7 Sep, Hawkwood, Stroud
RSA Watch: Is there still Hope on Climate Change? In partnership with Hawkwood and Gloucestershire Climate Action Network
Tne event was held in the inspirational setting of Hawkwood, Centre for Future Thinking, where participants can meet and watch RSA talks together and discuss the ideas and concepts raised – “social watching”.
The theme of this RSA lecture was “is there still hope on climate change” – with the aim of the discussion being to look beyond the science and get to the core of the human response to climate change.
The RSA lecture can still be viewed. It is on the RSA website, entitled Is there still Hope on Climate Change. It is a discussion between David Attenborough and Tim Flannery. author of the 2015 book Atmosphere of Hope.
The event was well attended, including members of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), GlosCAN and other visitors.
Tim Flannery’s ‘third way’ is about removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere – by a large range of very inventive methods. He calls it by this name to distinguish it both from mitigating climate change (cutting emissions) and from ‘geo-engineering’ that tries to control temperature rise. The ‘third way’ methods involve long development times and investment, and therefore need to be started on now, but a focus just on emissions reductions is no longer enough, whilst geo-engineering carries immense risks.
In the discussion after the film there was a great variety of perspectives, with disagreement, for example, over whether
– most people are really prepared to imagining the future much beyond their own life-times;
– the threats of climate change will ever engender enough sense of crisis or even panic to create the political conditions for effective action;
– policies made in the context of ‘neo-liberal’ politics can have any place in the response to climate change;
– humanity can collectively change its own perceptions of, and psychological responses to, climate change.
There was a minority view that things will not be adequately dealt with by emissions reduction or CO2 sequestration, and that risky ‘geo-engineering’ such as injecting sulphur into the stratosphere will inevitably end up being deployed.
Some expressed deep suspicion of ‘top-down’ solutions to climate change, especially technological ones.
Some felt the film fell very short and was tunnel-vision, turning a blind eye to the positive actions for example by farmers in Australia who are actively returning carbon into the earth. One found the film eye-opening and accessible, facts being presented with plenty of examples. The book ‘Atmosphere of Hope’ was also felt to be inspiring because of looking at positive things happening and mitigation of global warming.
There was appreciation of the beauty of our world, acknowledging humanity as consistently adaptive, with positive values and ingenuity.
We all responded well to the final moments of the interview where David Attenborough gave the example of the abolition of slavery in 1800s as the kind of philosophical leap, or moral turnaround that humanity now needs to make to repair the misuse of the world and the creatures in it.
Meeting with David Drew, MP for Stroud, Fri 25 August
David Drew was elected as the MP for Stroud again in the General Election, in place of Neil Carmichael.
GlosCAN met him and had a wide ranging discussion on the current situation as he sees it and on ways forward.
Stroud News and Journal article below:
Stroud MP David Drew supports Gloucestershire group fighting climate change
STROUD MP David Drew has signed up to support the anti-climate change group, Gloucestershire Climate Action Network (GlosCAN).
Three South West MEPs from different parties pledged their support for the climate change organisation in October last year; Molly Scott Cato (Green), Clare Moody (Labour) and Julie Girling (Conservative).
After meeting with representatives of GlosCAN, Mr Drew said: “It’s not easy right now to be optimistic about the prospects for limiting climate change, so I’m glad to support GlosCAN’s efforts in pressing for positive political and practical action.”
Hugh Richards, Chair of the GlosCAN Steering Group, said: “David is now the Shadow Farming Minister, so it’s not surprising that most of our discussions focused on how to get UK agriculture to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and lock up more carbon in the soil.
“The Government could change farm subsidies to pay farmers to make that happen.
“There’s a huge amount of relevant expertise here in Gloucestershire, and David suggested bringing local and national experts and stakeholders together for a conference next year.
“We in GlosCAN are keen to support this and will be using our network to find willing partners.”
Meeting with Julie Girling MEP at Gloucester, Fri 5 May
Representatives of Gloucestershire Climate Action Network met Julie Girling MEP on Friday 5 May and discussed progress to date and future ways forward on climate change.
Notes on meeting:
This was a first meeting between representatives of GlosCAN (Hugh Richards, Vaughan Webber and Doina Cornell) and Julie Girling. Julie is a registered Supporter of GlosCAN’s Starting Points and Aims, and provided the following statement when she signed up in summer 2016: “I am very happy to support the strategy GlosCAN has outlined which is in line with the work I have been doing as a member of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament for the last seven years.
Climate Change is a huge challenge, a global problem that must be addressed. I welcome GlosCAN’s initiative and will work with them to achieve their goals.”
GlosCAN provided a list of suggested topics/questions for discussion two days ahead of the meeting. In the event, we had a fairly informal, free-flowing discussion, which touched on most of the suggested topics. Julie seemed well-informed on climate change (CC), and especially in the EU context.
Below are points made by Julie in the discussion that stood out, from the perspective of one or more of us as GlosCAN representatives present. These points are noted without any judgement being made as to whether GlosCAN would agree or take issue with them. That said, the meeting was cordial in tone, and we were left in no doubt that Julie considers CC to be a serious but currently much-neglected issue.
The UK CC Act is not EU legislation and in fact goes substantially beyond what current EU CC commitments require.
The CC Act is unlikely to be affected by Brexit.
The UK’s commitments on CC mitigation currently contribute to the EU’s pledges under the 2015 Paris Agreement, with the EU rather than the UK and other member states being Parties to the UN Framework Convention on CC.
Decisions will shortly be made on “effort-sharing” between EU member states so as to meet or exceed the EU’s emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement. This will take place before Brexit, so the UK will be making CC commitments in an EU context before Brexit.
The UK Government’s decision that Brexit will terminate all jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the UK means that the UK’s CC commitments will cease to be enforceable by the ECJ.
It is not yet clear how the UK will remain within the UNFCCC after Brexit. It could in theory become a separate Party to the UNFCCC or could continue to work through the EU using a new arbitration mechanism (not the ECJ) that is likely to be needed for the UK to continue to participate in a wide range of international agreements and treaties where it currently operates via the EU.
From a legislative point of view, the simplest option for Brexit will be to leave all EU legislation intact in UK law for a transitional period of 6-7 years, including the UK remaining within the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement via the EU, and the UK remaining within the EU Emissions Trading System.
Julie suspects that on a similar timescale (the next five years or so) awareness of the current impacts of CC will grow, and change the political environment towards more effective action to limit CC. Julie cited the spread of ash dieback disease into the UK being linked to CC (mild winters) and the likely spread of diseases in cattle (previously unknown in Europe) from areas where the diseases are endemic in North Africa and the Middle East.
Turning to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Julie pointed out that although the 2013/14 reforms implemented in 2015 put greater weight on “social goods” (as against purely agricultural production) when setting subsidy rates, there is very little on CC. The next review/reform of the CAP is likely to put more emphasis on adaptation to CC (e.g. managing land to mitigate flooding), but seems unlikely to grasp the issue of mitigating CC by using subsidies to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture.
After Brexit, the UK will have to decide what should replace CAP subsidies. The current Agriculture Minister, George Eustace, is understood to favour subsidies based mainly or even exclusively on “social goods” – including environmental benefits. In principle, there may be an opportunity for UK post-CAP subsidies to promote land uses that mitigate CC.
Julie noted that UK beef farmers recognise that the way forward for their industry is likely to be to focus on relatively low volumes of high-quality beef sold into premium markets, with emphasis on high standards of animal welfare, soil conservation, etc. The organisation “Linking Environment and Farming” (LEAF) is actively promoting this type of approach, in which addressing CC plays a part.
LEAF has several members farming in Gloucestershire, and Julie suggested that Gloucestershire could be a pioneering area for an approach to beef production that is more sustainable in terms of CC as well as factors like soil conservation and use of antibiotics. Julie suggested that GlosCAN could approach LEAF to explore whether there are shared goals that could be publicised.
Dairy farming was also discussed. Julie indicated that the UK dairy industry is split between farmers who favour keeping dairy cattle outdoors most of the time and those who see the future in terms of an entirely indoor operation. Indoor dairy herds are more common in places like the Netherlands, where they are favoured by financial incentives to capture methane emissions to help that country meet its CC commitments.
Regarding incentives to reduce CO2 emissions from the industrial and power sectors, Julie favours keeping and strengthening the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), with the UK staying in the ETS after Brexit. Something called the “MSR (Market Stability Reserve) adjustment mechanism” is expected to raise the carbon price in the ETS to a level where it will become effective in driving down emissions from 2020 onwards.
