Can Carbon Capture and Storage help us deliver on climate change?

Recent years have seen a surge in enthusiasm for tackling climate change. However, the window of opportunity to do this is narrowing. Warming depends on cumulative emissions, meaning our attempts to limit it come with a finite carbon budget - a budget which is shrinking rapidly, and could be blown in less than 20 years.

As we’ve continued to eat this carbon budget, it has become clear that as well as cutting our emissions, we will need to capture them.

Carbon Brief animation: The Paris climate deal set a temperature limit of "well below 2C" of global warming, and says there should be "efforts" to limit it to 1.5C. But how much time do we have left before our greenhouse gas emissions take us past these thresholds?

Capturing carbon

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) involves trapping CO2 as it is produced by power plants and storing it deep in geological formations, preventing it from reaching the atmosphere. Capturing emissions is a critical addition to reducing them, partly because of the slow pace of climate action so far, but also because in some sectors - notably industry – cutting emissions to zero on any timescale is a formidable technical challenge.

Rolling out CCS at scale is therefore looking more and more like a necessity. Leading scientists have suggested our ability to hold warming below 2˚C could hinge on carbon capture, and the International Energy Agency expects CCS to account for a huge 13% of all global emissions reductions by 2050.

However, the technology is still relatively young and has struggled with delays, higher-than-expected costs and lost funding in recent years. In the UK, a £1 billion competition to fund the country’s first commercial scale CCS project was unexpectedly cancelled in 2015, and the future of the industry remains uncertain.

Elsewhere in the world large-scale CCS projects do now exist. By the end of 2017 more than 20 could be in operation, the first of which is now capturing nearly 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year. However, scaling this up to meet our climate targets could require hundreds more plants to be operating by 2030. This is achievable, but political momentum and investment are needed to speed up deployment of this potentially game-changing technology.   

Going negative?

CCS is also known as a component of ‘negative emissions technologies’, where it is combined with bioenergy. Negative emissions technologies are a popular, but controversial, solution to the risk of overshooting our dwindling carbon budget. While they remain unproven, these potentially allow us to go beyond carbon capture and actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The most popular negative emissions technology is BECCS - Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage. This involves growing vegetation to soak up atmospheric CO2, before harvesting and burning it to generate power, simultaneously capturing the resulting emissions using CCS.

While BECCS sounds appealing, the use of land to grow vegetation for bioenergy opens the door to conflict over land rights and food production. With many of the scenarios in which BECCS helps us meet our 2˚C target requiring an area of land more than twice the size of India, this is a serious concern.

What can you do?

CCS technology is a critical opportunity to bring global emissions back in line with our climate targets, reducing our reliance on problematic negative emissions technologies such as BECCS. It is also a chance for the UK to combine climate and industrial leadership. CCS could add up to £4 billion to the UK economy by 2030 and create 30,000 jobs, but investment and support will be needed to realise these benefits. Claire Perry, the Minister for Climate Change and Industry, recently said she would like to see the UK taking a leading role in global climate action; ask your MP how support for CCS could contribute to this vision.

Why work with us? Contributing to Hope for the Future’s ongoing MP communications research

In order to represent their constituents appropriately, MPs must listen to their opinions, struggles, values and passions and allow this to influence the arguments they bring to Parliament. This relationship between constituents and their MPs is one which must be protected, maintained and enabled to flourish in order to establish a healthy representative democracy. At Hope for the Future, we believe that this relationship is the bedrock of democracy and a vital vehicle for social change.

Constituents meet with Fabian Hamilton MP

Constituents meet with Fabian Hamilton MP

Through researching the conditions of MP-Constituent engagements, we aim to establish how this relationship can be better supported to create a fairer and more representative society, particularly with regards to climate change.

Accompanying constituents for over 100 MP meetings over the last three years, we have dedicated our time to understanding why so many campaigners feel frustrated with their engagement with their MP. We have met with many MPs of different political persuasions and values. Whether they are an MP that devotes their time to work in Parliament, or one that places greater importance on their work in the local constituency, we find that the vast majority of MPs have a strong sense of respect for the integrity of the relationship between constituents and themselves.

Along with our first hand experience and hearing from MPs themselves, we draw on recent political research in order to establish the conditions for a constructive MP engagement.

“[The relationship between MP and constituent is] that of a priest and parishioners, solicitor and clients, shepherd and flock, shop steward and workers and friend of many friends. The MP should be the living embodiment of the constituency, tirelessly promoting and defending the territory with the ferocity of a mother protecting her offspring.”
— Paul Flynn in The House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work, Emma Crewe

One such area of research was that of political anthropologist, Emma Crewe. In her book, The House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work, Dr Crewe explores the motivations and values of MPs. She delves into the mysteries of what is going on behind what Hope for the Future has described as the ‘glass wall’ -  a metaphorical barrier that campaigners face when attempting to engage their MP.

