Growth of Edinburgh Fringe audience concerns event organisers in annual report

 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has vowed to adjust the way the event is advertised after concerns over the impact of its growing audience.

After releasing the annual Fringe review for 2019, organisers have acknowledged that a new strategy managing the city during peak periods needs to be taken.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “We still have work to do. Our world is changing rapidly, and at the Fringe Society, we’re changing how we do things.

“As I’ve said many times, we don’t have a growth agenda for the Fringe; our audience development strategy is based on the mantra of ‘one more show, not two more feet’, encouraging those already here to engage more with the festival.”

Last summer’s event attracted over three million to Scotland’s capital and was classed as one of the world’s over-tourism hotspots last summer.

As well as admitting that better approaches need to be taken to handle tourism constraints, the Fringe has also pledged to make the event more sustainable during the climate crisis.

“Maintaining the Fringe’s global outlook while minimising the festival’s carbon footprint is a challenge, but we will ensure that sustainability is embedded across all our activities,” McCarthy explained.

This eco-friendly approach has seen a reduction in the printing of Fringe programmes from 395,000 in 2017 to 350,000 in 2019, with a plan to invest in digital alternatives in the future.

“We have used technology to engage with artists around the world and reduce the need for travel, developing our online FringeCasts, a series of live streamed advice sessions for prospective Fringe artists,” McCarthy added.

“The series has massively improved our ability to reach participants abroad, with viewers tuning in from 51 countries and every continent on earth except Antarctica.”

McCarthy continued to explain that these improved approaches will require a lot of work, but by working on a shared agenda with Fringe venues, artists and fellow Edinburgh festivals, they will collectively make a difference to future Fringe Festivals.

Sticking by last year’s aim of strengthening community links across Edinburgh, McCarthy said they are “committed to finding a balance of deepening local roots and celebrating our position as one of the greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet.”

What’s the beef at Edinburgh Uni? Students clash on controversial beef ban vote

BEEF between students at the University of Edinburgh will finally be resolved after voting on a motion to cease the sale of the meat product within student association cafés and restaurants concluded today.

The controversial motion was brought forward at an University of Edinburgh student council meeting in late January, making it the first Scottish university to vote on a beef ban.

Elena Silverstein, a student who attends the university, set up the petition and was involved in bringing this proposal forward to the student council.

“Ceasing the sale of beef in the students’ association cafes and shops would be a highly impactful way of reducing our university’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Silverstein told EN4 News.

“The climate crisis is something we all need to take more seriously and we will certainly not be immune to its effects here in Scotland.”

Silverstein believes that although eating beef is up to the individual, the university should not be encouraging it.

“The motion simply stops people from causing environmental damage through the university. Any student has the absolute freedom in Edinburgh to buy as much beef as they choose but I feel that being unable to purchase beef in student shops and cafes is a small step in the right direction to combating climate change.

“I am pleased, no matter how this vote goes, that we are discussing such an important issue.”

Last week’s meeting found that 76 votes in favour and 73.5 against, resulting in the motion being put to an online ballot.

The potential ban has split student opinion and led to fierce debate across the university and beyond.

Veterinary student, Sarah Whitelaw attended the debate and spoke to EN4 News.

“Coming from a rural area, I was taken aback that this motion was even proposed,” Whitelaw said.

“I was in utter disbelief that this could feasibly happen in such a large and diverse university – inclusive of all cultures.

“I have received messages from as far as New Zealand about the shock and outrage of this motion and I only hope this support doesn’t go unnoticed.”

The environmental impact of eating beef (Credit: Rhi Ramsay)

The “beef” has continued to sizzle throughout the week.

A 20-strong group of agricultural students from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) claimed they were denied the chance to vote due to not being directly matriculated within the university.

The students from Scotland’s Rural College told EN4 News: “We felt secluded from the meeting as we did not get chosen to propose an argument, despite being some of the first people to raise our hands.”

The rump of the beef continued to stew in the lead up to today’s voting deadline, and was further only further seared when third year student Benedict Willacy promised to buy a steak for every student who votes against the ban.

“This promise will help celebrate a fantastic British legacy that is the production and consumption of beef. The only thing this motion will succeed in doing is harming Britain’s post-Brexit farming industry,” Willacy told EN4 News.

While he agrees more action is needed on climate change, Willacy believes a beef ban is not the way forward.

