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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 16 March 2018

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

Rise in mortality in England and Wales in first seven weeks of 2018: http://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1090 “Within the first seven weeks of 2018, some 93 990 people died in England and Wales. Over the same weeks in the previous five years, an average of 83 615 people died.1 This rise of 12.4%, or 10 375 additional deaths, was not due to the ageing of the population. Ageing is a slow process and leads to slow, not sudden, rises in mortality. An additional person died every seven minutes during the first 49 days of 2018 compared with what had been usual in the previous five years. Why?” – Media coverage here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-winter-crisis-deaths-patients-flu-cancelled-operations-bmj-oxford-a8256401.html “Experts have called on the Government to explain why there were more than 10,000 “additional deaths” in England and Wales in the first few weeks of 2018. An editorial published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed that during the first seven weeks of the year, there were 93,990 deaths. But in the same period over the previous five years an average of 83,615 people died.”

Baby Charities Express 'Extreme Concern' Over Increased Infant Death Rates In England And Wales: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/baby-charities-express-extreme-concern-over-increase-neonatal-and-infant-death-rates_uk_5aaa3e52e4b0f4aaa113dfb5 “Baby charities have spoken of their “extreme concern” that the number of babies who died within their first 28 days of life has increased year on year in England and Wales. The rate rose from 2.6 neonatal (newborn) deaths per 1,000 births in 2015 to 2.7 for every 1,000 births in 2016, the Office for National Statistics revealed.” – ONS report here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/childhoodinfantandperinatalmortalityinenglandandwales/2016

Mapping child growth failure in Africa between 2000 and 2015: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25760 “...At these rates, much, if not all of the continent will fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goal target—to end malnutrition by 2030.”

New tools for reporting on world’s forest resources launched: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/new-tools-reporting-world-s-forest-resources-launched “FAO has launched today a new online platform for reporting on the status and trends of the world's forest resources. The platform enables countries to increase the efficiency of their reporting process and improve the consistency, reliability and transparency of forest data.”

'Better Retail Better World': Retail giants sign up to sweeping new environmental goals: https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3028306/better-retail-better-world-retail-giants-sign-up-to-sweeping-new-environmental-goals “Supermarkets and leading High Street brands sign up to raft of joint targets based on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals” – non-paywalled article here: UK retailers sign up to UN sustainability goals: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/uk-retailers-sign-up-to-un-sustainability-goals-36700291.html

Healthy planning & environment

Draft National Planning Policy Framework consultation – comments and responses.

The Faculty of Public Health healthy spatial planning special interest group is coordinating the FPH response to the draft NPPF. If you would like more information on this please contact me on this email address.

Planning Policy Wales: http://gov.wales/topics/planning/policy/ppw/?lang=en “This is our land use planning policy for Wales and should be taken into account when preparing development plans. This guidance is supplemented by a series of Technical Advice Notes (TANs) and Minerals Technical Advice Notes (MTANs). We give procedural guidance in circulars. The Welsh Ministers and Planning Inspectors will consider these guidance documents when deciding on called-in planning applications and appeals. Planning Policy Wales (PPW) has been reworked into policy themes around the well-being goals, with policies updated to reflect new Welsh Government strategies.”

Viable villages: closing the planning loophole: http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/item/4781-viable-villages-closing-the-planning-loophole-that-undercuts-affordable-housing-in-the-countryside “Developers can use viability assessments to argue that building affordable homes could reduce their profits below competitive levels, which they define as around 20%. This gives them a legal right to cut their affordable housing quota. The consequences for rural communities can be particularly devastating, as house prices are often higher – and wages lower. Losing even a small number of affordable homes can be the difference between post offices and schools staying open or not, and villages thriving or dying as families and young people are priced out.”

Wide coverage of micro plastics continues.

Media coverage this week of the discovery of microplastics in bottled water – a selection of articles – time to move to refillable bottles?

  • Bottled water: WHO launches plastic health review: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43389031 “The World Health Organization is to launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water. It will assess the latest research into the spread and impact of so-called microplastics - particles that are small enough to be ingested. It comes after journalism organisation Orb Media found plastic particles in many major brands of bottled water.”
  • Plastic found in most bottled water, triggering World Health Organisation review: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/14/plastic-now-pervasive-finding-way-bottled-water-investigation/ “Scientists who carried out the examination of more that 250 bottles from nine countries said their analysis found plastic “in bottle after bottle and brand after brand”. The tests, which were conducted at the State University of New York in Fredonia, found that there were typically 10 plastic particles per litre of bottled water. Each particle is larger than the width of a human hair.”
  • The water con: why are we drinking so much? https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/mens-health/10772770/The-water-con-why-are-we-drinking-so-much.html “Hangovers and exercise can only account for a certain amount of the people you see constantly sipping from water bottles. The rest might just be drinking more than they need, writes Phil Hammond”
  • Bottled water is the marketing trick of the century: https://theconversation.com/bottled-water-is-the-marketing-trick-of-the-century-25842 “Given the fact that UK tap water is widely considered to better for you than the bottled variety and subject to more stringent safety checks, why do we insist on purchasing something which is up to 300 times more expensive than what comes out of our taps?”

Managing the global land resource: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royprsb/285/1874/20172798.full.pdf “...In addition, we need to deliver progress towards meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all without compromising the many ecosystem services provided by land and without exceeding planetary boundaries. Managing the land to tackle these pressing issues is a major global challenge. In this perspective paper, I provide a very broad overview of the main challenges, and explore co-benefits, trade-offs and possible solutions.”

Fishing for krill is an eco-disaster: we must protect the Antarctic: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/13/fishing-krill-eco-disaster-ocean-sanctuary-protect-antarctic “These crustaceans are tiny but play a crucial role in limiting climate change. An ocean sanctuary would safeguard them”


With more efficient homes, the UK would never fear running short of gas: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/04/energy-efficient-homes-uk-would-never-fear-running-out-of-gas “Last week’s brief but unnerving shortfall was a reminder, if any were needed, of the central importance of energy efficiency”

‘Astonished’ MPs told £817m has gone unspent in housing budget: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/10/housing-budget-817-million-unspent-astonished-mps “MPs are demanding an urgent explanation from ministers after being told that £817m allocated for desperately needed affordable housing and other projects in cash-strapped local authorities has been returned to the Treasury unspent.”

‘Great Places’ Commission launched by the National Housing Federation: https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/planning-construction-news/great-places-commission-launched-by-nhf/39150/ “The NHF has launched an investigation that will delve into what makes a ‘great place’ and how housing associations can play a key role in regenerating areas in economic decline”

Climate change & sustainability

Explainer: What climate models tell us about future rainfall: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-what-climate-models-tell-us-about-future-rainfall “Much of the public discussion around climate change has focused on how much the Earth will warm over the coming century. But climate change is not limited just to temperature; how precipitation – both rain and snow – changes will also have an impact on the global population.”

Increased risk of a shutdown of ocean convection posed by warm North Atlantic summers: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0105-1.epdf “A shutdown of ocean convection in the subpolar North Atlantic, triggered by enhanced melting over Greenland, is regarded as a potential transition point into a fundamentally different climate regime” – More here: The fast-melting Arctic is already messing with the ocean’s circulation, scientists say: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/14/the-melting-arctic-is-already-messing-with-a-crucial-part-of-the-oceans-circulation-scientists-say/?utm_term=.7d31b70cfd36 “Scientists studying a remote and icy stretch of the North Atlantic have found new evidence that fresh water, likely melted from Greenland or Arctic sea ice, may already be altering a key process that helps drives the global circulation of the oceans.”

Analysis: How Scotland plans to meet its climate change targets: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-scotland-plans-climate-change-targets “The plan includes measures to significantly cut emissions from transport, buildings and industry to help the government meet its target of a 66% cut on greenhouse gas emissions by 2032, compared to 1990 levels. However, climate campaigners were disappointed about its roll back of previous targets for low-carbon heat, as well as a lowering of ambition on reducing emissions from Scotland’s agriculture sector.”

Fourth National Climate Assessment: https://www.globalchange.gov/nca4 “Development of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) is currently underway, with anticipated delivery in late 2018. Below you will find information related to Volumes I and II of NCA4, including background information, frequently asked questions, and opportunities to participate in the process.”

Can you power a business on 100% renewable energy? Ikea wants to try: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/apr/08/renewable-energy-ikea-walmart-google-mars-hp-wind-solar-power “An increasing number of big businesses including Google and Mars are opting to get their power from renewables – helping the planet and their profit margins”

World’s First Energy Storage Fund to List in London: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-12/world-s-first-energy-storage-fund-to-list-in-london “ The London-based private-equity firm is seeking to raise 100 million pounds ($139 million) from the initial public offering expected later this month on the London Stock Exchange. The fund will invest in large-scale batteries.”

UK’s largest battery project to move ahead in Swindon: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/14/uks-largest-battery-project-move-ahead-swindon/ “One of the UK’s largest power storage projects will move ahead on a former municipal depot site in Swindon as Britain’s battery boom gains pace. Swindon Borough Council’s battery will have capacity of 50MWh, the largest that a power project approved by local authorities can be.”

Global Carbon Budget 2017: https://www.earth-syst-sci-data.net/10/405/2018/ “Accurate assessment of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and their redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere – the "global carbon budget" – is important to better understand the global carbon cycle, support the development of climate policies, and project future climate change. Here we describe data sets and methodology to quantify the five major components of the global carbon budget and their uncertainties.”

Greenwash Database: Tracking Big Oil in Small Communities: https://www.desmog.uk/2018/03/13/greenwash-database-big-oil-small-communities “DeSmog UK’s new database, launched today, tracks fossil fuel companies’ involvement in local communities through funding and sponsorship. It includes local level and educational sponsorship deals from five of the most prominent fossil fuel companies operating in the UK: BP, Shell, Exxon, Total, and Chevron.”

Rain or shine: new solar cell captures energy from raindrops: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/13/rain-or-shine-new-solar-cell-captures-energy-from-raindrops “New device is designed to prevent power output plummeting when the sun isn’t shining – but practical application is still some years off”

Liebreich: Beyond Three Thirds, The Road to Deep Decarbonization: https://about.bnef.com/blog/liebreich-beyond-three-thirds-road-deep-decarbonization/ “The bad news is that even though we are on track to achieve the Three-Third World by 2040, it will not be enough to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. Electricity currently meets only just over 20% of the world’s final energy needs; and even if you add in the proportion of oil going into passenger cars and light trucks and you are still only addressing about a third of final energy consumption.”

Schwarzenegger planning to sue oil companies for 'knowingly killing people all over the world’: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/377894-schwarzenegger-targeting-oil-companies-for-knowingly-killing “Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is planning to sue oil companies, alleging they are "knowingly killing people all over the world."”

Active travel & transport

New Zealand company offers employees $10 a day to cycle to work: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/07/new-zealand-cycle-cash-10-a-day-employees-work-company “Employees who cycle to and from work will receive $5 a day and if they keep it up for more than half a year that amount will double to $10 a day, paid out as a bonus at the end of year.”

Air quality & pollution

Air pollution linked to brain alterations and cognitive impairment in children: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180308105152.htm “A new study performed in the Netherlands has linked exposure to residential air pollution during fetal life with brain abnormalities that may contribute to impaired cognitive function in school-age children. The study reports that the air pollution levels related to brain alterations were below those considered to be safe.”

Environmental pollution affects heart and lung health, explain experts: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/185226/environmental-pollution-affects-heart-lung-health/ “Professor Paul Elliott, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial College London, and Professor Paul Cullinan, Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine at Royal Brompton Hospital, presented their research on the long-term health impacts of exposure to environmental pollution and occupational conditions at the recent Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) seminar series.”

London congestion charge: why it’s time to reconsider one of the city’s great successes: https://theconversation.com/london-congestion-charge-why-its-time-to-reconsider-one-of-the-citys-great-successes-92478 “Key measures show it has been a success: in 2006, Transport for London (TfL) reported that the charge reduced traffic by 15% and congestion – that is, the extra time a trip would take because of traffic – by 30%. ...But while car numbers are down, the number of private for hire vehicles – your minicabs and Ubers – is up. Trips by taxi and private for hire vehicle as the main mode of the journey increased by 9.8% between 2015 and 2016 alone – and 29.2% since 2000. Today, more than 18,000 different private hire vehicles enter the congestion charging zone each day, with peaks on Friday and Saturday nights.”

False emissions ratings cost UK more than £2bn a year – report: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/10/false-emissions-ratings-cost-uk-more-than-2bn-a-year-report “False emissions ratings for cars based on lab tests have cost the UK more than £2bn a year in lost tax revenue, according to the Green party. With CO2 emissions exceeding official measures by an average of 42%, millions of vehicles have been placed in tax bands that do not reflect their true levels of pollution, according to new research published on Saturday.”

Ban on diesel and petrol cars from 2040 does not go far enough, MPs warn: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/15/ban-diesel-petrol-cars-2040-does-not-go-far-enough-mps-warn/ “The ban on the sale of new conventional diesel and petrol cars from 2040 "lacks sufficient ambition" and should be brought forward, MPs have said. A joint committee report urged the Government to determine the earliest date that manufacturers must only sell alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) in the UK.”

Diesel trains found to be impacting New Street air quality: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/27/diesel-trains-found-impacting-new-street-air-quality/ “Researchers from the University of Birmingham have completed a major air quality monitoring project at Birmingham New Street Station, one of the country’s busiest transport terminals.”

Car sales fall again as UK consumers shun diesels: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43286735 “New UK new car registrations were down 2.8% in February from a year earlier, hit by another fall in the sale of diesel vehicles. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the industry's trade body, said sales totalled 80,805 last month. Demand for diesels fell by 23.5%, while sales of petrol cars rose 14.4%.”

China tests giant air cleaner to combat smog: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02704-9 “A 60-metre-high chimney stands among a sea of high-rise buildings in one of China’s most polluted cities. But instead of adding to Xian’s smog, this chimney is helping to clear the air. The outdoor air-purifying system, powered by the Sun, filters out noxious particles and billows clean air into the skies. Chinese scientists who designed the prototype say that the system could significantly cut pollution in urban areas in China and elsewhere.”

Food & food security

A new global geospatial dataset for agriculture and food security: https://www.geospatialworld.net/blogs/new-global-geospatial-dataset-for-agriculture/ “SERVIR, a joint initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has released a new global geospatial dataset for agriculture and food security around the world. The dataset, called the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI), is available for analysis and download, and produced weekly at 5-km resolution for the entire globe.”

Nutritional labelling for healthier food or non-alcoholic drink purchasing and consumption (Cochrane Review): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009315.pub2/abstract “Findings from a small body of low-quality evidence suggest that nutritional labelling comprising energy information on menus may reduce energy purchased in restaurants. The evidence assessing the impact on consumption of energy information on menus or on a range of food options in laboratory settings suggests a similar effect to that observed for purchasing, although the evidence is less definite and also of low quality. Accordingly, and in the absence of observed harms, we tentatively suggest that nutritional labelling on menus in restaurants could be used as part of a wider set of measures to tackle obesity. Additional high-quality research in real-world settings is needed to enable more certain conclusions.” – Conversation coverage - Nutritional labelling on menus helps cut the calories we buy: https://theconversation.com/nutritional-labelling-on-menus-helps-cut-the-calories-we-buy-92294

Council leaders call for ‘traffic light’ food labelling to fight salt consumption: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Council-leaders-call-for-traffic-light-food-labelling-to-fight-salt-consumption-/44910 “Local authority chiefs have repeated their calls for the ‘traffic light’ food labelling system to become a legal requirement post-Brexit as health campaigners warn of the high salt content of ready meals.”

Forget Hard vs Soft Brexit, the new division in government is between trade liberals and protectionists - And nowhere is this more obvious than in farming: http://neweconomics.org/2018/03/liberals-vs-protectionists “After a full twenty months of tired heaving, it remains unclear whether the tug of war within government is being won by the Hard Brexit or Soft Brexit supporters. But that isn’t the only divide we’re seeing. As the government designs new domestic policy alongside the EU negotiations, a new split is emerging: between trade liberals and protectionists. And nowhere is that split clearer than on the issue of food and farming.”

Sugar tax is already producing results: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43372295 “It will be a major change in health and tax policy. On 6 April the UK will join the small number of countries which have introduced a tax on sugary drinks as part of an anti-obesity policy. Shoppers will pay 18p or 24p per litre extra depending on how much extra sugar has been added to the drink. So are retailers and manufacturers in revolt and is the Treasury looking forward to a tax windfall to help prop up the public finances? The answer, intriguingly, is no to both questions. Rather than waiting to see how customers react to the tax - known officially as the soft drinks industry levy - companies have already started altering their recipes.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 9 March 2018

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.

Naren Patel and John Middleton: Brexit must “do no harm” to the public’s health: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2018/03/06/naren-patel-and-john-middleton-brexit-must-do-no-harm-to-the-publics-health/ “The amendment appears simple and straightforward, but it is of profound importance to the health of future generations. It would give the government a golden opportunity to demonstrate to Parliament and the public health community that Brexit will “Do No Harm” to the public’s health. In the referendum, voters across the country, whether remainers or leavers, viewed their health as being of paramount importance—and this is the government’s chance to continue to reassure them that they do too.” To support this amendment you can retweet this tweet

Vacancy – UK Health Alliance on Climate Change: Policy and Public Affairs Manager: http://www.ukhealthalliance.org/policy-and-public-affairs-manager-vacancy/

Sustainable development goals

Progress for every child in the sdg era: https://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Progress_for_Every_Child_in_the_SDG_Era.pdf “Most urgently, UNICEF’s comprehensive report on SDG progress for children reveals that more than 650 million children – approaching one-third of the world’s children – live in 52 countries that are off track on at least two-thirds of the child-related SDG indicators for which they have data. The concerns raised by this news are compounded by the fact that these are only the children we know about. Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era also reveals that over half a billion of the world’s children live in 64 countries that lack sufficient data for us even to assess if they are on or off track for at least two-thirds of all child-related SDG indicators.”

