Sunday, 22 November 2015

PRESS RELEASE - Green Councillor gets EU backing on Car Manufacturer Emissions Scandal

 An  initiative by Kirklees Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper to direct  fines on car manufacturers to improve public transport  and local air quality has been supported by a major European Institution. Councillor Cooper made the proposal at a September meeting of the EU Committee of the Regions, the body that represents local government and devolved administrations across the European Union. It was originally agreed in September but right wing groups the European Peoples Party and the European Conservatives & Reformists (which includes the UK Conservative Party) bizarrely backed out of supporting a joint statement they had originally agreed to following a unanimous vote. The statement on the vehicle emissions scandal was put to the vote again but this time was passed by a majority vote but this time with the open opposition of the right wing groups including the UK Conservative Party.

Councillor Cooper said,

"I am delighted that the EU Committee of the Regions has finally come out in favour of a 'polluter pays' principle on vehicle manufacturers who have falsified their emissions tests. The impact of them flouting the law on exhaust fumes has a direct impact on peoples health. The effect on respiratory illnesses is real and we need car manufacturers fines to be invested in cleaner transport alternatives in our communities to help repair the damage they have done. 

I simply can't understand why anyone would back car manufacturers who have been forced to admit they cheated on emissions tests against the people who's health could have been adversely affected by this additional pollution.

We now know that car makers have falsified emissions tests on carbon emissions as well.  So the issue has become a climate chamge issue as well as a public health matter.

The EU Committee of the Regions has made a strong statement on the scandal we need to push harder on national governments, the European Parliament and European Commission to back this principled stand."

Details of the September EU Committee of the Regions ENVE Commissions meeting

Link to official EU Committee of Regions Pres Statement

Contact - Councillor Andrew Cooper - 07721 348619

Statement below

A statement from the ENVE Commission of the Committee of the Regions on the automotive emission tests' scandal

The ongoing scandal of certain car manufactures cheating on vehicles (diesel and petrol powered cars) emissions' tests is a matter of great concern for local and regional authorities, as those most affected by these situation are the people living in our towns and cities who breathe in these emissions with serious impact on their health. It has also become clear that similarly misleading information on C02 emissions has been provided by certain manufacturers, which risks undermining our efforts at combatting climate change.

The ENVE commission members welcome the fact that new test cycles which are based on real-world driving conditions will finally be introduced at the EU level, but they wish to express their deep disappointment that national governments in the Council of Ministers have decided to still allow car manufacturers to exceed more than two times the emission limits required by EU law as of 2017, when testing will have to be moved from laboratories to roads. The ENVE members believe this relaxation of rules should not be accepted, as the CoR has previously underlined the crucial importance of addressing air quality problems at source.

Poor air quality is responsible for approximately 400,000 premature deaths in the EU ever year and has a disproportionately severe impact on the health of people with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, the very young and elderly people.

As representatives of local communities and regions, ENVE members strive to ensure public health of our citizens and we expect national governments and the EU level to do the same and not tolerate fraudulent practises which cause serious harm to our citizens. We also believe that appropriate forms of compensation must be paid by companies found to be responsible and that local authorities should receive a fair share of such compensation for the damages their citizens suffer, and to enable cities and regions to better implement clean-air programmes.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Andrew Cooper's Speech to MEND Event on 16/11/15 at Lockwood Park

I found about the Paris attacks on Twitter like  many people do these days and so this was my thoughts within the 140 character limit

Paris attacks are designed to push people of different backgrounds, races & religions apart so we must come together in unity & peace.  

What that means is that all of us have got to work harder to work across communities, so the edges are blurred , differences become less distinct and common concerns and similarities are emphasised

I’m a representative for the whole of Newsome Ward which includes communities of Lockwood, Longroyd Bridge and Springwood. For me that means I have to try harder to be more visible, more approachable, more available. Because when people feel they don’t have a stake in our institutions in our communities that can be the beginning of a slippery slope.

Our role as local Councillors has to be about advocacy for communities. So if there are concerns about council vehicles possible going over peoples graves then it is my job to get officers to address those concerns. If there are concerns about Mount Pleasant School moving to a new improved building then I will push hard to get progress It is all Councillors role, of whatever political colour, to help where there are issues and problems, because that shows that you don’t just care but will act. There are many examples where that is the case across the political spectrum.

Islamaphobia and radicalisation are 2 different problems. You could describe them as 2 sides of the same coin. Both are negative and both can both feed each other. We have to find ways of addressing them together.

Trying to control thought is, in my opinion, not the way we will address either Islamaphobia or radicalisation.  Our best approach to both is by encouraging questioning minds, critical thinking, taking nothing at face value. It almost certainly means that not reading the Daily Mail (and its ilk) is a good first step if you really want to leave Islamaphobia behind! Critical Thinking is also a challenge for politicians and governments who like simple answers to complex issues but it is also a challenge to those with malicious intent, who want to use simple arguments that put a gun in someones hand or make them leave our country on a dream that they find out is a nightmare far too late.

 Mainstream religions do not preach hate they preach love, respect for each other whatever our backgrounds. All have texts which can be knowingly misinterpreted, twisted to suit a malevolent purpose but those who do this have a purely political rather than a truly spiritual agenda. There is more that unites us than divides us.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Addressing Climate Change - Two possible futures.

I am clear about how I would like to see carbon emissions reduced in the UK (and beyond?) My, 'Plan A' chosen future is one with low energy demand, new build housing to Passivhaus standards, a mass insulation deep retrofit programme. Electricity and heat production would be largely renewable with many small community, individual and locally owned energy companies - an Energy Generating Democracy. This was a future that the UK was making its first small steps towards but with the scaling back of the Energy Company Obligations and decimation of small scale and community micro generation by this Government (and the previous Coalition Government) this future looks a distant dream. It is a dream that is the traditional 'Big 6 Energy Companies' nightmare. Low energy demand, low customer bills, low profits, diminished dividends for shareholders. We could save the Planet but it is a dim outlook for your traditional gas and electricity supplier under my preferred scenario.

