Where’s Reading Heading?

In August 2014, Reading Museum secured a second round of funding from the Happy Museum Project.

Our new project, ‘Where’s Reading Heading?’ looks at the past, present and future development of Reading. It seeks to provoke debate about how Reading will sustain a growing population and build a successful low carbon economy whilst ‘Narrowing the Gaps’ between different sectors in our communities.

Current work being led by the University of Reading, Reading UK CIC and Barton Wilmore, through the Reading 2050 initiative, envisages a smart and sustainable future for Reading. This will involve communities coming together to influence how the town will evolve in the decades ahead.

To promote debate the Museum asked Russell Alsop of local production company Ginger & Pickles to make a short documentary film, drawing together the views and knowledge of a widespread group of Reading people. This has included school pupils, academics, local politicians, business people, ecologists, architects, and residents from our local neighbourhoods.

As part of the project, radio style interviews were conducted. Within them are many views and learnings from experts and active citizens which enabled the film-maker to shape the documentary. You can listen to these on the museum’s SoundCloud (follow the link at the bottom of the page).

We hope our ‘Where’s Reading Heading’ film may encourage you to get involved.

The organisations that took part in the film-making process include:

  • Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC)
  • Berkshire Local Nature Partnership (LNP)
  • Greater Reading Environmental Network (GREN)
  • Nature Nurture
  • Reading Climate Change Centre
  • Reading Sustainability Centre
  • Reading Voluntary Action (RVA)
  • The Walker Institute, Reading University

Each of these local organisations provides opportunities for Reading residents to become active in initiatives influencing Reading’s future environment. Click on the links below to go to their websites and find out more – the LNP and GREN sites also include directories of other local groups.

Source: Reading Museum • Where’s Reading Heading?

Climate Change: What Motivates Me to Take Action? | People’s Climate March

I’m an optimist from a long line of problem solvers, I was brought up with the mindset that there is no problem too big to fix so even if at first something seems overwhelming you might as well have a go at solving it. This is the case with climate change, the majority of people I know are aware of climate change but it seems like a distant problem and they feel like they can’t contribute enough to solving it so don’t do anything. So what motivates me?

The things which motivate me can be placed under two categories:  fear and hope.

FEAR

The fear category represents all the things that I as an individual don’t want to be destroyed by a failure of our species to act on this and other environmental issues. As an Ecologist I’m passionate about protecting the other species on this earth but also very aware of how much we depend on biodiversity to provide us with food, energy, materials for goods and services, space to feel free, buffer us from extreme weather events and turn our waste products back into clean water and nutrients which fertilise our soils. Biodiversity is key to providing these services as this helps maintain ecosystems which can react to changing conditions. However due to a combination of habitat loss and climate change impacts the forecasts for the health of the world’s ecosystems under the business as usual scenario aren’t great. If we don’t swiftly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions it is highly likely that 2/3 of vertebrate species alive today will be extinct be the end of this century. This translates into reduced crop yields, altered rainfall patterns, dead fisheries and broken ecosystems Many of the keystone species which help maintain the conditions for our civilisation to thrive will be gone and we’ll gain the title of the first ever species to have evolved on this earth to have knowingly caused a mass extinction and not done anything about it.

Of relevance to Britain is how the Amazon fuels the weather systems which provide our rainfall, currently the Amazon acts like a giant humidifier. Trees pump water vapour into the atmosphere via a process called transpiration. Much of this is recycled within the Amazon itself falling as rain or mist soon after being transpired by the trees but a hefty proportion of it is swept in our direction by the air currents associated with the gulf stream to provide much of our rainfall. IPCC models predict that if warming proceeds much beyond 3°C the Amazon rainforest will go dry and disappear in a very big puff of smoke, with it an important source of rainfall that is vital for agriculture throughout Europe.

