Royal Society of Medicine 'Energy Transition & Public Health' event -
Conclusions from Angie: excess winter mortality and morbidity remain a significant PH problem
Need to reduce CO2 emissions from housing, through home energy efficiency measures.
We know that housing accounts for about a third of all energy consumption, much of this to space heating. This has gradually increased over time, but with a recent dip. Our expectations are now very different so perhaps surprising that it hasn't changed more. Shift in sources of fuel used, from solid fuel towards gas, reflecting electricity generation shifts and improved home heating efficiency. As income group increases, amount of money spend on fuel decreases (as a proportion of income). Are we getting the balance right between reducing fuel poverty and reducing the health effects from climate change? Important to also consider potential harms to health, e.g.. overheating in summer, poorer indoor air quality, increased radon exposure.
Changes in EWD and indoor temperatures- has gradually increased over time, to around 17C, whilst average external temperatures have also increased. Over the same period, excess winter deaths have decreased since the 1950s.
16:30 Cold weather plan for England 2013 (and accompanying documents). Temperature guidance suggests a min temperature for daytime = 21C, and night time temp should be 18C. This has been used across government for the last 10 years. When published, had a deluge of comments and questions, particularly because it was published in the middle of the furore over energy prices. Should it be nuanced towards vulnerable groups? What about people's sense of thermal comfort? Clear need for some advice, but watch this space...
Tod et al - focus on situational and attitudinal factors; not everyone in a cold home is also in fuel poverty.
16:24 Article by Paul Wilkinson for Joseph Rowntree Foundation (
http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/cold-comfort-social-and-environmental-determinants-excess-winter-deaths-england-1986-19) on social and envt'l implicatinos of fuel poverty. Fuel poverty - about 2.5 mn households in England in 2010. £1bn would need to be spent to raise all of these households out of fuel poverty. Driven by: household income, energy prices, thermal efficiency of dwellings. Increased likelihood where: low income, oler and larger dwellings, private rented sector, inefficient boilers/no heating/no gas.
16:20 Dr. Angie Bone from Public Health England now speaking on Energy for heating and public health. Impacts of cols - worst on older people, increased risks of mortality, direct effects (heart attacks, stroke, resp. disease, flu, falls and injuries, hypothermia), indirect impacts and increased strain on emergency services. Who is most vulnerable? People over 75, children under 5, people with pre-existing chronic medical conditions. Important to consider in terms of how best to target advice.
16:15 Innovation is needed not only in technology but also in policy. Plays a critical role in terms of implementing and distributing new technologies. Whilst politics are very important, so too is technology. Low emission zone in Marylebone area - both policy and tech. change -> substantial difference in exposure to particles around this area. Part of the vision is zero emission cities: in coming years, likely to see more and more fuel cells around. strong policy decisions are crucial: what's come through today is the absence of leadership, which is necessary in this field to strongly guide the energy sector. Long-term investments need a different model. 'The rest of the world is looking to the UK for what they're going to do next. We've sold them all the tools they need to destroy the planet, but we could now instead supply cleaner, innovative alternatives'. Innovation can be democratised .
16:12 Fuel cells could be a useful part of this transition. Most solid fuel cells can run on propane/LPG, hydrogen. Benefits - low maintenance, efficient, robust in extreme weather, clean, quiet. Can be linked up with solar - effectively a large battery recharger.
16:10 Stephen Grubb: innovation in energy is comparatively poor. Why? It takes time and risk. Long-term commitment, with lots of challenges. But there are valuable co-benefits. How to structure it so as to be safer, more productive, more secure?
16:07 On PM2.5, the lungs have several ways of dealing with particles. Macrophages struggle with nano particles: they effectively tattoo the tissue of the lung. The health effects are not just in the lung. In the cardiovascular system, platelets interact with nanoparticles in pollution, predisposing to atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Extracellular innate immune defence mechanisms - programme immune responses through exposure to particles, affecting protein levels in the lungs. Strong case for reducing pollution in cities.
