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Jersey Climate Action Network - News archive 1

Working in Jersey to:
  1. Raise awareness of the issues of Peak Oil and Climate Change
  2. Provide a network for the exchange of ideas and information
  3. Take action to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and counter the impact of climate change

This is an archive page of old front page items. Click here for the current front page.

Building insulation

19 May 2010 — J-CAN media spokesman, Nick Palmer, was approached to submit a question to the Grand Designs Live panel (which included Kevin McCloud). This took place at the ExCeL Centre in London from 1-9th May.

His question was: To make a meaningful, timely, impact on greenhouse gas emissions requires acting now. Does the panel feel that all new buildings, starting tomorrow, should be designed to the highest BREEAM standards, particularly those relating to energy conservation (or, at least, to be easily retrofittable later) with a significant emphasis on a very long design life? Super-insulated buildings, which will last for generations, must surely be the way forward to a sustainable civilisation?

Earth Hour and Earth Day

St Helier's Apple Store in darkness, with all product displays turned off, to honour Earth Hour 2010. Click to see the other saints and sinners.The J-CAN stall in Queen Street for Earth Day 2010

Earth Hour is a global celebration of our personal, commercial and civic determination to protect the planet against harmful climate change. At 8.00 pm for one hour on Saturday 27 March 2010, homes, businesses, civic buildings, and illuminated monuments around the world turned their lights off as a gesture of commitment and a demonstration of awareness and care. J-CAN were in St Helier. Have a look at our photo gallery to see what they saw.

While Earth Hour only started in 2007, Earth Day has been celebrated worldwide for 40 years. On April 24th, J-CAN manned a stall in Queen Street. There was music, leaflets, displays and a stunning recycling bin that crushes cans and plastic bottles, then provides stylish storage for each. Best of all, to get each of us to dust off our bike and ditch the car for the summer, Bob Vincent (Jersey Bob) donned his overalls and offered free bike checks to all comers. Earth Day is about advancing climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. It has galvanized millions into making personal commitments to sustainability. We were there: we hope you were too.

Costing the Island?

Oak tree with whirl effect added

The BBC Radio 4 program Costing the Earth on 7th April 2010 was about national and international organisations who are tasked with calculating and establishing a monetary value for the goods services provided by the natural environment. The program is half an hour long and well worth listening to. In it, we hear from economists and leading figures from the world of banking and accounting who could be an unlikely answer to safeguarding biodiversity.

Do we need to set a price on the environment to get policy makers, business and individuals to really take it seriously? Alkborough Flats on the Humber Estuary is a haven for birdlife and also gives £400,000 worth of flood protection a year. The carbon storage in its sediment is valued at a further £14,500 plus there's additional revenue from recreation and tourism. Bees are another example. Their services to farming are estimated at £200 million a year with the retail value of what they pollinate closer to £1 billion. Upland farming in the UK is already heavily subsidized but should they be paid not to farm when doing so can cause costly contamination in drinking water, for example, and instead be paid to maintain water quality, guard against flooding and maintain wildlife habitats? If real monetary reward is to be gained could there be many more people keen to hear the environment message? Or is this an over-simplification of the value of our natural resources? Some would rather the 'price' of these ecological services went directly from the current 'free of charge' straight to 'unaffordable' without passing through an area in between where irreplaceable habitats and species extinctions could be 'traded' against other money-making schemes.

What was a theoretical issue is becoming a reality. Right now the National Ecosystem Assessment is taking place. Government-sponsored inspectors are actually pricing up the services provided by our environment with a view to embedding them in policy. This is clearly applicable to the farmland and gardens, the coastline and beaches, the cliffs, woods, dunes and other wild spaces of Jersey. The question is, what can we do to raise this as a policy issue over here?

Planning for 'Earth Day'

The Earth from space (NASA image)

Time: 8:00 p.m. Thursday, April 15th
Location: One World Centre, Seale Street

All members and supporters of J-CAN, and anyone who's interested, are invited to a short meeting. We will be discussing thoughts and ideas for increasing awareness of the current global ecological situation, especially with regards to the up and coming event, Earth Day to be held on 22nd April. We are planning to put out some stalls with advice, info and leaflets from local eco-conscious groups and businesses in St Helier.

