestos are offering is very slightly different versions of this failure. More cuts, more austerity for the majority of voters, more tax cuts for the affluent supporters of the status quo, more privatisation that will lead to us paying private providers more for poorer services. Just more wishful thinking.

We are at a critical time and the outcome of this and the next election will shape our future – although you would barely know this from the trivia that is gushing out from the mouths of our so called ‘leaders’. Climate change is gathering pace. We need a clear action programme to be agreed in Paris at the end of the year otherwise global temperatures will overshoot 2 degrees centigrade. The cost of the damage will break all but the strongest economies – and the British economy is not one of the strongest.

Democracy is under threat by a corporate takeover of Government policy-making. This is demonstrated in the secret Trans-Atlantic Trade negotiations, TTIP, that will strip Governments of the ability to enact laws to protect public health or our shared environment lest they threaten corporate profits and bonuses. Inequality is stoking tensions in society that can only lead to a rise in crime, in fear and a decline in general well-being and health. The capacity of our natural environment to provide the food and clean water that we all need to survive is being eroded by increasing unregulated development and pollution.

These issues are ignored by politicians and commentators alike, they are too big for them to comprehend. But they are not ignored by the Green manifesto. Here, we set out a route that will steer us away from the dangers inherent in ‘business as usual’. We show how it is possible to build a sustainable society in which each individual can build a life of purpose, within the natural limits of the one planet that we have to live on. Our aim in this election is to campaign on this manifesto, to maximise our vote and so demonstrate that there is a serious and growing level of support for our policies; policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley April 2015
Mike is standing as Green Party candidate in the Local Elections for Sett Ward on High Peak Borough Council

Charlotte Farrell – High Peak Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

?????????????????????????????I am standing as a parliamentary candidate for High Peak constituency because I believe it is important to give people the opportunity to vote for the Green party wherever possible.

I became interested in environmental issues back in the 1980’s, concerned about the effects our current way of life was having, and the impact of climate change on the world generally.

I believe that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable society and that while we continue to follow the present economic trajectory we will inevitably cause untold harm to mankind and to the planet. I believe that the alternative is to build policies which put people and the planet first before profit.

I originally trained as a nurse and worked as such for 15 years before re-qualifying as a solicitor. Last year, after 10 years in the law, I left to work with my partner making orthopaedic footwear; so that I could devote more time to politics.

I live and work in the High Peak and am involved in various community activities there. In particular I was involved in the purchase of Derbyshire’s first community owned and run village pub which now provides a focus for the local community.

If I was elected I would stand for:
•  meaningful action to combat climate change and pollution
• providing decent jobs with a living wage and truly affordable housing
•  fighting cuts to public sector jobs and services
• increased investment in health and education, in particular ending the pernicious privatisation of services
• integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport
•  zero tolerance inequality and discrimination
• immediate unilateral nuclear disarmament and an end to UK involvement in overseas conflict and war.

I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment.

Green Party candidate contact details

Dr Marianne Bamkin – South Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Mariane BamkinYou could describe me as a secret Green. I have lived my life according to good, Green, environmental principals since I was a teenager, therefore, for at least the last 40 years. I garden organically, at home and on my allotment; I have re-used, recycled and upcycled; I have installed solar panels in order to contribute to sustainable energy; basically, quietly doing my own bit towards a sustainable future. However, I have decided to come out of the closet and take direct political action so that voters in South Derbyshire are given the opportunity to vote for the Green Party.

I am a Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science as well as a qualified librarian, teacher and nursery manager. I am a passionate believer in Equality, Open Knowledge and Knowledge for All. I believe in a world where all people are allowed the same opportunities of health, work and education, despite differences in gender, race, or ability. I consider that humans are only a small part of our planet and we should tread gently amongst the multitude of other plant and animal species, doing no harm as we pass through this world. As a parent and grandparent, I feel the responsibility to teach our descendants to protect their environment, including scientific moral responsibility and scientific progress towards minimum environmental impact.

