I have just attended a most interesting afternoon discussing climate change at the invitation of the Green Alliance think tank. They have invited small groups of candidates (about 25 in all) from the three main parties, whom they have identified as having a real chance of winning and who have shown a consistent interest in green issues. We have been guinea pigs in a programme to ensure that new MPs are up to speed with all the current issues and best placed to exert an influence if elected.
Partners in the exercise are Ashridge Business School and the Tellus Mater Foundation. The session opened with Professor Sir Brian Hoskins of Reading University and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bringing us up to speed on the latest science. Quite simply the fact of global warming and the contribution of man-made carbon emissions is incontrovertible, whatever the climate change deniers try to say. And then a very stimulating session with Simon Hughes MP (the Lib Dem spokesman on these matters), Stephen Hale (Director of the Green Alliance), and Bryony Worthington (Director of Sandbag, a campaigning organisation focused on emissions trading).
Two nuggets really hit me. First, that "decarbonisation" of power generation not only deals with the largest single source of carbon emissions but also helps tackle emissions from domestic transport (by substituting electric cars and electric trains) and from domestic heating too - respectively the second and fourth largest sources of carbon emissions in the UK. Second, that China is beginning to get it and if it starts to invest in green technologies and threaten to get a lead in the new industrial revolution which is needed, this should galvanise both our own government and more importantly the USA. A "space race" in pioneering and marketing renewable technologies could be just what we need. We are going to need to see local, bottom-up initiatives such as St Albans Transition. And top-down legislative action. The new Parliament to be elected this year is being described as "The Last Parliament" in terms of taking the necessary measures to tackle carbon emissions. That is if we are to see a peak in global carbon emissions in 2020 and then a decline, the path recommended by the IPCC. I hope I will be able to play a role in promoting the necessary measures to deliver this.