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Environmental News Made Simple
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Good morning curious.friends,

With more extreme weather across the world this week, floods in Yorkshire (UK), Venice (Italy) and wildfires threatening Sydney (Aus). Scientists have proved that climate change makes hurricanes more damaging. Plus, are Extinction Rebellion looking to disrupt the music industry by aiming for Christmas number 1?

We are going to be investigating each of the UK party policies in more depth. So if you have any questions, please just reply to this email with them.

Reading time is 3:37 minutes.
Enjoyyy
Energy

Carbon Offsetting - Solution or Distraction?

by Fran Haddock

What's Going On Here?

Over the last 18 months organisations and NGOs that provide carbon offsetting services have seen a significant increase in investment. This is thought to be due to growing public awareness, thanks in part to public figures such as Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough as well as Extinction Rebellion and the school strikers.

What Does This Mean?

Carbon offsetting means calculating the carbon dioxide emissions of an activity, business or entire lifestyle and then paying a scheme for the equivalent amount (in theory) to be removed from the atmosphere. Schemes can include investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency projects and tree planting. 
 
Companies such as Climate Care, Climate Stewards and Gold Standard have recently noticed a spike in offsetting as much as a fourfold increase. So this is great news! Right?

Unfortunately, carbon offsetting is a controversial topic which is far from a magic bullet to tackle the climate crisis…

So what are the pros and cons of offsetting?

Cons

  • Carbon offsetting encourages ‘business as usual’ - for people to continue living a carbon intensive life ‘guilt-free’ without actually reducing their emissions.
  • The market can be poorly regulated and not very transparent, so it’s very hard to know if your offsets are doing what they’re supposed to do.
  • Some schemes can actually have negative effects such as tree-planting schemes displacing indigenous communities and creating monocultures.   
  • It is an opportunity for companies to partake in ‘greenwashing’, such as oil companies like Shell selling offsets at the gas pump, encouraging the continued exploration and use of fossil fuels. 
  • Some schemes may have happened regardless of someone paying for an ‘offset’, which is very difficult to prove. 
  • Voluntary take up rate is low at around 1%, and is not affordable to everyone.

Pros

  • Taking action is better than doing nothing. Many of the well regulated schemes are very worthy of support so doing this alongside reducing emissions is not a bad thing. 
  • Putting a cost on high carbon activities can increase awareness and provide an incentive to reduce them. 

And of course the increased interest in offsetting also means an increased interest in the climate crisis in general, which can only be good news!
 

Be Curious!

  • If you do choose to offset, research the provider thoroughly. Environmental organisations advise projects that are certified by Gold Standard, a benchmark for ‘high quality’ offsets which must meet specific criteria. 
  • Be wary of tree-planting schemes, which have come under a lot of criticism due to difficulties guaranteeing they will remain permanent and associations with displacing local communities. 
  • You could also consider ‘DIY offsetting’ and simply donate to charities or projects you trust and truly believe in when participating in unavoidable high carbon activities. 
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Politics

The Brexit Election The Climate Election

by Martyn Lowder

What's Going On Here?

The next 10 years are critical for climate change action. The new government will have the power to halt  climate threatening activities and demand climate and ecological justice for generations to come.

There is a sleeping army of 9 million people who are not registered to vote in the UK. Go register. Go vote. The deadline to register is midnight on the 26th November 2019.

What Does This Mean?

High electoral turnout is a good sign of health for democracy and the planet. In the era of climate crisis, we cannot overstate the importance of environmentally conscious youth using their vote to elect MPs supporting more ambitious climate action.

This election will decide who is in charge of the government, in theory, until May 2024. This is 4 years into the climate decade, where the most significant decarbonisation is required if we are to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement - “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Why Should We Care?

The UN’s 2018 climate report stated that we have until the year 2030 to keep temperature rises below 1.5oC. That’s just 10 years to make the crucial changes needed to maintain a liveable planet. 

Whatever happens in the election or with Brexit, the next government will need to shape its own environment bill. This will determine our environmental regulations on everything from tackling air pollution to our energy sources .

Regardless of Brexit, parties campaigning to lead the UK will face voters increasingly concerned about environmental issues. Recent polling revealed that nearly 70% of people want the UK government to go further and faster on climate action.

Be Curious!

STEP 1. Check yourself
If you aren't 100% sure you're registered, the safest option is to just register again. It costs nothing and only takes 5 minutes. If you're a student, make sure to register at home and at university so you can vote wherever you are on December 12th!

STEP 2. Recruit
Think of three  people who may not be registered and would be happy to hear from you - send them a personal message now :) Perhaps they recently moved, left to study, or just turned 18. Spread. The. Word.

STEP 3 Go bigger
Our friends at UK Youth Climate Coalition have created this nifty little guide to help you sign up your nan, Steve the plumber and Alfie the cat. They have even created the tools you need to hold your own registration party! 

***Stay tuned for a party by party breakdown of what their manifesto tells us about their environment plans.***
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Other news we found curious...

UK set to miss a host of environmental goals, research shows - Business Green
Formula 1 drives for net zero carbon by 2030 - Autocar
Extinction Rebellion aim for Christmas number 1 with climate change song - Metro
Climate change is making larger hurricanes more damaging - BBC
Just Eat trials sauce sachets made from seaweed - Packaging News
Dumped fishing gear greatest source of ocean plastic, report finds - Guardian
Government's new air pollution plan branded inadequate - Sky News
Fran Haddock
NEWS WRITER
Martyn Lowder
NEWS WRITER
THANKS FOR READING

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