Tag Archives: 2010

My Climate Squad action

16 May

For COP16, whilst working for the youth intiative Climate Squad. We decided to each do a 24hour carbon cutting challenge, here is the details on mine.
*

My punishment, sorry my ‘challenge’ was to give up gadgets for the day.

If you were to tell my 16 year old self to do this – it would be near impossible. Back in those days I had TV, Playstation 2, mobile phone, laptop and Hi-Fi on 24-7

Nowadays, I have calmed down. Technology allows me to only need a mobile and laptop to catch up on TV, find interesting internet links and stay connected with friends.

I also find myself having little space or with the opportunity to own a TV and game console and being the environmental-nerd I am, I’m used to switching off appliances when not in use.

So this was more of a battle of wills – going back to the 1990’s when being connected with the world 24-7 was still a dream or part of a movie plot line. 

I was to keep off Facebook, Twitter and my mobile.

Total disconnection.  

Within minutes of waking up, I wanted to tweet- ‘flippin’ hell, I am late for work due to having to switch my phone of as a challenge’  – there was an obvious problem in doing this.

I wanted to text mates about the nights plan – Instead I had to really on the small belief chat we had two days before and that they would be still turn up at said place at said time.

I wanted to Facebook state “I may OD on mince pies this Christmas!!!’

 

However come Saturday morning I moved back into my old ways – checking the back catalogue of updates in case they was anything interesting (there wasn’t) and texting my mate to find out if he did that thing, with that thing that stood by the door of that 8th pub we went into. 

But did I save carbon? Well…

Facebook:

Just check out this watch?v=QPty-ZLbJt0

Twitter:

A twitter employer (probably the best job ever) has worked out each tweet you send equals 0.02grams of C0². Thus using some quick maths: I spend 58kg of carbon per year tweeting!) 

Mobile phones:

Roughly 47kg of carbon per year – roughly as it does depend on its manufacture, transport, how often you use it, how long you keep it, how you use it (texting, calling, internet) and what network you use.

 *  

To me, the challenge and writing this blog has been one of those cases in which you realise everything you do affects the world around you and creates carbon.

So maybe it is worthwhile ever-so-often, to switch off and notice the world around you, just to rein back those social media carbon emissions and notice clouds floating by.

After-all humanity has been around a lot longer then @Stephenfry twitter account.

Boris bikes

16 May
 

 
The Barclays Cycle Hire, or as everyone else is calling it Boris’s Bike’s (Fitting into the view of him being a megalomaniac, who owns every single one of them, and will one day use them as some sort of tool to gain greater power – cue evil bumbling laugh) have rolled out across London.

By 2015 this splendour of sustainable travel will consist of :-

■5000 Bikes

■350 Docking Stations

■12 Cycle Superhighways
(The nearest to Richmond will be running through Honslow)

Spread all over greater London and with more then 1200 people signed up, no one can knock it for being a bad idea ‘sustainable, low carbon travel’ is a big thing these days.

Be wary though, as soon as one person goes under a bus on one of these bikes; the tabloids will change their tune and call for the scheme to be scrapped and Boris to be hung from the Tower of London.

So what other challenges do TFL, Boris and Barclays face in the future

Well all the people that want to cycle in London; most likely already own a bike

The price for some seems more pricy then the bus or tube :-

Free first 30mins, though this does not include the fact that you have to pay a £1 access fee, or get a membership key for £3. An hours use is £1, rising to £15 for four hours. If for what ever reason your are unable to return the bike after 24 hours its a £150 fine.
This is standard though – the Paris Vélib’ is exactly the same and has grown into the worlds largest cycle hire scheme.

That someone has already figured out how, to make a fake membership key and thus steal a bike (Vélib’ since starting in 2007, has had over 3000 bikes stolen)

THEN they is ridiculous issue that whilst Boris plans to reduce carbon emissions and look sustainable using the scheme – He is actually cutting out a proportion of the Congestion Charge area, allowing roughly 30,000 cars back into central London – and thus increasing its air pollution, already stated as the worst in Europe..

But how about positives

Paris’s scheme has grown over the years due to better cycle routes, tourists seeing it as viable option to getting on one of those buses and transport strikes. (London is quite good at this) It will also benefit to the health of Londoners, who may end up dusting of their own bikes after riding one and help cut down on personal carbon emissions. We could even get to see drunk people falling off bikes more often, Fantastic!

I’m also sure, it isn’t long until other cycle schemes appear in UK major cities, as if the bicycle is a brand new invention that everyone must own, just like those fruit based technology pad things.

So watch out for those cyclist coming soon

Green Parks

16 May

reporters field

As you may of heard recently Richmond Borough achieved 9 Green Flag Awards for 9 of our fantastic parks.

Our reporter in the field – Went out to investigate

To achieve a Green Flag Award, the park must comply with 8 key features.

