British government’s anti-climate greenwashing

This satiric video from Britain on the former Conservative Prime Minister says about itself:

Cameron – Pants on Fire

19 April 2015

David Cameron promised Britain the ‘greenest government ever’. It didn’t quite turn out that way. Cameron soon urged his government to ‘drop the green crap’ and now wants to end onshore wind altogether.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Government greenwashing

Friday 13th October 2017

Britain is not taking the action required to prevent climate catastrophe

RUNAWAY climate change is the single greatest threat to our survival and, in our response to avert catastrophic global warming, perhaps also the single greatest opportunity to reshape our society.

But so far the plans announced to tackle it and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases fall well short of what is needed. Despite the fanfare about the “historic” Paris agreement reached in late 2015, the workings of the deal leave much to be sorted out later on.

Countries are left to come up with their own plans for how much they intend to do. Yet only one (Morocco) intends to do its “fair share” of the work to limit warming to 1.5°C, and only five to limit warming to 2°C, according to the Climate Action Tracker group.

Britain is not among them. Six years ago ministers admitted that the country was on course to miss the emissions targets for 2023-27. In those six years the government has not set out how it plans to get Britain back on track and the Clean Growth Strategy published yesterday changes nothing.

It is, however, a good example of the Tories’ usual deception. They’ve made pleasant-sounding noises but the actual proposals will make barely a dent.

Its role as political greenwash is obvious. No mention is made of onshore wind — the cheapest form of renewable power, but nonsensically opposed by the Tories — and a trade magazine wonders if solar has become a “dirty word.”

Nor is there a consideration of Heathrow expansion. Existing plans are already a sop to aviation, with emissions from planes steady from 2005 to 2050 while other transport emissions are cut by 85 per cent. A new runway will increase aviation emissions.

Nor of fracking for shale gas, on which the Tories have overruled local councils to ensure it goes ahead. Nor of the £15 billion Road Investment Strategy, which has increased car use, or its planned second phase.

And of course the whole thing rests on an expanded economy when it is clear that we must redistribute and reshape the wealth we already have.

Our path out of the climate crisis is clear — the Tories do not intend to follow it.

5 thoughts on “British government’s anti-climate greenwashing

  1. Saturday, 14 October 2017

    Tories turn their fire on the elderly!

    Kick them out – a workers government will provide social care for all!

    IT IS often said that a society is judged by how it treats its elderly and its youth. Young people, as we know, are targeted by the Tory government, exploited as cheap labour, driven onto zero-hours contracts, or if they try and further their education, drowned in tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt.

    The Tory government have simultaneously turned their fire on the elderly, reviving the ‘dementia tax’, where their home is seized to pay for their care. Tory care minister Jackie Doyle-Price was recorded telling a Tory conference fringe event that it is ‘unfair’ for younger taxpayers to ‘prop up people to keep their property’ when it could be sold to help pay for the cost of care.

    This plan is even more extreme than the ‘dementia tax’ that was included in the Tory manifesto during the snap election, which a panicked Theresa May was forced to drop in the middle of the campaign – although the U-turn came too late to prevent her collapse into minority government.

    In fact, the Tory war on the elderly is well under way. Elderly people are being evicted from their homes in record numbers. Yesterday, figures were released which show that the number of homeless elderly people has surged by 100 per cent in seven years.

    People over 60 are more than twice as likely to be homeless now than they were in 2009. The Tory government’s own data show that the number of homeless people who have registered with local councils as homeless has risen from 1,210 in 2009 to 2,420 last year.

    This, of course, only shows those who have registered as homeless. Hundreds more elderly people sleeping rough on the streets are not registered. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, warned that, based on existing trends, the scale of elderly homelessness is set to double by 2025.

    Campaigners said the rise in homelessness among the elderly presents a ‘ticking time bomb’ for local authorities, placing a strain not only on housing but also on already stretched health and social care services. Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘These shocking statistics will shame us as a nation. It’s not only our young paying the price of a broken housing system, but now the elderly, too.

