Matt TreacyThe disappearance and death of 14 year old Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe in June 2020 continues to be the subject of investigation, and some mystery. 


There have been several preliminary inquests, and the formal inquest will be held in Belfast on January 10, 2022, where Noah’s mother Fiona and supporters hope that all aspects of Noah’s tragic end will be thoroughly examined.

As things stand, there is a comprehensive but incomplete timeline of Noah’s last hours, and accounts of the involvement of others in the disposal of some of his belongings. However, other claims in relation to his disappearance and death remain unsubstantiated.

On June 21 2020, Noah, who was a pupil at St. Malachy’s, left the home he shared with his mother close to Queen’s University off the Ormeau Road, south Belfast at 5.40 pm. He was to meet friends at Cave Hill Park which is just under seven miles away. He was said to be going there to meet them to discuss their plans to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh programme.

Noah had a backpack in which he carried his laptop and books including Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. There is extensive CCTV surveillance that operates across the city, but just 8 minutes and 42 seconds of film of Noah has been recovered. That evidence does however provide some insight into the time he left his home and the last time he was seen less than 30 minutes later.

At 5.49 pm Noah was seen cycling through Victoria Square in the city centre and one minute later at the corner of High Street and Victoria Avenue. He was fully clothed and did not appear distressed. However, three minutes later he was captured passing the Ulster University and his backpack is missing. It was discovered several days later leaning against one of the college buildings.

At 6pm he was seen by a driver falling off his bicycle but remounting and continuing on his journey and two minutes later at 6.02pm he was seen entering the Northwood Road estate without his backpack or jacket. Even more bizarrely, he was then seen by a woman cycling past her home naked at 6.08pm.

That was the last time anyone saw Noah alive and some two hours later his bike was found in the front garden of a house in Northwood estate, but none of his clothes have ever been discovered. On June 24, Daryl Paul, a criminal with almost 200 previous convictions, attempted to pawn the contents of Noah’s backpack. He was arrested and convicted of theft, but his account of how he found the bag, and that he had no personal contact with Noah, were accepted.

On June 27, Noah’s body was found in a storm drain behind Northwood Road. There have been questions raised about access to the drain which will presumably form part of the inquest. The post mortem ruled that Noah had died by drowning and that there was no evidence of assault or head trauma (as might have been expected had the fall from his bike caused him to behave erratically) and that the toxicology tests had been negative.

Noah’s phone had been discovered in a playground on North Queens Street several days after his body was found but it revealed no evidence of suspicious communications.

Over the past year, there have been a number of developments that have added to the mystery of what happened to Noah Donohoe. Certainly, the last descriptions of him, the fact that his clothes have never been discovered, and indeed why he had cycled into Northwood estate prior to ending up dead raise a whole series of questions.

Some of the speculation has been unhelpful, and the publication of a book on Noah’s death was condemned by his mother and described as both “against the wishes of our family” and that it had nothing to do with the campaign that has been organised to seek full closure on the tragedy.

Some of the speculation, as formed the centre of the book, has focused on a possible sectarian motive for the attack in the light of the fact that Noah’s last moments were spent in a part of the city where a Catholic schoolboy might certainly have been at risk. That has been compounded by a media report that a prisoner was supposed to have confessed to another inmate of his involvement in Noah’s death and a loyalist connection to the cover up of the circumstances.

The person who is said to have made the confession was interviewed on his release by an independent investigator who passed the transcript to the PSNI. However, the person in question was identified and contacted by the Sunday World and told them that his cellmate had made the whole thing up.

The PSNI stated in July following a meeting with Fiona Donohoe regarding the transcript, that:

While our investigation to date has not identified any evidence that supports the claims that have been made, we are committed to exhausting every investigative opportunity.

The family’s legal representative Niall Murphy has appealed for greater effort to uncover CCTV or other sighting evidence.

Murphy also referred to the possibility that someone in the “homeless community” around the public housing for persons with drug addiction problems around the Queen’s quarter on University Street might have knowledge of an anonymous report that Noah was assaulted in that area. This is close to where Noah lives and a good distance from where Noah was last seen after falling from his bicycle and without his clothes and backpack.

The trauma experienced by Noah’s mother and all those who knew him can only be imagined. For all of their sakes, it must be hoped that this will come to an end with as definitive as possible conclusion to the investigations, and that this takes place at the inquest in January.

Matt Treacy has published a number of books including histories of 
the Republican Movement and of the Communist Party of Ireland. 

The Unanswered Questions Around The Tragic Death Of Noah Donohoe

Caoimhin O’Muraile ✒ with the final piece in a three part series on the person he thinks might contend for The Complete Revolutionary Socialist. 

In 1910 James Connolly returned to Ireland and moved to Belfast in 1911, living on the Falls Road opposite the City Cemetery (the IRSP/INLA colour party at their annual Easter Commemoration lower the flags at this house as a tribute to one of their political mentors). 

The ITGWU had been trying to form a branch in Belfast, hitherto unsuccessfully. It is at this point that Connolly’s experience as an organiser - gained in the US through his involvement with the IWW - came in very useful. Connolly addressed numerous recruiting meetings of dockers in Belfast resulting in Jim Larkin, the unions founder in 1909, appointing him an organiser of the union in the city. He established an office of the union at 112 Corporation Street in 1911 which was to become the Belfast hub of the ITGWU.

In 1911 an incident involving the union in a big way occurred in Wexford. This could have been described as a precursor to the events which would take place in Dublin two years later and was known as the “Wexford Lockout.” Like its better documented Dublin counterpart, the Wexford Lockout was over a non-negotiable issue, trade union membership or, more accurately, the right to join a union of a person’s own choosing. Watching these events unfold was a certain W.M. Murphy, who would go on to lead the employer’s offensive against the ITGWU in Dublin during the 1913/14 Dublin Lockout. 

Jim Larkin's brand of syndicalist trade unionism, with its motto “an injury to one is a concern to all” frightened the employers and now he had James Connolly, who was like minded, on board, the likes of Murphy were determined to stop it in its tracks. However, this was for the future. One of Wexford towns largest employers, Philip Pierce, decided to pre-empt the ITGWU and imposed a lightening lockout of his workers, the bosses equivalent of a wildcat strike.

He decided to lockout his workers for no reason; he had not received any demands from his workforce but, not wanting to wait for any possible approach from the union, he put his employees on a weeks-notice. The way Pierce looked at the matter was the ITGWU and their leader, Jim Larkin, were prone to calling wildcat strikes so he decided, even if such a strike was not under consideration by the union, to get in first. This action advanced by Pierce was to be followed by other companies in Wexford in what was to become known as the “Wexford Lockout”.

