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West Midlands Health and Planning group

In 2010, West Midlands PCT's and local authorities came together to prepare a joint public health response to the Local Transport Plan 3. Subsequent work with Centro has demonstrated how this response influenced the final Local Transport Plan and associated implementation plan.

In 2011 a wider group prepared a joint response to the National Planning Policy Framework. It was clear that there was a wide range of healthy urban environment work underway across the West Midlands and extensive local experience and learning. Working with the West Midlands Learning for Public Health Network (LfPHWM) a West Midlands Health and Planning group was established.

The objective of the group is to share learning and experience and coordinate joint work across the West Midlands. With the constraints on people’s time and capacity it was felt that the group needed to take a practical approach to sharing best practice and identify opportunities to undertake joint work across specific areas of practice. The underlying model for the work is the Marmot Review objective E – “To create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities”.

WMHPG news, information and resources 13 March 2020

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

Health inequalities: death by political means: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m755.short?rss=1

In-work poverty. A toolkit to support the recognition of in-work poverty: https://www.revocommunity.org/document/in-work-poverty-toolkit

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - State of Child Health in the UK: https://stateofchildhealth.rcpch.ac.uk/ “Our landmark report into the health and wellbeing of children and young people looks at the evidence on child health outcomes and data trends across the UK.”

Disabled adults face some of the highest risks of poverty and Universal Credit must be redesigned, says Institute of Health Equity: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/february/disabled-adults-face-some-highest-risks-poverty-and-universal-credit-must-be

Last year’s language? Reframing public health: briefing paper for the UK Public Health Network: https://ukpublichealthnetwork.org.uk/resources/last-years-language-query-reframing-public-health-briefing-paper-for-the-uk-public-health-network/

Analysis of the budget;

What role do taxes and regulation play in promoting better health? https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/taxes-regulation-better-health

How wealthy is your neighbourhood? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51742156

Healthy planning & environment

Planning and Public Health professionals’ experiences of using the planning system to regulate hot food takeaway outlets in England: A qualitative study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S135382921930783X “Participants felt that planning policy adoption was appropriate and can successfully regulate takeaway food outlets with the intention to improve health… Barriers included “nanny-state” criticism, and difficulty demonstrating planning policy effectiveness.”

Press Release: TCPA Writes to Prime Minister Ahead of Planning White Paper: https://www.tcpa.org.uk/news/press-release-tcpa-writes-to-pm-ahead-of-planning-white-paper

Huge ecosystems could collapse in less than 50 years – new study: https://theconversation.com/huge-ecosystems-could-collapse-in-less-than-50-years-new-study-133008

Leaked documents reveal Environment Agency ‘overwhelmed’ by staffing cuts and surge in pollution incidents: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/03/07/environment-agency-pollution-flooding-cuts/


Housing Exclusion In The English Rental Market: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/housing-exclusion-in-the-english-rental-market/

Delivering health and care for people who sleep rough: going above and beyond: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/delivering-health-care-people-sleep-rough

Number of homeless people admitted to hospital rises 130% in five years: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Number-of-homeless-people-admitted-to-hospital-rises-130-in-five-years/50096

Centre for Ageing Better – Home and Dry: The need for decent homes in later life: https://www.ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/Home-and-Dry-non-decent-homes-report.pdf

Climate change & sustainability

UK government lifts block on new onshore windfarm subsidies: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/02/uk-government-lifts-block-on-new-onshore-windfarm-subsidies

New GP contract encourages action to reduce carbon heavy inhalers: https://www.sduhealth.org.uk/news/702/new-gp-contract-encourages-action-to-reduce-carbon-heavy-inhalers

Analysis: UK’s CO2 emissions have fallen 29% over the past decade: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uks-co2-emissions-have-fallen-29-per-cent-over-the-past-decade

Blue carbon gains from glacial retreat along Antarctic fjords: What should we expect? https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.15055 “Marine ice (sea ice, ice shelf and glacier retreat) losses generate a valuable negative feedback on climate change. Blue carbon change with sea ice and ice shelf losses has been estimated, but not how blue carbon responds to glacier retreat along fjords.”

Q&A: Are the 2019-20 locust swarms linked to climate change? https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-are-the-2019-20-locust-swarms-linked-to-climate-change

Exposé Shows Rise of Heartland Institute’s Climate Denial Efforts Overseas, Using Dark Money and a YouTuber: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2020/02/20/heartland-institute-climate-denial-germany-naomi-seibt-correctiv

Analysis: Fuel-duty freeze has increased UK CO2 emissions by up to 5%: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-fuel-duty-freeze-has-increased-uk-co2-emissions-by-up-to-5-per-cent

Coronavirus poses threat to climate action, says watchdog: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/12/coronovirus-poses-threat-to-climate-action-says-watchdog

Why online shopping can be the eco-friendly choice: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00562-y

Active travel & transport

Sustrans - Bike Life UK 2019 report: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/download-the-bike-life-uk-report/here-is-the-bike-life-uk-report/

Would you ditch your car if public transport was free? Here’s what researchers have found: https://theconversation.com/would-you-ditch-your-car-if-public-transport-was-free-heres-what-researchers-have-found-133001

The Congestion Con: how more lanes and more money equals more congestion: http://t4america.org/maps-tools/congestion-con/

Oslo saw zero pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2019. Here’s how the city did it: https://www.curbed.com/platform/amp/2020/1/3/21048066/oslo-vision-zero-pedestrian-cyclist-deaths  

Air quality & pollution

Loss of life expectancy from air pollution compared to other risk factors: a worldwide perspective: https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cvr/cvaa025/5770885 “Ambient air pollution is one of the main global health risks, causing significant excess mortality and LLE, especially through cardiovascular diseases. It causes an LLE that rivals that of tobacco smoking. The global mean LLE from air pollution strongly exceeds that by violence (all forms together), i.e. by an order of magnitude (LLE being 2.9 and 0.3 years, respectively).”

5 ways reducing pollution can improve equality for women: https://www.sei.org/featured/5-ways-reducing-pollution-can-improve-equality-for-women/

Coronavirus: Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-51691967

Dangerous ultra-fine particles from diesel cars ‘ignored’ by the law: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/26/dangerous-ultra-fine-particles-from-diesel-cars-ignored-by-the-law/

Interview: James Lee, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/03/04/interview-james-lee-professor-of-atmospheric-chemistry-at-the-university-of-york/

Invention sucks 60% of particulates from tyres: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/03/02/invention-sucks-60-of-particulates-from-tyres/

EU Action Needed To Tackle Environmental Crime Spree: https://meta.eeb.org/2020/03/02/eu-action-needed-to-tackle-environmental-crime-spree/

Food & food security

Projected impact of the Portuguese sugar-sweetened beverage tax on obesity incidence across different age groups: A modelling study: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003036 “The tax triggered both a reduction in demand and product reformulation. These, together, can reduce obesity levels among frequent consumers of SSBs. Such taxation is an effective population-wide intervention. Reformulation alone, without the decrease in sales, would have had a far smaller effect on obesity incidence in the Portuguese population.”

Walking in Michael Faraday’s footsteps - How do we reduce the millions of tonnes of food wasted every year? https://blog.ons.gov.uk/2020/03/02/walking-in-michael-faradays-footsteps/

WMHPG news, information and resources 28 February 2020

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

 Health in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On: http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/the-marmot-review-10-years-on “Ten years since the publication of The Marmot Review, for the first time in more than 100 years life expectancy has failed to increase across the country, and for the poorest 10% of women it has actually declined. Over the last decade health inequalities have widened overall, and the amount of time people spend in poor health has increased since 2010. Marmot2020 confirms an increase in the north/south health gap, where the largest decreases were seen in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods in the North East, and the largest increases in the least deprived 10% of neighbourhoods in London.”

UK income inequality greater than previously thought, says ONS: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2020/feb/25/uk-income-inequality-greater-than-previously-thought-says-ons “The gap between the best and worst paid people in Britain is greater than previously thought, according to revised government figures for income inequality levels across the country. Illustrating the scale of the national divide as Boris Johnson promises to “level-up” the country, the Office for National Statistics said that income inequality was as much as 2.4 percentage points higher on average than official figures had suggested over the decade since the financial crisis in 2008.” – ONS report here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/uksectoraccounts/compendium/economicreview/february2020/topincomeadjustmentineffectsoftaxesandbenefitsdatamethodology

Negative Budgets: A new perspective on poverty and household finances: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/policy/policy-research-topics/debt-and-money-policy-research/negative-budgets-a-new-perspective-on-poverty-and-household-finances/ “People often think that problem debt is the result of overspending, such as big credit card bills and bad money management. That story doesn’t ring true for the people at Citizens Advice who help families manage their debts on a daily basis. Increasingly, advisers are helping people who simply don’t have enough money to meet their key living costs. Since 2016, the proportion of people Citizens Advice helps with debt, who have negative budgets has grown from under a third (32%) to nearly 2 in 5 (38%).”

In defense of the Gini Coefficient: https://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/defense-gini-coefficient “In this post, I will take up the old-fashioned, unhip and uncool position of defending the poor old Gini coefficient: not as the single or even the best scalar measure of inequality. But as a perfectly valid one that is, in important ways, far superior to frequently-used alternatives.”

Bradford puts money on libraries to boost city's health: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/17/bradford-puts-money-on-libraries-to-boost-city-health-wellbeing “At a January meeting, a rescue package was proposed — diverting funds from the council’s health and wellbeing budget to reduce the impact of the cuts on libraries. If the decision is ratified by the full meeting of the council’s executive on 4 March, it will mean injecting £700,000 into libraries, dramatically reducing the proposed cuts for the coming financial year and alleviating fears voiced by library campaigners and staff — who took strike action in October in protest against the cuts — that job losses and branch closures would be inevitable.”

Healthy planning & environment

Webinar – Participatory & Equity Focussed HIA: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/participatory-and-equity-focussed-health-impact-assessment-hia-webinar-tickets-87126354271 “The Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) leads the development of HIA in Wales, and has expertise in HIA policy and practice, ranging from community participatory approaches through to comprehensive policy driven HIAs. WHIASU works across multiple sectors and is a global leader in HIA and Health in all Policies. Join us to learn more about the Welsh approach to HIA and share experiences of HIA policy and practice in different member states.”

Continued coverage of the devastating floods across the UK;

Beavers are set to recolonise the UK – here’s how people and the environment could benefit: https://theconversation.com/beavers-are-set-to-recolonise-the-uk-heres-how-people-and-the-environment-could-benefit-132116 “The results of the five-year trial are striking. The beavers built dams, creating wetland and ponds that slowed down peak river flows that might have caused flooding. Their engineering holds back water in the catchment area, stopping it from running off the land quickly and overloading the river, creating a bottle neck in towns downstream.”

Environment Bill: Green groups' five key asks for a 'gold standard' nature emergency response: https://www.edie.net/news/11/Environment-Bill--Green-groups--five-key-asks-for-a--gold-standard--nature-emergency-response/ “The Environment Bill was re-introduced to Parliament in its updated form last month, following almost two years of delays – largely Brexit-related - since its original inception. Designed to set out how the UK’s green standards and environmental protection laws will look during and after the Brexit transition period, the Environment Bill is headlined by the creation of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) - the UK’s post-Brexit “watchdog” for green issues.”

This is not a forest: https://theecologist.org/2020/feb/21/not-forest “The word ‘forest’ in my mind summons the feel and smell of diverse old-growth, towering moss-clad beeches and twisting oaks, dense undergrowth overwhelmed with insects and fungi. Clambering over rocks carpeted in lichen and interspersed with feathery fingers of fern. Landscapes that embody hundreds of years of accumulation and regeneration. It seems now that a ‘forest’ can be orderly rows of skinny, non-native conifers, planted too close together for any sunlight to penetrate the forest floor. Eerily empty places hosting a singular species, efficiently grown for human need.”


ONS - Together at last – UK’s planning and housing statistics now in one place: https://blog.ons.gov.uk/2020/02/25/together-at-last-uks-planning-and-housing-statistics-now-in-one-place/ “Today the Government Statistical Service (GSS) has launched a new housing statistics interactive tool, which will help users explore the landscape and range of housing, planning, homelessness and rough sleeping statistics produced by Government. Debra Prestwood gives an update the latest work to improve the accessibility of official statistics and reflects on cross government initiatives completed in 2019/20.”

Deaths of homeless people sleeping in bins prompt calls for action: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/24/deaths-homeless-people-sleeping-bins-calls-action-uk “Rough sleepers are sheltering in bins all year round, with surging homelessness in the UK blamed for a rising number of deaths by crushing and near misses while containers are being emptied, a waste industry report has found.”

About the size of a London flat: https://blog.ons.gov.uk/2020/02/21/about-the-size-of-a-london-flat/ “Over-crowding is an indicator of housing deprivation and living in such conditions is associated with adverse personal and health effects.  Brogan Taylor explains how the ONS is seeking to fill an evidence gap in this important policy area by combining new sources of data with other information about people and houses to provide new measures of living conditions.”

High-rise residents warn worries over fire safety causing mental distress: https://www.localgov.co.uk/High-rise-residents-warn-worries-over-fire-safety-causing-mental-distress/50057 “A survey of residents living in high-rise buildings in Manchester has found fire safety risks are damaging their mental health and wellbeing. The report, published by the Greater Manchester High-Rise Task Force, found seven in 10 residents are worried about a fire in their building.”

Climate change & sustainability

Climate campaigners win Heathrow expansion case: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51658693 “The government's Heathrow's expansion decision was unlawful because it did not take climate commitments into account, the Court of Appeal said. Heathrow said it would challenge the decision, but the government has not lodged an appeal. The judges said that in future, a third runway could go ahead, as long as it fits with the UK's climate policy. The case was brought by environmental groups, councils and the Mayor of London.”

Rescaling the Governance of Renewable Energy: Lessons from the UK Devolution Experience: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1523908X.2015.1008437 “...Our findings show how the devolved governments have created new, sub-national renewable energy strategies and targets, yet their effectiveness largely depends on UK-wide systems of subsidy. Moreover, shared support for particular objects of governance—large-scale, commercial electricity generation facilities—has driven all the devolved government to centralize and expedite the issuing of consents. This leads to a wider conclusion. While the level at which environmental problems are addressed can affect how they are governed, what key actors believe about the objects of governance can mediate the effects of any rescaling processes.”

First look under imperilled Antarctic glacier finds ‘warm water coming from all directions’: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00497-4 “Taking advantage of rare ice-free waters in West Antarctica last February, scientists got their first look underneath Thwaites Glacier, a massive and increasingly unstable formation perched at the edge of the continent. What they saw only increased fears of a collapse that could raise global sea levels by more than half a metre. Data gathered by a robotic submarine deployed by scientists with the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration suggest that warm water from the deep ocean is welling up from three directions and mixing underneath the ice.”

How heat can be used to store renewable energy: https://theconversation.com/how-heat-can-be-used-to-store-renewable-energy-130549 “Existing storage technologies like batteries wouldn’t be good for this kind of process, due to their high cost per unit energy. Currently, over 99% of large-scale electricity storage is handled by pumped hydro dams, which move water between two reservoirs through a pump or turbine to store or produce power. However, there are limits to how much more pumped hydro can be built due to its geographical requirements. One promising storage option is pumped thermal electricity storage. This relatively new technology has been around for about ten years, and is currently being tested in pilot plants.”

Factcheck: What is the carbon footprint of streaming video on Netflix? https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-what-is-the-carbon-footprint-of-streaming-video-on-netflix “The use of streaming video is growing exponentially around the world. These services are associated with energy use and carbon emissions from devices, network infrastructure and data centres. Yet, contrary to a slew of recent misleading media coverage, the climate impacts of streaming video remain relatively modest, particularly compared to other activities and sectors.”

JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/21/jp-morgan-economists-warn-climate-crisis-threat-human-race “The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked document.”

No backsliding on climate goals, carbon price, EU tells Britain: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-britain-eu/no-backsliding-on-climate-goals-carbon-price-eu-tells-britain-idUSKBN20J1XA “Britain must uphold EU climate change targets and environmental standards after the post-Brexit transition period, the bloc will say in negotiations to strike a deal on future ties.”

BP praised for ambition to destroy Africa but potentially a bit slower: https://africanarguments.org/2020/02/21/bp-praised-for-ambition-to-destroy-africa-but-potentially-a-bit-slower/ “From the Wit-hole countries is African Arguments’ satirical section. It’s the news, but absurd. It’s sometimes better than the real thing, sometimes not quite real, and sometimes much more real. In a heavily-trailed speech last week, BP’s new CEO Bernard Looney announced a new low-cost idea to improve the oil and gas major’s public image. Speaking to journalists and investors, he explained that the leading polluter would pretend to be concerned about the climate crisis by now saying it would like to become a net zero carbon emitter “by 2050 or sooner”.”

Climate change could add around $100 billion to costs of extreme weather: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-costs/climate-change-could-add-around-100-billion-to-costs-of-extreme-weather-idUSKCN20K2EN “Climate change could add around $100 billion, or more than 20%, to the global cost of extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves and droughts by 2040, research from Cambridge University showed on Wednesday. The findings come from the university’s Climate Change Business Risk Index, which uses climate modeling data to quantify extreme weather event risks and their potential to disrupt business operations and supply chains globally.”

New and recent books about hope in a time of climate change: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/02/new-and-recent-books-about-hope-in-a-time-of-climate-change/ “These books explore how people might sustain their optimism and hope in the face of the often bleak news of a steadily warming world.”

Study finds quarter of climate change tweets from bots: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51595285 “A study by researchers at Brown University has found a quarter of posts about climate change on Twitter were written by bots. Bots are computer programs that can masquerade as humans to post or send messages on social media. Researchers discovered tweets posted by bots created the impression there was a high level of climate change denial.”

Active travel & transport

Councils spend average of £2 per head on cycling infrastructure, study reveals: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Councils-spend-average-of-2-per-head-on-cycling-infrastructure-study-reveals/50080 “Local authorities have spent on average just £2 per head of population per year on cycling infrastructure over the last ten years, new research reveals.”

What future do we want? https://www.transporttimes.co.uk/news.php/What-future-do-we-want-496/ “The challenge for public transport operators is how to respond dynamically to changing demand in the most cost-effective way possible. If technological changes and innovations are not managed effectively, they could precipitate a sharp reduction in public transport use. This would have damaging impacts for the economy, and lead to a worsening of pollution and congestion and an increase in social exclusion.”

Development of WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Sleep for Children Less Than 5 Years of Age: https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/jpah/17/1/article-p96.xml “Additional literature searches to update the existing systematic reviews yielded the following: for physical activity, 15 additional studies were identified, of which only 6 were of experimental or longitudinal design and were extracted; for sedentary behavior, an additional 15 studies were identified, of which only 4 were longitudinal studies (no experimental studies) and that were extracted; for sleep, an additional 11 studies were identified, of which only 5 were of longitudinal study design and were extracted; and for integrated physical activity, sedentary, and sleep (movement) behaviors, an additional 4 studies were identified, of which 3 were of experimental or longitudinal design and were extracted.”

70% of car buyers now considering purchasing an EV: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/19/70-of-car-buyers-now-considering-purchasing-an-ev/ “70% of car buyers are now considering purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car, according to a survey conducted by Shell Energy Retail. In light of the government’s announcement to ban the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles by 2035, Shell conducted a survey on over 1,000 people in the UK in order to understand attitudes towards this shift. According to the survey, 80% of recipients said that their desire to do more for the planet made EVs more appealing.”

Air quality & pollution

World’s largest platform for air quality data launched at Tenth World Urban Forum: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/worlds-largest-platform-air-quality-data-launched-tenth-world-urban “The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), together with UN-Habitat and IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company, today launched the world’s largest air quality data platform, bringing together real-time air pollution data from over 4,000 contributors, including citizens, communities, governments and the private sector to work towards healthier, more sustainable cities.”

This is your brain on air pollution: https://www.ted.com/talks/maria_neira_this_is_your_brain_on_air_pollution?language=en “Air pollution knows no borders -- even in your own body, says public health expert María Neira. In this startling talk, she describes how the microscopic particles and chemicals you breathe affect all your major organs (including your brain) and calls on both the public and those in power to take action to stop the sources of pollution.”

New data shows Mayor’s action is dramatically cleaning up London’s air: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/data-shows-mayors-action-cleaning-up-londons-air “The figures reveal that during 2016, London’s air exceeded the hourly legal limit for nitrogen dioxide for over 4,000 hours. Last year, this fell to just over 100 hours – a reduction of 97 per cent. Between 2004 to 2017 London breached the permitted number of exceedances for NO2* within the first week of the year. In 2019 only one site breached and it did not occur until July. There have also been significant reductions in Londoner’s long-term exposure to air pollution, with every monitoring site in the capital recording a reduction in annual average NO2 levels. Londonwide, there has been an average reduction of 21 per cent between 2016 and 2019.”

