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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Monday, December 14, 2009

Copenhagen talks

As you may know one of the few things that might actually be agreed at the Copenhagen climate talks is "enhanced action on technology"... Last time we were told that carbon trading would save the planet.. now We'll be told that 'new technology will save the planet'.

In reality this is likely to mean that huge global funds will become available to help companies develop and transfer what are considered  climate-relevant technologies. While some of those technologies (some types of solar, wind, energy efficiency etc) may be fine, we can expect the bulk of this money to flow to support and transfer questionable and controversial technologies - including biofuels, biomass to electricity, GM trees and crops, biochar, waste incineration, nukes, 'clean coal' and even high risk geo-engineering technologies.

At present there is NO language requiring any assessment of which technologies should or should not receive these funds or setting any criteria to assess against. This is a dangerous gaping black hole that will be exploited by dirty industries and could lead to a massive increase in support for exactly the risky and unjust developments many of  us are  fighting against.

Below is a civil society declaration calling for  Technology Assessment to be part of any deal coming out of Copenhagen - with initial sign-ons, in three languages: English, Spanish, French. Chinese and Italian are forthcoming.  Other offers to translate most welcome, especially to other UN languages (Russian, Arabic).   All these documents will be on our website later today, laid out with a bit of design and a cartoon around the title!  (www.etcgroup. org).

If you are associated with an organisation please do consider signing that organisation on to this statement.

Please circulate this call widely in your networks, post to relavant listserves and pass on as appropriate. Please send any new endorsements to francesca@etcgroup. org


We plan to release this statement at a press conference in Copenhagen on the 10th so we need as many groups as possible to sign on before then.

Technology transfer is one of the four key topics being discussed under negotiations on Long-Term Cooperative Actions in Copenhagen (the others are mitigation, adaptation and financing).  The inter-governmental negotiating text that is under discussion contemplates various measures for accelerating the diffusion of technologies. It will most likely create an ʻAction Planʼ as well as a ʻTechnology Bodyʼ and various technical panels or innovation centres that will prove influential in the coming years in deciding which technologies get financial and political backing.  We need to make sure the right technologies get the support they need and the wrong ones are discarded.  That wonʼt happen without a comprehensive social and environmental assessment process.
We, civil society groups and social movements from around the world, understand the urgent need for real and lasting solutions to climate change. We recognise the deadly consequences that we all face if these are not achieved. We must urgently strengthen our resilience to meet the climate change challenge while dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Some corporations, individuals and even governments are fostering panic and helplessness to push for untested and unproven technologies, as ‘our only option’. However we do not wish to see a proliferation of unproven technologies without due consideration of their ecological and social consequences. Some technologies being promoted for their capacity to store carbon or to manipulate natural systems may have disastrous ecological or social consequences. Technologies that may be beneficial in certain contexts could be harmful in others.
In many cases, action to address climate change is within our reach already and does not involve complex new technologies but rather conscious decisions and public policies to reduce our ecological footprint. For example, many indigenous peoples and peasants have sound endogenous technologies that already help them cope with the impacts of climate change, and to overlook these existing practices in favour of new, proprietary technologies from elsewhere is senseless.
Technologies assessed as both environmentally and socially sound need to be exchanged. Intellectual property rules should not be allowed to stand in the way.  But some technologies that are being promoted as ‘environmentally sound’ have foreseeable and serious negative social or environmental impacts.   For example:
·       Nuclear power carries known environmental and health dangers, as well as a strong potential for nuclear weapons proliferation.
·       Crop and tree plantations for bioenergy and biofuels can lead to large-scale displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples, and destruction of existing carbon-dense ecosystems, thus accelerating climate change.
·       Agricultural practices involving genetically modified crops and trees, use of agrochemicals and synthetic fertilisers, large-scale monocultures and industrial livestock rearing present dangers to climate, human health and biodiversity.
Intentional, large-scale, technological interventions in the oceans, atmosphere, and land (geoengineering) could further destabilise the climate system and have devastating consequences for countries far away from those who will make the decisions.
·       Ocean fertilisation could disrupt marine ecosystems and disturb the food chain.
·       Injecting sulphates into the stratosphere could cause widespread drought in equatorial zones, causing crop failures and worsening hunger.
·       Biochar is unproven for sequestering carbon or improving soils, yet strongly promoted by certain commercial interests.
In Copenhagen, a new international body responsible for climate-related technologies is likely to be created and new funds will be made available to it. But so far, the negotiating texts make no mention of the need for this new body to assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of these technologies (which are frequently trans-boundary) , or to consider the perspectives of populations likely to be affected, including women, indigenous peoples, peasants, fisher folk and others.
Precaution demands the careful assessment of technologies before, not after, governments and inter-governmental bodies start funding their development and aiding their deployment around the globe. There is already a precedent in international law: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, ratified by 157 countries, gives effect to this principle on genetically modified organisms. National and international programs of public consultation, with the participation of the people who are directly affected, are critical. People must have the ability to decide which technologies they want, and to reject technologies that are neither environmentally sound nor socially equitable.
We therefore demand that a clear and consistent approach be followed internationally for all new technologies on climate change: States at COP 15 must ensure that strict precautionary mechanisms for technology assessment are enacted and are made legally binding, so that the risks and likely impacts, and appropriateness, of these new technologies, can be properly and democratically evaluated before they are rolled out. Any new body dealing with technology assessment and transfer must have equitable gender and regional representation, in addition to facilitating the full consultation and participation of peasants, indigenous peoples and potentially affected local communities.

This document is signed by:
Asian Women's Indigenous Network, International Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Philippines
Biofuelwatch, UK
Centro ecologico, BrazilCentre for Food Safety, USA
Eco Nexus, UK
ETC Group, International
Eco Pax Mundi, International
Food Secure Canada
CESTA -Friends of the Earth- El Salvador
Friends of the Earth -USA
Friends of the Earth (HABURAS FOUNDATION), Timor-Leste
Gaia Foundation, UKGender CC- Women for Climate Justice, GermanyInternationa l Centre for Technology Assessment, USA
National Farmers Union, CanadaNGO Working Group on the Asian Development Bank, International
SEARICE, PhilippinesSmartmem e, USA
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, USA
Tebtebba, Philippines
Third World Network, International
To add your organisation’s signature, send email with subject line: Look Before You Leap toFrancesca@etcgroup. org.

... Read this ...

Christmas present wrapping - 15 Dec

Tuesday 15 December
7.30 – 9.00 PM

Ethelwold’s House, 30 East Saint Helen Street, Abingdon

Mince Pies  - Christmas Brownies - Open fire
Bring your presents (any shape or size) and Allie Hudson will show you how to wrap them stylishly using old paper, fabric, magazines, string, wool and this and that.
Please bring scissors and bits and pieces for decorating
e.g. old ribbon, string, wool etc, paper carrier bags of all sizes.

Wrapping paper (up-cycled) will be provided

Cost £3.00

... Read this ...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Words for the vigil - TODAY

Here is the text of the community affirmation we plan to read at the vigil on Saturday (5.30pm in the Market Place round the Christmas Tree). Do come promptly to get in the picture, which will be beamed round the world to the Copenhagen Summit, where a special vigil led by Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson will be held outside the negotiation headquarters in Copenhagen.

If you are coming, please bring a copy of the affirmation with you.

Today, we gather here, and with communities in every corner of the world, to commit to work together to save our planet. The fragile balance of the earth that has always sustained us is changing. We are changing it.  
We are causing warming that leads to more warming, icecaps melt and rainforests die, and this cycle could move beyond our control within just five years. Climate change is far away, but close at hand. Many of us have slumbered until now. But for others, climate change is already a living devastation.

  • It is the dying light in a child’s eye, as advancing deserts turn a farm to dust, and a family starves. 
  • It is a home, a livelihood, and a lifetime of memories wiped out by ever-rising floods and bitter storms. 
  • It is the deadly battle between desperate neighbouring tribes clinging to the last remaining water holes. 
  • It is a whole proud island nation fleeing, its water poisoned by the sea, its lands sinking beneath the waves. 
  • And it is the tension of thousands of refugees driven from their lands to cities across the poorest nations.

