human activity and the destruction of the planet

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Anglican Clergy, including 5 bishops, call on the church to divest from Exxon Mobil

An open letter was published in The Guardian on 7th November 2017.

Damian Carrington also published an article in the same issue to draw attention to the issue:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also sent a personal message to Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, who is overseeing the COP23 talks. Welby said the 85 million people in the worldwide Anglican communion that he leads “support your work to ensure that issues of climate change are recognised as an urgent priority requiring immediate attention”.

However, the Church of England argues it should remain an ExxonMobil shareholder so it can continue to engage with the company and influence it to change.

Image result for exxonmobil logo

Much of the letter to The Guardian is copied below:

As Church of England clergy, we have a strong interest in the ethics of investments made by the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board on our behalf.

This week, governments from around the world will meet in Bonn for the next round of UN climate talks. The Paris climate change agreement, which was signed by 195 countries in December 2015, included a commitment to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2C … and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”.

A lot has happened since then. We have witnessed the shameful decision of the president of the United States to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Average global temperatures have risen to more than 1C above pre-industrial levels. Extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, have had devastating impacts, leading to loss of life and severe destruction in the US and the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia and as close to home as Ireland.

While many of us believe that the church should divest from all fossil fuel companies for ethical reasons, we are especially concerned about its continued investment in the US oil and gas company ExxonMobil.

A recent Harvard academic study shows that Exxon knew about the risks of climate change in the 1970s, yet misled the public for decades. It says that the company sought to cast doubt on the climate science, taking out paid editorials in major US newspapers questioning whether global warming was real and caused by humans. Exxon’s board of directors has advised shareholders to vote against all resolutions on climate change since 1990.

Time is running out to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. While some governments and companies pursue policies that are leading us in the wrong direction, the Church of England is uniquely placed to show moral leadership through its investment policies.

Now is the time for decisive action. We call on Church of England investors to take the lead and immediately divest from ExxonMobil.

Bishop David Atkinson 
Bishop Michael Doe 
Bishop Maurice Sinclair
Bishop Graham Cray
Bishop James Jones

Richard Coles Peterborough 
Olivia Graham Oxford
Sam Wells London
Tom Ambrose Ely
Christine Bainbridge Oxford
Richard Bainbridge Oxford
Michael Bayley Sheffield
Chris Brice London
Elizabeth Bussman Europe
Francis Buxton Wales
Ben Chase Winchester
Alan Crawley Guildford
Lesley Crawley Guildford
Barbara Doubtfire Oxford
Christopher Evans Oxford
John Flitcroft Birmingham
David Garner Birmingham
Giles Goddard Southwark
Chris Halliwell Blackburn
Keith Hebden Leicester
Margot Hodson Oxford
John Hughes Manchester
Francis Jakeman Oxford
Ian James Carlisle
Christine Latham Southwark
Andrew Lenox-Conyngham Birmingham
Jonathan Nicholas Birmingham
John Nightingale Birmingham
Bertrand Olivier London
Mike Perry Salisbury
Debby Plummer Leeds
Alan Race Southwark
Liz Radcliffe Oxford
Gordon Randall Winchester
Alex Randle-Bissell Winchester
Matthew Rhodes Birmingham
Ed Saville Blackburn
Rosemary Shaw Southwark
Tim Stead Oxford
Anne Stevens London
Val Thorne Gloucester
Julian Williams Winchester
Sonya Wratten St Albans
Andrew Yates Truro”

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UK Universities Sustainability League

People & planet University League logo with image of earth

People & Planet is the UK’s largest student network and it compiles an annual league table of all UK universities in terms of their environmental and ethical performance. The data they collect is from university websites and other published sources.  From this they compile a league table divided into: First Class; 2:1 class; 2.1 class; third class and failed.  Their methodology is described on their own website:

Universities can challenge their listing and the data initially published on the above site is therefore subject to change, if the challenge is successful.  In the top five are:

Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Gloucestershire; Nottingham Trent University; University of Worcester and Aston University.

There are 26 universities which failed in the scoring system and this list includes some well-known names, such as the Open University, Durham University, Heriot-Watt University, Wolverhampton University and the Royal Academy of Music.

Chris Foote of STV has also covered the topic in terms of the 15 Scottish universities and ranks Edinburgh Napier University at the top. On their site they also congratulate Glasgow Caledonian University for becoming the 5th Scottish university to disinvest from fossil fuels.  The full text can be found at:

Friends of the Earth Scotland put out the following Press Release today (15th Nov 17)




Student network People & Planet (1) have revealed that Glasgow Caledonian University has divested from fossil fuels and commited to have no further investments in the industry. The information was revealed as part of the publication of the People & Planet University League which rates university environmental performance.

GCU is now the 10th organisation in Scotland to begin divestment from fossil fuels, following in the footsteps of their city counterparts at The University of Glasgow who were the first organisation in Europe to divest. This reflects growing support for tough action on fossil fuels, the industry most responsible for climate change. (2)

Dr. Keith Baker, Researcher in Sustainable Urban Environments at Glasgow Caledonian University (3) said,

“As an energy policy researcher at GCU I’m delighted to see recognition for the University’s policy of divesting from the fossil fuel industry.

