Come on Thérèse sort the sewers out!
Thérèse Coffey revealed her plans yesterday to clean up the sewage being dumped into the environment. Most people agree that her clean water plans are not hard hitting enough.
Feargal Sharkey, a campaigner on cleaning up our polluted rivers and beaches said “There was little in yesterday’s announcement to suggest that the government has a grip on the problem”.
So Thérèse, it’s time to toughen up the legislation, issue fines to the polluters that are big enough to be a deterrent rather than a slap on the wrist and ring fence the money collected in fines to upgrade the sewage network. It is not for you to give up on the problem and let the water companies pass the clean up costs onto the bill payers.
A Flying Shame
In 2019 8% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions came from domestic and international flights.
The UK government have made a pledge to have net zero aviation in place by 2050.
Under the the Jet Zero plan commercial airlines will have to use a sustainable replacement for jet engines.
Reaching Jet Zero will be a challenge to say the least.
Electric engines are not a viable option due to the weight of the batteries needed to produce the power to get an aircraft off the ground.
So the sustainable options lie with non-fossil fuels, all of which are far from perfect.
A report on these alternatives has just been published by The Royal Society and it is sobering reading. The four non-fossil fuels outlined in the report are as follows:
- Bio fuels – these are made from crops such as rapeseed or poplar. However it “would require more than 50% of the UK’s available agricultural land to replace aviation fuels.”
- Hydrogen – Hydrogen gas can extracted from water using electric current. “Producing enough ‘green’ hydrogen to replace current fossil aviation fuel would require around 2.4 to 3.4 times the UK’s annual renewable electricity generation (2020)”
- Ammonia – ‘Green’ Ammonia production requires vast amounts of electricity – in fact “producing ‘green’ ammonia as a jet fuel would require 2.5 to 3.9 times the UK’s annual renewable electricity generation (2020).”
- Synthetic Fuels – “When done sustainably using renewable electricity, this would require 5 to 8 times the UK’s 2020 renewable electricity capacity.”
The report also points out that there is not a full understanding of the impact of non-CO2 emissions from jet engines, and the formation of contrails, which currently contribute significantly to warming by aviation globally.
This should worry us all.
Laugh or cry
Talk about a blast from the past. I give you my first boss in the teaching profession. Former Secretary of State for Education, Kenneth Baker.
The now, Lord Baker of Dorking has been in the House of Lords for the past 26 years. Yesterday he got wheeled out onto Newsnight for his opinion on the teachers’ strike and the current batch of Tory ministers who break their own code of behaviour.
The poor bloke’s phone kept ringing during the interview. I thought Victoria Derbyshire handled it all pretty well.
Compare and Contrast.
A picture says more than 1000 words
Last week Rishi Sunak flew on a private jet to Leeds and back. He also did a quick trip to Scotland for lunch meeting with Nicola Sturgeon using the same method of transport. The taxpayer picked the tab for these two trips.
The “PM” clearly is doing his “green credentials” no good at all. Flying in private jets is not recommended by climate change experts
Meanwhile Greta Tuneberg was protesting in Germany against the expansion of a huge, lignite (brown coal), opencast mine.
Greta got arrested, but she was later released. Sunak got back in time for tea.
Update – The UK prime minister has continued to use a private jet at the taxpayer’s expense. Trips to Indonesia, Egypt, Latvia and Estonia have clocked up a bill over £500,000.
Meanwhile at the same time Sunak has been tearing round the globe his Government has halved Air Passenger Duty (APD) a decision which encouraged Ryanair to add an extra 9 domestic routes to its flight schedule.
It makes you want to weep.
It just goes on and on. Today the press is reporting that Sunak has used a private helicopter to fly from London to Southampton at tax payers expense. A journey that takes just over an hour by train and costs about 30 quid for a ticket.
Sir Grayson Perry.
Well done Grayson Perry. He is to be knighted for services to the arts.
His Art Club tv series on Channel 4 was a real tonic during lock down. It kept us all sane.
He is an artist who also makes a point of not charging admission to his exhibitions and visitors turn up in droves as a result.
It is a shame that a knighthood these days can be had by a Tory party donor for a bag of cash.
So it somewhat devalues the honour given to likes of Grayson Perry who earned it, rather than paid for it.
Sir Greyson’s knighthood is richly deserved and it also gives him the excuse to buy a brand new frock for when he goes to the Palace to get his gong.
Good on him!
My days, it cannot be happening, can it?
The press reports about Boris Johnson has been given summaries of sensitive material via WhatsApp for administrative ease raises the question as to what the prime minister uses his red boxes for.
Somewhere to keep his colouring book and crayons?
Do they double up as his lunch box, or maybe somewhere to stash his party snacks?
Boris Johnson gets summaries of sensitive government material via WhatsApp
Black Lives Matter
I only heard about these interviews today.
They took place last week.
Food for thought at the very least and worth watching whether you are a fan of cricket or not.
In the week that fires still rage in Australia. Matt Hancock comes out with this on Radio 5.
I must be dreaming, did the really say this when asked if we should all be flying less?
