Monthly Archives: September 2021

COP 26 – action required

The eyes of the world will be on the UK at the end of the month when we host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow. COP 26 provides a real window of opportunity for global cooperation in tackling climate change at this critical juncture in the history of our civilization as there is lots of progress still to be made to avoid a catastrophic break down in civilization.

In reality we are not a leader on climate. Because greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere what our tiny nation has emitted over the years is a mountain compared to that of many countries – a whopping 4.7% of the global total. So, it’s great that our emissions are coming down as we have a huge responsibility for those historic emissions. However, because we are decarbonizing from a very high level and are not yet doing it fast enough we are not world leaders, especially as we are not on course to keep within our promised climate targets.

It’s also worth remembering that when countries set targets or measure or compare CO2 emissions, they tend to focus on production-based emissions – CO2 emitted within a country’s own borders. However, this fails to count emissions from international aviation and from traded goods – the CO2 emitted in the production of goods elsewhere, which are later imported. And of course, most of our goods are made abroad.

We still have a lot to do – we are making progress on decarbonizing our power but transport emissions have been rising quite sharply, for example. How much will Net Zero cost? is a question that is both the wrong one and not a real question either! The only relevant question is whether it is worth doing. To which the only answer is that it is literally and starkly vital. And will bring huge health and well-being benefits over and above tackling climate change. The government can channel money from fossil fuels and action the necessary policies and retrain skilled workers. In a non-agricultural nation like ours, as Keynes said, if we are able to do it we can do it.

Unfortunately, any excuses we make for delaying action make no difference whatsoever to the physical consequences of the greenhouse gases we continue to emit and the UK has yet to adopt and implement the ambitious policies necessary to achieve its 2030 target and firmly set itself on a path to net zero whilst the total fair-share contribution of the UK – domestic emissions reductions and emissions reductions achieved abroad – would need to be equivalent to the UK reaching close to zero emissions by 2030.

So, we continue to put written pressure on our MP and our PM and will have supported our young people’s Global Climate Strike on Friday 24th September. We also plan to take part in the Global Day of Action during COP 26 in November. Do join us. More on Facebook or email us.

*Bonfire warning! An early reminder that one or more of our few remaining hedgehogs in the village may be nesting in any piles of wood that have been sitting in your garden. Please dismantle / move them before setting them alight. *

September update – the road less travelled

The road less travelled?

When thinking about the environment/climate change, it’s easy to focus on what we need to give up or cut back on. It’s so important to focus on what we gain as well.

Transport around the UK (and further afield) is a great example of this. Currently in many parts of the country outside of London, public transport is expensive and unreliable. If you’re one of the households with access to a car, you have more mobility but still face traffic jams, and cars unfortunately are a leading cause of air pollution and climate change, with busy roads being noisy, smelly and dangerous.

A recent article on the BBC asked what the future of transport would look like in 2050. This focused heavily on self-driving cars, but many people pointed out that a sustainable future transport system looks a lot like the past (UK in 1900s and 1920s): electric trains, electric buses and trams, walking, biking and few cars. We have had the technology we need for over a century!

As well as lowering our environmental footprint, transport infrastructure which prioritises public (buses, trams, trains) and active (walking and biking) transport would dramatically cut our air pollution. The equivalent of 100 people die every day in the UK from air pollution. Having safe cycle networks that everyone could use would benefit our physical and mental health. The Parisian mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has increased cycle lanes and decreased on-street car parking in Paris with a boom in cycling as a result. Cheap or free public transport makes society fairer and more accessible to everyone, particularly those on low incomes. Free public transport is offered in Luxembourg, Dunkirk (France) and Tallin, Estonia (where it’s halved private car use) giving more freedom and better job opportunities/access for residents. In Scotland, under 19s – as well as over 60s – will be able to travel free on buses.

One can’t have an inadequate and unreliable system and expect lots of people to use it. Public transport has been privatized and run by different operators, so it’s neither integrated nor cheap. Free public transport gives everyone freedom and the opportunity to access and engage in all that is on offer in their regional area with benefits for all!

Please sir! Can we have some more? Ask our representatives for a free, integrated public transport system fit for our future.