THE BUNTINGFORD POST-COP CLIMATE CAFÉ
Friday 19th November 2021 – 18.30 to 20.20 @ Freman College, Buntingford
1. George Holland and Marco Avanzato – Freman College:
– George talked about what happened at the COP in Glasgow, telling us that the main thing that happened was the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) – with the critical Clause 36 which “calls upon Parties to scale up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies;” The other main thing is the “Annual Ratchet” – the fact that governments will now be required to come to the COP every year with increased NDC ambitions (Nationally Determined Contributions) in climate change. Most countries increased their NDCs and 24 countries promised to get to Net Zero by 2030. So Glasgow was a GOOD COP: it kept 1.5 degrees alive.
– Marco talked about what he’d like to see happen at Freman College as a result. It would build on what they had already done – which includes:
i. A ban on single use plastic
ii. The use of Vegware compostable packaging in the canteen
iii. Complete re-insulation of the school buildings
iv. LED Lighting throughout the schools with motion sensor switches
– There used to be a Climate organisation + an Amnesty Group in the School – and the school holds the Guiness Record for most demonstrations in a day. Amnesty continues – but interest in climate has wained: Marco and George will seek to change that, and re-invent the Climate organisation post-COP;
– Also – they will follow up on the Curriculum education challenge of Educating students about Climate Change: it comes up in a lot of subjects – but there is no dedicated study of it. There needs to be.
2. Ben Crystall – Herts County Council:
– Ben wasn’t at the COP so didn’t want to talk too much about what happened there. He always wants to “Wait and See” – if the bold pledges actually come to anything 4-6 months down the road. What he was impressed by was that, for two weeks straight during the COP, climate change was at the top of the news in all media – and so definitely consciousness and awareness of the challenge was raised.
– As a Green Councillor at Local County Level, a lot is happening and will happen as a result:
• Herts Declared a Climate Emergency in 2019;
• It has a Sustainability Strategy to get all its operations (including schools) carbon neutral by 2030;
• It’s investing a lot in Adaptation
• It has a plan to increase biodiversity by 20% by 2030
• It is spending £25m on insulating schools
• Next year, it is starting to replace all gas boilers with air source heat pumps
• Buntingford is going to have Hertfordshire’s first net zero, carbon neutral Eco-School – at the Village;
• We’ve introduce the first on-demand Lynx Bus. Use it – it’s like Uber; it comes to you!
• Visit the Herts Eco-Fair COP Follow-up event on Saturday 27th November at County Hall; Register HERE!
3. David Harvey – Wickham Hall:
– David explained that he didn’t watch the detail of the COP but that, as one of several generations of farmers in Hertfordshire, he believes himself to be a “custodian of the environment.” Therefore, in building the Wickham Hall Business Park, environmental concerns are at the heart of everything: he has installed one solar PV park, and has submitted a planning application for a second, bigger one. As part of each, he is creating vegetation which will draw back the biodiversity to the farm which traditional farming has driven away.
– Two things coming out of COP and the general shift to a Green Sustainable Economy:
1. Each COP is a way-marker – not an end in itself. It is a milestone along the road to achieving a sustainable, carbon neutral world. Therefore we all have a duty to watch what happens at each COPs to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.
2. Technology is moving at such a rate he is confident that we’re going to make it. He’s an optimist. His new solar park combined with VRF systems warm and cool all his business units and still generate enough power to enable him always to export power to the grid. As a businessman, his initiatives have to make a profit as well as be eco-friendly otherwise they are not sustainable. And the new technologies coming through are just amazing: he urges us all to look at the story of John Goodenough, inventor of Computer RAM and Lithium Ion Batteries. Goodenough, now aged 99 and still a professor at the University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering where he has just developed and patented the Glass Battery – a new solid-state battery that David feels will be to EVs what petrol was to the Internal Combustion Engine. With higher energy density and faster charging times than the Lithium Ion battery, the Glass Battery joins a range of new battery technologies including Honda’s Fluoride Ion, silicon ion sulfide and other emerging battery technologies all of which will revolutionise the energy landscape in the next decade.
