Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bonn breakthrough as Climate Summit agrees Local and Regional Targets

At COP23 in Bonn today at the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders agreement was acheived to establish Local and Regional targets to help keep global temperatures below 1.5 - 2 degrees C.

Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper who conceived the idea of Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions towards acheiving the climate goals of the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement said,

"I am really pleased by the decision today from delegates from around the world. It has been a 2 year journey from first having the idea to getting the EU Committee of the Regions to adopt it, to todays vote on the Summit Declaration of Local and Regional Leaders. The real work starts now in implementing Local and Regional Contributions towards reducing emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement"

The Summit Declaration which was adopted unanimously stated,

" We will establish our own Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions to help national Governments  achieve and exceed existing Nationally Determined Contributions"

Councillor Cooper said


"At COP21 in Paris 2 years ago National Governments expressed their efforts to achieve carbon emission reduction targets as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ - NDCs. In the case of the UK our NDC made no reference to the work being undertaken by Local Authorities to reduce emissions. Efforts at the local level such as improved building standards beyond building regulation, installing LED street lights, planting trees to capture carbon emissions etc were simply not measured or taken into account in those national contributions and therefore not valued. A system of Locally Determined Contributions would change all that and allow Local and Regional Authorities to determine their own targets with robust plans to acheive them.

There is of course a strong relevance here to those in the United States who are opposing the Trump Administration's abandonment of the Climate Agreement. Many States are already forging ahead with carbon saving plans despite Trump but an agreed system of Local and Regionally determined Contributions gives structure and legitimacy to their action based on an international agreement."

So what is it like at a Global Climate Summit?



I'm here at the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn and I thought I'd try to convey to you what its like.

The first thing to say is that it is huge. There are over 20,000 people who are registered delegates for this event from all round the world so there is a very diverse and sometimes colourful array of people attending. The venue is essentially a huge  rigid tent like  structure with halls , meeting room, restaurants all connected
by corridors. The number of events is dazzling and you have to pick what you can go to
carefully.

I got an invite to a screening of Al Gore's new film 'An Inconvenient Sequel' with the man himself speaking afterwards which was a must do.

There is of course all the events around Summit of Local and Regional Leaders which have been my focus as part of my push for 'Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions. I've also done a number of media interviews which of course is a key reason to be here and to get the message across. There are a number of exhibition areas where national
delegations and NGOs have stands in big halls. Occasionally you'll meet someone you know as you travel between venues and catch up before you move on to the next thing. It is interesting, its different and big opportunity to make contacts and increase your knowledge on the biggest
challenge facing humanity.

 For me getting something tangible out of this unique experience is what its all about. Only a few hours to go to find out if that's been acheived.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Saturday, 4 November 2017

PRESS RELEASE - Green Councillor to take on Trump at Bonn Climate Change Talks


Councillor Andrew Cooper
Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper is attending the COP23 Climate Change Talks in Bonn, Germany next week and he has a plan to tackle the Climate Change Denying US President, Donald Trump.

Andrew is a member of the UK Delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions that represents the views of Local and Regional Governments in the European Union. At a meeting of the Committee last month he successfully got this European Institution to back a policy that would give Councils and Regional bodies the ability to contribute directly towards the Paris Climate Change targets without referring to their National Governments.

“Currently all action to reduce carbon emissions goes through National Governments through a system of ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’.” said Councillor Cooper “My proposal is to establish Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions where Councils and bodies below National Governments could establish their own targets and produce plans to implement them.”

Now Councillor Cooper’s initiative has been passed at the European Level, the EU Committee of the Regions is taking it as one of their principal proposals to the COP23 Global Climate Talks in Bonn this month. Councillor Cooper will be attending the Summit of Local and Regional Leaders and will seek to get the policy inserted into the Summit Declaration.

“Adopting this policy will provide a way for State Governments in the USA to produce plans to reduce carbon emissions without seeking the permission of their President. We cannot allow the illogical and unscientific approach taken by President Trump to go unchallenged. This is a way he can be side stepped and give those politicians who take a rational approach in the USA the policies they need to make the action they take at the local level count towards international climate change targets.”

Councillor Cooper also explained the benefits of the policy for Councils in the UK

“This proposal is also very relevant to us in Kirklees. Action we take at the local level, such as mass insulation schemes, installing LED Streetlights or tree planting projects would not currently be taken into account in the UK Government’s Carbon Reduction Plans. Under my proposal any action we take to reduce carbon emissions would be taken into account and make it easier to achieve our challenging targets to reduce global greenhouse gases.”

The Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders will be held on 12th of November with the Summit Declaration being announced at the end of the day.

