Local teenager on a mission to COP26

Newton Abbot resident Jessie Stevens is heading to Glasgow for the COP26 summit in November, and plans to pedal the whole 570 miles! She will be cycling under the banner of the People Pedal Power mission she has created. This aims to inspire people (particularly young people) to join her on her journey and deliver a message to the climate conference on the need for urgent action on green transport infrastructure, and much else.

Jessie, 16, is a climate activist determined to make the voice of youth heard at COP26. Such events have long been dominated by adults, she says, many of whom may not live to see the worst effects of the climate crisis. “The youth are rarely a part of these talks despite the impacts of climate and ecological breakdown impacting them the most.”

After looking at her travel options, Jessie found the easiest, cheapest, but most polluting way to get to Glasgow would be by car or plane. Taking the (less polluting) train looked complicated and expensive. She decided she would like to travel under her own power and resolved to cycle, and make as much noise as possible along the way.

“To me, cycling is a very community orientated mode of travel. This perfectly fitted my visions of #ride2COP26 as it gives space for many individuals to join the ride, gathering force and power,” she says.

Jessie will be supported on her trip by Adventure Syndicate, a collective of women endurance cyclists, who will accompany her on a cargo bike, carrying everything she needs.

“The cargo bike will not only provide physical support, but will also tangibly represent one of the viable solutions to developing a more sustainable transport system,” says Jessie. “After all, this journey is not just about highlighting what is wrong, but also about demonstrating solutions.”

Adventure Syndicate will also co-produce a film documenting the journey and the stories of those involved and the people Jessie meets along the way.

Jessie will set off on 20th October, covering between 50-70 miles a day, and invites people to join her for a few miles to highlight people power—both in terms of active travel and political voice.

To find out more visit:

https://httpspeoplepeddlepower.wordpress.com/

or email people.pedal.power@gmail.com

Government releases its Hydrogen Strategy

Number 2 of the Government’s 10 Point Plan:

“Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade”

On 17 August 2021 the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released its Hydrogen Strategy announcing, in the press release:

  • A ‘twin track’ approach to supporting multiple technologies including ‘green’ electrolytic and ‘blue’ carbon capture-enabled hydrogen production.
  • A UK hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion by 2050
  • Hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising polluting, energy-intensive industries like chemicals, oil refineries, power and heavy transport like shipping, HGV lorries and trains
  • By 2050 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption could be hydrogen-based.
  • A consultation to be launched, based on offshore wind, to look at ways to overcome the cost gap between low carbon hydrogen and fossil fuels, plus a consultation on a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, to support the commercial deployment of new low carbon hydrogen production plants.
  • Working with industry to assess the safety, technical feasibility, and cost effectiveness of mixing 20% hydrogen into the existing gas supply.
  • £105 million in UK government funding provided to support polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions

In the original press release, and elsewhere, it was mentioned that 3 million homes would be powered by hydrogen by 2030 but BEIS have now amended the press release and confirmed that this was an equivalent illustration and that hydrogen will predominantly be used in heavy industry.

As stated in the strategy, with currently almost no low carbon production of hydrogen in the UK or globally, meeting the 2030 target will require rapid and significant scale up over coming years. It then describes where Hydrogen comes from:

“There are almost no abundant natural sources of pure hydrogen, which means that it has to be manufactured. The most common production route is steam methane reformation (SMR), where natural gas is reacted with steam to form hydrogen. This is a carbon-intensive process, but one which can be made low carbon through the addition of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) – to produce a gas often called ‘blue hydrogen’. Hydrogen can also be produced through electrolysis, where electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – gas from this process is often referred to as ‘green hydrogen’ or zero carbon hydrogen when the electricity comes from renewable sources. Today most hydrogen produced and used in the UK and globally is high carbon, coming from fossil fuels with no carbon capture; less than 1% can be called low carbon. For hydrogen to play a part in our journey to net zero, all current and future production will need to be low carbon.”

So in following its “twin track” approach the government assumes that blue hydrogen will initially start the strategy going with green hydrogen becoming more abundant (and cheap) in later decades. Without specifying proportions however, it seems that in both mix and, as shown below, use, the government is relying on the market to find the best combination.

Some key points:

Here is a graph from the report showing the estimated hydrogen demand in various sectors, in Terawatt Hours (TWh) (one Trillion Kilowatt hours), in 2030 & 2035.

