Gordon Brown

Where are our leaders letting us down?

Posted by graham — 6 November 2009 at 3:49pm - Comments

Earlier this week more than 20 Greenpeace volunteers climbed the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to tell governments meeting here ahead of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen to "save the climate".

Yesterday Ed Miliband added his voice to the chorus coming from many EU and US officials saying that he's concluded that there won’t be a legally binding agreement at Copenhagen next month. By his measure a proper deal faces a delay of at least six months, and probably more.

From this it would seem that warm words and a warming world are now all we can look forward to from the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Over the past few weeks our political leaders have scrambled to lower expectations. This statement marks a new low. A year ago Copenhagen was going to be it, our best opportunity to avoid unprecedented climatic disaster. Now, we are being told it will be talks about more talks.

Brown packs his bags for Copenhagen

Posted by jamie — 21 September 2009 at 5:59pm - Comments

In his latest bid to be a global leader on climate change, Gordon Brown has pledged to attend the UN talks in Copenhagen this December. Along with Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, who has also said he may attend, it means the global campaign to get presidents, prime ministers and chancellors along to the summit are starting to pay off.

Is our government helping the logging industry cut holes in the global climate negotiations? - Part 2

Posted by christian — 18 August 2009 at 12:08pm - Comments

Can we expect the logging industry to deliver 'sustainable' forest management? And who gets to decide what 'sustainable' means?

Over the past week in Bonn, thousands of people have been working on the draft version of a global climate deal, which could be agreed in Copenhagen in December. A big part of what's being discussed is how to stop deforestation globally - as you're probably aware, deforestation accounts for just under one fifth of human-caused carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and it's those carbon emissions which the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) talks are trying to stop.

Not surprisingly, they're being heavily lobbied by all sorts of different interests - from countries rich in tropical rainforests, to countries which don't have much forest but want to be able to benefit from money earmarked for preventing deforestation, to environmental organisations, to the logging industry.

Brown sets out his climate stall for Copenhagen

Posted by jamie — 26 June 2009 at 3:46pm - Comments

It's been a long time since there were polar bears at London Zoo, but the famous attraction still houses many other species which are threatened by the effects of climate change. So I can't help but wonder whether this fact registered with Gordon Brown (himself an endangered species) as he stood up at the zoo to present his blueprint for a global climate action plan.

Government knocks the wind out of renewables

Posted by nathan — 28 April 2009 at 5:07pm - Comments

Two breaking stories neatly illustrate the flawed logic which still lurks at the heart of UK energy policy. First up is that German energy utility RWE's bid to build a new nuclear plant near Kirksanton in Cumbria will mean dismantling an existing wind farm on the site. While at the other end of the country, 600 workers at the Vestas Blades wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight could be facing redundancy.

17 years later, world leaders haven't moved on when it comes to the climate

Posted by christian — 2 April 2009 at 6:12pm - Comments

World leaders at the G20

Stability, growth, jobs all good - but where's the climate leadership? CC Image from London Summit on Flickr

Well, there we go. After the media circus, the protests, and a conference so exclusive that even some NGO participants were banned at the last minute, the G20 have pronounced, and it turns out that their environmental leadership is... er... down at the bottom of the document somewhere.

It's nice to believe that for one beautiful moment there was the chance to extract ourselves from the economic mess we've stumbled into, and at the same time create the foundations for the difficult but necessary tasks of addressing climate change.

Like helping China and India find a model for development which doesn't go hand in hand with rapidly rising carbon emissions, for example, or restructuring the way we ‘do business as usual' in the UK and taking advantage of our relative wealth to harness wind, wave and solar power (along with a whole heap of other clean technologies).

But it turns out that our leaders have dropped the ball completely.

Brown's mixed signals on nuclear

Posted by jossc — 20 March 2009 at 12:44pm - Comments

International security consultant Martin Butcher

Martin Butcher gives his reaction to the Prime Minister's recent policy speech on the future of Britain's nuclear arsenal. Martin is a consultant on international security issues and a Nato policy analyst for the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. This article first appeared in Comment is Free on 17th March.

Gordon Brown's speech today at Lancaster House exposed a fundamental contradiction at the heart of government policy on non-proliferation. The prime minister sees the importance of a world free of nuclear weapons because it is the only way of guaranteeing "that our children and grandchildren will be free from the threat of nuclear war". And yet, his government is committed to the development of a new generation of submarine-based nuclear weapons to replace Trident, thus maintaining Britain's status as a nuclear weapons state for half a century.

Low carbon summit doesn't add up

Posted by christian — 6 March 2009 at 1:04pm - Comments

Offshore wind

Investing in offshore wind, energy efficiency and renewable electricity links could make us a packet and slash carbon emissions. But the government aren't showing enough ambition

This morning, 'slightly shady' business secretary Peter Mandelson and 'could do better' PM Gordon Brown hosted a low carbon summit to unveil their plans for greening the UK manufacturing sector.

In theory it sounds great. Britain could finally get a bit of the green technology pie, catching up with countries like Germany, where they've created over 250,000 jobs, or the USA, where venture capitalists are flocking to wind and solar start-up companies.

Unfortunately the government's recent attempts at greening the economy have been relatively pathetic. Grand aspirations aren't backed by action. Gordon Brown's recently unveiled financial stimulus package included less investment in a green economy than almost any other G7 country. Oh dear.

We need a rescue package for the planet

Posted by John Sauven — 24 February 2009 at 4:56pm - Comments

Tar Sands

Tar sands excavation in northern Canada is a devastating display of the consuming passions of our economy.

Although the global extent, length and depth may be in dispute, everyone agrees the world is suffering a serious financial and economic crisis.

The financial sector in a number of countries, including the US, is close to being technically bankrupt. Beyond the financial sector a number of industries in the UK and elsewhere are teetering on the edge. These include sectors responsible for infrastructure such as transport and telecommunications.

The debts being ratcheted up by some countries will take generations to pay off and in the coming decade will lead to both tax rises and heavy cuts in public expenditure. It's a dramatically changed landscape that will impact hugely on Greenpeace's work along with many other organisations and companies.

Announcement on Heathrow expected tomorrow

Posted by jamie — 14 January 2009 at 7:41pm - Comments

So we've heard that, at long last and after much faffing around, the government will finally announce its decision on that third runway tomorrow. I have to add the 'probably' caveat as it's been delayed many times before but I doubt anyone will be slack-jawed if they give Heathrow expansion a big thumbs-up.

Despite the enormity of this decision, and the ramifications for people around the world, Gordon Brown has refused to promise a vote in the Commons on the issue. John Randall MP referred back to the day Plane Stupid sat on the roof of the house when he waggishly reminded Brown what he said at the time.

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