School survey & Oil Reality Check

13 Jun 2022

Gosh dang it stuff keeps on happening but there’s an edition and it contains a bunch of things. Enjoy?

Stories in this newsletter:

World Environment Day

June 5 was the UNEP’s World Environment Day and in school we acknowledged this with a MobLib display and a tutor hour. World Environment Day this year also celebrated 50 years since the first Climate Conference in Stockholm and marked the Stockholm+50 conference that was held there. I dropped into some sections and some of the speakers were really powerful so I hope something good comes of it.

The Survey

Felix also put together a great MS form which when we finalised the slides for the tutor hour had 172 submissions, since then it has grown to 198 submissions. Here’s some of the data we showed in the tutor hour:

Number of submissions by year
Number of submissions by house
Graphs to show the numbers of submissions by school year, then by house.

In terms of the numbers of responses, the plurality came from JP, followed by VI2. Furley’s had the most submissions by 6 responses.

A graph showing the responses to each question on the form by year (clustered columns) and the average of all responses (white spot).

From this data we can see that:

There’s an even more impenetrable graph we produced which shows the answers to each question by house, but instead of showing that, I’ll just share some of the key takeaways here:

If you think that some of this data is particularly unflattering, you wouldn’t be wrong, but I do think it’s important to share anyway. I think the data reflects something we’ve known for a while but haven’t really been able to put numbers on: people generally like the idea of change, but are often unwilling to make their own changes. Don’t get me wrong - there’s some promising data here and I’m certainly glad we ran the survey. It just leaves the question: how do we get more people to a stage where they are willing - are excited even - to participate in or make changes that affect them?

I have an edition in the works about nutrition in the works so if that interests you, keep an eye out!

The written answers

At the end of the survey there was an optional question for written responses. Big shout-out to the people that simply said “Ja” and “/”.

Question: “What do you think the school could do to address sustainability?”

This was my answer:

And some others (all the submissions were anonymous):

Get rid of the economics department

nothing. let’s be part of the problem

give me better food

Now, to be fair, the majority of the submissions were more thoughtful. They tended to focus on:

In no particular order:

Educate - compulsory climate talks Provide more opportunities - programmes to get involved in, donation pages, charity soc, ekker choices as well as CS

I do not think that the school should change the proportions in the amount of red or white meat we eat, seeing as we eat a lot of both. I also dislike a lot of white meat. I feel that if the school were truly going to make an impact on the environment, they would halve the amount of meat we eat, seeing as we eat a lot of it, and beef burgers are less enjoyable for many then a lentil or halloumi burger.

I literally do not care about this, because it’s all virtue signalling and makes next to no difference to the schools environmental impact, since things like the PE Centre have a gas boiler.

I believe that pupil protesting and lobbying of management is necessary to cause real change. Enabling this is completely necessary as we all know orthodox and law abiding pupil consultations mean nothing. By all means necessary we must make change. As the man himself Fred Hampton said, ‘you can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill a revolution.’

Encourage recycling more than they do, especially in boarding houses where (as far as I am aware) there is no recycling options at all.

(In many houses recycling is an option - but it is rather shocking that it is not in this pupil’s house.)

School Status

In case you weren’t at the tutor hour here’s the information we gave about the school’s current initiatives and future plans:

A few areas where the school is currently active:

A few areas where the school plans to be active:

If you have any thoughts about places where you’d like to see the school doing more, either because you think it would build ambition or because it would be particularly effective in cutting emissions, Felix and I would love to hear them!

Big Oil Reality Check

On May 24 Oil Change International released their updated Big Oil Reality Check. This truly damning report walks through the current status of the oil industry and their pledges and evaluates them relative to Paris-aligned (or more recently IEA 1.5 aligned) goals.

I’m going to summarise and talk about some of the findings from this report, but the 4 page (lots of pictures!) executive summary is very good and I strongly encourage you to read it.

