TOMORROW is another day, another year. And as this one ends with flooding, storms, power outages and massive insurance claims the environment will, without doubt, be one of the major issues of 2016.
Adjectives like “freak” and “unprecedented” can no longer ring true given the six storms which have hit Britain since the second week of November. That was Storm Abigail – the first to be named by the Met Office – and already we’re on to Storm Frank. Half a dozen storms in eight weeks doesn’t sound freakish, more like heavy weather is becoming the norm.
Climate change is with us, and during this same period the Paris climate agreement saw governments pledging to cut greenhouse gases to keep the global temperature rise down to below 2C. This basically means that for the first time decarbonisation of our energy sources will have to be at the heart of all policy making – a major shift.
And yet while the UK government signed up to the agreement and has also pledged financial support for less-developed economies struggling to meet the demands, here through some form of the most tortured thinking, it has cut subsidies to green energy, including wind farms, agreed to let fracking go ahead and VAT is set to rise to 20 per cent on home solar and wind generators.
All this despite the government admitting it won’t reach its green energy targets by 2020 and looking at importing green energy from abroad rather than making it more attractive for businesses and homeowners to invest. Let’s call that Storm SNAFU.
Meanwhile the Scottish government which had pledged to meet all of Scotland’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2020, has been demanding Westminster rethink the subsidy cuts given the impact they will have on Scottish green energy firms.
But even Holyrood seems to speak with forked tongue when it comes to green energy. It now looks as though only 87 per cent of the 2020 target will be met and the government plans to cut rate relief to renewable energy firms, offering it solely to community-run organisations instead. It’s a move which will see many small firms go out of business.
For a country which has to move away from being oil dependent, the removal of support for fledgling companies attempting to make Scotland a world leader in renewable energy is as backward a move as re-opening a coal mine and lighting it with paraffin lamps.
The storms of recent weeks prove that real change has to happen; that we need to move away completely from fossil fuels. Scotland is well placed naturally to be at the vanguard of wind, tide and hydro energy sources.
The Holyrood election will be with us before we know it – there will be very little to differentiate between much of the party policies on offer. Perhaps, finally, it is on the environment and the world we want to leave to our grandchildren that we all need to focus on when asking our politicians what they will do for
It’s certainly worth pondering as the bells chime tonight.
Patrick will be sorely missed
PATRICK Begley was a youth player with Hearts, playing and training alongside the likes of Mark Burchill, until a car accident in 1998 left him with brain damage and ended his career.
Many people would never recover psychologically from that, but he became a fitness coach and started to take football training classes, mostly of boys at a very young age.
Indeed there will be few boys in Broxburn who have not been in one of his classes.
But Patrick passed away earlier this month, aged just 35, after a bout of meningitis triggered a series of strokes. I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been for his family. But his loss certainly leaves a huge hole in the community.
Firm certainly doesn’t deliver
HERE’S a heads up for next year’s Christmas – don’t rely on the delivery firm Hermes.
My stomach still clenches with stress just in the writing of that company name. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve developed an ulcer.
My youngest son’s Santa list included a Lego set which is no longer made, so I ventured onto eBay and managed to win it – expensively – through a bidding process.
This was in the second week of December. The lady sending it to me had it parcelled and collected by December 13 and then…. well then it “disappeared” in Hermes’ hub. Despite having a tracking number and being well-labelled it just vanished.
By December 22 I was apoplectic. Not just because the parcel had not arrived but because the customer service was so appalling that attempting to contact them was as vain as telling a teenager to put a coat on when it’s cold outside. You are completely ignored.
Of course there’s no phone number and not through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter did anyone from Hermes get in touch… until Boxing Day. And then only to tell me they can only deal with complaints from the “shipper” – my anxiety and lack of delivery just don’t count.
Not that I was alone in my frustration as a reading of the firm’s Twitter account proves.
Who knows what’s happened to my parcel? Not Hermes that’s for sure. Useless.
From adversity comes strength
JAK Trueman is a worthy number one on the Evening News Top 40 people for 2015. It’s just a terrible shame the young man isn’t around to hear the wonderful things said about him.
His desire to help other children battling with cancer – a rare form of which eventually claimed his life at just 15 – is a powerful reminder that from adversity comes strength. His family certainly seem to have the latter in abundance.
Happy New Year!
HOWEVER you plan to celebrate, and wherever you are this evening as midnight chimes, I hope you have a good Hogmanay and don’t have to walk too far to get home.