Ahead of Synod vote, Tearfund welcomes Diocese of Oxford proposed amendment on divestment

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Photo by Antonio Garcia on Unsplash

 

This Sunday (8th July), the Church of England’s (CofE) General Synod – their formal decision-making body – is meeting. A key amendment to a motion being proposed by the CofE National Investing Bodies (NIBs) is due to be discussed, calling for stronger action on divestment from fossil fuels. The Bishop of Oxford is calling for this amendment and explains it well in his blog, but the key point is strengthening the language to put pressure on fossil fuel companies to adopt business plans in line with the Paris Agreement by 2020. If companies don’t do this, then divestment would begin to take place. [Read more…]

Is the World Bank springing into action on energy access?

Myself with Melanie Robinson and David Kinder, UK representatives to the World Bank

Sharing our new report with Melanie Robinson and David Kinder, UK representatives to the World Bank

 

Last week I joined hundreds of government representatives, business executives and civil society organizations at the World Bank Spring meetings in Washington. I returned home with the overall impression that the World Bank is taking steps in the right direction on climate change. But this action needs to speed up and scale up to meet the Paris Agreement targets and achieve universal energy access by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 7). In particular, the Bank needs to phase out fossil fuels more quickly, and increase investment in renewable energy, with a focus on off-grid sources for the poorest populations living in remote communities.

The situation so far

In 2017 the World Bank President announced the phasing out of finance for exploration for oil and gas after 2019; this was an important step forward, but there were few details given at the Spring meetings last week about how this would be implemented. In the meantime, the Bank continues to invest in fossil fuels. [Read more…]

Definitely, maybe: circular economy initiatives that work for poor communities

Over the last 18 months we’ve been thinking, discussing and writing about how the circular economy can work for communities in developing countries. Our latest research paper, Bending the Curve, takes the evidence base to the next stage. It assesses the literature available to identify what works in practice, and the range of income, health and environmental benefits these interventions bring.

We can divide the approaches into three categories, which I think of as:

  • Definitelyproven interventions that have a strong evidence base, and could be replicated in a variety of low- and middle-income contexts.
  • Probably: approaches where the evidence base is evolving; more research is needed to understand how they could be scaled up and rolled out in different contexts.
  • Maybe: areas of high concern or great potential, but where the solutions are as-yet-unproven or speculative.

[Read more…]

Less Coal, Less Gas, More Hope – predictions on UK’s electricity

It’s very encouraging how fast Great Britain’s emissions from electricity have reduced over the last five years – 2017’s figures from the excellent MyGridGB show how far we’ve come.

This is mostly down to 4 things:

  • closing coal power stations
  • replacing a lot of coal with gas
  • replacing some coal with wind, and some with biomass, mainly wood
  • using a bit less electricity
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The future looks good for solar and wind power

Less coal, less gas

We’re doing well on using less coal, the single biggest step Britain needed to take on climate change. I think the government will keep their promise to shut coal power down completely by 2025. It’s been good to see climate minister Claire Perry championing phasing out coal internationally – and her promotion to attend cabinet in the reshuffle is encouraging too. [Read more…]

Tweaking the design of electronic goods could reduce poverty. Here’s how.

In 2016, two hundred printers and monitors were fitted with GPS trackers and dropped at recyclers and charities across the US. After just a few months, one in three had been shipped overseas, mostly across the Pacific to Asia. This experiment by MIT and the Basel Action Network reveals the tip of the electronic waste iceberg: experts estimate that as many as nine out of ten discarded computers eventually end up in developing countries.

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GPS Tracks for the US’ Electronic Waste.  Image: MIT Senseable City Lab, visualisation from the Basel Action Network’s E-Trash Transparency Project

 

These electronics exports can help people escape poverty, but they can also hinder them, and the key lies in product design.  [Read more…]

Widening the circle: the internationalisation of Scotland’s circular economy

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Scotland is at the leading edge of the circular economy. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government was awarded a prestigious prize at the World Economic Forum for its work placing the circular economy at the core of Scotland’s economic strategy and manufacturing action plan. But so far discussion and action has been largely limited to domestic considerations. So where better to start the conversation on how to “widen the circle” than at the Scottish Parliament?  [Read more…]

The world’s biggest waste dump (hint: it’s big, blue and you like going there)

I used to be a big fan of seafood: crabs, mussels, prawns you name it, I ate it. Then when this year Ghent University in Belgium found that seafood lovers could be eating up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic a year, I reluctantly decided to cut my consumption to the odd treat (what’s a couple of hundred bits of microplastics between friends). Consumers in better off nations like ours are rightly worried about the as yet unknown health impacts of ingesting plastic, but little or no attention has been paid to the impact on communities in the developing world.

The escalating crisis of marine litter (this ranges from microbeads to plastic bottles to boats) is the latest, dystopian symptom of a linear economy which takes, makes and throws away.  It turns out ‘away’ is often the oceans. Every year we produce 300 million pieces of plastic and 5 to 12.5 million pieces of it end up in the oceans.   [Read more…]

A climate act for all our futures

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Lyson and Theresa and four of their children, Dowa District, Malawi

 

This month you have a chance to input into a public consultation on Scotland’s Climate Change Bill, whether you’re based in Scotland or not. Tearfund is a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a diverse coalition of civil society organisations in Scotland campaigning together on climate change. Read more about why we want a more ambitious climate act; one that represents climate justice for all. 

Global temperatures in July this year were the 2nd highest ever recorded . For Nepali families recovering from recent floods or farmers in Malawi fearful of another small harvest, these rising temperatures contribute towards a changing climate that is having a very real impact.

Lyson, from the Dowa District in Malawi explains: “In the past the soil here used to be very fertile. We would grow our crops and harvest a lot. But over the years the environment has been destroyed and the soil has become infertile. Because of climate change there are less rains, and we are harvesting only a little food – which is a big challenge for us.”  [Read more…]

Every day is Earth Overshoot Day (but it doesn’t have to be)

Whenever you hear words like overcome, overjoyed or overwhelmed, the sense is about extremes: strong positive connotations or the exact opposite. Today is Earth Overshoot Day, the day in 2017 when collectively the world’s population have used up all the resources that nature can regenerate in one year. This overuse of resources falls firmly into that second camp: strong negative connotations. [Read more…]

Going circular in Finland

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Joanne Green, Senior Policy Associate at Tearfund, reflects on her trip to the first World Circular Economy Forum in Finland. 

This week I attended the first ever World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) generously hosted for free by the Finnish Government in Helsinki. For those who are unfamiliar, the circular economy is a new approach to economic development that recognises biophysical limits by using resources as efficiently as possible in every stage of a product lifecycle. For more info see here. [Read more…]