Update on the CEE Bill

Following our piece in the May Newsletter on the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, the CEE Bill Alliance has drafted a second (‘summary’) version of the bill, The Climate and Ecology Bill No. 2

This strengthened and condensed version of the CEE Bill is designed to present a clearer proposal, be easier to understand, function as a more effective campaign tool and amend certain sections of the first Bill in response to feedback.

Under the new bill the government will be required to:

Calculate and plan to reduce the UK’s entire carbon footprint: At the moment the UK only accounts for its “territorial” emissions, ie those we emit locally, ignoring those included in the goods and services we buy in from abroad and our fair share of international aviation and shipping. Including these emissions provides a fairer “consumption” basis for our emissions but, being one of the world’s highest net importers of emissions, nearly doubles the emissions for which we are responsible.

In accordance with the stricter targets of the Paris Agreement, issued in 2018, increase the chance of the UK meeting its emissions targets using equitable policies: The UK’s current net zero target is based on a greater than 50% chance of limiting global heating to a 1.5°C rise in temperature. To be fair to future generations, this needs to increase to 66%. In consideration of the UK’s historic emissions and its capabilities as a developed nation it needs to account for a proportionately smaller share of the global carbon budget, reduce emissions at a faster rate than developing countries and provide support for them to do so.

Adhere to national carbon budgets set each year, not every five years.

Reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions primarily by stopping emissions caused by human activity, whilst also ending the extraction, export and import of fossil fuels: Little discussed even 10 years ago, the UK and most developed countries are assuming that, in the decades ahead, technologies will be available to remove vast quantities of carbon dioxide from high emitting sources, such as power stations, or even to remove it directly from the air, and then safely store it underground. Reliance on such speculative and unproven at scale technologies not only fosters delay in dealing with emissions but also passes the problem to future generations. Consequently the bill requires the emphasis to be on actually reducing emissions, rather than removing them once they are made.

Follow a strict nature target to ensure that it reverses the decline in the state of nature no later than 2030: The state of nature is defined as the abundance and distribution of plant and animal species; risk of extinction; extent and condition of priority habitats; and health and enrichment of ecosystems.

Actively conserve and restore nature: Focussing both on biodiversity and soils’ protection, restoring natural carbon sinks, such as in the conservation of woodlands, and restoring peat bogs all of which act as a natural reservoir for carbon and to keep it out of the atmosphere;

Take responsibility for its entire ecological footprint: This means preventing adverse impacts on ecosystems and human health caused by consumption, trade and production, in the UK and internationally, including the extraction of raw materials, deforestation, land degradation, pollution and waste.

Create “Citizens Assemblies”: Being representative of the UK population, to work directly with the Climate Change Committee and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, before the strategies are laid before Parliament.

Full details of the Bill, its supporters and ways in which you can lobby your MP, are on The CEE Bill Alliance’s website.

Wildlife Warden Podcast Episode 3

In the latest Devon Wildlife Warden Podcast, Emily Marbaix brings you details about Churches Count for Nature Week (between 5th and 13th of June) and of a quiz she has put together to quantify how well you are managing your garden for wildlife. There is also:

  • An interview with Flavio, the Wildlife Warden Coordinator.
  • A summery of what Wildlife Wardens have been up to recently.
  • Details about the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild challenge.
  • Information about the Avon Valley project.
  • Information about some of the meadows you can visit through Open Meadows 2021.

ACT Newsletter May 2021

Our latest Newsletter is ready and waiting covering the following topics:

  • How about an Electric Car and Bike Club in Teignmouth? – Including a survey to be completed by 26 May.
  • No mow May.
  • Six months to COP26 – what are the issues?
  • Support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill – and ask your MP to do the same.
  • Sale of peat to be banned in 2024
  • Greta Thunberg – A Year to Change The World
  • The Councillors’ workbook on the local pathway to net zero.

Six Months to COP26

In the lead up to COP26 debates are intensifying over some key issues, some of which have rumbled on for over a decade, passing through and beyond COP21 in Paris more than five years ago.

Explored in part in our website post Know your Net Zero from your NETs and BECCS, there is growing tension between two groups. In one are those who promote the importance of doing all we can today to reduce emissions and decarbonise the economy, thus keeping us from exceeding carbon budgets. In the other are those who believe we can rely on current and future technologies to provide both cleaner and more efficient energy and remove, use or store carbon in the decades ahead.

