The looming reality of Doncaster-on-Sea

A guest blog by Bryan Hopkins.

A few weeks ago I picked up my grandson from school and on the way home he asked me if I knew the names of the rivers that flowed through Sheffield. “Well,” I said, “there is the Sheaf, the Porter, the Rivelin, the Loxley and they all flow into the River Don which then flows to the sea at…”. At that point I realised that I did not really know what happened to the Don, so I pulled out a map to find out.

I worked out that after Doncaster it reaches Thorne and then follows a more or less straight line until it reaches Goole, where it then joins the Ouse and flows into the Humber Estuary.

Disappointed by my ignorance I decided to go exploring, so I took my bicycle on the train to Goole and cycled back to Sheffield, following the river as closely as possible. The first thing I noticed was that for the first 15 miles, I cycled in dead straight lines. Now, this is not normal. As rivers get close to the sea they should meander from side to side as they slow down. The Don does not do this because the current river is artificial, cut in straight lines by Dutch engineers in the 17th century to make it easier to drain the surrounding land and to make navigation possible.

Quiet flows the Don at Stainforth by Bryan Hopkins

The second thing I noticed was that it was also often difficult to actually see the river as it was hidden behind high berms, embankments built to stop the river from flooding. This is necessary because drainage means that the level of the land has dropped and is virtually at sea level. In fact, it was only when I reached Stainforth, just north of Doncaster, that my GPS unit told me that I had climbed to more than 10 feet above sea level. This is, of course, no surprise to people who know villages like Fishlake which are more or less at sea level, and which are constantly at risk of serious flooding. The simple fact is that when land is at sea level, water cannot drain away.

Climate change is going to make this problem ever more serious. There is conclusive scientific evidence that the Earth’s temperature is increasing and global sea levels are rising. Current predictions from NASA suggest that sea levels could rise by as much as 5 feet by the end of this century. If this were to happen an enormous area of north Lincolnshire stretching from Gainsborough in the south to the Humber estuary in the north  and from near Doncaster in the west to Scunthorpe in the east would be at a serious risk of inundation.

To misquote from the film Jaws, we are going to need a bigger berm.

As this extent of sea level rise is now inevitable we will need to invest heavily in building higher and higher walls to protect agricultural land and towns such as Goole, Thorne and Fishlake to name just a few. But this is just a sticking plaster. As the sea level rises, saltwater will penetrate further inland and this will have a negative effect on agricultural productivity.

Climate change is also going to mean increasingly serious and more extreme weather events such as intense storms and heavy rainfall on the Pennines, which will rush to the sea through rivers like the Don. Indeed, we have already seen this happening with the catastrophic Sheffield floods of 2007 and of Fishlake in 2019.

Rainfall run-off from the high ground into rivers is made worse when there are fewer trees to slow the flow of the water and allow it to soak into the ground. This is the situation we have in South Yorkshire where our moors have long been managed for the benefit of grouse shooting rather than to protect the environment. In urban areas, we have also covered hillsides with tarmac roads and driveways to houses to make life easier for the motor car. As this rainwater flows down into the Don, the level of water behind the embankments will get higher and higher as it finds it harder to flow to the sea.

This all suggests that as the decades go by that we will have to deal with an increasing number of serious floods, and will be constantly having to make decisions about whether to protect urban areas or agricultural land. So to try and reduce these problems we need to think seriously about prevention rather than protection, for example, by planting more trees across the high ground in the centre of northern England and regenerating peat bogs which can absorb water and store carbon dioxide. This will, of course, not be popular with communities who feel they rely on traditional activities such as intensive farming or grouse shooting but we need to be able to look at the bigger picture about the geography of northern England and the welfare of everyone.

The chances are getting ever stronger that when my grandson talks to his children about Sheffield’s five rivers he will be telling them that the Don flows into the sea at Doncaster.

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Catastrophic climate change could become unstoppable.

I don’t like to say “I told you so” but this week’s frightening news that the world is likely to breach the 1.5C climate threshold by 2027 should come as no surprise if you have been reading my columns. 

Countries pledged, under the 2015 Paris climate agreement,  to hold global temperatures to no higher than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, after scientific advice that heating beyond that level would unleash a cascade of increasingly catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts. But despite the fine talk and all the COP conferences emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise and accumulate in the atmosphere. It is now increasingly likely that we will reach tipping points that result in much greater increases in temperature. This catastrophic change will be unstoppable even if we completely stop burning fossil fuels.

