You may remember us asking you to help us put pressure on PM David Cameron last week to show his support for 30% reduction in emissions target in his environmental speech this Thursday 26th April. Well so far over 13,500 people have emailed the prime minister, including me, plus both Nick Clegg and Ed Davey showed support for an EU wide move to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% on Friday in the Guardian.
As I am sure you are already aware it is clearer than ever that we urgently need to take ambitious action if we are to keep emissions under control and avoid the catastrophic effects of unchecked climate change on wildlife and people.
Thank you to all of you who have already stepped up and sent an email to show that the UK supports the need for greater carbon emissions reduction
If you haven’t taken the time to email our Prime Minister, David Cameron, yet then please do it today, do it now! Together we can make a difference, together we can save nature.
If you use Twitter, and you have an extra minute, you can also step up by tweeting Number 10 as well. We have written a few sample tweets that you can use below:
@Number10Gov Please continue to support a 30% emissions reduction target & do all you can to persuade EU countries to adopt it #Ambition30
@Number10Gov Pls show support for 30% emissions target in your speech on 26 April & lead the way for EU countries to adopt it #Ambition30
@Number10Gov Climate Change is the biggest threat we face, do all you can to build EU support for 30% Emissions reduction target #Ambition30
So, I took last week to explain the RSPB’s position on wind energy, its importance in our efforts to tackle climate change, potential impact on birds and wildlife as well as addressing the issue of cost and efficiency.
And now I have an announcement. We are, today, unveiling plans to build a wind turbine at our UK headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
As one of the UK’s leading environmental organisations, we’re working hard to reduce our own carbon emissions. In line with the Climate Change Act I mentioned earlier in the week, we have our own targets and plan to reduce our carbon footprint by 80% by 2050.
And this project is a massive step towards achieving that target. In fact, the proposed turbine will generate around two thirds of the RSPB’s electricity needs across all of our UK operations.
We are working in partnership with green energy company, Ecotricity and together will shortly be submitting a planning application for a meteorological mast to be erected close to The Lodge nature reserve.
This is the first official step in determining if this site is suitable for a wind turbine but as I'm sure you can imagine, we would not be considering this proposal if we thought it would cause harm to the wildlife of our nature reserve or local area. We have spent the past two years undertaking breeding and wintering bird surveys and continue to survey bat populations.
What next?Well, if the site is found to be suitable, the proposed wind turbine will be erected, at the earliest, in autumn 2013. If environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated for are discovered however, the project will not be progressed.
As outlined the project is still in its feasibility stage and consequently, we will be gathering new information over the coming months. Visit our website to find out more - including details of drop in sessions that you might be interested in attending, particularly if you live locally - and to stay abreast of news around this exciting project.
Please do feel free to ask questions below or alternatively, email email@example.com.
We’ve talked at length on this blog recently about the massive threat climate change poses to birds and other wildlife. Science is revealing example after example of birds, mammals and whole ecosystems that are being harmed by a warming world.
Not only that but, we depend on the earth’s natural systems for our food, resources and ultimately our survival. While Europe’s decision makers debate the politics around cutting our carbon targets, millions of vulnerable people are facing increasing drought and severe weather conditions across the world. And of course we’re expecting our own fair share of drought here in the UK. I heard last week when the hosepipe ban began that it would take six weeks of solid rain just to get us back on track! Personally I find this incredible – it definitely sets some alarm bells ringing!
It is clearer than ever that we urgently need to take ambitious action if we are to keep emissions under control and avoid the catastrophic effects of unchecked climate change.
Today we have a chance to do exactly that...
On 26th April, our Prime Minister, David Cameron will deliver an environmental speech to global energy ministers at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in London. This speech is a crucial moment in the fight against climate change. We know our Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, has recently shown his backing for more ambitious climate targets but now we need the Prime Minister to take this message to the international stage.
The story so far tells us that the EU is currently committed to a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2020, but scientists agree that this reduction target has to be at least 30% if we are to stay within safe levels of climate change.
Today we can put pressure on our Prime Minster to publically show his support for the 30% target and to persuade the rest of Europe to back a more ambitious emissions reduction target.
As a founding member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition we are working together with the campaigning organisation 38 degrees, and partner NGOs including Friends of the Earth and WWF to reach as many people as possible. This is your chance to step up and call on Mr Cameron to show that the UK supports the need for greater carbon emission reduction.
Please click here and email the Prime Minister today! And, don’t forget to tell your friends to do it as well! Together we can make a difference.
The Guardian has published an article on the effects of windfarms on birds that despite a slightly unfortunate headline presents an excellent overview of recently published research by the RSPB (see the full research paper.)
The study focused on upland windfarm sites in Scotland and the North of England, and shows that windfarms can have some quite different impacts on some of the species that occur on these sites, particularly during construction. For example, the study found that populations of skylark and stonechat increased but populations of snipe and curlew reduced during windfarm construction. It was also found that, while populations of some species recovered after construction, others – particularly Curlew - did not seem to recover during the study period.
The study provides further evidence to highlight the importance of siting windfarms away from sites with sensitive species. RSPB will continue to work with the windfarm industry and the UK authorities to ensure that renewable energy, including windfarms, can be developed without harming the UK’s wildlife. Our experience shows that, through careful siting and design and good construction practice, windfarms can be developed without causing significant conservation concerns.
We have all seen stationary wind turbines on a calm day, and even on some very windy days. It’s a fact that wind farms only produce about a quarter to a third of the electricity that they would if wind speeds were ideal at all times and no maintenance was ever necessary. However this does not mean wind farms do not make a significant contribution to electricity supplies. It is rare for the wind to stop blowing across the whole country, so even when one wind farm is not producing, others may be operating at full capacity.
Before a wind farm is built the average wind speeds for the site are measured. The developers would not go ahead if a significant amount of electricity could not be generated and sold. Fortunately for the UK, we have some of the best wind power resources in Europe. Wind now provides more electricity than hydro power in Scotland - in 2011 it supplied around 18% of the amount of electricity consumed. Five years earlier the figure was just 5%. More details are available here.
If a wind turbine or power station operates at full capacity all day every day, its ‘load factor’ is 100%. Because wind speeds vary, the average load factor for UK wind farms in 2009 was 27%. This may sound low, but it is worth noting that even fossil fuel burning power stations and nuclear power do not operate at full capacity all of the time; they need maintenance and they have to respond to electricity demand. Some coal fired power stations are operated for restricted hours to limit the pollution they cause. The ‘load factor’ for coal-fired power stations in 2009 was 39%, for gas-fired power stations it was 63% and for nuclear it was 66%. More details are available here on page 123.
So next time you see a wind turbine sitting idle, don’t assume the wind farm is not effective at generating electricity.
What are your thoughts?