Category Archives: Information

The Sky’s Limit – stop digging

The Sky’s Limit is a new study by Oil Change International which reveals the need to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and industry expansion. It focuses on the potential carbon emissions from developed reserves – where the wells are already drilled, the pits dug, and the pipelines, processing facilities, railways, and export terminals constructed.

Key findings are:

  • The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.
  • The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C.
  • With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs.

Key recommendations:

  • No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them.
  • Some fields and mines – primarily in rich countries – should be closed before fully exploiting their resources, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries.
  • This does not mean stopping the use of all fossil fuels overnight. Governments and companies should conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.

Report on talk by climate expert in Wiveliscombe

We were very pleased to welcome Professor Tim Lenton to present an illustrated talk on protecting our future from climate change on 18th July 2016 at Kingsmead School. There was a good turnout with an audience of just under 100.

Tim Lenton is Professor of Earth System Science and Climate Change at the University of Exeter. His talk covered the 2015 United Nations Summit, tipping points and the urgent need for more action to reduce climate change.

Click on the following links to download Tim’s excellent presentation:

CONCLUSIONS

Tim has a great depth of knowledge on climate change, which he frankly shared, giving us much to think about.

Conclusions of his presentation were:

  • There is a cap of future (cumulative) emissions to meet any climate target.
  • Current emissions leads to 2°C increase in the global average temperature within the next 20-30 years (likely).
  • Current declared contributions from the world’s countries are not sufficient to keep  within the 2°C target …
    … unless massive carbon dioxide removal is implement later (overshoot).
  • If business-as-usual continues then climate tipping points are expected to become high impact high probability events.
  • Early warning methods exist for tipping points and have been successfully tested against past climate data and models, but will require advances in past climate reconstruction as well as contemporary climate monitoring.
  • A climate tipping point early warning system could reduce the risk they pose by helping us adapt in advance if not avoid them.
  • The threat of multiple, interacting, uncertain climate tipping points should be triggering strong mitigation activity now to reduce their likelihood.
  • The optimal policy response from a standard cost-benefit model with a realistic specification of risk aversion is a carbon price today of >$500 per tonne of carbon.

Pricing the carbon content of fossil fuels would encourage changes in economic behaviour. It would create a financial incentive to reduce our use of fossil fuels and use alternatives instead, such as renewable energy. Tim also said some future carbon capture and storage would be needed (suggesting the use of bioenergy from crops and wastes) and that it would help to source and use food more efficiently, including by reducing meat consumption.

JOINT MEETING

This meeting was jointly promoted by Transition Athelney, Transition Minehead & Alcombe, Quantock Eco, Somerset Energy and Environment Network, Sustainable Villages Initiative, Taunton Transition Town, Forum 21, Transition Town Wellington and Wivey Action on Climate.

Climate tipping points

Face the future

On World Meteorological Day (23/3/2016), the World Meteorological Organisation published a website on what is happening to our world:

“Our climate is changing. This is not just a future scenario. It is happening now. The climate will continue to change over the coming decades as more and more heat-trapping greenhouse gases emitted by human activities accumulate in the atmosphere.

“Each of the past several decades has been significantly warmer than the previous one. The period 2011–2015 was the hottest on record, and the year 2015 – with an extra boost from a powerful El Niño – was the hottest since modern observations began in the late 1800s.

“But rising temperatures tell only part of the story. Climate change is disrupting the natural pattern of the seasons, and it is increasing the frequency and intensity of certain extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall. These ongoing changes provide a foretaste of a hotter, drier, wetter future.”

Click on links above for a 2015 summary and future problems.

UN climate agreement aims for 1.5°C warming limit

The United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris, held from 30 Nov – 12 Dec 2015, has reached a new universal agreement to tackle climate change. This is great news but there will still be much to do to put it into action and to ensure what has been agreed is enough. The sooner we stop using dirty fossil fuels and the quicker we switch to clean renewables the better.

The new agreement aims to limit global warming to “well below 2°C” and to aim for no more than 1.5°C. Already the increase is 1°C and current plans, at best, will limit the rise to 2.7°C. So the agreement includes a pathway for continued review, which will require ever more demanding action over coming decades.

Backed by 196 countries, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal world membership and aims “to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system”.

For reports on the final agreement see:
BBC – Global climate deal: In summary
UN – Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change
350 – The Paris climate agreement
Kevin Anderson – 10/10 for presentation; 4/10 for content.
Michael Jacobs – Agreement is highly ambitious and very clever

End fossil fuel subsidies

New research shows that governments in the G20 group of the world’s major economies are subsidising production of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal), when much of it cannot be used if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.

The Empty Promises report from the Overseas Development Institute details the scale and structure of fossil fuel subsidies in the G20 countries. The evidence points to a publicly financed bailout for some of the world’s largest, most carbon-intensive and polluting companies.

G20 countries are creating a ‘lose-lose’ scenario by directing large volumes of finance into high-carbon assets that cannot be exploited without catastrophic climate effects. This diverts investment from economic low-carbon alternatives such as solar, wind and hydro-power. The scale of G20 fossil fuel production subsidies calls into question the commitment of governments to an ambitious deal on climate change.

ODI report that: “The UK stands out as a major industrialised economy that has dramatically increased its support to fossil fuels in recent years. While other nations have responded to the drop in energy prices by reducing fossil fuel consumer subsidies, the UK has reduced taxes on fossil fuel production, increasing subsidies to fossil fuel producers. Many of the changes to the UK’s tax regime for oil and gas are recent and will not come into effect until 2015 or later.

Guides to target energy saving at home

Wivey Action on Climate received funding from the Energy Saving Trust in 2015 to promote energy saving at home, which can help reduce bills, keep us warm and cut carbon emissions.

We produced guides (updated in early 2016) to energy saving at home, funding and support, and lists of local suppliers for heating and hot water, solar powerbiomass and wood heating, insulation and specialist architects.

In May and June 2015, we distributed the guides at local stalls and had a display in the Community Office.

Energy stalls
Stalls on energy saving at Farmers Market and in The Square.

As well as our web-pages on energy saving, we also recommend the following:

Climate action needed

The United Nations has been building support since 1990 for a universal agreement on climate change.

In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the UN and the World Meteorological Organisation  to provide the world with a clear scientific view on climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

The IPCC’s fifth assessment report in November 2014 concluded:

“Human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed on all continents. If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

“However, options are available to adapt to climate change and … ensure that the impacts of climate change remain within a manageable range, creating a brighter and more sustainable future.

“We have the means to limit climate change,” said R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”

IPCC – Press Release, 2nd November 2014

For further information see:

Media coverage of the November 2014 IPCC report: BBC, 2 Nov 2014 – Guardian, 2 Nov 2014 – Telegraph, 2 Nov 2014 – Telegraph, 31 Oct 2014