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How the ‘climate assembly’ says the UK should reach net-zero

By Climate change, Politics, Sustainability

In January 2020, more than 100 randomly selected members of the public met in a secret location in Birmingham to begin taking part in the UK’s first “climate assembly”.

The assembly’s conclusions recommend changes across a broad range of sectors, from meat-and-dairy consumption and air travel through to zero-carbon heating and electricity generation.

Measures receiving high levels of support from the assembly include: a levy for frequent fliers; a ban on the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2030-35; and a switch to a more biodiversity-focused farming system.

However, some measures for stronger climate action did not receive strong support. For example, the assembly did not recommend reaching net-zero emissions earlier than 2050.

<a href=”https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-how-the-climate-assembly-says-the-uk-should-reach-net-zero”>In this in-depth Q&amp;A, Carbon Brief walks us through the assembly’s recommendations for every sector of the UK’s economy.</a>

<a href=”https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-how-the-climate-assembly-says-the-uk-should-reach-net-zero”>https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-how-the-climate-assembly-says-the-uk-should-reach-net-zero</a>

Green Tariffs or Greenwash?

By Energy

Almost every electricity supplier has a ‘green’ tariff aimed at customers who want to buy renewable energy.

These tariffs are labelled as green if some or all of the units of electricity that the customer buys are ‘matched’ by units of energy that have been generated from a verified renewable energy source, like a wind farm, solar array or hydroelectric power station.

But how green are they?  The answer is they vary. Some are genuinely all-renewable, others are something of a half-way house, and others aren’t really green at all.

Read more at https://www.cse.org.uk/advice/advice-and-support/green-electricity-tariffs

Or, listen to the audio segment below from BBC Radio 4’s programme ‘You and Yours

Get cleaner and greener by planting trees, by Sally Ikeringill

By Climate change, Habitat, Sustainability

I am a new resident in Woodhouse Eaves, having only moved here in January 2020. I came from urban Coventry as I wanted to live somewhere greener and with more trees. However green it is in Woodhouse Eaves, though, we have to accept that we are in a climate emergency and it is threatening our planet. That is why I was keen to join Woodhouse Net Zero.

In common with a growing number of people, I want to be part of the local solution rather than part of the global problem. According to experts, we are on track for an increase of between three to four degrees Celsius by the year 2100 if we take no action. These are only global average temperatures; at the poles, the increase may be higher – possibly even double. This will have devastating consequences. Changes will be irreversible as ecosystems collapse.

Climate change is such a huge and complex issue that, as individuals, we can feel helpless. However, there are simple things that many of us can do to help – and one of those is planting trees. Although trees are only part of the climate solution, and other changes must be made to reduce global carbon dioxide, it is known that one hectare of native woodland offsets 400 tonnes of carbon. This is because carbon is locked up in the trees, roots and soil, so it is a really important part of the solution. We have to be careful that we plant only in sensible places, but every tree counts.

Climate change is only half of the story. We are also facing a biodiversity crisis (through loss or degradation of natural habitats). The UK is ecologically damaged and habitat loss will only get worse if things go on unchanged. Through planting new trees, as well as protecting old, established woods and trees, we help to provide essential habitat for the wildlife that so many of us love to see.

Perhaps you are involved in a local community group or you know of a local public space that would benefit from a small copse or a new hedge? Maybe you would like to attract hedgehogs or bats to your neighbourhood or create some shade to sit under on a sunny day? Let us know here at Woodhouse Net Zero www.wnz.org.uk/ and we will see how we can make it work alongside our three parish Tree and Heritage Wardens (Kate Moore, Maggie Morland and Cathy Schou). The Woodland Trust can provide free tree packs for communities that want to plant them in public places.

We are hoping to organise regular tree-planting events, perhaps twice a year. We are especially keen to involve children and young people. Together we can make our village and its surrounding area greener and even more beautiful, and contribute to a solution to the most urgent issue of our times.

Sally Ikeringill

What really happens to your rubbish?

By Stuff, Sustainability, Waste

The UK produces more waste than it can process at home: 230m tonnes a year – about 1.1kg per person per day. So what happens to it?

45.7% of all UK household waste is classed as recycled, although that number indicates only the waste that is sent for recycling, not where it ends up. Detailed end-destination figures for our own area (Charnwood) are not available, but in 2017/18 Westminster council sent 82% of all their household waste (including household recycling) for incineration . Some councils have debated giving up recycling altogether.

From councils burning the lot to foreign landfill sites overflowing with contaminated British rubbish, this article from the Guardian reports on a global waste crisis.

Read more here.

Switching to a Green Energy Supplier was easy, by Paul Whitmore

By Energy

We had been thinking about changing our energy supplier to a  more green sustainable source for quite a while but always seemed to be too busy to figure it all out.   So when we eventually  looked at the options available we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to switch.  We were looking for a supplier which generates 100% electricity from renewable sources, and with just a few clicks of the mouse we were able to compare green energy costs to our existing supplier. We found that a number of suppliers could offer tariffs that are not only green but can also lower our electricity bill by as much as 15% as well as reduce our carbon emissions. Result! So we switched there and then, dead easy! In our case we chose Octopus because of their good customer reviews, but there are a number of other companies to choose from too.

