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  • Kate Calvert 6:03 pm on July 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    The Benefits of Trees 

    An article from 2015 prompted by the loss of street trees in Sheffield but summarising the multiple benefits of trees https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/15/treeconomics-street-trees-cities-sheffield-itree.

    Sadly in the heat of the 2017 summer newly planted trees have been struggling so well worth getting out there to water them if you can –

  • Kate Calvert 5:24 pm on February 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Retrograde Solar Tax Proposed 

    The government plans a major tax on schools, hospitals and small businesses who run on solar power. If implemented this change would mean bills up to eight times higher than currently. The change would do very serious damage to the UK’s solar industry.

    This is just the next step in a sequence of attacks on solar energy which Greenpeace reports have resulted in 12,000 job losses across the country. Now this new tax hike would leave hundreds of solar-loving organisations with a negative return on their investment, successfully putting others off investing.

    Green MP Caroline Lucas recently commented:

    “People who are doing their best, doing their bit to try to reduce our climate emissions […] are now being penalised by this government.” 

    Labour Shadow Energy Secretary, Barry Gardiner,  said:

    “Businesses made their investments in clean technology as a sound financial decision. They did not expect the government retrospectively to classify their investment so as to subject it to eight times the level of tax. This will cost some businesses more than the value of the energy they are saving and they will be forced to rip these solar panels off their rooftops.”

    Greenpeace says the mainstream media aren’t reporting on the issue so have made a  60 second Greenpeace video on the subject which has already been watched more than 45,000 times.

    They are asking everyone to share it so the story moves up the media agenda. The link is at https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/solar-tax-video.

    The Greenpeace petition on the issue is at Solar Tax Petition.

  • Kate Calvert 7:17 pm on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: carbon footprint, low carbon technology, renewable technology, Renewables   

    15 Step to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint 

    The Guardian this week published a useful set of pointers https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/how-to-reduce-carbon-footprint in a supplement which also celebrated the good news https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/reasons-to-be-cheerful-full-switch-low-carbon-energy-in-sight. Among other stats this reports that worldwide more new renewable electricity capacity was added than all fossil fuels combined in 2015.As the author of both says ‘for the first time, we can hope that the momentum of low carbon growth is now unstoppable. In many cases around the globe, clean technology no longer needs any subsidy, a finding that seemed unachievable five years ago.’

  • Kate Calvert 4:11 pm on January 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , UK Energy   

    Half Our Electricity is Low Carbon 

    This news is from the unlikely source of the Times Deputy Business Editor, who over the holidays reported that for the first time, over this last summer half of Britain’s electricity was generated from low carbon sources.

    The trick is that half of those low carbon sources are nuclear – 25% – with a further 25% from renewable such as solar, wind and biomass – that last of doubtful renewability given that it relies on cutting down trees, many said to come from clearance of the Amazon rainforest.

    The percentage of power provided by coal-fired power stations has plummeted from 16.7 to just 3.6% of the total after the government announced their plan to shut them all within 10 years to meet climate change targets.

    While a spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reported that close to £52 billion had been invested in renewables since 2010, the National Grid reported that UK onshore and offshore wind trbines had set a new record by generating 10.1 gigawatts on December 7, or more than 20% of the total UK demand.

    Alongside a rise in electricity from gas there has been a big rise in output from solar panels with generation increasing by 30% between 2015 and 2016.

    The report knows that although making progress, the UK still lags some way behind Germany which leads the way of greener energy in Europe.

  • Kate Calvert 9:54 am on November 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: air, GLA, mayor, , school   

    More Than 60 Camden and Islington Primary Schools Suffer Polluted Air 

    A GLA report https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/hundreds-of-schools-exceed-air-quality-limits has found 33 Islington schools and 36 Camden schools with air which breaches permitted pollution levels. Examples around Pooterland are St Aloysius, Grafton School, St Joseph’s, Acland Burghley, Camden School for Girls, La Sainte Union, and Parliament Hill.

    Let us hope the new mayor takes action swiftly as pollution damages children even more than it does adults.

  • Kate Calvert 6:54 pm on October 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , play streets   

    Play Streets 

    Once upon a time children used to play in the street. Then came the invention of the car, and with that the powerful motoring lobby (cars were expensive, so by definition their drivers had influence) and playing in the street was made a criminal offence. Children would find themselves in the dock if they caused cars inconvenience. The book London Born http://www.londonborn.co.uk/, a memoir of life growing up in Highgate Newtown, paints a picture of what has been lost.