“This is an industry that must now undergo a managed decline towards 2025-2030 if we are to meet our emissions reduction targets, so as well as demonstrating GCU’s commitment to its motto of The Common Good, it also makes sense financially. With students becoming increasingly aware of the links between universities and the fossil fuel industry, it is an important differentiator between those who have responded to the need to practice what we preach, and those who might promote renewable energy but still maintain investments in fossil fuels.”

In 2012, GCU were the only Scottish university to sign the Green Education Declaration, a commitment to reduce carbon emissions and integrate sustainability into teaching and learning across all subjects. (4)

This year’s league table also ranked Scottish universities for their overall environmental performance scoring Edinburgh Napier University top, followed by University of Edinburgh. (5)

Hannah Smith, Co-Director for Research and Campaigns at People & Planet, said,

“Since the People & Planet University league began the number of universities employing environment staff has doubled and now all universities have a set policy on their environmental impacts. The league table has consistently and unashamedly held universities to account over the last decade and today we’re excited to celebrate yet another Scottish university taking the decision to break ties with the fossil fuel industry”.

Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland Divestment Campaigner said,

“Congratulations to Glasgow Caledonian University: by divesting they are showing that we can make a world without fossil fuels, and that starts now.

“This year the world has seen devastating floods, violent hurricanes, and communities lost to rising seas. This climate crisis is being driven by fossil fuel use and GCU’s decision to end their relationship with the companies responsible is a really significant step.

“People power in Scotland has so far seen ten organisations begin divesting from fossil fuels. This sends a clear message to our Governments that fighting the climate crisis is urgent.”

Elsewhere in Glasgow the council-run Strathclyde Pension Fund is under pressure to divest following a recent report, showing the fund had £802 million invested in fossil fuels. (6)


For interviews, data, further analysis on the People & Planet University League please contact Hannah Smith:

0186 540 322 ”



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India: new contract for 500 megawatt Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan

The Financial Times has outlined details of this project, which went up for auction in May.  The companies which won the bid have said that they can build the project for 2.44 rupees ($0.04) for every unit of electricity eventually generated. The article was written by Kiran Stacey from New Delhi and published on 1st November 2017.  See:

This detailed and interesting article provides a number of facts about India’s place in the renewable energy field.

  1.  India’s solar power tariffs have reduced from over 8Rs/Kwh to 2.44Rs in the last six years.
  2. Solar power in India has grown at double digit rates over the last six years.
  3. There are plans to increase India’s solar capacity by 76% more in 2017 than in 2016, which will make India the third largest solar market globally. An interesting graph is included in the FT article, which shows that China is by far the leading solar industry around the world.  In second place is the USA, though their additional capacity has dropped in the last year.  The capacity of Japan and Germany is also dropping, which has enabled India to soar into third place.
  4. The price of Chinese-made solar panels has tumbled in recent years, due to over-production.
  5. At present, 60% of India’s energy is coal-powered, so there is still a long way to go, though the reducing price of solar panels makes the solar industry much more competitive.

The FT article mainly focuses on the economical effects of these changes and the risks associated with them.

However, it makes sense for this to happen, in view of the rising temperatures experienced in India in the last few years.


Map of India showing high temperature areas during recent heat wave

And now, further details of the new solar development in Rajasthan have come to me, as follows:

The winning bid for the third and fourth phase development at Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan – a500-megawatt solar farm – was one of the lowest prices for solar power ever seen anywhere in the world. The companies — Acme Solar, an Indian developer, and SBG Cleantech, a joint venture whose shareholders include SoftBank of Japan — said they would build the project for a guaranteed price of just Rs2.44 ($0.04) for every unit of electricity they eventually sold – substantially cheaper than coal

The Bhadla auction confirmed that the country is undergoing a generational shift from coal-fuelled power to solar and wind and placed India at the centre of a global renewables revolution that is driving down the cost of green energy and which represents one of the biggest threats to fossil fuels.

As India is already the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter and plans to electrify even its most remote villages within two years, a rapid expansion in the country’s renewables sector would prove a huge boost for attempts to keep global temperature rises below 2C — the target set by the 2015 Paris climate accords. 

Further details can be found at:

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The Effects of Climate Change on Human Health

In Chapter 1 of my book (Our beautiful world in harmony), I provide information on how climate change is affecting human health.  This is mainly taken from a 43-page report, ‘A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change’, written by Prof. Anthony Costello and others in 2010 . A full citation of the source can be found as reference 12 in the list of references given on this website.

Now, a new multi-author report, published in the Lancet, gives further supporting evidence.   It is entitled The Lancet Countdown of Health and Climate Change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation on public health.

The Lancet Countdown tracks progress on health and climate change and provides an independent assessment of the health effects of climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement,1 and the health implications of these actions. It follows on from the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, which concluded that anthropogenic climate change threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health, and conversely, that a comprehensive response to climate change could be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”.