ENDS

A Briefing Note on Locally Determined Contributions
EU Committee of the Regions backs Local Targets on Climate Change

Contact

Councillor Andrew Cooper – Mobile - 07721 348619        Email – andrew.cooper@greenparty.org.uk

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Barry Sheerman on Brexit and Education

Every now and again someone will see me making a cup of instant coffee. I open the jar of granules and pour an unmeasured amount into the mug. " Why don't you use a teaspoon?" is often the question I'm asked. "I'm a politician and for me judgement is everything" is my usual 'smart arsed' reply.

Judgement was on my mind today as I watched Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman on The Sunday Politics. He said

"The truth is that when you look at who voted to Remain most of them were the better educated people in this country."

At one point the exasperated BBC Interviewer said "So thick people voted for Leave?"

Barry's defence was a bit feeble "I didn't say that".  No he didn't but he did!

The problem with referencing voters level of Education when looking at how people vote is that there is an implication that if you had your way that only people who had the right qualifications should be allowed to vote. Of course Barry Sheerman would rightly protest that this is not what he believes but then you would have to question his judgement at strongly making the link between education and the political choices voters make in the first place. There is an implied disrespect for those people with no or low qualifications. These are some of the people who may even have voted Labour and for him at the last General Election.

The facts are that there is a strong correlation between those people who voted Remain and educational attainment but so what? One of the many failures of the Remain Campaign was in not making its message accessible enough to convince a wide range of voters whatever OLevels/GCSE'/A Levels/Degrees they acheived. The Leave campaigns success was in making a difficult subject accessible to many different sorts of people. Admittedly it was misleading them but then their arguments were accessible nonetheless. Where is our £350 million/week extra for the NHS btw?

Education and Brexit featured in the Daily Mail this week as well. I was reading a copy in the Dentist and came across the headline "In their own telling words. How Academics push Remain propaganda".  My admittedly glib  tweet in response was " In other words why do people who know stuff oppose Brexit?". It also sinisterly asked students to 'shop' lecturers who may be 'guilty' of such 'crimes'. I guess the Mail would regard them as 'Enemies of the People'. Here we are seeing a strange education snobbery in reverse where the contempt for 'the Intellectual' and 'the Expert' is regarded as legitimate. For someone who favours moderate language in politics I find it hard not to make links between the Daily Mail and Fascism on frequent occasions.

So education snobbery was everywhere this week. If you were educated your views were suspect to the Daily Mail. If you were uneducated your views may be less valid than if you were educated to Barry Sheerman. Ultimately whether you are a politician or a voter the choices you make are all about judgement and weighing up the pros and the cons. The job of politicans is not to judge the voters but to give them the information that they need to make sound judgements themselves.

Here's Pink Floyd  - Another Brick In The Wall - "We don't need no education etc...."


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Kirklees prepares for Zombie Apocalypse or something like that.



This week a generator was installed in the new blockhouse adjacent to Civic Centre 3 in Huddersfield Town Centre.

The idea is to make the building reslient as an HQ during a time when we might have a major loss of electrical power. When unexpected events happen the Council together with the Emergency Services will stand ready to react and as the lights go out across Huddersfield the Civic Centre will stand as a shining beacon of hope. Council Officers will be stoically working to reestablish Western Civilization/'start again' while surrounded by confused citizens wanting answers and reassurance. We will then see what happens next after the meteor/nuclear strike on Heckmondwike or a catastrophic flood, or extraterrestrial invasion or zombie apocalypse.

Disasters and social collapse are mostly of the serious but often mundane, day to day nature like the 'boiled frog' of climate change. The slow but perceptible nature of the change leads the wilfully uniformed/misleading to question whether it is actiually happening at all, but if we don't act it surely will.

The new 'resilient' Civic Centre is all about preparing for the reaction to a crisis. To prevent climate change we need to make all buildings resilient through insulation/ energy efficiency measures and making best use of onsite renewable energy (usually solar). That's not just good for the homes that have such measures but for wider society that is less reliant on dirty and generally imported fuels such such as natural gas and uranium. It puts more money in peoples pockets who have less to fork out for energy bills. This would be a good aim of public policy in so many ways but also ensures that when disaster does strike that half a million people don't turn up at Civic Centre 3 to try to get their phones and electric toothbrushes recharged.

Here's 'Its The End of The World as we know it' by R.E.M.



                                                                                               

Monday, 23 October 2017

Locally Determined Contributions - the view of the UK Government

With Jenny Jones at Croftlands, Newsome in 2014
I asked my friend Jenny Jones (or Baroness Jones of Moulsecomb) if she would ask the following Parliamentary Question to the Government so I could test the waters on my Locally Determined Contributions proposal to get Local  and Regional Governments around the world to contribute emission reductions towards the Paris Climate goals.

