Sunday, 30 June 2019

Clean Air Zone Demonstration

Sheffield City Council is due to launch its consultation into a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) on Monday 1st July. It is short notice but we are planning a demo outside the Town Hall in support of a CAZ at 12.30 on Monday. Can you spare a bit of your time to show your support for clear air? Please share to as many groups as possible. #cleanaireverywhere

Picture Source: Friends of the Earth

Monday, 17 June 2019

Climate Change Campaign Update - June 2019

Council meeting
Tomorrow Richard and Beatrice’s will be meeting with Sheffield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene and Climate Emergency, Cllr Lewis Dagnall

Context on the meeting - Lewis requested meeting with Extinction Rebellion and other climate groups. Beatrice is attending the meeting with Richard and will be discussing the Green Commitment for Sheffield which is now 2 years old and see what is progressing. Rachel for the Sheffield Climate Alliance will also be attending. Richard has been speaking with Simon Bowens, FOE rep for the North East about the key messages for the meeting. Group discussed sending out a press relase after the meeting to keep up the pressure.

Dexter from Cycle Sheffield shared information about their campaigns for a cycle friendly city through enabled infrastructure. They responded to Sheffield’s transport strategy with the view that the climate change section was rather weak as did other charities but from their responses it has been improved so is now sounding a bit more ambitious on the walking and cycling plans. With transport producing the biggest amount of greenhouse gases there needs to be clear indicators on how they can decrease that.  Sheffield Council does not have the funds to do everything in the transport strategy priorities and the worry is that they will just continue to do road improvements. Sheffield Cycles advice to the council is to look at schemes such as in Nottingham where they have a Parking Levy for businesses for 10 or more car parking spaces at £400 per space. This is then used on sustainable transport. Lewis has said that this can’t work for Sheffield as it has a different distribution of businesses in the centre. We will raise these points  in discussions with the council.

Cycle Sheffield have a great article relating to transport in Sheffield. The link is here.

Picture Source:

FOE’s position on HS2 is that it is loads of money to spend instead of improving the current rail network. 

Webinar on doubling Tree Cover on the 1st of July –  Amy registered and to feedback to the group.
Richard discussed an idea for a schools student climate confrence. Sara discussed the event for young campaigners happening in Keele soon and will share info with the group.

Picture Source:

Air Pollution Update - June 2019

Schools Street has been an on going campaign as part of the air pollution campaign. Trials are happening at two schools.

Some schools in Sheffield have “no idling” signs outside but no enforcement, only saying that you might get a fine. Dexter shared that the regulations are that you would only get a fine if you were asked to stop and you didn’t.

June mentioned an air pollution documentary to help illustate the issues and how closing roads has helped and reduced air pollution by 60%.  – June to share the details.

PM- Particulate matter from tyres was discussed as one of the main contributors to air pollution.

Picture Source:

Anti-Fracking Campaign Update - June 2019

Anti Fracking Update
There is a public enquiry happening in Rotherham on the Ineos exploratory well application at Woodsetts . It will be up to the planning inspectorate on whether it will go ahead or not. Ineos has previously stated that much of the gas extracted from fracking  will go into plastics production up in Grangemouth.

Mam Tor Stand Up for the Planet 
Sara gave an update on the event.  Great success, 6,000 views on Facebook, 150 attendees despite the potential rain. FOE helped support with buses to get there. Broader than just anti fracking, MP Ruth George and local music artists. Watch the you Tube video here or below:

Groundswell Event - June 2019

The FOE event for activists in the North held in Manchester on the 1st of June. Richard, Tamara, June and Amy attended. 6 key areas for the FOE Climate Action Plan are Transport – stop sale of petrol and diesel cars, Renewable energy and Green Jobs, Buildings – ecofriendly insulation, Agriculture – stop mass agriculture, trees -  double tree cover, International  Justice to support climate solutions.