I have taken an active role in my local community and, here in Weston-on-Trent, I was a Parish Councillor for four years. I am and have been a committee member of several village organisations and been part of successful campaigns to extend the school and the village hall and to improve the recreational facilities for children and young people in Weston and Aston. More recently, I have been involved with national campaigns to prevent the closure of public libraries. I am a confident and experienced public speaker and able to frame logical argument.

I have become gradually more politicised over the past five years as I have realised that the current governmental coalition are seeking to disenfranchise the people of Britain and establish central governmental control by removing decision making powers from Local Government and erecting barriers to free and accessible sources of information. I believe that the economic theories being used to promote the concept of ‘Austerity’ are flawed and not well thought through, leading to a greater social divide between the rich and the common man. I feel that current major politicians are lacking in moral convictions and their shallow attempts at vote catching will not be translated into the public good.

I want to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the Green Party for the two following reasons. Firstly, I am a doer, a person of action and I want to change the current political situation. Secondly, the Green Party core principles and manifesto accord with my general views and convictions; and I believe that they are the right ones to reform politics in the UK.

Green Party candidate contact details

David Foster – Candidate for Derby South Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015:

David FosterI joined the Green Party back in 2008 after listening to Caroline Lucas discussing ecology and the Green Party on Radio Four. I have always been deeply concerned about environmental issues and animal welfare but, up to that point, I never realised that there was a political party that shared my views.

Since that time, I have been very involved with Derbyshire Green Party, holding various committee positions. I have been Chair and Co-ordinator of both Derbyshire and the East Midlands Regional Green Party. I have also contributed in other administrative roles including ERO (Electoral Returning Officer) and been the Editor of Greenshoots and Sunflower.

As Derbyshire Chair, I responded to a request for support from the Foston community when they were beginning to campaign against the proposed mega piggery in their area. I initiated the Green Party’s involvement in this campaign, organising videos and other publicity material to oppose the planning application. I am delighted that the Environment Agency has recently rejected the mega piggery proposal which means that it is likely that the project will not be able to proceed.

As East Midlands Chair and Co-ordinator, I was heavily involved in planning and organising the Euro Campaign and supporting the East Midlands Euro Candidate, Katharina Boettge. This demanded the ability to encourage and manage local party involvement across five counties, whilst offering personal support to the candidate.

I consider climate change to be the most serious problem facing the world today. The rapid rise in sea levels is going to displace millions of people who live in low lying areas. A much more volatile climate will produce violent storms which will not be good for either food production or clean drinking water. These changes also mean we are losing wildlife habitat and biodiversity at an alarming rate. I would campaign vigorously for us to take a positive decision at the climate talks in Paris later this year, and make meaningful changes to our energy policy taking us away from destructive fracking and burning fossil fuels, towards renewable energy and clean burn fuels.

I am a socialist by nature. I support a strong welfare system: one that would protect infirm and vulnerable members of our society. I do not believe the austerity cuts were either necessary or even advisable. We should be aiming for a sustainable economy as well as a sustainable ecology. We need to move away from the continued cycle of ‘boom and bust’ and we need to recognise that the concept of ‘growth’ is finite: after all, we only have the resources of one planet.

If I were elected for my constituency of Derby South, I would dedicate 100% of my time towards improving the welfare of my constituents. I would not be looking to make personal gain from funding by lobbyist groups and no matter what the financial incentive; I would not be dividing my time sitting on the committee of large companies. I believe that we need a new politics of honesty, transparency and integrity.

Green Party candidate contact details

The Future must be Green in a Warming World

MikeIt is most heartening but not surprising that a growing number of young people are joining the Green Party. They have taken the brunt of the failed austerity economic package that was designed to force privatisation of state assets. The promise of advancement through education has been broken by the coalition government scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance and raising university fees. Many are forced to take low paid or zero hours contracts that leave them in debt, unable to enter the property market and unable to start developing a long term career. Had the Green New Deal, offered by the Greens in 2010 been implemented, none of this would have been necessary; we would now be investing in the future, not shoring up the vested interests of the past.