4. Jonathan Ling – Buntingford Town Council:
– Jonathan is the Chair of the Council’s Resources committee – therefore has an interest in managing the resources of the town in a sustainable way. He supported Buntingford in Transition’s Plastic-free Buntingford Campaign and his committee is supporting the initiative to restore and conserve Buntingford’s chalk stream.
– He is also the leader of the Phoenix Project – which, he hopes will eventually rise-up and create “shared space” streets in Buntingford that slow traffic and allow pedestrians and traffic to co-exist together. London’s Exhibition Road is perhaps the best-known example in the UK along with Poynton, Cheshire.
– As an engineer, he shares David’s interest in technological breakthroughs, especially in the battery field.
– He is passionate to see more of this new technology discussed and taught in schools as this will be the solution to the challenges young people will face in their lifetimes.
5. David Woollcombe, Madela Baddock, Lauren Banham – COP 26 Ambassadors:
– David introduced a series of images from the Glasgow COP:
The site of the COP in Glasgow’s SEC Entrance to the Green Zone with #One Step Greener Display New Technology: Hydrogen JCB
Big promotions for Plant-based Meats Businesses Powering Past Coal & investing in Blue Forests The Main Negotiation Chamber
Obama’s Speech – one of the Best The Pakistan Pavilion The USA Pavilion
The Tuvalu Pavilion The 100,000 Demonstration
– Madela Baddock commented that the COP had been great for her – and that a rainbow had appeared during the Climate Justice demonstration which may have meant something. The most significant event she attended was the UNESCO meeting of Ministers where they announced new programmes of Climate Change Education in all schools. UK Minister of Education, Nadhim Zahawi’s plan for Climate Change education in UK schools was particularly impressive.
– David then summarised the Key outcomes from the COP – including the education announcement that Madela mentioned, and the Glasgow Climate Pact that George discussed. He also mentioned the Annual Ratchet which many felt extremely significant and the Forest & Methane agreements reached early on the Meeting.
– He drew particular attention to the G-FANZ announcement of $130 Trillion dollars worth of investment funds which a coalition co-chaired by Mark Carney had put together to target new investments in the green economy from the world’s biggest private investment companies. That is an extremely promising development – as private finance forged the first industrial revolution and it will likely forge the green one.
– Nobody had heard of C-BAM. David hadn’t seen it discussed at all in the Media but he believes it was the key breakthrough at the COP as, FINALLY! – it puts a price on Carbon. It has been introduced as part of the European Union’s Green Deal. The Carbon border Adjustment Mechanism (C-BAM) charges goods manufactured in countries that do not impose the carbon price to pay that price at the border in order to be sold in the EU. The UK, Turkey, Switzerland and Norway have already signed up to it, and they are negotiating with the USA and Canada. If it is implemented globally, it could be the game-changer.
– David finished by explaining that the Fossil Fuel Era which the UN Secretary General announced in September is over, was only ever a blip in the history of civilisation. Our tragedy is that, long before all fossil fuels run out, our world will be fried by Climate Change. So – it is our generational challenge to accelerate our transition out of the fossil fuel blip back into the sustainable energy tradition where humanity has lived for most of its history. How to do it? David suggests we each adopt a Personal Carbon Budget – and buy carbon credits off poorer people if we want to exceed that budget.
– Last word to Lauren Banham, our youngest COP Ambassador: She said that, for her, the most impressive thing on display were the technological innovations – like the JCB Hydrogen powered digger. That and the mass of passionate people deeply committed to solving the Climate Emergency. That, for her, was far more impressive than the government negotiations and treaties which, as we’ve seen, may well be broken.
– She also felt committed to the principle of Shared Responsibility as illustrated by the new Peace Child Forum Theatre show. In the story, each sector – government, business, advertisers, the UN, the Military – everyone passes the buck and says that the responsibility lies elsewhere. The truth is, responsibility lies with all of us: we are all complicit in creating the Climate Emergency and we all have to play a role in resolving it.
* * *
• Table ONE: Madela Baddock Reported –
– her table wants more meetings like this;
– And more Citizens’ Assemblies – like the UK-wide Climate Assembly organised by parliament;
– Stop tearing down trees on the London Road; that’s not improvement!
