Tag Archive | Climate Change

Facts and Mathematics

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

It is Dave Lees (‘Energy policy is just lunacy’, Letters, 10 November) who stands “in total disregard of the facts and the mathematics” – the facts of climate change and the mathematics of energy subsidies.

As the latest IPCC report has made clear, we need to be drastically reducing carbon emissions as a matter of urgency rather than burning more fossil fuels.

Whilst gas may be “a relatively low pollutant” when compared to coal, it is still a pollutant that emits greenhouse gases.

Producing natural gas using fracking carries a significant risk of methane leakage to atmosphere, which can only add to the problem.

Energy companies have enjoyed many a Christmas at the expense of British taxpayers.  All forms of energy production in the UK are subsidised from the public purse, with nuclear being the most heavily subsidised of all.  Yet the power companies continue to make massive profits and pay their executives obscene salaries and bonuses.

David Cameron promised us “the greenest government ever”, but from the moment they came to power the Coalition government began cutting subsidies to renewable forms of energy and offering even more incentives to the nuclear and fracking industries – the very opposite of what we ought to be doing if we are to play an active part in dealing with climate change.

Whilst I would prefer that we were building a wind farm or solar array on the Felindre site, using the gas fired power station in order to back up renewable energy production is at least a step in the right direction.


A more positive vision

It’s easy to dismiss those who disagree with you with fatuous labels such as “Nimbys” or  “the no-no brigade” (‘We must tackle energy issues’, South Wales Evening Post, Letters, 15 October).  Far better to engage with your opponents to find a solution that suits all.

Vic Collier is quite right in that we need to tackle the question of how to provide our future energy needs, but we need to do so in a way that protects future generations rather than adding to their woes.

The solutions proposed by former Energy Secretary Owen Patterson amount to nothing more than continuing along the road that has brought us to the sorry state in which we find ourselves; rising carbon emissions, accelerating climate change, and increasing levels of highly toxic waste that will plague our descendants for centuries.

Far from objecting “to any and all projects”, those who oppose fracking and nuclear power share a positive vision of the future with many of our political and business leaders.

A vision of a carbon neutral Wales, powered by renewable energy, tapping in to the tide, sun, wind, knowledge, talent, academic excellence and business expertise that Wales has in abundance.

I would urge Vic Collier and others of his ilk to develop and encourage an attitude of how that can be achieved rather than why it must not be done.


Footnote: The “vision” in the penultimate paragraph above is an extract from a recent e-mail from my friend Donal Whelan.  The full quote is:

“I’ve been working with some fantastic people recently while campaigning against fracking, from NGOs to community groups, with people at workshops, protests, renewable energy conferences and village hall meetings. Out of all of these places there’s a shared vision emerging, one of a future carbon neutral Wales, powered by renewable energy, tapping in to the tide, sun, wind, knowledge, talent, academic excellence and business expertise that Wales has in abundance. People feel really passionate about this!
It’s not rocket science – tidal lagoons like Swansea dotted discreetly around the coast; ranks of majestic wind turbines miles out to sea, like sentinels against the coming storms of climate change; every house in Wales fully insulated and solar panels on every east and west facing roof (for a more balanced load than south-facing, we learn from Germany); half a dozen pumped water energy storage systems like Dinorwig evening out the load; a cutting-edge smart electricity grid called back into public ownership; community owned projects feeding benefits back in to local people; enough surplus energy to sell to other countries, earning enough to maintain the national energy system and keep it up-to-date.”

Fracking is sheer folly

Councillor Ioan Richard is mistaken when he says that fracking is not used for coal bed methane extraction (‘Energy debate ‘hi-jacked’ by anti-fracking protests’; South Wales Evening Post; August 22). 

There is ample evidence of the use of hydraulic fracturing to stimulate the flow of coal bed methane, most often in the sorts of conditions that are likely to be found in the South Wales coalfields.   

Far from “hijacking” the energy debate for some unspecified devious purpose, anti-fracking campaigners seek to open up that debate and lay the full facts before communities and decision makers, as a counter balance to the spin and misinformation propagated by those who have a vested interest in the unconventional gas industry.  

Methane may be the “cleanest of all fossil fuels” – but it is still a fossil fuel.  

