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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Seeking to become a leader in the electric battery industry: what is the EU’s strategy?

Introduction 

The international system is in the midst of a large-scale energy and technological transition to shift away from fossil fuels and move towards carbon neutrality. The electric battery industry is on the rise with major actors like Japan (major producer of electric vehicles) and China (with a battery cell production in 2017 of twenty-two times that of Europe) clearly displaying their ambitions. In this global race for green industrial leadership, how does the European Union (EU) seek to play its card right? 

Answering this question requires acknowledging two premises regarding EU characteristics that shape and condition its role in the future energy transition. On the one hand, the EU is first and foremost an economic power as the strength of its voice in international politics resides in its “material existence”, being the “largest advanced industrialized market in the world”. The energy transition is, therefore, an outstanding opportunity for the EU to foster long-term growth and create millions of jobs on the Old Continent. 

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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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Back to the Future: A wind powered shipping revolution?

While the aerospace industry has attracted much attention given the terrible blow it was dealt by the Coronavirus crisis, another giant transport industry has also been seeking to adapt to the challenges of this century: the shipping industry. The globalization and intensification of trade links, accompanied by the emergence of transitioning economies, along with a growing culture of consumerism and delivery culture has resulted in cargo ships handling 11 billion tons of product per year. These range from raw materials to manufactured goods and amounts to 90% of the world’s global trade. The cargo shipping industry is now caught in between the pressure of a growing demand for goods and the imperatives of climate change. Nearly everything around us has once been on a boat meaning that ships and ports are a key part of the infrastructure on which our ways of life rely. As such they represent an important source of reducing our environmental footprint. The solution of wind-powered cargo ships is slowly making its return after being replaced two centuries ago by the coal-powered steamships. 

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Event Review: The New EU Taxonomy on Sustainable Activities

On January 18th 2021 the Energy and Environment Policy Centre hosted a panel event to discuss the new EU Taxonomy on sustainable activities as a part of our theme Does the private sector align with a carbon net zero future? The innovative, pragmatic and science-based Taxonomy regulation is yet another example of the European Union’s leadership within climate change and commitment to meeting its ambitious 2030 and 2050 energy and climate targets.  

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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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Energy and Environment: Sustainable Startups Event Review

On Wednesday 11th November 2020, the Energy & Environment Policy Centre of King’s Think Thank hosted a fantastic panel event on the theme of Sustainable Startups. As part of our current theme ‘Does our private sector align with environmental standards?’, we wanted to reflect on ways in which sustainability can be an inclusive part of entrepreneurship. During the event, we managed to successfully explore and discuss the challenges associated with including sustainability standards into the development of small-scale businesses.

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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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Event Review: Environmental Regulations & Policies in a Post-Brexit Era

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.

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