Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

What we don’t talk about when we only talk about Brexit | Jonathan Freedland

Warming oceans, war in Yemen, the fate of the Uighurs, Gaza … We’ve been too busy with the backstop to notice the world

One of Brexit’s more pernicious aspects, even before you get to its actual flaws, is its tendency to suck all available oxygen unto itself, to drain resources that might otherwise have gone elsewhere. Before the referendum, civil servants warned that such a task – untangling 40 years of legal agreements, ripping out a delicate web of connections that had become embedded – would consume all their energies. Naturally, their warnings were dismissed as Project Fear. But even the head of Vote Leave, Dominic Cummings, before he took on the form of Benedict Cumberbatch, conceded via Twitter that leaving the European Union would present the British state with the “hardest job since beating Nazis”.

Related: Brexit: Boris Johnson says he would be 'utterly amazed' if UK could not get EU to drop backstop - Politics live

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Hitachi pullout leaves UK nuclear plans in tatters

Hitachi said Thursday that it is scrapping its nuclear projects in the U.K. — dealing a devastating blow to Britain’s energy policy.

The Japanese company has been developing the $28 billion Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant in north Wales and has a second site at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, England. But it said that failure to strike agreement over funding with the U.K. government would bring those projects to an end.

It comes two months after Toshiba announced its withdrawal from the NuGen nuclear project in Cumbria. That leaves only three of the planned six new nuclear power plants in Britain unaffected. Only one — Hinkley Point C — is under construction, although that project is beset by cost overruns and delays.

“This triple blow has escalated into a full-blown crisis,” said Labour Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly” — Greg Clark, U.K. business secretary

The pullouts undermine U.K. plans to build new nuclear power stations to replace aging plants reaching the end of their lifespan in the coming years. They also add to the chorus of criticism that supporting nuclear power makes no economic sense as the cost of renewable power plummets. The U.K. has been a vocal nuclear advocate at a time when other countries are shying away from the technology.

Greg Clark, the U.K.’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, on Thursday explained to parliament where the negotiations had run into trouble. He said the government had offered to take a one-third equity stake in the project, offered a guaranteed price of no more than £75 per megawatt hour and had considered providing all of the required debt financing. However, Hitachi still balked at the terms.

“Despite the best efforts of everyone involved the parties have not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned,” Hitachi said in its statement. “As a result, Hitachi has decided to suspend the project at this time.”

The company added that “further time is needed to develop a financial structure … and the conditions for building and operating the nuclear power stations.”

Hitachi will take a 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) hit from the project freeze.

Sticking with the atom

Clark insisted that “nuclear has an important role to play in the future energy mix.” The government said Thursday it is “reviewing alternative funding models for future nuclear projects and will update on these findings in summer 2019” when the government plans to outline its approach to new nuclear in a white paper.

“If new nuclear is to be successful in a more competitive energy market, it’s clear that we need to consider a new approach to financing future projects,” Clark told MPs.

But the pro-nuclear argument is increasingly difficult to make thanks to the falling costs of renewables, storage and other clean energy solutions. According to the government, the cost of offshore wind halved over the last two years to £57.50 per MWh, and further cost decreases are expected.

France’s EDF negotiated a guaranteed fixed price for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50 per MWh, adding to the controversy around the £20 billion project.

Clark said that the “positive trend” of falling renewables costs “has not been true when it comes to new nuclear” and instead costs of constructing nuclear plants have increased due to tighter safety regulation and other factors.

U.K. Business Secretary Greg Clark | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In 2017, renewables overtook coal and gas as the main source of electricity production in the U.K., rising to a record 29.3 percent, according to government statistics. Nuclear made up a 21 percent share, and gas 42 percent.

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly,” Clark said. That’s raising questions about whether backing costly and risky nuclear energy is the way forward.

“They’re incredibly expensive, and they’re quite risky to build,” said Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the U.K.-based Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit. That’s why companies such as Hitachi are “pushing for the government to take a bigger stake” to reduce borrowing from banks or capital markets, and therefore lower borrowing costs, he added.

