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WMHPG news, information and resources 20 September 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.

Healthy placemaking - call for evidence and case studies - The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is carrying out research to explore the policies and practices that enable healthy placemaking with a focus on tackling and accommodating mental health-related issues. We are calling for evidence, best practice and case studies. You can get involved by completing a simple form or volunteering for a short telephone interview. The deadline for involvement is 1 November 2019. Find out more and get involved at www.rtpi.org.uk/briefing-room/news-releases/2019/september/rtpi-calls-for-evidence-for-research-on-healthy-placemaking/

Sustainable development goals

Examining Inequality - How Geography And Gender Stack The Deck For (Or Against) You: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/goalkeepers/report/2019-report/#ExaminingInequality “Goalkeepers is our annual report card on the world’s progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 ambitious goals the member states of the United Nations committed to reaching by 2030. As we write, billions of people are projected to miss the targets that we all agreed represent a decent life. If we hope to accelerate progress, we must address the inequality that separates the lucky from the unlucky.”

Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 - The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-sustainable-development-report-2019-future-now-science-achieving-sustainable “Achieving human well-being and eradicating poverty for all of the Earth’s people—expected to number eight and a half billion by 2030—is still possible, but only if there is a fundamental—and urgent—change in the relationship between people and nature, and a significant reduction in social and gender inequalities between and inside countries, according to a new United Nations report by an independent group of scientists to be launched at the 2019 SDG Summit, but made available today.”

Cuts force councils to slash public health funding by £72m: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Cuts-force-councils-to-slash-public-health-funding-by-72m/48153 “Local authorities plan to cut public health spending by £72m this year in response to reductions in Whitehall funding, the Labour Party says. An analysis by the main opposition party has shown that 82% of English councils plan to slash spending on vital services in 2019/20. Drug and alcohol treatment services have been hit the hardest with planned reductions across the board by £27.1m.”

For proper prevention, we need a General S*** Life Reduction Strategy: http://publichealthy.co.uk/for-proper-prevention-we-need-a-general-shit-life-reduction-strategy “We don’t do nearly enough primary prevention. Proper prevention. Politicians tend to focus on policies like increasing access to mental health services (for those who already have poor mental health) or increasing prison numbers (to lock up people who have already committed a crime), but not on changing the social conditions which make mental illness or crime more likely in the first place.  Too much focus on fixing problems and not enough on avoiding them, so we spend a bloody fortune just trying to keep a lid on things. It reminds me of the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass: “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”.”

Healthy planning & environment

Greener Birmingham – Join the Big Conversation: https://www.greenerbirmingham.com/events-2019 “Join the Big Green Conversation by… Telling us what kind of city you want to live in by filling in the short survey below, helping us to create a People's Charter for the Environment during the Year of Green Action 2019 (to be published in November).” – survey here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd3Bt_I9sX6YajEznt14q_gQo9pL7DllPz3K6araYL-bNI7KQ/viewform

Court of Appeal upholds housing planning refusal on air quality grounds: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/09/13/court-of-appeal-upholds-housing-refusal-on-air-quality-grounds/ “The Court of Appeal yesterday (September 12) upheld a planning permission refusal on air quality grounds for 330 homes in Kent, making it the first time a planning appeal has been refused due to concerns over air pollution and public health.”

Healthy Planning – from the Joint Law Conference in Oxford: https://youtu.be/BvNmYZ8ddrA?list=PL5WvOjInNdJKfMyZ6VMivyR7p2vSsl2Zd “Sir Malcolm Grant spoke about healthy planning at the weekend’s Joint Planning Law Conference in Oxford. Attached his speech for info and also his podcast here”

Beautiful Development – In the eye of the beholder? https://lichfields.uk/blog/2019/september/13/beautiful-development-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder/ “‘Say no to ugliness’, that is the message to councils in the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s interim report ‘Creating space for beauty’, which looks at how England should address the poor-quality design of new buildings and places whilst ensuring a sufficient supply of new homes. In the eyes of the Commission, building beautifully comprises walkable, human-scale developments, and buildings with finely textured designs and materials, and it urges changes to the planning system to make the delivery of such developments a key objective.”