Another company in the town, Doyle and CO, of the Selskar Ironworks, followed the example of Peirce. William Doyle admitted that the men had not presented any complaint, but they had joined the ITGWU and it was necessary for employers to know with whom they were dealing in a situation like the present. A third firm took the same pre-empted action leaving all 700 men on the street and some 2,000 others affected if dependents are included. (Striking Similarities - Kevin Morley - P.50).

Larkin summoned P.T. Daly to Liberty Hall and assigned him to deal with the situation. Daly went to Wexford and in January 1912 he was imprisoned on some trumped-up charge of “Incitement to Riot”. The employers were beginning to smell victory; enter James Connolly, who was less known in Wexford than Belfast. Connolly arrived on the scene in early February, staying with an activist called Richard Corish in William Street, Wexford. James Connolly was charged with finding a settlement without losing the credibility of the union. It is at this point his break, or semi-break, with ultraleftism would pay dividends. Within two weeks Connolly had found a settlement, very much in favour of the union. There had to be a sacrifice, and that was Richard Corish who was blacklisted and would never work in Wexford again. 

The settlement was far from perfect, settlements seldom are, but it did concede many of the men’s demands. It provided for the formation of the Irish Foundry Workers Union as an associate/affiliate of the ITGWU. The foundry men, skilled and unskilled, could return to work and combine under the IFWU banner. Richard Corish, the sacrificial lamb in the agreement, was given a job as secretary to the IFWU. The settlement was considered a victory because for the first time the men, skilled and unskilled (W.M. Murphy’s biggest fear) had the right to combine together which was recognised. The bosses considered it a victory for them, on the grounds, or so they thought, that they had kept out the ITGWU. They could not see, as could Connolly - the architect of the agreement - that the IFWU was in actual fact a trojan horse full of transport union troops! William Martin Murphy could see the settlement for exactly what it was, a defeat for the employers if they could only see it. He was determined that when he had his dispute in Dublin, no such settlement would be reached! A victory celebration was held on 17th February attracting over 5,000 people to cheer James Connolly and the determination of the locked-out workers involved.

In 1912 James Connolly was instrumental in the formation of the Irish Labour Party along with Jim Larkin, Richard O’Carroll and William O’Brien and many others. This was in sharp contrast to the view of William Walker, the Belfast trade unionist and Independent Labour Party organiser, a British based organisation. Walker opposed vehemently any formation of an Irish Labour Party believing the interests of the Irish working-class were best served by the British labour movement. This was a false assessment in my view because the British labour movement, including the TUC were generally imperialist. It was for this reason the TUC had a role at the Foreign Office, generally to quash any national independence aims within the working-class of the colonies using the argument, as did Walker, the interests of the colonised workers were best served by the labour movement of the “mother country”. This, of course, could never be as the interests of Britain and British capitalism at that would always take preference over the interests of the working-class and in particular the proletariat of the colonies. Ireland was no exception to this rule which was why an Irish Labour Party was needed. Connolly argued the Irish working-class needed an independent voice in any future Irish parliament, which was perhaps why William Walker, being a unionist, opposed the concept so vehemently. Perhaps he saw the formation of such a party as the thin end of the wedge towards an Irish independent parliament?

Although Connolly and Larkin were primarily syndicalists – a system which did not require a party at all and forged no alliances with political parties the feeling being such a party would inevitably try to substitute itself for the class, a very good argument even today, the formation of an Irish Labour Party was not necessarily a contradiction. Having a political voice, given that no revolutionary situation existed, therefore syndicalism as a means of overthrowing capitalism at that moment was not viable, having a political voice was an important second string to the bow. In any future event of a working-class upsurge and overthrow of the status quo then that party should subordinate itself to the proletariat and working-class interests. All theory and given in 1912 a revolutionary situation did not exist and Home Rule was the popular position of the people in Ireland and with Home Rule would have come a Home Rule Parliament in which labour needed to be represented. On 28th May 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary the Irish Labour Party was born.

August 1913 saw the outbreak of the Dublin Lockout orchestrated by the employer, William Martin Murphy. Murphy was determined none of his employees would join the ITGWU or be a member of any so-called affiliate, and there would be no repeat of the settlement brokered by Connolly in Wexford. Murphy demanded his workers sign a slip of paper promising never to join the ITGWU or face dismissal if they did and those who were members therefore had to denounce the ITGWU and leave forthwith. On 15th August 1913 W.M. Murphy, owner of the Dublin United Tramways Company and the Irish Independent newspaper, sacked forty men and boys in the papers despatch and delivery office. 

Murphy was determined to provoke the ITGWU and the leadership, Larkin and Connolly into a fight. They had little option but to take up the challenge. On 26th August, the first day of the Dublin Horse Show, Murphy’s trams came to a halt. At twenty to ten in the morning striking drivers and conductors pinned the red hand badge of the ITGWU to their lapels as they walked off the job. Murphy knew he would provoke a reaction to the sackings at his newspaper offices, and he was acutely aware the better off sections of the public would be up in arms because they would not be able to get to the horse show. Murphy would publish, through the Irish Independent a tirade of anti-transport union propaganda. The Irish Times, usually a rival paper, would show class solidarity with Mr Murphy by also printing terrible devil incarnate tales about the union. Murphy brought in scab labour and they, along with Murphy himself, were protected by the forces of so-called law and order. William Martin Murphy then set about in effect unionising the employers. He resurrected the Employers Federation – forerunner of today’s IBEC – which combined had 400 member employers. He was in effect using the very tactics he was trying to stop the ITGWU adopting, secondary action!

On Saturday 30th August Connolly and William Partridge were arrested at Liberty Hall, Dublin, and taken by the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) before the police magistrate, Mr E.G. Swifte, a friend of Murphy and fellow shareholder of Murphy’s Dublin United Tramways Company. They were charged with incitement to cause a breach of the peace at a previous meeting. Partridge agreed to be bound over, perhaps taking the view he would be of little use to the men in gaol, while James Connolly refused to be bound over. Connolly in effect refusing to recognise the court then informed Swifte; “I do not even recognise the King, except when I am compelled to do so” to which the magistrate replied to Connolly; ‘he was talking treason’ and gave him three months imprisonment. ’This, the magistrate thought, would give Connolly time to reflect on his folly!’ (Striking Similarities - Kevin Morley - 2017 - P67).

