Friday, July 26, 2019

Look Out

Look Out

Friday, 26 July; the Sustainable Futures Report and I'm Anthony Day. No, this one is not about electric vehicles. I'm holding that over for a future episode because I wanted to catch up with Extinction Rebellion and last week's protest.
By the way, the text of the interviews in last week’s episode is now up on the blog.
Welcome Patrons
Hello, David
First let me recognise my patrons and in particular to welcome David Abbott who has recently signed up. Many of you have been supporting me for several years now and I just want to reiterate how much your support is appreciated. In purely financial terms it helps pay for the hosting and recently I’ve been able to have interviews transcribed so that you have the full text on the blog. You’ll remember that as always you can find it at Your feedback and ideas are equally invaluable.
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The Extinction Rebellion demo in Leeds lasted right through until Friday morning. Relations were good with the police and there were no arrests. On Thursday there was a march into the centre of Leeds where a massive die-in involved everyone lying down in Briggate, fortunately a pedestrianised street. There was a great picture in The Guardian, and you can definitely see my feet! Oh, and the singing ladies weren’t there.
There were arrests in London. This was less to do with the more militant attitude of the Metropolitan Police and more to do with the fact that six activists deliberately blocked the gates at London Concrete in Bow to prevent workers or vehicles from entering the site. Cement and concrete are some of the most carbon-intensive products, so it was an appropriate choice. As much as anything activists wanted to get their day in court to raise the profile of the demonstration.
No Arrests
As I said, there were no arrests in Leeds but there was disruption, particularly traffic congestion. Some people complain that they lost hours of work as a result and it's likely that some of those were on contracts working hours they could ill afford to lose. It’s easy to say that avoiding long term catastrophe justifies the short-term disruption, but that’s little comfort to such people, even though many of them support the cause. In Leeds at least, the whole exercise appears to have been closely planned and the police kept informed to minimise disruption. It would be good to protest without inconveniencing anyone, but if no one is inconvenienced, then no one takes any notice.
Nevertheless, a backlash has started.
The Metropolitan police obtained a Section 12 Order stating that: "No boat, vehicle or other structure may form part of any procession by 'Extinction Rebellion' or join the procession at any point on its route or at its final location on Friday, 19 July 2019 within the London region.”
Extinction Rebellion (XR) has been warned that they will not be allowed to bring London to a standstill and repeat their Spring chaos in a new "bigger" protest on October 7.
Tougher Sentences
Laurence Taylor, Met police deputy assistant police commissioner, also urged the courts to impose tougher sentences that would act as a deterrent to future protests. As I mentioned before, they are busy prosecuting the 1100+ demonstrators who were arrested in April. 
Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rupert Read said the commissioner’s comments were “interesting”. 
He said: “When masses of people take non-violent direct action, the matter is no longer entirely in the police’s hands. If and when 10,000 people sit in a street and refuse to be moved, then what the police will ‘allow’ is neither here nor there. There aren’t enough of them to arrest us all and when they arrest some of us, others take their place.”
Mike Schwartz of Bindmans, one of the defence lawyers involved, said the move by the police and the CPS appeared to be “a deliberate and expensive” attempt to “browbeat those in society most motivated to do all they can, peacefully but firmly, to mitigate environmental collapse”.
The Policing Challenge
Of course the police are in a difficult position. Their responsibility is to keep everything moving, prevent disruption and ensure that lives and property are safe and secure. Whether or not individual officers support XR’s call for change is irrelevant to their duty. In Leeds the bridge that was closed is a bridge that has to be closed in times of violent weather, so comprehensive diversion plans are always in place. On the other hand paralysing a city centre or blockading London would have far more serious consequences. The purpose of Extinction Rebellion is to urge the government to act. Only the government can take the actions which will have a significant effect towards reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. With the best will in the world, everyone else can refuse plastic straws in their cocktails, have a meat free Monday and spend less time in the shower, but only government action can be big enough to save the planet. Until the government acts the XR approach is civil disobedience and non-violent protest. There’s every sign that it will continue indefinitely.
Policy Exchange
Last week the Policy Exchange think-tank published a report entitled “Extremism Rebellion”. No doubt which side of the debate they’re on.
One of the authors, Richard Walton, calls for politicians to stop endorsing or legitimising Extinction Rebellion, which he says promotes an ideology of ‘post capitalism’ and ‘de-growth’, encourages law-breaking, increases the burden on the UK’s police force and causes serious economic and social disruption.
Mr Walton even suggests “it is not inconceivable that some on the fringes of the movement might at some point break with organisational discipline and engage in violence” and calls for police to be significantly more proactive in enforcing laws that relate to public protest.
Or, as somebody said to me, some “false flag” protesters could commit crimes while claiming to be supporters of XR in order to damage its reputation.
Ignoring XR’s commitment to non-violent protest the report claims that its activities could escalate into offences under the Terrorism Act, and that XR should now be treated as such an organisation. 
