My Clean Air Act is top of the Lords’ ballot for private members bills which means that it stands a good chance of getting through all three stages in the Lords, before moving into the Commons. The bill aims to protect the public against air pollution which is one of the biggest public health hazards of our time and responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths in the UK. I’ve been working on this issue for over twenty years, but this is my best chance to get the government to take decisive action.
The Drax power station has been taken to court twice this year for air pollution offences. I questioned the Minister because it’s obvious that Drax is bad for the local environment and for the planet.
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?
I find the ambitions of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) enormously exciting, which is why I organised a Lord’s debate on the UK Government signing up to them. It is an international agreement, formed at the United Nations by treaty between 121 states. Importantly, the alliance is being led by India, which makes it the first large-scale climate initiative to be led by a ‘developing’ country. Together the signatories seek to raise $1 trillion US dollars for investment in solar power, and by 2030 the treaty aims to provide affordable green energy to a billion people who do not currently have any electricity. These are lofty goals and they demonstrate an understanding that green investment gives the opportunity to significantly increase the living standards of the world’s poorest while protecting the ecological resources on which all our livelihoods depend. So far, all good. Continue reading “Solar Alliance to light lives of a billion people”
In a dark and stormy year, one sunny news story has been the continued growth of solar power around the world. It’s now coming in cheaper than coal and gas in the sunniest parts of the world, and prices are still dropping in the UK too. Continue reading “Community energy still in the dark over its future”