On 1st September the TUC held its conference in Manchester, England, and on the agenda were the events taking place in Dublin. The congress pledged support for the striking tramway men but equally refused to mobilise the workers in Britain, refusing to escalate the strike throughout England, Scotland and Wales. The TUC did organise food parcels without which the families of striking and locked out workers would have starved. What was needed, along with these rations, was secondary strike action which the TUC refused to sanction. Individual groups of workers took industrial action, railwaymen in Manchester, Dockers in Liverpool and the MFGB (Miners) organised weekly collections in hard cash for the beleaguered Dublin workers. In Dublin, the DUTC were raising their ante as were other employers like Jacob’s Biscuits. The biscuit company told their tradesmen there was no work due to the actions of the ITGWU and at the same time the DUTC locked out 250 engineering workers at its Inchicore works. On the 15th September and against TUC instructions ten thousand railwaymen in the English West Midlands took industrial action along with three thousand workers on Merseyside. Despite this encouraging secondary action by workers in Britain, James Connolly, despite being a revolutionary syndicalist, knew the odds were stacked against the workers. Again, showing his break with unconditional ultra-leftism on 21st September he told the press; ‘we are willing – anxious in fact – to have a conciliation board’ (Morley P.74). He could see the TUC were not going to call out workers across the UK or, for that matter, Ireland in support of the Dublin proletariat. The employers had the support of the police and army and in view of these circumstances perhaps a conciliation board was the best prospect. Connolly did this while he was deputising for the imprisoned Jim Larkin, Connolly himself now out of prison. This willingness by Connolly, despite his syndicalist views, to accept some kind of arbitration, even ask for it, could be perceived by the public as showing goodwill while at the same time demonising the employers if they refused. This was the thinking behind this strategy, as a by-product of getting a negotiated settlement. Had the balance of class forces been in favour of the Dublin workers – a general strike in support looming either official or otherwise – then Connolly could, and no doubt would, have taken a harder line more in common with ultra-leftism. The idea had the support of the Lord Mayor, Lorcan Sherlock who was in the process of setting up the arbitration board when the employers, on Murphy’s instruction, rejected the proposal. William Martin Murphy wanted all out victory and the humiliation of the starving workers and their union. He forced the strike at a time, the Dublin Horse Show, of his choosing to create maximum disruption with transport. He then blamed the ITGWU for the lack of transport to the show. He chose the terms of the lockout/strike, something non-negotiable  - the right of workers to join a union of their choice and recognition of that union - not pay as a settlement which could have been reached on this issue, something Murphy did not want. The employers formally rejected the proposal from Connolly on 22nd September and the British Army began strike breaking duties. This incident should show to anybody looking at the dispute through objective lenses which side were on the offensive, and whose side the authorities were on!

The employers were now arming the scabs and it was only a matter of time before somebody was shot dead by these gun totting blacklegs. This happened to a young girl, Alice Brady, a member of Delia Larkin's – Jim Larkin’s sister – Irish Women Workers Union. Alice was shot in the wrist by a trigger-happy scab called Patrick Traynor, who fired shots into a crowd possibly through fear. Alice’s wound developed complications resulting in her death. Traynor was arrested, charged first with murder which was reduced to manslaughter – in case murder left a stigma over the employer’s cause – which was in turn reduced to “causing a girl’s death as a result of a revolver shot”, no more mention of murder or manslaughter. The police spoke for the accused and the jury consisting of property owners found no bill against Traynor. Patrick Traynor walked free!

At Alice Brady’s funeral on 4th January 1914, she had succumbed to tetanus on New Year’s Day, attended in large numbers including the trade unions, James Connolly delivered the oration: ‘Every scab and every employer of scab labour in Dublin is morally responsible for the death of the young girl we have just buried.’ There was no outpouring of grief from the employers who provided many scabs (though in this instance not Traynor, he procured his own weapon) with guns to shoot irresponsibly which in this case resulted in the death of a young girl. The courts and jurors showed whose side they were on by their verdict. Then, as now, the state and their army and police are not neutral in class disputes, industrial conflicts, they are firmly on the side of the employers!

On 21st January 1914 the TUC Parliamentary Committee informed the leadership of the strike that no more material aid would be forthcoming from Britain. The TUC could not speak for other socialist organisations whose help, though important, was negligible without that of the TUC. On 31st January the United Building Labourers Union returned to work on the employer’s terms, signing the paper not to join or, if applicable, leave the ITGWU. For those of us who witnessed the return to work of Britain’s Coal Miners after the 1984/85 strike this must have been a bitter pill to swallow. The 1913/14 Dublin Lockout involved thirty-seven trade unions representing upwards of 25,000 workers, a large number relative to the times. The Employers Federation, hitherto almost redundant, was given an influx of life by Murphy consisting of 400 employers. It survives today as the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC). The last food ship to arrive in Dublin port was the SS Hare on 19th January, the following day huge crowds gathered at Liberty Hall for food tickets.

William Martin Murphy had tried and failed to obliterate the ITGWU, though it must be said the workers returned on his terms. The union’s membership increased after the lockout to a higher number of members than that of 1913.

In August 1914 the First World War began and Connolly had a banner draped over the balcony at the ITGWU headquarters, and HQ of the Irish Citizen Army reading, We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser, But Ireland. Connolly, with many other socialists opposed what he called ‘this cursed war’ with a vengeance. The war split the hitherto united Second International into two factions, those who opposed the war and those who, albeit reluctantly, supported their native bourgeoisie and monarchs in going to war. Connolly along with V.I. Lenin – though the two never met – were in the camp opposing the bloodshed. Alas James Connolly did not live long enough the witness the Russian Revolution of 1917, if he had Irish history may have been different.

James Connolly is perhaps best remembered for his role during the 1916 Easter Rising. Connolly, after Jim Larkin departed for the USA, assumed the leadership of the ITGWU and the Irish Citizen Army (formed in November 1913 as a workers defence force). He had not been on the first Army Council formed earlier in 1914, not because he was not interested, he certainly was, but he felt his energies in the aftermath of the lockout may be better spent elsewhere. Connolly had ideas about using the ICA as a revolutionary force and was planning some kind of insurrection using the armed wing of the proletariat alone. When the secret organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, heard of this they panicked. The IRB were in the process of planning a rising of their own and felt Connolly and the ICA may hinder their operations. The story goes, and that is all it is, a story, that the revolutionary IRB kidnapped Connolly to advise him of their plans and not to go ahead with his own. The truth was, according to Frank Robins of the Irish Citizen Army in his book Under the Starry Plough ‘the fact that he freely became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from the date of the meeting is a clear indication that the story of his kidnapping was a myth’ (P.73/74). 