I’m currently in my mid twenties and I’m very conscious that if unabated the impacts of climate change will be in full swing by the time I retire. I want to pass on a healthy world to future generations and I don’t fancy explaining to my niece and nephew why we failed to act. I recognise that this is no mean feat. To avoid dangerous climate change we need to leave 70-80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground and promote regeneration of the world’s forests to help sequester the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.

HOPE

Hope represents my vision for a more sustainable, zero carbon world. For the UK this means aiming to go zero carbon by 2035. Based on the 3000 people who showed up to the Edinburgh People’s climate march last September along with the millions who hit the streets globally this is a vision I know I share with many others. A zero carbon society means cities free of smog and traffic noise, a healthier more active population, well insulated warm homes, thriving communities empowered by the chance to take ownership of their own food and energy production reducing our dependence upon other nations for our energy needs and healthy ecosystems allowing wildlife to thrive while providing space for us to play and relax.

There are also glimmers of this society emerging: recently the Economist reported that 2014 was the first non-recession year in which global carbon dioxide emissions flat lined due to a move away from coal, the divest from fossil fuels movement is gaining momentum as large institutions such as the Rockerfeller group and Glasgow University move their money out of fossil fuels, countries and cities all over the globe are spawning a renewable energy revolution with Scotland on track to meet its target of 100% renewable electricity generation by 2020 and people are organising to drive change from the bottom up.

That said the risk still remains that governments and corporations with vested interests in an economy addicted to fossil fuels will stifle change. For example in the UK the recent discovery of vast quantities of oil in South East England represents a major decision we have to make about the kind of future we want to create, for many it represents a line in the sand that we simply should not cross as exploitation of this resource would lock us into oil dependency for more years than we can afford. Globally big oil companies like Shell are pushing further and further into hostile regions such as the arctic to access previously marginal oil reserves. An oil slick in this region would devastate the arctic ecosystem and seriously impact fish stocks relied upon by millions of people.

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

I don’t have all the answers but together we do, this is no longer an issue of technology. We’re an intelligent species and already have the tools and technology to create the zero carbon society that so many people want it is simply an issue of will. The most powerful thing anyone can do is organise, link up with others in your community working on climate related issues whether it’s growing food locally, campaigning to pressure governments and companies to change their practices, creating renewable energy schemes, reducing waste or working to build sustainable homes. It is likely that someone in your community is already active in doing something and would love a helping hand.

Although 2015 is a big year as far as global climate negotiations are concerned and we should pressure the UNFCCC to deliver when it comes to the talks in Paris this December the track record over the previous 20 years makes it clear that we can no longer pin our hopes on the efforts of world leaders to take action for us. We need to take ownership of this issue and work together to make our own villages, towns and cities sustainable. In Edinburgh a new coalition has emerged in recent months under the banner of the people’s climate movement. We aim to provide a platform to unite and motivate all local groups, businesses and organisations acting on climate change to drive Edinburgh and surrounding communities zero carbon by 2035 and we are making progress.

SO WHERE CAN I START?

If you can make it to Edinburgh on Saturday May 23rd there will be a People’s Climate Assembly designed to inform inspire and equip attendees with the tools and knowledge to organise and act on the climate change issues that they are passionate about. For more information please contact peoplesclimateedinburgh@gmail.com.

If you can’t attend then a simple internet search will likely yield results, contact your local Friends of the Earth , Transition towns or Greenpeace group. They’ll likely have contacts and links to local projects you can get involved in from direct action to community energy projects you can invest in.

As I said at the start, I’m an optimist I am confident that we as a species have the potential to secure our future by preserving rather than trashing this little blue and green dot we call home. I’ve been inspired by the recent buzz around this issue. I’d much rather reach old age and tell stories to my Niece and Nephew about how we worked together to protect our environment for future generations than how we failed to act. If we allow ourselves to succumb to despair then we will fail but if we act and organise then we may just pull it off so let’s give it a go eh?

jethro-gauldJethro Gauld

MSc Ecosystem Services, BSc Ecology and Conservation

Leader of the Edinburgh RSPB Phoenix group for teenagers aged 11-16 interested in wildlife, GIS Technician for Scottish Water and active participant in the Edinburgh People’s Climate movement.

