Incinerators have no place in a zero-carbon world

I find it infuriating that Labour and Lib Dem councils are still approving waste from energy incinerators while their national parties declare a Climate Emergency. Labour have passed a motion at their conference aiming for zero carbon by 2030, but contracts between local authorities and incineration companies will last well beyond this timescale.

In 2016 waste incinerators officially accounted for 10.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and that total is going up rapidly as we burn more waste.  The real total is double that according to analysis done by the ‘No Incinerator UK’ campaign, who point out that the amount of plastic being burnt has gone up rapidly since 2011 when the government last calculated the mix of waste that was being put into incinerators.

A quick glance at oil company profits from recent years shows that plastic production has become crucial to their profitability with plastics accounting for half of global oil consumption growth to 2040. Oil, in the form of plastic, is the ideal fuel for incinerators and enables them to reach the temperatures where everything else burns nicely. We want to stop cars using petrol in the next ten years, so why are we happy for incinerators to use it?

Burning more than we recycle

Over two years ago, I predicted that we would now be reaching the point where we burnt more household waste than we recycled and the 2018/19 figures from DEFRA, due to be published this December, will confirm that I was right. I have been warning that this would happen since my time as a London Assembly member, when it became clear that several London boroughs were tied into incineration contracts that inevitably led to them recycling far less than neighbouring boroughs. Continue reading “Burning more than we recycle”

Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions

Today Jenny wrote to Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), the volunteers behind the ‘Pledge to Fly Less’ environmental campaign to say:

Jenny supports you; she thinks it is vital to put the brakes on airport expansion to save the planet

Continue reading “Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions”

Nearly 2000 air pollution ‘hotspots’

A data audit by Friends of the Earth has revealed the 1,845 sites across the UK that have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels, which is set to protect health. High levels of NO2 can cause a flare up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. A leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic. Continue reading “Nearly 2000 air pollution ‘hotspots’”

Crowdfunder to support Jenny’s work

Please support our work

Unlike MPs, who receive state funding, members of the House of Lords don’t receive any financial support to employ staff or fund office costs.

As the only Green in the House of Lords, covering as many issues as I can, I need staff to help me with research and press work. I have a small, part time team (equivalent to one full time person) who are paid for from donations from people like you. Continue reading “Crowdfunder to support Jenny’s work”

Children deserve clean air

This week, I attended the Clean Air Parents’ Network Reception in Parliament, where I met with parents and carers who are campaigning to protect children and babies from dirty air.

The Clean Air Parents’ Network launched their new campaign at the reception, calling for a Clean Air for Children Programme, which would introduce a range of emergency measures to protect children and babies’ lungs from illegal and harmful levels of air pollution where they learn and where they play.

The Clean Air for Children Programme sets out a clear plan which ensures local action, with the support of central government, to address air pollution and protect children and babies from its harmful effects.

All children should have the best start in life, and the air they breathe should not stunt the growth of their lungs or contribute to them developing future illnesses such as asthma and lung cancer. Yet despite this, children across the UK are exposed to dirty air every day, and thousands of schools, nurseries and playgrounds are located near roads with illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.

Children living in the most deprived areas are four times more likely to have under-developed lungs, whilst for the 1 in 11 children in the UK who have asthma, air pollution is not a distant threat but an immediate risk to their health and wellbeing.

If you’re a parent or carer, you can join the Clean Air Parents’ Network by signing up on their website or joining the Facebook group.

Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill launch

July 5th is the 62nd anniversary of the first Clean Air Act becoming law

Local people and communities around the country would be able to take legal action to defend their right to clean air if the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill I introduced today became law. This week’s air pollution episode throughout England and Wales illustrates how widespread the legal actions could become, as people seek to get corporations to change their behaviour and to force councils and government bodies to reduce pollution. Continue reading “Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill launch”

Briefing on Heathrow and climate change

Some MPs will argue that it’s okay to expand Heathrow while staying within the national limit for climate change emissions. The Airports Commission did come to this conclusion, but I doubt that these MPs read the report’s smallprint about the squeeze on regional airports and a huge price hike (read more about the nonewrunways campaign). Continue reading “Briefing on Heathrow and climate change”