Hansen: Climate target is not radical enough

[I don’t often do this, but this piece is so important, and so needs to be widely read and understood…]
 Here is an article from the _Guardian_, from earlier this week:



Climate target is not radical enough – study

Nasa scientist warns the world must urgently make huge CO2 reductions

Monday April 7 2008


[ This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday April 07 2008 on p1 of the Top stories section. It was last updated at 01:21 on April 07 2008. ]

One of the world’s leading climate scientists warns today that the EU and its international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of fears they have grossly underestimated the scale of the problem.

In a startling reappraisal of the threat, James Hansen, head of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, calls for a sharp reduction in C02 limits.

Hansen says the EU target of 550 parts per million of C02 – the most stringent in the world – should be slashed to 350ppm. He argues the cut is needed if “humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed”. A final version of the paper Hansen co-authored with eight other climate scientists, is posted today on the Archive website. Instead of using theoretical models to estimate the sensitivity of the climate, his team turned to evidence from the Earth’s history, which they say gives a much more accurate picture.

The team studied core samples taken from the bottom of the ocean, which allow C02 levels to be tracked millions of years ago. They show that when the world began to glaciate at the start of the Ice age about 35m years ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere stood at about 450ppm.

“If you leave us at 450ppm for long enough it will probably melt all the ice – that’s a sea rise of 75 metres. What we have found is that the target we have all been aiming for is a disaster – a guaranteed disaster,” Hansen told the Guardian.

At levels as high as 550ppm, the world would warm by 6C, the paper finds. Previous estimates had suggested warming would be just 3C at that point.

Hansen has long been a prominent figure in climate change science. He was one of the first to bring the crisis to the world’s attention in testimony to Congress in the 1980s.

But his relationship with the Bush administration has been frosty. In 2005 he accused the White House and Nasa of trying to censor him. He has steadily revised his analysis of the scale of the global warming and was himself one of the architects of a 450ppm target. But he told the Guardian: “I realise that was too high.”

The fundamental reason for his reassessment was what he calls “slow feedback” mechanisms which are only now becoming fully understood. They amplify the rise in temperature caused by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases. Ice and snow reflect sunlight but when they melt, they leave exposed ground which absorbs more heat.

As ice sheets recede, the warming effect is compounded. Satellite technology available over the past three years has shown that the ice sheets are melting much faster than expected, with Greenland and west Antarctica both losing mass.

Hansen said that he now regards as “implausible” the view of many climate scientists that the shrinking of the ice sheets would take thousands of years. “If we follow business as usual I can’t see how west Antarctica could survive a century. We are talking about a sea-level rise of at least a couple of metres this century.”

The revised target is likely to prompt criticism that he is setting the bar unrealistically high. With the US administration still acting as a drag on international efforts, climate campaigners are struggling even to get a 450ppm target to stick.

Hansen said his findings were not a recipe for despair. The good news, he said, is that reserves of fossil fuels have been exaggerated, so an alternative source of energy will have to be rapidly put in place in any case. Other measure could include a moratorium on coal power stations which would bring the C02 levels to below 400ppm.

Hansen’s revised position will pile yet further pressure on Britain over plans to build a new generation of coal power stations. Last year he wrote to Gordon Brown urging him to block the first such power station; the Royal Society has made similar suggestions to the government.


Earth in crisis, warns NASA’s top climate scientist
AFP – 4 hours ago
WILMINGTON, Delaware (AFP) — Global warming has plunged the planet into a crisis and the fossil fuel industries are trying to hide the extent of the problem


Climate target is guaranteed catastrophe
Guardian, UK – 10 hours ago
One of the world’s leading climate scientists warns today that the EU and its international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon


NASA scientist presses US on climate
The News Journal, DE – Apr 6, 2008
By CRIS BARRISH • The News Journal • April 6, 2008 WILMINGTON — To stem the spread of global warming, the public must pressure governments and power


New Focus on Coal’s Part in Warming
Washington Post, United States – Apr 5, 2008
James E. Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute said nations could use less coal if energy efficiency got more attention. (By Melanie Patterson — The Daily





“Local government should be local“, say Greens.


With the Boundary Committee asking Councils in Norfolk to put forward revised conceptual models for unitary Councils across the county by today, Norwich and Norfolk Green Parties decided to restate their common position. [A version of this document has just been sent to the Boundary Commission, an hour ahead of their final deadline for comments from interested parties.]

The Green Party continues to support ‘four and a half’ unitaries for Norfolk:

Greater Norwich (covering the whole of the built-up area)

North Norfolk (covering the coast and the broads)

South Norfolk (taking in part of the current Breckland district)

West Norfolk (taking in part of the current Breckland district)

Yartoft (the urban areas of the current Yarmouth and Waveney districts).


However, if ‘Yartoft’ were ruled out, the Greens would then support four unitaries for Norfolk:

Greater Norwich (covering the whole of the built up area)

North Norfolk (covering the coast, including Yarmouth, and the broads)

South Norfolk (taking in part of the current Breckland district)

West Norfolk (taking in part of the current Breckland district)

Cllr. Adrian Ramsay, Leader of the Green Party Group on Norwich City Council, said, “We believe that local government should be local. Anything less than four unitaries undermines any pretence of all of the people of Norfolk getting local government, and so we cannot see how that would be acceptable.

“We believe that four (or four and a half) unitaries is the position now being put forward by West Norfolk and South Norfolk Councils, so there is increasing support for it.”

Cllr. Ramsay continued, “We do not support the idea of 3 unitaries for Norfolk because it would involve a South Norfolk Council that would run from King’s Lynn to Loddon – this is far too wide an area to have any real local accountability or sense of identity.

“Needless to say we are also strongly opposed to the two unitary and one unitary (full county unitary) models, both which would create an absurdly large unitary authority. If the Boundary Committee is minded to propose either of these we would want to investigate keeping a two-tier arrangement in rural Norfolk but just introducing a unitary council for Greater Norwich as Norwich City Council originally suggested.”

Cllr. Rupert Read, lead European elections candidate for Eastern Region Green Party, is also the Press Officer for Norfolk Green Party. He added: “Some recent discussions between the Boundary Committee and Norwich City Councillors have highlighted the need for the City Council to be clear on the reasons for unitary status for Norwich. It was suggested that if the city region concept and economic and housing growth are the prime motivators than that may be a reason for a larger boundary for the Greater Norwich Council. In our view, however, these have never been reasons for unitary status for Norwich. The key reasons for unitary status relate to local accountability and democracy and to the fact that urban Norwich has different needs to rural Norfolk. This reason points to a unitary council that covers the urban area and no more; and, indeed, we would argue that including rural areas in the new council would start to defeat the object of the exercise. Let the rural areas stay rural, and let Norwich have one Council to cover Norwich – the urban area – alone.”

Norwich Green Party Manifesto Summary for May 1st elections!

Norwich City Council Elections, Thursday 1 May 2008

Green Party Manifesto Summary

Everywhere more and more people are realising the importance of tackling manmade climate change. People are looking to vote for political parties that don’t just talk about the issue, but that will actually take the steps that are necessary if we want to provide a tolerable future (indeed a better future) for generations to come. Green Councillors in Norwich are already making an impact on the City Council’s approach to reducing energy use and promoting renewable energy.

Candidates and councillors in Norwich Green Party want to initiate a real dialogue with the public about council policies. We want an open Council. We want to bridge the gap between council officers, councillors and citizens and ensure decisions are taken in a transparent and accountable way. A Green Council would:

  • Set up area committees with local budgets, where ward councillors have real power to influence what happens in their areas (whether they are from the ruling party or not) and where local people can come along and have their say.
  • Improve community engagement and provide ‘neighbourhood plans’ that everyone can see and contribute to.
  • Bring the services run by CityCare back ‘in house’ so that councillors can have more influence in ensuring that these services are run to the satisfaction of residents.

It should be a basic human right that everyone has decent housing. Council homes are crucial to this aim. Greens want to ensure they are properly maintained and keep them in public ownership. We want everyone to enjoy an excellent service and we need to be tough on enforcement for those that don’t stick to the terms of their tenancy because of the effect this has on neighbours and future tenants. A Green Council would:

  • Inspect all Council homes and gardens annually, and ensure necessary support is provided for their upkeep.
  • Set up a specialised Void Property Team to deal with the problem of empty homes.
  • Build all new social housing in Norwich to a high environmental standard to help tackle fuel poverty and stop dangerous climate change (we would build to ‘code for sustainable homes’ level 4, reaching level 5 by 2012 and level 6 by 2016)
  • Require all new developments to include a high proportion of affordable housing (up to 50 per cent).

Norwich and the greater Norwich area could see massive development over the next twenty years with a Government target for 33,000 new homes. Greens believe that this level of housing growth is not sustainable and would have a devastating effect on the Norfolk countryside – by paving over a lot of it! With the Government failing to provide the money needed to fund the infrastructure necessary for this level of housing growth, the City Council should challenge the housing targets set. For any new developments that are built, a Green Council would:

  • Ensure energy efficiency and resource conservation statements are required for all new planning applications.
  • Prevent development on land with high levels of flood risk and land that is important wildlife habitat, such as immediately next to the riverbank.
  • Seek to set a tax for developers who delay in building on land after being given planning permission.

We would continue to invest in a truly comprehensive recycling scheme and would move the City towards Zero Waste. After the current roll-out of recycling facilities across the city is complete, many further improvements are still needed. A Green Council would:

  • Introduce doorstep collections of food waste, batteries and tetrapaks, in addition to the materials currently being collected (paper, glass, cans and – once new waste and recycling system is spread across the city – plastic bottles).
  • Support the reuse, repair and recycling of materials through a Resource Recovery Park.
  • Oppose all plans for incineration of waste.

