Eco News Q4 2021

In This Issue

  • Editorial:
    • Event of the Quarter – COP26
    • QE is Now a Charity
    • The Future is Hydrogen
    • Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
  • Forthcoming Events:
    • Talk 4th February – “Draughts of Money” 
    • Talk 4th March – “Electric Vehicles – Myths, Truths & Reality” 
  • Point of View!
  • In Case You Missed It!:
    • Hydrogen Bus Fleet Launched   
    • Power for an Electric Train    

Editorial:

Event of the Quarter:  Without a doubt, COP26!  Can it be called a success?  There are certainly a lot of doubts.  Even Chairman Sharma called it “imperfect”; and his concluding statement continued that sentiment – We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive.  But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action”.

In our view COP26 had only a limited success.  It had a positive impact in that it raised the consciousness of nations, once again, to the urgent need for essential changes in our collective lifestyle if we are to rein in global warming; but in reality it put off action in many sectors until mañana – COP27. 

So what did it achieve?  What promises were made by its 196 attendees?  What can we consider to be the action plan that came out of it?  Here are the main promises:

  • Money:  “The wealthy nations” promised to pay developing countries $100Bn for “climate finance” before 2023.
  • Investments:  Mark Carney promised to move trillions of dollars of private capital towards supporting clean technology
  • Trees:  More than 100 countries promised to reverse deforestation by 2030.
  • Methane:  90 countries promised to cut emissions of methane by 30% by 2030. 
  • Creating markets:  40 nations promised to impose standards, incentives and rules to create markets for new technologies.
  • UK rules:  The Treasury promised to force big firms and financial institutions to show how they intend to hit climate change targets.
  • Fossil Fuel Subsidies:  25 countries promised to end the financing of “unabated” fossil fuel projects by 2022.  “Unabated” projects are those that do not capture greenhouse gas emissions at the source.
  • Coal:  More than 40 countries promised to phase out coal and end all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally.  The EU, UK and the US promised to grant South Africa £6bn to ditch coal

The pundits maintain that these promises, plans and pledges are insufficient to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.  That is not surprising given that only one of them – deforestation – was backed by a majority of the 196 nations that attended.  There is therefore an astonishing amount of work to be done to fill the “Remaining Gap”.

The Pledge Gap

Source:  IEA, updated 12Oct21

Unless the gap is filled with speed, analysts warn that the Planet will have set course for 2.4º C of warming by the end of the century.  A particularly sobering thought when we see more and more extreme weather events (raging storms and tornadoes, increased heat, drought, flood and fire); and we are only at 1.1° C of warming! 

What is clear is that, overall, COP26 did not achieve the hoped for level of commitment.  Governments dithered, some made promises, others opted out altogether including many of the big polluters.  No wonder Sharma refers to a “weak pulse”.  Will it be strong or feeble at COP27?  Is there some wry significance or forewarning in the fact that it will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, the south Sinai desert?

See in detail what was promised and by whom on – Infographic: What has your country pledged at COP26? | Infographic News | Al Jazeera.

QE is Now a Charity:  The second big event of the quarter is precisely that!  It is with pride that we announce that our application for QE to become an association Charitable Incorporated Organisation has been successful.  We are now registered charity number 1196489, see QUANTOCK ECO – 1196489 (charitycommission.gov.uk)

You may remember that as a “group of volunteers” we had no legal status and could not apply for grants to carry out projects such as helping households in fuel poverty to improve their lot. That has now changed.  We now have the status of a charity regulated by the laws of the land, and governed by the terms of the Charity Commission’s constitution for an association CIO.  This should enable us to apply for funding to carry out useful projects for our communities.  We have now approached HMRC to register for Gift Aid.

The Future is Hydrogen:  The fact that the majority of COP26 nations admitted that fossil fuels have to be replaced, sooner or later, by clean, sustainable alternatives is the most positive result that came out of the event. 

Hydrogen is one of the best candidates to do that.  It can deliver both power and heat.  When burnt it generates only water, leaves no GHG residues, and can be used at any time of the day or night, whatever the weather.  It is not toxic, it is light (“14 times lighter than air”!), storable, and energy-dense.

As a source of energy it has a long history.  It powered the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago, and is now an integral part of modern industry.  It is used in oil refining, and the production of ammonia, methanol, and steel. 

Which means it already features in our everyday life:  steel is ubiquitous; while ammonia is used for refrigerant gases, water purification, plastics, explosives, textiles, pesticides, and dyes; and methanol in the manufacture of plastics, paints, fuels and building materials.

