Saturday, 19 December 2009

Climate denial: what is the truth?

How is anyone supposed to take seriously Eddie Smith’s letter (‘Any damage done to our climate was done long ago’, Post, December 8)? In attempting to debunk human- caused climate change he is of the view that the world’s climate scientists either don’t understand or have forgotten Archimedes Principle for goodness sake! Its not hard to find many such examples* - the nature and enormity of the problem is causing many people to search around for reasons not to believe it and to wait for someone else to act rather than take their share of personal responsibility. We see angry outright denial, scapegoat seeking, deliberate boasts about wastefulness, projection of anxiety onto something more manageable, or most common of all – people shutting out all information and just not thinking about the problem.

People are being helped to find reasons not to believe by very poor leadership from politicians who for decades have talked a lot, done nothing and now failed in Copenhagen. They’ve also been helped by the poor state of communication between scientists, politicians and the public. However, none of this changes the basic bio-physical facts. Climate change is an inconvenient truth – and we all have to face up to it. We’ve gone beyond the stage of fundamental dispute about the core science and entered a phase of finding out what it takes for us all to accept both the truth of climate change and most of all - its implications.
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*Eddie also: mixes up toxic smogs with climate change – they have features in common but are distinct issues; talks of a warm period in the middle ages as if the whole globe was involved – it wasn’t, medieval warming was only regional; says the temperature has not risen for ten years – but the last decade has been the warmest in human history according to organisations like the Met Office and NASA and its trends over time that are correct climate science; compares the scientific reports on climate change to the Iraq ‘dodgy dossier’ – the scientific reports are peer reviewed, are many and varied, have appeared over many years, featuring stronger and stronger evidence as time has passed.
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The picture above is taken from a You Tube clip that features David Attenborough and Prof Peter Cox on natural vs human-caused climate change. The red line shows the measured temperature trend, the green line the model prediction using only natural factors and the yellow line the model prediction using human and natural factors. You can see the clip in less than 3 minutes here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ob9WdbXx0

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Reclaim Power action today, Copenhagen summit

Here's my guest post on today's Reclaim Power action at COP15. Thanks v much, Catherine, Camp for Climate Action

Today grassroots activists from all over the world marched on the COP15 summit with the aim of taking over the conference for one day and transforming it into a People’s Assembly. The Reclaim Power action was intended to give a voice to those who are not being heard, to be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.

After mass arrests of protestors and street medics who gathered at the meeting point, over 1000 people made their way to the Bella Center, many crossing the police tape and trying to run into the conference space. After being forced back by police batons, dogs and pepper spray, some tried to sneak in over an inflatable bridge!

Indigenous delegates led the group who marched out from the Bella Centre to attempt to join the activists. Police reportedly used batons on delegates inside the centre trying to get out –
[http://indymedia.dk/action_timelines/16th-dec] However despite heavy repression, 500-600 people attended a People’s Assembly, while two activists got into the conference centre and disrupted the plenary.
[See photos -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21552129@N03/]

Before the action many NGOs including Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina were barred from the talks that day while corporate lobbyists such as BMW were allowed in. However, there are billions of people globally who (unlike the NGOs) were never invited and don’t have a voice. These elitist and undemocratic talks are part of a political and economic system that puts corporate profits before the needs of people. The market based solutions being pushed in the UN Climate talks lead to ‘climate colonialism’ through land grabbing and accelerating the transfer of wealth from the exploited to an elite.

This action is about recognizing the power we have to change things when we work together. Throughout history changes have been made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, from the suffragettes to the civil rights movement to indigenous groups reclaiming their land from multinational corporations.

This economic system is driving climate change – the pursuit of infinite economic growth is an impossible dream on a planet with finite resources. The pursuit of profit at any cost is detrimental to life. We need system change, not climate change - come and join those creating and fighting for a world which is both just and sustainable.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

News from campaigners in Copenhagen...

From Catherine, Camp for Climate Action, Copenhagen: Thanks for reacting so promptly to our email earlier! Here's some of our best footage from the streets of Copenhagen for the past couple of days.

Tens of thousands marching for climate justice:
http://blip.tv/file/2967354 Contains an eyewitness account of the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators that made headlines yesterday.

And some more raw from-the-street footage from a climate camper
http://qik.com/video/3906448

Here's a soundclip that traveled around Twitter today of climate camper Amelia Gregory escaping the mass arrests
http://ipad.io/DKQ

An interview with a spoof carbon trader
http://indymedia.dk/videos/1678

We are also pooling pictures from the protests at
http://www.flickr.com/groups/climatecampcopenhagen2009/ Feel free to get in touch if you're looking for a specific protest-related image.

A lot of people at the first big demo hoped for a global, fair and legally binding deal... but what now, after many third world countries have walked out on the negotiations after being excluded by the rich world? We will continue going out on the streets to expose the flaws in the talks and will be in touch again soon.


I could write a guest post before the Climate Justice Action march on the 16th

Friday, 11 December 2009

20 mph areas cut road casualties by over 40%...

Good to see that ‘Bristol's 20mph zones move step closer’ (Post, Dec 11), at least in chunks of south and east Bristol. The council should have brought in 20 mph as the default speed in residential areas yrs ago though – and its arguable (or maybe its my impatience with slow change?) that they could be moving faster now (the proposals have gone out for consultation so no implementation yet!). Another thing is why just chunks of south and east Bristol? Why not cover the whole of residential Bristol? After all we know it saves lives – research on the effects of London’s 20 mph zones just published in the British Medical Journal, widely reported today, says ‘The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% …reduction in road casualties…’

The BMJ goes on, ‘The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fell slightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).

Conclusions 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.’

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Grow some fruit trees in your garden...give a tree as a Christmas present...

A few yrs ago I planted dwarf apple, cherry and fig trees in our back garden, to accompany the plum tree (a gift from my father in law) I planted nearly 20 yrs ago. The plum always produces loads of fruit and this yr we've had good amounts from the others too - for very little effort! Very happy to pass on this message I've received from Clare Hawtins of GROFUN:

Buy a Fruit Tree! Growing an apple, pear, plum or cherry tree is easy, requires very little work, little space and yields delicious home-grown fruit year after year. Why not treat yourself or someone else to a life long Christmas present?

Eastside Roots are taking orders now for deliveries in late January 2010. Trees are £15 and all profits go to Eastside Roots Community Garden Centre and support its ongoing work. Closing date for orders is 18/01/2010

Visit the website for easy and secure online ordering.
http://www.eastsideroots.org.uk/fruittreeorder09

_______________

Eastside Roots is on a mission… to encourage everyone in Bristol to grow a fruit tree in their garden, allotment, school or community space. They aim to improve access to fresh fruit, reduce food miles, increase biodiversity and turn Bristol into a ‘virtual orchard.’


