The consequences of global warming are emotionally overwhelming so, Cllr Wisdom Da Costa sets out a simple strategy for clear and achievable action, Pathways to Net Zero Carbon.
creating a positive legacy for future generations
We know that the majority of scientists and Nobel prize winners consider that Climate Change is caused by global warming which is caused by the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas (methane).
These fossil fuels comprise Carbon and Hydrogen but also contain Sulphur and Nitrogen which, when burnt to generate energy, release gases that rise up into the upper atmosphere to trap heat (like a greenhouse) and particles which cause air pollution which leads to chronic diseases and death.
- You can find out more about the consequences in the blog, “RBWM Environment and Climate Emergency: What’s the issue?” which includes some great videos.
But what can we as individuals do to help prevent a hellish future for our children, grandchildren and future generations?
And how does it all work? And, what are the benefits?
Benefits of achieving Net Zero Carbon & GreenHouse Gas Emissions
If we follow the ideas below, we can achieve the following benefits
- Reduction in costs
- Reduction in air pollution
- Increased and closer areas of natural beauty
- Improvements in local biodiversity and strengthening ecosystems
- Improved health
- Improved mental health
- Improved fitness
- More pleasant living environments
- Improved happiness.
- Reduction in carbon emissions
Why wouldn’t you?
Now we know some of the great benefits of reducing net Carbon to Zero, let’s turn to the questions, “how does it all work?”
it has to be done or our efforts will not save us from some terrible consequences
How does it all work and, what’s a Carbon Budget?
PS If you are unsure about climate science, click here for more information – to follow shortly
Scientists are in broad agreement climate change is caused by burning fossils fuels to generate energy and heat for our homes & buildings, and transport.
But how land is used and industrial processes also release greenhouse gases (GHG).
PS In this context, the expression Carbon (C) emissions and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the same and so, when you see one, it also means the other.
Scientists tell us that we need to reduce Carbon emissions to zero but, we only have a limited further amount of C emissions (Carbon Budget) that we can release before we hit levels of built-up GHG in the atmosphere which will make life very difficult on Earth for humans and the animals and plants we know and rely on.
In other words, we have to make the big reductions very quickly so, our target achievement should look like green line. It should not be linear but logarithmic.
This certainly is a complicating factor but, it has to be done or our efforts will not save us from some terrible consequences.
it makes sense to target action to the areas that change the carbon figure the most
What does that look like overall?
GHG emissions arise from the following areas so, it makes sense to target action to the areas that change the carbon figure the most;
- Burning fossil fuels for Heat and Power for homes, offices, and other buildings (40% of C emissions)
- Fuels for vehicles (40% of C emissions)
- Using land for rearing livestock, which also generates methane (10% of C emissions)
- Industrial processes, gas leaks from our networks, waste management (primarily landfills) (10% of C emissions)
- We can also suck up carbon by growing more and more trees, allowing them to come to maturity, and restoring peatlands (10% C reduction)
let’s explore how to leave a legacy for our children and future generations.
Two further complications – power down & contrails
We spoke about the complication of having to reduce C emissions very quickly in order to make sure we don’t use up our Carbon Budget, to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.
But, there is one further issue we have to factor into our plans.
Renewable energies such as wind power, solar, or geothermal, can not generate enough energy to meet our current usage so, in order not to face a world with regular power cuts, we have to also use less energy.
In other words, we have to find ways to use less energy and power down.
Another complication is that aircraft contrails, the pretty white trails that emit from an aircraft at higher altitudes, also contribute to the absorption of energy from the sun and so global warming
So now you know the basics of how the basics about Climate Change, let’s explore how to leave a legacy for our children and future generations.
Here’s a game plan
What could this look like?
Here’s a game plan, some ideas about what our objectives and focuses should look like based on these concepts;
- Annual carbon emission target levels to include in RBWM Environment & Climate Change Strategy – target a logarithmic curve which achieves net-zero by 2030 to ensure we do not exceed our Carbon Budget
- Heat and Power for buildings
- Switch to a renewable energy tariff
- Change heating from oil and gas to electric
- Reduce power usage in buildings
- Install energy saving devices and constructions
- Generate renewable energy
- Lobby government to accelerate the switch to renewable energy
- Vehicles and transport
- Stop/prevent the use of petrol and diesel vehicles
- Switch to electric vehicles
- Use public transport
- Walk and cycle more
- Fly a lot less
- Lobby government to increase funding for electric vehicles and green public transport
- Land use
- Eat less meat and more plant-based foods
- Waste less food especially meat
- Plant a lot more trees
- Create more habitat for carbon-capturing ecosystems
- Stop building on green spaces
- Reduce the use and leakage from gas pipelines and super greenhouse gases from fridges and aerosols.
- Switch from cement to plant-based building materials
The critical role of RBWM, our council, and your councillors
RBWM can play a key role in;
- Taking such action directly
- Develop and apply metrics that allow us to calculate the carbon emission value of each asset in our asset base and, also the carbon emission or reduction value of each and every plan, action, and decision taken by Council
- Mandating contractors and joint venture or its commercial companies to do the same
- Creating programs to help residents take this action
- Lobbying government for the changes to law needed to make these things happen
So, you should pressure the Council and your Councilors to take action to achieve these strategies and plans and, to also help you and your community achieve the targets.
have fun getting to net-zero Carbon Emissions
What could we do to achieve a positive legacy for future generations?
If we do nothing or little, we will leave a negative legacy of suffering on a hellish Earth.
If you care, “failure is not an option” so, here’s what you can do;
- Each of us needs to do stuff – watch out for my Climate Change Game to help motivate you and have fun getting to net-zero Carbon Emissions.
- We need to pressure our Councils to achieve more – please respond to the “RBWM Environment & Climate Strategy Consultation”
- We need to lobby the government to make changes to the law and funding to make this happen- watch out for my Climate Change Game to help motivate you and have fun getting to net-zero Carbon Emissions.
Cllr Wisdom Da Costa
Co-Deputy Vice-Chair, RBWM Cross Party Climate Change Panel
- Click here to find out about Climate Change Resilience i.e. how we prepare our towns and cities for the guaranteed extreme weather
- Click here to find out about how we can stop mass extinctions locally and, help restore flora and fauna to healthy levels (restoration of Biodiversity)
- Click here to see how these points can be developed and map onto the form for the RBWM Environment & Climate Strategy Consultation
- Click here to find out how to submit your response to the RBWM Environment & Climate Strategy Consultation
- Click here to see what others are saying about the RBWM Environment & Climate Strategy Consultation
Credits & References
- Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash
- Centre for Alternative Technology – www.cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/
- The Woodland Trust – www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/how-trees-fight-climate-change/
- The Global Carbon Project – https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/19/infographics.htm
- The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research – https://tyndall.ac.uk/ideas-and-insights/carbon-budgets
- This post is part of the WWRA Councillors regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as promised in their election leaflet
- It is also to comply with clause v of the Members Code of Conduct which states, “You must be as open as possible about your decisions and actions and the decisions and actions of your authority and should be prepared to give reasons for those decisions and actions.”
- The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).
- Any errors are unintentional so, I would value you bringing them to my intention so I can correct them. You can Email me firstname.lastname@example.org