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

Advertisements

LED light bulb giveaway

Wivey Action on Climate gave away free LED light bulbs at stalls in Wiveliscombe Community Centre on 6th February and in The Square on 21st May 2016.

The idea was to let people know about the big improvements to LED bulbs, which are instant on, long lasting and use 90% less electricity. They are the best bulbs now available and can replace most old-style bulbs (in a few instances, where separate transformers are used on lighting circuits, these may need replacing too).

To save money and benefit our environment, it is worth immediately replacing old incandescent and halogen bulbs. Compact fluorescent low-energy bulbs have similar energy use to LEDS, so replace these when they stop working, and take all old fluorescents to Recycling Centres for safe recycling (as they contain Mercury).

In return for the free bulbs, we asked for a few brief details about people’s homes, so we could pass on further energy and money saving advice.

Despite the climate-related message of rain on both days (torrential on 6th Feb), we had a steady stream of visitors and gave away 80 bulbs: 20x 11.6W, 30x 8W and 30x 5.6W. Some were dimmable and some non-dimmable, all were warm white and had bayonet fittings, and the bulbs ranged in brightness from being equivalent to 40-75W halogen bulbs.

Wivey Action on Climate LEDs

We are grateful for a grant to cover the cost of the LED bulb giveaway to Brendon Energy’s community fund, which distributes profits from solar panels on the Children’s Centre and Community Centre in Wiveliscombe.

Kosnic GLS 8 Watt bulbs were supplied by Wivey Hardware. 5.6 and 13 Watt bulbs were from online supplier LED Hut.

Visit to new hydro power station near Dulverton

Members of Wivey Action on Climate had an enjoyable and interesting visit to a new hydro power scheme on the River Barle near Dulverton on 7th May 2016.

The site has had a weir, associated with turbines for power generation, for at least a century, which at one time supplied electricity for lighting to all of Dulverton. This ended with the arrival of the national grid in 1939, but the power station was maintained for emergency purposes throughout the Second World War.

The plant was dismantled in the 1950s, with fish traps then installed and used until the 1980s.

Planning for the new hydro power station started in 2010. After licences and permissions were obtained, work started on installation in early 2015 and generation started in December 2015. Site works are now nearing completion.

A lot of care has been taken to minimise any impact on the river and fish, with improvements made to the weir and features to allow both eels and salmon to return back upstream. On-going monitoring will continue to check water flow and fish health, with corrective action taken if necessary.

The weir offers a net head or water drop of 3m for power generation, by means of a 3 bladed Archimedean screw turbine, rated at 74kWp.

Average water flow at the weir is 5.3 cubic meters per second and the Environment Agency has granted a licence permitting maximum instantaneous abstraction of 4 cubic meters per second, with a requirement to allow a continuous minimum flow over the weir alongside the power scheme.

The expected annual power generation is 340,000kWh, which is equivalent to the electricity used by about 85 homes.

Guide for the tour was Jane Ruell, who has been centrally involved with the planning and management of the project.

We were delighted to see a Dipper had made a secure nest within the turbine building and used the weir as an ideal feeding ground.

Click on photos to view as a full size slide show.

Green living talks

Wivey Action on Climate held a series of talks in early 2016 at Wiveliscombe Community Centre on the theme of green living:

  • 8 February – Fuel poverty and home energy saving for all
  • 7 March – Community and business action for sustainability
  • 4 April – Recycling in Somerset

Our speakers were Louise Evans, Western Somerset Caseworker for the Warmer Improved Somerset Homes (WISH) programme, Sarah Pugh, founding director of Shift Bristol, and Dave Mansell, Development Manager at Somerset Waste Partnership.

Louise gave an excellent presentation, sharing energy saving tips and describing her work to help local people in fuel poverty – 12.4% of Wivey households. She covered the limited funding support now available and also advised on tackling the common problem of condensation – simply opening a window after a shower or while cooking helps.

Sarah gave an inspiring presentation on community action for sustainability, sharing her years of first hand experience of permaculture projects by ordinary people in towns and cities in the UK and USA. These included urban food growing, skill sharing and low impact living and often included socialising and empowering people too.

Dave presented on recycling services in Somerset, showing how these have developed and how materials are used again. He reported results of the Recycle More trials in Wiveliscombe, which increased recycling and led to a big reduction in rubbish for disposal. He also gave many examples of how we can prevent waste and reuse more.

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.

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