Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Environmental action in schools and colleges

Questions to be put to Councillor Peter Hammond at the next full meeting of Bristol City Council (13 Jan 2009) along with my e-petition on school environmental charters:

1. What action has been taken by Bristol City Council as a result of recent UK Sustainable Development Commission published research which showed that schools are responsible for 15% of UK public sector carbon emissions (9.4 million tonnes per year)?

2. Can the figures for carbon emissions from Bristol’s schools be made available and if there are none as yet available will the member ask officers to approach the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Sustainable Development Commission’s partner in producing the report referred to, as they hold the raw data and may be able to break it down to give figures for the city?

3. Consistent with objective 10 in the Bristol Green Capital pledge list to enhance environmental education and awareness, will the member circulate a Model Environmental Charter, such as the one described in my petition submitted to this meeting, to all Bristol schools and colleges, accompanied by a letter to governors urging them to adapt the model charter to suit, adopt it asap and agree to annually review and report progress relating to it?

4. Does the member agree that schools can play a major role in tackling climate change, especially through starting with their own school buildings, transport, waste and procurement, helping pupils and communities to learn about the sources of and solutions to carbon emissions and the consequences of not taking urgent and large scale action?

5. Does the member agree that the education system should provide a continuous opportunity to experience, practise and evaluate sustainable behaviours in recognition that empowering people to find solutions to sustainability problems is one of its core purposes and that therefore it is vital for all establishments to adopt their version of an environmental charter or a similar statement of intent, preferably accompanied by action plan?



Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Bristol's Northern Slopes - housing plans??

Just one to watch in 2009 (it wont be the only one). The Area Green Space Plan process and the principle outlined in Bristol City Council’s policy the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy, that disposals of green spaces will be of ‘low value’ land identified by consultation, looks set to be completely ignored. A large part of the Northern Slopes, a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and proposed Local Nature Reserve, may have houses built over it if the council get their way!

This is no surprise to me: given that Filwood Ward was separated off at the recent Knowle/Windmill Hill/Filwood Area Green Space Plan meetings (where only Knowle and Windmill Hill were dealt with) and awaits different treatment (!!); given that my complaint to Bristol City Council shows that the policy is easily swept aside; given the actions of our so-called ‘green capital’ council in selling Filwood Park, in planning to sell green land with ecological merit on the Bristol to Path Railway Path, in favouring green space loss and opposing Town Green status for Castle Park

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) Stakeholder Technical Assessment lists possible sites for housing and has maps, including site ST111 which includes a large part of the Northern Slopes. The Knowle West Regeneration Framework covers this valuable green space too (a bit of background + links here) and there is a Kingsweir / Torpoint Masterplan that will be complete within 6 months apparently. All these could over-ride the Area Green Space Plan process and given the councils green spaces record look set to do exactly that!!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Should Tesco be allowed to impose themselves on Knowle?

Copy of a letter sent to Juliette Bishop, Corporate Affairs Manager, Tesco Stores Ltd

Dear Juliette

Re: Plans for a Tesco Express convenience store – former public house on Axbridge Road, Knowle

As a Knowle resident with a very strong interest in the provision of local facilities, like shops, to meet local needs I have taken a serious interest in Tesco plans for The Friendship pub, which I used to live opposite and still live quite close to. I’ve been talking to many locals, shopkeepers in particular and have been given a copy of the letter you wrote (dated 28 November) to a very small number of people in the area.

Whilst some locals might have heard rumours of Tesco plans most people are taken aback and will be concerned by the sudden developments and serious lack of prior community consultation. The ‘professional team’ that has been working on ‘plans for an Express store’ have not thought to involve a range of local people from the off. Your letter was quickly followed (on 4 Dec) by the submission of a planning application to build a car park over the pub garden. Local residents only have until 6 January to respond, with Christmas and New Year rapidly approaching!

