Climate blog

Blog for posts that are specifically about the Climate Pledge Group activities
Published by Sam Page on 20 November 2016

Image Marrakech, 16 November 2016 --The Climate Action Tracker today spelt out ten important, short-term steps that key sectors need to take to help the world achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.

Limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C requires major transformations that need to begin immediately. We provide insights on the ten most important steps that need to be taken in specifc sectors in the short term—to 2020 and 2025—if the Paris Agreement temperature goal is to be met:

We used modelled scenarios to provide guidance on what needs to happen in each sector. The stringency of the 1.5°C limit signifcantly constrains the levels of freedom to spread emission reductions across sectors, countries and over time.

As a result of the limited carbon budget, combined with the inertia of energy, transport, industry technologies and systems, and the difculty of reducing emissions in some sectors, global energy models fnd only limited pathways.

If a sector does less, in particular the energy, industry and transport sectors, it would leave a high-emissions legacy for several decades and would mean a failure to set in motion the system changes needed to achieve the required long-term transformation.

Eforts in all of these sectors that begin by 2020, and accelerate by 2025, will be needed to reach zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century, and zero greenhouse gas emissions overall roughly in the 2060s.

For all ten elements we show there are signs that the transition of this magnitude is possible: in some specifc cases it’s already happening. Achieving these ten steps in the period to 2020 and 2025 would put the world on a pathway to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C