16:03 Dr. Michaela Kendall on 'Energy innovation and sustainability' - clean energy as a public health intervention. 'No one would plan an energy system like this: it has evolved erratically and eclectically. We don't really pay the true cost of our energy. Cars brought combustion back into cities, after unbreathable smogs forced domestic fires into centralised power stations. Removal of pollution (or at least dislocation) of people and pollution is essential, and a public health intervention
16:01 Audience Q: to what extent is present govt. policy on fracking consistent with a 2050 target? A from Adrian Gault: very difficult to know - we don't really know how much gas is out there. Out scenarios still have quite a lot of gas use, mainly in buildings for heating, with only 5% in generation. If the government is aiming for substantially higher than that, we don't think that is compatible with meeting 2050 targets. If fracked gas substitutes for imports of gas, it probably wouldn't affect emissions very much. If the govt encourages the use of that gas for generation, that would probably displace investment in renewables and other options. In the long run, substantial use of gas is incompatible with meeting our emissions targets, but that is not the case in a transition period. We do not want to see a 'rush for gas' for generation.
15:58 Big difference in emissions depending on whether you look at production or consumption. Legislation covers only production rather than consumption. Ideally we need to move towards a global deal on targets, which would then cover all emissions.
15:53 The 2050 target and carbon budgets - what is the progress? Success thus far is largely down to the impacts of the 2008-9 recession. Excluding this and weather, we are at a rate of 1%/year - we need to be at 3-4% per year.
15:52 Latest review included wider health and environmental impacts. Looked at a scenario where measures were in line with the CCC's advice, and to compare with a scenario where these measures were not taken. In net terms, there are clearly significant net benefits from this low carbon strategy - air pollution, noise, road traffic accidents. Some costs however, including air pollution from biomass, risks associated with nuclear power.
15:49 Affordability impacts: adds £100 (on top of £1300) to average household bill by 2020, further £20 in 2030. A substantial part of this is other factors, not low-carbon measures. BUT: >80% of the rise in prices is due to factors other than low-carbon measures, mainly the rising price of gas. Moreover, other measures eg. home insulation can more than offset this impact on average. Potential to offset any impacts on fuel poverty from low carbon measures.
15:48 What would be the economic consequences of early action? Cost saving as compared to a delay scenario: low regrets with a significant upside. Face a higher price later if we do not act early. The only scenario where this is not the case is a world in which gas prices are extremely low, or where you are giving up on the 2050 climate targets.
15:46 UK government wanting to do a review of the 4th Carbon budget. Advice from the CCC: the UK's 2050 target of an 80% emissions reduction remains appropriate, and is less ambitious than the most cost-effective mitigation pathway. Also stated that an early decision by the Government would be useful - better for business confidence.
What is required to meet the budget? Lots of emphasis on efficiency improvements, and on decarbonisation of the electricity sector.
15:42 Considerations in the 2050 target: projections of CC risks. Cam to a view that aiming to a limit of 2C was a good aim for policy. In particular, keep risk of 4C to very low levels (eg 1%) - increasingly serious and increasingly difficult to adapt. Possible future global emissions pathways able to achieve this kind of ambition. Concluded that emissions need to peak by 2020 and be halved by 2050. This enables approx. 2 tonnes/capita around the world. It is hard to see why the UK should have a larger share of emissions per capita than anywhere else; arguably it should have to reduce by rather more (hence 'at least'). Starting from 10 tonnes/capita.
Adrian Gault, chief economist at the Committee on Climate Change, an independent body set up in 2008 to advise the government on legally-binding 5 year carbon budget (have to be 3 at any one time), as well as advising the government on its progress towards meeting that budget. If govt rejects the CCC's advice, it has to seek their advice and get this through in legislation. In advising on carbon budgets, the committee has to take into account:
science, technology, economic circumstance (inc. likely impact of decision, and competitiveness), fiscal circumstance, social circumstances, energy policy (including supplies).
Need to focus on policies that enhance wellbeing. Need to take a holistic lifestyle approach, address inequalities
Rebound estimates: larger for low-income households. Suggested policy responses to counteract the rebound effect? Plan with it in mind, encourage green investment. Work time reduction - reduce incomes, expenditures and consumption, as well as changing time and expenditure budget. Could also reduce unemployment and inequalities *but* need special measures for low in come households
Rebound effect: lower petrol bills if more fuel efficiency -> more holidays (for example), or save it and the bank invests in in BP> How to reinforce this? 'Turn lights into flights' energy-saving lights promotion by Tesco: incredibly short-sighted.
15:24 How much CO2 is needed for a 'good life'? If homes thermally efficient, public transport, elimination of 'over-consumption', egalitarian society: -> 37% reduction. But very difficult, need to think differently. We all only have 24 hours in a day. Looked at the carbon intensity of different uses of time: sleeping, recreation and leisure, goal-orientated activities eg. reading,
15:21: Embedded emissions take up about 2/3 of the average UK citizen's carbon footprint. Travel = 10%, household direct emissions (inc. electricity) = 24%. We have to take responsibility for those emissions, much of which occur in other countries. What do we do with this carbon? 27% = recreation and leisure, 24% food and catering, space heating 13%, health and hygiene 9%, communications 1%. Travel comes into most of our activities, and account for around 27% of our entire footprint (not just the fuel, but all the infrastructure, services that go with travel.
15:15: Angela Druckson: 'Addiction to Carbon: how bad is it, and how to kick the habit?'
14:58 Meeting CC objectives will require transformative changes in all sectors of the economy. Benefits are not automatic, however, and care is needed to avoid unintended adverse consequences. The greatest challenge is how to achieve the required scale and pace of change.
14:54 Family planning can intensify the decline in maternal mortality. Essentially about birth spacing - 13% reduction with >2 years between children. Modelled health impact based on local conception rates of an expanded FP programme for Uttar Pradesh, India. Business as usual vs 'no unmet need' counterfactual scenario. Overall, if all unmet FP needs in Uttar Pradesh were met, there would be 20 maternal deaths, 16 infant deaths, 3000 unwanted births avoided, as well as 30000-40000 tonnes (2.4% of the area's total emissions).
14:50 Meat and dairy - if you can bring about a 30% reduction in production and consumption of animal source saturated fat. Estimated 15% reduction in the burden of heart disease in the UK (18,000 deaths / year). More recently: used an optimisation approach to fin a diet which can minimise GHG emissions, WHO dietary guidelines and to minimise departure from current diets. Changes to UK dietary intake to achieve alternative GHG emissions reduction targets (0%, 20%, 40%, 60%). Up to around 40% reduction targets can be achieved without major changes to diets; above this is much more different.
Impact of changes in indoor radon: ~50% increase if conventional insulation policy carried out across the country as a whole.
Summary of the effect of the built stock scenarios for the UK with different interventions. If all interventions combined, the effect is quite mixed. Save an estimated 850 DALYs'/million per year, though 0.7Mt CO2 saved (much higher than Indian cookstoves).
14:42 In the UK, home energy efficiency is very important. 3 routes by which this affects health: ventilation - affects indoor air quality, mould growth; temperature - affects winter morbidity, thermal comfort, psychosocial wellbeing, nutrition; lower fuel use and cost, which in turn leads to increased disposable income (multiple benefits, including nutrition and psychosocial wellbeing). In addition, reduced emissions affect health through reduced local air pollution, and climate change mitigation.
14:39 Household energy in developing countries. In India, replacing 150million cleaner cookstoves over 10 years would lead to a 15-fold reduction in the indoor black carbon concentration, and 17% of the burden of disease related to: acute lower resp. infections, ischaemic heart disease, COPD - a total of 12500 DALYs saved per million people per year, or 990 deaths. Globally these impacts are currently greatest in India and Africa.
14:33 Common pathways through which active travel impacts health: air pollution, noise/quality of life, road injuries, reduced physical activity and (indirectly) climate change). Study in Spain: risk of obesity 40% higher amongst people in the groups who travelled furthest by cars vs the lowest. London travel patterns: work by James Woodcock and colleagues - much greater health benefits in active travel scenarios than 'lower carbon driving' scenario (cleaner cars). Reductions in: ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, dementia, breast cancer for example - far outweighing any potential increase in road traffic crashes. Particularly in people aged over 45 the benefits rise steeply with time.
