Tuesday, 30 September 2008

News flash- delay in UK Climate Projections

This just arrived in MCFly's inbox-

"Defra, Met Office Hadley Centre and UK Climate Impacts Programme have taken a decision to delay the launch of the UK 21st Century Climate Change Projections (2008) project (UKCIP08). This decision has been taken based on information provided by the Met Office Hadley Centre which needs more time to consolidate the climate projections. The Met Office is using ground-breaking science to produce the new climate projections – combining information from the widest possible range of global climate models. This complex process requires further analysis which will unfortunately take more time than initially expected. The projections are now likely to be published in Spring 2009. Further information will be available as soon as possible."

This is really, really interesting. The UK Climate Impacts Programme was set up in April 1997 (www.ukcip.org.uk). Its work has been used by local authorities, insurers etc who want/need to know what sorts of weather patterns will be happening in 2020, 2050 and 2080 and their implications for "construction, working practices, demand for goods and services, biodiversity, service delivery, health" among others.

David Attenborough relied on these projections heavily in his BBC documentaries last year.

The last projections were in 2002, and the 2008 ones have been very eagerly awaited. The more pessimistic commentators may be inclined to point to the recent conference at Exeter as the reason for the delay- that conference heard lots of evidence that the impacts are coming faster than harder than thought. (this I overheard at a "Climate Clinic" event at Labour Party conference- the link below is merely about the conference itself

We live in interesting times

MCFly 8- hundreds attend green events

The Labour Party's annual conference was held in Manchester between the 20th and 24th of September. Internal strife, low poll-ratings and economic turmoil over-shadowed environmental issues inside the conference, but campaigners from Manchester and across the UK met at fringe events to formulate responses to the climate crisis.

A stones throw from Labour's maximum security fortress, The Convention of the Left met over the course of the conference, bringing together a wide variety of Leftist activists for a series of free public seminars and debates. Monday 22nd was 'Planet Day', which involved well attended events tackling subjects such as the link between environmental destruction and the economic system, whether climate change can be solved without nuclear, and how to build strong grassroots environmental movements. The Convention was followed by the launch of the Manchester Campaign for Free Public Transport on Thusrday 24th, an initiative greeted with enthusiasm at the convention.

Meanwhile on Portland street the Climate Clinic created, in the words of the organizers, “a forum where party leaders, ministers, renowned scientists, opinion formers, environmentalists, low-carbon associations, business leaders and the public come together to debate the issues, spotlight the solutions and press for urgent action and vigorous political leadership.” Seminars covered topics including fuel poverty, moving beyond growth based economies, the feasibility of 'eco-towns', and the future of renewable energy in the UK. The event was organised and sponsored by a 20 strong coalition of environmental and development NGOs and think tanks. Sources close to MCFly report that government Ministers were less than confidence-inspiring (and occasionally absent), but the free buffet food was of exceptional quality.

It wasn't all talk though. On Tuesday 23rd over 100 people converged on Albert Square to reveal red t-shirts emblazoned with 'STOP AIRPORT EXPANSION'. The protesters lay on the ground to spell out 'Take the Train' with their bodies, referring to the 29% of flights from Manchester that are domestic.

Almost as many police supervised the 15 minute stunt, which was hailed a success by orgainsers. Robbie Gillet commented, "we got the message across with a great photo opportunity for the local press".

The event also launched a new campaign group- Stop Expansion of Manchester Airport (SEMA), an umbrella organisation linking local environmentalists with wider anti-aviation campaigns. SEMA are holding an open meeting at 7pm on Thursday 16th October at the Green Fish Resource Centre to form a plan of action.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Review of "Muslim Green Guide to Reducing Climate Change"

“Corruption has flourished on land and sea as a result of people’s actions and He will make them taste the consequences of some of their actions so that they may turn back.”
(Qur’an 30:41)

A Muslim Environmental group has joined forces with anther two charities to publish a green guide which gives Muslims practical advice on how to reduce climate change.
The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), founded in the mid-80s, states that since Muslims comprise one fifth of the world’s population, any positive change in attitudes towards the environment could have dramatic results.