“Banning beef on campus is like putting a plaster on a haemorrhage wound – it simply isn’t enough,” he added.

“This motion is a symbol of EUSA’s (Edinburgh University’s Student Association) authoritarian regime.

“It’s about changing the dynamic of student politics. It’s about being heard. It’s about saying ‘no’.”

Results are expected following the conclusion of voting this morning.

 

What is the mood on campus?

EN4 News spoke to University of Edinburgh students in George Square about the controversial vote

Pia: “I’m a vegan and I 100% support it for the animals and for the environment.”

Marie: “I think it should be the consumer’s choice and if nobody buys it then it’s fair to not sell it anymore but I think it shouldn’t be imposed and if you are arguing for sustainability I think it would be smarter to argue for making it local or making it organic meat. In that case banning all meat is quite a random way to argue for a sustainable cause.”

Daniel: “I think it is a good idea. They should do it, I’m all in favour of it.”

Greg: “I think it is a bad thing to force the students. People should have the choice to eat beef or not. They shouldn’t be forced into vegetarianism so I would be kind of against it to be honest because you should be able to eat beef if you want to.”

Rebecca: “You can buy food outside of the university, but I guess it’s up to the students.”

Scott: “I don’t like the idea of it. You’re forcibly restricting people’s diets. I understand the environmental implications at the same time. I feel like it should be a personal choice. It is not something that should be mandated by officials rather than someone’s own personal agency.”

 

Edinburgh communities take drastic measures to prevent future wildfires on Blackford Hill after the record temperatures of past summers

The gorse bushes were deliberately set alight in a controlled burning (Credit: Friends of Hermitage Braid and Blackford Hill)

Gorse plants have been deliberately burned on Blackford Hill as conservationists attempt to prevent severe wildfires.

Wildfires have become more common in Edinburgh’s green areas due to hotter and drier summers.

Members from the Friends of Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill and the Lothians Conservation Trust lit the flames together with the aim of reducing the spread of the highly flammable plant.

“We are doing this now, mainly due to the fact it is before bird nesting season and is very wet, to prevent the fire spreading out of control,” Edinburgh conservationist Geoff Cantly told EN4 News.

“The majority of fires in summer are due to malicious fire raising. We found multiple bags of bottles which may [have been] fuel.”

Gorse is a common shrub covered in needle-like leaves and yellow flowers in spring and summer, and it has been fitted with firebreaks in order to limit the blaze’s size and ensure it could be easily extinguished.

Eyewitnesses to one fire on Blackford Hill in July 2018 reported seeing huge flames from over a mile away, while an inferno on Arthur’s seat in the same year required a team of 30 firefighters to put it out.

July last year saw temperatures of 31.6C – the highest-ever recorded in the city.

A recent report by researchers from Edinburgh and Oxford universities warned that exceptional summers could become “quite common” unless there are substantial cuts in CO2 emissions.

10 Years On From The First Climate Action Protest : What Has Changed?

Today, October 24th 2019, marks the ten-year anniversary of the world’s first international climate action movement.

The action was organised by 350.org, an environmental organisation that focuses on the fight against climate change. Their aim is to put an end to the use of fossil fuels and make the change to renewable energies. According to the organisation ‘350 is building a future that’s just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of climate change’.

In 2009, on the 24th of October, 350.org brought together activists and organisations from all over the world for the day of international climate action.

May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director has told EN4 News: “Since 350 was started 10 years ago by a local US community of university friends we have witnessed the incredible growth of an increasingly diverse global movement empowering communities all over the world to tackle climate change.”

The aim was to get the attention of world leaders ahead of UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December 2009. Showing them that there was a global movement dedicated to the fight against climate change and the control of carbon dioxide emissions.

The climate day spread across 181 different countries, with over 5,200 actions. It was at the time, the largest environmental action ever organised.

Participants ranged from school children to politicians. They rallied, climbed mountains, planted trees, stopped traffic in Hong Kong with a flash mob; all in a bid to fight for an ambitious climate change treaty at the climate negotiations.

After the success of the 2009 actions, one of the founders of the organisation Bill McKibben said: “Together, we’ve shown the world that a global climate movement is possible”.

The name 350.org originated from the figure 350 parts per million, a safe concentration of C02 in the atmosphere.

It was during the 18th century that humans began burning fossil fuels; coal, oil and gas. At this point in time the C02 emissions were sitting at 280ppm.

