web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Climate Change

Robert Goodwill: Let’s Get Heathrow Done. Johnson must appeal if the Government loses today on expansion in the courts.

Robert Goodwill is MP for Scarborough and Whitby, and is a former Home Office and Education Minister. 

Last year, the UK made history by becoming the first major industrialised nation to commit to net zero. It represents a spectacular show of global leadership by our Conservative Government. We see evidence of the Climate Emergency every week: from bush fires at the other side of the world to flooding closer to home.

As in other areas of the Government’s ambitious programme, actions speak louder than words. And as COP26 approaches this November, the UK has a once in a generation opportunity to demonstrate that commitment and leadership to the world.

Yet it is not just the Government that are taking action, and this is not an issue that we politicians can tackle on our own – industry must continue to innovate and rise to the challenge. For all the flack the aviation industry gets on carbon, action is what I see. And as a former Aviation Minister, I know that the industry has taken this issue seriously for some years now – they didn’t have to wait for Greta Thunberg wake them up.

The UK became the first national aviation industry to commit to net zero by 2050 when Sustainable Aviation published its ‘Decarbonisation Road Map’. And just this week, the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow, set out its plan for the next decade to help get the aviation industry to deliver net zero.

The plan shows Britain has the chance to lead in innovation, developing technologies that will address the carbon challenge. Heathrow expansion will act as a catalyst to decarbonise aviation – it’s only with such generation-defining programmes that industry ambition is generated and investment in innovation takes place. Expanding Heathrow therefore represents a huge opportunity; and not just because the industry is making great strides to decarbonise.

So why would we throw away this unique opportunity?

Some reports have suggested that if the Government loses its Judicial Review on today, it might not appeal the verdicts. This could mean the project might be halted and this unique chance would be lost.

Constraining one country’s airports doesn’t save emissions, it exports them. Expanding Heathrow will allow the UK to kickstart the low carbon construction industry, whilst also allowing the country to take responsibility for the emissions we generate. If Heathrow does not expand, passengers will simply route via other hubs, exporting emissions to other countries, while sacrificing our own connectivity and trading opportunities – the central tenets of Global Britain.

It also exposes a dissonance between rhetoric on levelling-up and Global Britain and what we’re prepared to stick up for.

Forty per cent of UK exports depart from Heathrow in the bellies of wide-bodied passenger flights – it is by some way the UK’s largest port – bigger than Felixstowe and Southampton combined by value. Expanding Heathrow will open up new global markets and billions in terms of growth opportunities for every corner of the UK.

As a Yorkshire MP, I see the regional and global connectivity only Heathrow provides. We need the hub landing slots to get people and goods from Leeds Bradford (my wonderful regional airport) out to the world. The positive benefits of scaling-up this connectivity are too good to let go – the economic case for expansion is overwhelming and, unlike other major infrastructure projects, it is entirely privately financed.

We’re in denial if we think other European hubs like Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle aren’t waiting in the wings to seize business from UK Plc. If we Conservatives are serious about levelling-up the UK and making a success of Global Britain, we will properly throw our weight behind Heathrow expansion.

So enough day dreaming about unfeasible and unfunded alternatives on islands in the estuary; enough dithering and delay. It’s time to show leadership on the climate and deliver our commitments to becoming a truly global trading nation. To paraphrase the Prime Minister: ‘Enough. Let’s Get Heathrow Done’.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Sponsored Post: Airlines UK: The aviation industry has an ambitious plan to deliver net zero carbon emissions

This is a sponsored post by Airlines UK.

This is a critical year for our world-class aviation sector. Whilst carbon emissions from UK aviation account for only around seven per cent of the UK’s total – substantially less than road transport and comparable to shipping – aviation is at risk of becoming one of the poster boys for the climate crisis if it is not careful.

Earlier this year, UK aviation took an important step forward in challenging this perception. Collectively, the UK’s airlines and airports, as well as aerospace manufacturers and air service navigation providers, came together to commit to delivering net zero carbon emissions by 2050, whilst continuing to meet passenger and freight demand and helping to deliver the UK’s economic objectives as a global trading nation in a post-Brexit world.

This is an unprecedented commitment by any national aviation sector anywhere in the world, and is a clear signal that the UK aviation sector recognises that it can only grow if it is accompanied by rapid decarbonisation.

Why does this matter? Because we simply cannot afford to dismiss aviation as a lost cause. Today nearly 400 international destinations are served by routes from the UK, the third largest market in the world. In total, some 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP is supported by our air transport sector, supporting over 1.6 million UK jobs. Just over half of Brits took to the skies last year, and we know that people want to be able to go on holiday and visit family and friends – they just want to be able to do it better, knowing that the sector is acting responsibly to cut its environmental impact.