Common Responsibility for Common Future: The Sustainable Development Goals and Norway’s Development Policy: https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/217f38f99edf45c498befc04b7ef1f7e/en-gb/pdfs/stm201620170024000engpdfs.pdf How Norway plans to meet the sustainable development goals.

Healthy planning & environment

The Government has published a draft revised NPPF for consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-revised-national-planning-policy-framework Deadline for responses 10th May. The Faculty of Public Health special interest group (SIG) for healthy spatial planning will be preparing a response with other relevant SIGs from the FPH. There has been a range of media coverage so far – there is likely to be more next week.

Social factors, toxic exposures: Study to examine confluence of children's health risks: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/csu-sft030718.php “Lead poisoning, air pollution and exposure to violent crime are all things that can negatively affect the health and well-being of children.... At Colorado State University, a multidisciplinary research team is taking a deep dive on a multitude of environmental and social stressors, and how they affect health outcomes for young children.”

'Plastic, plastic, plastic': British diver films sea of rubbish off Bali: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/06/plastic-british-diver-films-sea-rubbish-bali-indonesia “A short video posted by diver Rich Horner on his social media account and on YouTube shows the water densely strewn with plastic waste and yellowing food wrappers, the occasional tropical fish darting through the deluge.”

The known unknowns of plastic pollution: https://www.economist.com/news/international/21737498-so-far-it-seems-less-bad-other-kinds-pollution-about-which-less-fuss-made “...But the truth is that little is known about the environmental consequences of plastic—and what is known doesn’t look hugely alarming.”

What makes a terrestrial ecosystem resilient? http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6379/988.full “With increasing incidence of extreme climatic events, disease outbreaks, and other environmental perturbations, conservation of terrestrial ecosystems that can retain their structure and function despite environmental shocks has moved rapidly up the international political agenda.”

Fears for shale industry even as the UK faces gas shortage: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/03/fears-shale-industry-even-uk-faces-gas-shortage/ “Fresh fears for the nascent shale gas industry have emerged as freezing weather pushed Britain to the brink of running out of gas. The Government has publicly backed the burgeoning industry as a new source of secure domestic gas supplies but last week, on the eve of Britain’s tightest gas supply squeeze in a decade, energy minister Claire Perry poured fresh doubts over its future.”

Fracking delayed at North Yorkshire site until autumn: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/07/fracking-delayed-north-yorkshire-site-autumn-third-energy “Third Energy has postponed plans to frack for shale gas at a site in North Yorkshire until the autumn. Meet the Yorkshire villagers fighting the frackers The company had expected to complete test fracks at its KM8 well in the village of Kirby Misperton late last year, but the process was delayed as it waited for final approval from the government.”

EU expected to vote on pesticide ban after major scientific review: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02639-1 “In a long-awaited assessment, the European Union’s food-safety agency has concluded that three controversial neonicotinoid insecticides pose a high risk to wild bees and honeybees. The findings by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, raise the chances that the EU will soon move to ban all uses of the insecticides on outdoor crops.”

Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/28/total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides-likely-after-major-new-eu-analysis “Analysis from EU’s scientific risk assessors finds neonicotinoids pose a serious danger to all bees, making total field ban highly likely”


Housing crisis: 15,000 new Manchester homes and not a single one 'affordable': https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/05/british-cities-developers-affordable-housing-manchester-sheffield “In Sheffield just 1.4% of homes approved by planners met the government’s affordable definition, while in Nottingham the figure was 3.8%, a Guardian Cities investigation has shown”

England sees funding fall for energy-efficient homes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43226918 “As the cold bites, a report says public investment in warm homes in England has been cut by 58% since 2012. It says Scotland now spends four times as much per citizen as England on energy efficiency. The report from the energy think tank e3g urges government to make warm homes a national infrastructure priority. The government did not challenge the figures, but it said that spending on homes was now better targeted at poor households.”

Fuel poverty crisis: 3,000 Britons dying each year because they can't heat their homes, study shows: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/cold-weather-uk-winter-deaths-europe-polar-vortex-a8224276.html “Campaigners call for action to end 'entirely preventable' tragedy that kills as many people as prostate cancer or breast cancer”

Climate change & sustainability

We Can’t Fix Climate Change Without Fixing Gender Equality: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/we-cant-fix-climate-change-without-fixing-gender-equality_uk_5aa00de3e4b0d4f5b66c8dcf?mx “The impacts of climate change are not felt equally. Whilst poverty and geography are important dividing lines, so too is gender. Climate-change induced disasters disproportionately affect women. When disaster strikes, women, who still often play the primary role of looking after children and the elderly, are the last to evacuate; leading to higher female death tolls. Around 90% of the 150,000 people killed in the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone were women. They typically have less access to emergency response information and if they do survive, women, especially in poor or marginalised communities, are often less able to rebuild and recover.”

Analysis: UK carbon emissions in 2017 fell to levels last seen in 1890: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-carbon-emissions-in-2017-fell-to-levels-last-seen-in-1890 “While these rapid declines are impressive, there is still a long way to go to meet the national target of 80% reductions below 1990 levels by 2050. CO2 emissions currently are around 38% below 1990 levels, leaving additional reductions of 250 Mt CO2 – around 68% of today’s emissions – to achieve over the next three decades.”

UN Environment: Emissions Gap Report: https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report “The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement… This year’s report explores removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as an additional way to mitigate climate change, over and above conventional abatement strategies.”

Explainer: 10 ways ‘negative emissions’ could slow climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-10-ways-negative-emissions-could-slow-climate-change “Kicking off a week-long series on negative emissions technologies (NETs), Carbon Brief takes a look at the many and varied options. Tomorrow, we will publish the views of a wide range of experts who have examined the feasibility of NETs.”

Poorest households hit hardest by UK climate change levy despite using least energy: https://theconversation.com/poorest-households-hit-hardest-by-uk-climate-change-levy-despite-using-least-energy-92707 “Our new research shows that the poorest households not only are hit hardest by the levy but also receive less money back in the form of home improvements than they contribute in the first place.”

Potential and costs of carbon dioxide removal by enhanced weathering of rocks: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa9c4/meta “Our results show that enhanced weathering is an option for carbon dioxide removal that could be competitive already at 60 US $ t−1 CO2 removed for dunite, but only at 200 US $ t−1 CO2 removed for basalt. The potential carbon removal on cropland areas could be as large as 95 Gt CO2 a−1 for dunite and 4.9 Gt CO2 a−1 for basalt.”

Abundant pre-industrial carbon detected in Canadian Arctic headwaters: implications for the permafrost carbon feedback: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa1fe “The emission of greenhouse gases derived from old carbon by aquatic systems may indicate that carbon sequestered prior to AD1950 is being destabilized, thus contributing to the 'permafrost carbon feedback' (PCF).”

The ’beast from the east’ and the role of climate change;

Climate change poses a major risk to people’s pensions, MPs warn: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/climate-change-mps-warn-pensions-at-risk-a8239506.html “Government admits there is "a lack of attention and outright misunderstanding remain widespread"

Britain is paying the cost of the war on coal: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2018/03/01/britain-paying-cost-war-coal/ “Yesterday the National Grid announced, for the first time in almost a decade, that the UK might not have enough gas to meet demand… This is what happens when the green agenda trumps common sense.” – it is always good practice to look at opposing viewpoints, even if they are not based on credible evidence.

Where the rivers meet the sea: http://www.cee.psu.edu/news/2017-salinity-gradients.aspx “UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State researchers have created a new hybrid technology that produces unprecedented amounts of electrical power where seawater and freshwater combine at the coast. “The goal of this technology is to generate electricity from where the rivers meet the ocean,” said Christopher Gorski, assistant professor of environmental engineering at Penn State. “It's based on the difference in the salt concentrations between the two water sources.”” – More here: Scientists Just Invented Groundbreaking New Source Of Renewable Energy: http://www.physics-astronomy.com/2017/06/scientists-just-invented-groundbreaking.html?m=1

After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/2/27/17052488/electricity-demand-utilities “The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes. In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant.”

Active travel & transport

Why is car-crazy Germany so much safer than the USA for pedestrians and cyclists? https://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/why-car-crazy-germany-so-much-safer-usa-pedestrians-and-cyclists.html “Compared to Americans, Germans own fewer cars, drive them shorter distances and less frequently, and walk and cycle and ride transit more often. They have slimmer waistlines to show for their active transport habits and suffer fewer traffic deaths whether in a car or not. They spend less household income on getting around even as they pay much more in driving costs. They use less energy per person on ground transport, resulting in lower carbon emissions.”

Killer cyclists? Let’s not forget the real threat on our roads: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/08/killer-cyclists-roads-bikes-pedestrian-collision-deaths-britain “People on bikes do stupid things. But 99% of pedestrian collision deaths in Britain involve a motorised vehicle. A dangerous cycling law won’t solve our problems”

Crash driver Ian Lloyd-Owen had no licence for 40 years: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-43321882 “A man who drove for more than 40 years without a full licence before he caused a fatal crash on the M4 motorway has been given a suspended jail term.” Emphasis added….

The world of self-driving cars is set to change in April: https://qz.com/1217317/california-will-allow-truly-driverless-cars-in-april/ “The California DMV got approval Monday (Feb. 26) for its plan (pdf) to put self-driving cars on the road with no safety driver, a measure that ensured a human could take over if the car’s artificial intelligence made a mistake. That means starting April 2, Google, Ford, Nvidia, and other companies can own and operate cars driving around the Golden State without anybody inside.”

Lack of models, not charging points, 'holding back electric car market': https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/lack-of-models-not-charging-points-holding-back-electric-car-market “The rise of electric cars in Europe is being hampered by a lack of models for consumers to choose from rather than a lack of public recharging points, according to energy companies and carmakers.”

Air quality & pollution

Chief Medical Officer annual report 2017: health impacts of all pollution – what do we know? https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chief-medical-officer-annual-report-2017-health-impacts-of-all-pollution-what-do-we-know “Professor Dame Sally Davies's ninth independent report as CMO discusses the threat to health posed by pollution to people living in England. The purpose of the report, Professor Dame Sally Davies says in her introductory summary, is: ‘To bring political, policy and health system attention to pollution as a threat to the public’s health […] to emphasise the role pollution plays in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and recommend means to better understand and tackle this threat [and] structure our research and public sector organisations to look at the whole spectrum of pollution holistically.’” – media coverage: Public at risk from 'daily cocktail of pollution': http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43246263

Health co-benefits from air pollution and mitigation costs of the Paris Agreement: a modelling study: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(18)30029-9/fulltext “Substantial health gains can be achieved from taking action to prevent climate change, independent of any future reductions in damages due to climate change. Some countries, such as China and India, could justify stringent mitigation efforts just by including health co-benefits in the analysis. Our results also suggest that the statement in the Paris Agreement to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1·5°C could make economic sense in some scenarios and countries if health co-benefits are taken into account.”

Carmakers’ own tests show many of the newest diesels are still ‘dangerously’ polluting: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/03/02/diesel-cars-emissions-tests-rde-nox-eu-standards-companies/ “Major investigation shows new models from leading brands like VW, Vauxhall, and Fiat still emit well over latest pollution standards on the road”

Swept under the rug: toxics in European carpets threaten health, environment and circular economy: https://epha.org/swept-under-the-rug-toxics-in-european-carpets-threaten-health-environment-and-circular-economy/ “The study identifies over 59 hazardous substances found in carpets sold in the EU, including endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, linked to serious health conditions such as cancers, learning disabilities and fertility problems. Exposure to these toxics via inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact proves extremely harmful to pregnant women, babies and small children who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of exposure to chemicals, as well as workers in the carpet industry who are exposed to those chemicals because of inadequate safety measures. Many of these toxic chemicals are also persistent polluters that stay in the environment and can cause adverse impacts on ecosystems. In some cases, health and environmental impacts only show decades later.”

Food & food security

Shared Assets – Local Land Economies: http://www.sharedassets.org.uk/innovation/local-land-economies/ “Over the course of an 18 month action learning project we worked with three leading community food enterprises, Ecological Land Cooperative, Organiclea and Kindling Trust, to understand how food growing supports local economic development and the challenges they face creating sustainable businesses and livelihoods.”

Sustainable diets will remain a minefield until we change the way we approach food: https://theconversation.com/sustainable-diets-will-remain-a-minefield-until-we-change-the-way-we-approach-food-92386 “In the drive for change, it’s vital for consumers to use their purchasing power as discerningly as they can. But with profit-making still at the top of the food industry agenda – and the environmental costs of many food products hidden by complex supply chains – we need more than consumer power alone to achieve a truly sustainable food system.”

It’s poverty, not individual choice that is driving extraordinary obesity levels: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/poverty-individual-choice-driving-obesity-health-a8219831.html “The statistics point remorselessly towards obesity being a symptom with an underlying social cause. That should completely change the approach to dealing with it”

Food makers told to cut calories by 20% by 2024: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/06/food-makers-told-to-cut-calories-by-20-by-2024 “Public Health England says the target would slash costs to the NHS by £4.5bn and prevent more than 35,000 premature deaths” 2024 feels a very long way away.

Brexit: UK faces unprecedented food crisis if no trade deal secured with EU, says Sainsbury's boss: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-food-crisis-uk-shortages-eu-trade-deal-sainsburys-mike-coupe-a8236296.html “‘Closing the borders for a few days to free movement of food would result in food crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen,’ Mike Coupe says”

Healthy Eating Plate & Healthy Eating Pyramid: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/ “The Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications, was designed to address deficiencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s MyPlate. The Healthy Eating Plate provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices.”

Millions of Chinese farmers reap benefits of huge crop experiment: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02792-7 “A landmark project to make agriculture more sustainable in China has significantly cut fertilizer use while boosting crop yields on millions of small farms across the country, researchers report in Nature”

Farming Ideology Trumps Evidence: https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/farming-ideology-trumps-evidence/ “A recent article in the Independent is, in my opinion, a good example of how ideology can overwhelm evidence and logic.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 1 March 2018

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

New guide to help private sector deliver UN’s SDGs published: https://transform.iema.net/article/new-guide-help-private-sector-deliver-uns-sdgs-published “The private sector is not moving fast enough to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a new report from the WWF providing a guide to help accelerate action.”

SDG Knowledge Weekly: Local Collaboration, Innovative Policies and Partnerships: http://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/policy-briefs/sdg-knowledge-weekly-local-collaboration-innovative-policies-and-partnerships/ “Recent SDG Knowledge Weekly briefs have covered private and public options for financing the SDGs, as well as efforts to localize the Goals. This week’s column turns towards other innovative ways of delivering the Goals, looking at literature and news announcements covering public-private partnerships (PPPs), policy options such as special economic zones (SEZs), and country support platforms.”

Beyond capitalism and socialism: could a new economic approach save the planet? https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/21/regenerative-economy-holism-economy-climate-change-inequality “A holistic approach to the economy is necessary to avoid social, environmental and economic collapse, according to a new report by the Capital Institute”

Healthy planning & environment

TCPA - Securing constructive collaboration and consensus for planning healthy developments: A report from the Developers and Wellbeing project: https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=b9a54964-9cf5-49d4-8ef4-095d2436719f “The project was based around ten workshops with local authority planning and public health teams, housing developers and a wide network of stakeholders. In addition, developers were interviewed to find out what they thought about their role in creating healthy places. The meetings and conversations yielded interesting perspectives and reflections from developers, including insight into their relationships with public bodies during the planning process. The activities were supported by an evidence review of publications and studies from industry and academic sources on the subject of healthy places and economic value.”

TCPA - The NPPF will fail again unless it can pass these eight tests: https://www.tcpa.org.uk/blog/the-nppf-will-fail-again-unless-it-can-pass-these-eight-tests “The government has a choice over the future direction of planning and place-making in England: it can continue on the path of planning deregulation and growth at all cost, or it can use the revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to clarify and strengthen its commitment to people and place.”

Planning for Environment and Resource eFficiency in European Cities and Towns Project summary: https://www.interregeurope.eu/perfect/ “PERFECT integrates the many benefits of green infrastructure into the planning and investment for the future of urban and rural areas. It seeks to influence the policy-making process by raising awareness of the social, environmental and economic potential of green infrastructure.”

Why do we visit green areas? Evidence from Amsterdam: https://www.interregeurope.eu/perfect/news/news-article/2556/why-do-we-visit-green-areas-evidence-from-amsterdam/ “There is accumulating evidence showing that health benefits linked with access to green space may be strongest among the lowest socioeconomic groups. However, in Amsterdam, residents with a low socioeconomic status use and appreciate the green infrastructure less than residents with a higher socioeconomic status. This is unfortunate since this is the group of residents who have poorest health and may benefit the most. The big question is why do these people use the green infrastructure to a lesser extent?”

National Planning Policy Framework review: what to expect?: http://lichfields.uk/blog/2018/february/26/national-planning-policy-framework-review-what-to-expect/ “Last year’s Housing White Paper provided some clarity over the extent of the revision that was then envisaged for the NPPF; in particular, it would be setting out a series of new, housing-focused policy. Since then, further consultation documents have been launched and policy announcements have been made, as housing has ever-increasingly become a political priority nationally, as highlighted by PM Theresa May’s clear message at last year’s Tory Conference.”

How walkable is your city? Tool aims to make pedestrians safer and happier: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=77404c48-bc83-4774-b1fc-a4b4ab9ea56f “Urban planners are looking into measures to cut road deaths and injuries but also at ways to ease traffic and encourage people to walk”

Urban Green Space Layouts and Urban Heat Island: Case Study on Apartment Complexes in South Korea: https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/%28ASCE%29UP.1943-5444.0000414 “The study showed that in the presence of solar heat, there were significant temperature differences among the three layouts. The study showed that the sites with greenery in the middle of a complex generated the lowest urban heat island effect of the three layouts.”

