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2nd letter response from Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP, 24 July 2008

September 29, 2008

Dear Mr Mowshowitz,

Climate Change

Thank you for your further letter on the issue of climate change, which I received on the 10th of July 2008.

I have outlined to you my concern that climate change is an extremely urgent issue that must be tackled with strong measures, and without delay. Although I am not familiar with the detail of Heat by George Monbiot I do appreciate that for an 80% reduction in emissions to be effective it must happen swiftly and not be delayed or diluted. In fact the Liberal Democrats have proposed a 100% cut in emissions by 2050, and we have set out workable policies through which we would achieve this. In essence we would move to a full reliance on renewable energy sources, which would make microgeneration a far greater feature of energy production in the UK. It would also avoid the problems of waste management and security associated with nuclear power.

I also respect your comments on the lack of effective action by the Government in reducing personal consumption and, in some cases putting the interests of private business well ahead of safeguarding our environment. With regards to reducing consumption, I believe that Green Taxes will play a vital role. For example rather than taxing passengers, it would make sense to tax airlines for each plane that takes off, based on its emissions. Also redrawing Vehicle Excise Duty and making sure that Fuel Duty is kept in line with inflation will reward greener drivers. This would stimulate a reduction in consumption without the need for government targets that every individual should aim to adhere to. I should point out that these suggests would not increase the overall tax burden of the public but that the extra revenue generated for the Government would be used to enable a ‘gree’ income tax cut.

The Stern report played an important role in further debunking the myth still held by some that climate change requires no urgent action. I note that you have reservations about it, but I do feel that it added economic strength to an argument already well grounded in science. It has been welcomed by then Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as my Liberal Democrat colleagues, and has been praised by bodies such as the Carbon Trust for its economic level headedness. Any document that unites a broad base of support behind it is, I feel, to be respected. You are absolutely right that we ‘are all in this together’, and the Stern Report has made clear the direct economic as well as critical long term environmental consequences we will face should we fail to act now to prevent disastrous climate change. This will be a powerful way in which to convince those who, as you say, understand monetary arguments more readily than other lines of discussion of the necessity for immediate action.

I can assure you once more that I will continue to pursue the issue of climate change both in and out of Parliament, and remain deeply committed to protecting the environment for future generations. I hope this letter has proven helpful and explained a little of the detail behind how I would like to see climate change tackled at a national and personal level. If there is anything else I can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Teather MP

Liberal Democrat MP for Kilburn, Willesden Green, Welsh Harp, Dollis Hill, Dudden Hill, Mapesbury, Queen’s Park, Brondesbury and Kensal Rise

You can read my original letter here.

I was again impressed by how quick Sarah Teather’s response was. However this time I felt that much of my letter was not actually addressed and this highlights precisely what I was bringing to her attention. She didn’t respond to my comments about the lack of transparency in government and media particularly with regard to the connections between climate change, the energy crisis and the global economy. She seemed to focus entirely on climate change in precisely the way that I was describing. A few months after this exchange, the global financial system has begun visibly to fail. What we are experiencing is not part of the typical economic cycle that we’ve been able to observe for many decades. This level of dependency on fossil fuels and credit is unprecedented. The irony is that without a guaranteed supply of fossil fuels there is no possibility of further credit. We cannot trade in futures that are known not to exist. What we are witnessing now is the unraveling of a civilization that has built everything around the fallacy of infinite growth. The failing of the world banking system is only symptomatic of larger problems. The climate change issue is being used to disguise the need for reducing energy consumption for other reasons, for the fact that energy is running out and the UK does not have its own supplies. This is what the government needs to reveal to the public. If they do not it will soon be too late and there will be a terrifying public revelation of the discrepancy between reality and what the government and media claim is reality. How then could trust be restored between the UK government and its people? It would set everything back even further and I believe that can be avoided, but not without truth and honesty.

I will soon send Sarah Teather another letter again highlighting these issues.

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