Terror, climate chaos, financial crisis are the costs of ‘doing business’

Unfortunately, Portugal, like the UK, is still pursuing a fossil fuel future, despite agreeing to the COP21 Paris agreement.  The Portuguese government has even granted oil and gas producers licenses to drill, onshore and offshore the Algarve.  Even though the area is part of Natura2000, is dependent of fishing, agriculture and tourism.  Even with a (so-called) Socialist coalition government, it looks like drilling will go ahead.  Instead of investing in energy efficiency and renewables!  Though there are groups such as the Algarve Surfers and Marine Activities Association (ASMAA), fighting these proposals.

The techno-narcissism of predatory neoliberal capitalism is locked into an endless war with the bastard monster of its own creation – Islamic State

Source: Terror, climate chaos, financial crisis are the costs of ‘doing business’

Total fined for North Sea gas leak

I have just seen an article about an incident, which could have been the North Seas’ Deepwater Horizon, but for favourable winds. The article in the Guardian does mention petroleum condensate causing damage to marine life: Total fined 1m North Sea gas leak. But the official press release from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) does not mention any environmental impacts of the release: Total ep UK ltd., received record fine following largest ever North Sea gas release. There was another incident reported earlier this year: Shell fined. This is how the incident was reported in the Guardian, which includes other failures by Shell: Shell North Sea oil leak. Another major incident in a mature oil and gas field, by a major oil and gas company. There a numerous incidents that occur in the oil & gas fields, that the public never hear about: HSE offshore statistics. So how can any politician allow oil and gas production in environmentally sensitive areas or even unconventional sources, with a clear concisions?

Stranded carbon assests

Even before the COP21 Paris event, some UK investors were calling on companies and local authorities to divest from fossil fuel companies.  With groups such as Go fossil free and Friends of the Earth (FOE) pushing the message to divest.

Also with organisations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calling for most of the remaining fossil fuels to remain in the ground in their latest report IPCC 5th report.  And Carbon Tracker’s report on Stranded assets danger zone, as well as others.  The UK Government has increased subsidies for fossil fuels and pushing ahead with ‘fracking’.

The Government states it needs ‘fracking’ to ensure security of supply.  But has shut down the last deep coal mine, in favour of imported coal?  It is also heavily reliant on imported biomass, for incineration and co-firing?  And new nuclear will be dependant on imported uranium imports?

Reforming harmful fossil fuel subsidies

We constantly hear from our politicians, mass media and climate change denialists, that renewables are heavily subsidised.  When the truth is exactly the opposite, with fossil fuels and nuclear being heavily subsidised at the expense of the tax-payer and energy customer.

Source: Reforming harmful fossil fuel subsidies

Recovering the early economic programmes of Die Grünen

The UK’s Sustainable Development Commission (disbanded by the present Conservative Government) produced a report called Prosperity without Growth in 2009.  I do not know, if they used any of the material from the earlier Die Grünen economic programmes (link below) from the eighties?  But it is a pity that the German Green Party, that recognised that continued growth, could not continue, broke up.  And that we just seem to be recycling old ideas, without them materialising into actions.

Back in 2011, at the UK’s Green Party conference in Cardiff.  At a fringe meeting, Equality without Growth, the author of the Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson.  Spoke about the need for the Green Party to show real leadership, by pushing forward an agenda for Degrowth.  Something that was needed as the Global North was suffering from the financial melt-down.  Unfortunately, the UK’s Green Party promotes the continued pursuit of economic growth!

Source: Recovering the early economic programmes of Die Grünen

Creative Self-Destruction and the Climate

One of the reason, I have no time for the Green Party, The Guardian, Jonathon Porritt, George Monbiot, Natalie Bennett and the like. Is that, they continue to believe we can continue consuming the World’s resources, but somehow in a different way!  Whilst we only have the one planet, with its finite resources?

jpratt27

In his 2006 landmark report on how we should respond to the climate crisis, Nicholas Stern characterised global warming as an ‘externality’, a damage to others due to market activity whose cost is not met by those who cause it.
Indeed, Stern characterised climate change as ‘the largest ever market failure’. In other words, the problem of global warming arises because the market system is not working well enough, and if we could find a way to correct the fault then the problem would be solved.
It was a geophysicist, Brad Werner, who in 2012 argued precisely the opposite case – that we are in this mess not because the market system is not working well enough but because it is working too well. Werner’s startling presentation to the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union was titled ‘Is the Earth F**ked?’ and he posed in public the question climate…

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Austerity is a scam but green growth isn’t the answer either.

