Category Archives: Britain

Britain goes coal free as renewables edge out fossil fuels

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Britain is about to pass a significant landmark – at midnight on Wednesday it will have gone two full months without burning coal to generate power.

A decade ago about 40% of the country’s electricity came from coal; coronavirus is part of the story, but far from all.

When Britain went into lockdown, electricity demand plummeted; the National Grid responded by taking power plants off the network.

The four remaining coal-fired plants were among the first to be shut down.

The last coal generator came off the system at midnight on 9 April. No coal has been burnt for electricity since.

The current coal-free period smashes the previous record of 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes which was set in June last year.

The figures apply to Britain only, as Northern Ireland is not on the National Grid.

But it reveals just how dramatic the transformation of our energy system has been in the last decade.

That the country does not need to use the fuel that used to be the backbone of the grid is thanks to a massive investment in renewable energy over the last decade.

Two examples illustrate just how much the UK’s energy networks have changed.

A decade ago just 3% of the country’s electricity came from wind and solar, which many people saw as a costly distraction.

Now the UK has the biggest offshore wind industry in the world, as well as the largest single wind farm, completed off the coast of Yorkshire last year.

At the same time Drax, the country’s biggest power plant, has been taking a different path to renewable energy.

The plant, which is also in Yorkshire, generates 5% of the country’s electricity.

A decade ago, it was the biggest consumer of coal in the UK but has been switching to compressed wood pellets. Drax plans to phase out coal entirely by March next year.

“We here at Drax decided that coal was no longer the future,” explains Will Gardiner, the chief executive of the power group.

“It has been a massive undertaking and then the result of all that is we’ve reduced our CO2 emissions from more than 20 million tonnes a year to almost zero.”

That is a controversial claim. Environmental activists point out that wood actually produces more carbon dioxide per unit of power generated than coal when it is burnt to generate electricity.

They also say it will take many years for the trees in US forests where Drax sources the seven million tonnes of wood pellets it now burns each year to absorb the CO2 the power plant and its wood processing operations produce each year.

And it is not just coal that is being eclipsed by renewables.

So far this year, renewables have generated more power than all fossil fuels put together.

Breaking it down, renewables were responsible for 37% of electricity supplied to the network versus 35% for fossil fuels.

Nuclear accounted for about 18% and imports for the remaining 10% or so, according to figures from the online environmental journal, Carbon Brief.

“So far this year renewables have generated more electricity than fossil fuels and that’s never happened before”, says Dr Simon Evans of Carbon Brief.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52973089

We gave up Christmas to fight measles in Samoa

measles
DFID/UKEMT

British doctors and nurses are sacrificing a relaxing Christmas with friends and family to help save lives in a deadly measles outbreak on the other side of the world.

The Pacific island of Samoa has been overwhelmed by more than 5,500 cases of the disease.

Seventy-nine people have died, nearly all of them are children under five.

The British medics are working alongside local teams and volunteers from around the world.

“It’s quite something when you see a ward full of people with measles, they look so sick, it’s not something we’re used to,” Dr Rachel Anderson, an A&E consultant in Edinburgh, told the BBC.

“To my knowledge, I’d never seen measles… you feel like you’ve got a bit of catching up to do.”

Rachel was on call with the UK Emergency Medical Team.

The organisation deploys NHS staff to emergencies around the world.

It sent doctors and nurses to tackle diphtheria spreading through Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh last year and to help with the massive Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-15.

Measles led the Samoan government declared a national emergency in November.

Vaccinations were made compulsory, schools were closed and restrictions on public gatherings put in place in an attempt to control the virus.

People have been hanging red flags outside their homes to highlight the fact they have not been vaccinated.

Rachel was asked if she could drop everything for the more than 30-hour trip to Samoa.

“It was a bit tricky because it was over Christmas, I had a couple of days debating it, but felt I should go given the devastating effect measles is having here,” she said.

It means missing Christmas with her husband, stepson and the rest of the family. She was supposed to be cooking dinner for 15. The Manchester City fan also had to give up tickets to two football matches over the festive period.

She said: “I’ve had the odd moment when jet-lagged and overwhelmed seeing all these children, but most of me is glad I’m here.

“My husband and are family very supportive, they’d have been surprised if I had not gone.”

Rachel is one of 13 members of the UK Emergency Medical Team currently in Samoa.

James Daley, an A&E nurse with Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust, also got the call and decided to go.

“The tree was up, there were presents to buy and then the call comes in and it throws everything up in the air.

“It’s excitement initially, then a little bit of trepidation sinks in that it’s for three weeks and you’re gone over Christmas.”

He was planning a nice family break in Glasgow with his girlfriend.

“It was the first year in the last few that I had Christmas off… my girlfriend had two days of silence, but she was all right with it in the end.”

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-50813227

Hundreds of trafficked children go missing from UK care homes

Trafficking photoARCHIVE PHOTO: A girl looks out over fog covered Leicestershire countryside, central England REUTERS/Darren Staples

Findings raise doubts about Britain’s ability to care for
vulnerable children at time when record number of suspected
child slaves are being referred to government

By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A growing number of
trafficked children in Britain are going missing from care
homes, with some feared to be returning to their traffickers
after being treated like criminals or illegal immigrants by
authorities, two charities said on Wednesday.

A quarter of the 1,015 identified or suspected child
trafficking victims in the care of local authorities went
missing at least once last year – 246 children compared to 167
in 2015 – according to research by ECPAT UK and Missing
People.

The child victims reported as missing from care disappeared
seven times on average. Their reasons for running away
included poor accommodation, fear of authorities and the
ongoing control of human traffickers, the charities said in a
report.

The findings raise doubts about Britain’s ability to care for
vulnerable children at a time when a record number of
suspected child slaves are being referred to the government –
2,118 last year and up two-thirds on 2016 – campaigners said.

“Trafficked and unaccompanied children continue to be failed
by the system which should be safeguarding and protecting
them,” said Jane Hunter, senior research manager at Missing
People.

“(They) are particularly vulnerable, and may go back into a
highly exploitative situation to those they were trafficked
by.”

Britain’s Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said
that any missing child was cause for “serious concern”.

“We require all care placements to have clear procedures in
place to prevent children from going missing,” he said in a
statement.

About a fifth of the 975 trafficked or unaccompanied children
reported as missing from care in Britain last year have not
yet been found, according to the charities’ data.

“I can see why young people run away to their trafficker,” one
child who went missing from care was quoted anonymously as
saying in the report. “It is ‘better the devil you know’.”

Despite being hailed as a global leader in the anti-slavery
drive, Britain said in July it would review its landmark 2015
law amid criticism that it is not being used fully to jail
traffickers, drive firms to stop forced labour, or help
victims.

Many child victims of trafficking are convicted of crimes they
are forced to commit in captivity – such as drug offences on
cannabis farms where many Vietnamese teenagers are found – and
are later refused asylum, lawyers and campaigners have said.

Between 2015 and 2017, Britain denied asylum to 183 people
trafficked as children from nations such as Vietnam – double
the total for the previous three years – government data
obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation
revealed in July.

“Too often these children are treated as criminals or
immigration offenders, rather than vulnerable children
requiring support,” said Catherine Baker, ECPAT’s senior
research officer.

Britain is home to at least 136,000 modern slaves, according
to the Global Slavery Index by rights group Walk Free
Foundation – a figure 10 times higher than a government
estimate from 2013.
http://news.trust.org/item/20181219170931-4fzv8/

Major church investors declare support for climate change resolution at ExxonMobil AGM

Independent Catholic News

Institutional investors with more than six trillion US dollars (4.21 trillion pounds) under management have declare they will support a shareholder proposal urging ExxonMobil to disclose the impact of climate change policy on its business.

The resolution was co-filed by the Church Commissioners for England and New York State Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli as Trustee of New York State Common Retirement Fund. It asks Exxon to disclose how resilient its portfolio and strategy would be were policy measures to restrict global warming to 2 degrees, as agreed in Paris in December 2015, to be successful.

The resolution will be put before ExxonMobil’s AGM on 25 May. More than 30 institutional investors have declared that they will vote for the motion so far, including major fund managers and pension funds Amundi, AXA Investment Management, BNP Paribas, CalPERS, Legal & General Investment Management, Natixis, New York City Retirement Fund and Schroder’s.

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, said: “We are delighted with the scale of support this resolution has received so far. The resolution is part of a much wider trend following the Paris Agreement for investors to ask companies to improve disclosure on how they are positioned for the risks and opportunities posed by climate change.” Continue reading Major church investors declare support for climate change resolution at ExxonMobil AGM

Glasgow: Hundreds mourn Muslim murdered after sending Easter wishes to Christian friends

Independent Catholic News
Claire Bergin

britain2
A sea of flowers and tributes marks the place where a popular Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow was attackeded after posting Easter greetings to Christian friends on his Facebook page.

Asad Shah, 40, was found seriously injured outside his shop in the Shawlands area of Glasgow on Thursday night. He died a few hours later.

