Saturday, 1 February 2020

Biomass power generation


Sounds good doesn’t it?  Nice and green. Dig into it a bit further though and it’s a different story.  The majority of biomass is cutting trees down in the USA, making them into pellets, shipping them across to Liverpool, loading them on trains and transporting them across to Drax to be burnt to make power. Doesn’t sound so good now does it?  Even if you accept trees as a power source as carbon neutral, the transport of the pellets makes the claim on renewable power a farce. It’s somewhat ironic that as we push to plant more trees, others are cutting trees down to supply our power while claiming it’s environmental.

If you want to see what’s going on try the Gridwatch web site.  Here you can see the reality of where our power is coming from.  How we rely on interconnectors to our near European neighbours (Brexit impact unknown!) which means exporting our power generation pollution (e.g. France is 75% nuclear powered).  Once again we are exporting our pollution to other countries.

You can also see what happens on sunny days.  Yes, solar ramps up but mysteriously wind power generation can drop, even when the wind is blowing well.  This is due to curtailment, where wind generators are paid not to generate power so as to preserve our power generation agreements with other generators and interconnector partners. 

Curtailing renewable power, when it could be stored or used to generate green hydrogen is surely an environmental “crime” that needs addressing.  It’s all a symptom of a skewed power generation market that needs overhauling, but I’m not going to hold my breath. 

Frustrating?  Totally.

Bruce Wakley

Do you love/hate Marmite?


So, do you want HS2?

It seems to me it is like Marmite or Brexit or Veganism. You either want it or don’t want it – love it or hate it. Everyone has an opinion.

I’m afraid I don’t want it – well not in its present form – but not because I don’t want railways because I do. Well, I try to be an environmentally conscious person so I would - wouldn’t I? I want to get some cars off the road and get more people onto trains after all. Also, it isn’t because of the cost although I realise that is astronomical.

No, the reason I have to say – we can’t go ahead is because of the Ancient Forests. Did you know that 108 Ancient Forests are in the path of HS2? Which makes me wonder what the point is in the Government saying let’s plant 11 million new trees, whilst at the same time planning to chop down thousands of ancient trees!  Obviously planting new trees is good but saplings are not nearly the same as a 300-year-old tree when it comes to sucking up the CO2 in the atmosphere.

So, whether you love/hate Marmite, Brexit or HS2 – take a stand for nature – for the Ancient Forests – take a stand and say NO we can’t do this! We have to look for another route or another way forward – if you have time – write to your M.P. and don’t just ask them to re-think – beg them to save the trees. Make a stand for Nature and help us all to breathe cleaner air. We might not get a second chance.

Melanie Wakley

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Climate Action Plan consultation - don't forget to respond!


Leicester City Council were the first council in the East Midlands to acknowledge that there is now an urgent need to act on climate change; they declared a climate emergency in February last year. They are following this up by writing a Climate Action Plan for the city, with proposals for reducing the environmental impact of housing, workplaces, transport, land use and even the products we buy.  


The City Council have published their proposals and they are asking people for their comments before they write the final plan. We have responded, firstly by praising the Council’s approach to writing the plan and secondly by asking that sustainability be embedded within every department, committee, and policy of the Council so that the impact on the environment is always considered first. 


We have stated that they think the Council now needs to set annual goals for reducing carbon emissions and then create a carbon budget for the Council’s activities. We are also asking the Council to take all of their pension fund investments out of fossil fuels, explaining that it is incompatible with their declaration of a climate emergency to continue to invest their employees’ money in the dirty energy that has created this problem. You can read our full consultation response here.


Leicester Friends of the Earth are part of Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire, a group of individuals and organisations working together to address the climate crisis. (We helped to launch this group last year.) Climate Action is encouraging everyone to respond to the consultation and they have written a briefing and a template letter to help people, which are available on their website. They will also be running a drop-in event on Saturday 2nd February, from 1pm to 4pm at Quest Gaming on Belvoir Street, where people can write their responses to the Council’s proposals together.


We hope that thousands of people in Leicester will get involved in helping the Council to write a Climate Action Plan for our city. Democracy doesn’t start and end at election time – we can have our say about the Council’s plans at any time and on such an important issue, it is really important that everyone joins the conversation about how we can tackle climate change.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

"Jingle Bells, Fracking Smells"


We decided to celebrate Christmas this year with some divestment campaigning, by joining Red Leicester Choir to sing anti-fossil fuel carols in three banks in Leicester. 