    ‘For this nightmare to end, the government should use the upcoming Autumn Budget to end the freeze on housing benefit so that elderly people can afford to pay their rent and retain their homes. In the longer term, the government must commit to building many more genuinely affordable homes.’

    Meanwhile, council-run care homes have become a thing of the past and privately run care homes charge extortionate fees, give very poor care, pay their workers an absolute pittance and make big profits. Agency care workers are sent from home to home, often not being paid for their travel time, seeing as many as twelve elderly and disabled people in a single day, having to spend less than 15 minutes a visit.

    This means they have to choose between preparing their clients a meal, giving them a shower, taking them to the toilet or helping them clean up their flat, because doing all four in 15 minutes is impossible. Now cash-strapped councils want to replace face-to-face visits with video chats on Skype via computer!

    Trialled in Essex, up to 40 pensioners will be given 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets to communicate with carers who will talk to them over Skype rather than visiting their homes. Private company Essex Cares Limited believes the system will make the ‘care system more efficient’. Chief Executive of Essex Cares, Keir Lynch, said: ‘We are delighted to be pioneering a new method of providing care and well-being across the county.’

    Once you have retired and capitalism can extract no more profit out of your body, as far as the system is concerned, you are only as valuable as the assets you have accumulated during your life, your pension, your home and the money the council is obliged to spend on your care.

    Elderly, disabled and chronically unwell people are being treated like commodities for private companies to ‘efficiently’ exploit for profit. This is the brutality of a capitalist system, whose rulers could not give a damn about the elderly. It is a barbaric system that deserves to perish.

    Its gravedigger is the working class, whose socialist revolution will bring in a society dominated by the satisfaction of human need, not making super-profits out of misery!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tuesday 17th October 2017

    The government’s new environment policy document is full of platitudes, but there will be no market disruption or climate duties, writes ALAN SIMPSON

    Energy Secretary Greg Clark launched the government’s Clean Growth Plan last week, claiming that “Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change.”

    He ought to have added “and in self-delusion.” If for nothing else, you have to hand it to the government for breathtaking audacity; dressing up abject failure as if it were runaway success.

    One year late, and forced to do so only because there is legally obliged to, the government provided a statement to Parliament on how it plans to meet its fifth and sixth carbon budgets. Skip past the flannel.

    The evidence is clear: the government’s wish list will miss both targets (by at least 6 per cent and 10 per cent respectively).

    The real picture is even worse. Productivity rates are falling, the wealth divide widens and real income levels continue to fall.

    Britain’s “growth” has mainly been in consumption; but you can’t shop your way out of an economic crisis. And you can’t use cheap and dirty to drive you through a climate one.

    How long will it take to realise this was, in fact, the government’s “Unclean, no Growth, no Plan” statement?

    You didn’t have to be Mystic Meg to know the government’s Clean Growth Plan would be a scam.

    In the days leading up to its launch, various groups had been invited in to the Business Department; knees fondled in the hope of eliciting sympathetic endorsement.

    There was one conspicuous absence among the invitees. None of the groups opposed to fracking received the ministerial call.

    It was the most obvious indication that the government intention was to make “unclean” sound clean and “vacuous” sound meaningful.

    A green light for fracking wasn’t the only act of sophistry on offer. The draft plan has been sitting on ministers’ desks all summer. Their dilemma was that it had to avoid offending major donors to the party.

    Incumbent market interests were not to be threatened. Platitudes were what was needed — lots of them — but not market disruption or climate duties.

    The emphasis was to be on long-term “vision,” avoiding short-term, transformational obligations.

    There would there be no mention either of ending Britain’s pernicious record of throwing public subsidies at long-term energy market failure. The Times and Telegraph may deride the insane subsidies thrown at Hinkley’s nuclear behemoth, but the plan was not to mention it.

    The Green Deal may have ignominiously collapsed, but it was not to be criticised. Zero-carbon homes may have been dumped, but this would not be mentioned.

    The Green Investment Bank might have been sold off, but let’s skip that one.

    Some 40 million people in Britain may have to live with illegal levels of air pollution, but there would be no suggestion of a 1960s-style Clean Air Act, forcing through an armistice for urban lungs.