But what does net zero aviation mean in practice, and how will it be delivered? Importantly, aviation is not starting from scratch. It might surprise some but emissions from UK aviation have remained level in recent years despite a 25 per cent rise in passenger numbers – the result of airline investment totalling tens of billions of pounds in hundreds of new, cleaner aircraft type.

This is only the start. UK aviation today plans to deliver an absolute reduction in carbon emissions – i.e. emissions from source – to below the level recommended by the Committee on Climate Change in their latest advice to Government on how the country can meet net zero. It will then use measures to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to offset remaining emissions, and deliver net zero aviation. This would mean that UK aviation plays its full part in in helping the UK deliver its contribution to the global goal of restricting temperature rises to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2050.

How can this be delivered? There is no silver bullet. The industry has set out a plan that shows how improvements in technology – starting with delivering the latest engine technology, but including the introduction of hybrid and then electric aircraft – can save around 23.5Mt of carbon by 2050. This exciting future is becoming a reality, with EasyJet, for example, in a partnership with US company Wright Electric, aiming to develop a 186-seat electric aircraft by 2030.

Alongside this, the up-scaled and fully commercialised use of sustainable aviation fuels has the potential to reduce UK emissions in 2050 by at least a further 30 per cent, saving 14.4Mt of CO₂. British Airways has plans to open a fuels plant in Immingham, North East Lincolnshire, which will turn hundreds of thousands of tonnes of post-recycling waste destined for landfill into over 60 million litres of clean burning sustainable jet and road fuel per year. Virgin Atlantic are working with the company LanzaTech to develop a novel carbon capture and utilisation approach, which recycles waste carbon-rich gases from heavy industries into jet fuel, and aims to provide all Virgin Atlantic’s fuel out of the UK as a 50:50 blend, with 70 per cent CO2 savings.

Modernising our airspace, which will cut delays and eliminate the need for wasteful stacking and re-routing, can save a further 3.1Mt.

Finally, robust carbon offsets and investment in innovative carbon removal solutions will then address residual UK aviation emissions, building on the UN-backed global offsetting scheme for aviation, CORSIA, which starts in earnest next year and delivers carbon neutral growth for all of international aviation.

This is a credible and deliverable plan for aviation, and one that promises not only carbon savings, but allows for the sector to meet expected demand growth, competing internationally and delivering huge advantages to the whole of the UK, as a leader in the global green economy. Taking sustainable aviation fuels as an example, there is potential for up to 14 fuel plants operating in the UK by 2035, most built in regions outside the South East. This would create thousands of new skilled jobs and be a boon to this Government’s levelling-up agenda.

However, this exciting future cannot happen without a renewed partnership between government and industry, whereby investment by the sector is supported by smart policies and genuine vision.  This means UK Government pushing ahead and completing vital airspace modernisation. It means supporting the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels through matched public/private funding to support commercial plants built in the early 2020s, alongside reforms to incentives to put sustainable fuels on a competitive footing. It means supporting aerospace research and development through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and increasing investment in the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), delivering the hybrid and electric aircraft of the future, sooner. The UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) has funded 260 projects with a grant value of £1.3 billion up to the end of October 2019.

It also means recognising that blunt instruments like higher taxation, making air travel less accessible to families and making it even harder for UK carriers (who already pay the highest aviation taxes in the world through Air Passenger Duty) to invest in new technology, carbon credits and alternative fuel sources – are not the way to go.

The upcoming Budget – and COP 26 later this year – is a real opportunity to signal through support for innovation a positive vision for UK aviation, rather than one in which we accept the false premise that only by making our aviation sector less competitive can we address the climate challenge. We can do better, and we must.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Robert Ward and Alan Burns: Councils that declare a “climate emergency” engage in scaremongering, not practical action

Cllr Robert Ward represents Selsdon and Addington Village Ward on Croydon Council. Alan Burns has been involved in climate change issues since 2004. He is active in his local Conservative Association in Chipping Barnet.

Climate change is the most important issue facing the world. It requires action, but it must be the right action. We need clear thinking, leadership, and to carry the public with us. The last thing we need is muddled logic or the destructive ideas of the more extreme lobby groups.

Clarity is hindered by ‘climate change’ conflating several questions: Is the earth warming? Do we understand why? What might be the consequences of different policy options? What should the UK do? Too many discussions fail to separate these issues, prompting passionate but futile argument, and damaging the critical element of carrying the public with us. Let’s not do that.

Let’s also rely on the science, where the consensus is the earth is warming, mainly due to the accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide generated by human activity. Other explanations are not impossible, it is the antithesis of science to deny challenge. Equally, it’s foolish to deny the consensus. We should allow the possibility that the consensus might be wrong, but act on the basis it is not, refining our actions as knowledge improves.

Sticking with the science, the UK is responsible for around one per cent of global carbon emissions. By contrast, China generates 28 per cent, the U.S. 15 per cent. What they do matters much more than what the UK does.

