Friday, May 24, 2019

Brexit, Further Facts and Speculations

In Brexit, Facts and Speculations, written last February, I explained why the UK would not leave the EU. Astute observers of the political scene may have noticed that March turned into April and we did not leave.

Theresa May has succeeded in avoiding our departure but with her own departure a new paragraph might be in order.

It has been re-emphasised that the Withdrawal Agreement did not have Parliamentary support and there is no Parliamentary majority for a no-deal Brexit. Any new PM will be faced with two alternatives:

1. Attempt to pursue the default position of no-deal Brexit on October 30th,
2. Revoke Article 50.

The first would trigger a vote of no confidence followed by a general election and risk the installation of a Labour government with Corbyn as PM. Any new Tory PM would seek to avoid that.

Revoking Article 50 would be an embarrassment, especially, as seems likely, the new PM will be someone keen to leave the EU. But once we reach the wire even Boris (who, we recall, was a remainer four years ago) might find a way to explain that #2 is the preferred alternative. Embarrassment has not been a concern of his in the past.

The third possibility, once the first two have been shied away from, is that the new PM washes their hands of the decision by calling for a new referendum.
I concluded my February blog thus:

"Then we will have a second referendum, remain will win. We will see which party comes out of it all worst. But that's for future speculation."

I still see a new referendum with remain winning as the most likely outcome but there is now more evidence that Labour will come out of the process on top. Corbyn's fence-sitting tactic may prove in the end to have been successful. He managed, as best as was possible, to avoid alienating the Brexit supporting Labour voters. With the success of Lib Dems and Greens in the local and then the EU elections and the utter failure of the Conservative Party to 'sort the mess', he will be able to support Remain unequivocally in the new referendum and win the following general election, the rump of the Tory Party, after defections to Lib Dem and Brexit Party, quite unable to form a government.

That last paragraph is, of course, speculation, but it arises from the facts outlined above.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

414 is a very bad number

After a couple of weeks of action by Extinction Rebellion, Parliament made a formal declaration of 'Climate Emergency' 
The Committee on Climate Change has produced some recommendations

The reports key findings are that:
The Committee on Climate Change recommends a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
In Scotland, we recommend a net-zero date of 2045, reflecting Scotland’s greater relative capacity to remove emissions than the UK as a whole.
In Wales, we recommend a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

A net-zero GHG target for 2050 will deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement. It is achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when it legislated the existing 2050 target for an 80% reduction from 1990.

The UK is currently not on track to meet even the existing target of 80% reduction by 2050.
Even if we, and the rest of the world, stopped all carbon emissions today the global warming since the start of the industrial revolution will exceed 1,5°C
To avoid the worst of the upcoming climate catastrophe we have to do everything we can to halt greenhouse gas emissions quickly and sequester atmospheric carbon, driving net emissions negative.
The targets of net zero by 2025 or 2030 suggested by Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party are more appropriate to survival of civilisation than those recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
Climate change is with us today. The last few weeks have seen two unprecedented cyclones reach Mozambique, new April record temperatures have been seen from Vietnam to India and as I write Cyclone Fani is about to strike India, earlier in the season than ever.
Our best proxy measure of things to come, the Keeling Curve, shows that CO2 levels are now 3ppm higher than a year ago.
Four years ago, May 2015, I warned that 404 was a bad number.
Things are getting worse, exponentially.

Much of that CO2 will remain in the air for centuries and millennia, forcing warming and, as it gradually gets absorbed by the seas, forcing ocean acidification.
Sea level will continue to rise as much of the ice melts.
Action emerges but complacency still rules.
With government not delivering the required leadership, we need the Extinction Rebellion.