Temperature increases are not the same around the world. Some areas such as the north and south poles, are experiencing much bigger changes in temperature. 

This graph was generated from the “Show your Stripes” website, which is run by the Institute of Environmental Analytics at Reading University. The graph compares each year’s temperature in Sheffield with the average for the years between 1971 and 2000. Last year was the hottest year on record and the previous hottest was 2020.  We are now regularly experiencing temperatures more than 1 degree above this average. 

The graph may not look very alarming to you. But what scientists are telling us is that this steady increase in temperature may soon change to a much more dangerous upward trend due to the tipping points that will be reached. 

German physicist and Founder of the Potsdam Institute Hans Joachim Schellnhuber says “Our worst-case scenarios are more or less coming true and yet the political class has not acted at all”.

Anthony Costello (Professor of Global Health and Sustainable Development at UCL) is concerned that climate change doesn’t energise politicians and the public because we describe heating in terms of temperature. Saying the world has warmed by 1.2 degrees sounds like a nice pleasant weekend. So he found some other ways to describe it.

“We pump 1,337 tonnes of CO2 into our thin and fragile atmosphere every second.

How much energy was required to heat the world by 1.2 degrees? In terms of ‘Hiroshima bomb equivalents’ how many bomb loads of energy have been added? Sixty, 600, 6 million or 6 billion? 

The answer is 6.2 billion Hiroshima bomb equivalents, measured between 1955 and 2021, or 384 terajoules. That is more than two nuclear bomb equivalents per second. “

We have known for 30 years that we must stop burning fossil fuels. Yet our G7 politicians, meeting in Hiroshima as I write, continue to ignore the urgency of the situation. They have been rightly slammed for failing to show climate leadership and backsliding on the promises made previously.

President Biden has approved the new Willow pipeline and oil wells on the remote tundra of Alaska’s northern Arctic coast.  The scale of Willow is vast, with more than 200 oilwells, several new pipelines, a central processing plant, an airport and a gravel mine set to enable the extraction of oil long beyond the time scientists say that wealthy countries should have kicked the habit, in order to avoid disastrous global heating.

Prime Minister Sunak supports the drilling of the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea which will completely undermine our commitment to reach Net Zero. 

Germany and Australia are opening new coal mines, China and India are expanding coal production and use, while banks continue to invest in big oil. 

The COP process of meetings has failed.  In 2023 the meeting president will be chair of the United Arab Emirates national oil company. Fossil fuel lobbyists will be the largest contingent. 

But there are many options for political action immediately to slash fossil fuel use and decarbonise.  We need G7 leaders to act collectively and boldly. Financial institutions need to recognise inaction will destroy the global economy sooner than they think.

While this is going on our Government is making it more difficult to protest. Government should be listening to the climate scientists, but they are having to risk jail for peacefully protesting to get their voices heard.

This week we have seen Italy suffer severe flooding, killing 14 people and forcing 36,000 from their homes. It is only a matter of time before the UK experiences something similar.

In Somalia, 250,000 people have had to flee their homes due to extreme flooding. Of course the media were much more interested in the demise of Phillip Schofield which is clearly far more important to them.

We can’t sit back and be spectators, watching our planet become uninhabitable. We all have to play our part to help protect it. Some will choose to protest, others may work with pressure groups or political parties. Others will want to find ways to work locally to make their area more resilient to face the coming climate storm. 

The Climate Majority Project ( is a new organisation promoting Community Climate Action that helps build resilient communities, encompassing the skills and action involved in neighbourhood planning, construction, retrofitting, community energy generation, food production, water supply and the protection of our natural resources, increasing biodiversity, and the processes and funding to achieve this. Delivered by your community, for your community. Why not check them out?

Why haven’t Sheffield City Council banned Glyphosate yet?

This is the question lots of people have been asking me recently, especially on the journey to London for the Big One. To see why this is important please see Sheffield City Council moves to reduce Glyphosate and Sheffield Council debate Glyphosate.


Whatever the result of the local election campaigners for nature need to up our game and get this back up the agenda again. If you would like to join a Whats App group to organise events and lobby Councillors please get in touch. Other Councils have had more success with this-see where Glyphosate is banned here.

Dawn from Totley recently commented, “Spraying all over my estate. Seems to have happened gradually but now all edges and lamposts have big yellow patches. NO notification to warn people when this was sprayed so dogs, wildlife, children…all at risk. When the council seem to hardly exist at the moment and so much is neglected they still find staff time to do this unnecessary and harmful action!”

