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?
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?
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.
Despite all the evidence, that shows our continuing burning of fossil-fuels and biomass, is leading towards catastrophic climate change. The fossil-fuel industry continues with its quest to extract the remaining fossil-fuels. This is despite the fact we passed the point of Peak Oil some time ago. These industries like BP, pulled out of any alternative investments, such as for renewable energy and now find themselves locked into stranded assets. As do Governments (local and national), insurance companies, pension funds, banks and investment funds.
There have been several reports on the economic impact of climate change, including Climate change slams global economy study. And despite reports that ask the question, will the frackers go bust?
The UK Government is pushing ahead with fracking. An update from Recent fracking research round-up from the UK. They are also pushing ahead with burning bio-mass, despite it being shown to be as bad as coal, especially to human health: Pulp fiction.
And this is all happening, despite the Brundtland Report published in 1987, pointing out:
31. The objective of sustainable development and the integrated nature of the global
environment/development challenges pose problems for institutions, national and
international, that were established on the basis of narrow preoccupations and
compartmentalized concerns. Governments’ general response to the speed and scale of global
changes has been a reluctance to recognize sufficiently the need to change themselves. The
challenges are both interdependent and integrated, requiring comprehensive approaches and
Nearly 30 years later, after many different conferences, the Governments of the Global North’s response has not changed. They have refused, steadfastly, to answer the ‘Call to Action’. Even when the report stated:
32. Little time is available for corrective action. In some cases we may already be close to
transgressing critical thresholds. While scientists continue to research and debate causes and
effects, in many cases we already know enough to warrant action. This is true locally and
regionally in the cases of such threats as desertification, deforestation, toxic wastes, and
acidification; it is true globally for such threats as climate change, ozone depletion, and species
loss. The risks increase faster than do our abilities to manage them.
And we have Governments like the UK’s, stating we need shale and coal-bed methane gas, as a bridging fuel? Thirty years ago, the report made this observation about fossil fuels:
17. In terms of pollution risks, gas is by far the cleanest fuel, with oil next and coal a poor third.
But they all pose three interrelated atmospheric pollution problems: global warming, urban
industrial air pollution, and acidification of the environment. Some of the wealthier
industrial countries may possess the economic capacity to cope with such threats. Most
developing countries do not.
Is it the sentence; ‘Some of the wealthier industrial countries may possess the economic capacity to cope with such threats’. That makes the Governments of the Global North, continue with ‘business-as-usual’?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Manchester City’s council leader Richard Leese, went to Copenhagen in 2009, waving a piece of paper, ‘Manchester – A Certain Future‘. Supposedly outlining how Manchester would become a green city and reduce its carbon emissions. It has become a worthless piece of paper, just as Neville Chamberlain’s, ‘Peace in our Time‘, was mocked by Hitler. All the while, he has ignored good examples of how this can be achieved, such as in Freiburg, Germany. Who have managed to embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency, without destroying its historic architecture. Is it because the Greens are the largest party in their town council? Unlike Leese in Manchester, who has cleared acres of social/council housing and historic buildings, to build his energy inefficient ivory towers. Woking, Surrey, is about the only UK town or City, that comes anywhere to Freiburg, in renewable energy and efficiencies. But Richard Leese has delusions of grandeur, which are fuelled by his sycophantic colleagues and business people. And instead of looking towards best practice, just blames other councils for not get their act together.
A blog from Barton Moss anti-fracking camp:
The International Energy Agency‘s ‘Redrawing the Energy-Climate map report‘, state there are 4 policies countries should pursue, to prevent a Global 2°C temperature rise. The UK’s Government support and subsidies for ‘fracking’, run counter to what is required:
The policies in the 4-for-2°C Scenario have been selected because they meet key criteria: they can deliver significant reductions in energy-sector emissions by 2020 (as a bridge to further action); they rely only on existing technologies; they have already been adopted and proven in several countries; and, taken together, their widespread adoption would not harm economic growth in any country or region. The four policies are:
Adopting specific energy efficiency measures (49% of the emissions savings).
Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants (21%).
Minimising methane (CH4) emissions from upstream oil and gas production (18%).
Accelerating the (partial) phase-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption (12%).”
This post is by Dr Bruce Tofield, associate consultant at the Adapt Low Carbon Group, University of East Anglia.
In launching Next steps for shale production, energy minister Michael Fallon said that fracking “is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and security”. There is, however, great concern about the damaging local environmental impact of fracking in Britain. Less remarked upon is fossil fuel lock-in, highlighted recently by Rachel Cary. As Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has pointed out “If the UK ever becomes dependent on shale gas, it will never be able to kick the fracking habit.”
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Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, continually argues, Manchester City Council cannot do anything without the other councils within Greater Manchester doing so as well. I attended the Triodos Bank AGM (Annual General Meeting) in Bristol the other month and heard some inspirational stories from people including those from Bristol. The Mayor of Bristol was one of those who spoke about what had been achieved and what they are still trying to achieve. There was an atmosphere of being part of the solution and of success. This feeling of success, came on top of my feeling, things are getting done in Bristol, after my visit for the Triodos Renewables Fund AGM. I had posted earlier about my visit to the AGM: Bristol-and-Wessex-Water. Not the constant complaints why it cannot be done or that it is somebody’s fault, they constantly emanates from Richard Leese. How he can be considered a leader, is beyond me, he is unfit to be in charge of an empty shopping trolley, in an empty car park. The article reinforces the fact, that Bristol is moving forward on being green and sustainable: