Climate change

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Climate change

News and views from the RSPB on climate change and what you can do about it.
  • Bunting for buntings, bluebells and butterflies

    Spring is definitely in full swing and it has been putting us in a distinctly festival and creative mood. But much of our best loved wildlife, including Spring migrants, could be affected by climate change.

    For the last year, we’ve been working with our friends at The Climate Coalition to speak up about climate change. On Valentine’s Day we helped to Show the love for the things we wanted to protect from climate change.

    Now the countdown begins and there are just two months to go until Speak Up For The Love Of. This will be the largest ever climate lobby of Parliament.

    On 17 June ten thousand people will head to Westminster to tell the new Government loud and clear that we all care about something that will be affected by climate change. As they start out on a new parliament and prepare for crucial UN climate talks in Paris in December this is a great opportunity to get our message across.

    We need MPs to act on their promises and take the necessary steps to help us reach a low carbon future that will be better for wildlife and people.

    For more information and to sign up, head here.

    There’s not long to go, so we’re getting ready and putting our creative energy to good use by making bunting that will help to give the day a festival feel.

    If you’d like some help making your bunting, we’ve put together a handy set of instructions that you can follow: 

    1.     Get hold of some old material: unwanted clothes, fairtrade cotton or anything you can get your hands on.

    2.     Cut out triangles using the template shape below, or if you’re feeling adventurous make your own bigger triangles. But it works best if the triangles are all of the same size and if they’re isosceles.

    3.     Write a message about what you want to protect from climate change – be creative and decorate as many flags as you can.

    4.     Join together with others in your family, school or community to create your string of bunting. Sew or attach the flags onto a long piece of material or ribbon, leaving gaps half as wide as the flags (For super neat bunting you can use bias binding instead of ribbon and fold it over the top of the flags).

    Why not try:

    -       knitting or crocheting your bunting?

    -       having a bunting party?

    -       making your bunting out of something that represents your area (like a sports strip or tartan)?

    -       getting your workplace, community or sports team together to decorate a flag?

    Whether you’re coming or not, you can get involved by making some bunting and sending us a photo of your preparations. You could tweet us your photo (@Natures_Voice) using #bunting and #speakup.

    Like us, you will be able to use your bunting to engage with your MP on the day and speak about the things you love.

    And if you can’t make it along on the day, use the power of the internet to find someone near you who’ll be coming on 17 June, and give it to them to bring along. It will go to good use decorating the lobby venue and the stage for the rally, and showing MPs that thousands of people care about climate change and its effects on wildlife and people.

  • The last Easter Egg?

    The Easter holidays are coming to a close. All that remains of the chocolate egg that I treated myself to are a few, disappointing crumbs staring at me from their foil nest every time I open the cupboard.

    This slight twinge of sadness I feel every time I rummage for rice or stock cubes is, for me, symbolic of a more underlying malaise about the future of our Easter eggs.

    When I normally write about climate change I talk about a future bereft of many of the birds that are iconic of the UK countryside. But today, I’m bringing to you the sad story of a future without chocolate.

    Our friends at The Climate Coalition have made this useful video to illustrate how such a future might look and feel.

    Temperature rises as a result of climate change in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana could wreck cocoa harvests and send chocolate prices soaring, threatening our future supplies of chocolate.

    If you, like me, love chocolate and don’t want to see it threatened by climate change, you might want to speak up about this.

    As a belated Easter present for you, we’ve created a page where you can now sign up to come along on 17 June to Speak Up For The Love Of. This will be the largest ever climate event at Parliament, and your chance to tell new MPs that you want them to take action on climate change.

    Sign up here.

  • New numbers strengthen call to phase out fossil fuels


    Pip Roddis, Climate Team Policy Officer 

    Earlier this year, new numbers were added to the ‘terrifying new math’ of climate change: 82, 49, 33. They come from climate scientists at UCL and published in Nature, in the first study to suggest which existing fossil reserves cannot be burned over the next 35 years if we are to meet the 2°C climate change target.

    82% is the amount of global coal reserves that must be left under the ground if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. 49% is the amount of known gas reserves that must be left unexploited. And 33% is the amount of the world’s oil reserves that must be left unextracted.




    The study also looks at how this should be apportioned in different regions of the world. It suggests that half of unburnable gas reserves globally, and over half of the world’s unburnable oil, are in the Middle East. Canadian tar sands must remain largely unexploited, with 85% of its 48 billion barrels of bitumen reserves unburnable. Despite large potential unconventional gas resources in China, India, Africa and the Middle East, over 80% of these resources are unburnable before 2050. And perhaps most notably, the paper shows that all Arctic resources should be classified as unburnable – revealing the urgent need to halt Arctic fossil fuel exploration right now.

    And before you get your hopes up, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) won’t save the day. Because of the expense of CCS, its relatively late date of introduction (assumed to be around 2025), and the predicted maximum rate at which it can be built, CCS has a relatively modest effect on the overall levels of fossil fuels that can be burned – roughly 6% more coal, and 2% more gas and oil.

    It is clear that fossil fuel production needs to be phased out. Yet despite this, a clause within the recent Infrastructure Act has introduced legislation to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum. This is somewhat counter to the present need to transition away from fossil fuels and to prioritise investment in low-carbon and renewable energy, alongside measures to reduce energy demand. This legislation seems to confirm the UCL paper’s comment that ‘Our results show that policymakers’ instincts to exploit rapidly and completely their territorial fossil fuels are, in aggregate, inconsistent with their commitments to [a 2°C] temperature limit’.

    We urgently need our leaders and policymakers to act upon the challenging new numbers of climate change. The RSPB welcomes the recent announcement by the three leaders of the main Westminster parties to end the use of unabated coal for power generation, and to continue to tackle climate change in line with recommended carbon budgets. However, we need to see a clear timeline for this phase-out to take place. A good start would be for all political parties to outline a manifesto commitment to phase out unabated coal in the UK by the early 2020s, as the Committee on Climate Change agrees must happen in order for us to meet our legally binding climate change commitments. There’s a lot more at stake than just numbers.