Why fracking is in big trouble: http://neweconomics.org/2018/02/fracking-in-big-trouble/ “The finances of frackers are creaking. Local councils are simply refusing to roll over in the face of the industry’s bully-boy tactics. Shale is getting more and more toxic, as MPs and the public turn against it. The Government doesn’t talk about it any more, and behind the scenes has massively lowered its expectations of how much fracking it thinks we’re going to get. It’s only going to get harder and harder for national politicians to claim that it’s somehow in the national interest.”

Theresa May: Fracking across Yorkshire will be financially beneficial for communities: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/theresa-may-fracking-across-yorkshire-will-be-financially-beneficial-for-communities-1-9033730/ “Prime Minister Theresa May today insisted the planned roll-out of fracking across vast swathes of Yorkshire will be both safe and financially beneficial to local communities.”

Plastic straws could be banned, suggests Michael Gove: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43169004 “Environment Secretary Michael Gove has suggested that plastic straws could be banned in Britain. When asked by the Daily Telegraph if he would prohibit plastic straws Mr Gove replied "watch this space". He added that a balanced approach would be needed but said: "If it is bad, then banning it is a good thing."”

Europe's Dirty Little Secret: Moroccan Slaves and a 'Sea of Plastic': https://www.ecowatch.com/europes-dirty-little-secret-moroccan-slaves-and-a-sea-of-plastic-1882131257.html “...As we drove along, the smell of plastic and chemicals permeated the car and offered the first scent of the larger environmental problem. The greenhouses are almost all hydroponic—growing vegetables in water, air and a chemical stew of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide. Due to the hot and extremely difficult working conditions inside the greenhouses, almost all of the human labor is imported, much of it slave-like from Africa.”


English Housing Survey 2016 to 2017: headline report: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-housing-survey-2016-to-2017-headline-report#163961_20180125021929 “Initial findings from the English Housing Survey 2016 to 2017”

Cold homes and excess winter deaths a preventable public health epidemic that can no longer be tolerated: http://www.nea.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/E3G-NEA-Cold-homes-and-excess-winter-deaths.pdf “A large share of excess winter deaths is attributable to the entirely preventable experience of living in a cold home. This has got to stop, argue E3G’s Pedro Guertler and National Energy Action’s Peter Smith.”

Using the Social Housing Green Paper to boost the supply of low-cost rented homes: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/using-social-housing-green-paper-boost-supply-low-cost-rented-homes “In his speech announcing the Social Housing Green Paper, the Secretary of State promised a ‘wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review of the issues facing the sector’. This briefing outlines why the Green Paper must set out a plan to bridge the 30,000 homes per year gap between current supply and objectively-assessed need, with the aim of reducing the cost of housing for low-income families.”

Counties call for strategic planning reforms to tackle rising house prices: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Counties-call-for-strategic-planning-reforms-to-tackle-rising-house-prices/44754 “County councils have called for strategic planning reforms after figures showed house prices in England’s counties rose at triple the rate of London last year.”

Unsafe cladding removed from only 4% of affected social housing: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Unsafe-cladding-removed-from-only-4-of-affected-social-housing/44825 “The homelessness charity Shelter has warned 42% of social housing buildings that use similar cladding to that used at Grenfell have not started work on replacing it.”

Making an impact: measuring economic contribution in the property sector: http://lichfields.uk/blog/2018/february/23/making-an-impact-measuring-economic-contribution-in-the-property-sector/ “By providing the essential investment to support and drive economic growth, we all know that the development industry makes a hugely important contribution to the UK economy. But relatively few organisations can point to specific evidence or tangible examples of the wider benefits delivered by their day-to-day activities and operations.”

Couple fined £4,000 for disguising home as a garage: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Couple-fined-4000-for-disguising-home-as-a-garage/44725 “The development included the conversion of the couple’s garage to habitable accommodation and the erection of fencing, preventing off street parking at the property. They also undertook illegal works within the highway and created an unauthorised vehicular access onto the busy B4114 dual carriageway.”

Climate change & sustainability

Latest Report on Health Effects of Climate Change: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2666516?redirect=true “While progress is being made in addressing the health threats from climate change around the world, these efforts need to be accelerated to mitigate and prevent future harms, according to new research in The Lancet. The report points out that climate change, which disproportionately affects populations in low- and middle-income countries, is already impacting the health of hundreds of millions of people around the world in ways that may be irreversible.”

The southern African climate under 1.5° and 2°C of global warming as simulated by CORDEX models: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aab190 “The importance of achieving the Paris Agreement is imperative for southern Africa as the projected changes under both the 1.5°C, and more so, 2.0°C GWL imply significant potential risks to agricultural and economic productivity, human and ecological systems health and water resources with implied increase in regional water stresses.”

Why scientists have modelled climate change right up to the year 2300: https://theconversation.com/why-scientists-have-modelled-climate-change-right-up-to-the-year-2300-92236? “These scenarios are actually based on credible assumptions about a large set of long-term socio-economic and technological drivers that define contrasting futures for the world as a whole. And it turns out that things which will affect future emissions and climate, like the rates of technological progress, or population and wealth growth, are likely going to be constrained within a reasonably predictable range.”

Q&A: How viable are floating offshore windfarms? https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-how-viable-are-floating-offshore-windfarms “Carbon Brief takes a look at the status of floating windfarms and their potential to provide renewable energy in the future.”

Coal groups urge Lloyds of London to do more to fight coal-fired power: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/02/25/coal-groups-urge-lloyds-london-do-fight-coal-fired-power/ “Lloyd’s of London is facing pressure from climate change groups to rewrite its rule book so that insurers no longer insure risky coal projects.”

World’s largest insurance firms continue to prop up Polish coal industry: https://transform.iema.net/article/worlds-largest-insurance-firms-continue-prop-polish-coal-industry “Major European insurance firms continue to undermine international efforts to combat climate change by underwriting new coal plants in Poland, supporting an industry linked to 10,520 premature deaths every year.”

European Union moves to strengthen renewable-energy goals: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00879-9 “European lawmakers have backed measures that would substantially raise the European Union’s clean-energy ambitions. By 2030, more than one-third of energy consumed in the EU should be from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, the European Parliament says — up from the existing target of just over one-quarter. But the decision is not yet legally binding: the Parliament will now need to negotiate the plan with national governments, which could attempt to lower the targets.”

Tesla big battery results suggest local storage better than “monster” projects: http://reneweconomy.com.au/tesla-big-battery-results-suggest-local-storage-better-monster-projects-73385/ “New analysis of the performance of the Tesla big battery in South Australia suggests that distributed local battery and pumped hydro projects could offer better value to the grid than a single “monster” project like Snowy 2.0.”

Animals with white winter camouflage could struggle to adapt to climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/animals-with-white-winter-camouflage-could-struggle-to-adapt-to-climate-change “Animals that turn white in the winter to hide themselves in snowy landscapes could struggle to adapt to climate change, research suggests.”

Coral reefs at risk of dissolving as oceans get more acidic: study: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-corals/coral-reefs-at-risk-of-dissolving-as-oceans-get-more-acidic-study-idUSKCN1G62LS “Acidification will threaten sediments that are building blocks for reefs. Corals already face risks from ocean temperatures, pollution and overfishing.”

“Coral reefs will transition to net dissolving before end of century,” the Australian-led team of scientists wrote in the U.S. journal Science. “Net dissolving” means reefs would lose more material than they gain from the growth of corals.”

Every five-year delay in meeting Paris goals could ‘add 20cm’ to global sea levels: https://www.carbonbrief.org/every-five-year-delay-in-meeting-paris-goals-could-add-20cm-to-global-sea-levels “Failure to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement within the next few decades could have long-lasting impacts on global sea level rise in the coming centuries, new research finds.”

EU, US business lobbies seek closer access to UN climate talks: http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/02/15/eu-us-business-lobbies-seek-closer-access-un-climate-talks/  “We feel that there are many good business ideas to tackle climate change that might not always be reaching negotiators,” the group’s communications director, Peter Sennekamp, told Climate Home News.”

Saudi Arabia is building a mega-city that will run on 100% renewable energy: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/saudi-arabia-is-going-to-build-a-500-billion-mega-city/ “The Saudi Arabian government says it will build a $500 billion mega-city, with the goal of diversifying its economy to focus less on crude oil. The project, called NEOM, will measure 10,230 square miles and run on 100 percent renewable energy.”

After the 'sunrush': what comes next for solar power? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/28/after-the-sunrush-what-comes-next-for-solar-power “The fall in costs that has driven solar’s rapid growth is slowing - but scientists are exploring the next generation of materials that can harness more energy from the sun”

Analysis: BP significantly upgrades its global outlook for wind and solar – again: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-bp-significantly-upgrades-global-outlook-wind-solar-again “Analysis: BP significantly upgrades its global outlook for wind and solar – again”

Arctic Temperatures: http://sites.uci.edu/zlabe/arctic-temperatures/

Polar Bears Really Are Starving Because of Global Warming, Study Shows: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/polar-bears-really-are-starving-because-of-global-warming-study-shows.aspx “New science sheds more light on recent controversy over how much the large carnivores are being impacted by melting sea ice.”

Left to Louisiana’s Tides, a Village Fights for Time: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/24/us/jean-lafitte-floodwaters.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&mtrref=t.co&gwh=E444068AE2EB9F7C6D6049A30B8EC42D&gwt=pay “For the community of Jean Lafitte, the question is less whether it will succumb to the sea than when — and how much the public should invest in artificially extending its life.”

CO2 emissions from average UK new car rise for first time since 2000: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/27/co2-emissions-from-average-uk-new-car-rise-for-first-time-since-2000 “Climate change targets may be missed as consumers buy bigger cars and turn away from diesel”

Telegraph Columnist Christopher Booker’s Groupthink Report for Climate Science Denial Group GWPF Debunks Itself: https://www.desmog.uk/2018/02/23/telegraph-columnist-christopher-booker-groupthink-report-climate-science-denial-group-debunks-itself “There’s a new .pdf out from the UK’s GWPF that attacks the climate consensus as being a product of groupthink. Deniers are promoting this “paper” like it’s very important, cartoons and all. The report’s author and UK Times columnist Christopher Booker has in the past also expressed skepticism of asbestos dangers and second hand smoking risks, so it’s no surprise he’s also “skeptical” of climate change.”

Active travel & transport

Electric dreams: The future for EVs: https://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/electric-dreams-future-evs “The UK Government’s announcement of a ban on petrol and diesel car sales from 2040 has thrown the debate on electric vehicles into even sharper focus. Market Insights Manager Russell Fowler examines the road ahead.”

Errors in BP’s forecasts of the impact of electric vehicles: https://www.carboncommentary.com/blog/2018/2/22/errors-in-bps-forecasts-of-the-impact-of-electric-vehicles “BP’s respected Energy Outlook was published this week (February 2018). Many commentators have written about the forecasts for electricity generation. I want to concentrate on the impact of electric cars and other efficiency gains on the demand for oil. Specifically, I’m going to focus on what I see as modelling errors and implausible assumptions in the BP analysis.”

Air quality & pollution

Emissions of air pollutants in  the uk, 1970 to 2016: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/681445/Emissions_of_air_pollutants_statistical_release_FINALv4.pdf “Statistical release: 15 February 2018” – media coverage;

Government air quality plan ruled ‘unlawful’: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/21/government-air-quality-plan-ruled-unlawful/ “A High Court judge has ruled that the government’s air quality plan – which includes measures to force councils into action to address air pollution – is “unlawful”. And, following the ruling today (21 February), a supplementary plan instructing 33 more local authorities to carry out feasibility studies of air quality measures will need to be published.”

Most UK parents back air pollution exclusion zones around schools: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/26/most-uk-parents-back-air-pollution-exclusion-zones-around-schools “Exclusive: 60% of parents want traffic to be diverted away from schools at peak times to protect children’s health, a new study shows”

Brussels to make public transport free on high air pollution days: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/26/brussels-to-make-public-transport-free-on-high-air-pollution-days “The new rules will also see car speed limits cut and wood-burning stoves banned in a drive to improve air quality in the city”

German court rules cities can ban diesel cars to tackle pollution: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/german-court-rules-cities-can-ban-diesel-cars-to-tackle-pollution “Millions of heavily polluting vehicles could eventually disappear from roads across Germany after its top administrative court ruled that cities have the right to ban diesel motors in an effort to improve deadly air quality levels. Tuesday’s historic decision potentially affects an estimated 12m vehicles and has delivered a heavy blow to Europe’s largest car market, while being celebrated by environmental campaigners.”

Police probe withdrawn Waverley air quality report: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/19/police-probe-withdrawn-waverley-air-quality-report/ “Surrey Police has launched an investigation into an air quality report compiled by Waverley borough council, which was withdrawn due to inaccuracies in data. The council withdrew its 2016 Air Quality Report in October, after an independent review had found that ‘bias adjustment factors’ had been applied incorrectly. Bias adjustments can be used by local authorities to adjust data where interference may be skewing readings.”

EPA scientists find black communities disproportionately hit by pollution: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/375289-epa-scientists-find-emissions-greater-impact-low-income-communities “The findings by five EPA scientists, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, found that when looking at areas most affected by particulate air emissions, like soot, there were large disparities between communities differentiated by color and social strata.”

Food & food security

Processed Food Isn’t Killing You: //medium.com/@gidmk/processed-food-isnt-killing-you-43556b943bd6">https://medium.com/@gidmk/processed-food-isnt-killing-you-43556b943bd6> “Why you don’t have to worry about chicken nuggets giving you cancer”

Going veggie would cut global food emissions by two thirds and save millions of lives – new study: https://theconversation.com/going-veggie-would-cut-global-food-emissions-by-two-thirds-and-save-millions-of-lives-new-study-56655#link_time=1482507824 “In our latest research, colleagues and I estimate that changes towards more plant-based diets in line with the WHO’s global dietary guidelines could avert 5m-8m deaths per year by 2050. This represents a 6-10% reduction in global mortality.”

Shoppers may be forced to buy inferior milk from America in post-Brexit trade deal with US: https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/shoppers-may-forced-buy-inferior-milk-america-post-brexit-trade-deal-us “Lower quality American milk and dairy products from cows with udder infections could be forced on British consumers under a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, i can reveal.”

Healthy chicken shops to fight obesity: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43161939 “Child obesity is a "ticking time bomb", according to experts, with one in three children overweight by the time they leave primary school. There has been a big focus on how the government can tackle the issue - for example, next month the sugar tax comes into force. But a report from the charity arm of the world-famous Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals shows what can be achieved locally in urban areas.”

How formula milk firms target mothers who can least afford it: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/27/formula-milk-companies-target-poor-mothers-breastfeeding “Guardian/Save the Children investigation in deprived areas of Philippines finds companies flouting international code”

Future of food explored in latest magazine: www.ethicalcorp.com/future-food-explored-latest-magazine “We take an in-depth look at food this month, looking at the prospects of big data sowing a new green revolution and the global battle against food waste. This month in Ethical Corporation magazine we emerging solutions to address growing challenges in the global food system.  By 2050 there will be almost two-and-a-half billion more mouths to feed on planet Earth, and we will need to produce almost twice as much food as today.”

World's fishing fleets mapped from orbit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43169824 “"Because fishing is an industrial activity tied to politics and culture, this is actually a positive message because it shows we have a lot of human agency in the way we fish the oceans, and it's entirely within our power to change things," he told BBC News.””

Arctic stronghold of world's seeds reaches one million mark: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43171939 “The vault storing the world's most precious seeds is taking delivery on Monday of consignments that will take it to the one million mark. More than 70,000 crops will be added to frozen storage chambers buried deep within a mountain in the Arctic Circle. Cereal staples, unusual crops like the Estonian onion potato, and barley used to brew Irish beer are among them.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 23 February 2018

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

Why is life expectancy in England and Wales ‘stalling’? http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2018/02/20/jech-2017-210401 “Several independent analyses, by both epidemiologists and actuaries, have concluded that the previous rate of improvement of life expectancy in England and Wales has now slowed markedly, and at older ages may even be reversing…  We argue that recent changes cannot be dismissed as a temporary aberration. While the causes of this phenomenon are contested, there is growing evidence to point to the austerity policies implemented in recent years as at least a partial explanation. We conclude by calling for a fully independent enquiry to ascertain what is happening to life expectancy in England and Wales and what should be done about it.”

Healthy planning & environment

Playing Out: an initiative that empowers children to play near their homes: https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/blog/playing-out-an-initiative-that-empowers-children-to-play-near-their-homes “Playing Out – the organisation – is run by a small team of four based in Bristol, but the UK-wide movement we support now involves several thousand active parents and residents working to change things in their own streets, neighbourhoods and cities. Over 600 streets across 60 local authority areas have been involved so far, and the movement is growing.”

What is Placemaking? https://www.pps.org/article/what-is-placemaking “More than just promoting better urban design, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”

A walk to the park? Assessing access to green areas in Europe's cities: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/publications/working-papers/2018/a-walk-to-the-park-assessing-access-to-green-areas-in-europe-s-cities “This updated working paper presents a methodology that takes into account the spatial distribution of both population and green areas throughout the cities' territory, and produces indicators on the proximity of the green areas to the urban population.”

Theresa May’s environment plan includes less than £1m a year of extra funds: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/02/16/environment-plan-funding-theresa-may/ “Less than £1m a year in new funding has been set aside for the government’s 25 year environment plan, Unearthed has learned. Theresa May promised “global leadership” on environmental issues from plastic waste to animal abuse when launching the strategy last month. But so far only £15.7m in extra funding has been set aside for the strategy, it emerged in a recent parliamentary question posed by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas.”

‘Cities are designed around men. It’s time for equality in planning’: https://www.lgcplus.com/services/regeneration-and-planning/cities-are-designed-around-men-its-time-for-equality-in-planning/7023068.article “Only a few women have been influential or writing on planning and city design, with the author and activist Jane Jacobs being the single biggest exception, while most cities are designed around men’s needs and their work. In fact, in an influential 1980s essay, What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Yale professor Dolores Hayden argued women’s place had been in the home and that had shaped architectural design and urban planning in the last century.”