14:31 Upstream determinants = policies, infrastructure change, trends -> all contribute to behaviour change -> changes in exposures (eg. air pollution , phys. activity) -> health effects. As regards the upstream parts, we don't really know how to do most of this, at least at any scale. Talk will focus downstream.
14:30 Paul Wilkinson of LSHTM starting his talk
14:28: "What do we do? In simple terms, we need to get on our bikes! Create cities like Amsterdam and the Hague, and to follow the lead of Germany and even to some extent China. I think we need to shift to an ecological public heath paradigm"
14:26 Can we turn this around? Renewables are 'zooming upwards' - BUT from a very limited base; the predicted future is more or less the same.
14:21 How has public health thinking addressed the Transition? In historical actions: poorly. In terms of thinking and research: well. Alfred Lorka provided the first scientific account of anthropological climate change in the 1920s. Also the concepts of exo- and endo-somatic energy.
The 'Techno-Economic Model of Health'
Fogel and Costa (1997) - 'theory of technophysio evolution'. Mismatch theory - Rene Dubos, linked to 'energy glut' concept, high energy foods and environments creating our obesity epidemic
14:19 With industrialising China, the new source of industrial products, overtaking every other nation's use of coal - but much of this is on our behalf, the toasters, the cars, the fridges that we buy from China. We have exported our heavy industry.
14:15 The new coal economy for some was disastrous - and it still is (eg. recent Turkey mine disaster). Around 10,000 miners/year died in China a decade ago. Could industrialisation have occured based only on renewables? It's an interesting thought experiment. Widespread, used everywhere -but overtaken by fossil fuels whose high energy content overcame renewables' techn. limitations. The lucrative search for fossil fuels extended from the Arctic, to the North Sea, and it operates at a vast scale. Renewables are staging a comeback - eg. in Germany - Felheim renewable energy village. Evidence that opposition to wind turbines is increasing - only ok if they are 'ornamental or somewhere else'. Consequently, fracking seems alluring - providing that health and ecological consequences (esp. water chemistry, water stress) are ignored, and that we are not worried about the release of climate changing gases, the cumulative impacts of burning fossil fuels, rising sea levels, glacier melting etc...
14:10 Vaclav Smil found that the energy available to a farmer has increased by a factor of 600 over just 200 years, Farming population has also declined dramatically. Each farmer in 2000 produced on average 12x as much as farm output per hour as a farmer did in 1950. More recently, there has been a reduction of inputs after 1980 in the US but 80% of antibiotics by weight in the USA are used in animal feed
14:08 What was the trigger for the Energy Transition? Energy changed the path of human development. The Malthusian Trap was neergy based. Britain's depletion of biomass (forests) provided the impetus of the use of coal - prior to this it had long been used but was widely disliked. Industrial productiveity was boosted by increased physiological energy from improved nutrition.
14:05 Mainstream public health thinking increasingly pulled towards individualism. Consideration of energy forces a rethink, returning to what Geoffrey Rose called 'The Population Strategy'. The Energy Transition describes the shift from a low energy use society to a high energy use society, Also the 'Social Metabolic Transition' perspective which includes wider discussion of chemical transfers, social impact. Began in Britain with coal and our industrialisation. Primary energy transition increased more than 10-fold from 1900-2000, while population rose only 4-fold. The balance of benefits and costs began to deteriorate, with energy-linked pollution spreading far beyond the local, affecting both biodiversity and climate. Yet despite the science-based research of the IPCC< near unanimity of scientists on impact of fossil energy use, and the acceptance of climate change for public policy - from Kyoto to Copenhagen - humanity remains in a state of curious state of denial.
Increasing use of 'exosomatic energy' and the decline in 'endosomatic energy' -> energy glut society.
14:01 Geof Rayner (co-author of Ecological Public Health) starting his talk: It seems that we are not convinced by the facts. The experience of 'flicking a switch' is <100 years old - interesting to think about. Such technologies form part of our habits - they are extensions of our bodies - 'exosomatic comforts'. As human society established the Energy Transition, so the Energy Transition has formed us: it defines an embodied and visual experience of the world. It is partly about looking at the world differently
13:59 What is the role of public health? Consider how energy policies impact health and wellbeing, nature and extent of fuel poverty, relationship with poor physical and mental health outcomes. Health practitioners prescribing people into home energy efficiency programmes? (But need them to be available first!)
