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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021 edited
     
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021 edited
     
    "Carbon dioxide emissions fell by 13 per cent last year"

    I think there might have been some other factors contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions last year!

    In other words, the story isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

    Certianly not worth getting around the paywall to read the rest.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    Grief, yes, just those first two paras ("UK CO2 lowest in 150yrs")! "an analysis of official data reveals" - what Tory think tank did the cherry picking this time?
  1.  
    Carbon Brief did it. They are a solid and serious outfit, I certainly wouldn't dismiss them like the previous comments did.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-is-now-halfway-to-meeting-its-net-zero-emissions-target

    Of the 51% fall in emissions since 1990, 45% had been achieved before the pandemic, mostly by replacing coal power stations with windfarms; less emissions of methane etc; offshoring heavy industries. Little progress has been made on decarbonising heating or transport so far.

    They are very clear about the effects of the pandemic and likely rebounds.

    Overall I think we do not give ourselves enough credit for the progress already made, and that contributes to the public perception that tackling climate change would be 'expensive' 'difficult' or require 'hair shirts'.

    If everyone asks themselves how many sacrifices they had noticed in solving the first half of the problem, they wouldn't be so resistant to solving the second half.
      UK-territorial-greenhouse-gas-emissions-1990-2020-millions-of-tonnes-of-CO2-equivalent.png
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    Thanks, Will. The sentence that stands out to me there is:

    "The nature of the decline in 2020 shows how challenging it will be for the UK to eliminate its remaining emissions."

    No significant reduction in gas or oil yet. Just got to remove all the boilers and all the cars. :devil:
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeen

    Overall I think we do not give ourselves enough credit for the progress already made, and that contributes to the public perception that tackling climate change would be 'expensive' 'difficult' or require 'hair shirts'.

    If everyone asks themselves how many sacrifices they had noticed in solving the first half of the problem, they wouldn't be so resistant to solving the second half.


    I think that is a very nice way to look at it and encapsulates some of the much needed optimism about necessary progress.


    Posted By: WillInAberdeenCarbon Brief did it:

    mostly by offshoring heavy industries


    My worry is how this get greenwashed as in reality we've only offset much of the polution to other places. I was growing up in Sweden after the UK and Germany 'off-shored' their industrial polution by building taller chimneys and experienced the effects on the lakes due to acid rain.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    I eat my words - very surprised.
    • CommentAuthordereke
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    As noted in the report most of the reductions are from the electricity sectors - which is great but the the hardest sectors are yet to come - heating and transport. Not to mention off shoring..

    In software we say the last 20% of development takes 80% of the time. I fear we are in a similar situation with regards to emissions. Although at least cutting emissions 80% would in itself be a fantastic result!
    • CommentAuthorbhommels
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    Yes, the UK electricity generation has dramatically reduced its CO2 footprint, from 510 gCO2/kWh 5 years ago to 230 today, and that is a great achievement. Not long ago critics stated that with more than 5 or 10% wind or solar power the lights would go out etc. etc.

    Having read a bit about biomass recently however, I am not so convinced that there is no greenwashing going on here. The idea is that burning wood for electricity generation is zero carbon since the CO2 emitted will be used by the saplings that will grow into trees that will be the fuel some 20+ years later. Drax alone uses more wood than the entire UK (sustainably) produces, so the UK relies on the sustainability of the forests managed elsewhere for the coming 20+ years at the minimum, even if Drax would stop producing now. I am not so sure whether this is realistic.
    • CommentAuthorvord
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    Does nobody else worry this is still about short term politics. It would be good to reduce the damage we are doing to the environment but I can't see that happening.
    • CommentAuthorLF
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    I guess you would want carbon capture on Drax but to cover off all the emissions in transporting and growing the wood.
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2021
     
    Posted By: bhommels
    Having read a bit about biomass recently however, I am not so convinced that there is no greenwashing going on here. The idea is that burning wood for electricity generation is zero carbon since the CO2 emitted will be used by the saplings that will grow into trees that will be the fuel some 20+ years later. Drax alone uses more wood than the entire UK (sustainably) produces, so the UK relies on the sustainability of the forests managed elsewhere for the coming 20+ years at the minimum, even if Drax would stop producing now. I am not so sure whether this is realistic.


    Indeed, Drax combined with EU biomass policy has turned Esthonia into a net producer of carbon which is unlikely to be reversed for at least 40 years (it's also likely to get worse before it gets better), plus it's encroaching upon nature reserves.

    This article covers the issue and states that the UK government subsidised biomass at Drax almost to the tune of 1.9billion in 2019.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/14/carbon-neutrality-is-a-fairy-tale-how-the-race-for-renewables-is-burning-europes-forests
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2021
     
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeMar 22nd 2021
     
    It strikes me as the classic progress bar problem though... if the remaining 50% is 1000% more difficult, this milestone isn't worth much.
    • CommentAuthorjms452
    • CommentTimeMar 22nd 2021 edited
     
    It's definitely more difficult going forwards...
    and it would have been a lot easier if we'd started at a steeper gradient.

    BUT let's not forget that many argued what we have achieved so far was impossible:

    Renewable power outstripping fossil fuels
    Per capita UK emissions now lowest since 1879 close to world average - without going back the stone age

    Even looking forwards the next biggest sectors are transport - where electric cars are coming on nicely
    Heating - where we know what to do (although a government programme to get there seems elusive)

    Concrete and steel are going to be super hard but:
    20 years ago I thought nuclear, hydro & biomass were the only realistic low CO2 options.
    15 years ago I thought offshore wind was an expensive delusion and solar PV could never be economical
    10 years ago I though mass market electric cars would never happen

    so a lot can change in 10-20 years.

    The sad bit is that if the world it to hit net zero by 2050 a developed front runner like the UK should really be a decade or more earlier than that.

    [edited for typo]
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2021 edited
     
    All good comment, but
    Posted By: jms452Per capita UK emissions now lowest since 1879 close to world average - without going back the stone age
    isn't that by offshoring most(?) of UK's factory work to far east and ignoring the transport emissions of importing it (and shipping the 'recycled' waste back east again)?
    • CommentAuthorjms452
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2021
     
    Posted By: fostertom
    Posted By: jms452Per capita UK emissions now lowest since 1879 close to world average - without going back the stone age
    isn't that by offshoring most(?) of UK's factory work to far east and ignoring the transport emissions of importing it (and shipping the 'recycled' waste back east again)?


    in part yes. Jullian Allwood put offshoring and aviation together as just under half of the gains (5min30s):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpImlufArwk&ab_channel=ProfessorJulianAllwood-EngineeringandMusic

    So with different accounting:
    'Per capita UK emissions now lowest since circa 1910/1950 - without going back the stone age'
  2.  
    The Carbon Brief report found that offshoring manufacturing was a small part of the emissions reduction. They lumped offshoring together with efficiency improvements in UK factories - those two factors together accounted for 15% of the reduction in greenhouse gases.

    The biggest gains were: 40% from the ending of coal power, and 35% from cracking down on methane and NOx emissions (more powerful greenhouse gases than CO2). Methane used to come from coal mining and landfills, NOx from exhaust pipes.

    In the same period, UK heavy industry (manufacturing/mining/waste) actually increased 5% from 1990 until 2000 then remained steady until the pandemic, the UK does still manufacture much more than many people think. Manufacturing just hasn't grown madly since 2000 like the service sector has, which is now a bigger % of the economy.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2021 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: WillInAberdeen</cite>
    ...................The biggest gains were: 40% from the ending of coal power, and 35% from cracking down on methane and NOx emissions (more powerful greenhouse gases than CO2). Methane used to come from coal mining and landfills, NOx from exhaust pipes.



    So what do we do?.......... well for one, we allow on farm industrial anaerobic digester plants which AFAIK are NOT monitored for methane leakage either from the plant itself, nor from the storage in open lagoons, of digestate, or feedstuff.
    There seems to be no holistic survey of the into the impact of these plants, either from increased diesel burning, ( think NOx), of the farm traffic required to service the plants, nor the monoculture they demand, nor the overuse of digestate spreading and it's potential for emissions or to affect water tables.
    Ah, but the perception is, it's benign, when all we are really doing is shuffling the cards in a different order and kidding ourselves we are going green.
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeMay 26th 2021
     
    Thought I'd just revive this after reading an interestingly different and critical look at Net-Zero and whether we're truly half way there.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/26/britain-net-zero-targets-environmental-issues
  3.  
    I know he's got a book to plug, and he quoted a lot of recognisable facts, but I don't think I really understand what the point is he is trying to make this week, he is usually a bit clearer than this.

    I think he acknowledges the UK has cut CO2 emissions by 50% in the last 30 years, and the national target is to cut the remaining 50% during the next 30 years (by 2050).

    However he proposed in his book that emissions should fall to zero earlier, by 2035. So I think his complaint is that we are not on track to meet his proposed target. I didn't understand why he thought that date would be desirable or feasible.
  4.  
    Posted By: WillInAberdeen I didn't understand why he thought that date would be desirable or feasible.


    He makes the point in one paragraph that the target was based on a measure of 'global fairness' - in other words the target was desirable because it causes the least amount of harm to other nations.

    The wider point is what he says later: "We did the easy things first. Coal-burning power stations were replaced with gas, and some of the gas with renewables. This makes no difference to most people: when we flick the switch, the lights still come on. But almost all the other reductions must involve us directly. They won’t happen unless the government mobilises the nation"

    The remaining 50% will be harder pills to swallow as they affect our lifestyles.

    I think this piece by Alex Steffen says it better:
    https://alexsteffen.substack.com/p/were-not-yet-ready-for-whats-already

    "Here’s something we do know: The longer we delay acting at disruptive speeds, the more discontinuous the near future will be with present expectations… and the less value present systems will retain. Disruption now, or even more discontinuity (and then more disruption) that’s our choice—and the speed of our actions is how we choose between them."
  5.  
    Absolutely, but why is he still arguing for 2035 and not 2030 or 2025? They would be 'fairer' targets (intergenerational as well as international fairness), and just as infeasible.

    The national plan is to have reduced CO2e by 78% by 2035, which is not the 100% he proposed, but not as dramatically different as the tone of the article suggests.

    Growing up in a coalmining area, I disagree that the switch away from coal was 'easy for most people’, but we have managed it and I don't see the next steps being any more/less difficult. There now seems to be wide public acceptance of electrifying cars. I'm not seeing much opposition to the govt policy to end fossil boilers, or on land use changes, and many people are changing diets by choice rather than compulsion, so I don't share the view that there needs to be much more 'sacrifice’ during the 2nd half of the decarbonisation than during the 1st half, which is good! :bigsmile:
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2021
     
    One redline waiting to be abandoned, is the impossibility of occasional (or frequent) electric power outages, during transition to renewables and to demand reduction in existing uses - buildings, industry, transport (if only to make room for demand increase in 'new' uses - serious materials recovery/up-cycling, bitcoin mining).

    The electoral unthinkability of power outages seems to be the prime or only reason (in UK) for still planning new fossil (gas) generation, when the imperative is for ruthless, by-all-means-possible cessation of fossil generation.

    That such a flimsy biz-as-usual reason is what stands in the way of the fossil-cessation imperative, will look unforgivable to our grandchildren.
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