Carbon budgets, housing and transport

Carbon budgets, housing and transport

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 3

Some readers may have heard about a recent scientific paper
Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

This paper estimated the remaining carbon budget to keep below a 1.5°C
temperature rise since pre-industrial times. It’s estimate is much larger than
that outlined in the IPCCs fifth report (AR5). Fact checks about this paper on
Carbon Brief and RealClimate show it should not be taken seriously.

UK Carbon budgets

The Climate Change Act of 2008 aimed to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 in relation to emissions in 1990. Thes are measured in Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e), which also takes account of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses, such as methane. The  starting figure in 1990 was 799 million tonnes CO2e. Roughly 12 tonnes CO2e per person per year. This gives the target for 2050 as 2.5 tonnes CO2e per person.

According to 2016 UK GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, PROVISIONAL FIGURES from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, emissions for UK  in 2016 had fallen to 466 million tonnes of CO2e or 7.28 tonnes per person.

The  Carbon Budget 2016  from the Global Carbon Project gave the remaining carbon budget to keep the global temperature below 2°C as 816 billion tonnes of CO2. Adjustments and accounting for non-CO2 gasses means that averaged over the world’s population the budget is roughly 120 tonnes CO2e per person.

MORE… Continue reading Carbon budgets, housing and transport


What can climate modellers tell us about flying and eating beef?

Representative consumption pathways

Representative concentration pathways (RCPs) are hypothetical emissions of greenhouse gasses and other climate pollutants.  (So why are they called concentration pathways?) The RCPs specify individual climate pollutants, such as CO2, CH4, N2O and black carbon for each year from 2000 until 2100. The RCPs were introduced in IPCC Assessment Report Five (AR5) in 2014. After a selection process four of these pathways – tables of numbers specifying the yearly emissions of each pollutant were chosen as representatives of possible future climate forcing over the century.

Four RCP’s were chosen as standard: RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP 6 and RCP8.5.  RCP2.6 specifies the lowest concentrations of climate pollutants was specified in RCP2.6.  According to climate models, RCP2.6 is the only RCP that keeps the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial to below 2°C.  The others have worse outcomes i.e. higher average global temperatures.

Different climate pollutants have different warming and cooling effects on the Earth but the effects of different pollutants are often combined into a figure that would equal the effect of carbon dioxide alone. This measure is called carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e. Combining the effects of the pollutants for the RCPs give this graph

Continue reading What can climate modellers tell us about flying and eating beef?

Housing – part 2 – food and the remaining carbon budget

Housing 2: Food and the
remaining carbon budget

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 2

To recap on the topic carbon budgets mentioned in the first note:

“The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5 – in 2013) was the first to include an assessment of a “remaining carbon budget” – a finite amount of carbon that can be burnt before it becomes unlikely we can avoid more than 2°C of global warming. Later they issued a budget for 1.5°C, which Carbon Brief updated in Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees. – according to these calculations this is now five years.” Continue reading Housing – part 2 – food and the remaining carbon budget

Housing: embodied carbon and climate

Housing: embodied carbon and climate

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 1

There are many ways for looking at housing: climate change, local environmental impact, community spirit, security, affordability, asset values &etc. However, finding a political narrative to address these issues is difficult because public awareness is low – I blame the ‘don’t inform and educate just entertain‘ BBC for that. The topic is also biased by self-interest, creating beliefs that cannot easily be shifted by facts. One of the most difficult issues is climate change, which is not given the importance it demands, in particular the greenhouse gasses emitted as a result of construction – the embodied carbon – is rarely mentioned. This first note is about embodied carbon.

Climate change

Continue reading Housing: embodied carbon and climate

Interest in green, inclusive and de-growth

Green growth, inclusive growth and de-growth

The OECD say green growth is

“… economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which  our well-being relies.”

One corollary of this must be that world economic activity should increase but the consequent greenhouse gas emissions do not cause dangerous climate change. This means emissions should remain within certain limits until greenhouse gasses can be extracted from the atmosphere. This extraction is thought to become possible in the second half of this century. Some rough calculations are presented below to explore the meaning of ‘green growth’.

The OECD say inclusive growth is

“… economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and non-monetary terms, fairly across society.”

Continue reading Interest in green, inclusive and de-growth

The racket in housing

A note for LBC radio’s James O’Brien

Council house building stopped by Thatcher

On LBC radio this morning, James O’Brien discussed the housing crisis. He had a “penny drop” moment:

In 1971, Maggie Thatcher banned councils from borrowing to build houses. This has meant that private landlords have taken over much of the rental market and are making a killing through rents, many of which are paid through housing benefit. Private landlords are being paid increasing amounts from government expenditure

Subsequent governments haven’t changed the restrictions on councils – even the Labour governments of Blair and Brown.

Rents rise as house prices rise

Continue reading The racket in housing

Cancelling the New York Times, because truth is now more important than ever

Open Mind

To the executive editor

The New York Times

27 April 2017, via email

Dear editor,

I am a climate researcher, professor for physics of the oceans and have worked for eight years as advisor to the German government on global change issues. I regret to have to tell you that hereby I cancel my subscription to the New York Times in the wake of you hiring columnist Bret Stephens. Let me explain my reasons.

When Stephens was hired I wrote to you in protest about his spreading of untruths about climate change, saying “I enjoy reading different opinions from my own, but this is not a matter of different opinions.” I did not cancel then but decided to wait and see. However, the subsequent public defense by the New York Times of the hiring of Stephens has convinced me that the problem at the Times goes much deeper than a…

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Let’s think of a plan for Labour to split

It’s time to work out organisation and electoral algorithms to make an electoral pact work if the Labour Party splits.

I’ve been a Labour Party member since 1964. Never liked “the Party” much but have liked many fellow members. I still pay my dues because the alternatives are worse.

What abut a split?

Then both sides won’t be so dogged by the sins of the past. Like …

  • Blair’s academy schools

  • Browns PFI’s

  • Milliband’s failure to oppose Universal Credit that is impoverishing section of the poor. (Labour Party Lord: ” They knew. As useful as chocolate teapots”)

  • Limp action on climate change. (Blair sacked Michael Meacher remember.)

Apart from ‘that war’ the Labour Party’s record is still the best and that leads many party members to want the Corbynites to hand over to the old Blairites – without Blair of course – in order to regain power and relieve so some of the pressure on the poor and the environment. Continue reading Let’s think of a plan for Labour to split