  You can imagine that with protecting their corporate interests  being in conflict with global survival that energy companies might 'kick back' at policies that might adversely affect them, so for that approach to have any moral justification they need a 'Plan B' to offer an alternative vision of our energy future. For electricity we pretty much can see the path. New nuclear is there certainly but so is carbon capture  and storage and we should expect some movement on that agenda shortly. 

What about heat? The Renewable Heat Incentive is an innovative policy supporting small and community scale biomass, heat pumps and a bit of solar thermal for hot water but there's no will to scale it up as a mass market solution for the millions rather than just the greenies and first movers. Community/District heating is also a solution which is difficult to make stack up on any scale. Government has given up on energy efficiency as a solution to the heat problem so what's left? We could have electric central heating for homes but for it to be carbon free we would need a massive scaling up of our renewable energy generation and that is certainly not anywhere on this Governments agenda. So you are left with the gas going through the pipes and being burnt in our boilers. If it has to be gas you have to change the gas. Biogas created and captured from rotting biological matter e.g. Sewage sludge, decomposing vegetable matter etc could be injected into the gas network and this would be renewable as opposed to fossil gas. The process is called anaerobic digestion but again not much sign of serious investment in this technology in the UK. So methane, fossil or renewable sourced is not a solution. What are we left with? Burning a different gas such as hydrogen in boilers. This is being seriously considered and I know of discussions with government looking at how this scenario might work and the technical problems that would have to be overcome to make it a reality. The problem is that as a mass market solution it is probably 20 years plus away from realisation or 'too late' as you could put it. Plan B doesn't work!

I don't believe that under any scenarios the government  might consider that they can resolve the heat problem. So it's back to Plan A! Existing housing mass regrofit would need to be covered through a 'Green New Deal' approach or Peoples QE funded but the problem of the Energy Companies remains. How do you take away their fear, their loss of revenue and give them hope of a future? They need a new source of revenue, they need to diversify into companies that have a socially and environmentally beneficial purpose. The natural partners for energy companies a re social housing providers Councils and Registered Social Landlords/Housing Associations. They have been badly hit by Government through cuts in Housing Revenue Account funding and a proposed extension of the 'Right to Buy'. This has meant that plans to build new social rented housing have been either cancelled or scaled back significantly. A new source of funding from Energy Companies could come in the form of a 'Social Housing Obligation' where a levy on bills could be used to fund investment in new Council and Housing Association developments. These would be built to 'passivhaus' standards and would have limited need for heating. The difference between the Social Housing Obligation and Energy Company Obligation would be that's for the former they would have a 'share of the action' and an agreed proportion of the revenue. Over time you would expect Energy Companies to have a diminishing amount of revenue from selling energy and a rising amount from rents. Ultimately they may well become, or merge with, Social Housing providers. To make the business model work it would be necessary for Government (and Labour) to abandon their ideological support for the 'Right to Buy'. We can tackle climate change and create a better society but not with the government or the policies we have.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Why are Greens walking to Paris, Yorkshire on Saturday 5th of December?

On Saturday 5th of December Greens in a variety of environmental organisations will be walking from Huddersfield Town Centre to the hamlet of Paris, Scholes near Holmfirth. The aim of the walk will be to highlight the gulf between the carbon reductions indicated by national governments around the world , for the Paris (France) COP 21 Climate Talks in December, and those reductions that are needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The carbon savings identified will only limit us to a global temperature increase of 2.7 degrees. To avoid the worst impacts we need to limit temperature rises to an average of 2 degrees or less.

Councillor Andrew Cooper who leads the Greens on Kirklees Council and who will be on the 4 hour walk said,

“We may be walking to the ‘Wrong Paris’ but we are calling on our Government and other countries who are going to the ‘Right Paris’ to go there with the right targets and the right policies to ensure we have a safe environment for future generations”

“The UK Government has cut investment in renewable energy while encouraging the expansion of fracked gas. They have cut support to solar and wind projects and have given tax breaks worth millions to oil and gas companies. The UK Government may be sending their delegation the ‘Right Paris’ but they have the wrong priorities and wrong targets”

Once we have arrived at Paris walkers will gather in Scholes Methodist Church for refreshments and short talks about action to address Climate Change before heading to the ‘Boot and Shoe Inn’ and a bus home.

People are welcome  to join the walk but please register on the events Facebook page so we can judge numbers


What we are doing
Train arrival times
For those joining ‘en route’
9:45 AM
Harold Wilson Statue, Hudds Train

Set off
10:00 AM
Through Town Centre, down Chapel
Hill to Lockwood

Arrive Lockwood
10:20 AM
Grappolos Car Park at Lockwood traffic lights


Depart Lockwood

10:30 AM

Arrive Berry Brow
11:00 AM
Junction of Waingate and Woodhead
Road – opposite Laxmi in car park.


Depart Berry Brow
11:10 AM

Arrive Honley
11:45 AM
Junction of Gynn Lane and New Mill
Road – next to the recreation fields


Depart Honley
12:00 PM

Arrive Brockholes
12:30 PM
Rock Inn Car Park – on New Mill Rd and opposite the Car Park


Depart Brockholes
12:45 PM

Arrive Paris
2.00 PM
Arrive Paris for
Selfies by the ‘Paris sign’, refreshments and speaking at nearby Scholes Methodist Church followed by a drink or two in the Boot and Shoe Inn