Howard heads to US as cli­mate trail­blazer

The Arran Banner - - Front Page - Hugh Boag edi­tor@ar­ran­ban­

A lead­ing Ar­ran en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist is tak­ing part in a ma­jor cli­mate change sum­mit in the US.

And one of the am­bi­tious pro­pos­als he will be tak­ing to the sum­mit is how to make Ar­ran car­bon-neu­tral in the next few years.

Howard Wood, the co-founder and chair­man of the Com­mu­nity of Ar­ran Seabed Trust (COAST), will travel to San Francisco next month to take part in the Global Cli­mate Ac­tion Sum­mit as a cli­mate trail­blazer.

The 22 cli­mate trail­blaz­ers re­flect the global na­ture of the sum­mit, which aims to bring to­gether the best in international cli­mate change ac­tiv­ity from across the world. They will hu­man­ise the event as they will show through their ac­tions that ev­ery day peo­ple can do ex­tra­or­di­nary things.

And Howard aims to show how Ar­ran in­di­vidu- als, busi­nesses and com­mu­nity groups are al­ready do­ing a great job in tack­ling cli­mate change with re­new­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly projects on the is­land, not least of which is COAST.

He said: ‘There is a tremen­dous amount of work go­ing on across Ar­ran to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment which I in­tend to high­light at the con­fer­ence, some of which I am aware of and some of which I am sure I am not.’

Howard will also be tak­ing an is­land com­mit­ment to be car­bon neu­tral in the com­ing few years to next month’s sum­mit, but with­out a def­i­nite timetable.

He said: ‘We are all agreed it’s a tar­get we need to achieve, but be­fore putting a date on it we need to build a full is­land au­dit of both en­ergy use and stored car­bon in the en­vi­ron­ment. How­ever, I am con­fi­dent that with both Scot­tish gov­ern­ment and North Ayr-

shire Coun­cil sup­port, with fund­ing and ex­pert ad­vice, Ar­ran as a car­bon neu­tral is­land can be achieved within a few years.

‘My per­son­nel com­mit­ment is to cam­paign tire­lessly to pro­tect and con­serve blue car­bon stores. It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion, ba­si­cally a no-brainer, if the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ous about both re­duc­ing the ef­fects of cli­mate change and stop­ping bio­di­ver­sity loss.’

Howard said the South Ar­ran Ma­rine Pro­tected Area could go a long way to as­sist­ing with this goal as the four-kilo­me­tre stretch of sea grass at Whit­ing Bay, and the mearl and kelp beds, which are now pro­tected, are ex­cel­lent sources of car­bon cap­ture.

How­ever, he be­lieves that the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment is not do­ing enough to pro­tect blue car­bon cap­ture and hopes to ques­tion First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon on the sub­ject when she vis­its Ar­ran next week.

Along with Howard, the only other Euro­pean del­e­gate is Bri­tish in­ven­tor Adam Dixon of Cardiff-based Phy­to­pon­ics who has de­vel­oped tech­nol­ogy al­low­ing a wide va­ri­ety of crops to be grown highly ef­fi­ciently and pro­duc­tively us­ing hy­dro­pon­ics.

The three-day sum­mit Howard is at­tend­ing will take place from Wed­nes­day September 12 in San Francisco and Howard re­ceived his per­sonal in­vi­ta­tion, through the Gold­man Foun­da­tion, from the Cal­i­for­nian Gov­er­nor Jerry Brown.

The sum­mit will bring lead­ers and peo­ple to­gether from around the world to: ‘Take am­bi­tion to the next level.’ Or­gan­is­ers say it will be a mo­ment to cel­e­brate the ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ments of states, re­gions, cities, com­pa­nies, in­vestors and cit­i­zens with re­spect to cli­mate ac­tion.

It will also be a launch­pad for deeper world­wide com­mit­ments and ac­cel­er­ated ac­tion from coun­tries –sup­ported by all sec­tors of so­ci­ety – that can put the globe on track to pre­vent danger­ous cli­mate change and re­alise the his­toric Paris Agree­ment.

At the heart of the Paris agree­ment is the com­mit­ment by na­tional gov­ern­ments to re­view their progress and ratchet up the am­bi­tion of na­tional cli­mate ac­tion plans, known as Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tions (NDCs).

The sum­mit, hap­pen­ing mid­way be­tween Paris 2015 and Poland in 2020, is timed to pro­vide the con­fi­dence to gov­ern­ments to ‘step up’ and trig­ger this next level of am­bi­tion sooner rather than later.

The sum­mit will also con­sider a range of new cli­mate com­mit­ments un­der five key ar­eas: Healthy En­ergy Sys­tems, In­clu­sive Eco­nomic Growth, Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties, Land and Ocean Stew­ard­ship, and Trans­for­ma­tive Cli­mate In­vest­ments.

A spokesman for the con­fer­ence or­gan­is­ers said: ‘The con­fi­dence, en­thusi- asm and sup­port gen­er­ated by this wave of ac­tion now and through 2019 will em­bolden na­tional gov­ern­ments’ lead­ers to trig­ger the nec­es­sary do­mes­tic pro­cesses ahead of 2020 while also trig­ger­ing more states and re­gions, cities, busi­nesses and in­vestors to step up fur­ther ac­tion them­selves.’

Howard added: ‘It is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to go and tell the world the tremen­dous work that a small is­land cor­ner of the planet is do­ing to fight cli­mate change.’

Howard, a well-known ma­rine en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, diver and cam­paigner, was awarded an OBE for ser­vices to the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment and in 2015 was a re­cip­i­ent of the Gold­man Prize, of­ten re­ferred to as the Green No­bel, for his decades of work on ma­rine con­ser­va­tion in Scot­land.

❚ Do you know any projects on Ar­ran which are help­ing to fight cli­mate change? If so, do get in touch with Howard and they could be high­lighted at next month’s international gath­er­ing in San Francisco. Email: howard @ar­ran­

Howard Wood with his in­vi­ta­tion to global sum­mit in San Francisco.

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