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Climate Change

Highland Council has several officials working on Climate Change

Keith Masson        Climate Change Officer
keith.masson@highland.gov.uk

Joe Perry              Climate Change Coordinator

Anna Myeshkova  Climate Change Coordinator (Electric Vehicles)

Climate Change Coordinator
Development and Infrastructure
The Highland Council HQ, Glenurquhart Road
Inverness IV3 5NX
Tel. 01463 702581 | www.highland.gov.uk/climatechange

There is also an 'Eco Officer Network', consisting of a group of around 70 volunteers from across Council services who help these officials to arrange and deliver a variety of initiatives related to carbon reduction.

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> Green New Deal - Common Weal
> Green New Deal - Scottish Green Party

National Geographic  Andrew Revkin  'Why haven't we fixed climate change?'
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/07/embark-essay-climate-change-pollution-revkin/

Climate news

July 2020

Scotland has a Just Transition Commission Commission . . .

. . . has had one, in fact, since September 2018 - but it seems likely that most people in Scotland have never heard of it.  It produced an interim report in February this year, and is due to submit its final recommendations to the Scottish Government by January 2021.  From February until June it invited written submissions from 'workers, communities, NGOs, businesses and other relevant bodies across Scotland' to inform the development of these recommendations. 

This of course was before the extent of the Covid-19 crisis became apparent, and the transition the Commission is concerned with is that to the target of net-zero emissions in Scotland by 2045 embodied in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act passed in September 2019.

In 2017 TBI submitted a detailed response to an interim report on emission-reduction proposals which was part of the lengthy process leading to the adoption of the 2045 target.

This year SCCAN (Scottish Communities Climate Action Network), submitted a detailed response to the JTC's call for evidence for its final report.

Just Transition Commission interim report

TBI 2017 submission

SCCAN 2020 submission

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May 2020

Committee on Climate Change demands urgent action on six key principles for a resilient recovery

In letters to the Prime Minister and First Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Committee on Climate Change sets out six key principles to rebuild the nation following the COVID-19 pandemic whilst delivering a stronger, cleaner and more resilient economy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change are integral to the UK’s recovery package, the Committee says.

The six principles in outline

  1. Use climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs
  2. Lead a shift towards positive, long-term behaviours
  3. Tackle the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change
  4. Embed fairness as a core principle
  5. Ensure the recovery does not lock-in greenhouse gas emissions or increased risk
  6. Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering tax changes.

The letter in full

What is the Committee on Climate Change?

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May 2020      From Pebble magazine

What does Covid-19 mean for the UK's climate commitments?

What are the UK's climate commitments and how can it hope to meet them in the midst of a global pandemic?

Climate change expert, Pyotr Kurzin, takes a long look at Britian's official commitments to climate change and where the country can go from here.

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February 2020

New president of COP26 climate conference
(postponed until 2021)


Surprise choice Alok Sharma has poor record on Commons votes affecting the environment

The Guardian  Fiona Harvey 
Thursday 13 February 2020
Image     UK Parliament

Alok Sharma, the former international development secretary, is the surprise choice to take on the role of president of the crunch UN climate talks to be hosted by the UK this November.

He has also been made business secretary as part of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle.

Sharma has garnered praise from campaigners for his role at the Department for International Development, but will face an uphill task after nearly two weeks of trouble surrounding the post of Cop26 president.

The former energy minister Claire O’Neill was abruptly sacked from the role and unleashed a vitriolic attack on Johnson, while several other high-profile figures including David Cameron and William Hague turned down the role.

Sharma has a mixed record on voting on green issues in parliament. The Guardian’s Polluters project scored MPs on how they swung on a range of key votes. Sharma scored only 15%, a poor showing, as he was present for 13 votes affecting climate and environmental issues, but voted positively on only two of them.

Read the full article

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February 2020

Centre for Alternative Technology working towards Zero-Carbon Britain

TBI Convenor Julie Gibson has drawn attention to the work of the Centre for Alternative Technology, based in mid Wales, in encouraging the move towards a zero-carbon Britain by measn of publications, activities and education.  there is an enormous wealth of quite detailed information, but it's well worth a look.

'Social media pack'

Main website  www.cat.org.uk

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January 2020

Trump and Greta at Davos

Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg are attending the current meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, and both made speeches today.

