“The 45% Pathway on Climate Change is the right balance and fastest change community would accept”

Daphne Caine, MHK, highlighted the need to manage expectations on the government’s climate change mitigation measures at Liberal Vannin’s public meeting last Monday. As Chair of the Climate Change Transformation Board, Daphne had been invited to comment on the role of the Board and its key priorities.

During her talk, and in the wide-ranging discussion that followed, Daphne referred to the recently ended public consultation on how quickly government should be moving towards its goal of zero carbon by 2050. The consultation specified two options of moving to 35% of the target by 2030 or 45%. Respondents were also invited to indicate higher or lower levels if they wished. Daphne, however stressed that meeting the 45% pathway would be incredibly challenging for government and the Island generally, and she felt that going beyond that is not an option.

In response to questions, Daphne confirmed that the MUA has been allocated a budget of £200,000 to undertake a feasibility study to install a second interconnector to bring electric power to the Island. Options being considered include: installing alongside our existing interconnector to Lancashire; a link to Scotland; or a link to Ireland. She said, “Having a second interconnector will remove some of the pressure as we decide how to replace the gas-fired power station at Pulrose”. Liberal Vannin questions the possible option for the use of biomass fuels for future power generation and for home heating systems. Biomass burning still results in CO2 being released to the atmosphere, no matter how sustainably the biomass pellets are produced.

Reference was also made to the recently published GemServ report (See – isle-of-man-report-dec-2021-final-combined-v2-compressed.pdf (netzero.im) , which advises that investment in the Island’s housing stock should be concentrated initially on improving insulation levels to reduce the demand for heating, before taking steps to replace fossil fuel boilers. Although Liberal Vannin believes that the use of fossil fuels for domestic heating must be phased out, we recognise that air source heat pump systems are currently inefficient for much of the Island’s housing stock. We therefore call on the government to provide improved grant and loan schemes to enable people to meet the costs involved in both improving insulation where required and then later converting from fossil fuel boilers, as appropriate. Measures to mitigate against climate change must ensure that people can afford to heat their homes.

Daphne noted the debate on encouraging more people to use Bus Vannin. She emphasised that Bus Vannin has no plans to replace the bus fleet at the moment and their advice is that electric buses currently available are unsuitable for use on the Island. Bus Vannin has considered schemes such as Fare Free Friday, at the request of Joney Faragher, MHK, and first suggested by Liberal Vannin Chair, Paul Weatherall back in 2020, but is concerned that the service wouldn’t be able to cope with the demand. Liberal Vannin would like to see evidence of that with a pilot study.

Inevitably the issue of natural gas extraction in Manx waters was raised, with Daphne sceptical, though open minded of the likelihood that such a project was capable of being carbon neutral in the short – medium term. A view with which Liberal Vannin strongly concurs. It was noted that the Positive Action Group is holding a debate on this topic next Monday, February 28th, at the Manx Legion Club, Douglas.

Not everyone at the meeting agreed with the consensus on climate change. The science was challenged, as was the need for government to allocate such large expenditure to deal with something over which our Island population has a miniscule effect. Daphne rebutted this view and stressed that the government’s Climate Change Bill had now received Royal Assent and was in force. It sets out a clear schedule with obligations on government, local authorities and other public bodies to meet agreed targets and she looks forward to assisting with that alongside the other members of the Climate Change Transformation Board.

In closing the meeting, Paul Weatherall, Chair of Liberal Vannin thanked Daphne for taking the time to explain her role. As a member of the Island’s Climate Change Coalition, Liberal Vannin campaigns for the government to live up to its declaration of a Climate Change Emergency in 2019 and work to meet its target of Net Zero Carbon Dioxide emissions well in advance of the 2050 target date.

For further information, please contact Paul Weatherall, Chair, Liberal Vannin – paul.weatherall@manx.net  Mobile: +44 7624 479436

Please also note:

Our next public meeting is at 7.30pm, Monday, March 21st, again at the Manx Legion Club, Douglas. Dr Alex Allinson, MHK has agreed to lead a discussion on the prospects for introducing public consultation and subsequent legislation on Assisted Dying. Liberal Vannin is hosting this meeting in partnership with the Isle of Man Facebook Group Let Me Choose | Facebook.

As a political party, we have no policy stance on this issue, believing that it is a matter for individual conscience. However, given the growing number of jurisdictions enacting such legislation, we believe that the topic should be widely discussed.