  1. ELECTRICITY: SUSTAIN THE GROWTH RATE OF RENEWABLES AND OTHER ZERO AND LOW CARBON POWER UNTIL 2025 TO REACH 100% BY 2050 - All 1.5°C pathways foresee a fully decarbonised power system by 2050. This implies a power system consisting entirely of renewables and other zero and low carbon sources. Of the carbon-free options, renewables are showing the most promise, and their current growth must be sustained until 2025. Rapid action is required to ensure our power systems are ready for them. Policymakers can set boundary conditions and design electricity markets in a way that allows integration of high shares of renewables.
  2. COAL POWER: NO NEW COAL PLANTS, REDUCE EMISSIONS FROM COAL POWER BY AT LEAST 30% BY 2025 - To close the gap between current ambition and what is needed for 1.5°C, while simultaneously limiting stranded assets, no new coal-fred power plant can be built. There must be consistent eforts to reduce emissions from current coal-fred power plants—by at least 30% by 2025—through, for example early plant retirement or reducing the running time of existing power plants. By 2030, emissions from coal plants should be down by 65%. Fossil fuels often incur externalities, imposing negative efects (such as healthrelated and environmental damages) on unrelated third parties, and these need to be included in the price of energy. Fossil fuel subsidies should also be phased out (by the very latest) by 2030. The G20 has an opportunity in 2017 to act on both fronts: to follow the G7 in its commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and to introduce carbon pricing to address external costs. 
  3. ROAD TRANSPORT: LAST FOSSIL FUEL CAR SOLD BEFORE 2035 - The sales of electric vehicles, which can be zero-emission if powered by non-fossil electricity, have skyrocketed in recent years in several countries. While they still represent only a small share of overall car stock, zero-emissions vehicles would have to constitute 100% of newly-sold vehicles worldwide before 2035 to be compatible with a 1.5°C vision. At the same time, strong modal shifts, as well as eforts to decrease emissions from freight transport, are needed to decarbonise the entire sector.
  4. AVIATION AND SHIPPING: DEVELOP AND AGREE ON A 1.5°C COMPATIBLE VISION - The aviation and shipping sector is lacking coordinated eforts and ambition to develop emission reduction targets and drive mitigation. In fact, there appears to be no overall vision on how the aviation and shipping sector could decarbonise to be in line with 1.5°C pathways, which essentially means zero CO2 emissions in a few decades. However, there is signifcant untapped potential through increased efciency, the use of biofuels and a reduction in travel demand. Therefore, to be in line with 1.5°C, both sectors should drive adoption of existing technologies as well as develop and agree on a 1.5°C-compatible vision. 
  5. NEW BUILDINGS: ALL NEW BUILDINGS FOSSIL-FREE AND NEAR ZERO ENERGY BY 2020 - A 1.5°C pathway demands rapid and near complete phase-out of direct emissions from buildings by 2050. It is easier and cheaper to build efcient buildings than to retroft later. There is signifcant potential, especially for rapidly growing economies, to construct future-proof building stock now, but action is too slow. Policies can catalyse change through setting minimum building standards, extending obligations from public buildings to the whole economy, and through providing low-interest loans.
  6. BUILDING RENOVATION: INCREASE RATES FROM <1% IN 2015 TO 5% BY 2020 - A 1.5°C pathway demands rapid and near complete phase-out of emissions from buildings. Long lifetimes mean that only standards for new buildings—as described in the previous point—are not sufcient: existing stock also needs to be retrofitted. To transform the entire current standing building stock before 2050, we need to more than triple our current retrofit rates within fve years. Governments can help through ofering cheap loans and setting retroft obligations.
  7. INDUSTRY: ALL NEW INSTALLATIONS IN EMISSIONS-INTENSIVE SECTORS ARE LOW-CARBON AFTER 2020, MAXIMISE MATERIAL EFFICIENCYIn a 1.5 °C scenario, industrial emissions need to be reduced by well over 50% from current levels by 2050, while industrial production is expected to grow signifcantly. From 2020 onwards, all new installations need to be built according to the best available low carbon technology standard, which excludes building conventional blast furnaces. Also necessary is further development and rapid introduction of new technology, down to near-zero emission steelmaking. Similar approaches are needed for other sectors, like cement, ammonia and petrochemicals. The sector also needs to maximise material efciency to reduce primary material production.
  8. LULUCF: REDUCE EMISSIONS FROM FORESTRY AND OTHER LAND USE TO 95% BELOW 2010 LEVELS BY 2030, STOP NET DEFORESTATION BY THE 2020s - Policies to decrease emissions of LULUCF have to be part of an integrated approach, taking into account energy, land-use management and agriculture to optimise synergies. There are a variety of ways to address the issues of conficts over land use, such as agroforestry, proper land tenure systems, alternatives for heating, and improving the international trade system to deal with illegal logging. Many solutions for LULUCF lie with community-based options. Financial support mechanisms must be urgently operationalised, and channels improved to fnance and modernise agricultural systems (which should also lead to increased resilience to climate disasters and reduced pressure on forests). It is also clear that action in the LULUCF sector cannot be used as an excuse to do less in other areas. There is a long history, and on-going attempts, to use forest sinks to ofset obligations to reduce emissions from energy, industry and transport sectors in a number of countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and Indonesia. 
  9. COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE: KEEP EMISSIONS AT OR BELOW CURRENT LEVELS, ESTABLISH AND DISSEMINATE REGIONAL BEST PRACTICE, RAMP UP RESEARCH - Emissions in agriculture are growing; the biggest contribution comes from livestock rearing (55%), followed by synthetic fertilisers (12%), and rice cultivation (10%). Even within regions, the large range of agricultural practices means there is signifcant emissions reduction potential (up to 20%) from adopting best practice within that region. There is additional potential from healthy diets, food waste reduction and advancing research and development.
  10. CO2 REMOVAL: BEGIN RESEARCH AND PLANNING FOR NEGATIVE EMISSIONS: - In large part due to insuffcient emissions reductions realised to date, negative CO2 emissions will unfortunately be necessary at scale from mid-century to limit warming to 2°C, and even more for 1.5°C. As explained in all other sections of this report, early and rapid action now across the full range of mitigation options, and to protect and enhance natural ecosystems so that they can retain and store more carbon, are all needed to minimise the need for negative CO2 emissions. If action to reduce CO2 emissions slows in the near future, this will increase the need for negative CO2 emissions technologies, but at this point it cannot be eliminated. Even the most rapid action plausible—to reduce CO2 emissions to zero before 2050 and to significantly reduce other GHGs—will unfortunately not eliminate the need for sizeable negative CO2 emissions after mid-century. 