Ocean plastic tide 'violates the law': http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43115486 “The global tide of ocean plastic pollution is a clear violation of international law, campaigners say. They have been urging for a new global treaty to tackle the problem. But a new report - to be presented to a Royal Geographical Society conference on Tuesday - says littering the sea with plastics is already prohibited under existing agreements.”

An international plastics treaty could avert a "Silent Spring" for our seas: https://theconversation.com/amp/an-international-plastics-treaty-could-avert-a-silent-spring-for-our-seas-90990 “What we lack are binding rules for land-based sources of plastic pollution that apply to countries around the world. As the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) noted: “Current initiatives to tackle plastic pollution focus on the symptoms but not the root of the problem.””

Anthropocene began in 1965, according to signs left in the world’s ‘loneliest tree’: https://theconversation.com/anthropocene-began-in-1965-according-to-signs-left-in-the-worlds-loneliest-tree-91993 “Planted in the early 20th century by Lord Ranfurly, governor of New Zealand, the tree’s wood has recorded the radiocarbon produced by above ground atomic bomb tests – and its annual layers show a peak in 1965, just after the tests were banned. The tree therefore gives us a potential marker for the start of the Anthropocene.”

The state of the environment: water quality: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/682223/State_of_the_environment_water_quality_report_2016.pdf “Population growth, climate change, emerging chemicals, plastic pollution, nano-particles and fracking all present potential future threats to water quality.” – media coverage here - Water quality and resources could be at risk from fracking, says the Environment Agency: https://drillordrop.com/2018/02/19/water-quality-and-resources-at-risk-from-fracking-says-the-environment-agency


Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market: a consultation: Written statement - HCWS467: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-02-20/HCWS467 “On Sunday 18 February the Government launched a public consultation on strengthening redress in housing. The consultation is open to consumers, providers of housing services, and existing redress schemes, and asks how we can make the system simpler and more effective for consumers.”

Rethinking social housing: http://www.cih.org/rethinkingabout “Rethinking social housing is major new project by the Chartered Institute of Housing aims to help shape the future of social housing. Rethinking social housing will combine original research and engagement with the sector, tenants, politicians and the public to explore fundamental questions about the future of social housing.” There is a toolkit for delivering a workshop related to this project. http://www.cih.org/resources/PDF/Policy%20free%20download%20pdfs/news%20and%20views/CIH_Rethinking%20social%20housing_Toolkit_Welcome.pdf

Survey for the homeless families project: “Dear all, We are working with colleagues to develop a toolkit to support public health nurses to support homeless families. We are looking for your views to inform this work. Please can you complete the short survey and cascade to colleagues to complete:” https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VW6BBNH

Government announces public bodies with homelessness duties: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Government-announces-public-bodies-with-homelessness-duties/44787 “Hospitals, prisons, job centres and a number of other public bodies have a duty to refer those at risk of becoming homeless to a housing authority, the Government says.”

Government's anti-homelessness taskforce has not held a single meeting since it was set up, ministers admit: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-homelessness-rough-sleeping-tories-taskforce-not-held-meeting-john-healey-philip-hammond-a8220101.html “Cross-departmental group was set up last year to address soaring levels of rough sleeping but plans for first meeting still 'being finalised'”

Selling homes for £1 gives local authorities the power to revive deprived communities: https://theconversation.com/selling-homes-for-1-gives-local-authorities-the-power-to-revive-deprived-communities-88265 “In the city of Stoke-on-Trent, England, the council is offering 25 homes for sale for just £1 each. The houses are mainly two-bedroom Victorian terraces, in a deprived area of the city where there are a large number of empty properties, and which has a reputation locally for high levels of disorder and antisocial behaviour. Clearly, the city council hopes the “Reviving Communities Scheme” will do just that.”

Climate change & sustainability

Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/02/06/1717312115 “...If sea level continues to change at this rate and acceleration, sea-level rise by 2100 (65 cm) will be more than double the amount if the rate was constant at 3 mm/y.”

Anti-fossil fuel norms: a new frontier in climate change politics: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/government/2018/02/20/anti-fossil-fuel-norms-a-new-frontier-in-climate-change-politics “Testing nuclear weapons, owning slaves and waging aggressive war were all once normal practices – in some cases, for much of human history. In newly published research, I argue that the processes by which such practices came to be seen as morally repugnant can teach us much about how we should tackle climate change – and why the standard prescriptions are flawed.”

OECD says energy taxes in developed economies too low to fight climate change: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-oecd-energy-taxation/oecd-says-energy-taxes-in-developed-economies-too-low-to-fight-climate-change-idUKKCN1FY16T “Energy taxes in major advanced economies are not doing enough to reduce energy use, improve energy efficiency and drive a shift towards low-carbon sources, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said on Wednesday.”

History and future of the global energy transition 2016 – 2017 in pictures and charts: http://www.jeremyleggett.net/2018/02/the-history-and-future-of-the-global-energy-transition-2016-2017-in-pictures-and-charts/ “This presentation, to accompany the publication of the updated edition of The Winning of The Carbon War, is easily downloadable on Slideshare here.”

Energy use and life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of drones for commercial package delivery: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02411-5 “We show that, although drones consume less energy per package-km than delivery trucks, the additional warehouse energy required and the longer distances traveled by drones per package greatly increase the life-cycle impacts. Still, in most cases examined, the impacts of package delivery by small drone are lower than ground-based delivery.” Media coverage here: Small drones could be better for climate than delivery trucks, says study: https://www.carbonbrief.org/small-drones-could-be-better-for-climate-than-delivery-trucks-says-study

EU to refuse to sign trade deals with countries that don't ratify Paris climate change accord: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-trade-deal-paris-climate-change-accord-agreement-cecilia-malmstr-m-a8206806.html “The European Union will refuse to sign trade deals with countries that do not ratify the Paris climate change agreement and take steps to combat global warming, under a new Brussels policy. Cecilia Malmstrom‏, the EU’s trade chief, said a binding reference to the Paris agreement would be “needed in all EU trade agreements” from now on, noting that it had been included in a deal with Japan.”

Expect more 'complete surprises' from climate change: NASA's Schmidt: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/global-warming/expect-more-complete-surprises-from-climate-change-nasa-s-schmidt-20180212-p4z035.html “The eruption of pine bark beetles that has devastated millions of hectares of forests in North America is an example of the surprises yet to come as the planet warms, says Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.”

Ocean-wide sensor array provides new look at global ocean current: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02113-y “The North Atlantic Ocean is a major driver of the global currents that regulate Earth’s climate, mix the oceans and sequester carbon from the atmosphere — but researchers haven’t been able to get a good look at its inner workings until now. The first results from an array of sensors strung across this region reveal that things are much more complicated than scientists previously believed.”

First ship crosses Arctic in winter without an icebreaker as global warming causes ice sheets to melt: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/arctic-sea-route-first-ship-no-icebreaker-winter-icebergs-ice-shelf-teekay-russia-a8208596.html “Crossing of polar region is becoming easier due to warming global temperatures and thinning sea ice”

Ikea joins Big Clean Switch to offer 100% renewable energy tariff: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/20/ikea-joins-big-clean-switch-to-offer-100-renewable-energy-tariff “Ikea is calling for households to join its latest joint venture – a collective energy switch that promises an exclusive 100% renewable electricity tariff. The furniture retailer has joined forces with the “Big Clean Switch” campaign to use a collective switch to secure cheaper green power for the households that sign up.”

Wind farms make up all EU’s net power growth: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/02/13/wind-farms-make-eus-net-power-growth/ “The boom in wind farms across the European Union has single-handedly driven the net growth in power generating capacity as fossil fuel plants shut faster than they are built. The steady shutdown of polluting coal plants across the UK and the rest of EU outstripped the number being built by more than four times over.”

EU wind funding down a fifth to $27.4 billion in 2017: WindEurope: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-windfarm/eu-wind-funding-down-a-fifth-to-27-4-billion-in-2017-windeurope-idUSKBN1FX0ID “Spending on new wind capacity in Europe hit a three-year low in 2017, according to industry group WindEurope, in a sign that the sector is slashing costs and becoming more efficient as governments phase out lavish subsidies.”

Semitransparent solar cells: a window to the future? https://theconversation.com/semitransparent-solar-cells-a-window-to-the-future-90839 “With between 5 billion and 7 billion square metres of glass surface in the United States alone, solar windows would offer a great way to harness the Sun’s energy. Our research represents a step toward this goal, by showing how to make solar panels that still let through enough light to function as a window.”

Vast bioenergy plantations could stave off climate change—and radically reshape the planet: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/vast-bioenergy-plantations-could-stave-climate-change-and-radically-reshape-planet “Paul Stoy, an ecologist at MSU, paces in front of whiteboards in a powder blue shirt and jeans as he describes how a landscape already dominated by agriculture could be transformed yet again by a different green revolution: vast plantations of crops, sown to sop up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the sky. "We have this new energy economy that's necessary to avoid dangerous climate change, but how is that going to look on the ground?" he asks.”

Climate change spells turbulent times ahead for air travel: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/19/climate-change-spells-turbulent-times-ahead-for-air-travel “From rising temperatures preventing take-off to rising seas flooding runways, aviation needs to adapt to changes already grounding flights around the world”

Meet the new ‘renewable superpowers’: nations that boss the materials used for wind and solar: https://theconversation.com/meet-the-new-renewable-superpowers-nations-that-boss-the-materials-used-for-wind-and-solar-91680 “The 20th century was dominated by coal, oil and natural gas, but a shift to zero-emission energy generation and transport means a new set of elements will become key.”

Active travel & transport

Impact of free access to leisure facilities and community outreach on inequalities in physical activity: a quasi-experimental study: http://jech.bmj.com/content/72/3/252 “The study suggests that removing user charges from leisure facilities in combination with outreach and marketing activities can increase overall population levels of physical activity while reducing inequalities.”

Britain's bus coverage hits 28-year low: https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/uk-england-42749973 “Britain's bus network has shrunk to levels last seen in the late 1980s, BBC analysis has revealed. Rising car use and cuts to public funding are being blamed for a loss of 134 million miles of coverage over the past decade alone. Some cut-off communities have taken to starting their own services, with Wales and north-west England hardest hit.”

Automobile dependence: A contributing factor to poorer health among lower-income households: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221414051730662X “In this viewpoint, we explore an understudied pathway between household income and health: automobile dependence. We argue that the provision of policies that reduce automobile dependence, and facilitate active and affordable modes of travel (i.e. walking, cycling and public transport), may mitigate poorer health among individuals from lower-income households. Policies and environments that support active travel are likely to have particularly strong health and economic benefits for lower-income residents.”

Seattle Cut Car Commuting Downtown While Adding 60,000 Jobs: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/02/15/seattle-cut-car-commuting-downtown-while-adding-60000-jobs/ “From 2010 to 2017, downtown Seattle added 60,000 jobs. Over the same time period, the number of solo car commuters into the city’s central business district dropped by 4,500, or 9 percent, according to a new report from Commute Seattle.”

How walking and cycling reduce congestion: FLOW Quick Facts published: http://h2020-flow.eu/news/news-detail/how-walking-and-cycling-reduce-congestion-flow-quick-facts-published/ “What happens when you remove a car lane to put in a new bicycle lane? Or you give pedestrians more time to cross a busy road? FLOW published a new collection of Quick Facts from cities who measured the impact pedestrian and cyclist measures have on congestion.”

Air quality & pollution

Household chemicals rival vehicles as smog source: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02132-9 “Everyday items such as soaps, perfume, paint and pesticides now contribute as heavily to certain sorts of air pollution in US cities as cars and trucks — a finding that surprised even the researchers who made it.”

Rapid pollution increases may be as harmful to the heart as absolute levels: https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Rapid-pollution-increases-may-be-as-harmful-to-the-heart-as-absolute-levels “...The researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the association. Dr Rakers said: “The risk of heart attack more than doubled after a 24 hour increase in nitric oxides of more than 20 μg/m3. The impact of rapid increases in air pollutants on heart health may be at least as important as absolute concentrations.””

Government loses clean air court case: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43141467 “Campaigners have won a third High Court victory over the UK government's plans to tackle air pollution. The judge in the case said the government plan was "unlawful" and that more action was needed in 45 English local authority areas. He said ministers had to ensure that in each of the areas, steps were taken to comply with the law as soon as possible.”

Toxic emissions down, but people still dying from air pollution – it’s time for something radical: https://theconversation.com/toxic-emissions-down-but-people-still-dying-from-air-pollution-its-time-for-something-radical-91875 “The UK has made much progress in its efforts to clean the air of toxic pollutants, but while the thick, dirty haze of the 1952 great London smog no longer fills the city streets, air pollution remains a silent killer. In the UK, poor air quality is responsible for some 40,000 deaths each year. It has been linked to diseases such as cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia. The health problems from exposure to air pollution are costing the nation more than £20 billion every year.”

Nitrogen oxides hit ‘record low’, Defra reports: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/15/nitrogen-oxides-hit-record-low-defra-reports/ “Emissions of nitrogen oxides are thought to have fallen up to 10% in 2016 compared to levels recorded the previous year, a report published today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has suggested.”

German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/14/german-cities-to-trial-free-public-transport-to-cut-pollution ““Car nation” Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines.”

Green screens ‘effective’ in reducing NO2 pollution: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/12/green-screens-effective-in-reducing-no2-pollution/ “Schools located close to roads with high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) could use green screens as an effective measure to reduce exposure to transport emissions, new research has suggested.”

Schools Tackling Oxford's Air Pollution (STOP): https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20052/air_quality/1254/schools_tackling_oxfords_air_pollution_stop “The air quality toolkit below provides science teachers with a series of interesting air quality scientific activities to present to pupils, which are expected to promote understanding of the causes and impacts of air pollution and help to reduce children’s exposure to air pollutants, within the school and through their travel”

German court to rule on city bans for heavily polluting diesel cars: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/22/german-court-to-rule-on-city-bans-for-heavily-polluting-diesel-cars “Federal court set to announce whether Stuttgart and Düsseldorf can use vehicle bans to try to improve air quality”

Want to monitor air pollution? Test a pigeon: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/16/want-to-monitor-air-pollution-test-a-pigeon “Feral pigeons are exposed to the same environmental factors as humans, so help explore the affect of contaminants, say researchers”

Food & food security

Evaluating Calorie Intake: https://datasciencecampus.ons.gov.uk/2018/02/15/eclipse/ “The Evaluating Calorie Intake for Population Statistical Estimates (ECLIPSE) project was carried out by the Data Science Campus at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its goal was to better understand the apparent under-estimation of average calorie intake reported in national surveys. The aims of this project were to quantify the level of accuracy in estimates from self-reported data and explore methods for adjusting and improving the accuracy of population level statistics.”

Revealed: rightwing groups plot to ditch EU safety standards on food and drugs: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/17/revealed-us-uk-rightwing-thinktanks-talks-to-ditch-eu-safety-checks “According to a document outlining the project, mistakenly published online by the IFT, the groups will “hash out an ‘ideal’ US-UK free trade agreement (FTA)” that includes Britain recognising US standards which are widely seen as weaker than those adopted by the EU. Such a move would allow imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef to be sold in the UK for the first time.”

Food standards 'must not be sacrificed to cheap imports' after Brexit, say MPs: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/food-farming-brexit-imports-mps-uk-politics-latest-a8216186.html “High animal welfare, environmental and food standards “must not be sacrificed on the altar of cheap imports”, MPs warned as they called for post-Brexit clarity for agriculture. The Government must not allow imports that have not been produced to UK standards, and should improve country of origin labelling and introduce mandatory “method of production” labels for food after Brexit, they said.”

'Dirty meat': Shocking hygiene failings discovered in US pig and chicken plants: https://www.theguardian.com/animals-farmed/2018/feb/21/dirty-meat-shocking-hygiene-failings-discovered-in-us-pig-and-chicken-plants “Previously unseen government records detail ‘deeply worrying’ incidents in pork and poultry plants, raising fears of ‘dirty meat’ entering the UK under a post-Brexit trade deal” Previously unseen government records detail ‘deeply worrying’ incidents in pork and poultry plants, raising fears of ‘dirty meat’ entering the UK under a post-Brexit trade deal

Brexit: a guide for the perplexed – Food: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rxyjx “Brexit and food - Chris Morris discovers what leaving the EU could mean for the British baked potato. How might Brexit affect the food we buy, and what it might cost? And why could post Brexit food fights break out between different parts of the UK?”

'My response to Weight Watchers offering a free programme for weight-conscious teenagers? NOOOOOOOO!' https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/my-response-weight-watchers-offering-a-free-programme-weight “Society absolutely has deeply ingrained and complex issues with unhealthy food choices, lack of exercise and a culture which commodifies the body… The solution to this is not, however, by any logical or morally sound assessment, dieting. Dieting adds another layer of complication and pressure onto a dynamic already fraught with it. It also plays into a narrative which erroneously tells us that health is defined by weight, as opposed to lifestyle.

And finally….

Via XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1958/ “If most people turn into murderers all of a sudden, we'll need to push out a firmware update or something.”

Bad News: the game researchers hope will 'vaccinate' public against fake news: https://www.getbadnews.com/ “Cambridge researchers have built an online game, simply titled Bad News, in which players compete to become “a disinformation and fake news tycoon”. By shedding light on the shady practices, they hope the game will “vaccinate” the public, and make people immune to the spread of untruths.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 16 February 2018

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

Life Expectancy by Socio-Economic Group: http://www.longevitypanel.co.uk/viewpoint/life-expectancy-socio-economic/ “Despite the efforts of successive UK Governments to narrow the gap, differences in life expectancy by socio-economic group have continued to widen. Understanding the reasons for these changes should help the forecasting of life expectancy for the whole population in future. This paper Life Expectancy: Past and Future Variations by Socio-Economic Group in England & Wales is a first step. In it we set out evidence and examine some important issues such as the social determinants of health.” Press release here: http://www.longevitypanel.co.uk/_files/press-release-LSAP-paper-LifeExpectancyPast-future-variations-by-socioeconomic-group-in-EW.pdf “ – media coverage here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/health-43058394

Framing the Economy: How to win the case for a better system: http://neweconomics.org/2018/02/framing-the-economy-2/ “What is the story of the economy in Britain? Who gets to shape public opinion about what it’s for, how it’s broken and how it can be fixed? These are the questions the Framing the Economy project set out to answer. We wanted to help civil society communicate and organise more effectively, to help bring about the changes needed to move to a sustainable, equitable and democratic economy.”