Companies that have fossil fuels emissions as a part of their business and have done the most to cause the Climate Crisis cannot be trusted to solve it alone, despite their marketing. This year, oil demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels of 99.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (mboe/d) and at the same time oil prices have spiked in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, delivering record profits for companies. 40% of public money for the energy sector (as part of COVID relief efforts) went straight to fossil fuels and banks have funnelled USD 742 billion into fossil fuels in 2021 alone.

In a March 2022 report the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that to limit warming to 1.5C we need “immediate and deep cuts in the production of all fossil fuels.” Here’s the thing, the IEA is an organisation that has been often relied on by oil companies to advise their plans for the future. Now, even the IEA has produced a 1.5-aligned report. This report, World Energy Outlook 2021, still includes a 4,000% increase in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), a huge increase that we would ideally not be relying on at all for the energy sector.

Even if coal use stopped overnight, already developed oil and gas fields would still take us above 1.5C of warming, and this if nothing else should make it clear that gas is not a bridge fuel. “Gas is not essential for grid reliability:” battery storage is competitive and costs are falling rapidly. Fossil gas is also linked to health negative impacts. These reasons mean that, despite possible temptation, gas is simply not good enough to be a “bridge” fuel. In a way, we are fortunate that 52% of oil production is taking place in wealthy countries which depend less on oil and gas - there is space to transition rapidly here.

Here’s the key figure from the report which shows major oil companies current pledges and actions:

Big Oil Plans

All but two of the companies surveyed plans to increase production by 2030 and this is happening while every fraction of a degree of warming makes climate extremes worse worldwide and the IPCC’s report showed that emission need to peak in 2025.

If I were an oil company right now, I would focus on slowly turning down production rather than creating new projects and getting money back to shareholders. If I were a shareholder, I would also be pushing for a plan like this, that is both aware of a just energy transition and accepts a realistic change in our energy grid in the next decades.


Oil Change International: Big Oil Reality Check

On 1.5

I was scared to say it before, in fact, I toned down the language in my IPCC WG3 edition because I was scared of admitting it to myself. I guess… there’s not much chance we’ll keep below 1.5 degrees of warming. The world will blow through 1.7C with coal, oil and gas fields we’ve already developed. Independently, we’ll use our entire carbon budget for 1.5C on just food, and most of the budget for 2.0C. News like this can be especially depressing; just look at the scale of the problem we have utterly failed to combat up till this point.

Dear reader, I can only encourage you to look to the end of the train of thought I am laying out here and see the hopelessness that lies there, but what is the point in actually going there? Optimism is not some fantastical state of mind where everything works out perfectly; it is just to see the hopelessness of individual action and to reject it. Why sit down and just wait, when we can fight? Fight for every fraction of a degree. Fight for every drop of oil, every person killed by air pollution, every tree cut down, every acre of land turned to dust, every person living on an island, every land animal, every algae and fish in the sea, every future inhabitant of this Earth and fight for ourselves. It doesn’t make sense? It won’t work? I don’t give a damn. Let me play the fool who tries to help and not the smart one who runs until there is nowhere left to run.

And… if there’s anyone who’s made it this far, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you to join me, in stubborn optimism. I am asking you, I suppose, to join me in having the common decency, the sense of duty to the Earth and life around us to try and stop this mess.

Carlos Maza: How To Be Hopeless
Our World in Data: food production alone could use up all our Carbon Budget

Lightning Round

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Activists lead Widening Perspectives Talk

2 XR activists came to Wincoll to give a talk discussing what they do. The speakers’ message was powerful and I thought it was very interesting how they genuinely did not claim to have the solutions, they simply recognised the scale of the problems and demanded action on it ASAP. They set out their method of finding solutions: a legally binding Citizen’s Assembly. Regardless of your opinions about XR it was an informative talk and the discussion afterwards was great.

Caroline Dennett resigns from Shell: The Guardian article
Short read

Caroline Dennett resigned rather publicly from Shell after 11 years, sending a powerful email and video to other employees at Shell to, if it is financially possible, “walk away while there’s still time”. Some people are hoping this has a ripple effect among other employees.

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisble God and destroys a visible nature. Unaware that this nature he’s destroying is the god he’s worshipping.” - Hubert Reeves

See you next edition,
Oscar Mitcham