The situation at the Council is complicated because this issue falls under the auspices of several different committees. The participants of these committees are all about to change following the election. We need to make a concerted effort to push these committees for more action after the election.

Green Councillors succeeded in getting the council to declare a Nature Emergency; this includes reducing the use of the harmful weed-killer glyphosate, with the Council now running trials to go Glyphosate-free. The trial in the Brincliffe area has been very successful, with good support from residents. Sheffield Liberal Democrats have supported banning glyphosate in the past but I can’t find any mention of it on their new website. Nor is it mentioned on Sheffield Labour Councillors website.

When Green Councillor Alison Teal was Chair of the Parks Committee she managed to secure a commitment from the Council to stop using Glyphosate in Parks.

Green Councillor Bernard Little recently enquired on progress from Officers. This was the reply.

I am writing to you regarding your recent email to Janet Sharpe about Glyphosate usage on Housing land, Janet has asked if I could respond to your questions.

Following the Nature Emergency that was declared in 2021 Sheffield City Council gave a commitment to reduce its usage of Glyphosate, unfortunately a complete ban was not a viable option at that time due to a number of different factors including cost, appearance, and limited suitable alternatives. I have attached a briefing note from 2021 which explains in more detail what was proposed in the report that went to Cabinet in late 2021 and this outlines the approach that was then agreed to be taken.

You will see it includes information for all services across SCC, not just Housing and Neighbourhoods, but it explains what was agreed for Housing land as this required a different approach to the City’s parks for example. As you will be aware Parks and Public Realm currently carry out open space management on our behalf as part of a Service Level Agreement. As part of the Glyphosate reduction strategy the intention is to carry out trials across the city on alternative methods and different approaches bearing in mind that the majority of housing land is within close proximity to flats and houses and the impact on residents needs to be factored in. This will help inform what may work best in particular areas and will ultimately ensure we are further reducing the amount of Glyphosate being used across the city.

There was a number of trials last year and these will be expanded further this year. I have a meeting with Parks in a few weeks’ time where we will be identifying further sites on Housing Land where Glyphosate will cease to be used and the impact monitored.

I am happy to keep you up to date with this and please come back to me if you have any further questions or you would like to discuss anything in more detail.


Service Manager

Estates and Environmental Services Team

Housing and Neighbourhoods

Here is a link to the attachment referred to in the letter.

The use of Glyphosate on invasive species like Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed is likely to continue. But we should be able to persuade the council to stop spraying on housing estates (Housing Policy Committee), road and pavements (Waste & Street Scene Policy Committee) and in school grounds (Education, Children and Families Policy Committee) as soon as possible. They have declared a Nature Emergency and need to start acting appropriately.

If you have further information please get in touch.

Sheffield Local Elections, trees, lies and mis-information

It is very concerning that this year’s local elections have been dominated by lies and misinformation from the two main parties. Behaviour like this can only undermine the public trust in our politicians and is very dangerous for democracy.

Following the Lowcock Report, where the Labour Council were found to have misled the courts, and their behaviour “amounted to a serious and sustained failure of strategic leadership”, one would expect the Labour Party to be cautious to avoid any accusations of dishonesty. However, they are blatantly spreading mistruths on social media, in the press and presumably on the doorstep when talking to voters.

The Green Party has called for an Emergency General Meeting to discuss the findings of the Lowcock Report. An independent enquiry which the Greens secured. The Lord Mayor is calling this on the 10th of May when these matters will be discussed. It is disappointing that the meeting was not before the election, and of course, if Cllr Fox had any integrity he would resign now. Cllr Lodge however has resigned as Co-Chair of Finance and has said he will not contest his Birley Ward seat when it becomes vacant again in May 2024. The Labour Councillors should be persuading Cllr Fox to go. If the result of the local election leaves the Council in No Overall Control, which is the best we can expect, then I gather the Green Party Councillors will, as they did last year, vote against Cllr Fox leading the Council.  It was the Lib Dems abstaining that allowed him to be leader this year. If Labour do well in the local election and gains three seats or more, they will again have overall control of the Council and will be able to select whoever they want as leader.

Councillor Peter Price meanwhile (Star 24th April) continues to write to the Star as if the Lowcock Report and the Tree Dispute never happened. 