It is true enough that a meeting took place but by mutual agreement, and James Connolly was co-opted onto the revolutionary leadership of the IRB. There are those who, wrongly in my view, accuse James Connolly of betraying his socialist principles by throwing his lot in with the petty bourgeoisie represented by Padraig Pearce, Thomas Clarke, Thomas McDonagh, Joe Plunket, Sean McDermott and Eamon Ceannt, and taking part in the Easter Rising. He not only took part but commanded the combined allied Irish forces of the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers in Dublin. These two groups, though ideologically poles apart were allies for the duration of the rising. As if to emphasise his distrust of the Irish Volunteers, Connolly issued this order to the ICA prior to the rising:

In the event of victory hold on to your rifles, as those with who we are fighting may stop before our goal is reached. We are out for economic as well as political liberty.

Connolly was referring to the volunteer leadership whose long-term aims may have differed somewhat to those of the ICA. Connolly harboured hopes of the working-class, once hostilities had begun, coming out in support either through a general strike in Ireland or any other form of action, in favour of the insurrection. He saw it as perhaps another way of bringing about socialist revolution by way of the national rising.

Connolly held reservations as to the effectiveness as to the use of the rifle as a means of securing power for the working-class, however, and again strategies shift with circumstances. His statement in response to Victor Berger, who was a strong advocate of the rifle was such:

The rifle is, of course, a useful weapon under certain circumstances, but these circumstances are little likely to occur. This is an age of complicated machinery in war and industry, and confronted with machine guns, and artillery which kill at seven miles distance, rifles are not likely to be of much material value in assisting the solution of the labour question in a proletarian manner -  (James Connolly Collected Works volume 2 P.243). 

The Easter Rising obviously presented these “certain circumstances”. To Connolly’s critics I would remind them that with or without the Volunteers, Connolly had an insurrection in mind - they just provided perhaps a quicker avenue and greater numbers. The relationship between the Irish Citizen Army and Irish Volunteers could be likened, in a smaller way, to that of the Soviet Red Army and their US allies in the Second World War. They came from two opposing ideological camps but for the duration of hostilities and the defeat of fascism were allies in common cause.

The Easter Rising took place between April 24th and 29th 1916 and resulted in a British military victory. There were many reasons as to why this happened which is not in the writ of this analysis of James Connolly. It is worthy of note to mention when Pearce issued the surrender, on behalf of the Irish insurgents, the Irish Citizen Army troops would not accept or follow the order until a separate surrender order was issued by Commandant General of the ICA, James Connolly. Of all the leaders of the Rising James Connolly was the man General Maxwell was most determined to have tried and executed. He showed more attention to Connolly than any other of the sixteen executed men. Perhaps, no certainly he saw in Connolly a threat far greater than anybody else he was to have shot! He was shot, strapped to a chair on 12th May 1916.

James Connolly must go down as one of the flawless revolutionary socialists (though not infallible) of all time. Yes, he got things wrong, as did his mentor, Karl Marx. One was that the USA would become the first socialist country: he was miles out. Another was during the Easter Rising when he stated; ‘capitalism will not use artillery against capital’: he was wrong, and they did. 

Connolly’s ability to analyse a situation and address it on merit was a great attribute. His breaking with the dogmatic ultra-leftist approach served him well, not least in securing as near victory in all but name in the Wexford dispute. He showed the same ability in the Dublin Lockout when he suggested arbitration, seeing the odds were stacked against the ITGWU and it was the intransigence of the employers, and in particular W.M Murphy which prevented this. Had the balance of class forces been more favourable then a more robust, even ultra-leftist position could have been taken. He had one last laugh over Murphy: at the outset of the Rising he had the flag of the ICA and Irish labour, the Starry Plough, hoisted over Murphy’s Imperial Hotel in Dublin’s O’Connell (then Sackville) Street. The flag of labour flying over the citadel of capitalism. Could that be likened to the Soviet Union flying the Hammer and Sickle, the flag of Soviet communism, over the Reichstag, once the office of Nazism, at the end of the Second World War?

One hundred and five years after Connolly’s death many of his policies and prophecies, such as his advice to the ICA before the rising “in the event of victory hold on to your rifles” still have relevance. Seventy five percent of Ireland achieved independence, of sorts from Britain in 1921-22, but this was not the independence Connolly had in mind. Perhaps a little more pressing in today’s world than rifles and rebellion (necessary as one day they surely will be needed) is the fact that employers, particularly in the private sector do not recognise trade unions. Even though this is a constitutional right of all citizens, most employers - if this right is exercised - will not give the unions recognition. In many ways this stance is even worse than the position of W.M. Murphy during the lockout who at least pretended to “have no problems with sensible trade unionism”. Roughly translated that means unions who cannot, or will not, show any backbone and working-class leadership. His problem, so he claimed, was with “Larkinism” and the ITGWU including James Connolly. 

Today, if working-class people want their unions recognised and if they want an improvement in pay and conditions, they will be forced to do what their forefathers did, fight, and fight for what is essentially a constitutional right: the right to form associations and trade unions. Failure to do this will result in further erosions in pay and conditions, already being done behind the mask of Covid-19. The twenty-six-county government have just introduced a Bill granting sick pay up to seventy percent of a worker’s full pay by 2025. This is not out of sympathy with the workers but moreover to stop people going to work when they are sick, and spreading illness which has happened during the pandemic. Unfortunately, we have not got a James Connolly around today to give a lead, but somebody, somewhere out there ... who knows?

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist


Connolly Returns To Ireland

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Sixty Six

 


A Morning Thought @ 1191

Peter Maguire 🔖answers thirteen questions in Booker's Dozen. 

TPQ: What are you currently reading?

PM: I never read just one book at a time. I am currently reading Worth Defending, Richard Bressler and Scott Burrs’ new book on Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Fashionable Nonsense ,Alan Sokol and Jean Bricmonts' book on postmodern claptrap, Peter Dimmock’s remarkable novels on American imperialism Daybook From the Sheep’s Meadow and George Anderson: Notes For a Love Song in an Imperial Time, and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to remember what great writing sounds like.


TPQ: Best and worst books you have ever read?