The latest setbacks are spooking the industry.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association and former Labour MP, called the news “disappointing, and very concerning.” He warned that the “urgent need for further new nuclear capacity in the U.K. should not be underestimated, with all but one of the U.K.’s nuclear power plants due to come offline by 2030.”

The government said the developments don’t raise energy security concerns, although the departure of the two Japanese companies leaves China in a leading position to develop the U.K.’s new nuclear builds.

Europe’s nuclear industry association Foratom is closely watching developments in the U.K., which has long been a vocal member of the bloc’s pro-nuclear camp.

The turmoil in the UK.’s nuclear plans are also being tied to the Brexit debate, as officials warn that politicians and civil servants simply don’t have the capacity to handle the crisis of quitting the EU along with planning the U.K.’s clean energy future.

“Hitachi’s decision —  the result of a civil service that is distracted by Brexit, a complete lack of political leadership and global investor nervousness — leaves that [nuclear] strategy in tatters,” said Andrew Adonis, a Labour member of the House of Lords and former chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, on Saturday.

Europe’s nuclear industry association Foratom is closely watching developments in the U.K., which has long been a vocal member of the bloc’s pro-nuclear camp. The lobby is keen to push the message that nuclear power will have to play an important role in the EU’s energy mix if it’s to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and align its climate goals with the Paris Agreement by 2050. It’s also calling on governments to rethink financing support and investment strategies to attract investors and reduce capital costs for nuclear projects.

“Currently, from an investor’s perspective, the unsustainable design of the electricity market in the European Union and a severe lack of a predictable investment framework have a negative impact on new investments in nuclear capacity, which we can also observe in the case of the Wylfa project,” Foratom said earlier this week.

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The aliens are coming. And they’ve caught us with our pants down | James Felton

Radio signals could be a sign of extraterrestrial life. But, with Brexit and Trump, could they have chosen a worse time to call?

Earlier this week, astronomers announced that they had observed repeated bursts of radio waves coming from deep space, with some experts suggesting this could be evidence of alien life. Is this it? Could extraterrestrials finally be trying to contact us? I hope not.

Related: Mysterious fast radio bursts from deep space ‘could be aliens’

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News review – Friday 11 January 2019

News review – Friday 11 January 2019


THERESA May is heading for a trouncing in next week’s Withdrawal Agreement vote despite considering a move to cave in to Labour demands on Brexit to win their backing for her maligned deal. Latest research shows the Prime Minister is facing a humiliating defeat on Tuesday by a colossal 228 vote margin. Just 206 MPs are set to vote with the government while an insurmountable 433 are ready to reject the divorce deal. Political analysts had previously suggested the Prime Minister was hoping for a narrow defeat which could spur the EU into renegotating after realising a deal could be close to crossing the finish line. However the figures suggest May is on track for the biggest House of Commons defeat ever and the latest blow could see the PM accepting her deal is worthless and being left with no choice but to resign, call a general election or hold a second referendum.

Theresa May’s astonishingly unpopular proposed deal with the European Union has seen even bigger opposition rise since she delayed the original vote on it in December. That’s quite some achievement. Now BBC research suggests that May is set to see her deal voted down by a majority of 228. Anything like that number would be truly devastating. The number of MPs opposing the deal is said to have increased by 19 since the delay in December, meaning that 206 MPs are set to vote for it and 433 against. In other words, no chance. It is shocking just how badly the government have managed to botch this with a despised deal that Brexiteers simply can’t get behind. This is the problem with a Remainer Prime Minister surrounded by those who campaigned against leaving the EU in the first place.