Where is his remorse for the healthy mature trees that were needlessly destroyed? 

Where is his remorse for the £400,000 of Council Tax payer’s money wasted on legal expenses taking tree protesters to court? 

Where is his remorse for the years of time campaigners lost so they could protect their environment from the Amey chainsaws? Imagine the good that could have been done if that effort could have been put into other projects. 

Where is his remorse for the Council misleading the Courts and threatening people with imprisonment whose only crime was to try and protect the trees? 

Where is his remorse for the physical abuse tree protectors faced from the so-called security guards at felling sites? 

For the Sheffield electorate to have any faith in the Labour Party they really need to get rid of the old guard that was in charge throughout the tree dispute.

Then there was the controversy about the No 10 bus. This meme was widely distributed on social media.

This refers to the budget debate which is reported here. Each main party proposed a budget amendment. Unlike some Councils, Sheffield Councillors can only vote for the complete amendment. They are not allowed to take it in parts. So Greens voted for their own budget, which included for instance a Workplace Parking Levy which could have raised much-needed funds for the Council to improve public transport and active travel. In doing so they had to vote against the Labour budget, even though some aspects of it were good. The Greens have long campaigned for the return of the No. 10 bus, as this open letter from September 2022 shows.

Reporting the issue like this, as if Greens do not want to prioritise public transport, is indefensible.

More recently we have had the controversy about the 52A bus that used to connect Hillsborough Interchange with Wadsley, Loxley and Wisewood, Cutting this service has caused massive problems for local residents, but Cllr George Lindars-Hammond used the problem to allege that other parties “are blocking better bus services for Wisewood and Wadsley” (Star Letters April 28). Again this is complete nonsense.

 Bus services are controlled by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Authority not Sheffield City Council.

Following the service cuts last October, Hillsborough Green councillors suggested a shuttle bus solution directly to the elected Labour Mayor Oliver Coppard. Only the mayor can create and fund new bus services.

I was hoping my recent article featuring misleading Lib Dem bar charts would make them rethink their charts for the rest of the campaign. Unfortunately, we continue to get appalling graphs that completely mislead the public. Here is one from the leaflet to voters in Fulwood.

You might think I would be worried about their lack of an axis, which is bad enough. But they have somehow forgotten that the Greens gained 1110 votes in Fulwood, coming a good third, well ahead of the Conservatives. Misinformation like this can affect how people vote. It really should be illegal to deliberately misinform the public like this.

What can be done about it? Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, is calling for a code of conduct where politicians pledge factual accuracy in electoral advertising. That would be a very good start. Check out Reform Political Advertising here.

Carla Denyer and Graham Wroe outside Sheffield Town Hall

Until we get something like this voters should check the information in election leaflets and social media very carefully to ensure that that they are not being misled.

If you are undecided how to vote, have a look at the websites for the main parties.

Sheffield Labour Councillors

Sheffield Liberal Democrats

Sheffield Green Party

Sheffield Conservatives

TUSC do not appear to have a local site.

and to find information about your candidates see Who is my local councillor?

Ocean Temperatures heading off the scale

Usually, graphs of data like Ocean temperatures are very predictable. They follow a similar pattern most years but due to climate change, the temperatures have been increasing gradually since the industrial revolution. This month though something very unusual has happened which has got climate scientists very worried. Look how the temperature today is way higher than the usual trend. 

“The current trajectory looks like it’s headed off the charts, smashing previous records,” said Prof Matthew England, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales.

John Grant,  from Hallam University, who has been studying climate change throughout his career, commented “When it comes to describing data regarding the warming of systems such as the Arctic, Antarctic or ocean temperatures I get fed up with saying “the latest data is unprecedented, but I am at a loss for other words (what else am I to say?). We are in uncharted territory regards the speed of change (heating/melting). We are now recording a significant number of tipping points around the world. The awful truth is that this will be looked back at as the coolest we recorded before the great warming of the latter part of the 2020s and the 2030s.

Fiona Harvey explained in the Guardian “Temperatures in the world’s oceans have broken fresh records, testing new highs for more than a month in an “unprecedented” run that has led to scientists stating the Earth has reached “uncharted territory” in the climate crisis.

The rapid acceleration of ocean temperatures in the last month is an anomaly that scientists have yet to explain. Data collated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), known as the Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature (OISST) series, gathered by satellites and buoys, has shown temperatures higher than in any previous year, in a series stretching back to 1981, continuously over the past 42 days.”

