|MOTION FOR AUTUMN CONFERENCE 2011
EN704 currently reads as follows: “If sufficient supplies are available, an increased role to be sought for fuels producing less carbon dioxide, particularly natural gas.”
Part 1 – We propose that the last three words be deleted.
Given the current controversy regarding hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas and coal bed methane, we feel that it is inappropriate to be seen to encouraging such developments.
Part 2 – We propose adding the words: ” so long as there are no other significant adverse environmental consequences.”
This would give the grounds to oppose shale gas and CBM developments on the basis of the adverse consequences of fracking.
EN704 would end up reading: “If sufficient supplies are available, an increased role to be sought for fuels producing less carbon dioxide, so long as there are no other significant adverse environmental consequences.”
PROPOSED BY: Andy Chyba,
SECONDED BY: Delyth Miller
EN704 is found within the Energy Policy: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/en
CONFERENCE MOTION May 30, 2011
|Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP responded today to a report published by the Energy and Climate Change Committee on the development of Shale Gas in the UK (1).
Caroline said, Given the serious concerns outlined in this report, it is astonishing that the Energy and Climate Change Committee fails to reach the logical conclusion of recommending a moratorium on Shale Gas.
Dismissing concerns, for example, on the grounds that UK regulations are stronger than in the States, while taking a wait and see approach here is highly irresponsible.
The report itself admits that the benefits of Shale Gas are limited, stating that although it believes climate emissions from gas to be lower than from coal, they are still far higher than from many low-carbon technologies and can therefore contribute little towards our long term emissions reduction targets.
In fact, research cited by WWF suggests that the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas may even exceed that of coal.
The report also states that onshore Shale Gas is unlikely to increase our energy security very dramatically, while offshore reserves are expensive and difficult to access.
And perhaps most importantly, Committee chairman Tim Yeo MP acknowledges that exploiting Shale Gas may divert much needed investment away from genuinely low carbon technologies such as wind and solar, thanks to its effect on gas prices.
The Brighton Pavilion MP concluded, So instead of caving in to fierce lobbying by the gas industry, the UK government should follow the example of France and several US states by agreeing a moratorium on new Shale Gas exploration, at least until the environmental effects are fully understood while urgently prioritising the development of renewables and energy efficiency measures.
|GERMANY REJECTS NUCLEAR ENERGY:
Before March’s moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy.
The anti-nuclear drive boosted Germany’s Green party, which took control of the Christian Democrat stronghold of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in late March.
Shaun Burnie, nuclear adviser for environmental campaign group Greenpeace International, told the BBC World Service that Germany had already invested heavily in renewable energy.
“The various studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that renewables could deliver, basically, global electricity by 2050,” he said.
“Germany is going to be ahead of the game on that and it is going to make a lot of money, so the message to Germany’s industrial competitors is that you can base your energy policy not on nuclear, not on coal, but on renewables.”
FRACKING CAMPAIGN – IMPORTANT PRECEDENT SET BY SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL
Europa Oil & Gas refused planning permission for onshore Holmwood-1 well in PEDL143
What are Smarter Choices?
Smarter Choices is a range of initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of transport on the environment. Developed by the Welsh Assembly Government, these include advocating the use of public transport, car sharing and cycling to work.
The aim is to encourage more sustainable transport choices by directly informing people about their personal travel options.
The Welsh Assembly Government has published a guide to Smarter Choices that is available to download here.
I am a particular fan of Car Share schemes – I used to be involved in a pioneering scheme in London many years ago and it is great to see the idea being revived and promoted again.
As far as Bridgend is concerned, we happen to be close to the border of two WAG funded schemes.
For those that travel west, towards Swansea say, then this scheme is for you:
What are the benefits of sharing a car?
For all other frequently asked questions please click here.
Please take a few minutes to register any regular or one-off journeys that you are planning, and see for yourself how easily you can be put in contact with other travellers going your way
ANOTHER VERY SMART IDEA: Traveline.txt
I have to be honest and admit that I am not a big fan of bus travel – but that could be about to change.
I hate going along to bus stops and finding that the next bus is an an hour’s time. I could have stayed indoors or done something more useful in the meantime. Even worse is when there is no timetable at all to refer to.
But now each bus stop has a 7 Letter code (generally on a green circular sticker) that you text to 84268, at your normal text rate) and you will then receive a free reply via text message within 30 seconds showing:
The times of up to the next four buses due at that particular stop
Real time information will be given, so you know exactly when your next bus is due to arrive!
If there are no buses running after the time you text, you will get a reply with a telephone number for a taxi company approved by the Department for Transport.
Dont forget to keep the bus stop code for next time!
