Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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8 Jan 2015

How the BBC might hold the election to account, carbon-wise


The UK election (due to take place in May) kicked off this week.  Exciting I know.  BBC Radio 4’s flagship evening news show PM launched its coverage with a request to listeners to let them know how they would like the election to be reported to them.  The request had been preceded by interminable wranglings between the Conservatives and Labour over whose election promises have been properly costed and whether an independent body should be brought in to audit each party’s promises.  

Their request for ideas prompted me to suggest the following.  What do you think? 

“Dear PM,  

You asked yesterday for ideas as to how people would like the UK election in May this year to be reported.  Here’s my idea.  2015 is the year of the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris in December.  It is pretty much universally agreed that achieving a global binding agreement on climate change there is absolutely vital.   

Yesterday you reported on whether an independent body might take on the role of assessing the financial implications of each party’s policies.  This sounds like a reasonable idea.  I wondered then if you might also assess the climate impacts of each party’s policies?  When a new policy idea is announced, you could assess whether it is consistent with the UK staying on an emissions pathway consistent with staying below 2 degrees, or not.  Dr Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows at the Tyndall Centre have done a lot of work on this and could be good people to help you.   

It would, in my opinion, be more important than whether it represents responsible budgeting.  You would, in effect, be putting short term economic responsibility, alongside longer term climate responsibility.  It would also hold each party to account for future generations.  It would be a fascinating lens through which to view the policies coming forward for the election.  


Rob Hopkins