Tag Archives: Featured

UK target for net zero carbon emissions

As one of her last acts as Prime Minister, Theresa May has announced the UK will be the first major economy to set a legal target to stop contributing to climate change.

The target is to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, which is based on a report from the Committee on Climate Change on what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C. The target is also in line with recommendations from the International Panel for Climate Change, although some argue that the IPCC underestimate climate risks.

CCC-Net Zero by 2050
Click image to view full infographic, from the Committee on Climate Change, on climate impacts, UK action and getting to net zero by 2050.

Further details and different perspectives are given in the following articles:

The UK’s new target is welcomed, but there is uncertainty on how quickly carbon neutrality is needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. There is a strong argument we just need to make rapid progress as quickly as possible. Along with many other local authorities, both Somerset West and Taunton Council and Somerset County Council have recently declared climate emergencies and set targets to contribute to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The true test of all these declarations and targets will be the action that follows.

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Refill to avoid plastic waste

Wivey Action hosted an inspiring public meeting on 27 November 2018 to share ideas on reducing single-use plastics, which was attended by about 40 people.

Local businesses, including The Larder, Garden Shop, Conrad’s Kitchen and Ray’s Veg, talked about actions they had taken. There was a presentation on government plans and how the greatest benefits arise from first trying to reduce plastic waste, followed by reuse and recycling, and lastly from energy recovery. Difficulties with biodegradable plastics and the importance of better packaging design were also discussed.

Several people avoid plastic when shopping by taking their own bags and containers, such as Tupperware. All the business attending were happy to fill these, as well as others, such as Thornes Butchers and Taste of Spice. It is not always possible, but is one of the best solutions.

It is hoped more people will ask about refilling in shops and adopt a habit of taking their own containers. Ideas to promote this, such as a Wivey Plastic Free Week, are now to be considered.

World has stark warning

The latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns the Paris target to limit global warming to 1.5ºC could be exceeded in just 12 years.

The panel’s report was another massive effort in reaching consensus on global science and policy. It is based on over 6,000 scientific studies and involved a team of 90 scientists and policy experts nominated from 40 countries. The process started in March 2017 and there were three report drafts and 42,000 reviewer comments. The final report was published on 8 October 2018 after a week-long meeting in South Korea. See the following links for more on the conclusions and implications.

BBC – Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’  and What does it mean for the UK?

WWF – How much difference will half-a-degree really make?

Guardian – IPCC report spares politicians the worst details

Inside Climate News – Radical Energy Transformation Needed

Professor Kevin Anderson says high-carbon lifestyles of top 20% need to shift rapidly

Carbon Brief – In-depth: IPCC’s special report on climate change

International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – headlines, summary and full report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C.

And how you can help: Five top tips to combat climate change

In Our Hands film show

Wivey Action on Climate & Environment showed In Our Hands, a new feature length documentary commissioned by the Land Workers’ Alliance, on 25th September 2018 at Wiveliscombe Primary School hall to about 45 people.

We were joined for an informative discussion after the film by Ashley Wheeler of Trill Farm Garden in East Devon.

The film explored the daily reality of nine real life farmers who refuse to be ground down by the machinery of big agribusiness and are proving, every day, that an alternative is possible. See brief details on their stories and links to their websites. The film promoted food sovereignty and Community Supported Agriculture as one way forward.

Click on links to view a trailer and facts from the film or buy a copy.

Hothouse Earth tipping points

An international team of scientists has shown that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of our planet entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.

This would see the climate stabilise in the long term at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures, with the sea level 10-60 m higher than today.

The scientists conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy. Avoiding a “Hothouse Earth” requires not only reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores.

Reports with further details:

Drawdown – the top solutions to global warming

Drawdown is that point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis.

Project Drawdown is based on meticulous research that maps, measures, models, and describes the most substantive solutions to global warming that already exist. It is the most important goal for humanity to undertake.

Project Drawdown is the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. It involves a coalition of researchers, scientists, policy makers, business leaders and activists, who have assembled and presented the best available information on climate solutions deployed at scale. Solutions are described and quantified for their financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years.

Over 100 solutions were assessed. The top 15 are listed below from the project’s Plausible Scenario, which models the solutions based on a reasonable, but vigorous growth rate from 2020-2050. The list below also shows the total reduction from each solution in atmospheric carbon dioxide (equivalent) in Gigatons (US).

Top 15 solutions to global warming

  1. Refrigerant Management (89.74)
  2. Wind Turbines – Onshore (84.60)
  3. Reduced Food Waste (70.53)
  4. Plant-Rich Diet (66.11)
  5. Tropical Forests (61.23)
  6. Educating Girls (59.60)
  7. Family Planning (59.60)
  8. Solar Farms (36.90)
  9. Silvopasture (31.19)
  10. Rooftop Solar (24.60)
  11. Regenerative Agriculture (23.15)
  12. Temperate Forests (22.61)
  13. Peatlands (21.57)
  14. Tropical Staple Trees (20.19)
  15. Afforestation (18.06)

Click here for information on each solution and the full list.

