Category Archives: Meeting

The switch to renewables

The Switch – talk by Chris Goodall
6.30 – 8.30pm on Monday, 26th June 2017
Quaker Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4EP
Doors open at 6pm with light refreshments available
£3 entry to help cover costs

Chris Goodall will cover the subject of his latest book The Switch. He will explain why a rapid transition to renewable energy is essential, affordable and technically feasible. Followed by questions and discussion.

Chris is a good speaker and renowned expert on new energy technologies with a website at: www.carboncommentary.com

Joint meeting by Transition Athelney, Forum 21, Taunton Transition Town, Transition Town Wellington and Wivey Action on Climate.

Fracking meeting report

We held a well attended film show on fracking, followed by a panel discussion, on 6 June 2017 at Wiveliscombe Primary School.

‘The truth behind the dash for gas’ (available on You Tube) showed views on previous proposals for exploration drilling in the Mendips and the reality of widespread drilling in Australia. The film highlighted the risks to our countryside from drilling operations and to our health from chemicals used in fracking fluid and from leaking gases.

For the panel discussion, we were pleased to be joined by Dr Julie Richardson, a local geologist and specialist in fracking issues, and Kevin Ogilvie-White, a local campaigner and founder of Frack Free EQS (Exmoor-Quantocks-Sedgemoor).

It was acknowledged the film was a little dated and some thought it may be sensationalist and scientifically questionable in parts.

Julie believed gas sources in Somerset were not deep enough for fracking and small, so were unlikely to be viable to develop. Kevin agreed they may be smaller than in other parts of the country, but we should still not allow test drilling and should show our support for the national campaign to stop fracking anywhere.

Discussion showed there was much concern about the damage and risks of fracking. It was thought regulation may be better in the UK, but the Conservatives have proposed permitting small-scale operations and, with public sector funding cuts, there were doubts whether regulation agencies would be sufficiently resourced.

It was questioned why more fossil fuel supplies were even being sought, when it is known that we need to move away from energy sources that add to carbon emissions in our atmosphere. Policy should prioritise energy saving, including through home insulation, and replacing all fossil fuels used for electricity, heating and transport as quickly as possible. Already some biogas was obtained from anaerobic digestion of food waste and specially grown crops, which should create a cycle by first absorbing carbon (during growing) and then releasing it when the biogas was used. Switching to the use of clean renewable power was essential and the Zero Carbon Britain research also proposed using crops to create both biogas and biofuel to substitute for gas and oil where still needed.

Some thought more nuclear power was needed, although it was noted this has risks too and renewable energy has been developed much more quickly, with costs that are lower and continuing to fall.

Report on 2017 general election hustings in Wiveliscombe

Four general election candidates for Taunton Deane attended the hustings organised by Wivey Action on Climate on 30 May 2017 at Kingsmead School.

Click here for a report on highlights from the hustings.

The 2017 result (with last time in 2015 shown in brackets) was:

Rebecca Pow (Conservative Party) – 33,333 (27,849)
Gideon Amos (Liberal Democrat) – 17,446 (12,358)
Martin Jevon (Labour Party) – 9,689 (5,347)
Alan Dimmic (UK Independence Party) – 1,434 (6,921)
Clive Martin (Green Party) – 1,151 (2,630)
Mike Rigby (Independent) – 2015 only (2,568)
Stephen German (Trade Unionist & Socialist) – 2015 only (118)
Bruce Gauld (Independent) – 2015 only (96)

Leonardo Di Caprio climate crisis film

Before the flood, a Leonardo Di Caprio film about the climate crisis, was shown at Wiveliscombe Primary School on 6 April 2017 and with neighbouring groups in Taunton on 30 January 2017.

The powerful film features Di Caprio meeting world leaders and going on a journey to five continents and the Arctic to uncover the dramatic reality of climate change. The documentary also presents actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent the disruption of life on our planet, including to tax the use of carbon.

DiCaprio made the film before the 2016 American elections and urged voting for leaders who would fight climate change. Despite the outcome, a few slides were presented before the film in Wivey to show there were still reasons to be a bit cheerful.

After the film, actions to address climate change were discussed. The apparent lack of interest among the general public and difficulty in raising the subject were raised, as well as the lack of leadership from local and national politicians. It was noted that some have suggested we will only wake up sufficiently when more climate-caused disasters have occurred, but, by then, tackling the problem will be even harder.