Furious Theresa May has accused her own Cabinet ministers of plotting to undermine her as she fights to save her Brexit deal, a bombshell secret No 10 memo has revealed. An email leaked to this newspaper lays bare the open warfare in the Cabinet as rival ministers jockey for position amid reports the Prime Minister could be forced to resign if her Brexit deal is defeated. The email, written by No 10 director of communications Robbie Gibb, slams rival Tory leadership contenders Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd and Liz Truss. He accuses them of trying to upstage Mrs May’s £20billion annual NHS boost unveiled last weekend by announcing their own initiatives at the same time. He says Mrs May was ‘frustrated’ by their actions; she had not approved them – and they had not even bothered to ask her permission.

Theresa May was appealing to Britain’s biggest unions last night in an attempt to win Labour support for her Brexit deal. The prime minister called Len McCluskey, the head of Unite, as she intensified her efforts to build support across party lines. The call was Mrs May’s first conversation with Mr McCluskey, who has been a vociferous critic of the prime minister and her government. She also telephoned Tim Roache, head of the GMB, after meeting a small group of Labour MPs in Westminster on Monday. The efforts to build cross-party support came after it was claimed that the prime minister could be heading for a defeat by more than 200 in Tuesday’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal.

ITV News
Theresa May has reached out to union leaders as she makes an 11th-hour attempt to reach out to her political opponents to get her Brexit deal through the Commons. Downing Street said the Prime Minister had “constructive” phone conversations about her Brexit deal with trade union big beast Len McCluskey of Unite, a Brexit supporter and close confidant of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as Tim Roache of the GMB. Number 10 also confirmed ministers would “consider very seriously” moves by Labour MPs to safeguard workers’ rights after Brexit in an attempt to win support for her deal, if the backbench amendment was selected by the Speaker. The amendment would keep EU rules on pay and conditions, health and safety issues, and environmental standards.

Theresa May has been appealing for help from union chiefs amid signs she faces the biggest Commons defeat ever over her Brexit deal. The PM is on track to lose by a massive 228 vote margin next Tuesday as Tory Brexiteers and Remainers rebel to join Labour in the division lobbies, according to a BBC analysis. The biggest previous setback for a government is believed to be by 166 in 1924, when Labour’s Ramsay MacDonald was leading a minority administration. However, in a chink of light for Mrs May two Tory MPs, George Freeman and Trudy Harrison, revealed they are switching sides to support her deal.  At a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister insisted ‘for those who want to avoid no deal, backing the deal is the right thing to do’.

Theresa May has launched a fresh bid to secure support for her  Brexit deal by reaching out to trade unions and Labour MPs. The prime minister spoke to union bosses on Thursday and signalled that she will accept a Labour backbench amendment to secure workers’ rights after Brexit. The amendment was tabled by John Mann, Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell. Mr Mann said the government’s support would be “significant” and would make the proposed withdrawal agreement “more attractive”. Ms May’s calls with union leaders appeared to have had little impact. Speaking after a call with the prime minister, GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “I represent 620,000 working people and it’s about time their voices were heard. After nearly three years I’m glad the prime minister finally picked up the phone.

The European Commission has said it is “reflecting” on how to offer  Theresa May further help to get her Brexit deal through parliament next week. Brussels has been adamant that it cannot make any actual changes to the controversial deal, but there have been suggestions that further non-binding political “reassurances” could be made to smooth its passage. “President Juncker spoke last Friday to prime minister May at her request to see how we can help with additional reassurances,” an EU Commission spokesperson told reporters in Brussels. “Right now we are in the process of reflecting on how to do this and I will update you as soon as there are any contacts foreseen, which is no the case at this stage. But indeed they had agreed to remain in touch throughout the week, which is not yet over.”

Ministers paid the European Commission £1.5 million for ‘translation services’ during Brexit negotiations. It comes after the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) were ridiculed for sending “clunky” translations of the Brexit white paper into 22 European languages.  Translation experts found numerous mistakes and irregularities in several translations, including the French, German, Croatian and Welsh language versions of Theresa May ’s Chequers plan. The fees were registered ahead of the EU leaders’ informal summit in Salzburg in September and the final November summit on Brexit. Labour MP Jo Stevens, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said: “What an embarrassment – the Government has had to hand over huge sums of money to the EU to translate their negotiations for them.

