COP26 Special Edition from Macctastic Eco Network
October 2021

We hope this newsletter finds you and your families safe and well.
This special edition will look at COP26 in more detail and we are also launching a mini-series looking at books, courses and other information that we hope you will find useful.

In just under four weeks’ time, the UK will host COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow. In this special newsletter edition, we discuss the importance of this conference and some ways in which you can get involved. We also launch our new ‘Information Exchange’ where we focus on different sustainability topics and make suggestions about further information and learning. Macctastic will be out and about over the coming months, supporting the One Project’s Halloween Spectacular (23 October at the Heritage Centre/Old Sunday School), hosting an Eco Hub with Scoops ’n’ Scales at Treacle Market on Sunday 31 October and at our next Public Meeting on 16 November at St Michael’s Church. More information about these and other Eco activities can be found below.

 COP 26 – Glasgow  

1st – 12th November 2021

What is COP26?

In 1992, at the Rio de Janeiro United Nations Earth Summit, 154 countries signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to combat the effects of global warming. The countries (or Parties) that signed the Convention agreed to meet each year to review progress, and in 1995 Conference of Parties 1 (COP1) was held in Berlin.

Not much happened until around 2005 when concerns increased after the European heatwave of 2003 (which led to about 70,000 heat-related deaths), plus the effects of Hurricane Katrina that resulted in over $125 billion of damage and 1,800 deaths. Climate change began to be taken much more seriously due to undeniable, expensive, and lethal impacts on human activities.

At COP21 in Paris, the Parties agreed to prepare plans that would limit global temperature rise to 1.5oC by the end of the century. Not all the Parties have made plans yet, and it currently looks as though temperatures will be at least 2.7oC above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

Why is COP26 important?

Another UN organisation – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – monitors all research on climate change, including impacts on communities and economies. Every five years or so, the IPCC produces a set of assessment reports on the science, impacts, and means of minimising the effects of climate change. Part 1 of the 6th set of reports was published in August 2021, covering research into the science of climate change. Parts 2 and 3 are due by early 2022. Because its reports are scrutinised by policy makers (mainly politicians and public officials) its findings are often considered to be conservative. 

Part 1 of Assessment Report 6 identifies that climate change is causing extreme weather conditions in all regions of the world, including heatwaves, flooding, and storms, and that these are the result of human activities. The speed of these changes is unprecedented.

Strong, rapid, and continual reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are needed to keep global temperature rises below 2oC by 2100. This doesn’t sound very much, but the wildfires in USA, Europe, Australia, and Russia, plus devastating floods in Germany, Belgium, and Netherlands in 2021, and storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge that hit Wales and southern England in February 2020, have all happened with a rise of about 0.9oC. Time is running out if we want to avoid the worst impacts.

What can I do?

Climate change can be tackled successfully by government policies in combination with individual actions. The first thing we can do is hassle our politicians to take climate change seriously. In Britain, we have quite a good record of setting targets in law, but the time for action is right now. We need better transport policies that reduce our reliance on oil; we need practical help and funding for insulating and heating our homes; we need a low carbon farming and food system; but above all we need better education and information.

Fortunately, Macclesfield is full of people and groups that help to reduce the impacts of climate and environmental change: why not join one, such as the 12 Days of COP campaign, and help work towards a cleaner, cooler, happier planet?

The 12 Days of COP campaign aims to inspire people in and around Bollington and Macclesfield to significantly reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions by taking at least one action.  The challenge coincides with the 12 days of the COP26 summit and nominally features one step each day of the summit.

More information about WHY each of these 12 changes can make a difference, and HOW you can make the change.

The campaign is hoping you will share their aim to inspire people to take an action they had not previously considered, and to share their actions by talking to friends so that little by little, small positive steps add up to something much bigger. For more information, please contact us.

 Macctastic Information Exchange 

Would you like to know more about the issues behind climate change, but don’t quite know where to start? In this newsletter we start a mini-review of sources of information suitable for all levels – from beginner to expert - kicking off with a book, a course, and a podcast. Each review is the opinion of a Macctastic member, so if you have observations of your own, or would like to recommend a different information source, please let us know.

The Book

If you’re looking for a wide ranging, easily understandable, and often quite funny source of information on the carbon footprint of just about anything, it would be difficult to beat How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee.

