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Past events

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Extreme Events and Climate Change

Chris Beales - 16 March 2016

A series of ‘climate forums’ kicked off on Wednesday 16 March when Chris Beales, a local hydrologist and climate change specialist, discussed the links between ‘Extreme Events’ – weather events that can dramatically affect our lives, our homes and our communities – and climate change – which is often described by quite modest-sounding increases in global average temperature.

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The presentation showed that global and UK average temperatures are rising and are now at their warmest since records began, and the number of Extreme Events is increasing and records for temperature and rainfall are being broken.

Chris said that average temperatures are projected to rise significantly and we can expect to see even more Extreme Events – bigger and more frequent droughts and floods and heatwaves – which we need to prepare for.

Chris commented: “The world has important choices to make: if we significantly cut our use of coal, oil and gas ... and meet the targets agreed in the Paris conference in December ... we could limit the average rise in temperature to two degrees. Otherwise the climate could change very dramatically and the accompanying Extreme Events are going to be very difficult to deal with!”

photoTo view Chris' presentation online - with annotated notes - please click here: Extreme Events and Climate Change slides.

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Carbon Pricing - so polluters pay and people profit

Clive Elsworth - 30 March 2016

On Wednesday 30th March the second in a series of ‘Reading climate forums’ discussed ‘carbon pricing’ – under which the cost of damage expected from global warming would be reflected in the price of fossil fuels.

Speaker Clive Elsworth from the UK branch of the Citizens Climate Lobby www.facebook.com/CitizensClimateLobbyUK explained the ‘Carbon Fee and Dividend’ approach under which a fee would be paid when fossil fuels were imported or extracted by mining or drilling … and the money raised would be shared equally between all households.

Clive argued that fossil fuels must be priced out of the market – subsidies to renewables or energy efficient travel only reduce cost of activities so lead to more consumption. He said he had been inspired by climate scientist James Hansen’s book “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity”.

Campaigner Justin Bowles then presented the views of three economists and a sociologist - saying that 90% of economists favour some form of carbon tax or carbon pricing to address climate change. He discussed the difficulties of setting a price today to reflect the risk of damage in the future.

Clive finished by hosting a role play exercise, where the audience were invited to try out some useful influencing techniques to try and sell the ‘Carbon Fee and Dividend’ concept to their local MP.

photoFor more detail please see: Carbon Pricing event notes (pdf)

photoAnd you can view Clive's slides here (pdf)

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Climate Change impacts on food security - learning from past shocks

Dr Jacob Bishop - 25 May 2016

Dr Jacob Bishop of the University of Reading University talked to us about “What is global food security?”:

  • future global food security which will require more than just increasing crop production
  • how global food might security be impacted by climate change
  • extreme weather events using past examples of food security failures as case studies
  • strategies being developed to reduce the impact of climate change on food
  • production and at other levels of food security
  • ideas of what can be done including increasing dietary diversity to reduce reliance on single crops.

photoSee for write up of Jacob's presentation here (PDF)

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Climate justice and sustainable development - an interactive discussion

Rayner Mayer - 29 June 2016

Dr Rayner Mayer (from Sciotech Projects and University of Reading) hosted a lively discussion on the ethics related to climate change. He introduced the following 3 topics, after which the audience debated the issues.

Climate Justice:

In the first section, Rayner introduced the concept of Climate Justice. He reminded the audience of the increase in extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, associated with increasing climate change. These threaten lives and livelihoods across the world. He concluded that some regions are more affected than others; and that developing countries are disproportionately responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, whereas poorer peoples are more vulnerable to the consequences.

Sustainable Development:

In the next section, Rayner discussed Sustainable Development. In simple terms: it is an obligation for the present generation to leave the world (biosphere) in a fit state for future generations. He noted that we have had successes so far, with millions of lives being saved as a result of the 8 'Millennium Development Goals' (2000-2015). In the next 15 years we have the international 'Sustainable Development Goals' including: to end poverty, to end hunger, to reduce inequality and to ensure sustainable use of eco-systems. These include tackling climate change - if we don’t tackle the UN estimates that there could be up to  100 million climate refugees by the end of the next decade.