PM: I loved George Orwell’s Animal Farm for its spartan and bitingly precise characterization of Stalinism. Edmund Morgan’s brilliant history American Slavery, American Freedom articulated America’s central historical contradiction for me in a way that no other book has. Morgan forgot more than all of the authors of the tendentious The New York Times 1619 Project will ever know.  Voltaire’s Candide is also a favorite because it shows that good intentions do not necessarily yield good results. C. Wright Mills The Power Elite is also a favorite because Mills was so prophetic when it came to the America's fame at any cost culture. Hey Rube, one of Hunter S. Thompson’s last books was also remarkable because nobody more accurately predicted where America’s “downward spiral of dumbness” would take us after 9/11.

Worst book? There are so many to choose from.

Neocon cheerleader Max Boot’s Savage Wars For Peace was dreadful as was David Frum and Richard Perle’s An End to Evil. Both provided the pseudo intellectual underpinnings for America’s ill fated Global War on Terror. A Problem From Hell by journalist turned politician Samantha Power was not only grossly over rated, but also totally unoriginal. Like Boot and Frum, Power provided the neoliberals and “the humanitarian hawks” with their intellectual rationalizations when the Obama administration’s turn came to play world cop.

TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?

PM: I grew up on boats and in the sea so The Dove by Robin Lee Graham was extremely inspiring to me as a child. At 16, Graham left my home port of Marina Del Ray, California and sailed his 24 foot sloop, The Dove, around the world. He was the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe and did it without Loran or GPS. He made me want to do similar things.

TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?

PM: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Curious George series and the many authors of The World Book Encyclopedia. I probably spent more hours reading the encyclopedia (A-Z) than any other book as a kid.

TPQ: First book to really own you?

PM: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. I was always fascinated by stories about survival and self sufficiency.

TPQ: Favourite male and female author?

PM: George Orwell and Joan Didion.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

PM: Fact, I don’t read much fiction.

TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?

PM: I loved Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye because it was set in Los Angeles where I grew up and explained so much about Bukowski’s deep loneliness and sadness. Gore Vidal’s Palimpest was an eye opener for me because I knew little about America’s 20th century ruling elite. Vidal was an American aristocrat and his memoir provides a very uncensored expose of so many prominent people. I have never looked at the Kennedys the same way after reading it.

TPQ: Any author or book you point blank refuse to read?

PM: Anything written by the neoconservatives who cheer led America’s disastrous Global War on Terror - William Kristol, David Frum, Max Boot, the ubiquitous Kagans, Thomas Friedman, and many others. I also try to avoid anything written by neocons turned “Never Trumpers.” If they think their hatred of Trump somehow absolves them of their rank intellectual dishonesty and colossal errors of judgment, they should visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?

PM: My book Facing Death in Cambodia and my introduction to my book Thai Stick.


TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

PM: I gave Harry Crews novel A Feast of Snakes to a Yankee friend. He was talking nonsense about the South and Southern writers, but had never been south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I prefer southern and western fiction to the many well publicized New York centric tales of angst and neurosis.

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

PM: My book Thai Stick.
 
TPQ: The just must - select one book you simply have to read before you close the final page on life.

PM: Volumes 1-7 of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Hans Delbruck’s The Barbarian Invasions, Medieval Warfare, and The Dawn of Modern Warfare. I have nibbled at all of them, but have yet to read them systematically.

⏩ Peter Maguire has taught The Law and Theory of War at Columbia University and Bard College and presently teaches The History of Surfing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He is the author of Law and War: American History and International Law, Facing Death in Cambodia, Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Martijuana Trade, and the New York Times bestseller Breathe: A Life in Flow.

Booker's Dozen @ Peter Maguire

Simon Smyth ✒ has finished reading a book on the life of a republican activist he much admires. 
 

I have to hold my hands up, in the interests of honesty, I tend to read books I believe I will like, so I come at this review from a certain position. Even if it doesn't persuade you to read the book (I hope it does) the review might add a little information on Skinnider, who is one of my favourite Republicans.

Skinnider had a strong background in militant suffragette, socialist and Irish Nationalist organisations in Scotland and Ireland. In 1915 Margaret Skinnider visited the poorest area of Dublin and witnessed four families living in each room, one in each corner. When she was invited by Countess Markievicz to Dublin she travelled from Scotland with detonators and bomb wires concealed on her person. McAuliffe's description of this Dublin trip evokes a sense of idealism, extreme poverty and a bunch of like-minded people which are all ingredients less-commonly seen today.

A key yet understated figure in Irish history, Skinnider's C.V. is astonishing: a dedicated Camogie player and Gaeilgeoir; expert shot with the rifle; military instructor to the Fianna; member of the Irish Volunteers; fought with Irish Citizens Army under the command of Michael Mallin and Countess Markieviecz in the Easter Rising of 1916; colleague of Liam Mellows; in charge of Cumann na mBan operations in Dublin during the attack on the Four Courts; member of the guard of honour at Cathal Brugha's funeral; paymaster General of Anti-Treaty IRA; military instructor; sea and land smuggler of weapons and explosives; decades' long keeper of safe-houses, school teacher and head of the Irish National Teachers Organisation. They always say a wide-ranging C.V. will impress!

McAuliffe expertly places Skinnider's and other individuals' lives in the context of much more well-known moments in history, for example the Great Hunger, the Land League, Home Rule campaign, the formation of the U.V.F. etc.

Margaret Skinnider was a leading propagandist in the USA after the Rising, along with Nora Connolly O'Brien, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, and other leading figures. It was this propaganda by Republican women, McAuliffe explains, that changed the views of Irish America forever.

Both pro- and anti-treaty Republicans suffered in the weak economy but because of the fascist misogynistic laws which (going against the letter of the Proclamation) were ushered in by the new state in league with the Catholic Church; women were treated abysmally, particularly those who, like Skinnider, were anti-treaty. Cumann na mBan as an organisation was anti-treaty. They and others who were anti-treaty were denied pensions.

The book quotes W.D. Cosgrove's statement that "the word "persons" refers to males" regarding pensions. This was state policy and illustrative of the virulent hatred of Republican women. McAuliffe deftly breaks down the nuance of the pension policy with the example of the only woman who got a pension, it was down to her being a Free-State army doctor between 1922-1924. Skinnider was unsurprisingly denied a pension - being anti-treaty was more of an unworthy attribute than being a woman. Now that is saying something considering how much women were despised in the new state.

Likewise, in 1932 there was a ban on married women becoming teachers or working in the Civil Service. This enraged Margaret Skinnider - equality and emancipation of women went to the heart of the Proclamation. The author, referring to Skinnider, notes this ban would have "enraged her feminist sensibilities." Skinnider lived for most of her life with a same sex partner, Nóra O'Keefe so the ban on married women would not have affected her directly but fighting for people's rights regardless of whether you are impacted directly is what human rights and a rights based Republicanism is all about. She was also passionate about pupils with intellectual or physical impairments getting an equal opportunity to others.