But this is not the only reason why more young people are turning to the Green Party. The little reported UN Climate Change Synthesis report spelled out yet again that we are running out of time to avoid dangerous climate change.

For many global leaders and financial managers, the warnings posted in this report are in a future that either they won’t see or from which they expect to be protected by their wealth. But for the young generation, this report is talking about their future, the time when they hope to build their careers, raise their own families, enjoy their own retirement. What it is telling them is that they will see a continued rise in temperature, a continued rise in sea level, an increase in violent and unpredictable weather that will threaten their property, their health and safety. They will have to face the prospects of a 3C rise in temperature by the end of the century, a time when they might hope that their children are securely settled in to career and family life. But security is something they will not have in the rapidly degrading world of three degrees of warming.

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305Because the needs of the present economic order are seen to be more important than the needs of our life support system and the future, politicians and economists are accepting that we may well have to overshoot the 2C mark, and accept 3C of warming. To keep below 2C, that is too high anyway, we have to leave 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground – this I have explained in earlier articles on this site. We have to start now to decarbonise the energy sector, we have to invest now to bring global carbon emission to zero by the end of the century, starting with the developed economies. But this strategy conflicts with the interests of wealth.

A 3C rise would be catastrophic. The Amazon rain forest would be lost with global implications for both climate and biodiversity. Sea levels would rise to 25 metres, based on the last time Earth’s temperature was 3 degrees above the 20th century average. Large areas of the planet would be uninhabitable, water scarcity would reduce food production considerably, billions would starve. The people of wealth would live in enclaves at high latitudes, guarded by private militias, like the medieval barons. This is the world being planned by the politicians and corporate bosses today. Small wonder young people are turning to the Green Party.

The next international climate meeting, COP21, will be in Paris at the end of 2015. This Conference is meant to agree a replacement to the largely failed Kyoto Treaty, to force deep and binding cuts to global emissions. Much of the talk will be about adaptation and tech-fixes, because the global corporations see huge profits in multinational tax-payer funded schemes to enable us to live with the effects of climate change. The UN Synthesis Report makes it very clear that without deep cuts to emissions, ‘ warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally (high confidence).’

10356153_10152396653039522_7330862721074206686_n2015 is election year. The media led campaign will focus on divisive issues like migration and Europe, stirring up fear and hate among us. The Green manifesto is one of hope for a better future for all. We can all live sustainable lives in stable communities within the natural limits of the Earth. It will mean that some have to do with less so that most can have enough. But that is the Green idea of fairness. Our candidates and campaign teams will be bringing our message of Hope not Fear to the electorate. Join us and help us build the political momentum ahead of the Paris Summit, make it clear that this time we want an agreement that works for the Common Good.

Click to access SYR_AR5_SPM.pdf

Mike Shipley  November 2014

Your Money’s Better on your Roof than in the Bank!

John Youatt 6Three years ago, the cost of a solar electric panel (PV) array on a roof was about £4000 per kW installed. The feed in tariff was 45p per kW generated. The incomes paid off the capital cost within about 8 years. I know, because we installed 12 panels (3 kW) at the time and the returns have been better that predicted. Even better, with local publicity, there are now 10 installations in my small, national park village.

Some say the turning point was when the Daily Mail’s economics editor declared “your money’s better on your roof than in the bank”. Then there were scare stories and jealousy stories. Despite those teething troubles, the industry has now settled down, as demonstrated by the following article in the Solar Power portal:

“In the current talk of power shortages and lack of generating capacity, domestic solar photovoltaic, which could be readily implemented and is now cost-effective, has been overlooked. Prices are now close to the projected viable level of £1 per watt. A 4Kw solar PV domestic system can be bought for under £5,000 installed and can produce 4,000kWh a year with a 20-year guaranteed life. This gives a capital cost of £1,138 per kW, with an amortised annual cost of 5.7p per kWh, with no maintenance or distribution costs. If 10% of existing houses (2.8m) converted at 4kW, it would give 11.1TWh, with 11GW capacity, 12% of current UK capacity, equivalent to 3% of UK production, at an installed cost of some £12bn.”