Innovate UK launches £100,000 indoor air quality competition: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/24/innovate-uk-launches-100000-indoor-air-quality-competition/ “Organisations have been invited to apply for a share of £100,000 as part of a new government competition to tackle indoor air pollution. Action to reduce the health impacts of harmful air pollutants tends to focus on the outdoors, however, indoor levels of some air pollutants can often be far higher. The government says they want to raise awareness of this and so have launched the competition in order to find solutions to the problem.”

Dark Waters’ pollution threat isn’t Hollywood hysteria – it could be a ticking timebomb worldwide: https://theconversation.com/dark-waters-pollution-threat-isnt-hollywood-hysteria-it-could-be-a-ticking-timebomb-worldwide-131873 “If you live in the US or Australia, you’re likely to know about PFAS (or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances). But in the UK, few people have heard of them, despite one scientist I know describing the presence of these pollutants in UK groundwater as “a ticking timebomb”.”

Food & food security

Sustainable Food Cities Newsletter February 2020: https://mailchi.mp/2357c5e831e7/sustainable-food-cities-newsletter-feb-2687439 “Welcome to the Sustainable Food Cities newsletter. We are passionate about towns and cities taking a joined up approach to food and want to help public agencies, NGOs, businesses and communities to work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. If you have news, events or questions for discussion for the newsletter get in touch.”

Farmers pile pressure on UK government over chlorinated chicken: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/25/farmers-pile-pressure-on-uk-government-over-chlorinated-chicken “Farmers have hit back at suggestions the government will allow imports of chlorinated chicken and other low-standard farm produce in trade talks with the US, escalating the row over post-Brexit food standards. Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers’ Union, will call for rules on minimum standards for imports to be enshrined in law, and insist that other countries must trade with the UK “on our terms”, rather than seek to water down food rules.”

Shipping pollution regulations 'could harm food chain': https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/17/shipping-pollution-regulations-could-harm-food-chain “New shipping pollution regulations introduced earlier this year could harm humans by contaminating fish and crustaceans with toxins, according to an internal report compiled by the International Maritime Organization and obtained by the Guardian. In the report the IMO, the United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping, says that there is insufficient “toxicity data” to be able to assess the risk to humans caused by the increased use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, which are also known as “scrubbers”.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 14 February 2020

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

Gender Matters: https://lankellychase.org.uk/resources/publications/gender-matters/ “…Perhaps the starkest finding of the report is the degree to which violence and abuse in the home are ongoing facts of life, from childhood onwards, for many people facing severe and multiple disadvantage, particularly women.”

UK Poverty 2019/20: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2019-20 “This is a summary of the 2019/20 edition of JRF’s annual report on the nature and scale of poverty across the UK and how it affects people who are caught in its grip. It highlights how poverty has changed in our society recently, as well as over the longer term. It examines overall changes to poverty, with chapters looking at the impact of work, the social security system and housing, and shows how carers and people with disabilities are affected by poverty.”

Health inequality greater than previously thought, report finds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/12/health-inequality-greater-than-previously-thought-report-finds “Women are living nearly ten years longer in poor health than previous estimates, while men are living an extra seven years, according to a report based on new NHS data launched by the health secretary on Wednesday. The new analysis means that men on average are being diagnosed with their first significant long-term condition at 56 and women at 55. In the poorest areas, women are getting their first significant long-term illness at just 47 and men at 49 years old.”

The report, The Health of the Nation: A Strategy for Healthier Longer Lives, has been written by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity.

What has driven the rise of in-work poverty? https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/what-has-driven-rise-work-poverty “As a society we believe that working families should have a decent standard of living, yet one in eight workers now live in poverty. Building on recent successes in the labour market can turn the tide on in-work poverty.”

The UK Population Is Still Poorer Than It Was In 2008: https://neweconomics.org/2020/02/the-uk-population-is-still-poorer-than-it-was-in-2008 “Today’s first quarter estimates for GDP show that in the three months to Christmas, the UK population was still £97 poorer on average compared to the first three months of 2008 after taking into account rises in inflation as experienced by consumers, according to analysis from the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This is despite the official statistics suggesting average living standards returned to 2008 levels in 2015. The analysis shows that the official statistics do not bear out the lived experience in the economy.”

Healthy planning & environment

The Government has published the updated Environment Bill

  • Environment Bill sets out vision for a greener future: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-bill-sets-out-vision-for-a-greener-future “Our precious natural environment will be better protected for generations to come with today’s introduction of a far-reaching Environment Bill. The speedy return of the Bill to Parliament following the General Election underlines the government’s commitment to tackling climate change and to protecting and restoring our natural environment for future generations.”
  • These three post-Brexit bills bulldoze a hole through environmental protections: https://www.edie.net/news/11/UK-Government-s--gold-standard--Environment-Bill-reintroduced/ “The environment bill, agriculture bill and fisheries bill replace the EU’s comprehensive framework directives, common agricultural policy and common fisheries policy. All three bills contain major flaws that undermine the government’s claims. They leave gaps, fail on enforcement and oversight, open loopholes for future ministers to quietly backslide from existing standards, and turn what is currently a coherent system of long-term, stable regulation into a patchwork of competing and sometimes contradictory proposals.”
  • 43 things you need to know about the Environment Bill: https://www.endsreport.com/article/1672471/43-things-need-know-environment-bill “The Environment Bill has returned to parliament with new powers on plastic waste and a requirement for ministers to review and report on international green law.”
  • UK Government's 'gold standard' Environment Bill reintroduced: https://www.edie.net/news/11/UK-Government-s--gold-standard--Environment-Bill-reintroduced/ “The UK Government's long-awaited Environment Bill has finally been reintroduced to Parliament, outlining powers to stop the exports of plastic waste to developing countries, and revamped governance systems on clean air and biodiversity and two-yearly reviews to update the Bill if required.”

Healthy weight environments: using the planning system: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/healthy-weight-environments-using-the-planning-system “Practical support for local authorities that wish to use the planning system to achieve these important public health outcomes. Set in the context of a whole systems approach to tackling obesity, this document provides a framework and starting point for local authorities to clearly set out in local planning guidance how best to achieve healthy weight environments, based on local evidence and needs. The document sets out a template for a supplementary planning document (SPD).”

How peat could protect the planet: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00355-3 “Across the globe, drained peatlands are emitting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Scotland has emerged as a leader in efforts to restore bogs to health.”

222 scientists say cascading crises are the biggest threat to the well-being of future generations: https://theconversation.com/222-scientists-say-cascading-crises-are-the-biggest-threat-to-the-well-being-of-future-generations-131551 “The report includes a survey of 222 leading scientists from 52 countries who identified five global risks: failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; extreme weather events; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; food crises; and water crises.”

Deforestation is leading to more infectious diseases in humans: https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2019/11/deforestation-leading-to-more-infectious-diseases-in-humans? “It’s pretty well established that deforestation can be a strong driver of infectious disease transmission,” says Andy MacDonald, a disease ecologist at the Earth Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s a numbers game: The more we degrade and clear forest habitats, the more likely it is that we’re going to find ourselves in these situations where epidemics of infectious diseases occur.”

Bumblebees’ decline points to mass extinction – study: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/06/bumblebees-decline-points-to-mass-extinction-study “Bumblebees are in drastic decline across Europe and North America owing to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, scientists say. A study suggests the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30% in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction”.”

England’s beavers are back, and they've already made a big impact: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/beavers-england-water-floods “Researchers involved say the beavers’ activities over the past five years have helped manage water flow, raising the possibility that their dams could help reduce the risk of flooding further along river systems. The beavers’ handiwork has created new habitats for wildlife living around the river, including water voles, otters, and wading birds, according to the trust. It says their building is also giving plants more direct access to sunlight and encouraging the regrowth of native species such as willow.”

Our Future on Earth: https://futureearth.org/publications/our-future-on-earth/ “Humanity is at a critical stage in the transition to a more sustainable planet and society. Our actions in the next decade will determine our collective path forward. Our Future on Earth 2020 aims to tell the story of where we are on our collective journey by connecting the dots between what society is currently experiencing – from fires to food shortages to a rise in populism – with recent developments in the research community.”

Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health: https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health “A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.”


Housing charity 'farmed' half a million pounds in benefits while people lived and died in squalor: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/housing-charity-farmed-half-million-3813741.amp “Two people who ran a bogus housing charity made more than half a million pounds between them in the space of just two years by taking housing benefit from scores of vulnerable people and putting them up in slum conditions. They are among the findings of a Charity Commission inquiry into Alternative Housing, a now-defunct organisation which was named a couple of years ago as one of Britain’s most prosecuted charity.”

Homeless Mothers: Key Research Findings: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/homeless-mothers-key-research-findings/ “Responding to an identified gap in evidence this reports explores and makes visible the experiences of homeless mothers and their interaction with housing and other social services. Based on qualitative interviews with 26 homeless mothers living in in the north of England, and consultation with organisations that offer housing and other support to women and families, the research findings raise questions about whether policy and legislation is adequately protecting and supporting this group of women.”

Scotland has ‘highest rate’ of homeless deaths in Britain, figures reveal: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Scotland-has-highest-rate-of-homeless-deaths-in-Britain-figures-reveal/49955 “Deadly “day-night hot extremes” are increasing across the northern hemisphere due to climate change, a new study finds. And the number of people exposed to such events, also known as “compound hot extremes”, is likely to increase “several-fold” as temperatures continue to climb in the coming decades, the study authors tell Carbon Brief.”

The Science of a Happy Home: Briefing for Policymakers: https://buildpathio.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/assets/happy_homes/resi%7Cbriefing_for_policymakers.pdf “This document is a supplementary document to Resi’s 2020 report, ‘The Science of a Happy Home’. Our report provides the public with a guide to our research findings and what it means for how they live in their homes. The full report can be downloaded here. A Literature Scan Summary, Methodology, Industry Insights paper and a copy of the national data set used to develop these findings can be found here.”

Climate change & sustainability

Climate change driving surge in ‘day-night hot extremes’ in northern hemisphere: https://www.carbonbrief.org/climate-change-driving-surge-in-day-night-hot-extremes-in-northern-hemisphere

They Came From The Pacific: How changing Arctic currents could contribute to an ecological regime shift in the Atlantic Ocean: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019EF001394 “In conclusion, we note that while tipping points for ecological connectivity are species‐dependent, even the most direct routes require multi‐annual connectivity timescales.”

Explainer: Nine ‘tipping points’ that could be triggered by climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-nine-tipping-points-that-could-be-triggered-by-climate-change “...And while climate records are being routinely broken, the cumulative impact of these changes could also cause fundamental parts of the Earth system to change dramatically and irreversibly. These “tipping points” are thresholds where a tiny change could push a system into a completely new state.”

How climate change affects mental health: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/02/how-climate-change-affects-mental-health/ “There are two distinct but connected ways that climate change can affect mental health. First, people can experience psychological responses to direct exposure to the consequences of climate change, such as living through a disaster. The other way that climate change can affect mental health is through indirect exposure – such as watching a disaster unfold from afar or reading about a dire new scientific report.”

The Heartland Lobby: https://correctiv.org/en/top-stories-en/2020/02/11/the-heartland-lobby/ “A joint investigation from CORRECTIV and Frontal21 reveals how the American Heartland Institute is supporting climate change deniers in Germany with the goal of undermining climate protection measures. We went undercover to meet with the institute’s chief strategist. He told us how the network of climate change deniers works, how donations are disguised and how they intend to use a German YouTuber affiliated with the AfD to reach young people. In the end, he made us a concrete offer.”

Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-05/wind-turbine-blades-can-t-be-recycled-so-they-re-piling-up-in-landfills? “A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.”

How Thawing Permafrost Is Beginning to Transform the Arctic: https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-melting-permafrost-is-beginning-to-transform-the-arctic “The frozen layer of soil that has underlain the Arctic tundra for millennia is now starting to thaw. This thawing, which could release vast amounts of greenhouse gases, is already changing the Arctic landscape by causing landslides, draining lakes, and altering vegetation.”

Buildings mad of “moss-growing concrete” could remove more CO2 and air pollution than thousands of trees: https://returntonow.net/2020/02/03/new-living-concrete-allows-plants-to-grow-right-out-of-the-wall/ “Spanish researchers have developed a porous, acidic concrete that acts almost like soil for moss, lichen, fungi and other drought-tolerant vegetation. They are using the material to construct prototypes of office building capable of sucking more CO2 and pollution out of the air than thousands of trees, while emitting fresh oxygen for us to breathe.”

Revealed: big oil's profits since 1990 total nearly $2tn: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/12/revealed-big-oil-profits-since-1990-total-nearly-2tn-bp-shell-chevron-exxon “BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades as their exploitation of oil, gas and coal reserves has driven the planet to the brink of climate breakdown, according to analysis for the Guardian. The scale of their profits is revealed as experts say the fossil fuel boom is coming to an end, with big oil entering a “death knell” phase, according to one prominent Wall St commentator.”

Active travel & transport

The Government has given approval to completion of the whole HS2 programme. There has been wide coverage and discussion of the decision and the impact, both environmental and economic.

The PM must put the forthcoming national bus strategy at the heart of his climate strategy: https://www.transporttimes.co.uk/news.php/The-PM-must-put-the-forthcoming-national-bus-strategy-at-the-heart-of-his-climate-strategy-491/ “Transport has become the largest emitting sector of the UK economy accounting for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the only sector to have increased emissions over the last carbon budget. This increase is largely the result of rising demand for car and van travel. We need a major switch from private to public transport. This is not only vital to reduce carbon emissions. The disbenefits of our current transport system become painfully more apparent by the day.”

Every child in England to be offered cycle training: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/every-child-in-england-to-be-offered-cycle-training “The commitment will see an additional 400,000 training places offered on the scheme each year, providing children with the core skills to cycle safely and confidently on the road. More than 80% of children aged between 8 and 10 years old own a bike and since its launch in 2006, more than 3 million children have taken part in the Bikeability scheme.”

Winter wheelies: Finland blazes trail in keeping citizens cycling and healthy: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/07/finland-blazes-trail-in-keeping-citizens-cycling-and-healthy “The temperature, even at 9.30am, is -13C, and light snow is falling on the already white-blanketed playground. But dozens of primary-age children are out, and doing something you might not expect in such conditions: riding bikes. Teachers say about half of the children at Joensuu normal school in eastern Finland usually arrive by bicycle, even during the icy winters. Even more have done so today, as an external instructor is here to lead them around a snowy bike obstacle course and other fun challenges.”

Cycling is the healthiest way to get around cities: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/187688/cycling-healthiest-around-cities/ “People who cycled in cities were found to have better self-perceived general health, better mental health, greater vitality, lower self-perceived stress and fewer feelings of loneliness.”

Air quality & pollution

BreatheGB: How Tackling Air Pollution Can Unleash the Potential of UK Sport: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e37f65b59e605777fcea4ec/t/5e41cc3ae14f6e738f112328/1581370434842/Breathe+GB+-+Air+pollution+Report+10+Feb+2020.pdf “UK children who play sport in urban areas are regularly exposed to illegal levels of air pollution, which inhibits their lung function. This report proposes that measures to reduce air pollution will have significant beneficial impacts both on children’s health and the future of UK sport as a whole.”

Check if you'll be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone: https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge “Use this service to find out if there will be a daily charge to drive your vehicle in a Clean Air Zone. You might need to pay to drive in a Clean Air Zone if your vehicle does not meet emissions standards. Birmingham and Leeds will have the first Clean Air Zones in 2020.”

Joining the dots between climate change and air quality: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/11/joining-the-dots-between-climate-change-and-air-quality/ “‘You can argue that air pollution came first, but as with many aspects of environmental systems it’s never quite as simple as this,’ says Dr Porter. ‘With the industrial revolution and consequent air pollution in the West, emissions rose, enhancing post-glacial warming, while simultaneously atmospheric particulate pollution levels increased. However, if we consider a concept called “global dimming”, increased particle pollution can potentially increase cloud formation,’ he adds.”

Food & food security

Academics, farmers and consumers to tackle threats to food security: https://environmentjournal.online/articles/academics-farmers-and-consumers-to-tackle-threats-to-food-security/ “The University of Sheffield has received £1.2m of funding to bring together academics, farmers, consumers and policymakers to help address global food security challenges by creating sustainable and resilient food systems.”

Food fight: controversy over red meat guidelines rumbles on: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m397 “Few studies have landed with quite such a bang as the dietary guideline recommendations published last October in the Annals of Internal Medicine. After a thorough meta-analysis that largely discounted all but the highest quality randomised studies, an international review panel reached a conclusion directly contrary to the public health advice we’ve heard for years. They suggested that adults should continue their current consumption of both red and processed meat.”

To reduce food waste, we actually need more grocery stores: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/02/to-reduce-food-waste-we-actually-need-more-grocery-stores/ “Researchers have described an unexpected solution to food waste: simply build more places where people can buy groceries. While that would seem to fuel excessive consumerism, it actually does the opposite, their new study shows – reducing the quantities of food that people buy, and thus leaving less leftover to fester in landfills and belch greenhouse gases into the air.”

UK willing to face border checks as government looks to move away from EU food standards  https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/02/03/brexit-trade-deal-food-standards-border-checks/ “The government is willing to accept that food products coming in and out of the EU will face checks and additional paperwork at the border, as it looks to secure a swift free trade agreement with the bloc, according to a leaked document seen by Unearthed.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 7 February 2020

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Sustainable development goals

Working hard(ship): An exploration of poverty, work and tenure: https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/working-hardship/ “This report explores the nexus between poverty, work and housing, and adds to our knowledge of the topic in two distinctive ways. First, we look at in-work poverty not just as a static but also a dynamic condition. Second, we explore the intersection between housing tenure and in-work poverty. In particular, we focus on the fortunes of social renters, drawing on a collaboration with Clarion Housing Group.”

Universal Credit: What Needs To Change: https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/report/universal-credit-what-needs-change “Universal credit: what needs to change to reduce child poverty and make it fit for families? calls for design and funding changes to improve claimants’ experience of universal credit and to reduce child poverty. It includes new analysis by IPPR”

Healthy planning & environment

A New Approach to Healthy Urban Design and Planning. https://healthycitydesign2019.salus.global/uploads/media/conference_lecture_presentation/0001/20/db7adf1b232b18535fd9f16d19f125eff3a2111b.pdf Dr Helen Pineo and her team at University College London Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering are developing a new framework for healthy urban design and planning. The attached presentation provides an overview of the project and progress so far.

How A Road Diet Can Amplify The Impact Of Placemaking: https://www.pps.org/article/how-a-road-diet-can-amplify-the-impact-of-placemaking “That’s why the Transportation team at Project for Public Spaces is excited to announce A Placemaker’s Primer on Road Diets. Popular in progressive transportation engineering circles, a "road diet" reallocates the space on a street to open it to uses and modes of transportation beyond moving car traffic. This guide provides an accessible walkthrough for non-experts on how to make the case for a road diet, how to select a site, how to evaluate success, how to select the right strategies to rightsize a street, and a roundup of technical road diet resources.”

Bristol declares it faces 'ecological emergency': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-51376517 “Bristol City Council made the decision at a cabinet meeting on 4 February to build on the city's declaration of a climate emergency in 2018. Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees and Ian Barrett from Avon Wildlife Trust said they wanted to recognise it as a threat to well-being in the city. The council hopes it will kick-start a response from the whole city. Ecological emergency priorities will include looking at ways to stop wildlife habitats from being destroyed and managing land in a sustainable way that will preserve wildlife.”

Britain has failed the beauty test: in our cities and countryside, planners run amok: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/01/britain-beauty-test-cities-countryside-planners “The late Roger Scruton’s government-backed report on “building better, building beautiful” is political philosophy in the raw. It comes hot on the heels of the government’s agriculture bill proposing a complete shift in farm support away from food and into “public money for public goods”. If adopted, these twin pillars of rural and urban environment could see the greatest reordering of Britain’s public face in the 75 years since the war. They are both about that most elusive concept, beauty.”

A room of one's own? London carves out spaces for women: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=9c1161c7-ece7-4d19-ae9b-4a3770ccd588 “Projects that cater solely to women are cropping up around the British capital, carving out spaces for women to meet and support each other”

Privatisation, public health and the 'water lords': https://theecologist.org/2020/jan/31/privatisation-public-health-and-water-lords “This case is emblematic of the types of battles that local governments face when squaring-off toe to toe with large multi-national corporations that are attempting to privatise water around the country and around the world. Ironically, even Nestlé's own investigation into the repercussions of its pumping such immense quantities of water from Michigan’s aquifers demonstrates that increased pumping could harm Michigan's wetlands. Yet, for over three years Nestlé argued that its own research had not suggested this in order to pull more water and profits. There is little stopping companies like Nestlé which are setting up camp across the planet, attempting to manipulate local and national laws to extract vast quantities of water to bottle and then sell back to the very people whose aquifers they are depleting.”