Find out more here...


Published by Sam Page on 29 December 2015

Image On 12 December 2015, 188 governments signed up to the Paris Agreement to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and reduce global warming - but how will we measure their progress?

As a result of the Paris Agreement, each nation state is bound to prepare a new and more ambitious climate change action plan every five years.  These action plans - called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) will be assessed by United Nations scientists according to their ability to reduce greenhouse gases and keep global temperature rises to below 1.5 degrees centigrade.  Any short-comings will be made public and suggestions will be made on ways of making the action plans more credible.

The United Nations has also tasked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prepare a series of technical reports on ways of cutting carbon emissions in each country and region of the world.  These reports will serve as a baseline, plus a 'to-do' list for the various governments in order to keep them on track.  In the meantime, a team of leading scientists from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), have already defined a pathway to a low-carbon economy for the UK, that respects the political economy and fulfills domestic development priorities.  This is a summary of their key recommendations:

  • Emissions from power stations must be reduced by 85-90% by 2030. This depends on the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to mitigate GHG emissions from fossil fuels, such as coal or methane gas.  
  • There needs to be pricing stability to encourage investment in the renewables sector.
  • Stronger policies are needed to deliver energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings.
  • Low income groups must be protected from fuel poverty.
  • Airport expansion, other transport infrastructure (including urban development) and extractive industries need to take account of GHG reduction targets.

You can read the full 2015 report on Pathways to deep decarbonization in the United Kingdom, here...

Since the our government has recently back-tracked on or cut most of the policies, such as CCS research support, feed-in tariff, Green Deal, Energy Company Obligation, which are needed for decarbonising the economy and keeping below a 1.5 degree temperature rise, it is up to civil society to continue piling on the pressure.  This means more emailing, tweeting, petitioning and general campaigning to ensure that the UK has a credible climate change action plan by 2020...

Published by Sam Page on 29 December 2015

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:

  • Image Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
  • A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
  • Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
  • Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
  • Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures

As well as setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change.

This builds on the momentum of the unprecedented effort which has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will dramatically slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.

Countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.  

Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020

This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.

“The Paris Agreement also sends a powerful signal to the many thousands of cities, regions, businesses and citizens across the world already committed to climate action that their vision of a low-carbon, resilient future is now the chosen course for humanity this century,” said Ms Figueres. 

Read more, here...

Published by Jo on 13 October 2015

Be one of millions of voices worldwide calling for Action Now on Climate Change.

We’re getting urgent action postcards signed for the Prime Minister to deliver in the run-up to the Paris Climate Summit in December.

You can also collect them from, & return to, Judy’s @ The Flat, Patten Alley (by St Mary’s Church) - 514093

- as well as join us for for a short stint on the High Street on Wednesday mornings (weather permitting) from 11.30

Published by Sam Page on 11 October 2015

Image In advance of the COP21 United Nations climate talks to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, every country was asked to submit proposals on cutting use of fossil fuels in order to reduce their emissions of greenhouses gases and so tackle global warming. The deadline for these pledges was 1 October.

A total of 147 nations made submissions, and scientists have since been totting up how these would affect climate change. They have concluded they still fall well short of the amount needed to prevent a 2*C warming by 2100, a fact that will be underlined later this week when the Grantham Research Institute releases its analysis of the COP21 submissions. This will show that the world’s carbon emissions, currently around 50bn tonnes a year, will still rise over the next 15 years, even if all the national pledges made to the UN are implemented. The institute’s figures suggest they will reach 55bn to 60bn by 2030.

