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Sick as a Dog: Fracking Protests and the Media Blame Game

Read time: 5 mins

By Andy Rowell, Open Democracy UK

North Yorkshire Police are coming under renewed pressure to answer questions over the apparently hasty, heavy-handed and heavily publicised arrest of two campaigners in January this year at the height of the protests against fracking firm Third Energy.

As the protests reached a peak at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, many people believed that fracking could be approved by the Government any day. To add to the heightened tensions, North Yorkshire Police issued a news article which stated that two men had been arrested on suspicion of poisoning a guard dog – potentially with “pellets” made from aniseed balls. The media were quick to pick up the press release leading to stories in the BBC, ITV; Daily Mail as well as local press outlets.

The media was quick to point the finger of blame at the anti-fracking campaigners: “Two men arrested on suspicion of poisoning a fracking site guard dog were environmental protesters”, revealed the Mail Online.

Shareholders Force Big Oil to Acknowledge Climate Risk — But Are Still Waiting for Action

Read time: 3 mins

By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

Oil companies are under more pressure than ever to reckon with their climate impact, this AGM season.

Supermajor Exxon Mobil has published its first assessment of what holding global warming to 2C means for its business, prompted by a shareholder revolt in 2017.

Shareholder activists have moved on to target second-tier companies, winning resolutions to make Kinder Morgan and Anadarko follow suit. Several firms pre-empted a vote by agreeing to their demands.

In Europe, where most oil majors have already produced 2C scenarios, the conversation is turning from disclosure to action.

Here's What's in the Government's New Air Pollution Plan

Read time: 5 mins

By Alastair Lewis and Sarah Moller, The Conversation

The UK government has published a new clean air strategy for consultation. The document sets out plans to tackle emissions from a range of sources, including agriculture, industry and even wood-burning stoves. It all adds up to a subtle but important shift in emphasis away from simply meeting air quality targets to also reducing wider impacts on health and the environment.

Fears UK Could 'Cheat' as Climate Change Excluded from Brexit Watchdog Remit

Read time: 3 mins

By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

The UK government has excluded climate change from a proposed post-Brexit green watchdog, raising concerns about enforcement of climate laws when the country leaves the EU.

In a consultation document, the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) outlined plans to establish a body that could issue “advisory notices” if the government fell short of its duty to implement environmental law.

It would not be empowered to take the government to court, nor would it cover “matters related to climate change”, which Defra argued were covered by existing bodies, principally the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

Mapped: The European Cities that have Climate Plans... And Those That Don't

Read time: 5 mins

By Oliver Heidrich and Diana Reckian, The Conversation

Around the world, cities endeavour to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while adapting to the threats – and opportunities – presented by climate change. It’s no easy task, but the first step is to make a plan outlining how to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, and help limit the world’s mean temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

About 74% of Europe’s population lives in cities, and urban settlements account for 60-80% of carbon emissions – so it makes sense to plan at an urban level. Working to meet carbon reduction targets can also reduce local pollution and increase energy efficiency – which benefits both businesses and residents.

But it’s just as important for cities to adapt to climate change – even if the human race were to cut emissions entirely, we would still be facing the extreme effects of climate change for decades to come, because of the increased carbon input that has already taken place since the industrial revolution.

Kicking Big Polluters Out Of Climate Talks 'Not Very Useful', Says Poland's Climate Envoy

Read time: 3 mins

By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

Poland’s climate envoy dismissed calls to keep polluters out of UN talks, ahead of a controversial negotiation in Bonn on Thursday about widening participation.

Activists outside the talks put pressure on the EU to support a conflict of interest policy for businesses getting involved in the process. They argue that fossil fuel companies are a malign influence and weaken climate ambition to protect their profits.

But Tomasz Chruszczow, who has a leading role in this December’s Katowice climate summit, told Climate Home News in an interview he did not recognise that problem.

We want everybody in this action,” he said. “Even if they are now generating electricity from fossil fuels – the majority of electricity comes from fossil fuels – still it is changing, but it is a process.

North Sea Clean-Up Costs 'Likely To Double’

Read time: 4 mins

By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network

The UK’s North Sea clean-up costs – the price to be paid for decommissioning its oil and gas industry – will probably more than double, a British group says.

The group is the Intergenerational Foundation (IF), an independent, non-party-political charity which works to protect the rights of younger and future generations in British policy-making.

It says British children will face a bill for decommissioning the North Sea fossil fuel industry that is likely to be double the government’s estimate – £80bn, not the official target of £39bn. In arriving at the lower figure, the Foundation says, the UK government ignored evidence from its own industry regulator of typical overspending, leading to a serious underestimate of the real costs.

Opinion: Divestment is Not Just 'Pointless Posturing', It Will Save Taxpayers Cash

Read time: 7 mins
Divest protest

Jan Zeber, an analyst for right-leaning think tank and 55 Tufton St resident, TaxPayers Alliance, argued that divestment is ineffective and bad value for the taxpayer in an article for CapX, an outlet “founded to make the case for popular capitalism”.

Here, two campaigners involved in the divestment movement respond.

UK Aims For Net-Zero Target "At An Appropriate Point In The Future"

Read time: 4 mins

By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

The UK will draft new laws that will cut emissions to net-zero, climate minister Claire Perry announced on Tuesday.

In a submission to the UN’s climate change agency, Perry said: “The UK will need to legislate for a net-zero emissions target at an appropriate point in the future to provide legal certainty on where the UK is heading.”

The notice was given in a cover letter for the UK’s 2050 climate goals to the UN. She added: “We hope the UK can be an inspirational example of what is possible” and committed to working with other parties to help them submit their own long term goals.

The UK’s own long term plan was its Clean Growth Strategy, a long-awaited suite of environmental measures released in October 2017. The cover letter pointedly referred to the strategy as the UK’s “current” policy.

Perry did not commit to lowering the UK’s own 2050 target below the 80% cut by 2050 mandated by the country’s climate act.

Labour: Fossil Fuel Companies Knew about Climate Change and Can No Longer Hide From Their Responsibilities

Read time: 3 mins

By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

UK Labour supported a call by Vanuatu for a “climate damages tax” on fossil fuel producers at a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in London this week.

It is eminently reasonable that those most responsible for the damages caused by climate change should pay a greater share,” said UK Labour shadow international climate change minister Barry Gardiner.

He was speaking at a side event on Monday attended by Vanuatu’s foreign minister Ralph Regenvanu and Greens MP Caroline Lucas. Gardiner said Labour, unlike the Greens, had not settled on the tax as a formal policy.

Labour has not committed to a specific climate damages tax, but we are clear that fossil fuels can no longer hide away from their enormous responsibilities,” Gardiner said.

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