Repost: 10 Ways for Amber Rudd to redeem herself in 2016

Hey guys! This is a repost from a blog I part wrote for UKYCC here.

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Dear Amber,

As energy and climate change minister, you’ve made some… let’s say interesting decisions over the past year on tackling climate change. But don’t worry, 2016 could be a brand new start! To help you out we’ve put together a list of new year’s resolutions you might want to consider when you get back to the office tomorrow:

  1. Fully commit to the 1.5C target. The new global climate change agreement commits us to take action to limit global warming to 1.5°C and ensure it stays “well below” 2°C. But you’ve said the target is just “aspirational”, and we should stick with the UK’s current 2°C target – a temperature rise that will have a huge impact on countless lives and increase the likelihood of the climate reaching dangerous tipping points. Getting the 1.5°C target included in the text of the agreement was one of the few triumphs of the Paris talks – who better to take the lead on implementing it than the country that kicked off burning all this fossil fuel in the first place (i.e. us)?
  2. Find climate finance that doesn’t come from the existing aid budget. It was agreed in the Paris negotiations that at least $100 billion per year will be mobilised by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. While this is well short of what’s needed, it’s a start at least. But you’ve decided to take the UK’s contribution from the Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget, essentially cutting it by 8-10% *facepalm*! Poverty and climate change are interlinked, but there needs to be additional money rather than a dodgy reshuffling of budgets that leaves the poorest worse off.
  3. Stop piling money on fossil fuel companies. Your department is brimming with rhetoric on choosing the most low cost route to providing energy to all us hardworking consumer types. But with the UK recently singled out among G20 countries for increasing its financial support for fossil fuel producers, we reckon it might be time to turn over a new leaf, drop the tax breaks to foreign-owned multinationals and invest in a real low cost, clean energy future. Oh and remember to follow up on that idea of yours to stop supporting dirty diesel generators over more efficient forms of back-up energy to provide extra power at peak times.
  4. Rethink the whole fracking fiasco. The decision to allow fracking under national parks was made just a few days after you signed up to the Paris agreement, but is completely incompatible with the 1.5°C target we’re supposed to be working towards. Fracking is another false solution that will push problems onto the next generation – when technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels exist right now. Plus the government’s unwavering support for fracking, at the expense of what local communities want, is raising serious questions for our democracy.
  5. Accelerate the UK’s transition to renewables. Over the past few years UK renewable energy deployment has been gathering momentum. This must continue in 2016 if there’s to be hope of meeting the 1.5°C target. Sadly, your 2015 renewables policy changes were a series of destructive blunders. Most recently, just after signing the Paris Agreement, you published a plan to wipe out more than half of the UK solar industry. As a result, solar companies are going bust left and right and you’ve put 18,700 people’s jobs at risk. But new year, fresh start! Let’s make 2016 a year for clear vision, renewable energy and secure green jobs.
  6. Support the best value technologies. We heard a lot in 2015 about making the energy transition at the lowest possible cost. It was even in your election manifesto (right next to a pledge to end support for wind energy… thanks for that…). But since then the best value and most popular renewable technologies (hint: onshore wind and solar) have been given a pummelling by your department. This is all rather curious and puzzling. To meet our commitments under the new Paris Agreement we need to make full use of every tool available – especially the best ones! Onshore wind and solar are crucial and 2016 is the year you should give them your full support!
  7. Let everyone in on the plan. Dealing with climate change requires action in lots of different areas: power, transport, housing, agriculture, waste, flood defenses… You mentioned recently that there’s a government committee (Q79) coordinating things, but that it’s top secret and very hush hush. A committee with such a crucial job to do needs to be transparent and accountable. It also must not be under the spell of our hopelessly climate-confused Chancellor. We look forward to hearing all about it soon!
  8. Stop daydreaming that technology is going to bring all the answers. We know daydreams can be fun, but when it comes to something as serious as climate change, we need concrete action not a shaky hope that something might come along (…everyone, cross your fingers…). You might well vaguely think that we will need “some sort of negative emissions technology”, but perhaps a back-up plan would be a good idea incase it doesn’t turn up at the appointed time? Which it’s even less likely to do if your government keeps cutting promised support for it.There are plenty of ways we can already cut emissions – it’s time to see these rolled out across the country NOW!
  9. Acknowledge the historical responsibility of the UK over climate changeYou argued against an agreement which would “open up the issue of compensation and reparations”. We disagree. The UK was one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters over the industrial period, leaving us with a responsibility to help other countries deal with the climate change we’ve helped create. Just because you don’t want to pay doesn’t make that go away! Loss and damage due to climate change is already happening –  in just one example, a recent hurricane in the Bahamas caused $100m in damage, equal to 10% of the country’s GDP. Your suggestion that countries take out “insurance schemes” to protect themselves against problems we helped create makes a mockery of international justice. Sort it Amber!
  10. Quit embarrassing us and start taking this seriously! You seem to be oddly confident of the UK’s standing on climate change policy. But with cuts being made left, right and centre to renewables support, energy efficiency schemes and even your own department, not everyone thinks you’re doing such a sterling job. And despite current UK targets already falling well short of what’s needed, in a recently leaked letter you admitted the UK is on track to miss its (legally binding) target on renewable energy anyway. Choices made by today’s government will massively impact people across the world for centuries to come – don’t you reckon it’s time to shape up and set the UK on a path to protect their safety and wellbeing?

Lots of love,

UKYCC

Climate March and Paris!

