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Election 2015: Greener Britain

With campaigning for the 2015 General Election on 7th May underway questions we can pose to those who seek to govern us relate to how green, and therefore safe, Britain's future will be under their party's leadership. As a country, Britain has made significant gains in some important environmental areas, most notably in its carbon emissions reduction commitments; but a prolonged recession and narrowly focused national debate have slowed progress.

In their report Greener Britain - Practical proposals for party manifestos from the environment and conservation sector, the Green Alliance and nine other leading environment organisations have set out seven goals for the 2015-2020 Parliament for a better environment and the way we live in Britain. The proposals include making an ambitious 2015 global climate change deal a key foreign policy priority; new policies to protect our oceans; more powers to allow communities to shape their local environment; better support for home energy efficiency; and improvements to resource management for a more resilient economy. The report states "To us, the biggest current challenge to achieving a greener Britain is the hesitant approach of political leaders" and that a Greener Britain would:

  • be more influential internationally,
  • support our natural world to recover,
  • have stronger communities, and
  • have a more resilient economy.

The report's authors are the Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green Alliance, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, and WWF.

You can download the report from this link: http://www.greenalliance.org.uk/greenerbritain2014.php.

January 2015

Countdown to COP21 Paris climate change summit

From 30 November to 11 December 2015 COP21, the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), will be taking place in Paris to produce a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

If you want to see what the UK Government is doing towards making progress on the UK target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050, the gov.uk website has a page detailing the actions and legislation (2008 Climate Change Act) and this can be found from this link: www.gov.uk/government/policies/reducing-the-uk-s-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-80-by-2050.

The UN website for climate summits including COP21 is at: www.un.org/climatechange/summit/.

December 2014

Extreme weather driving countries to adapt to climate change

According to a survey conducted by the European Environment Agency, adapting to climate change has now reached the political agenda in most European countries. The stimulus for adaptation has been driven by extreme weather events and EU policies. Climate change adaptation was found to be on the political agenda of three quarters of the 30 European countries surveyed.

The report can be found from this link: www.eea.europa.eu/publications/national-adaptation-policy-processes.

November 2014

IPCC warns that fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100

On 2nd November the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report that distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists and released over the past 13 months - the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken. The headline message was that "Fossil Fuels should be phased out by 2100" and that most of the world's electricity can, and must, be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050.

In launching the report, R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said "To keep a good chance of staying below 2 deg C, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said " Science has spoken, there is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side. There is a myth that climate action will cost heavily, but inaction will cost much more."

Professor Myles Allen of Oxford University, a member of the IPCC main writing team for the report, said "We can't afford to burn all the fossil fuels we have without dealing with the waste product which is CO2 and without dumping it in the atmosphere. If we can't develop carbon capture we will have to stop using fossil fuels if we want to stop dangerous climate change."

The report and other related reports can be found on the IPPC website at www.ipcc.ch.

November 2014

Wildlife populations have declined by half in 40 years

The main statistic from the 2014 Living Planet Report report is the global Living Planet Index (LPI) which shows a 52% decline between 1970 and 2010. This means that animal populations are roughly half the size they were 40 years ago. The 2014 Living Planet Report is the tenth edition of WWF's flagship publication which uses the LPI to track changes in wildlife populations. The biennial report, produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, uses the global LPI as a measure of the health of over 10,000 populations of more than 3,000 species.

This startling statistic reminds us that the growth in human population and resource use worldwide is destroying the very fabric upon which we survive. Some thought-provoking quotes from Sir David Attenborough in recent years that we ignore at our peril:-

   "The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there's a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I've been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species."

   "Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps we should control the population to ensure the survival of our environment."

   "Either we limit our population growth, or the natural world will do it for us. And the natural world is doing it for us right now."

External link to: 2014 Living Planet Report

Do we have the intelligence and foresight to do anything other than accrue more "wealth" whilst destroying the planet?

October 2014

Other relevant news websites

  • GOV.UK - news announcements from all Government Departments

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Editorial note

The views expressed on this website are not necessarily the views and opinions held by the editor. For further information about 'our south west' including sponsorship policy and archived pages, visit the about OSW page.

Contact details

Managing Editor: Phil Harding*
*(Phil is also Chairman of Saltford Environment Group)

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1. Management of oursouthwest. From 1999 - 2010 this website was originally managed by Phil Harding whilst a Senior Policy Adviser (climate change, resource efficiency and sustainable development) at the Government Office for the South West (GOSW) in Bristol (UK). GOSW closed in 2011 but this site continues to be managed by Phil Harding on a freelance not-for-profit basis.

2. Archived material. For ease of reference, some of the key pages and papers that were on this website up until 2011/12 are listed on the About OSW page. The British Library holds archived copies of the some of the original content of the www.oursouthwest.com website in its early (and now dated) format from 2008 to 2013 on its website at www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/target/9175112/source/alpha.

This website is managed by Phil Harding and supported by Cotswold Energy & Environmental Management Group (on behalf of South West Energy & Environmental Management Groups).

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