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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.”

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Freeth Street
West Midlands
B69 3DE


Jo Dodd - 07815 490436

Rajdeep Atwal - 0121 569 5121