  • Be a welcoming place
  • Healthy, safety and secure
  • Clean and well maintained
  • Sustainable
  • Conservation & heritage
  • Community involvement
  • Marketing
  • Management

Well as I travelled the stretch of the borough from East Sheen to Hampton, peeking a look at the parks or sitting on the grassy verges to rest my weary feet – you could tell how these parks stood out.
For one they had people in them, doing a range of activities and on another point,  the parks did not just feel like an open space – playgrounds, kiosks, tennis courts, cricket pitches skate parks, flower beds, scenery and wildlife make them feel homely and fit the bill for Cliff’s song ‘English Country Garden’

  • Twickenham Green, Twickenham. Or as I like to call it Twickenham Cricket Stadium
  • Hatherop Park, Hampton. A little gem, tucked into the corner of the Borough
  • Palewell Common and Field, East Sheen. A mini Richmond Park, shhh don’t tell the tourists
  • York House Gardens, Twickenham. Fact. this location stars in the Michael Caine movie ‘Alfie’
  • Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens, Richmond. You must have legs of steal, to climb the hill here

    You must climb the hill here

  • The Kings Field, Hampton Wick. Huge field + skate park = the place where all the cool sporty youngsters go
  • Richmond Green, Richmond. Sometimes its quicker to take a detour via the green, then to walk the narrow High street
  • Kneller Gardens, Twickenham. Just built a new play park and kiosk + it has an added bonus of being next to the River Crane
  • Radnor Gardens, Twickenham. It may flood once in a while, but you have to give it credit for its River Thames views

In addition, If you live near to these parks and would like to becoming involved, many have their own group which REN aids and supports. http://www.richenvironmentnet.org.uk/Groups-database.aspx

As its the Summer and you are stuck with the kids for several weeks – then take this opportunity to search these parks, greens, gardens and fields out. – happy wandering.

 

A new weapon against lazy people

15 May

The other week, this article appeared within the London Metro

World’s oldest woman Antisa Khvichava turns 130:
Antisa Khvichava, a woman from a remote village in west Georgia, has turned 130, making her the oldest person in the world by 16 years, officials claimed.

Yes, this claim is suspect. Being born in 1880, losing her birth certificate and having a child at 60, who is now himself 70.

But what about the official oldest people in the world – Eugénie Blanchard (1896-) Walter Breuning (1896-) and the UK record holders Eunice Bowman (1898-) and Claude Choules(1901-)

What is the one thing they all have in common apart from being old, grey and wrinkly?

Whenever a journalist comes knocking on their door asking ‘why they have lived so long’ secretly hoping that they will state ‘oh, I’ve got the fountain of youth in my back garden’
The boring answer they actually receive is ‘I keep myself busy and working.’

Now, I have lived through the lazy teenage years, eating sweets and playing the latest GTA consistently. However I now find myself being uber busy, undertaking more opportunities and roles then physically possible, whilst also being addicted to twitter and chocolate digestives. With the added bonus of believing I’m fitter and healthy then ever!

So when my friends say ‘I cannot be bothered to recycle because it takes too much energy’ or ‘doing community work is pointless as I know one day I will move somewhere else’

Due to the presented evidence I can say something along the lines of –
If you recycle, if you do community work, if you do all the environmental and sustainable stuff that is, as evidence suggests good for the planet – you will keep yourself consistently busy and working hard just like Antisa Khvichava the oldest woman in the world has been doing for the last 130 years!

What is more persuasive then that? Living forever and annoying your great-great-great-great-great grandchildren. Due to helping save the planet,

So yes, this blog has just confirmed and given you further artillery in turning people and friends green.
Use it well.

Bonn climate change intersessional Pt3

15 May

The best way to understand what actions the youth took at Bonn, to change negotiators opinions and their actions within the many meetings their attend.

Is to let you click on these two videos made by Danny Hutley, a Southampton Uni student.

 

not bad for us youth.
and has lead to us making a difference, connecting to those in suits.

You can tell, the time was taking to learn about what was being talked about; so that the actions we took were accurate and made the negotiators think.

You can also tell that the youth from around the world were truly united in what they were doing and what they believed in.

you may also be wearing a smile on your face because of the shear
AWESOME-NESS of it!!!

 

Bonn climate change intersessional Pt 2

15 May

The youth within the Bonn climate change talks going on this week, are from a mixture of nations, UK, Nepal, Australia, German, French, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Denmark and others.
Many of them have also gone there out of choice and not getting paid for their efforts. (Including moi)

Thus if you were going to split this motley crew of climate campaigners into certain categories, you could go for the groups of –

Unaccredited: These youth turned up for the excitement, because they knew it was important and to check out the stuff going on in Bonn (talks, climate camp) which they could gain entry for.

Accredited: many of those from the UK were accredited via http://www.350.org, meaning they could enter certain UN talks and gain experience on what it was all about. Here’s a blog all about it – UK youth at UNFCCC

Young Friends of the Earth: Two people gained accreditation via the organisation that had 25 placements in all. Two out of 25, does not sound like much, but be assured that they were loud and passionate enough to kick up a good UN fuss.

