The past few weeks have been a political whirlwind for the UK…
We very narrowly voted to leave the EU, which shocked everyone, even the people who had been campaigning for it for months. The prime minister resigned (after reportedly complaining ‘why should I do the hard shit?!’ to his aides) and Labour promptly imploded into a backstabby messy coup. Meanwhile the Tory leadership election was equally backstabby and brutal but with an efficient speed that bizarrely saw Theresa May become prime minister without anyone voting for her. Meanwhile the value of the pound fell of a cliff and billions of pounds in that ethereal realm known as the stock market vanished. Oh, and a chilling wave of hate crime also hit the country in the wake of the shock Brexit vote. It’s all basically been just shocker after shocker for the last four weeks.
As if all that wasn’t enough to deal with, one of Theresa May’s first moves, on her first full day in office, was to axe the department of climate change.
RIP the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Photo I took at the 2015 Climate March in London.
I just about fell over when this happened, on 14th July.
Why would anyone even consider getting rid of the department that deals with the single biggest threat to humanity in the 21st century? Continue reading
You’re sick to death of hearing about the god damn EU referendum.
I get it. But, it’s like a super important once in a lifetime – maybe once ever – thing, so please just suck it up and stick with me.
EU flag. Photo by Flickr user MPD01605 (Creative Commons).
When this all started a few months ago, I was unsure but leaning towards In. I was unsure because the EU is centralised power (which I don’t like) and I highly disproved of the way it dealt with the Greek crisis – but I liked the way it kept a check on crazy Tory zeal. I was leaning towards In, mainly for the emotional reason that I like European culture and my grandfathers were Bulgarian and Italian. But I wasn’t too sure.
As the debate wore on and I did more and more research, I became more and more sure that In was the right choice for me. I still wasn’t too passionate though, as I felt we would definitely vote to stay In anyway. Recently I’ve become very passionate about the case for Remain and become very worried that we may in fact opt for Brexit. I’ve also been quite surprised to see that so many people that I know are still undecided – less than a week before the big day. I really feel I should be out on the streets campaigning like I did before the 2015 general election, but I’m working 3/4 jobs and I’ve left it rather late to realise how much I care.
So instead, here’s my top 6 reason’s for staying In, in blog form. Continue reading
I have some exciting news today. It’s finally happening.
There’s a world-wide renewable energy boom going on.
All the metrics are there. In terms of investment, capacity, jobs and proportion of the total energy mix, renewables are surging ahead and showing no sign of slowing down. About time, hey?
“A flurry of end-of-year reports have revealed rising deployment, record-breaking generation and surging market demand.”
– Business Green
Wind turbines in Iowa, USA. Photography by Samir Luther, Creative Commons Licensing.
Global investments in renewable energy hit an all time high of $329 (£230) billion in 2015. This was 4% higher than 2014.. Well over half of these investments came from the Asia Pacific region, with China leading the way. Investments have increased five-fold over the last decade and renewable energy now accounts for over half of all extra capacity added each year. So all the signs suggest this figure will be even chubbier in 2016. Despite Germany loving up the domestic solar, Europe is no longer the driver of renewable energy worldwide: the emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and South Africa are where the action is happening. Continue reading
Today will go down in history.
12th December 2015. The day the world finally agreed on a universal plan to tackle the climate crisis – a credible, just and binding agreement – a turning point, after which we began a fast and transformative transition to a post-carbon economy.
Or will it be:
12th December 2015. The day the world had a global climate deal within its grasp, but let political tensions and short-sighted national interest prevail – destroying hope and sentencing our world to catastrophic runaway climate change.
I hope with all my heart it will be the former.
Yesterday I was one of 50,000 people to descend on central London as part of the Global Climate March on the eve of the COP21 climate talks in Paris.
System change not climate change!
I took the Big Lemon bus (which runs on waste cooking oil!) up to London yesterday morning, forcing myself out of bed about half a day earlier than I would usually arise. When we got to Hyde Park, Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the fire and rescue union and a couple of others took turns giving motivational speeches from the top of a fire engine before we set off towards Parliament. Continue reading
Two weeks before the next Conference of the Parties (COP21), the UN’s crunch meeting in Paris, we get the news that by the end of 2015 the planet will have warmed by 1C since pre-industrial times.
That’s halfway to the all-important 2C, which is widely agreed to be the cut-off point for dangerous climate change, and awfully close to the 1.5C which many see as a more appropriate limit as anything more will render parts of the world uninhabitable.
But I said this was going to be a cheerful article, didn’t I?
Despite this scary milestone, there are several reasons to be cheerful about the prospects of the COP21. Whether we come out the other side with a scientifically valid and socially just legally binding global agreement remains to be seen, and I’d forgive you for being sceptical. But these trends tell us we’re at least in a much better position than in the run-up to the infamous Copenhagen flop of 2009.
As the UN’s crunch climate summit approaches, I’m seeing several trends that give me hope for COP21. Many climate activists are still traumatised by the colossal failure of the Copenhagen summit in 2009. While I’m not certain we will go into 2016 with the legally binding scientifically credible and socially just global deal that we need, I am certain it will at least be much better than Copenhagen. There’s several trends that are giving me hope for the Paris 2015 summit, and one of them is the way religious leaders have recently been queueing up to call for climate action, and climate justice. Continue reading
Last week, Britain’s political opposition actually became an opposition, with the election of a leader that is dramatically different (in policy, style and values) to the ruling party and its intellectual allies: Jeremy Corbyn. At a time when the politics of this country has shifted so far to the right that neoliberal austerity is presented as the middle ground and everything else is relegated to the margins, his election as Labour leader (with 60% of the vote no less) is a very big deal. Because he does not fit the cookie cutter mould of the modern establishment. A left-wing-liberal, he champions greater equality, deeper democracy and more public ownership of assets. He opposes austerity, Trident, fracking and new nuclear.
Jeremy Corbyn, Creative Commons Licensing.
Yesterday the supreme court of the Netherlands came to a historic landmark verdict: the Dutch government’s lack of strong climate change action was branded illegal.
Organised by the climate campaign group Urgenda, 886 Dutch citizens sued their own government for failing to act in line with climate science, and therefore endangering lives. The Hague ruling used existing human rights laws and tort law – a form of common law that every country has, that refers to the basic duty to avoid causing harm.
Campaigners celebrate the landmark verdict. Image from Urgenda, not mine.
The judges said that based on existing policies, the country is set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels) at the very most – which was deemed unacceptable considering the severe risks of global climate change, the country’s status as an advanced and affluent state, and the flat and low-lying geography of the country that poses a significant flooding risk.
Yesterday’s ruling has ordered the Dutch Government to instead reduce emissions by at least 25% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. The verdict is legally binding, Continue reading
The UK is seriously behind the curve on energy policy.
The Tories have just announced they’re going to make true on their manifesto commitment and axe the subsidy for onshore wind turbines a year ahead of schedule, in 2016. And of course they have also cemented their full support for fracking the country to pieces.
This is such a twisted energy policy for 2015, the year of the historic make-or-break climate summit in Paris, that I kind of want to hide under my bed for the next few decades.
Wind turbines in Iowa. Photography by Samir Luther, Creative Commons Licensing.
We’re also likely to miss our binding EU target of 20% renewable energy by 2020, which isn’t going to get any better by cutting off public investment for onshore wind energy, one of the cheapest renewable technologies. Never mind our own domestic 2008 Climate Act, which requires an 80% cut to emissions by 2050.
Happily though, our dismal set-back is shown up by really promising progress in the emerging economies. Here’s some good news from China and India. Continue reading