Note in particular the 0-45 estimate for heating, this reflects the uncertainty about the lesser priority of hydrogen for domestic use and the availability today of alternatives, eg Heat Pumps. To put this into perspective the anticipated <1 TWh in 2030 and up to 45 TWh in 2035 represents about 0.2% and 10% respectively of the UK’s current energy demand for space and water heating.

It’s likely therefore that, as mentioned in the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) balanced pathway to Net Zero, hydrogen may play a part in heating where the housing is near to the hydrogen production and electrification is not possible or where there is stored hydrogen created from surplus renewable energy.

Unless using this stored hydrogen however, it makes little sense to use green hydrogen for heating when the renewable energy used to create it would be better used to provide the heating directly and so save the wasted energy from conversion.

It’s often quoted that “the only waste from using hydrogen is water”.  This is true when hydrogen is used in “fuel cells”, where a chemical reaction takes place, or where hydrogen is burned in pure oxygen but it is not true when, as would be the case with heating, it is burned in air. Air’s main constituent is Nitrogen and burning hydrogen in it produces other pollutants, known as NOx. The strategy considers these and how industry must ensure they are kept within emission limits, opponents however consider that, along with the infrastructure changes needed, it’s unacceptable to plan for any such emissions.

As explained in an Annex, with an established battery electric vehicle industry now well established, cars and vans do not feature in transport assumptions, leaving the use of hydrogen for haulage, busses, rail, shipping and aviation however, given the rapid development in battery technology, the annex casts doubt over the likelihood of the first three. Consequently, as mentioned above, it seems the government will wait and see what the markets come up with.

In 2050 the strategy estimates somewhere between 20% to 35% of the UK’s total energy demand being provided by hydrogen.  In the CCC’s 6th Carbon Budget report last year, its balanced pathway relied upon a maximum of about 20%. Until the government releases its own energy pathway it’s not possible to reconcile the two.

As blue hydrogen relies on a supply of natural gas there’s suspicion outside government over its promotion as an energy source by the fossil fuel industry and studies, including this one in the USA, indicate that current production methods, including carbon capture and storage, result in significant CO2 and Methane (CH4) emissions, both in the extraction of the gas in the first place and then leakage in the capture and storage processes. 

This view was reinforced by reports that Chris Jackson, the chair of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association resigned in advance of the government’s strategy saying he could no longer lead an industry association that included oil companies backing blue hydrogen projects, because the schemes were “not sustainable” and “make no sense at all”.

As mentioned above, in its twin track approach, the government sees blue hydrogen as useful in creating a path to green hydrogen but, with BEIS talking about up to 15 year contracts, concern has been voiced among climate groups that over-reliance on blue could lock the UK into decades of North Sea gas production, fossil-fuel imports and millions of tonnes of carbon emissions. 

ACT’s view is that there will be a place for hydrogen in providing energy where electrification is not possible and in some industrial and chemical processes. With the uncertainties over the impacts of its production however and without scaled-up and effective capture and storage, blue hydrogen is wholly inappropriate as a solution and so efforts are better directed towards immediate reductions in the use of fossil fuels with any hydrogen pathway being primarily towards green hydrogen.

Other relevant links:

ACT’s Technologies to support Net Zero Section 3 Hydrogen

The Telegraph Billions to be funnelled into hydrogen subsidies as UK races to hit net zero

The Guardian Government reveals plans for £4bn hydrogen investment by 2030 

BBC News Hydrogen power offers jobs boost, says government

UKERC Pathway to net zero heating in the UK

The Climate Change Committee Hydrogen in a low-carbon economy

XR Protests at the G7

When you think about an Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist, you probably don’t think of someone like me, writes Amanda Cole. A 68 year old grandmother, with a 44 year history of NHS work in a responsible and respected position. But I attended the protests at the recent G7 meeting in St Ives and joined hundreds of other people rebelling against the failure of governments to act on the dual climate and ecological emergencies.

100 Penitents carry the sins of the G7 through Cornwall. Photo: Tristian Herbert

A sixth mass extinction of wildlife is already underway. Studies show a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1980, while the world’s natural ecosystems have lost about half their area, all largely due to human action. Climate change is already affecting our weather, bringing more frequent floods and heatwaves. If we don’t allow ecosystems to recover and expand, as well as massively reduce our carbon emissions, it will all get worse. Other parts of the world with more vulnerable communities are suffering these effects more acutely than Britain is right now. 

