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.

sunrise-ritual-print-2.jpg

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.

 

 

 

University of Edinburgh joins £20m ocean preservation project

One of The University of Edinburgh’s schools is involved in the five-year programme that will focus on changing the ways that the world responds to threats to the oceans.

The School of GeoSciences’ researchers will be involved in the new ‘One Ocean Hub’ programme, which has been set up by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The Hub aims to combat pressures such as climate change, plastics and pollution, and overusing the ocean’s resources, which have affected the ocean’s ecosystem.

It is hoped that the £20 million ‘One Ocean Hub‘ project could help developing countries, who depend on the oceans for supplies and food, evolve and understand how to care for it.

The UKRI GCRF wishes to “empower local communities, women and youth to co-develop research and solutions.”

OneOceanFishingNetCREDITChristinaMittermeier,Sealegacy

Developing countries depend on the oceans to provide fish. (Photo credit: Christina Mittermeier)

More than 50 organisations around the world are included in the project.

The University of Strathclyde is leading the programme, with Glasgow School of Art and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh also taking part.

The universities in the UK will partner with institutions from Fiji, Ghana, Namibia, Solomon Islands and South Africa.

East, West and Southern Africa, Oceania and the Caribbean will be the geographic focuses of the programme.

This is understood to be an impressive opportunity for Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

Dr Sebastian Hennige, who is from the School of GeoSciences, stated that the chance “to link the science of how marine habitats will change in a future ocean, to law and policy for the benefit for stakeholders” is one of the most exciting parts of the One Ocean Hub.

The School of GeoSciences has previously researched into certain aspect of the ocean, and members of staff believe the new project will uncover more influential information.

Professor Murray Roberts, who is also from the School of GeoSciences, said:

“The One Ocean Hub is a wonderful project and a fantastic opportunity for us to build on our 20 years of research into how cold-water corals function and the biodiversity they support.”

There has been more attention given to the preservation of the oceans.

The affects people’s lives have on the oceans were brought into focus by the BBC’s Blue Planet 2, which showed the impact plastic had on the marine life in it’s final episode.

Viewers were shocked when they were shown albatross chicks being fed plastic by their oblivious parents.

It has caused people to revise their use of plastics.

In recent weeks, the changes seen in the oceans have been widely discussed due to the latest social media trend.

There have been several posts on social media focusing on the transformations of the oceans, due to the Ten Year Challenge.

From icebergs melting to coral reefs diminishing, the images displayed the changes the ocean had experienced in the past decade.

Twitter and Instagram were the platforms used most often for these posts.

This was also mentioned by Professor Roberts, who said:

“Deep corals are among the most sensitive marine ecosystems to ocean acidification.”

There is hope that the One Ocean Hub project will stop, or at least lessen, the impact global warming and the effects of humanity have had on the oceans.

Fast fashion, faster damage

thumbnail_IMG_2804

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.”

thumbnail_IMG_2799

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.”

thumbnail_IMG_2812

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.

The Hedgehog Problem Spikes

The furry garden friend of every UK home continues to be under threat.

At least half the population of our native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades, warn two wildlife charities in a report issued today.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

A spokesperson for BHPS-Emily Wilson-highlighted many reasons why Hedgehog’s are in difficulty:

“The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

With approximately 70% of land in the UK managed by farmers, Wilson went on to suggests that “farmers play a vital role” in helping protect and maintain Hedgehogs habitat.

However the report was not all doom-and-gloom for Sonic and suggested some positives for urban furze-pig’s.

Although the species has declined by a third in urban areas since 2000, the rate of decline appears to be slowing. Sightings have increased by 20% since 2014 in an annual survey of 600 urban gardens by PTES.

It has been suggested that this is because of the more than 4,500 hedgehog highways creations since 2015. The highways involve cutting holes in the bottom of fences, linking over 9,000 gardens, as part of the Hedgehog Street project and is extremely beneficial to an array of furze-pig.

Hedgehog Highways Prevent Segregation in Urban Habitats. Image : Animal Facts Encyclopedia

The State of Britain’s Hedgehog Report also illustrated the importance of ‘Hedgehog Champions’.

PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to inspire the British public to help hedgehogs and other wildlife that depend on their gardens and, so far, over 47,000 volunteers or Hedgehog Champions have signed up to help.

Emily Wilson continued by pinpointing the importance of volunteers stating:

“Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, so we need more people in those locations to sign up as Hedgehog Champions.”

For more on how to become a Hedgehog Champion and help your furry garden neighbour, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org

Plastic in our oceans: a local response

With BBC’s Blue Planet II airing this Sunday, Sir David Attenborough has called for a worldwide cutback on the use of plastics.

Currently there are over 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped into the ocean each year, which is equivalent to 2 billion plastic bottles a day. The problem of plastics in our ocean is so great that researchers have found that a third of all fish caught, bought and sold in the UK contain plastic fragments, predominantly at a microscopic level.

