Category Archives: Renewable Energy

Pilgrimage to Net Zero 2030; or Pilgrimage to bankruptcy 2030

Pilgrimage to Net Zero 2030, or bankruptcy?

NET ZERO 2030

The Climate Emergency Toolkit

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png

In February 2020 just before the pandemic hit General Synod voted to work for Net Zero in 2030, altering the original motion for 2045 by an amendment. There was controversy as it was rushed through. On such a serious matter a major change should not have been made without due consideration and not rushed through.

The original target of 2045 was going to be difficult but 2030 is frankly impossible, without bankrupting many parish churches. Quite simply the technology is not in place how ever many times you intone “renewables” or “clean energy”..

In January 2021 a large group of Christian environmental groups came together to produce a route map for a church “to respond to the climate emergency”. It is already gaining enthusiastic responses. As we will see it assumes that swapping to renewables and heat pumps will solve it. It also does not consider the doubts and questions some have, especially those with technical ability in these areas.

It appears that green Christians in the Church of England think it is a wonderful idea and we should all be working hard to make it happen. 

Here is the route map in the Climate Emergency Toolkit.

https://media.wix.com/ugd/d168f3_07498be7114c43749f8e995bbea63155.pdf 

In view of the general concern over the climate, this seems an excellent idea, especially to enable local churches to understand Climate Change and be guided how to respond

This looks very promising as it supported by almost all Christian environmental and overseas development groups. It sets out a plan or route map for churches to make their response to the climate emergency. Further, there is no doubt that Climate Change is very serious and must be tackled by all, whether by the government or community groups.

As I read the route map, or Climate Emergency Toolkit I became more and more concerned. It was clear the authors had little or no grasp of energy issues and what is involved in going Net Zero. They seem to have a blind and tantric faith in renewables and pit “clean” energy against “dirty” energy from fossil fuels. It seems the most important thing for churches to do is to divest. That is partly as it seems to be an echo chamber for Operation Noah, whose accuracy is not always spot-on. And then we are advised to support Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action. I cannot help thinking that they uncritically accept anything these or Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace say.

There is no discussion of various understandings of the challenges of climate change as it opts for an extreme ER-type stance without presenting any case for it. The position of Nuclear Energy is simply ignored without even a mention. Fossil fuels are terrible but there is no realisation that on almost every scenario fossil fuels will continue to be used until mid-century.

Despite these strictures, the route map gives the impression of being considered and cautious, seeking to understand the problem of climate change. As they say it is better to not to jump in it but to ;

PREPARE first

DECLARE secondly

and then lastly work towards making an IMPACT, however local or limited

and so to the DECLARING. You are referred to a few sites to help, inform and guide you to set a target or a focus.

It is very much a done deal as a certain stance of energy in relation to the climate is assumed and thus one is almost coralled into agreement. It is a Route Map with no alternatives. It is taken for granted that the only energy which should be used is wind or solar, with no reasons given why oil is bad. nuclear is ignored. No discussion of energy is encouraged and then one is given two suggestions to carry out. It seems you are expected to agree with the view presented, when I, as a long-standing Christian environmentalist, most definitely do not. There is no question whether Climate Change is a serious issue which needs addressing, but there is no single route Map to do this. The route map here is centred on Renewables and Divestment, as if all will be fine and dandy after that. (There is no consideration of the downside of renewables – their intermittency and the vast amount of metals required from Copper to rare earths, almost doubling the present consumption. As a former mining geologist I expect major shortages within a few years. What we will see is copper being stripped from almost anywhere, as has happened to South African railways.)

This is apparent in the page entitled DECLARE, where two targets or foci are given.

ENERGY SWITCHING and DIVESTMENT

There is no discussion on the reasons for the necessity of either. These seem to be the only options and no mention is made of other Christian, or environmental, viewpoints. Energy switching is simply to change one’s electricity or gas supplier to a provider of renewable energy rather than those which use fossil fuels to generate electricity.

There is no mention of nuclear energy, biogas or the fact that fossil fuels will be used for several decades to come, as even Greenpeace admit. One is presented with a simple binary option of renewable i.e clean, energy or fossil i.e. dirty energy. There is no mention of nuclear or the horrendous environmental price of renewable wood for power stations.

The emphasis is purely on renewables as THE answer for all energy problems. There is no mention that they only work when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. I write this in the first week of February, when energy suppliers are struggling with a chance of black-outs. On a cold winters night you get your electricity because gas and coal are ramped up, producing up to 70% of the nation’s electricity, with nuclear (ugh) producing another 20%. This is a very incomplete argument and ignores the energy needed for heating — 70% of houses rely on gas, which is increasingly imported from abroad, with a loss of gas en route, or that used in transport or industry. There is an absurdity that much gas used in Britain is FRACKED gas imported from the USA, when fracking is outlawed in the UK at present. It is often not known that electricity only accounts for a third or so of energy usage.

By considering renewables to be “clean energy” unlike “dirty fossil fuels”, the serious environmental impact of renewables is ignored, as different sources of energies are simplitically classified as “goodies” and “baddies”. All are “baddies” on the effect on the environment. No mention is made of the materials used in construction and that metals and rare earths needed are in short supply. When one adds on Electric Vehicles this becomes almost impossible.

This article by leading geologists well-versed in minerals resources tells of the problems of obtaining sufficient metals to “go electric”.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/press-releases/leading-scientists-set-out-resource-challenge-of-meeting-net-zer.html

Having worked in a copper mine and as an exploration geologist focussing on copper, just the figures to move to 100% EVs by 2050 leaves me aghast. Over the next 30 years the UK needs a further  2.4 million tons of Copper, i.e 80,000 tones per year. This increase the annual consumption of copper by 66% and most would have to come from new mines. This is just for the UK, but imagine what it would be for the whole world. The authors highlight the scale of the difficulty. Recycling is not an option due to the amounts required.

The alternative is deep-sea mining which to some is disastrous.

THIS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE ROAD MAP, and not just an appeal to go renewable and divest from fossil fuels. Like many green groups they do not face the reality of the problem.

The second focus is on divestment. Here one is referred only to the Bright Now Campaign, which goes far beyond what the Church of England is suggesting. Again there is no reference to other voices, but only to Operation Noah. Leaving aside the fact that objections can be made to their claims, including on technical details (both on bias and matters of fact), it does seem very one-sided.

What we see is a Route Map totally tied to a particular perspective. As well as being very one-sided it omits several other foci, which are both good and have a wider appeal

  1. Transport. Consider leaving the car, and go by bike or foot. This is omitted in most ideas of Net Zero 2030, but would make an immediate difference on CO2, but also has health benefits. E.g. Today I needed to go to the supermarket, on a 1.5 mile return journey. My panniers and rucsac were full! Mine is usually the only bike at the supermarket. The value of walking and cycling is borne out by recent article on bikes by Prof Brand of Oxford https://theconversation.com/cycling-is-ten-times-more-important-than-electric-cars-for-reaching-net-zero-cities-157163 He makes it clear how effective bikes are at reducing carbon. In fact, for short journeys of less than three miles a bike is often quicker. It is also less stressful.
  2. Carbon capture by planting. – yes tree planting! This can be in church and school grounds, also in gardens and possibly the local community. Clearly oaks are out for most places , but there is a plethora of small trees e.g. sorbus, prunus or malus which are great for wildlife, or even native or non-native shrubs. All my vicarage gardens since 1980 have several trees and many shrubs gobbling up a bit of CO2. Two rowans I planted in 2001 are now about 20ft high, but those in my present garden, planted since 2014, are still spindly.
  3. Many aspects of personal lifestyles eg insulation, use of water, choice of food (not runner beans from Kenya!), what’s put in one’s garden e.g. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, when changed reduce one’s carbon footprint. Just consider how coffee grounds are cleaned up in the local waterworks, consuming energy in the process. But put on the garden they improve the soil. This needs to be emphasised in the teaching life of the church.

Yet there is no mention of these things in Pilgrimage to Net Zero 2030. This could be used to gently encourage both church employees and church members. But you need a vicar on a bike!!

The emphases of “divest” and “clean” energy recommended in the route map do not depart from the Great Green Narrative of “keep it the ground”, “renewables” “clean energy as opposed to dirty energy”(actually there is no clean energy) “divest” and support Extinction Rebellion. It totally ignores those environmentalists who take a different line after careful consideration and who may well support nuclear energy or a temporary support of fossil fuels. It is as though they are bad as the “Climate Denier”. In no other discussion in the churches would this happen. After all, the Church of England would not appoint a commission to discuss the place of the eucharist and only allow members of the Church Society to sit on it!! It is as though Sir David Mackay and others never did any high-powered work on energy. This is a serious omission and reflects badly on all the sponsoring groups.

The route map is so focussed on fossil fuels that almost ignore all the other vital issues;

Food; What and whence

Peat and plants and what one does with one’s garden. (This also touches on biodiversity)

The recent publications on the way that careful planting can improve climate issues is not mentioned, whether in gardens, road verges, parks, farms and countryside.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24933260-100-pollinators-are-our-secret-weapon-in-the-fight-against-global-warming/

Here is something all can do.

IMPACT

This section considers what can be done to make an Impact. Consider these two pages;

Rather than consider all possibilities this gives a carefully chosen selection of resources. It seems to assume all will agree with Operation Noah on divestment. Divestment seems to be the only/major emphasis of this road map.

This is little more than an appeal for activism, with several examples from the box headed Tools

Groups seem to be chosen to force churches into one view. However Repair Cafes is a Dutch group and list no cafes in Britain! Many places are not Transition Towns.

Of the others Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are very well-known especially for their stunts and bias, and even misinformation, on green issues. Several times they have been forced to correct these, including by the Advertising Standards Agency as in January 2018. They always seem to be in the front of the queue for considered opinion, which is usually more opinion than considered. For decades they have opposed one of the cleanest energies – nuclear, not to mention GMOs and other things.

More recently both have emphasised a rejection of fossil fuels, but also reject GMOs and Nuclear Energy, and have either slowed down or thwarted the implementation of these. The former will reduce agricultural emission and the latter low carbon energy with less risk than other forms of energy. Though they are usually foremost of green groups, many environmentalists reject their wide-ranging opposition over many issues.

