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

Pledge for climate action

Wivey Action on Climate has launched a pledge for climate action (click this link to sign).

The more who pledge, the more it shows that local people want action. The number pledging will be recorded on our website and reported to local papers and to our local councillors and MP.

Why pledge

Carbon is released into atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and by other human activities, including farming and waste disposal.

We need to use energy more efficiently and to generate more from renewable sources, so carbon emissions can be reduced by 50% by 2025 (UK target) and fossil fuel use ended by 2100.

If we do not restrict our carbon emissions, they will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and oceans. Carbon in the atmosphere acts like a blanket trapping more heat on the Earth, so causing global warming and climate change.

Collecting pledges at Carnival Market.
Collecting pledges at Carnival Market.

Growing carbon pollution causes extreme weather, heat waves, flooding, melting glaciers, rising seas, acidified oceans, reduced crop yields and changes the range of wildlife habitats, putting some species at risk. These effects could become very severe unless we limit the growing build-up of carbon.

To avoid the most threatening effects, a target has been set to limit average global warming to no more than 2 degrees Centigrade. But global warming has already reached close to half this target and not enough action is being taken yet to prevent it from being exceeded.

Our pledge adds your voice to the many calling for action and helps you make an effective contribution to stopping climate change.

What difference can be made by our pledges – see: contribution made by climate action pledges

Please sign our climate action pledge by clicking here.

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:

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

A community group wanting to lower carbon levels and look after our planet.

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