Highland Council has several officials working on Climate Change
Emma Whitham – Project Manager (Highland Adapts) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackie Sayer – EV Project Manager –
Roselyn Clarke – Climate Change Coordinator (Transport) – Roselyn.email@example.com
Kirsty Ellen – Food Growing Coordinator (Policy and Reform Team) – Kirsty.firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
> US climate envoy soft-pedals on sacrifice and diet
> Scotland's emissions target missed again
> MOO Food founder to head Highland Adapts
> Zero Carbon Britain course report
> UK to stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects
> David Attenborough - A Life on our Planet
> UK 'Green New Deal' - Decarbonisation Bill
> UK Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
IPCC third report, on mitigating effects of climate change
This is the report of the third working group under the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report since it was set up in 1988. Introducing the report, the IPCC states
The Working Group III report provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and pledges, and examines the sources of global emissions. It explains developments in emission reduction and mitigation efforts, assessing the impact of national climate pledges in relation to long-term emissions goals.
The significance of the report is emphasised by Fiona Harvey in the Guardian of 4 April 2022
Working group 3, published on 4 April 2022, set out the ways in which the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It found that countries were falling behind on the policies and actions needed to reach net zero emissions, and on current form could see temperatures rise by as much as 3C, a catastrophic level. Drastic changes will be needed to all aspects of the global economy and society, to phase out dependence on fossil fuels. Staving off the worst consequences predicted by the first two working groups is still possible, but only if governments take immediate and decisive action.
Publications from the IPCC are not easy reading. In order of accessibility are its press release on publication of the report, with a downloadable PDF version; the Summary for Policymakers, itself a complex document with a lot of figures and footnotes (64p PDF); and the Full Report, a massive document with 17 chapters and 2913 pages. (Download individual chapters).
More accessible are further articles from The Guardian's environment team
IPCC report: ‘now or never’ if world is to stave off climate disaster
Fiona Harvey 4 April
IPCC second report, on devastating impact of climate change
By an unfortunate coincidence the International Panel on Climate Change issued its 'bleakest warning yet' of the devastating human impacts of climate change just four days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and as a result it has gone largely unnoticed.
In The Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey quoted António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, as saying “I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this. Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”
An unattributed article in The Economist comments on the frequent occurrence of 'an uneasy feeling that what you took to be the natural way of things has been changed, without your consent, and that your life does not fit into it as once it did. It is the sort of feeling you might expect if, say, what used to be an unusually wet year was now merely typical. It might be dismissed as the “new normal”. But it does not feel normal, and it never will. Before you get used to it, it will have changed yet again.'
Shell pulls out of Cambo oilfield
The Guardian 2 December 2021
Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Shell has pulled out of a controversial new oilfield off the Shetland Islands, plunging the future of oil exploration in the area into doubt.
Shell, which was planning to exploit the field along with the private equity-backed fossil fuel explorer Siccar Point, cited a weak economic case as its reason for deciding not to go ahead with the project.
“After comprehensive screening of the proposed Cambo development, we have concluded the economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough at this time, as well as having the potential for delays,” Shell said.
Climate campaigners said the move by Shell was a “deathblow” for the controversial project, which was fiercely opposed by activists across the UK.
The Guardian 10 December 2021 Matthew Taylor and Jillian Ambrose
UK Budget makes no reference to climate change
“Utter moral failure”: Why Rishi Sunak’s Budget was anything but green
The New Statesman 27 October 2021 Philippa Nuttall
Carbon-neutral cheddar cheese, climate songs and Cop26 dominated the pre-Budget debate. But green was not the headline colour in Rishi Sunak’s Budget today. Cheaper domestic flights, a freeze on fuel duty for cars and investment in roads all seemed to show a total disregard for the UK’s claims to be a “climate leader” that next week in Glasgow will get the world on track to stop dangerous levels of global heating.
Guardian Article 27 October Damian Carrington Environment Editor
In failing to make any serious new government investment in the UK’s green future, Rishi Sunak has chosen to gamble that the market will deliver instead. That is a very high-stakes bet in the face of a climate emergency.
Four days before the UK hosts the crucial Cop26 climate summit, the virtual absence of the climate crisis from Sunak’s budget speech was startling.
IPCC publishes new report on climate crisis
On 9 August 2021 The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report entitled 'AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis' in which it says, in stronger terms than it had previously used, that humanity’s role in driving climate change was “unequivocal”, and makes the clear scientific case for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions worldwide by 2030.
The report runs to nearly 4000 pages and is not easy reading. It begins with a 'Summary for Policymakers', prepared in a fortnight-long meeting of scientists, in which governments also play a key role and can temper the findings of the SPM. Fiona Harvey writes in The Guardian (9 August 2021)
'That has led to criticism in the past, as some scientists have charged that the messages have been toned down, and new science such as concerns over tipping points in the climate system have been sidelined. However, it also means governments cannot ignore the findings they have themselves endorsed.'
A chapter by chapter summary on the Quartz website, helps to grasp the main themes of the report.
A useful briefing by the Royal Society on 'Keeping global warming to 1.5°C - Challenges and opportunities for the UK.' is undated, but refers to the previous 2018 IPCC report 'Global Warming of 1.5 ºC' , also undated. It seems unbelievable that scientific bodies put undated articles on the internet.
Only the first part of the IPCC's 'Sixth Assessment Report', dealing with our knowledge of the physical basis of climate change – the core underlying science – was published on 9 August. Two further instalments, on the impacts of the climate crisis and on ways of reducing those impacts, will follow next year.
Is the UK up to the mark?
In a separate article (8 August 2021) Fiona Harvey quotes Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, on the need for governments to take heed of the warnings in the report.
“Practical, funded and deliverable plans [by governments] to keep us below the supposedly safe limits [of heating] are almost non-existent. Urgent climate action was needed decades ago – now we’re almost out of time. The UK government has a huge responsibility as host of the UN climate talks to ensure world leaders sign up to policies that not just put the brakes on the climate crisis, but slam it into reverse.”
US climate envoy urges strong and united action at COP26 . .
In a speech in London in July 2021, President Biden's climate envoy John Kerry made an impassioned plea for strong and united action by all governments to reduce carbon emissions, at the COP26 conference in November.
"There is still time to put a safer 1.5C future back within reach. But only if every major economy commits to meaningful absolute reductions in emissions by 2030. That is the only way to put the world on a credible track to global net zero by mid-century.
. . . .
We can’t afford a world so divided in its response to climate change when the evidence for compelling action is so strong.”
No government ministers were present to hear Mr Kerry's speech.
Full report The Guardian 20 July 2021 Fiona Harvey
. . but soft-pedals on sacrifice and diet change
During an interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick in July 2021, Kerry gave a cowardly response to a question about his government's openness about the real challenges involved in mitigating the effects of climate change - it's all going to be easy.
Remnick - One of the main difficulties, and there are so many, is that the climate demands sacrifice of everyone to avert catastrophe. Yet we are told we can save the planet and grow the economy at the same time. Transitioning to renewables is going to cost trillions of dollars and upend huge industries. We’re likely to have to eat less meat, use more public transportation. All of this is necessary. To what degree are you and Joe Biden and your foreign counterparts really levelling with everybody?
Kerry - "We’re being completely direct and totally transparent. I don’t agree with you that this is sacrifice. I do not believe people will have to necessarily eat differently. Agriculture will change. There’s a lot of research and work being done now on the diet of cattle, for instance. There’s a thing called asparagopsis - I believe that’s the right name - which is a seaweed that, apparently, in its early trials, has reduced if not eliminated flatulence from cattle. I’m confident that there will be huge research done that will change some of these things. All of the economic analyses show that there are millions of jobs to be created."
Read the full interview The New Yorker David Remnick
Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions target missed again
Greenhouse gas emissions data from 2019, released on 15th June by the Scottish Government, shows that Scotland has not met its annual target of reducing emissions. Three years of targets have now been missed, for 2017-19. You can read Stop Climate Chaos's statement here.The Scottish Government must demonstrate that it is actively putting in place what is needed for the radical transformation of our whole economic system to create a wellbeing economy focussed on enabling everybody to thrive in a thriving environment, in Scotland and globally. Clear and consistent leadership is essential.Scotland’s Climate Assembly report calls for “much more and much faster” action. The full report of Scotland’s Climate Assembly was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June. It sets out 81 recommendations agreed by an overwhelming consensus of members for tackling the climate emergency in a fair and effective way.
MOO Food founder to head new climate change partnership
Emma Whitham, founder and leading light for the last four years of MOO Food, has been appointed Principal Project Manager of Highland Adapts, a Highland Council initiative bringing together a range of environmental and community organisations to develop a region-based, partnership approach to climate change adaptation.
The partnership currently consists of Highland Council, NHS Highland, Changeworks/Home Energy Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland, Forestry and Land Scotland, NatureScot and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
From Highland Council press release
Highland Adapts will pioneer a fair, inclusive and integrated approach to adapting to climate change. The initiative will seek to involve communities in all aspects of its work, recognising there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to climate action.
The initiative will also work proactively to ensure that disadvantaged and underrepresented groups are involved and benefit equally.
The impacts of climate change have already been felt across Highland: from damage to infrastructure, to disruption of vital services, and a shift in growing seasons.
Work in Highland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to limiting the extent of future climate change but we cannot turn back the clock. Past and present-day emissions mean that the rate of climate change is set to intensify over the coming decades, and it is recognised that we need to develop plans for how we are going to adapt now.