Earlier this year saw the launch of this campaign with several hundred fruit trees being distributed to local residents who have joined the scheme. Eastside Roots continue this initiative in the hope that hundreds more trees will be planted across the city and more people can enjoy the benefits of growing their own.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The '...zombie economy that inhabits a netherworld between life and death' (The Cuts Wont Work)

I agree very strongly with the second report of the Green New Deal group entitled 'The Cuts Wont Work' (extract below from the Executive Summary) available from the New Economics Foundation when they assert that their Green New Deal will reduce the public debt, cut carbon emissions, increase energy security and reduce fuel poverty:
*
The notion that the most acute financial crisis since the Great Depression is now a thing of the past sounds unerringly like the politicians who, in August 1914, promised that the Great War would be all over by Christmas. Instead, it was the start of a 30-year crisis that embraced two world wars, an economic slump unrivalled since the dawn of the industrial age, and the rise of brutal totalitarian governments. Just as in 1914, the global balance of power is changing, with China threatening America’s hegemony in the way that America and Germany rivalled Britain a century ago. Just as in 1914, an established economic order has been uprooted. Then it was the Gold Standard, free trade and unrestricted capital flows. Today it is the dollar, free trade and unrestricted capital flows.

Add in the new ingredients – the battle for control over resources and global warming – and everything is in place for a prolonged period of upheaval. There will be periods, similar to that in the middle to late 1920s, when the global economy goes through a benign patch, but the respite will be brief. Even feeble economies show occasional signs of health if they are provided with enough support. But make no mistake: what we have now is a zombie economy that inhabits a netherworld between life and death.

Monday, 7 December 2009

When is a resource renewable?

Its wrong to say that the oils extracted from palm and jatropha that would be used to power the biofuel plant proposed for Avonmouth are renewable (‘Renewable Fuel, But How Green Is it?’, Post Dec 5). Plant oils can be renewable in principle but in practice are only renewable resources if they are sustainably managed and subject to widely accepted, independently verified certification. The fact that the plan is to use imported, non-recycled oils, from plants intensively grown as a monoculture using artificial fertilisers, in very poor, increasingly deforested countries, automatically counts against them for a start!

We should be learning from our experience with other resources, such as soil, wood or fish. We’ve made some progress here. These are, in principle, renewable but certainly are not if taken from the environment at a rate greater than they are produced or if they are are managed in an irresponsible way. We know that the Soil Association organic certification means good, responsible soil management – and we have the Forestry Stewardship Council certification for sustainable wood and Marine Stewardship Council certification for more responsible fishing.

In contrast to the progress with soil, wood and fish there is no proper certification for oil from jatropha plants – and the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil has been very strongly criticized for certifying palm oil from companies responsible for deforestation and peatland destruction, for decimating biodiversity (including orangutan populations) and for violating the rights of communities, including indigenous peoples (details). Surely a city with genuine green ambitions would not permit a power station that uses these oils??

Friday, 4 December 2009

Avonmouth imported biofuel power station plan: no environmental impact assessment conducted!!

Been looking closely at the planning application to build a biofuel power station in Avonmouth. Seems to me that there are several flaws in the application itself let alone all the surrounding local impacts and global environmental justice and human rights issues previously outlined. Most notably there is no environmental impact statement – and no indication that any kind of environmental impact assessment procedure has been or will be conducted. Under the European Council Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment, 97/11/EC, an environmental impact assessment is mandatory for ‘Thermal power stations and other combustion installations…’ (EC EIA Directive Annex I projects).

To make matters worse, from a personal involvement viewpoint, I called the Bristol Council Case Officer dealing with this application on Monday of this week and left a message with detailed queries – and called again the following day, leaving my details on his answerphone, because although there was a promise of a return call it did not materialise. It’s the end of the week now and I’ve still not had my calls returned!! As a consequence I’ve been unable to ask why there is no environmental impact assessment and whether one will be conducted at some point soon. Yet this city claims its green credentials are good!!

The EIA Directive (EU legislation) on Environmental Impact Assessment of the effects of projects on the environment was introduced in 1985 and was amended in 1997. Member States have to transpose the amended EIA Directive by 14 March 1999 at the latest.

The EIA procedure ensures that environmental consequences of projects are identified and assessed before authorisation is given. The public can give its opinion and all results are taken into account in the authorisation procedure of the project. The public is informed of the decision afterwards.

The EIA Directive outlines which project categories shall be made subject to an EIA, which procedure shall be followed and the content of the assessment.

Following the signature of the Aarhus Convention by the Community on 25 June 1998, the Community adopted in May 2003 Directive 2003/35/EC amending amongst others the EIA Directive. This Directive intends to align the provisions on public participation in accordance with the Aarhus Convention on public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Climate change debate and action - in a nutshell



From One Hundred Months: Dear Friend, In just seven days the world meets in Copenhagen, to do the deal for our climate.

World leaders, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President Barack Obama, are going.

OneHundredMonths friend, Dr Rajendra Pachauri - Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says we have just months to take large scale action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Unless we act now, climate scientists say we are on our way to six degrees of global warming. Disaster.

So let's take action, watch and share the information ...

Start or join a Vigil for Survival.

Make The Wave.

Deeply uncool.

Vote with The Angry Mermaid.

Tell the President of Indonesia to crack down on deforestation.

It's raining polar bears (Warning - contains gore. Not Al Gore. Just gore.)

The winners of OneMinuteToSaveTheWorld.

Al Gore rap.

In Copenhagen.

And finally, here's a vision.

Let's make this month count.

Many thanks for all you do.

The OneHundredMonths Crew


Tell your friends to come together for
OneHundredMonths

Be our friend on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Be a partner - send your logo to contact@onehundredmonths.org

Read more in our monthly blog.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tree O'Clock world record attempt


Heard about this whilst watching Autumnwatch on the BBC: As part of national tree week, Tree O'Clock is a world record attempt to plant the most trees in one hour. Saturday, 5th December, 11am - 12 noon.


Click here to get more info on why plant a tree and other faqs.


If you want to get involved through an organisation, school or community group, or if you want to plant more than 5 trees, see the Tree O'Clock Partner page.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Biofuels for Bristol (??): Public Meeting this Thursday, 7pm, Arnolfini

Despite serious concerns about the impacts of biofuels in general and vegetable oils like palm oil in particular on the climate, on forests and other ecosystems and on communities in the global South, as well as concerns over air pollution and public health in nearby areas biofuel (sometimes called Agrofuel) power station planning applications are springing up from a number of companies in several parts of the UK, including Bristol (more details on other parts of the UK from Food Not Fuel.

W4B Energy announced plans in April 2009 to build a 20MW power station at Balaclava Bay, Portland, Dorset. They were refused planning permission by Weymouth and Portland Council in September 2009 but have now submitted plans for a 50MW power station in Bristol at Avonmouth Docks, (application number 09/03235/F) as well as re-submitting plans in Portland. The Avonmouth plans are now being considered by Bristol City Council and a decision is expected as early as January 2010 (documents relating to the plans are here).

