Mar 13th

HEAL report: Coal's Unpaid Health Bill

By Climate and Health Council
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), a CHC member organisation, last week released a report on Coal's Unpaid Health Bill.  It highlights the fact that coal is still a major energy source in Europe, accounting for approximately 1/4th of electricity production.  Moreover, around 50 new coal power plants are currently in the pipeline. 

According to the report:

  "The brand-new figures... in this report show that European Union-wide impacts amount to more than 18,200 premature deaths, about 8,500 new cases of chronic bronchitis, and over 4 million lost working days each year. The economic costs of the health impacts from coal combustion in Europe are estimated at up to €42.8 billion per year"

You can download the full report at http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/heal_report_the_unpaid_health_bill_how_coal_power_plants_make_us_sick_final.pdf


It's worth a read - in the words of Prof Jean-Paul Sculier, Secretary for European Affairs of the European Respiratory Society (ERS):
“Addressing air pollution from coal power plants alone has the potential to yield significant savings to health budgets, especially given that an average coal power plant operates for at least forty years. As 2013 is the European Year of Air where a review of EU air quality policy will take place, this is the right time to act.”

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) are also urging the European Parliament to take action at today's Plenary and vote for a move away from coal, to save 18,200 lives and €43bn. Why not email or ring your MEP (
http://www.bond.org.uk/pages/mep-contact-details.html) to ask them for their support on this?

Follow HEAL on twitter for updates
https://twitter.com/HealthandEnv
Mar 13th

A report on Climate Week from the Climate Week team

By Climate and Health Council
A huge thank you to everyone who took part in Climate Week last week. Here is an initial report on the scale and range of the campaign.

Climate Week 2013 was Britain’s biggest ever environmental occasion. Over 3,400 events were registered, attended by about half a million people. They involved every part of society and showed an enormous appetite across the UK for collective action on climate change.

Climate Week, our Headline Partner Andrex Eco and our Supporting Partners Crown Paints, Ecotricity, NAPIT and Shields Environmental would like to thank and congratulate everyone who took part.

The events ranged from the launch of the Greater Manchester Hydrogen Partnership to a conference on geoengineering at Oxford University, from climate trails at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to a sustainable business event in Belfast, from a bicycle-powered film screening in London to the world’s largest green construction trade show, Ecobuild. Hundreds of pubs and offices ran the Climate Week Pub Quiz.

More than 200,000 people in schools and workplaces took part in our team
competition, the Climate Week Challenge, which this year was to design the ultimate eco-home. Pupils from Manchester schools did the challenge at Manchester United with the England football coach Gary Neville, and many from London schools took part at St Paul’s Cathedral hosted by the Bishop of London.

Celebrity support for Climate Week included people such as Sir Paul McCartney (who put the Climate Week logo on his Twitter profile picture) and Sir Tom Jones (who encouraged people to sign the Climate Week Declaration). The low-carbon ClimateWeek t-shirt was modelled by the Britain’s Got Talent judge, Alesha Dixon, and television chef Raymond Blanc promoted our sustainable food initiative Climate Week Cuisine. Actress Zoe Wanamaker helped to publicise Climate Week Swap events at which people could exchange clothes and books. The model Nell McAndrew, who is heavily pregnant, promoted our call for parents to act on climate change by being photographed with the words Protect the Future written on her bump.

Government support included the Prime Minister (who wrote the introduction to Climate Week’s launch), the head of the civil service and 15 Whitehall departments, as well as the
Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Office of National Statistics released new data for Climate Week on household energy use. Two UK government ministers spoke at Climate Week’s London launch and a Scottish Government minister at its Edinburgh launch.

There was huge support for the Climate Week Declaration, which calls for government to do more on climate change, starting with
decarbonisation targets in the Energy Bill. This was signed by over 200
organisations
 including the TUC, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the business-led Aldersgate Group and the British Medical Association. The Declaration was handed to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change during Climate Week.

Online promotion of Climate Week was enormous - for example Climate Week was at the top of Twitter’s UK trending table for most of the launch day.

With best wishes,

The Climate Week Team

See also http://www.climateweek.com?utm_source=Master+List&utm_campaign=59454e5067-Report_CW_11_03_ML&utm_medium=email
Mar 11th

US Commander says climate change will 'cripple the security environment'

By Climate and Health Council

Admiral Samuel Locklear, the Commander of U.S. Forces Pacific (PACCOM), had a meeting the other day with national security experts at Tufts and Harvard Universities.  Afterwards, a reporter asked him asked what the top security threat was in the Pacific Ocean.  His answer was that significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’

Rather than highlighting ballistic missiles or other traditional military threats, Admiral Locklear argued that, “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”

Climate Change merits national security  attention for the very real threats it presents. "The ice is melting and sea is getting higher,” Locklear said, noting that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 200 miles of the coast. “I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist, but the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, they’re contemplating moving their entire population to another country because [it] is not going to exist anymore.”

Admiral Locklear is also talking to other nations.  “We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations,” he said. “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’

There is a key question here for US policy not only security, but on climate action, especially around the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. 

More information here.

Mar 7th

Coal and Health

By Hugh Montgomery
A new report has appeared. Worth a read.  Available at:
http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/heal_report_the_unpaid_health_bill_how_coal_power_plants_make_us_sick_final.pdf

or via
http://www.env-health.org/resources/projects/unpaid-health-bill
Feb 7th

Health and environmental co-benefits of cycling

By Climate and Health Council
This study by the European Cyclists' Federation in 2011 found that if every country's cycling rate was the same as Denmark's, the rest of the EU could cut its transport greenhouse gas emissions by 12 to 26% of the 2050 target reduction for the transport sector.  Not bad!

The health benefits of increasing walking and cycling rates ould be equally impressive: the World Health Organisation has concluded in its work on co-benefits that more active transport (essentially walking and cycling) could help prevent many of the 3.2 million deaths that occur worldwide every year from physical inactivity, as well as reducing the urban air pollution (much of this from transport) and traffic injuries that kill some 2.6 million people annually, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

Our friends at C3 Collaborating for Health have put together a brilliant review of the benfits of physical activity, including active travel, for health which can be found here.

Below is a great infographic on some of the many health and environmental benefits of cycling, which we came across recently. Click here to go to the original source. 

biking-and-health.gif

Are you an avid cyclist?  Think your town or city should be doing more to make it easier and safer to cycle?  There are lots of organisations that you can connect up with if so: in the UK theres' Sustrans, in Australia there's the Cycling Promotion Fund, in Europe there's the ECF, whilst the Copenhagenize Index project is a great international initiative. 

Not something in your country?  Why not set one up?!?
Feb 6th

French and lights!

By Hugh Montgomery
Why can't we all be like the French?
OK. Maybe, in the UK, we don't all agree with them on everything: nuclear power, and whether parsnips or horse burgers are good to eat, for starters.
Or for maincourse.

But there are some things they do which are, quite frankly, common sense.

The French government has confirmed that it will force shops and commercial properties to switch off their lights at night in a bid to save energy and cut light pollution, starting on July 1st this year. The ban applies to lighting inside and out (but spares Xmas lights and some tourist attractions).

 

This isn't just good news for moths and stargazers. It will save their economy a vast amount of money.. and the country two TERRAwatt hours (TWh) per year of energy: that's 127,000,000,000 litres of  CO2 a year.

 

Which UK politician will show the same degree of common sense? Which shop, or bank, will take the lead in saving costs (which ultimately get passed to us, the consumer?)
Jan 29th

Lord Stern: "I underestimated the risks. These risks for many people are existential"

By Climate and Health Council
Lord Nicholas Stern, a former Chief economist at the World Bank and author of a seminal review on climate change that became a crucial reference for governments, admits he underestimated the risks and should have been more ‘blunt’ about the threat posed to global economies by the rising temperatures. He joins a growing chorus of prominent leaders featuring US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, and World Bank Head Jim Yong Kim who, in a few short weeks, have injected renewed authority and vitality into the rhetoric for climate action.

Lord Stern at Davos 2013

Stern’s latest warning over the unpredictable risks posed by climate change are cruelly exemplified by the plight of the Australian people, who face deluge, damage, and despair as they suffer a ‘once in 100 year flood’, which has struck for the second time in just 2 years - soon after record-breaking heatwaves so hot they had to add a colour to the temperature map and wildfires visible from space; summary infographic here.

  • Climate economics guru Lord Stern admits previous warnings over climate change were not ‘blunt’ enough and joins a swathe of economic and political heavyweights in a swell of vocal support for urgent climate action. The acclaimed author of a seminal reference for governments on climate change has stated that global warming is worse than he feared and the risks we face are greater than he expected. Stern joins a chorus of prominent figures like US President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as well as powerful institutions such as International Energy Agency, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the OECD – swiftly pushing climate change up the political agenda and changing the quality of the debate.
  • The fresh warnings are cruelly exemplified by the deluge, loss, and damage being suffered in Australia. Four people have died and damages are expected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars as Queensland experiences a ‘once in 100 year flood’ for the second time in 2 years. This directly follows the record-breaking heatwaves which fuelled deadly wildfires that have engulfed hundreds of thousands of acres of Australian bush so far in 2013. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Australian Climate Commission have previously warned of the links between rising temperatures and more extreme weather events.
  • There is strong progress towards Stern’s low carbon vision to cut risks and unleash ‘a very exciting growth story’ – despite political hurdles. New survey data reveals that 70% of multinational firms believe that climate change will hit their bottom line. On the flip-side, new figures demonstrate the potential of low carbon industries, showing how investments in the European wind sector reached a record breaking $4billion in 2012, adding one wind turbine per working day to the European power system. Nonetheless clean industries still face relatively poor government support in comparison to fossil fuels – despite fresh evidence from the OECD that a subsidy re-think in favour of renewable energy could boost major economies.