13:57 What are the alternatives? Do more to upgrade housing stock: to address carbon reduction and fuel poverty.
Optimising housing energy refurbishment by 2030 costs £293bn and saves 77mn (60% cut) in emissions cf. 1990. Could have used quantitative easing differently!? Fund policies from general taxation, carbon revenues, and contributions from well ogg.
Govt is currently reviewing its fuel poverty strategy, review by John Hills suggested we need to change the definition of fuel poverty. This leads to a massive drop in the numbers counted as fuel poor: from 3.2mn to 2.4mn under new 'low income high cost' definition. Ave energy increase has risen 5x faster than income to over £1350 in 2013 - 159% increase on 2004 average bill.
Underlying problems: overall cost of fuel, fairness and accessibility of markets for customers, impact of policy costs, 'poverty premium' (eg. digital exclusion/lack of bank account reduces access to deals, reliance on electricity with higher cost loading, reliance on pre-payment meters which have a higher cost per unit)
13:53 Triple injustice: low income households who contribute least to the problem also..
Pay proportionately more towards policy costs.
Benefit less from policy measures
Those benefiting tend to be earning £60,000+ per year. Those who earn least are least about to get feed in tariffs. Feed in tariffs are the most regressive. Key cause = use of gas and electricity bills to recover costs, and how suppliers distribute the costs across the population - disproportionately onto those customers who are less likely to switch
13:45 Katherine Knox: Many policy dilemmas around climate change and energy - and carbon emissions are currently much higher in the highest-earning households. Bottom 10% - 5% of emissions, cf. to 10%: 16%. Who pays and who benefits from climate policies? The top 10% by income are expected to see a 12% decrease in fuel bills thanks to policies, cf. only 7% for the bottom 10% of household. Product policy (about efficiency of our appliances) relies on us buying new and more efficient things. Without product policy - might see a reduction in fuel bills of 2%, cf. an increase of 9% in fuel bills for the bottom 10% by income. Govt. every reliant on product policy
Off to lunch!
Which economy is more efficient - US or Costa Rica? Great infographics from NEF
The energy transition is about technology, but it's also about how much we use, how we access it, what our cities look like, monetary as well as fiscal policy, social norms and the way we see ourselves and our position in the world. A genuine transition, not just a 'behind-the-scenes' one. We need to start thinking about things differently. Egs of alternative approaches?
12.47 So, will that work? It should be clear that this transition has been somewhat slow, to put it mildly. 'I'll argue that this is due to at least two misconceptions or delusions about what the energy transition is' - that it's primarily about technology, and that we can predominantly rely on market based policy instruments. But: 1. Marginal policies might not be enough. Looking at trends in energy just shows us that new technologies don't displace old ones, they're generally just added on top. But what matters for the environment is the absolute level. People aren't rational, far from it. The problem is essentially political - when you apply taxes in a way that is regressive/socially unjust, there is a huge outcry. 2. inequalities of power subvert markets: when you have extreme inequalities of power, tinkering with them at the edges could be a drop in the ocean.
12:46 Mainstream economics often characterises labour and capital as factors of production: inputs which determine how much final goods cost, and how many of them get produced. Energy is just considered as another factor of production. Firms pick and choose mixes so as to optimise output and minimise cost. Therefore there is a transition away from using energy at the point where the marginal benefit is lower than the marginal cost to the producer. BUT firms don't pay any of the other costs - health impacts and healthcare costs, congestion on the roads, impacts of climate change somewhere else in the world. These are called externalities - and across different types of energy/technology they are very different. Economics says' if only we can charge the difference between these two costs to the producer, then we can get them to produce the right amount. -> this is the rationale for a carbon tax, to account for the difference between cost to a producer and cost to society.