At the heart of the latter approach is a belief that we can, and should, live our lives relatively unchanged, taking up new technology like electric cars and relying on the markets and technological innovation to provide sufficient clean energy and cope with other mitigation paths.

Those who follow the former approach, however, worry that with carbon budgets and related emission reduction pathways only giving us perhaps a 50:50 chance of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5℃, we should concentrate on reducing demand and consumption today and using technologies available today, which will not only accelerate emission reductions but will also give cleaner energy (such as wind and solar) a better chance of catching up with current demand and that from newly electrified areas such as transport. The changes in lifestyle necessary for this route are seen by some as unnecessary sacrifices and by others as common sense.

What clouds the issue is that many fossil fuel companies are promoting the technological route, raising the suspicion that they do so because it delays the inevitable demise of their industries and, in say the case of gas, prolongs its use for the production of hydrogen.

There are other related and intertwined considerations within these debates:

Equity – All official emission reduction pathways, from the Paris Agreement to the recent International Energy Agency report, call for fairness in tackling climate change. To recognise historic emissions this calls for developed countries – the “Global North” – to take a proportionately smaller cut of the remaining carbon budget than the poorer countries – the “Global South” – and also requires the Global North to reduce emissions faster than, and to provide support to, the Global South. It also extends to reducing the burden we place on future generations in mitigating climate change.

The few – Following the above, it’s been the case for many years that the richest 10% of the global population are responsible for perhaps 50% of global emissions and that if they reduced their emissions to say the level of the average European, global emissions would immediately drop by 30%, with everyone else doing nothing. This brings the national and global debate above to a personal level.

Triaging solutions – As technologies develop there will be several areas in which they can be used. For example, as Hydrogen production is developed there is a choice between its use in heating, transport, steel or even as energy storage, in place of batteries. Decisions will have to be made as to where the most benefit (environmental rather than economic) can be gained from its use. Similarly with biofuels,

Economic Growth – The same pathways also assume continued economic growth of typically 2-3% pa, perhaps doubling economies in the next thirty years. Whilst some countries, like the UK, have managed to achieve growth, whilst reducing emissions, this is partly as a result of a shift away from manufacturing to service industries thus, effectively, exporting their emissions to other countries. Globally therefore the graph of increasing emissions follows very closely the graph of economic growth and there remains little evidence that the two can be “decoupled” any time soon. Consequently many are now promoting ways to reduce or even reverse growth or to disregard it altogether in favour of more human and nature-based measures of Wellbeing.

Carbon financials – there are a plethora of money led incentives and penalties designed to decarbonise our economies, from carbon trading to taxation. One that is gaining favour is known as “Carbon Fee & Dividend” which imposes a tax at the point of production or import of fossil fuels which is then distributed to the population of the country consuming the fuel as a dividend on a per capita basis. The tax will add to the cost of the fuel in the consumer’s hand and so consumers who use the least will gain the most when they receive their share of the dividend and the highest users will suffer the most in a net cost.

Further reading and watching to get you in the mood:

Dr. Hugh Hunt & Professor Kevin Anderson discussing Climate Change realities at COP21 Paris (30 minute video)
An entertaining and easy to follow chat in December 2015, by a couple of scientists following the COP picking out on the key points above.

John Kerry: US climate envoy criticised for optimism on clean tech
Reaction to the interview with Andrew Marr and the quote “I’m told by scientists that 50% of the reductions we have to make (to get to near zero emissions) by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies we don’t yet have.”

Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap
Three scientists speaking out against the increasing reliance on Net Zero.

In defence of net zero
The editor of Business Green responding to the doubts over Net Zero

Sir David Attenborough Presents: Breaking Boundaries (10 min video)
Discussing the potential for humanity to destabilise planetary systems.

No new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050, says world energy body
A Guardian article on the recent International Energy Agency Report on the 2050 Net Zero roadmap for the energy sector.

Why Wildlife Wardens?

In December 2020 I signed up to become a wildlife warden for my parish, writes Emily Marbaix. It’s a scheme run by ACT aiming to help local wildlife survive and thrive. There’s a strong connection between wildlife loss and climate breakdown. They are both outcomes of our exploitation of the natural world and insatiable demand for more stuff.

Wildlife wardens on a training day in October 2020

Scientists often think of the natural world as a web of interconnected species, habitats and resources. Take one away and the rest become less stable. Take away lots and it’s like a Jenga tower teetering on the edge of collapse. Our natural ecosystems are now reaching this point and it’s for this reason that grassroots movements are springing up all over the place, attempting to protect what they can in their local areas. This is exactly what ACT and its wildlife wardens are attempting to do – help to look after their local area, and encourage others to do the same. 

