About us.....

Abingdon Carbon Cutters is a Community Action Group formed to help reduce the carbon footprint of Abingdon in response to climate change, and to promote a sustainable and resilient lifestyle for our town as fossil fuel stocks decline. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at St Ethelwold's House, which is here.

At some meetings, we have guest speakers to present various topics, and at others we discuss our own personal actions to address climate change. The group has a focus on encouragement, both of one another, and of the town community.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some interesting websites...

Browsing my "Good Energy" newsletter I came across a website www.everyactioncounts.org.uk which has a video showing (among others) HEAT - Hungerford Energy Action Team, having a stall in the middle of Hungerford promoting growing your own food! Sadly the DEFRA funding has run out so we can't sign up, but we might get some ideas from it.

Also Good Energy itself has a shop where you can buy energy saving gadgets on-line - www.goodenergyshop.co.uk

It also links to another Good Energy website giving advice on micro-generation - www.generateyourown.co.uk

They are a small firm based in Chippenham, I buy my electricity and gas from them and they pay me for having a solar panel on my roof!
... Read this ...

If Copenhagen can't provide the answer to climate change fears, what can?

Some of you might be interested in the debate on the last part of last Tuesday’s ‘The World Tonight’ on Radio 4 entitled:

‘If Copenhagen can't provide the answer to climate change fears, what can?’

You can listen again for 7 days by clicking here.

... Read this ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sustainable Construction

The Oxfordshire Economic Partnership is hosting a Sustainable Construction Conference on Wednesday 18th November 9.30 - 5.30 at the Said Business School (adjacent to Oxford Railway Station). Participants at the event will learn about energy efficient construction, sustainable site waste management and building for climate resilience as well as have the opportunity to meet individuals and organisations working in these fields. This event will be of interest to anyone involved in sustainability and the built environment. Anyone interested in further information or booking a place can contact daniel.dempsey@oxfordshire.gov.uk.


... Read this ...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to enjoy an Eco-Christmas.

New Picture (4)

The latest in our series of "How to.." meetings will explore how to have a festive time which doesn't cost the earth. We will look at non-material present ideas, home-made presents and cards, and festive food with low food-miles. Please come prepared to share ideas!

Wednesday November 18th, 7.30pm in St Ethelwolds House, 30 East St Helen Street, Abingdon.

Clicking on the poster above will enlarge it. Can you put one up somewhere prominent?

... Read this ...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

ClimateXchange update #54 - Oct 09

The latest news and upcoming events from ClimateXchangecan be found here.

This update features info on the recent Four degrees and beyond conference held at University of Oxford, a round up of some of the community events, plus more info on the Oxfordshire Big Climate Event on Sat November 7th. This event plus the many street wide demonstrations, will be an opportunity to engage with the ‘road to ... and beyond, Copenhagen

Happy reading, and if you would like to contribute to the next one please email jo@climatex.org by 2nd November
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Triodos bank visit next Tuesday

The Carbon Cutters has recently formed a Food sub Group. The aim of this group is to work towards rebuilding a diverse, resilient local food network by encouraging Abingdon to eat seasonally, grow food and eat it and engage the community in local harvesting schemes and other events.

We thought the first action might be a visit to the Organic Research Centre in Newbury (please see details below). Would anyone like to either join this group and or come to Newbury on Tuesday 10 November 2009 from 9.30am to 12.30pm? If so please let me know.

Susie Howard


The Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm develops and supports sustainable
land-use, agriculture and food systems, primarily within local economies,
which build on organic principles to ensure the health and well-being of
soil, plant, animal, man and the environment. It has played a central role
in the development of organic methods, research, policy and standards since

The Centre undertakes an extensive programme of research on crops and
livestock systems, their interactions with each other and with the
environment. As an educational charity the Centre work with local schools,
community and special needs groups and the wider public to help
understanding of food systems and sustainability, as well as advising
farmers and growers by way of conversion planning, farm management plans,
agricultural appraisal and technical advice.

A loan from Triodos Bank has helped the Organic Research Centre to
transform a 17th century Grade ii listed barn into a new, modern Conference
and Educational Centre. The restructuring and refurbishment of the
traditional barn was carried out using state-of-the-art environmental
technologies together with traditional construction methods and materials,
from ground source heating and solar panels to sheep's wool insulation and
rainwater harvesting. The centre will provide a much needed facility for the charity's conferences and events, as well as offering a welcome space for
its partners and local community groups to use.

For further details about The Organic Research Centre please visit

The visit will start at 9.30am and finish at 12.30pm and lunch will be
provided. Places on this special visit are free but are limited and allocated on a
first come, first served basis. To reserve your place please e-mail
events@triodos.co.uk or call 0117 980 9631 by Friday 6 November.
... Read this ...

Home energy monitors

There's a review of energy monitors in Ethical Consumer magazine no. 120 for Sept/Oct 2009. There's a range of models on the market, including the OWL. There are different levels of sophistication - some can be connected to a computer for analysis of the data, and some can monitor individual appliances - someone was asking about this at the meeting.