A Way with Words
That’s the last time I'm going to use the T-word in this article. The reason for this is based on something I learnt at a recent event run by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment and the British Psychological Society. It was explained that people will remember words without necessarily remembering the context. For example: if you say that wind turbines are not very noisy, then the listener is likely to remember “wind turbine” and “noisy”. If instead you say that wind turbines are almost silent they will remember “wind turbine” and “silent” and be far more likely to be well disposed towards them. The message, of course is exactly the same.
System Change
One of the chants at XR protests is “System Change, Not Climate Change”. The Policy Exchange report sees that as an attack on capitalism and accuses XR of promoting anarchy, using it as justification for the movement to be suppressed. Many in the movement do not believe in capitalism as it currently operates, with an obsession with growth, with GDP as a crude measure of prosperity and with widening inequality between rich and poor across the world. Some believe in a steady-state economy with a more equitable distribution of resources. That’s a system change, but it certainly has nothing to do with anarchy.
The use of the T-word by Policy Exchange led to headlines in the popular press. “Give a dog a bad name,” says the old proverb, “and you may hang him.”
BBC Ambivalence
The story was picked up by the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Afterwards a delegation from Extinction Rebellion met with the broadcaster and during the meeting the BBC admitted that it had broken its own editorial guidelines over the Policy Exchange report, in that the interviewer did not ask who had funded the report. Policy Exchange routinely refuses to identify its sources of funds, so here is an organisation seeking to influence public policy, yet it could be funded by the fossil fuel industry or even by foreign governments. If their research is objective and independent, why would they not reveal their backers? More worrying is the statement from the BBC that they would not rule out coverage of future anonymously funded "think-tank" reports.
Spurious Expertise
It is a strategy of vested interests to set up institutes and think-tanks and issue quasi-academic reports. It was done by the tobacco industry, by the American power industry resisting controls to prevent acid rain, by the nuclear armaments industry and by the oil industry.
One thing that marked these organisations out was that they included expert scientists of the very highest international calibre, yet they were not experts in the field under study. Also some of these eminent scientists appeared in institute after institute, lending their considerable reputations to support positions that they were not qualified to judge. Compare this with the reports prepared by organisations such as the IPCC, where each document is rigorously scrutinised and peer-reviewed to assure scientific integrity.
The vested interests do everything they can to sow doubt. As long as people can be persuaded that “the science isn’t settled yet”, they will sit back confident that nothing needs to be done.
Blame The Messenger
When powerful interests want facts denied another of their tactics is to attack the messenger. You may not remember Ralph Nader, but he published a book in 1965 called “Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile”. Some of the cars he described were not just unsafe, they were downright dangerous. Nader is remembered as one of the first consumer champions, but the response of General Motors was to do all they could to destroy his reputation. They interviewed his friends and acquaintances and asked about his political, social and his religious views, his sexual preferences and his personal habits. They kept him under surveillance in public places, sent call girls to try and entrap him into illicit relationships; made threatening, harassing and obnoxious telephone calls to him; tapped his telephone and eavesdropped on his private conversations with others.
Nader was right, the industry was forced to build safer cars, and he successfully sued GM, which paid him $425,000 damages, which was very large sum of money in 1970. It probably helped that Nader was a lawyer. 
Target the Individual
Another tactic that is used by the rich and powerful is to sue individuals rather than the media that published their views. They know that individuals will either settle or may face bankruptcy. Some go bankrupt even if they win. 
In 2008 Simon Singh cast doubts on the claims of the British Chiropractic Association and was sued by them for libel. He refused to settle out of court. The first judge found the libel proven, but this was reversed on appeal. Singh was right, but the process took more than a year and cost him tens of thousands of pounds. Had he lost, he would have been bankrupt and his reputation destroyed. Had he settled, his reputation would have been severely damaged. 
Much more recently, last week in fact, journalist Carole Cadwalladr has stated that she will defend the libel case brought against her by Leave. EU co-founder Arron Banks. She has won awards for her investigations into the sources of funds and the misuse of data by the Leave campaign. Arron Banks is a multi-millionaire. Carole Cadwalladr is not.
How long before the more prominent members of XR face such attacks?
Powerful Forces
There is no doubt that there are immensely powerful organisations that must radically change their business models or cease their operations altogether if the world is to avoid a climate catastrophe. It would be naive not to expect them to fight back, or to underestimate their ability to manipulate the press, politicians and social media.
It took the leak of just a few emails to destroy the position of Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to Washington. And the leak of emails from the University of East Anglia is widely believed to be an attempt to derail COP15, the 2009 IPCC conference held in Copenhagen.