There were workshops on local action and anti–fracking, keep it in the ground. One of the pledges from the day was an ask to look at  setting up a Climate Action group in Sheffield.  Amy to share information on what issues and campaigns areas other groups are working on for the group to think about if an action group would be a good idea. Helen suggested focusing on changes to businesses hubs, crisp recycling and water refill campaign and reducing plastic as a starting point. Abbey gave the example of looking at the Co2 credit of a product.

Picture Source: Friends of the Earth

Events and Stalls - June 2019

The stall at Peace in the Park at the Pondarosa went well, lots of people attended. Great to have more volunteers from the group at events.

Next one is the Sharrow Festival on the 6th of July and the Low Edges festival . Abby available to help at Low Edges and Helen to help with Richard and Tamara at the Sharrow festival.

A previous Sheffield Friends of the Earth stall at Heeley.
Picture Source: Shaun Rumbelow

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Opinion - How do we become zero carbon by 2030?

How do we become zero carbon by 2030?

Firstly, I believe that we should start with a few clarifications on what this means and the definitions, then we can look at exactly what the problems are. We can look at how we might solve those problems better then. Remember, this is the single biggest problem that humans have ever had to face so we should never underestimate how difficult the task is.

‘Global Warming’ and ‘Climate Change’ get banded around so often so let’s state their definitions

Global Warming: refers to the surface temperature of the earth

Climate Change: refers to the many changes that will occur with increases in temperature and greenhouse gases (drawdown)

So it is not one phrase being used instead of another. They are not interchangeable. They are distinct issues which need to be addressed. They are though, definitely linked. The world's climate has always changed and always will but what we need to look at, is what is different now.

Since the Industrial Revolution humans have been pumping out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Coal, oil and gas have fuelled this revolution but there is always a cost. The waste from these fossil fuels has not gone away. They have lingered in our atmosphere, warming up the earth since we started using them. Just as our greenhouses get hotter when the air is trapped inside (hence the term greenhouse gases), all these gases are heating up the planet. If we were in a greenhouse and it go too hot we would open the door and leave. However, we cannot leave Earth; there is no planet B.

The issue we face then is to stop using fossil fuels which will stop the problem getting worse, but also, how do we reverse global warming? There are many who are climate change deniers, who would prefer to bury their heads in the sand rather than face up to this challenge. I would say to them, and indeed to all the people of the wonderful planet; business as usual is not an option.

The impact of climate change on our lives might seem small and almost unassuming, like the colour of our nets when everybody used to smoke in the house. When we took the nets down to wash them, they were stiff and grey. The ceiling (we had a coal fire so we were particularly prone) seemed yellow by comparison with the original white. It took years to get to that state; the change almost unnoticed on a daily basis. The effects of smoke on our lungs have now been proven. The effects of air pollution on our health is also now becoming apparent.

Coughs and wheezing are common in cities as our lung functions decrease. Breathing in polluted air puts us all in a higher risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases. Many air pollutants are carcinogenic therefore increasing our risk of cancer. Further evidence suggest that it can damage our immune system, and also our endocrine and reproductive systems. Particulates in air pollution have been associated with higher incidents of heart problems.

Air pollution also settles on our plants, animals ingest it, it contaminates our water supply. The poison is everywhere.

A few years ago I put up air pollution monitoring kits around Sheffield City Centre. 5 came back well over the EU safe limit for polluted air. These were placed near tram stops, railway station (away from the taxis)and  near university roundabout.

The 6th one was just under the safe limit. I found this the most worrying. I had placed it in the gates of Western Park; where people go for some quiet time, to eat their lunch etc. Also, it was opposite the Children’s Hospital. I did not put it by the bus stop where the buses were idling; where their fumes were gathering around the entrance to the hospital where vulnerable children are taken to be made well. Even so the reading was still close, too close for comfort.

Most of us have now stopped smoking, especially in the house. I don’t know anyone who burns coal to heat their homes (at least not directly). We have washed our nets of all the pollution. We have repainted our houses and removed the discolouration due to pollution. The question now remains as to whether we can do the same to the world, the planet, our Earth.

