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Climate Change news and local events

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January 2024

2023: The warmest year on record globally

2023 is the tenth year in succession that has equalled or exceeded 1.0 °C above the pre-industrial period (1850-1900).

Dr Colin Morice, Climate Monitoring and Research Scientist with the Met Office, said: "2023 is now confirmed as the warmest year on average over the globe in 174-years of observation. 2023 also set a series of monthly records, monthly global average temperatures having remained at record levels since June. Ocean surface temperatures have remained at record levels since April.

"Year-to-year variations sit on a background of around 1.25 °C warming in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels. This warming is attributable to human-induced climate change through greenhouse gas emissions."

Outlook for 2024

Professor Adam Scaife, Principal Fellow and Head of Monthly to Decadal Prediction at the Met Office, said: "It is striking that the temperature record for 2023 has broken the previous record set in 2016 by so much because the main effect of the current El Niño will come in 2024. Consistent with this, the Met Office's 2024 temperature forecast shows this year has strong potential to be another record-breaking year."

The Met Office global temperature for 2024 is forecast to be between 1.34 °C and 1.58 °C (with a central estimate of 1.46 °C) above the average for the pre-industrial period (1850-1900): the 11th year in succession that temperatures will have reached at least 1.0 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Read the full story here (opens new window).

December 2023

New local strategy for transition towards net zero

Heat Network Zones are set to be established in West Lothian as part of a proposed plan to increases energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

Heat networks supply heat to homes and buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for individual heating systems. They can offer an efficient, environmentally friendly way to heat homes and businesses, and will play a key role in achieving wider climate change targets.

A meeting of West Lothian Council Executive has approved the development of the council's first Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy (LHEES) [4MB] .

The draft LHEES has identified 14 potential Heat Network Zones across West Lothian.

The LHEES is to serve as a long-term strategic framework for the improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings in the local authority's area, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from heating those buildings.

A public consultation will be arranged by the end of 2024 to ask members of the public their thoughts on the ongoing development of the strategy and its key priorities.

Other activity is set to include regular engagement with homeowners and local businesses around steps to improve energy efficiency within their properties.

All local authorities in Scotland are obliged to produce a LHEES following the introduction of The Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (Scotland) Order 2022.

In accordance with Scottish Government's guidance, the LHEES for West Lothian uses the Home Analytics Scotland and the Non-Domestic Analytics Scotland datasets. These datasets are produced by the Energy Savings Trust and provide data on the Scottish building stock.

The report to Council Executive noted that while much of the data requires verification at a local level, the datasets do provide baseline figures to work from.

According to the data, lack of wall insulation is the most common contributor to energy inefficiency in West Lothian with 30% of West Lothian's domestic dwellings having uninsulated walls. Uninsulated cavity walls are the most common construction type with 25,547 domestic dwellings in West Lothian having uninsulated cavities.

Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: " Reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency have been priorities for the council for some time as we are in the midst of a global climate crisis. The development of the LHEES will provide further focus on achieving both objectives and further communication will be released in due course to detail how local communities will be to get involved in further development of the strategy."

September 2023

Risk of mass deaths as heatwaves start to pass survivability threshold

Between 1.5 and 2°C of global warming will lead to heatwaves so extreme that healthy people can't survive outdoors for long, in areas where people aren't used to extreme heat

Summary taken from: New Scientist (opens new window)

Global warming is already sparking more intense and more frequent heatwaves, causing a large number of fatalities. It is estimated that there were 62,000 heat-related deaths across Europe in the summer of 2022. However, the vast majority of these were people aged over 65 who may have had existing health issues.

Could global warming result in parts of the world getting so hot that even healthy young people die?

Matthew Huber at Purdue University, Indiana, and his colleagues set out to investigate this question in 2010. They decided the limit of survivability is when the temperature measured by a thermometer covered in a wet cloth exceeds 35°C (95°F). This is the so-called wet-bulb temperature. It reflects the fact that humidity affects our ability to stay cool by sweating. At this wet-bulb reading we can no longer keep core body temperature in check naturally and it will rise to deadly levels if we don't take action to stay cool in other ways.

Last year, Daniel Vecellio at Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues tested 24 healthy young women and men to see how hot and humid it could get before their bodies were unable to stop their core temperature rising - the point at which heat is "noncompensable". Continued exposure to these conditions for several hours can result in death.

The findings suggest the survivability limit is closer to a 31°C wet-bulb reading, though other factors will affect this in reality. Because the volunteers weren't acclimatised to heat and were doing everyday tasks during the tests, this should be seen as a lower limit with a 35°C wet-bulb temperature being the upper limit, says Powis.