If we are serious about dealing with climate change we need to leave around 80% of the known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground until such time as we have adequate processes for dealing with the greenhouse gas emissions that they create. 

To do anything else at this critical time for our climate would be sheer folly.









Fracking Subsidies!

Byron Davies AM calls for an end to public subsidies for onshore wind farms and uses Welsh Government support for wind farms as a stick with which to beat the Labour Government in Cardiff. (‘Byron Davies AM calls for change over turbines’, South Wales Evening Post, 26 April)

His claim that “Conservatives in government want to protect the natural environment and are committed to giving local people a say …” might hold good for wind farms, but goes straight out of the window when it comes to Shale Gas and Coal Bed Methane development.

Not only are Mr Davies’ Conservative colleagues at Westminster gleefully offering tax breaks and other incentives to Shale Gas developers, they are now planning to change the law so that companies can frack below our houses without needing to get our permission or even inform us.

Perhaps Mr Davies can explain how cutting subsidies for renewables at the same time as offering subsidies for fracking is going to help Welsh Conservatives honour their 2011 Manifesto Commitments to, “Tackle Climate Change”, “Generate More Renewable Energy” and “Protect the Environment”?

Fracking will do far more damage to the communities and environment of South Wales than any wind farm ever could.

Wind Farm (colour)fracking shale gas analysisVS






Sun, sea and wind are there to be used

Like Dave Lees (‘Gas is there to be used’, South Wales Evening Post, 7 April) I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I see yet another climate change sceptic accusing greens of scaremongering when there is worldwide scientific consensus that we need to do something about global warming and we need to do it urgently.

I would indeed “have us believe this great industrial and scientific nation is incapable of exploiting any of it (the gas) safely”. I base this assessment on experience within those other great nations, the USA and Australia, where there is now overwhelming evidence, some of it from government sources, of the risks involved with shale gas, “fracking” and the like.

Solar PanelsDomestic Wind TurbineMr Lees’ implication that simply because there is so much gas beneath our feet we should use it applies equally to the sun, the wind and the waves all around us. Only in the case of renewables there will be significantly less pollution, significantly less industrialisation of our countryside, and significantly less chance of things going wrong. And we have the added benefit that the fuel is essentially free and available to all – individuals and communities as well as big business.

It’s not dithering about nuclear power that has brought us to this sorry pass where there is a real risk of energy shortages in the coming years. It is the failure of successive governments to keep their promises on carbon reduction and investment in renewables. Fortunately it is much quicker and easier to bring renewables online than it is to plan for new nuclear or new gas.

Investment in renewables will save us from sitting in the cold and dark on winter nights, not the grand schemes of multi-national corporations whose real interest is harvesting public subsidies to increase their already obscene profits.

Snow in the Middle East is no joke

I don’t agree with Gordon W Triggs about much, but I’ve always taken him to be an educated person.

However, his latest letter (‘More green taxes needed’, Evening Post, 21 December) displays ignorance on several levels.

 Anyone with even a basic grasp of meteorology could explain how differential warming in the atmosphere could lead to snow in the Middle East for the first time in over a century; particularly as it followed the warmest November on record worldwide. 

But of more concern is his crass ignorance of the plight of children in the Middle East.

No amount of “snow ball fights and skating” could distract the children of Syria from the nightmare that their lives have become.

And as a result of “the recent extreme weather event” the beleaguered children of Gaza have found themselves wading through waist-high freezing water in order to get to school.

Rather than using the plight of the children of the Middle East in order to score petty points, perhaps Gordon Triggs should take consolation in the words of Sir Bob Geldof (‘Feed the World’) and, “tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.”


Please ask your MP to support this amendment to the Energy Bill

CO2Extract from a letter by Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Swansea West, received today:

“… if the UK is going to meet the ambitious and necessary target by the previous government in the 2008 Climate Change Act …, it will be necessary to substantially decarbonise electricity generation.

I am disappointed that despite the recommendations of the CCC [Climate Change Commission] and the concerted support from business, trade unions, academics and other organisations that the Government have not included this commitment in their Energy Bill …

An amendment has now been tabled to the Energy Bill that would require the Government to introduce a decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill for the power sector by 1 April 2014 and I will be supporting it …”

If you believe that this government should be held to the promise to be the “greenest government ever”, please write to your MP and ask them to support this amendment.

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