Full press release, with links to partners
Dutch court orders Shell to cut emissions
Economist 31 May 2021
It has been a momentous few days for Big Oil and climate change. The fallout from a trio of actions against three major oil companies marks a turning point for the industry.
All three events happened on Wednesday [26 May 2021]. ExxonMobil suffered a stunning defeat as an activist hedge fund successfully placed two climate-friendly directors on its board. Chevron’s shareholders voted that the company should reduce “scope 3” emissions, which arise from the use of its products (eg, the burning of its petrol in cars). And a Dutch court ordered Shell to cut its emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 compared with 2019 levels.
'Zero Carbon Britain' - report on CAT online course
TBI Convenor Julian Paren recently took part in this two day online course run by the Centre for Alternative Technology, based in Wales, and has written this report
Experiencing the Zero Carbon Britain online course from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), mid Wales
I was one of around 100 participants who enjoyed the two-day course that ran from 29 to 30 April this year. The course sessions were extremely factual and were each followed by breakout sessions with a maximum of five people. All those attending were encouraged to have looked beforehand at the executive summary of the Zero Carbon Britain book, published by CAT, and some course lectures delved into the nitty-gritty of its following 204 pages.
The course was developed in response to discussions with local Councils and to me its most important element was the networking with others working and studying in the field, and exploring the radical changes needed to rise to the climate challenge. The radical changes in Society and individual commitment for inspiring others were analysed, besides the easier to grasp, changes in technology. So most of one day was spent on understanding how to be more effective in the community and how to organise oneself better. Rob Hopkins (founder of the Transition Movement) was an impressive speaker on the course alongside Paul Allen, the Knowledge and Outreach Director of Zero Carbon Britain.. In my feedback of the course I said Paul Allen was clearer in his arguments than I have ever heard from Chris Packham or Sir David Attenborough, and so I hoped the Open University could base TV Programmes around him to get the message to the widest public.
The Scottish Communities Climate Action Network had negotiated a fee of £30 to attend the course and there were attendees from Edinburgh Transition, Planet Sutherland and Findhorn for example. The normal fee is £75 and there are free places for those who would be unable to attend otherwise.
Having been immersed in Climate Science my whole working life, I was aware of virtually all the factual material, so I treated the course as a real refresher. But what made the course were the discussions in small groups and in Chat Sessions about “what to do” and learning of best practice from elsewhere. Believe it, the Somerset Levels with a population of 3000 have done everything that Transition Black Isle might aspire to with a catchment of 10,000 catchment. There was a one-hour off-line session where I chose the topic of Food and Land Use (the other topic was Power Up, Power Down) to write two sides of bullets as if preparing to write a strategy for the Black Isle and how it would be implemented.
The Summary of the course content was
You will explore all aspects of climate solutions and scenarios presented in the Net Zero Britain research. Live lectures will cover a range of topics from renewable energy and energy efficiency to diets and land-use, looking at how these can work together to help us build a zero carbon future. Online workshops will enable discussion and debate among participants on catalysing action across all areas of society.
The next course is 23/24 June with a further course on 17/18 November. Whether this is for you or not, do take a look at the Executive Summary to Net Zero Britain. All documents can be downloaded at
CAT sees COP26 as a chance to bridge the 'physics - politics gap'
The Centre for Alternative Technology hopes to raise 50,000 signatures in Wales as a means of sending a message to world leaders that urgent action needs to be taken now if we are to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Paul Allen, from CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain team, writes
To help focus COP26 conversations on the immediate actions at the scale and speed demanded by science, CAT has joined Climate.Cymru. Together, we want to gather 50,000 voices from the people of Wales to show world leaders just how much the people of Wales care, and demand meaningful action to protect the things we love from the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
Perhaps they should broaden their horizons and try to gather several times that number of signatures from the whole of the UK.
CAT's image of the Physics-politics gap
Glasgow Council backs fossil fuel divestment
On 1 April, Glasgow City Council endorsed a plan to end their £500 million investment in fossil fuels. The motion was approved by a full meeting of Glasgow City Council by a margin of 69 votes to 4 against. The motion will now go forward to Strathclyde Pension Fund Committee. Full details can be found in this press release from Friends of the Earth Scotland.
The FoE web page has a link to a number of videos and PDF presentations by a range of experts on various aspects of the general topic of 'Scotland's response to the Climate Emergency'.
Scottish author's new book on climate change
Scottish geographer and energy specialist Neil Kitching has published 'Carbon Choices' on the common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises
"Carbon Choices tells the greatest story on planet Earth. How one group of sociable animals came to emit 40 billion tonnes (40,000,000,000) of an invisible gas each year, unwittingly changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and the oceans, and steadily destroying the life support systems that humans and wildlife depend on. It takes a fresh perspective on how the excessive consumption by wealthier people has unwittingly driven us into climate and wildlife crises, and considers the psychology that drives us to buy more ‘stuff’ and whether this makes us happier."