Something to think about as you relax with your cocktail in the sun.
And Finally…
We're almost in August, but unlike previous years I'm going to continue to publish because I missed a number of weeks earlier in the year. I probably won't do an episode for the bank holiday weekend. Next week's episode will be the recording of the online discussion forum which we held a couple of weeks ago. We'll repeat this in the autumn, so if you're a patron and you’d like to take part please do get in touch. And if you've got ideas, comments or opinions that you would like to share then please do get in touch as well at .

That's the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 26th July.
I'm Anthony Day.
Keep cool and have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

News from the Bridge - full version


It's Friday, 19 July, the end of the week of Extinction Rebellion’s Summer Rebellion. XR has three demands of government: 
To tell the truth, that there is a climate crisis
To take action to solve the climate crisis
To set up as citizens’ assembly
The government has taken note of these demands and promised action and a citizens assembly, but in Extinction Rebellion’s view it's not doing nearly enough. Hence this week’s action in London, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds.
Hello I’m Anthony Day, and this is your latest Sustainable Futures Report. Since I've been talking about the climate crisis for more than 10 years and the environment crisis for much more than that I felt I had to support XR’s action. I went down to Leeds to show solidarity, although not to be arrested. Here's what I heard and some of the people I met.
Interviewer: It's Monday morning. I'm in City Square in Leeds. It's the start of the Extinction Rebellion Summer Protest. Although there aren't many people here so far, but then it's not 9:00 yet.

Where have you come from?

Female 1: Sheffield.

Interviewer: And why did you come here today?

Female 1: So I heard about their sort of actions in London in April. And then I heard about the stuff happening in Leeds, so I just wanted to get involved.

Interviewer: So why is Extinction Rebellion and its aims important to you?

Female 1: Because I think a lot of people are interested in climate change and they're aware of it, but I think if we actually want to make a difference we need to do some sort of action.

Interviewer: Right. And this is going to lead to some sort of disruption I imagine, like it did in London?

Female 1: I think so, yeah.

Interviewer: And you think it's justified?

Female 1: Yeah, definitely. I think most of the like major movements in the last fifty to a hundred years, the only way they've actually resulted in achieving some of their aims is by doing some sort of disruption.

Shortly after this we were told that our objective was the Neville Street bridge. We were told to set off but not as a group, and we should cover up our yellow T-shirts so the police would not see us coming and stop us. I walked down to the bridge and there was no one there, so I walked backwards and forwards across it a few times and then a few other people turned up, including some I’d already met in Queen’s Square. There only seemed to be about a dozen of us and the police seemed to be expecting us as two very nice police liaison officers quickly joined us. We’d been warned about talking to them because apparently they get very charming and friendly and all they're trying to do is to find out what's going on. There wasn't much danger of that because I certainly didn’t know what was going on and I don't think many others did. In fact the police were friendly and reasonable throughout the day. XR’s policy is non-violent protest by civil disobedience and everything went very smoothly. 
With only about a dozen people I thought there would be no chance that we would block the road, but all of a sudden people were sitting in lines at either end of the bridge and  the traffic stopped. We then heard that “The Convoy” was on its way, including a white van pulling a boat on a trailer. Then it arrived at the lights, but the police diverted it away. That's it, I thought. The police will be tracking it on CCTV all the way around the city and they can stop it wherever they like. But then 10 minutes later it appeared at the lights again and this time the police brought it forward, moved their car and let us park it right in the middle of the bridge. The tyres on the trailer were quickly let down and the wheels were clamped. There it was, a big yellow boat in the middle of the bridge. “ACT NOW” it said on one side, and “PLANET BEFORE PROFIT” on the other. You can see some pictures on the Sustainable Futures Report blog. I spoke to the driver.
Male 1: I'm here because extinction rebellion has declared there is a broken contract between the people and the government. We're here to wake people up. We're here to raise awareness and push climate breakdown up the public and political agenda.

Interviewer: And that's why you've just parked a big yellow boat on the bridge.

Male 1: And we've brought a big yellow boat on the bridge. This is the mushroom, this is Project Mushroom. So in all of our conversations we've been talking about the mushroom. This is a symbol, it's become an icon of the rebellion. The first one was in Piccadilly Circus in London. Each of our boats are named after female environmental protesters that sadly have been killed in the process of peaceful demonstration.

Interviewer: What do you hope to achieve by this?