There is a Global movement calling for the end of ecocide: https://www.endecocide.org/en/. Something I think Mark Burton is striving for with Steady State Manchester. Manchester City Council, under Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein, have been pushing a policy of build, build and build more. This is offices, retail units, hotels and home-to-buy, when what is needed, is investment in front-line services and council housing. And as Mark points out, there are those, who are supposed to be ‘Green’, also wanting to follow the policy of build, build and more build. Which would would only drive climate change and inequality.
That is why I was to come across the European Trade Union Institute pursuing: Social innovation and equality keys to social ecological transition. At the bottom is a link to a presentation, showing how austerity has driven inequality. One change I would make to the presentation, is slide 5. I would change the box with ‘Inclusive Growth’ in it, to ‘Inclusive Prosperity’.

Steady State Manchester

Yesterday, 3rd December, 2014, The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, made his autumn statement in which he set out the government’s plans on the economy.

He confirmed that a Tory government will continue to cut public spending in the years to come. Indeed it turns out, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. As the Office of Budget Responsibility puts it, the government’s plans mean that

Between 2009-10 and 2019-20, spending on public services, administration and grants by central government is projected to fall from 21.2 per cent to 12.6 per cent of GDP and from £5,650 to £3,880 per head in 2014-15 prices. Around 40 per cent of these cuts would have been delivered during this Parliament, with around 60 per cent to come during the next. The implied squeeze on local authority spending is similarly severe.

http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/December_2014_EFO-web513.pdf

For a sound analysis of where these cuts will fall, see Richard Murphy’s piece, accurately…

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Manchester’s emissions

Manchester City Council recently published their latest State of the City 2013 – 14 report.  Nowadays, the council does not show comparisons between the different wards.  Except for a vague consultation of people’s satisfaction with life and how people from different ethnic backgrounds, from 2010.  Is this because the comparison between different wards, shows that the worst performing wards, are those of the senior councillors, Richard Leese (Crumpsall), Pat Karney (Harpurhey) and Rosa Battle (Bradford) for example.  I have heard a story, that Donna Ludford, the replacement for Jim Battle (ex-Deputy Leader (Ancoats) and now deputy Police Commissioner), has had her friends telling people she is no longer a councillor.  It would appear, she is feeling the pressure from the people of Ancoats who are totally dissatisfied with the performance of Manchester City Council.

My initial interest in the council’s report was in their section on the Environment and Climate Change, pages 148 to 155.  They do admit that the annual objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) have been exceeded.  They try to give the impression that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions have fallen in Manchester since 2005 by 16.1%.  They have in reality fallen by only 10%, having risen from 2,745.2 in  2011, to 2,944.8 in 2012: Manchester’s emissions.  They do not put a link to the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s (DECC), Local Authority Carbon Dioxide emissions which was published 26th June 2014.  Instead, they used outdated information, stating 2012 data would be available in the summer of 2014.  Why did they not delay publication of the more update data was available?  And of course, these emissions are only estimation, and could an under-estimation of the real emissions, especially as emissions due to aviation are not included.

Manchester City Council seem unable to properly account for their on energy usage, therefore are unable to accurately estimate their own emissions.  From what I constantly observe walking around Manchester, is the amount of wasted energy on the part of Manchester City Council.

2013-12-30 23.24.34
Manchester Central Library, at 23:34hrs, when it was shut to the public and no work was being carried out on it.
Manchester Town Hall annexe at 00:55hrs, whilst no work being carried out.
Manchester Town Hall annexe at 00:55hrs, whilst no work being carried out.
Manchester Central Conference Centre at 01:00hrs.
Manchester Central Conference Centre at 01:00hrs.

Manchester suffers from some of the worst health outcomes with residents having a low ‘good’ general health expectation and a low life expectancy.   These are indications that Manchester City Council has failed totally, in addressing major issues that negatively impact on Mancuians.  Despite all their hype, they have failed time and again and Manchester has not been resilient to climate change.

Mapping Climate Communication, new posters July 2014

Dr. Boehnert has produced 3 intersting charts on Climate Change and as stated, they are still a work in progress. The top chart does show how the USA has tried to discredit the science behnd climate change. And more recently how the UK Government scrapped the Sustainable Development Commission: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/ and has made large cuts to the Environment Agency.

