Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’

thCAJLLEV3Lord Stern, author of the government-commissioned review on climate change that became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners, now says he underestimated the risks, and should have been more “blunt” about the threat posed to the economy by rising temperatures.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: “Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”

The Stern review, published in 2006, pointed to a 75% chance that global temperatures would rise by between two and three degrees above the long-term average; he now believes we are “on track for something like four “. Had he known the way the situation would evolve, he says, “I think I would have been a bit more blunt. I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise.”

He said some countries, including China, had now started to grasp the seriousness of the risks, but governments should now act forcefully to shift their economies towards less energy-intensive, more environmentally sustainable technologies.

“This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”

Stern said he backed the UK’s Climate Change Act, which commits the government to ambitious carbon reduction targets. But he called for increased investment in greening the economy, saying: “It’s a very exciting growth story.”

David Cameron made much of his environmental credentials before the 2010 election, travelling to the Arctic to highlight his commitment to tackling global warming. But the coalition’s commitment to green policies has recently been questioned, amid scepticism among Tory backbenchers about the benefits of wind power, and the chancellor’s enthusiasm for exploiting Britain’s shale gas reserves.

Stern’s comments came as Jim Yong Kim, the new president of the World Bank, also at Davos, gave a grave warning about the risk of conflicts over natural resources should the forecast of a four-degree global increase above the historical average prove accurate.

“There will be water and food fights everywhere,” Kim said as he pledged to make tackling climate change a priority of his five-year term.

Kim said action was needed to create a carbon market, eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies and “green” the world’s 100 megacities, which are responsible for 60 to 70% of global emissions.

He added that the 2012 droughts in the US, which pushed up the price of wheat and maize, had led to the world’s poor eating less. For the first time, the bank president said, extreme weather had been attributed to man-made climate change. “People are starting to connect the dots. If they start to forget, I am there to remind them.

“We have to find climate-friendly ways of encouraging economic growth. The good news is we think they exist”.

Kim said there would be no solution to climate change without private sector involvement and urged companies to seize the opportunity to make profits: “There is a lot of money to be made in building the technologies and bending the arc of climate change.”

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George Osborne hints at watering-down of UK’s commitment to cutting carbon dioxide emissions

thCAJAVL91George Osborne gave a strong signal that he intends to water down Britain’s commitment to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions over the next 15 years, threatening tens of billions of pounds of vital investment in renewable energy generators.

Paving the way for a rush into gas that would make it virtually impossible for Britain to meet its emissions targets next decade, Mr Osborne said Britain would be able to produce far more energy from gas if the carbon ceiling for the five years to the end of 2027 “is revised upwards and emissions reductions are more gradual”.

Mr Osborne added: “We are also reiterating that our approach to decarbonisation trajectories will continue to stay in step with other EU countries throughout the 2020s.”

Britain has already met Europe’s target of a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, while analysts believe there is little prospect of the continent setting a target for the next decade that is as strong as the one the UK currently has.

“This is very regrettable. The uncertainty over the Government’s commitment to decarbonisation will further weaken investor confidence. It will also make it much harder to hit our 2050 emissions target,” said Dr Robert Gross, director of Imperial College’s Centre for Energy Policy, who advised the Energy and Climate Change Committee and the Department for Energy and Climate Change on the recent Energy Bill.

Even with the dash-to-gas, Britain desperately needs substantial investment in wind, solar, biomass, water and other renewable energy projects. However, figures released earlier this week show that potential investors are being put off backing low-carbon energy generators because of uncertainty about subsidy levels and the government’s commitment to reduce emissions. They are particularly perturbed by the decision to remove a legally-binding target from last week’s Energy Bill that would have made electricity generation almost entirely green by 2030 – although there is a possibility of an amendment to return it to the bill as it passes through Parliament.

They show that private investment in large-scale renewable energy projects has tumbled from a peak of $10.61bn (£6.6bn) in 2009 to just $3.63bn in the first nine months of this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

If Britain is to meet its legally binding target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, it needs to have cut its carbon footprint by about 55 per cent by 2027, the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) advised the Government in the fourth in a series of five-year carbon budgets designed to keep the country on track.

However, while the CCC’s first three carbon budgets were waved through by the Labour Party and David Cameron supported the fourth one last year, Mr Osborne won a key concession that will allow him to review it in 2014.

“The Government expects up to 26 gigawatts (GW) of new gas capacity could be required by 2030 on current carbon budgets. If the fourth carbon budget is revised upwards and emissions reductions are more gradual, then up to 37 GW of new plant could be required,” the Autumn Statement said yesterday.

The Treasury declined to comment on whether Mr Osborne was planning to relax the fourth carbon budget.

Source – http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/george-osborne-hints-at-wateringdown-of-uks-commitment-to-cutting-carbon-dioxide-emissions-8389342.html

Poem written by me…

Happy Poems

thCAMXA3O3It’s Tom’s dream
To behead the Queen
In 2013
Happy New Year from him

Kill off the Monarchy
His unique anarchy
From the last century
Not positive, just grim

2012 was a ball
A Jubilee for all
One woman stood tall
Well done and thanks Liz

Vote President Blair
They wouldn’t dare
A complete nightmare
We’re better off as is!

Written by Jonathan Hornett

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Shooting animals for fun is just as much a cruel bloodsport as hunting with dogs.

227726_191052344371367_531806852_nShooting animals for fun is just as much a cruel bloodsport as hunting with dogs. If our wildlife could talk shooting would not happen.

Nobody needs to own a gun and nobody needs to kill animals for fun. No matter the endless excuses shooting is wrong and barbaric. When we live in a society where a supermarket is nearly on every street few could ever argue they shoot for food, while nobody could justify killing for fun.

