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’

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

Burning our way towards the ecocide of the human race

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:

Page 17.

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
popular participation.

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:

Page 35.

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:

Page 147.

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: 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.

Frontline Online: Where should we be looking for waste we can turn to energy? – The Ecologist

Another article which follows on from an earlier reblog I posted on the 12th January:Video: The Dark Side of the Green Economy
Inappropriate biofuel and biomass development can exasperate the pollution, poverty and starvation we already suffer from.  I cringe, every time I hear of a ‘ecohouse’ which has wood burners install as a ‘green’ answer to their space heating.  It is not, especially on our already overcrowded and polluted Island.  The CAT (Centre of Alternative Technology) has a lot to answer for, they have not really moved on since the 70s with regards to alternative technologies.  Wood used to be the main source of energy on these Islands, but it was becoming scarce by the 1700s and the Islands nearly deforested.  This changed with the onset of steam technology which allowed the exploitation of the ancient fossil fuel beneath our feet.  As the Ecologist article mentions, using waste organic waste is a way forward.  I have been pushing AD biogesters to turn organic waste to energy (Methane) which is happening all over the world.  But is still in its infancy in the UK, just as wave and tidal technologies are.  We should be looking at the Best Available Technology (BAT), instead of relying on 18th Century technologies which may be cheaper to build.

Frontline Online: Where should we be looking for waste we can turn to energy? – The Ecologist.

Is biomass really dirtier than coal? – Response from the Initiat

I thought I would post Andrew Llanwarne’s letter in response to iCARBS press release against the FoE, Greenpeace and RSPB report on Biomass: Dirtier than Coal? Any form of incineration produces CO, CO2, NOx and particulates, and is an old technology.  But the UK Government keeps trying to push incineration, biomass and waste, as the answer to our energy problems.  It also does not have the strict regulations, standards and enforcement that the rest of the EU has.  It is time the UK Government rethinks it’s strategy towards renewable energy and adopts a strategy fit for the 21st Century and not it’s 19th Century one.

Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:17 am (PST) . Posted by:

“Andrew Llanwarne” andrew.llanwarne

The Biomass Energy Centre report referred to below challenges the findings in the Dirtier than Coal report, based largely on the practices and pricing structure in the UK timber market, with only a passing reference to overseas markets which would be the primary sources of timber for major UK biomass power stations. There is reference at the end to the “extensive work” of the British Govt with industry and NGOs in ensuring overseas supplies will be sustainable, but there is plenty of evidence elsewhere to show that these standards are not assured by assessors paid by the developers. These sources do not seem to take into account the very poor efficiency standards which push up emissions relative to output when timber is used for electricity generation. Locally based CHP or heat-only is the best way to use biomass for energy, where it can make use of locally-sourced waste materials and surplus timber. This is the Scottish Government’s stated policy, but its proposals for future allocation of ROCs are directly contrary to the policy. Although Scottish Government proposes to limit subsidies for electricity-

only plants to 10MW, there is a loophole for biomass power stations of any capacity with a token heat production such as those proposed by Forth Energy (SSE and Forth Ports joint venture). These Scottish plants will only have to meet the DECC “good quality” efficiency standard of 35%, which is only half the 70% efficiency requirement from the EU for CHP production. A second loophole has been left for converting coal-fired power stations to biomass, in the belief that this will result in reduced emissions. The RSPB report undermines that belief.
The overall plea from ICARB is for more careful analysis and peer review, which is a reasonable request, but decisions are being made now on large-scale biomass for electricity developments across the UK, Europe and elsewhere. These will tie us in to reliance on a massive scale of overseas timber production for at least the next 25 years, dramatically increase demand on world markets and ensure that, even if some companies manage to secure relatively “sustainable” supplies, others will have few scruples over social and environmental standards if their investments are at risk. The EU Biofuels Directive has demonstrated what happens to communities and ecosystems when there is a sudden increase in demand for different commercial crops. Any assessment really has to look at the systemic consequences of UK policies on a global scale. The findings would be unlikely to support the large-scale use of imported biomass to generate electricity. Andrew Andrew Llanwarne
8 Glasclune Way
Broughty Ferry
Dundee DD5 3TJ
Tel: 01382 732457
Mob: 0791 294 5325
E-mail: andyllanwarne@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.ideaction.co.uk
and: http://www.walkingstories.com
Sustainable Solutions….Working with Knowledge….Exploring the FutureTo: localsustuk@yahoogroups.com
From: taliesin@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 17:56:29 +0000
Subject: [localsustuk] Is biomass really dirtier than coal? – Response from the Initiative for Carbon (ICARB)Hi all,

Please see the press release below and please forward to others.