This book reinforces the message that we should proactively encourage women of whatever political stance to take part in politics. If you can't find it in your heart to encourage them, at least don't troll, stalk or harass them. We need to give ourselves the best opportunities for a successful society. A male dominated capitalist society hasn't worked.

This bite-sized book at 115 pages is an easy and comfortable read, part of the Historical Association of Ireland's Life and Times New Series aimed at students, with a sparsity of academic jargon. However, things as specific as Cumann na mBan convention minutes are discussed by the author. With this as with everything it is the detail that delights and fascinates. Full of interesting stories, deftly interwoven and described by the author Mary McAuliffe, it didn't disappoint. It has a useful notes section and bibliography along with a handy chronology of the subject's life. I would encourage people to read this book on the multi-faceted life of Margaret Skinnider.

Mary McAuliffe, 2020, Margaret Skinnider. Publisher:‎ University College Dublin Press. ISBN-13: 978-1910820537

⏩ Simon Smyth is an avid reader and collector of books

Margaret Skinnider

 

A Morning Thought @ 1190

Dixie Elliot Page ✒ Are the smaller houses on Ferguson Street, off Bishop Street, the oldest terraced houses in Derry today?

The argument as to whether it's Ferguson Street or Ferguson's Lane persists to this day despite the fact that the name is officially Ferguson Street.
 
According to the late John Bryson's excellent book, The Streets Of Derry, it was indeed a country lane linking Bishop Street to Foyle Road in 1780. It had previously been known as Edward's Lane and in 1830 Ferguson's Lane cut through gardens, orchards and two or three ropewalks; one of which was located at the spot where Dodd's Bar is today. A ropewalk was a long and narrow area where ropes were made.

Two names are linked to Ferguson's Lane, one being Thomas Ferguson, a leaseholder of plot 78 in 1738. The other name was that of John Ferguson, a captain in the Derry Irish Volunteers in 1779. These 'volunteers' were militia formed by British landowners to 'defend' Ireland while the British army was fighting during the American War of Independence.

There is no actual date in The Streets of Derry as to when houses were first erected on Ferguson's Lane but it does refer to a Andrew McLoughlin who built a house, where McLaughlin's Close is today, in 1850. This person was named as a landlord on Ferguson's Lane so it is highly likely that the houses were there at that time.

According to John Bryson's research the name was changed from Ferguson's Lane to Ferguson Street in 1860. Numbers 1 to 17 were replaced in 1901, when Bellevue Avenue was built and the house at McLaughlin's Close was rebuilt in 1902. Numbers 41 and 43 were demolished in 1935 when Maureen Avenue was built, number 65 in 1945, numbers 49 to 63 in 1980? (John's question mark)

During my own research I came across an old map of Ferguson's Lane with the houses marked on it. What is interesting is that there is clearly an orchard on the bottom left hand side and across from it there is what appears to be one of the ropewalks.

It's incredible to think that despite the name having been changed in 1860 that many people in Derry still refer to it as Ferguson's Lane.

Getting back to my question, Are the smaller houses on Ferguson Street the oldest terraced houses in Derry today?

John Bryson only referred to houses which had been demolished, in his research. We must therefore assume that the other houses on Ferguson Street must be those smaller ones which remain on the left hand side and the four small ones on the right hand side and that they were the original houses which stood on Ferguson's Lane since at least 1860.

If this is the case they must be the oldest remaining terraced houses in the city. Rosemount was still countryside back then and the first streets weren't built up there until the 1870s.
 
Two of these houses on Ferguson Street have been derelict for years and in a bad state of disrepair but with the possibility that they are part of the oldest street still remaining as it was they must be obtained and preserved. Given that both houses are situated next door to each other they could be put to use in a way that benefits the local community.

Might I even suggest that the two houses are transformed into living history museums showing how people lived in Derry in the 1800s and in the 1900s. Why not even include outdoor toilets?

Thomas Dixie Elliot is a Derry artist and a former H Block Blanketman.
Follow Dixie Elliot on Twitter @IsMise_Dixie

Ferguson Street / Ferguson's Lane

Kevin Hester“US support was probably critical to IPCC’s establishment. And why did the US government support it? Assistant Undersecretary of State Bill Nitze wrote to me a few years later saying that our group’s activities played a significant role. Among other motivations, the US government saw the creation of the IPCC as a way to Prevent the activism stimulated by my colleagues and me from controlling the policy agenda.”

Hacking at the Tree of Life:
Dying Forests, Oceans, Societies Unmasked

The home of climate change denial was instrumental in setting up the IPCC.

I suspect that the Reagan Administration believed that, in contrast to our group, most scientists were not activists, and would take years to reach any conclusion on the magnitude of the threat. Even if they did, they probably would fail to express it in plain English. The US government must have been quite surprised when IPCC issued its first assessment at the end of 1990, stating clearly that human activity was likely to produce an unprecedented warming - Source How the IPCC Got Started.

The IPCC was designed to fail, part of their mandate is to not make recommendations that would constrict economic growth.

Continue reading @ Hacking at the Tree of Life.

It’s Time to Acknowledge the Spectacular Success of the IPCC

Peter Anderson ⚽ Just 4 weeks in to the new season and the top of the league is looking very familiar. 

The Manchester big two, Liverpool and Chelsea are manning the top spots as predicted. Everton may join them depending on last night's result, but that will only be temporary. It has been pleasantly surprising to see Liverpool and City play so well. 

I never try to hide my admiration of Messrs Klopp and Guardiola and so far this season, they have excelled. City failed to land a striker to replace Aguero after supposedly being in the hunt for Kane and Ronaldo, and Pool failed to land any stars, just a centre-half reserve in case big Virgil gets injured again. Yet they have both played much better than I expected. 

I thought the lack of signings and the passage of time might have meant that the players would have an off season, but so far this is not the case. City went to Leicester and took the three points on offer, while Liverpool went to Elland Road and played poor Leeds off the park (sorry Barry!) I expect Liverpool will fall away as the season progresses as the bench looks much inferior to those of the other top three sides, but City should only get stronger as De Bruyne and Fodden come back from injury.

Chelsea have continued their strong start with a comprehensive dismantling of the much-hyped Villa team. Two goals from Lukaku, his first at Stamford Bridge, sealed an impressive performance from the London Blues. They still remain my favourites for the title.