EcoLabs

Mapping Climate Communication: Timeline

This series of three posters maps climate communication by means of a timeline, a network visualization and a strategy map. The work illustrates
relationships between climate discourses, prominent actors and major organizations participating in climate communication including science institutions, academic institutions, media organizations, think tanks and government agencies – along with the interests and funders linked to these organizations. Various discourses are mapped including climate science; counter-movements (contrarianism); ecological modernization, neoliberalism and corporate capture; and social movements (climate justice). The timeline visualizes the historical processes that have lead to the growth of various ways of communicating climate change. The network visualization illustrates relationships between actors and prominent discourses. The strategy map displays methods used within four discursive realms.

The posters are still work in process. They will be presented at the ‘Changing Climate Communication’ conference in July 2014. Feedback from this presentation will inform a final stage of the visualizations, to…

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Manchester: A Certain Future AGM 16:00 hrs. 10th June 2014.

 

The AGM (annual general meeting) was held at Manchester Town Hall, in the Great Hall. Tea or coffee was laid on, and there were some hand-outs available at the sign-in desk, including the Manchester: A Certain Future (MACF), Annual Report 2014. The attendees were predominately, affluent white middle-class, as usual. The AGM was late staring, being close to 17:00 hrs.
The Chair was Victoria Gill, a science reporter for the BBC. She mentioned she came from Wigan, and that somehow connected her to Manchester? She also stated she was in Manchester shopping when the 1996 bomb went off (an incident, I do not believe was properly investigated and there are many unanswered questions about it?)! Then went on to say how Manchester had improved since the bomb. Something you hear mostly from non-Mancunians, and not from Mancunians, who have not seen any real improvements, but did want the Arndale, to go completely. She firstly introduced Richard Leese, leader of the totally Labour controlled, Manchester City Council. Who stated there was an urgency, of the need to act? So  why has he not acted in a determined way to tackle climate change? Joked that it had taken 5 years for the first MACF, AGM (brushing off his abject failure as a joke, is quite childish) and then went on to claim Manchester’s climate literacy programme was the first in the World (I believe Cornwall had one before Manchester). He admitted not enough had been done but the Council will be renewing the City Strategy.
The Key note address was from Tony Juniper, who emphasised that climate change was not a distant peril, it is happening right now. Talked about some weather related incidents in the UK, including the dry spell in 2011. When Thames Water were on the verge on declaring a water emergency, with regards to London’s water supply. That we need to limit Global warming to 2OC, so we needed to be making the cuts to CO2 emissions now. There was a need to peak emissions by 2020, but they had actually risen 50% since 1992. Mentioned the Palaeocene Era, where emissions were at 415 ppm and sea levels were 40 metres higher than they are now. This is the future we are looking at, with most Cities in the UK being under water. That our carbon budget for the 21st has nearly been used up already. That the World Bank, a renowned environmentally aware group, publishing the HEAT report. And Christine Lagarde (International Monetary Fund) on the negative economic impacts of climate change. And yet the UK Government down playing renewables, whilst pushing for and subsidising unconventional fossil fuels, for short-term economic growth (will it even bring any economic benefits?).
He then went on to say that Cities had a role to play. And some had shown real leadership, like London with their congestion charge and policies on local government buildings. Spoke about Oslo’s initiative to reduce their street light energy use by 70%. San Francisco’s zero emissions vehicles and increased cycling, with similar schemes operating in Boston, despite State and Federal legislations. Bristol with their organic waste recycling. Some cities which have improved their green infrastructures (unlike Manchester, which has decimated some of its green infrastructure), have seen a 5OC reduction within the cities (reduced the heat island effect). That green infrastructure improved house prices, reduced crime (some of the issues Manchester campaigners (Friends of Birley Fields and Alexandra Park) have used in support of the campaigns against the council actions) and sustainable drainage.  Mentioned many other Cities but no mention of Manchester. Pointing out that Cities were doing it and proving it works, that other people would follow their example, “Leading by Example”.  If we cannot get it done at city level, it will not happen at all. He stated, ‘Manchester should show leadership, he was sure it can’.