What India and China have done in the last ten years is lift millions out of poverty, but in doing so, India’s CO2 emissions have grown by 69 per cent and China’s by 28 per cent. They have chosen economic growth to benefit their citizens over constraining emissions. This is unlikely to change soon.

Russia generates its foreign currency from oil and gas. It might even benefit from a degree or two of temperature rise, so has little incentive to reduce emissions. Add these three countries to limited federal action in Trump’s America and most world emissions are by countries where radical action is unlikely. We must deal with the world as it is, not how we would like it to be.

Given that context, the UK could decide to act only in concert with the big players, which as we have seen might be little; or take extreme unilateral action whose impact would be tiny and costs high, or an option in between. Under the Conservatives, the UK has chosen a leadership role: lobbying for global action whilst setting realistic targets for ourselves and making good progress against them. UK CO2 emissions have fallen by 30 per cent over the last ten years. In contrast, Germany have reduced theirs by only ten per cent. Their emissions are now not far off double the UK.

Should we do more? Here the Climate Assembly UK commissioned by six House of Commons Select Committees might help. This group, selected to have a range of opinions on climate change, has been tasked with assessing how the UK will reach its 2050 net zero emissions target. That demands tough choices. It will be a useful indicator of the appetite of the British public for taking a more radical approach, provided it is well briefed and well facilitated. The danger is that it is hi-jacked to give a democratic veneer to those extreme lobby groups. We shall see.

And what of local authorities? In Croydon the Labour-led Council have declared a climate emergency. They occasionally tack on “and ecological” for good measure. This has been followed up with a Citizens’ Assembly. There are also plans for a Climate Crisis Commission, for which the far-left New Economics Foundation has been drafted in.

In contrast to the Climate Assembly UK, representatives on the Croydon Citizens’ Assembly are being selected to be representative “across wards, and across groups that share protected characteristics”; no bad thing in itself, but diversity of characteristic, rather than of opinion. The Terms of Reference read as an ideas solicitation exercise rather than to confront difficult compromises, so avoiding the tough questions. Meanwhile the Council builds on green spaces and permits developments that remove mature trees.

This has the feel of a more expensive version of a previous Croydon quango: the chaotic, costly, and useless, Fairness Commission. The recipe is simple: a noble title with which it is hard to argue, a controlled membership with far-left guidance, conclusions to be invoked or ignored as and when convenient.

This is Labour’s usual playbook – find a problem, develop an apocalyptic narrative, and use it as air cover for ineffective, far-left solutions. The current media narrative links every wrinkle in the weather to climate change, with dire predictions of imminent Armageddon. The young especially are being convinced that the end is nigh.

Combatting that narrative is a challenge. Climate change is complicated and scare stories are easy, but if we are to do what needs to be done for the UK to play an effective part, then combat the narrative we must.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Reshuffle 3) Chris White: It isn’t just Ministers who get fired. A third of SpAds are set to lose their jobs.

Chris White is Managing Director of Newington Communications. He was Special Adviser to Patrick McLoughlin, when the latter served as Chief Whip, as well as to Andrew Lansley and William Hague when each served as Leader of the House.

This reshuffle was the first opportunity for the Prime Minister to shape the Ministerial team that he wants in Government.  These new ministers, from the Cabinet down will be crucial in delivering the ‘levelling-up’ agenda – from pushing legislation through Parliament, to communicating the Government’s plan on the airwaves.

Evolution

It has been interesting to watch the reshuffle evolve during the weeks after the election.

Initially, it was about machinery of government changes – there was to be a new super-department where Business would be folded in with Trade, with Energy and Climate Change splitting off, and International Development combined with the Foreign Office.  Of these, only a mild version of the last has materialised, with four DfID Ministers double-hatting with the FCO.

Why the change? It’s difficult to say, but the Prime Minister is most powerful when he uses his patronage. Cutting the number of Cabinet positions, and departments, loses seats at the table. Combining departments also distracts from delivery – when Energ and Climate Change was folded into the Business Department back in 2016, it took several months for civil servants to stop working in separate buildings and work out the reporting structure, seriously affecting efficiency.

Performance…and loyalty

Despite attempts to stop leaks, this administration is just as prone to them as those which have come before it. There have been briefings from the centre, and counter-briefings from Ministers and advisers, each trying to set the agenda and highlight those who have been performing, or not.

How you measure performance is an art form rather than a science. The Whips will assess the performance of MPs and Ministers in the Chamber, get feedback from constituencies and colleagues, and feed this into the centre.

Those close to the Prime Minister will then assess this information, and place their own judgements on this.  Whilst he ultimately makes the decision, the Chief Whip and a number of senior advisers all have their input.

But it is not just ministerial performance, or perhaps competence, that’s an issue. Take Julian Smith, who only weeks ago got the Northern Ireland Assembly restarted in what was a surprise to all, and who has received tributes from across the political spectrum in Belfast and in Dublin.