The problem is that virtually all hydrogen currently manufactured uses fossil fuels and releases, worldwide, GHG emissions equivalent to the total emissions of the UK and Indonesia combined!  There are four main sources of the world’s hydrogen production:  natural gas (produces “blue” hydrogen), oil, coal (“black” hydrogen), and electrolysis (“green” hydrogen).  Each process accounts for 48%, 30%, 18% and 4% of respectively. 

Splitting water (H2O) into H2, hydrogen and O2, oxygen by electrolysis using clean, sustainable energy (as wind and solar) is acknowledged as the way forward.  It currently has a tiny share of the global energy market, and is uncompetitive against fossil-fuelled alternatives.  However, a number of countries have introduced policies supporting direct investment in the large-scale expansion of hydrogen technologies.

This investment is increasing rapidly and is complemented by the rapid growth in solar and wind energy.  As a result, the hydrogen project pipeline has grown seven-fold since December 2020 and is expected to rise rapidly post 2030.  

Hydrogen Production by Colour 2020 – 2050

Source: Wood Mackenzie

It is now expected that green hydrogen will be competitive with fossil fuel hydrogen in several markets by the end of this decade.  For more see Hydrogen: Fuelling the future | Article | ING Think

Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint:  Our seminar of 26th November was a success.  An interesting discussion led by MC Mike Davis, Cllr Dave Mansell and Ian Myers was triggered by the table below, which we now share with you.  Any questions do get back to us.

For better viewing of this table please zoom 200x

Here are the results of the survey on which was conducted prior to the seminar.  If you didn’t take part, please calculate your carbon footprint now using WWF Footprint Calculator, and compare your result with the sample data.

Forthcoming Events

“Draughts of Money”:  This down-to-earth talk will be held at St Mary’s Church Centre, Nether Stowey, on 4th February 2022 (lots of parking spaces). Doors open at 6:30 pm for a 7 o’clock start. 

It will cover “The Great Heat Escape” – how heat escapes from a typical house and increases energy costs; “The Escape Tunnels” – draught proofing; “Daylight Robbery” – heat escape through windows; “The Uninvited Guest” – external doors; and end with “You Can Save Draughts of Money!” – a workshop with hands-on testing and application of draught proofing products and DIY ideas.

It will be given by Catherine Simpson, a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of CIBSE and the Energy Institute.  She has an MSc in ‘Energy in Buildings’ from Cranfield Institute of Technology, and 35 years’ experience in saving energy in a wide range of building applications.  She is recognised as a specialist in her field.  For more see http://www.buildingsimulation.co.uk/.

“Electric Vehicles – Myths, Truths & Reality”:  This talk will be held at Crowcombe Village Hall on 4th March 2022 (doors open at 6:30 pm for a 7 o’clock start). 

It will be given by Mark Hodgson, founder of Co-Cars (2005) and Co-Bikes (2016).  Mark has extensive knowledge of the shared electric mobility market.  He has also worked with Riversimple, a UK made hydrogen car.  When he’s not working he can be found outside cycling, walking or travelling.  For more see https://www.co-cars.co.uk/.

Point of View!:  Our Special Issue 7, “Is This the Final Red Light?”, written by Ian Myers – see https://www.quantockeco.org.uk/2021/11/10/quantock-eco-news-special-issue-7-is-this-the-final-red-light/, created quite a stir.  It was described variously as “a finely honed, brutally honest wake up call”, “hard-hitting and very readable article which deserves top billing”; and a request was even made for permission to “print a copy … to put on our notice board”. 

But, not all points of view were the same – see this exchange!  Do let us have your views.

Counterpoint:  Yes, Climate change is with us and we (citizens of the world) must act.  However study the facts !  The UK is a small island nation with a population of some 70 million out of a global population of c 7 billion.

Governments can only enable a situation where improvements are to be expedited.  People must all play the major part.  Diktat by Government just causes a negative thought process.  Laws must be thought through or else the Law of unintended consequences takes command.  Think China’s “One child only policy”.  Huge resentment and the realisation that there would be no young persons remaining to “do the work” or look after the old population.

As a War Baby I was taught the value of Thrift, Dig for Victory and Make do and Mend.  Those words now translate into :- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle so those of us over 60 do not need to be lectured by Swedish teenagers and other Eco activists about our despoliation of the planet.

Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain and other anarchist groups have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in alienating virtually all of those who are concerned but not given to overt action!  Sir David Attenborough has a much more positive approach in stating the situation as it is and its potential cataclysmic results by suggesting a way forward and acknowledging the huge strides made by many people and organisations globally.

What will work:- Lead by example UK has reduced its carbon footprint by 30% + in last 40 years.  Technological innovation.  Sorry Prince William the space and arms race has ecologically benefitted mankind.  Think of those satellite photos actual showing the damage humans are causing to the planet.  Education especially, in STEM subjects (and as a by product the use and misuse of statistics).