There are fairer ways to spread prosperity than universal basic income: http://neweconomics.org/2018/02/better-fairer-ways-spreading-prosperity-ubi/ “When an idea stirs the popular imagination, pundits and politicians find it hard to resist. Never mind if there is no evidence to support it. Never mind if closer scrutiny suggests putting it into practice will be counterproductive or plain impossible… The case against UBI is building rapidly. But so is the clamour to try it out in states and cities around the world. That the latter seems immune to the former is alarming. And the fact that it’s promoted by radicals at both ends of the political spectrum should ring alarm bells.”

Tax and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: https://iccwbo.org/publication/tax-united-nations-sustainable-development-goals/ “This ICC paper addresses how effective tax policy can facilitate economic growth, and in doing so, support the UN SDGs.” More here - 5 ways tax policy can help achieve the UN Global Goals: https://iccwbo.org/media-wall/news-speeches/5-ways-tax-policy-can-help-achieve-un-global-goals/ “Here are five Global Goals where effective tax policies can facilitate economic growth and fuel progress towards sustainable development:”

#FridayFact: Every minute, we lose 23 hectares of arable land worldwide to drought and desertification: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/fridayfact-every-minute-we-lose-23-hectares-arable-land-worldwide-drought “Drought, desertification, urban sprawl and uncontrolled grazing are harming the land that provides us with food on our plates. Yet UN Environment is working with partners to turn the tables, to prevent land degradation and restore degraded land back to full health. These projects on sustainable land management are worth $70.5 million and take place across the globe.”

A science-based framework for evaluating sustainable investing: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/evaluating-sustainable-investments/ “Now scientists at City University of New York (CUNY) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have partnered with UBS Asset Management to develop a scientific framework to help investors judge whether companies’ actions, products, and services support the environment and human wellbeing.”

Platform to Galvanize Business Leadership on Ocean: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/platform-to-galvanize-business-leadership-on-oceans/ “he UN Global Compact has announced the establishment of a ‘Business Action Platform for the Ocean,’ a three-year global programme bringing together a range of stakeholders to advance the ocean economy and sustainable development.”

Healthy planning & environment

Sixty five cities commit to health and well-being as drivers of urban development: two out of three people in the WHO European Region live in urban environments: http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2018/sixty-five-cities-commit-to-health-and-well-being-as-drivers-of-urban-development-two-out-of-three-people-in-the-who-european-region-live-in-urban-environments ““Action starts at city level, and mayors are uniquely positioned to bring together health and other sectors such as education, city planning and transportation, all of which have a profound influence on health and well-being”, said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe”

How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/11/how-build-healthy-city-copenhagen-reveals-its-secrets-happiness “The Danish capital ranks high on the list of the world’s healthiest and happiest cities. With obesity and depression on the rise worldwide, here are its lessons for how to combat them culturally”

Math myth-busting some of our worst urban planning misconceptions: http://www.metronews.ca/views/opinion/2017/01/03/math-myth-busting-our-worst-urban-planning-misconceptions.html “When it comes to great cities, I'm the first to point out that not all that counts can be counted, but most of the things we can count lend support to smarter ways of thinking about how our cities grow and change. To be blunt, the math suggests that we've been doing a lot of things wrong. And the same math can help us understand how to do it better.”

Secret UK government report lowers fracking expectations: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/02/10/uk-shale-gas-fracking-report-forecast/ “The British government does not expect a fracking boom on the scale predicted by the shale gas industry, according to confidential Cabinet Office projections seen by Unearthed. Far from the thousands of wells predicted by the shale gas industry just a few years ago, the government’s unreleased Implementation Unit Report on Shale Gas foresees only 155 wells drilled by 2025.” – More coverage here: Hidden report reveals ministers exaggerated UK fracking boom: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/02/10/hidden-report-reveals-ministers-exaggerated-uk-fracking-boom/

How to plan and design a gay-friendly city: https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/blog/how-to-plan-and-design-a-gay-friendly-city “Layla McCay, Director of the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health reflects on how marginalisation of LGBT+ people in their own neighbourhoods may contribute to mental health problems - and how planners and designers might help.”

BBC aims to be free of single-use plastics across all operations by 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/13/bbc-aims-to-be-free-of-single-use-plastics-across-all-operations-by-2020 “Decision follows the corporation’s landmark series Blue Planet II, which highlighted plastic pollution in the oceans”

Fighting back: taking a stand against the lunacy of throwaway plastic: http://aplasticplanet.com/fighting-back-taking-stand-lunacy-throwaway-plastic/ “This week’s campaign blog features the reflections of new Plastic Free Ambassador Kate Armstrong. In 2007, we decided to give up plastic. I started the blog www.plasticisrubbish.com to record our successes and failures. We do it for free, it is our voluntary environmental work if you like. We travel a lot and do it plastic-free.”

Ocean Cleanup concept to become a reality next year: https://newatlas.com/ocean-cleanup-tsushima-island-korea-strait/37829/ “A concept designed to rid the oceans of plastic waste is to become a reality next year. Boyan's Slat's Ocean Cleanup system is expected to be deployed in the second quarter of 2016 in the waters between Japan and South Korea. It will be the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean.”

Coca-Cola And Nestlé To Privatize The Largest Reserve Of Water In South America: http://econewsmedia.net/2018/02/08/coca-cola-nestle-privatize-largest-reserve-water-south-america/ “Private companies such as Coca-Cola and Nestlé are allegedly in the process of privatizing the largest reserve of water, known as the Guarani Aquifer, in South America. The aquifer is located beneath the surface of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and is the second largest-known aquifer system in the world.” More here: https://canadians.org/blog/barlow-warns-nestle-seeking-control-guarani-aquifer


The Communities and Local Government committee have published a report on housing for older people. There has been wide coverage;

Housing & health. Starter kit: https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/housing-health-starter-kit/ A blog from Greg Fell (@felly500) “I still know relatively little about the housing sector. I do know it’s a huge area for health improvement and increasing efficiency in the health and social care sector. This blog builds on earlier one and sets out a few thoughts. I’d welcome input of those who know what they’re doing in this space to improve”

A day of reckoning for UK housing: http://neweconomics.org/2018/02/day-reckoning-uk-housing/ “It is impossible to shut out so large a proportion of the population from something as essential as housing and not ultimately pay the political price. So it’s not surprising that both the Government and the Opposition are flexing their policy biceps to find solutions.”

'Grenfell has to change things': how we're covering Britain's housing crisis: https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2018/feb/10/grenfell-change-covering-housing-crisis “Student and desk editor Poppy Noor, who spent several years living in hostels, speaks to specialist reporter Robert Booth”

Climate change & sustainability

The 2017 Report of the Lancet Countdown: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/the-report “The Lancet Countdown's 2017 report tracks 40 indicators across five areas, arriving at three key conclusions: The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible`. The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardised human life and livelihoods. The past 5 years have seen an accelerated response, and in 2017 momentum is building across a number of sectors; the direction of travel is set, with clear and unprecedented opportunities for public health.”

Melting permafrost in the Arctic is unlocking diseases and warping the landscape: https://www.vox.com/2017/9/6/16062174/permafrost-melting “But perhaps most disturbing are the changes occurring underground in the permafrost. Permafrost is a layer of frozen soil that covers 25 percent of the Northern Hemisphere. It acts like a giant freezer, keeping microbes, carbon, poisonous mercury, and soil locked in place. Now it’s melting. And things are getting weird and creepy…”

Sea Ice Variability: http://sites.uci.edu/zlabe/research-areas/sea-ice-variability/ “In our new paper (Labe et al., 2018), we are interested in understanding the year-to-year variability of Arctic sea ice thickness along with the long-term trend. For comparison, we use a global climate model with 40 iterations (known as a “large ensemble”) to understand the historical variability and future projected variability”

Deadly heat: How to survive the world’s new temperature extremes: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2158338-deadly-heat-how-to-survive-the-worlds-new-temperature-extremes/ “January 2017 was the hottest ever recorded in Sydney and Brisbane, and great swathes of the south-east endured temperatures that often exceeded 40°C for weeks on end. In South Australia, soaring electricity demand caused an outage that left 90,000 homes sweltering through a blackout with no air conditioning. Across New South Wales, 87 bush fires blazed. It was so hot that dairy cows dropped dead in the fields.”

Fully Charged: Renewables and Storage Powering Australia: http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/battery-storage-2018 “The 'Fully Charged: Renewables and Storage Powering Australia’ report shows that Australia is on the cusp of a reliable renewable energy future, as the cost of energy storage rapidly drops, with prices dropping by 80 per cent since 2010, and are tipped to halve again by 2025.”

In-depth: Renewables are ‘key’ to lower UK industrial electricity prices: https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-renewables-are-key-to-lower-uk-industrial-electricity-prices “Unlocking investment in the renewables, which offer the cheapest sources of electricity, is one of the recommendations of today’s University College London (UCL) report, prepared for the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of business, academic institutions and NGOs.”

Crossrail will generate electricity using the wind created by trains: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/city-wind-farms-energy-crossrail-london-renewable-energy “A pilot project will use grids of lamellae-covered plastic sheets on London's Crossrail to generate electricity from draughty tunnels”

Gravitricity is turning old mine shafts into power generators using giant weights: https://inhabitat.com/startup-is-turning-old-mine-shafts-into-power-generators-using-giant-weights/ “The coal mining industry is dying (despite what some people would have you think), and it isn’t coming back. But a new startup is breathing life into mining communities with an ingenious design that uses old mine shafts to generate energy. Gravitricity has devised a giant weight system that drops down into disused mine shafts to create power on demand using gravity.”

Banks Told They're Lagging on Response to Climate Risks: https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2018-02-15/banks-told-they-re-lagging-on-response-to-climate-change-risks “Fewer than half the world’s biggest banks are doing enough to forestall climate change that poses risks to their markets and economies. Most lenders still aren’t producing firm targets for low-carbon financial products that will aid efforts to keep temperatures from rising, according to a survey of 59 banks conducted by Boston Common Asset Management LLC. Even the strongest banks in the survey, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., still struggle to define a climate strategy at the heart of their business, according to the report published Thursday and backed by more than 100 institutional investors.”

The EU wants to fight climate change – so why is it spending billions on a gas pipeline? https://theconversation.com/the-eu-wants-to-fight-climate-change-so-why-is-it-spending-billions-on-a-gas-pipeline-91442 “Over the past few years there has been exponential growth in clean energy investment – while fossil fuel assets are increasingly considered to be risky. Yet, on February 6, the European Investment Bank, the EU’s long-term lending institution, voted to provide a €1.5 billion loan to the controversial Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).”

Removing barriers to mature renewables key to lowering industrial electricity prices: http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#removing-barriers-to-mature-renewables-key-to-lowering-industrial-electricity-prices “Today, the Aldersgate Group publishes a new report written by University College London (UCL) [1], setting out what the government can do to support competitive industrial electricity prices as it delivers its Clean Growth and Industrial Strategies. The report recommends that the UK government improves investment conditions in low-cost renewable energy technologies such as onshore wind, co-ordinates investment in power generation and network infrastructure more efficiently and ensures that the UK leaves the EU in a way that supports increased interconnection with European power grids and cross-border electricity trading.”

Active travel & transport

This is the sound of the suburbs: https://urbantransportgroupblog.org/2018/01/23/this-is-the-sound-of-the-suburbs/ “Nipped up to Walthamstow between London meetings to check out the mini-Holland last week. Here’s a few thoughts that flickered around my brain as I  wondered around in a semi-random way.”

The Bristol Twenty Miles Per Hour Limit Evaluation (BRITE) Study: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/34851/ “The study found statistically significant reductions in average traffic speeds of 2.7mph across the city of Bristol, following the introduction of 20mph speed limits. This is a larger reduction than seen in previous evaluations in other cities. The study employed a more sophisticated analysis than previous studies of 20mph limits, including using individual speed data from over 36 million vehicle observations and controlling for other factors that might affect changes in traffic speeds. There has been a reduction in the number of fatal, serious and slight injuries from road traffic collisions, equating to estimated cost savings of over £15 million per year.” More here: http://www.20splenty.org/bristol_20mph_analysis#_ftn1

Two minute read on five thoughts from Cov on CAVs: https://urbantransportgroupblog.org/2018/02/02/two-minute-read-on-five-thoughts-from-cov-on-cavs/ “Our smart futures strategy group met at the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick yesterday to find out more about Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). Here’s five things I learned.”

Highways England A63 cycle ban labelled “ludicrous” by Cycling UK: https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/highways-england-a63-cycle-ban-labelled-ludicrous-cycling-uk “Highways England’s proposal to ban cycling from parts of the A63 is “entirely unreasonable and lacks both evidence and analysis” says national cycling charity, Cycling UK.”

Air quality & pollution

An indoor chemical cocktail: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6376/632.full “In the past 50 years, many of the contaminants and chemical transformations that occur in outdoor waters, soils, and air have been elucidated. However, the chemistry of the indoor environment in which we live most of the time—up to 90% in some societies—is not nearly as well studied.” I haven’t been able to access the original paper – but there are many possible confounders in this area. One for closer examination?

Sandwell council to assess air pollution hot spots: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/13/sandwell-council-to-assess-air-pollution-hot-spots/ “Sandwell council is to develop a model to identify all air quality ‘hot-spot’ locations within the borough, as part of its work to improve air quality in the area.”

Was Volkswagen the First to Test Exhaust Fumes on Monkeys? Your Questions Answered.: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/wildlife-watch-lab-monkey-testing-volkswagen-auto-industry/ “The car industry-funded research outraged the public and even has some researchers wondering how it was approved.”

Air pollution linked to increased crime levels, finds research: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/air-pollution-crime-levels-health-environment-stress-anxiety-a8207206.html “Toxic air 'may have potential ethical costs that go beyond its well-known toll on health and the environment', says the study's lead author”

Food & food security

Deaths involving malnutrition have been on the rise. NHS neglect is not to blame: https://blog.ons.gov.uk/2018/02/14/deaths-involving-malnutrition-have-been-on-the-rise-but-nhs-neglect-is-not-to-blame/ “An increase in the number of people dying in hospital with a diagnosis of malnutrition has prompted understandable concern. One leading charity has described the figures as “shocking.” But as Myer Glickman explains, many factors other than poverty or neglect lie behind the data.”

Addressing food wastage in the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0734242X17751968 “Waste management operators are able to see huge opportunities for  energy  and  material  recovery  from  the  source-separated organic  fraction  of  municipal  solid  waste  (MSW),  thanks  to anaerobic  digestion  and  composting… The  food  waste  issue  is  a  key  part  of  the  UN  Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 12, Ensure sustainable consumption  and  production  patterns.’

France to make half of all food in public sector organic or local by 2022: https://www.farminguk.com/news/France-to-make-half-of-all-food-in-public-sector-organic-or-local-by-2022_48536.html “France has announced that at least half of all food bought by the public sector must be organic or locally produced.”

Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/08/huge-levels-of-antibiotic-use-in-us-farming-revealed “Concerns raised over weakened regulations on imports in potential post-Brexit trade deals”

GLOBAL NUTRITION MONITORING FRAMEWORK - targets for 2025: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/259904/1/9789241513609-eng.pdf “The  objectives  of  GNMF are:  (i)  to  monitor  progress towards the achievement of the six global targets (for use at global and national levels); (ii) to track implementation of  selected  programmes  required  to  achieve  the  global targets  (for  use  at  global  and  national  level);  and  (iii)  to track  implementation  of  all  programmes  required  to achieve national targets (for use at national and at sub-national levels).”

Sorting fat from fiction: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/news/sorting-fat-from-fiction “we have recently summarised contemporary evidence on the topic with a completed an evidence review and position statement. Here we will use this science to answer some of the most common questions asked about fat - sorting the fat from the fiction, so to speak.”

And finally….

Anyone want to see a cycle lane gritter bike in action? https://twitter.com/ETAservicesltd/status/961885701586419713/photo/1

WMHPG news, information and resources 9 February 2018

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.

The Standards for employers of public health teams in England: https://www.local.gov.uk/standards-employers-public-health-teams-england “These Standards will help ensure that the workforce is fit to practice and are relevant to employers and workers with a role in the commissioning or delivery of public health functions.”

Sustainable development goals

Selected Sustainable Development Trends in the Least Developed Countries 2018: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/selected-sustainable-development-trends-least-developed-countries-2018 “Economic development in the world’s most-disadvantaged countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – is stalling against the background of a lukewarm global recovery, risking widening inequality, new analysis from UNCTAD has revealed.”

3 Big Ideas to Achieve Sustainable Cities and Communities: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/immersive-story/2018/01/31/3-big-ideas-to-achieve-sustainable-cities-and-communities “...However, the speed and scale of urbanization brings tremendous challenges. Widening income gaps, worsening pollution, and aging buildings and bridges are all telltale signs that today’s cities are struggling to keep up with city dwellers’ growing dreams for a sustainable, prosperous future.”

Healthy planning & environment

25-Year Environment Plan inquiry launched: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news-parliament-2017/25-year-environment-plan-inquiry-launch-17-19/ “The Environmental Audit Committee launches a short inquiry into the Government’s 25-Year Plan for the Environment.”

New planning rules to encourage developers to build ‘upwards’: https://www.localgov.co.uk/New-planning-rules-to-encourage-developers-to-build-upwards/44670 “The new rules will make it easier to build upwards on existing blocks of flats and houses as well as shops and offices - provided they remain in keeping with the roofline of other buildings in the area.”