Arguably, this performance should have saved him, but it was his perceived disloyalty that confirmed his demise. Smith purportedly threated to resign over Brexit in the autumn of last year, and this is a sin that has not been forgiven.

Others have been loyal, but not necessarily particularly competent at their job, and it’s clearly been the view that it’s time to put some new faces around the table in an attempt to inject some dynamism into these first, crucial months of the new Government.

The Conservatives have a once in a generation opportunity to solidify support in constituencies that only 15 years ago had Labour majorities well north of 10,000: this time cannot be wasted.

Who’s in control?

One of the surprises of the day was the unplanned (or planned?) sacking of the Chancellor. Ordered to fire his six special advisors, Sajid Javid honourably refused, instead falling on his sword.

Prime Ministers have long suffered challenging relationships with the occupants of No.11, with honourable exceptions such as David Cameron and George Osborne. Javid certainly had his run-ins with Dominic Cummings and others in Number 10, holding the traditionally tighter Treasury line on public spending, while Number Ten now wants to loosen the purse strings.

Ultimately, though, this is about control, and Number 10 wants much greater control over the levers of Government. There will now be a joint special adviser unit between it and Number 11 overseeing economic policy – arguably a good idea which should overcome the traditional tensions, especially when the new Chancellor and the Prime Minister trust each other.

Other advisors have also found themselves in the firing line – Peter Cardwell, the Justice Secretary’s media SpAd has been sacked, even though Robert Buckland stayed. Last week, Cummings jokingly told the Friday SpAds meeting that he would ‘see half of you next week’. This week we see advisers being removed from post, a third of them losing their jobs, and Number Ten tightening its grip.

Control can be seized, but can it be sustained? Government produces huge quantities of paperwork, Bills and advice. Number Ten simply cannot be everywhere at once, however much it tries. Too tight a grip removes initiative and the ability for departmental ministers to get on with the job, with everything having to go through the centre, which then becomes a log-jam.  Such a setup is not sustainable in the long-run.

Continuity

Reshuffles happen to provide a sense of renewal, to bring in new talent and boot out the underperforming. Yet they have their downsides as well. There will be some bruised personalities on the backbenches who will need careful managing by the whips over the next few months, and I hear Mark Spencer is already on the job.

One final point worth mentioning is regarding continuity. Sometimes, it works well – George Eustice has been a DEFRA Minister for nearly seven years on and off, and is now promoted to Secretary of State. He knows his brief inside out, and will be effective from day one.

Yet with the sacking of Esther McVey, there have now been ten Housing Ministers in ten years. Equally with Julian Smith going, there have now been four Northern Ireland Secretaries in five years.

We’ve yet to see what happens in the junior ranks, but there must be a greater balance between Ministers becoming effective through time served and understanding the brief, and the need to bring in new talent.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Reshuffle 3) Chris White: It isn’t just Ministers who get fired. A third of SpAds are set to lose their jobs.

Chris White is Managing Director of Newington Communications. He was Special Adviser to Patrick McLoughlin, when the latter served as Chief Whip, as well as to Andrew Lansley and William Hague when each served as Leader of the House.

This reshuffle was the first opportunity for the Prime Minister to shape the Ministerial team that he wants in Government.  These new ministers, from the Cabinet down will be crucial in delivering the ‘levelling-up’ agenda – from pushing legislation through Parliament, to communicating the Government’s plan on the airwaves.

Evolution

It has been interesting to watch the reshuffle evolve during the weeks after the election.

Initially, it was about machinery of government changes – there was to be a new super-department where Business would be folded in with Trade, with Energy and Climate Change splitting off, and International Development combined with the Foreign Office.  Of these, only a mild version of the last has materialised, with four DfID Ministers double-hatting with the FCO.

Why the change? It’s difficult to say, but the Prime Minister is most powerful when he uses his patronage. Cutting the number of Cabinet positions, and departments, loses seats at the table. Combining departments also distracts from delivery – when Energ and Climate Change was folded into the Business Department back in 2016, it took several months for civil servants to stop working in separate buildings and work out the reporting structure, seriously affecting efficiency.

Performance…and loyalty

Despite attempts to stop leaks, this administration is just as prone to them as those which have come before it. There have been briefings from the centre, and counter-briefings from Ministers and advisers, each trying to set the agenda and highlight those who have been performing, or not.

How you measure performance is an art form rather than a science. The Whips will assess the performance of MPs and Ministers in the Chamber, get feedback from constituencies and colleagues, and feed this into the centre.

Those close to the Prime Minister will then assess this information, and place their own judgements on this.  Whilst he ultimately makes the decision, the Chief Whip and a number of senior advisers all have their input.

But it is not just ministerial performance, or perhaps competence, that’s an issue. Take Julian Smith, who only weeks ago got the Northern Ireland Assembly restarted in what was a surprise to all, and who has received tributes from across the political spectrum in Belfast and in Dublin.