This is for me not the action of a ‘good neighbour’ though your letter begins ‘Dear Neighbour’ and mentions that Tesco ‘operate a ‘good neighbour’ policy’. A good neighbour would generally be in close, frequent and good quality contact with people, probably a wide range of people, in the community – agreeing with the idea that neighbourhoods and communities should ideally shape where they live through partnership arrangements.

Given what I have said I ask you to slow this process down and give everyone involved proper opportunities to discuss plans in the new year. Would Tesco be willing to send representatives to a meeting with those living and working in Knowle?

I don’t agree that the planned Express will be a ‘small neighbour convenience store’ in a few key senses. First, the store floor area (3000 sq feet) and takings expected will be significant at a neighbourhood and community level eg compared with the existing convenience store and newsagents on Axbridge Rd and many other local shops of all kinds. As a result the impact of your Express on the existing local shops is likely to be significant and negative. Second, the changes on the local roads, already increasingly busy, will be significant both due to the proposed new car park and due to deliveries to the proposed store in very large vehicles. Local roads are not suitable for more yet more traffic and more large vehicles. Congestion, air quality and noise are likely to worsen further and people’s health and quality of life along with it.

The statement that Tesco ‘intend to improve the existing car park arrangements’ is not true. In fact you wont be modifying existing pub parking arrangements but instead plan to build a new car park over the pub garden! Its very disappointing that as yet no drawings are available online to show the exact layout proposed but the council planning officer dealing with this case described what is intended to me over the phone.

The loss of green space with a lot of potential, to be replaced by a car park, would be a big blow to local amenity and to local wildlife. Cars turning in and out of the car park onto the busy road with much greater continuity and frequency than currently means greater risk of accidents. I’ve already referred to the environmental and health consequences. Tesco have not been proactive in seeking out locals and discussing such plans.

Your letter states that you locate ‘Express stores where they will be convenient for people to walk to, reducing the need to use a car’. In fact the proposed store is likely to get quite a lot of trade from people passing by in their cars – thus plans for a new car park. The effect of Tesco opening on this spot may well make the operation of other local shops unsustainable – if/as they close over time then the distances people are from their shops will increase, making it less likely that people will walk to the shop. Stats show that once walking distances to shops exceed 400 metres it becomes much harder for the elderly to access them.

Many items that would be sold in your store are already on sale in existing local shops at affordable prices. You are quoted in the Bristol Evening Post as saying that the immediate area was "currently under-served for convenience retailing". This opinion is not shared by local people who have a wide choice of types of shop close by already. In fact concern is high that should Tesco open then others shops will close, reducing choice, cutting competition and allowing prices to creep upwards. This is not the right location for a Tesco Express in my view.

There is concern locally that despite your ‘good neighbour’ policy the setting up of Tesco Express stores can be accompanied by: increased local litter; the increased presence of large bins which can obstruct walking and sometimes overflow; noise and anti-social behaviour due to people congregating; illegal parking on busy roads by some customers.

There are several possible uses for The Friendship – properly managed pub with good quality, large garden; conversion to flats, with access to large garden area; conversion to accomodation for the elderly…Options have not been fully explored and certainly have not been fully discussed locally.

You may feel that some/all of what I have said is flawed. You may feel you can allay fears. You may acknowledge negative impacts but feel that you can mitigate them somehow. I would welcome further communications and hope you will agree to meet with locals as I suggested earlier. I look forward to your reply.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Compliment to Bristol's 'citizen journalists' - including this one!

Writing in this weeks Venue, Eugene Byrne pays this compliment:

The campaign to save the Railway Path also marked the point at which "citizen journalism" came of age in Bristol. There have been local blogs and "alternative" local news websites around for years, but 2008 was the year in which we suddenly found there were a few of them actually worth looking at. The Bristol Blogger, James Barlow, Vowles the Green, the Green Bristol Blog and some others don't just peck away at their keyboards complaining. They find stuff out as well sometimes, and made a lot of the running in the Railway Path campaign and on a couple of other issues.

