Kevin Hollinrake: High environmental standards boost economic growth

The Environment Bill gives us the chance to cement Britain’s position as a world leader in clean, sustainable progress.

Kevin Hollinrake is MP for Thirsk and Malton, and is co-Chair of the APPG for Fair Business Banking.

British voters overwhelming support high environmental standards – 80 per cent, for example, want the UK to maintain our world-leading food safety regulations after we leave the European Union.

This is unsurprising – high environmental standards in agriculture keep our livestock healthy and our food safe to eat, and in product design they cut our energy bills by improving the efficiency of our ovens and toasters.

A sensible, long term framework of environmental rules spurs investment and innovation from business.

Many businesses of course face examples of vexatious red tape – and Brexit does provide us with the opportunity to cut some of the bureaucracy that has impeded business and made our lives more difficult. From the baffling small print on radio adverts, to compelling pharmacists to scan every medicine in front of their customers, there are plenty of nonsensical EU regulations that add unnecessary costs to businesses and should be scrapped.

Yet the desire to trim unnecessary red tape can sit comfortably alongside support for a long term, sensible framework of high environmental standards that, if properly enforced by an independent watchdog, will restore our countryside, clean up our air, and boost British business.

BuroHappold Engineering recently explored the relationship between environmental regulations and competitiveness, in particular the impact of the implementation of the London Plan in the construction sector, the Landfill Tax in the waste sector, and the passenger car emission regulations in the car industry.

In all three cases their analysis found that the upfront costs of complying with regulations were outweighed by the economic benefits they triggered through increased business investment in innovation and skills, better-quality products and infrastructure, greater business competitiveness, and job creation.

For example, there was an overwhelming consensus that despite flaws in the testing methodology, passenger car CO2 emission regulations have been a success story for the UK and EU car industry. The regulations have provided certainty, scale, and a clear framework to meet targets, without any negative impacts on competitiveness. The relatively stable and consistent regulatory framework has allowed for a long-term and broader view of managing the costs of compliance.

This commitment to a stable and consistent framework underpins the UK’s Climate Change Act – which, through its long-term approach to tackling global warming, has delivered certainty to businesses and deep reductions in CO2 emissions. Since 1990, we have cut emissions by 42 per cent, while our economy has grown by two-thirds. This means that we have reduced emissions faster than any other G7 nation, while leading the G7 in growth in national income over this period.

The same principle – that businesses benefit from a clear and consistent regulatory framework – underpins the Government’s Environment Bill. The Bill will set out clear goals and targets to reverse the damage done to the British countryside over previous decades and clean up our toxic air.

Businesses welcome the clarity provided by these targets. Anglian Water, for example, have argued that “when targets are too vague, it’s almost impossible to assess whether government is on track to hit them. In order for real progress to be made on the environment, goals within the Environment Bill must be carefully established with robust timetables.”

Businesses will then only invest if they have the confidence that these targets will be properly enforced: hence why the independence of the statutory body – the “watchdog” – is so crucial. Firms need to know that whoever is in government, their investments in things such as new technology to improve air quality will pay off.

The UK is a world leader in clean growth, with over 400,000 jobs in the low carbon economy: one in five electric vehicles sold in Europe in are made in Britain; our offshore wind sector is second to none; and the City of London is the home of green finance. This is in large part down to investment decisions that have been driven by our Climate Change Act – and the certainly provided to business by the existence of an independent Committee on Climate Change that will make sure standards are upheld.

We now have the opportunity to set the gold standard with a world-leading Environment Bill, and achieve similar results for British nature, while providing the certainty British businesses need about the direction of travel to a cleaner, more prosperous future.

Hitachi pullout leaves UK nuclear plans in tatters

Only one of six planned nuclear plants is under construction, as developers fret about costs and delays.

Hitachi said Thursday that it was scrapping its nuclear projects in the U.K. — dealing a devastating blow to Britain’s energy policy.

The Japanese company has been developing the $28 billion Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant in north Wales and has a second site at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, England. But it said that failure to strike agreement over funding with the U.K. government would bring those projects to an end.

