Friday, 30 November 2012

The Doha Conference

Lower in profile than some of its predecessors, the Doha conference (or the 18th conference of the

parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to give it its highfalutin

title) is the 2012 attempt to push towards an international agreement on climate change.

The stakes could hardly be higher … or expectations lower. To help get you get to grips with the

minutiae try the Climate Network’s daily update ‘Eco’ that you can find here:

‘ECO is a daily insiders look at what is happening in the negotiations. And perhaps more importantly, what

should happen at the negotiations from CAN’s perspective. ECO is published every day of the negotiations, and has been done so since the Stockholm Environment Conference in 1972.’

‘Eco’ has its moments of fun about the absurdity of some of the negotiations . See its ‘Fossil of the Day’ award.  Give it a try!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Radio Scotland Thought for the Day on Flooding in Comrie

(Thought for the Day, 28 November 2012 - BBC Radio Scotland. From Alastair McIntosh, a Quaker, author and Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology)

Listen to audio version here:



Good Morning

The past ten days have seen thousands of people across England and Wales forced from their homes by flooding, but I myself was behind on the Scottish news, because I’d been out of the country.

Only last weekend did I catch up. I was visiting friends in the tiny Dumfriesshire village of Durrisdeer. It was a Sunday morning, and we went together to the service at the parish Church of Scotland. The preacher was Michael Northcott, an Episcopalian down from Edinburgh University, and his sermon was on the flooding at Comrie in Perthshire.

As one of the Comrie community councillors told the press: “Our Black Monday … will go down as … one of the bleakest seasons in the history of our community…. We have hundreds of residents deeply traumatised, fearful of the future and robbed of their homes.”*

Perth Council is now working on flood defences to prevent a recurrence. But the crux of the minister’s message at Durrisdeer was the strength with which the Comrie folks were looking out for one another, because whole families are taking in other whole families until their homes dry out.

“Jesus didn’t directly teach us to care for the Earth,” was the culmination of the sermon that Sunday. “Jesus taught us to love one another, and that’s the only way we’ll learn how to face the future by caring for the Earth.” 

I was left thinking back three years ago to when the Comrie Development Trust ran a conference on climate change. They were looking at how to reduce the village’s carbon emissions, but also, to strengthen their community resilience – the ability to bounce back from any knocks, by pulling together.

That’s the kind of preparation that’s now paying off in Comrie. That’s what makes this village at its time of greatest trial an inspiration to the whole of Scotland. And that too was the lesson from a tiny congregation in Dumfriesshire: the sheer imperative … of learning how to love one another.

* Perthshire Advertiser, 23 November 2012.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012 by European Environment Agency

The European Environment Agency (EEA) have published a report which presents information on past and projected climate change and related impacts in Europe, based on a range of indicators.

The report also assesses the vulnerability of society, human health and ecosystems in Europe and identifies those regions in Europe most at risk from climate change. Furthermore, the report discusses the principle sources of uncertainty for the indicators and notes how monitoring and scenario development can improve our understanding of climate change, its impacts and related vulnerabilities.

Urban flooding may be of particular interest to us here in Scotland. From the map you can see that the number of heavy rain days are on the increase, particularly in West Scotland.

Map borrowed from EEA: Urban flooding — impervious surfaces reduce the drainage of rain water and increase the risk for urban flooding (

Key messages from the executive summary include:

  • Climate change (increases in temperature, changes in precipitation and decreases in ice and snow) is occurring globally and in Europe; some of the observed changes have established records in recent years.
  • Observed climate change has already led to a wide range of impacts on environmental systems and society; further climate change impacts are projected for the future.
  • Climate change can increase existing vulnerabilities and deepen socio-economic imbalances in Europe.
  • Damage costs from natural disasters have increased; the contribution of climate change to these costs is projected to increase in the future.
  • The combined impacts of projected climate change and socio-economic development can lead to high damage costs; these costs can be reduced significantly by mitigation and adaptation actions.
  • The causes of the most costly climate impacts are projected to differ strongly across Europe.
  • On-going and planned monitoring and research at national and EU level can improve assessments of past and projected impacts of climate change, thereby enhancing the knowledge base for adaptation.

