Free the Committee on Climate Change | Brussels Blog

Free the Committee on Climate Change

posted by on 28th Apr 2019

A note for the Committee on Climate Change

I intended to respond to the Zero carbon economy: Call for Evidence from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) but after a few weeks of being bedridden (nothing life-threatening), I missed the 7th December deadline. Having worked on preparation that I did not want to waste I have written this note.


  • The Climate Change Act (2008) measures greenhouse gas emissions incorrectly.
  • This shows UK emissions falling sharply but ignores aviation, shipping and imports.
  • UK emissions, measured properly, are falling far too slowly.
  • Per person UK greenhouse gas emissions are nearly twice the global average.

  • To keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C, there is a limit to global emissions – the remaining carbon budget.
  • At the current rate, global emissions will exhaust this budget in 12.7 years.
  • Unless emissions from production can be reduced quickly, consumption must be reduced.
  • That means #degrowth.

  • Most greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the affluent.
  • To save the climate, the affluent must consume less.
  • We need to find pleasant lifestyles that are climate friendly, which can attract world wide support.
  • A new disciplineis necessary … enhanced town planning.

  • The UK government’s climate brief has passed from an environmental department, DEFRA, to a business department, the Department of Business, Energy and Information Services BEIS.
  • BEIS is not serious about climate, promoting economic growth and fracking.
  • BEIS is the sponsoring department of the CCC.
  • The CCC must be freed from its sponsoring department, BEIS.

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The Institute of Enhanced Town Planning

posted by on 10th Apr 2019

See also:

The road to Hell

I have reluctantly got used to the terms “existential crisis” and “dystopia”. Also, I remember the embarrassment from Kenneth Tynan saying the F-word on TV in 1965 but describing the state we’re in needs more than polysyllabic words. So …

We’re fucked
We’ve fucked the planet
We live crap lives.

If there’s hope, it’s that our crap lives could be less crap: happier and less polluting.

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Climate destruction 2: Rowntree policy

posted by on 7th Apr 2019
Poverty with low carbon living

Summary from Part 1

  • Consumption causes greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change
  • Climate change means consumption must be reduced
  • The affluent consume far more than the poor
  • The affluent must reduce their enormous consumption
  • The poor should be supported

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation ‘solving UK poverty’

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Climate destruction 1: Economic Growth

posted by on 5th Apr 2019

It may be presumptuous to comment on anything Greta Thunberg says but here she gives an excellent example of how the affluent are destroying the climate – even the more well-meaning ones.

It beats the boring numbers below. I have struggled to make what follows both simple and clear so first here is a summary:

  • Consumption causes greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change
  • Climate change means consumption must be reduced
  • The affluent consume far more than the poor
  • The affluent must reduce their enormous consumption
  • The poor should be supported

There is an appendix on worries about the state of climate science.

The details follow…

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York Central: Open letter to City of York Councillors

posted by on 23rd Mar 2019

The floods in Mozambique are another call to wake us to the destruction of climate change.

The Pollution Tax Association, a small group of York residents, worried about similar floods in 2000, saying in a press release:

The York Branch of the Pollution Tax Association today donated £750 to the Oxfam Mozambique Appeal Fund.

“The human and environmental catastrophe in Mozambique is a result of climate change caused by pollution” said the Chair of the Pollution Tax Association. “We in the west need to give careful thought as to how we can reduce environmental pollution. Local actions, such as using your car when you don’t need to, have global consequences”.

At the time the link between climate change and the floods was considered speculative. Now Channel 4’s report points to a clearer link with climate change:

Climate scientists have been warning the world for decades that manmade climate change would do two things it would mean that hurricanes and cyclones will become more and more intense and that therefore some of the people with the world’s smallest carbon footprints would pay the heaviest price.

The key point in my objection is that the proposed York Central development would be responsible for substantial emissions of greenhouse gasses, which may not been properly assessed.

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York Central: A climate disaster

posted by on 13th Mar 2019

York Central is a climate disaster

UN Secretary General warns on Climate Change

The climate crisis

In September 2018, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, delivered a warning:

Dear friends of planet Earth,

Thank you for coming to the UN Headquarters today.

I have asked you here to sound the alarm.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment.

We face a direct existential threat.

Climate change is moving faster than we are – and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world.

If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.

As the Secretary General said

“We face a direct existential threat”.

Developments like that proposed for York Central increase this threat and as such are probably illegal.

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Carbon emissions in the lifetimes of cars

posted by on 11th Mar 2019

This is a note about the carbon emissions from new cars during their lifetimes and the relationship with the remaining carbon budget.

The remaining carbon budget

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The UK will be over 4 times over budget

posted by on 4th Mar 2019

Sending manufacturing overseas lowers our production based emission but then we import the goods increasing our consumption emissions.

Good progress? UK’s CO2 emissions keep falling

Carbon Brief has shown UK’s CO2 emissions fell for record sixth consecutive year:

The UK’s CO2 emissions have now been falling for six consecutive years, the longest run of reductions in records going back to 1850 (the blue area in the chart, below).

There were particularly large falls in 2014 (8.7%) and 2016 (5.9%), with 2018 seeing a more modest 1.5% reduction, according to Carbon Brief’s analysis. This means the UK’s CO2 emissions stood 39% below 1990 levels at an estimated 361MtCO2 in 2018.

This article measured the CO2 emissions from energy use in the UK. Emissions from making imported goods are not counted so when the UK manufacturing shuts down and its goods are replaced by imports, these measures fall.

This good progress will be hard to follow

On the BBC News Channel, Dr Simon Evans of Climate Brief did point out that “something like 97% of the reduction was down to using less coal to generate electricity so other parts of the economy aren’t doing so well”.

Now  there is a much less coal fired electricity generation this good progress will be harder too follow.

More good progress?

Another ‘good progress’ story is in a letter to Nature, Drivers of declining CO2 emissions in 18 developed economies, by Le Quéré et al. It shows that countries with the correct policies can lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions:

Here we analyse the drivers of decreasing CO2 emissions in a group of 18 developed economies that have decarbonized over the period 2005–2015. We show that within this group, the displacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy and decreases in energy use explain decreasing CO2 emissions. However, the decrease in energy use can be explained at least in part by a lower growth in gross domestic product.

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Green & Vegan map of York

posted by on 10th Feb 2019

This is a prototype – to be improved.


Items stocked

Items: Vegan ‘cheeses’

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“I want you to panic”

posted by on 28th Jan 2019

According to the IPCC , we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale.

Nor does it include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing Arctic permafrost.

The IPCC 1.5 °C report used models that omitted these feedbacks

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