threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Actions politicians and public could take to reduce UK carbon emissions

This a youtube presentation by Prof. Keith Barnham (Imperial College, London) to help campaigners to know which issues to raise during the 2019 General Election.

It focuses on renewable energy and whether non-renewables are needed as a back-up.  He concludes that solar power and Anaerobic Digestion (AD), of farm animal and crop waste and food waste, which can generate biomethane for electricity and and gas grids are perfectly adequate to provide back-up, so that non-renewables no longer need to be used or developed.

He suggests that a new government should adopt this strategy.



 


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The European Parliament declares climate emergency

See: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20191121IPR67110/the-european-parliament-declares-climate-emergency

Ahead of the UN COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid 2-13 December, the European Parliament approved a resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally. They also want the Commission to ensure that all relevant legislative and budgetary proposals are fully aligned with the objective of limiting global warming to under 1.5 °C.

In a separate resolution, Parliament urged the EU to submit its strategy to reach climate neutrality as soon as possible, and by 2050 at the latest, to the UN Convention on Climate Change. MEPs also called on the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to include a 55% reduction target of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in the European Green Deal.

Stepping up global emission reductions for aviation and shipping

MEPs said that current aviation and shipping ambitions fall short of the necessary emissions reductions. All countries should include emissions from international shipping and aviation in their national contributions plans (NDCs), and urged the Commission to propose that the maritime sector be included in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).

More financial support needed to fight climate change

EU countries should at least double their contributions to the international Green Climate Fund, Parliament said. EU member states are the largest providers of public climate finance and the EU’s budget should fully comply with its international commitments. They also noted that pledges by developed countries do not meet the collective goal of 100 billion USD per year as of 2020.

Finally, they urgently called on all EU countries to phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 2020.

Quote

“The European Parliament has just adopted an ambitious position in view of the upcoming COP 25 in Madrid. Given the climate and environmental emergency, it is essential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030. It also sends a clear and timely message to the Commission a few weeks before the publication of the Communication on the Green Deal “”, said Pascal Canfin (RE, FR), Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, during the debate on Monday.

Background

The resolution on declaring a climate and environmental emergency was adopted with 429 votes for, 225 votes against and 19 abstentions. The European Parliament adopted the resolution on COP25 with 430 votes for, 190 votes against and 34 abstentions.

A number of countries, local administrations and scientists have declared that our planet is facing a climate emergency.

The European Commission has already proposed the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but the European Council has still not endorsed it as Poland, Hungary and Czechia are opposed.

Parliament at the COP25

COP25 takes place in Madrid 2-13 December 2019. The President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, (S&D, IT) will attend the official opening. A delegation from the European Parliament, led by Bas Eickhout (Greens, NL), will be there 9-14 December.



 


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Growing palm oil on former farmland cuts deforestation, CO₂ and biodiversity loss

From The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/growing-palm-oil-on-former-farmland-cuts-deforestation-co-and-biodiversity-loss-127312

Few natural products are as maligned as palm oil, the vegetable oil that’s in everything from chocolate spread to washing up liquid. On the island of Borneo, oil palm plantations have replaced nearly 40% of the native forest cover since 2000. Deforestation releases CO₂ into the atmosphere and deprives rare and endangered species with the complex habitats they need to thrive.

A new study has tried to find out if this valuable crop can be grown without destroying more forests, by converting existing pastureland into new oil palm plantations instead. Could growing more oil palm on land with already scarce wildlife be a solution to the deforestation crisis?

The oil palm tree produces two types of vegetable oil. Palm oil from the fruit is used in cooking and baking and helps feed over three billion people, mostly in Asia. The other oil comes from the palm kernel, or seed, which is used around the world to make most of our detergents, soaps and other cleaning products.