W4B are openly planning to use imported palm oil - Portland and Bristol are well suited to taking oil deliveries directly off tankers. The proposed power station would burn 90,000 tonnes of vegetable oil, most likely palm oil, every year.They have also put forward jatropha as a possible fuel - yet jatropha is not yet commercially available, many plantings are failing and thousands of people have already lost their land and livelihood for jatropha plantations to feed Europe’s biofuel market. A May 2009 report from Friends of the Earth demolishes the claims that jatropha can be sustainable because its grown on marginal lands with little need for water and fertiliser.

Unsustainable economics, unsustainable standards

Under the UK Government Renewables Obligation, companies producing electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydro get a subsidy. This subsidy is also available for electricity generated in biofuel power stations. The allocation of this subsidy as 'Renewable Obligation Certificates' (ROCs) is the responsibility of OFGEM. Just as with biofuels used for transport, UK taxpayers are subsidising a false climate change solution – we just don’t have adequate standards and systems set up to guarantee socially and environmentally sustainable biofuel production at present.

At the moment, the only ‘internationally recognised certification scheme’ for imported biofuel feedstock is the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This has been strongly criticized for certifying palm oil from companies responsible for deforestation and peatland destruction, for decimating biodiversity (including orangutan populations) and for violating the rights of communities, including indigenous peoples. According to Greenpeace: “deforestation, deep
peat conversion, land disputes and illegal practices continue to occur in the plantation estates owned by a company that is RSPO certified for part of its operations.”
Walhi, Friends of the Earth Indonesia, has warned: "RSPO is designed to legitimate the continuous expansion of the palm oil industry, but any model that includes the conversion of natural habitats into largescale monoculture plantations will never be sustainable." and a declaration signed by 256 organisations condemns the RSPO for “greenwashing” inherently unsustainable oil palm plantations and practices by palm oil palm oil companies. Certification schemes for soya and other feedstocks are also being developed, and have been criticised on the same grounds.

The Royal Society report Sustainable Biofuels: prospects and challenges, Jan 2008, expressed serious concerns about unsustainable practices, lost opportunities, the need for proper sustainability criteria, the need for land use to be given greater priority and large scale uncertainty about current estimates of impacts, as this extract from the report conclusion shows

The dangers of producing biofuels in unsustainable ways have been highlighted, and it is taken as given that unsustainable practices will not be ‘exported’ by the UK through its import policies….However, there is a unique opportunity internationally, not only to avoid such problems, but to produce biofuels in ways that would help to restore degraded farmlands, woodlands, forests and watersheds. In order to facilitate this, the development of sustainability criteria for biofuels and land use need to be given greater priority and momentum in international negotiations. Furthermore effective mechanisms need to be put in place to facilitate technology transfer….Elsewhere in the report, we also highlight the significant uncertainty in the estimates of the impacts (environmental, social and economic) of biofuels.’

Unsustainable land use

The relatively small amount of electricity generated consumes a very large quantity of biofuel. In turn this requires an extremely large area of land to grow the crops, whether in the UK or abroad – land which already has many pressures upon it eg to grow sufficient food of good quality, to maintain varied animal and plant populations, to maintain the ability of land to process carbon, various nutrients and water, to provide healthy leisure, educational and recreational opportunities for people, for housing, roads and so on. Food Not Fuel go through the figures here, stating ‘Ten power stations would be using 67,000 hectares - a land area that could feed a city the size of Belfast!’

Unsustainable climate impacts

Campaigners are very concerned that when full and proper carbon equivalent accounting is done burning vegetable oils emits up to 70% more greenhouse gas emissions than diesel oil - even if it is grown in the UK. A 2007 study by chemistry Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and others suggested that the use of rapeseed biodiesel was associated with 70% more greenhouse gas emissions than the use of equivalent amounts of mineral diesel, due to nitrous oxide emissions from synthetic fertilizer use. Nitrous oxide is nearly 300 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Peat expert Professor Siegert of Munich University has said about palm oil power stations in Germany: "We were able to prove that the making of these plantations and the burning of the rainforests and peat areas emits many thousands of times as much CO2 as we then are able to prevent by using palm oil. And that is a disastrous balance for the climate."

Unsustainable social and health impacts

The environmental and social impacts of using imported vegetable oil, typically palm oil, are worse. This Biofuelwatch paper explains clearly why the UK agrofuel power industry is likely to import at least some of its fuel, and why this is more damaging.

Burning vegetable oil in power stations, whether grown in the UK or imported, results in high emissions of nitrogen-oxide gases, which can cause or worsen asthma and other lung diseases. It could also cause more emissions of tiny air-borne particles (known as PM 2.5) linked to premature deaths from heart and lung diseases and possibly cause more cot deaths in babies. The Blue NG power stations in Beckton and Southall are both in urban areas with crowded streets and road traffic congestion, and close to airports, where air quality is already not good – as is the case with Avonmouth!

The ravenous need for crops, such as palm, to create the oil required for these stations, often results in violent evictions of indigenous peoples and peasant farmers who receive no compensation, and have no where else to go. With them, thousands of species are threatened with extinction, including the orangutan, and Sumatran tigers and elephants.

In a world where one in six people are in hunger, ie one billion, industrial scale biofuels, which mean that more and more land is used for fuel, rather than for food, are condemned as a "crime against humanity" by the UN’s Jean Zeigler (see here for details).

These stations are planned around the country including Avonmouth, Bristol with minimal or no public consultation. The provision of environmental information is often very poor, making effective participation difficult eg there is still no environmental impact statement available for the proposed Avonmouth power station.

It will make world food prices higher as vegetable oil will be used for electricity instead of food. People in other areas of the world, like South-east Asia and South America could be displaced from their homes to allow the necessary vegetable oil plants to be grown.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

New Hinkley nuclear plant: likely to be fraught with economic and technical problems

Our Government have been telling us, yet again, that quite a bit more nuclear power is needed to meet our energy needs. However, an excellent report on last nights Newsnight cast massive doubt over both the economic and the technical aspects of this technology. No British nuclear power station has ever been built on time. The reactor type planned for Hinkley Point, which will be the first of the new reactors to be built, is three years over time and billions over budget on a site in Finland – and construction has been stopped many times due safety errors of which there have been 3000 to date!!

Over confidence about this latest design and construction method from the French construction company Areva was so high that they had agreed a fixed price and a fixed date for completion – but its all ended in extra cost, extra delay, threat and dispute!!

Remember when they said that nuclear electricity would be ‘too cheap to meter’. That technical fix never transpired – and it looks very much like our Government are vastly over-optimistic about nuclear power this time too. Full Newsnight report text below:

By Meirion Jones BBC Newsnight

A Newsnight investigation suggests that UK government plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to fill the energy gap by 2020 are wildly optimistic.

The British nuclear regulator has told Newsnight that he would not hesitate to halt construction if problems emerged and that no British nuclear power station had ever been built on time.