Beatrice Greenfield

Monday, 20 May 2019

Plastics Campaign Update - May 2019

Feedback from the Planet Hub day
Our screening of "A Plastic Ocean" at the Festival of Debate event went well with interest in the campaigns at our stall, and it was felt the film was an effective way of inspiring people to potentially get more involved. It was suggested we could have taken contact details so we could invite people personally to come to a local group meeting.

Richard is working with local schools, with a range of age groups and activities. There are also some excellent resources produced by marine conservation groups that could be useful for schools.

The other current priority is getting local MPs on board. Likely to be more information on Plastics campaigning shared at Groundswell. Potential actions were discussed  to raise awareness. Related issues were also discussed including incineration policy and role of INEOS.

Air Pollution Update - May 2019

The Air Quality Monitoring campaign is ongoing and there is a Sheffield Clean Air Symposium planned for 25th June where Graham will be a speaker. Several schools doing assemblies with Richard and Rachel from SCA. Some planned to coincide with Clean Air Day.

Anti-Fracking Update -May 2019

Fracking, Fossil Fuels and Project " Molly" – June gave an update on the current situation. Project " Molly" was discussed.

Stand up for the Planet on Mam Tor is 4pm on Sunday 9 June and we need to help to advertise and raise awareness of “the Mother Hill of All Protests” See Facebook @peakdistrictagainstfracking for details

Climate Change Campaign Update - May 2019

On 26 June there is the Climate Change “The Time is Now” lobby of Parliament. A chance to lobby your MP. Tell the group if you’re going and who your MP is.  Groundswell events also coming up. Another schools strike for the climate is happening this Friday (11am Devonshire Green)

Climate groups have been invited to a meeting at the Town Hall to discuss the Climate Emergency by Lewis Dagnall SCC Cabinet member for the Environment and Climate Change. Richard will write on behalf of the group to say that FoE will contribute.

Other News - May 2019

Press Space
We now have a “Press Space” which is for student journalists to come and discuss our campaigns. This takes place between 7pm and 7:30pm before the monthly meeting.

Campaign Stalls
We are planning for events through the summer. We will book stalls for the Sharrow Festival on Saturday 6 July (set up 10-12, festival 12-6pm); Low Edges Sunday 11 August (Festival from 12-5pm), Volunteers will be needed to help run the stalls. There is a possibility we could run more stalls if there is transport available for the gazebo. Let the group know if you might be able to help.

Action Network
We discussed the current opportunities that were highlighted at Action Network training – there is potential to use a new platform for communication, advertising events, on line petitions etc and potential for tailoring information sharing etc. There is a need for at least two people to be trained to support its use and link to our other communication strategy using social media but we will explore using it for the Plastics campaign.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Annual General Meeting 2018 - 2019: Overview

Sheffield Friends of the Earth's AGM was held at the April meeting. Shaun presented the comprehensive Annual Review (see next section). Liddy presented the accounts and noted that thanks to a recent donation of £300 the account was still in good health despite having successfully spent most of the ring-fenced Anti-Fracking funds raised from the Burns Night event in the previous year.

Yearly review and accounts -   There was discussion of some of the highlights and opportunities to build on the activities including the Plastics campaign and Anti-Fracking activities.

The local group officers were all re-elected for another year:

  • Co-ordinator - Shaun
  • Chair – Richard
  • Treasurer – Liddy
  • Website and Facebook - Shaun

We discussed possible opportunities and currently unfilled roles including social media. Justin has offered to build up the Twitter account with appropriate branding and postings for the group. Tamara agreed to run the Action Network site which allows us to create petitions. National FoE are able to offer support and training.

Campaign priorities for 2019-2020 – We agreed that Climate Change was an overarching priority and that we would continue to campaign on air pollution, anti-fracking and plastics.

