Campaigners win permission to appeal against building of Sizewell C

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3D-generated image of the Sizewell C Nuclear Power Plant Photo: Public Domain
3D-generated image of the Sizewell C Nuclear Power Plant Photo: Public Domain

CAMPAIGNERS have won permission to appeal against the building of Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk because the government did not ensure there was a sufficient water supply to meet its demands.

The Court of Appeal overturned a refusal by the High Court to grant a judicial review into the decision by Kwasi Kwarteng, the then-business secretary, to give the station on the Suffolk coast the go-ahead.

The case was brought by the Together Against Sizewell C (Tasc) campaign group.

Tasc’s case included an argument that because of the power station’s need for huge quantities of water for its cooling system, the development should include a desalination plant to avoid endangering local domestic water supplies.

Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Coulson said that given that Mr Kwarteng gave permission for the power station against the advice of the planning authority, and because of Tasc’s arguments about the need for a water supply, the appeal had “a real prospect of success.”

Continue ReadingCampaigners win permission to appeal against building of Sizewell C

Mark Carney demolishes Brexit and Liz Truss’ economic policies

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Image of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. “Some people said we were in too much of a rush – and it is certainly true that I didn’t just try to fatten the pig on market day, I tried to rear the pig and slaughter it as well. I confess to that.”

The former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has taken apart the arguments of Brexiteers as well as the economic policies of Liz Truss during a speech at the Global Progress Action Summit in Montreal, where he praised “progressive” policies while attacking “far-right populists”.

Carney, who was governor between 2013 to 2020, accused those who backed quitting the European Union of wanting to “tear down the future” and also launched a scathing attack on the disastrous economic policies of Liz Truss.

Turning his attention to Truss, Carney said that when Brexiteers tried to create Singapore on the Thames, the Truss government instead delivered Argentina on the Channel – and that was a year ago.

“Those with little experience in the private sector – lifelong politicians masquerading as free marketeers – grossly under-value the importance of mission, of institutions, and of discipline to a strong economy.

“And the bad news is that while these tactics never work economically, they can work politically. Brexit happened, Donald Trump was elected. So we can’t dismiss the impact of anger, but we must resist its power.”

Continue ReadingMark Carney demolishes Brexit and Liz Truss’ economic policies

Coming soon

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I’m trying to get a handle on the Heritage Foundation and whether it has influence over UK Tory politicians e.g. through the Institute of Economic Affairs. Liz Truss and Krazy Kwarteng were strongly influenced by the IEA.

It’s clear that the Heritage Foundation has had huge influence in US politics since the Regan administration, with huge influence during Trump’s presidency. It’s part of the mechanism of plutocracy whereby the rich and powerful dominate politics instead of representative democracy. I’m chasing this mostly because of Heritage Foundation’s climate-destroying policies and whether this is what Rishi Sunak is following.

16/8 This is taking some time, plenty of info available, on the case. X

Continue ReadingComing soon

Shadowy think tanks are a risk to the UK’s democratic integrity

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Tom Brake is the Director of Unlock Democracy which campaigns for real democracy in the UK, protected by a written constitution.

The connection between Truss and the IEA goes back a long way: according to Tim Montgomerie, the founder of Conservative Home, the IEA had “incubated” Truss – and her key ally, former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng – when they were junior MPs. With their assumption of high office, Britain was to become a “laboratory” for the IEA’s ideas, he said.

Although Truss’ relationship with the IEA is remarkable for its extreme proximity, politicians being close to particular institutions is nothing new. Politicians often find themselves drawn to particular interests and ideas, and so will gravitate toward institutions that reinforce or augment their thinking.

There is no requirement, either, for think tanks to be transparent about the sources of their funding. In fact, for some, it is impossible to find out who their big donors are. A comparative assessment of the transparency ratings of various think tanks can be viewed here: Unlock Democracy has the highest rating of openness; the IEA, meanwhile, has the lowest rating.

Without being able to follow the money, we cannot hope to understand the interests (commercial or national) that may underpin donations to think tanks, or determine whether those giving money are based in the UK. While it is expected that any foreign funds are most likely to come from rich donors or corporations rather than foreign governments, these donors may still have very close links with a foreign government and seek to shape UK policy in line with the interests of those Governments. Without the data, we just don’t know.

If a think tank advocates for a more relaxed attitude to climate change, the public, the media and Ministers are likely to scrutinise their proposals more carefully if they can see that an oil company is one of its major donors. The same can be said for a think tank that opposes measures to cut smoking when a tobacco manufacturer contributes a significant sum to its budget. Without full transparency of funding – something which the Government has already committed to ensure for the tobacco industry but has not yet delivered – this scrutiny cannot be guaranteed.

Continue ReadingShadowy think tanks are a risk to the UK’s democratic integrity

The climate credentials of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet :: Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, Grant Shapps

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Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil's You May Find Yourself... art auction. Rishi Sunak, Fossil Fuels and Rupert Murdoch appear.
Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil’s You May Find Yourself… art auction. Rishi Sunak, Fossil Fuels and Rupert Murdoch appear.

Liz Truss’s short-lived cabinet was very climate sceptic with Jacob Rees-Mogg appointed as as secretary of state for business and energy, Kwasi Kwarteng and Suella Braverman. discussing Liz Truss’s cabinet

After examining the climate voting history of the entire new Tory cabinet (via the website TheyWorkForYou), gal-dem can report that every single person has either generally or consistently voted against climate change measures. Surprisingly, while some of the cabinet members had expressed that climate change is man-made and an urgent issue in press interviews or online, they still voted against any mitigation or adaptation policies, and often looked to unviable solutions such as carbon capture.

The most worrying appointment is Jacob Rees-Mogg as business, energy and industrial strategy secretary. The climate denialist will now oversee the government department responsible for energy and climate change. Climate organisers are deeply worried about what this will mean for the UK. 

“Putting someone who recently suggested that ‘every last drop’ of oil should be extracted from the North Sea in charge of energy policy is deeply worrying for anyone concerned about the deepening climate emergency, solving the cost-of-living crisis and keeping our fuel bills down for good,” says Dave Timms, Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs. Indeed, Rees-Mogg is likely to push the idea that more fossil fuels are a solution to the energy crisis, when it is really our long-term reliance on gas and oil and inaction on energy efficiency that has sent energy bills shooting through the roof. Contrary to popular belief, and the Tory line on the energy crisis, Russia cutting off the gas supply to Europe is only a part of the problem.

Surviving from Truss’s cabinet into Sunak’s you have the climate action hostile Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch.

Suella Braverman – Home Secretary

The new home secretary, who ran for leader this summer, accepted £10,000 from a leading climate sceptic to support her campaign. She also argued that the UK should suspend its legally binding commitment to net zero by 2050 and blamed the energy crisis on our green commitments. This is, of course, false. The current energy crisis is due to the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, the wholesale prices of which have surged. 

Unsurprisingly, Braverman almost always voted against measures to prevent climate change.

Trade secretary Kemi Badenoch met secretly with a US think tank that has taken millions of dollars from climate denial groups. She also claimed it would be “irresponsible” for Britain to follow climate science. Badenoch met ­representatives of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which campaigners say has a long track record of “distorting” climate science.

Yet Badenoch dined with lobbyists in November while on an official visit to the US. The  AEI has received more than £265 million in donations from climate denial groups since 2008, including almost £4 million from US oil giant ExxonMobil mScant details of the meeting were published by Badenoch’s department last week, as her Indo‑Pacific trade deal faced criticism for “making a ­mockery” of British pledges to tackle deforestation.

The AEI, which also met with Liz Truss in 2018 when she was trade secretary, has sown doubt over climate change science. It described  the landmark 2021 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as ­“alarmist” and “deeply dubious”.Benjamin Zycher and Peter J Wallison, senior fellows at the AEI, played down its findings by claiming that “we don’t understand all the elements in the complex climate system—the effects of clouds alone are understood poorly”.

The think tank also ­separately criticised Cop 26, the annual UN climate conference hosted by Britain in 2021. One of its authors claimed that delegates spread a “false narrative” that urgent action is required. Badenoch also gave a speech at another US think tank, the Cato Institute, during her official visit.It was founded by ­billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, one of the top funders of climate denial in the US. Cato is “focused on ­disputing the science behind global warming,” according to Greenpeace US. The minister gave a speech promoting free trade at the institute’s headquarters in Washington DC in which she hinted that some climate change policies could “impoverish” Britain.“We can and should solve it by using free trade and investment to accelerate the technological progress that will protect the planet. We must protect the planet in a way that does not impoverish the UK, the US or, let’s be honest, any other country,” she said.

Grant Shapps appointed by Sunak as Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is a regrettable move.

Outgoing climate chief ‘disappointed’ by Tory and Labour net zero plan

The outgoing chair of the UK Government’s statutory climate advisers has been left “extremely disappointed and increasingly concerned” that neither the Tories nor Labour are prioritising a move to net zero.

Lord Deben was asked on Times Radio, whether he was “surprised” by the lack of enthusiasm for the climate crisis by both major parties at Westminster, giving the scale of the challenge to tackle it.

In response, Lord Deben said: “Well, I don’t think I’m surprised, I’m just extremely disappointed and increasingly concerned because it seems to me that it is the priority.

“There is nothing more important than securing the world for our children.

“And indeed, I may be quite old now, but it’s securing it for me, because this is changing so fast that we are going to make the world an impossible place for us to live in the way in which we have lived up to now.”

Continue ReadingThe climate credentials of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet :: Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, Grant Shapps