Sunday, 28 October 2007

Climate Change Campaigns

Petitions
Julie helped with the Campaign Against Climate Change’s petition on Saturday 16th September in the Peace Gardens. The event was repeated a week later coinciding with National Car Free Day.

Climate Change Public Meeting
Chris Malins organised a meeting on climate change involving Friends of the Earth, World Development Movement, Christian Aid, People and Planet, SCACC, the Green Party, Plane Stupid and Cafod. He invited local MPs and a national speaker to raise the issue of the Climate Change Bill and to seek support of the main political parties for amendments to the Bill. This meeting was held next door to the Ash gig on the 25th October.

The Big Ask Update
Our campaign for an effective Climate Change Bill is moving into an important phase. The Government have taken the unusual move of deciding to send the Bill to the House of Lords first, and then to the House of Commons. The Lords will vote Yes or No for the Bill to move to Committee stage, and can make comments on what they see as the big issues. The Committee stage will then happen on the floor of the House, so all Lords can be involved, and can vote to make changes to the actual wording of the Bill. After this there will be a Third Reading in the House of Lords before it is passed back to the House of Commons, probably in February.

Friends of the Earth are calling for:
  • A target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • Binding annual targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Inclusion of emissions from aviation and shipping in the targets.

Climate Camp
Julie attended the Climate Camp at Heathrow to protest at the growth of aviation and the building of new runways. 

Penistone Climate Meeting
Penistone Friends of the Earth organised a Climate Change “question time” public meeting on Monday 26th November. Speakers invited were a climate sceptic, Peter Roderick - the co-director of the Climate Justice Programme and Richard Starkey from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change in Manchester. Martin and Peter from the Sheffield group agreed to attend the meeting so useful questions could be put to climate experts. They were also keen to submit powerful questions to the climate sceptic.

Mermaids
Regional Friends of the Earth staff from the Leeds office met Clive Betts MP outside Sheffield Town Hall on Friday 19th October to publicise the Climate Change Bill. Despite the cold weather they wore mermaid and diving costumes to highlight the connection between climate change and flooding.
Although Sheffield FoE volunteers weren’t able to attend due to the event being in working hours, our regional staff asked for a stronger climate law to including annual targets, including shipping and aviation emissions and to have an 80% cut by 2050.



E.on Biomass Power Plant
 
Chris Jones from Sheffield University came to our November meeting to tell us about the proposed Blackburn Meadows Biomass Plant and seek our views. This 25MW renewable energy plant is proposed by E.on UK, who claim it would produce enough electricity for around 40,000 homes by burning a combination of recycled wood and specially grown crops such as willow and elephant grass. The plant would also displace the emission of around 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and is expected to create 20 full-time jobs once built.

Some of the key points raised were:
  • The plant should use locally produced wood to cut down on transport emissions and questions were raised about the quantity of biomass available in South Yorkshire. It was noted by one member that previous attempts to obtain these figures from biomass and forestry organisations had failed. Continuing with the same theme, we asked if there would be a sufficient supply of wood if other biomass plants opened in South Yorkshire and what work had E.on done to secure a supply of biomass.
  • Potential pollution problems were raised with it being sited next to the M1. The discussion pointed out that a green power station isn’t really the problem—the real problem is too much traffic. Questions were asked about what type of waste wood the plant might burn, such as wood contaminated with paint or chemicals. Martin talked about the issues of safely burning material at very high temperatures.
A number of people questioned if the plant would use combined heat and power to avoid wasting hot water and increase efficiency. Other comments focused on guarantees to use biomass once it was built. See http://www.eon-uk.com/generation/1144.aspx for more details.  Pass on any views to C.R.Jones@sheffield.ac.uk