Keynsham Voice, January’s column

In case you missed this months Keynsham Voice you can read our column here:

So the latest round of Climate Talks have finished, and world leaders and diplomats have got back on their planes (or trains – good on you George Ferguson!) to work out how they’re going to cut their countries’ carbon emissions.

There was a real sense of achievement at the end of the marathon talks. For the first time ever, the heads of state of 195 countries put aside their short term political priorities and agreed to do something that benefits the whole world. Pledging to limit global temperature rises to no more than 1.5 degrees, humanity, it would seem, is saved. Or is it?

David Cameron called the COP21 agreement a “huge step forward in securing the future of the planet”. But we didn’t have to wait long for him to reveal how committed he was to cutting the UK’s carbon emissions.

Just days after Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told BBC News that the deal would “ensure all countries are held to account for their climate commitments and give a clear signal to business to invest in the low carbon transition” the government announced not one but two body blows to our own transition to a low carbon economy.

Firstly the government went back on its promise to protect national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty from fracking, and announced 159 new licences to frack for coalbed methane and shale gas across the UK (including in the Bath and Bristol area).

Let’s be clear. There is absolutely no doubt that coalbed methane and shale gas are carbon intensive forms of fuel, and extracting and burning them will make it harder for us to achieve our legally binding carbon emission cuts. Essentially, if we’re going to meet our targets and those set out in Paris, our shale and coalbed methane need to stay in the ground.

Secondly, the government finally announced its plans for renewable energy. Whilst it props up the oil, gas and nuclear industries with massive subsidies, it has decided to slash solar, wind and hydro subsidies making it almost impossible for community scale energy generation to make business sense.

Far from “leading the way in work to cut emissions and help less developed countries cut theirs” as David Cameron claimed this week, the UK is systematically destroying our best bet for reducing carbon emissions and dismantling what was an innovative, profit making and buoyant industry.

Published in Keynsham Voice January 2016, www.keynshamvoice.co.uk

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