J-CAN petition 'adopted'

J-CAN's climate change petition, which so many of you signed during last year, has been adopted by the States of Jersey. Deputy Daniel Wimberley’s report and proposition on ‘Climate Change: Copenhagen Conference – Petition’ (P.206/2009) was adopted by the States on 2nd February by a majority of 42 votes to four. As a result of this and the efforts of all our petitioners, the Council of Ministers is now required ‘to give detailed consideration to the results (of the Copenhagen Conference) and report back to the States within six months of the adoption of this proposition on how they intend to respond, their report to include detailed proposals and timescales.’ In its comments to the States, the Council of Ministers have indicated that ‘the Island’s Energy White Paper is well progressed and will provide the necessary policy framework for setting and delivering carbon reduction targets’.

A short rallying cry

Global annual surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 mean

Global warming is not like other large-scale issues of the past: it is based on physical processes rather than human ones. It cannot be 'fought' like Communism or terrorism can. Like wars and revolutions, these are people all the way down. Normal political tactics, like hack a few emails, dish some dirt on key private lives, discredit someone's morality, vilify their personalities, don't work to stop physical processes. All such tactics do is provide doubt and delays, during which the gasses continue to build and climate change accelerates.

Arguing that black is white, "until you can prove me wrong", and then arguing that blue is yellow after that, do not help human progress at the best of times, but they are seriously misplaced in this area. Creating public support against scientific facts may make people feel better about themselves and their lack of positive action, but in the long run can only delay the inevitable and lead to increased suffering in the island and worldwide. Some journalists, politicians and business leaders are very happy to mount ill-informed attacks on climate science itself and on the scientific bodies behind it to try to discredit it and them. Such actions are hopeless, the facts are clear, but they keep trying none-the-less.

It is important that politicians and the media remain clear-headed over this. People rely on politicians to represent their best interests, and on the press for facts and analysis, but there are those hoping that by what they say in print or in the States, they can actually alter the facts of climate change themselves. An even-handed approach to anti-science activism alongside the actual science is potentially disastrous. Journalists and policy makers with sufficient academic background to be able to sort the reliable sources from the fringe, the science from the lies, the proven from the made-up are essential. Let us hope they have the courage to stand up for what is known, here in Jersey.

Tree planting

All J-CAN supporters are invited to take direct action for the environment!

On the morning of Saturday 6th March we will be gathering at Sion, St. John, to plant trees and hedge plants on land farmed organically by Brian Adair. After the planting, Brian has offered to give everyone a tour of the holding, and this should provide a fascinating insight into how to produce food for a sustainable future.

We will meet at 10.00 a.m. at the entrance to the holding, which will be signposted and is situated on the main road opposite the garage about quarter of a mile south of Sion Methodist Church. If you have them, please bring gardening gloves and a spade (ideally a narrow spade) – Brian will provide the rest!

Plémont

Plemont bay

So, the States have decided not to buy the Plémont holiday camp site and return it to nature. Meanwhile, there are just eight puffins left in the cliffs below the derelict buildings. The problem apparently is rats attacking their nests in the hillside. There used to be thousands in the 1950s, then there were 100 when people started to take a serious interest, and now there are just eight; and they're not breeding.

We reported in December, Mike Stentiford saying that climate change is too subtle for Jersey people to take notice of at the moment and that we need something major to happen – to make us say 'we really have lost this' – before there will be major changes here in the island. Well, now we have Nic Jouault, of the Marine Section of the Société Jersiaise saying, "With the warming winters it's a problem that is only going to increase. I've seen it myself on the coastline, there is a major problem with rats."

OK, losing the island's puffins may seem like trivia to some, but bear in mind the words of Dr Andrew Casebow when he spoke for us last June: He said that climate change is happening worldwide very much faster than other natural cycles have happened in the past and that there are examples where important species, including pollinating insects, are unable to adapt or migrate in time and so die out locally. Well, puffins don't pollinate Jersey Royals, but they do attract tourists and they do form a part of our local ecosystem.

Does anybody believe that housing dozens of new families on that isolated headland is going to discourage the rats, or encourage the shy and secretive puffins back to breed? It's like the boy with his finger in the dyke. Losing local species is bound to start somewhere, and slowly at first, but each time it happens it is a tipping point and a catastrophe: you can't just say "oops", change something, and put a lost species back. If we wait until we lose our first essential wild species before we do anything about it, it really will be too late.

Jersey Bat Group - bat talk

bat netting

The importance of looking after our wildlife, and more importantly, its habitats, goes on. The Jersey Bat Group winter series of lunchtime bat talks continues with The Mysterious Case of the Galápagos Bats, by Jill Key, on Tuesday 19th January 1.15pm - 1.45pm. Please join them at the Société meeting room (7 Pier Road) from 1 pm for tea, biscuits and some bat chat. "Escape the mayhem of the January sales, get out of the cold and have your lunch with us!" they say.