– Councils need to focus on local, bottom-up aspirations of citizens, not top-down diktats of central government;
– Good that COPs are now requiring governments to ratchet up their Climate ambitions every year
• Table TWO: David Stokes Reported –
– his table talked about Battery technology: massive improvements happening in many areas;
– The priority need is ground up attitudinal change. It happened with Drink Driving and smoking – they are now pariah behaviours. The same must happen for climate destroying activities;
– Top Down legislation must support the Ground Up changes by, for example, legislating for an end to building cars with internal combustion engines(ICEs). That forces the private sector to invest. They then advertise their new EV products making it seem very attractive to consumers, thus driving the attitudinal change in a virtuous circle.
(David W told that he learned from the COP that 90% of cars sold in Norway last year were electric and that ALL new houses in Sweden have to have ground- or air-source heat pumps, both arel a result of government legislation – why can’t we do that here?)
• Table THREE: Ben Crystall Reported –
– his table felt that the COP was good – but they were frustrated by the lack of Government Action;
– In the absence of strong central government action, there must be more effort to take Local Action:
– Better, more active recycling;
– Make it easier to engage with Schools: they should be the centre for educating whole communities about climate change and environmental security;
– More Photovoltaics on roofs in towns like Buntingford. Get those restrictions on Solar PVs in conservation areas removed. [Ben suggests watching for the new sustainable crowdfunding platform HCC is launching next Saturday. It’s the perfect thing for communities wanting to fund projects like putting small PV arrays on homes & buildings;]
– Create safe school streets: more buses – fewer private cars driving to schools
– Government MUST provide more and better leadership on the Climate issue
– In the absence of central government leadership, towns like, Hertford, Letchworth, Hitchin, Royston, Bishop’s Stortford, Baldock and Buntingford are providing it;
• Table FOUR: Lauren Banham Reported that –
– Comments from her table included that there was intergenerational jealousy: old people resent young people lecturing them on how they need to behave: “Don’t tell us to turn down the heating and put on more cardigans as that reminds us of the post-war austerity in which we grew up.”
– There needs to be more intergenerational unity in the approach to dealing with Climate Change; Young people need to listen to old people and vice-versa;
– We need to weave more stringent climate provisions into our planning – especially with housing;
• Table FIVE: Jon Ling Reported –
– his table talked about Speed Limits on Buntingford streets: We can reduce pollution by walking or cycling;
– But 40mph on London Road makes it dangerous to walk/cycle there;
– impossible on the A10 beyond Buntingford with cars speeding by at 60-70mph.
– We must improve the Broadband infrastructure to allow people to work from home.
– Street Lighting: reduce Light Pollution which keeps people awake and disturbs biodiversity;
– We must look at duplication of businesses in Buntingford: how many hairdressers, coffee bars etc. do we need? –
– Better targeting by Council of leases on empty shops to increase diversity of retail outlets in the town.
• Table SIX: David Woollcombe Reported –
– Think about one thing I can do tomorrow? – eg. Buy 2nd hand Christmas Presents;
– The question of Population growth was raised at our table. It didn’t come up at all at the COP and is not mentioned in the Glasgow Climate Pact: it probably needs to be discussed as governments all over the world are not fulfilling their promise to educate girl children, or give them access to modern contraception. With 111 million unintended pregnancies each year, it’s an important gender / human rights issue. But population experts agree: climate change is NOT a population problem: it is a consumption and behaviour problem chiefly in the high income / High consuming / High Emissions Global North.
– This can be done by Educating girl children: we’ve known for decades that educated women have smaller families. We’ve been promising universal education for all since 1948 – but still, today, millions of girls never see the inside of a classroom, or go to a school with classes of over 100 and emerge 5 years later not able to read.
– Herts has a policy of planting 2 x new trees for every one they cut down. BUT – they plant them on the roadside where they die – or are eaten by rabbits / deer etc. Plant trees where they can be nurtured properly – and get biodegradable protection sleeves – not plastic ones!
– Give a louder voice to Small Island States – we learned that Tuvalu is disappearing. That’s unacceptable. Give them a voice! (DW shares that, in Paris, it was the small island states’ Voice that secured the 1.5 degree target.)