This was the question:-


To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will support the proposal by the EU Committee of the Regions to establish locally determined contributions and regionally determined contributions to the greenhouse gas emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The response was very interesting

UK greenhouse gas emission targets under the EU framework and our domestic Climate Change Act cover the whole of the UK. Devolved Administrations and Local Authorities also already have their own emissions targets and ambitions, and with wider actors in the UK, have an important role to play in contributing to UK emissions reductions.

The reason the response  was interesting was because it just wasn't true. Local Councils don't have emission targets unfortunately and many are too busy dealing with the day to day job of delivering basic services with massive funding cuts to have higher ambitions on climate change. So as it wasn't true I thought it warranted another question.

 To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 15 February (HL5165), what are the greenhouse gas emissions targets, broken down by local authority; and what assessment they have made of progress against each of those targets over the last seven years.

and the response


Local Authorities are not mandated to have greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. However, many cities and places have set their own targets following the Paris Agreement. Over 30 places are members of international agreements such as the Covenant of Mayors and, within the UK, over 70 places have now signed up to UK100 with a political commitment to use 100% clean energy by 2050.
"Over 30 places" well there are 418 Principal Councils in the UK so  it is hardly a comprehensive list of Local Authorities that are signed up to the Covenant of Mayors and clearly the second answer from Lord Brampton contradicts his first answer. The UK 100 mentioned has a worthy aspiration but I doubt that many councils have any detailed plans about how they will actually acheive this. I'm guessing they will be hoping national strategies deliver this for them. My conclusion is that there is still a strong case for adopting Locally Determined Contributions in the UK and the Government would lose nothing by recognising that too. In fact it may help them acheive their Nationally Determined Contributions towards the Paris Climate Agreement.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Major 'own goal' by North Yorkshire Police at Kirby Misperton Fracking site


Kirby Misperton the Fracking Frontline

Today marked the first 'Green Friday' trip to Kirby Misperton where the Green Party & the wider Green Movement are being mobilised to support the Prrotectors at the Habton Rd Fracking site. 

There was a major own goal by North Yorkshire Police by not allowing the request for a slow walk by protestors in front of one of the lorry convoys today on their way into the site. By not allowing people their right to peacefully protest North Yorks Police unequivocally put themselves on the side of Third Energy and against the right for people to legally demonstrate their opposition. Instead people were effectively 'kettled' and risked arrest if they moved outside the police cordon. Police on the ground appeared to be ready to facilitate the request but were overruled by their remote commanders demonstrating their poor leadership. Not their finest hour but sadly not their worst either at KM. They have effectively 'upped the temperature' by taking a draconian approach that overtly favours the Fracking company. 


'Tea Lady' Jackie Brookes on the left with frien
Of course the temperature is already high with several arrests following 'lock ons' and towers constructed outside the entrance to the site with protestors atop. The arrest of the 79 year old 'Tea lady' Jackie Brookes has gained worldwide coverage and done nothing to help North Yorkshire Police's reputation for having a heavy handed approach to dealing with objectors to Third Energy's plans. Today's request for a 'slow walk' protest in front of the lorry convoy with police consent offered them a chance to repair their reputation. It was sadly ignored. All that will occur as a result is a renewed resolve by those opposing the Government's plans.

The cost of policing at the Fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire has been estimated at £450'000/month. With the heavy and excessive police presence we saw today then we would expect a similar figure for Kirby Misperton. There are enough reasons to oppose Fracking in its own right, but now we have the waste of   millions of pounds of police resources protecting corporate interests that threaten our environment and our communities as well.

The Kirby Misperton site is expected to commence Fracking within days and is the frontline in the battle against corporate greed, climate change and threats to our fundamental liberties. People of goodwill need to act and get themselves up to Kirby Misperton as soon as possible and as often as possible.
With Carolyn Popple, one of the Core Group of No Fracking Way walkers from March this year
Outside the entrance to the Fracking site





Wednesday, 18 October 2017

First look at the new Mount Pleasant Primary School at Lockwood

Pupils from Mount Pleasant School in Lockwood will be moving into their new School  on the Thursday after half term. It has been built adjacent to the old school which will be demolished over the coming year. The old school  was a 'mish mash' of Victorian buildings with 70's and 80s extensions. The roof leaked badly and frequently despite several patching up attempts. I've seen the new school grow in my role as one of the School Governors. Today myself and Cllr Julie Stewart Turner got a good look round and it is impressive and will be a much improved teaching environment for a school which is performing well.
The new Mount Pleasant Primary School
The School Hall with Headteacher Naeem Nazir on the right
All classrooms equipped with smart boards


