Who Won the Week (19 September 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week posts, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

COP 26 Logo

This was an interesting one, I thought, because in the UK, there has just been a cabinet reshuffle, so I suspect this story made it to the press – it represents an early headache for those new ministers..

Have you heard of COP? It’s the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is the one where our great and good leaders fly in, produce lots of CO2 to get there, also lots of hot air once they do get there, promise the earth, and then deliver… fuck all.

This year, the UK happens to be president, and they are hosting a grand knees-up in Glasgow at the start of November – COP 26.

Now, to coincide with this conference, the government here brought forward an Environment Bill, no doubt to browbeat the rest of the world. It’s going through our parliament at the moment.

In the UK, we have two chambers of parliament, same as most of you. The lower chamber is responsible for the nitty-gritty, the day-to-day running of affairs. Our government and prime minister all belong to the lower chamber. That chamber is basically the top dog, despite being the “lower” chamber

Then, we have an upper chamber. There have always been squabbles here about how it is composed (it’s not elected), but basically its job is to scrutinise what the lower chamber does. Seems the one valid reason for having two chambers.

And with specific regard to this Environment Bill, the upper chamber has amended it quite significantly, including:

  • the declaration of a climate change and biodiversity emergency (I guess they figure that the UK might as well join in with everyone else);
  • eliminating sewerage being dumped into rivers;
  • protection of habitats, not just for animals but for woodland;
  • soil quality;
  • air quality. We had a landmark case here last year where, for the first time, air pollution was found to have been one of the causes of death of a nine-year-old girl;
  • greater restrictions on pesticides, taking into account the long-term impact, in particular on insects such as honey bees;
  • and lastly, beefing up the powers of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), the watchdog designed to enforce all these measures. There have been cases here of big water companies discharging into rivers, being told to stop, then carrying on anyway. Because… who’s gonna stop them?

All of which sound pretty reasonable for a bill designed to protect the environment, don’t you think?

Now, the lower chamber is top dog, so if it wishes, it can reject these modifications. But just as the upper chamber made the mods one by one, so too the lower chamber will have to undo them one by one. Which will take up valuable time, before this conference.

So now the government has a choice: to allow the mods to go through, or to put everything else on the backburner to meet this deadline.

The interesting thing here is that these are all, basically, the same political party. It’s like a Dem congress fighting with a Dem senate. You kinda know the government has got something seriously wrong, when you see that happening!

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