Ironically most of us are queueing up for the GMO- COVID-19 vaccines whether we support GMOs or not! In July 2020, the European Parliament actually had to suspend the EU’s anti-GMO rules in order to allow the unimpeded development of COVID vaccines. There is great irony here. The Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine overtly uses genetic modification, but no one has complained. That is a reminder of the wayward ideas of these two groups and others like Christian Aid and Green Christian who are hostile to GMO. It’s odd no one has opposed the vaccines on the grounds of them being Genetically Modified, (or PPE as it is made from oil.).

One may ask why these were picked out as groups to support.

Extinction Rebellion in its local groups is also singled out. This was formed in late 2018 and soon caused major disruptions with their protests, almost courting arrest.

They take the most extreme view of the dangers of climate change claiming billions will die. This has terrified some youngsters, who think they will die early, and is dismissed by climate change specialists as false and simply scaremongering. That is hardly truthful.

However it is supported by Rowan Williams and several bishops, which is surely a serious lapse of judgement.

Image

Christian Climate Action is true to its name and sees itself as the “Christian” wing of Extinction Rebellion. They seem to revel in being arrested. They were the group who climbed on commuter trains at Canning Town mid 2019 preventing working class employees getting to work. It turned very ugly and one protestor was pulled off the roof of a carriage and roughed up by by commuters. It was lucky no one was badly beaten up. It was a protest too far.

Protest in London 1/5/21

Image

May be an image of 6 people, people standing and road

This would convince me to avoid anything connected with this

What we are suggested/guided/told to do in this section on IMPACT is Activism as protest, whether as apparently virtuous actions, or martyrdom through arrests, rather than activism as changed lifestyle seeking to drastically reduce our impact on the environment, which inevitably impinges on our carbon footprint, and slowly persuading others.

I think the authors of this Road Map need to say whether they expect whole congregations to join in these protests, disrupt the lives of other people and face arrest and prosecution. Being sarcastic, do they envisage the Mothers Union processing with their banners at an Extinction Rebellion protest? 🙂

This road map seems to be a ploy to force churches to adopt an extreme stance. It may be significant that the actual authors are not named. I suggest that this a recipe for conflict within churches who start using this Toolkit.

As described before there seems to be no openness to other green viewpoints, which do not demand divestment nor so-called green energy nor projects which do not break the law. Local to me are the Wyre River Trust and Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The former do careful tree planting, creation of new Carbon-absorbing wetlands and river repair and the other have various projects including restoring Winmarleigh Moss, a damaged low-level peat bog. This has great implications in dealing with climate change, though peatbogs have little sex-appeal for most people. (Though this project is controversial with the farmers neighbouring the moss.)

This is a very misguided and biased approach and I can imagine many churchmembers refusing to take part, with resultant division in the local church.

I question its discernment, accuracy and wisdom and whether all what they suggest is actually moral. Though since the 1990s I’ve been convinced of the seriousness of Climate Change, (having been an environmentalist for many decades) I’d refuse to take part and would oppose it by word and action – and withdraw any financial contribution to a church taking part.

Effectively each of these groups are undoing whatever good work they have done. The Route Map is very limited in its grasp of the technical issues of providing and using energy, which does not come from fossil fuels. The authors fail to discuss the problems of their chosen route map and should have given a presentation of the difficulties of getting away from fossil fuels, rather than simplistically appealing to renewables as the answer. They have done the churches a great disservice by this neglect. luke 14vs 28

I ought to note that among the patrons of these groups at least one is an antivaxxer in relation to Covid-19, and dismisses its seriousness.

It is a concern that the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment raises no critical questions about Net Zero 2030.

https://www.corpus.cam.ac.uk/articles/corpus-alumnus-appointed-lead-bishop-environment

What are the main priorities of the Church of England’s Environment Programme? 

We have an ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2030. That means that every church community needs to be thinking what it can do to contribute, whether by changing energy supplier to renewables, or using offset schemes, or generating solar, ground/air source, or wind energy on site, or considering these issues when the time comes to replace, for example, a boiler. I’m keen that we play out part in enhancing biodiversity on our land, especially churchyards which can be great places for the living diversity of life, as well as being places for the dead. Let them be Resurrection places of new life!

I am afraid I am unconvinced by the bishops’ arguments. I am not sure of his use of Resurrection, but that would take more space to discuss! There is no mention of an individual’s  reduction of the earth’s resources, which can be effected by use of   – bike/foot for travel, insulation, economy of food, water and other materials (and not only plastic).

What about me in 2021

  1. I’ve got to find forever homes for 25 mountain ash trees grown from seed
  2. I shall continue to pester local councils not to destroy flowers on road verges
  3. I shall continue helping to spread sphagnum moss on upland peat bogs – already done 1 sq km
  4. Grow more mountain ash from seed
  5. Encourage others to be more green – even a teeny-weeny bit 🙂
  6. Do some green volunteering
  7. write more green blogs (which to some are not green).

Finally can you imagine Mothers Unions arranging coach trips to support Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action in their protests?

But I will conclude on a very serious note. I have pointed out the biased and lopsided approach of this route map, which does not get beyond a simplistic call for renewables and then supports groups like Extinction Rebellion.

I would have thought these eleven groups would not have supported such a limited perspective.

Can the Church get to Net Zero 2030? Or is it holy greenwash?

It may be greenwash, but it is not copper-bottomed!!

Over the last few years the Church of England has got very concerned about Climate Change and thus in the February 2020 General Synod the Bishop of Salisbury put forward a motion that the CofE should aim for Net Zero by 2045. The accompanying papers were well-argued and realistic, and showed the ways in which the Church of England could make much headway in approaching Net Zero in 25 years..

When it came to the debate, which was poorly attended, some from Bristol Diocese put forward an amendment to bring that forward for Net Zero 2030. That was passed despite the low numbers and now the CoE is committed to be Net Zero by 2030.

As you read that ask yourself if you are a Goodie or a Baddie. The Goodie  wants Zero in 2025 or 2030 as a compromise, and divestment ASAP, and  the baddies are the rest!! The baddies are all as bad as each other and those, like me, who are concerned about climate change and know things need to done but do not accept a 2030 date for Net Zero, are as bad as those who will burn the last lump of coal! To some all of us are “Climate Deniers”.

I’m one of the baddies, and proud of it, Because I wish to see life, animal, vegetable, fungal and bacterial, on this planet improving and not wrecked either by those who don’t care or those whose feelings have taken over from their reason..

Joking apart, I will start by saying that there is no question that Climate Change is a serious issue and have argued that since last century, having been convinced by no less a person than Sir John Houghton after personal chats. Climate Change needs to be dealt with now, or rather 30 years ago, and not 20 years hence. However it will not be solved by impractical solutions or intoning ecogodwords like “renewables”, “carbon-free”, zero emissions”. Grand solutions will not work, nor will green virtue signalling. The solution will come from carefully worked-out technical changes AND lots of little changes from the public at large like planting a tree (in the right place) or reducing consumption of anything from food, to energy or materials in apparently trivial ways, including turning the tap off when brushing your teeth. There are those who are insistent on reducing plastic, but drive everywhere and pour their coffee grounds down the sink. It takes energy (i.e fossil fuel) to clean the water of coffee grounds – something which could be avoided by putting them on a flower bed or veg plot. That would also improve the soil.

Within the church those pushing environmental issues tend to be greenies with limited technical skills rather than techies. This may be seen by diocesan environmental officers with no science background putting forward arguments which are often flawed or inaccurate. It is cringeworthy when the Environmental officer comes out with basic scientific error indicating they have not studied science beyond GCSE. e.g. claiming. Fracking fluid contains contaminants like citric acids & acetic acids”!! My answer is “Fish and Chips”!! With a reliance on the outpourings from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, and more recently Extinction Rebellion, this results in a disconnect with the actual realities of energy, mineral extraction and food production, not to mention climate change and biodiversity. Thus those who favour nuclear energy, a continued use of petroleum until something better is found, GMOs, non-organic farming, glyphosate will find their views , and even considerable expertise, are not required and so are effectively non-platformed or even cancelled. They are often dismissed as climate deniers. The church has thrown away a lot of expertise, as with an expert on Carbon Capture.. As a result the environment groups simply do not have geologists, those from the oil industry, Energy etc. Hence any informed perspective is lost.

Only one narrative

It seems to me that when issues of the environment are discussed only ONE narrative is followed or allowed and the rest are sidelined. Undoubtedly there are those who simply do not care about the environment i.e God’s creation, but those who do care cover a much wider opinion that members of the Christian Climate coalition. I began to realise this over fracking, when the only permitted narrative allowed was to be strongly anti-fracking and to dismiss those who saw fracking as being a bridge and reducing emissions immediately as climate deniers and as bad as the “drill, baby, drill” redneck from Texas, who gives not a stuff about anything except his truck and MAGA hat. This was so with both secular and church groups. Perhaps we can call this the Grand Green Narrative GGN, which insists you do not diverge from its tenets!! Its corollary is that if you diverge from the GGN you are not green.

A recent Church Times article of 6th November 2020 was on the Net Zero 2030 proposal as being achievable, as it was coming up in general Synod.

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-november/news/uk/synod-emissions-target-realistic-says-its-mover?utm_term=Autofeed

However it is more assertion than demonstration, but here we may be dealing with belief rather than actual substance. Having persuaded Synod in February to switch from Net Zero in 2045 to 2030, proponents have to show that it is possible.

But what we have in the article is somewhat muddled and shows a lack of understanding of energy issues and also how such changes can be effected. I don’t know whether that is due to the reporter or those consulted.

I touch on a few points. We are told that;

Purely electric heating has, on average, a lower net-carbon footprint than gas or oil,

I blinked at that statement. It may be true if you use only electricity from renewables, but most electricity is not from renewables. 20% is from nuclear and about 50% is from gas with a small percentage from coal. It depends on the source of electricity, but then we can only have green electricity in our mains as the grid makes no distinction, and we don’t know where our power actually came from!.