Artists impression





New School  on the left old School on the right

New classroom looking out on the old school



Friday, 13 October 2017

Speech to the EU Committee of the Regions on Locally Determined Contributions to address Climate Change



After a lengthy process my Opinion to the EU Committee of the Regions on the EU Environmental Implementation Review was dealt with in a few minutes. The clause on establishing Locally and Regionally Determined Contributions to tackle Climate Change was opposed by a minority of groups but people within both those groups worked on my behalf to argue for them for which I am very  grateful. The votes on 3 amendments to the report ( 2 of which sought to remove LDCs/RDCs) were defeated. Now LDCs/RDCs will be a key message of the EU Committee of the Regions as we work towards the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn in November. Onwards.

Lockwood footpath cleared of vegetation

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Councillors Julie Stewart Turner and Karen Allison's visit to Newsome Junior School

Councillors Julie Stewart-Turner and Karen Allison visited Newsome Junior School to answer questions from pupils today as part of Local Democracy Week.









Tuesday, 10 October 2017

EU Committee of the Regions backs Local Targets on Climate Change

The EU Committee of the Regions, (the body that represents the views of Local and Regional Government in the European Union) today backed an innovative new way of giving Local and Regional Government the ability to contribute directly towards the Paris Climate Goals that were agreed 2 years ago.

The Carbon Savings agreed as part of the COP23 Paris Climate Agreement were made up of Nationally Determined Contributions where national Governments decided what level of carbon savings they could commit to. It has become clear that the emission reductions agreed are not sufficient to limit the rise in global temperatures rise to 1.5 to 2 degrees risking runaway climate change on a global scale.

The proposal by Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper is to establish Locally Determined Contributions which will enable Councils and Regional bodies around the world the ability to produce their own carbon reduction plans to contribute directly into the Paris Climate goals. This could help bridge the gap between the carbon savings so far identified and those that we need to limit climate change to survivable.

Councillor Cooper said,

“I am really pleased that the EU Committee of the Regions has got behind this proposal today. We can now take this forward to the COP23 Climate Change Summit in November and see if we can get it accepted as a global proposal empowering Local and Regional Governments around the world to take action on climate change.

 As a UK member of the EU Committee of the Regions if we can get Locally Determined Contributions adopted as a global concept then it will be applicable to the UK, Brexit or no Brexit

Another benefit of this proposal is that it enables Individual States in the USA the ability to act on climate change despite the Trump Presidency’s decision not to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. 

The EU Committee of the Regions will use its contacts with the US Conference of Mayors to ensure local action works for global benefit happens regardless of the opinions of the US National Government”.

Briefing Note on Locally Determined Contributions

Monday, 9 October 2017

PRESS RELEASE Eagle eyed Parish Councillors save Kirklees Library Service £12,000


Kirkburton Parish Councillors Steve Beresford and Robert Barraclough have saved Kirklees Library Services £12,000 by spotting on omission on Kirkburton Library’s finances.

 Parish Councillor Steve Beresford noticed that Kirklees had not claimed Rural Rate Relief on Kirkburton Library for the last 2 years and asked fellow Parish Councillor Robert Barraclough to take it up with Kirklees. Robert raised the issue with Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper and the error was quickly rectified and the money claimed back by Kirklees officers.

Robert Barraclough said “Credit to Steve Beresford. As a former Kirklees Senior Finance officer he has the background and the knowledge to spot these sort of errors. The rural rate relief is vital to ensure we have a strong business case for retaining Kirkburton Library as a viable and valued local facility. We now need to get on with ensuring its future is secured for our local communities”


Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper said, “I’m glad this issue has now been rectified and I am told systems are now in place to ensure this issue doesn’t arise again. These mistakes will happen with large Government cuts to Kirklees budgets and experienced staff disappearing on an almost daily basis. I’m glad that there are Parish Councillors like Steve and Robert doing positive thing like this to keep money in rural areas in difficult financial times.”

Public Use Piano for Huddersfield Railway Station

Really pleased my idea to get a public use piano for Huddersfield Railway Station has become a reality.

The piano has been donated by Chas Ball who chairs the Board of Marsden Jazz Festival and was the Green Party Candidate for Colne Valley in the 2015 General Election. It was a conversation with him and the Huddersfield Station Manager Andrew Croughan of Transpennine that made this happen.