The Guardian    21 January 2020 
Graeme Wearden in Davos and Julia Kollewe

Environmental destruction is at the top of the agenda at the annual summit of the world's decision-makers.

In his keynote speech, Mr Trump said that it was a time for optimism, not pessimism, in a speech that touted his administration's economic achievements and America's energy boom.

He called for a rejection of "predictions of the apocalypse" and said America would defend its economy.

Speaking of climate activists, he said: "These alarmists always demand the same thing - absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives."

"We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy."

Trump's speech factchecked by APnews

Videos
Trump's speech (extract)   [metro.co.uk]
Trump's speech in full        [YouTube]

 

Greta Thunberg repeated her warning of a year ago to the same forum

"Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour, and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else."

and ended her speech with three specific and forceful demands for action by world leaders

"We demand at this year's World Economic Forum, that participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments: immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction; immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies; and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels.  We don't want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021.  We want this done now."

Some criticisms of Greta discussed (Bigthink)

Videos
Greta's speech (extract)  [The Guardian]
Greta's speech in full       [Democracy Now]

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November 2019

European Parliament Declares a Climate Emergency 

From Learning for Sustainability Scotland December bulletin

"The European Parliament proclaimed a Climate and Environment Emergency last week — a symbolic move for the bloc days before negotiators gather for a global climate summit in Madrid. Europe is the first continent to make this announcement and sends out a strong message to its citizens."  

Politico website report

November 2019

Calls for action in 'Green New Deal' proposals
 

Two separate sets of  'Green New Deal' proposals for Scotland have recently been unveiled. The Scottish Green Party 's campaign was launched by four of their MSPs in August, and the think tank Common Weal's plan  'Our Common Home' was launched in November 2018 and was presented by Director Robin McAlpine at an event in Inverness on 3 December.


Common Weal

CLIMATE EMERGENCY!  We don’t need more targets that won’t be met but A PLAN for URGENT ACTION and HERE IT IS!…

'OUR COMMON HOME' - COMMON WEAL’s Green New Deal for Scotland - The world’s first comprehensive and costed plan to put a Green New Deal into action…NOW!

The plan was launched in November 2019 and presented by Common Weal Director Robin McAlpine at a well-attended event in Inverness on 3 December.   (Watch the video.)

As a follow-up to this event local group InverYESs held a Study for Action Session at the Impact Hub in Inverness on 9 January.  This was attended by a group of about twenty people from various backgrounds and an interesting discussion took place.  A question which was raised but not discussed - far less resolved - was how the very ambitious proposals in the Common Home plan might actually be implemented - a question which refers back to our TBI discussion at Fortrose Cafe last autumn on the topic  'How do we get from here to there?'

We are likely to hear a lot more about the Common Home plan during 2020.

'Common Home' plan overview
Detailed briefing
'Common Home' plan in full  (PDF download, 90 pages)
https://commonweal.scot
Reports
The Herald 10 November 2019   Martin Williams
Open Demogracy 19 November 2018  Craig Dalzell. 

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Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Green New Deal would use every lever available to the Scottish Government to respond to the challenges of outrageous inequality, growing poverty, and the climate emergency with the urgency that is needed.

This means

  • Rebuilding the public sector, providing long-term certainty for the private sector
  • Channelling investment into low-carbon industries to transition energy and manufacturing
  • Regional industrial strategies to target support to those who need it most
  • Green and integrated public transport
  • Restoring the natural environment by reforming land ownership and farming subsidies
  • A housing revolution to ensure warm and affordable homes

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “We are in a climate emergency and so Scotland needs to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. It is vital we do this in a way which creates thousands of quality jobs and improves people’s lives.

“We need to fundamentally reform our economy so that it serves the people of Scotland and our planet.

“That means the Scottish Government using every power available, including rebuilding a public sector that has been weakened, sold off and made to serve the interests of big business by successive governments.

“It’s time to turn that around so that publicly owned banks, energy companies and other institutions can play a big and direct role in building a green economy, just like happens in many European countries.

“The climate emergency requires an emergency response."

Background to the Green New Deal
Plan launched 30 August 2019
The Plan in detail  (PDF, 24 pages)

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October 2019

Climate Change talk at BIG 2019

Visitors to the 2019 Black Isle Gathering at Fortrose on 5 October had two opportunities to hear a talk by TBI director Julian Paren - a former Glaciologist and Climate Scientist with the British Antarctic Survey who knows what he's talking about - entitled  'Climate Change and Scotland's Response'.