Powis and his colleagues have now used data from weather stations and climate models to see where in the world such conditions may currently occur based on Vecellio's 31°C wet-bulb findings, and how this will change at the world warms.

For instance, with 1°C of global warming - a level already passed - only 3 per cent of weather stations in Europe are likely to pass Vecellio's threshold more than once in 100 years. With 2°C of warming, 25 per cent are likely to. In the US, 20 per cent of stations are likely to pass the threshold more than once in 100 years with 1°C global warming, rising to 28 per cent for 2°C.

Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund | Paths for All

Funding for projects that encourage people to walk, wheel or cycle as part of their everyday short journeys, and/or encourage people to use other sustainable travel choices for longer journeys, such as e-cycling and public or community transport, and/or encourage organisations to adopt home-working practices.

Who can apply: constituted groups, registered charities, not-for-profits (CICs & SCIOs), schools, universities, colleges, statutory bodies, regional transport partnerships, heath and social care partnerships, health boards.

  • Grants from £5,000 - £100,000
  • Must be 50% match funded
  • Revenue fund only
  • Funding for 12 months from start date
  • Closes on 31st March or before if the investment is fully allocated

August 2023

SPEN are providing community groups with support to carry out Net Zero projects. They can advise on the project delivery plan, budgets, technical specifications, legal, planning requirements and risk assessments.

Applicants must be constituted non-profit-distributing community focused organisations, including organisations with charitable status and other not for profit organisations.

Eligible groups are:

  • Community Interest Companies
  • Community Benefit Societies
  • Cooperative Societies
  • Development Trusts
  • OSCR Registered charities
  • Community Transport Organisations
  • Other constituted not-for-profit organisations

Project must be focused on net zero measures principally to save carbon and provide cost reductions, support those in fuel poverty and deliver social benefits to the community.

Apply by 4pm 1st September at: Feasibility Support - SP Energy Networks

July 2023

The first week of July 2023 was the Earth's hottest on record.

July saw more than 20,000 people have been evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes due to wildfires. The Italian island of Sardinia experienced 47oC and red alerts were issued in all major Italian cities. With sea temperatures reaching the high 20s in Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy advise was issued not to swim because of heatstroke risk.  China's national temperature record was shattered on 16 July when temperatures reached 52.2oC. Nearly one-third of the US population were put under heat warnings.

These temperatures would have been "virtually impossible" without climate change, according to The World Weather Attribution service - a global network of scientists who investigate the influence of climate change on extreme weather events. Their recent study on "extreme heat in North America, Europe and China in July 2023" concludes that the heatwave in China was "at least 50 times more likely" due to climate change.

The warming effect of El Niño - a natural cycle of climate variability - "likely contributed some additional heat to the heatwaves in some regions", the study finds but its impact is "very small compared to the effect of climate change". The study finds that if average global temperatures reach 2oC above preindustrial temperatures - a 0.8oC increase from today - extreme heat events on this scale could happen every 2-5 years.

https://spiral.imperial.ac.uk/handle/10044/1/105549

June 2023

Transmission Net Zero Fund lunched by SP Energy Networks. The fund will support vulnerable communities across central and southern Scotland on their journey to net zero. The £5m fund provides guidance and support to enable local communities to achieve their green ambitions. Funding criteria and FAQs can be found here: Funding Support - SP Energy Networks 

March 2023

Saturday, 25 March 2023, 8:30 - 9.30pm

Every year millions of people take part in Earth Hour to show they care about the future of our planet. Earth Hour, one of the world's largest environmental movements, reminds us that collectively even small actions can make an enormous difference and that together, we have the power to put nature on a path to recovery. Learn more on how to take part at WWF (opens new window) and read about how West Lothian's schools have marked previous Earth Hours

December 2022

The Climate Change Committee issues hard truths to the Scottish Government in their latest progress report. The Chairman of the Committee Lord Deben said: "The Scottish Government lacks a clear delivery plan, it does not give any explanation as to how it can meet the targets, which it has set, through the Scottish Parliament. And we have to say that in almost every way, instead of leading the United Kingdom, which it did for some time, it's now very much in the same position as the Westminster Government... And it isn't possible to say that this is because of the areas which Scotland does have authority, because some of the areas where it is failing most are areas which are entirely devolved." 