Natural Collection are currently offering the OWL at a reduced price.

Here are the websites and telephone numbers for the various manufacturers:

Owl - www.theowl.com 01256 383430
Eco-eye - www.eco-eye.com 01903 851905
Efergy - www.efergy.com 0845 017 7769
Current Cost - www.currentcost.com 01483 604517
Wattson - www.diykyoto.com 02077 297500

Top of the range is the Wattson, which can monitor individual appliances, has a memory function, can be connected to a computer for recording and analysing data, and can measure home electricity generation as well as consumption. It also works with both single phase and three-phase supplies. It costs around £100.00.

At the other end of the range is the Owl Micro, which simply measures consumption in kw and cost in £. This costs £24.99.

Other models from the above manufacturers cost between £34.95 and £49.99 and have different levels of functionality depending on how much you pay. The Current Cost CC128 Envi can monitor individual appliances and the basic kit costs £39.95, but I think you have to buy additional sensors for each appliance, which obviously increases the cost.
... Read this ...

Have you measured your carbon footprint yet?

At our last meeting, Richard gave us a wonderfully clear report on how he has reduced his house's use of gas and electricity over the last 30 years.
At the end of the meeting we looked at a website http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx which is very easy to use (I did it in 10 minutes in my lunch-hour!) and gives a visual representation of your overall carbon footprint compared to a) other people in the UK, and b) what we need to aim for. All you need to know is how much you spend on gas and electricity and the annual mileage of your car.
It's tempting when your footprint comes out large (mine did!) to blame the calculator. But having chosen one, it's better to stick with it and see how you can start to reduce your footprint size!
The Guardian has compared different calculators at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/19/carbon.web - see Richard's comments below.
It would be interesting to hear your experience of using any of these calculators - do add a comment to this post.

Hello Sally

You asked me last night if I could compare different carbon footprint
calculators. I made a start then found the Guardian has already done it:
As mentioned, personal footprints are bound to have limitations, because we
do not live isolated lives. Whenever we work or shop in a building shared
with other people, for example, or in the services we receive that are paid
for out of our taxes. In principle it may be possible to allot a carbon
content to every activity but it would get impossibly complicated.

... Read this ...

Didcot in the news

This local action should have got more publicity than it did. Follow the link below for photos and also a really useful, clear exposition of why we need new coal-fired power stations like a hole in the head... and how the "energy gap" need not even happen.
Climate Campers have scaled the Chimney at N Power's flagship coal power station:

Amy Johnson (one of the climate campers) said:

“In every country CO2 emissions are linked to economic growth, so in countries like the UK our insatiable hunger for more and more products and consumer goods is driving climate change. The world’s finite resources need to be shared more fairly, and the richest countries which got us into this mess need to take the lead in reducing emissions. We’re on this chimney to demand climate justice as the world prepares to meet in Copenhagen. We’re defending human life and people’s property around the world that’s in immediate need of protection from the ravages of rising temperatures.”

While N-Power claims that new coal is necessary to ‘keep the lights on’, in reality its push for new coal plants at Tilbury and Hunterston is motivated by profit, with coal-burning being cheaper than other fuels despite its enormous climate impact. Consultants at Poyry - Europe’s leading independent energy experts - found that Britain could easily meet its energy demands without resorting to new coal as long as the country hits its renewable and energy efficiency targets.

* As we close old coal-fired and nuclear power stations in the next decade we will lose capacity currently providing around a quarter of our electricity output. But Gordon Brown recently committed to targets which will require us to generate about 35-40% of our electricity from renewables alone by 2020, and the UK also has fairly ambitious energy efficiency targets. According to Europe’s leading independent energy experts, Poyry, if the UK was to hit these existing renewables and efficiency targets, there will be no ‘energy gap.’ We can keep the lights on and cut emissions, and in the long run bring down fuel bills too – all without new coal-fired plants like Kingsnorth.

* The world’s most respected climate scientist, Dr. Jim Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is so concerned about plans for new coal plants in Britain that he took the unprecedented step of writing to the Prime Minister to say that with the decision over whether or not to allow Kingsnorth, Brown has the potential to influence “the future of the planet”
... Read this ...

Transition to Low Carbon weekend in Winchester

The transition to low carbon: policy frameworks and community action
The Winchester Discovery Centre, 20-21 November 2009

For full program details and to register please visit
Abstracts of talks are now available online.
... Read this ...

Sit up and take note... this is very possible!

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Wood burning stove advice please

This note has been sent to Carbon Cutters - if you have a response, maybe you could add it as a comment?

I'm sorry I missed the Carbon Cutters meeting again last night. I hope it went well. It had completely slipped my mind until my husband mentioned it at dinnertime!

I'm hoping someone can recommend a builder/company to install our wood burning stove. We are desperate to get it in before the weather turns really cold.
... Read this ...