So how and why did I get involved? Well, I went to university to study science and the media in the hope that I could tie together my love of the natural world with my passion for communication and performing. Back then, I had hopes of being the next Attenborough (hey – it doesn’t hurt to dream big!) However, with £20,000 of student loans hanging over my head and a desire to get on the property ladder, I turned instead to the corporate world and pursuit of the almighty pound after a brief stint in teaching. 

Fast forward 16 years and I’m in a more financially stable position, with my son at school and more time on my hands. So when I saw the advert on Facebook inviting people to apply to be wildlife wardens, I thought it was a great scheme to get involved with. I did some basic training via Zoom and started to think about what I could do that might make a difference in Abbotskerswell – the parish I’m attached to. 

We don’t have many publicly owned green spaces in Abbotskerswell, and our local tree warden, Amy, has already assessed these and initiated the planting of a community orchard, which I was thrilled to help with back in 2019. I’ve met with the Parish Council and agreed to help with an update to our biodiversity audit which will include some recommendations/actions with regard to how we can improve these areas for our local wildlife. But the spaces are small and as such are likely to have limited impact as far as mitigating climate change and species loss goes.

I therefore see my position as more of a communication based one. I want to encourage our local community to do more wildlife gardening and engage with conservation efforts in any way they can. This might involve simply signing a petition that will help to give greater protection to threatened species, or taking part in a citizen science project. There are things that we can all do, however big or small, and I see my role as an opportunity to help give people ideas.

I started off by writing a piece for the local parish magazine, which included a poem that outlined lots of different things villagers could do in their own gardens to support wildlife. But then I started to think bigger. What about a podcast? I’d always had a passion for performing and had hosted a radio show at university and loved it – so I decided to start “The Devon Wildlife Warden” podcast. In doing this, I could still create something relevant to our parish, but with the added bonus that it might also reach people from other areas – after all, we want the initiative to spread – and it already is, with people from other districts getting in touch and asking if they can get involved, too – great! 

Whether it’s challenging planning applications, enriching public spaces, helping with ecology fieldwork or simply putting a small dish of water out for thirsty bugs or mowing our lawns less often, we all can, and should do something big or small to help keep the Jenga tower from toppling.

Get in touch if you live in Teignbridge and would like to get involved with the ACT Wildlife Warden Scheme – it is in particular need of wardens for the Dartmoor side of the borough, but there is space for anyone and everyone in the area who would like to help. Visit the website or contact the scheme coordinator flavio@actionclimateteignbridge.org.

* ACT’s Wildlife Warden scheme would not be possible without the generous assistance of: Devon Environment Foundation; Teign Energy Communities’ Community Fund; Cllr Jackie Hook’s DCC Locality Fund; Dartmoor National Park Authority’ the Nineveh Trust; anonymous donors. Many thanks to all.

Wildlife Warden April Newsletter

A lot has happened this month, as we have finally been able to get outside and meet up in small groups, which has been really nice. It is not only us that have been busy; I have two nest boxes in my garden that are being used by house sparrows, with parents going back and forth constantly, and I am very excited to see them fledge over the next couple of weeks!

Aquatic invertebrate identification training
I was fortunate to attend one of these training sessions, which were led by the very knowledgeable Dave and Sue Smallshire. It is always a bonus when you see lots of wildlife you weren’t expecting to see. On the way to the training site, we had to walk around Stover Country Park’s main pond and were greeted by a kingfisher, and a basking terrapin! The water was very clear (because of the lack of rain), giving us a rare view into the underwater world. A couple of pikes were lurking in the shallows and lots of swan mussels could be seen. The invertebrates also didn’t disappoint. My favourite was a caddisfly larva, encased in a fascinating portable shelter, made from silk threads and pond debris.

Thank you, Dave and Sue, for running these sessions. I know I learnt a lot! Also, many thanks to Stover Country Park for providing the kit and allowing us to use the site.

Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group
The Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) provide training  in reptile and amphibian surveys. They also organise surveys and are involved in habitat management. Follow this link if you would like to sign up to DRAG or find out more about them. I recently helped Rob (the chair of DRAG) to put out reptile survey mats and was lucky enough to see a couple of common lizards basking in the sun!

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