Palm oil comes from the tree’s bright red fruit and is one of the most valuable vegetable oils in the world. Eva Blue/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

The relentless increase in global demand for vegetable oil has driven the logging and draining of forests and peatland to grow soybeans in South America and oil palm in Asia. About 85% of oil palm is grown in just two countries: Indonesia and Malaysia. But other tropical countries, particularly in South America and West Africa, are establishing their own oil palm plantations. These are vast monocultures that very few species can inhabit, especially compared with the tropical forest they replace.

A drainage ditch in a recently created oil palm plantation, Sarawak, Borneo. As the peat dries, it can release large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Denis Murphy, Author provided

Use farms not forests

In the recent study, researchers measured how much carbon – previously locked up in trees and other vegetation – was lost to the atmosphere when either pastureland or rainforest was converted to oil palm plantation.

The good news is that turning pastureland into oil palm plantations reduced how much carbon was released by 99.7%, compared to when rainforest was converted. Another bonus of using pastureland might be that its starting biodiversity is relatively low anyway, so the plantation may actually have a greater diversity of wildlife than the previous ecosystem.

Areas of forest that have been cleared for oil palm plantations, in Bawa village, Subulusalam, Aceh, Indonesia, July 27 2019. EPA-EFE/HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK

Converting grassland ecosystems like the Llanos in South America to oil palm plantations also released less carbon than converting forests. But in this case, the researchers found there were significant losses for biodiversity. If we have to produce more palm oil, the best outcome for wildlife and the climate would be to make former pastureland the first choice for future plantations.

But would it not be better to ban palm oil altogether? Campaigns have urged consumers to switch to products that don’t contain palm oil, while some retailers have announced plans to exclude such items from their own-brand products.


Read more: Replanting oil palm may be driving a second wave of biodiversity loss


Oil palm plantations produce 73.5 million tonnes of vegetable oil from a total land area of 27 million hectares worldwide. This might seem like a large area, but the second most important vegetable oil crop, soybean, produces 56 million tonnes from 97 million hectares – more than 3.6 times the oil palm area. This means that oil palm actually uses much less land than other crops, which is one reason why it’s so popular with growers.

Scientists measure greenhouse gas emissions and sample groundwater in an oil palm plantation in Sarawak, Borneo. Denis Murphy, Author provided

So boycotting palm oil could actually increase deforestation, since alternative tropical oil crops tend to use much more land. A better approach is to ensure that all the palm oil used in food and other products has been obtained from a “sustainable” source, and not from recently logged forests.

That’s why it’s important to base our decisions on sound scientific evidence. Oil palm will continue to be a vital crop for many developing countries in the future. Using former pastureland to grow the crop could ensure the product’s development isn’t at the expense of vulnerable ecosystems. Given how bad red meat production is for the planet, a switch from cattle pasture to oil palm plantation in the tropics could well be a marked improvement.”


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The money behind the climate denial movement

Source:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/meet-the-money-behind-the-climate-denial-movement-180948204/?fbclid=IwAR0WzMd3LacjLTilr0UG_00vCHRTdX4ZJU7XaBS5lFQYPGSYX2d6CpnMliU

Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists, international governmental bodies, relevant research institutes and scientific societies are in unison in saying that climate change is real, that it’s a problem, and that we should probably do something about it now, not later. And yet, for some reason, the idea persists in some peoples’ minds that climate change is up for debate, or that climate change is no big deal.

Actually, it’s not “for some reason” that people are confused. There’s a very obvious reason. There is a very well-funded, well-orchestrated climate change-denial movement, one funded by powerful people with very deep pockets. In a new and incredibly thorough study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle took a deep dive into the financial structure of the climate deniers, to see who is holding the purse strings.

According to Brulle’s research, the 91 think tanks and advocacy organizations and trade associations that make up the American climate denial industry pull down just shy of a billion dollars each year, money used to lobby or sway public opinion on climate change and other issues.

“The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires,” says the Guardian, “often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change.”

“This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power,” Brulle said. “They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hire people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don’t have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy.”

placards

Brulle stated that his project is the first of three; in the future he’ll turn a similar eye to the climate movement and to the environmental movement. But for now, the focus was on the deniers.