Housing options for older people in a reimagined housing system: a case study from England: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19491247.2019.1644020 “This study responds by situating the housing options of older people within wider debates about the reimagining of the housing system driven by the neoliberal transformation in housing politics. Taking a case study approach, it explores the gap between the ambitions of policy and realities of provision at the local level, relates this to the particular intersection of state practices and market mechanisms manifest within the case study and, in doing so, rises to the challenge of extending analysis of the impacts of the neoliberal approach on the right to housing to new groups and different settings.”

Helping People Living in Cold Homes training programme: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/cold-homes/ “This e-learning module has been developed to help people whose health is affected by living in a cold home. It supports health and social care professionals to put NICE Guidance NG6 ‘Excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes’ into practice.  It empowers professionals to direct people in cold homes to services that can help them overcome the problem. This can be via each local council’s environmental health team or through other local services that provide support to repair or replace heating systems, install insulation, switch to a cheaper energy deal or better manage temperature and ventilation at home.”

Forms And Mechanisms Of Exclusion In Contemporary Housing Systems: A Scoping Study: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/forms-and-mechanisms-of-exclusion-in-contemporary-housing-systems/ “This report explores the central research question: what do stakeholders and housing providers identify as the key mechanisms of exclusion in contemporary English rental housing systems? We address this through qualitative, in-depth interviews with individuals and organisations involved in the housing system, comprising housing associations, local authorities, and stakeholders from third sector organisations, charities, professional and membership bodies, and tenant organisations.”

Combined authority re-defines ‘affordable housing’: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Combined-authority-re-defines-affordable-housing/49933 “The new definition, which has been approved by the WMCA’s Housing and Land Board, is based on local people paying no more than 35% of their salary on mortgages or rent. The WMCA believes the change will not only provide affordable homes for local people but will also encourage new types of affordable housing to come onto the market. The new definition is significant because any development schemes receiving WMCA investment from its devolved housing and land funds must make a minimum of at least 20% of the homes in their scheme affordable.”

Climate change & sustainability

Changing rapid weather variability increases influenza epidemic risk in a warming climate: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab70bc “We demonstrate, from historical data, that the large rapid weather variability in autumn can precondition the deadly influenza epidemic in the subsequent months in highly populated northern mid-latitudes; and the influenza epidemic season of 2017-2018 was a typical case. We further show that climate model projections reach a consensus that the rapid weather variability in autumn will continue to strengthen in some regions of northern mid-latitudes in a warming climate, implying that the risk of influenza epidemic may increase 20% to 50% in some highly populated regions in later 21st century.”

Carbon release through abrupt permafrost thaw: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0526-0 “Thaw lakes and wetlands are methane hot spots but their carbon release is partially offset by slowly regrowing vegetation. After considering abrupt thaw stabilization, lake drainage and soil carbon uptake by vegetation regrowth, we conclude that models considering only gradual permafrost thaw are substantially underestimating carbon emissions from thawing permafrost.”

Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/arctic-permafrost-is-thawing-it-could-speed-up-climate-change-feature/ “As the frozen ground warms much faster than expected, it’s reshaping the landscape—and releasing carbon gases that fuel global warming.”

Global warming is speeding up Earth‘s massive ocean currents: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/global-warming-speeding-earth-s-massive-ocean-currents ““Based on observations combined with models, the authors claim that from 1990 to 2013, the energy of the currents increased by some 15% per decade. “This is a really huge increase,” says Susan Wijffels, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “It’s going to stimulate a lot of other work.” If the acceleration is real, it could affect jet streams, weather patterns, and the amount of heat stored in the ocean’s depths.”

Climate Models Are Running Red Hot, and Scientists Don’t Know Why: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-03/climate-models-are-running-red-hot-and-scientists-don-t-know-why “Then last year, unnoticed in plain view, some of the models started running very hot. The scientists who hone these systems used the same assumptions about greenhouse-gas emissions as before and came back with far worse outcomes. Some produced projections in excess of 5°C, a nightmare scenario. The scientists involved couldn’t agree on why—or if the results should be trusted. Climatologists began “talking to each other like, ‘What’d you get?’, ‘What’d you get?’” said Andrew Gettelman, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, which builds a high-profile climate model.”

Global heating a serious threat to the world's climate refuges, study finds: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/04/global-heating-a-serious-threat-to-the-worlds-climate-refuges-study-finds “Biodiversity hotspots that have given species a safe haven from changing climates for millions of years will come under threat from human-driven global heating, a new study has found. Species that have evolved in tropical regions such Australia’s wet tropics, the Guinean forests of Western Africa and the Andes Mountains will come under increasing stress as the planet warms, the study finds.”

Financing Solar for a Zero Carbon World: https://jeremyleggett.net/2020/02/05/financing-solar-for-a-zero-carbon-world-presentation-backing-panel-discussions-at-two-international-conferences-this-week/ “What follows are the 8 points I would most like to make. Time will not allow me to make them all, or in much detail ….hence this presentation.”

China’s Virus Clampdown Is Cutting Emissions, But Not for Long: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-05/china-s-virus-clampdown-is-cutting-emissions-but-not-for-long “Quarantines and extended holidays have idled cars and airplanes and shuttered coal mines and steel mills, some of the biggest contributors to the greenhouse gases that drive global warming. That’s going to drive a reduction in emissions early in the year, although whether it’s enough to deliver a year-on-year drop depends on how long economic activity remains depressed and what kind of stimulus measures the government enacts once the outbreak is contained.”

The Worst Climate Scenarios May No Longer Be the Most Likely: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-worst-climate-scenarios-may-no-longer-be-the-most-likely/ “These scenarios have been used in thousands of climate studies since they were first developed. Now there may be a problem with one of them. The most severe climate scenario of the bunch might be so extreme that it's no longer a likely outcome, experts say. In one sense, that's good news for the world. It means that the most extreme visions of the future, outlined in climate studies over the years, probably won't come to pass. But it also suggests that climate scientists may want to rethink the way they conduct modeling studies moving forward.”

Climate change: Clean tech 'won't solve warming in time': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51389404 “Breakthrough technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen cannot be relied on to help the UK meet its climate change targets, a report says. The government had hoped that both technologies would contribute to emissions reductions required by 2050. But the report’s authors say ministers should assume that neither carbon capture and storage (CCS) nor hydrogen will be running "at scale" by 2050.”

Ryanair rapped over low emissions claims: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51372780 “Claims made by Ryanair about its carbon emissions have been banned by the UK's advertising watchdog. Europe's biggest airline by passenger numbers had billed itself as the region's "lowest emissions airline" and a "low C02 emissions airline". But the Advertising Standards Authority ruled Ryanair's claims in press, TV and radio adverts could not be backed up.”

There has been wide coverage of the planning for COP26 and the governments approach to the climate emergency.

Active travel & transport

New petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles to be banned from 2035: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/04/new-petrol-diesel-and-hybrid-vehicles-to-be-banned-from-2035/ “The UK will ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2035, bringing forward the original date by five years. The announcement will come later today when Prime Minister Boris Johnson launches COP26, a major climate change summit which will be held in Glasgow in November. The 2035 date could even be moved forward further, subject to a consultation, to help the UK meet its 2050 net-zero climate target.”

Four things the UK government must do to phase out petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035: https://theconversation.com/four-things-the-uk-government-must-do-to-phase-out-petrol-diesel-and-hybrid-cars-by-2035-131225 “You might have taken the noise and fumes for granted at roadsides, but the ban would mean that petrol and diesel fuel is eliminated from new passenger vehicles within 15 years. This would have obvious benefits for reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality, but there are significant obstacles for the UK’s car industry to overcome in the meantime.”

Interview: Professor Greg Marsden from the University of Leeds on decarbonising transport: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/01/28/interview-professor-greg-marsden-from-the-university-of-leeds-on-decarbonising-transport/ “Air Quality News recently met Professor Greg Marsden from the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds. He’s been integral in the formation of the DecarboN8 network of northern universities which aims to bring academia, government and business together to pioneer the transport solutions of the future.”

The environmental footprint of transport by car using renewable energy: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019EF001428 “Replacing fossil fuels in the transport sector by renewable energy will help combat climate change. However, lowering greenhouse gas emissions by switching to alternative fuels or electricity can come at the expense of land and water resources. To understand the scale of this possible tradeoff we compare and contrast carbon, land and water footprints per driven km in midsize cars utilizing conventional gasoline, biofuels, bioelectricity, solar electricity and solar‐based hydrogen. Results show that solar‐powered electric cars have the smallest environmental footprints per km, followed by solar‐based hydrogen cars, and that biofuel‐driven cars have the largest footprints.”

Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-help-to-tackle-climate-change “Here, in response to recent misleading media reports on the topic, Carbon Brief provides a detailed look at the climate impacts of EVs.”

Air quality & pollution

Exposure to diesel exhaust particles increases susceptibility to invasive pneumococcal disease: https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(19)31635-5/fulltext “We demonstrate that inhaled exposure to DEPs disrupts asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carriage of S pneumoniae in mice, leading to dissemination to lungs and blood. Pneumococci are transported from the nasopharynx to the lungs following exposure to DEPs, leading to increased proinflammatory cytokine production, reduced phagocytic function of alveolar macrophages, and consequently, increased pneumococcal loads within the lungs and translocation into blood.”

Short-term exposure to ambient fine particulate matter and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a nationwide case-crossover study in Japan: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(19)30262-1/fulltext “Short-term exposure to PM2·5 was associated with an increased risk of OHCA even at relatively low concentrations. Regulatory standards and targets need to incorporate the potential health gains from continual air quality improvement even in locations already meeting WHO standards.”

Adverse organogenesis and predisposed long-term metabolic syndrome from prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/24/11590.short?rss%3D1 “Maternal exposure to fine PM increased stillbirths; reduced gestation length and birth weight; increased concentrations of glucose and free fatty acids in plasma; enhanced lipid accumulation in the liver; and decreased endothelium-dependent relaxation of aorta. This lead to altered organogenesis and predisposed progeny to long-term metabolic defects in an age-, organ-, and sex-specific manner. Our results highlight the necessity to develop therapeutic strategies to remedy adverse health effects of maternal PM exposure on conceptus/postnatal growth and development.”

Tackling air pollution may accidentally trigger serious health issues: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2232155-tackling-air-pollution-may-accidentally-trigger-serious-health-issues/#ixzz6DAovBMtm “Many urban areas around the world are in breach of World Health Organization guidelines on PM2.5, particulate matter with a maximum diameter of 2.5 micrometres. Vehicles are a common source of this kind of pollution. But simply reducing levels of PM2.5 pollution may not improve the safety of urban air. A Chinese-US team has found that PM2.5 plays a key role in suppressing the formation of another type of pollution in built-up areas – “ultrafine particles”. These have a diameter of under 50 nanometres, and an emerging body of work has linked them to health concerns including birth defects.”

Revealed: salmonella, toxic chemicals and plastic found in sewage spread on farmland: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/02/04/sewage-sludge-landspreading-environment-agency-report/ “A secret report obtained by Unearthed has revealed serious weaknesses in the Environment Agency’s controls on an industry that spreads millions of tonnes of sewage sludge on farmland each year. Investigators commissioned by the agency found sewage waste destined for English crops contaminated with dangerous “persistent organic pollutants” like dioxins, fuerans, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at “levels that may present a risk to human health”. They reported evidence that these sludges, which are routinely spread as fertiliser on hundreds of farms, were widely contaminated with microplastics that could ultimately leave soil “unsuitable for agriculture”.”

Food & food security

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019: http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/ “For decades, the number of hungry people had been declining – this isn’t true anymore. More than 820 million people do not have enough to eat. At the same time no region is exempt from the epidemic of overweight and obesity.”

Climate change is already affecting global food production—unequally: https://phys.org/news/2019-05-climate-affecting-global-food-productionunequally.amp “The world's top 10 crops— barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat—supply a combined 83 percent of all calories produced on cropland. Yields have long been projected to decrease in future climate conditions. Now, new research shows climate change has already affected production of these key energy sources—and some regions and countries are faring far worse than others.”

Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46459714 “But what is the difference between beef and chicken? Does a bowl of rice produce more climate warming greenhouse gases than a plate of chips? Is wine more environmentally friendly than beer? To find out the climate impact of what you eat and drink, choose from one of the 34 items in our calculator and pick how often you have it.”

The Angry Chef – Meat Matters: https://angry-chef.com/blog/meat-matters “In my New Year’s post, I mentioned that the world does not need more balanced books, but it does need more balanced debates. With this in mind, I have written the following to try and create some balance in the debate about diets and nutrition. I am sure that it will upset some people and many will disagree, but I hope that does not mean that we stop talking.”

You want to reduce the carbon footprint of your food? Focus on what you eat, not whether your food is local: https://ourworldindata.org/food-choice-vs-eating-local “Eating locally would only have a significant impact if transport was responsible for a large share of food’s final carbon footprint. For most foods, this is not the case. GHG emissions from transportation make up a very small amount of the emissions from food and what you eat is far more important than where your food traveled from.”

Almonds are out. Dairy is a disaster. So what milk should we drink? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/28/what-plant-milk-should-i-drink-almond-killing-bees-aoe “A glass of dairy milk produces almost three times more greenhouse gas than any plant-based milk. But vegan options have drawbacks of their own”

Plant-based meat could create a radically different food chain: https://www.economist.com/international/2019/10/12/plant-based-meat-could-create-a-radically-different-food-chain “A niche business is becoming mainstream. Startups and established food conglomerates are hungry for a share of a rapidly growing market for plant-based meats—foods that mimic the taste, texture and nutritional qualities of meat, without a single animal in sight.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 31 January 2020

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

A decade on from Marmot, why are health inequalities widening? https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4251 “Experts in public health have warned that inequalities in health have worsened since Michael Marmot’s landmark review was published in 2010, and they call for major policy reforms to tackle growing disparities in life expectancy in the UK. Figures published in March by the Office for National Statistics show that the gap between rich and poor people in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy is increasing in England. Against this troubling backdrop, a 10 year update to the Marmot review will report next February to provide an update on the existence and effectiveness of national and local policies to tackle the social determinants of ill health and to examine what societal trends have affected health inequalities.”

All Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth – Reconnecting Wealth Creation and Social Justice: https://www.inclusivegrowth.co.uk/ “The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth brings together reformers across politics, business, trade unions, finance, churches, faith groups and civil society, to forge a new consensus on inclusive growth and identify the practical next steps for reform.”

Problem debt and the social security system: https://www.stepchange.org/policy-and-research/social-security-report.aspx “National polling commissioned by StepChange shows that 54% per cent of those in problem debt receive support through the social security system. 46% of those in the system are never able to make ends meet. The link between poverty and problem debt means that it is crucial that the social security works well for those experiencing financial difficulty and problem debt. But we found that this is not the case and the system is falling short.”

Poorer areas to lose 'hundreds of millions' under proposed changes: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Poorer-areas-to-lose-hundreds-of-millions-under-proposed-changes/49882 “Former ‘red wall’ areas are to lose millions of pounds under the fair funding review, analysis by LGA Labour Group has found. The figures show that over 70% of new Tory MPs will represent communities hit hardest by the changes to the way council funding is allocated. The analysis shows that metropolitan councils will lose almost £300m in adult social care funding under the proposals, with £250m being diverted to Tory shire county councils.”

Community-centred public health: taking a whole system approach: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-centred-public-health-taking-a-whole-system-approach “Resources to enable local systems to implement and embed community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing at scale.”

Doomsday Clock is 100 seconds to midnight, the symbolic hour of the apocalypse: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/01/23/doomsday-clock/ “It is the first time the clock has passed the two-minute mark in more than 70 years of existence, a testament to the need for urgent action, the Bulletin said Thursday, as the nonprofit’s leader warned of influential leaders who “denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats.””


I have collated a range of resources and links for up to date and authoritative information on the novel coronavirus. Many of these pages are updated regularly as the situation changes.

Healthy planning & environment

RTPI – Five Reasons for Climate Justice in Spatial Planning: https://www.rtpi.org.uk/media/3679629/Five%20reasons%20for%20climate%20justice%20in%20spatial%20planning.pdf “Climate change represents an ethical challenge, as much as a scientific or technical one, which means policy makers must consider not only how and why levels of vulnerability to climate change vary but how their policies benefit or disadvantage particular groups. This position paper outlines the RTPI's viewpoint.” This is part of wider work by the RTPI - Better Planning: Climate change: https://www.rtpi.org.uk/knowledge/better-planning/better-planning-climate-change/

Road proximity, air pollution, noise, green space and neurologic disease incidence: a population-based cohort study: https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-020-0565-4 “Road proximity was associated with incidence of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. This association may be partially mediated by air pollution, whereas noise exposure did not affect associations. There was some evidence of protective effects of greenness.”

Child Friendly Planning in the UK: A Review: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58aaff9b17bffc6029da965f/t/5de7bdeb78ef74397918653a/1575468539397/National+Planning+Policy+Report.pdf “This report is a careful analysis of how children’s rights are presented within the national planning policies and supporting guidance of each UK nation. It looks specifically at three key human rights as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These are the right to participate in decision-making (Article 12); to gather in public space (Article 15); and to play, rest leisure, and access cultural life (Article 31).”

Making London Child-Friendly: designing places and streets for children and young people: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ggbd_making_london_child-friendly.pdf “Several factors, from changing attitudes and the role of technology, to increased concerns over safety, can be referenced to explain the decline in levels of independent mobility. The PSI study also found that the most successful initiatives to improve children’s independent mobility focused on transforming the built environment. The independent mobility of children and young people is therefore a key consideration for London's built environment, and an important topic for planners, designers, architects and policymakers.”

Cover one-fifth of UK in trees to save climate and revive wildlife, government told: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tree-plant-net-zero-carbon-woodland-trust-climate-change-crisis-a9293586.html “Tree-planting must be ramped up on a huge scale to help the UK effectively cancel out its carbon emissions and tackle wildlife losses, conservationists have told the government. The Woodland Trust has published an emergency tree plan urging ministers to more than double rates of planting, protect what Britain already has and work to prevent plant diseases.”

Humans risk living in an empty world, warns UN biodiversity chief: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/20/humans-risk-living-in-an-empty-world-warns-un-biodiversity-chief-aoe “Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, has implored governments to ensure 2020 is not just another “year of conferences” on the ongoing ecological destruction of the planet, urging countries to take definitive action on deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis.”


Number of social homes in England falls by over 17,000, figures show: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/social-housing-crisis-conservatives-sajid-javid-budget-shelter-latest-a9305786.html “Social housing stock in England dropped by over 17,000 in the last year as waiting lists for homes increased, according to the latest release of government figures. Homelessness charity Shelter described the fall as “absolutely outrageous” and demanded the chancellor, Sajid Javid, earmarked extra funds for social homes in his first Budget in March.”

Private Renting, Technology And Anticipatory Governance: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/private-renting-technology-and-anticipatory-governance/ “The arrival of platform capitalism is already having a discernible impact on the private rented sector. The rise of short-term letting via Airbnb and similar sites are disrupting neighbourhoods in tourist-friendly cities and triggering processes of neighbourhood change. The task of analysing these transformations is well underway – although there is plenty more to be done to understand their full ramifications. We are also seeing a range of regulatory responses from municipalities around the world trying to tame the destabilising influence of the churn induced by short-term letting.”

Exploring exclusion in contemporary housing systems: https://whq.org.uk/the-magazine/issue/117/exploring-exclusion-in-contemporary-housing-systems/ “Recent research commissioned by the National Housing Federation found that 8.4 million people in England are directly affected by the housing crisis, with one in seven of the population living in unaffordable, insecure, overcrowded or unsuitable homes. We explore these issues using the concept of ‘housing exclusion’, which includes social, spatial and financial dimensions.”

Households living in overcrowded private rentals ‘doubles’ in decade: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Households-living-in-overcrowded-private-rentals-doubles-in-decade/49872 “An analysis of the English Housing Survey for 2018/19 by Shelter has revealed that more than 283,000 households who rent privately are living in overcrowded conditions. This figure has doubled in the last 10 years and increased by 22,000 households in the last year alone.”

Seven out of 10 councils overspend on homelessness: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Seven-out-of-10-councils-overspend-on-homelessness/49896 “Seven out of 10 English councils overspent their homelessness budgets in 2018/19 by a combined total of nearly £115m, Local Government Association (LGA) analysis has found.”

Sector presses for further action on cladding: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Sector-presses-for-further-action-on-cladding/49860 “Building safety reforms billed as the ‘biggest change for a generation’ do not go far enough to clamp down on potentially dangerous cladding, councils argued this week.”

Climate change & sustainability

Complex evolving patterns of mass loss from Antarctica’s largest glacier: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0527-z “Pine Island Glacier has contributed more to sea level rise over the past four decades than any other glacier in Antarctica. Model projections indicate that this will continue in the future but at conflicting rates… We demonstrate how the pattern of thinning is evolving in complex ways both in space and time and how rates in the fast-flowing central trunk have decreased by about a factor five since 2007.”