But the big news of the weekend was Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford. His stunning performance and goals helped send Man U to the top of the league. The atmosphere was incredible as the faithful welcomed the return of the prodigal son. Some of my mates described him as a has-been, but he scored 29 goals for Juve last season and if the weekend's performance is anything to go by, he should get a bagful this season too. While not being lightning quick like the old days he was quick enough to cause the Newcastle defence some problems. 

Varane also looked good and with some time to adapt to the EPL should bed in to being a rock-solid defender. With Bruno in midfield, Greenwood scoring freely upfront and Rashford to come back from injury, Man U look threatening. Apparently Ronaldo is having an immediate affect around Old Trafford off the pitch too. One tabloid reported that not one player had dessert at the post-game meal because Ronaldo didn't have one! Whether true or not he will definitely up the level of all the players. The big question remains: is Ole up to the task? He has literally no excuses now, if Man U don't win the league, it will be seen as a massive failure. They haven't had a better chance since Sir Alec left.

Peter Anderson is a Unionist with a keen interest in sports.

Is Ole Up To The Task?

 

A Morning Thought @ 1189

People And Nature ✒ Here Peter Somerville provides more detail on how a UK carbon budget could be set, and discusses some problems with the Climate Change Committee (CCC) budgets. This is the second of two articles, the first is this overview of the CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget.
 

A global carbon budget is the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that human activities across the world can be allowed to generate, in order to avoid excessive global warming.

Budgets vary, according to the degrees of temperature increase that are judged to be allowable, and according to how sensitive the climate is judged to be in response to carbon emissions: the greater the sensitivity, the smaller the budget has to be.

School students’ climate protest, 2019
Unfortunately, we do not know exactly how sensitive the climate is to carbon emissions, so budgets are calculated across the range of possible sensitivities.

The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees provided a range of figures for the remaining global carbon budget in 2018 (Table 2.2 on page 108).

On the basis of the median climate sensitivity, the budget to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels was stated as 580 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (580 GtCO2). That means the world has a mere 50:50 chance of staying below 1.5°C.

Arguably, however, a higher level of climate sensitivity is required, to give the world at least a 66% chance of reaching the 1.5°C target. At this level, the carbon budget in 2018 was 420 GtCO2.

All economic and other human activity in the world currently emits approximately 40 GtCO2 per year, so the remaining budget today in 2021 is closer to 300 GtCO2. At this rate the budget would be fully spent before 2029.

The task here is then to calculate what might count as a fair share of this budget to be allocated to the UK.

The first problem is that the global budget is for carbon dioxide only: other greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as methane and nitrous oxide are calculated separately.

Methane has minimal long-term effect on the climate, but it is a powerful greenhouse gas in the short-term, which needs to be reduced to zero as soon as possible in order to minimise its contribution to peak warming (see CCC Sixth Carbon Budget report, page 372). Arguably, therefore, a fair carbon budget for the UK should take account of all GHGs.

The CCC appear to agree, as they state: “UK carbon budgets are set on an aggregated all-GHG emissions basis and not using CO2 (or long-lived GHG) emissions alone” (page 371).

Emissions are published separately for the different GHGs in annual reports by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). These are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide on its own (tCO2) or in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to include all GHGs.

In calculating a fair budget for the UK, a number of factors have to be taken into account:

  1. GHG emissions produced within the UK, i.e. so-called production or territorial emissions, amounting in 2018 to 451 MtCO2e for all GHGs of which 366 Mt were for CO2 alone. These are the emissions counted in the BEIS annual reports, following the example of the IPCC.
  2. GHG emissions produced outside the UK, for which the UK has some responsibility, e.g. as consumers or exporters. These emissions are produced either through the manufacture and transport of goods that are imported to the UK, or from goods that have been produced within the UK but exported and consumed outside the UK. In 2017 imported emissions added about half as much again to the UK’s emissions total (Sixth Carbon Budget report, page 344), but the figure for exported emissions is unknown. It is important to note that this is essentially a shared responsibility between the UK and the countries with which it trades. The CCC argues that the UK should reduce what it calls its “overseas consumption footprint” by about 90% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  3. The UK’s historical contribution to CO2 emissions. This has been estimated at 55 GtCO2 from 1900 to 2004, which is of course considerable. However, because CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for centuries, emissions from many years ago still cause global heating. This strengthens the argument not only for reducing the UK’s overseas consumption footprint, but also for setting a much tighter budget for its territorial emissions. It is debatable from what point countries should have responsibility for their emissions, but the CCC argues that 1990 is a reasonable start date on the grounds that this is when the world became aware that such emissions are causing global warming.
  4. The UK’s capabilities compared to other countries. There is no general agreement on how such capabilities are to be measured, but the most common measure is in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Currently, global GDP is $92 trillion and UK GDP is $2.8 trillion. The UK has the sixth largest economy in the world and therefore has much greater capabilities than most other countries, which again implies that a tighter budget is appropriate or, alternatively, much greater assistance to other countries is required in order to reduce global emissions.
  5. The potential contribution that the UK can make to the reduction of emissions by the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over and above natural carbon cycles (where carbon is regularly absorbed by oceans, soils and plants, and released later on). Basically, this can be done by natural means (such as restoring peatland, planting trees, and improving soils) or artificially, by so-called negative emissions technologies (NETs). The extent of this potential is unknown.

The next logical step would be to agree on how the global budget should be allocated to individual countries, taking account of the above factors. Unfortunately, however, no such agreement exists.

Under the Paris Agreement, signatories agree to have the “highest possible ambition”, and it is left up to the countries concerned how that is to be interpreted.

The key question here is: how far can this ambition be specified in terms of a carbon budget?

Since 2019 the UK government has been committed to reaching net zero GHGs by 2050 and this is argued to be sufficiently ambitious.

For example, in its Sixth Carbon Budget report (page 320), the CCC states that 2050 was chosen, rather than the IPCC’s global date of 2070, in order to show the UK’s greater responsibility “as a relatively rich country with a high historical contribution to climate change and high overseas consumption emissions footprint”.

Job done, you might think – until it is pointed out that the CCC’s argument is based on the assumption of a 50%, rather than 66%, chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, an assumption that results in a budget of 580 GtCO2, rather than 420 GtCO2.

The global carbon budget as a disk: what remains is in black.
A screenshot from a graphic by Global Carbon Budget / Open Climate Data

This is reflected in the CCC’s calculation that, according to their balanced net zero scenario, a budget of 580 GtCO2 from 2018 will require the world to reach net zero in 30 years, while 420 GtCO2 will mean that net zero has to be achieved in 20 years (that is, by 2038).