His message read: “Good Friday and very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation ….Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved Holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.” Continue reading Glasgow: Hundreds mourn Muslim murdered after sending Easter wishes to Christian friends

Catholic People’s Week lobby bishops to condemn Trident renewal

Independent Catholic News

Ellen Teague
britain1Participants in the first Catholic People’s Week (Winter weekend) of 2016 will be writing to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to urge it to take a stronger stance over government plans to renew the Trident nuclear missile system. “After listening to a presentation by Pat Gaffney, the General Secretary of Pax Christi, on the theme of, ‘The things that make for peace when the world prepares for war’, and her report on Saturday’s anti-Trident rally in London, around 30 participants from around the country unanimously asked that a letter be sent” said Ellen Teague, chair of the weekend. “The letter will ask the bishops to reaffirm their 2006 statement and update it to include Trident,” she said. That statement did call on the Government to decommission nuclear weapons, but it did not mention Trident specifically. Continue reading Catholic People’s Week lobby bishops to condemn Trident renewal

UK: Thousands take part in ‘Visit My Mosque’ initiative

Independent Catholic News

britain

Thousands of Britons were welcomed into over 80 mosques across the country on Sunday 7 February, as part of the second annual ‘Visit My Mosque’ Day.

Mosques across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland invited in neighbours to share tea and refreshments, alongside an insight into the day-to-day goings on of a busy Muslim centre of worship.
#VisitMyMosque Day was facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), to provide a platform for Muslims to reach out to fellow Britons and explain their faith and community beyond the hostile headlines. Continue reading UK: Thousands take part in ‘Visit My Mosque’ initiative

British couple jailed for keeping Nigerian as slave for 24 years

Reuters

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A British couple have been jailed for six years each for keeping a Nigerian immigrant as a slave for more than two decades, a London court clerk said.

Emmanuel Edet, 61, and Antan Edet, 58, were sentenced at Harrow Crown Court in northwest London late on Monday after being found guilty last month of child cruelty, slavery and assisting in illegal immigration.

The couple brought the man to Britain in 1989 when he was 14 years old, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

They told the teenager they would educate and pay him, but they forced him to work long hours for no pay and threatened him with deportation if he tried to escape, prosecutors said. Continue reading British couple jailed for keeping Nigerian as slave for 24 years

‘Not for Shale’: UK Protesters Launch Widespread Actions Against Fracking’

Common Dreams

Targeting both industry and government, series of direct actions kicks off week-long anti-fracking camp in Blackpool, England

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer

 

Holding a banner that reads "Not for Shale," hundreds of anti-fracking protesters marched in Lancashire, England on Sunday. (Photo: No Dash for Gas)
Holding a banner that reads “Not for Shale,” hundreds of anti-fracking protesters marched in Lancashire, England on Sunday. (Photo: No Dash for Gas)

Targeting everything from government offices and university research facilities to gas company headquarters and fracking sites, hundreds of concerned citizens across the United Kingdom on Monday unleashed a series of direct actions calling attention to the government-backed push to “frack the future” of the UK.

The coordinated demonstrations kicked off a six-day “[ http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/press-releases/media-advisory-anti-fracking-action-blackpool-starts-thursday-details-revealed/ ]Reclaim the Power” camp in Blackpool, England at which over 1000 people including a coalition of climate, social and economic activists are expected to join. During the event, participants will take part in protests as well hold workshops to “connect the dots” between various government and industry efforts to expand shale gas drilling in the UK and “challenge the undemocratic, unjust and unsustainable system” to implement more sustainable energy solutions instead. Continue reading ‘Not for Shale’: UK Protesters Launch Widespread Actions Against Fracking’

CAFOD Hungry for Change campaigners petition Downing Street

Independent Catholic News

The group outside Parliament
The group outside Parliament

A group of CAFOD campaigners from around the UK visited Downing Street a year ahead of the next general election, with demands from over 60,000 CAFOD supporters asking David Cameron to take action to end world hunger.

The group, which included Molly-Kate McCaffrey, Elizabeth Biggins and Angela Powell from Sheffield Hallam, Rita Belletty from Portsmouth and Stephen Bone from Westminster, hand delivered the requests to Number 10 on Wednesday 7 May, in an event that marked the end of the aid agency’s latest hunger campaign Hungry for change. Throughout the campaign, CAFOD has been calling for more targeted aid for small-scale farmers and greater checks on the power of global food companies.

Continue reading CAFOD Hungry for Change campaigners petition Downing Street