Tory position on climate change is completely contradictory

Independent on Sunday, 28 June 2015:

The Tory position on climate change is completely contradictory. In the face of a papal encyclical and a G7 declaration calling on global leaders to totally decarbonise the world’s economy, the government is withdrawing subsidies for on-shore wind farms a year early, and has devolved consenting powers to the local planning authorities, thus increasing the length and complexity of the process (Lincoln locals blow hot and cold over a test-case wind turbine June 21).

So NIMBYism is being encouraged for renewables whilst the local community is being by-passed when it comes to fracking. This is particularly hypocritical when one considers that the majority of the UK population support on-shore wind whilst only a small minority support fracking. Amber Rudd argues that decisions on renewable energy will be “more democratic”, but seems to have a completely different set of principles when it comes to the extraction of fossil fuels.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

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Exegesis of Pope Francis’s encyclical call for action on climate change

The Guardian, 22 June 2015:

It is impossible not to welcome Pope Francis’s concern for the future of our planet, but he is only looking at one aspect of the problem (Francis to target climate change deniers in encyclical before visit to US, 16 June). Emissions of CO2 are a function of carbon emissions per capita and world population. It is illogical to concentrate on the carbon footprint of individuals while ignoring population growth, an issue where the Catholic church could make a real difference. The pope will lack credibility until he acknowledges that contraception is a vital component in the fight against climate change.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Beautiful nuclear power stations still not green

Independent, 8 June 2015:

Making nuclear reactors aesthetically attractive should not really be Amber Rudd’s priority (Minister calls for new age of “beautiful” nuclear power June 6).

There are approximately 450 civil nuclear reactors in operation world-wide with roughly 20,000 years of operating experience. During that time we have experienced 4 major accidents : Windscale 1957, Three Mile Island 1979, Chernobyl 1986 and Fukushima 2011 (assuming this is classed as one accident not three) This gives an accident rate of one per 5000 years.

To make a significant dent in global warming would require another 2000 reactors world-wide, which could mean one major accident every other year. If one of those accidents occurred In a densely populated island like the UK, then  the consequences don’t bear thinking about.

By contrast the UK has 40% of Europe’s wind resource and massive potential for wave and tidal power, none of which has been properly developed. If we go down the nuclear route then green investment will shrink even more than it has already, and the UK’s stockpile of nuclear waste will increase. To date the official cost of disposal exceeds 100 billion pounds. No sane person would pursue such a risky and expensive enterprise.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Diesel dangers spotted decades ago

Sunday Times, 7 June 2015:

More than thirty years ago I gave evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee on the adverse health effects of traffic pollution, using data from the US showing higher rates of lung cancer in urban areas, even amongst non-smokers. (Diesel pollution in cities raises risk of stroke, May 31)

The main culprit was small particulates from diesel engines which contain a significant number of carcinogens. Unfortunately the smaller the particulate the more dangerous they are to health, and the more difficult they are to filter out.

That is why a ban on diesel-powered vehicles in city centres is the only way that the Government can comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling on air quality.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath
Former Chairman  of CLEAR ( Campaign for Lead-Free Air)
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

There is no link to the original article as it is behind a paywall.

Renewables, yes, but we need carbon pricing too

Independent, 3 June 2015:

A 10 year research programme to make  green energy cheaper could be achieved tomorrow if the fossil fuel industry paid the full costs of  their  product (The heat is on, 2 June). The solution lies in the  letter to the UN from the CEO’s of six major oil and gas companies asking to cooperate on fixing a price for carbon (Energy firms ask UN for help on carbon pricing, 1 June).  Although the letter conspicuously fails to suggest the level at which carbon should be priced, this can be calculated from the  costs that are paid by society to manage the health and environmental costs of CO2 emissions, recently estimated by the IMF to be 5.3 trillion dollars annually.

8.7 billion tonnes of carbon are burnt annually which gives a  price of approximately  $600 per tonne of carbon, or $166 per tonne of CO2. If a carbon tax were set at this level it would massively increase government revenue, halve the 1.6 million deaths that occur each year as a result of air pollution, decrease carbon emissions by 20% and render subsidies for the renewable sector unnecessary.This won’t happen overnight, but Governments should start at a $200 per tonne of carbon and increase by $50 per annum until a figure of $600 is reached at which point the world’s energy problems will have been largely solved.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire