Paris Agreement :: Climate action?

Today, 22nd April, is Earth Day, and the day 171 countries signed the Paris Agreement. Back in December, the agreement was met with muted approval.

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP in the South West, welcomed it

What the Paris climate deal means is that the global economy has moved away from the fossil fuel era and onto a path towards a clean energy future. Making this transformation a reality will require widespread changes to the way we live and work, but before embarking on that endeavour we should take a moment to celebrate this unique and groundbreaking success for genuine global co-operation.

I am also delighted to see the ambition to keep temperature warming within 1.5° coming back into the agreement alongside a commitment to return to the targets set today on a regular basis to ensure that policies become more ambitious over time.

… but climate activist Bill McKibben of 350.org asked: “the pistol has fired, so why aren’t we running?”

At the moment the world … continues to pretend that merely setting the goal has been work enough for the last two decades. Its “training plan” – the text that negotiators agreed on in Paris – is a go-slow regimen that aims for a world 3.5C warmer.

So what is McKibben saying now? In an interview for Daily Kos, he spoke about the science and the rise of movements:

Less optimistic about the science—it’s happening much faster, and with more weight, than we thought it would. The last six months have been devastating—temperatures setting every possible record [see this NASA news release], … the highest wind speeds ever recorded amidst devastating cyclones, and new research indicating that we can expect the collapse of ice sheets on a much faster time scale than we’d anticipated.

More optimistic about the rise of movements. Since the policy response of governments has been so feeble, we’ve had to build globe-spanning movements to try and check the fossil fuel industry. And we have. The fight over Keystone has turned into a thousand other fights… And we’re winning a surprising number of them.

In other words, we all have power if we work together. You can take action on climate now.

European Commission plans on Waste to Energy

We have shamelessly copied the following message from a Quaker round-robin.

It’s an opportunity to help influence the EU’s future strategy on waste treatment, in particular to object to proposals which contradict the EU’s own climate commitments by promoting a polluting and inefficient form of energy.

Responses to the proposals are required by the end of March 2016.


The European Commission has published its plans on waste-to-energy: burning waste to create small amounts of energy and wasting valuable materials.

Despite circular economy principles emphasising the need to use our resources in a more efficient way, incineration, the second-worst form of waste treatment (only better than landfilling) is still being promoted by the EU. If you are concerned about this issue, take action to by giving your reaction here:

http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/roadmaps/index_en.htm#fbform

[Search for “Waste to Energy” in the Name box, and the document “Waste to Energy Communication” will appear. Click on “Open” on the far right under the heading “Give your feedback”]

Below are a few suggested points for you to use in your reaction. Please try not copy and paste these exactly, as the Commission may disregard identical (or very similar) responses. The deadline for giving your feedback is the end of March.

The EU’s roadmap:

  • classifies incineration with energy recovery as renewable energy,
  • suggests that waste-to-energy is the best treatment for non-recyclable waste, and,
  • contradicts the EU’s climate commitments by promoting a polluting and inefficient form of energy.

Take action today by responding to the roadmap.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Let’s work together to build a more sustainable Europe!

George Thurley
Project Officer (Sustainability)
Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA)
Quaker House, Square Ambiorix 50, 1000 Brussels
Twitter: @QCEA Web: QCEA.org | qceablog.wordpress.com
Telephone: +32 2 234 30 62


Energy from Waste response bullet points

Please do not copy and paste these exactly, as the Commission may disregard identical (or very similar) responses.

  • The contribution of waste-to-energy to Europe’s energy creation is limited – if we burnt all the municipal waste we are not required to recycle it would only provide 2% of our energy demand by 2020.
  • Europe should be trying to reduce our waste generation, not relying on it to provide energy. Burning waste produces more Carbon dioxide per megwatt-hour of energy than any fossil fuel.
  • “Non-recyclable waste” and materials should be eliminated at design stage, not burnt – promoting waste-to-energy addresses one symptom of our poor waste management systems, rather than addressing the root cause.
  • Building incineration plants encourages waste creation to feed these plants, and requires huge investment.
  • The targets set in the new circular economy package would mean that by 2030 only 25-35% of Europe’s waste should be incinerated – it is not worth investing in incineration plants for this amount.
  • Many member states already have too many incinerators with not enough waste to burn. The EU should require Member states not to allow new incineration plants.
  • The waste hierarchy is not a ladder: it is possible for countries dependent on landfill to skip incineration altogether by focussing on recycling and reuse.
  • In a true circular economy, any burning of waste is a failure.
  • The European Commission should impose a moratorium on the construction of new Waste-to-energy plants until it has performed an analysis on the current capacity of incineration plants.
  • The Commission must then develop plans on how to reduce existing over-capacities of incineration, rather than encourage their use for long-term facilities like district heating.
  • This roadmap ignores the role of civil society, and local governments, by not mentioning them in the list of stakeholders, despite the considerable health and environmental concerns.
  • Burning waste is not renewable energy (although we can continue making waste, we should not – waste is not comparable to the sun or wind!)
  • In fact, burning waste is one of the most polluting and inefficient forms of energy in existence.
  • Waste avoidance and recycling can save more energy – the energy embedded in products and materials – than burning waste could produce, and without any extra greenhouse gases being emitted.

Raffle for refugees

Artist aid for RefugeesThe fantastic folk in Fore Street Exeter are holding a Cheese and Wine Fundraiser for Refugees, to include a raffle of artworks and craft.

18 March at 7.30pm
Glorious Art House, EX4 3JQ

Donations from artists and makers still very welcome. Raffle tickets on sale now. See the Facebook event page for more.

Clare is donating a carbon dioxide molecule, also under the aegis of Free Art Friday Exeter. The label says:

This 3D knitted representation of a carbon dioxide molecule was part of an exhibition in the Glorious Art House in July 2015.

In “Particulart: Up in the Air”, the Glorious gallery became the Earth’s atmosphere, as greenhouse gases hung in space around an inflatable globe. But the gases were also hung according to three pieces of data, so the gallery was also effectively a 3D graph complete with axes.

Because climate change is happening over such a long time-scale and the potential impacts are so huge, many people switch off and pretend that there is no issue. Knitting is a way of bringing it back down to earth.

But the effects of climate change are already with us. There is good evidence that it intensified the prolonged drought in the Middle East in 2006-10. The collapse in agriculture was one factor that sparked the unrest in Syria.

There was a good article in the Independent that sifts the evidence with respect to climate change and the drought, and the relative importance of environmental, societal and governmental factors. It also looks at previous research into links between major ecosystem change and violence: “any major ecosystem change that would have a negative effect on agriculture could intensify social unrest”.

And then on 1 March came the news of this NASA study, which “finds that the recent drought that began in 1998 in the eastern Mediterranean Levant region, which comprises Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey, is likely the worst drought of the past nine centuries.” From the report of the study on Science Daily:

“The Mediterranean is one of the areas that is unanimously projected [in climate models] as going to dry in the future [due to human-made climate change],” said Yochanan Kushnir, a climate scientist at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, who was not involved in the research. “This paper shows that the behavior during this recent drought period is different than what we see in the rest of the record,” he said, which means that the Levant region may already be feeling the affects of human-induced warming of the planet.

 

This Saturday… WAM Fest!

WAMFest

 

That’s nothing to do with the 1980s pop group, but the Festival of Weather, Art and Music. The 2016 event is all about “Extreme Weather and You”, and is happening in the University of Exeter Forum this Saturday 5th March from 11am to 5pm.

The “Particulart: Up in the Air” pop-up will be making an appearance, on the mezzanine floor outside the Alumni Auditorium. There will be the knitted greenhouse gases, games to play, DIY carbon dioxide pompoms, knitting patterns to take away for the more ambitious.

There will be loads of other activities there, from print-making to climate roulette. The full programme is available on the WAM Fest website.

And there will also be a chance to see some of Clare’s new work: “Winter Blues: A little colouring book of climate mindfulness” and “Green|Blue”.

Hope to see you there!