The Lima climate talks: a small step forward, a long way to go

It's clear that while the rest of the world is powering up with renewables, the UK is being left behind.

It’s clear that while the rest of the world is powering up with renewables, the UK is being left behind

So on Sunday we heard the rather grandly titled Lima Call for Climate Action: considerably less than we’d hoped for, but not as bad as we might have feared.

It’s a small step towards the next UN summit in Paris in 12 months’ time.

What is to be applauded is that we do have an agreement on paper and signed up to; it would have been disastrous to have left Lima without one.

And it is worth noting that the existence of this next step very much reflects the wishes of the British people: a Populus poll last month found that 73 per cent want a global climate deal and 66 per cent want immediate action on climate change.

But it is clear, as Greens/EFA climate change spokesperson Bas Eickout has said, that the talks are lagging behind the real world economic, social and technical progress.Lord Stern rightly identifies one critical area of debate that has been neglected by this deal – assistance for developing nations from richer states to ensure that new infrastructure is as low carbon as possible.

Equally, it failed to ensure that there will be independent, rigorous assessment of nations’ promises and plans to cut greenhouse gas.

Where there has been progress is in Lima’s acknowledgement that states can no longer, as in the Kyoto process, be simply divided into developed and developing.

There is some progress too on acknowledging the damage already being done by climate change, and the damage that is further threatened to small island and other vulnerable states.

But this is lacking the vision, the strength, the commitment to real change that the state of the climate, the warnings of the scientists and the evidence of our own senses, demands.

We need leaders that take a global, long-term perspective and take the actions necessary to protect our planet now and for the future – not continue to think in terms of the profit interests of fossil fuels, companies who continue to exert a hugely damaging influence over national and international politics and policy.

It’s not what the public or scientific community wants or deserves.

But it is worth focusing on the fact that the UN talks, although essential to establishing the ground rules for the future, aren’t the only – or even the chief – way of making progress on the ground.

We’re seeing real advances in unilateral and bilateral action already, outside of the UN framework. China is one of the real, if quiet, success stories. China’s coal use – a critical element of greenhouse gas emissions, is already falling, well ahead of schedule.

If the driving force is as much the critical health issue of choking air pollution as climate change, that scarcely matters – what is key is the direction of travel.

And renewables are already a major part of its supply – more than 30 per cent of installed capacity and 20 per cent of generation.

The progress in Germany, Denmark, Spain and other European states has been more noted – they’re all seeing that renewables and energy conservation are the way forward.

There is also bilateral progress – most notably the agreement between China and the US on capping emissions.

When it comes to Britain, however, there’s little to cheer. Enthusiasm for the tidal project in Swansea Bay (the first of five lagoons that in a decade could supply nine per cent of our electricity needs) from the Lib Dem Energy Secretary is encouraging, although it is worth remembering this is the man who said “I love shale gas” – twice, in case anyone missed it the first time.

Campaigners up and down the country are right now battling cold, rain and often aggressive policing to protect their local communities, and the globe, against the threat of fracking, even while there’s rising acknowledgement of the financial risk of the carbon bubble.

With the right support, British solar panels could power 18 million homes and contribute up to £75bn to the UK economy, yet government policy is undermining the employment and energy security benefits of going all out for solar power.

It is clear that while the rest of the world is powering up with renewables, the UK is being left behind, and in the economically, socially and environmentally critical area of energy conservation, we’re going backwards – building homes today that demand immediate retrofitting to make them warm, comfortable and affordable to heat.

There’s a year to go to the Paris talks and less than five months to go until Britain gets a new government.

It’s clear that our new government is going to have to act fast so that we can go into the UN talks with our heads held high, and as a leading figure promoting a binding, genuine global deal to tackle the pressing threat of climate change to our civilisation and our planet.

Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party. Follow her on Twitter

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45 Responses to “The Lima climate talks: a small step forward, a long way to go”

  1. Leon Wolfeson

    Do you care about the environment, or are you interested in subsiding “renewables” blindly?

    Oh right, stupid question. Keep trying to massively increase power costs, use “smart” meters to routinely disconnect poorer areas and so on.

    Every solar panel on a roof here means the poor pay more for energy, and will need to cut their usage – their basic usage. That’s lead to the abolition of plans which don’t have high standing orders, meaning that far more poorer people will need to “voluntarily” disconnect their utilities. Rejoice, your plans are working!

  2. David Lindsay

    We need an approach to climate change which protects and extends secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, which encourages economic development around the world, which upholds the right of the working classes and of non-white people to have children, which holds down and as far as practicable reduces the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and which refuses to restrict either travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich.

    That includes the full compatibility between, on the one hand, the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and, on the other hand, the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past.

  3. martin c

    I work for a company which installs Solar, my job is to work out the financial benefits of the current scheme for the potential customer, and to sell this to them if they wish to take advantage. I am aware that the company who provide our panels can provide a solar roof, in place of tiles. The cost of installing this system instead of a tile roof is negligible. So what I genuinely cannot understand is why the government are not incentivising developers to use this system on all new build properties. Surely this is an obvious solution, council planners could insist on it if necessary.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    So more massive rate hikes, with mandatory high-cost systems for housing to discourage building. Woo!

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    So you support nuclear power then.

  6. Tom

    Yawn. Evidence for your usual guff about smart meters please. I won’t hold my breath…

  7. Tom

    Translation: I won’t change my rich lifestyle, if that buggers things up for everyone else, tough, find some other ‘approach’.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Evidence for your tiredness. Evidence for your not holding your breath. Evidence for your paying attention to what I type, or facts, or…

    Right. So, obviously you’re against the environment. Next!

  9. Tom

    If you provided even a hint of actual evidence that smart meters will ‘routinely disconnect poorer areas’, then maybe I’d take you seriously. But you never have, and you never will, because you’ve simply made it up.

  10. David Lindsay


    I am a member of Unite, the leading lobbyist for it.

  11. David Lindsay

    You want to keep the poor, poor.

  12. Tom

    How predictably boring. If I’m the one who actually changes my lifestyle (travel/diet etc) in recognition of its impact on the poor, and you don’t, then I think it’s pretty clear who is on the side of the poor.

    Besides, your approach is entirely supply-side (keeping fuel prices low, expanding factory farming). That makes you a Thatcherite. Good luck pretending you and Maggie are upholding the rights of the working classes.

  13. Tom

    Yup, energy prices = good if nuclear, bad if renewables. Errrr,,,,

  14. David Lindsay

    Of course. That was why she kept the pits open.

  15. Haydn Evans

    Nuclear isn’t perfect but it is a very good source of energy. Unlike renewable sources it can be an on demand source. Don’t get me wrong renewables are important too but we need Nuclear too until we crack cold fusion. The way I see it is Nuclear is the best we have at the moment since Renewables can’t and almost can never be a sole energy source. (I can be so boring when I try hahaha)

  16. Haydn Evans

    I think it’s because a lot of people, like my parents, are rather put off by the look of solar panels and even solar tiles, although in principle it’s a great idea.

  17. Haydn Evans

    Do you work for BP or something? You seem really anti renewable energy. It’s like you have stakes in fossil fuels and are preserving your investment or something.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    Er…nope, I’m strongly pro-nuclear.
    And for sweeping away the current ****ty regime and replacing it with a carbon tax.

    The current UK system does not reward power generation, or support renewables which are economic – and it does strongly encourage rich people to cut their bills at the expense of raising them for everyone else.

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    Right. And well, there are problems with ramping down nuclear power, but there’s answers to that like a hydrogen economy.

    If we build fission plants the time they’re ready to be retired, 30-40 years down the line…well, we’ll probably have fusion (hot or cold).

  20. Guest

    Ah yes, only what you want to be is true, as you ignore the USE of smart meters – disconnecting people, as you make it plain that you only take liars like you seriously.

    You’re a good Tory.
    Evidence for not being paid to come here, for that matter.

  21. Guest

    Facts do give you problems, it’s hilarious.

  22. Tom

    If you have any evidence that Smart meters are used to disconnect people, please share.

  23. Tom

    Yup, you enjoy whatever it is you’re smoking…

  24. David Lindsay

    Carbon. And plenty of it.

  25. Haydn Evans

    We already have ‘hot’ fusion but it uses more energy to run than it generates that’s the problem. And currently it is estimated that we are at least 20 years away from cold fusion. So yeah Nuclear does have its problems I’m not denying that. But the UK is in the midst of an energy crisis we are running at just 4% electrical supply surplus which is around 16% short of what is considered internationally as a safe surplus. We need more power and the only thing that can really deliver that at the moment is Nuclear.

