James Duddridge MP: Climate Change

Dear Mr Duddridge,

I am aware that it was first John Major’s government that first agreed to the EUs commitments for us all to reduce our collective carbon emissions, matched by the then oppositions’ similarly commitment, repeated at 3 general elections. Hence, no doubt the governments advice to us all since then to reduce our energy use.

The attached photo is of my rooftop hot-water solar panels – in the shadow of leaves still on their tree at the beginning of December. This has not happened in previous years.

So much for following the governments’ advice; I myself have simply become a victim of Global Warming in my small way. Clearly this problem cannot be solved by ordinary citizens, or by lecturing us.

So I feel that I am entitled to an explanation from someone `over there’ for why our UK Kyoto-included carbon-emissions have been so unnecessarily rising instead of falling since 1997, and for example

  1. Why reducing our carbon emissions is called only a `long term challenge’ instead of an urgently-needed one, when oceanic capacity to absorb carbon has already decreased, rainforests are already starting to suffer from carbon-releasing fires, and scientists cannot even say whether or not we have already set in train future runaway unstoppable global warming from future catastrophic releases of trapped methane in permafrosts, icesheets and oceans – and can only say that global warming would NOT stop for centuries even if emissions were stabilised immediately,
  2. Why we in the UK with our vast wind energy resources alone, still do not have in place sufficient planning permissions for a 100% clean renewable electricity supply, (Iceland and Sweden have done it, so why couldn’t we have?), with even the decades-long plans for a Severn Barrage or Tidal Lagoon still unagreed,
  3. Why it is not wind-rich Britain, but wind-poor Germany, Denmark and Spain who are world-leaders in wind turbine installations?
  4. Why our 2.8 million UK homes without a gas connection still haven’t been simply given on-site solar hot-water systems, micro-generated clean renewable energy devices, free insulation/double-glazing/underfloor-heating upgrades, etc.
  5. Why we are still awaiting a mass public sector building programme of low-energy housing,
  6. Why there still are not photo-voltaic solar panels on the rooftop of every single UK business, and why there are not even photo-voltaic solar panels on the rooftop of every public sector building (and why there are not even photo-voltaic solar panels on the rooftop of every government department building – not even here on Alexander House in the driest part of the UK where I work!)
  7. why we still haven’t even had the major skills/training programme in these skills to implement the mass take-up of such things,
  8. why we are still awaiting CrossRail, and the rest of the vast expansion of the rail network needed back in the 80s/90s let alone now,
  9. Why, in the era of Hydrogen buses, do we still have fossil-fuelled public transport,
  10. Why our billions of green taxes on North Sea oil, etc has not been spent on any of the above such clean-fuel investments,
  11. Why we have instead allowed investment in `gas interconnectors’ – and not to export some of our vast gas reserves but to actually import and burn even more of the stuff!
  12. Why internal-UK air travel is permitted at all – asking individuals to restrain their behaviour in these things and `do their bit’ is precisely the idea that the attached has exposed as a bankrupt notion,
  13. Why we still haven’t taxed into oblivion other fossil-fuelled personal air travel,
  14. Why the government will now not agree to 3% annual carbon reductions, which is easily achievable by energy efficiencies alone for the lifetime of a whole government, is little more than what the EU Commission now requires of us of all in any case, and is supported by most MPs of all parties, (and what is the point of a Climate Change Bill without even that much)?
  15. Why our carbon addictions have been positively encouraged by a lowering of the green taxes proportion of the tax-take, now making the need for emissions reductions even more urgent and stringent,
  16. Why the government has led everyone to believe that the necessary emissions reductions can be achieved without significant personal sacrifices, and that they have some right to pollute my life like this,
  17. Why we have means-tested benefits instead of green-tested benefits that are properly targeted – why am I being made to actually subsidise global warming behaviour with my taxes, for example for tax-credit claimants who run a car, housing benefits for homes that devour energy, and bereavement grants for cremations, etc?
  18. Why I feel like the victim of some pension-misselling scandal every time I see another TV ad – paid for by my taxes – urging us to reduce our energy use, and why I have to endure these ads of hypocracy from a government that’s been so persistently unwilling to even meet its own carbon-reduction commitments,
  19. Why, with the genuinely low-carbon leadership of the EU, various cities like London, et al, our government pretends that it has any role other than to simply get on and honour its’ own carbon reduction commitments,
  20. Why instead of getting on with the task domestically, our government continually goes on about `binding commitments from … India and China’, when these countries have zero historic responsibility for these horrendously increased atmospheric carbon levels, and cannot possibly ever be expected to join international agreements called for by hypocritical nations like ours with such an appalling record of avoiding carrying out our commitments to carbon reductions?
  21. Why the Indians and Chinese, like us, also have to endure all this lecturing?
  22. why anyone abroad should still be expected to believe a word our government says on the subject of Global Warming and Kyoto-style commitments,
  23. why indeed any other nations without an easy path to carbon-neutrality like we have, are expected to `do their bit’ by a government like ours that so stubbornly won’t honour its’ own commitments,
  24. Why politicians seemingly don’t care how they will explain to even their own grown-up children why our generation stole their Natural Heritage (especially those politicians like yourself in renewable-resource rich Britain)?
  25. Why I am even having to write this complaint on behalf of the worldwide millions without even a `leccy supply, and worldwide millions of more serious Global Warming victims, including refugees from climate-ravaged lands that can no longer sustain them or much other life, to a member of parliament of a nation pretending to be a leader in the war on greenhouse gas emissions!