WTO rules

Up to 4,000 civil servants are being asked to abandon their day jobs to work on no-deal Brexit preparations under plans being rolled out across Whitehall. Officials in education, justice and welfare are among staff in five government departments being asked to take up new roles within weeks, The Times has learnt. None will be replaced and the secondments are expected to last at least six months. Whitehall sources said ministers were being told to reduce demands on their departments. Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary at the education department, told staff yesterday that the priority was ensuring that “key services continue to operate” but other areas of the department’s work are likely to be mothballed.

Second referendum

MPs are weighing up how quickly to launch a bid for a fresh referendum on Brexit, after inflicting a stunning defeat on Theresa May which cleared the way for a Commons vote. Another Conservative revolt will force the prime minister to present her “plan B” within just three working days of what seems certain to be a heavy defeat of her proposed deal next Tuesday. The victory torpedoed Ms May’s apparent plan to force MPs to vote multiple times on that deal, while “running down the clock” to the threat of crashing out of the EU with no agreement, as the feared alternative. It triggered chaotic scenes in the Commons, as furious Brexiteers accused John Bercow, the Commons speaker, of blatant bias in allowing the vote, against legal advice.


John Bercow has been accused of taking a “kamikaze” approach to his role over Brexit because he is preparing to stand down. The Speaker ignored legal advice and parliamentary precedent to allow a vote that gives the Prime Minister just three days to present a “plan B” if her Brexit deal is voted down. One source said that Mr Bercow’s diary is empty from May, paving the way for him to leave after Brexit. “He is going out in a blaze of glory,” a source said. “It is kamikaze. He doesn’t care.” However James Duddridge, a Tory MP and prominent critic of John Bercow: “He has nothing else to go do.

John Bercow is at odds with MPs again over the appointment of his most senior adviser on parliamentary procedure. Sir David Natzler is the clerk of the House of Commons whose advice the Speaker controversially overruled on Wednesday. He retires on March 1 and Mr Bercow is planning to announce his successor by the end of the month. There have been tensions between the Speaker and senior MPs over the appointment process. When a panel of MPs, including Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons, and Valerie Vaz, her Labour shadow, made a shortlist of four internal candidates, Mr Bercow asked for them to reconsider, believing that a worthy applicant had been left off the list.

Theresa May has called for John Bercow to fully “explain” why he broke with Commons rules to allow a vote that will give MPs a greater say over her Brexit strategy. The prime minister stepped into the bitter row surrounding the actions of the Commons speaker, saying: “I was surprised at that decision; it’s for the speaker to explain that decision.” The intervention came as the Japanese prime minister, speaking alongside Ms May warned: “The world is watching the UK as it exits the European Union.” Shinzo Abe said a no-deal Brexit must be avoided if Japan is to “invest more into your country and to enjoy further economic growth with the UK”. The comment was seized on by the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group

Theresa May has said she was surprised that the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, had allowed MPs to vote on Dominic Grieve’s Brexit amendment  on Wednesday, and called on him to explain himself before parliament. The amendment compels the government to say within three sitting days what it will do if, as expected, May’s Brexit deal is voted down next Tuesday – giving her a deadline of Monday 21 January to make a statement on the government’s intentions. The prime minister said there should be “consistent interpretation” of the rules as she waded into the row about Bercow’s decision to allow Grieve to submit an amendment on a government motion that was intended not to be altered.


Ever since the 2016 EU referendum, Jaguar Land Rover has been issuing grim warnings about job losses in the event of a hard Brexit. On Thursday morning, as it announced it was cutting its UK workforce by 4,500, it claimed “continuing uncertainty related to Brexit” was at least partly to blame. Yet JLR’s decision over the past three years to move production of its Land Rover Discovery model from Solihull to Slovakia, creating 2,350 jobs in eastern Europe rather than in the UK, received little scrutiny. As Remain-supporting ministers and the BBC warned of the dangers of Brexit to the car industry, Eurosceptic MPs cited JLR as a case study in why Britain needs to leave the EU.

