ICAN bags the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

A civil society network ICAN representing of over 450 organisations in one hundred countries, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017.

ICAN ,Co-Chair ,Rebecca Johnson, said:“Our international network has worked so hard to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons.   The nuclear threats being issued by President Trump and North Korea remind us that nuclear sabre rattling can lead to nuclear war through arrogance or miscalculation”.

“ICAN collaboration with the British civil society for nuclear disarmament for many years had brought in to limelight that the Nobel Award encourages efforts to persuade the British government to sign the UN Nuclear Prohibition Treaty, cancel Trident and take the lead to eliminate all of these abhorrent weapons of mass destruction,”said Johnson.

The global treaty banning Nuclear weapons, campaign led by ICAN in july this year caused the UN treaty to be adopted. The treaty claimed all states committed to never “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons”.

Managing Director of UK NGO Article 36, Richard Moyes, said:

“The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize highlights the importance of this new treaty at a time when the threat of nuclear weapons is more pressing than ever in recent decades”.

Photo taken from Wikipedia

“Despite the politics of these weapons, the scale of humanitarian suffering that they can cause means they cannot be considered acceptable, and that is why ICAN here in the UK and internationally has worked for them to be banned,”Said Moyes.

Young Londoners lead movement to stop fossil fuel investment

Young people in London are leading a movement to stop universities investing in fossil fuel industries. The campaign is known as the divestment movement, which essentially means getting rid of business investments or interests.

Sense of urgency heightens as global CO2 emissions are projected to increase by two per cent in 2017. Seen in the photo are climate protesters in 2014. File Photo by Garry Knight/Flickr

The movement has been gaining traction, particularly as projections of global carbon emissions grew by a two per cent in 2017, sparking a worldwide sense of urgency to address climate change.

Beth Parkin, a member of the divestment movement, explained the importance of ending investments in fossil fuels in light of recent projections on the rise of carbon emissions.

Student campaigns have been instrumental in forcing universities to get rid of their fossil fuel investments.

In London, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, and Goldsmiths have been among the institutions which have pledged to divest.

Across the UK, 59 universities have already committed to divest £11 billion, as controversy has been building around educational institutions’ connections to the fossil fuel industry.

The Guardian’s Paradise Papers investigation revealed that nearly half of all Oxbridge colleges, have secretly invested tens of millions of pounds in offshore funds, including in a joint venture to develop oil exploration and deep-sea drilling.

The Guardian said that these revelations are likely to increase pressure on the universities to divest fully from fossil fuels.

Divestment campaigners have also put together a useful online list of UK institutions and organisations, that include universities, indicating their divestment commitment – whether that’s full, partial, or coal and tar sands commitment.

Policy change

On a policy level, London Mayor Sadiq Khan made a manifesto commitment in 2016 to ‘take all possible steps to divest the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) of its remaining investments in fossil-fuel industries’.

But a year on, what progress has been made with regards to emissions and what does it mean for Londoners?

The LPFA manages the pensions of around 82,000 people working in London government. The fund’s total value is £5.3bn. Reports vary about what the fund’s exposure is to companies that generate revenues from oil, gas, and coal, including Shell and BP.

Last month, the LPFA published a new policy on climate change that said:

“The fund will not consider new active investments in fossil fuel companies. Where such investments are already in place and identified, [we] will make all reasonable efforts to divest provided that this will result in no material financial detriment. An initial review of the fund’s investments identifying headline climate change characteristics is aimed to be complete by the end of December 2017.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told Westminster World:

“Sadiq believes that the new LPFA climate change policy is one of the strongest and most sophisticated of any city in the world and will help to fulfil his manifesto commitment to take all possible steps to divest the fund of its remaining investments in fossil fuel industries.”

“He particularly welcomes the LPFA’s commitment to implement all necessary divestment by 2020 and is pleased that the fund has already successfully divested many of its assets. Research carried out by City Hall has also revealed that the scale of divestment is on a far bigger scale than other cities and is of a more complex nature.”

Will divestment really make a difference to Londoners? According to the Financial Times, last year, renewable energy, such as solar power, over took coal as the world’s largest source of power capacity. In April, Britain went a full day without turning on its coal-fired power stations for the first time in more than 130 years.

Forty per cent of London’s air pollution comes from diesel vehicles, 10 per cent from other types of road transport. To improve the city’s air quality, measures other than divestment may well prove more effective. These include Khan’s introduction of measures like the T-charge, ultra low emissions zone, and from 2018 only issuing new taxi licenses to electric taxis and no longer buying pure diesel double deck buses.

The urgency for cities and nations to address climate change has heightened after the 23rd annual conference of the parties or COP23 was held in Bonn, Germany last month, where discussions centred on keeping warming below two degrees.