The first of the new generation of reactors in Britain will be at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and will be a replica of the new Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) reactor currently being built in Finland by the French company, Areva.
The Finnish EPR at Olkiluoto was supposed to be the first "third generation" reactor - safe, affordable, and designed for mass production.

The reactor is three years behind schedule and billions of pounds over budget after more than 3,000 mistakes were made by the builders.

The Finnish nuclear regulator has also halted construction on at least a dozen occasions due to safety concerns.

British regulator, Kevin Allars of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII), told Newsnight that he will be every bit as tough as his Finnish equivalent.

Energy promises

Earlier this year, EDF announced that by 2017 Britons would be cooking their Christmas dinners with electricity generated by a new EPR nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, and that come 2020 four reactors would be operating in time to fill any energy gap.

The Energy Secretary Ed Miliband this month issued a provisional go-ahead for ten new nuclear power stations, including Hinkley Point. EDF and Areva have until June 2011 to produce a design which will satisfy the British regulators.
But Finland's regulator, Petteri Tiippana says that the current design for the reactor at Olkiluoto is not safe because emergency circuits are not independent of normal control systems:

"If they aren't independent then the failure in the normal systems can cause a failure in the safety systems," he said.

Areva have promised to submit an improved design to the British and Finnish authorities, after which planning permission to build at each of the British sites must be applied for which is likely to take at least another year - taking us to the middle of 2012.

EDF will then have just five years to build the Hinkley Point reactor if we are to be able use its power to cook Christmas dinners in 2017.

Precedents

The last reactor built in Britain, Sizewell B in Suffolk, was completed in 1995 and took some eight years to build.

Five years have passed since Areva began work on the Finnish reactor and it will take at least another three years to finish the job - eight years in total.
Newsnight asked the man in charge of regulating new nuclear stations here, Kevin Allars of the NII, if any nuclear power station had every been delivered on time in the UK.

"No," was his response.

The Finnish regulator, Mr Tiippana, says it is difficult to deliver these projects on schedule because builders are not used to working to the exacting standards required on nuclear construction sites since so few new reactors have been built in recent years.

Mr Tiippana says that if construction workers do not have the right concrete to build the foundations they will use whatever is to hand, if it is awkward to put a radiation sensor where it should be they will be tempted to put it somewhere else, if it is easier to drill holes in the radiation containment vessel they will do it.

All these mistakes occurred in the construction of the Finnish reactor, just a few of the 3,000 errors detected so far. Correcting them has caused months of delays.
"When they encounter a problem on site they usually follow their previous experience" says Mr Tiippana, "this is how we did it on a coal power plant and that just doesn't work on a nuclear construction project".

Areva was so confident about the EPR that they agreed to build the reactor in Finland with a fixed delivery date of May 2009, and for a fixed price.
The earliest the reactor is now expected to come on line is 2012 and it is 3bn euros (£2.71bn) over budget.

Areva have threatened to abandon the reactor partially built unless they are given more cash.

Building nuclear power stations to order may not prove to be as easy as Ed Miliband might think.

Copenhagen 3

From Karen Linday, Oxfam South West: Bristol’s ‘Copenhagen 3’ will make a crowd at Copenhagen climate change talks. Three Bristol-based Oxfam activists are preparing to become on-the-ground reporters for the most important moment in history. Known as the ‘Copenhagen 3’, the volunteer activists will act as the eyes, ears and voice of the Southwest at the crucial Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen on the weekend of the 12th December.

Megan Orpwood-Russell (24), Rosanne White (24) and Janine Woodward (29)
[pictured] are joining Oxfam activists from across the UK on a specially booked train, which will travel from London to Copenhagen on Friday 11th December. Over the course of the weekend, the ‘Copenhagen 3’ will be reporting on the talks and feeding back to the Southwest via the Oxfam Southwest blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Megan said: “I want to go to Copenhagen because apathy upsets me so much – when I hear my friends say ‘what’s the point?’ and insist that ‘one person can’t make a difference.

“I want to show people that if one person can encourage five others, then five more, we can soon change things! It worries me that politics could affect our climate future simply because of the fact that some countries think other countries won’t act. I want to show these leaders that a lot of people across the world have invested in this.”

In the run up to their epic journey, the ‘Copenhagen 3’ are giving talks in schools, meeting with local MPs, joining up with Southwest groups such as Stitch n’ Bitch and Sustainable Frome, and posting news of their activities on the Oxfam Southwest blog, Twitter and Facebook. Set up only on Thursday 19th November, the ‘Copenhagen 3’ Facebook page has already attracted 107 fans.

Up to 100,000 people are expected to march through Copenhagen on the 12th December – including 250 people from Oxfam international and climate witnesses. Hundreds of events and activities will be organised around the world during the day – involving many affiliates.

Oxfam is campaigning for a fair and safe climate deal. A safe deal must keep global warming below 2°C over pre-industrial temperatures. Global emission levels need to come down by 50% by 2050.

A fair deal means that governments must support financial and technical aid for developing countries to help them adapt to climate change, particularly noting the special needs of women.

For more information, please contact:
Hannah Durrant on 0117 916 6474 / 07887 632 658 /
hdurrant@oxfam.org.uk
Or Karen Lindsay on 0117 916 6477 /
klindsay@oxfam.org.uk

The Oxfam Southwest ‘Copenhagen 3’ blog is here:
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/campaign/where-you-are/southwest/index.html

The ‘Copenhagen 3’ Facebook page is here:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Copenhagen-3/180615942954?ref=search&sid=223602050.1549887853..1

The ‘Copenhagen 3’ are also on Twitter:@oxfamsouthwest

More details on Oxfam’s position on climate change can be found in here:
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/campaign/climate_change/faq.html

Help stop climate chaos and come to the Wave on 5th December:

Monday, 23 November 2009

Biofuel power for Bristol would very seriously detract from 'green capital' ambition

Biofuels Scandal: The Hidden Cost of the Biofuels Stations proposed for Bristol and for sites across Britain. Public Meeting organized by Zenith Milner, Environmentalist, Thursday 3rd December, 7:00pm to 9:00pm, The 3rd Floor, Bush House, Arnolfini, 72 Prince St.,Bristol, BS1 4QD

Heavy government subsidies, to the tune of tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, are all that are making power stations using virgin plant oil viable. But the truth shocking is that, instead of reducing the gases that cause climate change, these biofuels stations actually increase them. Also, they cause local air pollution, causing respiratory and heart diseases and they bring about rainforest destruction on a massive scale.

The ravenous need for crops, such as palm, to create the oil required for these stations, often results in violent evictions of indigenous peoples and peasant farmers who receive no compensation, and have nowhere else to go. With them, thousands of species are threatened with extinction, including the orang utan, and Sumatran tigers and elephants.

In a world where one in six people are in hunger, ie one billion, industrial scale biofuels, which mean that more and more land is used for fuel, rather than for food, are condemned as a "crime against humanity" by Jean Zeigler, UN. But a number of these stations are planned around the country including Avonmouth, Bristol [despite its 'green capital' ambition - Ed] with minimal or no public consultation.