Male 1: Certainly we hope to achieve... We are definitely going to achieve the fact that the public will notice, we've had a lot of air time on the media. We've been on the best pages of the local papers. All of the local businesses have had to have meetings to discuss how we might disrupt their business. This is fantastic because they're talking about it. We apologize for the disruption. We can think of no other way.

We've written to our counselors, we've written to the MPS, we've done petitions, we've had huge marches in London and elsewhere. Nothing has happened. This is an emergency. We have to do something different. We have to force the radical change that we need. We cannot have business as usual, which is all that's being offered to us at the moment.

Interviewer: And you're here all week?

Male 1: We're here all week. We're going to be on the bridge as long as we can. It depends on negotiations with the lovely boys in blue, otherwise we will have separate demonstrations during the day, throughout the week.

I met many different people. I met a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a seasoned protester, students and people of all ages. Once the boat was in place tents were erected including the well-being centre. The sound system was installed and people danced. Why are you here? was my most common question.
Interviewer: Okay, so three people with a poster saying "Planet Over Profits," sitting here on the bridge, completely blocked by this nice yellow boat. What brings you here today apart from sunshine?

Female 2: This is our first time at Extinction Rebellion. We've seen some of our friends from college and stuff go to it. And we just thought we need to get involved really because something needs to change and we think we're doing all we can.

Interviewer: So why do you think it's important?

Female 3: I think it's important because it's happening quite rapidly and no one's really like looking at it or realizing the effects...

Female 2: It's still being treated as something that's debatable, rather than something that's..

Female 3: I feel like a lot of people in power are just not involved...

Female 2: Addressing it.

Female 3: -- and not addressing it. Because, obviously they get money, so it effects them if they do address it.

Female 4: And I think a lot of people, like big companies aren't realizing that greed is going to be really harmful and it's not directly harmful to us yet, but that it's really harmful to people in the developing world as well, where climate change is having a big impact. And I think it's important that because we have the resources to show our support, we should do that for people in the developing world. Because soon enough it'll be us who's getting affected.

Interviewer: What do you think will be the result or what do you hope will be the result of today?

Female 2: System Change.

Interviewer: But in practical terms, system change. Who's going to change it?

Female 3: Well, I just hope other people see it and then realize that other people are realizing and doing something about it and then do something about it, like they do a similar thing or just gather more people.

Female 2: They need to know that it can't be ignored for much longer.

Interviewer: So have you done anything like this before?

Female 4: No, this is the first time.

Interviewer: And would you do it again?

Group: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, yeah.

Then I spotted another one.
Interviewer: So here we are on Neville Bridge in Leeds, which is blocked with a big yellow boat. I'm talking to a gentleman who is one of our supporters with a panel which says -- "If You Are Not Part Of the Solution, You Are Part of The Problem." Well, I think we'd all agree with that. Why are you here?

Male 2: Well, I've been active in climate change matters for many years, for the reasons which are now obvious to more and more people. Being older, I'm very conscious that my son and grandchildren, if I ever have any, they're going to suffer the consequences of our inability to change society fundamentally, in order that we can avoid the catastrophe that's coming. I at 78 will probably be okay, roughly, but my son won't be at 35 and his children certainly won't be. So I feel genuinely very angry about that.

Interviewer: And have you done this sort of thing before?

Male 2: Yeah, well, I was just saying I was in a prison at Faslane for direct action.

Interviewer: Oh really? A while ago?

Male 2: This was about five years ago.

Interviewer: Okay, okay.

Male 2: Which was fairly unpleasant. But, not particularly expecting to get arrested today, but you never know and if I do, I do.

People were asked before they came to the demonstration whether they were prepared to be arrested. There was a lot of advice given about the consequences of arrest, in terms of legal penalties, threats to employment and effects on the family. There was a 36 page document circulated on this and “bust” cards reminding people of their rights, giving them the number of a solicitor to call. In some circumstances you can refuse to be fingerprinted or to give a DNA sample. It all depends on the power under which you were arrested. In fact, as of Wednesday, there have been no arrests and the boat is expected to remain on the bridge until Friday. West Yorkshire Police has taken a very different view from the Metropolitan Police at the time of the demonstrations in London at Easter. This police force has come under criticism from people whose buses have been disrupted or who have been stuck in traffic jams, but the force has taken a balanced view and said that people have a right to protest. This is very different from what happened at Easter where well over 1,000 people were arrested and the Metropolitan Police said it was determined to prosecute them all. They are currently going through the courts which is putting tremendous strain on the legal system. The Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary hinted that they would seek legal powers to make demonstrations more difficult. So far nothing has been done and let's hope that as long as demonstrations are responsible and non-violent they will continue to be tolerated.
Here’s another comment:
Interviewer: It's a nice day to be out. Why are you here?