Another significant influence in our research was from the work of Peter Bull, a political psychologist at York University. Dr Bull’s research into the defensive behaviours of MPs suggests that MPs have three ‘faces’ - or an image - which they must portray to the public and protect when under scrutiny; their personal face, the face of supporting and non-supporting others, and the face of their own political party. Dr Bull used these faces to explain the way in which politicians respond to questions in interviews by avoiding direct answers or giving ambiguous responses.

Drawing on research such as the examples given above, our approach understands how constituents could break through this ‘glass wall’ to find the individual with similar hopes, dreams and fears to their own, and begin to work together.

Our research allows us to train constituents in how to work constructively with even the most challenging of MPs. It empowers constituents who need further experience, support and confidence to take control of their relationship with their MP and work for the change they wish to see in the world. We accompany constituents across the UK to meet with their MP so that we can gain a better understanding of what works well in an MP meeting, what the challenges are, and how we can use this experience to provide better support for others.

By working with us in discerning the most effective way to engage your MP on climate change, our supporters are contributing to our ground-breaking approach to lobbying MPs. We hope that as more people work with us in this way, we will be able to restore balance to MP-constituent meetings and promote a healthier, more representative democracy where citizens know that they can have their voices heard and make real change in our society.

Thank you to all our supporters for being a part of this exciting development in our move towards a sustainable future.

Contact us for one to one help and support working with your MP. 

What happened at COP22 and what does Trump's decision mean for climate change?

Rachael Treharne has recently joined Hope for the Future as a volunteer. She has recently completed an internship with BirdLife International, an environmental NGO, with whom she attended the COP22 United Nations climate talks in Marrakech. Rachael shares her experience sitting in on the climate negotiations in Marrakech, giving an insight into the passion and commitment of world leaders towards action on climate change.

Rachael is a volunteer for Hope for the Future and attended the climate negotiations in Marrakech, 2016.

Rachael is a volunteer for Hope for the Future and attended the climate negotiations in Marrakech, 2016.

In November 2016 nearly 200 countries came together in the dust and heat of Marrakech to begin implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change. Two days into the negotiations, we woke up to the prospect of a US president who has referred to climate change as a ‘hoax’; a president who last week announced that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is an ambitious, global deal to hold warming well below 2˚C and adapt to climate change. The agreement works from the ‘bottom up’, encouraging each country to set their own, individual targets (‘known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs). The Agreement is an historic success: not only for its content, but for the unprecedented political momentum it has generated. However, the Paris Agreement is not perfect. While emissions reductions pledged so far will prevent an additional 1˚C of warming, they will still lead to overall warming of nearly 3 degrees.

In Marrakech, countries hoped to begin developing a rulebook for the agreement that would push countries to improve their pledges. Negotiations were erratic – there was frustration, confusion and even anger as countries clashed over different priorities and, especially, over the need to support poorer countries.

The Paris agreement in 2015 was a historic success. 

The Paris agreement in 2015 was a historic success. 

However underlying these conversations was a real commitment to the spirit of the agreement and to tackling climate change head on. Following the news of the US election, countries immediately responded with public statements of continuing support for climate action, culminating in the ‘Marrakech Action Proclamation’. The mood was summarised by one negotiator; ‘If the US steps back on climate change, it is up to the rest of us to step forward’.

However, the US is responsible for the largest share of the world’s cumulative emissions, and Trump’s planned withdrawal from the agreement is an undeniable blow. Withdrawing will take four years, and some have suggested that Trump may in fact re-join, having weakened the US NDC – allowing him to claim he’s negotiated a better deal. Nonetheless, ‘the Trump effect’ is likely to impact global emissions reductions and reduce support available for poorer countries.

So what does this mean for global climate action? Critically, much of the good news in Marrakech emerged outside the negotiating rooms. Most dramatically, 47 of the world’s poorest countries committed to 100% renewable energy production. There was also real leadership shown by the private sector, with major businesses committing to 100% renewable energy production and the ‘We Mean Business’ coalition highlighting over 1000 climate commitments from nearly 500 businesses.

This push for a greener future has been echoed in the days since US withdrawal was announced. Not only have leaders around the world have been quick to condemn to move, but cities, businesses and other groups across the US have stated that they will bypass Washington, working together to fulfil the US commitments under the Paris Agreement.  

This enthusiasm and determination within communities, constituencies and institutions is central to delivering climate action to an international level. While the changing political climate poses challenges to addressing climate change, it has failed to weaken the international momentum behind the Paris Agreement. It may even be galvanising extra support for climate change, in the words of a climate campaigner in Marrakech, creating an ‘organisers’ paradise’. 