You are invited to come and voice your views on whether we should build biofuels power stations in this country. We hope to have representatives from Southall, Portland and Newport campaigns on biofuel power station applications with us.

Come along and bring friends and colleagues with you and let others know about it - lets get those councillors and MPs can candidates for such posts attending. Write to them and invite them – they may send a representative if unavailable themselves as has already happened.

Copenhagen Climate Summit and Cumbria...

Excellent guide to and commentary on the soon to be held Copenhagen Climate Summit here produced by Greenpeace. It shows that the current draft treaty has no agreement on the key issues: the level and timings of carbon emissions cuts; financing of measures to adapt to climate change, transfer clean technologies around the globe, help poorer countries cut emissions and protect their forests. It also shows that there is as yet no agreement on how best to protect forests, whose destruction causes between a fifth and a quarter of all climate change.

In short, all the hard issues and real problems are currently being ducked!! See this very useful Greenpeace guide to where various world leaders (so called!) are letting us down, here - this is a snippett of what it says about our PM Gordon Brown:
...He’s failed to embrace renewable energy and quit coal putting him at odds with his own advisors on climate change. And because of wrangling over finance with the rest of the EU, the UK hasn’t been able to offer more than words to developing nations.

Gordon - have you truly seen the flooding in Cumbria and the other very serious flooding events in recent yrs or have you merely looked at them? This from the BBC website:

Five million people in England and Wales are now at risk from flooding every year,

Two million homes have been built in the natural floodplain of rivers or the coast and are vulnerable to flooding,

Scientists predict that climate change may lead to more frequent flooding in the future,

Property, land and assets to the value of £214 billion are at risk of flooding in England and Wales,

Since 1998, 28 people have died as a direct result of flooding, including children. Thousands have suffered shock, trauma and devastating damage to their homes and possessions,

Many families have still not moved back into their homes following the 2000 floods,

Six inches of fast flowing water will knock you off your feet; four inches of water will ruin your carpet, and two feet of water will float your car.
See details of the Foresight Future Flooding report, by Sir David King and 60 top scientists, here.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Climate Emergency: Public Meeting

Passing on the message from Katie Buse: Please send this message on to anyone who might be interested!

7:30pm
Thursday, 26th November
The Stag and Hounds
74 Old Market St
Bristol BS2 0EJ

Speakers include
Richard Lawson (Green Party, pictured) Jonathan Neale (Campaign against Climate Change) and Karen Bell (Bristol University), Chaired by Katie Buse (Green Party)

How to get to the National Climate March from Bristol on Dec 05

Bristol Campaign against Climate Change has decided to use the already available public transport.

Megabus:£5 return to London Victoria, make your own way to Rally in Hyde Park.
Dept Colston Hall 07:30 or 10:30
RTN 18:30 -Bristol.21:00
www.megabus.com/uk
use code RSPB01

Train enquiries; CAFOD 01752 551679, Christian Aid: 01395 222304, Tearfund:02086198076
Tickets £25 departsBristol Temple Meads-Paddington 09:34 on 05 DEC phone 0845 678 2976
National Express has buses running from Malborough St. Bus Station at 08:20 and 08:50.
Tickets btwn£14-£16
www.nationalexpress.com

If you are a memberof Oxfam or the Co-op you can book with them.
£10 rtn/under 16 gofree. Leaves 0800from @ Bristol, on the Harbourside, Anchor Rd (BS1 5DB) go to:


www.co-operative.coop and follow links to "the Wave

or phone Charlotte( Connections) 0845 643 4123

OR you can cycle there!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sustainability, public participation and environmental information questions

Just sent in two sets of questions for Cllr Jon Rogers to be put at the 24 November Bristol City Council Cabinet meeting:

*Sustainability

The current draft version of the recently developed BDF Core Strategy contains this statement,
‘ambitious and sustainable economic growth…maintaining the economic growth of Bristol above the regional and national level…’

1.Would the member recognise that this statement requires very heavy qualification to make it remotely logical or possible on into the future given environmental, social and indeed economic realities?

2.Would he agree with me that this statement should be qualified using the concepts: efficiency; environmental limits; renewability; both local and global justice, now and on into the future; health, wellbeing and quality of life, given that these are the key features of development that make it sustainable?

3.Would he agree with me that unless we make full and proper use of the term sustainable in key documents, especially when paired with economic growth, the way is open for ‘business as usual’ developments which will maintain or worsen environmental and social sustainability here and around the globe?

*Public participation and environmental information

During 1998 the UN Economic Commission for Europe prepared a Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (The Aarhus Convention). In 2003 the European Commission developed two Directives to implement the provisions of the Aarhus Convention. Article 6.2 of the convention states,
‘The public shall be informed, either by public notice or individually as appropriate, early in an environmental decision-making procedure, and in an adequate, timely and effective manner, inter alia, of…the fact that the activity is subject to…environmental impact procedure.’ (UNECE, 1998).

1. Is the member completely satisfied that all significant developments in Bristol, such as the South Bristol Link or the many proposals for dealing with waste or for energy generation in Avonmouth, like the biofuel power station, or Bus Rapid Transit plans or developments on green belt land such as the BCFC stadium…involve provision of environmental information and for public participation that is in full accord with the Aarhus Convention and associated EU Directives ie that it is early, adequate, timely and effective? If not satisfied, what actions does he propose and when?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Silver surfers...Social networking for Older People: activities/training in Knowle

From Makala Campbell (Cheung), of the Knowle West Media Centre: Hi All, do you know of an older person that could benefit from getting online? Maybe you know someone who works with older people or has an older relative or neighbour? Please forward the relevant info below (choose which one) and help get older people to this event.

And if you think there is someone I could contact personally to talk to them more about it, maybe a group or individual, then please let me know the contact details, and I'll chase it up!

Social Networking for Older People
[For organisations and individuals that work with older people]

Tuesday 8 December, Knowle West Media Centre, Leinster Ave, BS4 1NL

As the festive season approaches, the South Bristol Digital Neighbourhoods programme (SBDN) is holding an event for older people and the individuals and organisations that work with them.

At a time of year that can be lonely and bleak for some, this event will explore digital and social networking solutions to the problem of isolation and facilitate easier communication with and amongst older people.

On Tuesday 8 December 2-4pm, older people can receive training on our mobile laptops, sign up to the myguide website and set up their own Facebook account in a friendly environment, using KWMC’s excellent facilities. There will also be free mince pies, tea and coffee.

The event will look at digital issues affecting older people, with a focus on social networking and isolation.

For more information please contact Makala Campbell or Rachel Clarke at Knowle West Media Centre on 0117 903 0444 /
makala@kwmc.org.uk / rachel.clarke@kwmc.org.uk
__________________________________________________________


Social Networking for Older People
[For older people ]

Tuesday 8 December 2-4pm, Knowle West Media Centre

As the festive season approaches, why not use the power of technology to keep in touch with your friends and family and do your Christmas shopping?