Read the full illustrated transcript of Julian's talk.

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September 2019

Climate Change bill strengthened in Parliament

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 September, after having been significantly strengthened during the parliamentary process, though insufficiently in the view of the Scottish Greens and others.

As originally tabled in May 2018 the bill increased the 2050 target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 80% to 90%, and proposed new targets for 2020, 2030 and 2040.  No target was proposed for achieving 'net-zero' emissions.  In its final form the 2050 target has been abandoned, and following advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change the government proposed a 'net-zero' target date of 2045.  Labour and Lib Dem proposals to increase the original 70% reduction target for 2030 to 75% were accepted, but the Greens' attempt to increase that figure to 80% was defeated.  As a result the Greens abstained in the final vote which saw the bill passed by 113 votes to 0.

BBC News report  25 September 2019

Friends of the Earth Scotland commentary  by Caroline Rance.

Scottish Government  Revised Explanatory Notes 10 September (PDF 20 pages)

Scottish Government  Full text of the bill  (PDF 32 pages).

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Monday 23 September 2019

Greta lambasts world leaders at UN

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg delivered a fiercely emotional speech at the United Nations in New York today, during a climate change summit convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, from which Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro were conspicuous absentees.
 

"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"
.   .   .
“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”


Guardian report by Oliver Milman  with video of Greta's speech

Full text of the speech

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August 2019

We must change food production to save the world

The wide scope of the latest, not very widely publicised report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), is indicated by its formal title - 'An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.' 

The main thrust of the report is summarised in a Guardian article of 4 August 2019 by Robin McKie based on a draft of the report as stating that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land.

Guardian report in full

Other reporting and comment
World Resources Institute
Ethical Corporation

IPCC downloads page for the report.  The 'Summary for Policymakers' and 'Summary of Headline Statements' are more approachable than the full report at 1,542 pages and 31Mb.

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October 2019

Mary Robinson on Climate Justice

On the day last October (2019) that the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that urgent, unprecedented changes are needed to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, former Irish President Mary Robinson was interviewed by Rory Carroll of The Guardian.

" 'Governments are not responding at all adequately to the stark reality that the IPCC is pointing to: that we have about 11 years to make really significant change,” says Robinson, sitting ramrod straight, all business. “This report is extraordinarily important, because it’s telling us that 2 degrees is not safe. It’s beyond safe. Therefore, we have to work much, much harder to stay at 1.5 degrees. I’ve seen what 1 degree is doing in more vulnerable countries ... villages are having to move, there’s slippage, there’s seawater incursion.'

"She has anticipated the IPCC report by writing a book-cum-manifesto, Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, published this week. It tells stories of farmers and activists, mostly women, who tackle climate change in Africa, Asia and the Americas. They are examples of positive change that Robinson thinks can help turn the tide."

Read the full interview, with an offer on Mary Robinson's book from the Guardian Bookshop.

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Extinction Rebellion say they are 'pausing' disruption after more than 800 arrests

Police accuse London Mayor of supporting the protesters

Jamie Johnson     The Telegraph     21 April 2019

Climate change protesters will meet with the Metropolitan police and “pause” the disruption that has plagued London for a week, resulting in more than 800 arrests.

The leaders of Extinction Rebellion have announced they are switching from “disruptive tactics” to “political negotiations” as they enter a second week of campaigning to have the Government declare a climate emergency.

The move comes as the number of arrests made in connection with the demonstrations reached 831, with 42 people charged.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that more than 9,000 police officers had been responding to the protests - nearly a third of the Met’s entire force.

He had earlier been accused of giving his tacit support to the campaigners, with John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, telling The Telegraph: “What we don’t need, as well-intended as it might be, is a politician aggravating the situation and making it worse. The likes of Sadiq Khan should be supporting the police, especially when we are having to deal with rising crime on our streets.”

Full report

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February 2019

MPs debate climate after school strike – but only a handful turn up


Student protest

The Guardian  28 February   Sandra Laville writes

In the week that the UK experienced its hottest ever winter day, just a handful of government MPs attended a debate on climate change in parliament on Thursday.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said she had secured the discussion after being inspired by the thousands of UK schoolchildren who went on strike over climate change this month and wanted to thank them for forcing MPs into action.