The water levels of the Rhine are low and Germany may be flirting with recession. The two are connected, many argue. The Rhine is a key artery for the transport of many goods into and through the country, particularly for the chemicals and energy industries. But praying that the water rises and all will come good might not be enough. Just as the idea that negative growth in the third quarter was due to the temporary hit of emissions testing rules on an already troubled car industry, the one-off excuses are starting to wear a bit thin. There is a grander slowdown facing Berlin, and, as the eurozone’s economic powerhouse, potentially the rest of its members too.


More than half of failed asylum seekers stay in the UK illegally amid “rife” abuse of the system, according to the Home Office’s former head of  immigration enforcement. David Wood said tens of thousands remain in the UK despite their applications having been rejected or withdrawn as a result of an “ineffective and inefficient” asylum system that fails to remove them. His analysis, published today by the think tank Civitas, found just over half (52.8%) of applications for asylum were refused. And of the 80,813 failed asylum seekers rejected between 2010 and 2016, only 29,659 individuals were removed, leaving up to 51,154 who remained illegally in the UK.


Cases of flu in Britain have doubled in the space of a week, official figures released today have shown. Health bosses warn this winter’s influenza outbreak is now beginning to take hold, after weeks of little activity. Cases have increased by 85 per cent within the space of a week in England, while there has been a 55 per cent in Wales.While flu has risen by 139 per cent in Scotland and 50 per cent in Northern Ireland over the same time frame, data has revealed. Nearly two million people are now showing signs of the flu, according to estimates as experts warn it could pile more pressure on a stretched NHS.

CASES of the flu have doubled to two million in a week in Britain, official figures released today have shown. Health bosses warn this winter’s influenza outbreak has begun, after weeks of little activity. Within the space of a week cases have increased by 85 per cent in England and by 55 per cent in Wales. In the same data, cases of the flu have increased by 139 per cent and by 50 per cent in Northern Ireland. Nearly two million are experiencing symptoms of the flu, according to estimates and experts warn it could put for strain on the already-stretched NHS. Health authorities across the UK are monitoring the rates of flu in their own country.

Universal credit

Amber Rudd plans to scrap the two-child limit on universal credit for children more than 21 months old after a Conservative revolt. The work and pensions secretary will also confirm that the “managed migration” of claimants to universal credit will slow down, focusing instead on a trial of 10,000 people using the six benefits that it replaces. The Treasury put £4.5 billion into universal credit in the budget after The Times revealed that Esther McVey, Ms Rudd’s predecessor, had complained privately that it was underfunded. Ms Rudd will use her first major welfare speech today to try to allay fears about the scheme, which Labour wants to scrap.

Controversial plans to retrospectively extend the two-child benefit cap to new universal credit (UC) claimants are to be scrapped, Amber Rudd will announce on Friday. The work and pensions secretary will use her first major welfare speech to try to allay fears about the roll-out of UC. The minister will bow to pressure and drop the initiative to broaden the two-child cap to children born before the welfare cut was introduced in April 2017. Ms Rudd will say: “As it stands, from February 2019 the two-child limit will be applied to families applying for universal credit who had their children before the cap was even announced. That is not right.

Sky News
Amber Rudd is to scrap a controversial plan to extend the two-child benefits cap, as part of an attempt to “reset” public perception of Universal Credit. In an exclusive television interview with Sky News, the work and pensions secretary described her role as “the most important job in government”. She warned a “no-deal” Brexit would be the “worst outcome” for the country, and indicated the benefit freeze would not be extended once the current timetable concludes next year. “I remain very committed to Universal Credit,” she said. “But I am looking at ways to demonstrate to people that it is fair and compassionate, and with that in mind I am making some changes.

