US road trip!

Mike and I are moving to New Zealand from the UK, making the most of the trip with a US road trip from Chicago to San Fransisco on the way. I’ve been asked if I’m going to write my blog so I’ve said I’ll just add a few photos now and again!

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First stop is Chicago, staying with our friends we’ll be roadtripping with. Contemplating the view of central Chicago from the lakeside (which you’d think was the sea!).

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Fantastic architecture tour on a river boat – definitely making us all look up and appreciate the buildings a bit more.

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On our last night in Chicago we went up the stunning Hancock tower.

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More from me soon!

 

Cool Earth

We had a great video call last month with Buffy from Cool Earth – you can read about our conversation here: http://www.seekthechange.org/engagement/cool-earth/

This organisation is definitely one to watch as the model they have developed reaches full maturity. It seems to us to have so much potential so we are excited to see what happens next!

Long overdue post from Malaysia!

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)

Meeting with Dr Elizabeth Philip, 23 January 2017

We visited the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) whilst in Kuala Lumpur at the end of January. As we were in Malaysia anyway (to make the most of the stopover back from New Zealand to the UK), we wanted to find out about offsetting initiatives happening there. We were lucky enough to meet with Dr Elizabeth Philip, Head of the Climate Change and Forestry Program at FRIM. She gave us insights relating to activities and challenges Malaysia faces in relation to forest protection, which we set out in brief below.

Dr Philip told us about a collaboration between FRIM, Malaysia Airlines, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), and the Forestry Department of Pahang, which started in 2011. Malaysia Airlines provided some funding for a voluntary carbon offsetting project in the peat swamp forest of South East Pahang (east of Kuala Lumpur). This project illustrates some of the challenges that can come with forestry management projects.

The peat swamp forest in Pahang is rich in biodiversity (home to animals such as the Malayan sun bear and the Asian elephant), and stores lots of carbon. However the forest is at risk from deforestation, and has been degraded in many areas due to human influences.

There were some initial troubles with tree selection, but the project seemed to achieve successful replanting of a small degraded area, thanks also to the involvement of the local community.

Unfortunately, in 2014 due to the abnormally hot conditions caused by El Niño, the replanted area of forest was destroyed in a forest fire, and since Malaysia Airlines’ disastrous 2014, they have stopped providing funds.

It seems that Malaysian Airlines went into the project with good intentions but, for reasons outside of their control, the money they invested probably hasn’t yet led to carbon reductions due to the fire. What is promising is the shift in strategy at the site – FRIM and their partners are now focused on water management to reduce the risk of future fires. Hopefully FRIM will be able to find the funding to continue the project and redouble the initial efforts funded by Malaysia Airlines.

A key question for any offsetting scheme is – ‘is it additional to what is already being done?’. In response to the question of how useful the voluntary offsetting money from Malaysia Airlines was, Dr Philip stated that the Pahang project wouldn’t have been carried out so fast without it (which is something!) but it certainly seems like it would be difficult to measure how much carbon was saved per dollar spent for Malaysia Airlines (and hence also for anyone who used their voluntary carbon offsetting scheme).

Besides this offsetting scheme, Dr Philip mentioned various other efforts around forest protection. She told us that they are trialing the use of biodiversity credits in Sabah (to offset biodiversity losses elsewhere) but so far have had little success due to a lack of funding. Dr Philip noted that multinationals are not as interested in peat forest as they are in charismatic megafauna such as orangutans, and also suggested that Malaysia does not attract as much attention from large funding organisations due to the larger emissions reduction potential of nearby Indonesia.

After meeting Dr Philip, we took a guided tour of the FRIM canopy walkway, which was awesome!

 

 

Walking through the canopy!

Walking through the canopy!

Profiles up on sustainability efforts at two NZ universities

I was in New Zealand in January 2017 – as part of the trip I met with sustainability professionals at two of New Zealand’s eight universities, Victoria and Canterbury. This was to share learnings and experiences and compare notes with what is happening at the University of Cambridge (where I am currently working) on sustainability efforts. You can find the write ups of these meetings here: Canterbury, Christchurch and Victoria, Wellington.

VoyageVert – a sustainable alternative to flight

This seems like a great initiative to support if you’re worried about those ever increasing aviation emissions like me… http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/voyagevert-crowdfunder
 
VoyageVert are proposing a very exciting sounding alternative to flying to help tackle climate change. They also have all sorts of rewards on offer depending on what amount you want to pledge. They’ve got 5 days left to make their target so get pledging!
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The letter I just wrote to my MP

I am writing in relation to the decision made by the UK government yesterday to give the go-ahead to another runway at Heathrow. I do not see how this is compatible with the UK’s climate change agreements or how it is fair to our future generations. It will serve to increase inequalities between London and the rest of the UK, and between those who are better off compared to those with less wealth.

I am emailing to ask you to support the new parliamentary motion initiated by Caroline Lucas for a fairer, greener alternative – to put in place a frequent flyer levy. I came across A Free Ride (http://afreeride.org/) a while ago. It is an incredibly well thought-through, well researched and credible solution to deal with the issue of aviation in relation to climate change whilst also increasing social justice within the UK. I would really encourage you to have a look at the website and support the motion for a frequent flyer levy.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Emily Dunning

PS I do not require a paper response – I am more than happy to receive an email to save money and resource.