12:42 What is the role of economics as a discipline in this energy transition? Often masquerades as part of the solution, and why that may not be true. Overview of what mainstream economics thinks about energy and the economy - and its failings (and alternatives)
12:40 Stephen Devling, economist at NEF, taking the stage
12:38 Comment from an audience member in the IEA, on Kevin Anderson's reference to the IEA's statements on impacts of a 6C world. 'We're often seen as the voice of rich countries, but very alert to the fact that energy contributes at least 70% of emissions worldwide. Talking for some time about this 'closing window' for reaching 2C. Role of energy efficiency, and how this can get us more of what we want as a society. Currently partway through a project taking a more holistic view - what are the broader impacts of energy and improving energy efficiency on society, including health'
12:26 Equity issues - fuel poverty, poor quality housing etc have to be dealt with before doing anything about personal carbon allowances.
12:32 Thoughts on personal carbon trading - how are we going to get people to change? Described by DEFRA as a 'policy idea that is ahead of its time'. Easier for eg. house electricity and gas, flying, petrol. Benefits for both equity and innovation. Wealthy people tend to drive innovation - carbon credits/allowances could be a way to stimulate innovation in a way that a carbon tax would not.
12:31 Efficiency often leads to rebound effects, as money saved is spent elsewhere. 'Best practice is about the system, not the bit of kit'
12:27 So... what can we do? A radical plan for 2C:
Radical reductions in energy demand/emissions in a decade are possible - extending the window for clean energy supply: we cannot build these things fast enough. Get energy demand from now to 2030. Marshall plan build programme of low carbon energy supply. This will demand leadership, courage, innovative thinking and very difficult choices. Final thought: 'At every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different' - Roberto Unger
12:21 What does this mean in the UK? 'An amateur's thoughts on health: in 1990, climate change could have been dealt with through incremental tech. and policy changes. We are now faces with radical change and big issues of equity. We live in a country with an old Victorian infrastructure, and a growing population with increased demands, being hit by increasingly severe weather events. Likely to see increased food and fuel prices (as yields and harvesting falter in other places suffering far more than the UK. Increased migration as UK citizens invite relatives from places struggling to cope with sever climate change (& other stresses). But can you imagine what impacts that would have on our society? Spread of disease through changes in temp, humidity etc, and also of crop pests. Impacts ranging from rapidly increasing heat stress - the EU's 2030 heat wave occurring frequently by 2030. Air conditioning exacerbating urban heat island conditions. Less trans-evaporation as tress increasingly struggling to survive. Prolonged heat waves reduce soil moisture -> overheating cables -> less power as fridges, water pumps etc work harder. Risks of power outages, no food. Tube could become unusable through overheating, some road surfaces melting. Conflict - from family tensions to food/water wars. Psychological/physical stresses from flood damage to displacement. Rising food prices.
12:15 Is this still a viable goal? 3 reasons for hope, though we are currently on the border
Equity: need a small group to make radical and early reductions.
Pareto's 80:20 rule - 80% of something relates to 20% of those involved. And the same within that 20%. 40-60% of the emissions come from 1-5% of the global population
Technology: why are we still allowing people to make and by A rated firged rather than A++ rated: they use 85% less energy! Efficient IC cars 85-100g CO2/km cf average for the UK fleet 168g/km. Need to consider replacement cycles
Growth - is it an appropriate measure of a good life? 'Mitigation of over 4% is incompatible with economic growth' in Stern Report - but no evidence for this. Economists are in disarray: why are we turning to them for our answers? Self-regulating markets have failed to self-regulate. People don't care about growth, people care about welfare (health, life expectancy), employment/income, equity, literacy rates, safety (low crime). Substituting everything for money is a ridiculous way to think about things.
12:06 What are potential 4C impacts? Regional impacts are still hugely uncertain, but globally: add 8C to heatwave temperatures in Europe, +6C in China, 10-12C in North America. It's the extremes whichmatter for people. On sea level rise, we're looking at 80cm rise, higher in low latitudes. 30 million people in Bangladesh live within 1m of the current sea level. The sort of events we've seen recently, we can't say they're caused by CC, but can certainly say that they are exacerbated by it ,through sea level rise. On food, the HAPI centre projects that we could see up to a 40% reduction in maize, wheat and other cereal crop yields. Most scientists believe that a rise of 4C is 'incompatible with an organised global community'. It has been called 'beyond adaptation' - destruction of entire ecosystems, affects pollinators. It is unlikely to be stable - tipping points which mean that temperatures could go well above that. Consequently, 4C should be avoided at all costs.
