Another week of exceptional rainfall and flooding has brought damage and misery to large parts of northern England, Scotland and Ireland. First and foremost, help must be given to the communities and businesses badly affected. But as the floods waters recede, we need to ask whether we can help to prevent floods on this scale in the future.
The world gets serious about tackling climate change but the jury is still out on whether the UK government is.
Piers Forster, University of Leeds
The world grew up on 12 December 2015. Old differences between rich and poor, west and east were laid aside. Unbeknownst to anyone, 6 months ago and in secret, the sinking Marshall islanders had raised an army of over 100 ambitious nations that rose above the flotsam and jetsam of self-interest to create a stronger climate agreement than anyone thought possible.
(The 2012 scheme to green the Eiffel Tower by Ginger engineering firm, Vinci Construction and the architect Claude Bucher).
The Paris Agreement has been criticised by some NGOs for being too weak, because despite its lofty ambition to limit temperature rise to “well below 2C”, the actual country commitments, when summed, bring us closer to 3C. Yet I firmly believe that the negotiations last week achieved the strongest deal possible. Continue reading Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Look North’s weather man, Paul Hudson, (left) came into the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment (where UBoC is based) on the 16th of December, to record an edition of the BBC Weather Show. Paul spoke to a number of staff from across the faculty including; Jim McQuaid, Kirsty Pringle, Duncan Quincey, UBoC’s Tom Bliss (right), Suraje Dessai and Lisa Smith. The programme is available on BBC iPlayer (Tom’s contribution can be heard at about 37 minutes).
Meanwhile, UBoC have added an interactive map to the website, and finalised a new Newsletter for the start of 2016: Continue reading UboC on the Radio
The COP21 talks are drawing to a close in Paris this Friday, probably ending with the now ‘traditional’ all-night negotiating session. The optimism in the air is palpable but there are still some important last minute debates to be had that will ultimately determine how ambitious and legally binding the agreement is.
Great news from Trees for Water in India – a project funded by UBoC with generous donations from The Lions Clubs of Scotland and North East England.
“Greetings from CIRHEP. Thank you very much for your support and guidance. We gave 200 seedlings to School Children from CIRHEP contribution. The students have planted around School Building. The students and teachers are maintaining the seedlings. We hope it would give good result . Herewith we have attached some photos for your kind perusal.”
Professor Piers Forster asks: “What will the Paris climate conference mean for trees – and for me?”
Many will be aware that the UN is gearing up for a big climate change conference in Paris at the end of the month http://newsroom.unfccc.int/.
At this meeting international leaders will, hopefully, agree on the most important set of measures ever taken to lessen future climate change, and make the world more resilient to its effects.
It’s easy to get frustrated about the glacial rates of progress towards an agreement, but progress is being made. The first such meeting, at Kyoto in 1997, was successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from most developed countries, and we’ve learned lessons after the disastrous Copenhagen meeting in 2009. Paris is deliberately set up so that it cannot fail, so we can all look forward to watching François Holland on our TV screens on 8th December announcing great successes.
And we already know what most of these will be.
Together with our academic parters at the University of Leeds (the Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere and Forest Centre; LEAF), we have produced a summary booklet of the impacts of urban green spaces:
Feedback from planners, urban designers, landscape architects and local groups has been very positive.
“A good-looking tract to throw at sceptical decision makers or policy makers!” said one admirer.
UBoC’s Dominick Spracklen has been awarded a 2015 Philip Leverhulme Prize in recognition of his research in understanding interactions between the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere and climate and the way that these are being altered by human activity.
Dom’s recent work includes a Nature article which relates lowering deforestation rates in Brazil to improvements in air quality. This improved air quality can also be linked with improved human health (Reddington et al., 2015).
Leverhulme prizes are awarded to outstanding scholars who have made a substantial and recognised contribution to their particular field of study, recognised at an international level and whose future contributions are held to be of correspondingly high promise.
Philip Leverhulme Prizes commemorate the contribution to the work of the Trust made by Philip Leverhulme, the Third Viscount Leverhulme and grandson of the Founder. Each Prize has a value of £100,000 which can be used for any purpose which can advance the Prize holder’s research.
A new study led by UBoC scientists at the University of Leeds shows that the recent drop in Brazilian deforestation rates has improved air quality across South America, saving thousands of lives.
Each year in the Amazon, thousands of fires are lit to clear trees and vegetation in order to prepare the land for agriculture. Smoke from these fires causes a polluted haze over large areas of southern Brazil with serious consequences for human health.
UBoC’s long-standing partners, Size of Wales – a unique Welsh initiative tackling climate change by helping to preserve tropical forests – have made a bold decision to double their commitment – and protect an area double the size of the Principality.
‘The size of Wales’ is a term often used as a measure of tropical forest destruction, and UBoC worked with this Cardiff-based charity in 2012, on the Tongwe Trust’s Ten Million Trees in Tanzania project.
Size of Wales have spent the last 5 years successfully raising funds to help sustain approximately 2 million hectares, (4.9m acres) in both Africa and South America – supporting 15 local forest projects which ensure that forests are kept standing – to benefit local communities and also tackle climate change. This downloadable report details their recent work.