This article is available free of charge.

Some of its findings:

  1. Health Effects of Heat Waves

Statistical evidence is provided to show that 125 million more vulnerable people over the age of 65 years were exposed to heatwaves in 2016 compared with 2000.

2. Labour Capacity and Heat stress

“Extreme heat causes heat stress and heat stroke, exacerbations of pre-existing heart failure and kidney disease.”

Global labour capacity of rural labourers, such as farmers, has fallen by 5·3% from 2000 to 2016 due to rising temperatures and the inability to work when it’s too hot.

3. Infectious Diseases

Due to changing climatic conditions in countries where dengue is endemic, the capacity for one of the main mosquitoes (Aedes aegpyti) to transmit dengue fever has increased globally since 1950 by 9·5%.
4. Air Pollution and Public Health

Poor air quality impacts health by increasing rates of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases.

Air pollution from a range of sources contributed to over 1·9 million premature deaths across southeast Asia in 2015.  A graphic in the report provides the numbers of deaths in 21 South East Asian countries, caused by particular polluting sources.


A particularly severe heatwave in the summer of 2003 resulted in more than 70 000 excess deaths across Western Europe. Health systems were unprepared and quickly overwhelmed.

Proven interventions will help prevent loss of life in the future:

  •   Developing clear heatwave and climate change management strategies and establishing early warning systems.
  •  Mapping vulnerable populations and providing cool-down zones.
  •  Simple engineering solutions, such as ensuring adequate ventilation for hospitals and nursing homes.


Coal is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions of all fossil fuels, causing severe air pollution and affecting human health. While coal use increased globally since 1990, it appears to have peaked in 2013 and is now declining.  A graphic shows this levelling off but also demonstrates that China is still by far the highest user of coal to supply energy.

A growing number of countries have committed to ensuring coal is completely phased out over the next decade:


Divestment from fossil fuels

Research on health and climate change
“Science is critical to increasing public and political understanding of the links between climate change and health.
Since 2007, the number of scientific papers on health and climate change has more than trebled.

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Pacific Climate Warriors: Declaration on Climate Change

Climate change poses a direct threat to our homes and our people. The continuous burning of fossil fuels is leading to accelerated sea level rise,  longer more intense heat waves, and exacerbated natural disasters. At the rate that the developed world is digging up and burning fossil fuels, climate change will continue to have disastrous impacts on those who have done the least to cause these problems.

For more than two decades, negotiations have failed to deliver the action required to protect our homes and livelihoods from dangerous climate change. Communities everywhere are stepping up to ensure that their voices are heard and that the leadership vacuum left by world leaders is filled and they deliver the change we need at the pace we need to avoid catastrophic climate change. We, the Pacific Climate Warriors, on behalf of the communities we are from, call for more ambitious action on climate change from our world leaders.


This year, with Fiji confirmed as the President of COP 23, the Pacific region will show the world what true climate leadership is. We will highlight for the world what climate change in the Pacific looks like and how inaction on climate change exacerbates that threat.

As Pacific Climate Warriors from across the Pacific region representing various grassroots, frontline and indigenous communities, and with support from around the world, we are calling for world leaders to commit to building a better, more just world for ourselves and for generations to come.

In order to do this, we call for:

The immediate phase-out of existing fossil fuel projects — the banning of all new fossil fuel infrastructure, shutting down of existing ones and canceling planned expansions. This should also coincide with commitments to rapidly transition towards 100% renewable energy, by no later than 2050.

Immediately deliver the finance and support needed for countries already facing irreversible loss and damage. As well as the immediate establishment of adaptation mechanisms to cope with ongoing climate impacts.

The prohibition of the fossil fuel industry from participating in the UNFCCC processes so that they can no longer delay, weaken and block action on climate change.

The actioning of everything the Paris Agreement called for, including international efforts to ensure global average temperatures do not exceed 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels.

Climate change is real and impacting now, and it’s imperative that we stand up for the Pacific, and the global community, and act now to avoid further climate catastrophe. This COP should be about the people, not the profits and the polluters.

Sign the Declaration

We are calling for world leaders to commit to building a better, more just world for ourselves and for generations to come. Climate change is real and impacting now, and it’s imperative that we stand up for the Pacific, and the global community, and act now to avoid further climate catastrophe. This COP should be about the people, not the profits and the polluters. We call on the world to:

  • End the era of fossil fuels and move to 100% renewable energy.
  • Support the immediate delivery of finance needed for countries already facing irreversible loss and damage.
  • Kick the big polluters out of the climate talks.
  • Do what is needed to limit warming to 1.5°C.
 The declaration can be signed at:

A video from the Pacific Climate Warriors is shown below:


The Pacific Climate Warriors have now gathered in Germany, in one of Germany’s biggest coal producing areas, to draw attention to this and to campaign at the COP23 Climate Change Conference.  Further details of this can be found at:

20th November 2017

The COP23 conference is now over but the Pacific Climate Warriors feel very much empowered by it, designating 2018 as a year of local action.

Here is another video that they have produced: