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Clklr Colin Hughes

The “Birmingham Declaration” setting out the Council’s plan of action to combat climate change was approved this week ahead of the Copenhagen Conference – but one bold backbencher described the science behind it as a “fiction” and claimed the cause had been hijacked by “authoritarians” .

In speech at Tuesday’s full Council meeting, prospective parliamentary candidate for Ladywood Colin Hughes revealed that he has a degree in Applied Mathematics and spent a further two years as a postgrad studying computer modelling of fluid, dynamic problems – all of which leads him to question to current consensus about rising temeparatures.

Scientists who argue the case for global warming, he said, have failed to take account of the fact that there have been no further increases in worldwide temperatures since 2000 despite a rapid growth in Co2 emissions - instead they act as if their existing models is still accurate.

In a strongly worded statement, Hughes said: “Climate change devotees still rely on these models, despite the fact that we know these models to be wrong, for end-of-the-world predictions to justify their proposed actions.

“What this means is that we should be very careful before spending huge amounts of the public’s money on schemes that may not be necessary.

“The research needs to go on because there is huge gaps in our knowledge and understanding but while the science is lacking there are authoritarians on all sides of this chamber who can’t help but to use this issue to boss people around and to tell others how to run their lives.

“They’ve jumped on this bandwagon and use it to excuse any and all government interference into private lives. We are elected by the people of Birmingham and we owe them better leadership than that.”

Hughes nevertheless welcomed the authority’s commitment to insulating homes and using electric vehicles.

“However”, he added, “climate change is not something that can used to support these measures.”

And he continued: “All the proposals depend on the science being settled, that is fiction.

“Professor Hans von Storch of the Meteorological Institute of Hamburg, one of the world’s leading climate change proponents, surveyed hundreds of his colleagues around the world asking the important question, ‘Is climate change mostly man-made?’

“66% said yes, 29% said no … 29% is not small. It is more than the support Labour has in current opinion polls.”

Hughes, a councillor for Brandwood, continued: “People have tried to use the argument that ‘we have more scientists therefore we are right’ but science isn’t a democracy.

“Science isn’t determined by popularity but by comparing theory with observation and where they differ the theory is wrong and you need to change your ideas.”

To see deputy Council leader Paul Tilsley’s speech in favour of the Birmingham declaration, read on......


Delivered by Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council at City Council on December 1, 2009:

Lord Mayor, we have put before this council chamber a challenging but achievable motion.

It is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper without reading about Climate Change and the Copenhagen summit – Geography is no longer a polite conversation about the weather or a neutral discussion about population, glaciation or tectonic plates, I think you will all agree it is becoming nigh on impossible to discuss any of the above without finding yourself drawn in to a discussion on climate change.

However, it seems we are all willing to get drawn into a discussion, putting any freak weather condition down to the ills of climate change, but what we need to start doing is taking positive action to make changes; as the largest local authority in Europe we need to show leadership in changing perception and setting examples.

We must be clear not only with our ambitions but also how we intend on achieving our ambitions – to the person in Longbridge who has just been made unemployed for the second time this year, our 2026 vision for reducing carbon emissions is not top of their list of priorities – so we must lead the much needed behavioural change

We are laying out our intentions, not to blow our own trumpet but to signal to local, west midlands based manufacturing firms our intentions to procure electric and LPG vehicles in the next five years. Birmingham City Council has the purchasing power and influence to stimulate green initiatives which will provide significant employment opportunities for local people. The Government hope to see electric and low carbon cars as part of everyday life in 5 years time, in Birmingham I am prepared to go a step further and say that I expect all the vehicles we procure by 2015 to be electric or LPG

Identifying our intention and demand for environmentally friendly vehicles is one step forward in increasing the confidence of vehicle manufacturers and consumers, it is also real recognition that this is a real opportunity for Birmingham to drive a low carbon economy.

The pursuit of this goal requires a seismic shift in attitude, to ensure support for the real productive economy – the manufacturing economy with its focus on science, innovation and development to improve overall quality of life – not just in cars, but in housing, buildings, waste and energy.

The Birmingham Declaration covers retrofit insulation for  Birmingham homes – Birmingham are a step a head of the government who have been advised by National Energy Action to initiate a ‘comprehensive retrofit of UK housing’ not only will this contribute to reducing carbon emissions it will also reduce fuel poverty. Conventional retrofit measures will increase energy efficiency in an 80 year old terraced home from 50% to 80%. Birmingham believes that by 2015 10% of homes will have retrofit insulation; this means approximately 40,000 homes in the city will be contributing to a reduction in co2.

It is important that we do not concentrate our efforts just around new builds as we target a reduction in co2 emissions through our buildings – 60% of the buildings we will be using in 2050 are already built so retrofit measures such as cavity wall insulation, double glazing and low energy lighting are key to lowering emissions in this city.

Birmingham’s environmental credentials have been recognised internationally after a scheme supported by the city council scooped a prestigious European award.

Summerfield Eco Village was named as one of the winners at the EUROCITIES Awards, presented during the EUROCITIES Annual Conference in Stockholm last week - Housing stock in Summerfield has been made more eco-friendly over the last five years through a programme of work together with residents and public bodies including the council, Be Birmingham, Family Housing Association and Urban Living.

I am proud that our achievements are been recognised across Europe; our reputation for being amongst leading green cities is growing, this is not because we are chasing awards and looking for praise, it is because we have set ourselves a challenging target to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2026 and we are demonstrating fantastic achievements through working with partners– the Summerfield project is just one example of how building effective relationships can deliver results which are recognised internationally.

The government have developed various schemes aimed at tackling co2 emissions but there is little co-ordination, this does not help in encouraging behavioural change. Birmingham City Council, through this declaration will be consistent and constant in our approach to tackling climate change.

We have to be innovative and move away from thinking that reacting to climate change and becoming more energy efficient is an option or something that ‘would be nice to have’ – the Birmingham Declaration is a rigorous set of objectives that will cement our intention to be national leaders and have a positive impact on substantially reducing this country’s demand for energy.

Climate change is world wide problem; the Birmingham Declaration is not about shifting emissions ‘out of our back yard’ and creating a problem somewhere else, the declaration will lead a step change in behaviour to ensure that Birmingham’s consumption of energy becomes more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

I firmly believe that the Birmingham declaration will stimulate growth in the West Midlands by encouraging investment in green technologies and infrastructure and providing the market demand for the end product. It is my hope that through the Birmingham declaration we can also deliver new employment now and in years to come.



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