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Dealing with the Climate Crisis

Anthony Day helps you plan a sustainable future with expert guests and reports on green technologies from across a warming world.

Last Hurrah? Image by Jhoan Cordoba from Pixabay

 ...but I haven't made up my mind about the Prince of Wales yet.

Is the Monarchy Sustainable?

 I warned you last time that I might get political so I'll be commenting on the monarchy versus republicanism which leads onto questions of ownership of land and that in turn leads to agriculture and food production.

UN Climate Conference

A UN climate conference opened in Bonn this week amid warnings that we should use no excuse to justify expanding fossil fuel production; a warning which appears to be falling on deaf ears. It could all end in tears, or stranded assets. Amid rapidly rising fuel costs, electric car manufacturers are trumpeting how cheap it is to refuel their cars. Forget the capital cost, but is that electric car as clean as you thought? A new report casts doubts.


Was it only last weekend that the UK celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee, marking her 70 years on the throne? I'm afraid most of it passed me by. I'm a royalist, or at least a supporter of the Queen who has been in the background to my life ever since I was taken to the cinema to see her coronation in 1953. Some say she's a rich woman riding on the back of the taxpayer, but you could certainly never call her idle rich. She made a vow in 1953 and despite the vast changes in the world since then she has held firm to it and deserves respect for doing so. 


When she leaves us, and she is already 96 years old, there will undoubtedly be renewed questions about republicanism. I think it's important to ask whether this is an issue which deserves attention now, but on reflection I think it will take such a long time to create any transition from monarchy to republic that the sooner we start thinking about it the better. Some suggest that Charles as a new king will accelerate the move towards a republic because as Prince of Wales he has been interventionist, writing repeatedly to government ministers and suggesting what they should do. If he tries this when he becomes king he may push the relationship of the monarchy with the state to breaking point. 


One of the key questions that must be addressed is the issue of land ownership. The Crown Estate and the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall are all major land owners in the United Kingdom. They are certainly not alone and land is owned by hereditary aristocracy and also by wealthy individuals, not necessarily British nationals. A very large proportion of the land of the UK is owned by a very small group of people. The vast areas of shooting estates, for example, are preserved for the enjoyment of a privileged few, but arguably the land could be managed in a way which is more beneficial to more of the population. 


Any government attempting the nationalisation of land would probably not last the week, but there are other ways of implementing change. I've come across the idea of the Stewardship Economy, which is described as private property without private ownership. 


According to Julian Pratt, originator of the idea, under stewardship people would have an exclusive right to use the land as now, but in return for this right they would have a duty to care for the land and also a duty to compensate others in the community who are excluded from using the land. This compensation would be paid as an annual stewardship fee. 

This sounds to me like a wealth tax, and what’s wrong with that? The UK government’s expenditure is largely funded by taxes on the working population while many of the wealthy escape tax through tax avoidance and in some cases through tax evasion and money laundering. Such a wealth tax could go some way to levelling up, an objective that the government tells us constantly that it is eager to achieve. The burden of the stewardship fee might encourage landholders to sell, allowing others to use it in different ways. Of course, if those ways must be more profitable in order to cover the stewardship fee there’s a risk that we’re putting a value on nature and commodifying it. More thought needed. Julian Pratt is no longer with us, but I’ll see if I can get someone from the organisation to discuss his ideas in an interview with the Sustainable Futures Report.

Growing Food

Much land is used for growing food, although in 2020 the UK imported nearly 50% of the food it consumed. Some say that not enough land is used for food and others point out that some land is totally unsuitable for agriculture. The truth is that land is fundamental to food production and there are warnings of a food crisis. 

60 Harvests left

A widely shared statistic is the claim that global soils are becoming impoverished and we only have 60 harvests left. This was first set out at a meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2014. You’ll find a link on the website to an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less, which examined and rejected this idea. Our World in Data  and Farmer’s Weekly both rejected it as well, although all agree that some global soils are at risk. There is no doubt that we need to protect our soils and the lesson of the American Dust Bowl in the 1930s shows the peril of over-exploiting the land.

Food Crisis

Is there a food crisis? In the immediate term we are seeing disruption to global grain supplies as a result of the Ukraine conflict and a risk of more hunger in Africa. Maybe globalisation is a bad idea for food security: maybe each country should be growing more food at home. Land-use must be optimised.

Start the Week

BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week programme this week was about a revolution in food and farming and featured George Monbiot, Sarah Langford and Claire Ratinon. There was much talk of regenerative farming, using crop rotation and soil management to maintain the fertility of the soil without using manufactured fertilisers. George Monbiot was able to enumerate the problems of modern agriculture but he didn’t really get into solutions on the programme. I assume that’s in his new book, Regenesis, so I must try and get a review copy. Monbiot was dismissive of regenerative farming because of significantly lower yields than those from industrialised farming. Industrialised farming has problems from slurry and fertiliser run-off and arguably uses the soil as a mere substrate to anchor the plants. We need to be confident that global agriculture is sustainable. Our very lives depend upon it. 

I’ll return to this in future. Meanwhile if you have any ideas, opinions or expert knowledge, please get in touch. It’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


The Wednesday Interview for 29th June will bring you news of why farmers should be growing hemp. Something to look forward to. 