The South Bristol Digital Neighbourhoods programme (SBDN) is holding a day of activities on Tuesday 8 December to help you. There will also be free mince pies, tea and coffee!

Receive training on our mobile computers
Sign up to the myguide website for free computer tutorials
Set up your own account with Facebook – the popular website that connects you with people you know! Can you rival Ivy Bean – the oldest lady on Facebook?

Learn something new in a friendly and supportive environment!

For more information please contact Makala Campbell or Rachel Clarke at Knowle West Media Centre on 01179 030444 /
makala@kwmc.org.uk / rachel.clarke@kwmc.org.uk

Makala Campbell (Cheung)
Digital Neighbourhoods & Communications Coordinator
Direct line: 0117 3532895 / Main tel: 0117 9030444

Knowle West Media Centre, Leinster Avenue, Knowle West, Bristol BS4 1 NL
Company No. 4358350, Charity No. 1092375 Fax: 01179030 445

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Environmental Justice Event Bristol - 11th Nov

From Karen Bell, School Policy Studies (Karen.Bell@bristol.ac.uk )Environmental Justice Event Bristol - 11th Nov, University of Bristol, School for Policy Studies, Centre for the Study of Poverty and Social Justice

Environmental Justice: Achieving a Healthy Environment for All, Public Seminar

Wednesday, 11th November, 1.30 - 4.30 pm

Speakers:

Cristian Domínguez, National Secretary of Environment and Resources,
United Confederation of Bolivian Campesino Workers

Professor Malcolm Eames, Low Carbon Research Institute, Cardiff University

Judy Ling Wong, CBE. Director, Black Environment Network, UK

Maria Adebowale, Director, Capacity Global

'Environmental Justice' refers to the human right to a healthy and safe
environment, a fair share of natural resources and access to environmental
information and participation in environmental decision-making.

Social movement campaigns for environmental justice usually focus on the
inequitable environmental burdens borne by poor, black and other
disadvantaged groups.

This seminar looks at this issue at a local and
global level, from NGO, activist and academic perspectives and will be of
interest to all those working towards social justice.

This event is open to the public. FFl or to reserve a place, email: karen.bell@bristol.ac.uk.
Location: Room LT1, 3 - 5, Woodland Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1TB

Backgounds:

Cristian Domínguez, has been at the forefront of environmental justice
campaigns in Bolivia, opposing water privatisation and working for the
nationalisation of natural resources. The organisation he represents, the
CSUTCB, is one of the main social movement organisations which brought
president Evo Morales to power.

Professor Eames has participated in and led research and consultancy
projects for a wide range of agencies including: DTI, DETR, UK Cabinet
Office, Environment Agency, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the European
Commission. In 2004 he produced a report on environmental inequalities in
the UK which has underpinned the current UK Framework and Strategy for
Sustainable Development.

Judy Ling Wong has an international reputation as a pioneer in the field of
black and minority ethnic participation in the built and natural
environment. She works on urban design, identity, health, employment, and
access to the countryside and urban green spaces. The groundbreaking
methodology developed by BEN to engage urban-based ethnic minorities has
been very influential in many areas of mainstream policy.

Maria Adebowale, formerly a UK Sustainable Development Commissioner, is the
founder of Capacity Global, a social enterprise specialising in
environmental justice.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Call for action against proposed Bristol biofuel power station: meeting Thurs 12 Nov

I've been in touch with Zenith Milner, campaigner against virgin biofuel power station proposals, such as the one planned for Avonouth (one of many applications all over the UK). Please support her call for action - the coming weeks and months are a vital time, with planning applications being considered here. Zenith said,

Please come to our urgent meeting this Thursday 12 November to oppose the plan for a new virgin biofuel power station at Avonmouth, Bristol. Meet at 6.45 for 7 at the entrance of Coexist, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol, B31 3QF.

W4B has plans to build a power station that would use palm oil and jatropha i.e. virgin biofuel. The plant would have devastating environmental and social consequences. These would include local air pollution from nitrous oxides and particulates which cause respiratory and cardiac diseases, ezcema and may even be related to cot death. Burning vegetable oils would lead to more climate change gases - carbon dioxide and methane - than burning even fossil fuels. Rainforest destruction would be caused, leading to violent evictions of indigenous peoples and the killing and endangering of animal species such as orang utans, sumatran tigers, sumatran elephants and many more. Using land for biofuels instead of food in a world where one billion (or 1 in 6) people are going hungry should be unthinkable. Jean Zeigler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said it was a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel.

The scandal is that this type of power station is only viable due to heavy Government subsidies to the tune of tens of millions of pounds of tax payers money. It is also outrageous that there has been virtually no public consultation here in Bristol, which is why so few people know about it even in a city where there is so much environmental awareness.

Consultation has also been minimal in other towns where plans for biofuel power stations have been submitted. However, when citizens have been made aware of the plans they have expressed strong opposition and supported successful campaigns that have led to planning committees rejecting the proposals in Southall, Newport in Gwent and Portland.

It is vital that Bristol shows the way by rejecting this application for a biofuel power station here in Avonmouth and making a stand against virgin biofuel power stations in general in this country.

Please join our EMERGENCY CAMPAIGN MEETING this THURSDAY 12 NOVEMBER at 6.45 for 7 at the entrance of Coexist, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol, B31 3QF.

Please sign the online petition against the power station at
http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/petition.php?id=302

Do get in touch with Zenith at
zenithswifter@yahoo.co.uk if you can help with the campaign or want any further information

For further information about biofuels:
http://sites.google.com/site/foodnotfuelorg/
http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The wildlife in Bristol's neighbourhoods...

Off to a meeting about progressing the Wild City initiative in the local area tonight, with fellow members of the Northern Slopes Initiative. I'm hoping that the Open University's new iSpot website will be relevant and useful in some way. The site enables both casual observers of wildlife and green, natural spaces and experienced naturalists alike to create and share photos and other information and expertise with like-minded people.

The iSpot site is open for use by anyone that wants to but is also well complemented by a great new Open University course called Neighbourhood Nature (S159). This course aims to allow anyone with an interest in nature to develop their scientific and observational skills, whether they live in a city like Bristol or in a rural area. The course involves: introducing habitat types and the various animals/plants; fieldwork to be carried out in a local public open space; entering data colleced onto the iSpot site. No previous scientific experience is needed for doing this course.

[This of course also a shameless plug for my employer, the Open University, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Its perhaps the biggest achievement of Harold Wilson's Govt. I dont teach the Neighbourhood Nature course - I'm involved in Environmental Decision Making: A Systems Approach and Environment: journeys through a changing world, which are also superb courses to take...if you are interested.].