I've seen pianos for use by commuters being played at Sheffield, Leeds and London St Pancras Stations and I was impressed by how they gave a showcase for local talent and entertained people on thier way to and from work. Huddersfield is a musical town with the Contemporary Music Festival, the Mrs Sunderland Music Competition and a plethora of music groups from a thriving Youth Music culture to well established groups such as Huddersfield Choral Society. Having a piano in one of the busiest railway stations in Yorkshire will provide entertainment  to thousands of travellers and be a new element to the musical culture of our Town.

Talking to the Station staff it really adds something to their day. They see a commuter walk towards the piano and wonder what tune might appear. One morning during the busy commute to work someone sat down and played the theme to 'The Walking Dead'. I guess there was some irony there.

I'm now thinking about other places in Huddersfield we might have public use pianos. Any ideas?

Huddersfield Station Piano being played to help launch Marsden Jazz Festival





Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Return to Kirby Misperton

Feeling a bit nostalgic today as I headed back to Kirby Misperton for the first time since beginning the 120 mile No Fracking Way trek there in March. Going along the same roads we walked when we began the walk and when I was quietly wondering what I'd let myself in for.

Today was a positive day. Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley was doing a visit to the Fracking site to lend his support the dedicated band of anti fracking Protectors (not just Protestors). What was very apparent was the excessive police presence on site. They lined up outside the gated entrance to the Fracking site and we lined up alongside them for a photocall with Jonathan. On a whim I suggested a Mexican Wave and said once the wave had got to the end of the protectors then the Police might want to join in once it reached them. We tried it a couple of times but they weren't playing and stubbonly stood there with their arms folded. "Boo! You're no fun!" To be fair I guess they were just trying to be 'professional' but they could have lightened up a bit.

Despite the lack of Mexican Wave participation today was not a day when relations between the Police and protestors were at a particularly low point. We've seen some real lows at the Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool and also with the first arrests at Kirby Misperton. Some of the policing has been videoed and has been, lets say, 'heavy handed' and definitely out of proportion to, what have been predominantly peaceful protests. This Policing has to be expensive and is being bankrolled by central government in these times of limited public funding. I asked one of the Police what he would be doing if he wasn't here today and he told me he would be dealing with day to day issues such as domestic violence, attending burgalry scenes etc.

The Scottish Government  successfully voted to ban Fracking today further demonstrating that the United Kingdom is far from united on yet another issue. This further fuels my, admittedly unrealistic, fantasy of Yorkshire becoming annexed to an Independent Scotland free of dominance by largely southern based, public school educated Tories. We are having to fight our London based Government here while the Scottish people are supported in their opposition to Fracking by their Government. Just doesn't feel right.

There is real opposition to Fracking from people across the political spectrum. The Conservative Government is out of touch even with its own electoral base on this issue. A large number of the people there today were retired and some had definitely not been active campaigners before. Fracking is producing a new form of useful productive energy, but it is not what was intended. It is people power and it will grow.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

LDCs - Still Determined

Today was hard.

I was at a meeting organised by the Greens in the European Parliament on Climate and Energy Policy. I (but of course) raised the issue of Locally Determined Contributions as a way of boosting our chances of acheiving the the COP21 Paris Climate Goals. The reception to the issue seemed warm enough, and no particular negativity towards the idea. I have already followed up by providing more information for MEPs in the Green Group and I'll do more follow up later.

 So why was it hard?

I've been 'on the road' with this for much of the last month and pushing Locally Determined Contributions as concept for nearly a year now. I like travel but the going back and forth to Brussels, and other places, has been pretty much weekly. I have also got a bit weary talking about the subject. I know it is very worthwhile. I know it is the right thing to do. I know the world will be a much better place with it. It is the lack of tangibility of the subject matter that can be tricky for some people. If you're saving a whale, or a tree, or erecting a wind turbine, or insulating 1000s of houses, or planting 1000s of trees then it feels very practical, real and doable. Introducing a new way of addressing climate change using the sleeping giant powers of Local and Regional Governments around the world doesn't float everybody's Rainbow Warrior. But it has to be done!

The 'Cooper Law of Monomanias' is that they are completely fine while you're making some progress and so it is with LDCs (I much prefer the initials, 'btw', than saying the whole thing out loud). I've seen people with monomanias spend a lifetime on them and maybe there is a value in that for the concepts and for the people that promote them. Personally I need to map a subject from idea to implementation with some sort of idea of timescales. Those timescales are now beginning to become more apparent to me.

There is the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR) Plenary meeting in October which hopefully will adopt my Opinion on the EU Environmental Implementation Review. This includes the concept of LDCs and also Mr Marco Dus's Opinion on Climate Finance does as well. There is only one amendment opposing LDC's  and it is from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). ECR want to delete all reference to LDCs on the basis that this is duplication of  local action already recorded at a national level. ECR contains UK Conservative Councillors and one look at their own Councils would tell them this is simply not the case. Knowing the political make up of the CoR the ECR are unlikely to get this amendment passed. Fortunately for me!