Paris Climate Agreement passes the cost-benefit test: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13961-1 “We thus provide an inter-temporally optimizing cost-benefit analysis of this century’s climate problem. We account for uncertainties regarding the damage curve, climate sensitivity, socioeconomic future, and mitigation costs. The resulting optimal temperature is robust as can be understood from the generic temperature-dependence of the mitigation costs and the level of damages inferred from the observed temperature-growth relationship. Our results show that the politically motivated Paris Climate Agreement also represents the economically favourable pathway, if carried out properly.”

Environmental degradation driving gender-based violence – IUCN study: https://www.iucn.org/news/gender/202001/environmental-degradation-driving-gender-based-violence-iucn-study “The degradation of nature can lead to gender-based violence including sexual assault, domestic violence and forced prostitution, according to a new IUCN study published today. Competition over increasingly scarce and degraded resources can exacerbate these forms of violence, the review study finds.”

Tropical forests losing ability to absorb CO2, study says: https://www.carbonbrief.org/tropical-forests-losing-ability-to-absorb-co2-study-says “The new analysis uses a combination of remote-sensing data and modelling to create a detailed picture of carbon loss and gain across all of Earth’s biomes from 1992 to 2015. It shows a diverging picture in the world’s two most important ecosystems for storing carbon on land: tropical rainforests and “boreal” forests, which are found in the cold climate of the high latitudes.”

Why we should be wary of blaming ‘overpopulation’ for the climate crisis: https://theconversation.com/why-we-should-be-wary-of-blaming-overpopulation-for-the-climate-crisis-130709 “Famed primatologist Dr Jane Goodall remarked at the event that human population growth is responsible, and that most environmental problems wouldn’t exist if our numbers were at the levels they were 500 years ago. This might seem fairly innocuous, but its an argument that has grim implications and is based on a misreading of the underlying causes of the current crises. As these escalate, people must be prepared to challenge and reject the overpopulation argument.”

“A Trillion Trees” is a great idea—that could become a dangerous climate distraction: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615102/tree-planting-is-a-great-idea-that-could-become-a-dangerous-climate-distraction/ “Perhaps the biggest risk is that the appeal of natural-sounding solutions can delude us into thinking we’re taking more meaningful action than we really are. It “invites people to view tree planting as a substitute” for the sweeping changes required to prevent greenhouse-gas emissions from reaching the atmosphere in the first place, says Jane Flegal, a member of the adjunct faculty at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.”

Wood Construction could turn urban skylines into carbon sinks: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/01/wood-construction-turn-urban-skylines-carbon-sinks/ “The researchers say that constructing new buildings out of wood and other bio-based materials like bamboo and hemp could actually turn the urban skyline into a carbon sink. In the most optimistic scenario, buildings could store a total of 20 gigatons of carbon over the next three decades.”

With the En-ROADS climate simulator, you can build your own solutions to global warming: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/01/en-roads-climate-solutions-simulator/ “Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as “de-nihilism“. One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris accord and limit global warming.”

US Climate Resilience Toolkit: https://toolkit.climate.gov/#expertise

For a greener NHS: https://www.england.nhs.uk/greenernhs/ “Climate change poses a major threat to our health as well as our planet. The environment is changing, that change is accelerating, and this has direct and immediate consequences for our patients, the public and the NHS. This is why the NHS has launched the ‘For a greener NHS’ programme, working with our staff, hospitals and our partners. We want to build on the great work being done by trusts across the country, sharing ideas on how to reduce the impact on public health and the environment, save money and – eventually – go net carbon zero.”

Study: Climate change threatens world's wine supply: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/480190-study-climate-change-threatens-worlds-wine-supply “More than half of the areas around the world suitable for growing grapes used for wine could become unsuitable for the purpose in 80 years due to climate change, according to a new study. A study published Monday in the National Academy of Sciences' online journal said that 56 percent of wine-growing regions could be unsuitable by 2100 should the Earth's climate warm 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in that time.”

Revealed: UK government financing millions of tonnes of emissions overseas: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/01/23/uk-boris-johnson-financing-coal-fossil-fuels-carbon-emissions/ “A little-known UK government agency is helping to finance projects overseas that will emit 69m tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, Unearthed can reveal… The projects are backed by UK Export Finance (UKEF), which offers loans and financial guarantees to UK companies involved in major projects around the world. It has long declined to rule out investments in fossil fuels.”

David Attenborough says fixed-term parliaments could mean short-sighted climate action: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/david-attenborough-climate-change-citizens-assembly-fixed-term-parliaments-a9302566.html “Sir David said: “If you have a parliament that is of a fixed length of five years, it’s very difficult to persuade politicians that they should give money and time and attention and worry about an issue which is not going to come to a climax – and people won’t know if it is successful or not successful – for 10 years hence, 15 years hence.””

Ministers doing little towards 2050 emissions target, say top scientists: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/24/ministers-doing-little-to-achieve-2050-emissions-target-say-top-scientists-heathrow-expansion “Expanding Heathrow airport is unlikely to be compatible with the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, leading scientists have said, adding that government policies are lacking in many other key areas from home insulation and transport to carbon capturing.”

Portugal reaches 100% renewables, ends fossil fuel subsidies: https://reneweconomy.com.au/portugal-reaches-100-renewables-ends-fossil-fuel-subsidies-32820/ “Portugal’s renewable energy sources generated enough power to exceed total grid demand across the month of March, a new report has found, setting a standard that is expected to become the norm for the European nation. According to Portuguese grid operator, REN, renewable energy output over the month reached 4,812GWh, surpassing the nation’s total electricity needs for March, which only topped 4,647GWh.”

Sainsbury's pledges £1bn to cut emissions to zero by 2040: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51263991 “The supermarket chain, which is the second largest in the UK, has said it will spend £1bn to reach the target. It pledged to reduce emissions from areas like refrigeration and transport. Critics said the pledge did not extend to the supermarket's supply network, which accounts for most of its emissions. However, Sainsbury's said it would be contacting its suppliers.”

Active travel & transport

Manchester cycle network plan could be national blueprint, says Burnham: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/28/manchester-cycle-network-plan-could-be-national-blueprint-says-burnham “A joined-up cycling and walking network in Greater Manchester could provide a national blueprint for reducing congestion and air pollution and improving health, a report says. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, and Chris Boardman, the region’s cycling and walking commissioner, are calling on the government to back plans for an 1,800-mile network of protected routes for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Safer Cycling Advocate Program – Best Practice Guide: https://safercycling.roadsafetyngos.org/best-practice-guide/?mc_cid=1eea78c683&mc_eid=f209095101 “The Safer Cycling Advocate Program (SCAP) seeks to empower civil society organizations by building their capacity to advocate for safer roads and to promote cycling as a transport mode. Road crashes are estimated to kill around 1.3 million people every year and are the leading cause of death among children and young people aged between 5 and 29 years. Although the burden is universal, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are hit the hardest, with over 90% of all deaths occurring in these countries.”

Glasgow set for 20mph speed limit: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Glasgow-set-for-20mph-speed-limit/49866 “Glasgow City Council has approved plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit across most of its roads. The limit will apply to all residential streets, the city centre, main shopping areas and where there are high levels of walking or cycling.”

National Audit Office - High Speed Two: A progress update: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/high-speed-two-a-progress-update/ “High Speed Two is an ambitious national programme, the construction of which will take decades. The Department, HS2 Ltd and government more widely underestimated the task, leading to optimistic estimates being used to set budgets and delivery dates. In not fully and openly recognising the programme’s risks from the outset, the Department and HS2 Ltd have not adequately managed the risks to value for money. If these risks had been recognised and managed earlier, then the significant activity in a pressured environment over the past year trying to understand and contain cost increases may not have been necessary. There are lessons to be learned from the experience of High Speed Two for other major infrastructure programmes.”

Air quality & pollution

The Inside Story: Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gjCmryy1w6zlOSXLusI0mglkmdr4hXHz/view “The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians wish to support clinicians by providing the tools to advocate for healthy air for their patients… The focus of this report is about the emerging evidence on indoor air pollution, and sets out recommendations aimed at preventing poor indoor air quality affecting the health and well-being of children.”

200 London schools sign up to clean air audits: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/01/23/200-london-schools-sign-up-to-clean-air-audits/ “The scheme involves clean air audits, carried out by engineering consultancy WSP, which assess the air quality before making recommendations to the school to improve air quality.”

Air-filtering bus to launch across six regions in the UK: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2020/jan/24/air-filtering-bus-to-launch-across-six-regions-in-the-uk “The bus, trialled since 2018 in Southampton, is fitted with fans on the roof that draw in air at a rate of one cubic metre per second and filter out ultra-fine particulate pollution. The single-decker buses are expected to start operating in Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Plymouth and Crawley from this summer. Another five buses will be introduced in Southampton.”

PFAS Contamination of Drinking Water Far More Prevalent Than Previously Reported: https://www.ewg.org/research/national-pfas-testing/ “New laboratory tests commissioned by EWG have for the first time found the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including major metropolitan areas. The results confirm that the number of Americans exposed to PFAS from contaminated tap water has been dramatically underestimated by previous studies, both from the Environmental Protection Agency and EWG’s own research.”

Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/22/climate/trump-environment-water.html#click=https://t.co/XndKmppJUj “The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens.”

Food & food security

You want to reduce the carbon footprint of your food? Focus on what you eat, not whether your food is local: https://ourworldindata.org/food-choice-vs-eating-local “‘Eating local’ is a recommendation you hear often – even from prominent sources, including the United Nations. While it might make sense intuitively – after all, transport does lead to emissions – it is one of the most misguided pieces of advice. Eating locally would only have a significant impact if transport was responsible for a large share of food’s final carbon footprint. For most foods, this is not the case. GHG emissions from transportation make up a very small amount of the emissions from food and what you eat is far more important than where your food traveled from.”

UK needs to embrace chlorinated chicken, says Trump spokesperson ahead of Brexit trade talks: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/donald-trump-and-woody-johnson-on-chlorinated-chicken-1-6484830 “The government has repeatedly vowed not to weaken food standards as part of a trade deal with the US with environment secretary Theresa Villiers saying that the UK would "not be importing chlorinated chicken" just weeks ago. But the row has heated up with US ambassador Woody Johnson writing to The Sunday Times insisting that the modified meat and poultry should be accepted by Britain. "These products should absolutely be included in a US-UK free trade agreement that will create new markets for farmers from both countries and offer more choices to British and American consumers." he said, calling on the UK food standards agency to "recommend" the products.”

Trade wars are huge threats to food security: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2276 “The international agricultural trading system needs to become less distorted, more inclusive and sustainable, as well as take the specific needs of developing countries into account. The high volume of agricultural subsidies given to producers in developed countries must be reduced. For instance, OECD countries provided US$315 billion worth of support and protection for their agricultural producers in 2017. Instead of improving fair and transparent market access, growing anti-globalization sentiments and moves towards protectionism threaten to undermine the substantial benefits of global trade, particularly for food systems and nutrition. At the same time, anti-globalization and protectionist approaches do nothing to address the problems they claim to respond to.”

Vast Locust Swarm Casts Shadow Over East African Food Security: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-25/vast-locust-swarm-casts-shadow-over-east-african-food-security “The worst desert-locust plague in Kenya in 70 years is threatening to spread further into East Africa, jeopardizing food security. Swarms of the insects are already devouring crops and pasture in Ethiopia and Somalia, and they’re breeding in Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan -- all areas that are prone to drought and food shortages. There’s a high risk they may soon enter northeast Uganda and southeast South Sudan, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said Friday.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 24 January 2020

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

UK Faculty of Public Health Strategy 2020-2025: https://www.fph.org.uk/media/2828/fph-strategy-2020-2025.pdf “...In the UK, however, health inequalities between rich and poor are widening, with poverty and homelessness increasing. Infant deaths are rising, early years health is worsening and life expectancy is stalling. Public health approaches to knife crime, gambling and drug misuse have been gaining recognition and should be embedded in all community strategies. There are unacceptably high levels of air pollution in many towns and cities and the serious adverse effects of this are now much better understood. We are seeing a fall in immunisation rates and screening uptake, which are vital for the prevention of disease and disability. And our health services do not take full advantage of preventing and controlling the premature onset of chronic and multiple diseases to the extent they should. We also need to protect the health of our environment and to live sustainably within the planet’s  resources. And we must act now to secure the best possible health for future generations.”

Sustainable development goals

John Middleton: Brexiting health—the UK will miss out on prosperity, public health and planetary health: https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/01/16/john-middleton-brexiting-health-the-uk-will-miss-out-on-prosperity-public-health-and-planetary-health/ “The UK faces a clear danger of being left behind on many actions which will determine the future well being of Europeans. It is already clear that we are being sidelined on research. Our major trading partner, the European Union, will call the shots in future trade deals. Our trading partners outside Europe may well go to the bigger bloc first for the deals they need and there is no guarantee that we can just walk into “World Trade Organisation conditions”  We may miss out on revenue from fair digital taxes and corporation taxes which require international political consensus and muscle. Outside of the EU, our burden of migration may increase. If we are not working collaboratively as part of EU provisions, and if we default on our share of the costs of the deal with Turkey to hold Syrian refugees, there will be no incentive for EU countries to prevent migration to our shores.”

Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/09–2017/18: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/households-below-minimum-income-standard-2017-18 “The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) reflects what members of the public think is needed for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in the UK today. This report looks at the proportion of people who fall below this level, and those with incomes below 75% of MIS. It focuses on three groups: children, working-age adults and pensioners. Children continue to be the most likely of these three groups to be living in a household with an income below that needed for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living.”

The long and winding road: https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/the-long-and-winding-road/ “So now is a particularly opportune time to step back and assess where UC has got to so far, and its likely impacts in the longer term. That is the subject of this report – supported by the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority – which reviews both the national picture and the experience in LCR in particular as a case study of UC’s impact on a particular place and its people. We draw on analysis of administrative data, microsimulation modelling, case-study modelling, and in-depth qualitative interviews with UC recipients across LCR. As well as providing insights for local government and other organisations in LCR, this focus on one area illustrates that UC’s impact is more nuanced than either its opponents or supporters often suggest.”

Bringing the commercial determinants of health out of the shadows: a review of how the commercial determinants are represented in conceptual frameworks: https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/advance-article/doi/10.1093/eurpub/ckz197/5709506 “Our current public health models may risk framing public health problems and solutions in ways that obscure the role that the private sector, in particular large transnational companies, play in shaping the broader environment and individual behaviours, and thus population health outcomes.”

Where are England’s charities? https://www.thinknpc.org/resource-hub/where-are-englands-charities/ “But England also suffers geographical inequality in social capital and infrastructure. This research suggests that deprived areas in general, and many of the ‘left behind’ places in particular, suffer from a lack of charities, compounding their economic hardship with a lack of social capital. We argue that this is not an accident and the distribution of charities could be influenced by the charity taxation regime, the way that the government funds and the way that independent funders and larger charities behave.”

Oxfam- Time to Care: https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/time-care “Economic inequality is out of control. In 2019, the world’s billionaires, only 2,153 people, had more wealth than 4.6 billion people. This great divide is based on a flawed and sexist economic system that values the wealth of the privileged few, mostly men, more than the billions of hours of the most essential work – the unpaid and underpaid care work done primarily by women and girls around the world.” – more here - Global economy 'just plain sexist' – Oxfam: https://theecologist.org/2020/jan/20/global-economy-just-plain-sexist-oxfam

Social mobility at the top: how elites in the UK are pulling away: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/social-mobility-at-the-top/ “The link between geographic mobility and the reproduction of social class advantage is having a powerful effect in British society, write Katharina Hecht, Daniel McArthur, Mike Savage, and Sam Friedman. Based on an original study of changing social and geographical mobility into elite occupations, they explain why the tensions between London and the English and Welsh ‘provinces’ have deep roots.”

Hull asks to be first UK city to trial universal basic income: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/19/hull-universal-basic-income-trial “The proposal would mean every adult would be paid a basic sum – potentially between £50 and £100 a week – regardless of income, and do away with the need for welfare. People receiving disability payments would instead get the equivalent sum in universal basic income (UBI) and there would be higher payments for pensioners and lower sums for children. The ambitious scheme has been trialled with varying success in Finland, the US and Kenya but the idea has been gaining traction in a number of UK cities, particularly in the north of England.”

Young people and the post-crisis precarity: the abnormality of the ‘new normal’: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/young-people-and-the-post-crisis-precarity/ “Craig Berry and Sean McDaniel draw upon research with focus groups and an online community exercise to examine the attitudes of young people in relation to the apparent ‘normalisation’ of precarity in the post-2008 economy. They find that although young people recognise the abnormality of labour market conditions, they nevertheless fail to see value in conventional forms of trade union organisation.”

Is there any *actual* evidence for social prescribing yet: https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/is-there-any-actual-evidence-for-social-prescribing-yet/ “A cynical (or pragmatic?) view would be that a “roll out” has shades of many other schemes that get rolled out …. Seems “intuitively a good idea but rolled out without proper resourcing or evaluation”. The former is definitely true.”

Healthy planning & environment

A skills and knowledge framework for Health Impact Assessment: https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/a-skills-and-knowledge-framework-for-health-impact-assessment “How the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit used the Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework to review their training strategy and shape practice.”

Health Impact Assessment Training and Capacity Building Framework: https://whiasu.publichealthnetwork.cymru/files/3415/6136/9729/WHIASU_Training_and_Capacity_Building_Framework_for_HIA_in_Wales_2019-_2024_FINAL_TECHNICAL_DOCUMENT.pdf “This technical document sets out an underpinning framework for the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit’s (WHIASU) approach to the design, development, delivery and evaluation of training and capacity building for HIA in Wales, the UK, and across the World Health Organization’s European Region for the next five years.”

Activists warn of ‘fracking by stealth’ and call for acid fracking ban: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/17/activists-warn-of-fracking-by-stealth-and-call-for-acid-fracking-ban “Campaigners have warned that the fracking moratorium announced by the UK government does not apply to acid fracking, a process that involves injecting acid into the earth to dissolve and fracture rock. More than 500 academics, politicians and campaigners have signed an open letter initiated by Brockham Oil Watch calling on the government to ban the practice over fears companies may use it to get around the moratorium.”


A Housing Design Audit for England: http://placealliance.org.uk/research/national-housing-audit/ “Planning authorities are under pressure to deliver new homes and are therefore prioritising numbers in the short-term over the long-term negative impacts of bad design. At the same time, house builders have little incentive to improve when their designs continue to pass through the planning system. Some highways authorities, meanwhile, do not even recognise their role in creating a sense of place for communities. “Collectively, house builders, planning authorities and highways authorities need to significantly raise their game. This can’t come soon enough”.

Raising Local Housing Allowance alone won't stop poverty rising: https://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/raising-local-housing-allowance-alone-wont-stop-poverty-rising “The recent welcome, but limited, measures will not move the dial enough to ensure people have a decent, secure home, or ensure that work pays, says Iain Porter.”

Ethically-Speaking, What Is The Most Reasonable Way Of Evaluating Housing Outcomes? https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/ethically-speaking-what-is-the-most-reasonable-way-of-evaluating-housing-outcomes/ “This paper addresses one of the most fundamental, but least considered, questions in housing research: how should we ultimately evaluate housing outcomes? Rejecting the fact vs value dichotomy so dominant in the social sciences, this paper draws on the work of Amartya Sen and Hilary Putnam to critically assess the ethical assumptions behind three commonly adopted “informational spaces” for evaluating housing outcomes: economic, subjective and “objective” metrics.”

Climate change & sustainability

State of the climate: How the world warmed in 2019: https://www.carbonbrief.org/state-of-the-climate-how-the-world-warmed-in-2019 “All of the official climate data for 2019 is now in. In this article, Carbon Brief explains why last year proved to be so remarkable across the planet’s oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and surface temperature.”

Carbon Clock: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/climate-change-data-green/carbon-clock.html “Scientists have measured the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the 1950s. The Bloomberg Carbon Clock is a real-time estimate of the monthly CO2 level.” -  the only real measure of whether we are tackling climate change.

Increase in global emissions of HFC-23 despite near-total expected reductions: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13899-4 “Under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, new controls are being implemented to reduce emissions of HFC-23 (CHF3), a by-product during the manufacture of HCFC-22 (CHClF2). Starting in 2015, China and India, who dominate global HCFC-22 production (75% in 2017), set out ambitious programs to reduce HFC-23 emissions. Here, we estimate that these measures should have seen global emissions drop by 87% between 2014 and 2017. Instead, atmospheric observations show that emissions have increased and in 2018 were higher than at any point in history (15.9 ± 0.9 Gg yr−1).” – media coverage here: Study finds shock rise in levels of potent greenhouse gas: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/21/study-finds-shock-rise-in-levels-of-potent-greenhouse-gas-hfc-23

Analysis: The climate papers most featured in the media in 2019: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-the-climate-papers-most-featured-in-the-media-in-2019 “Using Altmetric data for 2019, Carbon Brief has compiled its annual list of the 25 most talked-about climate change-related papers that were published the previous year. The infographic above shows which ones made it into the Top 10.”