This was posted 3 years ago time before the current PM was using a private jet like an Uber.
Climate Conferences and Contrails
Another Climate Conference, this time in Madrid, made think today:
Recycle/use less plastic
Eat less meat
Avoid air travel
Try to live car free
These are some of the things one could do to help save the Planet for future generations.
According to Greenpeace one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions and hence climate change is to “skip the airport” as air travel is so energy-intensive.
The UK is one of the biggest nations when it comes to consumption of aircraft flights. Admittedly we do live on an island, but Britons took 126.2 million flights in 2018. This figure is set to rise even further according to most forecasters.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Rachel Kennerley admits: “Some trips can only realistically be made by plane, but aviation plays a big part in contributing to climate change. So it is worrying if a significant proportion of the British public think that people should be able to travel by plane as much as they like.”
The Science is now out there. Check out for yourself and see what each flight produces using a Carbon Footprint calculator and remember it is not just carbon dioxide, but there are other pollutants produced by aircraft (contrails) that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
Having flown a lot in the past, in ignorance of the eco-mess I was creating, I cannot really sit in judgement and start flight-shaming those that choose to fly in the future. But in 2020 I am not going to fly anywhere and make things worse. #flightfree2020
A train trip and then some.
It seems not that long ago, but in the Summer of 1989 and I was living in West Berlin. Spending a “year out” working in Germany as part of my degree course had been a fantastic experience, but now it was time to return to the UK.
It was a time of flux. People were leaving the Eastern Bloc in droves through the newly opened border between Hungary and Austria. Rumours were flying around about the political future, yet the Berlin Wall was still up and I needed to get back home.
The easiest way to get to and from the West was via Tegel Airport. That way you could avoid the hassle of travelling along the transit stretches of motorway or taking the trains through East Germany.
Nevertheless I decided to go by train, as I had to lug a fair bit of stuff back after clearing out of my flat.
At that time there was the only station that you could get a train out of West Berlin. It was called “Bahnhof Zoo” by the locals, it only had a couple of platforms, that were raised above the street level and it was a dark and depressing place.
The train I was due to catch ran overnight to Brussels. As soon as it arrived I jumped on and quickly sat down, dumping all my stuff in the first compartment that I came to. There was no point in getting settled, as the East German border control would be coming up soon.
The only other person already in the compartment was a young bloke, who was decked out in a classic “Chairman Mao” suit. He also wore a matching hat with the red star above its peak. The hat was as far better fit than his trousers, which were about 4 inches too short for him.
Like me he also had a fair amount of luggage. Most of his gear was stuffed into two huge laundry bags. The ones made of woven nylon that are virtually indestructible, but once the zip goes you have had it and they are rendered useless.
The East German border guards came on the train and checked our passports and visas without a hitch and then we were on our way. It turned out that “Chairman Mao” was in fact a Scouser called Gavin. He was on his way home to England as well.
The train we were on was from Moscow and Gavin had been on it from the start. I had a made up some food and brought some beer for the journey which we shared and we got chatting.
Gavin had been working as a nurse out in Australia on a short term contract and when it ended he just decided to come back surface rather than fly home. He travelled through Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand mainly by train. One thing he noticed along the route was wherever he stopped, no matter how remote it was, you could just as easily find someone selling cans of Coke, as you could get your hands on a bowl of rice.
He avoided travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia, but had to endure a bumpy bus ride through Laos in order to reach the Chinese border.
“What was China like?” I asked. “Totally alien. Like being on a different planet” replied Gavin.
Wherever he went he was just gawped at. China was only opening up after being a closed country for so long. Not many people would approach him, which made sense as most had probably not seen a Westerner before. They just stood and stared.
He was out there for almost a month, but knew it was time to leave when he realised he was talking to himself on the street one day. “It just got a bit overwhelming, and I also got tired of everybody spitting everywhere.”
So he bought a train ticket from Beijing back to the UK, which must have cost him buttons compared to today’s prices.
“Avoid the Mongolian dining car,” was his advice about The Trans-Siberian railway which in itself sounded an amazing experience. Gavin described one “Genghis Kahn” look a like who raced the train for a while on horseback just for a bit of fun, before wheeling back to his camp.
A mis-calculation of the journey time meant he ran out of clean clothes. Hence the Chairman Mao suit, bought as a gift for his Dad, was pressed into service.
The next morning we were able to catch the Jetfoil from Ostend to Dover. In the days before the Eurostar it was the quickest way to get over the Channel.
The train station at Dover Docks was dank, and depressing and a bit of a let down after the speedy boat crossing. The slam door train to London Victoria was old and grubby. Welcome back to Blighty!
To cap it all Gavin failed to impress the British Rail guard with his Beijing to Birkenhead rail ticket. Folded and creased, it had certainly seen better days. It was made from the waxy carbon paper that you used to see on the old style airline tickets. It had a few holes punched in it by previous ticket inspectors.
The guard stood there giving a clearly tired “Chairman Mao” a knowing look.
“No need to start on one mate” said Gavin in his broad Scouse accent, “Think about it. If that ticket has got me this far already, it will do you!”