Female 5: To jump up and down a bit, to make my presence...

Interviewer: To support Extinction Rebellion?

Female 5: Yeah, absolutely.

Interviewer: You've got your yellow...

Female 5: I'm full yellow.

Interviewer: Why do you think it's important?

Female 5: It's a movement I think that is prepared to make some big sacrifices for a big change, which has to happen. You know, there is no question really, our future at the moment is so limited and short, I'd really think that it's really important, really important.

Interviewer: So what do you think will come out of this? What's the objective of protesting here today?

Female 5: It's to to raise awareness and it's to make the government councils, government, everybody, look really seriously about what the facts are and what is actually going to happen. Because too many people are in denial. I imagine there's so much money wrapped up in huge conglomerates and companies that there needs to be a separation and people need to be accountable.
And then I met the doctor.
Interviewer: My name is Anthony Day.

Male 3: Anthony Day, nice to meet you.

Interviewer: And I'll give you a little badge so you can find the Sustainable Futures Report, just Google that.

Male 3: Oh, okay, I think I've heard of you actually.

Interviewer: Oh good. So you're here as a rebel doctor.

Male 3: I am.

Interviewer: So why are you here? Why are you here as a doctor?

Male 3: Climate change poses the greatest threat to health currently and probably ever in the history of humanity.

Interviewer: In Leeds?

Male 3: In the world. And even in Leeds with famine, water shortages, war, migration, which are all probable outcomes in the trajectory that we're going in terms of how hot it's going to get. We're going to have quite a lot of society break down and how we provide healthcare, how we prevent disease and illness in that sort of a situation, that sort of circumstance it's really, really difficult. And we don't know how that would work or how that would look.

Interviewer: So do you think coming to this protest here today in Leeds, you're going to make a difference?

Male 3: Absolutely. I think the more people who are sort of engaged and actively pushing for system change, the more likely it is that we will get there.

Interviewer: You don't think you'll just annoy a lot of people who are backing up in their cars because they can't get across this bridge?

Male 3: I'm sure it will annoy a lot of people, but I think a lot of people will actually be very sympathetic to what we're doing. And the recognition that this is short term annoyance and nuisance for really a longer game that we're playing here, and you really need that thorn in the side to really remind each other of everyone else what a problem this is. And ignoring it will only make the nuisance and annoyance hundreds of thousands of times worse.

Interviewer: Okay. Are you prepared to get arrested?

Male 3: That's something which depends on the action, depends on the call. It depends on the situation. It's something which I need to consider very carefully because of my profession, but we shall see, watch this space.

The bridge remained open to pedestrians at all times and at lunchtime and at the end of the day a lot of office workers were crossing. Some of them failed to make eye contact, many of them accepted a leaflet and some of them took pictures as they walked across. I overheard one of them saying, “Well of course all these people drive”, and she was probably right. And that Emma Thompson, remember she took a flight from Los Angeles to be at the protest in London. How can she be serious about climate change and cutting CO2 emissions if she takes a transatlantic flight? Yes, all these criticisms are justified. All of us, however much we are committed to tackling climate change, we still do things which create a carbon footprint. The key issue is that however hypocritical anyone may be does not change the fundamental science. We have a climate crisis. We have to find ways round it.
As you probably gather, I'm recording this on Wednesday and the protest has two days to run. I'm planning to go down  to the bridge on Thursday afternoon, not least because three ladies have promised to sing to me. I hope they do, and I shall certainly share it with you. Whatever I learn on Thursday afternoon will be too late for Friday’s deadline so I'll certainly cover it next week, or I might even produce a special edition if there’s something important to report. In the meantime thank you once again for listening to the Sustainable Futures Report. I’m Anthony Day and there will be another edition next week. 
I hope some of the people that I interviewed this week have managed to find the podcast and to listen to it. Welcome if you are indeed a new listener and thank you very much if you're one of my interviewees.
I'd just like to take a final moment to tell you about Patreon. The Sustainable Futures Report is always free and has no sponsorship, subsidy or advertising but if you'd like to support me and help me cover the costs of hosting this podcast, paying for the music and for the pictures which illustrate the blog and for the transcriptions, then hop across to the website where you'll find full details.

Next week’s episode will probably be about electrifying transport and after that I will publish the forum discussion which a number of patrons of the Sustainable Futures Report Took part in last week. By then I should have it transcribed.
So once again, thank you very much for listening.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.
I’m Anthony Day.

Till next time.