Wide coverage of the World Economic Forum in Davos;

CCC (Committee on Climate Change) : One fifth of UK farmland must be used to tackle climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/ccc-one-fifth-of-uk-farmland-must-be-used-to-tackle-climate-change “An “urgent” overhaul of the UK’s land and agricultural sector will be essential to meet the government’s legally binding net-zero target, says the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in a new report. The government advisors say that with adequate support, nearly two-thirds of emissions from the land sector can be cut by 2050 without hampering UK food production.”

Ashden – blogs, news and opinion: https://www.ashden.org/news-and-events/news-and-opinion A selection of blogs and articles – including the Climate Quiz of 2019 https://www.ashden.org/news/ashdens-climate-quiz-of-2019

Budget Setting In A Climate Emergency: https://neweconomics.org/2020/01/budget-setting-in-a-climate-emergency “Last month Wales became the first nation to put forward a government budget after declaring a climate emergency. Scotland will produce a budget on 6 February, and the UK government in March. We’ve been supporting Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner in their work, and have some insights into the Welsh government’s efforts, and what other administrations can learn from Wales.”

'It’s just not going to happen': Boris Johnson accused of making impossible pledge for climate crisis summit: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-climate-change-summit-glasgow-fossil-fuel-paris-agreement-a9289116.html “Boris Johnson has been accused of making absurd claims about the crucial climate change summit the UK will host this year, after apparently misunderstanding what it can achieve. Green campaigners have reacted with bemusement and alarm after the prime minister pledged to pile pressure on “the whole world” to agree “enforceable limits” on carbon emissions. They say there is no realistic prospect of setting legally-binding CO2 cuts in Glasgow in November, where leaders will instead be urged to beef-up existing voluntary reductions.”

Climate refugees can't be returned home, says landmark UN human rights ruling: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/20/climate-refugees-cant-be-returned-home-says-landmark-un-human-rights-ruling “The judgment – which is the first of its kind – represents a legal “tipping point” and a moment that “opens the doorway” to future protection claims for people whose lives and wellbeing have been threatened due to global heating, experts say. Tens of millions of people are expected to be displaced by global heating in the next decade.”

Weather shows evidence of climate change every single day since 2012: https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2020/01/weather-shows-evidence-climate-change-every-single-day-2012 “For years, scientists have cautioned that weather can’t tell us about how the climate is changing. That 70-degree day in January? There are a whole pile of reasons that could have happened. Climate change, they’ve said, could be part of the equation, but our statistical techniques haven’t previously been finely enough tuned to pick out the direct influence on weather of human-caused global warming. But those days are over. Climate change has dug in its claws so thoroughly into the planet that its marks can be seen in any single day of global weather since 2012. A 6-year-old child, therefore, has never lived a day without feeling climate change’s influence.”

'The Climate Trail': Survival game pits players against climate catastrophe: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/01/the-climate-trail-survival-game-pits-players-against-climate-catastrophe/ “You’re trapped in a survivor camp in the ruins of Atlanta along with thousands of other climate change refugees, and the only path to relative safety is due north into Canada. You set off with a small band of people, among them Katherine, a former climate scientist; Albert, a hardened Army veteran of the Resource Wars; and Bonnie, whose parents died from the plague when permafrost melted, releasing the disease back into the environment. You provision your group with water, food, and a portable and valued currency, sorghum seeds, and begin an uncertain journey. So begins “The Climate Trail“, a free (and ad-free) video game released this past fall that leaps from the pages of today’s climate change news and into a postapocalyptic future said to lie just a few decades ahead of us. It can be played on iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.”

'Transformation through transparency': How Microsoft will collaborate to meet its carbon-negative goals: https://www.edie.net/news/6/-Transformation-through-transparency---How-Microsoft-will-collaborate-to-meet-its-carbon-negative-goals/ “As it strives to meet its boldest sustainability target to date - becoming "carbon-negative" by 2030 - Microsoft will need to forge innovative collaborations with businesses across and beyond its supply chain.”

Active travel & transport

This new IKEA store has zero parking spaces: https://www.fastcompany.com/90452815/this-new-ikea-store-has-zero-parking-spaces “A typical Ikea store comes with a sprawling parking lot—in Burbank, California, for example, the lot has room for 1,700 cars. But as the company works to shrink its carbon footprint, including the pollution from customers driving to suburban stores, it’s also rethinking parking. A new seven-store building that will house an Ikea store in central Vienna, now under construction, will have zero parking spaces. “The whole building is geared towards pedestrians, subway and streetcar riders, and cyclists—there is no space for cars,” the company writes in German on a store website.”

Walking to school is not enough to prevent obesity: https://theconversation.com/walking-to-school-is-not-enough-to-prevent-obesity-129857 “More children are overweight or obese nowadays because they don’t get enough exercise, it is often claimed. One of the UK government’s goals in the Childhood Obesity Plan is to increase the number of children who walk to school. Walking is certainly healthy, but is it enough to combat childhood obesity? Our latest study suggests it isn’t.”

Air quality & pollution

Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons modifies the effects of early life stress on attention and Thought Problems in late childhood: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jcpp.13189 “Prenatal exposure to PAH, a common neurotoxicant in air pollution, may magnify or sustain the effects of early life psychosocial/socioeconomic stress on psychiatric outcomes later in child development. This work highlights the critical role of air pollution exposure on child mental health.”

Malaysia returns 42 containers of 'illegal' plastic waste to UK: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51176312 “Malaysia is returning 42 shipping containers of illegally imported plastic waste to the UK, its environment minister has announced. Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia would take "steps to ensure" the country "does not become the garbage dump of the world".”

Food & food security

Neural response to fast food commercials in adolescents predicts intake: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/31940031/ “These findings suggest that FF commercials contribute to overeating in adolescents through reward mechanisms. The addition of healthier commercials from FF restaurants is unlikely to encourage healthier food intake, but interventions that reduce the ability of unhealthy FF commercials to capture attention could be beneficial. However, an overall reduction in the amount of FF commercials exposure for adolescents is likely to be the most effective approach.”

Agriculture Bill: here’s what it means for farming and the environment after Brexit: https://theconversation.com/agriculture-bill-heres-what-it-means-for-farming-and-the-environment-after-brexit-130091 “Over the next seven years, farmers will move from the CAP regulations to a new system of environmental land management contracts. These will detail the terms and conditions under which farmers and land managers will receive funding. Subsidies are expected to be paid out from taxpayer funds at the same rate as the EU – about £3 billion a year – to enable landowners to deliver the public goods set out in the UK government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the Clean Growth Strategy.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 17 January 2020

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Imperial College London’s School of Public Health has launched a new set of free online courses providing an introduction to public health practice. The Foundations of Public Health Practice MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course) provide more than 50 hours of content introducing core public health topics such as health improvement, communicable disease control and behaviour change - all delivered by practising public health professionals. Designed to develop the skills and values needed to become an effective public health professional the courses draw on first-hand experiences from experts from across the School of Public Health. The courses are delivered through Coursera’s online learning platform and use a blend of videos, interactive activities, quizzes and interviews with leading public health practitioners connecting theory to practice. For more details please see: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/194332/school-publiyc-health-launches-latest-online/

Sustainable development goals

FPH President Maggie Rae and Martin McKee on the Brexit Withdrawal Bill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fizf7AvuCLs&feature=youtu.be “The first in the Faculty of Public Health's (FPH) film series on Brexit and Public Health. FPH President, Professor Maggie Rae interviews Professor Martin McKee CBE of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the public health impacts of Brexit.”

Seasonal Effects on Stalling Mortality in England: http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/resources-reports/seasonal-effects-on-stalling-mortality-in-england “To the extent that mortality in the winter months of 2011-2018/9 was increased by periodic flu epidemics and cold spells, this analysis shows that if the change in mortality in winter was no greater than in summer this would account for one eight of the slowdown in male mortality and one sixth of the slowdown in female mortality. In other words, seven eighth and five sixth of the annual slowdown for males and females, respectively, was due to factors other than the effects of greater winter-associated mortality in 2011-18/9 compared to 2001-10.”

Early childhood deprivation is associated with alterations in adult brain structure despite subsequent environmental enrichment: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/1/641 “We studied impact on adult brain structure of a particularly severe but time-limited form of institutional deprivation in early life experienced by children who were subsequently adopted into nurturing families… Deprivation-related alterations in total brain volume were associated with lower intelligence quotient and more attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms; alterations in temporal volume seemed compensatory, as they were associated with fewer attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. We provide evidence that early childhood deprivation is related to alterations in adult brain structure, despite environmental enrichment in intervening years.”

Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On: http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/about-us/the-institute-of-health-equity/our-current-work/collaborating-with-the-health-foundation- “In the ten years since the publication of The Marmot Review, health inequalities appear to be widening, and life expectancy increases have stalled.  We urgently need to reprioritise and take action on health inequalities. This is why UCL Institute of Health Equity is working with The Health Foundation to examine progress in addressing health inequalities in England and to propose recommendations for future action.”

World Economic Forum - Global Risks Report 2020: https://www.oliverwyman.com/our-expertise/insights/2020/jan/globalrisks2020.html “The Global Risks Report forecasts a year of increased domestic and international divisions with the added risk of economic slowdown. 78% of survey respondents said they expect “economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarization” to rise in 2020. Global experts also see the risk of extreme heatwaves and destruction of natural ecosystems increasing, as well as a rise in cyber-attacks targeting operations and infrastructure and data/money theft.”

How household debt influences inequality: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/how-household-debt-influences-inequality/ “James Wood writes that private debt contributes to increasing inequality, as highly indebted households provide a revenue stream to the financial sector, where profits are distributed to financial employees, managers, and executives, as well as to the most affluent households which hold the concentrated ownership of financial assets.”

Raising the national living wage is right but it won't stop poverty: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/raising-the-national-living-wage-is-right-but-it-wont-stop-poverty-1352704 “Increasing the national living wage well above inflation is the right thing to do. It cannot be right that four million workers and their families are locked into poverty due to high housing costs, work that isn’t paying, and inadequate social security. Raising wages after a tough decade could make a big difference to many - but it won’t turn the tide on rising poverty unless there is effective action to bring down costs and make social security an anchor in hard times.”

NEF Review Of The Year 2019: https://neweconomics.org/2020/01/nef-review-of-the-year-2019?mc_cid=7aa1829e53&mc_eid=a15a43d447 “We are excited to present NEF’s Review of the Year – an overview of everything we got up to in 2019. In it you can read about our three missions to transform our failing economy: a new social settlement, a Green New Deal, and democratising the economy. In the meantime, here are some highlights we are particularly proud of”

Healthy planning & environment

FPH Fracking Statement: https://www.fph.org.uk/news-events/fph-news/fph-fracking-statement/ “The Faculty of Public Health endorses the findings of an updated 2016 report from Medact that examines the evidence set out in over 350 academic papers published since the original Medact report in 2015, looking at the impact of fracking on local communities, the natural environment and climate change. The Faculty supports the call for an ongoing and permanent moratorium on fracking due to the possible serious public health risks involved..”

UN draft plan sets 2030 target to avert Earth's sixth mass extinction: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/13/un-draft-plan-sets-2030-target-to-avert-earths-sixth-mass-extinction-aoe “Almost a third of the world’s oceans and land should be protected by the end of the decade to stop and reverse biodiversity decline that risks the survival of humanity, according to a draft Paris-style UN agreement on nature. To combat what scientists have described as the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, the proposal sets a 2030 deadline for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and wildlife that perform crucial services for humans.”

Free Webinar 31 January - Environmental investment for health outcomes: what does the evidence say? https://beyondgreenspace.net/2020/01/14/sweep-project-webinars-environmental-investment-for-health-outcomes-what-does-the-evidence-say/ “Dr Becca Lovell, Lecturer in Biodiversity and Healthy Policy at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, will be presenting our second webinar. Join us for this webinar to learn more about the key research on links between the natural environment and human health and wellbeing, their benefits and how this knowledge is informing investment in interventions such as green prescribing and urban greenspace provision. Becca will give an overview of the evidence, discuss information gaps, and talk about the implications of the evidence for different sectors such as urban planning and public health. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

What’s the Damage: Why HS2 will cost nature too much: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/What%27s%20the%20damage%20-%20Full%20Report%20digital2_0.pdf “Given this and that HS2 is a major infrastructure development, The Wildlife Trusts have commissioned the first comprehensive assessment of the environmental damage that HS2 will cause, assessing the broad range of impacts across all phases of development focusing on protected sites, landscape initiatives and a number of important habitats and species… The report reveals that the construction of HS2 will destroy and fragment large swathes of natural habitat and important protected wildlife sites, resulting in the loss of irreplaceable habitats, the increased fragmentation of remaining habitats, and the local extinction of endangered species.”

Geographers find tipping point in deforestation: https://phys.org/news/2020-01-geographers-deforestation.amp “Geography professor Tomasz Stepinski used high-resolution satellite images from the European Space Agency to study landscapes in 9-kilometer-wide blocks across every inch of the planet between 1992 and 2015. He found that deforestation occurs comparatively slowly in these blocks until about half of the forest is gone. Then the remaining forest disappears very quickly.”

Capturing Increases In Land Value: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/capturing-increases-in-land-value/ “The paper looks at the arguments for capturing increases in land values especially increases following planning permission, reviews the evidence of the outcome of policies and considers what more might be done including in the light of experience overseas and the differing experiences within the nations of the UK.”


Homelessness Prevention In The UK – Emerging Impact Of Cache Analysis: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/homelessness-prevention-in-the-uk-emerging-impact-of-cache-analysis/ “In July 2019 Prof Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Dr Peter Mackie, and Dr Jenny Wood published a CaCHE policy briefing on homelessness prevention in the UK. Combining original research conducted for CaCHE with work undertaken as part of the long-running Homelessness Monitor series, the briefing analysed the innovation and policy mobility on homelessness prevention that has taken root in the post-devolution period. It also presented a homelessness prevention ‘typology’ that has quickly gained traction with a range of organisations and policymakers. This blog reflects on the existing and potential impact of this framework for understanding homelessness prevention.”

Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need: https://scoop.me/housing-first-finland-homelessness/ “In Finland, the number of homeless people has fallen sharply. The reason: The country applies the “Housing First” concept. Those affected by homelessness receive a small apartment and counselling – without any preconditions. 4 out of 5 people affected thus make their way back into a stable life. And: All this is cheaper than accepting homelessness.”

About the Helping People Living in Cold Homes programme: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/cold-homes/ “This e-learning module has been developed to help people whose health is affected by living in a cold home. It supports health and social care professionals to put NICE Guidance NG6 ‘Excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes’ into practice.  It empowers professionals to direct people in cold homes to services that can help them overcome the problem. This can be via each local council’s environmental health team or through other local services that provide support to repair or replace heating systems, install insulation, switch to a cheaper energy deal or better manage temperature and ventilation at home.”

Why Is Housing So Expensive? https://housingevidence.ac.uk/news/why-is-housing-so-expensive/ “This 2-minute animation summarises the main causes of housing unaffordability in England as well as some possible solutions. It focuses mostly, though not exclusively, on the plight of private renters – the group most impacted by housing unaffordability. The facts and evidence behind the animation, as well as further readings, can be found in this fact sheet.”

Climate change & sustainability

Time scales and ratios of climate forcing due to thermal versus carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2015GL063514 One finding - the greenhouse effect from burning coal outweighs the heat produced by burning the coal by a factor of 100,000. “Thermal emissions from fossil fuel combustion are not negligible, especially at local or regional scales [G. J. Zhang et al., 2013; X. Zhang et al., 2013]; however, CO2 radiative forcing from fossil fuel combustion greatly exceeds thermal emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Considered globally, direct thermal forcing from fossil fuel combustion is about 1.71% the radiative forcing from CO2 that has accumulated in the atmosphere from past fossil fuel combustion. When a new power plant comes on line, the radiative forcing from the accumulation of released CO2 exceeds the thermal emissions from the power plant in less than half a year (and about 3 months for coal plants). Due to the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 radiative forcing greatly overwhelms direct thermal forcing on longer time scales. Ultimately, the cumulative radiative forcing from the CO2 exceeds the direct thermal forcing by a factor of ~100,000.”

Global warming to increase violent crime in the United States: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab6b37 “Our results indicate that the United States should expect an additional 3.2 [2.1–4.5] or 2.3 [1.5–3.2] million violent crimes between 2020 and 2099, depending on greenhouse gas emissions scenario. We also reveal critical dependencies of these violent crime projections on various global warming targets, such as those associated with the Paris Agreement (1.5˚C and 2˚C). These results emphasize the often-overlooked socially-mediated impacts of climate change on human health, with an estimated economic cost of $5 billion annually.”

Explainer: How ‘Atlantification’ is making the Arctic Ocean saltier and warmer: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-how-atlantification-is-making-the-arctic-ocean-saltier-and-warmer “In the seas above Scandinavia, there is a point where the Arctic Ocean collides with the warmer, saltier waters of the Atlantic.

This Arctic region – known as the Barents Sea – has undergone rapid change in recent decades. Air temperatures here have risen at more than four times the global average rate since the start of the industrial era. There is growing evidence, too, to suggest that the unique structure of the Arctic Ocean could be shifting in this region. Scientists have uncovered “hotspots” where some parts of the Barents Sea are starting to more closely resemble the Atlantic. They call this phenomenon “Atlantification”.”

Worst marine heatwave on record killed one million seabirds in North Pacific Ocean: https://theconversation.com/worst-marine-heatwave-on-record-killed-one-million-seabirds-in-north-pacific-ocean-129842 “Between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016, a marine heatwave swept the northern Pacific Ocean that was hotter and lasted longer than any since records began in 1870. Known as “the blob”, the heatwave caused sea surface temperatures along the Pacific coast of North America to rise by 1-2°C. That may sound trivial, but it was enough to cause massive disruption in the marine ecosystem. The fish that common guillemots normally eat, such as herring, sardine and anchovy, either died or moved into cooler waters elsewhere, leaving the guillemots with little to eat. As a result, many birds starved.”

Media reaction: Australia’s bushfires and climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/media-reaction-australias-bushfires-and-climate-change “Australia is currently experiencing one of its worst bushfire seasons, with swathes of the southern and eastern coastal regions having been ablaze for weeks. As the fires have spread, there has been extensive media coverage both nationally and internationally documenting – and debating – their impacts.”

Australian bushfire smoke drifts to South America – WMO: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-bushfires-wmo/australian-bushfire-smoke-drifts-to-south-america-wmo-idUSKBN1Z6271 “Smoke from wildfires in Australia has drifted across the Pacific and affected cities in South America, and may have reached the Antarctic, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday. Smoke from the fires had already turned skies bright orange over Auckland in New Zealand.”

West Midlands Combined Authority - Roadmap to 2030: https://www.sustainabilitywestmidlands.org.uk/roadmap-to-2030/ “The West Midlands’ Sustainability Roadmap to 2030 focuses on improving social, economic and environmental indicators across the West Midlands for a more sustainable, fairer and greener region for all.  Building on the previous Roadmap for 2010 – 2020, SWM has consulted with experts, with our members and with hundreds of other stakeholders to ensure that our Roadmap is evidence based and uses the best available data. The eight focus areas cover priority challenges facing the West Midlands and each includes a vision statement and, where possible, a target for 2030. Through cross-sector working across local authority boundaries, we look to create a region with more low carbon jobs, reduced levels of carbon and improved life expectancy.”

Water wars: early warning tool uses climate data to predict conflict hotspots: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jan/08/water-wars-early-warning-tool-uses-climate-data-to-predict-conflict-hotspots “Researchers from six organisations have developed an early warning system to help predict potential water conflicts as violence associated with water surges globally. The Dutch government-funded Water, Peace and Security (WPS) global early warning tool, which was presented to the UN security council before it was launched formally last month, combines environmental variables such as rainfall and crop failures with political, economic and social factors to predict the risk of violent water-related conflicts up to a year in advance.”

Sir David Attenborough warns of climate 'crisis moment': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51123638 “"The moment of crisis has come" in efforts to tackle climate change, Sir David Attenborough has warned. According to the renowned naturalist and broadcaster, "we have been putting things off for year after year". "As I speak, south east Australia is on fire. Why? Because the temperatures of the Earth are increasing," he said. Sir David's comments came in a BBC News interview to launch a year of special coverage on the subject of climate change.”

Terrorism police list Extinction Rebellion as extremist ideology: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/10/xr-extinction-rebellion-listed-extremist-ideology-police-prevent-scheme-guidance “Counter-terrorism police placed the non-violent group Extinction Rebellion (XR) on a list of extremist ideologies that should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent programme, which aims to catch those at risk of committing atrocities, the Guardian has learned.”

The public’s climate change views: strong beliefs but low salience: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/uk-climate-change-views/ “What does the British public think about climate change? Is there strong public pressure on politicians to enact policy to bring down emissions? Drawing on online survey data, Sam Crawley, Hilde Coffé and Ralph Chapman explain that there are five climate change opinion ‘publics’. The two largest publics have strong beliefs that climate change is occurring, but view it as a low salience issue.”