Copenhagen: Neither here nor there?

The much-heralded UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference has come and gone, and where are we now? Well, we don't have a legally binding treaty agreed by all nations actually to put an end to climate chaos. On the other hand, we do have an Accord that mentions lots of good intentions. It is signed by the US and by China, and those are two firsts in the world of environmental politics. It is signed by everyone else too, and, you never know, the world's politicians may continue to catch up with the urgency of the scientific facts, and they may improve on their intentions during 2010.

United Nations Climate Change Conference in full swing

This is the first week of the Copenhagen conference, the most important meeting in human history, many have said. Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, said on Sunday (6 Dec), "If by the end of next week we have not got an ambitious agreement, it will be an indictment of our generation that our children will not forgive. I will be doing everything in my power to ensure we succeed."[ref]

Our thoughts are with him. Let's hope, eventually, our representatives here in Jersey catch up and nail some colours to our mast, too.

RSGB and Mike Stentiford re Copenhagen

BBC Jersey say that grave concerns about climate change have attracted the RSPB to Copenhagen, but local naturalist Mike Stentiford says it's too subtle for Jersey people to take notice of at the moment. We need something major to happen – to make us sit bolt upright and say 'we really have lost this' – before there will be major changes here, he says.

Let's hope he's wrong and that we can muster some common sense, some political support, and some popular will, to do something here long before we begin to suffer those kind of ecological disasters and species extinctions.

Petition update

At the November J-CAN meeting we counted 1,470 valid signatories on the Copenhagen petition. This asks the Council of Ministers to give detailed consideration to agreements that follow from the Copenhagen climate summit, and report back to the States within six months of the closing date of the Conference on how they intend to respond, their report to include detailed proposals and timescales".

We hope that Deputy Daniel Wimberley will present the petition to the States, and a draft report and proposition have been prepared to accompany it. It is planned that the report and proposition will be lodged ‘au Greffe’ on 7th/8th December in order to tie in with the opening of the Copenhagen Conference as well as with the last meeting of the States of Jersey for the year.

Age of Stupid - local showing!

J-CAN is proud to be able to host a one-night-only showing of the 'climate blockbuster', The Age of Stupid, at St Paul's Centre, St Helier on 1st December 2009. Come along at 6.30 for a 7.00 start. Free entry with a collection for expenses. Please display our poster, if you can.

Can Britain feed itself?

Patrick Holden, Director General of the Soil Association gave a very interesting talk on this question at the Town Hall, St Helier, on the 9th Novmber at the invitation of the Slow Food Movement, sponsored by the Co-op. Read our account of the talk here.

What are we doing?

Mark Forkitt and other J-CAN volunteers collecting signatures regarding Jersey's response to the Copenhagen summit

"There is no point in denying it: we're losing. Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease," wrote George Monbiot today (3rd Nov). It's very interesting to read the rest of his thoughts on this.[1]

J-CAN is not letting the grass grow under our feet. From the minutes of our recent meeting, you can see that we are aiming for another few hundred signatures on the States of Jersey Copenhagen petition by the middle of November. We intend to be out in King Street again on 14th November. If you haven't signed it yet, we may see you then. In the meantime, if you support this cause, feel free to download a petition form from this website and get your family, friends and work colleagues to add their voices while they can. You don't need to fill the whole sheet - every signatory counts.

We have highlighted the States of Jersey Sustainable Transport Policy consultation document and the associated on-line questionnaire here before. Please go ahead and fill the questionnaire with your sensible thoughts if you haven't already done so. J-CAN feels that although the draft policy represents a step in the right direction in terms of discouraging car use, a more radical agenda is needed to respond to the challenges of peak oil and climate change. We intend to prepare a J-CAN response and send this to TTS by the closing date of 30th November.

In a similar vein, The States have published a draft Island Plan for consultation. J-CAN will be discussing this at the next meeting, with a view to submitting a response to the Planning and Environment Department (closing date: 18th December). This discussion could pick up on the concept of a ‘zero waste aspiration’ in relation to the Island’s waste strategy, and will cover other sections of the plan to the extent that they have particular relevance to fossil fuel use and climate change.

We're trying to arrange a showing of The Age of Stupid as soon a spossible in some local venue; we have a climate change awareness questionnaire that we hope to begin circulating, with copies in the local press as well as on this website; we are in contact with G-CAN and want to exchange speakers and delegates with them whenever it might help; we want to raise local awareness of the plight of the Carteret Islands, especially considering the obvious connection hinted at by the name; we are on Facebook; we're Twittering...