If you don’t want to go to the bus stop for the code, or don’t know where the nearest bus stop is, you can get the information online by visiting the Traveline Cymru website on www.traveline-cymru.info and click on ‘Find Your Bus Stop’. Or you can get the information by calling 08712002233 (10p/min line)
There is even an app for you smart phone users – called NextBuses.mobi
Full details here: http://www.traveline-cymru.info/bus-times-on-your-mobile-phone/
Pale Blue Dot May 26, 2011
|The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from a record distance, showing it against the vastness of space. By request of Carl Sagan, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft, having completed its primary mission and now leaving the Solar System, to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space.
Subsequently, the title of the photograph was used by Sagan as the primary title of his 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.
The words in this video are taken from the book. Having him read to you is something else. Enough said. Take a listen and leave comments please. Share it. Please.
|I was shocked and angered when I was first made aware of this situation by the Campaign for Charitable Chaplaincy:
(As reported by the BBC- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7988476.stm )
Religious groups should fund their own presence in UK hospitals and save the NHS some £40m per year (well over £1m a year in Wales), the National Secular Society (NSS) suggests.The organisation of non-believers says such money would be better spent on “much needed” nurses or cleaners. The service provided by Macmillan Cancer Care nurses, by the Air Ambulance Service, by the Alzheimer’s Trust are all patently much more worthwhile but they are funded by charity. Their work is not funded by the NHS.
The NSS claims even organ players in hospital chapels are on NHS payrolls.
NHS guidance notes all patients have a right to religious observance and that trusts should provide both faith representatives and places to pray.
However, the Catholic Church in Scotland said it agreed that spiritual carers should not be funded by the NHS.
‘Pressure on services’
The NSS said it contacted 233 acute and mental health trusts which spent a total of £26.72m on chaplains, at an average of £48,953 each.
The society extrapolated these figures for the whole of the UK to produced a national average of £32m per year.
But the NSS said this took into account only the salaries of the chaplains, and excluded national insurance contributions, pension payments, administration costs, office accommodation, training, and the upkeep of chapels and prayer rooms.
NSS president Terry Sanderson told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that the £40m figure was equivalent to employing 1,300 nurses or 2,645 cleaners.
“I think if people were given the choice they would choose the latter [nurses or cleaners] because frontline services are under pressure, they are going to be increasingly so as the recession bites, and it’s important that savings are made wherever they can be,” he said.
Alan Rogers, of Charitable Chaplaincy Cymru , contacted me and all WAG candidates in the run up to the WAG elections. I was happy to offer my wholehearted support. As part of this, Alan asked me to set up a Facebook page for them. You can find this here:
Please ‘LIKE’ it and answer the three survey questions – which are the ones asked of the WAG candidates.
The beginning of the end of the war on drugs May 25, 2011
|In days, we could finally see the beginning of the end of the war on drugs. This expensive war has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.
Experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a global commission including former heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, US, Brazil, Mexico and more will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.
This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment — if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy — we demand it. Click below to sign the petition and share with everyone –if we reach 1 million voices, it will be personally delivered to world leaders by the global commission:
Analysis of the Conclusions and Recommendations of Government Shale Gas (fracking) Inquiry May 24, 2011
|I am at a loss to explain how this committee of, in total, 13 MPs have managed to evaluate so much evidence and come to the conclusions and recommendations that they produced. I feel that these people should be named and shamed:Mr Tim Yeo MP (Conservative, South Suffolk) (Chair) Dan Byles MP (Conservative, North Warwickshire) Barry Gardiner MP (Labour, Brent North) Ian Lavery MP (Labour, Wansbeck) Dr Phillip Lee MP (Conservative, Bracknell) Albert Owen MP (Labour, Ynys Môn) Christopher Pincher MP (Conservative, Tamworth) John Robertson MP (Labour, Glasgow North West) Laura Sandys MP (Conservative, South Thanet) Sir Robert Smith MP (Liberal Democrat, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) Dr Alan Whitehead MP (Labour, Southampton Test) The following members were also members of the committee during the Parliament: Gemma Doyle MP (Labour/Co-operative, West Dunbartonshire) Tom Greatrex MP (Labour, Rutherglen and Hamilton West).(5 Tories; 7 Labour; 1 Lib Dem)The Conclusions are, quite frankly, pathetic given the amount of evidence – one page; four measly paragraphs. Using the paragraph reference numbers from the report:
166 – The very first sentence encapsulates the tone of the whole report: “The process of hydraulic fracturing has been described as old as Moses and certainly has been used in the petroleum industry for decades.” So, obviously, nothing really to worry about here folks, it is tried and tested technology! Wrong! Horizontal drilling and chemical fracturing were not around in Moses’ time! However, within the first paragraph it mentions: “Shale gas exploration is still in its infancy in the UK and the rest of Europe, which gives us the opportunity to learn from US experience and make regulations that are evidence based.” The term infancy implies they are still feeling their way and do not know what they are doing to some degree. And as for the the opportunity to learn from US experience!!! Just how many bad experiences, and how much evidence, does it take to generate the thought that maybe we should not be rushing in to this? It dismisses the groundwater threat thus: “While hydraulic fracturing itself poses no direct risk to underground water aquifers, there is a risk of contamination through a failure in the integrity of the well, but these risks are no different than those encountered when exploiting oil and gas from conventional reservoirs.” Absolute nonsense – conventional reservoirs are tapped by vertical wells and are not ‘fracked’. They obviously bought into the claims of Cuadrilla that the well casings are ‘over-engineered’. This represents staggering stupidity given how quickly Cuadrilla ceased drilling after a modest earth tremor undermined the integrity of the casings. Even a modest understanding of the logistics of a gas-proof lining of a borehole that is many hundreds of metres long and not straight would cause reasonable scepticism in most people. Add to that the myriad ‘mishaps’ documented in fracked boreholes, and what would most sane people conclude? The paragraph closes by acknowledging concerns over the large volume of water and chemical additives required for hydraulic fracturing each well. But obviously not much concern – despite the copious evidence at their disposal.
