Manchester Friends of the Earth Autumn 2021 Newsletter
We hope that you’re keeping well and wanted to update you on what we’ve got planned over the next few weeks.
If you would like to find out more about the Manchester Friends of the Earth group, our campaigns and how you can get involved, then please check our events calendar for details of all our meetings and other events.
We’d also love to hear your ideas for future meetups and events – feel free to share your suggestions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best wishes,
Cat, Ali & the Manchester Friends of the Earth team
The Great Big Green Week (18-26th September)
The Great Big Green Week will take place 18 – 26 September 2021, and will be the largest event for climate and nature ever seen in the UK. Thousands of events will celebrate how communities are taking action to tackle climate change and protect green spaces, and encourage others to get involved too. See the Great Big Green Week website for more on how you can get involved.
Running over nine days we thought it would be good to share with each other ideas and inspiration about new green action we are taking. Either as an individual, household or community. See our website, Facebook page and Instagram !
Going Batty in Platt Fields
We were lucky enough to have Steve from the South Lancs Bat Group to help us explore the batty night life of Plattfields Park.
If asked to name wild animals you’re likely to see in the streets and parks where you live, many of you will probably think of foxes, hedgehogs or—if you’re lucky enough—badgers.
But if you concentrate on looking out for these, you’ll be missing out on some of our most interesting mammals as they fly past, apparently silently (not actually true!), overhead! Bats are every bit as likely to frequent your area and will come a lot closer too, as we found out on 25th August on a trip to Platt Fields Park in south Manchester…… Read Damian’s event report.
For Peat’s sake.
Peat is a natural ally against climate change and an important wildlife haven. So why is so much peat still on sale?
What is a Peat Bog and why are they important?
A peat bog is a very wet area of land where decomposition rates are slow and many types of moss and epiphytes are able to grow. A combination of low oxygen levels and lots of moisture means that plant material does not rot and instead compresses into acidic peat soil which nurtures a range of important and unique plants. These ecosystems are essential for biodiversity across the UK.
Cotton grass growing on Glasson Moss, Cumbria Credit: Simon Huguet / CC BY-SA 2.0
Why should we prevent the destruction and removal of peat bogs?
Peat bog are the nature’s wonder habitat! Peat bogs are known to store high levels of carbon, helping in the fight against climate change. This means that removing them from our landscape could release a large volume of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect. Furthermore, peat bogs take a very long time to develop and form, meaning they are a non-renewable energy source. Once removed, peat bogs are very difficult to reintroduce into nature.
Peat bogs also ensure a high quality supply of water to much of the population in the North West.
A healthy peat bog reduces fire risk and reduces the risk of flooding with sphagnum moss the work horse of the bog holding over ten times its weight in water.
And last but not least, moorlands and peat bogs provide a place to breathe and play.
What is happening to UK peat bogs?
The UK is host to 13% of all the world’s blanket bog and yet much of this has experienced long term decline. With 98% of the lowland peatlands across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and North Merseyside already having been destroyed. The key threats to peat bogs are:
– Draining: turning peat bogs into grassland or woodland by removing moisture.
– Agriculture: peat soil is very low in nutrients. Once fertiliser is added to a peat bog, the nutrients are difficult to remove, making it challenging to restore fertilised peatlands.
– Development: peat bogs are often targeted for housing and infrastructure projects due to their perceived disposable nature.
– Misinformation: peat bogs are seen as having little environmental value. This is certainly not the case.
What is being done to help protect and restore our Peat bogs?
There is fantastic work going on right across the North West to restore this vital habitat.
In the Peaks and South Pennines Moors for the Future are working to restore peat here.
The Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trusts are also in the process of protecting and restoring peatlands across the region. They work alongside reserve staff, volunteers and a conservation team to re-wet peatland landscapes by building dams and bunds to raise water levels.
For more detail check out these links –
At home, there is plenty you can do as well!