For those of you who don’t know about us I should stress that it’s highly unusual for us to decide to go to the press.

Cheers and thanks,



Is biomass really dirtier than coal?

Contact Prof Susan Roaf / Dr Keith Baker 0788 412 5540 / enquiries@icarb.org

Is biomass really dirtier than coal? This is what is being claimed in a new report by RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth [1].

However the report, called ‘Dirtier Than Coal’, is based largely on a new paper by Tim Searchinger of Princeton University [2] that has yet to be peer-reviewed.

ICARB [3] questions why the authors of the ‘Dirtier Than Coal’ do not appear to have consulted the UK-based experts whose peer-reviewed work is referenced by Searchinger.

The Biomass Energy Centre has issued a critical response to the report [4] and ICARB welcomes further submissions from those named in the reports.

We have previously raised concerns over carbon accounting-based claims for biomass because of a lack of transparency and peer-review. In this case ICARB wants to raise that Searchinger’s understanding of practices specific to the UK has been questioned by at least one of the

authoritative sources he references.

ICARB is not commenting on specific aspects of these reports but we do call for a more balanced coverage of the work.

[1] The report, published by RSPB, Greenpeace (UK), and Friends of the Earth (England, Wales

and Northern Ireland), is available at: http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/biomass_report_tcm9-326672.pdf
[2] https://www.princeton.edu/~tsearchi/writings.html

[3] The Initiative for Carbon Accounting (ICARB) exists to advance the field of carbon accounting to facilitate the reductions in carbon emissions necessary for a sustainable society. We are an independent expert group supported by Heriot-Watt University, Glasgow Caledonian University, the Crichton Carbon Centre, and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, and funded by the Scottish Government. Website: http://www.icarb.org

Revealed: the coal industry’s plan to devastate the climate | Greenpeace International

Despite continuing warnings that we are getting close to a 2 degree global temperature rise, big business is still pushing the construction of old, dirty technology.  In the UK the Government is still pushing through waste and biomass incinerator plants which are also major contributors to CO2 rises.  But, Government and Big Business claim they are carbon neutral, which of course they are not.  There are better technologies to deal with waste and biomass which do not produce large amounts of CO2.  Such as AD biogesters, which have been for years in Europe and South America.
Also, energy efficiency is a subject talk about but little is actively being done about it.  Just wander around a large town or city to see how much energy is needlessly being wasted, mostly on advertisements.

Revealed: the coal industry’s plan to devastate the climate | Greenpeace International.

Why the EU must dare to debate ‘degrowth’ « Feeding the habitesult of crisis in fuel, food and fina

At the UK’s Green Party Spring Conference 2011 in Cardiff, Tim Jackson,Prosperity without Growth’, spoke at a fringe meeting.  He spoke about how the Green Party should take this moment of financial turmoil, t o push the message for change, away from the failed economic models.  He said it would be tough, but telling the public the truth, that there would not be jobs for all, would ultimately bear fruit, for those brave enough to say it, how it is.  The Green Party, under Caroline Lucas, MP., failed to deliver the message for a different economic model.

Why the EU must dare to debate ‘degrowth’ « Feeding the habit.

Tim Jackson stated there are three aims:

  • Establishing the limits;
  • Fixing the economic model;
  • Changing the social logic.

Changing the social logic is something Annie Leonard and her Story of Stuff Project’, tried to do.

In a commentary by Pavan Sukhdev in ‘Prosperity without Growth’, states:

GDP growth does not capture many vital aspects of natural wealth and well-being such as changes in the quality of health, the extent of education and changes in the quality and quantity of our natural resources.

The ongoing economic crisis, itself a result of crisis in our fuel, food and finance, and at a parallel crisis in our ecological and climate commons, suggesting that both share a common cause: our failed economic model.

Tim Jackson does state there is a need for investing in jobs, assets and infrastructure:

  • retrofitting buildings with energy- and carbon-saving measures;
  • renewable energy technologies in particular the electricity grid;
  • public transport infrastructure.

If politicians do not start to send out the message for change, it will come about but it will be forced on people by events beyond human control.  Without change now, catastrophic climate change will force change.