November 2022

West Lothian Council has reduced our emissions by 49% since 2013/14 (our baseline year). Since last reporting year (2020/21) the council has reduced our emissions by 628 tonnes. The projects that have contributed the most to this decrease are the introduction of twin stream recycling i.e. the new green and blue bins which have saved 303 tonnes of CO2 by reducing recycling contamination; 497 tonnes of CO2 has been saved by our continuing programme of replacing existing street lighting with more efficient LEDs; other projects such as increasing the energy efficiency of council buildings and changes in our fleet have helped achieve this years reduction. Read more here

October 2022

Save Money, Help the Planet

Saturday 1st October, 2-4pm, Civic Centre Livingston

Want advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, and your bills? 

Come along to Save Money, Help the Planet where there will be a range of stall holders to provide advice on energy usage, reducing food waste, growing your own, finical support available and reuse/recycle. The Advice Shop will also be on hand to provide advice on their "Feeling the Pinch" fund, fuel grant and other cost of living help.

Climate Week 1

July 2022

A heat wave warning has been issued for parts of the UK as temperatures are predicted to hit 30C (86F), higher than Los Angeles, Marbella and Santorini. A level 2 heat-health alert has been issued and people are asked to check on those vulnerable to extreme heat. Friday will see the start of a run of days that will see consistently high temperatures in south and east England. Heat waves are becoming more likely and more extreme because of human-induced climate change. Britain has been slowly getting warmer since the 19th Century. In the past three decades, the UK has become 0.9C warmer. The 10 hottest years since 1884 have all happened since 2002. And none of the coldest years has been recorded this century. In 2019, Cambridge saw the hottest temperature ever captured in the UK: 38.7C.

temperature

Hot weather can be dangerous particularly for the vulnerable, including elderly people, children and people with underlying health conditions. Spending too much time in high temperatures or in the sun, can cause health issues such as heat stroke and cardiovascular failure. In England, there were 2,500 excess deaths in the summer of 2020 as a result of hot weather, while heat-related deaths in the UK could treble in 30 years.

heat safe

May 2022

New funding is now available from the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). 

The Let's Do Net Zero Community Buildings Fund aims to support community organisations to reduce their buildings' energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Funding is available for many types of community buildings, including:

  • Community cafes
  • Community hubs
  • Faith buildings 
  • Public halls
  • Community halls and centres 

Grant funding is available for up to 80% of eligible costs, up to a maximum of £80,000. 

April 2022

IPCC Report

The second part of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Report on the effects of climate change was published. It warns that current government targets will not be enough to keep warming at 1.5C. Instead greenhouse gas emissions are increasing and at the current trajectory will reach more than 3C - making large parts of the world too hot for human habitation. Much of the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change are already in the atmosphere released by western countries during the industrial revolution. Since then 40% of emissions have come from Europe and North America and only 12% can be attributed to east Asia, including China. The wealthiest 10% of households contributed 45% of emissions. To halt climate change the world would have to reach net zero by 2050. The IPCC suggest the route to achieving this is widespread electrification.

March 2022

Earth Hour - Saturday 26 March 8:30pm

Join millions of people around the world to switch off your lights in support of nature. Every year, at 8:30pm on the last Saturday of March, supporters in over 190 countries and territories unite, taking action for and raising awareness of nature loss and climate change. Earth Hour is organised by the World Wildlife Fund and their website has many creative ways (opens new window) you can get involved. 

Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration

West Lothian Council has joined other local authorities in signing the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration (opens new window) in a further commitment to reducing carbon emissions at a local level. The Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration brings together local and regional authorities from across the world to speak with a unified voice in committing to putting into practice integrated food policies to tackle the climate emergency. Launched at the UN COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, the call encourages national governments to take joined-up action on food and climate. The Glasgow declaration can be viewed at www.glasgowdeclaration.org.

October 2021

COP26

31 October - 13 November Glasgow hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) (opens new window). The COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed the first climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal. $500bn pledged to emerging economies by 2025. However the commitments from COP26, if fulfilled, will only limit global warming to 2.4oC.

West Lothian Council Climate Change Strategy 

The council's latest Climate Change Strategy 2021-2028 [4.32MB] was published in October 2021. The Strategy provides direction in West Lothian Council's journey to net-zero. It contains 28 actions for the council across areas such as energy, transport, waste and biodiversity. Progress against the strategy's emissions targets will be reviewed annually as part of our annual Climate Change Report and updated every five years.

August 2021

IPCC Report 

The first half of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Report on the effects of climate change was published. It warns that at our current rate of warming global temperature will reach 1.5oC by the middle of the 21st century. 1.5oC is a global tipping point (opens new window) after which warming will rapidly increase. The report stated that to avoid warming of 1.5oC world emissions would need to be cut by 50% in 2030 and 100% in 2045.