To put that figure in context, the world will have to cut emissions to 36bn billion tonnes of carbon to have a 50-50 chance of keeping temperatures below 2*C, scientists have calculated. Current pledges will not bring the planet near that reduced output. Developed nations may pledge to make increasing use of renewable energy sources but as more developing nations become industrialised, carbon outputs continue to rise overall. And there is no prospect of nations now changing their carbon pledges before or during the Paris talks.

The world is therefore falling well short of its carbon target – though there are some grounds for relative optimism. A study of COP21 pledges by Climate Action Tracker, (CAT) an independent scientific group of European climate experts, indicates that if all pledges are implemented, then global temperatures will rise by 2.7*C. The group revealed that this is a significant improvement on the warming it predicted last year. “Our December update included pledges and informal announcements by China, the US and the EU, and we estimated an average global warming level of 3.1*C,” said CAT member Dr Louise Jeffery of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “The biggest contributing factors to the change in our temperature estimate have been China and India.”

Find out more, here...

Send a message to the UK Prime Minister, urging him to lead the way in keeping global temperature rises to below 2*C, by signing one of the Climate Group's postcards and by joining the Time to Act Climate March in London on Sunday 29th November - book your place on the Marlborough coach, here...

Published by Jo on 01 October 2015
On Sunday November 29th, on the eve of the crucial UN climate talks in Paris, hundreds of thousands of us will take to the streets major cities across the world demanding for action on climate change.
We've booked a coach from Marlborough -
info from Jo  513950 / joripley@phonecoop.coop
Published by Sam Page on 01 October 2015

Image This report, which was commissioned by the Marlborough Brandt Group, investigates the perceived and real impact of climate change on The Gambia with a specific focus on the town of Gunjur which has been linked to Marlborough in UK for 33 years.

Through discussions with both community leaders and Gambians in senior posts in both Government and civil society, it is clear that The Gambia is suffering seriously from the impacts of climate change.

The following particular issues were raised by those interviewed:-

1. An increasingly unpredictable rainy season is leading to a detrimental effect on food production in the country, especially rice, with a corresponding dependency on expensive and often unaffordable imported rice whose importation is itself is contributing to climate change.

2. Changes to the rains are causing both drought and flash flooding.

3. An increase in the temperature of the Gambia which is consistent with the findings of the UNDP (Sweeney, 2012. UNDP Climate Change Country Profiles: The Gambia).

4. Increasing sea levels have been observed affecting the low-lying country, resulting in current and potential future damage. The effects of sea level rise are perceived to be focused in Banjul the capital city as well as the beaches at the tourist destinations.

5. This is likely to have severe economic impact as the country relies on the seasonal tourist industry which is estimated to make up 20 - 25% of GDP.

6. Deforestation is likely to worsen and exaggerate the impact of climate change on the country through the unsustainable use of firewood reducing the earth’s carbon sinks and increased erosion of top soil leading to reduced soil fertility.

7. The local residents of Gunjur noted the most significant impact on fauna to be on livestock malnutrition and a positive impact on the mosquito population causing a reduction in the incidence of malaria. Additionally, the loss of fauna through climate change is observed to have a potential impact on the biodiversity of the country.

8. The residents in the community of Gunjur almost unanimously claimed that they believed climate change to be the will of God; this was not a view held by more educated Gambians who were well aware of the scientific causes and the responsibility by industrialised countries.

9. In terms of what is being done to tackle both the impact of, and the reduction in future climate change, there were two key government initiatives:

a. An Early Warning System of impending drought / floods etc

b. The Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project.

10. The impact on development is the most important part of the report. Primarily, the impact on food production and the tourist industry have been and are likely to continue to be the worst affected industries for the Gambia.

11. The Gambia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy has generally aligned with the Millennium Development Goals and the impact of climate change has slowly and actively prevented the successful achievement of these goals. This includes slowing of child poverty reduction as well as reducing the likelihood that the goal involving the reduction of disease will be achieved.