There are further problems with the CCC’s budget setting and with its whole “net zero in x years” approach (which, incidentally, has been consistently legally ratified by Parliament and accepted by government).

One problem is that the remaining carbon budget set for the UK from 2018, estimated by researchers at 9 GtCO2, is far too loose.

In terms of population size alone, one would expect the budget to amount to around 0.88% of the global budget (with UK population being 67 million and global population 7,900 million); for a global budget of 580 GtCO2, this results in a UK budget of 5 GtCO2, significantly lower than 9 GtCO2.

(For the sake of argument: if the UK were to adopt an arguably Paris-compliant target in line with a 50% chance of 1.7°C instead of 1.5°C, the global budget would be 900 GtCO2, meaning a UK budget of 8 GtCO2, which would still be below the budget implied by the CCC’s approach).

So, even on the most generous of interpretations, the UK’s budget is larger than it should be.

The CCC’s budget is compliant with the Paris Agreement only at the level of a 50% chance of 2°C of warming – and then only if we accept their political assumptions about the UK’s share of the budget, and the way that it ignores the UK’s historical emissions legacy and its current capabilities.

Those capabilities can be measured in different ways. As a crude measure, however, I suggest using the UK’s comparatively high GDP. This amounts to 3% of global GDP, which is more than three times the global average given the relative size of the UK’s population, from which it follows that the UK should contribute three times as much to reducing emissions as the global average.

The CCC is concerned only to ensure that its proposed pathway to net zero is cost effective, not detrimental to competitiveness, attentive to fuel poverty, fiscally balanced, takes sufficient account of devolved administrations, and so on. It regards UK capabilities for mitigating climate change as limited to spending an equivalent of 1-2% of its GDP.

As for addressing the UK’s “high historical contribution to climate change”, the CCC recommends only climate financing for developing countries, particularly for low-carbon technology (see Sixth Carbon Budget report, pages 320 and 323).

It is important to note that the CCC’s balanced net zero (BNZ) pathway represents the minimum ambition to reach net zero by 2050, and I have criticised this lack of ambition – or rather lack of the right kind of ambition – in the linked article. They do present (page 87) a more ambitious alternative pathway – the Tailwinds scenario – which gets to net zero in 2042, but this assumes massive application of carbon capture and storage and is much more expensive than the BNZ pathway.

(Interestingly, a Tailwinds scenario with minimal carbon capture and storage (CCS) “was not costed or explored, and so is not a recommended pathway” (page 90); it would reach net zero by 2042 instead of 2050.)

Perhaps more importantly, the CCC itself shows that its BNZ pathway is inferior to what would be required for 1.5°C on the basis of a number of equity principles, in particular to be consistent with a global target of individual purchasing power of $20 a day. (See the Climate Equity Reference Calculator and the Sixth Carbon Budget report, page 324, Figure B7.2).

Moreover, the pathway assumes substantial application of carbon capture and storage technologies after 2030, which are required because the budgets before that are too generous; if the earlier budgets were much tighter, then the reliance on CCS would be correspondingly reduced.

This is an example of what I mean by the wrong kind of ambition.

At the same time, of course, this would mean that the budgets would already be spent. Planting billions of trees would certainly help, but trees take time to grow, and time is running out. The powers that be still do not seem to understand this.

All of this discussion so far is based on the UK’s assumption of only a 50% chance of hitting the global target of 1.5°C.

At current levels of emissions, this global budget will be overspent by 2029, so a global temperature rise of 1.5°C is as likely as not to be made inevitable by then.

However, this does not justify the UK continuing with its current much looser budget. On the contrary, it means that the UK must adopt a tighter budget in order to mitigate the damage that this overheating may cause across the world.

More importantly, it means that the UK must take more urgent and drastic action to ensure that it does not itself contribute to this overheating.

This graph is by Glen Peters, a climate researcher. It compares CO2 emissions along a global pathway to “net zero” in 2050 (green), a pathway reflecting the promises made by governments (yellow), and a pathway reflecting current government policies (blue)

Based on relative population size alone, a global budget of 420 GtCO2 translates into a UK budget of 3.7 GtCO2, so this represents an upper limit for a fair UK carbon budget.

At current levels of CO2 emissions alone (366 Mt in 2018), such a budget would be spent by 2028. Interestingly, this is consistent with the global position set out in the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on 1.5°.

But it is still a long way from representing the highest possible ambition, since it takes no account of factors 2, 3 and 4 above. Taking account of these factors would likely result in a budget of less than zero.

Even so, a 3.7 GtCO2 budget would be a huge advance in comparison with the current UK budget, and would require radical changes in government policy and intervention.

Taking account of all relevant factors, then, effectively drives a coach and horses through the carbon budgeting process.

Does this matter? We know the main sources of emissions in the UK, we need to reduce those emissions as quickly as possible, and we need clear action plans that will do just that. When one is in an emergency situation, is it really worthwhile spending much time working out how long we have left to address the emergency?

The uncomfortable truth is that the budgeting approach to emissions reduction has tended to delay action rather than speed it up – perhaps most notably in the “over-performing” of some of the CCC’s five-yearly budgets.

With the right kind of ambition, therefore, the UK can make a fair contribution to limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Download these articles on carbon budgets, as a pdf

■ This is the second of two linked articles. The first one, about the CCC and the Sixth Carbon Budget, is here.
 
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Calculating A Fair Carbon Budget For The UK

Irish Times ✒ ‘Stuck forever in that room in Manchester with my trousers round my ankles.’

Mike Harding
It is a cool morning in spring 1955. An envelope flops though the door of our terraced house in Manchester, landing on the cold linoleum of the lobby. My mother, more anxious than me, beats me to it. The envelope has a crest on the back – it is a cardinal’s tasselled hat. When my mother opens it at the kitchen table, it is obvious that she is delighted.

I have passed my 11-Plus and been accepted as a scholarship boy by St Bede’s College, Manchester, at that time one of the best Catholic grammar schools in the North of England. My mother is both proud and glad: proud that I’ve got the place and glad that, as she sees it, I have moved one step further away from the redbrick streets and a job in the local ICI chemical factory, the CWS biscuit factory, or worse.

All the family on my mother’s side are of Irish descent, from Dublin and Tipperary, and almost all of them work in the tailoring trade in Manchester and Liverpool. 

Continue reading @ Irish Times.

School Of Savagery