1. Only buy peat-free compost and potted plants
2. Tell your friends and family about the issue and encourage them to go peat-free;
3. Ask your local retailers to stock and promote more peat-free choices, to make it easier for consumers to go peat-free (if these are national companies, please also email or write to their headquarters)
4. Write to your MP to raise concern about the need for more urgent action by the government and industry
5. Support organisations that are pushing for peat-free horticulture, including Plant life UK who are campaigning for a ban on the extraction and selling of peat compost across the UK.
Want to know more?
Friends of the Earth’s recently published paper on Peat- Why peat is good for the climate and nature, is a great place to start.
COP26: The United Nations Climate Change Conference
The COP UN Climate Talks are an annual climate conference hosted by the United Nations (UN). This year, the 26th conference will be taking place in Glasgow between October 31st and November 12th2021.
Why does it matter?
It has been a trying year for our environment, with mass floods across parts of Europe, wildfires across Siberia and Greece, and a code red climate emergency instigated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their latest report.
The time for change is now and we need, more than ever, to take immediate and effective action to preserve our planet and to protect vulnerable communities already being greatly impacted by climate change – particularly those communities who are not historically responsible for Climate Change and unable to make the vital changes necessary.
Credit: Friends of the Earth InternationalWhat are the main goals of COP26?
COP26 has outlined 4 key goals to discuss and implement throughout the talks.
1. Secure global net-zero by the mid-century, keeping the Paris 1.5°C target within reach.
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
3. Mobilise finance.
4. Work together to finalise the Paris Rulebook and accelerate action that tackles the climate crisis.
The topic of how to reduce carbon emissions will be a key focus. This includes setting reasonable targets like those outlined by the 2015 Paris agreement which aimed to limit global heating by a maximum of 1.5°C. An important element of these discussions will cover finance solutions to the climate crisis and consider how we can assist poorer countries in dealing with the detrimental effects of climate change.
What makes COP26 unique from other climate summits is its inclusion of the Global South in talks. South America, Africa, and parts of Asia are all able to participate with equal weighting and discuss the climate with industrialised countries like the USA, Japan and the UK. Since the negative effects of natural disasters and poor recycling practices are often experienced by developing nations in the Global South, it is significant that a broader range of nations are included in COP26 and that the solutions reached include everyone.
However, there are concerns from both environmental and social justice campaigning groups that the Glasgow talks are likely to fail. The profits of big companies both funding and producing this pollution depend on inaction. Many of these companies are sponsoring the event and will have a place at the negotiating table to ensure their interests are protected.
Like to get involved ?
The general public cannot attend the official COP26 talks. The conference is attended by negotiating teams, observers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), UN representatives, officials representing multiple countries, and members of the press and media. However, there will be 1000’s of activists in Glasgow during the talks to remind Government’s that they must take meaningful action.
Not everyone can go to Glasgow but there are plenty of opportunities to support those journeying to Scotland as they pass through Manchester. Keep an eye out for groups visiting over the next month.
To learn more about the Talks
Global Day of Action
A Global Day of Action will be held on Saturday 6th November 2021 – and we need you there where ever you are! Greater Manchester plans are being drawn up now with banner and prop workshops. See our website for details.
Media spokesperson for GM COP-26 response– the GM-COP26 campaign group are looking for an outgoing individual to take on the role of media contact and spokesperson for the GM COP-26 campaigning group. Training and support provided.
If you would like more information please email email@example.com
Decarbonisation Strategy from Transport plan for the North
The group submitted a response to this consultation. In summary, while we welcomed the electrification of the network it was felt that the proposal relies too heavily on this as a means of reaching net zero. Issues included the fact that electricity generation from fossil fuels just pushes the issue down the road, that electrification only addresses tailpipe emissions and not those from brake-linings and the like and that this plan does not address other externalities associated with car use.
To read the draft plan and our response in full see our report.
Green funding pot
Manchester Friends of the Earth have set aside a small pot money to support other local groups who may need some funding to help them with their projects or campaigns.
The idea must align with our own principles and proof of expenditure must be provided in the form a small report for the website. For more details please see the Funding for Groups page.