Now, what you can see in the movement itself is that it has two real roots. One is in the conservative movement itself, in that you see a lot of conservative foundations that had been funding the growth of the conservative movement all along now appear as funding the climate countermovement. You also can see dedicated industry foundations that come in to start funding the climate countermovement. So it’s kind of a combination of both industry and conservative philanthropies that are funding this process, and what they did was they borrowed a great deal of the strategy and tactics that came out of the tobacco industry’s efforts to prevent action on the health impacts of smoking.

What you see is the tactics that this movement uses were developed and tested in the tobacco industry first, and now they’re being applied to the climate change movement, and in fact, some of the same people and some of the same organizations that were involved in the tobacco issue are also involved in climate change.

Here’s where the money is coming from:

The climate denial movement is a powerful political force, says Brulle. They’ve got to be, too, to outweigh in the public’s mind the opinions of pretty much every relevant scientist. Brulle:

With delay and obfuscation as their goals, the U.S. CCCM has been quite successful in recent decades. However, the key actors in this cultural and political conflict are not just the “experts” who appear in the media spotlight. The roots of climate-change denial go deeper, because individuals’ efforts have been bankrolled and directed by organizations that receive sustained support from foundations and funders known for their overall commitments to conservative causes. Thus to fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalized efforts that have built and maintain this organized campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight. In the drama of climate change, these are often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians, such as Senator James Inhofe. However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations. Clarifying the institutional dynamics of the CCCM can aid our understanding of how anthropogenic climate change has been turned into a controversy rather than a scientific fact in the U.S.

With acknowledgements to Colin Schultz, a Canadian writer and editor.



Following on from this is an interesting piece of research in the UK, reported in The Guardian. The analysis found that Conservative MPs were five times more likely to vote against climate action than MPs from other parties.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/11/tory-mps-five-times-more-likely-to-vote-against-climate-action

Written by Jonathan Watts and Pamela Duncan, it gives details of parliamentary voting over the last decade on climate-related issues by UK MPs.  Sadly, the current Prime Minister does not come out well in it, despite the fact that his father has spoken publicly in support of Extinction Rebellion. Boris Johnson scored zero in the analysis.

The Guardian, in collaboration with the investigative environmental journalism group DeSmog UK, rated MPs from 0% to 100% based on 16 parliamentary votes since 2008. The selection sought to cover a range of measures that would affect the UK’s carbon emissions, with an emphasis on votes where MPs were willing to break ranks and put the climate before their party.


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Denouncing climate activists will not save the planet

The Financial Times has been increasingly drawing attention to the issues of climate change and I applaud them in this.  However, they have a policy of not wanting their readers to copy and distribute the text of articles published in their paper.  To me, this is a contradiction in terms.  If they really support actions against climate change, they ought to support the duplication of the vital messages they publish.

I am therefore just copying below a portion of a very interesting article, published in the Financial Times on 11th October 2019 and written by Camilla Cavendish, a former head of the Downing Street policy unit and a Harvard senior fellow, in the hope that the readers of this website will want to read the whole article and therefore subscribe to the FT.



“Extinction Rebellion draws the ire of those who refuse to change their own habits

Will a few Happy Meals break the planet? As Extinction Rebellion continued its genteel, witty, highly effective climate change protests this week, one commentator tried to shame some activists queueing at a London branch of McDonald’s. History does not relate whether Big Macs were ordered (more likely the spicy veggie wraps), but that did not dampen the indignation. We humans are brilliant at distracting ourselves from uncomfortable truths.

