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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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UK Government seeks to weaken commitment to Paris 2015 targets before Brexit

An article in The Guardian by Arthur Nelson (9th May 2018) claims that a secret plan, to stretch targets backwards to comply with the Paris 2015 commitments, has been leaked by MEPs.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/09/secret-uk-push-to-weaken-eu-climate-laws-completely-mad

The EU has committed to a 20% in energy use by 2020, as a first stage in its more ambitious promise to the Paris conference of a 40% emissions cut by 2030.

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1399375464230&uri=CELEX%3A32012L0027

The secret documents seen by The Guardian show that the UK plans to stretch its timeline backwards by four years, in order to use pre-2014 energy efficiences to be compliant with the EU directive. Then, once the UK has left the EU, it will no longer have to comply with the directive.

A member of the EU’s Environment Committee told The Guardian that:

“The UK’s proposal to widen ‘flexibilities’ is completely mad and undermines the principle of additionality, as well as the overall ambition of the energy efficiency directive. This approach would risk failure in our efforts to reach even moderately ambitious overall targets, while the higher – and beneficial targets – that we need to strive for could become lost altogether.”

According to the Shadow International Trade and Climate spokesman, the UN has asked countries to ratchet up their commitments on climate change in 2018.  Instead the UK government is weakening ours.

At present, almost all of the UK environmental policy derives from EU law but Michel Barnier, has insisted that a ‘non-regression article’ be included in any final EU-UK agreement to prevent backsliding.

what-is-climate-change

Sunday May 20th 2018

And now, the United Nations is getting in on the act.  In a report in the Huffington Post today, it is said that Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN’s environment programme, has said that Britain must keep its promise to deliver a green exit from the EU.  This story is also reported in The Observer.

Solheim has said that “Any dilution and the UK reputation would be damaged. People in government need to make sure that does not happen. We need to make sure they have those standards or improve them, or meet the ones under the European Union.”

 

 

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Brexit could kill the precautionary principle – here’s why it matters so much for our environment by Rupert Read

This article appeared on 22nd November 2017 in The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/brexit-could-kill-the-precautionary-principle-heres-why-it-matters-so-much-for-our-environment-86577

Rupert Read is Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and is affiliated with the Green Party.  In his article, he defines the ‘precautionary principle’ as follows:

The precautionary principle is present in UK law mainly by way of its presence in EU law. It says that if the potential downside of some action or technology is huge, then the normal burden of proof should be reversed. In other words, rather than scientists having to prove that something is dangerous before it’s regulated or prohibited, those wishing to do the potentially dangerous thing should have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is safe before they are allowed to do it. Better safe than sorry.”

And he also adds a short piece of youtube video which further explains it:

It is important that this is understood fully so that, any lobbying of politicians to ensure that the precautionary principle is enshrined in British law after Brexit.  Read argues that this is of particular significance in terms of environmental issues:

“The world is witnessing an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes, droughts, floods and famines. A significant part of this is attributable to the temperature rises and disruption to the weather systems that human industrial activity has triggered.

Yet at this very moment, when the world needs new protections to mitigate dangerous climate change more than ever, Britain faces a struggle to maintain its current levels of environmental protection. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has set in place a process that, if it continues, jeopardises the future of many of the country’s most important environmental protections.”

And with the EU Withdrawal Bill currently making its way through parliament, it is important that the precautionary principle is contained in it, as it is a piece of EU legislation, not British.  At present, it is not in the EU Withdrawal Bill.  Read’s concerns about this are as follows:

Perhaps most worrying is the possibility that one of the lynchpins of European Union environmental law may be downgraded or abandoned by Britain without real public scrutiny in order to make the country more “competitive” for markets and attractive to overseas trade deals. This is especially the case with potential deals with the US, which does not accept the precautionary principle as being a basis for law.”

and:

“At its heart, precaution represents a challenge to purely “evidence-based” risk-management practices. Instead, the precautionary principle points out that when full evidence is lacking we should err on the side of caution and regulate potential threats, if those could cause serious or irreversible damage. This is more important than ever as we create new synthetic products, including even synthetic life, and as we meddle, at our existential risk, with our climate.

The precautionary principle tends to be out of favour with those who are focused on promoting growth, trade and investment at all costs. Consequently, it was of no surprise that Greenpeace’s 2015 leaks of the UK-US trade negotiations over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade deal revealed that the US – even under Obama’s presidency – was keen to push for its abandonment as part of that deal.”

He concludes with the words:

If the precautionary principle is to survive the current political and legal process in Britain, it needs wider understanding and wider support. The government needs to understand that ordinary citizens understand what is at stake here, and care. It’s now up to UK citizens to ensure that this matter reverberates up to local MPs, to the top tiers of all parties’ leadership teams, and beyond. This will not be an easy task, but, either for ill or for good, the consequences are potentially huge for ourselves, our environment, and our descendants.”

Important then, that we lobby MPs to ensure that they act to ensure that the precautionary principle becomes enshrined in UK law.


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Brexit ‘threatens extinction of some animals and plants’ by Michael McHugh

This report focuses on the flora and fauna of Ireland and was published in The Times on 25th September 2017:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/brexit-threatens-extinction-of-some-animals-and-plants-39x2p2523

Environmentalists have warned that a fifth are already threatened and that a hard border (between Ireland and Northern Ireland) could weaken protection of those species most at risk.  Lobby groups have visited Brussels to voice their concerns.

According to Patrick Casement, chairman of the Northern Ireland Environment Link, more than 650 pieces of EU legislation have helped environmental protection on the island. An all-island green coalition said the Irish environment has benefited hugely from these laws. They created a more co-ordinated and consistent approach to addressing cross-border environmental issues, such as the conservation of species and habitats, the lobbyists said.

Brexit negotiations have so far focused on the economy, with little mention of the impact on natural heritage.

Ireland

Irish countryside in the area of Co. Cork from Travellerspoint Travel Photography


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Brexit: Green Guarantees from Molly Scott Cato

Molly Scott Cato MEP, is the Green MEP for the South West.  She has circulated a paper outlining the Green Party’s response to Brexit.  It can be found at the following link:

http://mollymep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Green_guarentees-2.pdf

Also:

Brexit: moving away from globalisation towards self-reliance (extract)

 

Although it regrets our leaving the EU and wishes we wouldn’t, this report, written by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read, is as an alternative approach assuming we are outside the EU.

Its Executive Summary states:This report puts on to the political agenda an option for Brexit which goes with the grain of widespread worries about globalisation, and argues for greater local, regional, and national self-sufficiency, reducing international trade and boosting import substitution”.

Hines continues: “As I am aware it is the first time a report from a politician isn’t clamouring to retain membership of the open border Single Market”

It details the need for an environmentally sustainable future involving constraints to trade and the rebuilding of local economies. Indeed the report actually calls for ‘Progressive Protectionism’ rather than a race to the bottom relationship with the EU -see page14.

Also ground-breaking in Green Party literature of late is its discussion of the arguments for and against managed migration . . .

Read on: https://britain2020.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/brexit-moving-away-from-globalisation-towards-self-reliance/