“The annual value at the current domestic price of £0.15 a unit is £600pa. FIT tariff subsidies give a five-year pay-off. I write as a pensioner user with installed PV, which even at the old prices gives an 8% return guaranteed for 25 years, better than annuities or savings – and I am looking at how to fit in more capacity.” John Read, Clitheroe, Lancashire

The stunning point is that even at John Read’s cautious prediction of only 10% of roofs, solar electricity alone will fill the gaps left by the closures and accidents in the dirty fossil fuel and dangerous nuclear power plants. It can

31Oct sunflower 007• Be clean, secure and home grown.
• Create thousands of jobs in a very well regulated industry of panel makers, scaffolders, roofers and electricians.
• Add some income for hard pressed farmers, who like harvesting the sun’s energy. Harvesting is what they do.
• Spur the search for power storage, such as millions of electric car batteries, among many other storage methods
• Reduce transmission losses on the networks

So get installing
Check for the adverts in the press for your local established installer – beware the non-local companies who aren’t there to mend and maintain. The fault rate with local companies is very low.

John Youatt
Regional Co-ordinator (Derbyshire Dales area)

Post Carbon – where will the smart money go?

Fracking 9Last weekend, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney made the most important political statement of the year. Speaking at a World Bank seminar in New York, Carney said: the “vast majority of reserves are un-burnable”. He was referring to fossil fuels, he was speaking to financiers and industrialists.

Carney is no liberal Green giant, he is a very conservative minded Canadian who encouraged the exploitation of his country’s tar sands, about the dirtiest fuel in the world. Yet he has had to swallow a dose of reality and accept the warnings of Nicolas Stern about the full impact of climate change on global finance. He has at last accepted the dangers of putting too many of our economic eggs into the oil basket.

In the spring of 2012, I wrote an article called ‘The Carbon Bubble’, published on the DGP website. [ https://derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk/2012/03/17/the-carbon-bubble/ ] That article showed that a huge amount of global wealth is invested in oil and gas reserves. If these reserves are burned, as they have to be to give a return on the investment, then global temperatures will rise to between 3.5 & 5.0 degrees C. If the wealth invested in coal is added in, then the planet becomes uninhabitable.

At that time investors continued to pour their wealth in to fossil reserves. We are still seeing that in the UK over fracking. The rich and powerful individuals and organisations making these investments fully expect a return. For them to stay rich, the world must fry.

This is the problem that financiers and politicians of all shades except Green have allowed to happen. If the carbon reserves are not burned, to keep temperature rise to below 2C, colossal amounts of private and corporate wealth will be lost, markets will crash, the Carbon Bubble bursts, unleashing a financial crisis that would dwarf that of 2008. If the reserves are burned to return the expected profit and wealth, then the cost of the resulting climate chaos will be far greater than the value of the reserves, the economy will be bankrupt.

Carney’s predecessor at the BoE, the ever cautious Mervyn King, recognised that the warnings about over investment in carbon assets by the Stock Exchange needed due consideration. The new Governor has indeed considered the matter and is issuing his quiet warnings to the market. Is it a coincidence that the markets have dipped this week? Is the move to divestment in coal, gas and oil really so altruistic? Are we seeing a steady retreat from carbon assets as the reality of climate change begins to penetrate the minds of corporate investors? If so this will create its own problems.

Where will the wealth go? If it is pulled out of oil and gas, it will be looking for a home. Is this the real reason for the drive for privatisation of public service. Not an ideologically driven policy at all, but a pragmatic response to the need to find a safe haven for private and corporate wealth. What could be a better long term investment than the supply of food, water and health? These are what everyone in the world needs on a daily basis, just like energy but on a far bigger scale. Hand all of this supply to the private sector and the potential market is huge and growing.

Greens oppose this commercialisation of the basic needs of people. For us, the supply of the essentials of life, food, water, energy, health and education, should be under public democratic control so access is not determined by personal wealth, but by need. Hand this supply over to the private sector then it will be driven by profit, not the needs of the consumers. Many will be priced out of the market in these services so that the rich and powerful can maintain their privileged positions.