350 is the target that is aimed for, as of 2019, C02 emissions have hit 415ppm, the highest level in at least 2.5 million years. This is primarily down to the burning of fossil fuel: in 2017 70% of all carbon emissions came from fossil fuels.

In September of this year, 350.org were one of the leading organisations that helped to organise the Global Climate Strike that ran from the 20th to 27th.

May Boeve said: “This September the climate movement celebrated two major moments: the global campaign to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in climate solutions reached a major milestone as the total assets pledged to divestment crossed Eleven Trillion Dollars (US.) We also saw the biggest demonstrations of the power of our movement through the global climate strikes where 7.6 million people marched in the streets, it was inspiring and historic.”

The goal of these strikes is to raise awareness of the climate crisis and reduce the C02 emissions which are rising at an alarming rate.

The fight against climate change is more prominent now more than ever with advocates such as Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen, trying to make world leaders prioritise actions to save our environment.

In the decade which has passed since the first-ever international climate action day, 350.org have grown into one of the world’s largest organisations fighting climate change.

With figures from 350.org showing that the last five years are the hottest on record, it is important now more than ever that people are fighting to reverse the effects of climate change.

Boeve spoke of 350.org’s determination in the fight against climate change: “People power is more powerful than the people in power, we know momentum is on our side and we are not going anywhere. We will keep fighting until the politicians stop ignoring the science, fossil fuel companies are held responsible and we make the rapid transition to a world that works for the people and planet.”

Find out more about what is Climate Action is happening locally here.

Discussion: School Children protest climate change

This week EN4 News has been looking at rebels with a cause. Last week school children across the UK skipped lessons to protest the Government’s lack of action in addressing climate change. 

Olivia Hill and Luka Kenyon discuss the government’s response to these protests and what can be done to make sure young activists are taken seriously.

Environmental activists storm Parliament

Extinction Rebellion staged a sit-in protest against climate change at Holyrood on January 25.

Earlier today 45 people from the organisation entered the Scottish Parliament, occupied the Debating Chamber and held a symbolic Citizens Assembly on Burns Day. The group was almost immediately asked to leave.

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Photo credit: Extinction Rebellion Scotland

Robert Alcock, of Extinction Rebellion, commented,

“We are not breaking the law. We are lawfully gathered in OUR Parliament, to draw attention to the climate emergency and to call for a Citizens’ Assembly in the name of the land and people of Scotland.”

A large crowd of both protesters and police gathered outside the Scottish Parliament this afternoon in a symbolic citizens’ assembly against climate change.

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent activist group aiming to put pressure on the Scottish Government to make the necessary changes to policy regarding climate change.

The group is actively promoting the recent warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) that global warming has only twelve years to be kept at a maximum of 1.5 degrees.


It is hoped that the symbolic citizens’ assembly, which took place unexpectedly in the Debating Chamber at Holyrood, will start a nationwide conversation on the issue.

Parliament is set to debate the first stage of the new climate bill within the next six weeks, but the group says that the commitments made by the government with regards to cutting emissions are nowhere near what it should be.

The Scottish government, according to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, must actively reduce CO2 emissions by 10% each year.

Extinction Rebellion is in favour of the idea of a Special citizens’ assembly made up of select individuals from every local Scottish authority.

They would be able to hold Parliament accountable over the issue of climate change and have the power to revise and review any legislation that the Scottish Government intend to pass.

The organisation hopes that Scottish people are made to feel more included in decisions that are both important to others and the environment.

 

 

 

Sturgeon offers cash injection to combat climate change

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged £200,000 to fight climate change ahead of her appearance at Poland climate change summit.

The money will be given to the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action – the body responsible for enacting the Paris Agreement strategy.

It is hoped that the funding will help all levels of Society to come together to reduce climate change. The first Minster said this about the funding.

“We have a moral responsibility to do what we can to prevent, and mitigate the effects of, global climate change.

“Scotland has been widely praised internationally for our work to tackle climate change, and I am absolutely determined that there will be no let-up in our efforts.”

“It requires everyone in society – individuals, businesses and governments – to play their part in changing behaviours, and I’m pleased that the Scottish Government is able to support the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action in its work.”

David Attenborough kicked off the conference with a speech about climate change being humanities greatest threat.

The conference has came under fire for being hosted in Poland’s coal country with the Polish Government have announced the opening of a new coal mine next year near the conference centre.

The conference will run from the 2nd to the 14th of December.

Fast fashion, faster damage

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Clothing and shoes collection bins will hopefully encourage people to donate their unwanted items to charity.

Fast food, fast cars and now there is even fast fashion – a contemporary term used for the cheap and trendy throwaway clothes we buy from budget retailers. These garments might be perfectly good at the time of purchase, but they soon both fall apart and out of fashion. According to Fashion Focus, it is estimated that we now buy 40% of our clothes at ‘value’ retailers. These fast fashion suppliers – the majority of whom solely allow online shopping – have not just stomped their stiff, faux-leather boot adorned foot down on the high street, but they have also left a muddy carbon footprint in their wake.

Recent findings from the Environmental Audit Committee show that Britons are the number one consumer of new clothes in Europe, and the number of items we are purchasing has doubled in the last ten years. Campaigners for sustainability Wrap have highlighted that 300,000 tones of clothing are binned every year. Of these easily re-useable clothes, 80% are piled in a landfill and the other 20% are incinerated, releasing toxic chemicals such as azo dyes, chlorinated solvents, lead and mercury into the air.

Last week, MPs reported that they are growing increasingly worried about the UK’s penchant for buying new clothes and the many repercussions this has on the environment. In their report, MPs said the fashion industry was now a leading producer of the greenhouse gases that are over-heating the planet. MPs have since reached out to a number of retailers, urging them to consider the various approaches they can take to drastically reduce fast fashions’ destructive impact on the environment.

Andrew Pankhurst, Re-use Campaigns Manager for Zero Waste Scotland, emphasised the importance of fashion retailers taking immediate action:

“We all know buying brand new products can be tempting, but we have to think about our limited natural resources and the impact of our waste as we fight the ever-increasing threat of climate change.

“With the public and businesses more attuned than ever to the problems caused by linear consumption, there has never been a better time to be making the case for making things last and getting maximum value from our resources.”

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Clothes will a lot of life left in them can be found in charity and vintage shops.

In Edinburgh, steps are being taken to find solutions and alternatives to fast fashion, with its various sustainable fashion choices for shoppers. The capital boasts a vast array of vintage boutiques, natural wool knitwear stores and even shops such as Godiva and Totty Rocks, who use locally sourced fabrics to custom make pieces – which can take up to three weeks – ‘slow fashion’ is more fitting here.

Edinburgh & Lothians’ Regional Equality Council, who work to promote human rights and sustainability, have been hosting weekly clothing repairs and alterations drop ins. At 1:30pm on Wednesday 10th September, they have organised a swap shop event at Kings Church on Gilmore Place and encourage the people of Edinburgh to bring items in exchange for other items of their choosing. They also hope to launch a sewing club in the coming months.

Project Coordinator, Jean-Matthieu Gaunand said:

“The fashion industry is a great contributor to climate change. The industry emits as much greenhouse gas as all of Russia. At Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, we encourage people from diverse communities to repair and re-sew their clothes rather than constantly buying them new.

“Our clothing repair service is run by an expert Kurdish tailor who has over 15 years of tailoring experience. She has done wonders and the feedback from participants has been excellent. I invite everyone to drop in.”

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People can take their clothing to Edinburgh & Lothians’ Regional Equality Council’s weekly drop-in to ve

Elsewhere in the city, one student is pro-active in push against fast fashion. Edinburgh College of Art Jewellery and silversmithing student Daniela Groza is the curator of an annual ethically-conscious

fashion show, R Sustainable Fashion. She has recently been appointed the student ambassador for the Ethical Making Pledge, founded by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths. She explains what the group’s objectives are:

“We want to ensure that the materials used in our workshops not only come from ethically sourced roots, but also that we are creating a safe environment for ourselves, such as eliminating chemicals such as citric acid and finding substitutes.

“Also, thinking about recycling and reusing precious metals – re-melting and turning into a new piece, creating multi wearable jewellery, thinking about the material flow; where it came from, digging to its roots, but also considering where it will end up, putting emphasis on a circular economy.

“As a jewellery student who is interested in fashion, it is my responsibility to take these issues into consideration given the damages produced to our world by both the textile and the extractive industry.”