Energy policy in the EU is subject to “subsidiarity”, which means (for example) that individual member states can set up their own fiscal arrangements to promote emissions reductions (e.g. a planned carbon tax in Sweden) or compensate major industrial emitters that have to pay high carbon charges under the ETS (e.g. Germany).
The EU can use the Fuel Quality Directive to restrict or ban imports of particularly “dirty” fossil fuels. For example, a ban on fuels produced from Canadian tar/oil sands is being considered, which would not be incompatible with the recently concluded Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA).
To conclude, this was an informative discussion. Julie offered to continue to engage with GlosCAN, specifically offering to respond to queries about EU matters relevant to CC. She suggested meeting again at some point when the implications of Brexit for CC policy in the UK start to become clearer. In the meantime, she suggested engagement with LEAF as a potential lead for GlosCAN to pursue.
GlosCAN build a giant heart on Selsley Common, Stroud, Sun 12 February
As part of the Climate Coalition ‘For the Love of…’ campaign, GlosCAN built a heart out of Cotswold stone at one of the old quarries on Selsley Common, near The Toots Long Barrow. The weather was overcast with a cold wind and snow flurries, but the River Severn is just visible in our picture!
GlosCAN wish especially to thank Jason and Steve from Cheltenham for their able assistance in designing and making the heart!
This action is part of the nationwide ‘For the Love of’ campaign. This February, people across the country – joining in with the Climate Coalition – are showing the love for all the things that are affected by climate change through the power of green hearts. This is a chance to begin a conversation about the things we love that climate change threatens and the opportunities for a world powered by clean and secure energy.
Short video of the event by courtesy of Philip Booth of Stroud Community TV
Visit to solar PV panel roof of Gloucester Cathedral, Friday 27th January
Gloucester Cathedral goes solar to combat climate change
Gloucester Cathedral’s journey towards fossil fuel free energy was welcomed by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and campaigners from Gloucestershire Climate Action Network (GlosCAN) on a visit on Friday 27th January.
Despite its Grade 1 Listed status the Cathedral has been able to put 150 solar photovoltaic panels on the south side of the nave roof and will soon install an air source heat pump, which will provide heat to the refurbished 15th century Lady Chapel much more efficiently than direct electric heating.
Molly Scott Cato said: “Standing up on the roof of the cathedral looking across the rooftops of Gloucester, it was clear that more can be done, there were many roofs that were ideal for solar PV panel installation. I hope that the work done by the staff at the cathedral will inspire others to install similar technologies on suitable homes and work places”
For further information:
Visit to hydro power site at Coaley, near Dursley, Monday 9th Jan 2017
GlosCAN supporters visited Coaley Mill, near Dursley, and were given a detailed guided tour by the owner, Ossie Goring, an engineer and leading authority nationally on small-scale hydro generation. Coaley Mill has a low-maintenance turbine that has been generating for 30 years, which has enabled the operation of a small industrial facility.
Hydro power has advantages in addition to generation of clean electricity. It means water levels in rivers are managed so that floods are more easily prevented; rubbish can be removed; water quality can be improved; wild-life is able to benefit. (Coaley Mill, for example, has a system of fish ladders to enable fish and elvers to go upstream.)
Gloucestershire has scores of former water mills that are now derelict, but they are a resource that could potentially be tapped to produce clean energy.
Meeting with Molly Scott Cato MEP at Stroud, Thursday 5th Jan 2017
From article in the Stroud News and Journal
‘STROUD’S resident Member of European Parliament has praised the positive work on climate change undertaken by a local action group.
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, met with representatives from the Gloucestershire Climate Action Network (GlosCAN) last Thursday to discuss their progress over the last year.
The meeting of minds at the Golden Fleece pub in Stroud saw the group discuss the small positive steps forward taken in the county on addressing climate change.
The Green politician and environmentalist discussed a number of sustainable local projects and scheme in the Five Valleys and beyond…
…Mrs Cato said: “It was a pleasure to meet GlosCAN and I admire their commitment to turning their concerns about climate change into positive action… I would recommend people to make joining GlosCAN their New Year’s resolution.” ‘
Read the full article from the Stroud News and Journal.
Read the report, The Power to Transform the South West, commissioned by Molly Scott Cato,which demonstrates how the South West can provide 100%+ of its energy needs through renewable energy alone.