Why is this a problem?  

The warming of the ocean is already causing disasters. It provides more energy for tropical cyclones which are becoming stronger and faster. 

More water evaporates from warmer oceans, which increases global rainfall. You might think more rainfall would be good for agriculture, but not in this case. It adds to extremely heavy rainfall which causes flooding, extreme danger and washes soil away. 

Warmer water at the poles speeds up the melting of the ice caps. We have enough ice on earth to raise sea levels by 65 metres, which is more than the height of Sheffield’s Town Hall. 

Water expands as it heats. You don’t need a degree to work out that this is a major threat to all the coastal communities around the world and especially small island states. The oceans are thousands of metres deep, so a small percentage increase in expansion can cause a few metres of sea level rise. 

Hotter temperatures can be fatal for marine ecosystems, as it can be difficult or impossible for species to adapt. Corals in particular can suffer devastating bleaching. A 2020 study by a team of Australian researchers found that the coral cover of the Great Barrier Reef has declined by half since 1995. American scientists in 2020 found that the majority of Caribbean Reefs have been transformed into habitats dominated by algae and sponges. It is estimated that if reefs collapse they could take with them millions of species. 

Rapid ocean warming shows the climate crisis is developing faster than predicted. The oceans have acted as a buffer to the climate crisis over recent decades, both by absorbing about a quarter of the carbon dioxide that we have poured into the atmosphere, and by storing about 90% of the excess energy and heat this has created, dampening some of the impacts of global heating on land. I fear we could be reaching the limit of the ocean’s capacity to absorb these excesses, which is why the graph has taken such a different trend. 

Warmer water does not hold carbon dioxide so well, so the oceans are now less effective as a carbon sink. 

The data is driven mostly by satellite observations but also verified with measurements from ships and buoys. The data does not include the polar regions.

Baroness Natalie Bennett of Manor Castle, retweeted the Guardian article saying  “The El Niño system is yet to develop, so this oscillation cannot explain the recent rapid heating, at a time of year when ocean temperatures are normally declining from their annual March and April peaks”

It is scandalous that the media have ignored this major and sudden change to the temperature of the world’s oceans. Of the mainstream papers only the Guardian has reported it and I don’t think it has made the news on any of our TV channels. Unless the public is informed about the damage fossil fuels are doing to our planet Governments will never take the emergency action that is necessary to prevent the collapse of our climate and our civilisation. 

What can we do about it? Use your vote in the local elections to elect politicians that are serious about tackling the climate emergency. Join a group to urge the Government to take emergency action. Write to the media demanding more coverage of the climate emergency.  

How do we wake people up to demand change? Thoughts on The Big One

Last Friday I joined with thousands of campaigners peacefully protesting without causing any disruption, outside important Government departments in Westminster. My small part was to join the newly formed Sheffield Climate Choir, singing “Let Us Stand” written by Sheffield choir leader Kate Thomas. A second song, “Voice of Change” had some in tears when it reached the line “We can’t tell our children that we have not tried.” The harmonious voices were in sharp contrast to the energising rhythms of the massive samba band. 

As reported in last week’s Telegraph the South Yorkshire contingent gathered at the Department of Transport to demand Better Buses for South Yorkshire. People’s Pickets formed at every major government department in Whitehall calling for urgent new policies to tackle the many strands of the climate emergency. They range from the cost of living crisis to the failure to insulate our homes, deal with sewage pumped into seas and rivers and protect refugees fleeing war and famine.

Rob Callender, XR spokesperson said: “While we suffer the cost of living crisis, oil company shareholders rake in record profits. The people know it’s not a crisis, it’s a scandal! So we are setting up People’s Pickets at these departments until they negotiate with us. Tackling the climate crisis means creating a better, fairer, more caring society for everyone.”

Tufton Street – the home of the opaquely-funded so-called ‘think tanks’ who spout the worst climate denial and promote disinformation unchallenged across our national media – was targeted by pickets demanding an end to their deadly campaign of lies.

Natasha Walter, writer and campaigner said “Writers Rebel is picketing Tufton Street, the home to a powerful group of think tanks including the main climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is funded by fossil fuel companies and lobbies for fossil fuel interests. By picketing Tufton Street, Writers Rebel will bring its remarkable blend of truth-telling and creative power to the very heart of climate science denial.