12:04 Why is this so different to the orthodox view? Policy is dominated by long-term targets eg. 80% reduction by 2050 - despite this having not scientific basis. Climate change is essentially about what we do before 2025.
12:00 At present we're prepared to accept a 66% change of staying below 2 degrees C. The first part of this transition requires us to reduce demand, and to get in place the right options on the supply side. At present, the most important thing is the demand side. Our part should be less than that of the poorer parts of the world, who haven't contributed anything to climate change. Assuming that poorer (non-Annex 1) nations can collectively peak their emissions by 2025, then for 2C, walthy natins require at least 10% reduction in emissions year on year, i.e.. 40% reduction by 2018.
11:59 Fatih Birol of the IEA: the CO2 trend we are on "is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet".
11:56 At present, we are heading towards 4-6C by 2070-2100. That's the difference between now and the last Ice Age. On current trends, we'll have wiped out our whole CO2 budget by 2032. Even 2 degrees C warming will kill lots of people, but we've used that as our threshold.
11:55 The things we are designing and building now, are locking us in to fixed emissions over the next 30-100 years. 'The UK is a leader on climate change? What do I mean by that? It leads on the rhetoric, which is important because rhetoric comes before action. UK hasn't made the transition from rhetoric to reality, but it's still a good thing that it's way ahead on the rhetoric.' Then goes on to discuss the UK's plans to scale up fracking, explore for gas under the arctic, and sell our expertise to Alberta for their Tar Sands extraction...
In 2014, it's all about timing! Temperature is all about cumulative emissions and the carbon budget. Everything we emit now will change the climate for 100-200,000 years
"IPCC report neither surprise nor solace to our fossil-fuel hungry world. The science message for policy makers, business leaders and civil society has changed very little in the last 20 years. Only small adjustments and refinements - it is a mature science. What has happened since then is that we have dumped an additional 200 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere since AR4. CO2 levels higher than in the past 800,00 years (conservative estimate) - much longer than humans have been on the planet. Despite this, we repeatedly commit to 'hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees C, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity' To meet this objective, we need radical and immediate reductions in energy demand."
11:46 KA Returns to previous points - 1 nuclear power station is ~ equivalent 'Pause' is a misuse of the term: 1998 is the warmest year on record, partly down to El Nino, but the long term trend has not changed. Only in the long run can you make any useful comment about the climate, rather than weather.
11:45 Kevin Anderson welcomed to the stage - talk titled 'The Ostrich or the Phoenix? Cognitive dissonance or creativity in a changing climate '
11:44 Hottest May on record, terrible bush fires, longer bushfire season, records continuously being broken (even without an El Nino), yet both major political parties essentially ignore climate change. Green party gets ~20% of the vote now but not moving fast enough.
11:41 Question about nuclear energy - Al Gore quote: 'We need silver buckshott'. Prof. Butler not ideologically opposed to nuclear, but skeptical that it can be scaled up to solve everything.
11:30 Health needs to add its strong voice to these issues - inequality, dirty energy, limits to growth and climate change are core interlinked public health issues.
11:29 Prof Butler emphasising the importance of fossil fuel divestment - NRDC, BlackRock and FTSE group have just launched their 1st equity global index, whilst Stanford have just divested.
11:27 US political class actively working to restore patrimonial capitalism. Piketty and others don't seem to realise that the world as a whole is far more unequal than either China or the US. PR exercise for the fossil fuel industry - Peabody energy: 'Coal Can Help Meet Millennium Goals', even invoking Nelson Mandela, even though he was in favour of boycotts over carbon.
11:24 Joining the dots: creative destruction, stranded assets and dysfunctional lock-ins. We have to get beyond them; to undermine the social license, for coal in particular. 'Free market advocates seem to experience a peculiar loss of faith whenever the subject of the environment comes up' - Pual Krugman, 2014. immense fossil fuel subsidies which they have never opposed.
11:23 Unacceptable faces of adaptation: armed border fence, India- Bangladesh, unwanted person camp, Australia. Much better to strengthen 'We have spent our entire existence adapting. We'll adapt' - ExxonMobil CEO. But on the other hand: 'It's hard to get someone to understand something when his entire salary depends on not understanding it'.