Source: Climate Change: What Motivates Me to Take Action? | People’s Climate March

Everything you wanted to know about the UN climate talks but were afraid to ask

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COP 21: Road to ParisEditor’s note: 2015 is shaping up to be a pivotal year with respect to climate change as growing concern about impacts converges with a critical stage in the decades-long process of shaping an international agreement to change our trajectory. To help us all prepare for the potentially game-changing 21st gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris beginning Nov. 30, by reporter Fiona Harvey. This first installment answers some basic questions about the U.N. talks.

Why 2015 could be the most important year ever for curbing climate change

Climate change negotiations seem to crawl along interminably at the pace of the glaciers they are meant to protect, with little perceptible progress as meeting follows meeting and conference follows lackluster conference. But this year we are seeing remarkable momentum building toward a historic conference in Paris in the closing days of 2015, by the end of which we will either have a new international agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, or we will have seen the last of truly global efforts to strike a deal on saving our planet.

We began the year with the outcome of Lima, last December’s United Nations gathering at which delegates drafted the outline of such an agreement that would come into force starting in 2020. That in turn followed a landmark deal between the U.S. and China in November to set limits on their greenhouse gas output. By the end of spring, all of the world’s major economies should be coming up with similar plans. Then, after some months of considering these proposals, and as 2015 ends, Paris will host COP 21 — the most important meeting on global warming since the Copenhagen talks six years earlier. What is decided there will determine the future of Earth’s climate for decades to come.

What is supposed to happen in Paris?

Governments will meet for two weeks to hammer out a new global agreement that will establish targets for bringing down global greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. Both developed and developing countries are expected to bring stringent goals to the table: absolute cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for industrialized countries, and curbs or relative reductions — such as cuts in CO2 produced per unit of GDP — in the case of poorer nations.

Why after 2020?

The world’s major economies, and many smaller ones, already have agreed on targets on their emissions up to 2020. These were settled at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, which marked the first time both developed and developing countries had agreed on such aims at the U.N. But that meeting was overshadowed by scenes of chaos and bitter fighting, so the 2020 targets — while still valid — could not at that time take the form of a full international and legally binding pact. The hope is that Paris will see less discord and a more constructive approach to continuing action on emissions to 2030 and beyond.

What is at stake?

With the publication of the fifth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013–14, we know more about the science of climate change than ever before, and what we know is troubling. The research embodied in that report put it beyond doubt that the climate is changing under human influence, and warned of the dire consequences — in the form of widespread droughts, floods, heat waves and other weather extremes — if greenhouse gases are left unchecked.

What is also at stake is the future of international action on global warming. As the Copenhagen summit showed, there are deep rifts among leading countries and among populous blocs over what action should be taken, by whom and how quickly, and how to pay for it.

The U.N. process of negotiations on a global accord has been going on for more than 20 years, since the first IPCC report in 1990 summed up our knowledge of climate science and concluded the world should be seriously concerned. That led to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by virtually all countries in 1992 and committing them to make efforts toward “preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system” without specifying what or how much they should do. The Kyoto protocol of 1997 was intended to flesh out those preventive actions by stipulating cuts in emissions from industrialized nations, but that collapsed when the U.S. Congress refused to ratify the protocol because it did not impose emissions targets on developing countries such as China. There followed years of stagnation in the talks, until at Copenhagen in 2009 major developed and developing economies agreed jointly for the first time to cut their emissions or curb their rise, respectively.

After the damage done at Copenhagen, the talks limped on. But the process is fragile. If Paris witnesses scenes of discord and high drama anything like those of 2009, and if there is no clear outcome, it is hard to see that faith in the U.N.’s ability to hold nations together on this issue could survive.

What should governments agree on?