"Moran said climate change had not been debated in the main chamber of the House of Commons for two years. She spoke, however, to a chamber where the seats were predominantly empty. At points, as few as 10 MPs sat on government benches, although the opposition side was more occupied. The lacklustre response to the debate from the government was in stark contrast to the condemnation by Downing Street to the thousands of children involved in the strike for climate change, calling it 'truancy'."

Her last statement seems to be wrong.  Rather, the government's and MP's indifference to the debate seems to be wholly in tune with the government's condemnation of the school and student protests.

Read the full report .


UK Parliament debate
 

January 2019

"Our house is on fire"  -  Greta Thunberg speaks at World Economic Forum at Davos

The Swedish teenager, now 16, who hit the headlines by leading school strikes against climate change and addressed the UN Climate Conference in Katowice in December, has taken the train to Davos to tell the political and business leaders gathered for the World Economic Forum  "Our house is on fire . . .  I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act."

The Guardian  25 January            Text and video of Greta's speech

CNN  Ivana Kottasova and Eliza Mackintosh 25 January    Interview and pictures
 

See also a  TED Talk given by Greta   in Stockhom in late 2018.

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Climate Change School strike in Fort William

Following the example of Greta Thunberg in Sweden, school Climate Change strikes for an hour every Friday morning, are spreading worldwide.

Jane Cassidy reports in the National   11 January

"Holly Gillibrand, 13, a pupil at Lochaber High School in Fort William, is joining a growing global movement in which children stage Friday strikes. It began last year when Greta Thunberg, 15, from Stockholm, stopped attending school in the run-up to a Swedish general election, demanding the government reduce carbon emissions.

"After the election, she continued to strike only on Fridays, gaining worldwide attention and inspiring pupils across the globe to follow her lead. Gillibrand announced her intention to strike on Twitter last month, saying in a tweet addressed to Prime Minister Theresa May: “Every Friday I am going to be striking from school because I will not sit silently while you and the British government contributes to the destruction of our only planet!”

"Gillibrand said: “I am striking because we are running out of time. Thousands of children around the world should not be having to miss classes because of our leaders inability to treat the climate crisis as a crisis.”

"By last month, more than 20,000 students had held strikes in at least 270 cities around the world."


Climate protest at Lochaber High School

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December 2018

Swedish Teenager's Climate Change Protest

Fifteen year old Greta Thunberg sets an example to us all by the determination of her protest against the failure of governments and adults generally to take climate change seriously.  Not only did she initiate a series of school strikes which spread worldwide, but she gave a quietly passionate address to the recent COP24 climate conference in Poland, in faultless English.  In one of the most telling lines of her speech, she said

"You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes."

Read more about Greta's  School strike in September    Address to COP24

View the video and read the read the full text of her speech to the climate conference.

 

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David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon

Naturalist tells leaders at UN climate summit that fate of world is in their hands

Damian Carrington in Katowice     The Guardian    3 December  2018

The collapse of civilisation and the natural world is on the horizon, Sir David Attenborough has told the UN climate change summit in Poland.

The naturalist was chosen to represent the world’s people in addressing delegates of almost 200 nations who are in Katowice to negotiate how to turn pledges made in the 2015 Paris climate deal into reality.  .  .  .   "Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change," he said. "If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."

Attenborough said: “The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.”
.   .   .   .   
Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C scientists advise, according to the UN.

The COP24 summit was also addressed by António Guterres, the UN secretary general. “Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late,” he said. “For many, people, regions and even countries this is already a matter of life or death.”

Guterres said the two-week summit was the most important since Paris and that it must deliver firm funding commitments. “We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos,” he said.

Read the full report

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IPCC Report calls for urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees

8 October 2018   The Guardian reports:

 

"The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C and avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown.

 

"The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.
 

"Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the IPCC working group, said: “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now. This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”

"Political leaders have been urged to act on the report. Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who led the historic Paris agreement of 2015, said: “There is nothing opaque about this new data. The illustrations of mounting impacts, the fast-approaching and irreversible tipping points are visceral versions of a future that no policy-maker could wish to usher in or be responsible for".”
 

"The IPCC global warming report spares politicians the worst details - the dangers if governments ignore efforts to limit warming to 1.5C are more grave than the summary makes out."

Comment by Bob Ward,  The Guardian
 

IPCC report links
     Summary for policymakers
     Headline statements
     Press release  8 October 2018
     Full report by chapter

Overwhelmed by climate change?      Here’s what you can do

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