It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless just now. It looks as though the world is moving inexorably towards climate catastrophe and ecological collapse. But this is not the time to give in to doom and despair. This is the time to seize the opportunity that we still have to call for change and work for change and believe in change.”

Saturday saw the Unite for Nature Rally. The crowd was addressed by TV presenter Chris Packham, Insect Apocalypse author Dave Goulson, Jyoti Fernandes from Land Workers’ Alliance, and Delia Mattis from Black Lives Matter speaking on the current climate and ecological crisis and solutions. The Biodiversity March, which was arranged with Earth Day organisers, had a real carnival feel with amazing costumes including a giant octopus, bouncing kangaroos and beautiful nature-based art.

The route circled around government departments in Westminster, ending in Parliament Square for a mass ‘die-in’, a symbolic spectacle where participants spread out and lay down in silence, in memory and mourning for the heartbreaking 70% decline in wild animal populations since the first Earth Day in 1970.  A recent study shows that the ecosystems we depend on for our survival are vanishing quicker than in any of the five mass extinctions that have struck our planet. 

More than 200 different groups united at the Big One. Yaz Ashmawi from Extinction Rebellion, said: “This is a hugely significant moment in our history. Never before have we seen this many organisations standing together to demand urgent action on the climate and ecological emergency and calling for a fair and just transition led by citizens. While the mainstream media grasp at straws and focus their attention on fabricated plans for disruption during the London Marathon, the real work of building a mass movement impossible for the government to ignore is gaining momentum. This is the real story: disrupting the London Marathon isn’t happening, but civilisational collapse is. Which should we be talking about?”

Loz Barfoot from XR Sheffield said “ It was encouraging and inspiring seeing so many people in the streets outside Parliament and Westminster this weekend. But beneath the excitement was anxiety, and this ate at me as I travelled back to Sheffield and checked the BBC News headlines for our story. The silence from mainstream media was deafening, and it pains me that this establishment works so hard to interrogate disruptive actions and activists, but at the biggest nondisruptive action in Extinction Rebellion’s history, they do not cast a light. It is more obvious to me now than before, these institutions are complicit in manufacturing the problems we campaign against, and they are also complicit in forcing the hand of disruption themselves.”

The disruption to the snooker in The Crucible by two Just Stop Oil protesters has gained far more publicity than 60,000 non-disruptive protesters in Westminster. Is it surprising then that Extinction Rebellion is reconsidering its tactics? The mainstream media continue to fail to report the awful truth of the climate emergency, that genocide is happening now as people face drought and food shortages, wildfires and floods and small islands are being overwhelmed by the sea, all caused by the world’s addiction to fossil fuels.  How do we wake people up to demand change?

 Here are some thoughts from South Yorkshire campaigners.

Sarah Casson said “It’s the first time I’ve been involved with Christian Climate Action and Extinction Rebellion. I found it inspirational to join with so many people from diverse backgrounds who all share a passionate concern for the good of the planet and for climate justice. There’s such an energy that comes from being together and raising our voices in solidarity with each other and with people all over the world.

I found the moment at the Shell Building especially powerful. (this was when former Archbisop Lord John Sentamu tried to deliver a letter to Shell from a number of Christian organisations) Even though we weren’t able to deliver the letter (to Shell) I pray that our voices will have been heard in some way and that that faceless edifice will start to crumble.

I don’t get the feeling that the government is listening but friends and contacts I’ve talked to about the issues are. It’s as if the government is functioning in a parallel universe that has little connection with the needs and concerns of the majority of people in this country let alone the world. The political status quo just isn’t working – we need new ways of living and cooperating in society and the global community, and more effective forms of governance and resource management that respond to needs of the many, not the few!

Being at the Big One gave me a sense of empowerment, courage and hope. The March for Nature was amazingly energising. I found the die in outside the Houses of Parliament a particularly powerful moment full of grief but also strangely hopeful because we were all there together.

Taking part this weekend has given me courage to talk more with others about the climate emergency, to encourage them to join us, and to use protest and lobbying more as a vital part of working for change in our democracy.”

Geoff Cox from Greenhill said “The best of humanity took to the streets of London last weekend.  Dedicated scientists and healthcare professionals, creative people and caring people.  It pains me to think how little coverage is given to these thoughtful, concerned citizens, and how much is given to things of little or no consequence.”

Sheffielder Catherine Fish from Green Christians said,” I am grateful to have been involved with so many in this crusade for a just, sustainable earth”.

