Sunday, 25 October 2009

John Prescott Climate Champion...

We had a great time at the Guildhall Climate Day in Hull yesterday!

Stealing the show with a late entry was former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Prescott gave a vigorous account of his involvement with global climate change policy, from Kyoto to upcoming Copenhagen. Again and again he mentioned the importance of fairness and justice in what should come out of Copenhagen and mentioned the dangers of intransigence (especially from the American Congress which has to approve any international agreements). A number of times he praised the example of leadership that Britain was giving by sticking to its Kyoto targets, something only France and Germany have also achieved.

Prezza was a bit cavalier with figures, quoting America at 20tCO2 per head and a total of 20Gt - but the computer says no. (Current US figures are 25tCO2 per person, for a total of 7.5Gt.)

A number of questions sought to breach the bluff, breezy, congenial exterior but few could gain purchase... The Green Party's Shan Oakes brought up the third runway at Heathrow, which government supports but green campaigners nationwide have been campaigning against (hence the UK scoring poorly on the transport indicator below).

So how are the G8 Countries really doing? (Animation)

From 2008 to 2009, the UK has slipped from being number 1 to number 2, second to Germany.

So far we're good at keeping our Kyoto targets and curbing our emissions re. GDP, but we're not yet set for our overall target for 2050.

But we're so-so at -
  • lowering the 10 year emissions trend
  • the adoption of renewables (75% of wind applications are being fought and lost)
  • emissions per head, household and services policy,
  • leading negotiation
  • electricity and nuclear policy
  • renewables policy
  • industrial policy
What Britain is poor at -
  • curbing our emissions per head which are still high. (Prescott would immediately answer but look at America and China who account for half of ALL emissions between them. Ok, America is way out in front with 25 tonnes CO2 per person, China way behind per head at 6tC02 (UK is 11t)).
  • CO2 emissions per unit of electricity
  • energy efficiency in industry
  • transport policy
The emphasis on justice is very helpful. But 9 million die from hunger a year, and another 9 million die from simple diseases. So what makes us think we can solve any climate problem in a fair way? As I wrote in my prepared words, I'm sure we CAN solve these problems, but I'm not sure we WILL.

(In fairness - to the truth - nobody brought up Iraq, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths that ought to be on the conscience of every public representative who voted for it, let alone the carbon footprint of war, unnecessary or not. The massive use of deplet6ed uranium - a leftover from the nuclear industry. The growth of incinerators in Britain. Our actual rate of recycling.)

Meanwhile, while we all worry abourt energy and CO2, let's ask our MP's to vote for Amendment 3 for the Marine Bill this Monday. If you don't know why then watch The End of the Line, Channel4. We could solve this problem too. But I'm not sure we WILL...


Endless war in Afghanistan is an absolute necessity. Health care for Americans is a luxury that can wait. (

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to comment that Our Dear John did not reply to Mel's very astute question as to why Hull doesn't lead the way by turning off unnecessary street and city centre lighting overnight, and certainly in large buildings/on the front of these. He evaded that one! I'd like to see our city making some big moves in this way, and if Prezza is serious about his work on climate change/the need to reduce energy consumption, then he could well start on his own home patch. - SH