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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Zero Carbon Schools Project in The Marches

Zero Carbon Schools in The Marches (Herefordshire)

The Marches Climate Education Group are inviting all schools to take part in a Marches-wide programme that will support schools to write their own carbon reduction plan. Pupils, parents and teachers at schools in The Marches, are asked to encourage their school to take part!
Marches
The following invitation is also being sent to all schools by Herefordshire Council. West Worcestershire and South Shropshire schools are also going to be invited.
The Marches Climate Education Group invite you to attend

‘ZERO CARBON SCHOOLS’

A FREE one day event for Headteachers, Eco Leads and Eco reps,

in partnership with Herefordshire Council

Friday 19th June 2020 (09:00-14:00)

Venue: Hereford Shirehall, HR1 2JB

Aim of the event: how to write & implement your school carbon reduction plan

To book your free places copy this link into your browser
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/zero-carbon-schools-workshop-tickets-95516527505

Up to 4 places per school – eg 1 adult and 3 eco reps.

(Students must be accompanied by an adult!)

The Marches Climate Education Group is a group of likeminded schools

who care about the climate crisis and want to take action.

Run by teachers, for teachers.

To join, or for further information about this event, email Bryony John
bjohn@orleton.hereford.sch.uk

To find out more about the Green Schools Project within the Marches and to receive regular newsletters, email
beth@greenschoolsproject.org.uk



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The five major challenges facing electric vehicles

This is a piece published on the BBC website and written by Tim Schwanen, Transport Studies Unit, Oxford University:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49578790?ns_campaign=bbcnews&ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR0Pmyirsb_HK_7TQ2z3EfWoO9ihVQqP04_YmUQBslZJFBJMdQR9NO3_qig

Encouraging more people into electric vehicles is at the heart of the government’s efforts to tackle climate change.

That’s because transport accounts for 23% of the UK’s CO2 emissions – more than any other sector.

electriccar

Sales of all-electric vehicles are up 70% on last year, leading to suggestions that we have reached a turning point. But there are good reasons to remain cautious.

1. Change takes time

One of the UK’s best-selling cars is the all-electric Tesla Model 3. But its success doesn’t change the fact that only about 1.1% of new cars sold this year are electric, and that the market for used electric vehicles hardly exists.

As it takes most UK drivers anywhere between one and 15 years to change their vehicles, many of us won’t be thinking about buying an electric model any time soon.

Target dates for ending the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles

Year Countries
2025 Norway
2030 Iceland, Ireland, Israel,
Slovenia, Netherlands
2035 Denmark
2040 UK, Sri Lanka, Spain,
Portugal, France, Canada
2050 Costa Rica

Includes bans that have been announced, proposed and put into law, and excludes countries with a target of only no full petrol or diesel vehicles (eg Japan) or a partial target (eg Mexico)

Source: IAE/BBC Briefing – energy

Bigger changes are needed. We will need many more places for charging electric vehicles, for example. And because fuel tax is an important source of income for the government – and electric vehicle users pay lower taxes – changes to the tax system may be required.

Individuals and businesses also need to be convinced that electric vehicles suit their needs. This is perhaps the hardest part.

The government aims to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2040, a target criticised by MPs who want the change made by 2030.

But even if these goals are met, it is likely to be decades before the most common vehicles on our roads are electric ones.

2. Limited choice

The number of vans on the UK’s roads is increasing faster than any other type of vehicle, in part because of the rapid growth in online shopping

Small e-vans are already available and the choice on offer is only likely to increase.

It is difficult to compare prices for diesel and e-vans. However, it can be significantly more expensive to lease an electric version of a popular van, than a diesel one. This is likely to mean that electric vans remain unaffordable for many small firms and self-employed delivery drivers for some time.

UK road transport emissions, by mode, 2016 (MtCO2)

Source: BEIS/BBC Briefing – energy

There is more choice for those looking for a new car, but electric vehicles are disproportionately aimed at the higher end of the market. Few all-electric models are available for less than £20,000, and buying a new Tesla Model 3 costs about £37,000.

