CLIMATE CHANGE

 

This was organised organised by the  Sutton Coldfield Quakers on:-

It proved an interesting and informative meeting even though attendance was somewhat low.

Andrew Mitchell gave a broad address concerning Climate Change, its tragic effects in his own sphere of interest, the developing world, and  his own  insights into UK government policy. Questions raised by those attending came from individuals and from members of interest groups and with professional expertise.

He held aloft and spoke initially to a brief paper bearing information which he had obtained the House of Commons Library to update himself on the latest from Westminster regarding the UK government’s approach to the Katowice meeting.

Next he read out a very basic four paragraph EU-agreed Written Statement and following that, an important but saddening brief comment provided to the House of Commons library by the Science and Environment Department.
This comment runs as follows:- “With the exception of the Written Statement, I cannot find any Parliamentary material on the UK Government’s planned approach to COP24”.

BREXIT.    Mr Mitchell admitted that Brexit had clearly locked out even this most terminal of topics Climate Change  from the political agenda in Government. He later sent us a copy of the EU statement – see below.
       He receives a hundred letters per week about Brexit – a fairly typical figure across constituencies. His view of a second vote was that only after Parliament has batted the full range of options put up by the several coteries and reached impasse would it then be appropriate to have a second people’s vote on which Brexit. To have a second vote/referendum now, he suggested could well lead to serious civil disorder.
Most significantly Brexit was discussed in relation to the more global & fundamental matter of climate.

CLIMATE CHANGE.  The UK will cooperate with the EU on a joint target till 2020 (maybe even after). On this, the EU will have big influence at Katowice. We have more in common on climate change with China – that per capita is making great steps – than with the US which may stymie progress at the COP.
The US has some justified gripes; among nations which espouse free trade, is it fair that US tariff on EU cars is 3% but EU tariffs on American impoted cars is 10%?
Climate change is hitting the poorest of the world hardest, their ‘habitat’ is smaller than ours; desert shrinks pasture in Darfur. He has seen maps in the Carribean that show sea level rise for every ten years and that in 30 years a particular town will be gone. In Bangladesh, a three inch rise in the sea level will make 100,000 homeless.
The poor depend on local production and cannot change to purchasing from other regions of the world as we can. A local drought means famine and political instability. On the one hand we now see major refugee problems and migrants at sea and on foot. On the other we see those with a mission for change and for power now able to use global communication technology, smart ‘phones, to show the the poorest and deprived groups of third world nations what the developed countries have acquired  and tells the poor that the West does not care. And so we see violence on the ground.
So, in addition to humanitarian considerations, the reality of which Mr Mitchell himself has seen on various continents, it is wholly in the self-interest of our own OECD countries  to succeed in a world quest for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The British Government is financing in a very big way various schemes elsewhere to mitigate climate change which will benefit the UK. We might expect the government to brag about that. Unfortunately, to do so would provoke demands from a number of quarters that the money should be spent in the UK.
He added that levels of meat consumption worldwide will have to be greatly reduced to protect threatened areas. Methods for achieving that will need to be found
Raising thermal building standards. For some reason, B’ham CC will not accept the principle of raising thermal building standards, the benefits of which are long-term. Many Town Councils have adopted max’ standards effectively, measures which he supports.
The foisting of 6,000 new homes on Sutton Coldfield by B’ham CC only succeeded because a bad Conservative Minister waved through a repeatedly submitted City Council plan.
Introducing ‘Bendy-buses’ to Sutton in his view is an inept and discredited solution to its transport problems.
Vehicle charging points: He certainly favours of the provision an abundance of these.
Pollution problems: the UK could emulate certain other countries – Rwanda for example has made illegal the importation of plastic bags (which it cannot make itself). Kenya is to follow suit. But rule by ‘diktat’ is unachievable in the UK.
The question of fracking, doubly relevant to climate change, was one which was left almost unfielded by Andrew Mitchell who did seem to take on board that there were recent government moves concerning the matter and that Cuadrilla uses the more polluting, American chemical method as opposed to the British ‘muddy water’ method successfully used for decades here and in the North Sea.

In closing, Mr Mitchell cited Richard Attenborough on the climate change threat: “In the end, the important decisions can only be taken by big corporations and politicians.”

Questions raised by those attending came from individuals and from members of interest groups.
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The paper provided him by parliament reads as follows:

From  THE HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY
Nov. 12, 2012


COP24, KATOWICE, POLAND

The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will be held on 3-14 December in Katowice, Poland. The key plan for COP24 is to adopt a full package implementing the Paris Agreement. The Polish Presidency plans to focus its message on three key themes:
Technology – development of climate-friendly modern solutions, such as electromobility;
Man – solidary and just transition of industrial regions;
Nature – achieving climate neutrality by absorbing CO2 by forests and land, or by water management.
Background information on the Paris Agreement is set out in the Library Briefing Paper on the Paris Agreement and Marrakech climate conference (25 November 2016).
More up-to-date information on the climate talks leading up to COP24 is summarised by Carbon Brief on their pages on COP24.