It comes two months after Toshiba announced its withdrawal from the NuGen nuclear project in Cumbria. That leaves only three of the planned six new nuclear power plants in Britain unaffected. Only one — Hinkley Point C — is under construction, although that project is beset by cost overruns and delays.

“This triple blow has escalated into a full-blown crisis,” said Labour Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly” — Greg Clark, U.K. business secretary

The pullouts undermine U.K. plans to build new nuclear power stations to replace aging plants reaching the end of their lifespan in the coming years. They also add to the chorus of criticism that supporting nuclear power makes no economic sense as the cost of renewable power plummets. The U.K. has been a vocal nuclear advocate at a time when other countries are shying away from the technology.

Greg Clark, the U.K.’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, on Thursday explained to parliament where the negotiations had run into trouble. He said the government had offered to take a one-third equity stake in the project, offered a guaranteed price of no more than £75 per megawatt hour and had considered providing all of the required debt financing. However, Hitachi still balked at the terms.

“Despite the best efforts of everyone involved the parties have not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned,” Hitachi said in its statement. “As a result, Hitachi has decided to suspend the project at this time.”

The company added that “further time is needed to develop a financial structure … and the conditions for building and operating the nuclear power stations.”

Hitachi will take a 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) hit from the project freeze.

Sticking with the atom

Clark insisted that “nuclear has an important role to play in the future energy mix.” The government said Thursday it is “reviewing alternative funding models for future nuclear projects and will update on these findings in summer 2019” when the government plans to outline its approach to new nuclear in a white paper.

“If new nuclear is to be successful in a more competitive energy market, it’s clear that we need to consider a new approach to financing future projects,” Clark told MPs.

But the pro-nuclear argument is increasingly difficult to make thanks to the falling costs of renewables, storage and other clean energy solutions. According to the government, the cost of offshore wind halved over the last two years to £57.50 per MWh, and further cost decreases are expected.

France’s EDF negotiated a guaranteed fixed price for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50 per MWh, adding to the controversy around the £20 billion project.

Clark said that the “positive trend” of falling renewables costs “has not been true when it comes to new nuclear” and instead costs of constructing nuclear plants have increased due to tighter safety regulation and other factors.

U.K. Business Secretary Greg Clark | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In 2017, renewables overtook coal and gas as the main source of electricity production in the U.K., rising to a record 29.3 per cent, according to government statistics. Nuclear made up a 21 percent share, and gas 42 percent.

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly,” Clark said. That’s raising questions about whether backing costly and risky nuclear energy is the way forward.

“They’re incredibly expensive, and they’re quite risky to build,” said Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the U.K.-based Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit. That’s why companies such as Hitachi are “pushing for the government to take a bigger stake” to reduce borrowing from banks or capital markets, and therefore lower borrowing costs, he added.

The latest setbacks are spooking the industry.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association and former Labour MP, called the news “disappointing, and very concerning.” He warned that the “urgent need for further new nuclear capacity in the U.K. should not be underestimated, with all but one of the U.K.’s nuclear power plants due to come offline by 2030.”

The government said the developments didn’t raise energy security concerns, although the departure of the two Japanese companies leaves China in a leading position to develop the U.K.’s new nuclear builds.

Europe’s nuclear industry association Foratom is closely watching developments in the U.K., which has long been a vocal member of the bloc’s pro-nuclear camp.

The turmoil in the UK.’s nuclear plans are also being tied to the Brexit debate, as officials warn that politicians and civil servants simply don’t have the capacity to handle the crisis of quitting the EU along with planning the U.K.’s clean energy future.

“Hitachi’s decision —  the result of a civil service that is distracted by Brexit, a complete lack of political leadership and global investor nervousness — leaves that [nuclear] strategy in tatters,” said Andrew Adonis, a Labour member of the House of Lords and former chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, on Saturday.

