Repost: 10 Ways for Amber Rudd to redeem herself in 2016

Hey guys! This is a repost from a blog I part wrote for UKYCC here.

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Dear Amber,

As energy and climate change minister, you’ve made some… let’s say interesting decisions over the past year on tackling climate change. But don’t worry, 2016 could be a brand new start! To help you out we’ve put together a list of new year’s resolutions you might want to consider when you get back to the office tomorrow:

  1. Fully commit to the 1.5C target. The new global climate change agreement commits us to take action to limit global warming to 1.5°C and ensure it stays “well below” 2°C. But you’ve said the target is just “aspirational”, and we should stick with the UK’s current 2°C target – a temperature rise that will have a huge impact on countless lives and increase the likelihood of the climate reaching dangerous tipping points. Getting the 1.5°C target included in the text of the agreement was one of the few triumphs of the Paris talks – who better to take the lead on implementing it than the country that kicked off burning all this fossil fuel in the first place (i.e. us)?
  2. Find climate finance that doesn’t come from the existing aid budget. It was agreed in the Paris negotiations that at least $100 billion per year will be mobilised by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. While this is well short of what’s needed, it’s a start at least. But you’ve decided to take the UK’s contribution from the Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget, essentially cutting it by 8-10% *facepalm*! Poverty and climate change are interlinked, but there needs to be additional money rather than a dodgy reshuffling of budgets that leaves the poorest worse off.
  3. Stop piling money on fossil fuel companies. Your department is brimming with rhetoric on choosing the most low cost route to providing energy to all us hardworking consumer types. But with the UK recently singled out among G20 countries for increasing its financial support for fossil fuel producers, we reckon it might be time to turn over a new leaf, drop the tax breaks to foreign-owned multinationals and invest in a real low cost, clean energy future. Oh and remember to follow up on that idea of yours to stop supporting dirty diesel generators over more efficient forms of back-up energy to provide extra power at peak times.
  4. Rethink the whole fracking fiasco. The decision to allow fracking under national parks was made just a few days after you signed up to the Paris agreement, but is completely incompatible with the 1.5°C target we’re supposed to be working towards. Fracking is another false solution that will push problems onto the next generation – when technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels exist right now. Plus the government’s unwavering support for fracking, at the expense of what local communities want, is raising serious questions for our democracy.
  5. Accelerate the UK’s transition to renewables. Over the past few years UK renewable energy deployment has been gathering momentum. This must continue in 2016 if there’s to be hope of meeting the 1.5°C target. Sadly, your 2015 renewables policy changes were a series of destructive blunders. Most recently, just after signing the Paris Agreement, you published a plan to wipe out more than half of the UK solar industry. As a result, solar companies are going bust left and right and you’ve put 18,700 people’s jobs at risk. But new year, fresh start! Let’s make 2016 a year for clear vision, renewable energy and secure green jobs.
  6. Support the best value technologies. We heard a lot in 2015 about making the energy transition at the lowest possible cost. It was even in your election manifesto (right next to a pledge to end support for wind energy… thanks for that…). But since then the best value and most popular renewable technologies (hint: onshore wind and solar) have been given a pummelling by your department. This is all rather curious and puzzling. To meet our commitments under the new Paris Agreement we need to make full use of every tool available – especially the best ones! Onshore wind and solar are crucial and 2016 is the year you should give them your full support!
  7. Let everyone in on the plan. Dealing with climate change requires action in lots of different areas: power, transport, housing, agriculture, waste, flood defenses… You mentioned recently that there’s a government committee (Q79) coordinating things, but that it’s top secret and very hush hush. A committee with such a crucial job to do needs to be transparent and accountable. It also must not be under the spell of our hopelessly climate-confused Chancellor. We look forward to hearing all about it soon!
  8. Stop daydreaming that technology is going to bring all the answers. We know daydreams can be fun, but when it comes to something as serious as climate change, we need concrete action not a shaky hope that something might come along (…everyone, cross your fingers…). You might well vaguely think that we will need “some sort of negative emissions technology”, but perhaps a back-up plan would be a good idea incase it doesn’t turn up at the appointed time? Which it’s even less likely to do if your government keeps cutting promised support for it.There are plenty of ways we can already cut emissions – it’s time to see these rolled out across the country NOW!
  9. Acknowledge the historical responsibility of the UK over climate changeYou argued against an agreement which would “open up the issue of compensation and reparations”. We disagree. The UK was one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters over the industrial period, leaving us with a responsibility to help other countries deal with the climate change we’ve helped create. Just because you don’t want to pay doesn’t make that go away! Loss and damage due to climate change is already happening –  in just one example, a recent hurricane in the Bahamas caused $100m in damage, equal to 10% of the country’s GDP. Your suggestion that countries take out “insurance schemes” to protect themselves against problems we helped create makes a mockery of international justice. Sort it Amber!
  10. Quit embarrassing us and start taking this seriously! You seem to be oddly confident of the UK’s standing on climate change policy. But with cuts being made left, right and centre to renewables support, energy efficiency schemes and even your own department, not everyone thinks you’re doing such a sterling job. And despite current UK targets already falling well short of what’s needed, in a recently leaked letter you admitted the UK is on track to miss its (legally binding) target on renewable energy anyway. Choices made by today’s government will massively impact people across the world for centuries to come – don’t you reckon it’s time to shape up and set the UK on a path to protect their safety and wellbeing?