You can access the report here.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Praying for hope amid climate madness – CEL Climate Service 1st of December in London

Logo borrowed from:

From the Christian Ecology Link:

A service of worship in Grosvenor Chapel will precede the annual national Climate March on Saturday 1st December 2012 in Central London.
Christian Ecology Link and Operation Noah will host a Climate Service at 11.00 am on Saturday 1st December 2012 at Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, London W1K 2PA to pray for the success of the current United Nations climate conference in Qatar. The service will be led by the spiritual director Rev. Chris Polhill who is author of the book ‘A Heart for Creation Worship Resources and Reflections on the Environment’.  The Catholic journalist Ellen Teague will speak. All are welcome.
Ruth Jarman, a member of the board of Christian Ecology Link, said:
 ”I think attending a service of worship in this beautiful church a very fitting way to support the march and pray for sense and hope amid the madness of humanity’s paralysis in the face of climate change.”
After the service, attendees will leave the church to join the Climate March organised by the Campaign against Climate Change. The rally will start at Grosvenor Square where a mock pipeline will be built from the Canadian High Commission to the US embassy, after which the demonstrators will march to Westminster to build a giant mock fracking rig outside parliament.
CEL member Jonathan Essex said:
“While Climate Marches might seem a bit ‘too little too late’ this year’s I think falls at a crucial time – not just the international talks hosted by an oil country, but a demo highlighting US focus on fracking which our government seem wedded to as well. And perhaps Sandy’s appearance on the eve of the US election might be a forebearer of a Storm of Hope.”
This week, while Britain saw month-levels of rain in single days, the government published its disappointing Energy Bill.  The Bill specifies no target for making the power sector carbon-free – something that the government’s own independent advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, says is necessary.

You can access their website for more information here.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Funding to insulate churches and community buildings available

Three possible places to find funding for insulation:

If your church or community building is looking to fund an insulation/energy efficiency project, the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) may be of help.

CCF grants up to £150,000/yr provide funds and support for community groups, (including faith groups), to fit insulation and other energy efficient measures in community owned buildings such as churches and church halls. To qualify for funding these buildings must be owned, managed and used by the community; grants cannot fund projects in buildings that are used exclusively for worship.

For a community group to be eligible for a CCF grant they must be community led, operate on a not-for-profit basis, prove they can achieve measurable cuts in their carbon footprint within their neighbourhood and leave a sustainable legacy in the community.

CCF grants are available until March 2015. For more information and full criteria please see  or call a Development Officer on 01786 468 779.

This site has a funding database and case studies of projects that have received funding, and Rural Direct can offer practical support to find the most appropriate funds.

This site also has a good list of possible funders which you can access here.  

Give Toys a New Life by Donating them to the Dunkeld Christmas Fair and support Christian Aid and Rachel House Children’s Hospice

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Good Green Christmas article for your parish magazine from Christian Ecology Link

Simplify!  is a suggested article by the Christian Ecology Link about wasting less this Christmas:

"We are now in the Christmas season, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus who, as far as we know, never had his own home or any possessions to speak of. There were around 200 million people on earth at that time. With 7 billion now, the earth is struggling to cope with all our demands for more and more. We all, in the developed world, need to simplify.

Christmas is a good time to try to limit the amount of new stuff entering our homes. To adults why not give charity gifts such as and, or gifts that are needed anyway – wine, biscuits, chutneys, soap, etc?  And for children, ask a parent what they need and try to give a joint present with someone else or just give a small amount of money.  Maybe the most generous gift of all would be to give nothing but your time."

You can access the full article here.

It is the European Week of Waste Reduction. Help us save unnecessary waste!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Food saving tips from Greener Scotland

Any easy way to save waste is to focus on food! Greener Scotland have some wonderful food saving tips and fun competitions to encourage you to not waste food.

Access their website here.

Their food saving tip competition can be accessed here.

The drawing has been borrowed from:

It is the European Week of Waste Reduction. Help us save unnecessary waste!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Take part in European Week of Waste Reduction this week!

There will be a range of events taking place all over Scotland to encourage you to reduce your waste this week because it is European Week of Waste Reduction!

Here is information from Zero Waste Scotland:

"Cutting down on waste is the goal of more than 200 actions and events in Scotland this week as individuals, schools, community groups, local authorities, and businesses take part in European Week for Waste Reduction, which runs until this Sunday (27 November)."

Logo borrowed from:

The week aims to raise awareness of minimising waste, rather than recycling. A big focus this year is on reducing food waste, moving towards becoming a more sustainable and resource efficient society. Scottish households throw away 566,000 tonnes of food waste every year. Over two thirds of this could have been avoided if it had been more effectively planned, stored and managed. Avoidable food waste costs Scotland nearly £1 billion, that’s the equivalent of £430 per household. Love Food Hate Waste Scotland has hints and tips to help you save food and money, particularly useful given the time of year.

Scottish Facebook page

Climate Justice Event in Edinburgh on Wed 28 Nov

Scotland's Role in Delivering Climate Justice
Amnesty International Scotland, Christian Aid Scotland, WWF Scotland and The University of Edinburgh invite you to a very special event examining Scotland's role in delivering climate justice, featuring Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, as keynote speaker.

Scotland is positioning itself as playing a key international role in helping to deliver climate justice, with the world's first parliamentary debate on the subject and the launch of the Climate Justice Fund earlier this year. Taking place during the Doha Climate Change Conference, this event provides an opportunity for Scotland's First Minister to outline how we can take this international role forward; as well as reiterating Scotland's commitment to tackle climate change and the impacts of climate change on the world's most vulnerable communities.

Following the speech there will be a panel discussion featuring the First Minister, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland; Kathy Galloway, Head of Christian Aid Scotland; and Amnesty International. 
The event brings together key individuals and organisations working across the inextricably linked areas of human rights, the environment and international development to inform and debate Scotland's role within climate justice.

The event will be held from 7:30pm on Wednesday 28 November 2012 at the Godfrey Thomson Hall, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh.
Refreshments will be served on arrival.

To register for this FREE event or for more information, please visit:

Event programme
7:30pm  Arrivals and refreshments
8.00pm Welcome from Siobhan Reardon (Amnesty International Scotland) and Edinburgh University
8:10pm  First Minister Alex Salmond to deliver keynote speech
8:30pm  Dr Richard Dixon and Kathy Galloway response to First Minister Alex Salmond
8:40pm Q&A / Panel Discussion
9:00pm  Event concludes

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Nature of Scotland Awards is now open for entries!

We have received the following news from the RSPB:

The Nature of Scotland Awards recognizes and rewards those who are making a real difference to the conservation of Scotland’s natural heritage.

The 2013 awards opened for entries on the 14th November 2012.It is free to enter and there are eight categories, each identifying a different area of nature conservation: Marine Conservation; Sustainable Development; Politician of the Year; Innovation; Outstanding Contribution; RSPB Species Champion; Community Initiative; Education. 

If you feel you work with, or know of, an organisation, group or individual who has participated in activity that has aided Scottish nature conservation, we would like to hear from you.

Deadline for submission 15th March 2013.

For more information on how to enter, please visit:

We look forward to receiving your entries!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

International Energy Agency - World Energy Outlook 2012

On the 12 November the International Energy Agency published the World Energy Outlook 2012. A
summary of the World Energy Outlook can be downloaded here:

The report makes for grim reading. Oil consumption in China, India and the Middle East continues
to grow with much of this growth down to increases in road traffic, both cars and road freight.
Similarly demand for coal and gas is rising in the same parts of the world. More surprisingly the
report predicts that oil and gas production in the USA will increase as new technologies unlock oil
shale and gas with the result that the USA will become more self-sufficient in oil and gas and that the
price of both will drop in North America.

The new technologies being implemented in the USA includes fracking that has opened up new gas
fields and has reduced the price of gas to American consumers. This may be good news for the US
economy but has potentially disastrous consequences for climate change. The IEA argues that it will
be impossible to limit global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius if these newly accessible
resources of oil and gas are exploited. In fact says the IEA ‘no more than one-third of proven reserves
of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal, unless carbon
capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely deployed.’

This is a stark reminder that the global resources of oil, coal and gas, if fully exploited, will return to
the atmosphere sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide to create climate change impacts that could
be as profound and they are unpredictable. Given our modest success in restraining the use of fossil
fuels and the attraction of cheap oil and gas, this prospect is becoming increasingly likely.