Bonn Climate Conference

The United Nations Climate Change Conference started in Bonn this week and goes on until next Thursday 16th. It's an interim meeting in preparation for COP 27 which will take place in Egypt next November. 

World is Cooked

Already John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, has warned that “the world is cooked” if we use the war in Ukraine to justify the expansion of fossil fuel use. In fact, that is exactly what is happening. In a report out this week, Climate Action Tracker says, "In the wake of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the rush to build new gas infrastructure around the world to replace Russian supplies will either lock the world into irreversible warming, or create a mass of stranded assets.” Stranded assets - investments which are worthless because they cannot be used. “Stranded fossil-fuel assets translate to major losses for investors in advanced economies” warns an article in Nature Climate Change. The authors say,

“The distribution of ownership of transition risk associated with stranded fossil-fuel assets remains poorly understood. We calculate that global stranded assets as present value of future lost profits in the upstream oil and gas sector exceed US$1 trillion under plausible changes in expectations about the effects of climate policy. We trace the equity risk ownership from 43,439 oil and gas production assets through a global equity network of 1.8 million companies to their ultimate owners. Most of the market risk falls on private investors, overwhelmingly in OECD countries, including substantial exposure through pension funds and financial markets. The ownership distribution reveals an international net transfer of more than 15% of global stranded asset risk to OECD-based investors. Rich country stakeholders therefore have a major stake in how the transition in oil and gas production is managed, as ongoing supporters of the fossil-fuel economy and potentially exposed owners of stranded assets.”

Major projects such as oil and gas infrastructure have a design life of at least 30 years. If we build them we will be committed to pollute for another 30 years, unless indeed they are outlawed, in which case they become stranded assets. How secure is your pension fund?

Fast Track Gas

Despite warnings of the dangers from greenhouse gases, the EU is attempting to fast-track a number of new gas projects but is facing legal challenges from ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth Europe. They are particularly concerned about methane emissions from the new infrastructure, claiming that the EU ignored methane when reaching its decision to approve the projects. As we know, methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, many times more damaging than CO2.


After long consideration, the British government recently announced a windfall tax on oil companies in order to fund measures to relieve the pressures of the cost of living. However these companies will get a 90% tax credit for investment, effectively subsidising the development of more gas and oil fields. 

Prospecting in Surrey

The fact that this current government seems to be totally oblivious of the problems from greenhouse gas emissions is underlined by a decision this week to override Waverley Borough Council in Surrey, southeast England. The council had refused permission for UK Oil & Gas to carry out exploratory drilling to search for oil and gas. The government knew better and reversed the decision.

And Finally…

How green is your electric car?

Governments are phasing out petrol and diesel cars. The latest news is that the EU will ban the sale of new such vehicles from 2035. Vehicles burning fossil fuels emit CO2, the greenhouse gas that we all want to eliminate in order to get the climate crisis under control. 


In addition they emit particulates, tiny fragments of material which can be breathed in and are so small that they can pass straight into the bloodstream. From there they can do all sorts of damage which so far is not fully understood. It’s already clear that they are a health risk. Electric cars are clean according to the popular wisdom. They certainly emit no carbon dioxide in use and they have no exhaust pipe emitting particulates. 

Emissions Analytics

A new report from Emissions Analytics reveals that particulates, microscopic particles, are shed from vehicle tyres and they estimate that on average 1,850 times as many particles come from the tyres as come from the engine. The actual amount depends on the way the vehicle is driven and the vehicle’s mass. EVs are generally heavier than petrol cars because of the weight of the batteries. EVs typically deliver high torque and rapid acceleration. 

How clean is your EV?


And that’s it…

…for this week. In a change to the advertised programme next Wednesday’s Interview will not be about plastic pollution but instead I talk to expert communicator Guy Doza about managing the climate message. My interview with Paul Harvey to talk about his upcoming book, The Plasticology Project, will now appear the week after, on Wednesday 22nd.

Thank you once again for listening, and a special thank-you to my Patrons for their continued loyalty and support. Find out more at where you can sign up and help to keep the Sustainable Futures Report independent and ad-free.


I always welcome your feedback. Am I choosing the right topics? Do you like having an interview and a general episode every week or would you like fewer episodes in greater depth?

Okay, I admit that I'm doing this podcast for myself, but there's absolutely no point unless somebody is listening, so please give me a steer on what you’d like to hear.

Contact me via comments on the website or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

For the moment,

That was the Sustainable Futures Report.

I’m Anthony Day.

Until next time



Land ownership 

Food Security

Only 60 harvests? 

Dust Bowl 

Start the Week

Regenerative farming

Bonn Climate Conference 

Rush for fossil fuels

Stranded Assets 

Challenge to EU over gas/methane

Leave it in the ground

Surrey oil

And finally…

Tyre Emissions 


Image by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1296168">OpenClipart-Vectors</a> from <a href=“;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1296168">Pixabay</a>

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About Anthony Day

A weekly podcast and blog brought to you by Anthony Day. A selection of stories and interviews aiming to be sustainable, topical and interesting.
And also, I do address conferences.

Anthony Day

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