Annual General Meeting 2018 - 2019: Yearly Review

The review of our working during 2018-2019:

  • Worked with Louise Haigh MP to support the Plastic Pollution Bil.
  • Planned a screening of “A Plastic Ocean” film with Festival of Debate.
  • Met with 65th Ecclesall Brownies for a talk and some activities raising awareness about the huge problem plastic waste.
  • Gave a plastics talk and activities with Year 4 pupils at Rivelin school.
  • Tried to organise a beach clean-up with The Deep in Hull but they didn’t want to work with groups.
  • Promoting the FoE plastics petition.
  • Written to supermarkets and shops about reducing packaging and plastic waste.
  • Contacted the council about local changes to recycling.
  • Contacted tetra pak regarding the lack of recycling facilities in Sheffield.
Members of Sheffield Friends of the earth with Louise Haigh MP

Air Pollution
  • Involved in publicity for the Clean Air Zone.
  • Graham has been building monitoring kits and has events planned for making more.
  • Involved with the School Streets campaign.
  • Richard has provided lessons with Year 5 students and a Clear Air school assembly.
  • A FOI request was turned down by Sheffield City Council. Sheffield FoE worked with National FOE to pursue this.
  • Worked with Client Earth.
  • Individual members contributed to the Supertram consultation.
  • Supported the action outside HSBC near Chesterfield Market.
  • Supporting transport for a Peak District action planned for Mam Tor.
  • Sharon Wilson a Texan anti-fracking activist addressed a meeting in Doncaster hosted by Friends of the Earth. Sheffield FoE attended.
  • With Sheffield City Council we organised a talk by Dr Ian Fairlie and John Busby on the dangers of waste water and radioactivity associated with fracking.
  • Helped with a Sheffield Against Fracking stall at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park and at Ecclesfield Gala with Frack Free Ecclesfield and Chapeltown..
  • Attend regional strategy meetings.
  • Met with the local Labour Party chair and identified some appropriate GMB contacts to try and mobilise Labour activism against fracking.
  • Supported other local anti-fracking groups financially and with campaigning.
  • Sheffield FoE were in the local newspapers and on Look North regarding the Clear Air Zones.
  • Sheffield FoE signed a Brexit letter in the Yorkshire Post explaining that a non deal was bad for the environment.
  • We signed a letter to the Yorkshire Post about INEOS sponsoring cycling events.
  • Gave a radio interview about our anti-fracking exhibition at Museums Sheffield.
  • Helped many journalism students.
  • Responded to the Green Journeys press release. As a result of this Hallam FM interviewed us for the main news bulletin which went out at drive time.
Beatrice live on Look North talking about Clean Air Zones

Stalls and Events
  • High Storrs Eco Expo.
  • Peace and Craft fair stall.
  • Sharrow Festival (7 July) and the Stannington Carnival (14 July):
  • Went to base camp
  • We distributed some leaflets and displayed our banner at the school strikes.
  • Obtained new materials from national FoE including fracking and air pollution posters.
  • MoveGB wanted us to promote their reusable bottles but it wasn’t possible for us to get involved.
  • Publicised our meetings in Opus/Now then magazine.
  • Christmas meal in the Red Deer and celebrating Richard's birthday.
  • We met with Chloe Brown to participate in her Art video project by doing the “Wigan clap” in FoE and Clean Air t-shirts.
  • Taken part in interviews by Ana Laranjeira from Imperial College London for Just Transition to a low-carbon economy project.
  • Simon Bowens (national FoE) introduced some ideas for developing the local groups and asked for feedback from the group.
  • Investigated the “Action Network” tool for creating petitions.
  • Bristol FoE contacted us about trees and we put them in touch with STAG and the Green Party

Air Pollution Campaign - April 2019

Graham provided an update on his monitoring kits which are now at many pollution hot spots (51 already on line providing data). Richard is providing Air Pollution activities in schools and liaising with media contacts who are interested in local school campaigns.

The pollution hot spots can be viewed using this link

The Hunters Bar School screening project was cited as a great example of schools and parents taking the initiative to protect their children from the effects of air pollution. Click here for more details of the project.