Announcing the launch of our new Campaigner Workbook

We are very excited to announce the launch of our new Campaigner Workbook which aids campaigners in developing a tailored strategy for working with their MP on climate change. The Workbook guides readers in all aspects of setting up and preparing for a meeting with their MP and is full of advice on how to get the best outcome- including from MPs themselves.

“This is a really excellent resource and should prove to be of great benefit to all those, in both faith communities and secular groups, who are engaged in lobbying their politicians on issues of sustainability or climate change.”
— Nicky Bull, Chair, Operation Noah

Campaigners often come to us despondent about their MP's blatant apathy towards climate change, bewildered as to why the greatest issue of our time is not higher on the political agenda. Over the last three years we have developed an approach which effectively engages even the most resistant of MPs and for the first time, this step by step guide will enable groups and individuals to fully put this into practice for themselves.

You can read some of our campaigners' success stories on other blogs such as meetings with renown climate sceptic, Philip Davies, Transport Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, and Education Secretary of State Justine Greening.

What is the secret to their success?

Often perceived as distant, overwhelming and politically divisive, effective communication about climate change requires genuine empathy and a strong understanding of the challenges and barriers to engagement. In depth research of an MP's interests, values and motivations enables campaigners to determine what essentially will motivate their MP. It is this which forms the basis for the development of the tailored strategies which have proven so effective in engaging MPs. As Ken Haemer rightly said, "designing a presentation without your audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it 'to whom it may concern". 

An approach based in finding common ground demonstrates that differing political values need not be a barrier to action. This is a vital realisation for those of us most concerned about climate change as the long term, large scale response we seek requires cross-party commitments that will span beyond five year election cycles.

Getting Hold of a Copy

The launch of the Workbook will be taking place this Saturday 20th May in Oxford. As part of Earthing Faith's 4 week climate change course, we will be running an afternoon session guiding campaigners through the workbook when we will share the inspiring stories and individuals behind each piece of advice. The event and workbook is free of charge and you can book your place here.

The workbooks will also be available to purchase at our training days run on behalf of The Climate Coalition in Leeds, Manchester, London and Exeter. Find out more information here.

For more information about putting on a local training session with the workbook in your area click here, or contact us directly here.

“The key to advocacy is building a good working relationship with an MP. Hope for the Future’s workbook is a step by step practical guide- and it’s the best I’ve seen.”
— John Battle, former Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

Hope for the Future's Big Move

Laura, Jo and Sarah in the new office

Laura, Jo and Sarah in the new office

Monday 24th May marked an exciting day for Hope for the Future. It was the day we moved into our new office! We have spent the past two weeks gathering furniture and equipment, and settling into the new space. The office is located in the vibrant church of Victoria Methodist in the centre of Sheffield, where classes, groups and meetings contribute to the constant buzz of the building.

Victoria Methodist is also home to the Steeple Corner Café, which belongs to the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP). The RJFP is a national initiative that began in Leeds, noticing the amount of food that is wasted everyday by supermarkets not being able to sell food past its sell-by date, even food that is still perfectly edible. It has been fantastic sitting down to eat lunch at the pay as you feel café, seeing the beautiful creations that the manager, Josie, and her team of volunteers manage to dream up and create every morning.

Amazing food that would have been in the bin if it weren't for the Real Junk Food Project

Amazing food that would have been in the bin if it weren't for the Real Junk Food Project

Since June 2015 we’ve fed over 25,000 people and saved 100s of tons of food from going to waste. In 2018 we expect to save 500 tons.
— The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield

Find your nearest café here: http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/

We are so grateful for everyone who donated office equipment, time or money to help us with the big move. If you would like to make a donation to help with the work of Hope for the Future, please see our donation page or get in touch

Wirral MP 'serious about climate change', pledges to support the #DivestParliament campaign

Hope for the Future met with Shadow Minister for Employment and Inequalities, Margaret Greenwood MP.  Following the meeting, Margaret has pledged to  call on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels and create a world leading fund in responsible investment if reelected as MP.  You can read Ms Greenwood's statement on her Facebook page here.

Ms Greenwood's office wrote the following a press release about Hope for the Future and the importance of action on climate change. 

Jo Musker-Sherwood (HFTF Director), Margaret Greenwood MP and Laura D'Henin (HFTF Researcher)

Jo Musker-Sherwood (HFTF Director), Margaret Greenwood MP and Laura D'Henin (HFTF Researcher)

"Margaret Greenwood MP has met with representatives from Hope for the Future, a national advice body for individuals, groups, faith communities and non-governmental organisations seeking to engage UK politicians on climate change.

Ms Greenwood met with Jo Musker-Sherwood, who is Director of Hope for the Future, and Laura D’Henin who is a Researcher and from Wirral.

Among the issues talked about in the meeting were Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in the Dee Estuary, something which Margaret Greenwood, previously a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee in Parliament, has long spoken out against.