Despite the government’s new green schemes for 2030 it will be very difficult to produce “green” electricity on the scale needed. At present electricity is about one quarter of energy used. ( there are times, e.g. on a cold windless night, when no renewable electricity is being generated. Think if a freezing January evening when every appliance is switched on. When this happens gas power stations are ramped up and coal switched on.)  The rest is from fossil fuels for transport, heating  and industry. The recent government suggestion of windfarms sounds good, but will only generate electricity when there is wind.

switching to 100-per-cent renewable energy on a “green tariff”, perhaps through the parish buying scheme;

This is a blind faith in renewables as if renewables are good clean energy and fossil fuels are bad and dirty energy. In fact, both are “bad” and and neither are clean. All energy systems have an environmental cost. For fossil fuels it is in the extracting and burning of them, and for renewables, both in the fossil fuels needed for construction and the demand for copper, cobalt, lithium and other rare metals, which need to be mined from mineral-poor rock needing vast amounts of ore to be mined for a little metal. If it is a porphyry  deposit the ore is probably 0.25% copper, thus needing to mine 400 tons of ore for one ton of copper. There is a serious problem on the metals needed  – and often these are obtained from dodgy overseas mines outside the major mining companies, with little concern for safety or pollution. This is why prospectors are looking at old copper mines in Camborne and Parys Mountain on  Anglesey. Both have an environmental cost, which would be less so than a dodgy venture in the middle of Africa. Both could be the size of a copper mine I once worked in, where among other things I got CO poisoning. Not recommended!

Further, renewables need also to be built with vast quantities of Concrete and resin-based materials ( which produce a lot of emissions in construction) for wind, and areas of land for solar farms. The environmental cost of building windfarms on peat terrain is immense, especially as peatbog is excellent for carbon capture. Here is a windfarm built on peat in Ireland.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1327581502763380736

That should make you blink. With peat as an excellent carbon sink, they should never be used for wind farms or even the occasional turbine – or even tree planting. That  nullifies any reduction in emissions on the combustion of fossil fuels.

But this does not fit in with the usual designation of clean and dirty energy. In fact all energy is dirty. Please repeat 1000 times.

On major issue often overlooked or glossed over is that the electrical grid needs to be vastly expanded. Heating and transport by electricity means that the grid must double, or even triple in size. This is not crucial for the church, but is for the whole of society.

On could add the area needed for solar farms

It is very easy to raise objections to fossil fuels, but we also need to quiz the claims of renewable suppliers. Frequently they have claimed to provide 100% renewable electricity and gas.  At times they have been censured for making false claims, as was Ecotricity by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017 for falsely claiming their gas was 100% renewable. It was not and they were not producing much gas, if any!! The ASA insisted future averts were corrected. Further it is impossible for wind and solar to provide 100% renewable electricity  in absence of storage e.g. on a cold windless night. Thus wind accounts for between 0% and 40% of electricity generated at any particular time, which is not reliable. On that cold, windless night gas is ramped up and maybe coal is switched on. Without plenty of gas power stations power-cuts would be the norm. A little realism and attention to detail is needed. I just checked twitter and found for this week  (written on 26/11/20).

National Grid ESO 
@ng_eso
We’re forecasting tight margins on the #electricity system over the next few days owing to a number of factors, primarily varying renewable generation levels and colder temperatures over periods of the day with higher demand [1/3]

I hope there are no power cuts and gas and coal plug the gap!! Yup, coal is burniong merrily as I type.

Here is a recent tweet focusing on electric vehicles. The figures seem to be in the right order.

EVS Tweet “There are 33 million cars in UK each averaging ~10miles/day or 3KWh/day. So to charge them all will need 100GWh/day of electricity demand. That equates to two extra Hinkley C’s ! Forget Wind power – unless you want to add sails to all the cars!”

That tweet only focuses on the actual electricity needed and I deal with the increased use of metals below. A Times report (27/11/20) says EVs use up 50% more emissions than petrol/diesel cars and take 50,000 miles to break even on emissions.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/electric-cars-have-to-do-50-000-miles-before-they-are-greener-than-fossil-fuel-vehicles-8hb5m0dm7

In contrast to the simple appeal of renewables all energy predictions, including those from Greenpeace, conclude fossil fuels will be used until at least 2050.

The devotion to the green means you cannot use the greener, or the least ungreen – which is nuclear and gas.

The perfect is the enemy of the best available.

The suggestion of lots of little improvements is excellent and is what people should have been doing for 40 years, if they haven’t been doing so. Thus moving over to LED lights should simply have been done, even only as replacements over the last 40 years, moving from Tungsten filament incandescent, to low energy to LED. In our household we followed that trajectory from 1986 starting with the massive low energy bulbs and then moved with the times. A good personal task is to consider how you can make little energy or material savings from all aspects of your living. e.g using a bike where possible.

The same is the case with insulation and all forms of energy efficiency. Some of us remember cold houses in the 1950s with expensive and inefficient heating with temperatures of 55 deg F  – sorry 13deg C !

The change in mode of travel to achieve net Zero is challenging.. To change to electric may reduce emissions to zero at point of use, but one must consider the metals needed for batteries and motors, as I mentioned above. I admit to being wary of the Governments policy to ban diesel and petrol cars from 2030, on grounds of practicality and the need to vastly increase electricity generation, but also the availability of the metals needed.

There is also the problem of essential metals as greatly increased quantities of copper, Nickel and Cobalt will be needed, and also Lithium. For the hoped-for 32% of EVs by 2030 an additional 27,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually just in the UK. (To consider what that means, that is nearly one and a half million tons of Copper Ore at 2% copper. When working for an exploration company in South Africa and re-evaluating an old mine  my initial findings showed that it could be 2 million tons at 2% which would be a small viable mine. Drilling soon showed there was half a million so it was dropped. My point is simple, Britain would need a new Copper mine of that size ( 2 million tons at 2% every year. That is simply unlikely.)  The extra 27,000 tons of copper needed is an 18% increase from the last decade years when 150,000 tons were consumed annually of which 130,000 was reclaimed from scrap. This additional Copper will have to be from refining. To give an indication, if Parys mountain in Anglesey was viable as a mine it could produce 80, 000 tons of refined Copper i.e 3 years of increased demand.

parysmlountain

Parys mountain Copper Mine

The result will be to open up mines of much poorer ore with the attendant increase of mine waste and pollution.

This is expressed far better by scientists from the British Museum of Natural History

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/press-releases/leading-scientists-set-out-resource-challenge-of-meeting-net-zer.html

or on a world perspective

https://www.mining.com/much-copper-nickel-cobalt-electric-vehicle-world-needs/?fbclid=IwAR0AliU-1JxFPUlmOCDBfjlBdFeastmvSedCz7yuEszwrnpVB4ooGijz97g

I’d suggest both the Church of England and the Government get up to speed on their understanding of mineral resources and stop hoping for renewables!

Now to change tack on travel.

On travel it is remarkable how few clergy actually use a bike. Except in far-flung rural parishes it is often the quickest and easiest mode of transport. It has the great advantage of being able to stop and talk to people in busy streets. In fact, a bike is an excellent pastoral aid! Travelling five miles to visit in a hospital I found cycling was quicker than a car  – and less frustrating. Yet the article makes no mention of bikes and says  It also includes all work-related travel by clergy, staff, and volunteers. It is simply not happening.

It seems no one expects to get to Net Zero by 2030 as the article says. A further phase of work from 2030 includes all emissions from large building projects; emissions from the farming and management of church lands, and all emissions from products bought, such as paper and printing; downstream emissions from waste disposal; emissions from building contractors; and carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-related contexts. All these are said to be “within our influence to a significant degree”.

Ah, I see! Net Zero by 2030 is not Net Zero by 2030. One would have thought these would have been included in the 2030 targets. I suggest there is a clear realisation that Net Zero 2030 is impossible to achieve!

One would have thought the items on this long list should be tackled well before 2030.

However much was omitted;

Water usage

Tree-planting

Various small ways of reducing energy usage in church, school and home

  the myriad little things

And, of course, the education of congregations

The article then gives the example of a church in Birmingham. The church at Baddesley Clinton, which has no gas or running water, is now carbon-neutral after the installation of under-pew heating, which heats a bubble of air round the pew rather than the whole church space.

I don’t whether to laugh or cry at this scientific nonsense. Is there a plastic bubble to enclose those being warmed?  From the most basic physics all should know that hot air rises and thus most of the heat will fleetingly warm those in the pew before roasting the top of the church. It does not say what the source of electricity for the underfloor heating is, but it would use more electricity than other methods of heating.

The CT article then says  “It has halved its energy consumption by switching to a renewable-energy supplier. That is impossible and risible, you will use the same amount of electricity for the same usage whoever your supplier!

Shoddy arguments like these help no one and create misunderstanding of energy issues. However this type of confusion takes root and is very difficult to counter. One is usually met with a variety of ecogodwords.

Eco-diocese, eco-church

Several dioceses are register as eco-dioceses and with eco-churches.

In 2016 eco-church was relaunched through Arocha, with bronze, silver and gold awards. Much was simply sensible green advice on what churches could do, but it tended to be doctrinaire coming from a particular standpoint. Back to the Great Green Narrative

It simply assumed that churches ought to go renewable and recommended Ecotricity. This follows the common line on renewable (good) and non-renewable/fossil (bad) and not considering the actual problems of obtaining energy, or the total emissions produced.

The additional materials point one to resources and groups to follow. It refers to the flagship green group Friends of the Earth. Yet it ignores they way they were pulled up by the Advertising Standards Authority in early 2017 for their grossly inaccurate leaflet on fracking. In it they claimed that additives to fracking fluid were carcenogenic. When challenged on BBC the best they could come up with was – SAND! One needs to note their campaigns, especially in the EU to ban GMOs, and their anti-nuclear stance. Bees have been in their sights for year, but now claim that the greatest cause of decline is intensive farming, rather than what they previously claimed – neonicotinoids.

The record of Friends of the Earth is not good. Nor is that of Greenpeace

GMO EU action

Another group highlighted was Frack Free Fylde, which for several years disrupted peoples’ lives, blocked roads, held up funerals and pushed misinformation. And also recommended is Keep it in the ground with the aim of stopping extraction of fossil fuels.