    But more recently there has been a pushback against this approach with the establishment of Play Streets. This involves closing a residential street to through traffic for two or three hours, generally once a month, and stewards making sure that the space is safe for children to meet and play. And of course the adults get to meet as well, so the whole thing increases local community.

    If you would like a Play Street where you live, the people to help you are London Play.  Funded by the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities programme, London Play is working with residents and councils in 12 London boroughs (including Islington and Camden) with a particular focus on disadvantaged areas, to reactivate a culture of children playing out in the streets near where they live, and to embed this in local policy. Its work on play streets in other boroughs is funded by the Department of Health which is interested in Play Streets as way to achieve a positive impact on activity levels in children and on childhood obesity. London Play can be contacted on info@londonplay.org.uk.

    Local examples of Play Streets include Fairbridge Road N19 fairbridgeplay@gmail.com 11am-1pm first Sunday of the month plus

    • Highwood Road N19 1-4pm first Sunday of the month
    • St George’s Avenue N7 1-4pm first Sunday of the month
    • Dresden Road N19 1-4pm first Sunday of the month
    • Ryland Road NW5 2-5pm last Sunday of the month
  • Kate Calvert 7:53 am on August 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antarctica, ice melt, sea levels   

    Antarctic Problems 

    Info provided by Northumbria Uni in the hope of recruiting more students – but worrying stuff

    Fresh understanding of West Antarctica has revealed how the region’s ice sheet could become unstable in a warming world.

    Scientists from Northumbria University, the University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, have determined how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet reacted to a period of warming after the coldest point of the most recent Ice Age, some 21,000 years ago.

    As the Earth warmed, the ice sheet reached a tipping point after which it thinned relatively quickly, losing 400m of thickness in 3,000 years, researchers found. This caused sea levels around the world to increase by up to two metres. Their findings will help scientists understand how the region may behave under future environmental change.

    Researchers studied peaks protruding through ice in the Ellsworth Mountains on the Atlantic coast of the continent, to determine how the land’s ice coverage has changed since the Ice Age. Scientists used chemical technology – known as exposure dating – to calculate how long rocks on the mountainside had been free from ice cover. They used their results to determine how the height of the ice sheet had changed over thousands of years.

    They found that this sector of the ice sheet – close to the Weddell Sea – had remained covered with thick ice long after other parts of the Earth had begun to emerge from the Ice Age. Heavier snowfall, caused by warmer air, probably helped to maintain the ice thickness. As the seas warmed, ice at the coast began to be lost to the oceans. Eventually, a tipping point was reached after which the ice sheet thinned more rapidly, retreating inland. The study was published in Nature Communications. It was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

    Professor John Woodward, of Northumbria University, said: “Ice sheets never quite respond in the way we would expect – in a warming world some ice sheets become unstable and collapse, yet some grow larger due to increased snow fall. This study helps us understand the timing of such responses in west Antarctica.”

    Dr Andrew Hein of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who jointly led the study, concurred, saying: “West Antarctica has undergone complex changes since the last Ice Age, and it quickly became unstable – similar processes may dominate the future of the region in a warmer world.”

    Cold and paleo environments are one of Northumbria’s research specialisms in the Department of Geography. Research involves field based projects in cold regions across the globe, including Antarctica, a range of high Arctic European and Canadian sites, New Zealand, the Alps, Alaska and Chile.

    The group applies novel techniques to field data collection, including ground-penetrating radar, new borehole radar technologies, seismics, NIR camera techniques, meteorological monitoring technologies, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), to address fundamental questions in Earth Systems Science. Cutting-edge physical and numerical modelling, remote sensing and laboratory techniques for palaeo-environmental work are also applied.

  • Kate Calvert 8:33 am on July 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply

    London Air Pollution Survey Closes End July 

    After the stasis of Mr Johnson’s tenure the new mayor is proposing a genuine step change in attitudes to air pollution in the city and there’s a consultation on the suggestions at https://talklondon.london.gov.uk/cleaning-londons-air-pollution. (For a start, no mealy mouthed reference to ‘air quality’ but a title that recognises the need for action.)

    The introductory page https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air-quality/your-views-how-can-we-clean-our-air notes that

    • 9,416 LONDONERS die early every year because of air pollution
    • £3.7 BILLION is the cost of air pollution to London’s economy
    • 24% PRIMARY SCHOOLS are in areas that breech the legal limit for NO2 (air pollution)
    • You are 2x AS LIKELY TO DIE from lung diseases if you live in deprived vs affluent areas of London

    Suggestions for addressing this include widening the ULEZ (ultra low emission zone) and bringing forward the start dates for such controls, plus various ideas for permanent or temporary closure of roads to vehicles, as well as the idea of a vehicle scrappage scheme, ie paying a fee to owners of polluting vehicles to take them out of circulation.