Friday, July 19, 2019

News from the Bridge

This week saw renewed protests from Extinction Rebellion. I went down to the bridge in Leeds and spoke to some of the people taking part. I'm having their messages transcribed so the full text will appear here shortly. Meanwhile, why not listen to the podcast? 

Friday, July 12, 2019

It's Getting Serious

It’s Getting Serious
More than 2,500 years ago, Pericles reminded his fellow Athenians: “We may not be able to predict the future, but we can prepare for it”.

It looks like we should be preparing for more extreme weather like the extremes we’ve seen across the world in the last few days. Does the future lie in trees or in peat bogs, or in the US, where President Donald Trump claims his country leads the world on environmental issues? Greta Thunberg has had her biggest compliment yet while legal action over the climate crisis takes place in some 28 countries and the wind seems to be changing for the British Conservative Party. Despite all this there’s reason to hope. Go to and find out why. If you want to follow up on any of the stories you can find where I’ve got them from by going to the blog at

Sustainable Futures Report Forum
Yes, I'm Anthony Day with the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 12 July. This week saw the first online discussion with three patrons of the Sustainable Futures Report. We covered a range of topics with a range of opinions. I recorded the session and the participants have agreed that I can share this with you in a future episode. That will come up in the next few weeks. You can find out about being a patron at
This time I'm going to start with CO2 and with a new article in Nature entitled “Committed emissions from existing energy infrastructure jeopardise 1.5°C climate target”
Mark Lynas wrote a book called 6 Degrees which explained how the planet would change if the earth warmed by two degrees, or by three degrees and by each degree, up to six degrees. He’s recently been commenting on this report in Nature which analyses our progress towards using up our global carbon budget. The theory is that we can only put so much more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere before we reach the point at which climate change will be out of control and completely irrecoverable, as temperature rises beyond the safe 1.5°C to catastrophic levels.
Budget Deficit
In this Nature article the authors calculate that existing and planned fossil-fuel-powered plants, mainly electricity generating stations, will emit some 850 Gt CO2 over their planned lives. This amount is in excess of the maximum we can emit if we are to keep the temperature increase within the 1.5°C  limit. Of existing emissions, China, the USA and the EU28 countries represent approximately 41 per cent, 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the total, respectively. The authors suggest that little or no additional CO2-emitting infrastructure can be commissioned, and that infrastructure retirements that are earlier than historical ones may be necessary, in order to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals. This seems optimistic given that it is generally accepted that even if fully achieved the Paris targets will still allow warming in excess of 3°C. They suggest that existing plants could be retrofitted with carbon capture and storage technology. It’s a very popular solution, but still to be successfully implemented on a commercial scale. There may be other ways of mitigating emissions, but before we get to that let’s look at the current consequences of climate change. 
In a recent interview with the Guardian’s Fiona Harvey, Mami Mizutori, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction, spoke of one climate crisis disaster happening every week.  She said these smaller-scale events—including intense heatwaves, storms and flooding—were often overshadowed by catastrophic disasters like India’s water shortage and the pair of cyclones that devastated Mozambique earlier this year.
She emphasised that small-scale climate crises are happening much faster and more frequently than previously predicted. It’s essential, therefore, for governments to stop viewing climate change as a long-term issue and instead start investing in “adaptation and resilience” measures designed to curb the effects of ongoing lower-impact events.
“This is not about the future, this is about today.”
Washington Awash
Examples of small-scale crises, undoubtedly traumatic for those affected, include dangerous flash floods which hit Washington DC area this month. The subway was threatened with flooding, motorists had to climb on top of their cars and wait for rescue while emergency services warned commuters to stay off the roads. At the same time heavy rains in Japan caused flooding and landslides and at least two fatalities.
Hot Hail
In Guadalajara, north of Mexico City, a summer hailstorm left ice piled two metres deep. Hail is not unknown in the city in summer but a storm like this had never been seen before. Fortunately the storm seems to have happened overnight, so no casualties were reported. However, nearly 200 homes and businesses reported hail damage, and at least 50 vehicles were swept away by the deluge of ice in hilly areas.
Baked Alsaka
Meanwhile Anchorage in Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle, has been enjoying a heatwave. Temperatures reached 32℃ (90°F) which is a lot hotter than almost anywhere in England this summer.
Of course you can’t point to any of these events and say it proves climate change is happening. You can say that if climate change is real these are exactly the sort of events that we would expect to see.
What’s to be done? 
Do we ban all those planned power stations and close down most of the rest? How do we explain it to the billions of people whose daily lives would be impossible without electricity? 
Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis according to the authors of a paper in the journal Science. Taking a global perspective, they conclude that ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of continuous forest. This would represent a greater than 25% increase in forested area, including more than 500 billion trees and more than 200 gigatonnes of additional carbon at maturity. Such a change has the potential to cut the atmospheric carbon pool by about 25%.