Prices are likely to continue to fall and operating an electric vehicle tends to be cheaper than a petrol or diesel equivalent. But the higher upfront costs may stop many drivers from buying electric vehicles for the foreseeable future, even when a vibrant second-hand market emerges.

3. Backing the right technology

There are rapid developments in battery and charging technology, but this is causing deep uncertainty. Which charging technologies will become the gold standard?

This is a particular problem for people living in apartment blocks, or houses without a private parking space. Should they expect charging to be available at bollards or lamp posts along their street?

Perhaps home charging will not be as important as it is now. Should drivers use facilities at petrol stations, their office or in empty supermarket car parks at night?

Other options being explored include induction pads embedded in major roads, which charge cars as they drive over them.


BBC Briefing is a mini-series of downloadable guides to the big issues in the news, with input from academics, researchers and journalists. It is the BBC’s response to audiences demanding better explanation of the facts behind the headlines.

This uncertainty about which approach will become most common slows down private sector investment in charging infrastructure. It also makes the role of local authorities more difficult.

Acting too soon could mean betting on the wrong horse. Waiting too long could encourage more people into hybrid vehicles, which are less dependent on charging infrastructure, but still use fossil fuels.

4. Who will pay?

Even when a standard design for charging emerges, the age-old question of who will pay for installing it remains.

It is widely assumed that the private sector will build, operate and maintain charging infrastructure in the UK.

But businesses have long been slow to get involved, in part because profit margins remain small and government has heavily subsidised the development of charging points. This is slowly changing: BP and Shell have taken over market leaders Chargemaster and Newmotion, and Tesla is actively rolling out its own charging network at motorway service stations.


More like this


Yet the question remains: how large should the government’s contribution be in future infrastructure development?

If getting people into electric vehicles is for the public good, should local government pay for charging points in areas where demand is too low to offer healthy profits?

And how should investment compare with that in social care, libraries or safe cycling routes, especially when local authority budgets remain as tight as they currently are?

5. The zero-carbon fantasy

Even 100% electric vehicles are not a zero-carbon solution.

They may not produce the usual exhaust pipe emissions, but even if all of the UK’s electricity was from renewable sources, there would still be an environmental cost.

Sourcing the minerals used for batteries, dismantling batteries which have deteriorated, and building and delivering vehicles to customers worldwide all involve substantial CO2 emissions. It is impossible to break all of the links.

Electric vehicles are a crucial part of the UK’s attempts to drastically reduce transport’s emissions. Yet they are no panacea.

A large shift away from motorised vehicles is the only way to fundamentally reduce transport’s contribution to climate change, however hard and politically unpalatable that may be.

Read more reports inspired by the BBC Briefing on energy.


About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation.

Tim Schwanen is a professor of transport studies and geography. He is director of the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford.

You can follow him on Twitter here.


Edited by Duncan Walker



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Can we achieve zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2025?

One of the demands being made by Extinction Rebellion (XR) is that the government act to reduce the use of fossil fuels, so that carbon emissions fall to zero within six years. Other XR groups across the world are also asking the same thing of their governments. But, is this achievable?

David Cameron signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, on behalf of the UK, but since then the government has approved fracking licences and agreed to extend Heathrow airport.  Both of which will add to the use of fossil fuels, not reduce it to zero.  This is why people are taking to the streets to protest.

Horizontal; Crowd; Kettle; Police; State

XR demonstration in Oxford Circus, asking the Government to “tell the truth” about the severity of the threat facing the world at the moment, as a consequence of global warming

The Observer’s Science Editor, Robin McKie, discussed whether XR’s demand is achievable in last Sunday’s Observer:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/21/long-road-to-zero-emissions-uk

Last year 6.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted into the atmosphere per head of population in the UK. To decarbonise the nation, that figure will have to be reduced to zero. It will mean massive curtailment of travel by car or plane, major changes in food production, especially red meat, and the construction of many more wind and solar plants, to replace fossil fuels as sources of energy.