The Green Guide is a basic introduction which explains what causes climate change and utilizes Islamic references to explain why Muslims need to do their bit for the environment. For example it states that ‘Islam teaches Muslims to respect Allah’s creation and maintain the balance He created’ and so they must reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. The booklet is split into four sections which tackle issues of waste, transport, household consumption and the final section which gives some useful information and a ‘How green is my family?’ checklist.

Each topic such as air travel or electricity use is explained clearly and an action list is suggested as ways to tackle the issue. Nothing ground-breaking just simple and practical advice which everyone can do. The guide works really well as an introductory booklet for Muslim families who may have not really understood the issues behind climate change and want practical advice on what they can do. It’s a good balance between Islamic references which support the need for change and facts/figures (e.g. the majority of car journeys in the UK average only 2 miles).

However, for Muslims who are quite aware of environmental issues, it may be too basic and not really offer anything substantively new. It would also be good to have the booklet available in a couple of languages so that it could be an effective resource to a wider community.


Monday, 22 September 2008

Universities and Climate Change- more information

Further Information- continuing the student guide
Points of reference

HEEPI have a guide to assess the sustainability of your University under 'Good Campus: www.heepi.org.uk

The Environmental association for Universities and Colleges. www.eauc.org.uk

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future; multimedia education programme

Education for Sustainable Development by The Higher Education Academy

The National Union of Students (NUS) and NUS Services Limited- the trading arm of the NUS- have strict ethical and environmental statements which they follow when engaging in policy and commerce. They operate the Sound Impact scheme and the Carbon Academy Project which develops and promotes green practice- such as reducing carbon emissions and reducing waste- among student unions.
National Union of Student Ethical and Environmental Policy

The University and Colleges Union ("the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK") has recognised the importance of climate change and has made a commitment to playing a part in 'greening the campus' and 'greening the curriculum. It aims to achieve these encouraging health and safety reps and others to train as 'environment reps' who would negotiate locally greener workplace practices.
Pressing employers in every college and university to develop local carbon reduction strategies in conjunction with staff and students the union has also pledged to support other unions- such as NUJ and the TUC- in campaigns for secure greener government policies. UCU has also stated that it is still awaiting recognition from DIUS that they they alongside other FE/HE unions are key partners and should be involved in college/university carbon reduction strategy.

"Solar Power to the People" follow-up info

After further digging, MCFly has been able to pin down more info about the scheme by
Northwards Housing to fit solar panel on tower blocks across North Manchester.
Here's what we know:

The quarter of a million which was fronted by central governments 'Low Carbon
Buildings Programme' is a grant which will not be paid back. The solar panels scheme
will however save around 43,000kgs of CO2 per year and so contribute to reducing
climate change. The tower blocks will be measured up for the solar panels over the
next two weeks, and once installed they will generate clean, green leccy.

Worryingly, there is no legal obligations that the future savings are spent on these
specific tower blocks as the revenue savings are Northwards. The housing company is
however "committed to spend some of the revenue savings on improvements for

The nine rejected tower blocks were deemed unsuitable on the grounds of insufficient
space, overshadowing and capped roofs which would be too expensive to change. A
council source has stated that Northwards Housing are nonetheless "committed to
improving the environmental sustainability of all homes managed, so although nine
blocks will not benefit directly from this scheme, we will be looking at other
renewable energy technology projects which these blocks could benefit from in

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Scoop! Government minister ducks climate debate

Last night a standing-room only audience heard a debate about climate change at a Labour Party Conference fringe meeting.

There was the scientist (Dr Kevin Anderson, of Manchester Tyndall Centre).
There was the businessman (Chris Shearlock, environment manager of the Co-op)
There was the journalist (Larry Elliot, economics bod of the Guardian).
And there was the think-tanker- Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation, a London think tank.

And who wasn't there, who said she would be? Yvette Cooper, the chief secretary of the Treasury.

And this is a government that says it's listening, that it wants to do better?

On last night's (no)-showing, not bloody likely.

MCFly will post an in-depth report soon. For now- Elliott said the current crisis has been 30 years brewing, since the New Right used the first Oil Shock (1973) to deregulate everything it could and the left largely went along with it. Anderson did a quick skim through his latest paper (reported last MCFly), saying we're unlikely to stabilise the atmospheric concentrations anything below 650 parts per million of carbon dioxide [that's a Very Bad Idea, but there you go], and Shearlock listed what the Co-op is doing.