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My Sign! 'Our World - Our Future'

These images are from earlier this year at the Climate March – I blogged about it then,and mentioned that it was part of the build up to the Climate Talks in December. With the election result in May, I felt a bit deflated… But there’s no reason why a conservative government shouldn’t act on climate change! We’re all going to suffer if we continue to do nothing/very little.

So I’m writing to let you know about the climate marches happening all over the UK and elsewhere on November 29th. The idea is to show international solidarity in the fight for climate justice. Of course, we’re all going to be affected by climate change, but those of us who are lucky to live in a rich country won’t be as worse off as those in poorer countries… This is why it’s really important that we protest to show politicians that we do care! And not just about ourselves, but about humanity and the rest of the beautiful world that we’re destroying.

The reason the date is 29th November, is that it’s the day before the Climate Talks begin in Paris. COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C – it’s the follow up to the Kyoto Protocol. There are expected to be 25 000 government officials attending, so this is a perfect opportunity to let our voices be heard and put pressure on representatives to meet an agreement and sign a deal.

For those of you who are interested, there are the Climate Games; running from 29th November – 12th December, the idea is to raise the profile of COP21 and keep them on their toes! It’s all a bit hush hush at the moment, but there’ll be a range of actions to take part in.

And you can even get involved if you can’t make it to a march or to Paris! Oxfam recently announced a campaign of #eyesonparis – people are tweeting using the hashtag and (briefly!) explaining why they’re concerned about climate change/what deal they want etc! Celebrities have endorsed it, and it’s a nice way to show solidarity.

So there are loads of ways to get involved! I’ll be working with UKYCC and we’re going to be taking loads of images and words on blank postcards and make them into a banner to bring the youth voice to Paris.

Are you planning on attending one of the marches? Or even going to Paris?!

The Dark Side of Chocolate

Happy Easter! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day, and I really don’t want to cast a grey cloud but I have some bad news about chocolate…

A. The Climate Coalition has made this (pretty funny) April Fools/Easter clip about how chocolate is at risk due to climate change! Funny how something so commonplace can be affected by climate change. I love this campaign by the way, check it out – it shows how you may be affected by climate change in ways you never thought of.

B. I found this documentary on youtube… It’s pretty damning about the chocolate industry’s use of child labour. It’s hard to believe this actually happens, but the hidden cameras show it all.

So I’m going to pledge to reduce the amount of chocolate I eat, and when I do buy chocolate I’ll look out for the Fairtrade logo (Divine Chocolate will be my lifeline)! I think this is an easy pledge to make now as I’ve got plenty of chocolate Easter Eggs to eat anyway, and we’re entering Spring – the warmer the weather, the less chocolate I want to eat!

Why is Earth Hour So Important?

Earth Hour began in 2007 and I have to say that when I first heard about it I thought, what’s the point?! Turning your lights out for 1 hour, 1 day a year is not going to have a huge impact!

I was wrong. First of all the WWF have a map that shows you all the individuals and organisations that are taking part in your area. This in itself is pretty empowering and shows what people can achieve once they get organised!

Even Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace are switching off! This is a huge symbol to show how much the UK cares about the planet. And we’re not the only ones – landmarks across the world are doing the same.

Already #EarthHour and #YourPower are the top two trending hashtags on Twitter. This is pretty impressive! So much awareness is being raised about climate change and what you can do as an individual.

OK, so one hour of no lights might not save too much electricity! But it puts climate change in the front of your mind, and hopefully this will impact the climate talks in Paris later this year.

Here’s the video, in case you haven’t seen it! Are you switching your lights off at 8.30 tonight?

It’s Time To Act

I spent today in London at the Time to Act Climate March!

My Sign! 'Our World - Our Future'

My Sign! ‘Our World – Our Future’

It was so great; I was surrounded by like minded people, we had some brilliant speakers at the end and I left feeling energised and motivated to keep the climate movement active in the run up to the general election (in the UK) in May and the UN climate talks (in Paris) in December.

However, as fantastic as the day was, this was a demonstration that the elected politicians and people of power can really choose to ignore. Although the divestment movement have had success in focusing on specific organisations, the only way to get climate change as a whole onto the agenda is to vote for politicians who will take the matter seriously. So here is a link to register to vote in the UK – please, please, please register if you haven’t already! If you don’t then you’re invisible to the people in power and therefore losing your voice in democracy.

If you’ve already registered, then consider contacting your MP/people running for your constituency to get them to discuss their stance on climate change. Their job is to represent you, so if you can show how important this issue is then it may persuade them to vote on issues to do with the environment and climate change.

And of course, there will be many more marches and protests over the coming months – they really are great fun so that’s just a bonus to raise awareness in politicians and the general public too! I might see you at one soon 🙂

Among the 20 000 strong by Parliament

Among the 20 000 strong by Parliament

A Green Valentine’s Day

The Climate Coalition has a campaign this February to convince the leader’s of our various countries to act responsibly in 2015 (important given the UN Climate Change conference in December).

The idea is to #sharethelove by creating your own green heart to wear/display with pride and share this campaign with friends and family to raise awareness about the importance of taking action in 2015. It coincides with Valentine’s Day as, if we don’t act, many things we love will disappear – this is shown through this star-studded, short film:

I’ve made my little green heart – it’s super simple and I’m sure yours will look better than mine as arts and crafts aren’t my thing! I plan to wear it tomorrow, pinned to my coat 🙂

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