Gavin Elliot, chair of MACF, was up next to speak. He stated MACF 2010, stated what was needed but was absent of actions. Admitted, he was an architect but was also an environmentalist. That MACF needed an annual report, but lacked funds, especially to employ full-time staff. Mentioned the difficulty of collecting data (something I have experience, when asking the Council for figures for their electricity, gas, water and fuel bills), from the different agencies. That only 1,000 people were classed as carbon literate, it should be more. No data on adaptation, 221,000 households, little take up of green deals. Lack of facilities for cyclists, but gave a figure of 1,500 cycling into the City? Green:Blue infrastructure may not affect carbon emissions, but there are mental health benefits.
Manchester will not meet the 41% CO2 emissions reduction, blamed it on part on Central Government? There was a need to scale-up activity, (I would ask, what activity?). The new MACF Steering Group was making some headway, compared to the previously. The need to develop a SMART (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; Timely.) MACF plan for 2015 – 2020.
Question and Answer session.
I missed the introduction of the panel (a name plate in front of each panellist would have been a help) and maybe the first question, which I believe was on biodiversity.
An admission air quality was impacted on by transport, which had a detrimental effect on health. Car use and the use of air quality indicators.
Mark Burton –‘How can we change our economy to reduce CO2 emissions, de-coupling CO2 emissions difficult – we need employment and prosperity.
Tony Juniper, mentioned Tim Jackson and ‘Prosperity without Growth’. (A must read for Manchester City Councillors and officials). Someone mentioned, getting beyond those in the room.
Coleman stated, ‘we are in the early stages’???
A member of the audience, mentioned that work should be closer to where people live, reduce the need to travel.
Kate Chappell, replied that the council was reviewing policy with regards to district centres (I suggest she tries living in Wythenshawe, for example, where the district centre is the forum, miles away for most).
A member of Calder Energy Future – ‘should we work together, how can we achieve anything’? To which Sadler, a council official, boasted, Manchester was a City of Firsts. (Yes, in poverty, deprivation and early mortality rates).
A Rusholme resident, stated how they were planting trees, how we had some good councillors (this was a Q&A session, not a Council jamboree?).
Tony Juniper, ‘we need a reconnection with nature, there was a need to restore natural green spaces in Cities’. (Manchester City Council have destroyed green spaces in the City, Piccadilly Gardens, Sackville Street Gardens, Birley Fields, Platt Fields, Heaton Park and especially Alexandra Park).
A councillor from Charleston mentioned heat pumps and that it was a new technology (It is not a new technology, but I believe the use of heat pumps using air source, inappropriate for the UK. Ground-source heat pumps using deeply laid pipework more appropriate). And was quick to point out, that Gavin was wrong and that, Northward Homes had 1,036 homes fitted with solar panels. To which Gavin apologised (was not the publication the councillor referred to, using data supplied by the council?), and said there were examples from other cities and countries. That MACF was a growing network.
Kate Moss, from the Community Energy Group asked how they were planning to work with these other groups and why are they not in the plan?
Cycling – funding for cycling?
Vicky (Sustrains) mentioned, they had not got the community engagement right. There is a bad attitude towards cyclists by motorists (I would say, towards pedestrians, as well), which needs to change.
At the end, wine and juice was laid on, which I gave a miss. I did want to speak to the person from Calder Energy Future, to tell him if he wanted any practical advice. He might be better off talking to Woking Council, Nottingham City Council or Bristol City Council. But he had made a bee-line to Richard Leese, so I left him to it.
My Conclusions
I felt we had some straight talking from Tony Juniper and some real honesty from Gavin Elliot. I felt that the Council, once again, were trying ‘big themselves up’, and towards the end, it started become more a council love-in. This is despite the fact, the council has failed dismally to live up to their boasts. Despite Richard Leese boasts, the only economic growth in Manchester, are drugs and prostitution. As long as the council leadership, Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein, fail to admit there is a problem, take ownership of the problem, the problem will not be resolved. In other words, if they continue with their failed policies and blame everyone else, for their failures, things in Manchester will only get worse. When will the other councillors not realise, they are Sheep being led to their slaughter by a Judas Goat? When will any of them, show true leadership?
The report itself, needs further study, as it appears to be economical with the truth. I am not sure the emissions attributed to Transport, also include emissions from aviation, which will be considerable. Someone showed it too (she is not a green), scoffed at the 50%+ given for the area of Manchester covered in green infrastructure. She also mentioned that they must have wasted a fortune in printing out the report and the other literature available at the event.