It was observed that we should raise concerns about climate change whenever we can, especially with election candidates and our elected representatives. We need to make our feelings known and make some noise. It helps to be positive and it can make a difference if lots of us do a bit.

Local projects were agreed to be important and it was suggested these should aim for self-sufficiency. While agreed to be worthwhile, it was also questioned whether this would be enough given the scale of the problems and solutions needed.

The harm and risks that can be caused by very large scale projects were raised and from just using money to guide our decisions.

The importance of our lifestyles and consumption was powerfully raised in the film by Sunita Narain from the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi. She pointed out that each American uses 34 times as much electricity as each Indian and it was America’s consumption and lack of leadership that was “really putting a hole in the planet”. Di Caprio agreed but did not think Americans would reduce their consumption and he looked to improved technology, such as the falling costs of solar and wind power and electricity storage as the solution. It’s a challenging dilemma on whether both reduced western consumption and improved technology are needed or if just the later could be sufficient.

A final thought was that education in our schools could help create a safer and better future.

Wivey cars go electric

At our November 2016 meeting, four local people shared their experience of using electric cars. It was fascinating and encouraging to hear how the technology has developed and continues to improve. All said electric cars were great fun, very economical and suited to local use while still allowing much longer trips.

The cars used were a Volvo V60 diesel hybrid, BMW i3 with a petrol-powered range extending generator and two all-electric Nissan Leafs. All were fun to drive, with better acceleration than conventional engines, no gears, just two foot pedals (brake and accelerator) and good dashboard displays.

Electric cars are clever. They have regenerative braking with the engines working in reverse while braking (or idling) to recharge the battery, which saves on brake pads and can lead to a different driving style to make good use of this feature.

They are so quiet that the Nissan Leafs emits a high-pitch whistle up to 19 mph to warn pedestrians.

Electric motors are also very efficient. They are far lighter and better than fossil fuel powered engines, which produce a lot of waste heat and are only about 30% efficient.

The cars can be charged at home and one of the Leaf owners initially charged theirs from a normal plug overnight, which fully charged the battery in 8 hours. The cars can be rapid charged from special power points in about 30 minutes.

Somerset is not yet well served by public electric charging points but there are some, including at Nissan dealerships, and Ecotricity provides them at motorway service stations. Their locations can be viewed on websites, mobile apps and some sat navs.

car-charging

A 2014 Nissan leaf has a range of about 90 miles when fully charged, which has increased to 120-150 miles on new models. Some new electric cars have ranges of up to 250 miles and the best currently offers up to 380 miles.

The top of the range BMW had a 70 mile electric range and was able to get from Wivey to Bruton and back on electric power only during the summer, but in winter with lights and heating could only get to the other side of Taunton and then needed the range extending generator to make the same trip.

The hybrid Volvo V60 was a more complex car with a 30-mile electric range, allowing regular all-electric trips from Huish Champflower to Bridgwater where it could be charged at the owner’s workplace. On longer trips in hybrid mode it achieves an average of 80-90 mpg and switches automatically and almost imperceptively between diesel and electric power to optimise fuel economy.

Long journeys had been undertaken in the all-electric cars, such as to London, which required two charging stops each way.

The all-electric cars were found to be well-suited to local journeys around Wivey and within Somerset, as well as for trips to Exeter and Woolacombe. They could be used for longer journeys with planning to access on-route charging points. It was suggested that electric cars make a good second family car or that a hire car and the train could be used for occasional longer trips.

One Leaf owner had run out of power on a trip to the other side of Bristol where a planned late charging stop failed due to the facility being out of service. Nissan offer a recovery service for such situations and transported them to the nearest available charging point.

Boot space was reduced in the hybrid car but not in the all-electric Nissan Leaf which was reported to have a very spacious boot and was comfortably used for a family of five.

The Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe are two of the lowest cost electric cars available. A Nissan Leaf currently costs about £200 per month on a 3-year lease and one of the owners used only £130 of electricity to cover 4,000 miles (so costing just 3.25p per mile for fuel). It can be even cheaper by powering up on an off-peak tariff or from your own solar panels.

