Podcast: Paul Allen on Zero Carbon Britain and food supply chains

Last Saturday, This is Rubbish in collaboration with CAT held Forum and Feast, a day of talks and workshops (topped off with a theatrical food waste feast!) around the issue of food waste. Paul Allen, CAT’s director of external relations, gave a presentation about Zero Carbon Britain 2030 and food waste, discussing how land use forms an important part of the report.

 

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George Monbiot speaking at a lecture at CAT last week

Leading British Environmentalist says climate talks are now ‘dead’

At a recent lecture given by George Monbiot at the Centre for Alternative Technology and pocast in part here, Monbiot argues that the international climate change negotiations are failing.  He says that we are faced with  “the complete collapes of the international process, the process is now dead…. it died in Copenhagen”  and says that for the first time in his lifelong work as an author and activisit  he has not got a clue as to what the answer is  “my certainities of what needs to be done have crumbled in the face of the complete ineptitude and uselessness of the worlds governments.”

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Cancún, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. Although world governments reached agreement, many environmentalists have criticsed the Cancun agreement. John Vidal, writing in The Guardian, said the Cancun agreement did not show leadership nor tackle underlying questions such as how the proposed climate fund will be financed or commit to a legally binding emissions reductions.

George Monbiot- Author and Journalist
George Monbiot- Author and Journalist

George Monbiot was speaking at a lecture on the MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies at CAT’s Graduate School of the Environment (GSE) that offers a range of inspirational post-graduate programs. Courses are directed by a unique combination of leading professionals, academics and authors. They are based in CAT’s stunning new eco-educational facility, the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education. With flexible learning programs to suit all needs, and teaching that places sustainability at its core – CAT offers an unparalleled academic and practical learning experience.

Other lecturers on the course include

Paul Chattertonwatch you tube video

Senior lecturer of Geography at Leeds University

Lotte Reimer- watch you tube video

Tutor on the MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies at CAT

For more information on this or any other part of the Centre for Alternative Technology’s work in informing, inspring and enabling practical solutions for sustainable living, please contact the press office.

zero carbon controversy

The launch of zerocarbonbritain2030 was an exciting moment for the Centre for Alternative Technology – hotly anticipated and eagerly awaited- it was always going to be controversial. After all, reducing your greenhouse gas emissions to zero ( in fact below zero) within 20 years is never going to be easy.

The launch of the report was covered by a wide variety of publications- from national and local newspapers, academic journals to widely read popular magazines and trade journals. In the media department it was frenetic, managing the enormous tide of enquiries that arrived in every day. One of the biggest areas of controversy has been the land use chapter. Notably the land use chapter calls for an 80% reduction in grazing livestock. The zero carbon Britain 2030 report shows that acre for acre grazing livestock produce more emissions yet provide the least nutritional value

The National Beef Association who represent farmers and those involved with the beef industry were naturally concerned by the massive cuts in the grazing livestock and the impacts that would have on farming life in the UK. The zerocarbonbritain2030 report shows how changes to land use will be radical but positive and see Britain grow far more of its own food and fuel, whilst creating greater energy, economic security and new rural jobs. The report proposes a reduction in grazing livestock because logic and evidence compel it, not for any other reason. There will still be meat but less of it. The task at hand with zerocarbonbritain2030 report was to demonstrate that it is possible to bring British net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

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A similar controversy of the report is the two thirds reduction in aviation, whilst the era of cheap flights has made life far more convienent and flitting back and forth between countrie sand traveling distances makes life easier,, aviation is responsible for huge amounts of carbon emissions. The zerocarbonbritain2030 report has found that it is possible through land use management to grow the crops needed to produce the kerosene in the UK. Orginally the press team hoped to launch the report at the TUC building in London in order to draw the links between a transition to a zero carbon society and increase in jobs that this would create. However aviation unions within the TUC were unwilling to be linked to a report that demands such a reduction and another venue had to be sought.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Centre for Alternative Technology were hosted by the Guardian online to debate land-use, farming and food. The CPRE claimed that following proposals of the report would mean a massive change in the British landscapes. Producing all our power at home would mean devoting 85% of England’s grazing land to large-scale biomass plantations. They suggested that nearly a quarter of England would no longer be covered by the familiar pattern of meadows and pastures which defines many valued English landscapes. Our response was that zerocarbonbritain2030 is about creating energy security, rural jobs and tackling climate change. It also increases food security. The benefits include many things the CPRE values: rural jobs, biodiversity and locally produced food. But it does result in a landscape that looks very different.