With the problem of plastic as great as it is, it seems that the devastation of ocean life is inevitable. However, as Sir David Attenborough states “adopting an optimistic outlook is the only way forward.” In that light, EN4 News have been speaking with local action group Surfers Against Sewage to find out how we can all help protect our oceans.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have been combating plastic in our oceans since their inception in 1990. They organise beach cleaning days throughout the UK, provide cleaning equipment and help to raise awareness. The group recently cleaned Edinburgh’s Crammond beach and EN4 News spoke to event organiser Morven Sneddon to ask her how plastic pollution is impacting Scottish sea life.

She highlighted that whilst Scottish pollution is significantly better than a lot of areas throughout the UK, it is still a significant issue that will only grow get worse in the future if we don’t act to prevent it now:

I think Scotland maybe isn’t as bad as other parts of the world but it definitely is a problem and will become a bigger problem in the future.

Miss Sneddon also said that in order to reduce the level of plastic in our ocean there needs to be a change in our attitude surrounding waste:

People need to care and it’s also about laziness. I walk in Edinburgh and I see people just throwing things on the street. People don’t think to put it in a bin, or recycle, and it’s really not that hard. Especially if there’s bins nearby, and it really comes down to whether that person has the motivation to recycle or to put things in the bin.

The next SAS beach clean is going on today at Portobello beach from 11 am – 4 pm, so if you want to be involved and to get less melamine in your mackerel in the future, grab your best pair of rubber gloves and get stuck in.

Scotland puts pressure on rest of UK over tree planting initiative

tree_planting_001Ambitious tree planting targets in Scotland are leaving the rest of the rest of the UK under pressure, as other governments must now act to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Confor, the leading UK trade body for forestry and timber, has praised the Scottish Governments announcement, that it would raise its annual target from around 22 million trees to 33 million trees by 2024-25.

Scotland’s current target is 10,000 hectares per year (about 22 million trees) – DOUBLE the 11 million trees the UK Government says it will plant in England in five years.

Last year was the worst year on record for tree planting in England and ministers have taken to using the claim that forest cover in England is at its highest since the 14th century to defend its record.

A report in late 2015 showed that the forestry and timber sector in Scotland is now worth £1 billion and supports well over 25,000 direct jobs with employee numbers rising dramatically during the economic downturn – a period of strong timber supplies due to historic planting.

We spoke to Andrew Heald, Technical Director for Confor who had the following to say:

The manifesto lists the significant opportunities of meeting planting targets and following through on the action plan:

  • JOBS AND GROWTH: Confidence in future supplies will protect jobs and investment
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Planting trees soaks up carbon and wood products lock up carbon, making a major contribution to the Scottish Government’s world-leading climate change targets
  • REDUCING FLOOD RISKS: A growing body of research shows tree planting in the uplands can reduce downstream floods by up to 20 per cent. Confor produced a 2016 discussion on this subject
  • BETTER LAND USE: Integrating new woodland with sheep farming makes better economic and environmental sense for Scotland’s uplands, shown in a detailed independent report on the Eskdalemuir area in southern Scotland.

The five steps to deliver the range of opportunities listed in the Confor manifesto are:

  • PLANT MORE PRODUCTIVE WOODLANDS: The Scottish Government should plant 13,000ha of new woodland annually to 2022 to meet its target, with at least 8-9,000ha of productive woodland to provide timber for businesses in the future
  • IMPROVE THE FORESTRY APPLICATIONS SYSTEM: Confor wants further improvements to the Forestry Grant Scheme to speed up the approval process and remove unnecessary complexity – to make applications simpler and drive up planting
  • STIMULATE MARKETS FOR TIMBER AND WOOD: Wood is the best and most sustainable building material for the environment. Confor wants a “Wood Equal” policy so its given detailed consideration in all public building projects
  • RESTOCK PUBLIC FORESTS: The Scottish Government manages 487,000ha of forest but budget pressures are limiting restocking and investment is needed to ensure this happens during the next parliamentary meeting
  • CONTINUE TO SUPPORT TIMBER TRANSPORT: Confor welcomes the recent commitment to future funding of almost £3m per year but it is vital that this continues to take more timber off minor roads by creating forest roads and moving it by water and planning when there is no alternative to public roads

This manifesto will be handed all delegates at Confor’s Scottish conference on March 22nd, Forestry and Timber: Scotland’s Hidden Success Story and will be distributed to all political parties to share with their Holyrood election candidates.

Scottish government begins Fracking consultation

The Scottish government is inviting the public to share their views on unconventional oil and gas extraction, including “fracking.”

The consultation Talking “fracking” will run until 31 May 2017 and can be viewed on the Scottish government’s consultation website: http://consult.scotland.gov.uk

A website has been set up dedicated to providing the public with information on fracking at www.talkingfracking.scot

%d bloggers like this: