Activists upbeat despite 10:10 defeat

The Guardian today reports the defeat of a Liberal Democrat motion calling for the Government to sign up to the 10:10 campaign. But activists were today in buoyant mood praising quickly coordinated online action that provoked impressive levels of public engagement and new money from the Government for energy efficiency measures in local authorities.

The Guardian today reports the defeat of a Liberal Democrat motion calling for the Government to sign up to the 10:10 campaign. But activists were today in buoyant mood praising quickly coordinated online action that provoked impressive levels of public engagement and new money for Government energy efficiency efforts.

The Government-sponsored motion, which passed unanimously. welcomed the allocation of £20 million for central Government departments “to enable them to reduce further and faster carbon dioxide emissions from their operations, estate and transport.” David Babbs – Executive Director of 38 degrees, the online civic group who organised the public action – told Left Foot Forward:

“Something exciting happened yesterday – ten thousand of us took the trouble to contact our MP to tell them we want them to be bold and show leadership in tackling climate change by bringing emissions down as quickly as they can, now. 96% of MPs were contacted in under 48 hours.

“We know that climate change requires action from all of us, and that includes a strong role for government. We know that bringing emissions down at the rate the science says we need to will sometimes involve tough choices, but we’re up for that because consequences of inaction will be far tougher.

“The original motion may not have passed, but MPs of all parties heard a loud call for urgent action from their constituents. And the government amendment which did pass promised some new money and effort to try to accelerate the pace of emissions reductions from the government estate. Not 10% in 2010 yet, but definitely progress.

“We’ll be keeping up the pressure on MPs of all parties to show leadership on climate change, both to secure a strong and fair deal at Copenhagen and to ensure that we reduce our own emissions at home as quickly as possible.”

Ed Miliband, who speaks tonight at a public rally on climate change in Shoreditch, explained the Government’s approach:

“We agree with the 10:10 campaign that the public sector must take a lead. The Department for Energy and Climate Change has made a commitment to meet a 10% cut in energy use in our building this financial year. For some organisations in the public sector a 10% cut may be possible in a single year and I congratulate those organisations that have signed up to the campaign.

“But as a government we have a much bigger, long term goal that we set out in the framework of Climate Change Act last year. Just five months ago we put flesh on that framework when we agreed – with the support of the Lib Dems and the official Opposition – the first three carbon budgets for this country.  Those budgets are 3 five year cycles moving from last year to 2022.”

But Nick Palmer MP, told Left Foot Forward:

“I thought the LibDem motion was unrealistic but in the right spirit, while the Labour motion was realistic but lacked the sort of new impetus that I’d like to see. So I voted for the flavour of the LibDem motion while realising that its detailed prescription (everyone to announce by December how they were going to slash emissions next year) wasn’t very practical.”

Labour’s Kate Hoey MP, another who voted for the original Liberal Democrat motion, said:

“I believe that climate change is too big an issue to play party politics over. I am proud that the Government has made such positive steps in its agenda so far, but I feel that this was an opportunity that the House was united in this vital cause. I do not relish voting for opposition motions, and I wish that the Government had accepted it as its own.”

A third Labour MP told Left Foot Forward that backbenchers have written to the chair of the relevant House committee to ask that the Commons “as an office” signs up to 10.10.

UPDATE 13.31

Just received a round-robin email from Ed Miliband concerning his letter to David Cameron about Ken Clarke’s remarks  that no wind farms should be built on dry land in Britain. The email says:

“After a huge effort by people who’ve signed up to the Ed’s Pledge campaign, the Guardian has reported that Ken Clarke has retracted his comments calling for an end to the building of windfarms on land.

“Yesterday was an incredible victory for everyone who’s signed up to the campaign.

Help recruit more people to this campaign – to fight for more victories like this

“We set a target of getting 1000 signatures for my letter to David Cameron – you broke it within an hour. We set another target of 2000 signatures – you broke that too. Right now over 3000 of you have signed with more still coming in.

UPDATE 17.39

Just received this from the 10:10 campaign.

Franny Armstrong, 10:10 Campaign Director said:

“Anyone who’d have said even a few weeks ago that the House of Commons would be debating whether to cut emissions by 10% next year, would’ve been dismissed as an out-of-touch eco evangelist….  A year ago we had an oil man in the White House….. So, yes, ideas can spread very, very fast and, yes, our political system can react quickly when it needs to. Roll on Copenhagen.”

Daniel Vockins, 10:10 Campaign Manager, said:

“10:10 has arrived. It’s staggering that almost ten thousand people emailed their MPs in just 48 hours to tell the politicians we need a step change in their response to the climate challenge. The British public is doing its bit, and now politicians of all stripes have started putting aside party politics to follow.

“It is disappointing that the government wasn’t ready to commit itself to 10% next year, but they didn’t rule it out – they said that they don’t know if it is possible, or how much it would cost. 10:10 hopes we can find out the answers to these questions. In response to the 10:10 community’s actions the government have promised an extra £20m to pay for more emissions reductions from their departments. It’s not 10%. But it’s a start.”

UPDATE 14.05 23/10/09

Des Browne just provided a statement:

“Cross-party support for the goals of the 10:10 campaign has been growing steadily for some time. The original Liberal Democrats’ motion was simply, empty rhetoric and posturing. To merely ‘sign up’ to the 10:10 campaign as the Lib Dem motion would be an entirely meaningless enterprise.

“While the original motion was rejected, the Government’s amendment was accepted without any opposition.  Therefore, it was accepted by all parties; including the Liberal Democrats who proposed the original motion.

“The Government is taking a lead – internationally – on the issue of climate change. The Government’s policies already go far beyond the objectives the Lib Democrats set out. The reasonable but anodyne motion I voted on yesterday did nothing to advance the debate.”

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