Friday, 26 September 2008

Government duplicity on green targets

So Whitehall is quietly trying to undermine EU green targets by opposing the inclusion of aviation? Spread the word. See

Conference, climate change and priorities

I duly addressed conference on melting polar ice caps and considering that it was the graveyard slot of 0915 on Sunday morning the turnout in the hall was admirable. I was one of those who put in a card in the debate on the Make it Happen document. I am one of the 16 reps who had proposed the amendment. I was not called = no surprise or complaint about that, but what I would have said, if called, was that the amendment should be passed because of the bit that most speakers ignored, except for Richard Grayson, mover of the amendment, and Duncan Brack. That was the bit that said that investment to combat climate change should have higher priority for the Lib Dems than tax cuts. As the party has spent the last few years insisting that a green thread ran through all our policies I am a bit puzzled that none of the Parliamentary big guns whom the leadership had lined up to zap the amendment mentioned the climate change bit, still less why they believed it was necessary to leave the leadership's hands untied with regard to the order of priorities on that. As for the chairing of the debate, I question whether the chair needed to weakly oblige the leadership by orchestrating a crescendo of the big guns as the debate approached the vote. (Incidentally, the gender imbalance was overwhelmingly towards male speakers because that imbalance is present in the Parliamentary party from which the big guns came. So no surprise there.) All in all, I conclude that the leadership won the vote but not the argument. As I write this, national treasure David Attenborough is talking on Radio 4's Today programme about a lecture he will give later today about the imperative of looking after the natural world and how the notion that homo sapiens can look after itself and let the rest of nature die out is really, really not on. Combating climate change is a lower priority than tax cuts? Come on, leadership, for goodness' sake get real.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Polar Ice is on the agenda on Sunday morning

I am told the Urgent Issue I proposed has been selected for debate at the Lib Dem Conference. The title is 'Polar Ice Caps: Accelerating Climate Change'. The day is this Sunday and the time is 0915. I hope many conference-goers will set their alarm clocks and come to the debate.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Urgent Issue - unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice caps

I hope by this posting to encourage interest in a subject I believe to be of enormous importance, which I have today proposed for selection as an Urgent Issue for debate at the Lib Dems' Federal Conference in Bournemouth. Satellite images taken in the last couple of weeks show that melting Arctic ice has opened the North-west and North-east passages, evidencing that polar ice may have entered what one eminent environmental scientist has called a “death spiral”. Furthermore, a few weeks ago, the University of Alberta reported that not only had the ice shrunk in area but also its thickness had dropped by half in six years. This process feeds on itself: as ice is replaced by sea, the dark surface absorbs more heat, warming the ocean and melting more ice. The tipping point, when warming becomes irreversible and catastrophic, could be much sooner than expected. The conventional wisdom used to be that climate change would only happen gradually, giving life on this planet time to adapt, so there was little cause for immediate concern. I suggest that is no longer a credible view. Major policy responses are needed now.