PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL READ ABOUT GLASTONBURY 2019

This article looks into Glastonbury 2019 and what actions individuals can take to make it the most sustainable music festival in the world.

love the farm

 

At age 16 I went to Glastonbury 2007 and I instantly fell in love with the festival. It is a big festival, with an unrivalled quantity and quality of entertainment on offer.

But big events have big impacts on the environment and Glastonbury is no different in this regard. The sustainability agenda at Glastonbury is driven under the agenda of Love The Farm Leave No Trace. There is also the slogan that runs underneath of Reuse Reduce Respect.

I would say that whilst these slogans have been good in raising the profile of the festival’s impact on the environment, you still see frequent instances of behaviour that is detrimental to the environment.

green pledge

Linked to the love the farm leave no trace slogan is the green pledge that everyone who buys a ticket is made to agree to.  You can find an image of these below.

green pledges

If you are reading this and you are going this year, please try and adhere to the pledge that you made.

Taking your tent home saves you money and saves the organisers having to divert money away from entertainment and spending it on clean up costs.

Using bins is fairly common standard practice. If you had friends over for a BBQ, you wouldn’t like it if they littered all over your property.

Glastonbury probably has more recycling bins, with good quality labelling than any other festival, please use them.

Urinating on the land is probably not something that people think would be extremely problematic, but when you multiply that by 200,000 attendees, even if only a small percentage of them urinate on the land, this leads to serious problems. You wouldn’t like it if people did it in your house, so please do not do it on the farm.

Glastonbury has been doing loads on single use plastics, even going as far as banning plastic drinks bottles at this year’s edition. Please bring a re-usable one with you to help reduce the volume of waste that is generated.

These are fairly simple ambitions, but if they were implemented by everyone that is attending or working at Glastonbury it would make a real difference.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a festival a sustainable festival?

Let’s stay connected

 

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

HOW PIGOUVIAN TAXES COULD CHANGE THE WORLD

This article looks into Pigouvian taxes and explores how they could change the world. Pigouvian taxes are named after English economist Arthur Pigou (1877–1959) who also developed the concept of economic externalities.

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In lay man’s terms, a Pigouvian tax is a government cost on activities that create socially harmful externalities. An externality is an activity that creates a negative effect on others in a society but not necessarily the person who does that activity.

A Pigouvian tax, aims to correct an undesirable or inefficient market outcome. It does this by being set equal to the social cost of the negative externalities.

For those of you who like graphs there is a very helpful graph below that shows how it achieves this.

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Pigou’s recommendation was for taxes to be placed on the offending producer, proportional to the damage that they inflict. This could be applied equally well to both social and environmental problems.

Hopefully you can see where I am going with this, as there is a lot of similarity to the polluter pays principle, which I was writing about recently. You can find a link to this article below.

THE RENAISSANCE OF THE POLLUTER PAYS PRINCIPLE

What you don’t want is blanket taxation that punishes people who are not responsible for negative social end economic outcomes as much as those who are responsible for them.

Pigouvian taxes are also important for their focus on making amends for the externalities that are caused, but not necessarily going any further into punishment territory. The aim of a Pigouvian tax is to cost the producer an amount equivalent to the harm they caused others.

This makes them a more politically acceptable form of taxation. After all, who could be against holding those responsible for externalities accountable for their actions?

A great example is beginning to emerge of clean air zones in urban areas, where drivers are charged for bringing the most polluting vehicles into urban areas. This has developed very quickly into an important phenomenon. But the driver behind these zones is principally poor air quality as opposed to the climate change impact of these vehicles.

An altogether different approach would be to apply Pigouvian taxation to the problem of climate change. This would come in the form of a carbon tax.

We have briefly discussed the idea for this before in my article on Elon Musk’s perspective on climate change. You can find a link to this article below.

ELON MUSK ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Elon’s suggestion is for a non-partisan revenue neutral carbon tax. This would mean that only those using a high level of carbon would pay an increased level of taxation.

Carbon taxes have been implemented in the past. However, the lack of success in past schemes is more to do with the low-price set for carbon. These schemes could not be described as Pigouvian as they were not set at an equal rate to the externality of climate change.

If properly applied to the problem of climate change, Pigouvian taxation could be the missing link that drives carbon emissions down in the timeframe that we need this to happen by.

What you need to know

This article looked into Pigouvian taxation and how it could change the world.

A Pigouvian tax is a tax that is applied to a negative activity in proportion to the damage that it occurs.