The current version (published in late 2020) contains a very short but clear description of what 'carbon footprint' really means, and why it is important. The main part of the book then sets out the carbon cost of things, from a pint of tap water (0.2g CO2e) to wildfires (8.6 billion tonnes CO2e in 2019), with around 100 items and activities in between. The book finishes off with some good news about what we can all do to calculate, and then reduce, our carbon outputs.

So, how bad are bananas? At about 110g CO2e each, not that bad at all. The book itself will cost £8.99, plus around 400g CO2e, but less if you pass it on to someone else, or borrow it from the library. And if you need to know what CO2e means, the answer is on page 7.

The Course

There is such a thing as a MOOC. This might sound like a walk-on part in a Harry Potter novel but is, in fact, a Massive Open Online Course.  These short courses, presented by various universities and almost always free of charge, are designed to appeal to pretty much anyone, and cover a vast array of subjects.  The best way to find out what is available is to investigate a platform such as Future Learn where you can choose from 33 courses on climate change alone. Through a comments box specific to each course you can have a lively, but always respectful, conversation with fellow participants and, sometimes, the course tutors.

As a taster, we recommend Tipping Points: Climate Change and Society a six hour course, spread over two weeks, from University of Exeter. It covers definitions of climatic tipping points in the natural world by looking at events in the Arctic, Amazon rainforest, and the marine environment, followed by their effects on human communities. It rounds off with a short segment on ways of influencing behavioural changes and collective action.

The course comprises a mix of short videos plus written articles and references to other sources of information, and the main presenter is Professor Tim Lenton, one of the world’s leading climate scientists. The basic course is free, and you can take as long as you need to complete it, although a £42 upgrade will buy you more-or-less permanent access to all the information. This is highly recommended with, or without, the upgrade.

The Podcast

If you have ever wondered what the connection between astrophysics and the carbon footprint of food could be, a half-hour BBC podcast in The Life Scientific series will provide all the answers. In a fascinating interview by Jim Al-Khalili, almost-local Professor Sarah Bridle (who lives in Wilmslow) describes her career in space science, and how she adapted techniques for measuring the cosmos to evaluating the contribution that food and agriculture makes to climate change.

 Repair Café  

The Repair Café has been a great success so far! We have welcomed many visitors on the two sessions we have held, where we have managed to repair people's treasured items. In two instances we managed to advise the parts which were needed, then fully repaired the item at the second session once these were brought back. We received amazing feedback from our visitors, who not only had a chance to see but also in many instances get involved in the repairs. Hot drinks and cake also went down a treat! We would like to thank everybody who came to see us for their support and generosity, your donations are such a big help to keep us going and to further our cause. Of course we would like to send a special thanks to our repairers and volunteers, who without them it would not have been possible to bring the idea to life.

We are currently running a crowdfunding campaign, to help us continue the work we are doing. This will help us buy certain items which will help with the longevity of the project, as we hope that this will be something we can hold well into the future, and with all of your help we are sure we will!

Please visit our crowdfunding page. Any donation no matter how small will make a big difference! We have until the end of the month to show how much local support we have to also qualify for our chance to be considered for the Cheshire East Crowd Fund.

See you all at the next Repair Cafe on 13 November!

 Other news  

The One Project, formed from Macclesfield Plant Swap and Grow Macclesfield held a very successful Green Fest event at Christchurch in September and are continuing to rejuvenate and improve unloved parts of Macclesfield. They have been working, along with Kate Ellis or 'Terracycle Kate', on the site behind the Salvation Army building on Roe Street, clearing the area and installing planters for the benefit of locals walking into town and residents living on the surrounding streets. 
They also tackled the Exchange Square area near B&M Bargains, in front of the Age UK charity shop. This area, which includes raised planters and seating areas, has become a target for anti-social behaviour and is privately, rather than council, owned. The One Project and Kate are now looking for a town centre location they can convert into a shared space for eco groups to use and where Kate can set up a permanent site for Terracycle.

 Dates for your Diary  

Sat 23rd October, 5.30 - 8:00pm, One Project’s Halloween Spectacular, Heritage Centre

Sunday 31st October 10:00am - 3:00pm, Treacle Market, Macctastic & Scoops and Scales ‘Eco Hub’

Tuesday 16th November, 7.30 - 9.00pm, St Michael’s Church, Macctastic Open Meeting

Congleton Sustainability Group is planning a week-long climate festival 23rd-29th October, culminating in a Green Fayre on Saturday 30th October. Esther Bird, who gave the opening presentation at our own Eco-Summit in May, will be contributing to Congleton’s festival along with other members of Macclesfield Eco-Youth Group.

Wilmslow group Green fest throughout October


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