Lots of good questions and contributions from the floor.

Monday, 15 September 2008

MCFly's cartoonist in the New York Times!

Marc Roberts, provider of cartoons to MCFly, has been interviewed by the New York Times about his work, which has started popping up on RealClimate.org, and in Nature.
Marc is very quick, very prolific, very very funny and- crucially for MCFly- willing to work for praise.

The NYT's article is on their environment correspondent's blog-




Manchester Airport to expand its freight terminal?

Interesting article in today's Crain's Manchester Business entitled "Airport in talks with council over super freight terminal"

Here's the link-

The whole thing is worth reading.

The final lines state-

A Manchester City Council spokeswoman said: “There is a super freight terminal idea in very tentative discussions at the moment. It is at a very early stage.”

The planning application will be submitted to the Planning and Highways Committee in October.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

MCFly- cheerful animation from Brad Pitt

And finally- cheer up with a funny and stress-free toon by Leo “Brad Pitt” Murray-

MCFly 007- Manchester academics publish gloomy climate report

Two eminent researchers at the Manchester outpost of t'Tyndall Centre have a gloomy paper in the Royal Society's latest “Philosophical Transactions.” Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows crunched the carbon emission numbers from 2000 onwards, and conclude there's no likelihood of keeping below a global temperature rise of well over 2 degrees, the oft-cited “danger” zone.


MCFly 007- Car versus bike versus bus in Manchester

Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign is gambling that the bike is quicker than the car from Heaton Chapel to Albert Square. On Weds 16 Sept they host a five mile race between bus, bike, car and train over the “quickest legal route” into the waiting arms of Environment Councillor Richard Cowell. If the car wins, the motorist faction of the anti-TIF crowd will go beserk(er).

MCFly 007- Green web hosting from ecohost

Manchester-based web services co-operative Ecohost has recently launched its UK-based wind-powered hosting services. 10% of total UK electricity is consumed by the ICT sector, and its carbon emissions are overtaking those from aviation. Ecohost provides web hosting with a lower climate impact, both by using renewable power and by using Linux, a more energy-efficient operating system than Windows, on its servers. www.ecohost.coop

MCFly 007- Greenpeace 6 acquitted

Last year six Greenpeace activists painted most of "Gordon Bin it" in big big letters on a coal-fired power station chimney, as part of a climate protest. Last week they were acquitted of causing £30,000 of criminal damage to E.On property. The jury had heard evidence from top scientist James Hansen about the damage caused by carbon emissions, and accepted the unprecedented defence argument that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world.

MCFly 007- Launch of Only Planet

A book of articles about the airport, food, transport, waste, water, religion, gender, activism, the council, low carbon communities and much much more... written by and for Mancunians, with MCFly folk at its core. £5. It's launched on Weds 17th Sept at 8pm, at the Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor St. Come get involved in making its sequel!

MCFly 007- Solar Power to the People

Half a million quid has been spent solar-panelling ten tower blocks across North Manchester. Half of that came from Northwards Housing, which is a not-for-profit company set up by Manchester City Council to manage thousands of its properties. The other £250,000 came from central government's “Low Carbon Buildings Programme.” The panels were supplied by Solarcentury, “the UK's leading solar energy provider.”

The tower blocks, in Charleston, Moston and Higher Blackley are guinea pigs for a retro-fitting scheme. The generated leccy will be fed back into the landlord's supply, and savings spent on 'future investment'. As such, residents, who were consulted but not asked to contribute to the scheme, will not benefit directly via decreased energy bills.

The project is an effort by Northwards to go beyond the obligations imposed upon it by central government's “Decent Housing Standard”, whereby 95% of social housing is supposed to be “wind and weather tight, warm and with modern facilities” by 2010. Northwards plan to spread 'lessons learned' to other social housing providers and beyond.

Relevant Websites
Solarcentury's mission is to “make a big difference in the fight against climate change. Our aim is to revolutionise the global energy market.”
Decent Homes Standard