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

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.

waste GPS track

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

Virtuous Circle-1035

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


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


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…]

When will Trump have his Damascus road experience?

So he’s done it. After months of speculation President Trump has announced the US will be exiting the Paris Accord on tackling climate change.

It is disappointing that President Trump does not see the opportunity for economic growth which clean energy presents; what the world is now waiting for is his Damascus road experience. We need that dramatic reversal of position in the near future. But if we have to wait 4 years, some experts say that wouldn’t be too disastrous – whereas if we had 8 years of the same rolling back progress on climate change, that would be a game changer. [Read more…]

Why advocate on waste and a circular economy?

RS67759_LEB2015_DXC_R_0162Well, we’ve produced a guide which aims to answer just that question. We’ve explored in previous posts (in particular here, here and here) how the current approach to resources is creating mountains of waste, which are harming some of the most vulnerable communities in low- and middle-income countries. This waste could instead be re-used or eliminated; this circular economy approach – keeping resources in use for as long as possible – would: [Read more…]

Mission 2020: don’t be late

2020 tipping point_mission2020

Source: Mission 2020


Monday began with a reminder that Hugh Grant hates people being late. This montage of cinematic near misses reminds us that being late can have different consequences – for our love lives, dance careers and, in some cases, our survival. It is a light-hearted introduction to a new campaign with a weighty message: we can’t afford to be late on curbing our carbon emissions. [Read more…]