  26. Haydn Evans

    Ahhh I see. Although I can’t totally agree (having this Wednesday visited Wilton biomass power station) they stopped coal electricity generation in may because the UK government is heavily taxing fossil fuel based electricity. Despite their biomass plant producing only around a fifth the energy their coal plant did they actually earn more money on it because of tax. Although I always think more can be done, we need more nuclear more wind and more solar, and energy from waste is always good too.

  27. Guest

    Yes yes, it’s always blaming the other day.

  28. Guest

    Consumer Focus – “With a smart meter it will become technically possible to ‘remotely
    disconnect’ customers, ie this could be done at a distance, without
    visiting your home”

    Not all models have it, but the ones deployed in the UK do.

    So yea, your agenda. The only good thing about them is that people can be switched from pre-pay to standard billing more easily.

  29. Guest

    No surprise Tom made no further post there.

  30. Tom

    This is the same dishonest ploy you keep trying to pull. If people don’t pay their bills, they get disconnected. That happens, and always has. Smart meters will continue current practice to do that.

    But your claim continues to be that they will be used *as an energy-saving measure*. That’s clearly absurd, and your continued, un-evidenced conflation of the two suggests that either you don’t understand the difference or that you’re profoundly dishonest.

  31. Tom

    Good to see you’ve at least abandoned the pretence at caring about ‘uphold[ing] the right of the working classes’, or having ‘the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world’.

  32. David Lindsay

    The burning of carbon is the foundation of the working class.

  33. Tom

    That’ll be why it’s killing them off via air pollution and making their homes uninsurable. Sounds like a rock-solid foundation

  34. Guest

    As usual, you’re not aware of the law on disconnections, even, as you try and claim that it’s “absurd” that a clearly-possible and deliberately planned-for in the technology deployed measure will be used.

    You keep screaming I’m dishonest like you, as you try and whitewash your plans for mass disconnections, which you evidently glory in, as you hate on those nasty British peons.

    I understand you fine, that’s your issue.

  35. Guest

    Thanks for your talking about your plans, there, Tom. Yours, nobody else’s!

  36. Tom

    Feel free to quote the law which allows companies to disconnect a paying customer against their contractual obligations, in order to save energy.

  37. Guest

    Feel free to quote the law that the law cannot change.
    The capacity for doing so is being rolled out, and history is clear.

  38. Tom

    What a bizarre comment. You accused me of not knowing the [current] law on disconnections, and then you immediately switch to speculating about future legislation.

    Smart meters merely change the way in which a disconnection would work, for exactly the same reasons as at present. If it doesn’t happen now, then there is no reason why a technical change will cause it to begin. You have no basis for your wild accusations.

  39. Nick London

    Tom, you should be aware that “leon wolfeson” is a complete head case. Constantly making these bizarre accusations having logged out so the comments appear as a guest. He stalked me for weeks, before bing kicked off labourlist.

  40. Tom

    I know, I’ve had conversations with him before… He seems positively paranoid about Smart meters for some reason.

  41. Nick London

    I am guessing energy pricing is one of his pet research topics. He is actually lucid as leon, although claiming to be a mutualist (look it up, I did). He has been a researcher and indicates he currently holds academic posts. he keeps his paranoid delusional rants off his timeline by logging in as “guest”. I stopped responding to him substantively and just started saying things like “keep well” and “hope you can reach out for help” when he stalked me. He would say “you want to throw me down a well” and ” you are going to send your right wing bully boys to smash my face in”. Very sad. He also started to call everyone “Lord blagger”.

  42. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, you mean I acknowledge one of the intended use of smart meters, rather than lying.

    Like your benefit-cutting agenda, which you try and hide.

  43. Guest

    No, Lord Blagger, I call you Lord Blagger, as you call not being a good right winger like you “paranoid”, as you argue that other views than yours must not be engaged with, that they must be treated as a mental illness.

    That your threats mist be ignored, that it’s “sad” to recognise them as you’re constantly debunked and you lash out as a result.

  44. Guest

    Ah yes, I’m not a good hard right winger like you.

    And in you call it bizarre to tell the truth, as you call replying “stalking”, and spew myths because you’re ignorant of how disqus works.

    Your actual paranoia about it being anything to do with your whining that LL removed a lot of non-right wing posters…is just that.

    You’ll be calling for mass banning here of course though, since that’s your MO. Only right wing views allowed, anything else is faced with constant mass barrages of “UR MENTALLY ILL” and threats.

  45. Guest

    Yes, those facts, “wild accusations”, as I dare deal with different points in a post. Smartmeters allow anyone to be cut off, at any time.

    But hey, facts.

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