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!

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.

Around the edges of COP21

A quick update in photos from the last couple of days:

Blocks of ice from Greenland outside le Panthéon attracting lots of attention.

20151204_204647

Interesting initiatives being proposed and implemented by students at their universities around the world (International Alliance of Research Universities’ Global Climate Forum):

20151205_131927

Hearing from the UK Youth Climate Coalition about what they’re up to:

20151206_154641

Alternative by name, alternative by nature at Alterniba’s Global Village Alternatives event:

20151206_164920

A quick stop at a Parisian Christmas Market on the Champs Elysées…

20151206_182845

…and then into le Grand Palais for learning about businesses’ responses to tackle climate change:

20151206_183832

Arriving at the dedicated area for civil society this morning, Climate Generation Space, 100m away from where the negotiations are taking place:

20151207_103216

It was very interesting to hear about the advances that the aviation industry are making to reduce impacts on climate change.

20151207_154828

The Place to B near Gare du Nord has made itself an outside hub for COP21 delegates (& also do great veggie options which is not common in Paris!)

20151207_181949

London and Paris here I come

The international climate change talks (COP21) kick off this coming week, signalled by marches all over the world today and tomorrow. I’ve just been looking at photos of the mass movement in Wellington on the opposite side of the world, and linking up with people I know who are going to the one in London tomorrow.

I’ve been to a couple of climate marches before (both in London) and have always loved it because of the atmosphere. It has felt so positive and full of energy. I’m hoping this one will be no different. I can’t help worrying a bit with the recent attacks in paris a) putting some people off and b) changing the feel a bit. However, there’s no point worrying. We’ve just got to keep on with showing our governments how much support and call that there is for them to act for us all to achieve the ambitious agreement we need.

20150328_093358

I have spent a few evenings this week researching the civil society activities going on while I am in Paris between Friday 4th and Tuesday 8th December. I’m really excited having never been to a COP (Conference of the Parties) before. I decided I just couldn’t miss this one with it being so close to where I live and not having to fly to it. It will be great to learn about the different initiatives and efforts towards tackling climate change around the world, all within one city.

My Friday evening and Saturday in Paris will mostly involve helping at the International Alliance of Research Universities’ (IARU) Climate Forum. Students from the ten different institutions part of this network (including the University of Cambridge, where I’m working now) will present their ideas for improving the sustainability of their respective universities. The idea is to share ideas, challenges, lessons, meet each other and create greater mutual motivation to implement and achieve their ideas.

On Saturday evening I will go to the Pathway to Paris concert with singers and speakers including Thom Yorke, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Patti Smith and lots more which is pretty exciting. From then on I’ll be playing it by ear but have in mind the following list of events and exhibitions:

Earth to Paris event

The Global Village of climate-friendly alternatives

Climate Generation Areas (COP21’s official space for civil society)

If Not Us Then Who talks

Solutions COP21

Place to B events

Whatever is going on in the negotiating spaces, I’m hoping the focus on civil society will be inspiring, and allow me to share and meet with others and hear more about the various grassroots and non-governmental efforts towards climate change. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of those on here in the next couple of weeks!

20150328_120244

 

Events galore today

I’m on my way to London at the moment to go to two conferences:

This Changes Everything – a swish-looking event based around Naomi Klein’s book, creating a space for people from different social & environmental movements to join together.

New Directions for Local Action – a collaborative event between a few NGOs involved in campaigning, providing training and workshops around local movement building.

They are within walking distance from each other so I’m intending to flit between both!

Hopefully I’ll be feeling inspired and motivated to be part of plans leading up to the Paris climate change conference in November by the end of the day.

The climate change movement in China

It may not be expected but there is a definite civil society movement amongst young people in China around climate change…for a small insight into it, see www.seekthechange.org/profiles/china/cycan – it is a youth organisation providing a platform for Chinese youth to do something about the issue.

DSCN2795

A SEED Japan and Wellington living

A SEED Japan was one of the youth organisations I met in Tokyo, who brought along lots of other people from other youth orgs too for me to meet. Their profile is here: www.seekthechange.org/profiles/a-seed-japan

I am settled in Wellington for the next few days, currently staying with the cream of the crop of young people taking action on environmental issues. Paul Young, spokesperson for Generation Zero, a youth action group on climate change, is so knowledgeable about what’s going on here in NZ and gives great political commentary. Lots of interesting conversations already (in amongst board game playing and nacho eating)…

image