Lots of love,

UKYCC

Climate March and Paris!

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My Sign! 'Our World - Our Future'

These images are from earlier this year at the Climate March – I blogged about it then,and mentioned that it was part of the build up to the Climate Talks in December. With the election result in May, I felt a bit deflated… But there’s no reason why a conservative government shouldn’t act on climate change! We’re all going to suffer if we continue to do nothing/very little.

So I’m writing to let you know about the climate marches happening all over the UK and elsewhere on November 29th. The idea is to show international solidarity in the fight for climate justice. Of course, we’re all going to be affected by climate change, but those of us who are lucky to live in a rich country won’t be as worse off as those in poorer countries… This is why it’s really important that we protest to show politicians that we do care! And not just about ourselves, but about humanity and the rest of the beautiful world that we’re destroying.

The reason the date is 29th November, is that it’s the day before the Climate Talks begin in Paris. COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C – it’s the follow up to the Kyoto Protocol. There are expected to be 25 000 government officials attending, so this is a perfect opportunity to let our voices be heard and put pressure on representatives to meet an agreement and sign a deal.

For those of you who are interested, there are the Climate Games; running from 29th November – 12th December, the idea is to raise the profile of COP21 and keep them on their toes! It’s all a bit hush hush at the moment, but there’ll be a range of actions to take part in.

And you can even get involved if you can’t make it to a march or to Paris! Oxfam recently announced a campaign of #eyesonparis – people are tweeting using the hashtag and (briefly!) explaining why they’re concerned about climate change/what deal they want etc! Celebrities have endorsed it, and it’s a nice way to show solidarity.

So there are loads of ways to get involved! I’ll be working with UKYCC and we’re going to be taking loads of images and words on blank postcards and make them into a banner to bring the youth voice to Paris.

Are you planning on attending one of the marches? Or even going to Paris?!

Zero Waste Week

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Hello! In case you didn’t now, this week is Zero Waste Week – the idea is that we think more about how much waste we really produce, and this years theme is ‘re-use’. I love this as it’s beneficial to the environment and also your pocket – so it’s really just common sense!

My top tips for re-use:

  1. Canvas bags – this is one of the simplest things to do, and it stops the constant use of plastic bags. Plastic bags are so bad for the environment, and they take over 450 years to decompose – every time I go to a supermarket I think of that fact and it really is horrendous. I don’t want to contribute to that, so I always carry a few in my car.
  2. Travel mug – this one depends on your lifestyle; I’m not a coffee drinker so this wasn’t a huge issue for me, but I did get a travel mug as I love a good hot chocolate as it gets colder. Instead of using the cardboard/plastic cups and throwing it away, I bring a fab glass one and wash it out between uses.
  3. Water bottle – this is a huge thing for me. Having a reusable water bottle saves all those plastic bottles being thrown away AND it makes me want to drink more. I’m so much more hydrated now and I know how much I drink in a day (at least 2 litres).
  4. Buy second hand – this is probably the biggest money saving tip for reuse! I’m getting better at this as I’ve been using more websites like Vinted, StreetBank and Ebay. And of course there’s the classic charity shops!
  5. Donate – of course this works both ways. So I’ve recently had a big declutter and donated most of it to charity shops, and there’s also a centre for Syrian Refugees so I took some there too. It’s such a good feeling to know that what may be clutter to you, is perfect for someone else!

This theme also reminded me of the fantastic ‘story of stuff’ – it’s a few years old now, but still so relevant:

Please leave your tips on re-use down below – I’d love to hear them!

Challenges of Living Plastic Free

So we’re halfway through the month and I’m a little late on this, but I wanted to talk about Plastic Free July!

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The idea is that you refuse single use plastic for an entire month. I think of myself as fairly good at reducing my waste by not taking unnecessary stuff/choosing products that won’t produce a load of waste! So when I found out about this campaign a few days ago I thought I’d test myself…

It was so hard!

I went to the supermarket and took my reusable canvas bags to make sure I didn’t pick up a single use plastic bag – so far, so good. But then I went to the products – spinach was in a plastic bag, so immediately I’m using a piece of single use plastic!! I also bought avocados and bananas without bags as they have peels, so that was fine. But it just shows that even with the best intentions, you can’t always get some products WITHOUT plastic!

