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  • Writer's pictureWatlington Climate Action Group

Tick Zero – six short films on real climate solutions from Cambridge University

If you have been wanting to better understand the issues and identify some real actions to take on climate change then viewing the Cambridge University climate mitigation research group’s “tick zero” website and their 10-minute “Real Climate Solutions” films could help. All six were viewed in a well-attended meeting of the Watlington Environment Group and Watlington Climate Action Group on 29th September. The films are freely available to watch at .

They contain many profoundly thought-provoking points, such as:

  • At the present rate, we will reach a tipping point where the atmosphere cannot safely absorb more CO2 by 2050. As the climate heats, agriculture will become impossible in parts of Africa and Asia near the equator. This will likely lead to a billion people being affected by starvation, a mass migration of people to the northern hemisphere, and potentially wars and international conflict.

  • Some widely promoted carbon mediation strategies are unlikely to work by 2050, such as: carbon capture and storage, geoengineering; and replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen or bio-kerosene. The energy content of green hydrogen is only a fifth of that of the electricity used to make it. To replace aviation fuel by bio-kerosene would require harvesting 200 kg biomass/person/year worldwide, which is double the amount of harvest required to feed people (100 kg biomass/ person/year).

Solutions must therefore use technologies that are available now, have the ability to scale, don't consume more energy than they provide, and don't risk unintended consequences. There are opportunities for entrepreneurs to contribute, but extrapolating from the present, by 2050 proven technologies of energy production that do not emit CO2 may provide, in the UK, 50 – 60% of current levels.

  • So, we need to plan for reductions in energy use, but this can be done in ways that still enable us to live well. To plan effectively we need to know how much energy we currently use. Looking at current global levels of energy use, roughly equal amounts of energy are used on each of homes; manufacturing; transport, and farming. Each uses roughly 25%. To help make personal decisions on reducing CO 2 emissions, emissions per person per year in kg CO 2 /year are:

Flying 10 hours/person/year 1,700 kg CO 2 /year

Fuel for car : 660 litres petrol/car/year 1,600 kg CO 2 /year

: 550 litres diesel/car/year 1,450 kg CO 2 /year

Beef and lamb consumption:

14 kg beef and 5 kg lamb /person/year 1,200 kg CO 2 /year

Gas for home heating: 420 m 3 /person/year 930 kg CO 2 /year

We can each set an example by managing our energy usage. And we can contribute by spreading the word. Copies of this article as a Word document are available from

Richard Sibly

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