A range of coverage of fracking.

  • Fracking: Gas leaks from faulty wells linked to contamination in some groundwater: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140915095851.htm “Most important among their findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that neither horizontal drilling nor hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits seems to have caused any of the natural gas contamination.”
  • Release of treated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing contaminates lake: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712110605.htm “Hydraulic fracturing has enabled a domestic oil and gas boom in the US, but its rapid growth has raised questions about what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that result. Researchers now report that treating the wastewater and releasing it into surface waters has led to the contamination of a Pennsylvania watershed with radioactive material and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.”
  • Potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on streams, downstream recreation, drinking water: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180131095656.htm “Concerns over hydraulic fracturing, an oil and gas extraction method that injects millions of gallons of freshwater and chemicals into shale, have largely focused on potential impacts on water quality. But, as scientists now report, 'fracking' operations could have impacts on water quantity because they are withdrawing these large amounts of water from nearby streams, which house aquatic ecosystems and are used by people for drinking and recreation.”
  • Bans, moratoria and restrictions on fracking in European countries: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1I5O5vAOk3rC80bYlmoHuXScLaVMNlqkWu4pscjlHfxM/edit “The following is an overview of national legislative developments in Europe restricting fracking.”
  • Ineos refused to rule out fracking under North York Moors national park: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/02/02/ineos-shale-north-york-moors-fracking-national-park/ “Energy giant Ineos refused to rule out fracking under North York Moors national park when it met with park officials last month, Unearthed can reveal.”
  • The wider electoral advantages of the Green Party’s opposition to fracking: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/fracking-and-the-greens/ “The Green Party is sincere in its opposition to fracking. But that opposition, and their subsequent rhetoric, has been carefully framed to help achieve the party’s electoral goals. This examination of the party’s statements on fracking reveals how, through the rhetorical tropes of antithesis, logos, and ethos, the Greens use these arguments to distinguish themselves in a crowded political landscape, emphasise their unique character, and appeal to both their base and new voters through linking environmental concerns with concerns surrounding social justice.”

The Arctic is full of toxic mercury, and climate change is going to release it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/02/05/the-arctic-is-full-of-toxic-mercury-and-climate-change-is-going-to-release-it/?utm_term=.c709fe0f81b4 “We already knew that thawing Arctic permafrost would release powerful greenhouse gases. On Monday, scientists revealed it could also release massive amounts of mercury — a potent neurotoxin and serious threat to human health.”

Protect the neglected half of our blue planet: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01594-1 “Maintaining momentum is crucial as nations build a treaty to safeguard the high seas”


Cold truths about our cold homes: http://neweconomics.org/2018/02/cold-truths-cold-homes/?header=Latest “The problem of cold homes comes down to three interrelated parts: household income, the cost of fuel, and the energy-efficiency of the building. All three deserve our attention. Compared to our European neighbours, UK household income is fairly high, but unequally distributed. Fuel prices, perhaps surprisingly, are lower than almost anywhere in Europe. Fuel bills, on the other hand, are not, and the answer to this riddle shouldn’t come as a surprise: it’s our housing.”

UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence: https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/cache/ “The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence is a consortium of ten universities and three non-academic partners dedicated to improving housing policy and practice in the UK.” – Knowledge exchange resources here: https://housingevidence.wordpress.com/

House of Commons Library - Rough sleeping (England): https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN02007#fullreport “The Department for Communities and Local Government’s attitude to reducing homelessness has been unacceptably complacent. The limited action that it has taken has lacked the urgency that is so badly needed and its “light touch” approach to working with the local authorities tackling homelessness has clearly failed.”

Council removes ‘anti-homeless’ bars after rapper’s protest: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Council-removes-anti-homeless-bars-after-rappers-protest/44684 “Bournemouth Council has decided to remove bars it installed on its public benches to discourage homeless people from sleeping on them after ‘extensive feedback’.”

Anti-homeless sprinklers installed by Bristol tanning salon could be 'a death sentence' for rough sleepers: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/anti-homeless-sprinklers-installed-bristol-1138627.amp “A tanning salon in Broadmead has installed anti-homeless sprinklers to discourage rough sleeping outside its shop. The automatic system comes on in the evening and drips water from the roof making the area unusable for rough sleepers until it shuts off in the morning.”

Housing Infrastructure Fund :Written statement - HCWS440: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-02-01/HCWS440 “Today (1 February 2018) the Government announces that we will invest £866 million to help unlock up to 200,000 new homes through 133 Marginal Viability Fund projects, within the Housing Infrastructure Fund. The Government has set out a plan that puts us on track to increase housing supply to 300,000 homes a year and this first wave of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of a comprehensive programme to fix the broken housing market.”

Anger over glut of ‘posh ghost towers’ planned for London: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/04/anger-over-glut-of-posh-ghost-towers-london “Councils in capital have approved thousands of £1m-plus flats despite crisis in affordable housing, new figures show”

£3.5 billion Right-to-Buy discounts threatens scheme: https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/ps35-billion-right-buy-discounts-threatens-scheme “New analysis by the Local Government Association reveals almost £3.5 billion in Right to Buy (RTB) discounts have been handed out to council tenants over the past six years.” More here: http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Public-Sector-News/right-to-buy-risks-destroying-itself-with-35bn-of-discounts

Climate change & sustainability

A global synthesis of animal phenological responses to climate change: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0067-3 “Our findings arm biologists with predictions concerning which climatic variables and organismal traits drive phenological shifts.”

12 Emerging Global Trends That Bring Hope for 2018: https://global.nature.org/content/2018-emerging-trends “New environmental leaders are stepping up across different sectors and geographies; new sources of financing are starting to close the gap in conservation funding; collective governance is emerging to better manage precious resources. Without minimizing the task ahead, we want to point to some trends that are unlocking investment for nature and offering hope for a sustainable future.”

Green Brexit is impossible to guarantee, EU is warned: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/02/green-brexit-is-impossible-to-guarantee-say-tory-meps “The European Conservative and Reformist group which represents Conservative MEPs has has said Brexit will make it “impossible” to guarantee that current environmental standards can be maintained in Britain or the EU.”

New study questions impact of ending fossil fuel subsidies: https://www.carbonbrief.org/new-study-questions-impact-ending-fossil-fuel-subsidies “The research, published by Nature Energy, concludes that the removal of subsidies would lead to bigger emissions reductions in oil and gas exporting regions, such as Russia, Latin America and the Middle East, than promised by their Paris Agreement pledges.”

Saudi Arabia is Investing Heavily in Solar Power; Is This the End for Big Oil? https://inhabitat.com/saudi-arabia-is-investing-heavily-in-solar-power-is-this-the-end-for-big-oil/ “When the country with the largest oil reserves in the world decides to start investing in renewable energy, it may well be a sign that the age of big oil is coming to an end. While the US is still focused on fossil fuels – whether drilling, importing, or otherwise – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has realized that relying on a finite energy resource is not the smartest move, and it has begun to implement more solar systems into its electrical grid instead of older diesel generators.”

UK built half of Europe's offshore wind power in 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/06/uk-built-half-of-europes-offshore-wind-power-in-2017 “The windfarms out in the North Sea and other shallow European waters are getting bigger in every sense. Soon turbines will almost be as large as the Shard, Europe’s tallest building. The average capacity of the 500-plus turbines connected to the grid was up by more than a fifth on the year before, with 17 windfarms on average a third more powerful.”

The EU got less electricity from coal than renewables in 2017: https://www.carbonbrief.org/eu-got-less-electricity-from-coal-than-renewables-2017 “For the first time, the European Union generated more electricity from wind, solar and biomass than from coal in 2017, according to new analysis from two thinktanks.”

Utility CEO: new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal plants by the early 2020s: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/1/29/16944178/utility-ceo-renewables-cheaper “...predicted that by the early 2020s, it will be cheaper to build new renewables than to continue running existing coal and nuclear plants.”

Poor More Likely to Suffer During South Africa’s Dire Drought: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/poor-more-likely-suffer-during-south-africa-dire-drought “Socio-economic disparity is evident in both peoples’ access to critical information, as well as in the measures people are taking to prepare.”

EPA’s Scott Pruitt asks whether global warming ‘necessarily is a bad thing’: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/02/07/scott-pruitt-asks-if-global-warming-necessarily-is-a-bad-thing/?utm_term=.23b1a73d26e3 “As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt has repeatedly questioned the scientific consensus that rising levels of carbon dioxide from human-fueled activity are warming the planet. He’s now taking a different tack: Even if climate change is occurring, as the vast majority of scientists say it is, a warmer atmosphere might not be so awful for humans, according to Pruitt.”

Active travel & transport

Simulating the value of electric-vehicle–grid integration using a behaviourally realistic model: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-017-0077-9 “Here, we simulate the long-term impact of VGI using behaviourally realistic and empirically derived models of vehicle adoption and charging combined with an electricity system model. We focus on the case where a central entity manages the charging rate and timing for participating electric vehicles.”

Neighbourhood walkability and incidence of hypertension: Findings from the study of 429,334 UK Biobank participants: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1438463917305813 “This large population-based cohort found evidence of protective association between neighbourhood walkability and blood pressure outcomes. Given the enduring public health impact of community design on individual behaviour and lifestyle, of particular interest, are the targetted upstream-level interventions in city design aimed at optimizing walkability.” – Media coverage: Walkable cities reduce blood pressure and hypertension risk, study finds: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/05/walkable-cities-reduce-blood-pressure-study-finds “Research finds significant link between the walkability of a city and the blood pressure and hypertension risk of the people who live there”

House of Lords peers criticised for 'propagating bike lane myths': https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/05/house-of-lords-peers-criticised-for-propagating-bike-lane-myths “Cycling organisations have condemned members of the House of Lords, including Prof Robert Winston, for propagating the “myth” that separated bike lanes cause congestion and worsen pollution, saying there is no evidence it happens. Accusing the peers of making arguments based on “anecdote experienced through a taxi window,” the groups said that Winston, in particular, as a prominent scientist, should know better than to spread such misconceptions.”

Three Revolutions in Urban Transportation: https://www.itdp.org/3rs-in-urban-transport/ “As the transportation trends of passenger vehicle automation and electrification continue, new research concludes that adding extensive ride sharing to the mix could reduce CO2 emissions from all transportation sources around the globe by more than 80 percent. The report, “Three Revolutions in Urban Transportation,” examined these three revolutions in urban transportation and found all three together could cut the cost of vehicles, infrastructure and transportation system operation by more than 40 percent.”

2018 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index: https://home.kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2018/01/2018-autonomous-vehicles-readiness-index.html “The Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index shows which countries are most prepared for driverless cars.”

Unless we share them, self-driving vehicles will just make traffic worse: https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/energy-and-environment/2017/5/18/15604744/self-driving-cars-cities “A carbon-free, autonomous car is still a car; it still takes up space.”

Progress Report: Re-gearing for the electric future: https://www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/blog/progress-report-regearing-electric-future/ “Welcome to the January edition of the Progress Report, where we look at the rapid electrification of the transport sector, the huge progress from companies going 100% renewable and bold divestment moves from the New York pension fund.”

Traffic congestion cost uk motorists over £37.7 billion in 2017: http://inrix.com/press-releases/scorecard-2017-uk/ ““INRIX 2017 Global Traffic Scorecard analysed and ranked the impact of traffic congestion in 1,360 cities – 296 more than last year – across 38 countries worldwide; the largest ever study of its kind. The UK ranked in the top ten most congested countries in the world, the third most congested in Europe behind Russia and Turkey.” More here: ‘Road pricing’ only way to solve congestion, economist argues: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Road-pricing-only-way-to-solve-congestion-economist-argues/44680

Air quality & pollution

Radical solutions to the air pollution crisis from around the world: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/air-pollution-solutions-crisis-radical-world-london-uk-beijing-shanghai-delhi-a8191411.html “Ten years after the introduction of low-emissions zones in London, are newer, more dynamic solutions required to deal with our dirty air?”

UN agency targets black-carbon pollution from ships: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01556-7 “Governments are poised this week to begin discussing rules to curb black-carbon pollution from ships, after nearly seven years of preparation. The sooty emissions, which are produced by diesel engines, warm the climate and harm human health.”

Air pollution from UK shipping is four times higher than previously thought: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/air-pollution-uk-shipping-levels-record-environment-fumes-damage-nitrogen-dioxide-sulphur-a8189691.html “Figures raise concerns that emissions from ships are having a significant but overlooked impact on health in port and coastal towns”

Transport becomes most polluting UK sector as greenhouse gas emissions drop overall: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/air-pollution-uk-transport-most-polluting-sector-greenhouse-gas-emissions-drop-carbon-dioxide-a8196866.html “It is alarming that the Government is tearing up our communities and our precious environment for road building projects that will fail on their own terms, by actually increasing congestion and the number of cars on our roads, and continue driving climate-destructive emissions – at a huge cost to taxpayers”

Tougher sanctions proposed for vehicle defeat devices: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/02/02/tougher-sanctions-proposed-vehicle-defeat-devices/ “Vehicle manufacturers who fit defeat devices to cheat emissions tests could face criminal prosecution in the UK, under new proposals outlined today (2 February).”

Extent of harmful surface ozone levels revealed: http://geographical.co.uk/nature/climate/item/2614-new-study-reveals-harmful-ozone-levels “‘Despite some improvements in air pollution emissions in Europe and North America, human health impacts from ozone are still a cause for concern across the world and are rising in East Asia,’ says Dr Zoë Fleming, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Leicester’s Department of Chemistry.”

Food & food security

Effectiveness of a childhood obesity prevention programme delivered through schools, targeting 6 and 7 year olds: cluster randomised controlled trial (WAVES study): http://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k211 “The primary analyses suggest that this experiential focused intervention had no statistically significant effect on BMI z score or on preventing childhood obesity. Schools are unlikely to impact on the childhood obesity epidemic by incorporating such interventions without wider support across multiple sectors and environments.” Media coverage here: Schools are not the answer to childhood obesity epidemic, study shows: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/08/schools-are-not-the-answer-to-childhood-obesity-epidemic-study-shows

'Ultra-processed' products now half of all UK family food purchases: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/02/ultra-processed-products-now-half-of-all-uk-family-food-purchases “Half of all the food bought by families in the UK is now “ultra-processed”, made in a factory with industrial ingredients and additives invented by food technologists and bearing little resemblance to the fruit, vegetables, meat or fish used to cook a fresh meal at home.”

Capitalism has coopted the language of food – costing the world millions of meals: https://theconversation.com/capitalism-has-coopted-the-language-of-food-costing-the-world-millions-of-meals-90780 “...But in my view the problem is deeper than this – it is embedded in the way we talk about food. The language we use is confusing – it creates feelings of guilt and enhances social divisions.”

And finally….

Is 'plogging' the most 2018 fitness trend yet?  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/plogging-2018-fitness-trend-yet/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_tw “Hailing from Sweden, 'plogging' is a fitness craze that sees participants pick up plastic litter while jogging - adding a virtuous, environmentally driven element to the sport. Plogging appears to have started around 2016, but is now going global, due to increasing awareness and fear over  plastic levels in the ocean.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 26 January 2018

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

The Global Risks Report 2018: http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2018/ “Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyze the most pressing risks that we face. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on”


A Year in the Life of the SDGs, in 17 Stories: http://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/policy-briefs/a-year-in-the-life-of-the-sdgs-in-17-stories/ “In 2017, the SDG Knowledge Hub provided news on all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting actions being taken on issues related to the Goals and how efforts to address the challenges are evolving. Below we share one story on each SDG, to provide a snapshot of key issues raised regarding the Goals in 2017.” 


Healthy planning & environment

Institute of Health Equity - Healthy High Streets - Good place-making in an urban setting: http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/resources-reports/healthy-high-streets-good-place-making-in-an-urban-setting “Effective interventions on high streets have the potential to make communities more resilient and to deliver significant quality of life and health benefits to local populations, in particular those who are vulnerable and marginalised.” 


RSPH have also published reports on healthy high streets, including a tool to assess shopping areas: https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/health-on-the-high-street-.html “The aim of this campaign is to work with businesses to improve the health of their community and ensure that local authorities have the powers they need to curtail business practices which may undermine the public’s health.” Nationwide Health on the High Street: https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/health-on-the-high-street-/nationwide-health-on-the-high-street-.html “Find out where your town or city sits in the National league table. We visited the UK's some of the high street's to find out what the public thought about their local high street and their thoughts on how they could be improved.”


More on plastic pollution – an interesting case study on how an important issue can become a media hot-topic over a matter of weeks.

Councils call for permitted development rules to be scrapped: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Councils-call-for-permitted-development-rules-to-be-scrapped/44550 “'At present, permitted development rules allow developers to bypass local influence and convert offices to flats, and to do so without providing affordable housing and local services and infrastructure such as roads and schools,' said cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman.”


APPG tasked with studying new towns is launched: https://www.localgov.co.uk/APPG-tasked-with-studying-new-towns-is-launched/44559 “The APPG will consider the successes and failures of existing new towns - from Warrington to Stevenage - in order to learn from past mistakes and to help shape future Government policy.”


Search restarts for area willing to host highly radioactive UK waste: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/21/search-area-willing-host-highly-radioactive-waste-uk-geology “The government is expected this week to begin a nationwide search for a community willing to host an underground nuclear waste dump to store highly radioactive material for thousands of years. Britain has been trying for years to secure a site with the right geology and local communities which would volunteer to host a £12bn geological disposal facility (GDF), as a long-term solution for the most dangerous waste from nuclear power stations.”


China's 'sponge cities' are turning streets green to combat flooding: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/28/chinas-sponge-cities-are-turning-streets-green-to-combat-flooding “Replacing concrete pavements with wetlands, green rooftops and rain gardens means stormwater is absorbed back into the land, making water work for the city instead of against it”

Meanwhile uses: not just a novelty: http://lichfields.uk/blog/2018/january/25/meanwhile-uses-not-just-a-novelty/ “Empty buildings and spaces present opportunities, not only for use in the long-term but also in the short-term. In recent years, a diverse range and multitude of pop-ups and temporary (“meanwhile”) uses of vacant sites and buildings have emerged across UK towns and cities; the trend is especially apparent in London.”


