Neither local nor global communities can afford the carelessness of Britain’s High Speed 2 Project

The 31-day tunnel protests beside Euston station have come to a close, after activists excavated and occupied underground networks to hinder the construction of an interim taxi rank – which will be built to adapt the Euston area for High Speed 2 (HS2) railway construction. Reports of the tunnel occupation are the newest of dotted media coverage that reminds us of the relentless opposition this controversial project has faced. The site the activists defended for a month is the only forested haven along the Euston Road – a place where ‘breathing is a risk’, having been frequently awarded the title of ‘one of the most polluted roads in Britain’ for exceeding legal pollution levels staggeringly for years. HS2 threatens this small park and patch of time-worn London planes trees, who will have witnessed the unfolding of this area of the city’s cultural and social history. They have been decorated symbolically with colourful scarfs for years, tied around their sturdy trunks to show visual opposition to the felling they have been threatened with – like preemptive bandages to coming, indelible wounds.  

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Event Review: International Climate Policy in the Global South

On 18th February 2021 the Energy and Environment Policy Centre at King’s Think Tank and King’s College London Climate Action society hosted a panel discussion on international climate policy and loss and damage in the Global South as a part of the policy centre’s theme for this semester “Governance and the environmental emergency: who takes accountability?”. The event took place as part of King’s College London’s university-wide Sustainability Month. 

Environmental inequality, injustice and disproportionate climate-related impacts in the Global South are accelerating in tangent with climate breakdown, causing irreparable loss and damage in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). This event explored the environmental injustice and inequality that the Global South faces, and the relevance of loss and damage schemes in international climate policy as a coping mechanism and means of compensation and justice for LDCs.

To discuss these important issues, we had the honour of welcoming Dr. Ian Fry, Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment for the Government of Tuvalu; Ms. Hadika Jamshaid, Climate Change specialist supporting the Ministry of Climate Change for the Government of Pakistan; and Dr. Guy Jackson, postdoctoral fellow at Lund University who carried out the project Recasting the Disproportionate Impacts of Climate Change Extremes.

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The power of reforestation: An interview with Felix Finkbeiner from Plant-for-the-Planet

In 2007, 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner founded the organization Plant-for-the-Planet and his goal became to plant as many trees as he could to advocate for climate mitigation. Only three years later, the organization celebrated with planting their one millionth tree. The slogan ‘Stop Talking, Start Planting’ became a social media success as young people all around the world drew attention to the importance of planting trees. In 2011 the UN General Assembly handed the Trillion Tree Campaign to Plant-for-the-Planet. The world currently has three trillion trees and can host a trillion more. Trees are powerful in combating climate change, so the Trillion Trees Campaign is important in buying time to reduce CO2 emissions. Partner organizations all around the world are committed to this campaign and until now 14 billion trees in over 130 countries have been planted. The aim is to repopulate areas with trees and to work towards a carbon neutral world. Restoring deforested areas and allowing for forests to take back its natural habitat. 

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Greening the World Trade Organization: five priorities for EU foreign policy

The need to integrate climate and trade agendas

Today, humans have collectively come to constitute a geological force that undermines the very natural balances that have preempted the growth of civilization and the triumph of human nature itself, giving rise to an era of anthropogenic climate change. Human activity has already been responsible for a 1.0ºC increase over pre-industrial levels. It is widely recognized that an increase over 1.5ºC will cause irreversible harm to both human and natural ecosystems, with more extreme and variable weather events, resource scarcity, sea-level rise, biodiversity loss, economic recessions and global conflicts. 

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The Green Transition: South Korea and Japan follow UK Pledge to Work Towards Carbon Neutrality by 2050

The South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, has formally pledged that the country will become carbon neutral by 2050. This commitment to achieving net-zero emissions within the next 30 years is not an unprecedented step, but is in line with recent global efforts to tackle climate change.  