Arguably, this performance should have saved him, but it was his perceived disloyalty that confirmed his demise. Smith purportedly threated to resign over Brexit in the autumn of last year, and this is a sin that has not been forgiven.

Others have been loyal, but not necessarily particularly competent at their job, and it’s clearly been the view that it’s time to put some new faces around the table in an attempt to inject some dynamism into these first, crucial months of the new Government.

The Conservatives have a once in a generation opportunity to solidify support in constituencies that only 15 years ago had Labour majorities well north of 10,000: this time cannot be wasted.

Who’s in control?

One of the surprises of the day was the unplanned (or planned?) sacking of the Chancellor. Ordered to fire his six special advisors, Sajid Javid honourably refused, instead falling on his sword.

Prime Ministers have long suffered challenging relationships with the occupants of No.11, with honourable exceptions such as David Cameron and George Osborne. Javid certainly had his run-ins with Dominic Cummings and others in Number 10, holding the traditionally tighter Treasury line on public spending, while Number Ten now wants to loosen the purse strings.

Ultimately, though, this is about control, and Number 10 wants much greater control over the levers of Government. There will now be a joint special adviser unit between it and Number 11 overseeing economic policy – arguably a good idea which should overcome the traditional tensions, especially when the new Chancellor and the Prime Minister trust each other.

Other advisors have also found themselves in the firing line – Peter Cardwell, the Justice Secretary’s media SpAd has been sacked, even though Robert Buckland stayed. Last week, Cummings jokingly told the Friday SpAds meeting that he would ‘see half of you next week’. This week we see advisers being removed from post, a third of them losing their jobs, and Number Ten tightening its grip.

Control can be seized, but can it be sustained? Government produces huge quantities of paperwork, Bills and advice. Number Ten simply cannot be everywhere at once, however much it tries. Too tight a grip removes initiative and the ability for departmental ministers to get on with the job, with everything having to go through the centre, which then becomes a log-jam.  Such a setup is not sustainable in the long-run.

Continuity

Reshuffles happen to provide a sense of renewal, to bring in new talent and boot out the underperforming. Yet they have their downsides as well. There will be some bruised personalities on the backbenches who will need careful managing by the whips over the next few months, and I hear Mark Spencer is already on the job.

One final point worth mentioning is regarding continuity. Sometimes, it works well – George Eustice has been a DEFRA Minister for nearly seven years on and off, and is now promoted to Secretary of State. He knows his brief inside out, and will be effective from day one.

Yet with the sacking of Esther McVey, there have now been ten Housing Ministers in ten years. Equally with Julian Smith going, there have now been four Northern Ireland Secretaries in five years.

We’ve yet to see what happens in the junior ranks, but there must be a greater balance between Ministers becoming effective through time served and understanding the brief, and the need to bring in new talent.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tony Lodge: Britain’s dirty emissions secret – carbon leakage. Here’s what it is and how to tackle it.

Tony Lodge is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies. ‘Britain’s Inconvenient Truth – How the UK hides its emissions abroad’ will be published by the CPS.

This year sees British political leadership centre stage for three major global events. The first was ticked off last month when Brexit got done. The second will be in June for the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), with Britain outside the EU and eager to sign new trade deals with some of the world’s fastest growing economies. The third, and potentially the most significant, will be its ability to pull off a new global climate agreement at the ‘COP 26’ Glasgow summit in November.

Britain will chair ‘COP 26’ with arguably the most ambitious climate change laws and goals in place of any industrialised country. It has already legislated to deliver net zero carbon emissions, by 2050 and bans are being brought forward for petrol and diesel cars by 2035. The messaging here is clear. Britain will lead by example and design, and own the legislative model to deliver this huge change whilst creating green jobs and slashing emissions. The world should watch, follow and copy Britain’s leadership, shouldn’t it?

Before we examine some important flaws in present policies, it is important to acknowledge the huge strides which the UK has made in this area. To date, the UK is ranked seventh out of 61 countries on the climate change performance index, in comparison with the EU 27, which is ranked 22nd.

We reduced emissions by 42 per cent between 1990 and 2018, and the economy has grown by 75 per cent in that period. This was largely achieved by effectively replacing coal with gas and renewables for the generation of electricity, and remains unparalleled with regards to such a titanic shift over a relatively short period.

But while the UK has delivered giant strides at home, it has a growing dirty secret: it is increasingly offshoring and hiding emissions and with it exporting jobs, industry and investment. This is known as ‘carbon leakage’ and needs to be urgently tackled.

Importantly, the Government has acknowledged this issue for the first time, and is to undertake a Treasury review to better understand how British emissions can be cut without seeing them simply exported elsewhere. A variant on this point, but an important example, are the carbon intensive raw materials which are imported into the UK to supply important industries such as steel. For example, industrial coal supplies are coming in from as far afield as Siberia, Australia, the USA and Colombia. The coal is being railed and shipped tens of thousands of miles; it’s still the case that you can’t make raw steel in Britain without coal.

