Winchester district’s carbon footprint has gone down a little in recent years, but not enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change. So says the first of the WinACC Science and Technology Advisory Panel's recent definitive reports on Winchester’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The report on Winchester’s greenhouse gas emissions is well worth reading for the latest detailed information about trends, sources and data locally. ‘Carbon footprint’ is shorthand for the total emission of all greenhouse gases.

The report’s author, Prof. Bob Whitmarsh, studied statistics of the district’s consumption of electricity, gas and vehicle fuels from 2005. These explain half of the district’s known emissions of greenhouse gases (based on a very thorough earlier study of 2006). The rest come from food, consumer products (particularly things we import), and public buildings such as schools and hospitals.
 
Trends in the period 2005-2009 show that people and small businesses reduced their emissions. Large organisations (private and public) showed little change overall, and even an increase in per customer gas consumption.
 
The report will help the High Quality Environment Group  of the Winchester District Strategic Partnership  make well-informed decisions about how to cut Winchester district’s greenhouse gas emissions. Whatever the outcome of the elections on May 5, the politically independent Winchester District Strategic Partnership will keep its target to cut Winchester district’s carbon footprint by 20% by 2012 and by 33% by 2015 (both relative to 2007). These targets are roughly in line with the UK government’s target of an 80% reduction by 2050.
 
The report shows that to get back on track Winchester’s emissions should be cut by 6.25% per year at least until 2015, starting immediately.
 
Climate change is a global issue, but it is also a local issue. WinACC’s Science and Technology Advisory Panel, which is chaired by Prof. Whitmarsh, has also just published a series of short articles looking at the effects which might be experienced locally in Hampshire. The biggest effects will be related to changes in Hampshire’s climate.
 
SE England has less water available per person than the Sudan and Syria. In 2007 the Environment Agency classified SE England (which includes Hampshire) as an area of ‘serious water stress’. Temperatures in SE England in the 2020s may go up by 2ºC compared with 1961-1990, which could mean more frequent and/or more intense heat waves. Total rainfall is likely to be the same, but more rain will fall in winter (up 6%) and less in summer (down 8%). This would produce increased pressure on water supplies and agriculture, and more deaths in vulnerable groups such as the elderly.
 
More intense summer downpours could lead to flash flooding. Winter rain and snow falls are expected to become more frequent and heavier, also potentially causing more flooding. In Hampshire this risk is likely to increase in river valley flood plains and in coastal areas, as a result of the combination of heavier and more frequent storms and sea level rise (12 - 76 cm rise by 2100, resulting from melting glaciers and ice-caps).
 
By 2080, the climate of Hampshire may resemble that of Portugal today, with increased temperatures and a decline in rainfall with frequent severe summer droughts. Water meadows, chalk downland and chalk streams will suffer most and species such as the otter, dormouse and honey bee will face extinction.

To find out more, you will find the report on Winchester district's carbon emissions /sites/winacc.org.uk/files/WD_emissions_250311_v2.pdf. The short articles on local effects of climate change are at /sites/winacc.org.uk/files/Local_impacts_of_CC_2011_04_24.pdf and a Synopsis of the articles on local effects of climate change is at http://winacc.org.uk/sites/winacc.org.uk/files/SYNOPSIS%20Local%20effects%20of%20climate%20change%202011_07_15.pdf

Notes to Editors:

  • For further information, please contact Chris Holloway, Director, WinACC, 01962 827083 / 07779 283451 email press@winacc.org.uk  
  • Winchester Action on Climate Change was formed in October 2007 to engage every household and every organisation in Winchester district in cutting the carbon footprint of the district by a third by 2015. More at www.winacc.org.uk
  • The Winchester District Strategic Partnership (WDSP) is a partnership of the major agencies in Winchester District - public, private and voluntary - who are working together to improve the quality of life for those who live, work and visit the area.. One of its key roles is to deliver the Community Strategy that identifies the priority issues facing Winchester District and what the partnership can do to address them.The Community Strategy is at http://www.wdsp.co.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id=fAA4ADMANAB8AHwARgBhAGwAcwBlAHwAfAA1AHwA0.  The Community Strategy prioritises climate change. The WDSP has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions in the District by 20% by 2012 and by 30% by 2015. Work will focus on:
  • helping households to reduce their energy use
  • promoting an improved approach to energy management by businesses and organisations
  • building a low carbon economy
  • supporting communities in taking action on climate change