The government’s climate change committee is shortly to publish a report on how, and when, Britain can achieve this status and play its part in the battle against global warming. It is expected that the committee will opt for a different target as Britain’s  decarbonisation date, 2050 rather than 2025. According to this scenario, developed nations, including Britain, would aim to achieve zero-emissions status by 2050 and then use other technologies to achieve this goal, such as hydrogen plants, carbon dioxide storage vaults and advanced renewable generators.

There has been some progress in reducing Britain’s use of fossil fuels to generate energy. In 2013, 62.5% of UK electricity was generated by oil, coal and gas stations, while renewable provided only 14.5%. In 2018, the figure for oil, coal and gas had been reduced to 44% while renewables were generating 31.7%. And, during the Easter weekend, whilst the XR demonstrations took place, it has been reported that the country was able to rely on only renewables for a short period – this was probably because we were undergoing a heat wave – the hottest Easter on record, so there was not much demand for extra heating.  Also, I suspect that when when calculations are made about the use of renewables, nuclear power generated electricity in included in the figures.  We all know the risks associated with nuclear power and the difficulties in disposing safely of nuclear waste.

We have yet to be given a date when engineers expect the last UK fossil-fuelled power plant to produce its final watts of electricity and to emit its last emissions of carbon dioxide.

The problem is that 90% of the British people use gas boilers to heat their centrally-heated homes, producing hot water and heating at the flick of a switch. Getting people to change from this will be difficult.  One solution would be to price gas out of common use, by putting increasingly heavy carbon taxes on household supplies so people can no longer afford them and are forced to change heating systems.  Would this be popular?

28.4.19

This article in the Observer generated a couple of letters published in the paper the following week.  The first from Dave Lewis, Cornwall was as follows:

“Robin McKie’s piece correctly identifies Extinction Rebellion’s demand for a zero-carbon UK by 2025 as being hugely costly and politically difficult… He provides a detailed examination of what some experts prefer as a more realistic target of 2050, though even this is difficult. The IPCC’s most recent warnings about the dangers of a temperature rise exceeding 1.5ºC abobe pre-industrial levels surely mean that avoiding this must be the key global policy objective.

The articles last two paragraphs show that at current carbon dioxide emission rates (42 bn tonnes per annum) the world will exceed the limit (420 bn tonnes) at which there is a ‘two in three chance of keeping global warming down to around  1.5ºC’ in just 10 years’ time. If the aim is to meet this target, 2050 doesn’t seem in any way ‘more realistic’ as a target for a zero-carbon Britain.  It does seem ‘more realistic’ if the aim is to avoid costly and politically difficult decisions by kicking the can further down the road. Which is how we got where we are.

No wonder people are rebellious. It looks like a bit more rebellion is still required.”

The other letter, from David Watkin, Leicester, drew attention to the spreading interest of US firms in developing space travel and space tourism. He suggests that the arguments put forward in Robin McKie’s article should include an assessment of the potential future contribution of space rockets to CO2 output.

space rocket

launch of space rocket at Kennedy space centre



Another journal reporting on the zero carbon target is the New Scientist (27th April 2019):

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2200269-climate-protesters-want-net-zero-carbon-emissions-is-it-possible/

This article has a different take from the one in the Guardian.  It talks about the changing targets for zero emissions, as the 2050 figure was set when 2º of warming was the target, rather than 1.5º, which is the new target, since the IPPC report.  It lists those countries which are trying to make the target, some earlier than 2050: Sweden, France, Norway, Portugal, Costa Rica, Marshall Islands and New Zealand.

It also discusses what “net zero” means. Is it just about carbon dioxide or does it include all greenhouse gases? He also talks about measures introduced to absorb excess carbon dioxide, such as reforestation and carbon capture.

There is also an interesting graph, which compares total carbon emissions between the UK, Sweden and New Zealand.  The UK is currently far higher than the other two countries, so has a lot more work to do to reach net zero.

Further discussion on the 2025 XR target can be found at:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2200755-the-science-behind-extinction-rebellions-three-climate-change-demands/