All of these debates are important and there are many more to be had in the transition to a low carbon society. Zerocarbonbritain2030 is just one of many possible scenarios – there are many other mixes- some that include more meat but less aviation or more aviation but less meat- the mix is endless.

As we move towards a zero carbon society there are difficult choices that we need to make. Things are going to change – be it through a change in climate or changes we introduce in order to combat climate change and deal with energy and economic security. The global consequences to humanity of not taking measures now to reduce our carbon emissions and keep temperatures well below 2 degrees will be devastating. We all have a role to play- it is important that we understand the debates in which we engage and the consequences of not taking action

CAT hosts Bristol Schumacher Conference 2010: Zero Carbon Britain – from Aspiration into Action.

“In the shadow of economic globalisation, an extraordinary variety of creative voices have emerged to challenge and reverse the dominant trends.”

On 16th October 2010 delegates from the European Environment Agency, Good Energy and the Centre for Alternative Technology will lead a day of lectures, workshops and discussion on the most pressing issue of our time – the need for a transition to a zero carbon Britain.

Britain has the potential, skills and natural resources to lead the world in carbon reduction. Join in workshop discussions with Paul Allen (CAT), Eugenie Harvey (10:10), Prof. Peter Reason (University of Bath), Victor Anderson (WWF), Jean Boulton (Sustain), Mark Gater and others.

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Become part of the solution. Put the date in your diary!

Continue reading “CAT hosts Bristol Schumacher Conference 2010: Zero Carbon Britain – from Aspiration into Action.”

Tick Tick Tick….

The number of secondary passes is now so low, that I am on my way home. By train it’s 24 hours, but that includes a reasonable nights sleep on the Copenhagen to Cologne night train. Over the 10 days the CAT team have been here, we have distributed two thousand leaflets inviting delegates to download the Zero Carbon Britain ‘Copenhagen Special’ report, we have given four TV interviews, two radio interviews, I presented at two side events, and personally offered a copy of the report, or an invitation to download it to every single country delegation.

Together with members of the International Forum for Sustainable Energy, CAT has continually staffed two information stalls, one in the Bella Centre, the main negotiating hall and one in the ‘Klimaforum’ event for civil society. We have literally talked to hundreds of people, making the point clearly and repeatedly that the barriers to agreement at COP15 do not arise from the technology; we know we have the means to change – our limits are social and political. I believe we made an impact. But as well as presenting what we have learned, we have re-vitalised links with old friends, made many new contacts, and explored grounds for future collaborations with others organisations doing similar work.

I must admit I leave with some feeling of apprehension, particularly with the resignation of Connie Hedegaard as president of the summit. If we don’t shape up and pull something solid out of this, its hard to see where the process can go next to deliver what is needed fast enough. We are beyond the limits to growth, it is now a simple race against time. The first ticking clock is the expiry of the hard-won Kyoto protocol, which took a lot of effort to reach, and still offers a viable platform for moving forward. The second ticking clock is the on-going breakdown of the earth’s climate systems, as peak oil now drives us in desperation to dirtier and dirtier fuels. I saw Al Gore personally presenting his most recent work on ice melt, and it is very sobering stuff.

But the third ticking clock is the thinning patience of the majority world. COP15 had a very different mood to its predecessor in Poland. Although majority world delegates and observers were courteous, respectful of the process, I felt there was a rising fear, anger and exasperation in their voices, as they told first hand experiences of losing land, livelihoods and even their families to the ever advancing effects of climate chaos.

But I also leave with a deep and renewed sense of connection. I have met hundreds of inspiring people from projects all across the globe; individuals, communities and organisations that have not waited for their leaders to catch up with the science. There are literally millions upon millions of people from every walk of life, from every continent on earth, working for change. There is an emerging ‘ecosystem’ of activity; some documenting the problems, others monitoring and conveying the effects, yet more working on solutions, each focussed on filling their own particular niche, but aware of being part of a larger whole. I was extremely proud how many people I met had heard of CAT, and had taken inspiration from us at some point in their path. I was even more surprised how many ex-staff, volunteers and students I ran into along the way.

So whatever happens over the final three days, it’s defiantly ‘gloves off’ now and into action for the final chapter. We have the technologies; we even have (at long last) a feed in tariff. We recently have achieved access to media and campaigning tools undreamt of when I began as a peace and anti-nuclear activist in the late 1970s. There are more of us than there have ever been before, and it’s never been easier for us to find each other.

The science says we must, the technology says we can, now lets go do it!