11:20 Lots of false hopes and even 'downright lies' in thinking about adaptation - not thinking critically enough: develop dream crops, dream cooperation, geoengineering. In reality, PR campaigns, eg. for clean coal, militarisation, '
11:18 'understanding the effects of climate change need discussions of non-linear behaviour'. Tertiary effects: 'a systemic multiplier' - famine, conflict, large-scale migration, economic collapse. Still considered too speculative - but if we wait for it to be accepted by everyone, we've waited too long.
11:15 Secondary effect - changes in infectious diseases. Difficult to prove wrt. malaria - overall it is receding.
11:12 On climate change and health - the UCL-Lancet Commission, 'Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change' was the longest article ever published in the Lancet. Also upcoming book edited by Colin Butler, 'Climate Change and Global Health'. Primary, secondary and tertiary effects - tertiary probably the most important in the long term. Health effects of flooding: repair & mental health impacts, economic loss, exposure to asbestos, mould, asthma.
11:11 Could we be seeing 'peak health' in places like Greece and America's growing 'tent cities'
11:10 Discussing a paper by Maurice King 'Health is a Sustainable State' and Tony McMichael's 'Planetary Overload' - 1st book by a senior health professional, essentially saying 'if we keep going in this way the human endeavour is seriously under threat'. Also Prof. Martin Rees in his book 'Our final century'.
11.09 Food that we eat contains 1/5th the energy of the fossil fuels we put into producing it (!) Agricultural commodity prices and energy prices remain strongly correlated - Bloomberg graph.
10.06 Food price spikes in recent years have largely been the result of extreme weather - particularly heat waves in Russia and drought and heatwaves in the US. Graph from Murray & King (2012) - http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v481/n7382/full/481433a.html - evidence for 'plateau oil'. $1 billion a day diverted from the economies of Europe & North America into oil due to the persistently high price of fossil fuels. Helping to accelerate the transition to clean energy, but we need to accelerate that transition.
11:05 Discussing Kenneth Boulding (1910-93) - one of the founding fathers of ecological economics. Famous for saying, 'the only person who believes in perpetual economic growth is either a madman or an economist'.
11:03 Colin Butler now speaking (all the way from Australia!), thanking the RSM for having the foresight to organise this event.
Summary of what he will talk about
1. end of cheap energy and food,
2. overloading of the Earth's systems and changing the nature of many of these biological systems and habitats.
3. Three classes of effects of climate change on human health.
4. Ideology - inequality tied up with the crisis that we face,
5. Hope - need to keep within the carbon budget; not yet quite hopeless.
6. Health workers - need to call for urgent energy transformation; part of the wider sustainability transition
10:59 'Public health will be affected in numerous ways in a phase when energy is limited. Redefinition of public health's role may be a part of redefinition of roles for many other agents in society' We need to consider geograpy more systematically when planning access to care. Resilience is coming in when considering these issues, but there are many types of resilience - disaster, community, ecosystem, individual/psychological etc (Castleden, 2011).
Rising energy costs, as well as climate and other env. change, pose new challenges to public health services. 'The traditional task of PH needs a new focus based on multi-disciplinary awareness of these transitions, as well as a focus on essential needs to support a realistic prosperity'
10:56 Local health depts are a critical yet increasingly fragile component of govt'l infrastructure - being expected to do more with less, like all departments. Key considerations for local health departments are: further tightening of budgets, dependence on transportation, dependence on petroleum-based medical supplies and pharmaceuticals
10:45 Wide-ranging discussions, currently on the importance of population transitions - the increasing need we put on the world will be more manageable with a stable population
The anthropocene: geologists find mankind's impacts almost everywhere. Planetary boundaries: there are limits to what can be done safely. The growing gap between oil discovery and production is one such factor. eg. Oil Crunch working group (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2010-02-10/oil-crunch-wake-call-uk-economy-report-excerpt led by Richard Branson.
10:35 Giacomo Leonardi introducing today's event, giving a welcome from the Royal Society of Medicine's President and discussing 'what is environmental public health?'