If applied to the problem of climate change, it could be revolutionary in making those responsible for carbon emissions, responsible for paying for the damage done.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the potential of Pigouvian taxes?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

3 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT AIR QUALITY MONITORING

This article looks into my recent experimentation with portable air quality monitoring.

Monitor

The theme for World Environment Day 2019 was air pollution, so I decided to get involved by buying a portable air quality monitor and taking some measurements to see what I could find. Here are 3 things that  learned about air quality motioning this week.

1.  Calibration is key

I rarely read the instructions when I buy a new product. I am normally too excited and rush into using it straight away. This is one occasion when reading the instructions is strongly advised.

For the Temtop M2000C monitor that I bought PM is read straight away, with no warm up period.

For CO2 readings there is a 3-minute warm up period. Do not make the mistake I did of rushing to take readings without also performing the 30 minute calibration. My initial impression, is without this calibration period, you will get CO2 readings of roughly double what they actually are.

2. You need multiple readings

You also need multiple readings. One reading at one snapshot in time will only be able to tell you so much.

Even a short experiment that I conducted today along the metropolitan line showed that some of the readings that I was collecting were higher than the otherwise stated air pollution risk of low for London.

So multiple readings over multiple locations over long periods of time are needed to get a full picture of what is actually going on.

3. You can’t manage what you don’t measure

It’s an old management adage that still holds true today. But accurate measurement of air quality in urban areas is key to developing strategies that will solve this problem.

It is reported that there are 100 air quality monitoring stations in London which if you take London’s population to be 8 million, means that there is 1 station for every 80,000 people. To me this doesn’t sound like there is enough and that much more granular data is needed, that is fed back in real time so that people can act upon it.

What you need to know

This article looked into air quality monitoring and my first experience of it this week.

If you are not satisfied with the level of reporting out there, I would definitely recommend buying your own monitor.

Ultimately monitoring is only one side of the coin, but having accurate data to base decisions on is crucial.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done about air quality monitoring?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE RENAISSANCE OF THE POLLUTER PAYS PRINCIPLE

This article looks into the polluter pays principle and its modern day renaissance.

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The Renaissance was a fervent period of European cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” following the Middle Ages. This took place from the 14th century to the 17th century. The Renaissance promoted the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature and art. A fantastic example of this is Sandro Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus, which is pictured above. It looked great when it was pained in 1845 and it still looks great now.

The polluter pays principle is a really important aspect of environmental law. It originated from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It is a principle that if properly enacted and enforced, could be transformational in changing the relationship between man and the natural world.

The essence of the polluter pays principle is to make the party responsible for producing pollution, responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment. It is a simple principle, but its translation into reality has been underwhelming.

However, there has been one area in particular where the polluter pays principle has begun to flourish. Just as The Renaissance saw an explosion in activity in the arenas of art, architecture, thinking and writing. Perhaps this new modern renaissance of the polluter pays principle in dealing with urban air pollution could be the catalyst for applying the principle more widely to deal with other environmental problems.

Let’s now turn to a few UK examples of how the polluter pays principle is being applied to urban air pollution.

London

London already had a non charging low emission zone that covered most of Greater London. But as with most things in life, money talks and the impact of this non charging zone can be described as marginal at best.

What has really caught the public’s attention is the recently introduced Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) that went live in April 2019.

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This is coming in two parts, which you can see from the picture above. The inner zone that went live in April 2019 and the expanded zone that will go live in October 2021.

The most polluting vehicles that do not meet the standards required of the ULEZ will incur the following charges:

  • £12.50 for private cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds
  • £12.50 for taxis
  • £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs

I think it was the £100 charge for larger vehicles that was really driving interest in the ULEZ. But pollution from HGV’s are estimated to be responsible for £40 billion worth of costs in Europe. So, it is only fair that they pay for the damages that they incur.

Leeds

Leeds is another city in the UK that will be introducing a clean air charging zone. It will go live in January 2020 and cover most of the city centre.

Leeds ULEZ

Non-compliant vehicles will incur the following charges:

  • No charge for private cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds
  • £12.50 for taxis (or £50 per week for Leeds-licensed vehicles)
  • £50 for buses, coaches and HGVs

Again, just like London, this is a very positive step forward that will see those most responsible for urban air pollution paying for the damage that they create. My only disappointment is that there is no charge for private cars, but perhaps that will come with time.

Birmingham

Birmingham also has plans for a charging clean air zone that have been approved by the government.

Birmingham

This scheme will charge non-compliant vehicles at the following rate:

  • £8 for private cars and taxis
  • £50 for buses, coaches and HGVs
  • Motorcycles and mopeds are expected to be exempt

The zone in Birmingham will be introduced from 1 January 2020 on or inside the inner ring road.

Heathrow

Heathrow is neither a city or a local authority, but they have drawn up their own plans to improve air quality around the airport.

This would come into force in 2022, the Heathrow charging ULEZ will see vehicle standards identical to those of the London ULEZ applied for cars and private hire vehicles entering car parks and drop-off areas at any of the airport’s terminals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This policy was only announced in late May 2019 so precise figures for charges have not yet come about. But it is believed that a fee of £10 – £15 is being considered. It is also rumoured that black cabs will be exempt from the charge, which is something that I do not believe should be the case. The cost of their air pollution needs to be internalised so as to make public transport more attractive.

Elsewhere

It is also worth pointing out that there are very advanced discussions for charging clean air zones in Bath, Sheffield and Manchester. However, the exact details of how these schemes will work has yet to be decided upon.

What you need to know

 This article looked into the polluter pays principle and its modern day renaissance.

The Renaissance was a period of rebirth and rejuvenation.

The polluter pays principle has struggled to flourish in the years since it was first conceived in 1992. But perhaps with urban air pollution we are seeing a problem that is well suited to being solved by the principle.

Time will tell how successful these schemes are. If they are successful, there is nothing to stop the polluter pays principle from being applied to other environmental problems.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the polluter pays principle?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

THAT WHICH YOU DO NOT HATE YOU WILL EVENTUALLY TOLERATE

This article looks into 3 environmental problems and asks the question; do we hate these environmental problems enough? Or is there an underlying tolerance that is allowing them to persist?

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We talked a lot about solutions for the last 20 weeks as part of my series looking into the top methods identified in Project Drawdown. The other side of the coin to solutions is problems. Without problems, solutions wouldn’t be necessary.

I came across the quotation in the title recently and I was really struck by it. It is often attributed to Malcom X, however, after a few online searches I couldn’t find much evidence that he had actually said it. Regardless, it is a powerful quotation and it is highly relevant to the debate around human impacts on the environment.

Let’s look into 3 key environmental problems from 3 different ecosystems to see what we can find.

Air

Air pollution is the silent killer that has crept from a position of obscurity to one of the most pressing environmental problems worldwide.

One look at the recent research coming out of the WHO confirms this.

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There are simply shocking statistics showing that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.

This results in an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.

The amazing thing is, that despite being faced with what is clearly an existential problem, whilst there are some solutions beginning to come online, they are not adequate enough to fully solve this problem.

Land

The tropical rainforests are one of the most outstanding ecosystems on earth. Despite this, they are under threat and have been for some time.

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Research shows that tropical rainforests lose an estimated 93,000 square miles each year due to deforestation. This is a complex issue with many underlying economic drivers.

This is a fairly well publicised environmental problem that I would have expected most people to have heard of.

Yet the problem persists. Perhaps we do not hate the destruction that is taking place enough. We have allowed ourselves to slip into a form of tolerance, where problems such as this are allowed to persist.

Sea

The Australian Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system and the biggest living structure on the planet.

coral

Despite its incredible economic and environmental benefits that it has brought to the country, it has been allowed to be damaged, with some estimates putting the figure as high as 50%.

Admittedly, much of this damage has been caused by bleaching which is itself caused by climate change. This is obviously a problem that Australia alone cannot solve but you might have expected such extensive damage to a national treasure to lead to a climate renaissance in Australia. Sadly, this has not been the case.

It appears as if a subtle, underlying tolerance of this environmental problem has been allowed to develop.

What you need to know

This article looked at 3 environmental problems and asked whether we hate these environmental problems enough?

We looked at air pollution, which has become a silent killer in cities worldwide.

We looked at tropical deforestation, which persists despite warnings for decades.

We looked at coral bleaching and the damages to the Great Barrier Reef.

All of these are well publicised examples of environmental destruction. If enough people hated them, they would have been stopped by now. There is clearly an underlying tolerance that is allowing them to persist.

It is up to everyone to make sure that the future is not like the past and that these problems are solved as quickly as possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to solve these big environmental problems?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

 

#01 Refrigerant Management

This article looks into refrigerant management as a climate change solution. It is based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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I have been really pleased with the way this 20-part series looking into the top 20 climate change solutions has gone. Whether you began reading at the beginning or joined part way through, your support is greatly appreciated.

We have finally arrived at the number one climate change solution. I remember when I first read Drawdown back in 2017, at first, I was surprised to see refrigerant management come in at number one. But then after reading the section and thinking about it, it totally makes sense. Many refrigerant gasses have a potency that makes their successful management key to efforts to reversing global warming.

