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Zac Goldsmith Q&A

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LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 21-Feb-14 15:19:14

Climate Week takes place from 3-9 March and with global warming being blamed for the recent floods, and general environmental issues being so much in the news of late, we're delighted that Zac Goldsmith has agreed to do a Q&A for us.

Zac was the editor of the Ecologist Magazine for 10 years until he was selected as the Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park and North Kingston and elected in May 2010. In 2005 he oversaw a wide-ranging review of environmental policy for the Conservative Party.

Zac raises funds for groups around the world dealing with environmental and conservation issues. In 2003, he received the Beacon Prize for Philanthropy, and in 2004 he received Mikhail Gorbachev’s Global Green Award for 'International Environmental Leadership'.

Get your questions in by 12pm Thursday 27th Feb.

JessM Fri 21-Feb-14 16:34:27

Just how heartbroken are you Zac about the environmental record of this government? Green Deal still subsidised and not yet even toddling a few baby steps on its own. ECO funding (for energy efficiency help to poorer homes) cut. Windfarm projects being scuppered.
Didn't get off to a roaring start did it with the cuts in feed-in tariff for photovoltaics. (No wonder the solar panel factory in Cardiff is going to become a film studio.)
Meanwhile the scientific predictions about more extreme weather events seem to be coming true - but you won't be surprised I'm sure.
Are you going to continue to battle on and try to change intransigent Tory hearts and minds or are you going to jump ship and join the Green Party?

durhamjen Fri 21-Feb-14 18:55:52

Why are you a Tory MP? You seem too sensible to me.

Mamie Fri 21-Feb-14 19:10:40

Given the consensus about climate change in the scientific community, it seems that the climate sceptics still command an extraordinary amount of media time and attention. What can you (and the rest of us) do to change this?

moleswife Fri 21-Feb-14 19:19:41

This week we heard how the UK is likely to be fined by the EU for failure to cut excessive levels of NO2 - it is clearly a failure of governments and local authorities to address the serious problems of traffic in our cities: nitrogen dioxide is largely caused by the diesel emissions of cars and buses yet the Mayor of London is blindly refusing to accept that the health of vulnerable people is at risk; his plans for a Silvertown Tunnel would be the final straw in east London - what are your views on this proposal? And how would you address the issues of NO2 pollution and the impending EU fines?

Stansgran Sat 22-Feb-14 12:55:04

Is there any point to recycling? I'm a dyed in the wool recycler but I see the younger generation dropping bottles and tins as though they've never heard of it. I'm not condemning all the young but I live between two schools and see the debris.

Joelsnan Sat 22-Feb-14 23:41:27

Being that the earth has been estimated to have been in existence for 4,600,000,000 years. And regional weather observations have only been recording since the mid 1800's (I think). How can we be sure that this current weather phenomena is man made and not due to similar solar activity which caused the Maunder Minimum or a cyclical phenomena similar to that which brought the ice age?

alchemillamollis Mon 24-Feb-14 00:53:43

Have you considered putting Nigel Lawson in the Tower?

JessM Mon 24-Feb-14 07:53:29

Or at least gagging him?

MiceElf Mon 24-Feb-14 08:09:20

This is not meant to be a snide comment, but your ecological and other views, and, I'm told, your constituency work, are commendable. So, is it only because you are fabulously wealthy that you remain a Tory?

And if not, do you aim for high office in an attempt to turn the nasty party into a somewhat nicer one?

nibbles Mon 24-Feb-14 15:03:35

I have been a big admirer of your work for a long time - but am struggling to reconcile your personal achievements and very sound principles with current Tory policy. Do you ever get frustrated that everything you have done is now tarred with the party politics brush?

PrueH Mon 24-Feb-14 15:05:21

How much do you think that global warming is to blame for all the floods? Or is human error closer to home to blame (at least in part)? Thank you

Mina Mon 24-Feb-14 15:07:06

I would like to encourage my grandchildren (all under ten) to get into "green" issues as I believe it's never too early to take responsibility for the welfare of the planet. Can you offer some suggestions as to how best to do this?

crocus Tue 25-Feb-14 09:02:40

What got you into all the green stuff?

crocus Tue 25-Feb-14 09:08:24

And if I can ask another one...there was an article in the Evening Standard recently which I have copied a bit of here

Accusing Mr Clegg of “dishonest briefing”, he added: “If @David_Cameron has a backbone, he will slam Clegg’s sleazy pretence that he’s been trying to get Recall through — & then do it himself.”

I was surprised but impressed to see this. I wonder does speaking your mind about your own party/the coalition ever get you into trouble?

applepie Tue 25-Feb-14 11:47:56

Hi Zac. I read in the Metro this week that a team at Orproject is currently working on bringing a park enclosed in a bubble to Beijing, and the possibility of the bubble being big enough to cover large areas (i.e. over homes, work places, shops) as a way to beat the smog. Do you think this is a realistic solution? Would it work?

Here's the article: metro.co.uk/2014/02/24/the-best-way-to-beat-the-beijing-smog-live-in-a-bubble-4313093/

h20 Tue 25-Feb-14 12:03:20

Hello - do you think it's right to charge for plastic bags? Is it effective?