“This highlights global tree restoration as our most effective climate change solution to date,” they say. “However, climate change will alter this potential tree coverage. We estimate that if we cannot deviate from the current trajectory, the global potential canopy cover may shrink by ~223 million hectares by 2050, with the vast majority of losses occurring in the tropics. Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through global tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.”
Bonn Challenge
The Bonn Challenge is an example of others thinking the same way. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. It was launched in 2011 by the Government of Germany and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and later endorsed and extended by the New York Declaration on Forests at the 2014 UN Climate Summit. 
Another organisation is TreeSisters. They say, “TreeSisters exists to elicit collective responsibility for planetary restoration at the grass roots level with a focus on women and tropical reforestation. We are growing a global network of women who donate monthly to fund the acceleration of tropical reforestation as an expression of collective planetary care.” 
“Our Vision
“We envision a world in which it is normal for everyone to protect and restore our planet.”
I think we might all agree with that.
The Flow Country
There could be something even better than forests for trapping carbon. In the north-east of Scotland is the Flow Country. “The Flow Country” is an area of deep peat, dotted with bog pools, that forms the heart of the Caithness and Sutherland peatlands. Covering about 200,000 hectares, it’s more than twice the size of Orkney. Altogether, this corner of Scotland holds more than 400,000 hectares of blanket bog, making it the largest expanse of this remarkable, wild habitat in Europe.
All green plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use the carbon to build the plant’s structure. When the plants die, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere – unless the plant material is preserved in some way.
For the love of peat!
That’s why peat bogs are so important as a defence against climate change. Because the moss and other plants don’t decay, bogs act as a carbon store or “carbon sink”. It is a slow process: forests can store carbon more quickly than peatland, but most of it is released when the trees rot away or are burnt as fuel. Many peatlands have been growing undisturbed for thousands of years, so although they cover just 3% of the world’s land area, they hold nearly 30% of all the carbon stored on land. The Flow Country’s peat bogs alone store about 400 million tonnes – more than double the amount in all of Britain’s woodlands.
But if the bog dries out, the carbon will be released as carbon dioxide, adding to the effects of climate change. It’s been estimated that the carbon stored in Scotland’s peatlands represents 100 years’ worth of the country’s emissions from burning fossil fuels: it would be disastrous if it was released.
Clearly we need our forests and we need our peat bogs as well. We need to preserve them and to expand them when and where we can.
Cognitive Dissonance
In Ireland there are three peat-burning power stations. Somebody should tell them.
No1 in the World
This week President Donald Trump made a major statement on the environment, claiming that the US continued to be an environmental leader, and was criticised for being economical with the truth. 
For example he said, “And today, the United States is ranked — listen to this — number one in the world for access to clean drinking water — ranked number one in the world.” And later he said, “… for the first time in nearly 30 years, we’re in the process of strengthening national drinking water standards to protect vulnerable children from lead and copper exposure — something that has not been done, and we’re doing it.”
NBC News Factcheck responded, “the rule has been revised previously and the major overhaul Trump is referring to has been in the works at the EPA for more than a decade. And his speech, in which he touted his commitment to clean drinking water, omitted his administration’s efforts to relax water safety regulations elsewhere.”
Carbon Reduction
Trump also claimed, “Since 2000, our nation’s energy-related carbon emissions have declined more than any other country on Earth.  Think of that.  Emissions are projected to drop in 2019 and 2020.”
I've not been able to find a complete series, but I found figures which show that US emissions did indeed decline from 2000 to 2014. Given that the country’s emissions per capita were greater than those for almost any other country it is not surprising that the reduction has been significant in absolute terms. It has not been so significant in percentage terms, and still remains one of the highest in the world. The Washington Post reported that emissions actually rose by 3.4% in 2018.  
Closer to home…
You don't actually have to go far from home to find governments under fire for inaction on climate change. While the British government recently announced its intentions to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 the Committee on Climate Change issued a report this week warning that the UK Government must show it is serious about its legal obligations to tackle and prepare for climate change. “UK action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is lagging far behind what is needed, even to meet previous, less stringent, emissions targets,” it said. “Over the past year, the Government has delivered just 1 of 25 critical policies needed to get emissions reductions back on track.”
There’s a link to the report on the blog.
Dad’s Army
The committee chairman even went so far as to say that ministers were acting like the hapless characters from Dad's Army. (For our overseas listeners that’s a long-running TV comedy about elderly part-time soldiers defending the home front during the last war.)
In response, the chair of the Environment Agency said, 
“We welcome the Committee’s recognition that our draft strategy is taking the necessary and ambitious steps needed to be a climate resilient nation. We will be working with government and our partners to finalise the strategy later this year and will be taking the Committee’s advice into account.”
Well, as long as they do.