Europe’s nuclear industry association Foratom is closely watching developments in the U.K., which has long been a vocal member of the bloc’s pro-nuclear camp. The lobby is keen to push the message that nuclear power will have to play an important role in the EU’s energy mix if it’s to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and align its climate goals with the Paris Agreement by 2050. It’s also calling on governments to rethink financing support and investment strategies to attract investors and reduce capital costs for nuclear projects.

“Currently, from an investor’s perspective, the unsustainable design of the electricity market in the European Union and a severe lack of a predictable investment framework have a negative impact on new investments in nuclear capacity, which we can also observe in the case of the Wylfa project,” Foratom said earlier this week.


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Japan’s Hitachi suspends UK’s Horizon nuclear project

Suspension comes after failure to strike an agreement over funding support with the government.

The project operator of the Horizon nuclear power project at Wylfa Newydd in Wales today announced that it will suspend its U.K. nuclear development program following a decision by parent company Hitachi at a board meeting today.

Horizon is developing the Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant in Wales and has a second site at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire.

Horizon said it informed the U.K. government “of the decision taken at the Hitachi Board meeting on 17th January not to continue with the current program of activities.”

Horizon said the suspension comes after failure to strike an agreement over funding support with the U.K. government.

“We have been in close discussions with the U.K. Government, in cooperation with the Government of Japan, on the financing and associated commercial arrangements for our project for some years now.  I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we’ve not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned,” Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power, said in a statement.

“As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found,” he said, adding there’s an “option to resume development in future.”


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How Trump appeals to unspeakable emotions

A new book about Holocaust and climate change denial also casts light on the American President.

Denial: The Unspeakable Truth by Keith Kahn-Harris

Anyone who takes the faintest interest in politics is bound to wonder why, while behaving in a manner so loutish, shameless and disrespectful of conventional wisdom, Donald Trump has managed to form such a close bond with the American public.

Keith Kahn-Harris touches only in passing on that question, yet succeeds in casting much light on it.

His book has the merit of being short. He examines a phenomenon – the yearning to deny various commonly accepted positions – which could have spawned a treatise of inordinate length.

He manages to write not much more than an extended essay by selecting only a few examples of denial. These include denial of the Holocaust, of the harm done by tobacco, of the link between HIV and AIDS, and of man-made climate change.

One may question how much in common with each other these denials have. The Holocaust has already taken place, while climate change is to a large extent a series of predictions about the future.

And denialism (a term he admits to be “terrible”) as a form of non-argument, where one refuses to listen to the opposing point of view or to take into account strong opposing evidence, and is instead driven by inner compulsions of one’s own, has also been seen quite a bit during our own referendum campaign.

In his frivolous youth, Kahn-Harris tells us in his preface, he developed a love of “nonsense dressed up as scholarship”, and revelled in the “portentous ludicrousness” of books such as Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods, which in the 1970s contended that aliens had visited earth and inspired the glories of ancient civilisations.

Kahn-Harris’s Jewish upbringing meant he was conscious of the Holocaust from an early age, but when he heard of people who denied it had ever happened, this too “was all a big joke to me”.

It is easier to be heartless in one’s teens than later on, when he begins to worry that those who challenge “real scholarship” are helping  “something deeply poisonous” to grow, and to produce “diseased fruit in our ‘post-truth’ age”.

In some ways, I prefer the earlier and more heartless Kahn-Harris, who shrieks with laughter at the flat earthers and other cranks he comes across. For as he himself says, these people yearn to be taken seriously, and one should be wary of paying them that compliment.

But one advantage of taking them seriously is that he starts to see that they are not just liberals who have somehow gone astray, and only need a bit of education in order to enable them to perceive the truth:

“Denialism is not a barrier to acknowledging a common moral foundation, it is a barrier to acknowledging moral differences… Denialism arises from being in an impossible bind: holding to desires, values, ideologies and morals that cannot be openly spoken of.”

Later on, Kahn-Harris remarks that “all denialists share a burning desire to continue to appear decent while rejecting the path of decency”.  They cannot say what they really want, and

“politics becomes a kind of shadow play, in which – shorn of of real discussions of real differences – all that is left is a battle over who can really claim the mantle of righteousness, who can rightly claim to embody the values we all sign up to.”