Then I went to Costa (a coffee shop that actually pays tax in the UK!) to get a yummy drink as a treat. Except, I wanted a cream cooler which meant a plastic cup and straw… They do this even if you’re drinking in the shop which is frustrating! I’m going to look into buying a reusable cup that I can take with me into coffee shops so I can have guilt free treats.

The next day I was doing my skincare and applying make up when I realised… This is all single use plastic!!! From cleanser to mascara, it would all be thrown away at the end of its use. The only thing I feel better about it Lush’s products as you can take them back into store to be recycled into more pots. This has spurred me on to experiment with more solid products that don’t need any packaging.

Why use something for a few seconds that is going to spend the rest of your life trying to break down in a landfill site? We use so much plastic that we don’t even think about it! This needs to change and I think this campaign does a good job of bringing it to your attention.

You can register here to receive tips and reminders about living plastic free this month. If you have any tips for living plastic free, please leave them down below – I’d love to read them!

This is a Selfridges shop window which I thought was fitting for this theme! Reducing is the best thing of course, but recycling is also great.

This is a Selfridges shop window which I thought was fitting for this theme! Reducing is the best thing of course, but recycling is also great.

National Recycle Week!

So this week (22nd-28th June) is National Recycle Week!RW_Badge_2014

I’m not sure if I’ve stated this on this blog before, but my job is all about increasing recycling in my local area. So of course, I had to promote it in this week worldwide 🙂

The past few years have seen quite a few changes in what you can recycle (especially here in the UK). I didn’t know about a lot of the changes until I started working to promote it! For example, aerosols are now accepted in most recycling bins.

My family and I always recycle everything we can from the kitchen, but at the moment we don’t have a bin in the bathroom. So, one small change I’m going to make this week is to keep a bin in the bathroom! It makes sense as you can recycle (clean) plastic shampoo bottles, toothpaste boxes, aerosols etc.

You can look up exactly what you can recycle here if you live in the UK (I’m afraid if you live outside the UK you’ll have to look up your own equivalent!).

It’s so important to recycle as it saves resources (there’s no need to mine more aluminium if we’re recycling all our cans!), is better for the environment (landfill sites give off greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change), plus it saves energy (as manufacturing something out of recycled material uses less energy). It’s really just common sense!

Recycling is one of the easiest things you can do to make a difference to the world. The theme of this year’s Recycle Week is ‘recycling around the home’ – so how are you going to up your recycling this week? It could be as simple as adding a bin in your bathroom, or sharing social media updates from Recycle Now and WRAP!

Of course, the best thing to do is reduce and reuse things as much as possible. But that’s a whole other blog post/series!

World Environment Day Recap

World Environment Day is an annual event organised by the UN. This year it was June 5th (yesterday) – I wanted to write a mini recap of it for anyone who didn’t see it/know about it!

The theme this year was sustainable consumption; ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’, as by 2050 our global population is expected to exceed 9 billion and current consumption rates won’t be possible with one planet!

I really liked the WED challenge; submit a photo and a promise to reduce your negative impact on the environment. #WorldEnvironmentDay was trending all day on Twitter, and I’m sure this challenge concept was one of the reasons why!

In terms of raising awareness this was also a great day as many media outlets chose to run a story on an environmental issue. As most environmental problems are ongoing and there’s not necessarily a dramatic event, these often get ignored. So this was great to see!

However, while I understand that the theme had to be fairly simple in order to ‘go viral’, it was way too focused on the individual! My own blog mainly focuses on sustainable consumption, but it’s also so important to vote in politicians who are pro-environment and protest unethical corporations and question systems that promote resource exploitation. This campaign seemed to be almost a retaliation against the recent Climate Change protests and marches all around the world. This may be harsh, but I wish the day was more inclusive – and that it was more than just a day! Maybe then there would be more space for further actions, rather than just raising awareness and promoting individual responsibility.

Of course it’s great that it exists in the first place, but it can always be improved!

#VotefortheClimate Today!

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So for the past couple of months I’ve been volunteering for UKYCC (UK Youth Climate Coalition), and we’ve been working on a campaign against fracking in the UK.

Here’s an open letter we wrote to the future MPs in the UK: it outlines why fracking is not a sustainable solution to the energy crisis. I worked on this with a few others so I’d love it if you could read it and comment any reactions down below 🙂

We also worked together on a video to show why we need to use our vote in the general election. If we don’t vote, MPs don’t care about the issues that are important to us. So tweet to say why you’re #votingfortheclimate, and take a #votingselfie outside the polling station to make yourself more visible to those who’ll be in power! Make your voice count 🙂