On Tuesday 11 February, the Energy and Environment Policy Centre hosted an exclusive panel event as part of King’s College London’s Sustainability Week. We welcomed Scott Ainslie (Former Green Party Member of the European Parliament), Adam Bartha (Director of EPICENTER), and Professor Robert Lee (Director of the Centre for Legal Education and Research at the University of Birmingham) to discuss the future of environmental policies in the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit era. The three speakers answered multiple questions, notably on the strengths and weaknesses of the European Union’s environmental law, as well as more specific topics such as air pollution and energy policies. The speakers clearly expressed their perspectives and gave the audience a fascinating insight into the post-Brexit debate on environmental regulations.
‘Our most pressing challenge is keeping our planet healthy. This is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times.’
Those words were pronounced by Ursula Von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission, when she urged the European Parliament to back her European Green Deal (EGD) aiming to make Europe Carbon Neutral by 2050.
We should give all children on this planet a future that is worthy of their talents and dreams.
On 21 January, the King’s Think Tank’s Education Policy Centre held an event that brought one of our key objectives, making education more accessible, to life. In collaborating with the King’s Widening Participation Department on the King’s Scholars’ Programme, we presented the Think Tank and our work to different groups of Year 7 students. The primary aim of the event was to teach young people from under-represented backgrounds about policy making, as well as opportunities to get involved with it at university.
After independence from Japan in 1945, Korea split into the Communist North and Capitalist South. The two Koreas subsequently engaged in a civil war from 1950 to 1953 that devastated both countries and killed two to three million civilians. By the end of this war, South Korea was one of the poorest, least developed countries in the world.
Origin of the Problem
Farmland is a private good in Germany, owned and cultivated by roughly 374,000 agricultural businesses (Federal Ministry of Food 2010). Participating in a market economy, each of these businesses tries to maximise their profitability. Profitability in agriculture is mostly determined by the crop output per cultivated area (crop yield), which leads the market players to constantly seek out technology that increases productivity (Tongeren 2013). If the additional revenue from applying a certain technology exceeds its investment costs, farmers will adopt it. A central nutrient to increase crop productivity is Nitrogen, which is one of the core ingredients of fertilizer (Tongeren 2013). Organic fertilizers (such as liquid manure) are available at very low costs in Germany due to the extensive livestock population. If overall demand for liquid manure is low, livestock farmers will even give it away free of charge (Matheis 2014). This encourages farmers to apply large amounts of organic fertilizers to their farmland in order to guarantee a maximal crop yield. However, the practise only achieves minor productivity improvements as the relationship between nitrogen availability and crop productivity can be described as logarithmic: Productivity growth declines with increasing availability of Nitrogen (Leghari et al. 2016). Additionally, the practise causes substantial portions of fertilizer (and nitrogen) to spill over into the environment (Deutsche Welle 2018).
The Xinjiang region of China has always had a distinct cultural, ethnic, and religious identity. The region feels much closer to its Central Asian neighbours than it does to the rest of China. Since its incorporation around the mid-18th century, Xinjiang has been a challenging region for the central government to administrate. Most regions in China are predominantly Han Chinese. By contrast, more than half of Xinjiang’s population of 24 million consists of Turkic Muslims. Additionally, Xinjiang covers a geographical area larger than California and Texas combined, shares borders with eight countries, and sits around 2000km away from Beijing. Xinjiang’s distinct culture, vast size and remote location have rendered it particularly vulnerable to external influences; prior rebellions continue to loom large in the minds of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials today.
On 29 January, members of the King’s Think Tank European Affairs and Energy and Environment policy centres, and one of the Head Editors visited the European Union institutions in Brussels. Mere hours away from the final vote on the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU, the visit was one of anticipation, uncertainty, and excitement. Upon arrival in Brussels, we split into two groups: the Energy and Environment policy centre visited the European Parliament, and the European Affairs policy centre first visited the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and then the Parliament, before reconvening in the afternoon at the European Commission and experiencing the unexpected opportunity to witness the aforementioned vote. Below, the two groups detail their visits.
Migration has become a highly debated and fairly misunderstood topic in contemporary politics. While taking part in the European ARISE project (Analysing Refugee Inclusion in Southern Europe) in Southern Italy, I met Hamady, a migrant from Senegal. Whilst telling me about his own perspective on migration, he explained that if you have not ‘witnessed it’ you are unable to fully comprehend it. This is why he believes in the importance of recounting his own experience to sensitise the general public on the issue. ‘It is part of the integration process’, he says.
On 14 March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated 90 percent of the city of Beira in Mozambique. The major humanitarian crisis that ensued has affected anywhere between 1.85 and 3 million people and displaced approximately 146,000 people within Mozambique’s territory, as citizens sought to escape the floods and fled homes that were reduced to debris. As the consequences of climate change accelerate, the pressing issue of climate migration calls for urgent intervention.
Lately, issues surrounding mental health have taken centre stage in our society. The efforts of NGOs, healthcare services, and government bodies have made a significant impact by sensitising people’s perception of this topic. Yet, despite this increased coverage and seemingly positive steps towards dispelling stigma and taking preventative action, poor mental health and suicide has become an ever-mounting crisis. Universities and higher education colleges in particular have faced pressure to make drastic changes after figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a doubling in the number of student suicides – 52 in 2000/1 to 95 in 2016/17. In total, approximately 1,330 higher education students took their lives within this period, of which 686 (66%) were male and 452 (34%) were female. Across the UK, many universities are struggling to provide adequate mental health support, with demand for services increasing 50% over the last 5 years as more and more students are presenting symptoms of high levels of stress and anxiety. To tackle this silent epidemic, more focus needs to be placed on preventative measures such as early intervention and the promotion of healthy thoughts and behaviours.