UNFairplay: A group of youth were there to support smaller nations, who could not afford or have several negotiators at Bonn, giving them a bigger voice amongst those who actually are causing the most carbon emissions.

Adopt a negotiator: This scheme started of in Copenhagen, but gathered speed and lead to being part of YOUNGO– a youth movement that gained constituency status within these UNFCCC meetings. That we all then fell into.

But no matter if their gained entry to the conference or got paid for their efforts. What brought them all together was the aspect of action and making the negotiators discuss and act in making the low-carbon future we all would want and are aiming for.

All of these young people (or shall I say YOUNGO) met up daily to discuss what is going on and what actions can we take.
We talked to negotiators from around the world and mingled with those from Non-Government Organisations. We even had an international youth meeting to discuss goings-on globally, COP16 in Mexico and what we could do together as a collective.
But did we actually make any sodden difference whilst at Bonn? did the actions we take lead to anything?

Bonn climate change intersessional Pt 1

15 May

Bonn in Germany is famous for a couple of reasons – Beethoven, Haribo, being the capital of West Germany and for being the home of many a UN Intercessional.
Last December, the latest craze within the media and the environmental world was Copenhagen and the climate talks. Everyone was hoping for a deal to be placed on the table which would save the world from future climate change, for every country represented in the UN to agree on a certain percentage to cut down their carbon emissions by. – For there to be a moment, that would change history and would become as significant as the fall of the Berlin wall or man walking on the moon.

However- we know this did not happen, for what ever reason no country could agree on a percentage of carbon cuts. At the end of this conference we were left with defining images of human failure.

But what next? Climate issues may not grab the front headlines like it did in December anymore, but that does not mean talks are still happening.
The meetings are giving the catchy abbreviation of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and they happens roughly 3 times a year, in the lead up to a huge convention in December a.ka. Copenhagen.
Though this year, it shall be moving to Cancun in Mexico.

These intercessionals, are so much more important then the big end of year events – As it is within Bonn where the little things are sorted out, which can make or break a fantastic climate deal.
It is monotonous as all they do is talk about stuff that makes no sense to a novice or they talk about whether a comma is in the right place of a document statement.
Maybe a metaphor will help in this instance
The UNFCCC is like baking a cake. In December you get the finished product of that years baking. However if you did not put in the right amount of eggs, flour, sugar, or baked it thoroughly – you end up with a sodden mess that no one practically likes.

Youth love cake! Thus it is no surprise to find youth attending the UNFCCC bake off.
Aiming to make it a delicious, sugary mess. That ever nation – developed, developing, small island can enjoy.
But how you ask? What do the youth do?

That shall be answered in part 2

An apology

14 May

We are sorry to inform you that during the hours of Sunday night and Monday morning, the youth in Bonn lost their way, due to feeling all powerful after the first week’s success concerning article 6.
We had basically turned into the UN.

Originally the thought was to have a week long action to raise the spirits of the negotiators especially their feelings of Cancun in December. This action did have a good/great original concept; that is not going to be discussed here as it may be used in the future. (we do not want to spoil the surprise)
But it caused confusion between us; contained mixed messages for Bonn within the week ahead, felt grand but complicated and also had the use of an English word – which within a certain context makes no sense to those who do not fully grasp the language.

However as we started to discuss this whole action, we could not let it lie and be dead in the water, we continued to talk over it, long into the night and brought it up again in the early morning sun.
We even got round to perform a type of action, which I am sure not even one negotiator noticed.

So just like the UN, we were taking a very slow, reparative, route before action. Making false starts and stupid decisions that – if we actually listened to everyone i.e. the other youth in the group would never had happened. (Take that to heart bigger nations; do not forget the voice of those smaller then you!)

Can you guess which nations I’m hinting at here!

Youth are meant to be the complete opposite to this.

We were saved by the LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) loophole, which was being rushed through the UNFCCC system to end this Friday 11th, basically allowing larger countries for 1. Continue deforestation due to making loose, unbinding promises to replant some trees in a bid to carbon off-set.

This needed action now, it needed clear messaging, it needed youth input.
It was not some secretive action, trying to slyly affect the negotiators feelings for the future.
It was to make them act now on the future. The main reason we are in Bonn.

The youth were back with a bang.

Approval

14 May

The UN is complicated; meeting after meeting – involving long words, sectioned paragraphs and endless conversations on wording.
Imagine if J.K. Rowling had to present a Harry Potter book to a commitee, who whould then spend time studying every sentence.
To see if it makes sense, if everyone understands that sentence the same way and if any comma is in its right place.
Yep thats the UN.

It takes ages to get anywhere and why many state that the UN should be shut down.
However this morning it worked – it actually bloody worked.
It took a whille, of course.
They was a moment when the meeting was all about the use of the word ‘relevent’ but education concerning climate change has now a fixed set of paragraph statements, each with a nicy shiny number/letter next to them.
I think everyone in the room wanted to cry with happiness

Climate Letters8: Simon (UK)-A Part of Something

14 May