If Ecochurch is to be ecochurch, it should not simply put forward one extreme environmental line, however popular that may be. It excludes a large number of environmentally concerned people. It is classic GGN Grand Green Narrative.

There is so much else to recommend what parishes can do to be truly eco-church. It is a pity eco-church focussed on only those groups taking a particular view on energy and not referring to government bodies or others. Perhaps it is as well it was produced before Extinction Rebellion and Christian ‘sClimate Action.

COP15-System-Change-not-Climate-Change

The problem of Net Zero 2030

I think it is a great pity that Bishop Holtham simply does not say Net Zero 2030 is totally unrealistic.

To conclude it was based on an amendment which was both ideological and idealistic and rather lop-sided in their beliefs and arguments.

Their’s is a tunnel vision on divestment  and Net Zero ASAP

It is Binary thinking, whereby fossil fuels are totally bad and renewables the opposite

It is unrealistic on transition

energytransistion

Further they have excluded the middle ground, which needs to be recognised and also their support gained. I wonder how many will opt out because of that.

They eschew the more technical and slower approaches, which take the state of technology into account. These will be far more effective in both the medium and long term, but won’t have the activist glamour.

Nothing will be gained by rushing things and we should follow the example of beavers and slowly beaver away.

FINIS

******************************************

 The Church Times Article in full

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-november/news/uk/synod-emissions-target-realistic-says-its-mover?utm_term=Autofeed

THE whole Church should be committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and, if it works systematically and together, it can succeed, Canon Martin Gainsborough, a General Synod member, has said.

Canon Gainsborough moved the amendment in the General Synod in February which resulted in its adoption of the target of net zero emissions by 2030 (Synod and Comment, 21 February).

Canon Gainsborough was commenting on the publication today of Synod papers on the scope and definition of what net zero would look like, to be debated by the Synod this month. “What an achievement and what a legacy that would be!” he said. “I have been hugely impressed by the way in which the Environment Working Group has been working since the momentous vote in February.”

“The definition of what is included for our net-zero carbon target seems the right one. It is also widely supported, as the consultation process relating to it shows.”

Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol, Canon Gainsborough was formerly the professor in development politics at the University of Bristol and the Social Justice and Environmental Adviser in Bristol diocese.

Data has been submitted from 4500 churches — about one third of parishes — to the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT). Twenty-two diocesan synods have carried or are planning to debate a net-zero motion, and 23 have either registered or planned to register as an eco diocese. Birmingham, Bristol, CoventryGuildfordLeedsLiverpoolSt Edmundsbury & IpswichSalisbury, and Winchester have achieved Bronze status.

The Church’s current carbon footprint is described as “very significant”. A baseline study in 2012 found that it created between 600,000 and one million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent: the standard measure of greenhouse-gas emissions. That figure was purely for energy, and did not include transport, water, waste, and purchases.

Heating accounted for more than 80 per cent of church energy use. Purely electric heating has, on average, a lower net-carbon footprint than gas or oil, and the Synod papers make practical recommendations for reducing both energy use and carbon transmission. The lowest tier of these are “actions that nearly all churches can benefit from, even low-occupancy churches only used on a Sunday. They are relatively easy, with relatively fast pay back. They are a good place for churches to start.”

These include attention to maintenance and draught-proofing; switching to 100-per-cent renewable energy on a “green tariff”, perhaps through the parish buying scheme; replacing light bulbs and floodlights with LEDs; writing an energy-efficient procurement policy; making a commitment to renewable electric and A+++ rated appliances; and offsetting small remaining amounts of energy with a contribution to community projects in the developing world.

At the other end of the scale are the main “Only if” projects, such as the installation of ground-source heat-pumps, likely to be done only as part of a reordering.

Included in the 2030 target are churches, cathedrals, church halls, and ancillary buildings; Royal Peculiars; theological education institutions; clergy housing; voluntary aided schools and diocesan academy trusts; and church bodies’ offices and diocesan properties. It also includes all work-related travel by clergy, staff, and volunteers.

A further phase of work from 2030 includes all emissions from large building projects; emissions from the farming and management of church lands, and all emissions from products bought, such as paper and printing; downstream emissions from waste disposal; emissions from building contractors; and carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-related contexts. All these are said to be “within our influence to a significant degree”.

Those acknowledged to be out of the scope of the target, “but still within our mission to influence”, include greenhouse-gas emissions for which worshippers and visitors are responsible, and schools that are fully controlled by local authorities.

The PCC and congregations of two rural churches, St Michael’s, Baddesley Clinton, a small building south of Birmingham, and St Michael and All Angels, Withington, in the Cotswolds, are highlighted for their recent work. The church at Baddesley Clinton, which has no gas or running water, is now carbon-neutral after the installation of under-pew heating, which heats a bubble of air round the pew rather than the whole church space.

It has halved its energy consumption by switching to a renewable-energy supplier; has replaced all light bulbs with LEDs; and offsets to climate stewards the travel associated with people coming to church. The Rector, the Revd Patrick Gerard, who is also the diocese of Birmingham’s environmental adviser, describes his PCC as “not an eco-warrior PCC at all, but very practical”. The LEDs had been “an easy win”, and the congregation were now warm. The old wall heaters had been retained, “but we now have the confidence not to use them.”

OTHER STORIES

Climate battle must start right now, says bishop

THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on environmental issues, is writing to all bishops and diocesan secretaries this week, in response to the target set at the General Synod last week to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2030

The church in Withington, in Gloucester diocese, was believed to be the first to become carbon-neutral, in 2010, when a biomass boiler, solar panels, and LEDs were installed (News, 1 October 2010). Although the biomass boiler worked, it was simply a boiler replacement, and did not change the the number of radiators. Loading it with wooden pellets became an onerous task for a small core of people.

Pew heaters have been installed, and have made a fundamental difference to comfort levels, besides maintaining zero-carbon credentials, it has been reported. Residual electricity is bought from renewable sources.

The project leader, Matt Fulford, said on Tuesday, “Different people will view the project in different ways. You’ve got those viewing it as a very positive environmental project; others take a treasurer’s view that sees it as as a very positive financial project; and a third view it as a success because of the comfort element. It is now a very usable building which is enjoyable to be in; so it’s a missional view in being able to serve its core purpose better. It’s lovely when all three of these come together.”

Also the General Synod “jobs to be done”

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/GS%20Misc%201262%20EWG%20update.pdf

Net Zero2030

1. The energy use of our buildings;
 Gas, oil, or other fuel use
 Electricity purchased (no matter the source it is purchased from – renewable
electricity purchased is accounted for later)
 For the following buildings;
• Churches, including church halls and ancillary buildings.
• Cathedrals (and …..l  the precinct)
• Schools where the DBE has a significant degree of influence (generally
Voluntary Aided & Diocesan Academy Trusts) including halls/other buildings
• Clergy housing,
• Church bodies’ offices

• Other diocesan property, including common parts of tenanted properties
• Theological Education Institutions
 Including the “well to tank” and “transmission and distribution” factors involved
in getting energy to the building.
 Note: Electricity used to charge EV vehicles will be included within the above.
2. All work-related travel

3. From this, and on the understanding that real reductions in energy use have been
made, the following can be removed:
 Excess energy generated on site (e.g. from solar PV) and exported to the grid
 100% renewable electricity purchased either from the Green Energy Basket
or agreed companies, reviewed annually, having regard to the criteria used
by the Big Church Switch
 Green gas [certification approach still t.b.d.]
 Other reliable offsetting schemes,

After2030

4. All the emissions from major building projects (
5. Emissions generated from the farming / management of Church land (including
church yards, unless fully controlled by local councils, and glebe land) less emissions
sequestered through the farming / management of Church land (such as tree
planting, soil improvement, and other nature-based solutions) *
6. All the emissions (including upstream process & transport) from the procurement of
any items we buy (e.g. pews for churches, paper & printing for offices, new cars for
bishops, catering for events)
7. Upstream and downstream emissions from water and drainage
8. Downstream emissions from waste disposal
9. Emissions from building contractors, plumbers, electricians and the like
10. Carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-based contexts
11. Diocesan investments, if they are a material amount
12. Air-conditioning gasses
In standard Greenhouse Gas definitions, these are those parts of our “Scope 3“ emissions
which are within our influence to a significant degree.
* To be specifically reviewed in 2022, with the potential to bring them into scope of the
2030 target, only after consultation, and if feasible methodologies have been developed
 NOT INCLUDED IN TARGET

13. Travel of staff and clergy to and from their usual place of work or ministry
14. The travel of the public to and from church, school, and church events.
15. Clergy family’s & residents’ GHG emissions (consumer goods, travel, holidays). The
energy used to heat and light the housing, if over the average reasonable use above.
16. Personal GHG emissions from the lives of worshippers attending church, other
church users (such as people attending a choir or playgroup), and overseas visitors
17. Schools over which we have very limited influence (generally Voluntary Controlled
Schools which are fully controlled by Local Authorities)
In standard Greenhouse Gas definitions, see below, these are either out of our scope or
are scope 3 but largely outside our influence.

Click to access GS%20Misc%201262%20EWG%20update.pdf

dff

Guest Blog – Stop Graveney Marsh Solar Farm

Why solar farms are not the panacea for green energy

a new nature blog

As regular readers will know I take an interest in solar farms and their impact on wildlife.

With this in mind, I’m happy to host a guest blog today from Matthew Hatchwell of the Faversham Society. Matthew was Director of Conservation at the Zoological Society of London, and before that was head of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Europe. Matthew writes about a massive proposed Solar Farm on the north Kent marshes.

On May 10, 2020, the Daily Telegraph published an article about the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Park (CHSP) just outside Faversham on the north Kent coast.  If it goes ahead, it would be the largest solar power station in the UK, covering 900 acres of farmland, containing nearly a million solar panels, and including a battery storage system five times larger than the current record-holder, in Australia.  Local residents, although supportive of solar energy in general…

View original post 541 more words

Why the Church of England’s decision for Net Zero 2030 is wrong.