    There’s also space to add your own ideas which could include

    • Ring fencing the charges for entering the ULEZ to pay for changes to make walking and cycling easier and more attractive
    • Introducing more car club vehicles so those who give up their cars can transfer easily to using shared vehicles
    • Introducing a day-time ban for large vehicles, which as well as being polluting (being diesel) are so dangerous particularly for cyclists.


    • Sydney 2:38 pm on July 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      My suggestions will be that we need a step change in encouraging electric vehicles, which means aligning this strategy with easy to access low cost charging network, fuelled by renewable energy – and encouragement for community groups rather than the obstacles that were there for St Annes.

    • Meg Howarth 2:27 pm on July 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply


      Air-pollution is the greatest public-health threat Londoners currently face. Cleaning up the air we breathe must therefore be top of the mayor’s agenda – alongside housing.

      But the city’s toxic air is itself a symptom – of an unsustainable transport system: too much vehicular road traffic of all kinds. All fuels produce toxic byproducts. Deadly diesel may be the major but isn’t the only culprit. Before that it was lead – with children the biggest losers in both cases. The lasting lesson of the successful (worldwide) unleaded-petrol campaign is that the private-car-centric transport model that dominates all our cities, not only London, has replaced one health-damaging product by another. Eliminating diesel is a necessary but insufficient move towards a healthy city.

      A clean-air London needs a huge reduction in the numbers of vehicles of all kinds on the roads – something increasingly recognised across Europe (we haven’t left yet) and elsewhere but thinking entirely absent from Sadiq Khan’s mayoral questionnaire with its fiscal short-termist agenda. Higher prices to drive in the city will hit the poorest and be ignored by the better-off. A publicly funded car-scrappage scheme may help the former towards a less-polluting lifestyle but replacing one vehicle by another won’t produce a healthy population, or a liveable city. Obesity is already a huge personal and social problem.

      Meanwhile the car-fixated transport shapers and shifters falsely promote electric vehicles as emissions-free. While removing toxic exhaust emissions from the air around us, this techno-fix is dependent on CO2-producing electricity.

      A healthy liveable London requires a car-free city and local town-centres. Anything that shirks that responsibility is fiddling.

      It’s not a step change we need but a mental modal shift.

      Footnote: City Hall transport committee chair, Val Shawcross, appears to have got that: this morning she announced the creation of a walking and cycling commissioner.

  • Kate Calvert 12:06 pm on July 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Good Energy Reports Genuine Progress in Renewable Energy in the UK 

    The renewable energy supplier Good Energy has just released its annual report http://www.goodenergy.co.uk/media/W1siZiIsIjU3NjExYjRlOWRiYTY5MjhlODAwMDkzYSJdXQ/GE005_ProgressReport2016_ONLINEPDF_LORES.pdf 

    As well as discussing Good Energy’s activities they mention that last year:

    • Renewable electricity generation outstripped coal for the first time in the UK, producing a quarter of all the electricity we use in the UK.
    • Wind energy contributed a record 11% of UK electricity.
    • Solar capacity increased from just 96MW in 2010 to over 8,200MW in 2015.
    • In May 2016, for the first time ever, there were four periods when our homes and businesses were being powered without the need to burn coal.

    So why put all that money into fracking?


  • Kate Calvert 1:51 pm on June 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Emailing Government about GM 

    The Letter from America offers the opportunity to write to your MP about GM crops with an easy click through link.

    The Letter from America itself is a referenced report on the hazard of GM crops with the issue summarised as:

    ‘Through our experience we have come to understand that the genetic engineering of food has never really been about public good, or feeding the hungry, or supporting our farmers. Nor is it about consumer choice. Instead it is about private, corporate control of the food system.

    ‘The control extends into areas of life that deeply affect our day-to-day well-being, including food security, science, and democracy. It undermines the development of genuinely sustainable, environmentally friendly agriculture and prevents the creation of a transparent, healthy food supply for all.’

    • Adam Hardy 9:39 pm on June 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      GMO crops are doubly damaging because of the way they are designed for use in large monocultures and then saturated in potent herbicides and pesticides. (e.g. glyphosate)

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