We are all, he points out, anti-racists now. The anti-Zionist Left vehemently rejects any idea that it might be anti-semitic. Holocaust deniers similarly reject with indignation the charge that they hate Jews, and indeed find themselves adopting the ludicrous position that Hitler was pro-Jewish, for after all, in their version of events, the Nazis were not actually evil and the Jews were not actually killed.

Kahn-Harris sees “the pathos, the desperation and the fierce hope” that undergird denialist tracts – qualities one is liable to miss if one just debunks such works as ludicrously unscientific and unscholarly.

And here one starts to see Trump’s appeal. There is no way to be a polite racist. It is an inherently rude position, and in, for example, his attacks on Mexicans, Trump embraces that rudeness, revels in it, is authentically and genuinely loutish, appalls respectable society and thus convinces his supporters that he is on their side.

I have just been reading about the Mexican War of 1846-48, in which the United States made vast gains of territory at the expense of an enfeebled Mexico, which was provoked into war, fought bravely but was thrashed by well-led American forces with superior equipment. It was in many ways a disgraceful affair, and people like Abraham Lincoln said at the time that it was disgraceful.

But at the same time, a strong moral case was made for the expansion. It was, the Democratic Review declared in 1845, “the fulfilment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”

The war was popular – democratic, one might say – and no one supposed afterwards that these gains stretching all the way to the Pacific, including what became the states of California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, and a southern border pushed down to the Rio Grande, should be handed back.

One of the heroes of the war, General Zachary Taylor, who had no political experience, was adopted as a presidential candidate in the election of 1848, which he proceeded to win.

Kahn-Harris does not go in to this history, and if he had done his book would have become unmanageable. But he does observe that denialists have beliefs which used to be regarded as morally defensible and now are not.

In the old days, one could win presidential elections thanks to one’s heroic record in unequal wars waged against native Americans and Mexicans. Today one cannot advocate that kind of thing. But Trump, with brutal skill, knows how to show whose side he is on. He is a more traditional figure than his opponents, whose outlook is usually bounded by their own lifetimes, tend to realise.

Throughout his essay, Kahn-Harris touches on the pleasure to be derived from shocking people, behaving in an outrageous fashion, claiming to be in possession of arcane information, and throwing one’s opponents off balance by saying things they never imagined could be said. Trump has a genius for that kind of performance.

At  the end of his essay, Kahn-Harris admits his book has not been particularly helpful in showing how denialism should be dealt with. He attempts, rather unconvincingly, to frame messages for Holocaust deniers and global warming deniers.

But his purpose is to understand, not to cure, and his essay can be recommended not just to anyone interested in denialism, but to anyone dismayed by the narrow limits within which our political debates take place.

Looking beyond Brexit

The sense of things going horribly wrong is likely to get much worse as 2019 gets under way and #BrexitShambles becomes #BrexitFarce. In the probable chaos of the coming months the country needs us to articulate our hope for the future. Putting some flesh on those bones, in no particular order: Improve Benefits. Universal Credit […]

The sense of things going horribly wrong is likely to get much worse as 2019 gets under way and #BrexitShambles becomes #BrexitFarce.

In the probable chaos of the coming months the country needs us to articulate our hope for the future.

Putting some flesh on those bones, in no particular order:

  • Improve Benefits. Universal Credit could have been a good idea, but under-funding has hit it hard and people are suffering. Improving the funding is a good place to start. We also need to go further. It is a scandal to have people needing to use food banks or losing the roof over their head because of the way the system works. I’ve spoken with people struggling to live on benefits, who voted Leave in the desperate hope that things would improve.
  • Wealth inequality. Back in the autumn, Vince Cable put forward a raft of tax reforms to make the system fairer, especially around inheritance and investment income and pensions. Univeral Basic Income has been on the edge of discussions for a long time. It is time to take it seriously — it can’t be done overnight, but it is time to start the conversation as a way to pick up where we are, and fears around the way in which technology is reshaping the world.
  • Brexit has pushed climate change from the top of the agenda. People have every reason to be worried. That means is that it is high time to turn that worry into action — around renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, zero carbon housing, improved public transport, and more.
  • The Blair government had some good ideas on devolution, with elected regional assemblies and pulling government offices and development to the same boundaries. The imbalances around devolution to Wales, Northern Ireland and particularly to Scotland would look very different if there was meaningful devolution in England.
  • It’s time to talk openly about federalism. Too often it’s a dirty word in British (or at least, English) politics. It’s time to dispatch the myth that it is about centralising power and put the case for doing centrally only what needs to be done there and pushing decisions as close as possible to the people they affect. That applies as much to devolving power from Westminster as it does devolving it from Brussels.
  • It’s time to be celebrating diversity, the opportunities coming from free movement of people and the economic benefits of immigration, so we go from the fantasy of immigrants “taking our jobs” to the reality of what we gain from immigration — beginning with the reality that the Tories keep missing their immigration targets because you can’t cut immigration without hurting the economy.
  • Celebrate being being European, with our shared heritage, history and values. It also means celebrating the vision behind the EU. That’s both about drawing on the richness of our story and recognising, and holding in check, our capacity to harm each other.
  • Education and life-long learning are the real responses for people who experience globalisation as a threat to their livelihood.
  • Too many people live in places where their votes don’t count. Many felt that the 2016 referendum was a rare chance for their vote to make a difference. The message has to be that people, and their votes, count. This means voting reform. It is about enabling all voices to be heard.

There is a raft of Liberal Democrat policy that is relevant to healing the divisions behind and exposed by the 2016 result. Commitment to “the values of liberty, equality and community” is a brilliant starting point for the task of working together to build a bright, European future.

 

* Mark Argent was the candidate in Hertford and Stortford in the 2017 General Election

2018: The year in figures and charts

Telling the story of the last 12 months through data.

What a tremendous, nebulous year.

Very much like last year, 2018 was full of endless Brexit drama. And endless Trump drama. And then there was some more Brexit drama. And some more Trump drama. But hey, other stuff happened too (right?).

The French proved that they are still the global champions of street protests, the far right grabbed headlines across the Continent and Angela Merkel prepared to abdicate.

From politics to climate change, gay rights and technology giants, here are the figures behind the topics that defined 2018.

Eddy Wax contributed reporting.


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Earth trembles as G20 leaders meet in Argentina

Small earthquake strikes just south of Buenos Aires.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Was God protesting globalization, or unleashing wrath upon Mohammed bin Salman, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin?

A small earthquake struck just south of Buenos Aires as the world’s most powerful leaders, including the Saudi crown prince and the Russian and U.S. presidents, gathered for a G20 summit on Friday — prompting speculation of imminent Armageddon, or at least that some of the big-shots were about to get their other-worldly comeuppance.

The small tremor, a magnitude of 3.2 according to the U.S. Geological Survey, struck roughly 80 kilometers south of the summit venue, the Costa Salguero conference center on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, at shortly before 10:30 a.m.

While the instruments measuring seismic activity provided proof that the Earth had moved, the assembled leaders apparently felt nothing.

Indeed, the only shaking at the summit around that time was some finger-wagging by EU leaders over recent troubling events around the world.

Still, G20 summits are a perennial target of anti-globalization protesters and, combined with a relatively hostile global political atmosphere, news of the earthquake set off rampant speculation.


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Macron says Trump acting to ‘detriment’ of allies

The EU’s ‘energy does not have to be absorbed’ by Brexit, French president says.

The bromance is officially over.

Emmanuel Macron told Argentine newspaper La Nacion that while the alliance between France and the U.S. is “historic,” some of President Donald Trump’s recent decisions “have been done to the detriment of his allies.”

“In these situations, I always clearly affirmed the French and European positions,” the French president said. “It is in these times of crisis when we have to defend our common values, which depend on multilateralism and cooperation.”