Major world economies have now vowed to end their dependence on coal and replace it with other forms of renewable resources as part of their Green New Deal, which involves a shift towards renewable energy and energy storage systems, as well as low-carbon energy systems. In 2019, the European Union set itself a similar target, with EU leaders agreeing to make their then 28 member states carbon neutral by 2050. Japan quickly followed suit with Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga making an ambitious pledge to accelerate the country’s global warming targets. China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has promised to become carbon neutral by 2060, and vowed to begin cutting its emissions within the next ten years. It must not be underestimated how bold and ambitious these targets actually are. 

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Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, a new climatic momentum is emerging

Introduction

In December 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, a new climate treaty, aiming to limit rising temperatures at +2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This “monumental triumph for the people and our planet,” as exclaimed by UN Secretary-General at the time Ban Ki-Moon, states that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must come down to ‘net-zero’ levels between 2050 and 2100. As a decentralized and bottom-up system relying on signatories’ nationally determined contributions, the success of the Paris Agreement can only be achieved if countries ratchet up their ambitions. 

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Inspiring environmental policy change in Kenya : An interview with the FlipFlopi Project

The FlipFlopi Project began in 2016 when Kenyan tour operators Ben Morrison and Dipesh Pabari, along with boat craftsman Ali Skanda, built a Dhow using 9 tonnes of plastic waste collected from local beaches. The purpose of this invention was to raise awareness about the detriments of single use plastic (SUP) waste on the marine ecosystem and the wellbeing of civilians in coastal Kenya. In 2019, the project launched a 14 day expedition, with the support of UNEP’s Clean Sea’s Initiative, in which the Dhow sailed across the East African coast and hosted various events in local communities in Kenya and Tanzania to raise awareness of SUP’s. As a result, the project became a platform for environmental activism and triggered Africa’s “blue planet moment”  , catalyzing policy discourse on the circular economy movement across Africa. Currently, the project runs a few innovation hubs and circular economy start-ups, and engages with international policy platforms (most notably UNEP) to advocate for progressive environmental policy in East Africa. 

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Climate Change and its Impact on Businesses

Climate change has come to the forefront of global politics in recent years, with large scale protests led by international organisations such as Extinction Rebellion gaining considerable momentum. In particular, the protests at the end of September 2019 were the largest display of resistance against climate change in recent history, and were timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit. This protest saw over 6 million people take to the streets in 180 countries to demand faster and stricter action on climate change. What made this movement unique was that it displayed not only the realities of climate change but it also demonstrated the widespread concern that consumers around the world feel for it. It is important to consider the impacts that this issue and the heightened awareness that surrounds it has on businesses around the world. 

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The paradox of abundance: the future of work in the face of automation and degrowth

In the coming years, the climate crisis will present a myriad of problems and challenges for our societies to overcome. As humanity is forced to abandon perpetual economic growth, we will have to find new policies to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources among all people.

In recent years, the threat that automation poses to workers has risen to prominence within Western political discourse. This is nothing new. From the Luddites rebelling against the mechanisation of the textile industry to fears that the US’s ‘Green Revolution’ in agriculture would leave farm labourers destitute, technological change in our economic processes has always been met with fears of job losses. This presents a specific challenge to efforts to roll-out measures such as a ‘Green New Deal’, aimed at limiting further growth in order to mitigate the climate emergency.

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Oil markets in intensive care: an incentive to decarbonate? Perspective from Saudi Arabia

On 12 April 2020, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with Russia and other non-member oil exporting countries, agreed to a record oil production cut of 9.7 million barrels a day (mb/d) in an attempt to ease a global supply glut and boost crude oil prices. This decision was made against the backdrop of the global Covid-19 pandemic that has caused a steep reduction in the demand for crude oil and led to a drop in oil prices. These curbs will stay in place for May and June, after which they will reduce to 7.7m b/d for the rest of the year, and then 5.8m b/d from January 2021 to April 2022 if compliance with the quotas is enforced. Many experts remain legitimately concerned with the global demand decline as the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts an overall demand drop of 9m b/d in 2020 (29m b/d reduction for April alone) compared to 2019, erasing almost a decade of growth. However, this short-term surplus of oil shouldn’t overshadow the structural issues of oil markets and the concerns regarding future oil supplies. 

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