They should agree on post-2020 emissions targets for all the leading economies, and less stringent actions on emissions for all nations. Three of the leading players have already set out their intended emissions targets, which bodes well for the outcome of Paris. The European Union has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030. By 2025, the U.S. will cut by 26 to 28 percent, compared with 2005 levels. And China will ensure that its emissions peak by no later than 2030.

Will these targets be enough?

No. After nations have submitted their proposals for cuts or curbs, due to the U.N. in April, the plans will be subject to close scrutiny for several months to give all countries a chance to judge them. There is a degree of gamesmanship here: No country wants to pledge too much too soon, lest it give away a competitive advantage. The results of the scrutiny will be a key part of the talks in Paris and could be a stumbling block to agreement.

This all sounds depressingly familiar. Haven’t we been here before with Copenhagen?

There are some reasons to be cheerful. Copenhagen did produce an agreement, though not in the full legal form many countries would have liked. Officially, at least, the world is committed to meeting those aims by 2020. So if Paris produces a fresh agreement lasting into the 2020s, it is a step forward.

What legal form will an agreement take?

We don’t yet know. There are three main options on the table, laid out at the U.N. conference in Durban in 2011 at which it was agreed that the Paris meeting should take place: “a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all parties.” The third is the most likely.

What does that mean?

We don’t quite know that, either. Some countries take it to mean that any targets agreed at Paris will be legally binding on the countries adopting them, so countries could be subject to international penalties if they are not met. Others argue that the framework agreement — a core agreement setting out the principle that countries must take on post-2020 targets — could be legally binding at an international level, while the targets themselves would be recorded separately and so not strictly binding under law.

The question of the legal form of an agreement has been a vexed one at these talks, and has a checkered history. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 was fully legally binding under the foundation treaty, the UNFCCC, and signed by the U.S. and nearly every other country. But that meant nothing in practice when the U.S. Congress immediately refused to ratify it and left the protocol in limbo. Other nations that did ratify later reneged on their commitments. None has suffered any sanctions as a result.

Copenhagen’s “political declaration,” outlining the pledges on emissions made by the world’s biggest economies, had to be relegated to an unofficial appendix in the legal outcome of that summit, and so was derided by some. But, though technically it had less legal force than Kyoto, it is at least still in place six years later and countries are still committed to meeting those pledges by 2020. It also forms the basis of the Paris talks.

Paris will not produce a fully articulated treaty like the UNFCCC — there is not enough time or appetite for that — but as long as it produces a definite outcome, with all of the major parties agreeing to targets even if they are not legally enforceable in the strictest sense, then it will represent significant progress and should be enough to keep the U.N. process intact.

What if the talks collapse at Paris?

That is likely to mark the effective end of international action on the climate coordinated by the U.N.

There are divergent views on the centrality of the U.N. talks to preventing dangerous climate change. These are “top-down” talks: Governments decide at an international level how much of an emissions reduction they will contribute and draft national policies to cascade this through their economies. An alternative is the “bottom-up” strategy, which posits that businesses and civil society organizations are more effective in taking prompt action and will do so in their own interests while governments still argue over semicolons in an international treaty.

Ultimately, these two approaches are closely linked. Top-down targets can spur bottom-up actions, while successes in bottom-up projects can encourage governments to be more courageous in setting national climate strategies. The reverse is also true: Without top-down negotiations, some companies are likely to see a commercial advantage in acting as a free rider, stalling on emissions cuts and refusing to take part in bottom-up actions.

So it is likely that some element of both will be necessary. The U.N. is not the only top-down forum: the U.S. leads the Major Economies Forum, and the G7 and the G20 also discuss climate actions. But the U.N. is the only arena that draws all developed and developing countries together and gives small nations a voice to challenge the biggest.

And after Paris?

That is anybody’s guess. No sooner had President Obama, late last year, toasted his deal on emissions with the Chinese president than Republicans vowed to strike it down. Any commitment made now for action until 2025 or beyond, in any country, runs that risk.