Attending the XR events at the G7, a meeting of the Group of Seven richest nations, was a great experience in many ways. The protests were creative, inspiring, sometimes sombre, and sometimes fun. There was lots of media coverage; it was great to engage with the public and the police. The reception in my experience was pretty much 100% friendly. There was one woman muttering at a bus stop, but I didn’t catch what she said. There were no Rebel arrests. But of course we were securely separated from the official goings-on in Carbis Bay, so I’m not sure how much we were listened to. The government resolution to pledge a £500m Blue Planet Fund for marine conservation had already been announced last year. About US$2bn is to be provided to help countries worldwide to phase out coal-fired power generation. This may not even be new money. The summit failed to set us up for a successful COP26, the UN climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November, as trust is sorely lacking between rich and developing countries. Overall, these outcomes were more than disappointing. 

So yes, you are right; I am not a typical Rebel. Extinction Rebellion members do come from a particular demographic in the main. But with the richest nations in the world failing to provide leadership and finance to tackle the climate crisis, it falls to each and every one of us to make the changes we feel able to make.

People sometimes think individuals cannot make a difference, but that is wrong. Look at how the British public responded to the challenges the pandemic brought. We were far more responsive and able to change than the government, and even the scientists predicted. And there is some evidence that if you feel good about making a little change, you will go on to make another. What is vital is to choose something you want to do, and are able to do. I would never ask my beef farmer friend to give up meat or suggest my friends on benefits buy expensive eco-products. But we can all start reusing plastic, sorting our recycled waste, and picking up litter, for example. We can all do something. 

I was heartened at the end of the visit to St Ives to hear the speaker at the closing ceremony for the XR events say: “Some people say we’re preaching to the converted in XR. Well let’s make it our pledge before COP26 to talk to people outside this group. Ask what they think. Find out what makes them sceptical or hesitant. See if you can help.” 

So that’s what I’m doing. Let’s all take some climate action today and build towards a happier and healthier future.

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.

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.

I thought my diesel car would have to go

More than seven in 10 people in the UK are concerned about climate change, surveys show. Nearly half think it is caused mainly or entirely by human activity. This is good news: if enough people are convinced by the scientific evidence that we are the cause of the problem, there is hope that we can be the solution too.

The question is, can we wait around for the government, or industry, or someone else, to take responsibility and action? Tackling climate change feels like too large a task for individuals but I have come round to the view that what we do both individually and collectively is crucial. 

Making changes to the way we live is a challenge, of course, and it is easy to make assumptions about what will make the most difference. In my case, I thought driving was my biggest carbon emissions problem. You see I love driving – it’s always been my escape route from life’s troubles. I can just jump into my car and go somewhere – anywhere. 

When I realised a couple of years ago what a mess we’re making of our environment I became almost embarrassed to drive my old diesel car. I thought it would make my carbon footprint really high. So I tried out both electric and hybrid cars – in fact my husband really wanted one. But however much I tried I really struggled with them. They were automatic, and it felt as if the car was in control rather than me doing the driving. So I decided the car would have to go. 

Then some friends suggested I use a carbon footprint tracker to find out how I was spending my carbon budget. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my car made a relatively small contribution to my footprint, due to the low mileage I now do. I try to walk most places, usually with my dog – everyone where I live knows me by my dog!

My highest emissions turned out to come from stuff, which is almost more embarrassing than my car being my biggest problem! The damage my spending on DIY projects, outdoor clothing, gadgets, etc, does to my bank balance is bad enough. The fact that it’s also damaging the planet is double trouble. I now pay much more attention to where my stuff is produced, and  make a conscious effort to buy local, even if it means I don’t receive it the next day. 

At least I now know how I am spending my carbon budget, and more importantly, what actions I can take to reduce it.

I was so close to selling my car and making the massive mistake of thinking I was now clean and green. And I could have carried on accumulating more stuff without a thought to the real cost to the environment of each new purchase. 

So my advice to all my friends is, if you want to make changes, just check they are the ones that will really make a difference to your impact on our planet. 

Let’s make 2021 the year of climate action!

Are you interested in retrofit?

