Labour’s shadow environment team spaffed 3.7 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere on a round trip to the COP15 summit in Canada. While even in normal circumstances, environmentally-showboating politicians should be using Zoom for these meetings, Alex Sobel and Ruth Jones’ jolly over the Atlantic is even more ironic as they used the opportunity to meet with… the RSPB. A British charity with headquarters a mere 80-minute train ride from Westminster…
The @LabourDefra team at #COP15 had a crucial briefing on the state of play of negotiations with @Natures_Voice and where the UK where in terms of both negotiations and international commitments.— Alex Sobel MP 🟣 (@alexsobel) December 8, 2022
It was a real insight for @RuthNewportWest and I pic.twitter.com/8OWBrZNCk8
He also received a briefing from Climate Policy Radar, a “Data-sci & machine learning to unlock global climate law & policy data”. A group of boffins from… LSE, based in London.
Its crucial that our approach to nature and biodiversity is science-led. So I’m very grateful to @NachmanyMichal of @climatepolradar for a comprehensive brief at #COP15 about how we can use Climate Radar to create and interrogate @uklabour nature and biodiversity policy. pic.twitter.com/c1VNzlvd0c— Alex Sobel MP 🟣 (@alexsobel) December 9, 2022
Third on Sobel’s agenda was a briefing “on the latest state of play on #COP15 negotiations”. By… DEFRA civil servants.
Up early in Montreal to be briefed on the latest state of play on #COP15 negotiations from @DefraGovUK officials before going into back to back meetings in the venue and on the conference fringes.— Alex Sobel MP 🟣 (@alexsobel) December 9, 2022
Looking forward to a busy and hectic 12 hours of meetings to fully immerse in COP
All in all an excellent trip, and very helpful to the environment. No doubt Londoners being shafted by the ULEZ expansion won’t see any hypocrisy at all…
Despite the reshuffle being formally paused until after the Queen’s funeral, Liz Truss has ploughed on with sacking Tory tree-hugger-in-chief Zac Goldsmith from his DEFRA ministerial post. While the government is still paying lip service to the Net Zero target, they’ve signalled climate and animal welfare issues could be de-prioritised over the coming months. The Guardian speculates that the Animal Welfare Bill could be first up for slaughter. The PM’s next royal audience should be interesting…
The news comes as The Guardian reports Liz is planning to follow through on her leadership election pledge and lift the ban on fracking as soon as possible, with first licences set to be issued as early as next week. This will no doubt come as welcome relief as energy bills continue to rise during winter. The decision comes despite the paper’s ominous quote from a forthcoming report that forecasting fracking-induced earthquakes “remains a significant challenge”. In August 2019 Caudrilla halted work after recording the UK’s “biggest fracking tremor”. The tremor in question was 1.55ML on the Richter scale, “which it likened to ‘a large bag of shopping dropping to the floor'”…
UPDATE: Read Zac’s letter to his former Defra colleagues below:
Yesterday a Paris court found the French state guilty of breaking its commitments to reducing emissions in-line with the international climate change agreement signed in that very city. A complaint submitted by a group of NGOs – including Oxfam and Greenpeace – accused France of failing to act to halt climate change, the court finding the state guilty of “non-respect of its engagements” aimed at combating global warming. The government has had to pay compensation to the NGOs for “moral prejudice”… of €1 each.
The Paris Climate Agreement signed five years ago commits signatories to limit global warming to less than 2℃; France, however, has missed its 2015 national targets and delayed most of its efforts until after 2020. Macron had slammed Trump for withdrawing from the agreement. Now Biden has signed America back up to a foreign agreement which not even France is following…
This weekend the Guardian and Independent both published a whopper of a story sure to set social media and MP’s casework inboxes alight; with claims Boris was to use Brexit to authorise the use of a “bee-killing pesticide banned in the EU” – neonicotinoid thiamethoxam – to treat sugar beet seed this year in an effort to protect the crop from a virus. Greta immediately leapt on the story:
UK government has announced "a bee-killing pesticide so poisonous that it is banned by the EU" may be used in England.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 9, 2021
New coal mines and pesticides... the UK's so called "green industrial revolution" is off to a great start.
Very credible indeed.https://t.co/R4o54ZEyvD
There was just one problem with the screeching Remainer environmental outrage: the pesticide is not banned in the EU and the UK was always entitled to use it pre-Brexit – with 10 EU countries also having issued emergency authorisations for the pesticide since 2018 including Belgium, Denmark and Spain. DEFRA makes it very clear: “The UK’s approach to the use of emergency authorisations has not changed as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.”
British sugar beet yield in 2020 is expected to be down by 20-25% on previous years due to predation by aphids which have been spreading beet yellow virus:
“The temporary use of this product is strictly limited to a non-flowering crop and will be tightly controlled to minimise any potential risk to pollinators.”
Don’t expect blind, unverifiable Remainer anger to die down just because Brexit’s finally done and dusted…
UPDATE: Reported today in French press France approves three-year use of controversial pesticide
A woke civil servant from the Environment Agency – a DEFRA quango – has attempted to “cancel” an elected English mayor for emphasising that poverty is as much a barrier to kids’ life chances as the colour of their skin. The power of faceless bureaucrats…
In response to the George Floyd protests last month, independent Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston told constituents via a post on Facebook:
“Black Lives Matter. And All Lives Matter
“The horrific incident that took place 4,000 miles away is raising tensions here. The way George Floyd died must never happen again…
“Don’t listen to careless talk in the media about white privilege… Deprivation here appears to be colour blind.
Preston also made the fairly non-controversial point: “The biggest barrier to progression in life in Middlesbrough, and almost anywhere, is always the same: poverty”.
This obviously angered the Government’s Environment Agency, who told the mayor “the recent viewpoints expressed by [him] in relation to the BLM movement and white privilege… do not reflect our own values and position on diversity”; formally no-platforming Preston:
Speaking to Guido, Mayor Preston was outraged, pointing to his decade-long fight for refugees and immigrants, and a subsequent post a couple of days later in which he clarified his intentions:
“I completely accept the pain that people are feeling and I want to re-state that I definitely accept the facts that black people and all people of colour face discrimination.
“Being white, I am fortunate that my skin colour has never held me back in life – but I am committed to continuing to listen to those who have suffered and do suffer discrimination”
Despite this, one month later Catherine Saxon – the Environment Agency’s North East Area Director – still told him his views on white privilege “do not reflect our own value and position on diversity” and therefore they could not be seen together. Preston is clearly well-meaning, yet the civil service are trying to cancel him for not being woke enough…
Biomass subsidies implemented by Chris Huhne are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds and his favoured “carbon neutral” wood pellets are more damaging to the environment than coal, a damning study reveals today. But wait for it… The highly critical review of the disgraced former Energy Secretary’s policy was authored by his own former special adviser Duncan Brack. He now says the £450 million spent on biomass subsidies was a mistake:
“It is ridiculous…It’s not a good use of money. For any biomass facility that is burning wood for energy, unless they are only burning stuff like saw-mill residues or post-consumer waste, their activities will be increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere for decades or centuries. We shouldn’t be subsidising that.”
Anyway, what is Huhne up to these days now he’s out of the clink? He’s European Chairman of US firm Zilkha Biomass, who supply the very same wood pellets it turns out are so damaging to the environment. Fancy that! £450 million in subsidies literally up in smoke…