So, what are we doing? Plenty! In fact, we could do with a little help. Please consider coming to one of our monthly meetings. They're not just committee meetings, all are welcome, and if you have some time to donate to such a vital cause, there's plenty to get involved in.

Bats in Jersey

Brown long-eared bat. Photo credit Steve Parker/Bat Conservation Trust

The Jersey Bat Group, in conjunction with the Societe Jersiaise, will present a winter series of bat talks, starting on November 24th with “The Bats of Jersey” by Ruari Allan at 1.15 pm – 1.45 pm and repeated 7.30 pm – 8.00 pm. All are welcome to join them at the Societe meeting rooms from 1.00 pm or 7.15 pm for tea, biscuits and some Bat Chat. Forget the hustle and bustle of town, get out of the cold and have your lunch with bats! For more information, click here for the flyer or contact jerseybatgroup@yahoo.co.uk

The end of the line

Did you see The End of the Line on More4 on Tuesday night (20th Oct)? Not only are we heading for a massive crash in fish stocks before about 2050 if we carry on as we're going, but there's plenty we could do right now to head it off.

Apart from the importance of healthy fish stocks for food, scientists have found that fish poo seriously helps to balance the acidification of the seas caused by CO2 and helps to take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.[1] We could stop buying fish unless it is certified as coming from sustainable fisheries, and we could demand that marine conservation areas ("no-take zones") are set up and enforced around the Channel Islands. These nursery zones guarantee that fish and shellfish have somewhere to breed and develop, so they quickly lead to increased, sustainable catches in the rest of the area.[2]

If you missed this excellent documentary, it is well worth a watch. It's available on Channel 4's 'On Demand' viewer.[3]

Peak oil

A new report, launched 8 Oct 2009 by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), argues that conventional oil production is likely to peak before 2030, with a significant risk of a peak before 2020. The report concludes that the UK Government is not alone in being unprepared for such an event - despite oil supplying a third of the world's energy.

The report finds that we are entering an era of slow and expensive oil as resources get harder to find, extract and produce. Major new discoveries, such as those announced recently in the Gulf of Mexico, will only delay the peak by a matter of days or weeks. Simply maintaining global production at today's level would need the equivalent of a new Saudi Arabia every three years.

UKERC's report is the first study to take an independent, thorough and systematic review of the evidence and arguments in the ‘peak oil' debate. It addresses the following question: What evidence is there to support the proposition that the global supply of ‘conventional oil' will be constrained by physical depletion before 2030?

Peak oil is an established concept; see Wikipedia's article for a fuller discussion of it and the problems it can bring. Our question is, to what extent do the States' plans and strategies take all this into account for life in Jersey in the coming years?

The States want our views on transport in the island

It's not often that we get asked about something as important as this. The States have published their Sustainable Transport Policy consultation document and along with it, an on-line questionnaire.

This is an ideal opportunity for those who really understand the issues to voice their views—we can be sure that those who haven't given peak oil or climate change more than a passing thought will be happy to demand wider roads and more underpasses for their beloved armoured people-carriers to clog up!

Please take this opportunity to put your feelings on record for Connétable Mike Jackson (Minister for Transport and Technical Services) to consider. Here are some of the points that one J-CAN member made recently when filling in the form:

  1. More buses on all routes so that standing-room-only is not the norm in peak hours.* A flat-rate low fare such as 50p per journey. Introduce mini-buses on new country routes. Some of these can have flexible routes and be responsive to mobile phone messages or texts. These are much more socially and environmentally beneficial than taxi cabs.
  2. Better facilities for cyclists—cycle paths and decent, secure, covered cycle racks. A good bike can cost £1000, they are not kids' toys. (Update - just look at what the Japanese have!)
  3. Pedestrianise the whole of St Helier inside the ring road, with facilities in this area for cyclists, minibuses, and electric cars and delivery vehicles. Exceptions, in the short term, to allow motorists to get to and from the current car parks and for existing goods vehicles to make deliveries out of hours.
  4. Legalise and encourage existing electric cars into the island, rather than preventing them from being registered here as at present. There are electric goods vehicles in England now too.
  5. Increase the requirements placed on non-compliant road users (i.e. petrol and diesel powered cars, motor bikes and goods vehicles) to pass a local MOT-like test regularly and to meet strict emissions, noise and safety requirements.

We cannot be content with trying to reduce car use by 15% during term-time rush hours, but should be planning how to reduce local carbon emissions by 80% across the board. This is in accord with international consensus on climate change. The UK's Ed Miliband told parliament that the 2006 Stern report showed that the costs of doing nothing "are greater than the costs of acting," in 2008. We have until the end of November to get this across to our local politicians.