Mike Shipley

Green Energy Policy is Practical, Realistic and Popular

600px-Community_turbine_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1234697Far from being wishful thinking, Green Policy is realistic, rooted in evidence and developed to solve real problems that people face. Green Policy does not set out to secure further advantage for powerful elites.

Consider energy, Government policy is unsustainable, protecting the interests of the big energy and fossil fuel companies. As a result of this policy we have spiralling energy costs with one in five households suffering energy poverty. We are seeing the ‘big 6’ making massive profits, and we are reliant on imported fossil fuels that are accelerating global warming. Their policy is to frack the very foundations of these islands to squeeze out the last drops of oil, gas and private profit, making us more reliant on polluting, climate threatening expensive fuels. This is the policy that ConDem and Labour call ‘realistic’.

Greens think differently. For us, access to affordable energy is an essential part of well-being. We will be introducing a new energy policy at the Autumn Conference in Aston. The cornerstone of our policy is to cut waste and make a rapid switch to renewable energy. Our aim is to deliver the energy that people need at a price that they can afford.

An important part of the drive to affordable energy is to foster community owned generating systems, designed to tap into renewable energy sources to meet local needs. Unrealistic? No not at all, this is happening right here in Derbyshire. 4Winds Energy Cooperative has been awarded planning permission by Chesterfield Council to build a wind turbine at Duckmanton. Most of the necessary investment has been raised locally, through a modestly priced share offer, enabling people to invest in their local energy infrastructure, keeping money in the local economy. This is the model of investment used in Germany where the growth of renewable energy has been much more rapid than here, through a much greater level of local engagement minimising opposition.

Central Government has failed to encourage the growth of renewable energy, in marked contrast to its support for fracking and nuclear power. Powerful pro-fossil interests have manipulated policy and also public opinion. The popular press have maintained a ridiculous campaign of opposition to both wind and solar power, leading to planning applications for renewable schemes being refused.

This has happened too often in Derbyshire. This summer Derbyshire Green Party became involved in an appeal against a refusal by Derbyshire Dales District Council for a modest wind turbine on a farm near to Ashbourne. Considering the application DGP looked at the wider context as well as the specific site, as we believe planning decisions must. We pointed out that the Government has a legally binding obligation to reduce carbon emissions and to do this, renewable schemes have to be encouraged. We said that Climate Change, driven by carbon emissions is a real and present danger, recognised by the Ministry of Defence that warns of Catastrophic Climate Shock in its 5th Strategic Trends report. We pointed out that this turbine would help to cut the farm’s reliance on imported diesel and cut its carbon footprint. Surplus electricity would to sold to the grid to help the financial viability of the farm at a time when incomes are under great pressure. We recognised that harvesting energy from wind and sun is a legitimate part of a farm business helping to maintain this vital sector in the rural economy.

We also challenged the claim that there is deep public hostility to renewable energy. An IPSOS-MORI poll in 2012 found that two thirds of people thought the impact of turbines on the landscape ‘acceptable’. A study carried out by Sheffield University for Sustainable Youlgrave found that over 60% of residents would not oppose reasonable turbines in view from their homes. The latest public survey by the Department of Energy and Climate Change found that 70% of the public support onshore wind, compared to 29% supporting fracking.

Despite all the propaganda from the fossil fuel interests, the public is supportive of renewable energy. What they do object to is huge developments by remote companies being dumped on their doorstep. This is why, in our energy policy, we say that local Councils need to have the power and resources to develop local energy plans, designed to match local needs with generation and to address energy efficiency. Councils need the resources to ensure that all homes, including the ‘hard to treat’ properties so often found in rural areas, are brought up to modern standards of energy efficiency. This is an investment in the housing stock that will lower energy demand. It will leave householders with more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy, it will cut the nations fuel import bill so helping the balance of payments. This is practical realistic policy.

