Highland Council has several officials working on Climate Change
Keith Masson Climate Change Officer
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.
> UK to stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects
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> UK 'Green New Deal' - Decarbonisation Bill
> UK Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
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.
The announcement comes as the UK hosts the Climate Ambition Summit with the UN and France.
. . . .
The world-leading policy will see the UK end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal projects, with very limited exceptions.
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.
SCCAN Report on ‘A Life on Our Planet’ film screening and discussion
Honest, revealing and urgent, 'A Life on Our Planet' is Sir David Attenborough’s witness statement for the natural world. He offered a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations. On 26 November, 63 participants joined us for the screening and many stayed on after for breakout discussions on ways forward. The full Event Report with useful links and suggestion is available here.
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.
From SCCAN November newsletter
Climate Outreach - Britain Talks Climate toolkit
We’re very excited to finally share Britain Talks Climate with you – our most comprehensive piece of research-based guidance yet!
Explore their full online toolkit where you can:
- read a summary of key insights
- understand the big picture context
- trust, race, gender, wealth, Covid-19 - dive into the seven segments in depth, and how to engage each of them- access practical tools to apply these insights to your own work
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.
Scotland has a Just Transition 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.
TBI 2017 submission to Scottish Climate Change Plan consultation
SCCAN 2020 submission to Just Transition Commission consultation
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
- Use climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs
- Lead a shift towards positive, long-term behaviours
- Tackle the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change
- Embed fairness as a core principle
- Ensure the recovery does not lock-in greenhouse gas emissions or increased risk
- Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering tax changes.
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.
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.
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.
Main website www.cat.org.uk
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."
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)
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."
Calls for action in 'Green New Deal' proposals
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
'Common Home' plan in full (PDF download, 90 pages)
The Herald 10 November 2019 Martin Williams
Open Demogracy 19 November 2018 Craig Dalzell.
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.
- 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."
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 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.
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).
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.
. . .
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
MPs debate climate after school strike – but only a handful turn up
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.
UK Parliament debate
"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.
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
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."
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.
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."
Overwhelmed by climate change? Here’s what you can do
- Friday 15 January
- 19:30 TBI Gardeners Quiz Night online
- Saturday 16 January
- 10:00 Culbokie outdoor market resumes
- Monday 18 January
- 13:00 Highland Good Food Conference - Session 2
- Thursday 21 January
- 19:00 Release of 'This Good Earth' documentary
- Monday 25 January
- 13:00 Highland Good Food Conference - Session 3
- Tuesday 26 January
- 19:30 Economics for Activists 3 - Beth Stratford
- Monday 1 February
- 13:00 Highland Good Food Conference - Session 4
- Thursday 4 February
- 09:30 SFHA / Changeworks virtual conference - 'Housing now, Housing's future'
Events to add to calendar? Contact Us.
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