Why Net Zero 2030 is doomed to failure and despair

2030
Summary; The Church of England has entered discussions on Net Zero for Carbon. At the meeting of General Synod on 12 February 2020 as proposal for the church to be Net zero by 2045 was rejected and Net Zero 2035 was narrowly passed.
If carried out, this will be extremely expensive and bankrupt some local churches. Further those who proposed this did not consider either the implications or how it can be implemented.
Here I argue it is fundamentally wrong, and no more than virtue signalling.

When I first heard of Global Warming (before its name change to Climate Change) in about 1990 I was sceptical. This was just two years after James Hansen’s warning of danger in the USA. My reasons were geological or rather glaciological. I was aware how the earth’s temperature had fluctuated with glaciations in the Precambrian, Ordovician, Permian and Pleistocene. I have worked on the Precambrian (600my) glaciation and the latest ones ending 10,000 years ago. I was also aware of historical fluctuations with the Little Ice Age and the warming since about 1810, which I found apparent when walking in the Alps, especially the recent retreat of glaciers. Thus I was fully aware how the earth’s temperature had fluctuated for the last billion years.

It took until 1998 when Sir John Houghton personally convinced me what was happening. I later wrote a survey of evangelical responses to Climate Change up to 2010. By then I was convinced of the seriousness of Climate Change and that we should change our energy use among many other things in the future. Ironically I finished that chapter on April Fool’s Day 2011, the day a Mag 2.3 tremor occurred at Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Lancashire. I never felt it though I was only 10 miles away, but it changed my outlook.

Soon afterwards an election leaflet was delivered by a certain political party to our house. I liked all the suggestions on better cycle routes etc and I decided to vote for them, until I read the risible comments on the risk of damage from earthquakes. From a position of being hostile to fracking I started to study it carefully and found that claims by anti-frackers were fallacious. I also found that Christian green groups were simply repeating them as Gospel and had no wish to listen to the science! Outside the churches the two worst offenders for misinformation were Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, as FoE found out to their embarrassment in early 2017.

It was clear that green groups were singing from the same hymn book with anti-fracking, anti-GMO, anti-nuclear along with a blind faith in renewables as the cure for everything energy wise. They also took the most extreme and apocalyptic understanding of climate change.  As the decade progressed the evils of fossil fuels and divestment came to the fore, but this was not accompanied with a presentation of what alternatives should be used, nor with a partiality to precision. Few acknowledged the intermittency of renewables, highlighted on 23/1/20 when lack of sun and wind resulted in little energy from renewables (see below). With an almost sectarian zeal any who did not accept this outlook were dismissed as a climate denier and thus the way was opened for Extinction Rebellion in late 2018. Green groups were clear what they were against – fossil fuels (and often nuclear) – but did not provide an alternative, except simplistic appeals to renewables. The actual aim is better seen in the anticapitalism which marks such activists as Naomi Klein or Extinction Rebellion.

To get back the General Synod resolution. The government target of Net Zero 2050 is, in fact, ambitious and unless new techniques of energy production or carbon capture are developed, very hard to fulfil. The aim of Net Zero 2025 by Extinction Rebellion is simply absurd and impossible to fulfil without killing lots of people through hypothermia.  The target of 2045 is more challenging than realistic, but could be doable for the church, because so many aspects of energy in industry are not considered. However the amendment from Bristol Diocese for Net Zero 2030 is beyond absurd. It is clear that the implication were not thought out, whether practical details or cost. On paper it could possibly be done, as the church could opt to use only renewables, but the cost is prohibitive and my rough calculation  of moving over with a considerable use of heat pumps is –

A backofenvelope calculation is that cost for my diocese -Blackburn would be £15 million and thus £600 million for the whole Church of England. That is each parish must raise extra £8000 p.a or £160 per week .

One could quibble over details but this is the right order of the financial implications. I look forward to this being sent to the parishes by the various Diocesan Boards of Finance!

And so the amendment was passed for 2030;

“The rest of the morning session was devoted to a debate on the Climate Emergency and Carbon Reduction Target. The motion as originally proposed was amended, most significantly when “2045 at the latest” in paragraph (a) was replaced by “2030”. This amendment was quite narrowly carried by 144 votes to 129 with 10 recorded abstentions. At the end of the debate, the amended motion below was carried on a show of hands.

Here is the amendment;

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;

(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs, education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals and the NCIs, to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every 3 years beginning in 2022 and;

(c) call on each Diocesan Synod and cathedral Chapter to address progress toward net zero emissions every 3 years.”

The account on the  CoE website

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/general-synod-sets-2030-net-zero-carbon-target

 

The Bishop of Manchester expressed his unease at the way the motion was got through.

https://viamedia.news/2020/02/14/general-synod-the-highs-lows/

I’d hoped the Environment debate would be a highlight, and in some ways it was. We heard passionate pleas for the Church to work to eliminate its carbon footprint. My one speech in the chamber this time was to support an amendment from the chair of the Finance Committee to set up the structures we will need to produce robust intermediate targets, identify specific solutions and oversee the work well. The crucial issue of selecting the year by which all this will be achieved was moved from a perhaps under-ambitious 2045 to a date of 2030. Whatever ones views on the urgency of the climate crisis, it felt unsatisfactory that this was achieved through an amendment which was decided after less than ten minutes debate, by a majority of 15, with a turnout that meant fewer than a third of Synod members voted in favour of it. Many, I suspect, were caught in the tea room, not having expected a close vote. 2030 maybe the right year, but the process felt flawed.

Perhaps a 2/3rds majority was needed………

The case for a 2045 target was laid down in  GS 2159 1

GENERAL SYNOD CLIMATE EMERGENCY AND CARBON REDUCTION TARGET

https://www.churchofe20Climatengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/GS%202159%%20Emergency%20and%20Carbon%20Reduction%20Target.pdf

It would be difficult to object to the general tenor of this report, unless one had no concern for the environment, which is to devalue God’s creation. However, it does reflect the general weakness of most recent Christian thought on the environment, in that it is weak on energy and mineral resources, with a tendency to appeal to renewables as a panacea and an implicit disdain for mining. Of course, those like Naomi Klein would agree as this is to reject all forms of “extractivism”. The term is pejorative and prevents one from seeing how much of everything in life is dependent on what has been extracted from the ground. Apart from food, most things we use have been extracted; fossil fuels, Uranium for nuclear, clay, gravel and stone for construction, every metal from Iron to Aluminium to rare Earths and Lithium which are needed for electronics and batteries.

My eco-friendly bicycles, which cover 4,500 miles, a year, are made as a result of “extractivism”; frame – mostly aluminium, fork – Carbon-fibre (very energy intensive), tyres –from petroleum, most parts are from a mixture of plastics, metals etc all from the ground. So my bicycles are dependant of fossil fuels! But the saddle is made of leather!

This “ethical” disdain of “extractivism” is apparent in the Church Times brief statement of Bishop Urquhart;

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, has said that the Church Commissioners chose to invest in mining, despite the ethical considerations, because “it is important for everyone on the planet.”

Church Times 14/2/20

Ultimately mining and quarrying are messy businesses. They cannot be anything else·. But then so is farming, forestry and house building. Having worked half a century ago for an international mining company in various parts of Africa I saw the mess. One of the great concerns are tailings dams, but in Uganda I lived a few hundred yards from two, which were just above a river in the Ruwenzori mountains, which flowed into a National Park. The water below the dams looked pristine and pure.

Surely there are ethical considerations of any investment in any industry?  Mining when uncontrolled is awful, but that was not my experience of most mines I visited. However I was concerned when I visited an opencast Wolfram Mine in Uganda as there seemed to be no procedure, safety or otherwise, in place. At the time I thought it a cowboy outfit in contrast to my company, of which I was often critical.

Perhaps a cause of the Bishop’s disdain, which reflects that of most Green groups, Christian or not, is that it shows a simplistic green outlook, which does not grasp that all human activities are in some way polluting.  Hence there is a tendency for a kneejerk reaction regarding all mining and fossil fuels as unethical. For energy the “ethical” response is renewables, but then failing to ask where all the materials to make them come from. Some responses are examples of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

It makes me wonder whether I should admit that before ordination I worked in mining and whether I should repent of having been in mining!

From GS2159

Summary There is a climate crisis; indeed, a crisis for creation. Our response is driven by our call to mission, specifically to the fifth mark of mission. This motion encourages all parts of the Church of England to recognise this and to take coordinated action toward a target of Net Zero by 2045. The urgency and significance of climate change and the degradation of the environment cannot be over-estimated. The Church of England’s Environment Working Group (set up by General Synod in 2014) issued a Call for Action1 in November 2019, and this motion follows from that call.   “It becomes ever clearer that climate change is the greatest challenge that we and future generations face. It’s our sacred duty to protect the natural world we’ve so generously been given, as well as our neighbours around the world who will be first and worst affected. Without swift decisive action the consequences of climate change will be devastating.” Archbishop Justin Welby

 

Background 1. The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that humanity has 11 years to take emergency action in order to prevent global heating greater than 1.5°C 2. Above this, the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty become much greater, impacting on hundreds of millions more people. Increasingly, the national discourse is one of climate emergency and climate crisis.

The report gives five possible targets; the first is the 2009 church one, which as they say is passe. The other two align with the government at 2050 and the Climate Coalition at 2045.  Both are hard but in the realms of possibility . The government one is also politically acceptable, even if grudgingly.

Here are possible targets from the Government’s 2050 to Extinction Rebellion’s 2025;

20452

Both the targets of 2050 and 2045 are sensible, and it is understandable that the Climate Coalition as an activist group should go for an earlier date.

However after the decision for 2030 the response of Christian members of the Climate Coalition raises questions. It does seem that they prefer 2030 and also support Extinction Rebellion.

Thus the response on Twitter and elsewhere on 12th February;

12/2/20 from JRI “Well done to @synod on going for the 2030 target. It is NOT going to be at all easy, and it will cost a lot of money, but it is the right thing to do.”