Mike Shipley

The Carbon Bubble

In 2010, the Climate Change conference in Cancun adopted an agreement that carbon emissions should be limited so that the rise in global mean temperature should not exceed 2°C. In addition, it was recognised that this rise might need to be reduced to 1•5°C. Although the sceptics didn’t notice, that conference accepted the science of Climate Change. What it didn’t do was to understand the economic implications of restricting temperature rise. It’s not simply calculating the cost, Nicholas Stern did that, it’s around 2% of global GDP and rising. We now have to understand the grip carbon assets have on the global economy and find ways of loosening it.

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305If we are to limit temperature rise to 2°C, the Potsdam Institute has calculated that global carbon emissions in the period 2000 to 2050 will need to be limited to 884Gt CO². In the first eleven years of this century, thanks to the inaction of political, economic and business leaders, the world has emitted 321 GtCO², leaving a carbon budget of 565 GtCO² up to 2050. At present, despite the global recession, emissions are rising and the 2°C carbon budget will have been ‘spent’ by 2027. After then, we leave the 2° world and enter 3°+. At the last Climate Change conference in Durban in January, there was a behind the scenes acceptance that we will have to adapt to 3°C of warming, and probably more. That is not a comfortable prospect and millions of people will suffer as a consequence.

The reason why global leaders find it so difficult to implement the policies that will limit temperature rise to less than 2°C is not due to scepticism but because the global economic structure is built on unsustainable practices and resources, notably carbon based fuels. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C or less requires a switch to sustainable practice, and a switch away from fossil fuels. We know this, so why isn’t this happening?

A report called Unburnable Carbon, by the Carbon Tracker Initiative showed that the top 200 oil, coal, and gas companies have reserves that will emit 745 GtCO², these reserves represent their market value, and the market naturally assumes that these fuels will be burned. In addition, these companies continue to prospect aggressively, needing to replace reserves that underpin share price. Around 50% of the valuation of a fossil fuel company lies in its declared reserves. When Shell announced a 20% reduction in its reserves its market value fell by £3 billion in a week. Naturally, these companies try to secure new finds as a buffer to maintain their value, profits and dividends. In the oil and gas sector, this now means ‘unconventional’ sources like tar sands and shale gas. To finance these explorations, investors continue to pour money in to the carbon sector, assuming that this investment will yield burnable reserves that will secure a return on their investments.

Exactly how much carbon, and therefore warming potential, private companies have on their books is difficult to estimate because of confidentiality. Further, the private sector accounts for only about one third of global carbon stocks, add in state enterprises and total reserves would yield 2,795 gigatonnes. Steve Waygood of Aviva Investors has estimated that if all proven and probable oil and gas reserves are burned, CO² levels will rise beyond 700ppm, leading to 3.5°C to 5°C of warming. Add in the proven coal stocks and the planet becomes uninhabitable.

The problem lies not with science but with economics, and all the human failings that are associated with it. The world economic system is built on carbon. This is not simply our reliance on carbon fuels to drive economic activity; global assets are built on the value of fossil fuel companies. Between 20% and 30% of the value of the London Stock Exchange is based on fossil fuel. Fund managers invest heavily in fossil fuel companies, seeing them as a safe haven for investment with above average returns in the short term. The funds invested in fossil fuel assets include pensions, life assurance schemes, and personal savings plans. A majority of people in the western world have their future security tied to the fortunes of these carbon rich companies. We are indeed all in this together.

If we are to restrict the rise in average global temperature to less than 2°C, the rate of burning of fossil fuel will have to be restricted. Sequestration technology is not going to be ready in time. To achieve this target, only 20% of known reserves can be burned over the next 40 years, and this might have to be reduced further if feedback loops begin to kick in. That means that 80% of the assets of fossil fuel companies are un-burnable. None of the unproven and unconventional reserves that are now being prospected for at great expense can be burned. There can be no return on the investment in 80% of reserves and in all new prospecting. This is the carbon bubble. Depletion of fossil reserves isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that they can not be used if we are to save the planet from dangerous climate change. The wealth of some of the worlds biggest and most powerful companies, and therefore of stock exchanges, is based on an unusable asset. If these companies had to devalue their reserves by 80% the carbon bubble would burst – remember what happened to Shell with a mere 20% downgrade.

