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Happy to be a Climate Leader – Toby Perkins

I was pleased to be one of nine Labour Party candidates invited to attend a Climate Leadership day of seminars hosted by Green Alliance and the Ashridge Business school.

The idea of the day was to further the knowledge of climate change issues amongst a small number of the new potential parliamentary intake, and to help educate the Climate leaders of tomorrow.

The day saw a series of seminars with people from across the world of science, business and politics.

Ever since I watched Al Gore’s amazing film, The Inconvenient Truth, I have been convinced about the need for politicians to face up to the tough questions on the environment, and for our country to take a leading role in leading the Western world to making the decisions that will ensure our children have a habitable planet to live on.

Professor Brian Hopkins, Fellow of the Royal Society and a professor at Reading University opened the discussions and was fascinating about the possible implications of global warming. One of his key points was that the scientists weakness is always the need to admit the ambiguity of their research and findings.

As a result, they are less able to command the headlines than the climate change deniers who tend to be more certain in their opinions even when they are scientifically wrong.

Professor Hopkins explained that the actions that we have taken already will bring about at least a one degree increase in temprerature by 2030 and that there is approximately a 50 per cent chance that we will get the reductions in CO2 needed to ensure that the maximum increase stays at only 2 degrees in total.

A two degree rise is particularly significant because it is often thought of as a potential tipping point beyond which the changes to our environment would be catastrophic.

He explained that a four degree rise in temperature would mean that the delicate balance of life in the Indian subcontient would be fatallly and drastically altered, making countries like India and Bangladesh agriculturally bankrupt and throughout the hotter periods simply too hot to work in.

At the other end of the temperature scale the reductions in the ice caps are significant because whilst ice causes the suns rays to rebound, oceans accomodate them, meaning that the water temperature grows altering the delicate balance of the oceans and making them more acidic.

Other contributors such as Stephen Hale, Director of Green Alliance and David Kennedy Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, praised the Government’s record as a world leader in envronmental issues.

David expressed some of the changes in our life style that we should be aiming for in the future, He talked about:

  • CCS Carbon Capture and storage allowing us to eliminate carbon emissions from coal based energy generation, is doable now. The Government have already invested in a pilot and this is a key part of a programme of decarbonising electricity generation by 2020
  • Need an even greater focus on energy efficiency
  • We need 10,000 wind farms to increase tenfold (from 1 percent to 10 percent) the amount of electricity produced from renewable sources
  • Greater use of smart grid- a two way digital technology that can help control appliances at consumers homes to save energy and reduce cost
  • A focus on making sure all houses have loft insulation, 10 million houses in Britain, predominantly in more deprived socio economic areas have no loft insulation and so are using much more electricity to heat their homes and wasting money. The Warmfront initiative has already been a huge boost but there is still much more to do to get every home fitted with loft insulation
  • Similarly seven million homes have no cavity wall insulation, and this is also a significant target
  • Two million electric cars on the road within ten years

There were further interesting contributions from Gavin Neath, Senior vice president of Unilever, explaining about the various ways Unilever Group have worked to reduce their contribution to global warming, and from Edward Langley of Ipsos Mori about public attitudes to Climate change.

The day’s events culminated in a dinner with Ed Miliband MP, secretary of state for climate change, at which the many issues discussed during the day were raised. Amongst others Ed was quizzed on issues such as his expectations and aims for the Copenhagen summit, the importance of a three pronged energy strategy (CCS, Renewable and Nuclear) the third runway at Heathrow and the forthcoming ‘Wave’ demonstration.

As I reflect on a packed day, I have to say that it was fabulous to spend a day looking really in depth at the whoole science and politics of climate change. It has redoubled my determination to be a leading part of the political movement for a green agenda that protects our planet whilst reaping the maximum benefit possible in terms of the new green economy and the jobs that that can bring.

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

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Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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