Speaking from Buenos Aires, where he arrived Wednesday for the G20 summit, Macron warned against the risk of a “tête-à-tête between China and the United States and a trade war that is destructive for everyone.”

The French president stressed that the EU has become more united, noting, “When the EU was attacked by the U.S. trade measures, it reacted immediately, in a united way. This would not have happened a few years ago.”

He also addressed Brexit, arguing that Britain’s exit from the EU made the bloc “aware of all that our union brings us, which is consolidated peace and freedom.”

The EU, he said, should not be consumed “by the separation, but by the union,” noting the bloc is now working to increase its security, defense and border control capabilities as well as improving its environmental protections. The U.K., he added, will be “at our side — as Theresa May says, she is leaving the EU, but not Europe.”

But on a darker note, Macron said the world is on the brink of failing to tackle “the two biggest challenges in the world today and also the main points of tension: climate and trade.”

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord last year, and has made it clear that he has no intention of honoring the commitments made by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Macron also said that if the G20 doesn’t make progress on reform proposals for the World Trade Organization, international summits risk becoming “useless and even counterproductive.”

The EU together with 11 countries earlier this week brought forward a proposal to modernize the WTO’s highest court in an attempt to pacify Washington, which is blocking the appointment of judges to the Appellate Body.


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Wilf Lytton: Ten years of the Climate Change Act. We need a new target to get net emissions down to zero.

The IPCC’s latest report removes any doubt that upholding the Paris Agreement is in the UK’s interests.

Wilf Lytton is Senior Researcher at Bright Blue.

It has been ten years to the week since the UK signed the 2008 Climate Change Act into law. It remains, as then, a historic and forward-thinking Act of Parliament that has delivered economic prosperity and a safer future for the people of the UK.

The Climate Change Act committed us to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050, compared to 1990 levels. Since then, a great deal of progress has been achieved to reduce the impacts of human activity on the climate. UK greenhouse gas emissions have continued to fall since 2008 and we’re now over halfway towards meeting our existing target.

Decarbonising our economy has also brought about significant economic benefits. Earlier this month, Greg Clark described how “green energy is, increasingly, [becoming] cheap energy”. Furthermore, the UK is at the forefront of developing low carbon technologies and is now a major exporter of electric vehicles.

Our knowledge of climate change has evolved markedly since 2008. Two new lines evidence have emerged, giving us clearer understanding of the consequences the UK and international community face if we fail to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees relative to pre-industrial levels, and the solutions that are needed to respond to that threat.

Last month’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear that bringing greenhouse gas emissions down to net zero before 2050 is necessary for meeting the below 1.5 degree target agreed by the international community at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. It also spells out the risks of exceeding that target: higher incidences of extreme weather; environmental degradation; mass extinctions; and, disruption to the economy and supply chains. The IPCC’s latest report removes any doubt that upholding the Paris Agreement is in the UK’s interests. Indeed, yesterday, Michael Gove said that climate-related natural catastrophes are on the rise.

In our recent report, Hotting Up, Bright Blue called for Government to adopt a new legal net zero emissions target to be delivered by the middle of this century at the latest, based on the overwhelming evidence that deeper decarbonisation is urgently needed in the decades ahead.

New modelling by Vivid Economics tells us that the goal of staying within 1.5 degrees of warming is possible if we determinedly pursue all available options for reducing emissions. This includes taking steps to rapidly eliminate emissions from heat, transport and land use which have, historically, been slow to decarbonise. Unlike the previous 80 per cent emissions reduction target, a net zero emissions target requires all sectors of the economy to have reached virtually zero emissions before 2050.

Next year, when the Committee on Climate Change publishes its advice to the Government on the UK adopting and meeting a new, legal net zero emissions target, there will be an opportunity for the UK to once again be a global leader in deep decarbonisation.