The authors begin with the following helpful explanation:

Every refrigerator, supermarket case, and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat, making it possible to chill food and keep buildings and vehicles cool.

The rise of refrigerants that cause global warming are closely tied to the demise of the refrigerants that depleted the ozone layer, as the authors explain:

Their replacement chemicals, primarily hydroflurocarbons (HFCs), have minimal deleterious effect on the ozone layer, but their capacity to warm the atmosphere is one thousand to nine thousand times greater than that of carbon dioxide.

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed refrigerant management to be ranked as the most powerful climate change solution by Project Drawdown. They estimate that refrigerant management could reduce CO2 emissions by 89.74 gigatons by 5050, for a net cost of $902.8 billion. This is certainly a massive solution.

The Kigali accord was a 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which dealt with ozone depleting substances. The new amendment is focussed on eliminating HFC’s, with targets for developed and developing countries. Much rests on the success of this initiative. As the authors explain:

“Scientists estimate the accord will reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit”

The authors point towards the key step in the process where most emissions occur:

“Ninety percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life.”

The authors also highlight a tragic relationship between refrigeration and the environment:

“A great irony of global warming is that the means of keeping cool make warming worse.”

What you need to know

This article looked into refrigerant management as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

What is clear, is that refrigeration as it currently stands is an activity that has the potential, if left unchecked to drive massive amounts of climate change between now and 2050.

However, management practices, both currently available and under development should mean that solutions are available to tackle a problem of this magnitude. The question, as with all environmental problems is whether we have the will and the organisational skills to make it happen.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of  refrigerant management as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#02 Wind Turbines (Onshore)

This article looks into wind turbines as a climate change solution. It is based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.

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This is a solution that many would have expected to rank well in the Drawdown analysis. But how many would have predicted that onshore wind would have been ranked as the 2nd most effective solution to address climate change? Interestingly offshore wind ranked 22nd on the list of Drawdown solutions.

This is certainly an interesting time for renewable energy. In a recent article in Grist that you can find here, they revealed that in the United States solar and wind power has quintupled in a decade.

In the recently released IEA World Energy Outlook, they revealed that wind energy is set to become the EU’s largest power source in the late 2020s, overtaking coal, nuclear & gas. On a global scale, they are modelling that wind power deployment will continue to grow rapidly, reaching 14% of global capacity by 2040, or around 1 700 GW. There is certainly a lot of momentum behind the renewable energy transition right now.

The authors behind Drawdown open their section with the following powerful statement:

Wind energy is at the crest of initiatives to address global warming in the coming three decades.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed offshore wind to be ranked as the second most effective solution by Project Drawdown. They calculate that an increase in onshore wind from 2.9 percent of world electricity use to 21.6 percent by 2050 could reduce CO2 emissions by 84.9 gigatons. This could be achieved for a net cost of $1.23 Trillion, but produce $7.4 Trillion in net savings. This is certainly a massive solution that could make a real difference to how successful we are at addressing climate change.

Harnessing the wind is anything but new, as the authors make clear:

Human beings have harnessed the power of wind for millennia, capturing breezes, gusts, and gales to send mariners and their cargo down rivers and across seas or to pump water and grind grain.”

Wind is a technology heavily dependent on geography, but in many places, it is formidable, as the authors make clear:

In many locales, wind is either competitive with or less expensive than coal-generated electricity.”

Wind farms can also operate alongside other land uses:

Grazing, farming, recreation, or conservation can happen simultaneously with power generation.

The scalability of wind technology is also highly impressive:

It takes one year or less to build a wind farm, quickly producing energy and a return on investment.”

Just like in other examples inside the top 20, perverse subsidies affect the energy sector, as the authors explain:

Outsize subsidies make fossil fuels look less expensive, obscuring wind power’s cost competitiveness, and they give fossil fuels an incumbent advantage, making investment more attractive.

The authors close with the following powerful statement:

For the world, the decision is simple. Invest in the future or in the past.”

What you need to know

This article looked into wind turbines as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

The article made clear that onshore wind is an extremely powerful solution with the potential to revolutionise the energy sector and prevent massive amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

Its not a new technique, the wind has been harnessed for millennia. New innovations have seen significant quality improvements alongside falling costs for wind turbines.

However perverse subsidies continue to direct capital flows towards fossil fuels. A free market in energy would go a long way to unleashing the potential of wind power. It is already on its way to becoming the quickest to assemble and cheapest form of energy.

Overall, an effective response to climate change requires wind turbines in both their onshore and offshore varieties to play a significant role.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of wind turbines as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby