Claire's blog

Future Homes? Tell the Government to raise ambition for zero carbon homes

At the moment the UK lags behind other European countries when it comes to home energy efficiency - and also in fuel poverty, and excess winter deaths. As well as investing in insulating our existing housing stock, the Committee on Climate Change has urged the government to ensure that new homes are built to ultra-high energy efficiency standards, as well as being water-efficient and resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Action on this is well overdue - the Zero Carbon Homes standard was scrapped by George Osborne in 2015, just before it came into force.

Now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are proposing new regulations which would actually weaken energy efficiency requirements, and prevent local authorities from setting their own higher standards.

Why we should celebrate the fracking moratorium - and fight for more

Guest post by Kim Hunter, Frack Free Scarborough (writing in personal capacity)

Late last Friday night, Britain's Tory government announced an immediate moratorium on fracking until it finds 'compelling new evidence' the industry won't have 'unacceptable impacts on the local community'.

Anti-fracking activists cried with relief, then uncorked the wine, told long-suffering family members they would finally spend quality time together and started organising well-side parties. And then they took to social media to question the Tories' integrity. 

They have none. 

Boris Johnson hasn’t suddenly become an ‘uncooperative crusty’ (as he called XR activists). He hasn't, after all, made 'people and planet before profit' the guiding principle of his election manifesto. The moratorium doesn’t include other forms of unconventional oil and gas, not even processes like acidisation, which in 2015 were excluded from the definition of fracking by political sleight of hand. The fracking moratorium falls into the same category as other populist pre-election measures.

But it is fracking that Johnson chose to sacrifice on the altar of his party's political ambition. He hasn't decided to renationalise the railways, or raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour. Fracking must fall because campaigners have so completely menaced the industry, so thoroughly countered its attempts to create positive PR, that it has become a political liability.

Act for the Amazon

Large areas of the Amazon rainforest are on fire, waking up the world to a calamity: no natural disaster, but part of a long-running strategy of destruction and exploitation. Bolsonaro came to power, following the imprisonment of former president Lula on corruption charges, with a clear agenda to dismantle the protection of indigenous lands. He once said, “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians”. 

The current fires were set deliberately to clear more land for agriculture, in particular cattle ranching, which is responsible for 80% of deforestation in the country. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by two-thirds during Bolsonaro’s presidency. 

Indigenous people have as ever, been in the frontline of resistance, defending their land rights. The picture above is from the Indigenous Women March on August 13th, when almost 3000 indigenous women travelled from across Brazil to the nation's capital.

What can we do here in the UK?

The causes of the destruction are closer to home than you might think. The export market for commodities, in particular Brazilian beef, is driving deforestation. Europe is Brazil’s second biggest market for beef sales. The recently signed EU-Mercosur agreement between the EU and Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay would open EU markets to more beef imports in exchange for the export of EU cars, especially highly fuel-intensive SUVs. But the deal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament, and pressure is growing to block it.

Pages