The letter from Conservative MPs listing their climate achievements makes rather sad reading (Letters, 17 October). Yes, they have done some positive things but the letter glosses over many problems.
The record investment in renewables and phase-out of coal power stations is largely a result of market forces because green measures have become much cheaper, and it was the Labour government that introduced the feed-in tariff leading to the huge growth in solar power. Setting a net-zero target is meaningless unless supported by action, and hosting the 2020 UN climate talks will probably simply produce more hot air than reduce CO2 .
It was the Conservatives who stopped onshore wind turbine installations, failed to act on the tidal barrage, and have locked us into a bad nuclear plant deal that will cost us three times as much for their power as that provided by renewables. It was the Conservatives who took away subsidies for plug-in hybrid cars and raised their vehicle tax to £140 per annum. Their flattening of the tax bands has led to a rise in sales of larger cars, and a 2040 target for ending diesel and petrol car sales is too late. I also seem to remember, many years ago, that it was the Conservatives who, in the face of building industry lobbying, failed to implement proposed regulations that would have mandated much higher insulation standards.
Words are useless, only action counts in countering global heating.
• “The UK plans to lead the world’s future climate ambitions” (Rise of renewables may see off oil firms decades earlier than they think, 14 October) is a false claim shared by the Conservative and Labour parties, as it relies on completely blocking out the emissions that UK corporations are responsible for overseas, which are actually increasing.
The UK hosts two of the world’s top five privately-owned oil majors, and three of the top seven mining corporations. Richard Heede’s research (Report, 10 October) shows that the CO2 equivalent emissions from these companies’ products alone is five times greater than all emissions in the UK.
It is time for the political establishment to admit this truth and confront the consequences.
Dr Andy Higginbottom
Associate professor, Kingston University
• The Guardian is to be congratulated on its investigatory series on the major polluters.
However, in the analysis of MPs’ voting record on bills to combat climate change (Tories five times more likely than other MPs to vote against bills to tackle climate crisis, 12 October), both Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas are marked as 92% supportive on the basis they voted to “keep nuclear power subsidies relatively low”. This clearly implies that voting for higher nuclear subsidies would increase their score on lowering carbon emissions.
Nadhim Zahawi, the business and energy minister, compounded this view, telling parliament in a written statement on 17 October: “Nuclear … will continue to play an important role as we transition to a carbon neutral economy.”
But it is a demonstrably false viewpoint. A recent assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from differing power generation technologies by Prof Mark Jacobson indicates that nuclear CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewables.
In a newly completed chapter, Evaluation of Nuclear Power as a Proposed Solution to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security, in his forthcoming book, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything, Jacobson argues: “There is no such thing as a zero- or close to zero-emission nuclear power plant. Even existing plants emit due to the continuous mining and refining of uranium needed for the plant. Overall emissions from new nuclear are 78 to 178g of CO2/kWH, not close to 0.”
All MPs need to take note.
Dr David Lowry
Senior international research fellow, Institute for Resource and Security Studies
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