Monday, 2 November 2009

Copenhagen and Climate Change - The Cornish Declaration

I've not long been back from a holiday in Little Petherick, just outside Padstow in Cornwall. Whilst there we looked around an interesting little church, originally 14th century. I picked up, signed and sent off a postcard I came across in the church - Climate Change - The Cornish Declaration, an initiative 'spearheaded by Truro Cathedral, [which] encourages people and organisations in Cornwall to support action to ensure that Cornwall is part of a planet which lives within its means so that families and communities survive to freely enjoy the county and beauty of Cornwall.


This includes making specific pledges that strive to


*restore the balance between nature and society


*lead sustainable lives


*leave positive footprints on the path to Copenhagen and into the future.' (details)

If you live in Cornwall or are/have been a visitor there, please consider signing and sending off a copy of the declaration (which will then be sent off with many others to PM Gordon Brown before the Copenhagen meeting on climate change).

For more on this part of Cornwall, especially the Saints Way walking and canoeing breaks, see...
http://encountercornwall.com/walking_saints

Green BCFC stadium design planned for our 'green' city? Should be but isn't...

Copy of my objection to the new BCFC stadium plans, sent in just over a week ago...
Please reject this planning application (09/02242/P). Loss of green belt land and stimulus to further loss of green belt land should be unacceptable, particularly given the extent to which the stadium is not green in design.

There are concrete and long term disbenefits from loss of green belt - a land use designation that is supposed to be used to retain areas of largely undeveloped, wild, or agricultural land surrounding or neighbouring urban areas. Granting planning permission would also be a big stimulus to further loss of green belt and yet more impacts on local communities and environment, compared with benefits that are merely possibilities under certain circumstances - and they are pretty uncertain and transient in nature. For example: credible hard facts that demonstrate that [possibly] having a bit of World Cup football in Bristol for a short period many years hence would give significant net social, economic and environmental benefits are very, very hard to come by, though hype, trivia and illusion on this issue are very easy to find!!

There are certain factors that, under current planning law and guidance, are not legitimate planning criteria against which the application should be judged. These include: World Cup games in Bristol aspirations; Bristol City FC premiership aspirations; support for the application from the local media for the stadium; support from political party leaders for the stadium; support from a multi-millionaire and major supermarket chain for the stadium proposal. These things therefore, at least in theory, should not affect decision making - I sincerely hope that this is the case.

Very little or nothing of what is planned matches the sustainable development all politicians say they are signed up to!! Bristol City have had the option of following good, green practice – but have not taken it. It would of course have gone well with Bristol's green capital ambitions and would have compensated to a degree for the loss of green belt – but they have not abided by this principle.

To what extent is sustainable economic activity promoted eg the use of local labour and local energy and materials? To what extent are the latest energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable transport technologies employed? Are sustainable access options - walking, cycling and light rail transport links – maximised? Will the stadium be unobtrusive in appearance and sound? Does it feature permanently protected nature reserves around the stadium, designed to maximise biodiversity? Does it aim to be a carbon neutral stadium? Do proposals avoid any 'sprawl' in design? Has there been a thorough ecological assessment of the whole area, at various times of the year before drawing up plans?

How do BCFCs plans compare with examples of football clubs who have used or attempted to use at least some green principles, designs and technologies: Dartford FC (pictured) – living grass roof, solar electricity and heating, rainwater collection and low noise and light pollution design; Ipswich Town – carbon neutral scheme; Middlesborough – solar roof and wind turbines project; Man City – community involvement, transport and waste initiatives (wind turbines were planned but sadly now abandoned)??

Friday, 23 October 2009

Objection to Tesco on Ashton Gate

Sent in the following objection to plans for a Tesco superstore on Ashton Gate today: I ask you to reject this application (09/03208/P). A Tesco store is not needed and would impact negatively on existing businesses, the environment and local community life. Sustainable access ie on foot, by bicycle or bus is poor. Little or no evidence is offered for appropriate economic, social or environmental regeneration. Bristol is supposed to be signed up to sustainable development – and this is not it!!

Those financing and running BCFC claim that a superstore on Ashton Gate is essential to plans for building a new stadium. If, as they say, a new stadium is vital they must have alternative plans for funding it or for redeveloping Ashton Gate – they cannot be considered competent otherwise. Don’t buy the BCFC spin.

Those who would benefit significantly from a new BCFC stadium are a very small number of private business people. Those who stand to lose significantly are a large number local people, whose small businesses, community and environment will be badly impacted. It would be unjust to decide in favour of a small number of already very wealthy people.

The site for the proposed new BCFC stadium is in the green belt. Along with the stadium would go houses, a hotel and fast food outlets – and of course a further stimulus to all kinds of possible developments to take up yet more of our green belt.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

What if…we could see our climate changing emissions??

What would be a good way of visualising exactly how much climate changing carbon dioxide we all produce*? Its easy to see all the waste that goes into our bins (and recycling boxes…) but carbon dioxide is a colourless and odourless gas presently emitted when we heat and light our homes, obtain and cook food, travel for work and leisure…We may read in the papers and hear on the news or see on the DEFRA website that on average each UK person emits a massive 12.5 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide equivalent – it sounds a lot but what does it mean? What would it look like if we could see it? (See picture of our daily production, per person, of 73 large black bin bags full).
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If we could see and/or smell it would there be even more participants in today’s blog action day on climate change? Would there be more impetus take action on a scale that would reduce or avoid the worst effects of climate change, given that increasingly frequent news reports of rapidly melting arctic ice (from today) or news of how the world’s poorest are suffering most from the consequences of climate change don’t seem to be stimulating it??
-
*We can easily convert the 12.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to a volume. When this is done (see the calculation below +) we find that the average UK person emits enough carbon dioxide equivalent each day to fill 145 black bags (of the 120 litre type we all put our plastic rubbish in) – or 73 if you use the larger 240 litre black bags. That’s about 17,400 litres every day – not far off a whole streets worth of rubbish bins !!
-
Something like 23 black bin bags (120 litre size) per day (equivalent to around 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person per year) is an emissions level which would avoid the worst climate change.
________________________________________________

+A mole of carbon dioxide (its relative molecular mass in grams) is 44 grams (12+16+16). One mole of gas at standard temperature and pressure occupies 22.4 litres.

12.5 tonnes x1000 = 12,500kg x1000 = 12,500,000g which divided by the mass of one mole, 44g, gives us the number of lots of 22.4 litres we produce in a year = 284,090.9 lots.

284,090.9 x 22.4 = 6,363,636.364 litres per year, which divided by 365 gives 17, 434 litres per day. Divide by 120 litres (black bag – or small rubbish bin – volume) and you get 145 bags full per day!! [Divide by the larger 240 litre bags and you get 73 bags full per day].

Climate change is not only about melting ice caps and polar bears. Climate change is about people.

Guest blog post (for Blog Action Day: Climate Change) from CARE International's, Simon Owens:
Swinging weather patterns are creating disasters on a scale that human civilization has never before witnessed. For the world’s poorest people – the ones least equipped to deal with its effects – climate change is devastating their crops, livelihoods and communities.