In the quick isn’t quick enough society of today where everything is available at the simple click of a button, the temptation of ‘buy now, wear tomorrow’ can be hard to resist. However, next time you are about to hit ‘checkout’, perhaps stop to ask yourself – do you really need another Boohoo dress? Your purse and the planet might just thank you for it.

Scottish golf courses at risk from rising sea levels new study reveals

 

One of Scotland’s oldest and most significant past times is now at risk according to a new study.

The Climate Commission released a report outlining a number of sports that are at risk if sea levels were to rise to predicted heights over the next 50 years. Whilst Cricket is suspected to be the sport most at risk, a number of high-profile golf and football venues are too including St Andrews and Royal Troon.

The report predicts that courses and pitches near the ocean are in danger of “crumbling into the sea” as thawing sea ice causes rising water levels to result in the severe loss of land around the coast.

Closer to home, Edinburgh’s Silverknowes golf course is one of the courses that may become submerged over the next few decades.

Silverknowes golf course may be at risk | Image Credit: Google

Moving away from the coast, the Scottish skiing industry could also be affected. The report predicts that warming temperatures will result in less snow fall and will cause any laying snow to thaw quicker, resulting in shorter snowy seasons.

Lastly the report highlights the increase in rainfall over the past 18 years as another key issue preventing outside sport. Six of the seven wettest years have occurred since the year 2000.

The report makes it clear that immediate action needs to be taken to lessen the potential impact climate change could have to our outdoor activities and with golf alone contributing almost £500 million to the Scottish economy each year, it looks like we’ll have to correct our course now to avoid some rough days ahead.

Can we Trump climate change?

A 7.6 magnitude Earthquake struck the Caribbean sea on Tuesday, causing a Tsunami warning to be issued for the already disaster-struck Puerto Rico, as well as the British and US Virgin Islands.

The US Tsunami Center later cancelled this alert, although they still warn of waves of up to a metre high in parts of Honduras and Belize. The Earthquake hit at approximately 10:52pm, local time, and was felt at least as far as north of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, but no damage was immediately felt.

Aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Credit: US DoD

Further natural disasters also struck North America, with heavy rain hitting the hills of Santa Barbara prompting horrendous mudslides. At least 13 people have been killed and more than two dozen have been injured in the West of Los Angeles. One boy was swept hundreds of yards in the mud before being rescued under a freeway overpass. A 14-year-old girl was also rescued after being buried in mud. It is the area’s heaviest rainstorm in nearly a year following the state’s largest wildfire on record.

These reoccurring natural disasters have made incidents like road closures, evacuations, broken power lines, rescues and searches a routine in America. So what’s the cause and solution of these increasingly occurring natural disasters?

It’s no coincidence that the US is less than prepared for these reoccurring disasters following many republican elected officials’ wanting to stop funding climate science, meaning they won’t be prepared for these sorts of repeated environmental procedures.

I’m eager to see how Trump plans on helping the people of Puerto Rico once again after his abysmal display of throwing paper towels into a crowd of desperate, disaster stricken citizens, following Hurricane Maria. He also, ‘honoured’ the people of Puerto Rico by dedicating a golf trophy to them. Just what they needed. I’d say a golf trophy is just as essential to the people of Puerto Rico as another hurricane.

It will be interesting to see his response to the mudslides in California compared to Hurricane Maria as Puerto Ricans’ have repeatedly stated they feel like second class citizens – implying a disregard for the islands of America, not the states. The inefficiency of Trump’s aid and preparation for climate change disasters is baffling.

Research makes it very clear that the planet has reached a new threshold in which climate change has become not only a component of extreme weather disasters but an essential factor for some. Trump and the republicans are oblivious to these issues as they set out to cut funding for research.

I realise these disasters aren’t unique to the US but the amount of climate change cataclysms that have taken place in such a small amount of time in America, in addition to the ignorance of Trump, makes the US’s situation all the more prominent.  It’s as if he is trying to figure out which is worse, apathy or ignorance, but then he realised he doesn’t know and doesn’t care.

In the past, the Presidents’ responses to these sorts of tragedies have been vital in deciding their overall approval ratings. So Mr. Trump, stop implying that people trying to rebuild their country are lazy, stop playing golf (the only sport with an actual assistant) and grasp this opportunity to improve your disgraceful approval rating, sincerely aid the increasingly deprived victims of these natural disasters and actually fund climate science so you’re more prepared for these catastrophes – and perhaps even decrease their occurrences.

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