New Centre for Policy Studies research shows that on a per tonne of coal basis then importing it to industrial customers in Britain from Kuzbass in Siberia – through the port of St Petersburg – emits 569 per cent more in CO2 equivalent emissions than transporting coal mined in Britain. Lower, but still considerable transportation statistics are registered for the USA (235 per cent more) and Colombia (211 per cent) but a significant 625 per cent increase puts a big shadow over Australian coal imports. This is despite new British projects being delayed on local environmental grounds.

Though the UK has almost ended the burning of coal to generate electricity, there is a growing one-way trade in the import of electricity from Europe to keep the lights on. New forthcoming Centre for Policy Studies research will show how Britain is offshoring emissions into Europe where coal plants there are supplying our electricity via undersea interconnector cables. Though the Government now claims Britain is enjoying coal-free electricity periods, that is a play on words and strictly speaking incorrect. Instead we are importing coal and gas generated electricity from the EU, particularly the Netherlands and Germany, and consequently offshoring greenhouse gas emissions into the rest of Europe.

In recent years, Germany has opened new coal plants and doesn’t plan to phase them out until 2038. This offshoring in turn undermines the electricity market in Britain as overseas imports don’t pay the power and pollution taxes facing British fossil fuel generators. It is a growing sleight of hand, which the Government must address as a priority as it damages energy sector investor confidence and undermines its claim to have sustainable and credible green policies.

This brings us to the need for a wider solution and where British leadership is needed to close these loopholes, end offshoring and support less polluting domestic production where possible – the need to examine a British carbon border.

Britain must now consider targeting particular carbon intensive goods and power supplies which are imported and carry a large transport and transmission footprint. It is here where Britain is increasingly offshoring emissions and consequently jobs, production, investment and growth. Such a policy should look to new carbon border levies based on the carbon intensity of the exporting nation’s electricity grid. The levies would reduce in line with reductions in that country’s carbon emissions from its energy sector thus delivering global progress.

The EU is already looking at a carbon border but this risks merely insulating, consolidating and prolonging high emissions within the EU unless carbon prices there rise significantly. Global Britain must now take the lead and show how such policies can work to both reduce global emissions, end offshoring whilst delivering growth, investment and jobs at home.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Rachel Wolf: Achieving net zero will require massive changes to our lives – when is anyone going to tell voters?

Rachel Wolf is a partner in Public First. She had co-charge of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto. She was an education and innovation adviser at Number 10 during David Cameron’s premiership and was founding director of the New Schools Network.

At the end of the 18th Century, Thomas Malthus predicted doom for mankind. His theory was that as populations grew, the food would run out, and only by having fewer children would we survive. Malthus understood society pre-industrial revolution: subsistence living was common, and the supply of land was finite.

Malthus was wrong, or at least for 200 years, because humans changed the game. The innovators behind the industrial revolution – begun in Britain – discovered how to harness new forms of energy (fossil fuels) to monumentally increase our output and our wealth. From this has come the global rise in life expectancy, living standards, and social mobility of the last two centuries.

Now, we need to find a way of substituting those forms of energy or removing their effects from the atmosphere. The Government has committed to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions because it does not want the side effects of the energy sources we have used for centuries to destroy the planet. At the same time, we do not want to return to an era where children (and their mothers) regularly died, and where the majority of people lived in what would now in the UK be considered wholly unacceptable poverty.

This is a staggering challenge. Much, much bigger than Brexit. And yet the public debate is, relatively, non-existent.

The UK is the first country to enshrine in law reaching “net zero greenhouse gas emissions” by 2050. In other words we don’t want the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to go up from 2050, but we don’t mind if that’s because we’re releasing less, or if we’re capturing and storing what’s already out there.

For example, the steel industry could, in principle, change the way it makes steel. But we can’t, yet, produce steel at scale without fossil fuels (it’s a lot harder to solve than producing electricity for our homes). An alternative is to ‘capture’ the emissions. The problem is, we don’t know how to do that at scale yet either. Many of the technologies are immature at best, and time is ticking. Nuclear might be used more, but it won’t be the entire solution.

At the same time, the UK is not the planet – and one of the problems with counting ‘net’ emissions is that we increasingly import goods whose environmental impact is not accounted for. If we shut down all the industry in the country by imposing costs not borne by international competitors, we can make it look as though our emissions have gone down, whilst continuing to import higher carbon products from elsewhere. In this scenario, the planet is no better off. In fact it might be worse, and in the meantime we are much poorer.

On the other hand, if the entire world is going the same way as the UK – and an increasing number of countries are committing to net zero emissions – being the first mover could give us technological expertise that leads to substantial exports in their own right, and help drive action across the globe.

