I’ve been warning for quite sometime that a Brexit vote would be a disaster for the environment. By and large there is a strong correlation with voting leave and climate change denial and other anti-scientific beliefs. Of course others, such as Monbiot, say its not so bad (then again he said the same thing about Hinkley C).
Well we now have proof of just why we had every reason to be concerned. The new UK PM Theresa May has axed the entire department of energy & climate change. I mean we are talking Trump level of political vandalism here.
Oh, and this was straight after appointing Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, a gaffe prone liar (according to the French minster) who has managed to insult both Hilary and Trump as well as President Obama and many other world leaders. As the Swedish PM concluded, this is clearly some sort of joke that posh public school boys get but the rest of don’t.
Now we are assured that the aims of the former DECC will instead be split between the department for environment and rural affairs (DEFRA) and a newly enlarged department of Business Energy and Industrial
Collapse Strategy. However, this ignores the entire reason why the DECC was created in the first place.
The idea was that climate change is such an important issue that you needed one body to push it up the agenda and set out a strategy for how we would tackle it, as well as handle complex negotiations with other international partners on the matter. Splitting up responsibilities vastly complicates matters and will ultimately slows down the pace of change. Quite apart from the problem of having to separate sets of civil servants implementing essentially two separate plans. Departments such as DEFRA or trade and industry often had a perverse incentive to ignore the issue or not take it seriously, given tackling climate change was often contradictory to some of their other objectives.
Now I will admit, there’s some aspects of how the DECC works I’ve not liked. They seem to be beholden to armchair Oxbridge professors and other pipe smokers in the Royal Society who don’t live in the real world (hence why many of them are rabidly pro-nuclear!) and often tend to ignore simple off the shelf solutions.
For example I once sat through a DECC presentation which preposterously proposed that 70% of the UK’s final energy consumption would be in the form of electricity by 2030. Keep in mind the current figure is closer to 20%, so they were proposing a 3.5 fold increase in electricity production in 2 and a bit decades (well actually more like 4 fold when you account for growth in energy consumption). Think about that, 3-4 times more power stations, transmission lines, etc. And we’re ignoring the fact that the main use of energy in the UK is winter heating (about 36%) and transportation (30%), both of which would involve cycle efficiency losses if powered via electricity. Plus the demand for heat is highly seasonal and would require either massive redundancy or storage to meet the winter peak.
But all of that said, I’d rather have some sort of strategy than none. And the problem is that this announcement would be just plan bad by itself. But on top of it there’s the fact that in charge of the two departments replacing the DECC are Andrea “Fruitcake” Leadsom and Greg “Mr Fracking” Clark, both known to be pro-fracking. Andrea
Loathsome Leadsom also happens to be a bit of a climate skeptic, as well as wanting to allow fox hunting and sell off the UK’s forests. I could say that this amounts to putting the fox in charge of the hen house, but they just shot all the foxes and the chickens too.
So it is now all but a certainty that the UK will miss its current climate change targets. And those targets were interim targets, i.e. nothing to do with the Paris climate change conference. Needless to say the changes of the UK meeting those targets is about the same probability that Boris could make it out of North Korea alive after his inevitable comments about the Kim Jung-un.
Which brings us back to Hinkley C. Now some will say, why is the UK building this thing? Well aside from all the vested interests as well as the Tories warped views on nuclear, it also now becomes the go to smoke screen behind which to hide inaction on climate change….while pressing full steam ahead with fracking. If anyone asks what the government’s doing about climate change, they mumble something about Hinkley C. Its a bit like someone being told by their doctor to lose weight. So they buy an exercise bike. But not only do they never use it, they don’t even bother to pick it up from the store. But if anyone asks, they can legitimately claim to have bought an exercise bike.
Of course arguably, the Tories have never really taken climate change seriously. Its just under Cameron they were a little better at pretending they actually gave a rats arse about it.
If the first day of the Tories post-Brexit Britain is anything to go by, we are in serious trouble. It will therefore probably be crucial that other nations bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on the Uk to bring them back in line. And obviously it serves as yet another argument in favour of Scottish independence. It was once put to me that you need a single energy plan for the whole Island. To which my reply is, not if one half of the Island doesn’t have a plan, other than handing control over to a pair of fox hunting, evangelical fracking fruitcake climate change denier.