Revealed: US listed climate activist group as ‘extremists’ alongside mass killers: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/13/us-listed-climate-activist-group-extremists “A group of US environmental activists engaged in non-violent civil disobedience targeting the oil industry have been listed in internal Department of Homeland Security documents as “extremists” and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.”

Flybe: Airline and rail rivals attack government rescue: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51117885 “British Airways' owner IAG has filed a complaint to the EU arguing Flybe's rescue breaches state aid rules. The move comes amid a growing backlash against the government's plan to defer some of Flybe's air passenger duty payments, thought to top £100m. EasyJet and Ryanair said taxpayer funds should not be used to save a rival. Meanwhile, the government's proposal to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD), was attacked by the rail industry's trade body and climate campaign groups.”

Eu Unveils Multi-Billion Euro Plan To Support Regional Energy Transition: https://meta.eeb.org/2020/01/14/eu-unveils-multi-billion-euro-plan-to-support-regional-energy-transition/ “Announced today as part of the European Commission’s Sustainable Investment Plan, the so-called Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) was set up to help Europe reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Over the next 10 years, the Sustainable Investment Plan aims to raise a total €1 trillion to support the energy transition across Europe. In the short and medium term, the €100 billion would be used to provide support to areas and industries that face socio-economic challenges. The plan aims to boost public and private investments in low and zero carbon sectors and create new jobs in regions potentially affected by job losses.”

BlackRock vows tougher stance on climate after activist heat: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-blackrock-fink-idUKKBN1ZD150 “In his annual letter to CEOs posted on the company’s website on Tuesday, Fink forecast a “fundamental reshaping of finance” and said companies must act or face anger from investors over how unsustainable business practices might curb their future wealth.”

Active travel & transport

NIHR Signal: Twenty mph speed zones reduce the danger to pedestrians and cyclists: https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/content/signal-000853/twenty-mph-speed-zones-reduce-the-danger-to-pedestrians-and-cyclists “Children killed on schooldays by rush-hour drivers using urban rat runs close to primary schools, in poor communities, on dark days, were a major concern for public health. Children were at risk on foot or cycling. This review found that zones combining traffic calming and signs warning of a speed restriction reduced death and injury, especially for 'those aged 0 to 15 years'. For drivers to notice the need to change speed, these zones need good lighting and signs well in advance of the restricted area, which might explain why the safety benefits begin in areas adjacent to the 20mph zone.”

Carbon Efficiency of Electric Cars: https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/carbon-efficiency-of-electric-cars/ “Arguments about which technology is the most energy and carbon efficient over their entire lifetime are good ones to have. This is where the conversation should be focusing, not rehashing questions that are not currently scientifically controversial. But the debate about life cycle efficiency is complex, and often gets abused or misunderstood. We face these questions from biofuels to solar, wind energy, and all-electric vehicles.”

Move More – a whole system approach to physical activity: https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2020/01/11/move-more-a-whole-system-approach-to-physical-activity/amp/ “We set out to be the most active City by 2020. The mission and vision are clear, as are the main building blocks are clear. These are set out in our the strategy is here. All of the material is on our website. (It is worth noting that the website is a good website, we have invested in this, this has (surprisingly) been problematic as people often draw a conclusion that Move More is a comms and marketing, and the annual (June) move more month)”

Air quality & pollution

NICE - Indoor air quality at home: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng149 “This guideline covers indoor air quality in residential buildings. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of good air quality in people's homes and how to achieve this.”

Air pollution from brake dust may be as harmful as diesel exhaust on immune cells – new study: https://theconversation.com/air-pollution-from-brake-dust-may-be-as-harmful-as-diesel-exhaust-on-immune-cells-new-study-129594 “Composed of iron particles, brake dust is caused by friction between the iron brake rotor grinding on the brake pads when a vehicle slows down. This brake dust is then worn away and becomes airborne. And as recent research conducted by me and my colleagues found, brake dust triggers inflammation in the lung cells with the same severity as diesel particles.”

UK citizens legal right to clean air could be ‘cast aside’ after Brexit: http://airqualitynews.com/2020/01/09/uk-citizens-right-to-clean-air-could-be-cast-aside-after-brexit/ “A change to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill means that UK citizens legal right to breathe clean air could be ‘cast aside’ after Brexit. Whilst the UK will automatically retain EU environmental laws when it leaves the European Union, a clause has been added to section 26 of the bill that means any UK court or tribunal will be able to overrule case law from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU).”

The downstream air pollution impacts of the transition from coal to natural gas in the United States: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0453-5.epdf “Between 2005 and 2016 in the continental United States, decommissioning of a coal-fired unit was associated with reduced nearby pollution concentrations and subsequent reductions in mortality and increases in crop yield. In total during this period, the shutdown of coal-fired units saved an estimated 26,610 (5%–95% confidence intervals (CI), 2,725–49,680) lives and 570 million (249–878 million) bushels of corn, soybeans and wheat in their immediate vicinities; these estimates increase when pollution transport-related spillovers are included. Changes in primary and secondary aerosol burdens also altered regional atmospheric reflectivity, raising the average top of atmosphere instantaneous radiative forcing by 0.50 W m−2. Although there are considerable benefits of decommissioning older coal-fired units, the newer natural gas and coal-fired units that have supplanted them are not entirely benign.”

Plastic packaging ban 'could harm environment': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51040155 “Consumer pressure to end plastic packaging in shops could actually be harming the environment, a report says. Firms are swapping to other packaging materials which are potentially even worse for the environment, the cross-party Parliamentary group warns. Glass bottles, for instance, are much heavier than plastic so are far more polluting to transport. Paper bags tend to have higher carbon emissions than plastic bags – and are more difficult to re-use.”

Why your reusable coffee cup may be no better than a disposable: https://theconversation.com/why-your-reusable-coffee-cup-may-be-no-better-than-a-disposable-120949 “Is any item more symbolic of our modern, disposable culture than the single-use coffee cup? In March 2016, they were vilified in celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “War on Waste” campaign, when he drove a bus through London covered in 10,000 coffee cups: the number the UK allegedly uses every two minutes.”

The missing 99%: why can't we find the vast majority of ocean plastic? https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/31/ocean-plastic-we-cant-see “...But for at least a decade, the biggest question among scientists who study marine plastic hasn’t been why plastic in the ocean is so abundant, but why it isn’t. What scientists can see and measure, in the garbage patches and on beaches, accounts for only a tiny fraction of the total plastic entering the water. So where is the other 99% of ocean plastic? Unsettling answers have recently begun to emerge… Perhaps most frighteningly, says Helge Niemann, a biogeochemist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, it could fragment into such small pieces that it can barely be detected. At this point it becomes, Niemann says, “more like a chemical dissolved in the water than floating in it”.”

edie launches best-practice guide for businesses tackling single-use plastics: https://www.edie.net/news/5/edie-launches-best-practice-guide-for-businesses-tackling-single-use-plastics/ “Launched on Wednesday (15 January) the 22-page report outlines existing case studies from businesses alongside practical steps on how to turn the tide on single-use plastics. The report features a foreword from WRAP’s director Peter Maddox, who claims: “There are many more plastic items that we urgently need to examine in order to remove plastic packaging where it is not deemed necessary, and, when it is necessary, to ensure this packaging is recyclable or reusable and goes back into the economic use.”

Food & food security

Shifts in national land use and food production in Great Britain after a climate tipping point: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-019-0011-3 “We show that economic and land-use impacts of such a tipping point are likely to include widespread cessation of arable farming with losses of agricultural output that are an order of magnitude larger than the impacts of climate change without an AMOC collapse. The agricultural effects of AMOC collapse could be ameliorated by technological adaptations such as widespread irrigation, but the amount of water required and the costs appear to be prohibitive in this instance.”

Food security plan after Brexit: biggest shake-up to farming in 40 years: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/16/food-security-brexit-biggest-shake-uk-farming-40-years-agriculture-bill “The UK’s food security is to be regularly assessed by parliament to ensure minimal disruption to supplies after the country leaves the EU and while new trade deals are sought. The commitment will be part of the biggest shakeup of British agriculture in 40 years and requires a regular report to MPs outlining supply sources and household expenditure on food, as well as consumer confidence in food safety. The move reflects concerns over potential disruptions post-Brexit, as more than a quarter of Britain’s food comes from the EU and nearly a fifth from other countries.”

Meat isn’t always the biggest driver of dietary carbon emissions: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/01/sugar-and-alcohol-the-highest-dietary-emissions-dont-always-come-from-meat/ “In global diets, meat is not necessarily the main driver of dietary carbon emissions, finds a new study published in One Earth. Instead, factors like higher sugar and alcohol consumption, and dining out more frequently, could be an unrecognised source of carbon emissions in modern diets.”

Ethical veganism is a belief protected by law, tribunal rules: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/03/ethical-veganism-is-a-belief-protected-by-law-tribunal-rules “An employment tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief that is protected by law against discrimination.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 13 December 2019

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

Premature mortality attributable to socioeconomic inequality in England between 2003 and 2018: an observational study: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(19)30219-1/fulltext “One in three premature deaths are attributable to socioeconomic inequality, making this our most important public health challenge. Interventions that address upstream determinants of health should be prioritised.”

The Psychological Impacts Of Poverty, Digested: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/12/03/the-psychological-impacts-of-poverty-digested/amp/ “The psychological effects on children of growing up poor do make for grim reading. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, of 9- and 10-year-olds who differed only in their socioeconomic status, found striking differences in activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is critical for complex cognition. The PFC response of many of the poor children in response to various tests resembled that of some stroke victims. “Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult,” commented lead researcher, Robert Knight, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.”

Dispatches – Growing up poor: Britain’s Breadline Kids: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/68553-001 “In Britain, 4.1 million children are growing up in poverty. Dispatches follows three families to show what life is like if there’s not enough money for life’s essentials.”

Are there 400,000 fewer children in poverty in the UK than there were in 2010? https://theconversation.com/are-there-400-000-fewer-children-in-poverty-in-the-uk-than-there-were-in-2010-128274 “The other two official measures of child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions tell a different story. The number of children living in poverty is estimated to have increased between 2010-11 and 2017-18 by 500,000 under the relative low income measure.”

Gap between rich and poor grows alongside rise in UK's total wealth: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/05/gap-between-rich-and-poor-grows-alongside-rise-in-uks-total-wealth “Britain’s total wealth grew by 13% in the two years to 2018 to reach a record £14.6tn, with wealth among the richest 10% of households increasing almost four times faster than those of the poorest 10%. A study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also found that the poorest 10% of households had debts three times greater than their assets compared with the richest 10% who amassed a wealth pile 35 times larger than their total debts.” – Office of National Statistics report here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householddebtingreatbritain/april2016tomarch2018

Measles cases are increasing across the world.

  • 142,000 died from measles last year, WHO estimates: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/05/142000-died-from-measles-last-year-who-estimates “Most of those dying are small children, and thousands more suffer harm including pneumonia and brain damage. New scientific evidence shows survivors are at greater risk soon afterwards because their immune system is impaired. Anti-vax misinformation spread through social media is contributing to a rise in cases in affluent countries such as the UK and US, while problems in health services play a big part elsewhere.”
  • Samoa shuts down in unprecedented battle against measles: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/samoa-shuts-unprecedented-battle-measles-191205002728494.html “Samoa began a two-day shutdown on Thursday as authorities embarked on an unprecedented mass vaccination campaign to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed 62 people, mostly small children, in the Pacific island nation. Officials suspended non-essential government services to allow civil servants to support the vaccination drive, and ordered all businesses to close. Inter-island ferry services were also cancelled.”
  • The Myth about Herd Immunity: https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2019-12/myth-about-herd-immunity “It is troubling that public perceptions of susceptibility to measles have not shifted significantly since the measles outbreak in 2015-16, which was considered the worst in two decades. This year is expected to be even worse, with more than 1,200 cases recorded so far.”

Healthy planning & environment

People, Place and Policy – Vol 13 issue 2: https://extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/ “An independent forum for academic debate on the challenges faced by contemporary society”

I’ve seen mass tree-planting projects go awry around the world – UK politicians should take note: https://theconversation.com/ive-seen-mass-tree-planting-projects-go-awry-around-the-world-uk-politicians-should-take-note-128184 “These tree-planting pledges are certainly a step in the right direction, but there’s a problem. Everything being said is big on rhetoric but light on practicalities. As I know from many years of being involved with mangrove afforestation in the tropics, it’s a lot easier to plant seeds than it is to grow trees. So what lessons does the UK’s next government need to learn before it sends planters all over the countryside?”

Many urban rivers are hidden underground – ‘daylighting’ them would bring nature back to cities: https://theconversation.com/many-urban-rivers-are-hidden-underground-daylighting-them-would-bring-nature-back-to-cities-128441 “The lost rivers of London are well known, but all cities have them. In my home city of Bradford there is virtually no trace of the small main river, the Bradford Beck, or most of its urban tributaries. In Bradford alone, more than 25km of streams have been covered over and now flow within an engineered structure known as a culvert.”

Government finally releases secret fracking report: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/12/02/government-finally-releases-secret-fracking-report/ “The Cabinet Office has finally released its – still heavily redacted – secret report on the fracking industry, following a 22-month Freedom of Information battle with Unearthed. The document – produced by the Cabinet Office in 2016 but never published – confirms government and industry players were privately downbeat about the prospects for a UK shale boom, even as they talked up the sector’s potential.”

Biodiversity in 2020: the biggest threats and opportunities: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/05/biodiversity-in-2020-the-biggest-threats-and-opportunities-aoe “What are the biggest emerging opportunities and threats the coming year holds for efforts to conserve biodiversity? Nearly two dozen scientists, conservation professionals and future scanners recently came together to answer that question as part of an annual “horizon scan” led by Cambridge University conservation biologist William Sutherland.”

A number of reports and articles about water scarcity this week.

  • The world’s road to water scarcity: shortage and stress in the 20th century and pathways towards sustainability: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep38495 “Water scarcity is a rapidly growing concern around the globe, but little is known about how it has developed over time. This study provides a first assessment of continuous sub-national trajectories of blue water consumption, renewable freshwater availability, and water scarcity for the entire 20th century.”
  • Importance and vulnerability of the world’s water towers: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1822-y “We conclude that the most important water towers are also among the most vulnerable, and that climatic and socio-economic changes will affect them profoundly. This could negatively impact 1.9 billion people living in (0.3 billion) or directly downstream of (1.6 billion) mountain areas. Immediate action is required to safeguard the future of the world’s most important and vulnerable water towers.”
  • Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/07/victoria-falls-dries-to-a-trickle-after-worst-drought-in-a-century “For decades Victoria Falls, where southern Africa’s Zambezi river cascades down 100 metres into a gash in the earth, have drawn millions of holidaymakers to Zimbabwe and Zambia for their stunning views. But the worst drought in a century has slowed the waterfalls to a trickle, fuelling fears that climate change could kill one of the region’s biggest tourist attractions.”


Understanding Social Housing Landlords’ Approaches To Tenant Participation: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/understanding-social-housing-landlords-approaches-to-tenant-participation/ “This research is based on 21 in-depth interviews with representatives of social housing landlords and ‘stakeholder’ organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a focus group comprising ‘stakeholders’ and social housing landlord officers. While, reflecting the aims of the research, most participants were officers of social housing landlords and ‘stakeholder’ organisations, the study captured the views of eight tenants.”

Opinion - 'Housing First' is a bold, straightforward idea that will help us end homelessness for good: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=f855af3d-583f-4c35-9d99-654cca51ce30 “Housing First makes providing a home a central strategy to ending homelessness, followed by support for health and social needs”

Garden Communities set to deliver over 400,000 homes: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Garden-Communities-set-to-deliver-over-400000-homes/48662 “A new analysis from the consultants Lichfields has found that Garden Communities are set to provide a total of 403,000 homes, up to 180 new primary schools, 56 secondary schools, and 600 hectares of employment land. However, the planning and development consultants’ research shows that just 3% of homes have been completed and only a third (34%) are enshrined in adopted local plans or with outline permission.”

Housing horror stories that show the extent of the UK’s rent crisis: https://www.dazeddigital.com/life-culture/article/47081/1/housing-landlord-renting-crisis-stories-uk-general-election “For a generation regularly derided for its emotional fragility, we’ve certainly endured our fair share of hell. A decade of austerity has ushered in an era of tenant squalor, with one in three privately rented homes failing to meet decent standards, while rent prices have gone up three times faster than incomes since 2010. Damp, mould, leaking roofs, mice infestations, electrical hazards, and gas leaks have become quite literally part of the furniture for Generation Rent.”

Climate change & sustainability

Greta Thunberg named 2019 Person of the Year: https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg-choice/ “It began with a story line familiar to every parent of every generation in every corner of the globe: an indignant teenager and a sudden burst of rebellion. It became one of the most unlikely and surely one of the swiftest ascents to global influence in history. Over the course of little more than a year, a 16-year-old from Stockholm went from a solitary protest on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement…”

Mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2018: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1855-2 “Between 2013 and 2017, the total rate of ice loss slowed to 217 ± 32 billion tonnes per year, on average, as atmospheric circulation favoured cooler conditions15 and as ocean temperatures fell at the terminus of Jakobshavn Isbræ16. Cumulative ice losses from Greenland as a whole have been close to the IPCC’s predicted rates for their high-end climate warming scenario17, which forecast an additional 50 to 120 millimetres of global sea-level rise by 2100 when compared to their central estimate.”

The necessity of pulling carbon dioxide out of the air: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/12/07/the-necessity-of-pulling-carbon-dioxide-out-of-the-air “Of the wisdom taught in kindergartens, few commandments combine moral balance and practical propriety better than the instruction to clear up your own mess. As with messy toddlers, so with planet-spanning civilisations. The industrial nations which are adding alarming amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere—43.1bn tonnes this year, according to a report released this week—will at some point need to go beyond today’s insufficient efforts to stop. They will need to put the world machine into reverse, and start taking carbon dioxide out. They are nowhere near ready to meet this challenge.”

Reduction in surface climate change achieved by the 1987 Montreal Protocol: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab4874 “As of today, as much as 1.1 °C warming has been avoided over parts of the Arctic. Future climate benefits are even stronger, with 3 °C–4 °C Arctic warming and ~1 °C global average warming avoided by 2050; corresponding to a ~25% mitigation of global warming. The Montreal Protocol has thus not only been a major success in repairing the stratospheric ozone hole, it has also achieved substantial mitigation of anthropogenic climate change both today and into the future.”

Accelerating the low carbon transition: The case for stronger, more targeted and coordinated international action: https://www.brookings.edu/research/accelerating-the-low-carbon-transition/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief “This report is for the governments and businesses that are interested in accelerating deep decarbonisation of the world economy. We aim to highlight where their actions can have the greatest impact, by bringing together knowledge from three areas.”

Reports from the COP25 conference.

  • Cop25 Bulletin: ‘Spaghetti plate’: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/12/09/cop25-bulletin-spaghetti-plate/ “As countries pour billions of dollars into climate projects around the world, claiming credit for the carbon cuts, what happens to the communities in their path? Recent history shows that without strong safeguards, projects aimed at tackling climate change can lead to human rights abuses. Yet protections are being weakened, not strengthened, at Cop25 in Madrid.”
  • COP25 video: What needs to happen by COP26 to keep the Paris Agreement on track? https://www.carbonbrief.org/cop25-video-what-needs-to-happen-by-cop26-to-keep-the-paris-agreement-on-track “As negotiations at COP25 in Madrid progress slowly, Carbon Brief has been asking a range of scientists, party delegates and NGO representatives for their views on the year ahead.”
  • COP25 RECAP: DAY 7: http://climatetracker.org/cop25day7/ “Things are starting to heat up at the UN climate talks in Madrid. Yesterday’s plenary, where countries were due to close the technical bits of the negotiations, finished at 2:30 am with many open and postponed questions on the table.”
  • COP25 RECAP: DAY 8: http://climatetracker.org/cop25day8/ “After a tumultuous night at the negotiations which saw many-core negotiating issues pushed back or even pushed aside to next year, Environmental Ministers addressed the UN highlighting their priorities in the fight against climate change. Here we present to you yesterdays’ key moments from island states, developing and developed countries.”
  • Climate change: Major emitters accused of blocking progress at UN talks: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50736617 “Delegates from developing countries have reacted angrily to what they see as attempts to block progress at the COP25 meeting in Madrid. One negotiator told the BBC that the talks had failed to find agreement on a range of issues because of the blocking actions of some large emitters. Carlos Fuller from Belize said that Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and China were "part of the problem".

Accelerating the low carbon transition: https://www.brookings.edu/research/accelerating-the-low-carbon-transition/ “This report is for the governments and businesses that are interested in accelerating deep decarbonisation of the world economy. We aim to highlight where their actions can have the greatest impact, by bringing together knowledge from three areas.”

Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/07/oceans-losing-oxygen-at-unprecedented-rate-experts-warn “Oxygen in the oceans is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with “dead zones” proliferating and hundreds more areas showing oxygen dangerously depleted, as a result of the climate emergency and intensive farming, experts have warned.”

