Lockdown #10, part 2

May 18th, 2020

In the first national elections in the time of Covid-19, South Korea’s Democratic Party won a landslide victory – after putting forward a bold Green New Deal plan in their manifesto. In this win for people and the planet, South Korea became the first country in East Asia to announce such a comprehensive climate policy. For one of the world’s largest coal investors and with a huge manufacturing industry, this is a major shift.

In this country, Britain’s biggest green energy companies are on track to deliver multibillion-pound wind farm investments across the north-east of England and Scotland to help power a cleaner economic recovery. The Port of Tyne will be hosting the operations base for the world’s largest offshore wind development, which will create 200 permanent jobs and support a local supply chain industry based on clean energy.

Alok Sharma said projects like the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm will be “a key part of ensuring a green and resilient economic recovery as well as reaching our target of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Great words, but 2050 is still too late….

I had a reply from Grant Shapps – well, the Department for Transport, specifically the Office for Low Emission Vehicles. I was concerned that his plans to increase and improve public transport will now be ditched because of the pandemic – people feel safer in their cars (and of course government advice for the moment is to avoid public transport).

I was assured that ‘OLEV are still working to support the electric vehicle market’- supporting the transition, giving grants, funding charge points etc….Figures of billions of pounds are quoted, though only one and two billions….! Nothing, compared to bailouts for airlines, I suspect… It will be good when/if we actually see more electric vehicles on the roads (I’m still loving the idea that car transport is drastically reduced, at the moment!). And of course I hope that after the current consultation, our government will definitely bring forward the end of the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans from 2040 to 2035 (‘or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible’, to quote OLEV again). But then of course there are all the old vehicles we still drive and pollute with.. Coronavirus has been detected on particles of air pollution. Sorry, I don’t seem to be able to be positive for long…!

Finally, this week, the Climate Assembly UK has held its final meeting online.

The first meeting took place in January, and I was very sceptical about what difference it could make, imagining the usual conference tea, coffee and meal breaks…

The 110 people attending were selected by computer to be representative of society from a pool of 1,500, who asked to be considered after invitations were sent out to 30,000 households chosen at random.

A crucial question discussed at this final weekend was whether the UK deadline/target of 2050 for meeting net-zero should be brought forward. Yes, of course!

It’s great to know that trainee teachers have been mixing with legal employees and other ‘normal people’ (ie not just us environmental activists…?!), discussing a better, cleaner future.

One of the participants said: “I think the change will happen. It’s the speed at which it happens which is the key. But as I see those changes being made, I’ll be able to smile and look at them and say ‘Well, I did that.’”

So, the personal and the global there together – a good note to end on….for now!

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