When adding green space reduces urban heat—and when it doesn’t: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/09/the-solution-to-urban-heat-is-not-one-size-fits-all/ “Planting trees and other vegetation is often touted as a solution to mitigate the urban heat island effect—the tendency for cities to be a few degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. But this strategy won’t be effective in every city, a new study suggests. In dry cities like Phoenix, Arizona, and temperate ones like London, England, adding green space is likely to be a great way to reduce the urban heat island effect. But in wet, tropical cities – including some of the world’s fastest growing cities in Africa and Southeast Asia – it may not be.”

Jair Bolsonaro’s government blocked funding for fire prevention: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/09/17/jair-bolsonaro-amazon-fires-ibama-icmbio/ “The document shows that R$13.5m (Brazilian reals) or £2.7m was frozen from Ibama’s fund for fire prevention earlier this year. With what the agency has already spent on tackling fires in 2019, it only has R$5m or £1m left to tackle the blazes that continue to rage in the Amazon, with the fire season likely to continue until October.”


CONSULTATION – Priorities and solutions in housing and health: https://surveys.phe.org.uk/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=86KK7o81H# “In November PHE will be launching a Health Matters on housing and health. We’re asking colleagues to complete this short survey to tell us their top housing priorities. Thank you for taking the time to respond, this will help ensure that this Health Matters is as relevant and practical as possible for colleagues in local settings. If you have any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

The Housing and Ageing Alliance: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/housing-networks/HAA/ “The Housing and Ageing Alliance is made up of a broad spectrum of people from local and national organisations working together with a single objective; to bring about improvements to the housing and living conditions of older people.” The Alliance manifesto – Time for Action: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/_assets/Resources/Housing/HAA/Housing-Ageing-Alliance-Manifesto-2019.pdf “At a time of unprecedented demographic change, it is critical that housing, planning, health & social care policies and plans all address population ageing. This will result in more

sustainable growth, wider fiscal gains, e.g. health dividend, and improved quality of life for individuals.”

Birmingham takes action against HMO landlord in first civil penalty case: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/news/article/470/birmingham_takes_action_against_hmo_landlord_in_first_civil_penalty_case “Birmingham City Council has issued its first civil penalty against a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlord in the Small Heath area. Following the introduction of the civil enforcement policy earlier this year, the HMO team has cracked the whip on its first landlord, with the hopes of bringing greater regulation to the sector.”

Climate change & sustainability

Two decades of glacier mass loss along the Andes: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0432-5 “These results provide a comprehensive, high-resolution and multidecadal data set of recent Andes-wide glacier mass changes that constitutes a relevant basis for the calibration and validation of hydrological and glaciological models intended to project future glacier changes and their hydrological impacts.”

In-depth Q&A: The UK Climate Projections 2018: https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-qa-the-uk-climate-projections-2018 “Produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre, the UK Climate Projections 2018 – or “UKCP18” – is the “most comprehensive picture yet of how the climate could change” in the UK… In this in-depth Q&A, Carbon Brief delves into what information the projections provide, what they say about the UK’s future climate and how they compare to previous projections.”

Coverage of the global climate strike starting on 20 September (& Greta Thunberg);

China and India demand cash for climate action on eve of UN summit: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/09/17/china-india-demand-cash-climate-action-eve-un-summit/ “China and India demanded rich countries provide financial support for them to increase their climate plans, as leaders prepared to meet at a UN summit in New York.”

Oil jumps nearly 15% in record trading after attack on Saudi facilities: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-global-oil/oil-jumps-nearly-15-in-record-trading-after-attack-on-saudi-facilities-idUKKBN1W00UH “Oil ended nearly 15% higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest jump in over 30 years amid record trading volumes, after an attack on Saudi Arabian crude facilities cut the kingdom’s production in half and fanned fears of retaliation in the Middle East. – More detailed analysis here: Around the halls: Brookings experts react to the attack on Saudi oil facilities: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2019/09/17/around-the-halls-brookings-experts-react-to-the-attack-on-saudi-oil-facilities/

'Like a sunburn on your lungs': how does the climate crisis impact health? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/climate-crisis-health-risks-extreme-weather “The climate crisis is making people sicker – worsening illnesses ranging from seasonal allergies to heart and lung disease. Children, pregnant people and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and rising heat. But the impact of the climate crisis – for patients, doctors and researchers – is already being felt across every specialty of medicine, with worse feared to come.”