All-electric cars are exempt from vehicle tax and hybrids currently pay a lower rate. Maintenance needs and costs for electric cars are also low.

The Volvo hybrid had a high lease cost which has been more than offset by reduced car tax and fuel costs. It is very comfortable to drive and the battery has a 10-year guarantee.

Second-hand electric cars can offer excellent value, with a good Leaf or Zoe available for around £6,000.

All the owners greatly enjoyed driving their electric cars and would not swap back.

For further information see:

Go ultra low – joint government and industry website, which covers 100% electric cars, plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Go ultra low: grants and savings – Government grants for electric cars and charging points in your driveway or garage or a chargepost on your street.

Zap Map (and apps) showing charging point locations, plus guides to cars and charging.

Next Green Car – buyers guide for green cars and helpful information on car tax, emissions and costs.

Fully Charged – a weekly + video series by Robert Llewellyn (star of Red Dwarf, Scrapheap Challenge and Carpool). It’s mainly about electric cars, including reviews, but also covers electric bikes, boats and planes and how we generate and can own the electricity to power these machines. It’s recommended viewing: fun and informative.

Test drive of a petrol car – a Tesla review to see how petrol compares to electric!

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

This changes everything

This new film, inspired by Naomi Klein’s bestselling book, was shown on 23rd November at Wiveliscombe Primary School hall.

About 70 people from Wivey and neighbouring areas experienced the powerful film, which presented seven portraits of communities on the front line of climate change, interwoven with Klein’s narration.

The film showed how those most affected by climate change and fossil fuels were rising up to demand better alternatives. These included challenges to vast tar sands excavations in Canada, a broken oil pipeline in America, mining opposed by the anti-austerity movement in Greece, a coal plant threatening wetland and livelihoods in India and smog-polluted cities in China contrasting with growing clean solar and wind power.

Cake and chat were enjoyed before the show and afterwards there was a thoughtful facilitated discussion exploring causes and solutions to climate change. These ranged from population growth to consumerism and from developing a love for nature to changing our economic system.

It was an inspiring evening leaving all with plenty to think about.

Tidal power talk

An open meeting on power from tidal lagoons, with illustrated presentation by Steve Mewes, Consultation Manager at Tidal Lagoon Power, was held 28th September 2015 at Wiveliscombe Primary School Hall.

Rather than the barrage previously proposed to go across the Severn estuary, Tidal Lagoon Power instead plan a lagoon able to generate renewable power around Swansea Bay. They also propose further tidal lagoon schemes for Cardiff, Newport, West Cumbria, Colwyn Bay and Bridgwater Bay. Together these schemes could meet 8% of UK electricity demand.

Swansea Bay Lagoon Aerial

Steve gave a very informative talk to an audience of more than 30, which addressed the potential of tidal power lagoons as well as the challenges and the work being done to address these in the best way. For further information see: Tidal Lagoon Power

Election hustings on climate

The hustings on climate change organised by Wivey Action on Climate with other Taunton Deane transition groups was a great success. A hall packed with 200 people at Wellington Prep School heard a lively and informative debate between the main Taunton Deane general election candidates.

There was a near unanimous view that climate change is a serious issue with only the UKIP candidate suggesting that the threat is exaggerated.

The candidates responded to seven questions (selected from 40 submitted) on issues ranging from the effects of building the proposed Hinkley C nuclear reactor to the benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumption. While there was general agreement on some issues, such as building a tidal lagoon in Bridgwater Bay, there were different opinions on whether growing the economy is compatible with tackling climate change.

The debate was good-humoured and at times light-hearted. The candidates were finally asked: ‘What is your biggest climate sin?’ which drew some revealing replies.

Logos

Met Office & launch talk

Presentation on climate past, present and future and launch of Wivey Action on Climate.

This meeting was held on 22nd January 2015 at Wiveliscombe Primary School. Our guest speaker, Dr Robert Dunn joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 2010 and works in the Climate Monitoring and Attribution group.

Robert Dunn WAC - 22 Jan 2015About 60 people attended to hear Robert’s informative presentation, which covered changes to our climate, natural and man-made causes, the increase in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and how the Met Office and other scientists measure and model all these changes. Robert also covered impacts and what we can do to reduce emissions and adapt to some climate change.