Connie29 Tue 25-Feb-14 12:34:22

Hi Zac. Although you have great credentials, I struggle to see how you (and many other MPs) can represent the majority of your/their constituency. Where do you stand on education and ensuring the working classes have an equal chance?

iMac Thu 27-Feb-14 12:12:51

Hello. What do you think about the HS2?

sylwright Thu 27-Feb-14 22:21:31

I am very cynical about being forced into thinking that the changing weather patterns are a result of man made activity. I disagree with this thinking and wonder what explanations you can give for the variations in the weather over the centuries or over thousands of years, when there was no man made pollution.

ZacGoldsmith Tue 04-Mar-14 09:07:19

JessM

Just how heartbroken are you Zac about the environmental record of this government? Green Deal still subsidised and not yet even toddling a few baby steps on its own. ECO funding (for energy efficiency help to poorer homes) cut. Windfarm projects being scuppered.
Didn't get off to a roaring start did it with the cuts in feed-in tariff for photovoltaics. (No wonder the solar panel factory in Cardiff is going to become a film studio.)
Meanwhile the scientific predictions about more extreme weather events seem to be coming true - but you won't be surprised I'm sure.
Are you going to continue to battle on and try to change intransigent Tory hearts and minds or are you going to jump ship and join the Green Party?

I am forever trying to hold my Party to account on green issues, and I’m sure I always will, for as long as I am an MP. However I don’t take quite as dim view as you do. We set up a Green Investment Bank, as promised, as well as a Green Deal for energy efficiency, and a Renewable Heat Incentive for sustainable heat. We allocated £1billion for low emission cars, and much more. The share of the country’s renewables has nearly doubled in the past twelve months, and we have attracted £31billion of investment in renewables since the election, creating 35,000 jobs. We’ve also delivered genuine reforms to the appalling Common Fisheries Policy. All of these things can be greatly improved, but it’s a good start, and better by far than previous Governments. Our weakness has been in other areas. For instance we have been too slow to deliver the promised network of marine protected areas around our coast, our planning reforms represent a threat to green spaces, in my view, and the recent dismissive language used by some senior people in the Party in relation to green policies has been idiotic.

ZacGoldsmith Tue 04-Mar-14 09:07:53

durhamjen

Why are you a Tory MP? You seem too sensible to me.

A true conservative believes in localism, democracy, conservation of our resources, stewardship of the natural world, looking out for future generations, balance of power (not domination either by big business or big government) and so on. These are conservative principles, and what can be more sensible? Part of my job is to remind my Party of that.

ZacGoldsmith Tue 04-Mar-14 09:08:22

Mamie

Given the consensus about climate change in the scientific community, it seems that the climate sceptics still command an extraordinary amount of media time and attention. What can you (and the rest of us) do to change this?

Few things are black and white in science, but even so, we do have a near-consensus on climate change. There’s plenty of legitimate debate about the extent of the risk, and no one can predict with any real certainty where things are heading: there isn’t a computer model anywhere that can truly take into account the full complexity of the natural world. But very few scientists discount the risk altogether, and for policy makers to do so would be mad. After all, if we are wrong about climate change and still pursue policies to deal with it, we will end up with lower bills, cleaner air, healthy forests and a cleaner, more efficient economy. It’s not a bad downside. If we’re right and do nothing, then we are stuffed.

ZacGoldsmith Tue 04-Mar-14 09:08:57

moleswife

This week we heard how the UK is likely to be fined by the EU for failure to cut excessive levels of NO2 - it is clearly a failure of governments and local authorities to address the serious problems of traffic in our cities: nitrogen dioxide is largely caused by the diesel emissions of cars and buses yet the Mayor of London is blindly refusing to accept that the health of vulnerable people is at risk; his plans for a Silvertown Tunnel would be the final straw in east London - what are your views on this proposal? And how would you address the issues of NO2 pollution and the impending EU fines?

If you consider that 4,000 people died as a result of the Great Smog of London in 1952, which led to the Clean Air Act, similar numbers of deaths reportedly from air pollution in London in 2008 should trigger a similar response. This issue needs to move much higher up the agenda. That means raising vehicle standards, helping local authorities cut traffic pollution, and introducing an explicit prohibition in the Planning system of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, the existence of which would make compliance with NO2 limits impossible.

ZacGoldsmith Tue 04-Mar-14 09:09:42

Stansgran

Is there any point to recycling? I'm a dyed in the wool recycler but I see the younger generation dropping bottles and tins as though they've never heard of it. I'm not condemning all the young but I live between two schools and see the debris.

We generate enough waste every two hours to fill the Albert Hall. At a time where pressure on the world’s resources has never been greater, we have to find a way to be more efficient. The priority is reducing the waste we generate, and that means making things that last, that can be repaired and eventually recycled. It means making waste into a financial liability so that companies naturally seek to minimise it. Landfill tax has had the effect, here, and we can learn from other countries as well. Japanese goods are far more likely to be recycled, Austria has put a big emphasis on repairs, and so on.

I also think the retailers need to deal with packaging. The Austrian Women’s Institute once organised a day of action where members discarded unnecessary packaging at the supermarket counter. Maybe we could take a leaf out of their book.

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