Andy Lester A Rocha “a positive message from CofE…we will need to keep some pressure on to make sure there is a genuine delivery alongside the genuine intent.”

https://www.tearfund.org/en/media/press_releases/tearfund_reacts_to_church_of_england_2030_net_zero_commitment/

Valerio from Tear Fund ““The church must continue to take courageous steps to cut its carbon emissions ensuring it reaches net zero as soon as possible, protecting the world’s most vulnerable people and the wider natural world.”

https://operationnoah.org/news-events/press-release-operation-noah-welcomes-church-of-england-decision-to-set-2030-net-zero-target/

Green Anglicans on FB 13/2/20 The Church of England takes a prophetic stand and commits to net zero in ten years

Congratulations!!!

I wonder how much behinds the scenes lobbying went on.

The paper pushes for more than 2050 and explains why a 2045 target is essential. When you take into account that the Church of England is a limited body – no attached industry! – 2045 is similar in challenge to the Government’s 2050.

20453

This is a very balanced argument for 2045 with a serious warning of aiming too high i.e 2030

2045 is achievable but hard; it is a possible target, which, most importantly, should get most on board.  It is vital to get almost everyone in the church on board, as even a small opposition group could derail the whole process.

2030 is set to fail. This is mostly because it is an impossible target as Bishop Holtam said in a veiled way. It is already getting a lot of criticism both from naysayers and others. It will attract a lot of tabloid attack, as well as losing allies. It will be unsellable to most PCCs.

I consider that it is a sad day for church. Whereas the original motion would have been tough, even if not enough for some, but going for 2030 will result in a serious loss of support, which will result in abject failure and then no chance of achieving 2030.

Getting all on board for 2045 would need much effort and persuasion and from experience I know that many PCCs would simply disregard it as something else from the “diocese”,  and then scoffed at and dismissed.

The target 2030 is far more challenging than 2045 with an immediate high financial commitment. I wonder whether all clergy would push for it as the cost becomes clear.

There are other concerns. There is a danger of a negative press (as clergy are often warned about!). Those church members who can be seen as “passive uncommitted” will reject 2030 and becoming vocal and stroppy, but would have gone along with 2045. This is absolutely vital as wither motion depends on parish and PCC support to have a chance of success.

The target of 2030 breaks any coalition of environmentally minded, as it only appeals to the left of environmentally minded Christians. Some will go into opposition and refuse to support 2030 in any shape or form.

I feel this is the worst kind of virtue signalling , which is going to cause major problems for the Church of England.

Were I still a vicar I’d simply refuse to take part.

 

This recent article by Peter Franklin outlines the range of views on the environment.

https://unherd.com/2020/02/bigger-than-brexit-the-new-politics-of-climate-change/?=frbottom&fbclid=IwAR0vGsA1Qnn3VsII1hN0Kp_vhs7eiu8FJQ8L0aCqCI4GFqc1PmCPfzsQ8DQ

It is a provocative article and stresses how we are divided between the Climate Left and the Climate Right

The Climate Left are dominated by Extinction Rebellion and their calls for Citizens Assemblies and System Change – yes, they are anti-capitalist and anti a few other things. It is hard not to see Christian Greens as aligned to them and Christian Climate Action most clearly is. The Climate Right, so often called Climate Deniers, are a varied bunch and thrive by picking holes (an easy task) in the Climate Left, and how costly even Net Zero in 2050 would be. One figure is £3 trillion. I would suggest neither the Climate Left or Climate Right have much to offer, and I find neither very constructive.

As Peter Franklin writes, “So, if the climate Left is mad and the climate Right is bad, then we desperately need an alternative to both. This is provided by the Climate Centre.

Climate centrism takes the science seriously — enough not to indulge in scare tactics or to pretend that business-as-usual is a responsible option. It rejects the accelerated timelines demanded by green new dealers, not because action isn’t required, but because haste makes waste. Achieving net zero in the space of a single decade would divert scarce resources into the creation of a command state, when what we need is more of what’s been achieved so far through competitive markets supported by smart government.”

This century the governments have been a snail’s pace Climate Centre, and have made many advances which are denied by the Left. Who in 2000, and even more so in 1990, would have thought coal has become almost redundant for electricity generation? Neither Delingpole nor Monbiot did that! Being of a certain age I have witnessed environmental changes for over half a century, including the last pea-souper of 1963 which stopped just short of our house. It has been loss and gain and definitely far better than the Climate Left claim. In the 70s and 80s any environmentalist was a bit of a nutter!! I was the green nutter then!

To return to the General Synod support of Net Zero 2030. This is very clearly of the Climate Left, as that seems to dominate Christian discussions on the environment. Few Anglicans would dare to admit they were on the Climate Right or even Centre, and us climate Centrists are often either silent by nature or muted. Perhaps more will come out when the implications of Net Zero 2030 become apparent.

The proposal from Bishop Holtam was much more central and with a target date of 2045 was more or less achievable. It also had the virtue of including many more supporters –  including the semi-committed who probably make up the bulk of the Church of England. Further it was a narrow vote and some were distinctly unhappy about the result. For this vote a 2/3rds majority should have been required in each house as the matter is of such importance.

The amendment was very much in line with groups like Christian Climate Change, and thus Extinction Rebellion who call a nationwide Net Zero by 2025. These are groups are clear in what they oppose and see a grim future. They also throw in anti-capitalism with appeals for a system change. However like many protest groups they are good at calling things out and stating what they want, but totally fall short on how to achieve it.

As well as involving political compromise a plan for achieving Net Zero, whether in 2030 , 2045 or 2050, must go beyond wishing it and actually giving detailed plans on all the technological issues along with costings. There needs to be plans on how to discard all fossil fuel heating in churches, vicarages and schools and how to provide a suitable replacement. My observation is that activists groups like those mentioned, whether Christian or secular are highly skilled at rhetoric, repeating simple appeals to be renewable, but do not have the engineering grasp or knowledge to begin to effect it. Here those actually knowledgeable, with a few exceptions, realise it is a long and slow process and that even 2050 is a tall order. Even worse, they realise that fossil fuels will still be need at mid-century.

Too often the climate Left resort to scaremongering https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerpielke/2019/09/26/its-time-to-get-real-about-the-extreme-scenario-used-to-generate-climate-porn/#75a19d7c4af0

There were several reports in the Church Times for 21st February. First is a general report https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/21-february/comment/opinion/net-zero-carbon-by-2030-is-do-able

Bishop Holtam was mentioned in a report but Canon Martin Gainsborough, who moved the crucial General Synod amendment, explains his hopes in an article. Nowhere does he consider the cost implications and difficulties that any parishes will face, beyond saying it “require a significant injection of money” (I suggest nearly half a billion pounds), but instead gives bland advice on what can be done to start;

“The charity Climate Stewards recommends six steps that churches can take to lower their emissions: carrying out a carbon-footprint audit and reducing emissions where you can; switching to a green energy supplier; registering for the A Rocha Eco Church scheme; joining in with the LiveLent campaign; engaging with your diocesan advisory committee; and offsetting unavoidable emis­sions. (The point about net zero is that it allows for some offsetting.)”

Apart from the first, which would make you look hard at energy use and “other carbon use” none will reduce emissions. If a church, or family or other group, has already been frugal and looked to waste it will have already reduced emissions. Obviously there will always be room for improvement. (I would argue that every individual or organisation should being doing this continually, whether on direct use of fuel or embedded use. I do.) His article may convince the faithful, but not the hard-headed grounded in the reality of delivering technical solutions.

Gainsborough has not convinced me that it is do-able. His article was far more wishful thinking than giving any real idea how Net Zero 2030 could be achieved. What was needed was to explain the steps and the costings. It seems that the amendment was brought to General Synod without considering either. That is not a responsible way of doing things.

**********************************************

Appendix

Some comments on Bishop Holtam’s General Synod paper GS 2159.

I’ve picked out a few sections which raise important aspects .

  1. We are now in a position where we could, with the right encouragement, and with no less than the current national resources and funding as well as strong support at diocesan and local levels, make great progress. It is important both to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the long term, and to make early and significant reductions in the amount of CO2 we produce.

The concept of Net Zero is not always helpful as it does not consider Carbon (in fact Carbon Dioxide) emissions for things other than energy. Many items are made using coal or petroleum , for example these from Natural Gas

20454

These are often overlooked in the wish to be Carbon-free.

As well as that there is the energy used in manufacture, which is often left out of the equation.

One aspect overlooked is the energy used for making many products from bricks to paper. This makes Net Zero almost impossible to achieve, unless products made with non-fossil fuel energy can be sourced. This is taken from the late Paul Younger’s wonderful book “Energy”. Paul, a Christian, died tragically young two years ago.

20455

In fact, almost all the materials we use rely on Carbon, either in their make-up or their preparation. As we get to 2030 should we only use bricks, concrete, paint etc which are Carbon-neutral? That was not considered.

I shall resist the temptation of suggesting our diets go Carbon-free.

  1. To achieve a net zero target much would need to happen, including, as examples,

the following;

  1. a) Energy use for heating and lighting would need to radically reduce in all our

buildings, through, for example, the installation of LED lighting where not yet in

place, extensive programmes of draught-proofing and insulation.

Many of these have been encouraged for years, especially on an individual level. We have been using low-energy bulbs since 1986. LEDs will only make a minute contribution compared to what is needed.

We need to start with the following

  • Woolly jumpers (serious suggestion!)
  • Thick socks
  • Heavy curtains where possible
  • Draught-proofing
  • Lowering ceilings
  • Insulation
  • Trees and shrubs in the built environment to reduce windchill of buildings

If people insist on wearing summer clothes in winter, they’ll either feel cold or switch up the heating!

They mere fact that these have been listed shows how far as a nation we have not come. Most have been around for decades and many of us have followed them.

 

  1. b) The heating of our 16000 churches, 4700 schools, clergy housing and diocesan

offices would need to move away from gas and oil, to electric heating powered

by green electricity and focussing more on heating people rather than heating

spaces.

The Key Flaw is that it rejects gas and oil, and probably nuclear, in the energy mix. (Many Greens today reject nuclear as strongly as fossil fuels.) Most forecasts for future energy supply include fossil fuels at least up to 2050. It also overlooks the fact that heating by electricity is the most expensive form of heating. All serious (non-doctrinaire green) scenarios include gas to 2050 unless dictated by ideological or political concerns

This also ignores oil, gas and coal as source of materials – not just plastic. Further coal is necessary for some industrial processes. Of course new methods will come in, but there is a considerable time lag from discovery, through development to delivery.