Due to the energy and initiative of local people Norwich has a vibrant local economy with a high proportion of local and independent businesses. These help give Norwich a distinctive character and help ensure that local producers are supported. A Green Council would seek to enhance this area of the economy by:

  • Drawing up a ‘Maximise Local’ plan and supporting and expanding the ‘Buy Local’ campaign.
  • Considering factors such as local produce when allocating new market and street stalls.
  • Establishing more farmers’ markets.

Anti Social Behaviour and vandalism are major problems for many Norwich residents. We will continue to work closely with PCSOs and Community Wardens in tackling the problems and encourage residents to participate in the Safer Neighbourhood Action Panels, which set the community policing priorities for each area of the city. A Green Council would:

  • Set up more friends groups for parks and allotment associations, to engage residents in the running of them.
  • Increase the number of allotment plots available in Norwich by bringing all of the unused ‘un-lettable’ plots back into use.
  • Ensure that trees are only ever felled as a last resort, introduce the regular management of all trees on public land and ensure that any trees that are felled are replaced the following planting season.

We want to provide reliable and sustainable transport to help reduce carbon emissions and avoid the social exclusion of those who don’t have access to a car. Green Councillors will push for:

  • Reintroducing Council control over bus services to reduce fares and make routes reliable.
  • Making Westlegate and St Augustine’s Street free from motorised transport to help create a cleaner and more pleasant and safe living, shopping and working environment.
  • Rapid investment in a ‘Norwich Cycle Network’.
  • Road safety, including 20mph speed limits on residential streets, as a top funding priority.

Transport, waste disposal, education, social services and other important services are currently under the control of the County Council. The Green Party supports unitary status for Norwich so that decisions about these services are taken by councillors who are elected by Norwich residents and not the rural Conservatives who run County Hall. This election is likely to be the last one to the current City Council. Green City and County Councillors will work to ensure that the principles outlined in this manifesto are built into the development of the new unitary council from the outset.

At the 2007 local elections the Green Party was just one vote in one ward away from becoming the second party on the Council! This year, on 1st May, you can make a difference by voting Green and electing more Green Councillors to help build a Greener city.

[ To offer help with Norwich Green Party’s election campaign, or if you have any questions, please contact us on (01603) 611909 or enquiries@norwichgreenparty.org. Wherever you live in the country, consider visiting us to help out!]

Charles Clarke’s lies about Post Office closures



These sites prove that Charles Clarke is the last person in Norwich who one would trust to defend our Post Offices.

See also this remark of his from a recent article in the


Save our post offices

How closures will hit our communities

20 March 2008

MP Charles Clarke, whose constituency is Norwich South, has said he is keen to save post offices in his constituency when that is the best solution, but has distanced himself from criticising the cuts. He added: “I don’t think closing branches is a bad thing.”

NOW: contrast these facts with Clarke’s extraordinary remarks on the front page article of today’s EVENING NEWS:

Charles Clarke, MP for Norwich South, said: “I strongly support the campaigns against the closures of Vauxhall Street and Rosary Road [Post Offices] and I’m glad that there is such a strong demonstration of support from people in Norwich.”

…We in Norwich Green Party say that Mr. Clarke is misleading the public. His record proves that he is NOT against the closure of post offices. He is, not to mince words, lieing about his views on Post Office closures, for the sake of local popularity at election time.

The only Party that can be trusted not to close Norwich Post Offices is the Green Party. We actually believe in local services. [It’s called ‘localisation’: it’s the opposite of globalisation.]

Who Boris Johnson is

Further to my earlier post on this, a little more detail:
I went to Balliol with Boris, studying philosophy with him there and working with him at the Oxford Union, and I have touched base with him off and on in the years since. What most people who don’t know him don’t realise is Boris’s ruthlessness (as well as opportunism) as a politician. Much of what Boris does, if my experience is anything to go by, is very calculated; his self-presentation as slightly buffoon-like is mostly deliberate. He does what he thinks will bring him publicity and affection. And he is not at all averse to deceiving people in the process. For example: At Oxford, I was [for my sins…] President of the O.U Social Democratic Club; Boris sometimes presented himself as sympathetic with the SDP in order to curry favour with sections of the student body http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/pandora/a-youthful-flirtation-comes-back-to-haunt-boris-410843.html . His self-presentation nowadays as green-leaning is, I fear, a piece of equally opportunistic and calculated spin.
  I hope that Londoners will vote Sian Berry 1, Ken Livingstone 2 on May 1st. A victory for Boris would yield a few laughs, but would be a dreadfully-regressive step back in time for our nation’s capital city.