As our representative of the supposed party of `responsible citizenship’, I am sure that you too want answers to all the above. So can you help me in my case? What recourse do I have over these broken commitments?

Yours,

Roger Thompson


House of Commons, 9th February 2007

Dear Mr Thompson,

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the environment and climate change. You are probably aware that I am deeply interested in and committed to environmental issues.

I agree with many of the points you have made in your email and feel that the government has let us down by not recognising the magnitude of climate change. As you are aware, the recent report published by Sir Nicholas Stern sets out the economic cost of climate change. Sir Nicholas has said that the scientific evidence for global warming is overwhelming, and that global warming could have disastrous consequences. This is a fact that is fully recognised by the Conservatives. We realise that action needs to be taken by everyone including business, individuals and Government.

I share your disappointment about many of the missed opportunities and broken promises that you outline in your email. This is why Conservatives called for a Climate Change Bill to be included in the Queen’s Speech. What we must now do is to ensure that we get a solid Bill with teeth, not a watered-down version. I believe that any serious Climate Change Bill must have three things: rolling annual emissions targets; an independent body to set as well as monitor these targets; and an annual report from the Government on how they plan to make progress in this important area.

In addition, I have decided to write to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs outlining your concerns about government policy with regard to climate change. I will of course contact you as soon as I receive a response.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.

Yours sincerely,

James Duddridge MP


22 February

Dear James,

Thank you for your letter of 9 February to David Milliband enclosing a copy of an email from your constituent Mr R Thompson about climate change.

I would like to re-assure Mr Thompson that the government takes climate change extremely seriously. We are committed to tackling climate change at a national and international level. A great deal of action has already been taken in this country - no industrialised country has done more than the UK. The UK is one of only two countries in the EU-15, the other being Sweden, that is one course to meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol - in fact the UK is well on course to exceed its Kyoto
target. However, we also recognise that more can and must be done to meet the challenges climate change presents.

The government is already addressing the way we create and use energy. This is key to tackling climate change, and conversely meeting our climate change objectives is a key priority for any energy policy. This is reflected in not only the Energy Review but also the Climate Change Programme, both published last year. The Energy Review contains a range
of policies designed to move us towards increased energy efficiency, and increasing reliance on renewable energy sources. The policies identified in the Review are intended to deliver 19-25MtC savings by 2020, and sets us on the right path to achieving our goal of cutting the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by some 60% by 2050. Measures contained within the Climate Change Programme are projected to reduce UK emissions of all greenhouse gases by 23-25% by 2010, around double the target set under Kyoto, in addition to the savings delivered by the Energy Review.

Additionally, the Government recently established the Office of Climate Change (OCC). This will be a shared resource reporting to Ministers across Government. The OCC will have a vital contribution to make ensuring that the analysis and policy work going on across government is coherent and supports our overall strategy to tackle climate change. The
OCC will support Ministers as they decide future UK strategy and policy on domestic and international climate change.

You may be aware that the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was published on 30 October. It destroys the economic argument that we cannot afford to reduce our emissions. Climate Change, not action to tackle it, is the threat to growth. I am pleased that the government has announced in the Queens' Speech that climate change legislation will form a fundamental part of the UK's strategy to tackle climate change and address the issues raised by the Stern Review.

The legislation will put in place a strong long-term framework of policies and targets for emissions reductions which will provide a firm basis on which business could plan ahead. It will enable the UK to benefit economically by becoming a leading low-carbon economy ahead of our competitors and will also demonstrate the UK's commitment to taking action at home and so strengthen our ability to be global leaders in developing a future global climate change framework.

The climate change legislation will comprise four key elements; the Government's long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% of 1990 levels by 2050 will be put into statute; the establishing of an independent body - the Carbon Committee - to work with Government to reduce emissions across the economy; the creation of enabling goals powers to put in place new emissions across the economy; the creation of enabling powers to put in place new emissions reduction measures needed to achieve our goals; and the improvement of monitoring and reporting arrangements, including how the Government reports to Parliament.

Some people are calling for binding annual targets to be included in the forthcoming legislation. However, annual emissions are affected by things beyond the control of Government such as fluctuations in the weather and energy prices. For this reason, annual targets were rejected in the international climate change negotiations in favour of a longer timeframe.

Our aim is to create legislation that will help in the battle against climate change, support the efforts to join individual activity with business and Government leadership, and link domestic and international action. What we are proposing represents an ambitious and coherent package. The legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows and the Government will promote the widest possible debate across the country and in Parliament about the contents of the Bill.

While I am proud of our record on tackling climate change and the international leadership we have shown, I am not in any way complacent. We will continue to work to meet that challenge, domestically and internationally, and I know that I will have your support in that vital task.

Ian Pearson, MP
Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment.
DEFRA

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