Friday, 30 October 2009

Hugh Bayley on 10:10

On October 21st the Lib Dems asked their fellow MPs to commit Parliament to reducing its carbon footprint by 10% by the end of 2010, following a huge wave of support that saw almost 10,000 emails in 48 hours and 96% of MPs receiving a phone call asking for them to support the campaign.

In the event Labour stymied the vote with the Noes containing only a solitary DUP member and a sea of Red. I had emailed my MP, Hugh Bayley, asking him in the first instance to personally commit to the campaign and subsequently to support the motion brought before the house.
Sadly Hugh voted with the rest of his party (save for the twelve noble exceptions) in rejecting Simon Hughes' motion and not committing Parliament to a 10% reduction by the end of next year.

To say I was disappointed was an understatement, particularly from an MP who has been so prominent within International Development (the world's poorest suffer the most from a changing climate) so it was with interest that I received his response in the post (no postal strike impact here as yet).

On the personal front he's in.

I shall work to reduce my personal carbon consumption by 10 per cent in 2010 compared with this year. It is important for MPs to practice what they preach, so I will report on how well I do on my website at as 2010 progresses.

However, he did not vote for the motion because

I did not support it because it included an unrealisable commitment for Parliament to cut its emissions by 10 per cent in 2010. I wish the Houses of Parliament were in a position to make and implement such a pledge, but I am afraid we are not.

The House of Commons Commission, a committee of six senior MPs, had discussed 10:10 on the Monday before concluding that it was impossible to speed up or add to the we work of emission cutting to achieve 10 per cent in 2010.

Fair enough, the reason we didn't see Parliament adopt 10:10 was because they didn't want to make a promise they couldn't keep. Given the last 12 months that's not a stupid decision, in Hugh's words

the Commission is right not to make a promise it feels it could not keep. If it did so it would increase public cynicism about Parliament and politicians

However, what's revealing is the letter that Hugh Bayley sent to the Commission. In it he lists 10 things. I'll let you make your mind up over whether or not these are achievable and leave you to the incredulity that behaviours within Westminster should be so blase...

  • Every kitchen on the estate should be equipped to recycle paper, plastic, glass and cans. Currently, this is not the case
  • Food waste - rotting food waste contributes massively to our greenhouse gas emissions. We could consider ways to start recycling this
  • I have noticed walking around the Parliamentary estate that radiators are turned up to maximum temperature, with the windows open. There should be a cap to ensure the temperature on radiators is only as high as we need, and cannot be turned up.
  • We should have a 'lights off' policy and should install more movement-sensitive timers so that lights are not left on when rooms and corridors are not in use
  • We should be encouraging staff to turn their computer monitors and printers off when not in use
  • The monitors around the estate remain on throughout recess, and when the House is not sitting. This is unnecessary and they should be turned off if there is no business to display
  • Most plastic does not biodegrade and this is very damaging to the environment. The House should limit the use of plastic where possible. For example, we could switch to using takeaway wooden cutlery instead of plastic, and encourage people to use their own mugs, or biodegradable cups instead of the plastic filmed paper cups
  • The House of Commons gift shop could adopt a no plastic bag policy, and instead use paper bags
  • We should go back to providing tap water, and not bottled water in meetings
  • We should switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products, which are less polluting than chemical products.