Good to get some recognition. I'll do my best to keep up the efforts. The Bristol Blogger deserves his 'Top Banana' award but several other bloggers (see right and see the long list on the Bristol Blogger site) and their commenters have contributed to reporting, debating, activity and campaigning. I'm sure that 'citizen journalism' will continue to grow in size and influence.

Get your objection to the Tesco plan to build a car park over The Friendship pub garden in Knowle submitted now!

I sent the following objection to the Tesco plan to build a car park over The Friendship pub garden (see photo) on Redcatch/Axbridge Rd in Knowle today. I urge others to object similarly (you can do so online here or by writing to the case officer Jo Edwards, Bristol City Council, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR). Neighbour consultation letters were sent out on 16 Dec and planning consultation ends on 6 Jan 2009. Its a busy period with Christmas and New Year so get your objections and comments on the plans in as soon as possible and before 6 Jan!! You could also write to Tesco on this issue via Juliette Bishop, Corporate Affairs Manager, Tesco Stores Ltd, Ground Floor, Unit 5, Greenways Business Park, Bellinger Close, Chippenham, Wilts, SN15 1BN, or e,mail juliette.bishop@uk.tesco.com

As a Knowle resident I am very strongly opposed to the Tesco plan to build a car park on the pub garden. I don’t want to experience: loss of amenity; a less attractive area; a less green area; more accident risk; more traffic congestion; poorer air quality; more noise pollution; health impacts; bringing a Tesco Express in The Friendship a step closer. I’m happy to join with many other locals who feel as I do and ask you to refuse planning permission or at the very least delay to allow discussions between all interested parties on what sort of shopping facilities are necessary and desirable for Knowle, consistent with the thinking behind Neighbourhood Partnerships.

Building a car park over the pub garden will have a detrimental visual impact and loss of amenity for all neighbouring residents, those regularly in the area and of course local wildlife. The pub garden is a large, pleasant green space with plenty of trees and shrubs and a lot of potential. Better use can be made of this space than a car park, which cannot be built to attract customers on foot at a time when the city has the aim of becoming a green capital of course!

The proposed car park will also impact negatively on road safety on an already increasingly busy road. Cars would be turning in and out of the propose car park onto Redcatch Rd/Axbridge Rd where they currently don’t, adding to accident risk. Cars turning into and out from the car park would inevitably cause some additional traffic congestion to build up, worsening air quality and increasing noise pollution locally and adding further to climate change. This all impacts on our health, wellbeing and quality of life.

I call on you to bear in mind that this planning application has obviously been made by Tesco because of their publicly stated intention to establish a Tesco Express in The Friendship based on existing permissions. Disquiet about this is significant, amongst both local people and the many and varied existing shops locally, with two mutually supportive petitions opposing Tesco’s intended move signed by many. There are very strong concerns about Tesco: further impacting the local area beyond car park effects, with large, very inappropriate delivery lorries; increasingly dominating the local economy; monopolising trade; causing loyal and longstanding local businesses to become unsustainable as time passes; cutting shopping choice, cutting competition, increasing prices as time passes; increasing dereliction as shops close.

There are very strong concerns that when considering such planning applications no-one at the council is considering what kind of neighbourhoods and community locals need and want – this is more about keeping and improving Knowle’s variety of shopping provision than opposition to Tesco plans per se. I hope therefore that good sense among those making planning decisions prevails and that broad considerations are accounted for along with precise factors.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tesco plan to build on The Friendship pub garden in Knowle

Due to existing permissions Tesco dont need planning consent to set up a shop in The Friendship. Any campaign opposing them setting up in The Friendship is broader than their current planning application (see here and here) and is about the balance of shop provision in Knowle. I've been contacted by several people with an interest in the current shops in Knowle and will be meeting them in the next few days to talk things through.


Tesco dont have to apply to set up a store but have applied for planning permission to build a 12 car plus 1 disabled space car park on the pub garden (see photos), with access gained by removing part of the wall on Axbridge Rd/Redcatch Rd. The council can only judge this application, as the planning officer dealing with this case has told me, on its merit and demerits -and the Tesco application makes no mention of their plans to convert the pub into a shop!