In November is COP23 the UNFCC Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany. I will be there for the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders where I will do my best to get get LDCs adopted there. If it does then comes the real work of how LDCs are implemented in practice which is the really exciting stuff. I would envisage some early adopters in each continent and a big initial focus on the EU and the United States. Getting US Mayors on board with LDCs is vital if we are going to 'trump' Trump in his bizarre illogical opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement. Getting even the smallest Councils and municipalties on board with LDCs in the US, or anywhere really, is going to bring the realities and benefits of addressing Climate Change closer to people and that's got to be good.

Well back to Brexit bound Britain now. I'll run another 5k tomorrow. That'll help. Here's Transeurope Express by Kraftwerk.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Locally Determined Contributions – A new tool to address Climate Change.

A briefing note on Locally Determined Contributuion by Councillor Andrew Cooper – Green Party Councillor on Kirklees Council , Member of the UK Delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions and Green Party of England Wales Energy Spokesperson.

There is an opportunity at the COP23 Climate Talks in November to bring action on climate change closer to Local and Regional Governments around the world and closer to the communities that they serve.
At COP21 in Paris 2 years ago National Governments expressed their efforts to achieve carbon emission reduction targets as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ - NDCs. In the case of the UK our NDC made no reference to the work being undertaken by Local Authorities to reduce emissions. Efforts at the local level to improve building standards beyond building regulation, install LED street lights, plant trees to sequester carbon etc were simply not measured or taken into account in those national contributions.
At the International level it is acknowledged that there is a shortfall between the agreed NDCs and the savings required to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. This reality requires fresh ideas to address this gap.

The growing momentum for Locally Determined Contributions to address Climate Change
There is a growing momentum behind the concept of Locally Determined Contributions where Local and Regional Government can set out their own plans to reduce carbon emissions. The idea was originally conceived by Cllr Andrew Cooper from the UK in his role as a member of the UK Delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions. There is a strong reference in the Opinion he is Rapporteur for on the EU’s Environmental Implementation Review. Another Opinion on Climate Finance by Italian member Marco Dus also makes reference to LDC’s. Both these Opinions will be going forward for approval at the EU Committee of the Regions Session on the 10th and 11th of October. In addition LDC’s are now included in a European Parliament Opinion being led by the Rapporteur French MEP Gilles Pargeneaux on ‘The Role of Regions and Cities in the implementation of the Climate Change Agreement’. His Opinion calls for,

"the creation of a system of Locally Determined Contributions to be implemented in direct and complementary to Nationally Determined Contributions"

Valuing action on Climate Change at the local level
Establishing a system of Locally Determined Contributions, to complement those that are determined by National Governments, could spur action at a local level. We are often asked to ‘Think Global and Act Local’ and by mirroring the terminology of ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ this helps stress the importance of action at the local level.
It is said of many things that if something isn’t measured it isn’t valued. An International system of Locally Determined Contributions would provide a platform for the valuable and vital action by Local and Regional actors to reduce carbon emissions and thereby be a spur to greater action to reduce carbon emissions.

Fostering International Cooperation on Climate Change at the local level
Locally Determined Contributions could help foster international cooperation between Local and Regional Authorities whereby best practice could be shared and peer support provided to those areas needing assistance where it may not be available within their country or from their National Government.

Ensuring the additionality of local action on Climate Change is recognised
Ensuring additionality should be a key feature of Locally Determined Contributions. Some countries are good at linking their NDCs with local action others are not. Being clear about which LDCs are additional and which are contributing to NDCs is important. Both should be measured to ensure local action is valued but it is important to be clear about what is additional, and what is not.
Existing mechanisms such as the Global Covenant of Mayors should be recognised as approved methods of demonstrating compliance as a Locally Determined Contribution. Robust existing methods of demonstrating carbon reductions should not have to go through additional hoops.

Providing a valid platform for local and State Government involvement in climate action in the USA
With the announcement by the current US President of their intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement this puts greater emphasis on action in the US at the level of individual State and lower levels of Governments. The US Conference of Mayors has indicated its intention to honour the COP21 Paris Agreement and LDC’s can provide a new structure that enables this involvement on action at the state level.