Carbon pricing is not included in the listing as it is a mechanism to implement solutions and not in itself a solution to global warming. Project Drawdown only focuses on technological, ecological, and behavioral solutions. The team chose not to model incentive-based policies and financial mechanisms, such as carbon pricing or congestion pricing, although these may be the keys to the more widespread adoption of many solutions.

Also see:

Tree planting at Wiveliscombe Primary School

On 24th March 2018, we had a great day planting trees with pupils and parents at Wiveliscombe Primary School. Weed roots were cleared in the morning, followed by planting of silver birch, rowan and wild cherry saplings in the afternoon. Click on following photos to view as a slide show.

A couple of weeks earlier, on 10th March, we had a good day preparing the ground. An area covered in brambles and nettles was cleared in conditions that ranged from wet and drizzly in the morning to sunny in the afternoon. Well done to Barbara, Brian, Dave, Jon, Nick, Oscar, Patricia, Sara, Steve, Sue G, Sue H and Tim for all the hard work.

Over the summer, Sara and Sue have done further great work to clear back the brambles. Most of the saplings are doing very well.

Councils support our petition to go single-use plastic free

With neighbouring groups, Wivey Action on Climate & Environment presented a petition to a full meeting of Taunton Deane Borough Council on 22 February 2018, calling on the local authority to resolve to become a single-use plastic free council. 861 local people* had signed to show their support through a campaign on the 38 Degrees community petition website. After a debate involving many councillors from all parties, the Council unanimously backed our petition.

The petition called for single-use plastic products to be phased out in all council activities, where reasonable and possible, by April 2019, and for alternatives to be championed, such as reusable water bottles, cups and cutlery.

Councillors showed that they shared our concern about the damage being done to marine wildlife by throwaway plastics. Many attended the meeting with reusable mugs and bottles, including the Lady Mayor, Councillor Hazel Prior-Sankey.

The Council should now submit a public report by October 2018, which summarises single-use plastic within the council, progress and plans for phasing it out, including by encouraging others; with a further update by April 2019.

*861 people signed the petition including 15 signing a paper copy.

Version 3
Petition supporters outside Shire Hall before the Council meeting.

West Somerset Council signs up too – The same motion from our petition was presented to a full meeting of West Somerset Council on 21st March, where it was again passed.

Town opposes fracking

Wiveliscombe Town Council joined a growing number of Somerset parish and town councils to oppose fracking at it’s monthly meeting in December 2017.

After discussing a paper presented by Dave Mansell, the following motion was unanimously agreed:

The town council has noted that licences have been awarded for oil and gas exploration in parts of Somerset, including an area along the coast from Minehead through Watchet to Burnham-on Sea. If approved by permitting authorities, extraction could be by drilling and hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. The town council is concerned this could pose a threat to water supplies, public health and the countryside, and, instead of new supplies of fossil fuels, prefers investment in clean energy sources to address the global threat of climate change. On current evidence, Wiveliscombe Town Council opposes exploration for oil and gas in Somerset, which could then lead to extraction by fracking.

Further information:

Onshore Licences 2
The nearest exploration licence to Wiveliscombe is shown above in the yellow-shaded area.

Talks on local climate change

At our November 2017 meeting, there were two illustrated and fascinating talks on the signs and effects of climate change in the Wiveliscombe area.

Simon Ratsey, who has been recording local weather since the 1960s, covered indicators of climate change.

Gareth Varney, who works for the Environment Agency, considered changes in local rainfall, groundwater and river flows.

Findings included annual temperatures now being 1.2°C warmer than in the 1960s and recent summers being warmer and wetter. Air frosts have decreased and the growing season has extended by about two weeks.

The Somerset floods in 2013/14 followed sustained rain over several months, which was above average intensity and frequency. Other contributors to flooding include increased run-off related to building and changes in crops or tree cover.

Rising sea levels from climate change could be Somerset’s biggest concern, as 1,000s of miles of tidal defences will need raising to continue to protect low lying homes.

Click on both names above for a summary of each talk and links to the slides shown for both presentations.

Following his talk, Simon Ratsey published a research paper in 2019 on the local climate. His conclusions on climate change include:
• The mean annual temperature is now about 1°C higher than it was in the period 1961 – 1990.
• Recent decades have seen a significant increase in the frequency of occurrence of unusually warm months.
• On average, summer arrives a week earlier and extends a week later than previously.
• The present century has seen unprecedented spells of unseasonable warmth in autumn, winter and spring.
• Summers have become wetter overall but more variable, while autumns have become drier and less variable.
• The present century has seen a disproportionately large number of notably heavy rainfalls, especially in the period April – July.

For information on the global effects of climate change see:

NASA – The consequences of climate change

Met Office – Impacts of climate change

Wivey Action – Our climate