Research: The Social Costs of CO2 (University of Cambridge)
Report: Right Here, Right Now – A Communications Guide to Climate Change Impacts (Climate Nexus)
Report: Inventory of Estimated Budgetary Support and Tax Expenditures for Fossil Fuels 2013 (OECD)
Report: The Economics of Climate Change (‘Stern Review’)
Report: Point of no return (Greenpeace)
Interactive: Timeline of climate modeling

Video: Interview with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at Davos, 2013
Video: Christine Lagarde speaks at Davos, 2013
Video: Australian floods trigger evacuation of thousands in two states


Top quotes from leaders

Lord Stern, former Chief economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank:
“Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”
In hindsight he said, “I think I would have been a bit more blunt. I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise…This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”
On the potential of the green economy he said, “It’s a very exciting growth story.”

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank:
“Can we create an enormous market for new technologies focused on mitigation of climate change? I think there’s only one answer: we simply must. … It is these technologies that can become drivers of economic growth as well as saviours of our planet from catastrophe…”
“If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak…My wife and I have two sons, ages 12 and 3. When they grow old, this could be the world they inherit.”

Christine Lagarde, IMF chief:
“If we don’t take action regarding climate change, our future generation will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled”

Barack Obama, US President:
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General:
“Climate change is fast happening — much, much faster than one would have expected…climate and ecosystems are under growing strain…I will do my best to mobilize the political will and resources so that the member states can agree to a new legally binding global agreement on climate change”

Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister:
“[While] you would not put any one event down to climate change … we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events.”

Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration:
“Greater use of environmentally-related taxes could also be an economically efficient means of raising revenues to improve public finances at a time of fiscal crisis.”

Ken Ash, OECD Trade and Agriculture Director:
On the need to reform fossil fuel subsidies, ‘‘Phasing out inefficient measures would help rein in budget deficits and free up funds to support other policy priorities, while still reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.”


Background
In recent weeks and months there has been a growing chorus of leaders and leading institutions warning of the present threat posed by climate change and advocating action to cut emissions, limit global warming, and release funds to help those affected by the inevitable impacts of rising temperatures. Those who have bolstered the climate rhetoric (see quotes in resources section below) include: Barack Obama, President of the USA; Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General; Christine Lagarde, Chief of the IMF; Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank; Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia; the International Energy Agency; the World Meteorological Organisation; and the OECD. Various business groups also voiced their concerns over climate change and the need for solutions at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.

It was here that the eminent economist and former Vice Chairman of the World Bank Lord Stern revealed that he had underestimated the risks posed by climate change, and recognised that the effects of global warming are being witnessed earlier than he had calculated.
New survey data appears to show that a huge number of major international firms – including Dell, L’Oreal, and Walmart – share Stern’s fear over the risks posed by unmitigated climate change. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project 70% of 2,415 companies surveyed believe that climate change represents a significant threat to their revenue. Their major concern is extreme weather events, which can disrupt supply chains. Nearly 700 of the companies were already investing in emissions cuts, and 63% of those said they were doing so because climate change was a physical risk to their business.

The current weather in Australia is a case in point, although it exposes a far more human cost. The storm thrashing the nation has caused the worst flooding in Queensland since 2011 costing 4 lives, and has triggered a surge of insurance claims that could run into hundreds of millions of dollars. In a twist of irony the flooding is also affecting the largest coal mining operation in the world as rail-routes for shipments are submerged. This continues a period of extreme weather conditionsin Australia where a little more than a week ago, emergency services were battling huge bush fires and issuing fire warnings after unprecedented heatwaves caused the meteorological agency to redraw their temperature charts. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Australia’s Climate Commission have argued that the occurrence of extreme weather events is linked to climate change.
Jan 19th

Extreme weather is 'now normal' as climate change starts to bite... and it's only early days yet

By Climate and Health Council

 

Sudden stratospheric warming above the Arctic has created an unusual weather event that is sending two massive storms barrelling around the Northern hemisphere, one of the storms is due to hit Europe's Atlantic coastlines next week bringing freezing winds and huge waves. The other storm is in the Northern Pacific lying off the coast of Alaska, at its peak it unleashed greater strength than hurricane Sandy. Major stratospheric warming events do take place regularly, but have been increasing in intensity and happening earlier and earlier each year, a change that is linked with increasing sea temperatures. The last time a similar event took place was in 2009 when cold air enveloped Europe and the Eastern United States, bringing the heaviest snow that London had seen for 20 years.