In 2019 nearly 70% of Teignbridge’s existing housing stock had an EPC rating D and below.  Despite the significant increase in new build, this % has changed little in the past 10 years and, in the last 2 years, has actually increased.

Green-House Gas (GHG) emissions from heating our buildings are significant with Teignbridge’s domestic emissions in 2018 accounted for approximately 25% of all its emissions, most of this from heating.

In order to to reach the UK’s Paris targets we can reduce emissions by retrofitting properties to:

  • decarbonise heating energy, by using low-carbon fuel sources (eg Biomass & Hydrogen) or switch to electric heating (eg. Heat Pumps) and using low-carbon electricity generation.
  • reduce the heating energy demanded by eliminating waste and minimising heat loss (ie with better insulation).

Homeowners invest significantly in home-improvements, especially in the able-to-pay sector, however this sector tends to have the highest GHG emissions, primarily because energy pricing is still low relative to incomes in that sector.

Whilst Climate Change is accepted as a serious threat by the majority of the population, including the able-to-pay-sector, it is still the case that, in general, they do not act to address their contribution to Climate Change.

Those who do act are faced with a plethora of solutions, deals and government incentives.  More often than not, many are either disappointed that their emissions and running costs have not reduced significantly or they do not measure the GHG emission reduction to find out.  One of the most common concerns is ‘can I trust the salesperson?’ followed by ‘will the builder do a good job?’.

To address this, ACT is considering an initiative, initially targeted at the able-to-pay, to identify local commercial organisations with the expertise and quality of work, backed by relevant industry standards, to deliver bespoke whole house retrofit solutions.

By identifying suitable customers, designers, architects, builders and material suppliers we hope to demonstrate that a sufficient market can be stimulated to become self-sustaining.  This will of course represent a small percentage of the retrofit needed, but it could be a model to deliver more ambitious initiatives such as in the Carbon Coop model. 

Teignbridge District Council does not currently have plans, or resources, to formally address this and Housing Associations will develop their own specific supply-chain solutions.

Teignbridge has a large number of older, poorly insulated, rural properties.  Increasingly these properties are owned by those wanting to undertake significant improvements and having the budgets to do so.  Normally a piecemeal approach, based on little (if any) measurements or holistic assessment, results in costly retrofits and inappropriate heating solutions.

As an impartial community-based organisation ACT is ideally placed to bring the different parties together under a replicable scheme of effective retrofits, helping to develop a template scheme for both homeowners and service providers.

The initial model proposed is that adopted by the Carbon Coop, based around an assessment/design phase and using suitably experienced local builders/crafts people.

To get the scheme started, ACT would need someone to either volunteer or be paid (grant funding may be available) to identify suitable providers and customers and liaise with similar groups to discover their approach and put a proposal together on how it could work in Teignbridge.

Ideally, we should also find a customer with a retrofit project willing to work with ACT’s Built Environment & Energy group to pilot some of the approaches already well understood.  Trialling each of the elements of the scheme to identify an appropriate supply chain should help identify problems that may occur.  Several such projects are likely to be needed before a Teignbridge-specific model is developed.

Are you interested? If so, drop us an email with your details.

Extracted from a paper written by Fuad Al-Tawil

Could you be a parish Wildlife Warden?

The ACT Ecology Group is looking for parish-based, volunteer Wildlife Wardens, writes Audrey Compton. They are needed to help support, protect and increase our district’s wildlife and improve its chances of surviving the ecological and climate emergencies we face. Wildlife Wardens need to love wildlife but don’t need specialist knowledge, we will provide training.

Having Wildlife Wardens will help our communities become more involved in the natural world, enhancing their physical health and giving them more joy and happiness.

Our aim is for all 54 Teignbridge parishes and Newton Abbot wards to have one or two Wildlife Wardens by the end of 2021. As our training capacity increases, we will recruit up to 5 wardens for each Parish.

Who can be a Wildlife Warden and what will they do?

Anyone who is interested in or knowledgeable about wildlife/ecology can become a Warden. You will:

  • Commit to giving your parish’s wildlife several hours of your time a month.
  • Look out for opportunities to protect, help and increase the wildlife in your parish.
  • Carry out practical work in your parish that will benefit wildlife.
  • Either work in a team or possibly train to lead local volunteers on practical tasks (or you could call in specialists from ACT Ecology Group).
  • Send ACT and your parish council a brief, monthly account of what you have been doing, so we can all share successes and difficulties.

