On 6th January 2015 Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what plans the National Health Service has to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by the combined impact of nitrogen dioxide and fine particles emitted by diesel engines’. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
On 10th November 2014, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, took part in a division of the House of Lords, on an amendment to the Government’s Infrastructure Bill.
Labour Peer Baroness Worthington moved amendment 113G, to insert the new clause Underground access: environmental protection, which sought to create new regulations for the extraction of oil and gas through the process known as fracking.
The Bishop of Lichfield voted ‘not content’. No bishop voted ‘content’.
There were Contents: 141 | Not Contents: 237 | Result: Government Win
On 5th November 2014, the Bishop of St Albans tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, during its Report Stage, which sought to hold the Government to its commitment to a zero-carbon homes strategy as originally envisaged, including removing exemptions for small construction companies and allowing construction companies to buy themselves out of their obligation to build zero-carbon homes. Following the debate on the amendment, assurances were given tat consultation on the commitment were ongoing, and the Bishop did not press it to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment 108A, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for co-sponsoring it. I bring forward this amendment out of concern that the standard proposed in the Bill is significantly lower than that already agreed through cross-industry consensus. I fear that an excessive focus on off-site carbon savings will undermine the effectiveness of the proposals and that an exemption for small sites will create confusion by causing the emergence of a two-tiered regulatory system. It is essential that housebuilders meets the carbon compliance standards that have already been agreed through cross-industry consensus. This was endorsed by the Government back in 2011 and strongly supported by around 70% of those responding to their consultation. I am therefore troubled by the proposal of a new on-site energy performance standard for zero-carbon homes that is lower than the one already agreed. It is not clear why this reduction is necessary. The proposed exemptions from the standard for homes built on small sites and for starter homes would also serve to undermine the main purpose behind the zero-carbon standard: namely, that of prioritising carbon reduction. It is to address the lack of measures necessary to realise the Government’s stated commitment to carbon neutrality that I have tabled this amendment which requires the previously agreed carbon compliance standard to be met on-site before allowable solutions can be undertaken. It also requires all homes to meet that standard, ensuring that no exemptions are allowed. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls on Government to uphold its commitment to zero-carbon homes”
On 27th October 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked an oral question in the House of Lords:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to pledge funding to the Green Climate Fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): My Lords, the UK recognises the importance of a successful initial resource mobilisation process, and is keen for the fund to become operational as soon as possible. We aim to pledge at the initial Green Climate Fund pledging meeting arranged for 19 and 20 November, ahead of the United Nations climate change negotiations at the start of December. We are a strong supporter of the Green Climate Fund, because we see it as a key new vehicle for helping developing countries adapt to climate change and follow low-carbon development paths.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for her reply, and I am grateful for all that the Government are doing in this important area. So far, 10 countries, I think, have pledged contributions to the Green Climate Fund, but despite his warm words recently in New York the Prime Minister was not among those offering to make a pledge. Can we have some information about how much Her Majesty’s Government intend to pledge, and can we know what else we shall put on the table, if we are to have credibility at the discussions in December in Lima?
Baroness Verma: My Lords, the UK is committed to scaling up climate finance, and we have already committed £3.87 billion from our International Climate Fund between 2011 and 2016. The first £1.76 billion of this has already been committed from the International Climate Fund, and is expected to achieve the following lifetime results. However, the right reverend Prelate is right that we need to encourage all member states to come up to the mark and ensure that they are all contributing. This is a very important area. The UK is absolutely committed, and the Prime Minister has made that very clear. He will announce his pledge in November.
On 28th July 2014, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in a short debate in the House of Lords on the Government’s response to the Farrell Review of architecture and the built environment. He supported the relaxing of planning laws, to enable people to have a greater say in the built environment in which they live. He also argued that architects should play a more significant role in issues of planning, cautioning that houses built in the past 20 years risked becoming the slums of the future.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, reference to the Tower of Babel earlier stimulated me to speak in the gap, and I believe that there is time to do so. Skyscrapers are quite ambiguous—they work in some places but not in others. Why does the Shard work but the Cheesegrater look completely out of place? Maybe that is just my own subjective judgment. Why do some cities that have no need of skyscrapers feel they want them? Some cities in Australia that have all the space they could possibly want still have an instinct to build skyscrapers. It indicates how important the environment is for us. We see no skyscrapers in Paris or Rome. The urban planners there do not allow them. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester highlights impact of built environment on well-being of society”
“We need to get people in their own backyards to understand, participate in and support this kind of culture change, without which our whole aspiration to deal with climate change issues will fall very far short” – Bishop of Derby, 18/6/14
The Government’s Infrastructure Bill was debated at its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 18th June 2014. During the debate, the Bishop of Derby, Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, focused on community energy provisions and, drawing on local examples, the role that churches can play as intermediary institutions. More details on the Bill, which also contains provisions on transport, planning and housing, can be found here.
On Friday 4th April 2014 the Archbishop of Canterbury took questions from callers to LBC’s James O’Brien radio show. Topics covered included same-sex marriage, the nature of God, climate change, economics and investments, female bishops, welfare reform and relations within the Anglican Communion. A transcript is below. The full recording can also be heard here.
Update: On 6th April the Archbishop gave a joint interview to BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme, with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In it he was asked to expand on the final answer he gave during the LBC interview. The Sunday Programme recording can be heard here (27 mins 55 secs in)
On 27th March 2014, the Bishop of St Albans received an answer to a written question on flooding.
Flooding – Question
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the recent and ongoing flooding, they plan to reconsider their 2010 decision to remove the duty on local authorities to produce climate adaptation plans. Continue reading “Flooding: Written Question”
The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to improve flood defences in agricultural areas.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
My Lords, the noble Lord will be only too aware of the huge contribution that British agriculture makes to food security. Could he therefore tell us what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made concerning the risk to food security due to poorly planned flooding amelioration and prevention schemes, which are allowing considerable areas of high-grade agricultural land to be taken out of production due to flooding?
Lord De Mauley:
I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for coming to see me the other day to talk about these things. There is currently no evidence that flood events such as those experienced in 2007, 2009 or 2012—or, so far, in recent events—represent a threat to food security in the United Kingdom. According to the UK food security assessment, the UK enjoys a high level of food security as a developed, stable economy. I think it is more likely that disruption to transport links could impact access to food supplies, but we are watching this carefully.