"Climate change is worsening the plight of those hundreds of millions of men, women and children who already live in extreme poverty – and it threatens to push hundreds of millions more people into similar destitution," says CARE International’s Secretary General Robert Glasser. "A concerted international response to this unprecedented challenge is required if we are to avoid catastrophic human suffering."

CARE is working toward a world where poor people can create opportunity out of crises like climate change. But the current reality is that climate change makes poor people even more vulnerable.

For instance, agricultural production will likely decline in the poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Less reliable rainfall will likely affect planting seasons, crop growth and livestock health – and lead to increased malnutrition. In other parts of the developing world, flooding will likely further diminish the quality of already-marginal soil and could cause outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

Climate change also is hurling many poor families into "Catch-22" situations. For example, they may select crops that are less sensitive to rainfall variation, but also less profitable. As incomes decline and people are not able to eke out a living, children are forced to leave school, assets are sold off to afford essentials, malnutrition rates increase and large-scale migration ensues. The end result? Deepening poverty for tens of millions of people around the world.

What Must Be Done?

At the international level, negotiations to develop a new treaty to guide global efforts to address climate change will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark in just a couple weeks. The United States must help lead those efforts, and forge a strong agreement that caps emissions, stops global warming and responds to the effects already in motion. We must do this for the sake of all of humanity.

What can I do to help?

First, you can make a tax-deductible donation to CARE to help poor families access the tools and education they need to adapt to the effects of climate change, make efficient use of their existing resources and overcome poverty for good.

Second, if you live in the Unites States, you can write your senators and urge them to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, a critical step toward U.S. leadership in tackling climate change. U.S. leadership is critical to making the Copenhagen negotiations a success.

Third, you can join the CARE mailing list to be kept up to date on CARE’s activities and other ways you can take action in the days counting down to Copenhagen.

To donate, take action and join our e-mail list, please visit
www.care.org/climate

Monday, 12 October 2009

One Planet Knowle?

At the first meeting of the Knowle West Team on 29 Sept, which I attended both as a local resident and to represent Knowle’s Transition group Sustainable Knowle, I was concerned that the term sustainability was pretty freely used eg featuring prominently in consultants Urban Initiatives own draft vision statement, but that no sustainability benchmarks, indicators, measures, assessment processes...were discussed. I made a note to raise the issue at the meeting but did not get the chance, thus this note.

It strikes me that sustainability is at the heart of the vision and objectives drawn up by Knowle West’s residents*, who have a broad-based and inclusive definition of land and development value, compared with the narrow, purely financial, view on the value of land and development expressed by someone else at the meeting on the 29th. [*See this Bristol City Council page on Knowle West Regeneration].

I brought this issue up at the Knowle West Residents Planning Group meeting on 6 Oct and said I would circulate some thoughts on sustainability benchmarks. I think the following principles are excellent as a sustainability guide to residents, campaigners, designers, architects, planners, developers – and there are some very good practical projects that are based upon them…

One Planet Living is a ‘global initiative based on 10 principles of sustainability developed by BioRegional and WWF’.

‘The ten principles of one planet living are a framework to help us enjoy a high quality of life within a fair share of the earth's resources:
*
Zero Carbon
Making buildings more energy efficient and delivering all energy with renewable technologies.
*
Zero Waste
Reducing waste arisings, reusing where possible, and ultimately sending zero waste to landfill.
*
Sustainable Transport
Encouraging low carbon modes of transport to reduce emissions, reducing the need to travel.
*
Sustainable Materials
Using sustainable products that have a low embodied energy.
*
Local and Sustainable Food
Choosing low impact, local, seasonal and organic diets and reducing food waste.
*
Sustainable Water
Using water more efficiently in buildings and in the products we buy; tackling local flooding and water course pollution.
*
Natural Habitats and Wildlife
Protecting and expanding old habitats and creating new space for wildlife.
*
Culture and Heritage
Reviving local identity and wisdom; support for, and participation in, the arts.
*
Equity, Fair Trade and Local Economy
Inclusive, empowering workplaces with equitable pay; support for local communities and fair trade.
*
Health and Happiness
Encouraging active, sociable, meaningful lives to promote good health and well being.’
*
More details on the above, including an expansion on what the 10 principles are all about here. Several practical examples of projects, at various levels, such as: BedZed UK; One Brighton; One Gallions, Thames Gateway; One Planet Sutton; RuralZED, can be found here.

The building products supplier Kingspan sponsored ‘Lighthouse’ demonstration zero carbon project at the Building Research Establishment (pictured), the work of Mount Pleasant Ecological Park and the principles developed at the Eden Project may or may not be fully realisable in practice, as yet, but they can certainly be used to inform our sustainable decision making, design and construction.

See http://zerokarb.com/projects.asp for more examples of zero carbon home designs and here
http://www.forumforthefuture.org.uk/greenfutures/articles/Green_House_Effect70 for debate/discussion on green homes.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Oppose this unsustainable, ungreen biofuel power station plan for Avonmouth

Just joined the Facebook group Stop Bristol's Biofuel Power Station because I'm very strongly opposed to power stations that plan to burn non-recycled and imported biofuels produced with massive social and environmental impacts. I've sent the group's suggested email of objection to the planning application (Ref 09/03235/F) to: development.management@bristol.gov.uk and urge others to send similar messages.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: W4B Renewable Energy application for a biofuel power station at Avonmouth Docks, Ref 09/03235/F

I wish to object to W4B’s planning application to build a 50 MW biofuel power station at Avonmouth Docks, which would burn 90,000 tonnes of vegetable oil every year. I am deeply concerned about the impact of biofuels such as palm oil on the climate, on rainforests and other ecosystems and on communities in the global South. In Italy and Germany, a large number of biofuel power stations are already operating and virtually all of them run on palm oil which is by far the cheapest vegetable oil. Jatropha oil, also mentioned in the application, is not available commercially so far, yet already many thousands of people in Tanzania, Ghana and India are losing their land, livelihoods and in some cases their forests to jatropha plantations.

If the power station were run on palm oil only, it would require over 22,000 hectares of plantations – and even more for any other feedstock. According to the UN, palm oil is the main cause of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is responsible for billions of tonnes of carbon emissions, as forests are destroyed and peatlands converted to plantations. In countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Colombia, growing numbers of indigenous peoples, small farmers and other rural communities are being forced off their land, often through violence.

Bristol City Council must consider the climate and wider sustainability impacts of planning decisions and I believe that this means that the development should be rejected.

I am also concerned about the impacts of the proposed biofuel power station on air quality and thus on the health of the local population, particularly in Avonmouth but potentially also in Hallen Village and Severn Beach Village. Avonmouth is already designated as an Air Quality Management Area, with concerns over PM10 levels. The power station will worsen PM10 levels, as well as those of NOx and PM 2.5, and will add to the pollution from two large biomass power stations in the area for which plans are currently being considered.
*
*
*
Local news reports on the issue:
*
There is also an e-petition opposing the power plant - please sign it!!