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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.”

Housing

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”.”

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