Tackling degraded oceans could mitigate climate crisis – report: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/04/tackling-ocean “Halting overfishing and the plastic pollution of the oceans could help tackle the climate emergency by improving the degraded state of the world’s biggest carbon sink, a report has found. The oceans absorb both the excess heat generated by our greenhouse gas emissions, and absorb carbon dioxide itself, helping to reduce the impacts of climate chaos. But we are rapidly reaching the limits of the oceans’ absorptive capacity as our pillage of marine life is disrupting vital ecosystems and the natural carbon cycle.”

New South Wales bushfires: 'Mega blaze' warning near Sydney: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-50680083 “About 100 bushfires are raging in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), with the most severe forming into a "mega blaze" north of Sydney. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling bushfires, which escalated in intensity late on Thursday. Footage of one blaze on the southern fringe of the city showed firefighters fleeing as flames surged forward. Australia's largest city has been blanketed by thick smoke all week, causing a rise in medical problems.”

National greenhouse gas reporting needs an overhaul – it’s time to directly measure the atmosphere: https://theconversation.com/national-greenhouse-gas-reporting-needs-an-overhaul-its-time-to-directly-measure-the-atmosphere-125085 “How much greenhouse gas is emitted by any individual country? With global emissions of carbon dioxide hitting a record of 36.8 billion tonnes this year, and delegates gathering in Madrid for the latest UN climate talks, it’s a pressing question… Yet these reports are based on what are known as inventory (or “bottom-up”) methods. To simplify, this means that governments figure out how much greenhouse gas is emitted by a typical car, cow, or coal plant, and then add up all the cows, cars and so on to get an overall emissions figure.”

This small German town took back the power – and went fully renewable: https://theconversation.com/this-small-german-town-took-back-the-power-and-went-fully-renewable-126294 “With 100% of its electricity coming from renewable sources (and more to spare), the German town of Wolfhagen is particularly demonstrative of what can be achieved when municipalities adopt innovative approaches to the ownership and governance of key infrastructure. Significant lessons can be drawn from Wolfhagen’s hybrid model of ownership, which can – and must – be applied to sectors beyond energy production.”

Windy weather sets new renewable power record for Britain: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/windy-weather-sets-new-renewable-power-record-for-britain-38766813.html “This weekend’s windy weather set a new renewable power record – and saw some households paid to charge their electric cars to help balance the grid. Wind farms generated more than 16 gigawatts of power – five times the output expected from the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant – in Britain for the first time on Sunday evening, figures from National Grid revealed.”

Extinction Rebellion – Our Demands: https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/ “ We have three demands in the UK: 1) Tell the truth. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. 2) Act now. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. 3) Beyond politics. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.”

An introduction to the state of energy storage in the U.S.: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/12/an-introduction-to-the-state-of-energy-storage-in-the-u-s/ “Finding effective ways to store solar and wind energy when the sun isn't shining and the winds aren't blowing is critical to increasing the use of renewable energy sources.”

Tighter climate policies could erase $2.3 trillion in companies value: report: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-investor-climatechange/tighter-climate-policies-could-erase-2-3-trillion-in-companies-value-report-idUKKBN1YD00H “Any abrupt policy shifts risk severely disrupting current investment strategies, U.N.-backed Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI), a group representing investors with $86 trillion of assets under management, said in a report.”

A-Z of climate anxiety: how to avoid meltdown: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/08/a-z-of-climate-anxiety-how-to-avoid-meltdown “There are hundreds of people contacting us, looking for support,” says Caroline Hickman of the Climate Psychology Alliance. It’s not just individuals either. “We’ve reached a level where organisations are asking for professional help to support their staff: civil servants, museums, universities… They’re noticing massive increases in anxiety and concern.”

Active travel & transport

Volkswagen to install free EV charging points at 600 Tesco stores: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/12/05/volkswagen-to-install-free-ev-charging-points-at-600-tesco-stores/ “The car manufacturer said the rollout is already underway and EV drivers at 100 Tesco stores are now able to top up their battery for free while shopping. All electricity used to charge cars at the Tesco sites comes from renewable sources.”

Air quality & pollution

Nine fatal diseases are associated with air pollution: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/12/04/nine-fatal-diseases-are-associated-with-air-pollution/ “In a study of 4.5 million U.S veterans, researchers found that exposure to PM2.5 contributes to deadly conditions such as heart disease, strokes, chronic kidney disease, COPD, dementia, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer and pneumonia.”

See How the World’s Most Polluted Air Compares With Your City’s: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/02/climate/air-pollution-compare-ar-ul.html “We visualized the damaging, tiny particles that wreak havoc on human health. From the Bay Area to New Delhi, see how the world’s worst pollution compares with your local air.”

CONSULTATION: The Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air, Healthy Wales: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2019-12/consultation-a-clean-air-plan-for-wales.pdf “This twelve week consultation seeks views on the Welsh Government’s Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air: Healthy Wales. This plan sets out our policy direction and proposed actions to reduce air pollution to support improvements in public health and

our natural environment.” – more here - Wales targets cars, wood-burners, bonfires in new Clean Air Plan: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/12/10/wales-targets-cars-wood-burners-bonfires-in-new-clean-air-plan/

BPA chemical levels in humans drastically underestimated, study finds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/05/bpa-chemical-levels-humans-study “Humans are probably being exposed to far more of a widely used dangerous chemical – found in plastics, canned goods and receipt paper – than previously understood, according to a new study. The analysis, in the peer-reviewed scientific journal the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, uses a new method for evaluating exposure to BPA, or bisphenol-A.”

SHUTTING DOWN A TOXIC TRADE: https://meta.eeb.org/2019/12/05/shutting-down-a-toxic-trade/ “With nearly 100 countries on board, an international agreement which bans the exporting of toxic waste from developed to developing countries has entered into force. While this landmark move will help protect the environment and ensure that poor countries do not become dumping grounds for the rich, the absence of dozens of countries from the deal undermines its effectiveness.”

Food & food security

Socioeconomic status and changes in appetite from toddlerhood to early childhood: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666319304908 “The results indicate that appetite may be a behavioural mediator of the well-established link between childhood deprivation and obesity risk.” – summary here - Social deprivation linked to changes in eating styles in early childhood: https://theconversation.com/social-deprivation-linked-to-changes-in-eating-styles-in-early-childhood-127766

Effects of physical activity calorie equivalent food labelling to reduce food selection and consumption: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies: https://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2019/11/24/jech-2019-213216 “Based on current evidence PACE (physical activity calorie equivalent) food labelling may reduce the number of kilocalories selected from menus and decrease the number of kilocalories/grams of food consumed by the public, compared with other types of food labelling/no labelling.”

The dark side of plant-based food – it’s more about money than you may think: https://theconversation.com/the-dark-side-of-plant-based-food-its-more-about-money-than-you-may-think-127272 “If you were to believe newspapers and dietary advice leaflets, you’d probably think that doctors and nutritionists are the people guiding us through the thicket of what to believe when it comes to food. But food trends are far more political – and economically motivated – than it seems.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 06 December 2019

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

Climate crisis could reverse progress in achieving gender equality: https://theconversation.com/climate-crisis-could-reverse-progress-in-achieving-gender-equality-127787 “Researchers are in a race against time to predict how climate change will affect these communities and help them adapt, with drought and flood resistant crops and cattle breeds for example. But it’s often overlooked that climate change will affect one half of humanity significantly more than the other. Longstanding gender inequality means that within regions of the world that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, women are likely to suffer more than men.”

Polio outbreaks in Africa caused by mutation of strain in vaccine: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/nov/28/polio-outbreaks-in-four-african-countries-caused-by-mutation-of-strain-in-vaccine “The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners identified nine new cases caused by the vaccine in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Angola last week. Along with seven other African countries with outbreaks, cases have also been reported in Asia.”

'Unprecedented' rise in infant mortality in England linked to poverty: https://www.thejournal.ie/infant-mortality-poverty-england-4835780-Oct2019/ “An “unprecedented” rise in infant mortality in England is linked to poverty, according to new research. An additional 570 infant deaths, compared to what would have been expected based on historical trends, were recorded in the country from 2014-2017. About one-third of those deaths, which related to children under the age of one, were linked to rising poverty.”

Reframing inequality? The health inequalities turn as a dangerous frame shift: https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/article/39/4/653/2874250 “Medicalizing inequality is more appealing to most politicians than tackling income and wage inequality head-on, but it results in framing the problem of social inequality in a way that makes it technically quite difficult to solve. Policy-makers should consider adopting more traditional programs of taxation, redistribution and labor market regulation in order to reduce both health inequalities and the underlying social inequalities.”

Huge increase in ‘Victorian diseases’ including rickets, scurvy and scarlet fever, NHS data reveals: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/victorian-disease-gout-rickets-vitamin-d-mumps-scurvy-measles-malnutrition-nhs-hospital-admitted-a8795686.html “Rickets, scarlet fever and other diseases more commonly seen in the Victorian era are sending increasing numbers to hospital, NHS data for England has revealed. In 2017-18 there were 284,901 admissions for scurvy, vitamin D deficiency, gout and other maladies familiar to the pages of a Dickens novel – up 24 per cent on the year before. Many of the conditions on the rise go hand in hand with economic inequalities and child food poverty has been linked to the UK’s rising rates of malnutrition and obesity.”

How can we actually create happy societies? https://theconversation.com/how-can-we-actually-create-happy-societies-124711 “So how can we create a happy society? The Buddhist nation of Bhutan was the first society to determine policy based on the happiness of its citizens, with the king of Bhutan famously claiming in 1972 that Gross National Happiness (GNH) was a more important measure of progress than Gross National Product (GNP). Many other countries have since followed suit – looking to move “beyond GDP” as a measure of national progress. For instance, the UK developed a national well-being programme in 2010 and has since measured the nation’s well-being across ten domains, not too dissimilar to Bhutan’s approach. More recently, New Zealand introduced its first “well-being budget”, with a focus on improving the well-being of the country’s most vulnerable people.”

Healthy planning & environment

RTPI - Child Friendly Planning Policy in the UK: A review: https://www.rtpi.org.uk/childrenplanning “The aim of this project is to assess the extent to which planning policies across UK nations can be considered 'child-friendly' with relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child…  Planning systems in the UK are failing to consider the rights and needs of children, leading to detrimental effects on their health, wellbeing and future prospects - “If we are honest and serious about building inclusive and diverse communities, we have to take into account children’s needs and rights. Planning systems across the UK have obligations to meet these needs through both UK government commitments to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as well as Equalities and child-specific legislation.””

Hydropower Pressure on European Rivers: the story in numbers: https://riverwatch.eu/en/general/news/europe%E2%80%99s-rivers-are-damned-dams-plans-more-8700-new-hydropower-plants “The first pan-European inventory of existing and planned hydropower plants shows the immense pressure on rivers throughout the continent. In addition to the 21,387 existing hydropower plants, another 8,785 are planned, mainly in the Alps and the Balkans. Previously untouched rivers – especially in the Balkans – are to be destroyed. More than a quarter (2,500) of these hydropower projects are situated in protected areas, mainly in national parks and Natura 2000 sites.”

Call for Abstracts - The City and Complexity – Life, Design and Commerce in the Built Environment: https://architecturemps.com/london-2020/ “Five decades after complexity theory was first applied to our reading of the city, this conference revisits its consequences. It reconsiders the city as an adaptive, self-organising and unpredictable system of interconnecting interventions, forces and perspectives. It asks how these competing and mutually reinforcing factors came into play and how they operate today. It questions how the city has been, and continues to be, informed by the practices of multiple disciplines. Seeing the urban phenomenon as not reducible to single issues, this conference asks you to bring your disciplinary expertise to a forum examining the city through the lens of complexity theory – as inevitably fragmented but simultaneously interconnected and changing. As such it welcomes contributions on the following strands (click for details): 1) Urban Design | Architecture | Interiors | Landscape. 2) Engineering | Infrastructure | Sustainability. 3) Housing | Public Health | Sociology | Human Geography. 4) Economics | Business | City Management | Government Policy and Planning. 5) Cultural Studies | Art History | Social History.”


Digital solutions for tackling homelessness: https://epha.org/digital-solutions-for-tackling-homelessness/ “…the “Surviving in Brussels” app provides up-to-date, comprehensive information provided by participating organisations for the benefit of homeless people and their supporters. It provides information about where and how 24 different basic needs can be met, ranging from finding a safe place to sleep to free toilet and shower facilities, to food and drink options and tips about legal entitlements.”

More entrenched rough sleepers to be handed keys to Ipswich houses in radical homelessness campaign: https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/housing-first-ipswich-suffolk-expanded-1-6409365 “A radical homelessness campaign in Ipswich - which sees people given the keys to their own homes - has been expanded after helping entrenched rough sleepers transform their lives.”

London landlord fined £420,000 over unlawful HMO conversion: https://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1667295/london-landlord-fined-420000-unlawful-hmo-conversion “A landlord who illegally converted her west London home into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) has been ordered to pay more than £400,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).”

Climate change & sustainability

Lancet Countdown 2019 report: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/2019-report/ “An unprecedented challenge demands an unprecedented response. Our 2019 Report tracks the relationship between health and climate change across five key domains and 41 indicators. See an overview of the 2019 key findings below, or download the full report.”

  • Lancet Countdown report – Explore Our Data: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/data-platform/ “Welcome to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change data explorer. This new platform allows users to engage with our findings and explore the 2019 report data at country specific, regional and income group level. The data visualisations are free to use and share, and we encourage you to include them in your work.”

Coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference - COP25

The polar regions in a 2°C warmer world: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/12/eaaw9883 “With low biodiversity, Antarctic ecosystems may be vulnerable to state shifts and species invasions. Land ice loss in both regions will contribute substantially to global sea level rise, with up to 3 m rise possible if certain thresholds are crossed. Mitigation efforts can slow or reduce warming, but without them northern high latitude warming may accelerate in the next two to four decades. International cooperation will be crucial to foreseeing and adapting to expected changes.”

The impact of high ambient temperatures on delivery timing and gestational lengths: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0632-4 “We find that extreme heat causes an increase in deliveries on the day of exposure and on the following day and show that the additional births were accelerated by up to two weeks. We estimate that an average of 25,000 infants per year were born earlier as a result of heat exposure, with a total loss of more than 150,000 gestational days annually. Absent adaptation, climate projections suggest additional losses of 250,000 days of gestation per year by the end of the century.”

CMIP6: the next generation of climate models explained: https://www.carbonbrief.org/cmip6-the-next-generation-of-climate-models-explained “Climate models are constantly being updated, as different modelling groups around the world incorporate higher spatial resolution, new physical processes and biogeochemical cycles. These modelling groups coordinate their updates around the schedule of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports, releasing a set of model results – known as “runs” – in the lead-up to each one. These coordinated efforts are part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects (CMIP). The 2013 IPCC fifth assessment report (AR5) featured climate models from CMIP5, while the upcoming 2021 IPCC sixth assessment report (AR6) will feature new state-of-the-art CMIP6 models.”

Proglacial freshwaters are significant and previously unrecognized sinks of atmospheric CO2: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/36/17690 “Using the glacierized Lake Hazen watershed (Nunavut, Canada, 82°N) as a model system, we found that weathering reactions in the glacial rivers actively consumed CO2 up to 42 km downstream of glaciers, and cumulatively transformed the High Arctic’s most voluminous lake into an important CO2 sink. In conjunction with data collected at other proglacial freshwater sites in Greenland and the Canadian Rockies, we suggest that CO2 consumption in proglacial freshwaters due to glacial melt-enhanced weathering is likely a globally relevant phenomenon, with potentially important implications for regional annual carbon budgets in glacierized watersheds.” – more here - Glacial Rivers Absorb Carbon Faster Than Forests — But Only Because Glaciers Are Melting Faster: https://theswaddle.com/climate-change-and-glacial-rivers/

Greta Thunberg: People underestimate 'angry kids': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50644395 “Climate activist Greta Thunberg said that adults should stop making young people "angry" over global warming. Ms Thunberg was speaking after her arrival in Lisbon, Portugal, after a two-weeks-plus journey across the Atlantic from her starting point in Virginia, US. "People are underestimating the force of angry kids," she told reporters.”

European Parliament declares symbolic 'climate emergency' ahead of summit: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-accord-eu/european-parliament-declares-symbolic-climate-emergency-ahead-of-summit-idUSKBN1Y21JZ “With increasingly erratic weather patterns from wildfires in Australia to floods in Europe being linked to climate change, governments are under scrutiny to find urgent solutions at the United Nations’ summit in Spain on Dec. 2-13. After a debate on Monday night, the European Union (EU) legislature voted in favor of the declaration with 429 lawmakers for, 225 against and 19 abstaining. “It is not about politics, it is a matter of our common responsibility,” said parliament’s environment committee chairman Pascal Canfin of the Renew Europe group.”

Opinion: How Do We Convince Climate Change Deniers? That’s The Wrong Question: https://ensia.com/voices/climate-change-deniers/ “…In other words, the efficient move now is to take the time and energy we want to expend on convincing deniers and use it instead to assemble the critical mass to turn the tide. With a few exceptions — speaking truth to leaders in power and helping loved ones recognize the magnitude of the threat — we need to shift our way of approaching climate communication from changing minds to giving people already on board concrete tasks on which to take action.”

Health Care’s Climate Footprint: https://noharm-global.org/sites/default/files/documents-files/5961/HealthCaresClimateFootprint_092319.pdf “This is the first in a series of research and policy papers Health Care Without Harm and its partners, including Arup, aim to produce over the next three years. The series will define health care’s climate footprint and outline a set of actions the sector can take to align itself with the ambition of the Paris Agreement while simultaneously achieving global health goals.”

China’s climate paradox: A leader in coal and clean energy: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/china-plans-new-coal-plants-trims-support-for-clean-energy/2019/12/02/e19c9d0a-14ca-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html “China burns about half the coal used globally each year. Between 2000 and 2018, its annual carbon emissions nearly tripled, and it now accounts for about 30% of the world’s total. Yet it’s also the leading market for solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles, and it manufactures about two-thirds of solar cells installed worldwide. “We are witnessing many contradictions in China’s energy development,” said Kevin Tu, a Beijing-based fellow with the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “It’s the largest coal market and the largest clean energy market in the world.””

Greenwash watch: can the fashion industry become sustainable? https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/11/28/black-friday-sustainable-fashion/ “A carbon footprint equal to Europe’s. A garbage truck of clothes landfilled or incinerated every second. Nearly £30m of unsold stock burnt to protect Burberry’s brand image. The fashion industry is no stranger to environmental abuses. As Black Friday dawns, consumption trends continue to grow- and so too does the environmental price tag. Last year a cross-party group of MPs challenged the government to do something about it. Their report – by the Environmental Audit Committee said that the fashion industry is in desperate need of a new business model that is not based on overproduction, or environmental and human rights abuses.”

Massive Attack on music industry carbon emissions: https://theecologist.org/2019/nov/29/massive-attack-music-industry-carbon-emissions “Massive Attack are teaming up with climate scientists to map the carbon footprint of the band while they are on tour. Data from the Bristol-based group's forthcoming tour schedule - including band travel and audience transportation - will be collected and analysed in a joint collaboration with the University of Manchester's Tyndall Centre.”

Active travel & transport

Accessibility in Cities: transport and urban form: https://lsecities.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/LSE-Cities-2014-Transport-and-Urban-Form-NCE-Cities-Paper-03.pdf “This paper focusses on one central aspect of urban development: transport and urban form and how the two shape the provision of access to people, goods and services, and information in cities. The more efficient this access, the greater the economic benefits through economies of scale, agglomeration effects and networking advantages. This paper discusses how different urban accessibility pathways impact directly on other measures of human development and environmental sustainability.”

Sport England - Active Lives Children And Young People: https://www.sportengland.org/research/active-lives-survey/active-lives-children-and-young-people/ “The world-leading survey gives a detailed picture of the activity levels of children and young people in England. Children’s activity levels are on the rise, according to our second annual Active Lives Children and Young People Survey. The report, covering the academic year 2018/19, was published today with figures showing an increase of 3.6% in the number of children in England doing an average of 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. That means that 46.8% of the nation’s children and young people are meeting the recommended level, with the increase driven by more out of school activity – including increases in active play, team sports and walking.”

Everyone should have the right to feel welcome and comfortable on our streets: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/opinion/2019/november/everyone-should-have-the-right-to-feel-welcome-and-comfortable-on-our-streets/ “Tim Burns, Senior Policy and Partnerships Advisor at Sustrans, discusses why we are calling on the next UK government to take action on the inequalities that exist in mobility.”