These are the bitter foretastes of the gathering storm. This is the future that threatens us all – for no-one will be untouched by these ravages, rich or poor, north or south.  
But we can save ourselves, by changing the energy that powers our societies. We can stop burning all this oil, coal and wood. We can shift to the natural energy of the sun, the wind, the water. But we must do this all together, and we must do it now.  
The decisions we make today will decide the future of humanity. This is why we have come out today to 2000 events in 130 countries across our planet, to light up the world with a call to action, a signal of hope. We call on our leaders to take urgent action and agree a Real Climate Deal:  
A real deal must be ambitious. We want a deal that will stop and reverse the growth of harmful carbon emissions within 5 years, and quickly return the world to a safe level of 350 parts per million of carbon in our atmosphere.  

A real deal must be fair.
We want a deal that commits $200 billion per year to help poor countries do their part to fix this crisis which was not created by them.  

A real deal must be binding
. We won’t allow empty promises. We want a deal that makes the protection of our planet the law of all lands.  
This is the most important deal of our time. Every country must be part of the solution. We will accept nothing less. Tonight we gather as global citizens with common purpose and shared fate. This is a chance to build a world we can be proud to leave to our children and grandchildren.  
The hour is darkest before the dawn. Our movement is awake, this moment is ours to seize, the future is ours to build and our message is clear: 
The World Wants A Real Deal!

... Read this ...

Candlelit vigil - TODAY

Carbon Cutters will be holding a short candle-lit vigil in the Market Place in Abingdon (round the Christmas Tree) at 5.30pm to support the negotiators in Copenhagen.

This is part of a world-wide action called by Avaaz.org who I guess you know already.

Please come promptly, if only briefly, to get in the photo! Bring a candle or night-light in a jam-jar (or a lovely decorated lantern if you have one! Hope to see you at 5.30pm.

This is the message from the organisers:

I'm organising a candlelight vigil in Abingdon as part of a huge international day of action on climate change. We need a bunch of people to make it work. It’s going to be fun, short and super easy - will you come?

Events like ours are happening simultaneously in every corner of the world just as our leaders gather in Copenhagen for the most important climate negotiations of our time. Our message is clear: The World Wants A Real Deal: a treaty strong enough to tackle dangerous climate change.

Come and join me! Check out the event and RSVP here:

If you can't make it to mine, check out this map showing events across the world.


See you there?

... Read this ...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CAG Newsletter - December

Here is a link to the CAG newsletter which features a mention of our Eco-Christmas meeting, although the ideas we had were much more varied!

... Read this ...

Send and bend

There were some send and bend cards from Local Roots at the last Carbon Cutters meeting, but there was not time to see them.

Local Roots work with the local producers and make utmost efforts to provide low carbon alternatives to the food as well as locally crafted gifts, etc.

Also in terms of Christmas cards they have put a lot of effort into developing the 'send & bend cards' which are sold with a 10% donation to local charities (ACWT). The key concept of these cards is that the majority of wastage is through envelopes with the consumer and through the paper and printing process at the production end. We use only 100% recycled and biodregradable card, no envelopes (min waste and postage weight) the inks are all vegetable printing pigments and any wrapping is cornstarch and fully compostable.

... Read this ...

Eco Christmas ideas, and Christmas Feast on Dec 16th

If you missed our last meeting here are some of the ideas we discussed for making your Christmas presents and festivities more sustainable without losing any of the fun (in fact it will increase the fun!).

You are also warmly invited to the Carbon Cutters Christmas feast on Weds Dec 16th at 7.30pm in the Hearth at St Ethelwold's. Bring a festive dish to share of something you love to eat, the lower the food miles the better!


Eco-Christmas ideas

1.    Reduce the giving of unnecessary cards
2.    Design and send one by email
3.    Recycle cards for gift tags
4.    Recycle cards via national outlets FOE, Woodland Trust via WH Smith (248,000 trees would be saved if no cards were sent!)