Carillion’s collapse matters more than you thought: http://neweconomics.org/2018/01/carillion-collapse-pfi-alternatives/ “PFI increased costs and cut quality. But there are alternatives.” PFI increased costs and cut quality. But there are alternatives.



We can solve the UK’s housing crisis – with a little imagination: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/22/solve-uk-housing-crisis-new-houses “Too many of the new houses being built in Britain are unaffordable or badly constructed. But viable alternatives exist”


Tens of thousands of 18 to 24-year-olds tell councils of homelessness: http://www.24housing.co.uk/news/tens-of-thousands-of-18-24-year-olds-tell-councils-of-homelessness/ “These figures reveal the hidden homelessness crisis affecting young people, with an estimated 70,000 18 to 24-year-olds across the country turning to councils for help.”


Think your country is crowded? These maps reveal the truth about population density across Europe: https://theconversation.com/think-your-country-is-crowded-these-maps-reveal-the-truth-about-population-density-across-europe-90345 “...Yet simply dividing the number of people by the land area of a country is not always the best way to understand population density. Consider a country such as Russia, where urban density is high, but there are vast swathes of empty land. The figures will tell you density is very low (eight people per km²); but this it not what most people in Russia experience in their daily lives. The same is true of Australia, Canada and other large, highly urbanised nations.”


Climate change & sustainability

Analysis: The climate papers most featured in the media in 2017: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-the-climate-papers-most-featured-in-the-media-in-2017 “Carbon Brief has compiled its annual list of the 25 most talked-about climate change-related papers of 2017. The infographic above shows which ones made it into the Top 10.”


Spatiotemporal changes in the size and shape of heat waves over North America: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-018-2140-3 “Heat waves are occurring more frequently across the globe and are likely to increase in intensity and duration under climate change. Much work has already been completed on attributing causes of observed heat waves and on modeling their future occurrence, but such efforts are often lacking in exploration of spatial relationships. Based on principles of landscape ecology, we utilized fragmentation metrics to examine the spatiotemporal changes in heat wave shape and occurrence across North America.”


Global-scale hydrological response to future glacier mass loss: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-017-0049-x “Worldwide glacier retreat and associated future runoff changes raise major concerns over the sustainability of global water resources1,2,3,4, but global-scale assessments of glacier decline and the resulting hydrological consequences are scarce… We conclude that, even in large-scale basins with minimal ice-cover fraction, the downstream hydrological effects of continued glacier wastage can be substantial, but the magnitudes vary greatly among basins and throughout the melt season.”


Society saves $6 for every dollar spent on climate change resilience: http://grist.org/article/society-saves-6-for-every-dollar-spent-on-climate-change-resilience/ “A new report from the National Institute of Building Sciences finds that for every dollar spent on federal grants aimed at improving disaster resilience, society saves six dollars. This return is higher than previously thought: A 2005 study by NIBS found that each dollar from these grants yielded four dollars in savings.”


Geoengineering carries ‘large risks’ for the natural world, studies show: https://www.carbonbrief.org/geoengineering-carries-large-risks-for-natural-world-studies-show “Reducing the impacts of human-caused climate change through the use of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage – better known as BECCS – could have major consequences for wildlife, forests and water resources, a new study shows.”


Microwaves could be as bad for the environment as millions of cars suggests new research: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/microwaves-could-be-as-bad-for-the-environment-as-cars-suggests-new-research/ “Microwaves usage across the EU alone emits as much carbon dioxide as nearly seven million cars according to a new study by The University of Manchester.”


Researchers at the University have carried out the first ever comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of microwaves, considering their whole life cycle, from ‘cradle to grave’.


Fears for future of UK onshore wind power despite record growth: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/22/fears-for-future-of-uk-onshore-wind-power-despite-record-growth “A record amount of onshore wind power was built in the UK last year, but government policy has been stalling the sector and risked increasing energy bills for consumers, the industry has warned.”


Scientists compare climate change impacts at 1.5C and 2C : https://www.carbonbrief.org/scientists-compare-climate-change-impacts-at-1-5c-and-2c “Half a degree makes a very big difference when judging how different parts of the world will feel the effects of climate change. This is the conclusion from the first study to compare and contrast the consequences of 1.5C world compared to a 2C world, published today in Earth System Dynamics.”


Approaching a tipping point: How corporate users are redefining global electricity markets: https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/approaching-tipping-point “Progressive companies are transforming global energy markets. Led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, RE100 brings together the world’s most significant, ambitious and forward-thinking companies who are accelerating the transition to a zero-emissions economy by committing to 100% renewable electricity across their operations. At the time of publishing, 122 multinational businesses have made the RE100 commitment – and more are joining the campaign each month.” More here - World-leading multinationals accelerating a clean economy – RE100 report: https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/world-leading-multinationals-accelerating-clean-economy-re100-report


Sudden death of half the world’s wild saiga antelopes may be due to climate change: https://inhabitat.com/sudden-death-of-half-the-worlds-wild-siagas-antelopes-may-be-due-to-climate-change/ “The endangered saiga antelopes that roam the hills of Russia and eastern Europe have been dying off in tremendous numbers, and no one seems to know why. Earlier this spring up to 211,000 saigas died – that’s 88 percent of the large Betpak-dala population in Kazakstan and half of the species overall. Scientists have guesses about the mystery, ranging from bacterial infections to the effects of climate change.”


Lloyd's of London to divest from coal over climate change: https://amp.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/21/lloyds-of-london-to-divest-from-coal-over-climate-change “Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, has become the latest financial firm to announce that it plans to stop investing in coal companies. Lloyd’s will start to exclude coal from its investment strategy from 1 April. The definition of what is a coal company and the criteria for divestment will be set over the coming months.”


Breaking: Cuadrilla sells operation of Balcombe licence to Angus Energy: https://drillordrop.com/2018/01/22/breaking-cuadrilla-sells-operation-of-balcombe-licence-to-angus-energy “Angus Energy announced this morning that it would become the operator of Cuadrilla’s Balcombe licence in West Sussex, after acquiring a 25% stake. The deal, which depends on consent from the Oil and Gas Authority, will cost Angus £4 million and will require additional sources of capital, the company said.”


How the legacy of dirty coal could create a clean energy future: https://theconversation.com/how-the-legacy-of-dirty-coal-could-create-a-clean-energy-future-88969 “The UK’s historic coal mines have an approximate residual void space of a billion cubic metres. When flooded, that’s the equivalent of 400,000 Olympic swimming pools of water at a stable temperature. This vast volume of water can be used for efficient heating and cooling applications and reduce carbon emissions.”


Trump imposes 30 percent tariff on solar panel imports: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/370171-trump-imposes-30-tariffs-on-solar-panel-imports “ President Trump on Monday imposed tariffs of 30 percent on imported solar panel technology in a bid to protect domestic manufacturers while signaling a more aggressive approach toward China. The move is a major blow for the $28 billion solar industry, which gets about 80 percent of its solar panel products from imports.”


Active travel & transport

Walking and cycling behaviours (CW04): https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/walking-and-cycling-behaviours-cw04#2018-01-18T09:30:47+00:00 “Walking and cycling statistics produced by Department for Transport.”


Cycling benefits ‘outweigh’ air pollution impact: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/01/19/cycling-benefits-outweigh-air-pollution-impact/ “Investment in cycling infrastructure results in health benefits that far outweigh the detrimental impact of air pollution, researchers have claimed, following a major public health study. The study by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) suggested that expanding designated cycling networks in cities could provide considerable health and economic benefits.


Walking in Relation to Mortality in a Large Prospective Cohort of Older U.S. Adults: http://www.globalpanet.com/knowledge-base/region/north-america/857-walking-in-relation-to-mortality-in-a-large-prospective-cohort-of-older-u-s-adults “Findings support previous meta-analyses that reported a range of 3% to 32% lowered risk of all-cause mortality from walking. and offer further insight into associations between walking for health in older adults. This research adds weight to the existing evidence base for the potential of significant public health impact in promoting walking specifically in this age group.”


Physical activity and cancer: an umbrella review of the literature including 22 major anatomical sites and 770,000 cancer cases: http://www.globalpanet.com/knowledge-base/diseases-conditions/cancer-other/physical-activity-and-cancer-an-umbrella-review-of-the-literature-including-22-major-anatomical-sites-and-770-000-cancer-cases “It has not yet been established whether the associations between physical activity and some cancers are causal.  It is not feasible to conduct randomised controlled trials of physical activity to assess effect on cancer risk.  To establish causality, triangulation of evidence from different approaches to this research question, including epidemiological, experimental and mechanistic studies, is required.


Public Transport Price Hikes Are Costing the Commuter and the Climate: https://www.desmog.uk/2018/01/04/public-transport-price-hikes-costing-commuter-and-climate “Put simply, since 2010 road users have had fuel duty frozen, while rail users have faced annual increases in the fares they pay since 2005. Government funding for bus services has also been reduced, leading to increased fares on buses and coaches too. This means that the cost of driving has declined in real terms (16 percent since 1997), while the cost of using public transport has increased (rail by 23 percent since 1997, bus by 33 percent).”


Made to move: Chris Boardman presents walking and cycling report to MPs:  https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning/article/20180123-campaigning-news-Made-to-move--Chris-Boardman-presents-walking-and-cycling-report-to-MPs-0#7CEF0Iuyq1D4yUef.99 “That 12-year-old is a pensioner wanting to get to the shops a kilometre away, a mum or dad who hasn’t cycled since childhood, a nervous enthusiast or somebody with mobility issues. That 12-year-old standard is one which all of these groups require – the people who are currently making those short journeys by car – if we are to convince them to start walking or cycling. For clarity, a staggering 30% of journeys in cars in Greater Manchester are less than one kilometre.”


Road maintenance spending at ‘lowest level’ in a decade: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Road-maintenance-spending-at-lowest-level-in-a-decade/44564 “Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show local authority maintenance spending on B roads, C roads and unclassified routes in 2016-17 was £1.87bn. This is the lowest it has been in a decade and is down from £2.46bn in 2004-05.”


New push to make England's longest cycle tunnel a reality: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/01/new-push-to-make-englands-longest-cycle-tunnel-a-reality “ The 1.4 mile (2.3km) Queensbury line, which runs 377ft (115 metres) below a hill between Halifax and Keighley in West Yorkshire, was closed in 1956 as rail travel declined and private car ownership increased.”


Air quality & pollution

Air Pollution and human health hazards: a compilation of air toxins acknowledged by the gas industry in Queensland ’s Darling Downs: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00207233.2017.1413221?needAccess=true& “The paper offers an attempt to determine whether emissions from the unconventional gas industry are associated with hospitalisations in the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia… Increased cardiopulmonary hospitalisations are coincident with the rise in pollutants known to cause such symptoms. Apparently, controls to limit exposure are ineffectual. The burden of air pollution from the gas industry on the wellbeing of the Darling Downs population is a significant public health concern”


Michael Gove called to EU to explain illegal air pollution levels: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/01/19/air-pollution-michael-gove-brussels-eu/ “Michael Gove has been summoned to Brussels to explain why the UK’s air still breaches legal limits. The European Commission told Unearthed it had sent a letter to the UK asking the environment secretary to appear at a meeting on 30 January, alongside ministers from eight other EU member states that are violating EU standards.”


Off-peak charging vital for electric car power supply, experts say: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/23/off-peak-charging-vital-for-electric-car-power-supply-experts-say “The UK energy system will be able to cope with the extra demand caused by the uptake of millions of electric cars, provided drivers shift their charging to off-peak times, according to new research.”

Killer Air: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/feature/killer-air A range of air pollution related articles – “92% of people globally live in places with dangerous levels of air pollution. Here are some of the stories”

Food & food security

Global challenge calls on youth to tackle food security: https://www.farmforum.net/2018/01/16/global-challenge-calls-on-youth-to-tackle-food-security/ “Thought for Food, a organisation dedicated to engaging and empowering the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in food and agriculture, recently launched the 5th edition of the TFF Challenge, inviting young leaders from around the world to sign up and develop new ideas and business concepts that tackle the challenge of sustainably feeding our world’s growing population.”


We mapped out food poverty across England, to see where food banks are needed most: https://theconversation.com/we-mapped-out-food-poverty-across-england-to-see-where-food-banks-are-needed-most-90348 “As part of new research, we mapped out the number of people at higher risk of food poverty across all of England. Our map shows that some areas of the country face much higher levels of risk – and they’re not always the ones you might expect.”

Changing the food environment: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/restaurant-menus-calories/ “New research shows that some of America’s largest chain restaurants are dropping high calorie items from their menus. In this week’s episode, we explore what that could mean for the country’s fight against the obesity epidemic.”


And finally….

Fresh air for sale: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jan/21/fresh-air-for-sale “It started as a joke, but now people spend a fortune on bottled fresh air. Alex Moshakis reveals how global pollution is fuelling this fad”

Plandemonium – the website of the urbanist and cartoonist Rob Cowan – videos about cities and the people who design and plan them: http://www.urbannous.org.uk/plandemonium/

WMHPG news, information and resources 19 January 2018

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 change and health under the shared socioeconomic pathway framework: Climate Change and Health under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathway Framework“Using a new set of socioeconomic development trajectories, the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), along with the World Health Organization’s Operational Framework for Building Climate Resilient Health Systems, we extend existing storylines to illustrate how various aspects of health systems are likely to be affected under each SSP. We also discuss the implications of our findings on how the burden of mortality and the achievement of health-related Sustainable Development Goal targets are likely to vary under different SSPs.”

UK actuarial body wants profession to contribute to UN SDGs: https://www.ipe.com/countries/uk/uk-actuarial-body-wants-profession-to-contribute-to-un-sdgs/10022614.article “The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) is seeking proposals from actuaries around the world on how they would address the question ‘How are actuaries relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals and how can they contribute to the goals being met?’”

UN issues revised guidelines on sex education: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1608306/1-un-issues-revised-guidelines-sex-education/ “The United Nations bodies have issued a revised technical guidance on sexuality education with an aim to enable concerned authorities to design comprehensive curricula that will have a positive impact on young people’s health and wellbeing.”

Healthy planning & environment

New RTPI practice advice on SEA/ SA: http://www.rtpi.org.uk/knowledge/practice/sea/ “The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has published new practice advice for on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Sustainability Appraisal (SA). It aims to help town planners to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of SEA/SA for land use plans. It focuses on the particularly influential or problematic stages of SEA/SA, and emphasises how, when done well, it is a positive tool improving both local and neighbourhood plans, and protecting and enhancing the environment. As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, which is the source of much of our environmental legislation, it is more important than ever to ensure that we use the tools we have as effectively and efficiently as possible

Shale gas is one of the least sustainable ways to produce electricity, research finds: https://phys.org/news/2018-01-shale-gas-sustainable-ways-electricity.amp “Shale gas is one of least sustainable options for producing electricity, according to new research from The University of Manchester.”

25 Year Environment Plan – as promised last week, a summary of responses to the government’s 25 year environment plan. These have been varied, but generally the mood seems to be – ‘ok, some good stuff, but….’

  • Theresa May’s 25-year environment plan is ‘fundamentally flawed’ and ‘a long way off’ say green experts: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/theresa-may-environment-government-flaws-science-plastic-pollution-michael-gove-speech-a8153536.html “‘Raising spirits’ is futile without legal underpinnings to curb behaviours that result in pollution, say campaigners”
  • Business Green - All you need to know about the 25 Year Environment Plan: https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/3024272/25-year-environment-plan-at-a-glance
  • New Economics Foundation - May’s green vision: don’t mention the frackers: http://neweconomics.org/2018/01/mays-green-vision “There's no faulting its optimism, but the Environment Plan lacks bite… There’s a lot of very good stuff in here – like more on the genuinely exciting promised overhaul on how farms are subsidised. But sifting out the rhetoric from the reality is always the greatest challenge.”
  • CPRE reaction to 25-year Environment Plan: http://www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/sound-bites/item/4748-cpre-reaction-to-25-year-environment-plan “CPRE is delighted at the Government’s commitment to improving the environment shown in the 25-year plan launched today. But it warned that the Government needs to follow up its vision with actions to make sure we use resources better, from plastics to land, if its vision is to be delivered.”
  • World Wildlife Foundation – Our reaction to the 25 year environment plan: https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/our-reaction-25-year-environment-plan “The plan is a strong start, and it's good to see the government putting the environment firmly on the agenda. But, we need to see them going further and faster. If we wait until 2042 to end plastic waste, as the plan suggests, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. We want to see a ban on single-use plastic by 2025, and more urgent action on dirty air, climate change and protecting our precious natural heritage.”
  • Greenpeace - Theresa May’s speech on the environment – Greenpeace reaction: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/press-releases/theresa-mays-speech-environment-greenpeace-reaction/ “We need a 25-month emergency plan for nature, not a 25-year vision… If the government’s aim is to get through to young voters, they need to offer change that happens before these youths turn middle age. They should start by rolling out more robust and swift measures to stop plastic waste harming our oceans, clean up illegal air pollution and support the clean energy sources that can help stop climate change. If Theresa May wants to persuade people this is more than just husky-hugging, she needs to put some joined-up thinking at the heart of her strategy. You can’t claim to care about climate change and our countryside and then back fracking, or care about the next generation and then let air pollution harm our kids’ health.”

Brexit bill may have broken international environment law, says UN: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/09/brexit-bill-may-have-broken-international-environment-law-says-un “Exclusive: compliance committee considers complaint alleging government breached Aarhus convention by not consulting public over withdrawal bill”

Beware the new justifications for the green belt: what we need is a new approach: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/beware-new-justifications-for-green-belt-what-we-need-is-a-new-approach “Despite the housing crisis in London, the Draft London Plan (DLP) rules out any rethinking of green belt policy, now some eighty years old. Instead, it gives a number of justifications for falling in line with the Government’s approach which is to promise a solution to the housing shortage while refusing to update our approach to green belt policy – a case of trying to have ones cake and eat it.”