The heavy investment in carbon assets also explains the reluctance of governments to back renewable energy. Renewables coupled with efficiency measures can replace fossil fuels, and without nuclear power. 120px-EnergiaberriztagarriakWith a range of technologies like wave power waiting in the wings, existing technologies can more than cope with efficient demand. But if governments promoted these technologies, the value of carbon rich companies would decline. It isn’t just scepticism that stops the deployment of renewables, or that stops agreements to limit temperature rise, it’s vested interests and their control over the political process. We can suppose that those who profess scepticism, like many MP’s of the ruling Coalition, have heavy investments in carbon rich assets.

Denial of climate change is a smokescreen that hides the real denial that lies at the heart of global economics: the denial of long-term consequences. Economics does not think in the long term, profit today is the mantra, tomorrow is somebody else’s problem. Greens keep focusing on the scientific argument, refining their arguments with ever more facts, trying to convince the so-called sceptics with the sheer weight of the evidence. Apart from the lunatic fringe, most of these sceptics may well accept the science, however, they are not interested in science and statistics, what they are interested in is how they maintain their position of wealth and privilege in a warming world.

There are ways to break out of this carbon strangle hold. To do so we need:

 political action to require long-term accounting.
 investors to take the decision to begin the switch to low carbon assets.
 everyone who can afford it, to accept lower returns in order to secure the only long-term investment that matters: the future health of our planet and all who live on her.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King has responded to the concern expressed by Carbon Tracker and others and is considering whether over exposure to carbon assets represents a risk to market stability. A small step and it remains to be seen whether investors will similarly take note. However, a globalised economy needs international agreement to require climate change to be factored into market valuation. The markets will not do this until it is too late.

10356153_10152396653039522_7330862721074206686_nA strong political lead is required. We can help this process by being informed about the dangers of another asset bubble bursting, by being aware of our own exposure to this danger, and by demanding effective preventative action. We can also work to help the Greens promote a new, low carbon and sustainable economics.

Mike Shipley
First published 17/3/12

A Concerning Trade Deal: TTIP

By Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald
Jean Macdonald

I would like to raise an issue which should concern all parties in the European elections.

I have emailed all East Midlands candidates about trade deals which are giving more power to big business at the expense of people and the environment.

War on Want is asking voters to ask candidates to sign a pledge to say that, if elected as an MEP, they will stand up for trade and investment rules that serve people and the environment and take back power from the corporations.

The main concern is with Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) which allow companies to sue governments. The tribunals take place behind closed doors.

According to the United Nations, in 2012, investor-state tribunals decided in favour of the investor in 70% of such disputes, ordering taxpayers to pay billions in compensation.

In the light of climate change, I am particularly concerned about the power that corporations have been given by ISDS to opt out of responsibility for damaging our environment.

For example, Chevron was ordered by an Ecuadorian court to pay $18 billion (US) to clean up contamination in the Amazon rainforest. Chevron is trying to avoid taking responsibility by using ISDS.

A Swedish energy firm is seeking $3.7 billion from Germany because the German government took a democratic decision to phase out nuclear energy and a US company is suing Canada for $250 million (US) after the country imposed a moratorium on fracking because of environmental concerns.

If the UK Government sets up deals with fracking companies, will the taxpayer have to compensate the companies if a future government decides to ban it?

If a future government, in the light of rising sea levels and increased flooding, decides not to go ahead with the proposed nuclear power station in Somerset, will the taxpayer end up having to compensate EDF and the Chinese investors?

The EU’s current negotiations with the US – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – will include ISDS.

At present, the UK Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives companies much greater access to the provision of NHS services.

If a future UK Government decided to change this, the ISDS clause would mean the Government could be at risk of being sued by the powerful US health industry. This would be disastrous for the people of the UK.

If we are to return power to the people and their elected representatives, MEPs must reclaim the power from big business and ensure that trade benefits people and the environment, and not just corporations and shareholders.

First published in the Derby Telegraph