The EU paper provided to Andrew Mitchell reads:-
The EU is a Party to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, representing all member states. The UK is also a Party to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement in its own right. As the UK will still be part of the European Union in December this year, the EUís priorities and approach for COP24 are relevant.

EU priorities:
       The following update was provided by the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth following her attendance at the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg on 9 October:

The Council adopted conclusions on the EU’s priorities and approach for the negotiations at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The conclusions focus on:
the urgency of climate action, especially in light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCís) special report, Global Warming of 1.5c, published on 8th October 2018;
completion of the COP21 Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), which constitutes the implementing rules underpinning the Agreement;
and the Talanoa Dialogue, the facilitative process culminating at COP24 for taking stock of collective progress towards the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

The UK intervened to underline the stark and sobering messages of the IPCC report, that current global efforts are insufficient, and that COP24 is crucial to making the Paris Agreement a reality. The UK highlighted the action the UK is taking to address climate change, including hosting Green Great Britain Week, promoted greater climate ambition and the EU updating its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) by 2020, and signalled the importance of continued collaboration on climate change. The UK also supported the inclusion of at least one net zero 2050 scenario in the EUís Long-term Strategy on emissions reductions and the need for common time frames for submission of NDCs to the UNFCCC.
The conclusions highlighted the EU’s ambitious climate and energy policy framework to 2030 and acknowledged that recent increases to the EU’s 2030 renewable and energy efficiency targets will have an impact on the EU’s level of achievement. Ministers expressed that they looked forward to the European Commissionís proposal for a Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the objectives and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, underlining that the Strategy should include a 1.5C scenario and at least one pathway towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050. The conclusions stressed that the EU is ready to communicate or update its NDC by 2020 and recalled the importance of striving towards common time frames for all UNFCCC Partiesí NDCs.

More widely, you may also be interested in the Library Insight on Net Zero Emissions: a new UK climate change target? and the Westminster Hall debate on extreme weather related to climate change which discussed the UK Government’s approach to climate change on 13 November 2018.

The Library Briefing Paper on Brexit, energy and climate change provides information on the possible impact of Brexit on climate change policies (see section 6).

The EU paper provided to Andrew Mitchell reads:-

The EU is a Party to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, representing all member states. The UK is also a Party to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement in its own right. As the UK will still be part of the European Union in December this year, the EUís priorities and approach for COP24 are relevant.
EU priorities
The following update was provided by the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth following her attendance at the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg on 9 October:
Adoption of conclusions on the preparations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Katowice, Poland, 2-14 December 2018).
1.)  The Council adopted conclusions on the EU’s priorities and approach for the negotiations at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The conclusions focus on: the urgency of climate action, especially in light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCís) special report, Global Warming of 1.5c, published on 8th October 2018; completion of the COP21 Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), which constitutes the implementing rules underpinning the Agreement; and the Talanoa Dialogue, the facilitative process culminating at COP24 for taking stock of collective progress towards the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
The UK intervened to underline the stark and sobering messages of the IPCC report, that current global efforts are insufficient, and that COP24 is crucial to making the Paris Agreement a reality. The UK highlighted the action the UK is taking to address climate change, including hosting Green Great Britain Week, promoted greater climate ambition and the EU updating its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) by 2020, and signalled the importance of continued collaboration on climate change. The UK also supported the inclusion of at least one net zero 2050 scenario in the EUís Long-term Strategy on emissions reductions and the need for common time frames for submission of NDCs to the UNFCCC.
The conclusions highlighted the EU’s ambitious climate and energy policy framework to 2030 and acknowledged that recent increases to the EU’s 2030 renewable and energy efficiency targets will have an impact on the EU’s level of achievement. Ministers expressed that they looked forward to the European Commissionís proposal for a Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the objectives and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, underlining that the Strategy should include a 1.5C scenario and at least one pathway towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050. The conclusions stressed that the EU is ready to communicate or update its NDC by 2020 and recalled the importance of striving towards common time frames for all UNFCCC Partiesí NDCs.

More widely, you may also be interested in the Library ‘Insight on Net Zero Emissions: a new UK climate change target?’ and the Westminster Hall debate on extreme weather related to climate change which discussed the UK Government’s approach to climate change on 13 November 2018.
The Library Briefing Paper on Brexit, energy and climate change provides information on the possible impact of Brexit on climate change policies (see section 6).

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