I am puzzling how to heat people not spaces, as the only way is heated clothing!!!  As it is February we have the heat on (gas) with thermostat to 20 deg. The house is cool warm! I am wearing a fleece, thick socks and feel a trifle cool. For me a few more degrees is too warm. I am also fairly cold-resistant. To have the air temperature of 10 deg or less is too cold for most people to sit around or work at a desk. It is also dangerous for the sick and elderly. The older you get the less you can withstand cold, as I have found out!

500 years ago many wore hats in the house and probably gloves. Gloves would prevent manual tasks. If too cold one needs gloves! This I found out on Seatsandle in the Lake District in the snow. I was warm but eating sandwiches with bare hands in subzero temperatures was painful.

This statement assumes plentiful, reliable and non-intermittent green energy, but at present renewables produces about a third of electricity demand and has a totally intermittent nature. Thus on 23/1/20 renewables were producing less than 10% of electricity but in the February storms it has shot up to nearly 50%. Economical battery storage on a large scale is not yet available. Further present batteries lose 20% of electricity on storage.

It also overlooks the fact that if we move from fossil fuels to electric then the grid must provide THREE TIMES the present electricity i.e tripling power stations and grid networks.  But that excludes other uses of energy in transport and industry. When you factor that in, you need another THREE TIMES as much energy  – thus to replace fossil fuels we need to increase energy from other sources TEN FOLD.

This wouldn’t really apply to the church, but to go totally electric many of our buildings would have to have a major upgrade of electrical circuits.

A very useful site  is https://gridwatch.co.uk/ And its twitter feed. To take an example take the details on 14/2/20 .These show immense variation from various fuel sources, with renewables being yo-yos and gas used to make up the shortfall

20456

Grey is nuclear which is constant. Blue is wind and orange is gas. When wind is insufficient gas (orange) is ramped up. At night gas is used less due to a lower demand, but when there is no wind, gas comes in as it did round 23rd January where there was  virtually nothing as no wind or sun.

But with the February storms there was a lot of wind power, with winds of 25-30 mph and stronger gusts. (I won’t go out on my bike!). But if the winds are too strong as it was on 15/2/20 wind Turbines were only operating at 50% capacity because of 80 mph winds, meaning they needed to be feathered back.

The concern over fossil fuels often ignores the drop of emissions in the developed world, which are declining this decade but rising elsewhere.

20457

And the change in 2018-9. (Japan’s reduction would be greater if they had not rejected nuclear.)20458I’ve left out clothes, and many long-term use of petroleum-based materials:i.e not single use plastics.

This pie chart from 2019 shows UK emissions in comparison to the rest of the world. Note UK population is 70 million and China 1,400 million i.e 20x greater, but Chinese emissions per capita are higher as are USA, Canada and Germany. So far reduction in emissions is limited to “Western” countries, but many Africans have no access to energy. (I am baffled why Christian Aid opposes any development of drilling for oil and gas in Africa. If nothing else it would slow deforestation.)

20458

Now what about Costs?

Heat pumps £6,000-£18.000  https://www.evergreenenergy.co.uk/heat-pumps/much-heat-pump-cost/

Solar  https://www.evergreenenergy.co.uk/heat-pumps/much-heat-pump-cost/

Need 4K/W for an average house – £4,000-£6,000 but a vicarage is larger. Let’s call it £10K

The cost for a church or school is far more and in the order of £20K.

Now that would put up Parish Share for each parish!

One aspect overlooked, and mentioned above, is the energy used for making many products from bricks to paper. This makes Net Zero almost impossible to achieve, unless products made with non-fossil fuel energy can be sourced.

 

  1. c) This would in turn require the church’s electrical supplies to be robust enough to

support electric heating, and the National Grid to support this increased

electrical loading.

How’s this going to happen?

The National Grid is not up to electrification of heat and transport. We need a doubling or tripling of generation and grid network, if this is for the whole nation.

To move to 100% electricity for heating in building would require major rewiring. To give an example, in one church in about 2004, the cost was prohibitive just to improve the wiring to install brighter lighting. If I remember right the figure was over £5K as opposed for a few hundred to ensure just adequate lighting. For financial reasons we ended up with lighting which was only just adequate. As that church was in the middle of a field oil heating was the only option.

  1. d) The travel and transport of staff and volunteers would need to move away from petrol/diesel powered vehicles (even in our rural dioceses).

There is no mention of bicycles for local journeys.  Why shouldn’t clergy use cycles around the parish? I can ask this question rather smugly as I often did. I reckon bikes are ideal in a parish and very evangelistic. You can actually stop. As a result of that several people started to come to my various churches.

Again there is a cost consideration. Apart from the tiny Twizzy there is no EV below £17,000  https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-cars/99735/the-cheapest-electric-cars-on-sale  but you can buy a Dacia for £7000!!

Further EVs are not in the breakthrough stage and carbon benefits are not clarified as much carbon emissions occur in manufacture, not to mention mining for electrical components which are more than a hunk of steel /alloy for the engine. But you never know when the change will come. After all, Randolph Churchill ridiculed electric lighting but within ten years it had taken off. 

  1. e) We would need to think about our international travel, recognising that there are

very strong connections with the rest of the world but also developing ways of

nurturing those relationships which are more sustainable, and offsetting flights

when necessary.

Most don’t travel by air except for holidays. Perhaps the church should limit frequent fliers, including bishops!!

  1. In addition to carbon output, we must also protect and enhance biodiversity across

our land and buildings, including churchyards, glebe land, and investment assets.

The Church needs to build ecological awareness into everything we do. Caring for

creation is an essential element of our mission and ministry.

This is very much needed, but is inhibited by inertia and a desire for tidiness. Many parishes are more concerned with a tidy churchyard than a green one. I will never forget a farmer churchwarden going around a churchyard spraying every wild-flower with roundup.

There is a tremendous amount that could be done on church land in the way of planting, and to encourage all churchmembers to do the same.

An inspirational read on this is;

204510

It gives lots of fun and hope.

My own brief case for the Christian and the environment, written as a beginners’ article

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

Church of England Climate Resolution

A thought-provoking response to the Church of England’s vote for 2030 Net Zero.

I wonder if the great and good at General Synod knew they’d voted to freeze in church and switch off their water

extinctionrebellion

how do we replace all the fossil fuels with renewables?

renewbles

But at least renewables don’t require sinful extractivism, does it?

solarpanal

 

A New City of God

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)

The synod of the Anglican church has just passed the following Resolution.

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice . . . call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs [Bishop Mission Orders], education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals, and the NCIs [National Church Institutions], to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(Additional sections discuss the reporting process.)

The following were my initial thoughts on reading this resolution.

Congratulations #1

Congratulations to the Anglican church on providing desperately-needed leadership. One of the themes of this blog is that climate change and related issues provide an an opportunity for the church. The Anglican…

View original post 659 more words

Appeals for a rapid energy transition at Davos thwarted – by Copper and Cobalt

dd

At the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, there seemed to be spat between Greta and Donald though they did not meet.

Image result for greta thunbergDonald Trump

As far as I can see one is “Drill, baby, drill”. and the other is stop using oil now i.e yesterday.

This article highlights the issues oil companies face, which are considerable.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-oil/oil-industry-in-davos-torn-between-greta-and-trump-idUSKBN1ZM1Z6

The end is most interesting as it lays out the problems of going renewable ASAP along with electric cars. The obstacles to the energy transition are not the amount of wind or sun, or whether devices can be made to trap the energy, or the design of electric vehicles. The technology may be available now, but that does not make it possible.

It boils down to the availability of the metals required to do this. Here Richard Herrington just mentions cobalt and Copper

Richard Herrington, head of earth sciences at London’s National History Museum also said a speedy energy transition may simply be impossible.

“If the UK were to turn tomorrow all of its cars into electric ones, we would need twice the world annual cobalt and half of annual copper production,” he said. “You can imagine what happens if you scale it up to the whole world.”

He mentions only the UK, but the mind boggles at how many extra mines would be needed to provide just the copper and cobalt. Herrington made no mention of other metals needed , like Lithium.

Trust a geologist to make us face reality!

However I think we could do it in UK as there is a superb porphyry Copper deposit be the gorgeous Llyn Crafnant north of Betws y Coed in Snowdonia. This was successfully opposed in the 1970s, but because of the Climate Emergency I am sure all green groups would support it today .

We would see the area including Betws y Coed changing from this

Image result for llyn crafnant

to this

Image result for bingham copper mine

(Bingham Copper mine, Utah. )

I am sure all green groups want to see this transformation of Snowdonia National Park

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-oil/oil-industry-in-davos-torn-between-greta-and-trump-idUSKBN1ZM1Z6

A European Parliament without Science?

A warning about letting the Green Party have too much influence in the EU parliament. Also of other green groups by implication.

I may not agree with every word, but with the daftness of Extinction Rebellion etc , people should be wary of voting Green – at any level

The Risk-Monger

This document is a follow-up to my Science Charter blog.

German Green MEP Maria Heubuch has spent more time campaigning against agricultural technologies (and Africans) than representing her constituents. When she went to Berlin on the public purse to attend a secret NGO meeting to campaign against the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, she used her Gmail account so her activities could not be officially recorded. A few weeks later, she stood up in the European Parliament and demanded that a Commission official be transparent. MEPs Bart Staes, Pavel Poc and Michele Rivasi spend public funds obsessively campaigning against a single company and flying in non-scientific activists from as far away as the US and Australia to speak in the European Parliament. No scientists were invited to speak at their public events. The chair of the Parliament’s PEST Committee, Eric Andrieu, has tried to change the…

View original post 878 more words

A Science Charter for the European Parliament Elections

Many good points made here how the EU is influenced by anti-scientists whether By anti-vaxxers, opponents of GMOs various insecticides and pesticides, energy, especially nuclear and gas.

Some of the Green NGOs are the worst culprits.

