Money, Life and Art

February 7th, 2020

Midnight tonight is the deadline for submitting UK Budget representations. I didn’t even know that was ‘a thing’ – individuals can ‘contribute to the policy making process’. So I’ve done just that.

My submission will probably simply be deleted, as I think it’s supposed to be made in conjunction with figures for costings….. But I thought it was worth making these points anyway; and if you’d like to send an improved representation complete with figures, you have until midnight!

The next UK Budget is on March 11th – the more that gets discussed in the area of financing to save the climate and environment, the better, so please write to your MPs before then.

The following is my submission:

HELP for people on the road towards carbon neutrality. As Dame Gillian Guy of Citizens Advice has said, “People need to understand why these changes are needed, they will need help and support to make those changes.”

EDUCATION of the public, through public information ads (along the lines of the recent Brexit info…) – 2020 is the start of a decade of emergency measures to limit global emissions increase to 1.5 degrees.

MAJOR investment schemes to install air source and ground source heat pumps.

PROMOTION of the Smart Export Guarantee (or, ideally, restoration of the Feed in Tariff system), to recompense people who are generating green electricity for the National Grid.

LIFTING of ban on new onshore wind farms, to help produce more green electricity – meeting the increased demand that should arise from electric vehicles and proposed new heating systems.

TRAINING for more scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians – meeting the need for 120,000 people to fill green energy roles by 2030, as highlighted by the National Grid recently.

FUNDING for the significant forthcoming UN COP26 meeting in the UK – the UK has ‘one shot’ to secure a global climate deal.

On the subject of that meeting, it’s looking very worrying. Boris Johnson has held a meeting with prominent British figures from climate science, business and economics to launch the UK’s strategy for the conference.

But he has no-one to lead the actual conference – he’s sacked Claire O’Neill who had made good progress in preparations. Apparently, our prime minister told her he doesn’t ‘get’ climate change. I’ve written to Carrie Symonds (his partner, an environmentalist, supposedly…) and Chris Stark (Committee on Climate Change CEO), asking them to help educate him on the subject!

The November talks are widely seen as the last realistic chance for countries to pledge the stiff cuts needed in greenhouse gases to stave off climate breakdown.

Our government, in its short-sighted politics-obsessed ‘wisdom’, is putting post-Brexit trade deals above a global climate settlement.

A stark example of this hugely damaging conflict of interest was the UK-Africa summit recently – 90% of the energy deals done at the summit were on oil and gas, with climate change concerns (a pledge to end UK funding of coal-fired power plants in Africa) being used as ‘greenwashing veneer’.

Still in the international arena, and more optimistically, Barclays is facing a fresh revolt from the UK’s most powerful investor group amid mounting concerns over its role as the biggest European financier of fossil fuel companies.

The Investor Forum is pressing Barclays to adopt stricter policies on the climate crisis before the bank’s annual shareholder meeting in May. Other European financial giants have higher standards – Axa, back in 2017, said it was divesting from 25 tar sands companies (particularly polluting as they require large amounts of energy to extract) as well as the three large pipelines needed to deliver their oil to market. BNP Paribas, one of the biggest banks in France, has also pledged to stop financing companies whose main activity is extracting oil and gas from shale deposits or tar sands.

And, more optimism, Ofgem’s (Britain’s energy regulator) incoming chief executive Jonathan Brearley has said it will change how it governs the industry in order to help meet the government’s climate targets. It aims to help get 10 million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030 and support a fourfold increase in offshore wind generation, while protecting homes from rising energy bills. The nine-point manifesto also includes plans to support low-carbon home heating and tariffs that encourage homes to help balance the energy system. Mr Brearley said: “We are taking an approach that our role protecting consumers includes achieving net zero emissions.” Let’s hope people hear about all this, and more, in the March Budget…..

On a local level, Bristol has experienced the worst flooding for years – the Avon has burst its banks at the Cumberland Basin (picture above). And another storm is due this weekend.

And a group of young people in Bath are currently staging a production of Antigone – although it’s an ancient Greek play, it feels painfully relevant. As the young director Kate Pasco says, “It’s about civil disobedience and challenging authority, standing up for what you think is right, no matter the cost…” Natural justice is championed, over the judgement of the king (for which read, greedy corporations..). At the very end of this production, a member of the chorus is about to speak when the stage suddenly goes dark – a sign that we ‘ordinary people’ are ultimately voiceless….? I hope these young people actually see their future in a better light. 

Next Friday (February 14th) the UK Student Climate Network is organising more ‘Fridays for Future’ action – Valentine’s Day, loving our Earth….

Look on their website for locations (nearest to here are Bristol, Stroud and Worcester).

2 thoughts on “Money, Life and Art

  1. I really hope young people can see their future in a brighter light too. They should certainly be proud of the leadership they are displaying.

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  2. Great to see your review on Antigone Emily. I’ll make sure Kate gets to see it when she comes over here on Wednesday. I really do veru much appreciate your continuing support of her. She has launched straight into interviews for the National Youth Theatre today and has workshops all next week for another employer. I’m really proud of her..but do feel concerned that the amount of energy required is unsustainable! Lots of love to you. Gill

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