– Keep working on the local environment – esp. in your home: recycle all you can! We put just one bag a week in the Black Bin; we still have not turned out heating on; keep working at creating / conserving / nurturing the Biodiversity in your garden and community: Join the Buntingford Plants and Gardens Facebook page; plant bluebells & Daffodils;
– Eat more local food; do not eat food / meat produced on big industrial farms; make Vegan food cheaper and more available than actual meat – get more people to buy it and be disgusted by industrially-produced foods;
– Teach about food / nutrition in schools: get every school to have a garden producing vegetables for the canteen. Make sure the UK government delivers on its promise for an online National Education Nature Park where all school ideas for protecting biodiversity are uploaded.
• Table SEVEN: Marco Avanzato Reported that –
– one on his table was promoting a Parish Council Greening Campaign in Aspenden inviting residents to put a “To Do” list poster in their windows, ticking off each item as they do them. Check it out: we should do it in every Town and Village in Herts. Start with Vegan and Vegetarian food – lead the attitudinal change in communities;
– Freman can help by serving Vegan meals
– Improving the school commute
– Get students to use the buses rather than private cars
– Final Point: have more pedestrian and green areas in our cities and urban areas
• Table EIGHT: George Holland Reported –
– We need to invest more in Blue Forests on the sea bed. But question: is it invasive? Destructive to marine life?
– We need to improve safety in School Streets: it’s too dangerous for anyone to cycle to Freman in the morning;
– We need this information on Instagram – updated every day. That’s what Young people read;
– EV Charging points needed in School Car Parks – so staff can have EVs
– Schools need to teach about recycling: we’re terrible at it – putting the wrong things in the wrong boxes;
– Products need better labelling, and we need to learn about it as we learn about Fair Trade
Priority Next Steps: Each attendee must create their own Priority Action To Do list.
This was the consensus from the COP Ambassadors –
Climate Change Education must be the priority – getting people engaged in the conversation is the first step – and then getting them engaged in taking serious action to change their behaviour – through Global Citizen Assemblies, the Digital UN and other movements of We the Peoples. But REMEMBER: If you read a book, you retain 10%; if you listen to a lecture, you may retain 15-20%; If you go out and DO SOMETHING / TAKE ACTION – you retain 60-70%; If you take the time to teach and engage others in activities, you retain 85-90%. So let ALL education be experiential – we all learn better by DOING!!
We need to focus on things we can do tomorrow morning – like our consumption habits; what we eat, where we go on holiday. That idea to give everyone second hand Christmas Presents – making Christmas less of an orgy of consumption, more of a celebration of eco-friendly family relationships. Try a Secret Santa approach one year!
And that caring must extend into every facet of our daily lives – keeping the heating off as long as possible, putting all our black bin rubbish into one bag, having meat-free meals many times a week. “Live sustainably that our grand-children can have a chance to live!”
We may have lost our Recycling Centre in Buntingford, but there is a Soft Plastic recycling bin at the Co-op (http). So use it – and watch the BACCS updates and website for news about recycling facilities in our town.
Role models and leadership are important – therefore we should lobby our Councils and supermarkets to instal EV charging points in their car-parks; to promote safe streets, safe cycle lanes, 20mph zones everywhere; Lobby for planning laws to be changed so every house can have Solar PVs. Things are moving fast on this – 6 EV Charging points will be at the new BP Garage by the Woolpack Vet Centre. Again, watch for BACCS updates on all this!
BACCS will continue to promote its Sustainable Business Accreditation scheme in Buntingford – recognising and praising those companies and retailers who take their sustainable bottom line seriously.
Peace Child will be promoting its Forum Theatre Climate show in the new year: great edu-tainment for all the family on the issue. Contact David@peacechild.org for more information.
TEN THINGS that you can do to make a difference
1. Eat less fish, meat and dairy products
2. Switch to a 100% renewable electricity tariff
3. Turn your heating down by 1 or 2 degrees
4. Plant trees by internet searching with Ecosia
5. Volunteer with an environment/conservation group
6. Support a charity which educates girls eg.Camfed/Plan Intl.
• or Buntingford’s own Peace Child International
7. Switch to an ethical bank
8. Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – in that order!
9. Plant bee-friendly flowers and/or grow your own veg
10. Walk or cycle instead of driving less than a mile
N.B. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet after China and the USA. So – Buy what you need, Eat what you buy – and – Compost the rest