What will not work:- “Greenwashing” by Companies and Government departments.  Brain numbing stupidity.  Insulate Britain. Extinction Rebellion whose important basic message which they try, and fail, to promote becomes counter productive and makes many good and caring people turn against them. 

Hypocrisy.  Megan Markle and Emma Thompson and bandwagon climbing “Celebs” who talk a lot but are devoid of action.  Political trench digging:- Anti nuclear because we are anti nuclear.  The time is long past for tub thumping and idealistic meaningless slogans. 

All form of energy generation and power now use considerably less fuel to give considerably greater efficiency/mileage at considerably less exhaust pollution and much safer.  I keep my low emissions petrol VW which is now 10 years old rather than buying a new electric car which will require lithium and electricity to make it work.  Let alone the cardon footprint in manufacture and scrapping of a perfectly functioning vehicle. 

The thrust of invention should be the removal of pollution from hydrocarbon fuel which is a natural by product of other essential oil derivatives.  Where is the lithium to be sourced and more important how is the electricity to be produced?  Hinkley Point C is still several years off.  Sizewell C is yet to go ahead.  Renewables are too variable to rely upon them so old coal/oil/gas fired stations will need to be brought back into service.  German Greens closed their nuclear facilities so Germany now imports both nuclear and fossils fuelled power from abroad.  Please inform me as to how that can be considered Green??

Riposte (from Ian Myers)Thanks for your views – interesting as ever.  I don’t agree with all you say but do see some of your points.  In reply:

  • Interesting that you think ‘lecturing’ by teenagers and XR rebellions are not effective – not sure you are right with that one – they have shifted the dial I feel and raised awareness – Insulate Britain have made the news quite a bit and got the discussion going – these are acts of desperation in a time of crises about something as simple and sensible as saving energy and money.
  • I have immense respect for David Attenborough and support all he does and says but years of ‘rational’ and polite argument have failed to influence the decision makers and powerful vested interests that are wrecking this planet – this isn’t just about public opinion as many of the decisions are made without any public awareness.
  • The UK hasn’t reduced its carbon footprint by 40% – it has exported it and real reduction might be in the order of 7% since 1990 – we’ve done well compared to many but we had coal and much wind – we’ve picked the low hanging fruit that’s all – let’s consider the facts with this one rather than trot out the same old rubbish – that’s what the current government do and it leads to complacency and a feeling that we’ve done our bit and its now makes little difference – the UK like most nations hasn’t done enough and isn’t sustainable – the city of London finances the destruction of the earth – sorry!
  • Nuclear power won’t save us or the world – there isn’t enough to replace the coal power stations and burning coal is the number one problem – in essence nuclear isn’t the solution to our coal and carbon problem – it might be 5-10% of the solution but it’s expensive and very slow.
  • Hydrogen sounds great but it also expensive and immature – we should get cracking.
  • Germany’s energy policy is indeed daft – scrapping nuclear power before time just to burn lignite is particularly stupid.
  • The space, arms and air industry are not innovating green solutions – green flying is years away and we still fly 40 year old aircraft passed down to developing nations – the growth in air travel will blow the carbon budget in no time. 
  • Government diktat might actually work and may well be needed – think Covid measures. Anyway government decisions are being made every day – it’s not dictat more like poor or corrupted judgements – e.g. investment in roads in the next 5 years = £26B compared to the green strategy £4B. Not sure the chancellor gets it either looking at the budget.

We are in a crisis so we do have to be radical …

In Case You Missed It

Hydrogen Bus Fleet Launched:  London launches England’s first hydrogen bus fleet.  For more see https://www.zap-map.com/london-launches-englands-first-hydrogen-bus-fleet/

Power for an Electric Train:  Brendon Energy are a renewable energy co-op who provide community-funded installations in Somerset West and Taunton, including solar PV projects at Wiveliscombe, North Curry and Brompton Regis.  They are undertaking a feasibility study for a project near Bishops Lydeard station, which would involve battery storage and renewable energy to power a new Go-op electric train service.  Please complete their survey on the project at:  forms.office.com/r/wzGygYk6J9, which will be open to collect as many responses as possible until 20 December.

We welcome discussion, so please let us have your views via email at our address quantockeco@btinternet.com.  

For more on Quantock Eco please go to our website www.quantockeco.org.uk and join our Facebook group on https://www.facebook.com/groups/331095730922655.

Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year.

To contact QE or unsubscribe please email us at quantockeco@btinternet.com

Editorial Note:  Many of the images in this newsletter are copyright protected.  Reuse may be subject to “legal remedies”.

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