George Arthur from Better Buses South Yorkshire campaign said “Attending and speaking at the Better Buses picket of the Department of Transport was a great experience. The number of people from around the country demanding that the government start to fund public transport properly was inspiring. Only able to be at the Big One on Friday I was enthused by the magnificent carnival atmosphere, the wonderful costumes and music and the brilliant organisation of the day. I just wish that the government would show the same enthusiasm to take action to stop the climate crisis that threatens us all.”

South Yorkshire Groups Unite to Demand Better Buses from the Department for Transport

I will be joining with Environmental groups from Sheffield who are uniting in joint protest outside the Department for Transport on Friday 21st April, to demand better buses for South Yorkshire as part of a weekend of protests about government inaction on climate change.

Groups from South Yorkshire taking part in a picket outside the department include Better Buses for South YorkshireSouth Yorkshire Climate Alliance, Kids Plant Trees, Extinction Rebellion Sheffield and Sheffield Green Parents.

The action is part of The Big One, which is taking place from April 21st to 24th and will bring together many of the UK’s environmental groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, The Climate Reality Project, The Landworkers’  Alliance and  Rewilding Britain.

Groups from South Yorkshire are focussed on the Department for Transport following the sustained campaigning by the local group ‘Better Buses for South Yorkshire’, which aims to bring bus services back under public control and create comprehensive and cheap travel which is good for people and the planet. 

Fran Postlethwaite, convener of Better Buses for South Yorkshire group, said: “Public transport is an essential contributor to help us meet the climate emergency but buses in South Yorkshire and across the UK are in crisis. Underfunding and privatisation have ruined a service which should be run for the benefit of the public, not to service the needs of shareholders. 

“Better Buses South Yorkshire is joining with other groups to call on the Department for Transport to give our bus services the funding they need and to end the scandal of privatisation. People need a system that is reliable and affordable so they no longer feel the need for private transport.”

According to the national charity ‘Campaign for Better Transport’, public and mass transport is a key strategy for reducing carbon emissions. Many European cities are now offering entirely free or very cheap public transport which is frequent, reliable and safe to encourage people out of cars and reduce pollution.

A protest for Better Buses at Fitzalan Square, Sheffield

Indeed, the UK government has its own strategy called ‘Bus Back Better’, launched in 2020 which announced an intention to transform bus services with simpler fares, improved routes and higher frequencies. However, at a local level this strategy is not translating into better services, with 45 services in South Yorkshire axed last October, and more cuts are expected this year. 

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition to take South Yorkshire’s buses back into public control. To sign go to Those outside the Department for Transport aim to press the government to do better.

Steph Howlett from Nether Edge said: “We have to cut carbon emissions more quickly, so I find it hard to understand why our government is licensing more oil and gas exploration and squandering billions of pounds on building roads instead of investing in public transport services which would benefit everybody, and reduce emissions and pollution.

“The severity of the climate and biodiversity crises are common knowledge now, and we are seeing the evidence all the time as the world’s glaciers and polar ice-caps melt, winter snow recedes, and climate disasters are becoming more common around the world.

“I can feel haunted by fear and sadness as the acceleration of these crises become ever more apparent, contributing to countless deaths of people and wildlife and the mass extinction of species worldwide. There are so many examples that nowadays they barely hit the headlines – floods, wildfires, hurricanes, droughts and famine. This destruction is not just something we’ll be facing at some time in the future. It’s happening now!

“I am old enough that I won’t be alive to face the worst that’s coming our way. But when I think about the world the young children of today are likely to face in the course of their lives it can feel completely overwhelming. We owe it to future generations to do everything we can to mitigate what is happening and steer our communities and our world in a different direction. And that’s why I am going to The Big One, and to the Department for Transport, to put pressure on the government to change course and invest in a better future.”

Richard Teasdale from Act Now with the cardboard bus.

The weekend’s protests and events follow the release of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s report which implores national governments to act swiftly to reduce emissions. Levels of atmospheric CO2 are still climbing steeply. In 2013 they were 400 parts per million (PPM) but in 2022 emissions had climbed to 420 PPM and are now at 422 PPM. 

Meanwhile low emission technologies are now more affordable, with many low or zero emissions options available for transport, which have multiple benefits such as less health risks through less pollution, as well as less emission.

Geoff Cox, Chair of the South Yorkshire Climate Alliance said: “We know that about a third of our carbon emissions come from current modes of transport, so we need to invest heavily and fast in alternatives. Clean, reliable and affordable buses are an inevitable part of that mix, tempting drivers out of their cars and freeing up space for cycling and walking. To cut carbon emissions we must invest in buses.”