Update

* "We're not going to be able to persuade people out of their cars to go visit a restaurant or friends or whatever unless we provide those places [on buses]" said Caroline Anderson, director of transport in the island, according to BBC Jersey. The transport department is working with the bus company to provide a better service, she added. Well, let's hope they make some progress soon.

States of Jersey 'must set climate targets'

BBC News interviewed Mark Forskitt today (29th September) about the J-CAN 'Countdown to Copenhagen' petition. "We are a wealthy society and, as goes with wealth, we consume things; consumption and carbon emission are closely correlated. We are part of a global community and we need to play our part," Mark said. We have over 500 signatures in already: many more are being collected on sheets around the island. It's good to see people beginning to take notice.

DurrellWildlife and bbcjersey were already tweeting about the live interview and our petition during the morning it was aired.

The petition calls for the States of Jersey Council of Ministers to "give detailed consideration to these targets and report back to the States within six months of the closing date of the conference on how they intend to respond". Please sign it if you see it, or download a copy and get your customers, work colleagues and friends to sign up too.

Jersey Festival of Natural Living

J-CAN had a stand at the Jersey Festival of Natural Living from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th September 2009. We answered questions, told people about our current campaigns, handed out leaflets and collected lots of new signatures on our Countdown to Copenhagen petition.

One of the upcoming Channel Island events we had information about was the Introduction to Permaculture Course that will run in Guernsey from 23rd – 25th October 2009

Countdown to Copenhagen

J-CAN volunteers collecting signatures regarding Jersey's response to the Copenhagen summit

The Guardian recently described the UN Copenhagen Summit as "the most important meeting in human history". J-CAN has a petition to help focus minds here in Jersey. To begin with, we collected nearly 200 signatures at St Lawrence Market and in King Street on Friday and Saturday, 4th - 5th September.

Have you noticed the countdown timer on the right-hand side of these pages? (If it's not visible for you, it is possible that you have JavaScript disabled.) If you would like to display this little 'widget' on your web page or blog, have a look at the instructions for what you need to copy and paste to make it appear.

Other campaigns

We have recently sent a considered response to the States of Jersey following their consultation document regarding local environmental taxes.

At our last meeting, we also discussed the energy and carbon costs of drinking imported, bottled water in the island.

Keep up to date with our campaigns.

In the summer time…

The weather is getting hotter and so is the interior of your car! Now is the perfect time of year to leave it at home and try out an alternative method of getting to and from work - ever tried walking, jogging or cycling the commute? Well if not we have some handy hints and tips on how to get going on our website. Click on the transport group to learn more!

No reduction in island energy use

BBC News have reported that "People in Jersey are still using the same amount of energy despite campaigns to be more energy efficient and an increase in fuel prices". The 2008 figures show no overall improvement over the year before despite the States and Jersey Electricity launching an energy efficiency scheme and making grants available. Even the Environment Department was surprised by the figures.

Surely we can do better than this?

Public meeting

Andrew Casebow, the Guernsey States Agriculture and Environment Adviser and researcher on climate change and sustainable island development at Cambridge University spoke at a J-CAN public meeting held on Monday 22nd June at St Paul’s Centre, St Helier. He spoke on Climate Action in the Channel Islands—Responding to Climate Change. Follow the link for more details.

DEFRA predictions

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published the UK climate projections for 2009, with specific detail on the Channel Islands. Their key findings for the Channel Islands consider a range of possibilities for low, medium and high climate-change emissions and the climatic effects to be felt in the islands during the 2020s, the 2050s and the 2080s. This is "the fifth generation of climate information for the UK, and is the most comprehensive package produced to date. For the first time it provides probabilistic projections of climate change based on quantification of the known sources of uncertainty" they say.

The best we can hope for, if worldwide emissions are reduced are kept low it says, is a 1.2°C (winter) to 1.5°C (summer) increase in mean temperatures, a 7% increase in winter mean precipitation and a 7% reduction in summer rain during the 2020s. The worst is far gloomier. Click on the maps on their website for more detail and further predictions.

Guernsey Climate Action Network

G-CAN has been in existence for longer than J-CAN. The G-CAN website gives details of their activities, initiatives, events etc. It also has a forum where the issues du jour are debated. We are very pleased recently to have appeared on their radar and we also offer fraternal and sororital greetings from across the water! Hopefully with so much in common, and two separate approaches to such similar issues, we have a lot of mutual support and pooling of resources to look forward to.

Coming up…