There is nothing brave or just about shooting, regardless of what some may think of a species nobody gave them the right to be judge an executioner. When they kill for fun they let themselves down and society.

Source – https://www.facebook.com/worldwidefreedom1

Last Year Second Wettest On Record

thCAR4ANHQLast year was the second wettest year across the UK in records dating back more than a century to 1910, the Met Office revealed today.
Total rainfall for 2012 was just a few millimetres shy of the record set in 2000, the figures showed.
Persistent wet weather which saw a number of records broken led to a total rainfall for the UK for the year of 1,330.7mm (52.4 inches), just 6.6mm (0.26 inches) short of the figure for 2000.
It was the wettest year on record for England and the third wettest for Wales, but Scotland experienced only its 17th wettest year and in Northern Ireland it was the 40th wettest.
The Met Office also said there had been a high frequency of wet years since 2000, with four of the five wettest years on record occurring since the beginning of this century.
The Met Office also disclosed preliminary evidence suggesting the UK could be getting slightly more annual rainfall and it may be falling in more intense downpours.
The official forecasters said the country was getting wetter, with average long-term rainfall increasing by about 5% between the periods 1961-1990 and 1981-2010.
The top five wettest years in the records dating back to 1910 are 2000, 2012, 1954, 2008 and 2002, the figures show.
The UK as a whole had 15% more rainfall than average during the year, with England experiencing almost a third more rain than normal.
The occurrence of “extreme” daily rainfall also appears to have become more frequent.
Professor Julia Slingo, chief scientist at the Met Office, said: “The trend towards more extreme rainfall events is one we are seeing around the world, in countries such as India and China, and now potentially here in the UK.
“Much more research is needed to understand more about the causes and potential implications.
“It’s essential we look at how this may impact our rainfall patterns going forward over the next decade and beyond, so we can advise on the frequency of extreme weather in the future and the potential for more surface and river flooding.
“This will help inform decision-making about the need for future resilience both here in the UK and globally.”
Almost 8,000 homes and businesses were flooded last year as the UK was repeatedly battered by heavy rain, storms and floods.
But 2012 began with a number of water companies imposing hosepipe bans as swathes of England faced drought following two dry winters.
The dry weather then gave way to persistent rain, with the UK experiencing a record April and June, and the wettest summer in a century.
Farmers’ crops were hit by the unusually wet summer, while much of the UK’s wildlife struggled in the poor conditions, with only a few species including slugs and orchids thriving.
The Met Office said changes in sea surface temperatures as a result of natural cycles and a reduction in the amount of Arctic sea ice could be helping to increase rainfall, but more research needed to be done to establish how big a role they were playing.
Rising global temperatures could also be contributing, as a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture and increase the potential for heavy rain.
The Met Office said the world has seen temperatures rise by around 0.7C since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which would equate to around a 4% increase in moisture in the atmosphere.
Friends of the Earth head of policy Mike Childs said climate change was already affecting the UK.
“Four of the five wettest years in the UK have occurred since 2000, and experts including the Met Office expect extreme weather events such as intense rainfall to become more common as global warming takes hold.
“So far the world has warmed by an average 0.7C above pre-industrial levels – if temperatures rise by the 4C scientists widely predict then we can only begin to imagine the impacts on our lives and livelihoods.
“But there is still time to tackle climate change. We must end our dependency on dirty fossil fuels and reap the benefits of energy efficiency and developing clean power from the wind, waves and sun.”
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) warned that despite the wet year, there was a need for a coherent strategy to manage water resources to cope with drought as well as floods, including creating new storage facilities to catch rainfall.
ICE water expert Michael Norton said: “Without a strategy, we will continue to swing from flooding to drought and climate change will only exacerbate the situation.
“Developing new storage facilities across the country to harvest more rainfall must form part of this strategy – rainfall is becoming more varied in terms of time and place and we can no longer rely on large reservoirs in only a few locations.”
But he said new facilities would cost money and water companies should be incentivised and encouraged to collaborate to share costs and ensure water storage is developed for a range of uses from agriculture to water supplies and flood control.
He added: “There are many measures that can help us manage water more effectively, from multipurpose reservoirs, storage ponds for agriculture, sustainable urban drainage systems, and household rainwater harvesting.”
He said a water security taskforce needed to be set up to bring in the public, industry, farmers and authorities and deliver a coherent and integrated strategy to manage the UK’s water supplies.
Source – Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent

The 20mph Revolution – Good News, Millions of Drivers Face Lower Speed Limits

The Northants Green Party Blog

pg1-20mph-bartholomew2Millions more motorists could soon face reduced speed limits as new research by The Independent suggests that more than a third of local authorities have introduced measures to stop drivers exceeding 20mph on at least some roads, or are planning to do so.

In what is being hailed by campaigners as a “cultural shift”, as well as a significant reversal in decades of policy which prioritised motor vehicles over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, new figures show that dozens of cities and towns across England and Wales have either approved slowdown zones or are now considering introducing them. It is claimed a 10mph cut in the maximum speed limit could lead to a 40 per cent reduction in the number of road casualties, as well as reducing pollution, promoting cycling, walking and local shopping.

Meanwhile, public backing for a blanket 20mph limit in built-up areas has reached more than…

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New Years Ressies

Things I will do more in 2013 are be a bit healthier, happier, greener and wiser:

1. Healthier – start with a few B vitamin tablets, take less sugar in my tea and then graduate to a less fatty diet.
2. Happier – be more sociable, work and worry less, wander and wonder more.
3. Greener – starting with little things like using loose tea instead of tea bags, changing to green and local suppliers and to look at using less.
4. Wiser – read more poems, learn more about gardening, work smarter and be more creative.

Well there’s a plan, now to see if I can?