5.    Decide as a family on a maximum value of any presents exchanged
6.    Secret Santa – everyone gives and receives one present. Requires some organisation
7.    Exchange events/experiences eg theatre tickets for the whole family
8.    Subscription to organisation eg RHS, Soil Association, Organic Research Centre, National Trust
9.    Send a cow, goat, flock of chickens
10.    Give a piece of woodland (Woodland Trust) or sponsor a hare with the Wildlife Trust, or a piece of land where Heathrow runway would be built
11.    Get things from swap shops, EBay, charity shops etc
12.    Christmas vouchers - other
13.    Give presents made by local potters, artists, craftsmen
14.    Try and buy locally before going further afield
15.    Open one present a day, rather than all together, for the 12 days of Christmas (young children)
16.    Recycle boxes, jars – fill with sweets, biscuits, coloured pasta, nuts etc and wrap a ribbon round
17.    Make or buy homemade jams, preserves etc and edible gifts from Farmers Market, Local Roots, National Trust shops etc
18.    Make own hamper with above or on a theme eg Italian
19.     “Silly” presents.  Everyone brings an unwanted present received in the past, beautifully wrapped up.  Each person chooses one and opens in turn.
20.    Wrap stylishly (see workshop below) with up-cycled paper, string wool, ribbon, raffia – decorate with paper ‘snowflake’ or use old paper carrier bag held together with a peg.  Make gift bow (http:/howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2009/10/makegift-bow-from;magazine-page.html)
21.    Wrap presents in squares of cloth (Japanese) google Futoshiki
22.    Use shredded newspaper to pack out present

Christmas tree /Decorations
23.    Buy a small one with roots in a pot and keep from year to year (keep watered particularly  when inside)
24.    Re-cycle (Market Place after Christmas) or shred for you own compost heap
25.    Don’t use preservative sprays to stop needle fall
26.    Keep it as cool as possible
27.    Buy a locally grown one – recently cut ones also hold their needles better
28.    Real trees are more eco-friendly unless the artificial tree lasts a long time – well over 10 years
29.    Don’t buy any new decorations – if you are bored with yours swap them with someone else
30.    Decorate your tree with only natural objects, dried slices of orange, lemon, small red apples, cinnamon sticks etc
31.    Reduce the amount of time the lights are on
32.    Buy LED lights if you need to replace them (use 10% of the power of traditional ones and the whole lot don’t go when a bulb breaks)
33.    Decorate a tree branch or foliage from the garden instead of a tree
34.    Decorate the house with natural foliage from garden, cut out festive shapes (stars, angels, snowflakes etc) paper chains from magazines, surplus paper etc

35.    Don’t eat meat – lower carbon & saves cooking time – eat lasagne!
36.    Cook a smaller bird
37.    Buy local, organic, unfrozen bird and veg – Farmers Market, Farm shops (Millets) veg box schemes etc
38.    Avoid over-shopping by sticking to a list and not going to the supermarket - use local shops as above
39.    Use up left-overs – see ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ website
40.    Buy dried fruits from Uhuru in Cowley Road
41.    Buy Tradecraft food from 35 Ock Street – open 1- 12 daily
42.    Buy online from Alternative stores.com
43.    Celebrate Christmas a week late buying ‘best before’ stuff

44.    Buy in  big containers with real corks
45.    Don’t buy too much
46.    Make your own punches, squeezed juices etc

47.    Use liftshare.com



Tuesday 15 December
7.30 – 9.00 PM
St Ethelwold’s House
30 East Saint Helen Street

Mince Pies - Christmas Brownies - 0pen fire

Bring your presents (any shape or size) and Allie Hudson will show you how to wrap them stylishly using old paper, fabric, magazines, string, wool and this and that.

Please bring scissors and bits and pieces for decorating
e.g. old ribbon, string, wool etc, paper carrier bags of all sizes.

Wrapping paper (up-cycled) will be provided

Cost £3.00          For further information please ring     01235 555486 or email ethelwoldhouse@btinternet.com

... Read this ...

Do you want to try country living?

If you fancy trying the rural idyll for a year near Witney, or know someone who might, see the note from Susie below. She doesn't say when the house will be free - contact her direct on susiehoward1@googlemail.com if you're interested.

“My sister and husband are trying to let their house for a year.  They're
wondering if it would appeal to someone who would like to let their town
house and try country living for a year. It's very rural, 2 miles from
Witney. It's got quite a large veg garden with fruit trees / bushes etc.”


... Read this ...