Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Merits of Giving Carbon Offsets as Christmas Presents

by Henry Jones

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of

This year as Christmas presents I will be buying most of my friends and relatives “carbon reductions” – that’s my name for them, but they’re more commonly known as “carbon offsets” or “carbon credits.” The trouble with the latter terms is that carbon emissions are implicit: you’re either offsetting CO2 you’ve already dumped or you’re buying “permission” to dump in the future. That gives the scheme a bad name, and a bad vibe, by my mind.

For those that are new to the concept, carbon reductions can be purchased which equate to a reduction in carbon emissions, due to that money being invested in green projects. Examples of these projects are wind farms, solar panels, more efficient cook stoves for people in developing countries, reforestation….the list of potential programs is almost endless. Many also deliver added benefits to local communities and the environment, such as job creation, health and well-being improvements and protection of biodiversity. A more detailed explanation of carbon reductions can be read here.

Additionality is an important element of carbon reductions – this means that the green project would not be going ahead without the sale of carbon reductions. Certification of carbon reductions gives peace of mind about this and other issues and the most rigorous certification is known as the Gold Standard.

Purchasing carbon reductions/offsets/credits as Christmas gifts should make the recipient feel good and also spread awareness about carbon reductions and anthropogenic global warming in general amongst the ignorant and apathetic. It also avoids feeding toxic material consumerism and buying a useless or unwanted gift, after all, many adults have all the “stuff” they want already, in my experience.

A friend said, of giving carbon reductions as Christmas presents, that instead of giving a lump of coal, it’s like giving the inverse of a lump of coal…or even a sack! Bearing that in mind, there is a built in element of tradition in the scheme, albeit something of a reinterpretation.

Carbon reductions can be purchased here and there are many other ways to find and buy them with a quick google search.

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of

Some reasons why it is no exaggeration to speak of a ‘Climate Emergency’

by Hugh Richards

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of

  • A global perspective is neatly presented in the opening paragraph of the renowned Potsdam Institute’s April 2017 report ‘The Climate Turning Point’ (published at

‘In the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the world’s nations have committed to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” This goal is deemed necessary to avoid incalculable risks to humanity, and it is feasible – but realistically only if global emissions [of CO2 and other greenhouse gases] peak by the year 2020 at the latest.

  • It is now the end of 2018, and global emissions are continuing to rise, with no prospect of a peak in sight.

‘For Greater Manchester to make its “fair” contribution towards the [well below] 2 °C commitment enshrined in the Paris Agreement, Greater Manchester would need to …take prompt [immediate] action to put [it] on a path to carbon neutrality in 2038.’

‘This report does not address the …more challenging [Paris] commitment to “pursue … 1.5 °C.”’

  • The UK does not yet have a target to reach ‘net zero emissions’ or ‘carbon neutrality’, let alone to achieve this as early as the Tyndall Centre would recommend. Their report for Greater Manchester states that ‘Current UK [carbon] budgets correlate with an expected probability of exceeding 2 °C of more than 56%.’
  • The UK’s own ‘clean growth’ industrial strategy itself acknowledges that its policies will not deliver sufficient future emissions reductions to meet even the existing UK carbon budgets, set by the Committee on Climate Change. There is, so far, little sign that Gloucestershire’s Local Industrial Strategy (being developed by the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership) will do better.
  • The IPCC’s October 2018 report on ‘Global Warming of 1.5 °C’ predicts that, if global warming continues at its current rate, 1.5 °C is most likely to be exceeded around 2040, but could easily be as early as 2030. [This seems to be the rationale for the notion that the world has ‘12 years to act’ to avert the major climate impacts predicted to result from exceeding 1.5 °C and the increased risks of triggering a cascade of tipping points leading to ‘runaway climate change’ and ‘hot-house Earth’.]
  • The IPCC’s ‘1.5 °C’ report shows that in order for global warming to be limited to 1.5 °C, global CO2 emissions must start falling steeply after 2020, unless a risky strategy is adopted that allows warming to ‘overshoot’ 1.5 °C. With or without ‘overshoot’, global CO2 emissions would have to reach net zero ‘around 2050’. [The ‘equity steer’ of the Paris Agreement means that for a developed country such as the UK, net zero would have to be reached much earlier.]
  • The UK is not alone in having inadequate targets in relation to the Paris Agreement goals. Even if all countries were to fulfill their Paris Agreement commitments, the IPCC expects ‘global warming of about 3 °C by 2100, with warming continuing afterwards. [This assumes that no major feedbacks triggered by ‘tipping points’ have started to take effect before then.]
  • The Paris Agreement remains a framework for voluntary action by individual nations. There is currently no enforcement mechanism, such as a legally binding international treaty.


Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of

Save the Planet – before it’s too late

by Penny Squire

Save the planet before it_s too late

In the mid 1970s I had a friend who couldn’t decide whether to have a pet dog or a goat. To my astonishment she decided on a goat! My family consisted of a husband and 3 lovely daughters, and before long we became the recipients of some fresh goat’s milk. It seemed wonderful to me to have such a lovely and useful pet, and the seeds of self-sufficiency were sown!

I read books and had a monthly magazine called Practical Self-sufficiency. I grew organic vegetables and replaced the family’s Angel Delight style diet with healthier options.