Climate Coalition Week of Action, 8th-16th October:
Friday 14th October
Surplus Food Meal at Stroud
About 45 people attended a Surplus Food Meal held at the Wesley Rooms at Stroud Methodist Church in Parliament Street. The meal was made from surplus – but still fully edible! – food from supermarkets, with guests paying on a Pay-As-You-Feel basis.
Francis Gobey (from Stroud Community Agriculture) Greg Pilley (from Stroud Brewery) and Martin Whiteside (an International Development adviser) spoke about food production and climate change, locally and globally.
Saturday 15th October
Kites fly on Robinswood Hill, Gloucester
Campaigners gathered on Robinswood Hill on Saturday to harness the power of the wind and underline their call for the Government to act urgently to tackle climate change.
Around 35 people joined together to make kites and paper windmills and fly kites on the hill in an event organised by Christian Aid and CAFOD and attended by Gloucester city councillor Colin Organ.
Organiser Maria Wells from St Paul and St Stephen Church said: “It was fantastic to see so many people up on the hill on such a beautiful clear autumn day, making their feelings known on the urgent need to move towards clean energy.
“We care deeply both about our beautiful Gloucestershire landscape and those millions of people in poor communities across the world who have done the least to contribute to global warming but who are experiencing the consequences first and the hardest.
“By joining together with people across the county and country in this week of action we were able to make sure that Gloucester’s voice is part of a clear message to the Government that it must act now.
“Gloucester MP Richard Graham did not attend on the day but we have requested a meeting with him soon to pass on the sense of urgency of all those who took part.
“The children had great success with their homemade kites which in some cases flew better than the bought ones!”
Saturday 15th October
Meeting with Alex Chalk, MP, Cheltenham
Campaigners gathered at St Mary’s Parish Centre, Charlton Kings, on Saturday (October 15th) in a Question and Answer session with Alex Chalk MP to underline their call for the Government to act urgently to tackle climate change.
Around 20 people joined together to engage in debate with Mr Chalk about electric car charging points, fracking, carbon capture and storage and the Green Investment Bank.
Local Organiser Alison Talbot said, “We were glad to engage with Alex, who appropriately enough arrived on his bike. We wanted him to know that we are pleased that the Prime Minister has promised to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change before the end of the year and we hope he will encourage her to deliver on that promise. We also wanted him to know how strongly we felt that we need the government to deliver an ambitious low-carbon investment plan.”
“We had a lively and robust exchange of views. The bottom line is that millions of people in poor communities across the world who have done the least to contribute to global warming experience the consequences first and the hardest.
Mr. Chalk commented after the meeting, “I was delighted to meet so many principled and well-informed Church campaigners to discuss climate change. We had a really stimulating discussion. I am passionately committed to driving down carbon emissions, and want to see our country get on and ratify the historic Paris Agreement this year, as well as phase out dirty coal by 2025.”
Sunday 16 October, Bishops Cleeve
Big Squeeze – apple juicing
There was a good flow of visitors to Grangefield School in Voxwell Lane, where people were invited to bring their windfall apples and juice them.
Information from Transition Cleeve and the opportunity to talk about climate change formed part of the event.
Friday 21st October, meeting with Neil Carmichael MP, Nailsworth
Eight people attended the meeting with Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud – members of Christian Aid, GlosCAN, and Stroud District Horticultural Belt Group; a school pupil also attended.
Questions asked were: the adequacy of the 2008 Climate Change Act in the light of Paris 2015; publishing monthly emissions figures; potential watering down of climate commitments after Brexit; tackling emissions from non-energy and land use; preservation of continued UK foreign aid contributions for climate adaptation funds; how increased use of fracked or imported gas can be compatible with reducing fossil fuel use; government encouragement of products with lower embodied carbon by, for example, a carbon tax.
A good exchange of views took place. The group will be following up some of the points with Neil in due course.
For the Love of … July 2016
Display at Stroud Town Council Offices in support of the Climate Coalition’s ‘For the Love of …’ campaign, which highlights things that we love that are threatened by climate change.
Letter in Stroud Life
In August, the journalist George Monbiot wrote an article in the Guardian (click on link):
The climate crisis is already here – but no one’s telling us
– the media largely relegate the greatest challenge facing humanity to footnotes as industry and politicians hurtle us towards systemic collapse of the planet
The Chair of GlosCAN wrote to Stroud Life as a follow-up:
View as pdf: letter-to-stroud-life-10-08-16