No Going Back

There were 15 XR Wellingborough members and family and friends for a most successful peaceful protest on Saturday outside the Swanspool council offices on Saturday 30 May at 12.00. There were similar protests at the same time elsewhere in Northamptonshire and nationwide. We had banners and placards with our messages telling the council that we do not want to go back to normal when the Coronavirus crisis is over. It seems that the normal may have helped to cause the virus but certainly spread it globally with our over reliance on air travel. It seems clear that there have been more cases and deaths in areas with higher air pollution.

We stood in silence for 10 minutes and then had photos taken which were posted on social media. A reporter was there from The Northampton Chronicle and his report is on their website. You can read it by clicking on the headline on the left hand side of the page.

We contacted the Wellingborough police beforehand and I had a phone call with one of their officers about our proposal. Strictly speaking the protest was illegal as we were trespassing on council property and we were an assembly of more than two people, even though we arrived singly or in household groups, wore masks and gloves, were silent and stayed more than 3 metres apart. Although we are allowed to protest peacefully under the Human Rights Act this can be overruled under an emergency such as the Covid 19 situation. The officer had to consult with his superiors who did not ban the protest and he and a colleague were there, but stayed discreetly in the background as much to protect us against any possible troublemakers as to stop our protest getting out of hand. Luckily neither of these happened and we thank them for their support.

The protest will be following up by contacting the council and reiterating our demand for them to declare a climate emergency. Now that we have another year before the elections for the unitary authority and the town council we want the Wellingborough Borough Council to reconvene their climate change working group, to produce a new report on concrete proposals with measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions in Wellingborough. This should be followed by a council meeting so that action can be taken. There is a lot that the council can and should do in a year and they will leave their legacy for the new councils.

We will be meeting online to discuss our proposals which we will publish on this blog and on social media. In the meanwhile it would be great if you could send us your ideas for making Wellingborough a cleaner and greener place to live in. You might have a suggestion for the whole borough or an idea for something simple in your own area. We have all enjoyed the peace and quiet of the last few weeks, the sound of the birds and the cleaner air and we don’t want to go back to how it was before.

Axe Drax

The Axe Drax action is now over for the time being, but you can still write to your MP to demand that the government stops subsidising the burning of wood pellets in power stations as this is not a carbon neutral process. Instead they should subsidise genuine renewable sources such as solar, wind and tide.

Here is the link to the Michael Moore film “Planet of the Humans” which explores this and other issues and is free to watch on YouTube for the next three weeks:

https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE

Shell ‘Drive Carbon Neutral’

Shell Protest in Northampton

The Shell garage in Gold Street, Wellingborough, has a huge sign and banners proclaiming that their petrol is carbon neutral. We have had an exchange of emails with their customer service department to find out how this is supposed to work.

Shell’s response was: ‘You have to sign up for a Shell Go+ loyalty card, which gives you a discount on purchases in their shop. In addition, when you buy petrol. Shell will determine the associated carbon emissions from that fuel purchase, relevant to the type of fuel and the amount bought, and then pay to offset them accordingly. Furthermore, the carbon offsets available via the Shell Go+ scheme cover the life-cycle emissions from customers’ fuel purchases; that is all emissions from the production right through to the use of the fuel.’

Anthony replied to this statement, saying: “The trees that you plant will take time to grow and begin to absorb carbon. The carbon emissions will start straight away as soon as the customer leaves the garage. So the damage to the environment starts well before the beneficial effects of the tree planting kick in. It is generally accepted that we have to cut our carbon emissions this year to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences in the near future.” 

“Your carbon offset scheme only applies to people who have a Go+ loyalty card, but your heavy forecourt advertising implies that everybody who uses Shell is driving carbon neutral. “

“I think that Shell should withdraw the carbon neutral signs and banners on all of their forecourts. They may possibly be legal as far as the Advertising Standards Authority are concerned, but they are misleading, for the reasons I have given.”

So far, we have not had a reply, so it might be time to take action…


9 things you can do about climate change

By The Grantham Institute at Imperial College, London.

  1. Make your voice heard by those in power.
  2. Eat less meat and dairy.
  3. Cut back on flying.
  4. Leave the car at home.
  5. Reduce your energy use and bills.
  6. Respect and protect green spaces.
  7. Invest your money responsibly.
  8. Cur consumption – and waste.
  9. Talk about the changes you make.

The Imperial College website has lots more information on each of the above actions and is definitely worth investigating.

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/stories/climate-action/

We will be highlighting one action each week, starting, appropriately, with the first one.

Wellingborough Carbon Footprint

Here’s how Wellingborough scored in a  Friends of the Earth climate-friendly test of all boroughs in the UK

Wellingborough: 60%

The Wellingborough area’s performance on climate change is poor compared to other local authority areas. All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted. Wellingborough particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation, and increasing tree cover.

Score breakdown:

  • Trees

5% of Wellingborough is woodland

The highest proportion in similar areas is 20%. Trees are great at removing carbon from the air around us. Doubling tree cover across the country would help reduce emissions.

  • Transport

16% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Wellingborough should aim for 60% by 2030. We need fewer vehicles on the roads – they increase air pollution and are harmful to our health.

  • Housing

44% of Wellingborough homes are well insulated

Poorly insulated homes cost more to run, which is inefficient and contributes to fuel poverty. Wellingborough needs to ensure all homes are properly insulated by 2030.

  • Waste

41% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

When waste isn’t reused, recycled or composted, it may end up burnt, in landfill or even in our waterways and seas. Wellingborough should aim for 70% by 2025 on the path to zero waste.

  • Renewable energy

Wellingborough has 25 megawatts of renewable energy available

If the area matched the best of similar local council areas it would have 138 MW. We need 100% clean energy from the wind, sun and sea. Electricity can’t come from dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas anymore.

Carbon Footprint

As well as protesting against government and council inaction on the climate crisis I feel that it is very important that we should reduce our own personal carbon footprint. To do that we need to know what it is.

Here is a website that enables you  to calculate your carbon footprint. You enter details of your household energy consumption, transport, food etc, either as accurate figures such as car mileage and meter readings or as estimates. You are then given your carbon footprint and comparisons with averages for the UK and other countries.

Carbon footprint

You can then set a target of say a 10% reduction in six  months or a year, depending on your circumstances and then measure it again. By reducing our own carbon emissions we set a good example to other people, which is far better than nagging them.