This is, to climate and energy experts, a ludicrously simplified description of what the Government is trying to achieve. It is also many steps more complicated than the current conversation with the public. This policy area – which has pervasive, dramatic consequences – is either operating in a world of acronyms among experts or simplistic student protests.

Nor are we fully discussing the different options. I’m currently working on a commission that is exploring how carbon pricing could help the transition to net zero. There are two major potential advantages of this approach. First, it avoids government picking winners and lets companies decide how to reduce emissions. Second, the money can be given back to individuals and industries. This is why Republicans in the US, for example, are increasingly in favour of such a policy.

As part of this process we’ve done a large amount of recent research into net zero. Unsurprisingly, the public have no idea what it really means, or how it might change their life. They frequently mix it up with other government commitments like plastics. They care about the environment, but no one has begun to explain the changes in their lifestyle that might be required to reach net zero in the next 30 years. They already think they pay a lot of tax, and are currently unprepared to pay lots more for the environment. Unless we get this right – and develop solutions that can mitigate the cost – the situation is ripe for a new UKIP-style party to whip up hostility (as the gilets jaunes in France show).

Rather than discuss this, we have spent much of the last few days talking whether Claire Perry O’Neill was rude to a civil servant about a taxi or not – and if the Government was sufficiently clear about why, exactly, they didn’t want her to chair a climate conference. Net zero is an issue that – far beyond Brexit – is going to affect the voters in our new seats: their lives, and their jobs. We all need to start talking properly to them about it.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: The PM “might recall saying that climate change is a primitive fear without foundation”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ted Christie-Miller: Forget net-zero – if China doesn’t step up on climate change, it’s all for nothing

Ted Christie-Miller is a researcher at Onward. His report ‘Costing the Earth’, is here.

As Boris Johnson sets out his ambitious vision for international climate action at an event today, there will be a giant elephant in the room: China. This year, Glasgow’s landmark COP26 climate summit will stand or fall on whether the UK – and others – can bring the consummate tiger economy to heel on the environment.

As the Prime Minister notes, the UK has a world-beating record on environmentalism. Since 1990 we have had a 44 per cent reduction in emissions while expanding our economy by 75 per cent. This disproves the fallacy that climate action will impede growth: if executed properly, we can continue to reduce our carbon footprint whilst increasing our wealth.

But it will all be nothing if the UK does not convince China – a very different economy – of the same principle. In the last three decades, China has overseen a 321 per cent increase in emissions. Xi Xinping’s country is currently responsible for 26 per cent of global emissions, and rising. That’s 7.2 tonnes of carbon a year for every one of its 1.4 billion people, despite many living in largely agrarian and undeveloped areas. Greta may have focused her fury on the West at Davos, but it is in the Far East where action is missing. All eyes should be on China’s 14th five-year-plan.

Despite Beijing saying they have cut the proportion of coal from nearly 70 per cent to less than 60 per cent over the past decade, these statistics need to be taken with a big pinch of salt. An independent report by Global Energy Monitor found that China’s coal consumption was actually growing in absolute terms, seen by the fact that they currently have 121 gigawatts of new coal power under construction. This is equivalent to 80 per cent of the EU’s total current coal capacity. For every ten power stations European countries close, China will build eight more. If China reduced only its coal consumption by half, that would be the equivalent of the whole European Union, including the UK, going carbon neutral.

And things are getting worse. Whilst coal-fired generation has fallen by 91 per cent since 1990 in the UK; in China the use of coal actually rose in 2018, as they relentlessly try to drive economic growth rates. Admittedly, we have different economies with different needs and priorities. But even a ten per cent shift from coal power to liquid natural gas in China would be equivalent to the UK going net-zero.

So, fellow eco-warrior, next time you think about picking up your old Extinction Rebellion vest and taking to the streets, think again. Firstly, let’s put aside the 2025 net zero target, as it’s impossible. Secondly, and more importantly, even if we did go on a kamikaze mission to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, sacrificing our economy on the altar of unilateral climate change action, it would have almost no impact on keeping global warming below two degrees.

As Dieter Helm put it, China is “central” to the “bleak story” on coal. It is also, given the trade-offs involved in climate policy, in the convenient position of not having to be democratically accountable. China was able to build a hospital in just six days after the Coronavirus outbreak last week. This is a parable illustrating that in China, when things need to happen, they happen with clarity of vision, efficiency, and swiftness that is almost unimaginable in the Western.

President Xi has repeatedly said that they will “do more” to tackle climate change, nodding to their vast investment of over $83.4 billion in the renewables sector. But we are yet to see an ambitious and comprehensive plan for decarbonisation. If China doubles down on its nuclear energy technology investment, which increasingly underpins Western nuclear, and pivots towards renewables and liquid natural gas for energy generation instead of coal, this would mark a dramatic shift in our hopes of keeping warming well below two degrees. 