Claire James, campaigns coordinator for Campaign against Climate Change, said: “The rise in emissions is alarming, since what we need is a rapid fall in emissions to have any chance of keeping global warming to 1.5C, or even the 2C which is supposed to be the absolute limit. Despite seeing the impacts of climate change already, countries are still subsidising fossil fuels and allowing further exploration and fossil fuel infrastructure to be built. To avoid catastrophic climate change we need to keep the majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.”

According to the Global Carbon Project, which has worked on analysing and reporting on the scale of emissions of CO2 since 2006, carbon emissions declined slightly or remained flat between 2014 and 2016. But overall emissions have increased by about three per cent each year from 2006 to 2014. China’s use of coal to aid its expanding economy is reported to be the cause.

 

Tom Geggus – Video interview (film and edit) and research, sub-editing

Caroline Paul and Miranda Tomlinson – Text, further research, data, interviews

Jane Bracher – Sub-editing/Wordpress, quote graphic, text

Martin Steers – Infographic, research, and data

Minimalistic Christmas: Value over Materialism

With Christmas around the corner, there are a lot bargains to be taken advantage of. It all started in the beginning of the season, which escalated with Black Friday and now everyone is impatiently waiting for the Boxing Day sales. 

From food to home decor, from electronics to beauty products, everything costs less and people are rushing to the stores, frantically to fill their carts with the discounted stock.

Photo credits: Lia Chabane

It is evident that one’s bank account will be left empty, and materialistic gifts like these cannot satisfy anyone. Christmas is exactly two weeks from now and this is the time to reconsider do we really need all of these purchases. Can we enjoy the winter holidays without getting bankrupted? Is it necessary to bear the weight of Christmas shopping and stress about what to get our loved ones when we can simply find some time to share a moment with them? Is there another version of celebrating the holidays?

Photo credits: Lia Chabane

The answer is Yes. The way to do it is to live well without spending our money on things we do not actually need, without living from one payday to another. Fewer items, fewer burdens, less stress which can bring about a sense of peace and appreciation. In other words – Live Well with Less.

Photo Credits: Maggy Day (The Inspired Minimalist)

Journalists from University of Westminster came across this inspiring group called The Minimalists. The group follows the ideology of removing everything that is not essential, to make room for what actually is. We are all familiar with the saying ‘You can’t buy happiness’ and this is a big part of a minimalist’s view of life.

Coming across such an idea makes us think that minimalism is only to get rid of material possessions or in other words to ‘declutter’ our lives, to extract everything unneeded. This is not the case though. The crucial part is that we gain control over our lives by filling the gaping void with what is important instead of just stuffing the void with unnecessary things. The Minimalists are people who have made the decision to replace the 21st century burdens of buying excessively with the simplicity of enjoying the real things.

We interacted with the group leader of the London-based minimalists group – Regina Wong (she is also the creator of the blog Live Well with Less and the author of ‘Make Space’).

Regina Wong, Creator of Live Well with Less. Photo Credits: Live Well with Less 

She shared with us her experience of living a minimalist’s life, her views on what Christmas means for a minimalist and what is the true value of the holidays ahead.

Regina Wong decided to make some changes in her life about five years ago. Despite having money, a good job and a relationship, she felt like something was lacking. She needed to find her true self and her purpose, and she found the way to do it by getting rid of all the clutter and extra weight in her life. There was no hesitation or regret, it was quite the opposite – she was left feeling freer and lighter. Regina says that since she became a mindful consumer she had no regrets buying anything. Regina’s views on being a conscious shopper are on her blog here.

Considering the festive season Regina says in her blog that: ‘A minimalist Christmas is not about being a Scrooge’. It is not about depriving yourself from having a good time and showing your loved ones that you care about them. It is about how you do it.

Regina said to Westminster news that it is important to question what our priorities for the festive season are: ‘It is not about being anti-consumption, but it’s about being more mindful of what we consume and what we give.’ Having a minimalistic Christmas is about quality, not quantity. It is about being creative with you gifts and showing your friends and family you love them by making something for them yourself instead of spending a fortune for something just because the happy faces on the adverts are telling you to. A minimalistic Christmas is about keeping it simple. No hassles, no stress. Just joy.

Regina Wong – ‘Minimalism is a journey, not a destination’ 

Westminster World also got a chance to interact with two minimalist followers James Leverich and Janet Leverich who shared their experience living this lifestyle and how it has changed their life. James said: “The last couple of years we have been trying to go with more experiences than buying things.” Janet said, she prefers making things for people as it is far more personalized and people really appreciate them more.

Audio Credits: Lia Chabane

Live Well with Less is a movement, a philosophy, a way of living a good and more fulfilling life without stressing about the little things. If you are interested to make some changes you can check Regina Wong’s book here.

More information on the topic you can find out here:
Minimalist.org (London, UK) 
Live Well with Less 

Credits

Content: Betina Gluhova

Sub-Editor: Sreelakshmi Vachaspathy and Lia Chabane

Interviews and Minimalist Images: Sreelakshmi Vachaspathy

Audio Editing and Christmas Images: Lia Chabane

 

Don’t be a binner, have it for dinner: millenials targeted over food waste

Waste reduction charity Wrap is poised to launch an anti-food waste campaign focused on 18-34 year olds living in urban areas. Research shows that millennials are the generation that throws away most food.

In the UK more than £13bn of edible food was thrown out in 2015
Photo: Wrap

A Wrap spokesperson told Westminster World:

“We will be using a targeted approach to reach the right people using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram – all channels we know are popular with our target audience. We’re advertising our content to ensure we really reach the right people and not just our existing fans and followers.”

Food waste is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after China and the US according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

But if you live in London how can you save money on your food bill and avoid food waste?

  • Download Too Good to Go  – an app that makes some restaurants’ surplus food available for you before they end their breakfast, lunch or dinner service. For between £2-£3.80, you choose to buy food from a cafe, restaurant, bakery or food shop near you, then go to collect your food during the designated time slot. First set up in Denmark, the app launched in the UK in June 2016. To date it has saved 1.6m meals from ending up in landfill.
  • Sign up for the Community fridge network which currently has community fridges in Camberwell, Cricklewood, Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest where surplus food is shared between people in a community, by local businesses and individuals. Tessa Tricks, Creative Partner at Hubbub Foundation which oversees the community fridge programme told Westminster World: “Approximately 600 people have used the London fridges to date. The fridge in Camberwell redistributes approx. 1.4 tonnes of food a month.”
  • Start using food sharing app Olio  that connects people with their neighbours and with local shops so surplus food and other items can be shared instead of being thrown away. To make food available, you open the app, add the item with a photo, description, and when it is available for pick-up. To access food, you browse the available items, request what you want and arrange collection via private messaging. Drop boxes are available in local shops so items can be left for pre-arranged collection at your convenience. 401,208 food items have been shared n 41 countries since the app launched in July 2015.
More generally, UK supermarket chains have recognised the need to cut the 7.3 million tonnes of food every year that UK households waste. Choose to spend your money with the retailer whose approach most appeals to you. 
In February 2016 Sainsbury’s announced it would become the first supermarket to remove multibuys “to help customers buy exactly what they need”.

Tesco has committed to ensuring that no food that is safe for human consumption will go to waste from its UK retail operations by the end of 2017.

Today East of England Co-op became the first major retailer to sell food beyond its “best before” date. The company announced it will sell out-of date dried food and tinned products for just 10p to try to reduce food waste. The chain’s “Don’t be a Binner, have it for dinner” campaign follows a successful three-month trial in 14 East of England Co-op stores around East Anglia.

Since 2012, Waitrose sends any food unsuitable for donating to local charities and social enterprises to be used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion.

And a spokesperson for the UK-wide Co-op Group told Westminster World:

“Since its launch in 2015, donating warehouse depot surplus food to FareShare has helped to provide more than a million meals to vulnerable people UK-wide.”

Last week waste reduction charity Wrap, the Food Standards Agency and Defra published new food labelling guidance to try to improve consumer understanding of food storage and and date label advice. ‘Use by’ date labels indicate when a product is safe to eat. ‘Best before’ date labels only refer to when food is at its best. It is safe to sell food at or after its “best before” date providing the discounted items are undamaged.

(Sub-Tom Geggus)

Water fountains to decrease bottle waste

Drinking water fountains are to be installed in London in a bid to reduce water-bottle waste.

This is a part of the New London Plan to develop the public realm in London.

“The provision of free drinking water fountains helps improve public health, reduces waste from single-use plastic bottles and supports the circular economy through the use of reusable water bottles,” the plan states.

One million plastic bottles of water are consumed every minute worldwide. [Photo: Rusty Clark/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)]

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said that this is a bid to “reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles and cups across the capital.”

One million plastic bottles of water are consumed every minute worldwide, and nearly half of them are being added up to the waste because they are not being recycled.

The draft London Environment Strategy encourages campaigns and initiatives to reduce single-use packaging and food and drink businesses to offer incentives to their customers to use their own reusable drink cups and water bottles.

The mayor is encouraging businesses in London to provide tap water for people to drink.

Water fountains and bottle-refill stations are planned to be installed in new or redeveloped public spaces, such as town centres, shopping malls, parks and squares.

Most studies show that water help in boosting metabolism and fountains in the street make it more easily accessible.

However, not all people would drink from water fountains. Only 11 per cent of the people surveyed drink tap water while 55 per cent have doubts about the cleanliness of the water even with it being filtered, according to a poll by Keep Britain Tidy.

London already gets a large proportion of its water from groundwater and surrounding rivers, which damages the health of rivers and threatens the city’s future water supply. Thus, water coming from the Thames is not that appealing for some people.

 

(Sub: Katt Addachi)