It must be said that the IEA projections have not gone unchallenged. Gail Tverberg has argued that
the projections are unrealistically high and the cost of developing the new resources will slow their
development. You can read her arguments here:

The Atlas of Health and Climate by WHO and WMO now available online

Information shared by the Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)

On the 29 October the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) launched "The Atlas of Health and Climate" at the World Meteorological Congress in Geneva, Switzerland
. The Atlas highlights current and emerging challenges to human health and showcases how climate services can protect human health through prevention, preparedness and risk management.

Graphs, maps and tables illustrate climate change and health linkages, such as how climate and weather variations affect the incidence of infectious diseases. The Atlas stresses that other types of vulnerability influence the relationship between climate and health, including environmental degradation, poverty, and poor sanitation and water infrastructure.

The Atlas provides case study examples of how information on climate change and variability can protect human health by predicting the onset, intensity and duration of epidemics. It attributes significant decreases in the death toll from cyclones in Bangladesh to early warning systems and preparedness.

The Atlas also shows how health and meteorological services can collaborate to monitor air pollution and health impacts. It notes that shifting to clean household energy sources would save the lives of 680,000 children a year by reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change.

The Atlas includes a preface and three sections on: infections; emergencies; and emerging environmental challenges. The WMC is expected to discuss the structure and implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services, a UN initiative to strengthen climate service provision to benefit society. Its four priorities are disaster risk reduction (DRR), food security, the health sector and water management.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Healthy Hearts Grants (UK) (green exercise type activities can be funded)

If you are planning a Green Pilgrimage you may be able to receive funding from this project.

Heart Research UK has announced the next funding round under its Healthy Heart Grants Scheme will open early January 2013. Healthy Heart Grants support innovative projects designed to promote heart health and to prevent or reduce the risks of heart disease in specific groups or communities. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to community groups, voluntary organisations and researchers who are spreading the healthy heart message. 

The types of projects supported in the past have included:

Watford and District YMCA which received funding to work with local schools to encourage children to make healthy lifestyle choices through games and activities.

The Foresight Project in Grimsby which encourages visually impaired people to take regular exercise using tandem bicycles. 

There are two applications rounds per year.  Applications are only accepted during January and February for the May round of grants and July and August for grants awarded in November, each year.
The closing date for the next funding round will be the 28th February 2013.

Click on the link to access their webpage:

Scottish 50% renewable electricity target to be achieved by 2015

The Sustainable Scotland Network and the BBC News have reported that a new target to generate the equivalent of half of Scotland's electricity needs from renewable energy by 2015 has been set by the Scottish Government.

The SNP have stated that the Scotland generated 35% of electrivity from renewable sources in 2011. Mr Alex Salmond  statet that "This target is ambitious, but also achievable. It is based on current data about capacity which is operational, under construction, or has been consented."
The photo was borrowed from:
You can access the full Sustainable Scotland Network article here and the BBC News item here.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Further information about Bees and pesticides

Following our previous article about bees and pesticides we have received the following from from Bill Wilson of St John's Kirk, Perth:

As a Beekeeper, I believe that we need to take a precautionary approach to Neonicotinoids even if there is not yet definitive proof of their exact role in bee deaths. There are good grounds for saying they are implicated and whilst further research is carried out, their use on bee pollinated plants should be suspended. We cannot afford to wait until we understand all the mechanisms that may be involved in a complex set of environmental relationships. Bees are vital to human food supplies and we must take a precautionary approach. New research on bumble bee colonies has demonstrated that exposure to two commonly used pesticides at once has a much greater effect than one on its own, leading to weaker colonies and even colony death.

Suspending the use of Neonicitinoids will ensure that the effort into researching their role will be given.
If you agree, I hope you will consider supporting this petition.


Researchers from Royal Holloway College at the University of London have also done research into this which has recently been published in a letter to Nature magazine.

Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees. / Gill, Richard J. ; Ramos-Rodriguez, Oscar ; Raine, Nigel E.
In: Nature, Vol. 491, 2012, p. 105-108.

You can find a summary here.

The full letter can be found here (PDF file).

38 Degrees have now handed in their petition to the government on this issue.

To see a full report of the hand-in go here:

Over 75,000 people signed the petition demanding the government protect bees from harmful pesticides. And to remind DEFRA just how important bees are they  presented the petition with a basket of fruit and veg - all pollinated by bees!