What you think you know about the climate is probably wrong – new UK poll: https://theconversation.com/what-you-think-you-know-about-the-climate-is-probably-wrong-new-uk-poll-123103 “A new survey of Britons which tested understanding of some key facts about the environment reveals the extent of environmental misperceptions. Rather than asking people what they thought might happen, this study instead focused on assessing knowledge of the world as it is right now.”

Revealed: The Climate Cost Of ‘Disposable Smartphones’: https://meta.eeb.org/2019/09/19/revealed-the-climate-cost-of-disposable-smartphones/ “Extending the lifespan of smartphones and other electronics by just one year would save the EU as much carbon emissions as taking 2 million cars off the roads annually, a new study reveals.”

Where climate cash is flowing and why it’s not enough: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02712-3 “A decade after that Copenhagen summit, arguments still rage over whether the $100-billion goal is close to being met — partly because negotiators never agreed what kind of financing counts. Some estimates include loans and private finance leveraged by public money, for instance, whereas others say only direct grants, a much smaller sum, should be included.“

Vegetarian diets not always the most climate-friendly, researchers say: http://news.trust.org/item/20190916233621-1b5yo “It may be possible to help tackle climate change while still munching on the occasional bacon sandwich or slurping a few oysters, a new study suggested on Tuesday. Scientists found that diets in which meat, fish or dairy products were consumed only once a day would leave less of a footprint on climate change and water supplies than a vegetarian diet including milk and eggs, in 95% of countries they analysed.”

Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/money-is-the-oxygen-on-which-the-fire-of-global-warming-burns “Last fall, the world’s climate scientists said that, if we are to meet the goals we set in the 2015 Paris climate accord—which would still raise the mercury fifty per cent higher than it has already climbed—we’ll essentially need to cut our use of fossil fuels in half by 2030 and eliminate them altogether by mid-century. In a world of Trumps and Putins and Bolsonaros and the fossil-fuel companies that back them, that seems nearly impossible. It’s not technologically impossible: in the past decade, the world’s engineers have dropped the price of solar and wind power by ninety and seventy per cent, respectively. But we’re moving far too slowly to exploit the opening for rapid change that this feat of engineering offers.”

The silenced: meet the climate whistleblowers muzzled by Trump: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/whistleblowers-scientists-climate-crisis-trump-administration “Six whistleblowers and ex-government scientists describe how the Trump administration made them bury climate science – and why they won’t stay quiet”

Active travel & transport

CONSULTATION - Draft Transport plan for the Commonwealth Games published: https://www.tfwm.org.uk/news/draft-transport-plan-for-the-commonwealth-games-published/ “A blueprint which sets out how the region’s transport network will be managed during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is to be considered by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board, when it meets Friday, September 13. The draft plan sets out which transport projects will be delivered in time for the Games including improvements to Coventry, University and Perry Barr rail stations extending the West Midlands Metro to Edgbaston and the first phase of three new Sprint rapid bus routes.”

Parliamentary Transport Committee – Pavement Parking: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtrans/1982/198202.htm “Chair of the committee, Lilian Greenwood, said: ‘In the long-term we believe the Government should ban pavement parking across England - as is already the case in London. Local authorities could create exemptions if they choose to do so, but drivers would know that unless it was expressly permitted it was illegal to park their car on the pavement. ‘We recognise that implementing a nationwide ban will take time. In the short-term we have said that they Government should make it easier for local authorities to put in place parking restrictions by removing some of the bureaucratic burdens they currently have to contend with.’”

Council chiefs call for control over bus services: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Council-chiefs-call-for-control-over-bus-services/48149 “Councils must be allowed to control bus services in their areas, according to local government leaders. The demand by the Local Government Association follows the latest Government figures showing the number of people making journeys by bus has fallen to their lowest level in more than a decade.”

Air quality & pollution

Ambient black carbon particles reach the fetal side of human placenta: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11654-3 “Our finding that BC particles accumulate on the fetal side of the placenta suggests that ambient particulates could be transported towards the fetus and represents a potential mechanism explaining the detrimental health effects of pollution from early life onwards.”

Climate and air-quality benefits of a realistic phase-out of fossil fuels: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1554-z “Our results indicate that even the most aggressive plausible transition to a clean-energy society provides benefits for climate change mitigation and air quality at essentially all decadal to centennial timescales.” – Carbon Brief summary - Cutting air pollution would not cause ‘near-term spike’ in global warming: https://www.carbonbrief.org/cutting-air-pollution-would-not-cause-near-term-spike-in-global-warming

New online tool reveals air pollution levels at London addresses: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/09/17/new-online-tool-to-reveal-air-pollution-levels-at-london-addresses/ “A new website has launched to show Londoners how exposed their home is to air pollution and whether where they live exceeds World Health Organisation (WHO) annual guidelines for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).”

ONS: road traffic increased by 30% since 1990, but many air pollutants down: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/09/17/ons-road-traffic-increased-by-30-since-1990-but-many-air-pollutants-down/ “Road traffic in the UK has increased by almost 30% since 1990 but transport-related emissions of many air pollutants including particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx) have reduced, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis of the most recent environmental accounts.”

Dolphins in Channel carry 'toxic cocktail' of chemicals: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/12/dolphins-in-channel-carry-toxic-cocktail-of-chemicals “Bottlenose dolphins in the Channel have been found to carry a “toxic cocktail” of chemicals in their bodies, some of which have been banned for decades and which may be harming the marine mammals’ health, scientists have said.”

Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/trump-administration-to-revoke-californias-power-to-set-stricter-auto-emissions-standards/2019/09/17/79af2ee0-d97b-11e9-a688-303693fb4b0b_story.html “The Trump administration plans this week to revoke California’s long-standing right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks, the latest step in a broad campaign to undermine Obama-era policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, two senior administration officials said. The move threatens to set in motion a massive legal battle between California and the federal government, plunge automakers into a prolonged period of uncertainty and create turmoil in the nation’s auto market.”

US lifts ban on old-style light bulbs: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-us-canada-49591143 “The US is scrapping a ban on energy-inefficient light bulbs which was due to come in at the beginning of 2020. The rule would have prohibited the sale of bulbs that do not reach a standard of efficiency, and could have seen an end to incandescent bulbs. Many countries have phased out older bulbs because they waste energy. But the US energy department said banning incandescent bulbs would be bad for consumers because of the higher cost of more efficient bulbs.”

Food & food security

The role of global dietary transitions for safeguarding biodiversity: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959378018309038 “The links shown between global meat consumption and agricultural expansion and intensification in the biodiverse regions of the world indicates the potential to help safeguard biodiverse natural ecosystems through dietary change.” – media summary here: Dietary change could save a quarter of tropical forest from destruction: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/09/dietary-change/

Our Planet, Our Health – Environmental Audit Committee report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1803/180302.htm “Everything we do to the planet, we do to ourselves. Humans are living longer, healthier lives than ever as a result of advances in food production, public health and access to medicines.1 But the systems that support human life rely on a healthy natural environment and “natural systems are being degraded to an extent unprecedented in human history”.2 We are concerned that the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry is not sufficiently resourced to deal with projected changes: non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 per cent of all deaths globally.”

Government says it has no duty to secure food supplies in a no-deal Brexit (nor any other crisis): https://www.sustainweb.org/blogs/sep19_government_says_it_has_no_duty_to_secure_food_in_a_crisis/ “Two official documents this week reveal that our Government feels no legal responsibility for securing our food supplies in an emergency – neither fire, flood, disease epidemic, conflict, supply chain disruption, nor no-deal Brexit.”

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