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Climate change is a buzzword of this century, appearing everywhere, but is also a term that often is not completely understood.
Climate is the long-term, average trends of meteorological statistics such as decadal levels of rainfall, temperature and wind. It should not be confused with the shorter-term, localised weather, which is the here-and-now conditions that can be witnessed changing throughout the day.
So climate change describes changes in the state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decades to millions of years. Global warming, yet another jargonistic phrase, refers to the trend of rising average surface temperatures (shown below) that has been occuring since the mid 20th century, when the rise of mechanised industry led to increased Greenhouse Gas emissions. The Greenhouse Effect is the globe’s response to these elevated gas levels and is drives the rise in global temperatures.
What are the causes and likely effects of climate change?
The impacts that climate change could and do have on our existing ways of life mean that understanding and predicting climatic trends is of high priority today. Changes to sea level, wet weather, temperatures and extreme weather events are scientifically associated with the increased amounts of Greenhouse Gases (GHG). If we continue to emit the GHG into the atmosphere, the effects could be drastic and damaging. There are a range of GHG’s typically they converted into their relative value in carbon dioxide or CO2
The key changes for the Forest of Dean are described below:
Figures and Statistics
Hotter and Drier Summers, Milder and Wetter Winters
· Summer warming by 2.5 to 3.1°C by 2050 and 3.0 to 5.0°C by 2080
· Annual warming by 2.2 to 2.8°C by 2050 and 2.8 to 4.4 °C by 2080
· Greater night-time than day-time warming in winter
· Greater day-time than night-time warming in summer
· Summers as warm as 2003 become more common
· Winters 11 to 15% wetter by 2050 and 15 to 25% wetter by 2080
· Summers 13 to 18% drier by 2050 and 14 to 27% drier by 2080
· Greater contrast between summer (drier) and winter (wetter) seasons
· Winter and spring precipitation becomes more erratic
· Summers as dry as 1995 (37% <average rainfall) become more common
Download a full Forest of Dean summary here: Climate Change in the Forest of Dean Summary
Within the Southwest, increased flooding from climate change is particularly of concern. Events such as the 2007 Gloucestershire floods could become more common as heavy rainfall events increase. Drought, and therefore water management, will become an issue as drier conditions ensue, and building design and layout may have to adapt as higher temperatures make living less comfortable.
From an ecological point of view, species and habitat change or loss will occur as climatic conditions change. Trees, flowers and animals that are familiar sights now may disappear for good once temperatures and precipitation levels rise beyond their comfort zone. The reverse is also true as new species will become resident. This could be both positive and negative: grapes for wine could be cultivated in areas currently un-suitable, but we could see more insects that carry diseases like malaria and Lymes disease.
So it is important that we all take action to reduce the causes of climate change, green house gas emissions and prepare for a changing climate.
Action is commonly divided into two areas:
Mitigation – Action to reduce Co2 emissions and therefore reduce the rate and significance of change (National indicator 186).
Adaptation –By undertaking mitigation we can reduce the future impacts and severity of Climatic Change. However scientists agree that our climate will change now due to past GHG emissions. Adaptation is developing ways of preparing to cope with those changes (National Indicator 188).
In November 2008 the Climate Change Act was passed, introducing the world’s first long term legally binding framework to tackle the dangers of climate change. The act requires the UK to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2050, and reductions in CO2 emissions of at least 26% by 2020, against a 1990 baseline.
Taking a simplistic approach, a reduction in emissions of 80% over 60 years represents an average annual reduction of 1.33%. However, between 1990 and 2006 the reduction achieved was only 6.4%, leaving 73.6% to achieve over 44 years – an average of 1.67% per annum
Figures show that between 2005 and 2006 (latest figures available) show an overall increase of 2.2% in Gloucestershire’s per capita emissions.
The Council is working in a number of ways.
Firstly it has set an ambitious target of reducing its emissions by 25% over the next five years.
In July 2008 the Forest of Dean District Council successfully initiated a Carbon Management programme. Working with the Carbon Trust, we set ourselves an ambitious but achievable target to reduce the amount of carbon emitted as a direct result of our operations. This target was set over a five years period and by March 2013 we aim to have reduced our carbon emissions by 25%.
Our baseline year 2007/2008 showed that we had emissions of 1,315 tons of CO2.
This figure was calculated by collecting all the energy bills from our offices, leisure centres, public toilets, car parks and the total miles driven by members and staff on Council business.
In order to meet our target we need to reduce our carbon emissions by 66 tons every year. With this in mind, we outlined a Carbon Management Plan that highlighted a number of projects that could help to reduce our carbon emissions. These projects included:
- Printer rationalisation
- Replacing hand driers with new, efficient Dyson Airblades
- Improving the insulation in the Coleford offices
- Revising opening and meeting times in the Coleford offices
- Upgrading lights in the Coleford Offices
- Server virtualisation
- Installing variable speed drives in leisure centre air-handling units
- Installing voltage optimisation units
- Using electric or more fuel efficient pool cars
- Assessing energy management at all sites
All of these projects have been investigated. Some have been ruled out as they are not an efficient use of resources, some have been implemented and some are still being reviewed. We are also constantly looking for other ideas to help in the coming years.
At the end of year one, our carbon emission was 1,265tons. This was a decrease of 50 tons or 3.8%. For year 2009 - 2010, our carbon emissions were 1,193 tons. This is a decrease of 72 tons or 5.7% compared to the previous year and a saving of 122 tons and 9.3% compared to our base year.
From the reporting year March 2010 to April 2011 the Government has asked Councils to report their Carbon emissions (Greenhouse Gas emissions) in a specific way, using a different methodology to that used in the Council’s Carbon Management Plan. For further details see http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/business-efficiency/reporting/
Most significantly the Council’s emissions now include those used by contractors, working on the Council’s behalf collecting household waste. Therefore overall emissions have increased in comparison to the Council’s Carbon Management Plan and it is not possible to directly compare figures with those of previous years. The Council’s greenhouse gas emissions reports are listed below:
Local businesses and organisations are already helping to tackle climate change. The Forest of Dean District Council has been working with the LSP (Local Strategic Partnership) to highlight the great work being done by Forest of Dean businesses and organisations to mitigate against and adapt to climate change. These case studies can be found below;
In short and awful lot. Saving energy and therefore Co2 emmisions is a first step, its likely to save you money too.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
- UK Climate Predictions
- Act on Co2
- Severn and Wye Energy Agency
- Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
- Information on making your home more energy effient