North Pole

Earth’s magnetic fields are shifting – and scientists are unsure why. Researchers say the magnetic North Pole is ‘skittering’ away from Canada, towards Siberia. The problem has got so bad, researchers around the world are scrambling to update a global model of the fields. Called the World Magnetic Model, it underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones.  The most recent version of the model came out in 2015, and it was supposed to last until 2020. However, researchers say the magnetic field is changing so rapidly that they have to fix the model urgently.  It was due to be updated on the 15th January, but due to the US Government shutdown, that has already been delayed until the 30th.

Climate change

The oceans are warming at a faster rate than was thought, according to the biggest analysis of sea temperatures so far. The vast majority of the extra heat from climate change is stored in the oceans but until recently there were few reliable methods of measuring it. Researchers have now combined findings from multiple studies to show there has been a consistent warming trend even during the so-called hiatus, a 15-year period at the beginning of this century when land temperatures seemed to hold. The latest study combined previous estimates to show that ocean warming is accelerating at a rate 40 per cent higher than was thought.

The post News review – Friday 11 January 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Climate change is a likely area of successful cooperation between the EU and the UK after Brexit

In this blog, Alexandra-Maria Bocse (LSE) assesses the degree to which the EU’s participation in the global climate regime will be affected by Brexit. First, the EU will lose a Member that has overall pushed for higher standards of climate protection at home and EU level. This might have a negative impact on the EU’s climate policies that are crucial to the EU maintaining and enhancing its climate engagement. Second, the EU will lose an innovative Member when it comes to designing policies and mechanisms to address climate change. Third, the EU will lose an important climate finance player. But it is not all bad news. Outside of the EU, the UK should remain committed to tackling climate change and to cooperate with the EU in addressing this common global challenge. 

Climate is one of the areas in which the EU has been able to show global presence and exercise leadership internationally. There are various definitions associated with climate leadership in the specialized literature, but for the purpose of this analysis a climate leader will be considered an entity which does at least one of the following: 1) sets for itself high GHG emissions reduction targets and develops policies to implement them; 2) determines other countries to adopt similar policies (including through its actions at international climate negotiations); 3) develops innovative policies and instruments to address climate change. Despite the fact that the EU’s behaviour in international climate politics is not beyond criticism, over the last decades the European Union has impacted developments in global climate politics in at least three ways: by committing to ambitions GHG emissions reduction targets; by contributing to the development of a global climate regime while at the center of global environmental negotiations and by developing climate policies and instruments that show substantial ambition and that can be replicated by other states. There aren’t many areas in which the EU can make a claim to global action, however, shaping global climate politics is one of those areas, as shown by several studies (Vogler and Stephan 2007; Zito 2005)[1]. If the European Union is often considered a climate leader at the international level, the UK showed leadership in relation to other EU countries. Its departure from the EU will most likely have a negative impact on EU’s climate action.

C00 Public Domain 

A weaker EU in international climate politics

The UK has contributed in several ways to the EU’s ability to act internally and internationally on climate change (no successful international engagement on climate can be achieved without strong climate measures at home). Without the UK, the EU is likely to be a weaker climate actor.

The UK has a reputation for promoting ambitious GHG emissions reduction policies at home. The Climate Change Act 2008 set as the target for 2050 the reduction of 80% of GHG emissions compared with 1990 levels. In the following years, discussions taking place in Brussels led to the EU setting up a similar EU-wide target for 2050. For 2030 the UK’s target is 57%, while the EU’s is 40%. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU weakens the position of climate-ambitious Member States and increases the relative power and influence of States that feel the EU should not take on additional climate commitments. The preparations for the December 2018 climate summit in Katowice, Poland showed the polarisation between EU Member States pushing for higher GHG emissions reduction by 2050 and a more ambitions 2050 climate strategy and countries in Central and Eastern Europe that are more coal-dependent. The former group of states will lose an important member after Brexit. This creates the danger of EU’s climate goals being watered down after Brexit.