Wildlife Wardens in neighbouring parishes could work together on joint projects. Wardens with special skills and knowledge might also help train other Wardens.

Unfortunately, we don’t have funds to pay for Wardens’ expenses. However, Wardens who are ACT members will be covered by our insurance.

Some of our existing parish wildlife groups will be Wildlife Wardens, organising work and sharing expertise. If there isn’t a local group, Wildlife Wardens can work together – and maybe even start a group.

Project areas:
A. Surveying and helping to improve and connect habitats.
B. Promoting organic wildlife gardening
C. Monitoring building and development within the parish and alerting ACT of any wildlife damage.

The Ecology Group hopes to provide free training in these areas:

  • Identification of all types of wildlife
  • Habitat management and connectivity: hedges, woodlands, meadows, verges, ponds
  • Farming and wildlife
  • Writing risk assessments – and working with them!
  • Wildlife gardening
  • Creating pesticide-free zones
  • Carrying out desktop surveys
  • Monitoring planning applications and developments.

We will stay in close contact with the Council’s Green Spaces Team, and collaborate wherever we can, but we are aware their resources are limited. We have support from Teignbridge District Council, RSPB, the Woodland Trust and Devon Biodiversity Record Centre.

We have been granted funding by Teign Energy Communities, Councillor Jackie Hook’s DCC Locality Fund and Dartmoor National Park Authority, and extend our thanks to them for this vital help. Among other things it has enabled us to appoint a coordinator for a few hours a week, who will ensure good communication and record keeping.

If you are interested in becoming a parish Wildlife Warden, please get in touch with our coordinator, Flavio Winkler Ford: flavio@actionclimateteignbridge.org

Why carbon intensity apps are greenwash

There is an app for almost everything. One that recently drew my attention is a carbon intensity app, which at first sight looks really helpful in alerting you to when you can put washing on or charge up batteries while the electricity grid in your area has low carbon emissions.

Renewable energy is not yet stored in sufficient quantity so needs to be used when it’s available. Carbon intensity apps tell you when output from renewable sources of electricity is high and the carbon intensity of the grid is therefore low. 

What’s not to like? Well, the devil is in the detail, as the saying goes. The claims made for these apps are little more than ‘greenwash’, says ACT energy expert Fuad Al-Tawil. Teign Energy Communities (TECs) has produced a detailed explanation of why this is so.

Essentially, the only sure way to lower grid carbon emissions is to increase the renewable energy that feeds into the grid. Point in time readings from a carbon intensity app are not a reliable indicator of surplus low-carbon electricity being available. If demand for electricity from users of the apps increases when intensity is low and there is no renewable surplus, it will just lead to gas being switched on. A gas-fired power station is currently the easiest type of electricity generator to turn on and off at short notice.

There are additional complicating factors due to the way the national grid operates. The financial settlement system for generating, transporting, distributing and consuming electricity is based on price. There is no accounting for carbon emissions. This can lead to renewable generation being turned off and a gas fired power station being turned on to maintain the balance of the grid, so generation and consumption are matched. 

By all means download a carbon intensity app, but don’t assume you will be increasing the use of renewable energy and thereby reducing the carbon intensity of the electricity you buy. 

The only way to help reduce the carbon intensity of the national electricity supply is to encourage the market to build more renewable generation.  You can do this by buying a 100% green tariff from a provider.  Ideally use one of the few providers that buys directly from renewable generators or generates its own supply. TECs names Good Energy and Ecotricity as two such companies. The more people who use such providers, the greater the demand for renewable energy as part of the energy mix of the grid. 

The 100% ‘green’ tariffs offered by other energy companies will not help so much in this regard as they are achieved by a form of offsetting using tradable certificates called REGOs (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin). Despite the name, they will not be adding new renewable generation to the grid, simply offsetting against existing renewable generation.  This will not reduce the carbon intensity of the grid. The TECs paper explains this in more detail.

Of course, the most reliable way to reduce emissions from electricity generation is to lower your usage. Use the carbon calculator to work out your carbon footprint then consider what changes you can make to reduce it. Generating your own renewable energy also helps, as does buying from Good Energy or Ecotricity. Sadly, timing your energy consumption to coincide with low carbon intensity periods via an app will not help and could even increase carbon emissions.