In conclusion, the research shows that there is a marked difference in the level of knowledge about climate change between people at a community level and policy makers. There is little understanding of the international responsibility for climate change not least by industrialised countries. Current policies are not sufficient to protect the Gambia from the worsening effects of climate change and more needs to be done to support the country’s development.

You can download the full report here...

Published by Sam Page on 21 September 2015

Image The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will replace the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015.  There are 17 SDGs that will apply to all countries of the world, including the UK. SDG 13 is concerned with combatting climate change and has five targets:

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts *

*Acknowledging that the UNFCCC is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change .

13.1 strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

13.2 integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning

13.3 improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning

13.a implement the commitment undertaken by developed country Parties to the UNFCCC to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible

13.b Promote mechanisms for raising capacities for effective climate change related planning and management, in LDCs, including focusing on women, youth, local and marginalized communities

Find out about the other 16 SDGs here...

Published by Sam Page on 08 September 2015

Image 1. Why is the 2015 Paris Climate Conference called COP21?

It is the 21st Conference of the Parties (or “COP”) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations body which is responsible for climate and based in Bonn, Germany. The COP is the UNFCCC “parliament”, which meets each year at global conferences where unanimous decisions are made to combat climate change. COP21 will take place at the same time as CMP11, the 11th meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which oversees the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and the decisions made to increase its effectiveness. COP21 will be held from 30 November to 11 December 2015 at a site in Paris-Le Bourget.

2. How many people are expected to attend the 2015 Paris Climate Conference?

In total, 40,000 participants are expected at the Paris-Le Bourget site (delegates representing countries, observers, civil society and journalists): 20,000 people will be officially accredited and will have access to the Conference itself, while the others will be able to take part in debates, see exhibitions and attend talks or screenings in the civil society area which will be built very close to the conference centre.

3. How much time is needed to observe climate trends?

A period of 30 years is needed to observe climate trends and characterize a climate (source: IPCC Fifth Assessment Report).

4. Which Greenhouse Gas causes the most damage to our atmosphere?

Nitrous Oxide: This Greenhouse Gas is 310 times as damaging as carbon dioxide, while methane is 21 times as potent. Natural Greenhouse gases absorb and distribute solar radiation within the earth’s atmosphere. Due to this natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature on earth is around 15°C. Without it, the temperature would be -18°C. However, human activities have caused a dangerous increase in all types of GHGs and this is responsible for climate change, other GHGs include nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

5. What are the environmental risks associated with fracking in the UK?

Fugitive Methane gas emissions that escape from random rock fractures, contamination of the ground water by toxic chemicals, seismic activity and damage to protected areas, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, are all serious risks that come with fracking in the UK. Read more here:


6. In the UK, is it agriculture, aviation or waste that emits the most Greenhouse Gases?

Emissions from agriculture account for around 10%, while those from aviation and waste represent around 6% and 4% respectively, of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, with electricity generation causing the greatest emissions (25%), according to the Committee on Climate Change

7. What is the cost of damages linked to natural disasters in the past twenty years?

16 billion is the estimated cumulative cost of insured damages linked to natural disasters between 1988 and 2011 (source: French Federation of Insurance Companies – FFSA).

8. Which Protocol, signed in 1997, requires around thirty countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Kyoto. Under the Kyoto Protocol, around thirty countries were required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 19% between 1990 and the period 2008-2012.

9. How much is the UK government planning to pay in subsidies for the new Hinckley Point Nuclear Power Station?

British consumers could pay £17 billion in potentially unnecessary subsidies to fund construction of the country's first nuclear power station in a generation, the European Commission has said. Subsidies for on-shore, wind-powered, electricity generation have recently been cut.

10. What does this image symbolize?


Vulnerability. This term denotes the risk of being subject to, or negatively affected by, the harmful effects of climate change. It depends on the nature, scale and pattern of the climate change to which a system is exposed, as well as on the sensitivity and adaptation capacity of the system. The countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change include small islands and certain African countries.

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