Too many are not aware on how these groups influence the EU and thus the UK, with their dodgy science and appeal to the moral high ground

The Risk-Monger

The last European Parliament has proven to be the least scientifically competent political entity since the days of Lysenko and Darré. In the last five years we have seen the sorry lunatic ideas of anti-vaxxers like Michèle Rivasi,  chemophobe Pavel Poc and agtech neophyte Bart Staes – activists using the Parliament and public money to spread fear and ignorance. This May’s European elections, with the rise of extremist populism on the fascist far right and the Green Marxist left, is making the outlook for science and rational dialogue in Europe even grimmer.

Science is not a big vote winner in an election where, as in this year, the European electorate has been juiced up on fear-based issues like immigration and pesticides. So how a candidate feels about science may be a good bellwether to how rational of a public representative he or she will be. Wouldn’t it be…

View original post 486 more words

Blind faith in Green faith

I loved this tweet from Green Anglicans. (GA are the group who claim to “represent the environmental concerns of Anglicans worldwide.)

greenangenergy

As I say that I realised I hadn’t got a solar panel or sails on my car!

If this claim were true then much of transport, home heating and industry would be provided for by wind.

They had taken this from a Guardian article about how wind provided so much ELECTRICITY on the night of 12/13th Dec 2018.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/30/windy-weather-carries-britain-to-renewable-energy-record?fbclid=IwAR3G-r2MsNtiCk6wdbO2AJXls2asLP5K4Ne3Mz0HqEToihDItXH1IXfkq8o

Here are the details from MyGridGB, which give regular summaries of electrical generation each day.

mygrid131218Yes, it was about a third, but not energy but electrical power.

Now that is a serious and misleading error. This diagram below shows that in 2017, electricity was a small fraction of the total energy used, so claims of 33% eenrgy should be reduced to 5% if that

ukenergy2017

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643414/DUKES_2017.pdf

This glaring misunderstanding is very common among green commentators. It shows a serious lack of understanding of energy issues, and raise questions about their competence.

It is forgotten that ENERGY is much more than just electricity

a further problem is that those concerned about the environment will read stuff like this and think how close we are to replacing fossil fuels with renewables.

This is especially so in the churches where green experts are liable to have degrees in literature or foreign languages, possibly biology but very rarely have any training or qualifications in energy issues. When the errors are pointed out , they are usually ignored as their green faith takes over. Sadly many don’t want to know or Dunning-Kruger takes over.

This results in a belief that we can make the transition from fossil fuels in a matter of years rather than decades and associated with naive appeals for divestment from fossil fuels. This is the view of Christian Aid , Operation Noah among others and often the churches blindly follow them.

I wrote this after seeing the tweet from Green Anglicans but many secular green groups are just as inaccurate and so the misunderstanding spreads.

I suggest that many green activists need to stop and find out more about what they criticise and not cling to inaccurate and hopeful headlines, put out by those with limited understanding

RANT OVER

P.S. After a little interchange on twitter Green Anglicans did not my point, but there are still too many who don’t/won’t grasp it

 

 

 

 

Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

The month of September has been designated the Season of creation which is a magnificent idea as so often God as Creator and his Creation has been sidelined, almost to the point that the Gospel is just about Post-mortem salvation, with only a narrow concern on personal ethics. Or the more “liberal” who have a social concern but are indifferent to the environment and thus Creation.

In my church we are having Sept 2 to Oct 14 as our Season of Creation as it is bounded by Harvest Services and a Pet Service. That gives great opportunity to consider a variety of themes on God as creator, human responsibility to Creation, whether plants , animals, minerals,water and the need to ensure that there is enough for all.

There is much to consider apart from the Big bad wolf of fossil fuels, which at times become THE only issue.

As part of the Season of Creation Operation Noah  has launched a campaign to encourage parishes and local churches to divest from fossil fuels.

opnoah

This follows the partial divestment by the General Synod of the Church of England in July 2018. Operation Noah did not thinkt hey went far enough

This is the blog of the new campaign  http://brightnow.org.uk/action/divest-your-church-season-of-creation/

As our scorching summer gradually begins to fade into autumn, the Bright Now campaign is inviting local churches to support the movement for fossil free Churches. Could you join us in this next stage of the campaign? ………………

Source: Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

Their aim is to encourage all to divest totally from fossil fuels as soon as possible. In their reports Bright Now of 2013 http://brightnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Bright-Now-Report.pdf and Fossil free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future on June 2018 http://brightnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Bright-Now-Transition-Report-2018-web.pdf they give very clear and forceful arguments which divestment should be done immediately, with a large number of references.

If these two reports are the only things you read, then you will conclude that for the sake of the planet and humanity, immediate divestment is the only ethical action. Here they are in line with groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, McKibben’s 350.org and many fossil fuel campaigns.

However I consider the whole Operation Noah  and Bright Now campaigns and reports to be very inadequate and misleading, and thus fatally flawed.

Major Issues simply disregarded

First there are aspects about fossil fuels and energy which they simply ignore.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel
  2. Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades
  3. Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

Now to consider each in turn.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel

Fossil fuels are used for far more than providing energy as this picture shows.

Fossil fuels are used for Medicines, Cosmetics, Plastics, synthetic rubber, cleaning products, and asphalt. They could have included artificial fertilisers without which many in our world would starve and the making of essential chemicals like chlorine which means that our water is safe to drink.

oiluses

This gives some of the things made just from petroleum. Try to eliminate all these from your daily life!!

In fact about a third of each barrel of oil produced is , on average, not used for fuel. As for gas, some is used  to make plastics, fertilisers and other things.

Yes, I know, many plastic things are awful, especially the excessive use of single use plastic and it is great that these are campaigned against.

For those who do not have perfect health (or even eye-sight) we depend on plastic for so many things medical.

Perhaps  readers could get up one morning and vow to use nothing dependent or made from oil, gas or coal.  First, you will have no heat, Secondly no water, thirdly no electricity, fourthly, no clothes from artificial fibres, fifthly you can’t take your medicines, sixthly you can put your glasses on etc etc.

Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades

It would be fantastic to get rid of all fossil fuels by the end of the year. That will not happen and cannot happen for several reasons.

Renewables are dependent on energy storage to tide one over when wind and solar produce no or little power. Batteries or other storage systems are simply not in place and hardly on the horizon.

Even if they were in place ramping up would take decades and not years.

Often we are told that renewables produced 30% of our power this year. This is true, but often no power is produced as on a cold windless winter’s night. Further electricity is only a third or so of our energy usage – industry, heat, trans[port and when that is taken into consideration renewables produce less than 10% of Britains’s energy.

This shows how energy is sourced on a world perspective

bp

This earlier chart for 2015 shows how small the renewable contribution is. Note the question

renewBLES

This shows the change in the mix for UK energy this decade. The largest changes have been the decline of coal and rise of gas.

elec

And a reminder that energy transitions take decades, not years.energytransistion

I rest my case that divestment from fossil fuels is anything but premature and also folly  resulting in worldwide suffering. In fact I consider it a poor form of virtue signalling and is better for those divesting than our fellow humans who struggle with insufficient energy as well as everything else. I include those  in fuel poverty in our towns and cities.

Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

There is no doubt that fossil fuels are dirty. Some of us remember the London pea-soupers. I think the last was early 1963 and the soup came within a hundred yards of our house in Surrey. I won’t forget the petrochemical smog around Chamonix when we were walking by a glacier, or the pall of coal smoke hovering over Llanrhaidr-ym-Mochnant while climbing the Berwyns in winter. Far worse is an open fire heating a hovel, but that is preferable to hypothermia.

Of all fossil fuels coal is by far the worst and emits more CO2 but also particulates, ash and radioactive particles. We know of diesel. The cleanest is gas and all scientific studies conclude that gas is by far and away the cleanest fossil fuel, except for one researcher – Robert Howarth. (However, the 2013 Bright Now report accepts Howarth’s outlying ideas due to relying on questionable secondary sources. But they did acknowledge that the switch to gas has reduced emissions.)

From this, it is a pity that Operation Noah did not prioritise getting rid of coal.

 

Having considered their serious omissions I will now consider some

Bad arguments

Discussed in my blog https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/the-church-of-england-and-divestment-july-2018/

The ON reports very much follow a leave it in the ground stance and say

5. The vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is in two parts. The first is a sweeping statement on the Paris Agreement and fails to make any distinction between the 3 fossil fuels. The fact that emissions of CHG from coal are vastly greater than oil, which is turn is greater than gas is simply ignored as is the proportion of each fuel which should be left in the ground. Also ignored is the wide-spread rejection of coal. This seems to be a rewrite of the Paris agreement and rather alters the meaning. Further no one has put it that baldly. The original source on keeping fossil fuels in the ground comes from a paper in Nature from University College London researchers. They distinguished between the three fossil fuels
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150107131401.htm
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

guardianunburnable
This puts things in a very different light both on the timeframe and which fuels are to be left in the ground. In other words, coal needs to be left there but oil and gas will be used to 2050 – and will have to be simply to keep the lights on. There is clear to anyone who understand than energy transitions take DECADE not YEARS.

This attitude is often accompanied with the mantra keepitintheground which is great for chanting but does not solves problems of energy or emissions.

As serious is the lop-sided bias of Operation Noah reports, as I discuss in my blog referred to above. The authors seem to ignore anything apart from the most strident keepitintheground position, preferring the one-sided approaches of  the most strident greens and ignoring the more moderate (and in my view more constructive ones) of Lord Deben, Sir David Mackay, Dieter Helm and various others. It is wrong not to mention and consider them as it prevents the average churchmember and minister from considering a variety of viewpoints which are all concerned with doing the best for the planet and to fulfill the Paris agreement.

At best this is a case of shoddy argument, but is very misleading and prevents an honest discussion as other well-evidenced arguments are simply not presented.

Some may consider it to be duplicitous and slightly less than honest.

What has happened is that the churches’ witness for the environment , and particularly fossil fuels, has been hijacked by a group who are prepared to give a highly biased and often inaccurate argument for divestment. I also note that some members of Operation Noah are prepared to break the law to make their point.

It is very difficult for someone, even if they have some technical skills, to counter such strident arguments which are buttressed by claims to be ethical.

It is a pity that there are insufficient people in the churches, who have the technical expertise to present a more reasonable argument rather than virtue signalling.

 

I rest my case and there is much more i could have said………….