The UK also needs to recognise its role in precipitating the continued increase of Chinese coal consumption. In part we have achieved this by driving down the price of coal due to our own Climate Change Levy. But mostly, we have assisted in this by continuing to ‘import’ our emissions from places like India and China. ‘Imported emissions’ are the overseas emissions created by products and services for UK consumers and businesses, and their import to the UK. Domestic UK carbon emissions peaked in 1972, but if imported emissions are factored in then the peak happened 35 years later, in 2007. A recent report from the Office for National Statistics actually found that the UK was the biggest net importer of CO2 emissions per capita in the G7. 

This disparity has come about in part due to the UK’s de-industrialisation and our reliance on services industries. Meanwhile, we have been offsetting our need for high-emitting products to China, in turn keeping our domestic emissions statistics low, but allowing theirs to soar. As Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, remarked, it is now important for the UK to “walk the talk”. Hopefully the Prime Minister will do exactly this in his speech today, by setting out an overarching strategy to minimise ‘imported emissions’, putting us well placed to have an un-hypocritical and unapologetic leading role at COP26.

Today’s climate speech – and COP later this year – marks an important moment where a clear and ambitious strategy, executed with strong leadership, could drive a new international consensus. The recent media has focussed too much on personalities involved, not the international outcomes they are seeking to achieve. This is the gap the Prime Minister must fill. 

We have to use our position in the world to win, change, and influence hearts and minds across the globe in pursuit of this common goal. This must start now, with the Prime Minister’s vision for international climate action, and he must reiterate the importance of binding our Chinese friends to a commitment and plan to reduce emissions, starting with coal.

The UK’s position as hosts for the COP 26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow is the ideal opportunity for this new Government, with a mandate and platform to boot, to step up and lead the charge on a phase-out of coal in China and across the World. Forget net-zero – if China doesn’t step up, it’s all for nothing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Philip Dunne: What I want to achieve if elected to chair the Environmental Audit Committee

Philip Dunne is a former Defence Minister, and is MP for Ludlow.

We face a pressing climate emergency. The public quite rightly expect the Government to address the challenges we face right now. This is a huge agenda, which will be one of the defining policy areas of this Parliament.

Measures to reduce consumption of fossil fuels through renewable sources to cut emissions and protect the natural world, will impact on much of how we live our lives: how we travel (public and private transport), how we live and work in buildings (heat and energy use), how much and what we consume (food, clothing, consumer and industrial goods) and how we use our land and oceans (sustainable farming, fishing and forestation).

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) scrutinises performance against this whole agenda, since it looks across government, rather than shadowing an individual department, and looks beyond to the environmental impact of public and private sectors.

This is why I am standing for Chair of the EAC. I profoundly believe we have an obligation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.

My interest stems from representing the Ludlow constituency since 2005, unarguably one of the most beautiful in England, comprising 600 square miles of farmland and forestry, half in Shropshire Hills AONB. Shropshire is one of the five leading English counties generating renewable energy, and my constituency hosts one of England’s last breeding grounds for Freshwater Pearl Mussels and one of few southern breeding sites for Curlew, and is a key site for the rare Wood White butterfly, for which I am Species Champion in Parliament.

Last year, I helped successfully fend off a large development of part of the Mortimer Forest near Ludlow, and I have helped deliver a community hydro-electric generation scheme in Ludlow.

So my constituency has been at the heart of my environmentalism since first elected – a local perspective on the international issue of climate change.

I joined the EAC as a member two years ago, as my first act on ceasing to be a Minister (in Defence and then Health). Aside from Mary Creagh – who was an excellent Chair in the last Parliament – I had the best attendance record on the Committee since joining.

I have sought to shine a light on issues profoundly impacting our environment, but not so visible to the public. I raised adaptation for climate change through better NHS preparedness for heatwaves, more transparency to encourage Green Finance and greening of UK export finance, in improving biodiversity, air, water and soil quality. I also led the EAC investigation into hand car washes, which pollute watercourses, but also revealed modern slavery in our midst.

The coming task is significant. My intent, if Chair, would be to work collaboratively with colleagues to encourage individual interests of members. A focus would not just be on problems, but also on solutions: seeing how British innovators in the technologies of tomorrow can build on existing UK world leading strengths in finance, green energy and engineering.

We have a huge opportunity to showcase our international leadership at the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. I hope the EAC can push the agenda further and faster for government, local authorities, and local communities to lead the way internationally to commit to action on climate change and help the UK become one of the first countries to reach net zero emissions.

Before entering Parliament I had a twenty year career in finance and business, and was a board member of various medium sized companies for 30 years. I am an experienced Chair, having chaired two public companies, and been a group leader on my local Council.

So I believe I have the right experience and passion to drive forward this Committee, in scrutinising and holding the government to account for its record on the environment and climate change – and hope my colleagues in the Commons will back me tomorrow to become the new EAC Chair.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com