Friday, September 4, 2015

planning for climate change and migration

Perhaps the biggest challenges for the UK land use planning system are climate change and population growth, of which in-migration is a significant element (just over 50%).

It is the current 'plan', or projection based on current trends, that the population that is currently at about 65m will increase by about 5m over the next twelve years to about 70m. This increase adds to the economy (inc GDP) and immigrants tend, on average, to be younger, healthier and more economically active.  However, more people do put greater demands on infrastructure, including transport and housing  that is already under stress in some parts of the country.  There is no national spatial plan so development and infrastructure provision tends to follow the demand which is expressed in parts of the country already under strain and congestion. For these reasons, both real and imagined, the prospect of a few thousand people and families being accommodated on these isles is of great concern to our politicians who might well be accurately reflecting the majority view of the electorate.  So, instead of 'opening his arms to a significant number of the several thousand people currently 'parked' in east and southern Europe, the Prime Minister claims that his country is generously expending its resources on their welfare closer to their home - citing as an example the Syrians who have resorted to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

The Prime Minister  might not have come across the narrative that points to two factors that contributed to the inflagration in Syria? One was that the armed intervention in Libya (about which he is sufficiently proud as to propose an equivalent adventure in Syria) was taken as a signal by the Syrians opposing President Assad that NATO would extend its interpretation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to defend them from the inevitable response response from the repressive regime in Damascus. The second factor is that the uprising started with migrants for the Syrian countryside protesting on the streets of urban areas due to their loss of livelihoods food shortages. And why had they left the countryside for the cities? Many years of drought.  This story continues with speculation about whether 0.8 degrees of the warming of global temperatures was a cause or had contributed to these abnormally dry conditions?

So if the Prime Minister wants to make good his claim that this country is doing its best for people currently living in Africa, Asia and the Middle East from which they are heading for a relatively peaceful and productive Europe, David Cameron should be asking his Minsters to report to him on the connection between climate change and migration patterns, both now and in the future.  If it transpires that some if not all of those who would like to move to the UK are motivated by conditions attributable to weather patterns associated with climate change, the Prime Minister would reasonably be expected to  look at his Government's policy for reducing carbon emissions.  And in so doing he would find a trail of devastation in respect of both solar and wind, the most promising sources of low carbon energy. At the same time, the abandonment of the Green Deal, the Code for Sustainable Homes and the 2016 Zero Carbon Homes target has left the Government without any effective policies to reduce energy demand.

This is a roundabout way of saying that this Government would appear to be less hypocritical in respect of its policies regarding migration and climate change if it eased the door open for some of those currently in transit, and invested (really) heavily in climate change mitigation and adaptation both in the UK and abroad.  Meanwhile (and it could be some time before this penny drops) preparations must be made in any event for the projected 5m population increase, and low carbon technologies (including energy savings of about 8& per year under the Climate Change Act before it is repealed) will need to be rolled out despite this 'greenest ever' Government.

No comments:

Post a Comment