167 – This second paragraph opens with a valid plea that we “ensure that shale gas policy and regulation is not driven primarily by concerns about energy security” and goes on to focus on the issue of the water used and the waste water produced. It is good of them to recognise these potential issues, but these are not generally regarded as bigger issues than that of groundwater contamination – which we have seen has been ridiculously dismissed in the previous paragraph.
168 – This paragraph makes a pretty sound case for a moratorium to my eyes. It opens with: “The UK could have a large amount of shale gas offshore, and we encourage the Government to incentivise exploration of this potential resource.” Why? Would offshore be safer, perhaps? It certainly won’t be cheaper. The main body of the report says it favours this because the potential offshore dwarfs that onshore – but how much sense does this make given that the very same paragraph goes on to say: “If significant amounts of shale gas enter the natural gas market it will disincentivise investment in renewables and other lower carbon technologies. The UK Government needs to manage this risk in order to achieve its aim of generating more electricity from renewable sources.” I could not agree more – a solid case for not rushing into shale gas and coal bed methane irrespective of the damaging consequences of fracking!
169 – The final paragraph of the conclusions, again, makes more of a case against shale gas and CBM. It recognises that: “Although emissions from gas power plants are less than from coal, they are still higher than many lower carbon technologies. The main component of natural gas is methane, which is a greenhouse gas far more potent the carbon dioxide.” However, again in face of evidence to the contrary, they pooh pooh the threat from methane leaks with the ludicrously naive statement that such leaks can be “can be easily minimised through appropriate regulation and enforcement.”. The final few words also acknowledge that we do have to act to reduce carbon emissions by recognising that: “we need to pursue with increased urgency the development of carbon capture technology suitable for gas as well as coal.” The much simpler solution to this problem is to leave the shale gas and CBM exactly where it is now!
It is hard to imagine how, from the mass of evidence annexed at the back of the report (twice as long as the report itself), let alone the overwhelming evidence being accumulated elsewhere, such short conclusions could end up being so flawed.
The Summary statement at the beginning of the report contains the same warped thinking: “The environmental and climate risks posed by shale gas need to be balanced with its potential contribution to energy security. On balance, we feel that there should not be a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing in the exploitation of the UKs hydrocarbon resources, including unconventional resources such as shale gas.”
And despite the precedents, or perhaps because of them, for moratoria in France, Germany, South Africa, New York State, Arkansas, and growing public pressure in many other regions – especially in Australia, Canada and here in the UK, these 13 elected representatives still come out against the modest imposition that is a moratorium. We have have not demanded an outright ban; just some breathing space to allow the full ramifications to be properly established. Should this eventually lead to permitting fracking, we would also have time for proper regulation am monitoring to be put in place – as we have pretty much established that the current regulatory and planing framework is inadequate for such developments.
But no; instead of prudence we have been presented with recklessness and a naivety that beggars belief. This report is likely to be seen, quite appropriately as fuel to the flames of opposition. Bring it on.
As for their 26 recommendations:
If this had been a GCSE Geography piece of coursework, it would not get close to a C grade. In terms of understanding and using the evidence at its disposal; in terms of structuring a balanced argument and formulating reasoned conclusions; it is woeful. As for the recommendations, they do not even seem to understand the meaning of the word!
Upwards and onwards everybody!
Andy Chyba (Chair)
The long awaited Government Shale Gas Inquiry Report concludes that there is no need for a UK moratorium. They are wrong. The whole report is a disgraceful fudge. Read it for yourself here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmenergy/795/795.pdf