COP21 – the Paris Accord:

Finally Rayner talked about December 2015's Paris Accord. In this, 195 individual nations have submitted 'Declared National Contributions', which are emissions reduction promises. These will be reviewed every 5 years. All countries signed-up to trying to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Centigrade, however the current declared contributions could result in a 2.7 degrees temperature rise which is higher than that agreed in Paris. Religious leaders, including the Pope, are making strong calls for us to act on this global threat to life on earth. It is important that there are 'top-down' agreements like the Paris Accord, however it is equally important that we look at our own lifestyles and what are we going to do about it.

photoFor more detail and links to further information please see: the full notes from our discussion (pdf)

photoAnd you can also view Rayner's slides here (pptx)

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How to save on space-heating

Tony Cowling and Ian Gough - 26 Sept 2016

This is the first of our Autumn 2016 series of public talks related to climate change. Tony Cowling and Ian Gough will be giving practical steps on how to save energy in our homes.

They will be giving practical advice on retro-fitting domestic energy-saving measures, including:

  • Insulation (loft, CWI, EWI, IWI)
  • Building fabric
  • Heating controls
  • Draught proofing
  • Glazing
  • Heating system upgrades
  • Appliances
  • Energy costs
  • Behaviours

Find out what’s right for you – from draught-stripping to aiming for PassivHaus standard – and how to save money, energy and carbon.

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Influencing the Local Plan Process

Prof. Gavin Parker and Kat Salter – Wednesday 5th October 7:00 at Reading Bicycle Kitchen, Jacksons Corner.

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Low-Carbon Energy Techniques

Rayner Mayer, Sue Roberts and Lee Webster - 17 October 2016

This is the third of our Autumn 2016 series of public talks related to climate change. Around a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions come from domestic heating so reducing heat loss from homes and using energy efficient techniques will play an important part in meeting our climate change targets and keeping running costs down. Three speakers will provide an overview of the options and will describe some of the different techniques in detail.

Well-insulated and draught-proofed homes need to be properly ventilated so MVHR – Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery – is important to ensure comfort and prevent condensation while minimising heat loss. Dr. Sue Roberts of energy assessors Ecomorph will describe how this works drawing on her experience turning her home into a ‘Superhome’.

Dr. Rayner Mayer of Sciotech Projects Ltd will explain how ‘heat pumps’ can multiply the energy in ‘green’ electricity to replace gas boilers as the UK abandons the use of fossil fuels. One example is the Student Services Building at Reading University which represents the current state of the art of low energy building and is heated and cooled by heat pumps using under floor heating. Heat pumps are widely used in air conditioning but studies suggest that Reading’s geology is particularly well-suited to exploiting heat held in the ground.

Lee Webster - Business Development Director of Aldermaston-based Anesco - the energy-efficiency solutions company - will give an industry view.

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Reading's Water Supply in a Changing World

Michael Bright and Chris Beales - Friday 4th November 2016

“We live in a water stressed area. Learn about the impact of climate change on our water supplies with wetter winters and drier summers, where our drinking water comes from and what we can do to be more efficient in our water use.”

Chris Beales is a hydrologist working for the Environment Agency. He will talk about the current pressures on our local river system, and how change change is predicted to affect our rivers in the future.

Michael Bright is a water industry consultant. He will talk about how Thames Water supply water to our homes in Reading. He will discuss some of the challenges and what we can do as individuals to reduce pressure on our water resources.

We look forward to welcoming you to this, the fourth of our Autumn series of talks. It will be a lively and interesting discussion.

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The effect of architecture on urban design

Professor Lorraine Farrelly - Thursday 17th November 2016

“The effect of Architecture and Urban design on new buildings and refurbishments to achieve low environmental impact”

Professor Lorraine Farrelly has adopted our suggested topic for a School of Architecture public meeting. Thursday 17th November 2016. 6:00 pm in the School of Architecture Building, London Road campus, University of Reading.

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