Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Climate Change: the View from IMechE in Woking

Woking uniquely features a large statue of a Martian.

The logic for this is implicit below.

On 17th November the IMechE hosted a meeting: Question Time: Global Challenges.
This was held in the HG Wells Conference Centre
The agenda and participants are given below.

The premise was that climate change is happening, is anthropogenic, and local actions such as those already underway in Woking provide an,if not the, answer.

However - my question:-
The latest statistics published by the International Energy Agency show that from 1990 to 2007 worldwide CO2 emissions increased by 38%.
They further forecast that worldwide burning of fossil fuels will continue to increase and by 2050 will be double that of 1990.
How can whatever Woking (and by extension the UK) have any real impact?

The IMechE has recently published a report pointing out the improbabilty of the UK achieving the "legally binding" CO2 reductions targetted for 2020 and 2050 by the current (past sell-by-date) government.
This offers an excellent practical approach to the (perceived?) threat.
The UK government's reaction has been unenthusiastic.

Whilst some consider it heretical to raise the question...
Extract from letter in The Economist October 31st 2009 from Horst-Joachim Luedecke, Retired physics professor:-
"The IPCC .. 2001 report concluded that there was no discernable increase in storms, hurricanes, floods or droughts."
"sea levels .. a natural increase of 1-2mm a year has been occuring for many centuries. However, over the past few decades no anthropogenic signal in sea-level changes has been detected. This is firmly backed up by precise satellite altrimetry."

A "War of the Words" if not a "War of the Worlds"

Agenda as published by IMEchE

Binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions for the UK have now been set by the Government following the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. The IMechE believes these targets to be very challenging and that achieving them cannot help but strike a balance between mitigation (reducing emissions) and geo-engineering (artificially intervening to try and reduce the Earth’s temperature). Even allowing for success, there will also be a need for Woking to adapt to a warmer world and the drier, yet more stormy climate that will come from the emissions already in the atmosphere.

This QT intends to highlight a number of issues for Woking in the next forty years. It will focus on the extent to which solutions lie within Woking itself and to what extent Woking will continue to rely on outsiders for the essentials of life and treatment of its wastes. How much will it become a "sustainable community"? It will aim to bring the issues down to the individual family level and hence start to drive the personal behavioural changes at the heart of any delivery of any low carbon agenda.

The debate will be chaired by the President of the Institution, Keith H Millard FIMechE.


John Thorp - Chief Operating Officer of Woking Borough Council
Woking has a population approaching 100,000 which is expanding by around 3% per year. Its industry is only 10% manufacturing and 8% transport. It has a public Climate Change Strategy but how can it contribute to 80% reductions in emissions when it has such a residential profile?

Miriam Kennet – CEO of the Green Economics Institute
The Green Economics Institute exists to promote "social and environmental justice". It aims to find solutions that "will bring long term and real prosperity to people, nature and the planet and its systems". How can it create this "everyone wins" solution and how does it balance the needs of people in Woking with those in Warsaw or Walajabad?

Jim Skea – Member of the Committee on Climate Change
The Committee on Climate Change is an independent body set up to advise Government on carbon budgets and then report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a central body, removed from implementation, how does it interact with others who are expected to follow its plans?

Andy Deacon (not Richard Hurford) - Energy Saving
The Energy Savings Trust is funded by UK Government, devolved Governments and the private sector to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by advising people on how to use energy more efficiently, conserve water, reduce waste and make renewable energy sources more accessible. How does it turn advice into action when money often gets in the way?

Derek Parkin - Managing Director of Business Services at E.ON UK
Although reducing energy demand is bad business for generation companies, they still need to sell something. What is the future business model for an energy supplier?

My other questions under the heading of AGW/CC/GGE:

What is the observed correlation between levels of atmospheric CO2 and global temperature?
What is the forecast correlation between levels of atmospheric CO2 and global temperature?
What probability factors are associated with the forecast?

What is the observed correlation between global temperature and sealevel?
What is the forecast correlation between global temperature and sealevel?
What probability factors are associated with the forecast?

Fixing our broken Economy V Fixing our relationship with the EU

Dear Dave,

I hope I have misunderstood something but.........

It seems that as the incoming government you:

1) cannot fix the economy without changing EU rules;:

2) will put EU issues aside to concentrate on fixing the economy.

Chicken versus Egg

"It's only words..."

On Tuesday 6 October William Hague spoke at the Daily Telegraph forum at the Manchester conference.

Much of the debate centred on the day's principal topic: “Rebuilding our broken economy”.

Given the urgency of addressing these matters, I asked the question on constraints faced by the incoming government by EU directives and the impending ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

His answer: that it would be necessary to opt out of the social chapter and the Working Time Directive.

What was clearly foreseeable on 6 October has now come to pass; the Treaty has been ratified.

You have now said:-

“First, if we win the next election, we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum. Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the British people’s consent.

“Second, we will introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament.

“And third, we want to negotiate three specific guarantees with our European partners over powers that we believe should reside with Britain, not the EU. We will negotiate the return of Britain’s opt-out from social and employment legislation in those areas which have proved most damaging to our economy and public services. We also want a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. And we would negotiate for a return of powers in criminal justice to prevent EU judges gaining steadily greater control over our criminal justice system.”

With the power now vested in the EU following the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty aka the European Constitution, it is surely disingenuous (at the very least) to suggest that you will be allowed to pass the legislation you now plan?

Considering them in turn

- …”we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum…”.

The treaty already gives the EU the power to take such powers as they wish (the escalator clause). So you don’t promise that such powers will NOT be transferred – you simply promise a referendum.

So you hold a referendum on a proposed transfer, we vote NO, and the power transfers anyway – as EU law overrides local law under the treaty..

“…we will introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament. “.

You don’t promise to pass such a law – and any such law is meaningless anyway as the treaty states that EU law overrides local law – so again pointless…

“…And third, we want to negotiate three specific guarantees with our European partners over powers …”.

You can guarantee to fail on this. Europe ministers from three member states: Poland, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic; have all stated that you would fail to achieve your demand to repatriate social and employment laws to Britain as this would need to the agreement of all 27 leaders of the EU because it would require amendment of EU treaties.

UK legislation of this kind would require our prior withdrawal from the Union to have any purpose.