Accessibility for both large and small municipalities
Local and Regional Government can range from areas representing millions of people to just a few hundred. It is important that Locally Determined Contributions enable participation from Local and Regional Governments from the very small to the those Regional bodies that are larger than some nation states

Bringing COP and Climate Change action closer to local people and communities
The introduction of LDCs/RDCs at the lowest tier of Government will give a new opportunity for engagement with communities and non-governmental organisations. The strong links Local and Regional Authorities have with Community Leaders and key local agencies makes them ideally placed to drive local action on climate change. Establishing Local Partnerships to deliver LDCs and RDCs could provide a new impetus and focus for climate mitigation actions on the ground. LDC’s could provide the same basis for global community involvement at a local level that Local Agenda 21 provided.

Locally Determined Contributions and Brexit
The UK has stated that it will honour its current Nationally Determined Contributions which were part of the EU negotiated total. Though LDCs/RDCs have come out of EU Institutions if they are agreed at COP23 they will become part of an International Agreement and the UK will still be able to engage with them when/if Brexit finally comes into effect.

Contact
Councillor Andrew Cooper
Moble - + 44  (0) 7721 348619
Twitter @clrandrewcooper

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

I  boarded a Transpennine train from Huddersfield to Leeds today. As the train came into the station the guard beckoned us all to the front 3 carraiges. We got on the train and were informed that as there was only one guard on the train that to ensure passengers could be properly monitored only half the train would be in use. We were then informed that the threat level was 'critical'. People on the train started looking around, checking each other out. Playing 'Spot the Terrorist' I guess. I tried to avoid looking at the young Asian man opposite me. He was probably going shopping, seeing a relative, going to play football. It didn't matter really but I felt for him and anyone who might be assumed to be a Muslim on that train.

MI5 Threat levels on the likelihood of a Terrorist Attack are as follows

  • LOW means an attack is unlikely.
  • MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
  • SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is a strong possibility
  • SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
  • CRITICAL means an attack is expected imminently
So right now 'something horrific' somewhere could happen. To me substantial, severe, critical all just tell us all to be scared, To watch out, to stay at home and to look at other people a bit more closely than you would normally. Of course the likelihood of being bombed compared with being knocked down on the road in a traffic accident, having a medical emergency etc are not easily comaparble. If they were we could perhaps make some sort of meaningful comparison about how shit scared we should be, but then that just feeds all the paranoia that is out there anyway. The threat level alerts seem to be the very antithesis of the stoic, revived (and much revised) WW2 'Keep Calm and Carry On' motto that now graces many a coffee mug and tea towel. Are threat levels consistent with British culture and values. Well maybe not. They don't feel very 'stiff upper lip' at all really.

We are not given any information about why the threat of a terrorist attack is 'critical' rather than 'severe' or 'substantial' or where it might occur. Its not like a weather forecast but you can imagine someone standing up pointing at a map of the UK saying "the likelihood of a terrorist attack in Cornwall or the Outer Hebrides is quite low but if you're in a major conurbation like London or Manchester perhaps you should stay at home and watch a movie or the entire box set of ' Game of Thrones' from beginning to end. When we move down from 'Critical' to 'Severe' or a more comforting 'Substantial'. then you shoudl feel safer to venture outside into the sunshine (or more likely rain)

Of course there's a real danger writing something like this that an atrocity happens 30 seconds after I upload this blogpost and someone says "I told you so" but that would miss the point I am making. The threat levels are so similar to each other that all that most of them mean is to be wary, be vigilant,be very afraid.

"Alright Cooper what do you suggest we do then?" - There should be tailored announcements when MI5 knows something, with a Spokesperson making a statement. Obviously not compromising anybody or anything but giving more of a narrative than the all encompassing ' Be Afraid' threat levels. The danger is that people become unfazed by them and ignore them 

Has anyone even considered that some of the very few maniacs who are sitting in their sad flats waiting to commit these sort of atrocities may consider that one of their objectives may have been acheived if we are at a 'critical' state of alert. No bombs need to go off now, no vehicle needs to plough into a shopping centre today as 'terror' has already been acheived and has the Government approved label authenticating that fact. They can bide their time to when we are in the comfort of a 'substantial' level of threat before they act. All Government has really acheived is a delay.

I want to live in an optimistic country, where we are not told to be afraid. Where life, love and the pursuit of happiness makes us look with hope to the future. We need to regain innocence, expectation and positivity. So here's 'Sunny' by Boney M from a less complicated time. "What about the IRA?" - Sigh!



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Lockwood Path Clearance

Me, Cllrs Karen Allison and Julie Stewart-Turner joined Lockwood residents to clear the path between Victoria Rd and Rashcliffe Hill Road of Vegetation, rubbish and a heavy builders bag of sand. Rewarding to see the difference we made in just a couple of hours. A hard work out!


Kirklees Question Time - Thursday 12th October 2017


Saturday, 9 September 2017

COP23 - Bonn - Growing support for Locally Determined Contributions to tackle Climate Change

My initiative to get the concept of Locally Determined Contributions adopted as a new global tool to address climate change has taken some important steps forward.

To recap briefly. The targets established in the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement were agreed by National Governments and so were described as Nationally Determined Contributions. We know they fell well short of what was required to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees C (and a stretch target of 1.5 degrees C). The idea behind Locally Determined Contributions (and Regionally Determoned Contributions) is to record and encourage action by Local and Regional Authorities that may not otherwise be taken into account when assessing progress on reducing carbon emissions. The idea is that if we measure it then we encourage carbon mitigation plans and action. To this end in my role as a member of the EU Committee of the Regions I have promoted the concept of LDCs/RDCs in an Opinion I am leading on the EUs Environmental Implementation Review. The idea being that if it as adopted by an EU institution then the idea gains more credibility and traction.

There have been 2 important developments. Another Committee of the Regions Opinion on Climate Finance and Governance being led by Italian Member Marco Dus has adopted the principle of Locally Determined Contributions and now for the first time the concept has been taken up in the European Parliament. French MEP Gilles Pargeneaux has included in his Opinion on 'The Role of Regions and Cities in the implementation of the Climate Change Agreement' a call for,

"the creation of a system of Locally Determined Contributions to be implemented in direct and complementary to Nationally Determined Contributions"

So now 2 EU Institutions have this idea on their agendas. I am keen that this becomes a key outcome of the International Climate Change Talks, COP23 in Bonn in November. If it is adopted there then Locally Determined Contributions goes global and everywhere from Kirklees to Kamkatcha will have a framework to act locally to reduce emissons. If this occurs then Brexit or no Brexit, Councils in the UK will have an international treaty empowering them to produce plans to address climate change. Exciting times!

Previous posts on Locally Determined Contributions



http://greeningkirklees.blogspot.be/2016/12/eu-committee-of-regions-eu-commission.html

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

No reduction to the Council Tax Reduction scheme


Kirklees is currently contemplating reducing the Council Tax subsidy for vulnerable groups to save just over £1million each year. The proposals would see lone parents with young children and people in receipt of a range of Disability benefits and war pensions having to pay around an additional £1.50 to £2.00 per week. To people who are on low incomes already this is not an insignificant amount.

It is important to recognise why the Council is even considering this drastic move. Huge cuts by central government have limited Kirklees ability to properly fund services people expect of their local council. The additional £14million cut Kirklees received last year when  government failed to honour the level of funding we secured from the Council Tax freeze grant was particularly difficult for Kirklees.

Understanding why Kirklees is proposing such cuts is not the same as agreeing with them however. I don't believe our local Council should be in the business of making poor people poorer. Kirklees Council should operate according to a set of values and principles rather than simply being an organisation which manages an ever dwindling amount of resources. We need to find other ways to make the books balance. Always easier said than done but if regard this as acceptable it opens the door to further cuts for this same group of people in future years. The genie would be well and truly out of the bottle. So I am opposing this proposal and I would be disappointed if a Council that is led by the Labour Party somehow found this acceptable.

The Consultation on the proposal runs till October 15th I urge as many people as possible to respond on the link attached https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=150289138626

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Press Statement - Green Councillor condemns undemocratic Mill Ponds decision


Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper condemned the decision by the Governments Planning Inspector to approve development on the land adjacent to Newsome Mill Ponds

The land is bordered by Newsome Road, Hart Street and Naomi Road and the Mill Ponds served the now fire ravaged nearby  Newsome Mills Approval was sought for 22 houses on the site.


“ This decision by an unelected Government official from the Planning Inspectorate overrules the democratic decision refusing development made by the Council’s Planning Committee and ignores numerous refusals for development on the land. My concern now is that the loss of the Mill Ponds will mean a serious disruption to culverts and drainage running across the land. This could have an adverse impact on local residents homes and gardens. Many local people have long felt the former allotment site at the heart of Newsome would make an ideal park area. This is now not an option. Though the land is now approved for development this is not the end of the  matter and the developer will have to demonstrate how they will manage the significant drainage issues and respect the Tree Preservation Orders that exist on the site. This is yet another case of landowners doing what is best for their pocket and not what provides the most benefit to the community. I applaud the long campaign by local people and Diane Sims in particular to protect the site from rapacious development. The clear, articulate and informed way the case against development has been made has fought off development for over 30 years. A Government Official with no democratic mandate has made this decision. If we need to ‘take back control’ anywhere it is about decisions that directly affect our local communities ”

Link to Newsome Mills Campaign website

https://newsomemill.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/the-30-year-fight-to-save-newsome-mill-ponds/