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GLD Amendment accepted for debate - F29 Motion on climate change

September 9, 2019 10:55 PM
By Keith Melton
Originally published by Green Liberal Democrats

F29 - Climate Change Action

I am delighted to report that the GLD amendment (at least, most of it!) on the F29 Climate Motion has been accepted for debate by the Federal Conference Committee on Monday 16th September in Bournemouth. There were apparently 15 or 16 amendments to the Climate Change motion, more than for any other resolution on the conference agenda (and a whisper from an inside source has indicated that the FCC chose the GLD amendment because it was the `best one submitted`, rather a nice accolade). So, thank you to everyone helping to hone the wording to perfection!

I am also pleased to report that the amendment will be moved by our own very green LD MEP, Jane Brophy, who will by now have her support team working feverishly to polish her four minute mover`s speech. My task will be to summate for the amendment, so I will need to concentrate during the debate to make sure I can counter any arguments against as well as highlight the best arguments in favour! For those of you seeking to speak in the debate - and, in particular, to speak FOR the GLD amendment - here it is in full as a reminder…

Here`s the amendment as accepted...

Delete lines 11 to 22 and replace with:

'Conference therefore resolves that the UK must reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases as a matter of extreme urgency.

Conference recognises that early action on setting and achieving drastic but credible interim targets is more important than setting a notional, precise end-date to achieve net-zero emissions, and therefore endorses the interim aim of a 75 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2030 at the latest.

Conference also recognises that the rapid global heating effects of methane have been severely under-estimated until very recently, and therefore calls for urgent action to reduce methane emissions, in particular from intensive beef farming and the industrial energy sector and by immediately banning fracking.

Conference believes that these steps would enable a faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and calls for an interim target of a 90 per cent reduction by 2035 leading to net-zero emissions by 2040 (with all targets subject to revision should faster progress prove possible).'

[NB the observant amongst you will note that the final paragraph requiring FPC to bring Carbon tax proposals to the spring conference was rejected on the basis that the FPC would be "too busy" coping with the General Election and manifesto building to look at carbon taxes. However, I have been reassured that Duncan Brack supported this idea as Vice Chair of the FPC and will be pushing the idea in his speech anyway, perhaps without the spring conference deadline, so our GLD objective has largely been met anyway! Thanks Duncan!!]

Background Research

I thought it might be helpful to indicate some of the more recent research papers accessed to validate our approach with the amendment, which potential speakers may find useful… There is no doubt that Carbon Dioxide is still the biggest factor in global heating overall and needs our urgent attention anyway. But our amendment points to methane as having been under-estimated until very recently - because previous research has taken its average impact (Global Warming Potential GWP) over 100 years as the baseline [for which the weight for weight comparison showed that methane was around 27.5 times as potent as CO2 in creating "radiative forcing" of the global temperature - though recent studies (2018) show that GWP (100yr) figure is more like 32 time as potent https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/9/eaas9593 ]

Other recent research has concentrated on the shorter time impact - so, for the first 20 or so years of its presence in the atmosphere the GWP effect of methane is more like 62 times that of CO2 (https://www.co2offsetresearch.org/aviation/GWP.html ) Indeed, one estimate has it as 120 times that of CO2 in the short term (https://www.luminpdf.com/viewer/5d7685fa957dc20019b6d2a7 - pages 127-129Section 7.2)

As far as the reference to "intensive beef farming" goes the methane effect is made worse by the fact that intensive cattle rearing for both beef and dairy is at least partially dependent upon soy-based protein imported from soy plantations created from Amazon rainforest clearing which has been the focus of worries recently in Brazil from the forest fires used in the clearing process. So, as well as methane "burps" from the cattle, the atmosphere has to cope with carbon emissions from the burning forest and the reduced capacity to sequester new carbon emissions because the forest has been depleted!

https://cdn.egu.eu/media/filer_public/cc/83/cc834c05-6603-4df9-bb26-4a5e14147b16/bg-2019-131-typeset_manuscript-version4.pdf

https://www.luminpdf.com/viewer/5d7685fa957dc20019b6d2a7 (Chapter 7 in particular)

http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/documents/Howarth_methane-Biogeo-lecture_2019-0301.pdf

https://www.ipcc.ch/report/2019-refinement-to-the-2006-ipcc-guidelines-for-national-greenhouse-gas-inventories/

https://www.iea.org/weo/methane/database/?utm_content=buffer0ce7f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

https://sustainablefoodtrust.org/articles/dairy-cows-livestock-behind-growth-soya-south-america/

Essentially we need to focus our earliest efforts at emissions reduction on methane emissions as a way of giving ourselves greater leeway to tackle all the other extreme problems at a slightly less frenetic pace! It will STILL be tough. It will still be subject to difficult decisions, but there is no doubt that we must tackle these problems - and even then we must keep working to try and reverse the warming (the ROASTING!) that has already occurred. Remember that CO2 lasts a VERY LONG time in the atmosphere, so we cannot rest easy even when we get to net-zero!

But (...AND...?) we need International Action

Whatever we agree here and now we must also act to press the rest of the world to act now, too. We produce 335 kilotons of methane emissions per year from 60 million people. Trump`s USA produces well over 10,000 kilotons of methane from 337 million people - a factor of 6 times as much per person. So we must act on the international stage as well and we must set an example to the world. This is the reasoning behind our Fringe Workshop in sunday afternoon - 2.45 - 4.30 pm (See HERE for more info >>> https://greenlibdems.org.uk/en/article/2019/1322480/international-sustainability-campaigning-briefing-and-workshop ) So, if you can come along to this meeting and help our MEPs and Parliamentarians develop International Sustainability Campaigns please come and let your voices be heard!

Keith Melton

Vice Chair (Campaigns) GLD