Other issues affecting Wirral that were raised included flooding, protection for bird life, and biodiversity in the River Dee, as well as fuel poverty.

Ms Greenwood commented: “I was pleased to have the chance to meet with Hope for the Future and get to know about the work they do and what they hope to achieve. I was particularly interested to hear their thoughts about issues affecting Wirral.” 

Jo said: “Hope for the Future aims to build working partnerships with MPs to address issues around climate change. It was pleasing to meet a supportive MP in Margaret and we know she has spoken out about climate change and related matters on several occasions in Parliament.”

Laura added: “The issue of climate change is very important. As a resident of Wirral, I am very concerned about the increase in flooding in recent years and the effect it could have on our beautiful coastline.”

Hope for the Future’s primary aim is to work with both communities and politicians to get climate change onto the political agenda, and their overall vision is to see politicians of all political persuasions joining together with each other and communities across the UK to take decisive action on climate change."

You can read more about the Divest Parliament movement here.

Getting Climate Change onto the Political Agenda: Snap Election Hustings Resources

2015 Sheffield environment hustings. Green, Labour and UKIP candidates found common ground in uniting against an increasingly 'wasteful' society to tackle climate change and other related issues.

2015 Sheffield environment hustings. Green, Labour and UKIP candidates found common ground in uniting against an increasingly 'wasteful' society to tackle climate change and other related issues.

Parliament will be officially dissolved on the 3rd May following the Prime Minister's surprise announcement last Tuesday. All current MPs will become candidates fighting to retain their seat and opinion polls do not currently look hopeful for the main opposition.

With Brexit, immigration and the economy likely to dominate the debate, how can we get climate change onto the political agenda?

Hustings are a unique opportunity usually only available every half a decade which encourage open political debate about the issues that matter most to the local community. Candidates showcase their values and vision for if they are successful in their election campaigns. A climate focused hustings will enable candidates to learn more about related issues, to make promises to which they are accountable, and ultimately will allow the audience to make a more informed choice about their vote on an issue that matters to them.

The upheaval of the last two years in British politics underlines the importance of constituent engagement in ongoing political debate. A weaker opposition creates a greater need for constituents to hold their MPs to account and to give them an insight into the issues that are above party politics and spanning more than one election term.

Read Hope for the Future's election hustings resources. Make sure to keep checking back as we update them.

Finally, make sure you check that you are registered to vote. It takes less than five minutes and you can register here.

Top 10 Facts to Drop into a Conversation with your MP

Hope for the Future is here to support anyone wishing to work with their MP on climate change or related issues. Learn more about our tailored advice here on get in touch with us at info@hopeftf.org.uk.

Hope for the Future is here to support anyone wishing to work with their MP on climate change or related issues. Learn more about our tailored advice here on get in touch with us at info@hopeftf.org.uk.

Leading research in climate change communications shows that statistics alone rarely change peoples' perspective on climate change- it's personal experiences and conversations around audiences' existing values that make the biggest impact. However, some carefully selected facts, dropped into the conversation at the right time can make a big difference in evidencing your perspective and gaining your MP's curiosity to learn more. Once you have your MPs attention, the details can follow.

We've memorised these 10 facts covering food, energy and climate science to have at our fingertips in our meetings with MPs...

  1. The International Energy Agency says the world will need almost 60% more energy in 2030 than in 2002.
  2. Worldwide renewable energies accounted for more than half the new generating capacity in 2015 (Nat Geo, April 2017 edition).
  3. Since 2008 the cost of solar panel production has decreased by 80% (Dr Aaron Thierry).
  4. About 40 per cent of all wind energy in Europe blows over the UK, making it an ideal country for wind turbines (Energy Saving Trust).
  5. For every £1 spent on reducing fuel poverty, a return of 42 pence can been seen in NHS savings (Cambridge Econometrics). Additionally, insulating 6 million homes would mean energy bill savings of £8.61 billion per annum across housing stock (Cambridge Econometrics).
  6. The Great Barrier Reef experienced its largest recorded coral die off in 2016; 67% of coral died in a 430 mile stretch (Nat Geo, April 2017 edition).
  7. Electric vehicles are on track to secure half of the car market in the next 10 years. Britain is currently the fourth largest vehicle producer in Europe so we are in the position to take advantage of electric vehicle production here in the UK.
  8. In 2030, wheat prices will be 120% more than the 2010 price, and maize could reach a 177% increase on 2010 price- we need to move towards a more sustainable food supply (Dr Aaron Thierry).
  9. If every light bulb in the UK was changed to LED it would save enough electricity to eradicate the need for Hinkley Point. (Community Energy England).
  10. Every ton of carbon dioxide we emit melts 32 square feet of Arctic Ice- the average UK citizen melts 310 square metres a year (Nat Geo, April 2017 edition)