Ed Miliband Q and A at the Manchester Report.
Of course, this was happening at the same time…
(For a sickeningly sycyophantic account of his speech, click here.)
First questioner describing self as “oldest solar pioneer in the room.” His observation was that the crisis in how we relate to the planning machine. The local good versus the public good (a phrase Miliband re-heard as local versus national good, and liked)
EM turned it round and said “what’s the solution?” Better training for planners? Questioner thought planners didn’t have sufficient scientific training.
Second questioner asking for government leadership, citing example of 30 million cars pumping out fuel during congestion, air quality/health issues around this.
Third questioner asking him to comment on jury’s decision in Drax coal train case.
EM says “Lord Chief Justice here would surely advise me not to. He did however say he was “in favour of peaceful action.” Call me a talmudic scholar already, but ‘peaceful’ is not the same as ‘lawful’. He is not, here, saying non-violent direct action that breaks the law is wrong… If I was a tabloid hack I’d have led this blog post with “Miliband endorses non-violent direct action!!!”
[Disclaimer- I asked the question, and it was stupid. I SHOULD have said, “I’m donating £29 to help them pay their costs, will you join me?” That would have a) put him on the spot and b) alerted other audience members to the opportunity. Sometimes I am a numpty…]
I also asked him, given his repeated request for a mass movement, “what can we do to hold your feet to the fire.”
He answered this by saying he had anxiety that there was- as there should be- a detailed conversation about carbon capture and storage, but not enough focus on global issues. He pointed out these are big big questions (one region in China planning to build 40 Kingsnorth equivalents in the next decade, I think)
He said therefore not a sufficiently global movement: “hold my feet to the fire on domestic and Copenhagen, but don’t forget the global.”
Fourth Questioner on the difference between cycling rates in Holland and Britian
Miliband became enthused here! In Holland lots and lots of short journeys by bike. Partly to do with lots of racks at stations.
EM “I got into trouble by saying people shouldn’t object ot wind turbines. In end it comes down to political persuasion, persuading people the bigger threat tot he countryside is climate change.
Fifth on what to do about training (young people)
Sixth questioner his opinion on increasing petrol prices to lower consumption
Seven questioner political trust and credibility in a bad place. One way to get it is to achieve things. We need to hear about the achievements and only then can momentum be built.
Miliband talked about achievements (18% lower than 1990 figures, he claimed, but this excludes aviation and some other stuff, and what about the embedded carbon in imports!!) and from June this year Carbon budgets in every decision. He compares this to 1997 when Treasury far more resistant
[NB See Jonatahn Porritt’s parting shot at HMT in today’s Absurder)
He got heckled about 5 year versus 1 year reporting and dealt with it very slickly- turned it over to Bryony Worthington, one of the Manchester Report panellists, who’d campaigned with FOE and then joined DEFRA to draft ‘the Big Ask’. She points out the government has to put out an annual report.
Miliband mentions a 16 year old girl at an earlier event saying “there should be a green work register” so that people like her can do some/get involved. He thinks it’s a good idea.
On petrol prices- over time price pressure will go up, in both high and low carbon world. Job of government is to ensure implemented in fair way, most vulnerable are protected.
Unstable oil prices not good, need stability for planning.
Eighth questioner is the Google guy on panel asks Miliband “What advice for Obama?”
EM “doing well, huge pressures, 60 Senate votes needed for domestic legislation, 67 for international treaty (i.e. Copenhagen).
Be as ambitious as possible.
“We need Japan and Australia… we nee everyone to be more ambitious.
For devel countries we need more Finance and Technical co-operation (i.e. Transfer)
He cites leaders summit in Italy next week. (see Grauniad article on this)
Ninth Questioner: Then two question from one guy (that’s really selfish and bad manners. You’d never catch MCFly people doing that, oh no) First on CCS. Questioner claims 30% more energy required, therefore not ahead. Miliband deals with it well, points out yes more energy, but you ARE ahead because you’ve buried that carbon plus more.
Second is on population as the elephant in the room, cancelling out gains from emissions cuts etc
Miliband says “well, development, education and women’s rights.”
The questioner then interrupts and talks about policies that are encouraging more births, but cites Germany and Australia. Miliband points out that these aren’t the countries where the growth in population is massive!!
[Comment: Miliband dealt with this very well, IMHO. As I said in the other post, he could have dealt with it even better by reading and citing a recent article by the wonderful Fred Pearce of the New Scientist. Pearce highlights that the growth in consumption in the already-over-developed (my words) world will actually outstrip population growth in the developing world. i.e. The problem is still us fat white Westerners.
Questioner Ten “What role for local authorities?”
Miliband asks the woman where she is from, she says Kirklees and he gets enthused.
EM- they led with energy insulation, went door to door. He asks her to speak about it all, and she does, but I can’t read my writing and am obviously too patriarchal to have caught what she said.
He comes back and says LAS can play a lot more of a role. Giving LAs responsibility for Carbon Budgets. Have some effect at local level, make LAs as free as possible for experiments, e.g. Lower council tax in exchange for insulation.
Questioner Eleven “Why cabinet colleagues so unpersuaded by New Green Deal?”
Miliband reckons they are “increasingly persuaded” 21 of the stimulus green. Announcement soon on £400m investment fund. “Can always do more.” The way we calculatie doesn’t take into account already built in money. Government becoming greener, carbon budgets etc.
Miliband finished off talking about “our historical responsibility for what’s already up in the air. [but] we could shut down EU tomorrow, developing world growth would still take us over two degrees . If you don’t tackle coal, at least 2 to 3 times more expansive to solve the problem. More electricity need, not more emissions.
“If people have more questions, get in touch with me, firstname.lastname@example.org
As he left, the chair of the panel thanked him for coming and answering so many questions.