By Ben Gill
The only clear victor in Thursday’s UK general election was the Green party, securing its first ever seat in the constituency of Brighton Pavilion on the south coast, while the three main parties were all left disappointed to some degree.
Green party leader and Member of the Eurpean Parliament Caroline Lucas received 31.3% of the vote, ahead of Labour, second on 28.9% and the Conservatives third with 23.7%. Jubilant scenes outside Brighton Centre hall early on Friday morning marked the historic victory, overturning a 5,000 Labour majority with the assistance of an army of about 200 volunteers.
So what now for Britain’s first-ever Green MP and what implications on British politics?
By Ben Gill
This week marks 25 years since the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer by British scientists Joseph Farman, Brian Gardiner, and Jonathan Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey. The ozone is the Earth’s protective layer against damaging effect from ultraviolet rays. However it also marks an unprecedented international response, with the Montreal Protocol written up within two years and becoming the first UN treaty to achieve universal ratification last year.
Swift action has already begun reversal of the damage. So, if we mobilised globally to solve an anthropogenic environmental threat then, why so much difficulty in tackling climate change today?
The fury levelled against BP in the US over its Gulf of Mexico oil spill is, of course, principally provoked by the scale of the leak. But at times there seems to be an extra edge to the attacks because BP is a foreign company. The insistence of some administration officials that the company is called “British Petroleum” – not its name since the 1998 – makes the point very clearly.
Would officials speak so freely about keeping their “boot on the throat” of an American company? Perhaps not.
Piecing together the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster will take months. Exactly what happened on the night of April 20 may never be known: some of the key equipment may never be recovered from the sea bed, and the 11 men who died in the blast appear to have been the ones closest to the explosion, because they were working on the drill floor when it happened.
The investigations mounted by BP, Transocean and the US authorities will be huge forensic exercises, akin to the task of trying to understand an air crash in mid-ocean.
From accounts provided by survivors, the companies involved and industry experts, this explains what we think we now know about the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and what the recovery of the blowout preventer could reveal.
There are now at least three lengthy accounts circulating of that crucial meeting between key heads of state on the last official day of the Copenhagen climate conference, where hopes for a firm and binding climate agreement were dashed.
The latest to join the canon is Der Spiegel, which has published an English translation of its ‘secret recordings’ story from the meeting. It’s predictably full of drama:
“We have all along been saying ‘Don’t prejudge options!,’” said a representative of the Indian delegation*, prompting Merkel to burst out: “Then you don’t want legally binding!” This, in turn, prompted the Indian negotiator to say angrily: “Why do you prejudge options? All along you have said don’t prejudge options and now you are prejudging options. This is not fair!” Chinese negotiator He Yafei stood by this remark.
This is a fascinating account and the story should be read in full. Putting it together with the other accounts is even more revealing.
China’s backslide on its energy intensity targets might have come at a bad time, as the country prepares to host climate talks with ministers from 25 countries on Friday.
The New York Times reports that the country’s cabinet held a special meeting to discuss the problems meeting energy targets, and that Premier Wen Jiabao said: “We can never break our pledge, stagger our resolution or weaken our efforts, no matter how difficult it is.”
Meanwhile there are new reports from the Chinese press saying the country will redouble its efforts.
- Even an oil spill won’t move Washington
- That Der Spiegel Copenhagen reconstruction – blaming China AND India
- BP oil: A spreading stain
- A Graham-less climate bill
- How the ‘cofferdam’ works