What can go wrong?

Lots. Although China has set forth its commitment, other key developing countries — India chief among them — have yet to do so, and may stretch the deadline. The process by which countries will review each other’s targets between now and the Paris gathering is also fraught with uncertainty, and it is not clear what will happen if countries cannot agree how to judge the targets.

Another key question is over finance. Developing countries were promised at Copenhagen at least $30 billion in “fast-start financing” by 2012 to help them make the investments needed in low-carbon infrastructure and begin adapting to the effects of climate change. That promise was broadly achieved — but by 2020, those finance flows are supposed to reach $100 billion per year. Where will the money come from? Rich countries are adamant that only a minor amount will come from their taxpayers, and the rest from the private sector. Poor countries are demanding more, and not cash redirected from existing aid budgets. It may be possible to find some middle ground, but this could be a breaking point.

Paris will be a crunch conference in every sense. The fragile U.N. process could emerge resurgent if nations can come together, or it could be battered to an effective end. Either way, global emissions are likely to continue rising for years more, increasing the risk that warming will exceed the 2 C mark that scientists posit as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes irreversible. Paris will not be enough in itself to prevent that, but it could go a long way to deciding our fate. View Ensia homepage

 

This article originally appeared at Ensia.com.

Car-Free Days UK participation in the National Climate March, London 7th March

Why CCCRdg has launched a campaign for a national
“Monthly Car-Free Work-Day in the UK”.

Reflecting on BBC4´s “Climate Change and Numbers”, Climate Change Centre Reading (CCCRdg) has launched in Reading a campaign for a national “Monthly Car-Free Work-Day in the UK”;

Following the Deep Decarbonisation route set out for a successful climate agreement in Paris at COP21, CCCRdg hope the National Climate March, London on Saturday 7th will stake out actions necessary to divest from dirty energy that not only adds to already high greenhouse levels but also pollutes the air, our common realm, which directly and utterly affects our health. The right thing to do in order to comply with changing to zero carbon fuels is to slow down our “business as usual” (BAS) behaviour.

With a regular Car-Free Work-Day, can UK take a lead on behaviour change divesting away from fossil fuels? That is the question.

The People’s Climate March last September was huge. With around 40,000 people marching in London, 400,000 in New York and many thousands more taking part across the world, together we made history.

2015 needs to be even bigger. The climate talks in Paris this December are crucial if we’re going to protect all that we love. Our movement is growing, and we’re more diverse and determined than ever before.

With a regular Car-Free Work-Day, can UK take a lead on behaviour change divesting away from fossil fuels? That is the question.

CFDUK

Across the UK people are already building change – from divestment of funds which prop up the fossil fuel industry, to front-line communities fighting unsustainable energy extraction and fracking, through to those paving the way for a transition towards a 100% renewable energy future which would bring about an estimated one million new climate jobs in the UK alone. 

Meet the CAR-FREE WORK-DAY BLOC on the 7th March to make the link between climate change and switching to zero carbon fuels. Put the climate on the agenda ahead of the 2015 General Elections and the December 2015 Paris United Nations COP21 climate talks.

ATTEND THE CAR-FREE WORK-DAY BLOC RALLY OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT ON 7TH MARCH https://www.facebook.com/events/632679746859395/

How to fins us: The Car Free Days UK Bloc will be under the Protecting Our World theme (No.6) http://www.timetoact2015.org/#!blocs/c7hs Look out for the Orange flag to find the general area -then we’ll be there with the CAR FREE DAYS UK BANNER

Details

12.30pm, Saturday 7th March

Lincoln’s Inn Fields [map]

Nearest tube: Holborn

Join the facebook group here

Let´s work together to help achieve this, it will be an important step in solving and laying a just and fair developing pathway, switching to zero carbon fuels.