Despite the initial scepticism, it is worth reminding ourselves of the changes the 2008 Climate Change Act has brought about over the course of just ten years, whether that’s through providing jobs in the green economy, improving air quality, or creating new opportunities to export low carbon products to the rest of the world. Many daunting challenges lie ahead for the UK in reaching net zero emissions but, if a decade of experience in reducing emissions has proved anything, it’s that embracing those challenges will pay dividends for the UK for years to come.

22 November 2018 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Our Press Team have been incredibly busy today, so much so that I’m going to have to deal with this in two parts, both of which are going to be larger than usual. So, without further ado… Lib Dems: Levels of homelessness an ‘absolute disgrace’ (see article here) Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims Health […]

Our Press Team have been incredibly busy today, so much so that I’m going to have to deal with this in two parts, both of which are going to be larger than usual. So, without further ado…

  • Lib Dems: Levels of homelessness an ‘absolute disgrace’ (see article here)
  • Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims
  • Health Sec knows UK in critical condition
  • PM’s deal goes from fudge to farce
  • Tory bucket list for pupils ‘an insult’
  • Lamb: Tories must not neglect young people with mental illness
  • (see article here)

  • Davey: Reducing climate-changing gases demands real leadership

Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims

Responding to official statistics published today showing that 2 million people experienced domestic abuse in 2017-18, Liberal Democrat Communities spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Every case of domestic abuse is an abhorrent and unthinkable crime. The scale of these figures show the urgent need for the Domestic Abuse Bill, but the Tories’ Brexit-induced paralysis is delaying vital legislation and failing victims.

Changing the law alone won’t, however, be enough on its own. Liberal Democrats demand better. We are fighting for more funding for refuges and rape crisis centres, as well as a new national rape crisis helpline to support victims and increase the chances of convictions.

Health Sec knows UK in critical condition

Responding to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, declaring the UK could hold a second referendum on Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Hancock says he doesn’t like the idea of a People’s Vote but May firmly put ‘no Brexit’ on the table last week.

Support is growing to give the people the final say on Brexit, and the Health Secretary knows better than anyone that this country is in a critical condition. May’s deal is dead on arrival.

He, and the others around the Cabinet table need to open their eyes and ears to public opinion, but are running scared from the Brexit backlash they face.

PM’s deal goes from fudge to farce

Commenting on today’s publication of the Political Declaration between the European Union and the UK, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

This document is as aspirational as it is contradictory. In reality, it tells us nothing new, and as we heard from the Spanish PM’s comments last night, people aren’t rallying behind this deal, home or away.

This has gone from being a fudge to a farce. May needs to start telling some home truths, about what this deal really means for people in Britain, and British expats.

The declaration – in trying to please all sides – pretends that the UK will be able to have its cake and eat it, combining a “single customs territory” and “alignment of rules” with an independent trade policy and an end to freedom of movement. This is not the case, and MPs should not be tricked into voting for the deal on this pretence.

Tory bucket list for pupils ‘an insult’

Responding to the announcement from the Education Secretary of a ‘bucket list’ for pupils, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Whilst I welcome any shift away from the Conservative Government’s obsession with high-stakes exams, this list is an insult considering their punitive funding cuts to schools across the country.

It is laughable that the Education Secretary is prioritising “watching the sun rise” when teachers are barely able to afford text books, are being forced to drop subjects and are using food banks to provide lunches.

If the Tories are serious about giving children a more rounded experience of education perhaps they should be protecting arts subjects and mental health education – which are either being cut back or squeezed out of the school day altogether because of critical funding shortages.

Davey: Reducing climate-changing gases demands real leadership

Reacting to news that climate-changing gases in the atmosphere have reached a new high, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said:

Climate change comes not just with an environmental cost, but a human cost. Unless we act now, the destruction could be unparalleled.

Frankly, however, this Conservative Government is moving at a glacial pace. Tory Ministers have no interest in tackling climate change, proven by the fact the UK is already set to miss the Paris Agreement objectives.

Liberal Democrats demand better. Now is the time for real leadership. Liberal Democrats are offering just that with plans to bring forward decarbonisation targets by ten years and a radical plan to ensure the UK can meet them.