We bought ourselves a very beautiful British Toggenburg goat called Hazel, who proved to be very feisty and gave very little milk. But undeterred we pressed on.

We eventually moved to a smallholding and kept goats and poultry, and provided ourselves with a lot of our diet.

Meanwhile, we had discovered The Centre for Alternative Technology, set in the hills of mid-Wales. An annual visit to this inspirational place, which had been created on an old slate mine, taught me a lot about global warming. We moved to a larger smallholding in West Wales and met people who were also concerned about this worrying issue.

It was felt then that it wouldn’t be a problem for another 100 years, but we should change how we lived our lives to prevent it from happening.

The knowledge was being discovered and the solutions were being found to deal with it, but It was ignored by policy makers and denied by many other people.

We lived our lives using as little carbon as was comfortably possible, but those of us who cared were completely in the minority. If it had been dealt with then, we wouldn’t have the storms and record-breaking weather conditions that people are suffering now.

It has been frustrating over the years seeing the power of large oil companies ignore the damage they were doing. They knew about global warming many years ago, but growth and profit was their goal.

At last the situation is now a concern that has to be dealt with – at the 11th hour – and the realisation is forcing change.


There are many hopeful signs around the world of societies taking positive actions to prevent the very real possibility of run-away global warming .

We all need to take responsibility in our own lives to combat this threat to our existence.

The slogan is : REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.

i.e.: Buy less, waste less and enjoy life more.

  1. Use bars of soap and shampoo not liquid soaps – these mean transporting water.
  2. Look for products not containing palm oil, as rain forest is destroyed for its production.


  1. Buy fewer clothes and buy good quality – they will last longer.
  2. Buy clothes made of natural materials e.g. organic cotton or hemp.
  3. Have a clothes swop party or event – the more people the better.
  4. Support charity shops – you can often find lovely garments there.
  5. Upcycle old clothes into something different, by redesigning or by adding ornamentation.
  6. Take your used clothes to a charity shop when you have finished with them.
  7. Have your own individual style and don’t worry about fashion.
  8. Wash and dry clothes gently – no harsh heat, and use environmentally – friendly soaps.
  9. Hang out clothes to dry whenever possible.


  1. Buy local produce to support local growers and reduce food miles.
  2. Grow your own – food can be grown even in a small space.
  3. Get an allotment or share one with friends – and cook food there as a treat.
  4. If no allotments are available ask your council to create some.
  5. Grow plants organically for a natural balance that will keep plants healthy and strong.
  6. Eat much less meat – animals give out huge amounts of greenhouse gases.
  7. Eat less fish – depleted fish stocks need protecting.
  8. Vegan food can be very interesting and tasty.
  9. Cook food in large batches and store surplus in the fridge for another day.
  10. Plan your shopping carefully or experiment with ideas to use up leftovers.


  1. Grow flowers that provide pollen for bees.
  2. Don’t mow lawns. Let them grow and encourage wild flowers, or use the space to grow vegetables or fruit.
  3. If you can’t manage without a mown lawn, use an electric or push mower.
  4. Plant a tree if you have space. Fruit trees can be planted in pots.
  5. Have a log pile for beetles, other invertebrates and frogs.
  6. Provide shelter, food and water for wild birds.
  7. Make or buy a bug hotel.


  1. Insulate your home.
  2. Have heavy, lined curtains to avoid night-time heat loss in winter.
  3. Change to energy- saving bulbs.
  4. Turn off electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Turn off stand-by modes on electronic appliances.
  6. Have photovoltaic panels on your roof. Modern ones can get energy even on overcast days.
  7. Use an electricity provider that provides power from sustainable sources.


  1. Only boil enough water for what you need.
  2. Have a reusable water bottle and refill with tap or filtered water.
  3. Use less water in the shower. Water-saving shower heads are available.
  4. If you have a garden, get a water butt and collect rainwater from the roof – it’s better for the plants than tap water.


  1. Walk, cycle or use a bus, tram or train.
  2. Holiday in your own country – there’s lots to explore.
  3. Carshare with other people.
  4. Work from home where possible.
  5. Only fly if necessary. For essential flights offset your carbon emissions.


  1. Don’t think politics isn’t for you – it’s for us all.
  2. To save the planet, we all need to get involved to make sure sensible decisions are being made.
  3. Insist that policy makers ensure that new buildings are constructed using high environmental standards.
  4. Challenge authorities about allowing fracking.: It is highly polluting, and the gas obtained is a greenhouse gas which should stay in the ground.
  5. Push for funding for good affordable public transport which will lower pollution levels and give a healthier environment.
  6. Push for green spaces in towns.


  1. Make presents – there are many ideas on the net.
  2. Buy from local craftspeople.
  3. Buy fair trade products.
  4. A present for children to give – hand- made vouchers given to parents each offering some help,
    e.g. 1/4 hour hoovering, doing the washing up, walking the dog etc . You return the voucher when you choose to have the work done.


  1. Little things done by many people make a difference.
  2. Enjoy simple pleasures – being with family – nature – being creative.
  3. Talk about global warming with people – what changes you have noticed – what you do in you life to lower your carbon footprint.
  4. Make it a fun challenge.

Learn about my latest music and film project, Troubled Planet, inspired by people’s reactions to global warming.


Penny Squire is a composer, gardener and environmentalist


Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of