The article warns 'The vortex over north America has been pushing cold air over the United States.  Multiple outbreaks of Arctic air can be expected over the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada over the next ten days. A winter storm developing now over the southern Appalachians is forecast to bring snow to the DC area tomorrow afternoon. Then the storm is predicted to intensify over the north Atlantic. The amplifying energy of the southward displaced vortex over north America are forecast by the GFS model to make the storm "bomb" to a 944mb low south of Greenland. Huge waves are forecast to hit the Atlantic coast of Europe early next week.'

See 
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/16/1179397/-Sudden-Stratospheric-Warming-Split-the-Polar-Vortex-in-Two  for details

Jan 16th

Groundbreaking assessment of the benefits of cutting emissions

By Climate and Health Council
Researchers have published a groundbreaking assessment of the benefits of cutting emissions to keep the global temperature rise to within 2°C by 2100. They show that there is still time to cut enough greenhouse gas emissions to avoid up to two-thirds of the climate damage associated with the 4°C temperature rise projected to take place this century.

A study published in Nature informs governments and decision-makers about the benefits of taking urgent action to reduce carbon emissions has been produced by scientists from British institutions including the University of Reading, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, as well as Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The researchers found that if governments and businesses enacted the most stringent greenhouse gas emissions policies, it would give us a 50/50 chance of remaining below a 2°C global temperature rise by 2100, which reduces impacts on a wide range of sectors by 20 to 65%. That's compared to the “business as usual” path, which puts us at a dangerous 4°C temperature rise by 2100, the World Bank recently warned that this level of warming would create a ‘new normal’ with disastrous consequences.

The new research shows governments that crop productivity, flooding and energy for cooling are the areas that see the greatest benefit from emission reductions: global impacts in these areas are reduced by 40 to 65% by 2100 if warming can be limited to 2°C. In contrast, the adverse impacts of climate change on water availability are only reduced by around 20% when emission limitations are imposed. This is because even a small amount of warming can alter rainfall patterns sufficiently to reduce water availability.

This study could be a great incentive and tool for policy-makers by giving them useable information not buried in the scientific detail that can help to shape effective climate policy. Climate researcher Gavin Schmidt of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies emphasised this point, saying that the report is highly regarded because it provides policy-makers with something they can use in making decisions, by describing the benefits of climate action in numerical form.

Key Points
  • For the first time new research shows governments the benefits of urgently introducing strong emissions cuts that could keep the world from warming beyond the internationally agreed limit of 2°C. It shows that there is still time to cut carbon and dramatically reduce the impacts of future flooding and damage to global food stocks such as wheat by up to 65%.
  • This first of a kind study has been commended by NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt for the way in which is allows governments and decision-makers to clearly see the benefits of reducing emissions and preventing the kind of dangerous 4° rise in global average temperatures that the World Bank fears is currently on the cards.
  • The British Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey publicly acknowledged the report’s main message - that we can cut emissions to reduce the major impacts of climate change. But this rang slightly hollow on the same day that Bloomberg market analysts showed how the UK is undermining emissions cuts, as its weak political support for carbon reduction has dealt a severe blow to renewable energy investments.
Jan 14th

Save the Sciencebook Events dates!

By Climate and Health Council

DATE: Tuesday 5th March (Climate Week) - Sciencebook Twitter Feast:

Is our planet changing and can Earth Observation inform the science? Scientists, researchers, young people, teachers and STEM Ambassadors all welcome to join the debate. Guidance on taking part in this online event will be made available.


DATE: 7th and 8th March 2013 - The Mars Rover comes to Oxfordshire!

Scientists, researchers, teachers, parents, course and group leaders are invited to bring along young people for a fascinating presentation and Mars Rover demonstration by our Astrium Satellites scientist Vicki Lonnon. Find out what it’s like to drive the Mars Rover and how scientists engineer for space.

Venue: Cokethorpe School, Oxfordshire

Available sessions:

Thursday 7th March AM – Secondary

Thursday 7th  March PM - Secondary

Thursday 7th March Evening – Sciencebook network guests

Friday 8th March AM – Primary

Booking spaces: Limited spaces so please book by 9th February. All young people must be accompanied by a responsible adult.


How to get involved with TST:

The Sciencebook Trust, now a fully registered charity, welcomes scientists, researchers, teachers, STEM Ambassadors and companies to get involved with our ongoing objective to:

 Inspire young people to become scientists, researchers, technologists and innovators equipped to address climate change and sustainability.

Visit: www.sciencebook.org.uk