Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Conservative Governments Fail to Reign-In emissions

Conservative government in Australia, Canada and the UK have failed to reign-in greenhouse gas emissions. Under the leadership of three conservative climate stooges these nations have failed to meaningfully reduce their carbon pollution. Before being kicked out of office by Canadians, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper failed abandoned Kyoto and then set new emissions reduction targets which were unachievable. the Canadian Conservatives failed to meet their climate targets due in large part to their fixation on oil and their obsession with the tar sands in particular.

One of the things that the former Canadian Prime Minister Harper and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shared in common is their complicity with the fossil fuel industry.

Before being deposed Abbott's government announced that Australia will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2030. These are some of the weakest emissions reductions targets in the developed world. Worse still Abbott's Direct Action climate change plan gave big business a number of ways they could increase their emissions without incurring a penalty. Some analysts warned the way the baselines would have been set, industrial emissions would have continued to rise significantly.

Now the ruling Conservative government of David Cameron in the UK is also lending credence to the argument that conservatives do not seem to prioritize emissions reduction.

The BBC reports that the UK's Government energy policy will increase CO2 emissions.  Planned Conservative policy changes that will increase GHGs include
  • Block solar in the countryside
  • Cut industrial solar subsidy
  • Cut solar subsidy on homes
  • Cut biomass subsidy
  • Cut biogas subsidy
  • Scrap Green Deal
  • Cut zero carbon homes
  • Impose carbon tax on renewables
  • Block onshore wind
  • Increase tax on small cars
  • Tax breaks for oil and gas industry
  • Cut zero carbon offices Increase
  • Cut support for community energy
  • Freeze fuel duty escalator
  • Diesel generator subsidy
Prof Jim Watson, research director for the UK Energy Research Centre,. Dustin Benton, head of energy and resources at Green Alliance, Adrian Gault agreed with the analysis.

The former coalition government Lib Dem minister Lynne Featherstone said: "For five years we fought sceptical Tories to invest billions in renewables, set out ambitious climate change targets and create the Green Investment Bank...In six months since (the election) we have seen an unravelling of all these positive changes in favor of short-term financial gain. It is shameful."

Labour's Lisa Nandy, shadow energy and climate change secretary, said: "This reckless set of decisions by ministers to unravel energy policies designed to get new, cleaner power stations built is damaging our energy security at a time when we urgently need investment to keep the lights on."

"They also mean we will see higher levels of carbon pollution right at the time when Britain should be leading the way to achieve a strong climate agreement at the Paris Summit." David Cameron pledged before the election to keeping to the Climate Change Act, which demands step-by-step reductions in C02 in five-year budgets.

The UN's Environment Programme's chief scientist, Prof Jacquie McGlade, told BBC News she was alarmed by policy changes.

As reported in the Guardian, a leaked October 29th letter from UK energy minister Amber Rudd recently indicated that she expects the nation to fall short its renewables target by 3.5 percent. The UK is committed itself to get 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020. According to internal forecasts the UK will only manage to get about 11.5 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020.  

In addition to slashing subsidies for renewables Rudd appears to be deceiving parliament. As recently as June she announced in the House of Commons that the UK "will still be meeting our targets" and was "committed to ensuring that we deliver on our decarbonisation targets". She then went on to kill new subsidies for onshore wind power.

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