Air quality & pollution

PM2.5 on the London Underground: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019313649?via%3Dihub “PM2.5 concentrations in the LU are many times higher than in other London transport Environments. Failure to include this environment in epidemiological studies of the relationship between PM2.5 and health in London is therefore likely to lead to a large exposure misclassification error. Given the significant contribution of underground PM2.5 to daily exposure, and the differences in composition compared to urban PM2.5, there is a clear need for well-designed studies to better understand the health effects of underground exposure.” – more here - New study reveals high levels of pollution on London Underground: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/new-study-reveals-high-levels-of-pollution-on-london-underground

Pro-Oxidative and Pro-Inflammatory Effects After Traveling from Los Angeles to Beijing: A Biomarker-Based Natural Experiment: https://ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.042054 “Traveling from a less-polluted to a more-polluted city induces systemic prooxidative and pro-inflammatory effects. Changes in the levels of HETEs and HODEs as well as paraoxonase and arylesterase activities in the blood, in association with exposures to PAHs, might have important implications in preventive medicine as indicators of increased cardiovascular risk caused by air pollution exposure.”

Living in areas of high air pollution linked to glaucoma risk: https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/living-in-areas-of-high-air-pollution-linked-to-glaucoma-risk/ “The research team found that people in the most-polluted 25 per cent of areas were at least 6 per cent more likely to report having glaucoma than those in the least-polluted quartile. They were also significantly more likely to have a thinner retina, one of the changes typical of glaucoma progression.”

How to get the public onside in the fight against air pollution: https://www.edie.net/blog/How-to-get-the-public-onside-in-the-fight-against-air-pollution/6098704 “More people now know that air pollution kills and a growing number also understand that air quality can play a role in all sorts of conditions, from dementia and heart disease to lung cancer and asthma. However, while the majority of people are concerned about air pollution, less than half know what to do to protect their health and even fewer are actually doing these things. This concern-knowledge gap is worrying. Especially as, according to our research at Global Action Plan, only 16% of the UK public know where to go to for information and advice on air pollution.  And this is why this week [26 November] we have launched the Clean Air Hub (cleanairhub.org.uk) to the public.”

Food & food security

Nourishing Database: https://www.wcrf.org/int/policy/nourishing-database “Our database of implemented polices to promote healthy diets & reduce obesity. We developed the NOURISHING framework to highlight where governments need to take action to promote healthy diets and reduce overweight and obesity. The framework is accompanied by a regularly updated database (last updated 8 May 2019), providing an extensive overview of implemented government policy actions from around the world.”

Uncovering the relationship between food-related discussion on Twitter and neighborhood characteristics: https://academic.oup.com/jamia/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jamia/ocz181/5601669?searchresult=1 “Twitter provided weak but significant signals concerning food-related behavior and attitudes at the neighborhood level, suggesting its potential usefulness for informing local health disparity reduction efforts.”

It’s time to redefine what it means to be a farmer in the 21st century: https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/its-time-redefine-what-it-means-be-farmer-21st-century?cid=EXT_WBBlogTweetableShare_D_EXT “can farmers adopt more sustainable farming practices that not only protect but also restore natural resources?  What is the right mix of policy incentives, market signals, regulations, and public investment to support this urgent transition?”

13 new books and reports about the future of food: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/11/13-new-books-and-reports-about-the-future-of-food/ “This month’s selection of books and reports addresses this fundamental question from a variety of perspectives. Their answers may cause you to look more closely at what’s on your plate over the holiday.”

'Sugar overload' warning for festive hot drinks: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/health-50628962 “Seasonal lattes and hot chocolates being sold by some High Street coffee chains can contain up to 23 spoonfuls of sugar per cup, a study has found. Action on Sugar analysed more than 200 drinks and found "shockingly" large amounts of sugar in many of them.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 18 October 2019

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Sustainable development goals

The Health Impacts of Brexit: risks of harmful impacts increase whilst chances of positive impacts remain unchanged: https://phw.nhs.wales/news1/news/the-health-impacts-of-brexit-risks-of-harmful-impacts-increase-whilst-chances-of-positive-impacts-remain-unchanged/ “The report builds on a detailed analysis, The Public Health Implications of Brexit in Wales: A Health Impact Assessment Approach, originally published in January 2019, and examines the potential effects of Brexit on the short, medium and long-term health and well-being of people living in Wales. The original report and the update look at the likelihood and intensity of any potential positive impacts and opportunities, as well as potential negative impacts.”

UN Sustainable Development Goals: How does climate change jeopardise the chances of a sustainable future? https://blog.ons.gov.uk/2019/10/11/un-development-goals-how-does-climate-change-jeopardise-the-chances-of-a-sustainable-future/ “The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a global initiative that pledges to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The ONS has a leading role in the UK’s response and is now busy measuring our progress towards achieving each of the seventeen goals. As Fiona Dawe explains, measuring the social impact of climate change is emerging as a key theme of the work and was the subject of special ONS conference this week.”            

Assessing the impact of rising child poverty on the unprecedented rise in infant mortality in England, 2000–2017: time trend analysis: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/10/e029424 “This study provides evidence that the unprecedented rise in infant mortality disproportionately affected the poorest areas of the country, leaving the more affluent areas unaffected. Our analysis also linked the recent increase in infant mortality in England with rising child poverty, suggesting that about a third of the increase in infant mortality from 2014 to 2017 may be attributed to rising child poverty.”

The data behind mortality trends: explaining the recent improvement in mortality in England: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/explaining-the-recent-improvement-in-mortality-in-england/ “One of the most important functions of a government is to ensure the health of its population, with the main indicator being measures of mortality such as life expectancy. Mike Murphy writes that, contrary to popular belief, current levels of mortality are the lowest ever recorded by a substantial margin.”

Harnessing data and technology for public health: five challenges: https://www.health.org.uk/news-and-comment/blogs/harnessing-data-and-technology-for-public-health-five-challenges “Responding to the government’s prevention green paper. In this long read, we set out five challenges that the government needs to address if it is to harness the full potential of data and technology in public health, and offer a suggestion to help address each.”

We must turn the tide on inequality for all our children: https://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/we-must-turn-tide-inequality-all-our-children “A person's ethnicity can mean they're more likely to be locked in poverty than other people. It's the right thing to do to change our policies and systems to enable everyone to break free from poverty.”

Modelling the impact of alcohol duty policies since 2012 in England & Scotland: https://figshare.shef.ac.uk/articles/Modelling_the_impact_of_alcohol_duty_policies_since_2012_in_England_Scotland/9958763 “Changes in UK alcohol duty since 2012 have led to increased levels of alcohol consumption, greater levels of alcohol-related ill health, premature mortality, higher rates of alcohol-related crime and workplace absence than if the alcohol duty escalator had remained in place until 2015 as originally planned. There have been almost 2,000 additional deaths caused by alcohol in England and 250 more in Scotland as a result of these changes in Government policy since 2012. These additional deaths have occurred disproportionately in more deprived households, widening inequalities in health”

Vaccination Ethics: https://academic.oup.com/phe/pages/vaccination-ethics “To contribute to the current ethical and political discussions on immunization, we present a virtual special issue of Public Health Ethics that brings together some of the best work on vaccination ethics in the past few years. We look forward to receiving more work on immunization in the future.”

Healthy planning & environment

PHE Data – Wider Determinants of Health - Built and natural environment: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/wider-determinants/supporting-information/built-and-natural-environment An excellent starting point for data, toolkits, and evidence for practice

Urban green spaces raise nearby house prices by an average of £2,500: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/urbangreenspacesraisenearbyhousepricesbyanaverageof2500/2019-10-14 “Urban properties close to public parks, gardens and playing fields are more expensive, analysis reveals. Explore your area to see how much green space adds to the value of your property.”

‘Infrastructure revolution’ is road to nowhere: https://www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/sound-bites/item/5185-infrastructure-revolution-is-road-to-nowhere “CPRE today strongly criticises the decision to go ahead with a significant £25 billion investment in new roads, which is incompatible with the government’s commitment to tackle the climate emergency. Ours and others’ research shows that building new and bigger roads actually drives more traffic, and consistently fails to show measurable benefits to local economies, while also leading to permanent and significant environmental damage. Climate change is the biggest threat facing the countryside and better public transport in rural areas is the best way to keep cars off the road and emissions out of the atmosphere.”

Stirling Prize 2019: A Momentous Moment For Architecture And Housing: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/stirling-prize-2019-a-momentous-moment-for-architecture-and-housing/ “Monday’s decision to award the Stirling Prize, the Royal Institute of British Architects most prestigious award, to Goldsmith Street in Norwich designed by architects Mikhail Riches working with Cathy Hawley was a momentous moment for architecture and for housing more widely. It celebrates the real skill of architects, those delicate design moves that can make such a difference not only to the way we people feel about a place as well as its long term value.”

New report reveals that prescribing nature is excellent value for money: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/new-report-reveals-prescribing-nature “A new report published today reveals that prescribing contact with nature for people who have low levels of mental wellbeing is excellent value for money by improving people’s health and wellbeing.” – more here - ‘Nature prescriptions’ would be cheap way to improve country’s mental health, study finds: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature-prescriptions-nhs-mental-health-nature-wellbeing-a9148751.html

Black absence in green spaces: https://theecologist.org/2019/oct/10/black-absence-green-spaces “People of colour spend less time in nature in the UK than white people. But we are often closely connected to nature in our countries of heritage - the disconnect seems to occur in the west.  Why is this? My ethnographic research explores the relationship of black and Asian people to nature in the UK, drawing on my work as a nature allied psychotherapist and leading a nature connection programme in London.”

Assessing effects from four years of industry-led badger culling in England on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, 2013–2017: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-49957-6 “Industry-led culling was associated with reductions in cattle TB incidence rates after four years but there were variations in effects between areas.”

Two-thirds of U.S. birds face extinction due to climate-linked 'emergency': Audubon: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-science-birds-audubon/two-thirds-of-u-s-birds-face-extinction-due-to-climate-linked-emergency-audubon-idUKKBN1WP2PT “Two-thirds of bird species in North America, already disappearing at an alarming rate, face extinction unless immediate action is taken to slow the rate of climate change, the National Audubon Society said on Thursday.”

What's in the government's new environment bill? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-50044870 “A bill to tackle environmental priorities is to be published by the government later. It aims to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution, restore wildlife, and protect the climate. Environmentalists have welcomed several of the proposals, especially on restoring nature. But they say on other green issues ministers are going backwards - and they're anxious to see details of the new policies.”

‘Devil is in the detail’: Criticism of ‘tokenistic’ environmental policies in Queen’s Speech: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/queens-speech-environment-bill-extinction-rebellion-recycling-plastic-a9155351.html “The government has announced measures to improve air quality, household recycling services and protect nature, but campaigners have warned although policies look encouraging the “devil will be in the detail”.”


What impact is the standard method for assessing local housing need having on housing requirements in local plans? https://lichfields.uk/blog/2019/october/10/what-impact-is-the-standard-method-for-assessing-local-housing-need-having-on-housing-requirements-in-local-plans/ “We’ve now undertaken further research which illustrates the startlingly different impacts that the standard methodology is having in the North and South of the country. The three northern regions in our original research were planning for a 13% uplift above the Standard Method, compared to a proposed under-supply of 6% in the South East and East regions. Our new research reveals that the negative impact of the Standard Method on housing requirements has become even greater.”

West Midlands experts call for policy changes to address the homelessness crisis: https://blog.bham.ac.uk/publicaffairs/west-midlands-experts-call-for-policy-changes-to-address-the-homelessness-crisis/ “Cities like Birmingham have been particularly affected, with official figures showing 23 deaths in 2018, the highest recorded number for any local authority in England and Wales. Despite this, there’s a clear recognition that something must be done… We brought together academics with local authorities, medical practitioners and support workers and asked them to consider what can be done to reduce homelessness and improve people’s quality of life.”

Government accused of wrecking plans to build more social housing: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/11/government-accused-wrecking-plans-build-more-social-housing “Councils reacted with frustration to the one percentage point increase on public works loan board (PWLB) finance, which was imposed “out of the blue” this week, warning it could delay or scupper housebuilding and regeneration schemes. They said rise would lead to fewer council homes being built, and would reduce local authorities’ ability to build and maintain schools, roads and waste facilities, and invest in commercial property.”

Climate change & sustainability

Analysis: UK renewables generate more electricity than fossil fuels for first time: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-renewables-generate-more-electricity-than-fossil-fuels-for-first-time “In the third quarter of 2019, the UK’s windfarms, solar panels, biomass and hydro plants generated more electricity than the combined output from power stations fired by coal, oil and gas, Carbon Brief analysis reveals.”

Rapid CO2 release from eroding permafrost in seawater: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019GL084303?af=R “We show that large amounts of carbon dioxide are being produced during the Arctic open‐water season. Our study indicates that eroding permafrost coasts in the Arctic are potentially a major source of carbon dioxide. With increasing loss of sea‐ice, longer open‐water seasons and exposure of coasts to waves, we highlight the importance of coastal erosion for potential carbon dioxide emissions.”

How accurately can the climate sensitivity to CO2 be estimated from historical climate change? https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-019-04991-y “We conclude that energy-balance estimates of   CO2  EffCS are most accurate from periods unaffected by volcanic forcing. Atmosphere GCMs provided with observed sea surface temperature for the 1920s to the 1950s, which was such a period, give a range of about 2.0–4.5 K, agreeing with idealised CO2 AOGCM experiments; the consistency is a reason for confidence in this range as an estimate of   CO2  EffCS.”

There has been wide, and varied, coverage of the global Extinction Rebellion protests. I have selected a few articles that provide an overview of the protests and the responses from different commentators;

Sea-level rise has claimed five whole islands in the Pacific: first scientific evidence: https://theconversation.com/sea-level-rise-has-claimed-five-whole-islands-in-the-pacific-first-scientific-evidence-58511 “These islands lost to the sea range in size from one to five hectares. They supported dense tropical vegetation that was at least 300 years old. Nuatambu Island, home to 25 families, has lost more than half of its habitable area, with 11 houses washed into the sea since 2011.”

Here’s how climate change policies could end up widening the wealth gap: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/10/how-climate-change-policies-widen-wealth-gap/ “The findings suggest that without careful attention to equity, climate change policies could wind up reinforcing existing disparities in society rather than easing them.”

Acknowledging uncertainty impacts public acceptance of climate scientists’ predictions: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0587-5 “Predictions about the effects of climate change cannot be made with complete certainty, so acknowledging uncertainty may increase trust in scientists and public acceptance of their messages. Here we show that this is true regarding expressions of uncertainty, unless they are also accompanied by acknowledgements of irreducible uncertainty.”

Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-scientists/scientists-endorse-mass-civil-disobedience-to-force-climate-action-idUKKBN1WS01K “In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne.”

Eden Project secures funding for geothermal power plant: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/eden-project-secures-funding-for-geothermal-power-plant-38592966.html “ The Eden Project has secured £16.8 million of funding for a geothermal heat and power project, with drilling due to start on the site next summer. This funding follows a 10-year campaign to bring the technology to Cornwall, where the visitor attraction opened in a former clay quarry in 2001. It comes from a mixture of public and private sources, with £9.9 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £1.4 million from Cornwall Council.”

Revealed: top UK thinktank spent decades undermining climate science: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/10/thinktank-climate-science-institute-economic-affairs “The UK’s most influential conservative thinktank has published at least four books, as well as multiple articles and papers, over two decades suggesting manmade climate change may be uncertain or exaggerated.”

Ghost Forests Are Visceral Examples of the Advance of Climate Change: https://time.com/5694648/ghost-forests-climate-change/ “Kirwan is standing in the midst of what is known as a “ghost forest.” These swaths of dead, white, trees are created when salty water moves into forested areas, first slowing, and eventually halting, the growth of new trees. That means that when old trees die, there aren’t replacements.”

Active travel & transport

CONSULTATION - The Draft Games Strategic Transport Plan: https://www.tfwm.org.uk/the-draft-games-strategic-transport-plan/ “The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place across the West Midlands from 27 July to 7 August 2022 and it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to put Birmingham and the West Midlands on the map…  A key focus of the draft plan, known as the ‘Games Strategic Transport Plan’ is to make sure residents and businesses in the West Midlands can continue to get from A to B while over 1 million visitors and more than 12,000 athletes, Games Family and international media make their way around the region to training and competition venues. Are we focusing on the right things when it comes to transport for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games? Let us know by completing our survey:”

The draft plan covers things like how we will plan transport, principles for making decisions and the transport projects we are accelerating in time for the Games, which will help us move thousands of extra people around our transport network.

Effects of 20 mph interventions on a range of public health outcomes: A meta-narrative evidence synthesis: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140519301859?via%3Dihub “This review suggests 20 mph ‘zones’ are effective in reducing collisions and casualties. However, it provides insufficient evidence to draw conclusions on the effect of 20 mph ‘zones’ on pollution, inequalities or liveability. For 20 mph ‘limits’ more rigorous evaluations are required in order to draw robust conclusions.”

Birmingham floats £500 Workplace Parking Levy: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/10/10/birmingham-floats-500-workplace-parking-levy/ “o help tackle air pollution, businesses in Birmingham could be charged £500 to offer parking spaces to their staff, under plans being considered by the city council. A report on the plans for a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) will go before the cabinet on Tuesday (October 15) and it is hoped the measure would encourage those working in the centre of the city to shift to ‘sustainable and active’ transport alternatives.”

I attended the Healthy City Design International conference earlier this week. Below are links to reports & toolkits from a session on active travel. Two of these are from the USA, but do have relevance to the UK context.

Air quality & pollution

One in four of London’s green spaces breaches air quality safety limits: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/193331/one-four-londons-green-spaces-breaches/ “They found that 24% of play spaces and 27% of public parks had NO2 limits exceeding safety standards, with 67% of private parks failing to keep within safe levels. The closest play space for 250,000 children under the age of 16 (14% of the city’s children) had NO2 concentration averages exceeding European Union limits, with the majority of children affected living in the most deprived areas of the city.”

Exposure to air pollution increases violent crime, study suggests: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/10/03/exposure-to-air-pollution-increases-violent-crime-study-suggests/ “The study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, cross analysed daily criminal activity data in the U.S with the daily county-level air pollution from 2006-2013 and found that a 10 microgram-per-cubic meter increase in same-day exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with a 1.4% increase in violent crimes. They also found that an increase of 0.01 parts-per-million in same-day exposure to ozone is associated with a 0.97% increase in violent crime or a 1.15% increase in assault.”

Air pollution could be turning men bald: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/10/09/air-pollution-could-be-turning-men-bald/ “Researchers from South Korea exposed cells from the human scalp at the base of hair follicles to various concentrations of PM10-like dust and diesel particulate. After 24 hours, the researchers performed a scientific process called western blotting, to study levels of specific proteins in the cells. The results showed that the presence of PM10 and diesel particulate decreased levels of β-catenin, the protein responsible for hair growth and morphogenesis.”

Food & food security

Global Hunger Index 2019: https://www.concern.net/insights/global-hunger-index-2019 “The 2019 GHI measures hunger in 117 countries where the assessment is most relevant and where data on all four component indicators are available. 43 countries out of 117 countries have levels of hunger that remain serious. 4 countries Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia suffer from hunger levels that are alarming and 1 country Central African Republic from a level that is extremely alarming.”

Directors of Public Health back ‘bold action’ on childhood obesity: https://www.adph.org.uk/2019/10/directors-of-public-health-back-bold-action-on-childhood-obesity/ “The report clearly presents the evidence of the ways that social and commercial determinants of health overwhelmingly shape our weight. We support the recommendations to address these, particularly those tackling the production, supply, marketing and sale of high calorie sugar and fat foods. This is something our members have frequently called for, and we note there is strong public support for it as well. We were also pleased to see the emphasis on creating healthy places that give children ample opportunity to be active and healthy. Directors of Public Health have long played a key role in promoting children’s health in their areas, including by leading whole system approaches to obesity, of which the built environment is a core part.”

Italy proposes to cut prices for food sold without packaging: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/10/italy-seeks-to-be-a-sustainable-economy-leader-with-climate-bill “Italian shoppers could soon enjoy a discount on products sold loose as part of a range of measures expected to be approved by the government as it strives to take action on the environment. The initiative would give financial incentives to shopkeepers to reduce the price of food items and detergents sold without packaging, and of drinks, shampoos and other liquids sold from dispensers or in reusable containers.”

Leaked: Liz Truss’ department will push to weaken food standards for US trade deal: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/10/07/brexit-liz-truss-theresa-villiers-defra/ “A leaked briefing prepared for Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers warns that her ministry will come under “significant pressure” from the Department for International Trade (DIT) to weaken the UK’s food and environmental standards to secure a trade deal with the United States. The internal document states that DIT will push the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to “accommodate” American requests to lower the UK’s sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) post-Brexit.”

And finally….

Fat Bear Week 2019: Holly is the fattest brown bear in Katmai National Park, Alaska: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/10/2/20894942/fat-bear-week-2019-katmai-national-park-fattest-bear-contest “Over the past week, the employees of Katmai National Park have been asking people to vote, March Madness-style, on which bear has grown the fattest over the summer. The park has posted picture matchups of bear pairs on its Facebook page, and the public got to choose the fattest with their “likes.” This yearly contest began in 2014, and every year it becomes even more of a viral sensation.”

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Freeth Street
West Midlands
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Jo Dodd - 07815 490436

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