[A regular car-free work-day in Reading and UK could fuel an International monthly Car-Free Work-Day which could be an astonishing example of traffic development and public realm. Reading has great potential to embrace the sustainable pathway and become a British role-model in climate change (the air is our all urban common) to honour a successful climate change agreement taking place in Paris December 2015.]

And together let’s continue to power up and celebrate our movement – locally, nationally and internationally – throughout 2015, and beyond

Call for Stewards #TimetoAct2015

Ki Price
Ki Price

Call for Stewards

You might have heard of this big climate march we’ve been working on called Time To Act on 7 March.

It’s shaping up to be an exciting day, and as numbers are rising we’re all the more grateful for many more helping hands. This march is going to be owned by the people and made by the people, and to that end we we need a team of people that know how to look really, really good in fluorescent yellow. Naturally, you came to mind.

Please come and join me at a Steward Briefing on Wednesday 4 March at the Basil Jelicoe Community Centre (nearest tube Euston) from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

The address is Drummond Crescent, Greater London NW11

It will be an opportunity for us to break into teams with our Lead Stewards and to get an overview of how we’re going to work together on the day, and to answer any questions.

If you haven’t done so already please complete the Steward form so we know you’re up for it. You don’t need to have had masses of stewarding experience before, but you do need to know how to look good in fluorescent yellow. Please ask all your friends.

See you on the 4th, and thanks again!

The Time To Act volunteers team

7 MARCH – Join the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc @ Time To Act National Climate March!

In our efforts to motivate as many people as possible to leave the car for a day and join in our Car-Free Days, Climate Change Centre Reading (CCCRdg) has taken a huge lap forward by campaigning for Car-Free Days until the end of the year.

Yes, we are proud of announcing CCCRdg supporting the Join the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc @ Time To Act National Climate March!

BREAKING: Please see our press release below, we hope you will find the piece interesting,

Climate Change – It’ s time for decisions now! not waste billions on campaigning.

The Future of Places

Join us at the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc on the Time to Act Climate demonstration on 7th March!

Details

12.30pm, Saturday 7th March

Lincoln’s Inn Fields [map]

Nearest tube: Holborn

Join the facebook group here

Let´s work together to help achieve this, it will be an important step in solving and laying a just and fair developing pathway, switching to zero carbon fuels.

Learn about the fossil fuels problems, that causing climate change in our local community and further afield, and what we in the local community are doing, and can do to help tackle such matters.

2015 CHANGE will honour the 2-degree Celsius limit as a limit to safeguard the world environment in Togethernessship 😉

BREAKING: CCCRdg has launched a campaign for a national “Monthly Car-Free Work-Day in the UK”  

A regular car-free work-day in Reading and UK could fuel an International monthly Car-Free Work-Day which could be an astonishing example of traffic development and public realm. Reading has great potential to embrace the sustainable pathway and become a British role-model in climate change (the air is our all urban common) to honour a successful climate change agreement taking place in Paris December 2015.

#TIMETOACT2015

Time To Act!
National climate march, London

The peoples Climate March last September was huge. Around the world hundred of thousands took to the streets and together made history.
2015 needs to be even bigger. The UN climate talks in Paris this December are crucial if we’re going to protect all that we love. So far the pledges on the table are nowhere near enough.

Time To Act 2015

Across the UK people are already building change – from divestment of funds which prop up the fossil fuel industry, to frontline communities fighting unsustainable energy extraction and fracking, through to those paving the way for a transition towards a 100% renewable energy future which would bring about an estimated one million new climate jobs in the UK alone. We know what needs to be done, the solutions are here now. Climate has got to be at the top of every politician’s agenda.
The movement is growing, and we’re more diverse and more determent than ever before. Join us two months before the election for a mass demonstration and wake-up call.
Sign up in our Car-Free Work-Day Bloc march on the 7th March to make the link between climat change and switching to zero carbon fuels. Put the climate on the agenda ahead of the 2015 General Elections and the December 2015 Paris United Nations COP21 climate talks – https://www.facebook.com/events/632679746859395/

Now is the time to act.