Join us at the Big One.

For further information see: 

The Big One –

Better Buses South Yorkshire –

South Yorkshire Climate Alliance  –

South Yorkshire goes to London for the biggest Climate Protest in UK history 

A guest blog by Loz Barfoot.

On Friday 21 April, people from all over the country will be occupying the streets outside the Houses of Parliament in what is expected to be the biggest climate protest in UK history. The “Big One” takes place over a four-day weekend (21-24 April), bringing together many of the UK’s environmental groups in a peaceful demonstration. It will include parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, teachers, NHS staff, scientists and artists, students, delivery drivers, cleaners, civil servants, dancers, musicians, singers, and speakers from up and down the country. You might well ask ‘Who isn’t going?’ 

South Yorkshire Climate Alliance (SCA), which brings together local organisations and individuals pressing for action to tackle the climate emergency is organising a large contingent from South Yorkshire to participate in this event. Around one hundred and fifty return coach tickets from Sheffield to London have been made available for a pay-what-you-can fee (ideally £10-30). This enables people to attend and be heard, with one coach already sold out. 

Certainly, the issue of climate change is on the minds of many from South Yorkshire, with Sheffield being considered the UK’s greenest city by several media outlets. With recent climate catastrophes inflicting the people of Pakistan, there is a certain resonance with histories of flooding past and present here. But a brief visit to The Ruskin Collection at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery provides a stark reminder that ‘in our time of unprecedented climate emergency, the flood is not the same for all people… It could be a sense of overwhelming due to economic uncertainty, displacement, or challenging personal circumstance.’ Such is the complexity of the problem, one not of nature but of the unsustainable model of globalised social and material production. So, when thousands die in Pakistan and millions are displaced when flood-borne diseases spread and one of the world’s largest crop exporters confronts critical food shortages as a result of climate change, it is no wonder a cost-of-living crisis begins to be felt acutely the world over – and not by ripples but waves. 

In 2019, the UK government declared a climate emergency following the peaceful demonstration of a few thousand climate activists. Since then, the government has utterly failed to implement any substantive emergency measures. This is made abundantly clear in the UN’s recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Consequently, when our political leaders lack the will and the courage to implement the radical measures the UN is calling for, the catastrophes inflicting our global society become a political choice; more accurately, the choice of our leaders. The Big One provides us, the people of South Yorkshire, the opportunity to articulate our own choices and demands. 

One of the main demands made by SYCA is for fast and reliable public transport. That means less reliance on cars and more reliance on cheaper and greener public transport. Importantly, it means demanding our transport system be taken back into public ownership, where the profits go back into the community instead of the elites’ back pockets. Public transport is a key environmental and social justice issue, with 29% of households in Sheffield without vehicle transport and the figure rising in areas of higher social deprivation. Nearly a quarter of public transport services in South Yorkshire are at risk of being cut. When you cannot rely on public transport you cannot rely on getting to work, to school, on receiving healthcare or enjoying your leisure time. When public transport is not affordable, the community is more susceptible to rises in other costs too – like fuel and food. That is why, in collaboration with the South Yorkshire Better Buses campaign, local organisations and community members from this area will be protesting outside the Department for Transport in Westminster on Friday 21st.  

Art workshops are being held at the Kelham Island Arts Collective (KIAC) in Sheffield in preparation for the events taking place over the Big One weekend. This includes family-friendly animal mask making for use on Saturday 22 April (which coincides with Earth Day), banner and placard making, as well the repurposing of umbrellas to create a vast stock of climate-themed brollies. Everyone is welcome, and the next workshops are taking place Tuesday 11 April and Monday 17 April between 6-9 pm with open drop-ins.

Sheffield Climate Choir has been born and they look forward to combining with choirs from all over the country.

Every single person makes this movement collectively more powerful, and the more powerful the movement the harder it is for those in power to ignore it. It is easy to feel alone and powerless, and therefore extremely important to find other people who feel the same way. That is what this event is about, bringing people together in solidarity. If the demands of a few thousand protestors can shake the government enough to declare an emergency, imagine what tens of thousands can do. It can most certainly bring about change and shift the tide. But first, it requires us to show up and flood the streets ourselves. 

For more information on coaches to London from Sheffield for the Big One, please visit