Claire's blog

'Lobbying ban' for public-funded charities and even scientists


“There is nothing a government hates more than to be well informed; for it makes the process of arriving at decisions much more complicated and difficult.”

This quote from John Maynard Keynes was used in a recent editorial in the BMJ arguing that the UK’s planned new anti-lobbying clause, by muzzling scientists will jeopardise evidence informed policy making in public health. The potential impacts are just as concerning for other areas including energy policy.

In the new clause all organisations in receipt of state grants would have to agree, as a very broad legal condition, not to use public money to influence MPs or political parties, attempt to influence legislation or regulatory action, or press for the renewal of contracts and grants.

Temperature records continue to be shattered...

2014 was the hottest year on record. Until 2015 that is.

January 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded. Until February 2016, which marked the 10th month in a row of record breaking global warmth).

Starting to see a pattern here?

Climate records around the world are being smashed. According to Eric Holthaus in Slate magazine it took from the pre-industrial period to October 2015 to reach \+1.0 celsius above pre-industrial levels but only the last 4 months to increase by a further 0.4c. 

Another attack on local democracy?


DEADLINE Friday 19th February, 11.45pm

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NEW - Guardian article:

Divestment campaigners are worried that the government's current consultation on local authority pensions investment contains a significant attack on local democracy and ethical investment.

The main purpose of the proposed new rules will be to require local authorities to be more cost-effective by pooling their pension funds in larger groupings. But within the consultation are explicit restrictions on local authority ethical investment decisions. The main intent appears to be preventing boycotts of companies operating within the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Divestment from the UK arms industry would also be forbidden: "using pensions and procurement policies to pursue boycotts, divestments and sanctions against foreign nations and the UK defence industry are inappropriate" (Research in 2007 revealed local council pension funds to have over £300 million invested in BAE alone).

It is acknowledged that local authorities may have regard to "environmental, social and corporate governance matters". But when the government is seeking to restrict local authorities' investment choices to prevent disinvestment in some areas, it is hard to be confident that restrictions on fossil fuel divestment will not follow within guidance (as yet unpublished). If local authorities have to stick to central government policy and invest in UK arms companies, will government be any keener to allow them to divest from fracking? New regulations would give the Secretary of State the power to intervene if a local authority is deemed not to be following government guidance.