Building a car park over the pub garden will have a visual impact, meaning loss of amenity for neighbouring residents, those regularly in the area and of course local wildlife. The pub garden is a large, pleasant green space with plenty of trees and shrubs and a lot of potential, as the photos show. It will also impact on road safety on an already increasingly busy road, as cars would be turning in and out where they currently dont. If/when the shop sets up very large delivery vehicles will impact the area (though this fact cant apparently be taken into account by the council as the current planning application can and will only be looked at as if the pub was applying!!).


I urge local people to write to the council, via case officer Jo Edwards, opposing this application quoting ref number 08/04903/F. Two notices will shortly be put up in the local area and people have 21 days to respond once the notices are on display. You can also object or comment online here.


The Bristol Evening Post covered the setting up of an e-petition today and the ensuing online debate/commenting was reasonably lively, including a few rather vociferous 'anti-vowles' comments saying I was out of touch with what locals want!! Strange then, if what online commenters said is true (!), that when I again went to the area today talking to people, everyone I spoke to felt the same as me - and the paper petition opposing a Tesco already has hundreds of local signatures and the newly launched online one already has 30!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Walking in Bristol

My contribution to the current Bristol City Council consultation on walking policies for the city, inspired considerably by various Green manifesto's and policies which have long argued for walking strategies:

Walking should be given the highest priority in transport planning: it increases health and well-being, which no other mode of transport other than cycling does; it has the least environmental impact; it is available to use by the greatest number of the population, particularly children; it benefits the social environment in which it occurs, increasing contact between people; it enhances the vitality of our communities.

Three quarters of journeys made are still under 5 miles, and half under two miles - walking should, along with cycling, account for most short distance journeys made if we get conditions right and we need this to be so if we are to build a sustainable society.

Walking should not be in general decline given that it’s a very effective transport, health and environmental policy but even though its still a common mode of transport just look at the stats: the number of walking trips fell by 20% between 1993 and 2003; between 1986 and 2001 total distance walked per person per year fell from 244 miles to 189 miles; households with a car walk less than those in households without a car - 163 miles per year compared to 265 miles (men who are the main driver of a company car walk least of all - 131 miles per year on average); car ownership has increased from 30% of households in 1961 to 70% in 1998; the decline in walking is largely accounted for by trips that have transferred to the car.(DfT 2003, National Statistics National Travel Survey and Social Trends).

How do we reverse this decline and then increase the amount of walking? Well, walking facilities should be well maintained and cleaned and priority should be given to this, in funding and enforcement, including fines against those allowing dogs to foul the footway. All opportunities should be taken to maximise convenience, safety, security and comfort. Planning for walking should aim to provide both networks of routes and to ensure other areas are pedestrian-orientated. Priority should be given to providing a minimum standard of provision for walkers that would ensure that all networks are complete and usable.

Design for walking should always seek to provide for all needs, including: those with sensory disabilities, the elderly, children, those pushing or carrying heavy loads and larger groups of people. Some people are not able to walk and so improved access for the disabled by all transport types should also be a priority.

Crossings of roads should always be designed with walkers as priority one and follow consultations with pedestrians. All formal crossings should be designed to respond more quickly to demand from walkers than at present and give them more time to cross. Zebra crossings should be present at more frequent intervals in key places. Any barriers stopping informal crossing of roads should be identified and progressively removed.

The Highway Code allows for priority to walkers crossing at side road junctions and access roads. This should be effected in road design, education and enforcement.

Signing of walking routes should be given priority, with clear signs to those places that people actually wish to travel to, e.g. shops and public facilities, including public transport stops. The placing of maps at more regular intervals that give information that walkers need, such as surface barriers, road crossings and bus stops, is important.

