June 2020

Green recovery

How would you ask your MP to tackle climate emergency?

What would you ask your MP to do to battle the Climate Emergency, if you had the chance? Today, the Climate Coalition is giving people across the UK the chance to press their MPs for action, with a designated day of action.

Last year, 12,000 people gathered outside Parliament, with many of them being granted an audience with their Member of Parliament in groups. This year, social distancing restrictions mean that gatherings can’t happen. It will all be done on Zoom, if your MP agrees to meet.

The Climate Coalition campaign aims to put constituents in an area together to meet their MP. They are calling their campaign The Time Is Now – to put people, climate and nature at the heart of the UK’s recovery from Covid-19.

If I had the chance today, I would ask my MP to: note the Government’s declaration of a Climate Emergency as a gateway to change and note the public mood; consider many of the Climate Coalition’s asks; and back a couple of existing campaigns.

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Carbon emissions

Climate Change: Bigger than ‘life and death’

Some people, the famous former Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly once said, think football is a matter of life and death. “I assure you,” he commented. “It’s much more serious than that.”

As Liverpool celebrate their first top flight title in English football for 30 years, the sentiment might be borrowed to address the climate emergency.

It was in October 2018 that the United Nations warned we had just 12 years to avert irreversible climate change. The aim was to keep global warming to a minimum of 1.5C. Beyond that, a half degree increase would significantly increase the risk of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty as parts of the planet become uninhabitable.

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What are you doing for 30 Days Wild?

What are you doing for 30 Days Wild? Not heard of it? It’s the Wildlife Trusts campaign to encourage people to do 30 days of Random Acts of Wildness during June to help the environment.

Schools, groups and individuals are urged to do something to encourage biodiversity – as wide a variety of nature as possible – to thrive. It is to help tackle the climate emergency and particularly pollinators at this time of year.

One idea behind the campaign is that, whatever you do, it is habit forming. The campaign encourages participants to continue to do something for longer than 30 days. Or to take notice of nature for longer than 30 days at least.

One year, I interpreted the campaign not as doing something daily, but letting the “wild things grow” as it were, in a dedicated area.

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If it can’t be recycled easily, don’t sell it to me

If there is one maxim I would like sustainability professionals within food and home product brands to live by it is this: if the packaging can’t be recycled easily, don’t sell it.

By “recycled easily” I mean from the doorstep or by the consumer, if really needed, being able to take it back to the store for them or the industry to reuse.

There are seven basic types of plastic, but it seems many dozens of derivatives when it comes to the recycling process.

PVC, for example, can be used in lots of different ways, from toys to bubble wrap. The mix of plastic in cheap toys given out at fast food outlets was deemed by one official as “unrecycable” at council waste depots, on Hugh’s War on Waste, the BBC series a couple of years ago.

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Cooking up a treat with a bunch of beetroot leaves

An “early” harvest from the garden brings a lovely problem: what to do with those large beetroot leaves? It seems such a waste to discard them.

The urban jungle – or maybe just the jungle, given how they have grown in the garden – says they can be cooked. Ever since a neighbour brought his whopping baseball sized beetroots (I exaggerate, but only just) back from his allotment last year, I made a mental note to look up whether the flurry of greenery was edible. Consensus is yes, they can be used like chard – and they taste like spinach when cooked. But how?

For some reason, just a couple of beetroot (which have been big this year because of the month of May without rain) have produced enough greenery to look like flowers in a vase. Another use, in a heatwave, might seem to be as a fan. But they are not that sturdy.

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Joining some cycling dots from Salfords to Redhill

The “race” to ensure Surrey receives its potential £8.5 million Government funding for extra cycle and walking routes has provoked much chatter on Twitter.

Matt Furniss, Surrey County Council cabinet member for highways, announced on June 6 that the county had sent active travel proposals to the Department for Transport. This was to try to gain the maximum £1.696 million available in the first tranche.

Proposals for Farnham and for Reigate town centre – to widen the area for cyclists and reduce the area used by cars – have been proposed and welcomed already.

There was no link to the full proposal on his tweets about the matter, but some thoughts occurred to me about extra cycle provision that could be made around Redhill, just as Jonathan Essex, a county council and Reigate & Banstead Borough councillor, published a 12-page document collating various views from individuals and campaign groups.

Read More »Joining some cycling dots from Salfords to Redhill
Generic picture of oil refinery

BP’s answer to climate emergency: shed staff

When BP announced on Monday that it would shed 10,000 staff by the end of the year because of a drop in demand for oil and investing more in renewable energy forms, on a drive towards being carbon neutral, it raised many more questions than it answered.

CEO Bernard Looney wrote up on LinkedIn what he had told staff in his briefing. It became listed as an “editor’s choice” story on the news feed of the business social networking site.

Commentators offered many viewpoints. One was that this shedding of staff was inevitable. It was merely delayed from March and in fact the company’s line about there being a drop in demand for oil pre-dated the Covid-19 crisis, when there was a large drop in demand for oil.

Readers might have noticed that there were far fewer aeroplanes, that far fewer people drove – including to work – and the petrol prices dipped to about £1.00 per litre at the pumps.

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What will you vow to change on World Environment Day?

Today is World Environment Day, run by the United Nations. How will you react? Do you care enough to start making changes to how you go about your daily life? What changes will you promise to make? What challenges can you set yourself? Can you explore nature better, especially in lockdown?

Perhaps the first thing we can all do is vow not to repeat the creation of litter last weekend, when thousands of pieces of litter were left strewn about our parks. While we cannot yet enjoy the company of the groups and societies with whom we met pre-Covid-19, many people are enjoying open spaces, while the weather is fine.

Maybe you might decide, upon receiving a renewal notice for energy bills, to choose a company, or a tariff, that ensures that the energy powering your house is generated by renewable energy sources.

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Drill oil? Even PPE can be plastic free

At the start of lockdown, a friend remarked: “We’re told not to use so much plastic and now we’ve got all this plastic PPE that will need throwing away.”

What can we do? This week, two things happened to prompt thoughts about this.

The first one was part of the response by the company running Horse Hill’s oil drilling site after four Extinction Rebellion protesters broke in. A put down, condemning the actions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“And did they ever stop to think that the medical equipment and PPE the country sorely needs at present is derived from oil and gas? Face masks and visors, gloves, protective aprons, syringes, sterile tubes and pipes in intubators and ventilators, catheters, sample bottles, tablet dispensers, vital function computers and screens, the list is endless. Even patient notes are kept in a plastic file and ID wristbands are made from plastic. All are made from petroleum products. You cannot get away from it.”

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