And in other news…
Compliments to the Protestors
This week Mohammed Barkindo, the secretary general of Opec, said he believed that the campaigns by groups like the school strikers and Extinction Rebellion could be the “greatest threat” to the fossil fuel industry.
Greta Thunberg welcomed his remarks as their 'Biggest compliment yet’. There’s no doubt that governments and corporations are taking notice. The next challenge is to spur them into action.
Maybe legal action is the spur.
A new report from the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics finds that in the last 12 months climate change cases have been brought in at least 28 countries around the world, and of the recorded cases more than three quarters have been filed in the United States. While most defendants are governments, lawsuits are increasingly targeting the highest greenhouse-gas-emitting companies. Climate change-related claims are also being pursued by investors, activist shareholders, cities and states. Human rights are increasingly the foundation for these legal actions, but science, demonstrating causality, is increasingly accepted by judges.
The authors warn that as yet there is insufficient evidence of the impacts of climate change litigation, but they believe it could encourage private companies and investors to give greater consideration to climate risk.
In energy news, there continue to be problems at Flamanville, site of EdF’s new nuclear power station. You’ll remember that it’s a new design, the same as the plant that they are building at Hinkley C in the UK. At Flamanville the plant is already years behind schedule and billions over budget. There have been recurring questions over the integrity of the containment vessel and the security of some of the welds. Now an independent audit has been ordered into the entire European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) project and commissioning of the plant has been deferred once again. 
An article in The Economic Times of India expresses concern about the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, planned to use six reactors of the type under construction at Flamanville when contracts were signed in 2008. Like Flamanville, like Hinkley C, like a similar project in Finland, this station is way behind schedule. Why, they ask, was this untested design ever approved? Currently, an Indian designed reactor costs about 2 million euros per MW, translating into Euro 3.3 billion for 1650 MW set. Flamanville has already breached Euro 11 billion for the same capacity and Jaitapur is planned to have six of these units. There is strong environmental opposition to the project as well, but it is surely cost which will put an end to nuclear power throughout the world. Not just the escalating cost of construction, but the enormous cost of decommissioning. This has either got to be recovered in the electricity price or borne by taxpayers for decades to come.
And there’s more…
A couple more stories to close. The Guardian reports that toilet paper is becoming less sustainable. With the increasing use of quilted tissue the manufacturers are using less recycled paper and more virgin woodpulp in their products. Apparently in the UK we use 127 rolls per head per annum, which is significantly more than most other European nations. While a lot of rolls have got the FSC certificate on the packaging, if you look closely it usually says “mixed sources”. Have a look next time you buy.
Stella McCartney suggests that we shouldn’t be washing our clothes - at least not as often. She says that dirt should be allowed to dry and then brushed off. Lingerie should be hand-washed or put in a lingerie bag if you must put it in the machine. Why not wash? Because washing, especially machine washing, damages garments, wears them and misshapes them. And most important of all, washing acrylics and other man-made fabrics releases millions of microfibres which go down the drain, pass through the filters at treatment plants and end up in the oceans. Prof Andrew Groves, head of the fashion design course at the University of Westminster, tells BBC News that the friction in washing machines is what gets rid of the stains, but is also what distorts a garment's shape and colour. And Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi’s, tells us that he’s never washed one of his pairs of jeans in the 10 years he’s owned them. 

And Finally…
Next week Extinction Rebellion starts another round of demonstrations across the United Kingdom. They aim to bring their message to the authorities by deliberate acts of civil disobedience. In the UK we can do this in the knowledge that we will not be sprayed with teargas, baton-charged or driven back by police horses. Compare this with the situation in other countries and in particular look at the  website. This describes how journalists investigating corruption and violation of environmental laws by international organisations face harassment, violence and murder.
The stakes are high on both sides of the climate crisis. Let's make our numbers overwhelm the denialism of vested interests.

And on that sobering thought, that's it for another week. I'm Anthony Day. Thank you for listening to the Sustainable Futures Report.
As I told you at the start, this week we held the first Sustainable Futures Report online forum. Three patrons joined me to discuss whether public opinion was reaching a tipping point and wide range of connected issues. I plan to publish the recording as an episode shortly. If you would like to take part in a future debates have a look at where you’ll find all the details.
And that is it for this week.
I'm Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.

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