In Barclays, we sang ‘We wish you would stop drilling’, in HSBC we sang ‘Jingle bells, fracking smells’ and in Santander we sang ‘Dirty energy, dirty energy’ to the tune of ‘Oh Christmas tree’. All three banks invest their customers’ money in dirty fossil fuels and we wanted to voice our objection to this and encourage people to move their money. We hope these banks will make a New Year’s resolution to clean up their investment policy!

Saturday, 30 November 2019

'Trees Please' at the Big Climate Fightback


Since the launch of Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire, working groups have formed to look at different areas of climate policy and they have all been busy. The trees group have dubbed themselves ‘Trees Please’ and on Saturday 30th November, they organised a trip to Shipley Country Park in Derbyshire, to help the Woodland Trust plant the Young People’s Forest as part of the Big Climate Fightback campaign. X people and one dog went along and spent the afternoon braving the mud to plant trees, with most people managing to plant about 15 trees each. (The dog tried to dig a few up, but we distracted her with a stick to chew.) This was good training because ‘Trees Please’ are aiming to plant 20,000 trees in Leicester! 



If you’re not already part of Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire, get in touch to find out how to get involved.


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Climate Action Leicester


Across the country, Climate Action Groups are starting up to bring together seasoned campaigners and people new to activism to call for action on climate change. They are asking local councils to declare a climate emergency and then adopt ambitious climate action plans to tackle the problem. 

In Leicester, we held a launch meeting for our Climate Action Group on Sunday 29th September. We had booked Secular Hall, expecting that to provide plenty of space, but then 85 people showed up and we were quite cosy! 



Mel and Zina facilitated the event on behalf of Leicester Friends of the Earth. We began by talking to each other about what had brought us to the meeting and what upsets us most about climate change. This gave everyone the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit. We also discussed effective campaigns for change that we had seen or been part of, to help collect ideas about what works. 


We then split into groups and looked at ideas for actions that local councils can take on climate change in different areas: transport, housing, green spaces and education. Everyone had time to consider every topic and vote for the ideas that they thought would be most effective in Leicester. When we collected all the votes together, we were able to identify the following policies that we want to see in Leicester City Council's Climate Action Plan:

General

  • To set annual measurable targets for Leicester to achieve net zero greenhouse reduction by 2030.
  • To require officers and councillors to identify for each council decision whether the recommendations would help or hinder carbon reduction.
  • That council to set up a cross-party, non-partisan Climate Emergency Advisory Committee.

Buildings

  • To enforce building standards.
  • To require higher standards than current national standards for all new developments.

Nature

  • To protect existing local green spaces, green belt and locally designated nature sites
  • To increase tree cover on council-owned land to 20%, update local planning strategies to double tree cover across the Local Authority area, ensure existing trees are properly protected to store carbon support nature, improve soils and water quality, aid flood protection and urban design.

Transport

  • To reduce car use through measures such as promoting car sharing, improving the bus service, and constraining road space
  • To prioritise transport investment into cycling, walking, trams and public transport, such as electric buses
  • To improve and integrate our public transport system.

We sent this list to the mayor, Peter Soulsby, and we have now set up smaller working groups to campaign in each area. If you missed the launch meeting but you would like to get involved in a working group, please email leicesterclimateaction@gmail.com. The City Council will be launching a 
consultation on their new Climate Action Plan this Autumn and we need as 
many people as possible to get involved in the campaign for action on climate 
change in Leicester!


Saturday, 31 August 2019

Michael Sackin

We were sad to hear recently that Michael Sackin, an active member of Leicester Friends of the Earth, died on 12th August. Michael had been part of the group since 1995, until his health prevented him coming to meetings. Even when he was unwell, he continued contributing to email discussions until just a few months ago. He was a dedicated activist and had been involved in all of our campaigns over the past few years. He spent many hours standing on street stalls and talking to members of the public about 20 mph speed limits, air pollution and the need to protect our bees. He was particularly concerned about genetically-modified organisms and agricultural chemicals. Michael will be fondly remembered by all of us as a true friend of the Earth.

His family have set up a Just Giving page to collect donations to national Friends of the Earth in his name and we will be making a group donation.