The UK has been a supporter of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), a key European tool for the reduction of GHG emissions. The EU ETS is also ‘a key part of the UK’s action to tackle climate change’ (House of Lords 2018). The EU ETS is a cap-and-trade system that sets a cap on the GHG emissions, generates emissions allowances and allows businesses to trade these allowances. The system is supposed to attach a cost to pollution. Unfortunately, in recent years the EU ETS failed to keep the carbon price high enough to incentivize investment in low-carbon technologies. The UK advanced solutions to improve the system, such as the carbon price floor (CPF). The CPF came into effect in the UK on 1 April 2013. The CPF is made up of the price of CO2 from the EU ETS and the carbon price support rate per tCO2. The carbon price floor requires industries to pay a top up if the market (EU ETS) price of carbon is lower than the CPF. Introducing a CPF grew popular with other countries and policymakers in Europe, with French President Emmanuel Macron stating in March 2018 that France will support such a mechanism to be implemented EU-wide. The UK’s departure from the EU ETS is likely to trigger additional amendments to the system and an improperly timed leave could create further disruption (particularly a leave not aligned with the end of the third trading phase, 2020, could spell trouble)[2]. Brexit could jeopardize the functioning of the EU ETS and reduce the EU ability to reach its GHGs reduction targets. The EU ETS is also an instrument the EU exported in recent years to countries seeking advice from the EU on emissions trading, for instance China, and is important to the EU international influence in climate politics.

The UK has also been an important player when it comes to climate finance, from at least two perspectives. First, the UK is a leading European financial centre (London, for instance, is the third largest bond market in the world and covers 9% of total global issuance). Institutions in the UK became a leading issuer of green bonds and in recent years, London emerged as an international ‘hub for green finance, green bond issuance and investment’. Brexit is likely to impact the ability of the UK to provide the EU with financial services, including green finance.  Second, the UK channels currently £1.5 billion of ODA through the EU annually, part of which is used to finance climate projects outside the EU borders, the EU being the largest contributor of climate finance to developing countries. The EU might face an important drop in its development and climate finance after Brexit.

Apart, but staying close

Given the nature of the climate challenge, cooperation with other countries and regional blocks is key in tackling climate change. Environmental pollution and climate change have transboundary effects. Brexit might allow the UK to ‘take back control’ of its borders when it comes to immigration, but the effects of climate change are global and cannot be stopped by the UK Border Control.

The UK reiterated its Commitment towards the Paris Agreement including through speeches such as the one given by Prime Minister Theresa May in front of the UN General Assembly in September 2017. Out of the EU, the UK will need to think what alliances can help it in reaching its climate goals (House of Lords 2017: 4). Such Alliances can include also the EU. In the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom reached by the EU and the UK Government in November 2018 both parties pledged to: ‘take the necessary measures to meet their respective commitments to international agreements to address climate change, including those which implement the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change, such as the Paris Agreement of 2015’ (The EU and the UK 2018: 357).

Unlike other policy areas, climate is an area in which cooperation between the EU and the UK is very likely. First, the UK and the countries of the EU are developed countries whose emissions are declining, also historically they have contributed substantially to GHG emissions. Their positions and interests in international climate negotiations are more likely to overlap. Second, the UK and the EU have developed a habit of cooperation over the last decades and this will facilitate joint work on climate issues. Personal relations between EU and UK climate officials might also contribute to maintaining a cooperative behaviour. Third, the EU and the UK will be interested in maintaining trade relations and, in this regard, they will have to uphold similar environmental and climate standards. This will be the case even more so if in the future the difference in the carbon footprint of a product will be captured by import tariffs.