Alok Sharma to work full-time on Cop26 climate conference preparation
Decision to move business secretary follows pressure from environment experts due to scale of role
Peter Walker Political correspondent
Boris Johnson has moved his business secretary, Alok Sharma, to work full-time on preparations for the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow this November, a change urged by environmental experts given the scale of the role.
UK to stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects
The Prime Minister announced an end to the UK Government's direct support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas, when he opened the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020.
From Government press release 12 December 2020
In a major policy shift, the PM will commit today to ending taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas as soon as possible, as the government works to support the sector’s transition to low-carbon energy.
. . . .
This is a significant change – in the last four years, the government supported £21 billion of UK oil and gas exports through trade promotion and export finance. The policy will be implemented after a short period of consultation and is intended to come into force as soon as possible, and before COP26 next November.
The Guardian 11 December 2020
Fiona Harvey, Environment correspondent
The UK taxpayer is to stop funding fossil fuel projects overseas as part of the government’s push for international action on the climate [at] a key summit [in December.]
Taxpayers helped to support more than £21bn of fossil fuel development overseas in the last four years, despite calls from green campaigners to halt the finance.
The halt to funding for fossil fuels has been mooted since early this year, when the prime minister was stung by accusations of hypocrisy because the UK continued to fund such developments despite preparing to host the next round of vital UN climate talks, COP26, in Glasgow.
David Attenborough ‘A Life on Our Planet’
Honest, revealing and urgent, 'A Life on Our Planet' is Sir David Attenborough’s witness statement for the natural world. He offers a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is now available on Netflix.
Netflix memberships range from £5.99 to £11.99 per month, depending on the quality of your membership. The platform offers a one month free trial, after which users are charged £8.99 a month for the standard subscription.
Reducing emissions in Scotland - 2020 Progress Report to Parliament
From SCCAN newsletter October 2020
The Committee on Climate Change’s annual Scottish progress report, including advice on policy priorities for the Climate Change Plan update, was published on Wednesday 7 October. This is the ninth annual Progress Report to the Scottish Parliament, required under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. It assesses Scotland’s overall progress in achieving its legislated targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report shows that Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 31% from 2008 to 2018. This was primarily due to action to reduce emissions in the power sector, where Scottish renewable electricity generation has tripled and fossil-fuelled generation has fallen by more than 70% in the last decade. However, greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2% in 2018, compared to a reduction of 3% in 2017.
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 means of publications, activities and education. There is an enormous wealth of quite detailed information, but it's well worth a look. CAT's activities have been greatly curtailed by Covid-19.
Main website www.cat.org.uk
UK Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill 2020
What has become known as the 'Green New Deal Bill', a Private Member's Bill sponsored by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, received its first reading without debate in July 2020, and is due to come before Parliament for second reading on 12 March 2021.
The preamble to the bill describes it as
A Bill to place duties on the Secretary of State to decarbonise the United Kingdom economy and to reverse inequality; to establish a ten-year economic and public investment strategy in accordance with those duties which promotes a community- and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low- and zero-carbon industry; to require the Government to report on its adherence to the strategy; to establish higher environmental standards for air, water and green spaces; to make provision to protect and restore natural habitats; and for connected purposes.
Caroline Lucas wrote about the bill in The Guardian on 20 September 2019.
Another Private Member's Bill, again sponsored by Caroline Lucas and five other MPs and tabled on 20 September 2020. Of the total of 75 MPs supporting the Bill, not one is a Conservative.
What is the Bill about? The CEE Bill Alliance says
In a nutshell, the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill calls for:
- the UK to make and enact a serious plan. This means dealing with our real fair share of emissions so that we don’t go over critical global rises in temperature
- our entire carbon footprint be taken into account (in the UK and overseas)
- the protection and conservation of nature here and overseas along supply chains, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume
- those in power not to depend on technology to save the day, which is used as an excuse to carry on polluting as usual
- ordinary people to have a real say on the way forward in a citizens’ assembly with bite
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).
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.' (SRCCL)
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.
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.
- Tuesday 17 May
- 19:00 Transition summit - Resist imaginatively
- Wednesday 18 May
- 19:00 Transition summit - Create a thriving social economy
- 18:00 SCCAN 'Climate for Change' conversation
- 14:00 70th Anniversary of the Simon’s Loch Tragedy
- Thursday 19 May
- 19:00 Transition summit - Create a Regenerative and Fairer Food System
- 16:00 Carbon emissions – you, your home, your property – what can you do?
- Saturday 21 May
- 10:00 Grow North 2022 Workshop 3
- Saturday 28 May
- 10:30 BIHS Spring Plant Sale
Events to add to calendar? Contact Us.
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