While a majority of the public now agree that climate change is an urgent issue, there is still resentment of the messengers. Hence the widespread carping that activists haven’t made sacrifices in their own lives — which is somewhat unfair, given that more than 1,000 have been arrested in London this week, at least 100 in Amsterdam and 30 in Sydney. Not everyone is merrily camping in “hemp-smelling bivouacs”, as UK prime minister Boris Johnson suggested. Many I met were cold, tired and dreading jail. It’s the rest of us bystanders who are the real hypocrites — we project sympathy but continue to freeride on the planet. I can’t count the number of commuters, drivers and friends who have told me this week that they agree about the climate, and feel that “someone should do something”, but haven’t made a single change in their own habits. At least the conversation has started. The climate movement is rapidly turning Big Oil into the new Big Tobacco……

When I studied environmental economics 20 years ago, it was axiomatic that we should tax pollution. But ferocious lobbying by vested interests has prevailed, partly because governments fear voters are addicted to cheap fuel, food and flights. Hence, the UK’s trumpeted carbon budgets do not include emissions from shipping or aviation. Now, climate activists have created a willingness to hear inconvenient facts about how much manufacturing pollution we have outsourced, for example, to low-cost countries like China…..

The west’s record is not as rosy as we pretend. Denial from the White House does not justify inaction elsewhere. If European societies stick together and tread more lightly on the planet, we could be a model — while, incidentally, selling the world our low-carbon technologies. Analysis by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change suggests that to get anywhere near zero carbon we must ration our driving, flying and meat consumption. If we won’t do so voluntarily, it may eventually be imposed on us, and not only by a government of the left.

There is a growing literature about “climate grief”, the overwhelming sadness at what is happening as species and habitats are wiped out. The enormity of the task makes it natural to feel like giving up and having a Happy Meal. But watching footage of 91 year-old protester John Lynes hobbling into a police van, I remembered what my great-aunt used to say: “A society grows stronger when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” There is something profoundly moving about watching different generations campaigning together for a better future. Rather than attack them, is it so outrageous to ask that we each start making some changes in our own lives?”

John Lynes

John Lynes (91) being arrested for supporting Extinction Rebellion

A video of him being arrested can be found in the Metro newspaper online news.



 


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Draft London Environment Strategy – have your say

In August 2017, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a draft Environmental Strategy, which is currently out for consultation.  Responses need to be lodged by 17th November 2017.  An excellent document, it can be found through the following link:

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/draft_environment_strategy_-_executive_summary.pdf

The Mayor of London’s website introduces the consultation document as follows:

“The state of London’s environment affects everyone who lives in and visits the city – it helps Londoners to stay healthy, makes London a good place to work and keeps the city functioning from day to day.

Today London is facing a host of environmental challenges. Toxic air, noise pollution, the threat to our green spaces, and the adverse effects of climate change, all pose major risks to the health and wellbeing of Londoners.

We need to act now to tackle the most urgent environmental challenges facing our city as well as safeguard London’s environment over the longer term. We need to ensure that London is greenercleaner and ready for the future.

This is the first strategy to bring together approaches to every aspect of London’s environment. It is divided into the following areas:

•    Air quality
•    Green infrastructure
•    Climate change mitigation and energy
•    Waste
•    Adapting to climate change
•    Ambient noise

Mayor's Environment Strategy


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Brexit ‘threatens extinction of some animals and plants’ by Michael McHugh

This report focuses on the flora and fauna of Ireland and was published in The Times on 25th September 2017:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/brexit-threatens-extinction-of-some-animals-and-plants-39x2p2523

Environmentalists have warned that a fifth are already threatened and that a hard border (between Ireland and Northern Ireland) could weaken protection of those species most at risk.  Lobby groups have visited Brussels to voice their concerns.

According to Patrick Casement, chairman of the Northern Ireland Environment Link, more than 650 pieces of EU legislation have helped environmental protection on the island. An all-island green coalition said the Irish environment has benefited hugely from these laws. They created a more co-ordinated and consistent approach to addressing cross-border environmental issues, such as the conservation of species and habitats, the lobbyists said.

Brexit negotiations have so far focused on the economy, with little mention of the impact on natural heritage.

Ireland

Irish countryside in the area of Co. Cork from Travellerspoint Travel Photography