Shared use of walking space with cyclists can be a source of nuisance and conflict to walkers. All efforts should be made to reduce these conflicts through increased safe provision for both walkers and cyclists. Where proposals are made for shared use, all other measures should first be studied to ensure that there are no other ways of making walking and cycling safe. Loss of road space from other vehicles to accommodate cyclists is preferable to loss of footway space for walkers.
Despite overall decline, walking is still a popular leisure pursuit, with the development of various paths/trails. Such activity can imply a dependence on a car to access these places. All publicity for these should show how these can be accessed by sustainable modes of transport, including public transport.

Developing a car-free city centre is a great idea. Walkers improve the attractiveness and commercial success of central areas, and pedestrian only zones mean a reduction in pollution, noise and car accidents.

Greater priority should be given to maintaining and signing public rights of way throughout all areas. New routes should be developed wherever there is a sufficient demand.

For information on walking in Bristol and useful links:

Friday, 12 December 2008

No to a Tesco Express in Knowle: e-petition

Please sign this e-petition saying No to a Tesco Express in Knowle:

We the undersigned call on councillors to support the existing varied shop and pub provision in Knowle and oppose any proposals to turn The Friendship Pub into a Tesco Express.

This petition is in addition to and fully supportive of the existing paper petition organised on behalf of shops on Redcatch Rd in Knowle, by Balbir Kaur Birk, opposing the Tesco Express plans.

Tesco should not be allowed to convert The Friendship on Redcatch Rd,
Knowle into a Tesco Express. They seem to
have a policy of flooding the market with their outlets.
Councillors should support the existing varied shop and pub provision in Knowle which is already providing good service to the community. Any Tesco Express may well make the position of some existing shops unsustainable....
(further details on the e-petition website and in this blog post).

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Proposed Bristol City Council budget

Just posted this initial comment about the proposed Bristol City Council budget: A prudent and responsible budget would not in my view plan to spend £400,000 on 'marketing the city'. You can do most for marketing the city by improving its performance - this will speak louder and objectively mean more than any marketing activities. I'd cut this budget by at least half and spend the £200,000+ gained on even more energy saving and insulation than is currently planned - this is badly needed with spiralling fuel bills, fuel poverty, economic recession threatening jobs and livelihoods and the need to urgently cut carbon emissions due to climate change.

More details on the proposed budget here. Local newspaper report and online comments here.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Christmas with a lower impact

Even in this time of recession its likely that during Christmas billions of pounds will be spent on food, drink and presents in the UK. Waste levels rise by 20% at this time and include food, energy, wrapping paper, cards and of course Christmas trees. We can enjoy ourselves without abandoning green concerns however with a little prioritisation and organisation. The following wont transform us into a sustainable society of course but whilst campaigning for the required leadership, policies, institutions and decision-making processes continues, they are positive steps I think are worth taking now on cards, decorations, trees, wrapping presents, chocolate and turkey...!!

Billions of Christmas cards are sent every year, many not made of recycled card and many thrown out rather than recycled. You could send an e-card instead or watch out for cards made from recycled material or make your own cards from previous ones! Bristol is well set up for recycling card, so its easy for us to use this system.

Old colour newspapers and magazines can be used to make decorations like paper chains. Paint, glitter, card from boxes or old Christmas cards, glue and a bit of wool or string can be used to make tree decorations. These activities will keep kids happy and occupied doing a creative task that really involves them in Christmas. Far better this than buying sparkly decorations made in a far away sweat shop by child labour then flown thousands of miles across the globe.

Millions of Christmas trees are bought, often to be thrown out, each year. There is enough tree waste to fill the Albert Hall more than three times! The best thing you can do if you have a tree is buy one with roots - it can be planted out and used year on year. If you choose a tree without roots make sure you use the local schemes for turning used ones into mulch for parks and gardens.

You may not think of all that sticky-tape securing wrapping paper as plastic but it is. It wont rot and is single-use. String and wool are both more biodegradable and reusable and so are much the better option for securing wrapping paper. String/wool does not mess up the paper it secures and leaves it in a state where it, with a little care, can be retained and reused – close to ten thousand tonnes of paper is used to wrap UK presents every year. If you have paper that cant be reused put it out for recycling in your black box!

Hundreds of millions is spent on chocolate for Christmas. If you buy fair trade chocolate you will be supporting cocoa farmers, their families and communities much more. They get a fair price for their cocoa beans. Rights, pay and working conditions are much better under fair trade.

Ten million or more turkeys are eaten during the festive season in the UK. Millions of these birds are reared intensively in huge windowless buildings containing crowds of thousands. Selectively bred and anti-biotic treated for maximum growth these birds cannot express natural behaviours and cannot mate without human intervention. I’m just not hungry for this kind of food at all and its ecological footprint is very high. If you don’t want to avoid turkey at Christmas altogether its worth paying more for one reared to much higher animal welfare standards.


More information/ideas: http://www.theecologist.org/pages/archive_detail.asp?content_id=2024

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Loving the car

Interesting to see the online critical responses to letter writer Philip Gannaway. He is concerned about what he calls ‘anti-car rhetoric’ (Soapbox: ‘Learning to love the motor car’, Post 5 Dec).
He would acknowledge I hope that there are many positive reasons for seeking a society with low car use, not least our health, safety, security, stability and quality of life.

The Council and Government should invest heavily in sustainable transport methods as a matter of urgency.

He would acknowledge, if he believes in reason and the real world (terms he is keen to use in his letter), that the best available science says that we must urgently make very large cuts in carbon emissions from cars. The damage done to our climate would, with other measures, then be lower, enhancing the security and stability of life on into the future. Bristol’s carbon emissions are six times the sustainable level, a large proportion of this due to car use.

With car use lowered road safety would be increased. Thousands are currently killed and tens of thousands injured every year.

Fewer cars on the roads means cleaner air, which means lower lung damage and much improved health, especially for children. Tens of thousands die prematurely each year due to toxic air pollution.

Towns and cities more focussed on walking, cycling and public transport would be more tranquil and less stressful places to live. The quality of our lives could thus be enhanced.

We devote so much time, money and land to the car too – why not free up a lot of this and put it to good use in other ways?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Knowle does not need a Tesco Express!!

Tesco should not be allowed to convert The Friendship on Redcatch Rd, Knowle into a Tesco Express (report from local paper here). I will object to these plans and support any protest/petition. They seem to have a policy of flooding the market with their outlets.

Tesco's Bristol dominance is growing, skewing the local economy. It is monopolising the market, which is increasingly bad for competition and thus prices. It is forcing longstanding and loyal local shopkeepers out of business.

We need a balance of types of shops in Knowle. Tesco already has stores nearby and there is also a choice of supermarkets and smaller shops in the area.

Another Tesco outlet seems absurd. Any new store and plans '...to improve the existing car park arrangements on the site to offer 12 customer parking spaces...', could increase local traffic and worsen road safety.

Another issue is what would happen to the area that is currently a pleasant, reasonably large garden with trees and shrubs at the back of the pub. Many people will want to retain a local pub and garden. If pub retention is not possible there must be better uses than yet another Tesco!

I've contacted the council for details but none are available yet as the application is very recent.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Grow your own

Food seeds are now outselling flower seeds in the UK. The last time this situation happened was over 60 yrs ago! Many allotment sites are full and have waiting lists – and growing numbers of people in their late teens, twenties and thirties are choosing to grow some of their own food. It’s increasingly popular because it is an activity where the costs are low and benefits high, which is a big plus, particularly in times of recession. In Bristol you can rent an allotment site for between £10.50 and £63 per year depending on the size and type, and some qualify for a discount of 25% or 50%. Costs can also be shared if people club together. The rise in popularity started long before economic downturn though so its certainly not just about money.

Growing some of your own food raises quality of life. It encourages and rewards creativity. It is a calming, stress-busting activity that can be the source of a good deal of pleasure. Physical work out in the fresh air boosts your health, as does the fresh food grown. Allotment and garden exercise is also much cheaper than going to a gym!

The challenge can be formidable, especially at the start. However, if you take your time and go step by step you can experience the satisfaction of seeing the seeds you planted grow, the satisfaction of harvesting and then the pleasure of eating! Choose to grow what you love to eat and save money formerly spent on over-packaged food – a pack of seeds costing the same as one bag of salad leaves can produce leaves for picking a few times every week throughout a whole season! You can cheaply grow what is expensive in the shops.

You will know exactly how the food has been grown and can choose to avoid artificial fertilisers and pesticides. The miles travelled by garden and allotment grown food is very low and so carbon emissions and climate impact is also low. You can help to keep in circulation the seeds of many old, flavoursome and pest-resistant plants – preserve more varieties and you preserve genetic diversity which commercial growers show no interest in.

By helping to keep allotments used to capacity, or even increase the number of plots (The Small Holdings and Allotments Act of 1908 made it the responsibility of local authorities to provide allotments on the demand of four people or more) you are helping to keep land from development. Allotments are not well protected and many have been lost to housing developments since the 1950’s, not least in Bristol (despite its stated green city ambitions). However, the ‘grow your own’ community is increasingly diverse and allotments can grow into very friendly and organised groups willing and able to protect their plots!

For more information: http://www.nsalg.org.uk/ http://www.allotment.org.uk/

Bristol transport boss 'managing traffic congestion'

'Mark Bradshaw, executive councillor for transport at Bristol City Council, said: "The DfT report is a welcome endorsement of our determined focus on managing traffic congestion.' (report here)

If we are to get anywhere near the carbon emissions cuts science says is necessary* to avoid the worst climate change then cities like Bristol need to go far beyond 'managing traffic congestion'. Part of the reason we have the climate problem in the first place is because this is all we have done over several decades. And lets not forget all the other problems and costs caused by traffic!

Where are the transport plans which are capable of achieving absolute traffic reduction as opposed to a reduction in the growth rate of traffic and an improvement in traffic flow??
___________________________________________

*Note: Bristol City Council has a carbon emissions reduction target of 60% from yr 2000 levels by 2050. The Government's Climate Change Bill, which became law on 26 November this year, includes a much tougher target 'Green house gas emission reductions through action in the UK and abroad of at least 80% by 2050, and reductions in CO2 emissions of at least 26% by 2020, against a 1990 baseline.' There is solid evidence that these targets and timescales, which are challenging in themselves, are insufficient (see refs in this article).

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Facing up to reality

Today's post about climate change on George Monbiot's site is well worth reading (see extract below). It seems to me that we have made it harder and harder to build the green society we need because we are always behind the times with our assessment of the science, let alone acting on it! Again we have not put the problem of climate change on the right scale and in the right context. This explains the continual lack of action of sufficient seriousness and urgency over decades. We have not faced up to reality.

Turner claims that to keep the temperature rise close to two degrees, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions must peak in 2016 then fall by either three or four per cent a year. A 3% rate of decline is most likely to deliver a temperature rise of 2.2 degrees this century; a 4% annual cut would produce about 2.1%(3). That’s more or less consistent with his 2050 targets.


So far so good. But a recent paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, using the same sources, comes to completely different conclusions(4). It agrees that to deliver a reasonable chance of preventing more than two degrees of warming, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere need to stabilise at a maximum of 450 parts per million, carbon dioxide equivalent (ppmCO2e). But it shows that to achieve this, global emissions of greenhouse gases from the parts of the system we can control need to peak by 2015, then fall by 6-8% a year between 2020 and 2040, leading to “full decarbonization sometime soon after 2050.” Even this, it shows, relies on an optimistic reading of the current data. Turner’s suggested cuts are more likely to produce four degrees of warming than two degrees.


The difference between the two reports comes down to this: Turner assumes that greenhouse gases can rise to 500ppmCO2e before falling back to 450(5). The other paper shows that this is a dangerous assumption. Not only does this mean that the cut comes too late, but far from falling back, the enhanced levels in the atmosphere are likely to trigger more emissions, as the biosphere starts producing more greenhouse gases than it absorbs. We cannot afford to overshoot(6).