    Wherever you looked, “the polluter pays” principle was parked elsewhere.

    The trouble with the Tories is that they hide behind incentives but refuse to change the markets.

    “Clean” is seen as market-distorting, “dirty” the norm. The tragedy is that too late they will realise that the only markets we will be able to live in will have to have to be clean, be it water, food, transport, energy or housing.

    Britain’s problem is that we don’t do joined-up and have forgotten how to create markets that socialise the benefits of clean. This was what struck me last week as I looked at Denmark’s approach.

    Denmark may be a near neighbour but it may as well be in a different galaxy.

    By 2020, Denmark will get 50 per cent of its electricity from wind. By 2030, 50 per cent of all energy will come from renewable energy sources. And by 2050, the country will have become a “100 per cent low-emissions economy” — none of these are targets in the Conservatives’ Clean Growth Plan.

    But the chasm is wider still. After the 1973 oil crisis Denmark determined it would never be held to ransom again. It would break its dependency on oil and gas. In the process it has created a completely different approach to heat and power networks.

    Its national grid — Energienet — is publicly owned. Within it there are some 70 “local” distribution networks, combining both electricity and gas. The main “city” grids are municipally owned and 85 per cent of the heat networks are owned by co-ops.

    Some 64 per cent of Danish housing is covered by some form of district heating. And by law, you are not allowed to sell heat for a profit.

    The Danes took the view that if there was to be a natural monopoly for heat and power, heat should be sold at production costs only. Underpinning this has been the availability of long-term loans (20-30 years), from municipal banks, at 1-2 per cent interest, to build their socialised energy networks.

    We visited communities where the price of heating had not risen in 15 years. Eat your heart out, “price freeze.”

    It doesn’t end there. Copenhagen, a city-region of 1.8 million people, aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. At the moment, 85 per cent of its municipal vehicles are electric. The water in its harbour has been cleaned up. New bike-only bridges across its rivers are in the pipeline and 41 per cent of all travel to work or study is already by bike.

    By 2020 only low-energy housing will be built. Even now, you cannot get planning permission for a building that requires fossil fuel heating. By 2025, the city has committed to deliver a 20 per cent reduction in total heat consumption, a 20 per cent cut in electricity use by commerce and services, and a 10 per cent reduction in domestic electricity consumption.

    All this is underpinned by a universal carbon tax and a focus on the skills to deliver job security, prosperity and the shift into clean.

    Like anywhere, Denmark has its Achille’s heels. Its focus on combined heat and power systems may have helped deliver the highest “grid stability” in Europe (99.9 per cent) and an easy “generation” shift from heat to power, but the dependency on biofuels is neither a long-term nor universal answer.

    No surprise then that Copenhagen is piloting work on free heat from sewage waste, and has 100 projects on reducing urban energy consumption in the pipeline. Nor that Dong (which, having sold off its oil and natural gas interests, changed its name to Orsted while I was there) is trialling a waste recycling project using enzymes.

    The only big surprise was that the project is in Cheshire — no doubt to be claimed by the Tories as part of their Clean Growth Plan.

    If Britain wants a genuine Clean Growth Plan — and, oh, how we need one — then the key is not to be found in the detail of Denmark’s “State of Green,” but in its framework.

    The Danes built their approach around four pillars — zoning, combined “heat and power” networks, not-for-profit (socialised) infrastructures and low-cost loans (via municipal banks).

    The Wild West, neoliberal climate-denying part of today’s Conservative Party would choke on repeating the last sentence, let alone endorsing it. Moreover, they would happily choke their Conservative colleagues who might do. The momentum for change must come from elsewhere.

    Some of it can come from within the ranks of Labour MPs but far more must come from those outside.

    As ever, the greatest change always comes when society is in the driving seat. Britain has all the resources it needs to transform its economy along clean sustainable lines. But it involves the biggest transformation in peacetime history. Look at the climate roller-coaster we are already experiencing.

    The choice — beyond the platitudes of the Clean Growth Plan — is no longer a political one. It is existential.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Good British bittern, butterfly news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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