Not only are the EU and the UK suited to work together on climate, but they might also have a need, more than ever, to do so over the next years. Brexit has the potential to accelerate the process of relative decline of the EU and its Members in relation to developing countries that might not always be interested in prioritising environmental protection. Working together on climate can help limit the negative effects of Brexit. Joint EU-UK action on climate change is necessary in the context in which the US is less engaged in fighting climate change under President Donald Trump. Potential re-election of Donald Trump would further consolidate the US as a climate laggard. Despite the decline in political commitment showed by important players such as the US and Brazil, scientific evidence is showing that firm climate action is needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. An increase of 1.5°C in global temperature compared with preindustrial times could be reached by 2030 rather than by the end of the century, according to the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in October 2018. This would trigger extreme weather conditions and biodiversity loss. Climate change will make an impact sooner and of a larger scale than anticipated by experts a few years ago.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Alexandra-Maria Bocse is a Fellow at the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

[1]Vogler, John and Hannes Stephan. 2007. The European Union in Global Environmental Governance: Leadership in the Making? International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 7 (4): 389-413; Zito, Anthony R. 2005. The European Union as an Environmental Leader in a Global Environment. Globalizations 2 (3): 363-375.
[2]The agreement reached by the EU and the UK in November 2018 on the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU states that ‘The United Kingdom shall implement a system of carbon pricing of at least the same effectiveness and scope as that provided by Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community’ (The EU and the UK 2018: 357). The EU ETS currently covers some non-EU states, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Climate change – fact or fiction?

Climate change – fact or fiction?

We are being increasingly bombarded with news of extreme weather events across the world and politicians and the mainstream media have latched onto these to bolster their agenda that global warming/climate change apparently caused by man’s activities is exacerbating these events.  One must have to conclude that these claims are fraudulent if the most simple facts about the atmosphere and climate as set out below are taken into account.

The world’s climate is one of the most complex, non-linear, chaotic systems known to man.  To ignore chaos is fraud.  To claim that extreme weather events are caused by man’s activities is fraud.

A sample of dry air consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen with the remaining 1% being mainly argon.  Just 0.04% is carbon dioxide and methane is 0.000175%.  Hence the latter two are trace gases in the atmosphere. Consequently, to claim that increases in carbon dioxide is drastically affecting the climate is fraud.

Carbon dioxide is a tasteless, colourless, odourless, non-toxic gas essential for all life on earth.  Plant growth increases with higher levels of CO2 and horticulturists pump more of it into greenhouses to enhance crop yield.  Plants have been found to be more drought resistant with higher concentrations.

About 96% of carbon dioxide comes from natural sources with the remainder coming from man’s activities.  Of the latter 4%, the UK contributes about 2% which is 0.08% of the total!

Most of the carbon cycle occurs at sea since the oceans make up for 70% of the total world’s surface.

The largest ‘greenhouse’ gas is water vapour at some 96% of all ‘greenhouse’ gases.  Life on Earth as we know it would be unsustainable without this blanket of gases.  In a desert where the humidity is very low, you fry by day and comparatively freeze by night.  In a tropical zone, you bake by day and suffer oppressive heat at night due to high humidity.

Despite the above information, politicians across the world have been mesmerised by junk science pumped out primarily from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose main remit was to examine the role of carbon dioxide in global warming.  Since there hasn’t been any global warming in recent years, the emphasis has changed to climate change.

IPCC reports became politicised from the start.  For instance, in Chapter 8 of the 1995 IPCC Report, wording agreed to by fellow chapter authors was modified considerably.  For example, the group wrote:

“None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.

“While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”

It became

“There is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcing by greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols … from the geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change … These results point toward a human influence on global climate.

“The body of statistical evidence in Chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.

So we can see that initial conclusions were corrupted from the very start.  What we can now clearly gather is that all the stuff being spewed out about climate change being the biggest threat to the world is just a big scare story for the great unwashed. No, the issue is being used as a lever to force the developed world to distribute its (our) wealth to the undeveloped world.

In Britain, we have a Parliament which is totally signed up to this scam because it is all to do with power, control and money.  But whatever we do to reduce our emissions will not have the slightest effect on the world’s climate – not least because hundreds of new coal-fired power stations are being built across the rest of the world which will replace several times over the cuts that we are being told to make.

The Climate Change Act is the biggest economic suicide note ever written in our history and must be repealed.  It is already costing us an absolute fortune – money which could be put to so much better use on other essential services.

The fundamental art of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with a whole series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.  – H L Mencken.

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