Finding out about all the various energy tariffs has been interesting,  and now we’re looking at how we can use energy more efficiently. We are keen to get a smart meter, which will allow us to switch in the future to one of the new smart time-of-use tariffs. These offer cheaper rates when demand is low and, by reducing our consumption during the peak price periods, we could reduce our bills even more. And also on the list now that autumn is round the corner is to start looking at ways to reduce our heating energy consumption and gas bills.

Paul Whitmore

 

Observations through the eyes of a Swede (a human – not the tasty turnip-looking vegetable!), by Emelie Persson

By Habitat, Sustainability

It is my first time visiting England, we have only just about taken an exit off the M1 and I immediately find myself fascinated by flying forward on a beautiful winding country road accompanied by dense, lush green hedgerows on either side. I have never seen anything like it before and England is even prettier than I could have ever imagined!

The hedgerows blend in so well with the landscape and whilst driving down a hill the gorgeous views and the rolling green landscape is almost undisturbed from the roads and traffic hidden behind the greenery.

I remember thinking, what a great natural habitat for wildlife the hedgerows must be. The hedgerows seems have an abundant variety of plant species and are even carrying fruits and berries at places. They are perfect wildlife corridors, creating a space for insects to spend the winter getting ready to start their job as natural pest control for the adjoining cultivated fields as soon as the spring starts.

I spot a gap in the hedgerow and then it hits me – how are we supposed to see if any deer or wild game is hiding in the hedgerow and how will we be prepared to stop if it decides to jump out? This can now happen any second! In Sweden we are used to most high speed roads being protected by tall see through metal fences on either side of the road. Especially at dawn, the risk of a deer or even a moose running out in the road is pretty big and it can cause some really scary accidents at times.

I remind myself of being in a foreign country and that maybe deers do not jump out on the roads here as often, fingers crossed… I try to focus on enjoying the ride again.

Looking closer at the hedgerows I started noticing little green signs with yellow writing on the side of the roads. We are driving too fast for me to read the writing on the first few but finally – “Public Footpath”. Wow, a footpath for everyone! That is fantastic. The footpaths seems to be going straight across cultivated fields, what a fantastic initiative.

The footpaths makes me think of a part of the swedish constitution called “Allemansrätten”, directly translated to “everyman’s’ right” and is maybe better described as the Right of Public Access. In Sweden everyone has the freedom to roam freely and to access land regardless of ownership. The land belongs to everybody and it is everybody’s responsibility to keep it in order. There is no such crime as trespassing as long as you keep a sensible distance to houses, take your litter with you and “leave the land as it was found”. Allemansrätten makes it really easy to camp, hike, ski, go swimming and to pick mushrooms and berries.

The idea of exploring the English countryside on the public footpaths makes me excited – I think I am going to like it here!

Emelie Persson

Measuring our Family Footprint, by Olivia Rowley

By Footprint, Uncategorized

Last February we were learning about climate change as part of my GCSE geography course. For homework, we had to calculate our family’s environmental footprint using the WWF calculator (https://footprint.wwf.org.uk). So, one evening, we sat around the dining table and went through the step-by-step process of measuring our footprint for the previous year (2019). This was very interesting, as I hadn’t realised the whole range of things that contribute to how we impact on the environment.

First of all, we found out that a significant part of our family’s impact comes from the food we eat at home and at school or work. It turns out that the ‘air miles’ in imported food, the process of meat production, and wasted food all cause lots of greenhouse gas to be emitted.

Next came travel, which for us included a trip to Australia for a family wedding, as well as a holiday in Italy. When these air miles were added to our bus and car travel, our travel impact was huge – over 50% of our total footprint in fact!

How we use energy at home came next. We have solar panels on our roof  which helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions quite a bit. It turns out that most of our energy impact comes from our gas boiler which heats our water and keeps the house warm in winter.

Then we looked at the stuff we consume, like household goods, phones and internet usage. Most ‘stuff’ is produced in factories around the world and shipped to the UK, which adds up to a big impact, although we do try and recycle as much stuff as possible.

So what were our results? Well, during 2019 we didn’t do very well I’m afraid. Our emissions came out to be over 15 tonnes per person – a whopping 60 tonnes for our family! This compares to an average of around 12 tonnes per person in the UK. So, we’ve set a target for 2020 of reducing our family’s environmental footprint to 10 tonnes per person. This will be quite a challenge, but I think that the effect of the Covid-19 lockdown, and the fact that we now know how to reduce our footprint step-by-step means that our target should be achievable. I will report back in a future issue of Roundabout to let you know!

Olivia Rowley

Biomethane for vehicles

By biogas, transport

It’s difficult to see how heavy goods vehicles can be electrified,  especially given the massive size of the battery packs needed for such big vehicles.

So, biomethane sounds a sensible alternative – but only if it’s generated from waste products, not food crops.

Find out how this is happening in the UK here.