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Last night Sandbag held a party to celebrate its relaunch, seven years after we founded in 2008. The St Paul’s Institute kindly agreed to provide the venue which was chosen to convey two important messages: tackling climate change is the moral issue of our time and the City of London that surrounds the cathedral has a clear role to play in helping to address it.
 
Sandbag was set up to scrutinise the EU’s flagship climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS, which creates a legal cap on roughly 40% of the EU’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Over the years we have exposed serious flaws in the policy and campaigned for and won a series of important policy changes.
 
However, it has become increasingly clear that one policy alone cannot deliver the scale of investment necessary to deliver a zero carbon economy. We are therefore branching out to work on three important new policy areas, two of which have already begun. Sandbag’s unique combination of data-analysis and campaigning is now being brought to bear on accelerating the phase out of unabated coal in electricity; and supporting deep decarbonisation in industry, particularly through Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilisation. We are currently raising funds to begin another new campaign to decarbonise the role of the City’s financial sector.


 
Our new look website was unveiled at the event together with plans for the launch of a new mobile phone app tracking and forecasting CO2 intensity in the power sector. Guests were also given miniature sandbags filled with building aggregate made from sequestered CO2, demonstrating that carbon negative options exist today but need policy support to become mainstream.
 
Former Climate Minister Greg Barker opened proceedings reflecting on his time in office, his plans for the future and his thoughts about future low carbon technologies.
Then Ed Miliband closed the formal part of the evening with his reflections on the Copenhagen climate talks, which he attended as a Minister for climate change, his hopes for Paris and his recommendations for how NGOs can make a difference. He remarked:

“It is great to be a part of Sandbag’s relaunch celebrations tonight. In the seven years since its foundation, Sandbag has made a valuable contribution in the fight against climate change. As they embark on a new phase of work, I wish the team at Sandbag all the very best for the future.”

The relaunched Sandbag has a busy time ahead as today sees the publication of draft new EU laws that will help to set climate ambition levels for the next fifteen years to 2030. Reading the hundreds of pages of documents that will be published alongside is not necessarily the best cure for a hangover but with so much at stake and so many important details to scrutinise there is no time to lose.
 
Baroness Worthington, Founding Director of Sandbag said,

“I'm incredibly proud of the Sandbag team. People often assume we are much bigger than the eight-person team we are, because we punch well above our weight. ‘To sandbag’ as well as being a form of defence from the elements, also means to pretend to have a poor hand, only to come out on top in the end. All those who are trying to stop the EU doing more on climate, should not underestimate us! We can and will win the campaign for more ambitious policies.”

Also speaking were:

James Randerson (The Guardian), David Derbyshire (The Daily Mail) discussed the media and climate change;

– Rob Elsworth (CAFOD) and Barbara Ridpath (Director, St Paul's Institute) discussed the Pope's Encyclical, including his warning about carbon credits;

– Juliet Davenport (CEO, Good Energy) and Marco Alvera (CEO, Eni Trading & Shipping) shared their views on the future of the energy sector;

The evening was rounded off with a smile by veteran stand up comedian and Radio 4 star Arthur Smith.

A video of the event will be available shortly.