More coverage of plastic pollution.

Solar-Powered Water Wheel Removes 350 Tons of Trash From Baltimore Harbor: https://www.ecowatch.com/solar-powered-water-wheel-removes-350-tons-of-trash-from-baltimore-har-1882130530.amp.html “They say you can't reinvent the wheel, but in May 2014, the Waterfront Partnership did just that. The Baltimore nonprofit installed "the world's first permanent water wheel trash interceptor" to clean up the city's polluted Inner Harbor.”


Public Accounts Committee - Government's complacent attitude has failed homeless: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news-parliament-2017/homeless-households-report-published-17-19/ “The Public Accounts Committee report says urgent need for joined-up strategy to help people and address underlying causes of homelessness.”

Lords debates housebuilding in the UK: http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2018/january/lords-debates-major-housebuilders/ “Members of the Lords, including the chair of a London housing association, and a former parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Communities and Local Government, debated the performance of UK's major housebuilders, in the House of Lords on Thursday 11 January.”

One in ten new homes was a former office: https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/one-ten-new-homes-was-former-office “New analysis by the Local Government Association reveals nearly one in 10 new homes over the last two years was converted from an office and included no affordable housing or supporting investment in infrastructure such as roads, schools and health services.” Media coverage;

Rogue landlords making millions out of housing benefits: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jan/13/landlords-housing-benefit “Highly organised gangs of rogue landlords are making millions every year out of the housing benefit system by enticing desperate local authorities to place single homeless people in micro-flats in shoddily converted and dangerous former family homes.”

Climate change & sustainability

New study ‘reduces uncertainty’ for climate sensitivity: https://www.carbonbrief.org/new-study-reduces-uncertainty-climate-sensitivity/ “Scientists have presented a new, narrower estimate of the “climate sensitivity” – a measure of how much the climate could warm in response to the release of greenhouse gases. The latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that climate sensitivity is close to 3C, with a “likely” range of 1.5 to 4.5C.

The new study, published in Nature, refines this estimate to 2.8C, with a corresponding range of 2.2 to 3.4C. If correct, the new estimates could reduce the uncertainty surrounding climate sensitivity by 60%.”

Carbon Brief have published a series of articles on climate modelling.

Top Climate Wins of 2017: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/top-climate-wins-2017 “This year held ups and downs in the fight for climate solutions. But as we look forward to 2018, we’ve collected some incredible climate wins to celebrate and inspire as we continue to work for a sustainable future.”

Will the weather get worse in 2018? What the experts say: https://theconversation.com/will-the-weather-get-worse-in-2018-what-the-experts-say-89949 “In a world that is getting warmer, what does that mean and what might 2018 hold for weather across the globe? Are we destined to see more and more of these “unusual” and catastrophic weather events which result in significant devastation? What effect will climate change have on our weather and will this become the new norm?”

A ‘Perfect Storm’: Extreme Winter Weather, Bitter Cold, and Climate Change: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/perfect-storm-extreme-winter-weather-bitter-cold-and-climate-change “World-renowned climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains why the bitter cold and snowy conditions gripping the US are “an example of precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.””

El Niño causes West Antarctica’s ice shelves to gain height yet lose mass: https://www.carbonbrief.org/el-nino-causes-west-antarcticas-ice-shelves-gain-height-yet-lose-mass “El Niño events are known for bringing floods to South America and contributing to wildfires in Indonesia, but new research reveals they also affect the height and mass of ice shelves in Antarctica.”

Fossil fuels blown away by wind in cost terms: study: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/fossil-fuels-blown-away-wind-cost-terms-study-094840283.html “According to a new cost analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), within two years "all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range, with most at the lower end or undercutting fossil fuels".”

London ‘put to shame’ by New York fossil fuel divestment: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/15/london-put-to-shame-by-new-york-fossil-fuel-divestment “London has been put to shame by New York’s decision to divest city pension funds from fossil fuel companies, according to climate campaigners who accuse the mayor, Sadiq Khan, of fudging a similar promise he made during his election campaign.”

Tesla's New York Gigafactory Kicks Off Solar Roof Production: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-09/tesla-powers-up-new-york-gigafactory-solar-roof-assembly-line “Tesla Inc. has kicked off production of its long-awaited electricity-producing shingles that Elon Musk says will transform the rooftop solar industry… The appeal: a sleek, clean solar product, especially for homeowners seeking to replace aging roofs. The tiles -- from most angles -- look like ordinary shingles. They allow light to pass from above and onto a standard flat solar cell.”

Active travel & transport

Video: New train in Japan has space for 99 cyclists AND their bikes: http://road.cc/content/news/234192-video-new-train-japan-has-space-99-cyclists-and-their-bikes

Surrey school threatens to confiscate students’ bikes if they don’t have a number plate: http://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/surrey-school-threatens-confiscate-students-bikes-dont-number-plate-359852#TAgCq5wxOkf8MRSr.99 “As well as telling students to stick to the Highway Code, wear a helmet, and use hi-vis clothing and bike lights “where appropriate”, the new rules also mean that students will have to have a number plate (supplied by the school) attached to their bikes, which Mr Batchelor hoping that this will make students not following the rules more identifiable.”

Government scheme to fund electric car charging points falls flat after just five councils apply for cash and £150k handed out: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/01/12/government-scheme-fund-electric-car-charging-points-falls-flat/ “Ministers invited councils to bid for part of a £1.5million fund in 2017/18 but interest from town halls has been “extremely disappointing”. Just £150,000 has been allocated so far with two councils - Portsmouth and also Kensington and Chelsea - benefitting while the three other applications are still being assessed.”

Who will pay for electric car parks? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/energy-efficiency/who-will-pay-for-electric-car-parks/ “The Government and local authorities will drive the huge increase needed in the number of charging points on highways and in residential areas, but who will provide them for private businesses?”

Air quality & pollution

Air quality legal challenge fixed for January hearing: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/01/08/air-quality-legal-challenge-fixed-january-hearing/ “Legal proceedings against the government’s plan to address air pollution in towns and cities across the country will be heard in the High Court in London later this month (January 25). The case is the third to be brought by the environmental law charity ClientEarth which has led successful campaigns against the government over its air quality plans to bring the UK into compliance with EU limits on nitrogen dioxide.”

Commission gets tough on air quality improvement: https://www.politico.eu/article/commission-gets-tough-on-air-quality-improvement/amp/ “Brussels has set a hard deadline for Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. to show how they intend to comply with the EU’s air quality standards or face court action. In a letter to German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, the European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella demanded to know by January 30 “how and by when you intend to achieve compliance [with the relevant air quality directives].””

London's air quality has stuck within legal limits for the longest in a decade: http://www.cityam.com/278804/londons-air-quality-has-stuck-within-legal-limits-longest “For the first time since records began ten years ago, London has entered the third week of January without having breached legal air quality limits. The capital's smoggy air has exceeded legal hourly air pollution limits set for the whole year within six days every year for the last decade, and often in just three days.”

Hundreds of lorries found with emissions cheat devices: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/01/12/hundreds-lorries-found-emissions-cheat-devices/ “Roadside inspectors found 293 lorries fitted with emissions cheat devices at checks carried out across five locations between August and November 2017, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revealed.”

UK Health Forum response to the DEFRA Consultation on additional measures to support individuals and businesses affected by local NO2 plans: http://www.ukhealthforum.org.uk/EasysiteWeb/getresource.axd?AssetID=58269&servicetype=Attachment “The UK Health Forum (UKHF) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the DEFRA consultation on additional measures to support individuals and businesses affected by local NO2 plans.”

Increased air pollution linked to bad teenage behaviour: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171213143720.htm “The study, published on Dec. 13 in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, suggests that ambient air pollution may increase delinquent behavior among 9- to 18-year-olds in urban neighborhoods in Greater Los Angeles. The insidious effects are compounded by poor parent-child relationships and parental mental and social distress, researchers said.”

Food & food security

Poorly handled trade deals ‘biggest peacetime threat’ to UK food security: https://theecologist.org/2018/jan/03/poorly-handled-trade-deals-biggest-peacetime-threat-uk-food-security “Trade deals with the EU and beyond post-Brexit could pose the biggest peacetime threat to the UK’s food security if current environmental and public health standards and existing farmers’ needs are not prioritised in the terms of the negotiations, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology for Food and Farming (APPG on Agroecology) warned today.”

10 Years On: new evidence on tv marketing and junk food consumption amongst 11- 19 year olds 10 years after broadcast regulations: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/10_years_on_full_report.pdf “This research is designed to test current broadcast regulations and explore whether they remain fit for purpose ten years on. Through a UK - wide and representative study of 11 - 19 year old’s diet, weight, marketing

exposure and screen time, we explored whether the impact of junk food marketing on young people is acceptably low. We also examined whether new viewing habits, such as online on-demand streaming, need to be considered.”

Creating resilient food systems: http://www.sharedassets.org.uk/inspiration/creating-resilient-food-systems/ “We’ve been researching how community food enterprises contribute to local economic resilience. Here Simon Platten from Tamar Grow Local describes their model, based on sharing resources such as land, equipment and people power.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 15 December 2017

Due to holiday, there will be a 3 week break in the weekly email – returning on the 12th January. Happy Christmas and a healthy new year to everyone.

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.

The Milroy Lecture Series – Healthy, Inclusive and Green – four dividends of a healthier future. Professor John Middleton: https://www.dropbox.com/s/iusg0p9p5f5k1w4/The%20Milroy%20Lecture

Sustainable development goals

Final call for public sector professionals to take 'state of sustainability' survey: https://www.edie.net/news/7/Final-call-for-public-sector-professionals-to-take--state-of-sustainability--survey/ “Sustainability professionals, CSR experts and energy managers working within Britain's public sector have just one week left to take part in a short survey which will help to inform edie's next insight report looking at the sustainability challenges and opportunities facing the sector.”

Are The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals Achievable? https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/12/11/are-the-united-nations-sustainable-development-goals-achievable/#7b76998244b2 “Two years after the global adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) -- an outline of 17 global goals and 169 targets, ranging from tackling hunger and starvation to promoting peace and improved health care -- the world at large is already reaping the fruitful dividends of this tailored action plan. While there’s still much room for improvement, the progress achieved so far cannot be overlooked.”

MPs urge Education Secretary to include Sustainable Development Goals in curriculum: http://resource.co/article/mps-urge-education-secretary-include-sustainable-development-goals-curriculum-12296 “Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) Chair Mary Creagh MP has written to Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening urging her to include the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the National Curriculum.”

Sustainable Population Policies: https://www.populationmatters.org/about/campaigns-and-projects/national-population-policy/ “Unsustainable population is a global problem which requires global action to address. Nevertheless, individual nations face their own population challenges and national governments have the powers and capacity to implement measures to address population both locally and globally. While the proposal below is specific to the UK, the broad approach is one that can be adopted by any government in determining how to address and manage population ethically, effectively and sustainably.”

The rich, poor and the earth: http://www.dannydorling.org/?p=6266 “The most important benefit of the equality effect may be that it leads us to behave in ways that are less environmentally damaging. The evidence for this is only emerging now. We can track the effect across a range of indicators by looking at the 25 richest countries in the world, which have varying levels of inequality.”

Consumption is the bottleneck for sustainable development: https://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/consumption-is-the-bottleneck-for-sustainable-development “From ending poverty to improving wellbeing, gender equality, cities' resilience or climate action - while synergies among most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foster progress in sustainable development, there are some key conflicts or bottlenecks that could hamper achieving the SDG objectives for 2030.”

Lessons from Sweden in sustainable business: https://theconversation.com/lessons-from-sweden-in-sustainable-business-75006 “For years Swedish companies have been regarded as among the best in corporate communication – in general and in sustainability reporting in particular. Their excellence in disclosing information on their performance on the sustainability arena is confirmed in both academic research and comprehensive reports like major accountancy firm KPMG’s on global sustainability trends.”

Healthy planning & environment

New online tool judges sustainability of proposals: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/news/article/532/planning_news_-_7_december_2017 “A ‘scorecard’ enabling planners to assess the sustainability of proposed developments has been launched by the Sustainable Development Commission and Iceni Projects. The Sustainable Development Scorecard is a free online resource that judges a proposal by how well it meets the National Planning Policy Framework’s (NPPF) definition of sustainable development. Its aim is to guide planners and developers towards creating schemes that both score highly in terms of the three pillars of sustainability – social, environmental and economic – and balance these pillars against each other.”

There has been wide coverage of plastic pollution over the past couple of weeks, partly triggered by the final episode of Blue Planet 2. Below are links showing the breadth of the coverage, and some of the lobbying & activist websites tackling plastic pollution.

Fracking Expert: 'We Are Just Doing The Science, But We Are Being Criticised From All Sides': https://www.desmog.uk/2017/11/30/fracking-expert-we-are-just-doing-science-we-are-being-criticised-all-sides “Concerns over fracking are “not as bad as people may think”, but suggesting the technology is safe is “ridiculous”, according to a leading shale gas expert. Professor Richard Davies, a petroleum geologist at Newcastle University, is used to engaging in difficult debates.  He has repeatedly come under fire from both sides of the fracking debate for trying to shed light on the environmental and social impacts of shale gas exploration.”


Why the UK needs a national housing service: http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/perspectives/why-uk-needs-national-housing-service/ “The chief executive of a UK construction professional institute has taken the unusual step of calling for the nationalisation of the country’s housing market in order to fix the dysfunctions causing its housing crisis. Acknowledging his call as “radical”, Chris Blythe OBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building, says a “National Housing Body” should be formed to take responsibility for matching housing demand with supply across the country.”

128,000 children in Britain will be homeless on Christmas day: https://england.shelter.org.uk/media/press_releases/articles/128,000_children_in_britain_will_be_homeless_on_christmas_day “A shocking 128,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless and in temporary accommodation this Christmas, a new report by Shelter reveals today. One in every 111 children is currently homeless, and with the country still at the mercy of a worsening housing crisis, 2017 has seen the highest numbers of homeless children in a decade… To expose the devastating reality of homelessness, Shelter carried out in-depth interviews with children and their parents living in emergency bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), and hostels. This is widely considered the worst type of temporary accommodation.”

More UK children homeless or in temporary housing than during crash crisis: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/06/more-children-homeless-or-in-temporary-housing-than-during-crash-crisis “More children are homeless or living in temporary accommodation than at any time since the 2007-08 financial crash, with many sharing a single room with their entire family and with nothing to cook on. An estimated 128,000 children are facing such conditions, which the housing charity Shelter says is “a national scandal”. It estimates that 140 families become homeless every day.”

Young People’s Health Partnership - CALL FOR EVIDENCE: Reducing inequalities for homeless families: http://www.youngpeopleshealth.org.uk/yphp “YPHP are leading a piece of work with Homeless Link to develop a learning resource and toolkit for public health nurses working with homeless families. The work includes a focus on the experiences of homeless young people. We want to gather examples of work being undertaken in this area, please complete the call for evidence template and find out more information here. The deadline for submissions is 19 January 2018.”

Climate change & sustainability

Greater future global warming inferred from Earth’s recent energy budget: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24672?sf175704313=1 “In particular, we find that the observationally informed warming projection for the end of the twenty-first century for the steepest radiative forcing scenario is about 15 per cent warmer (+0.5 degrees Celsius) with a reduction of about a third in the two-standard-deviation spread (−1.2 degrees Celsius) relative to the raw model projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Our results suggest that achieving any given global temperature stabilization target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions than previously calculated.”

Understanding future emissions from low-carbon power systems by integration of life-cycle assessment and integrated energy modelling: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-017-0032-9 “We find that cumulative emissions attributable to upscaling low-carbon power other than hydropower are small compared with direct sectoral fossil fuel emissions and the total carbon budget. Fully considering life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions has only modest effects on the scale and structure of power production in cost-optimal mitigation scenarios.”  Media coverage here: https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-wind-nuclear-amazingly-low-carbon-footprints

Surface air temperature for November 2017: https://climate.copernicus.eu/resources/data-analysis/average-surface-air-temperature-analysis/monthly-maps/surface-air-3 “November 2017 was warmer than the 1981-2010 average over eastern Europe, and cooler than average over large parts of the west of the continent. In the north, the temperature for the month was more than 6°C above average in parts of Svalbard, as it was in October. Parts of the Arctic Ocean were substantially warmer than the 1981-2010 average, linked to below-average sea-ice cover. Well above average temperatures also occurred over the south-western USA, Mexico and Alaska, over western and far-eastern Russia, and over south-eastern Australia, where Tasmania experienced its highest November mean temperature on record.”

AXA boss warns a '+4C world is not insurable': https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3022870/axa-sets-eur12bn-green-investment-goal-as-it-further-backs-away-from-fossil-fuels “Insurance giant AXA has announced a quadrupling of its 2020 green investment target from €3bn to €12bn, as the company's CEO warned more than 4C of warming this century would make the world 'uninsurable'.”

UN secretary general links hurricane devastation to climate change: http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/09/19/un-general-assembly-leaders-link-hurricane-devastation-climate-change/ “The catastrophic Atlantic hurricane season has been made worse by climate change, UN secretary general António Guterres said on Monday.”

What are stranded assets? http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/faqs/what-are-stranded-assets/ “Reaching a goal of limiting climate change to less than two degrees of warming would require us to keep a large proportion of existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground.  According to a recent study in Nature, an estimated third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and more than 80% of known coal reserves are ‘-and referred to as ‘stranded assets’. The value of ‘stranded assets’ might not be fully reflected in the value of fossil fuel companies, which could result in a sudden drop if this risk were priced in.”

‘Death spiral’: half of Europe’s coal plants are losing money: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/08/death-spiral-half-of-europes-coal-plants-are-losing-money “Air pollution and climate change policies are pushing coal-fired electricity stations to the brink, says a new report. Closing them would avoid €22bn in losses by 2030”

Dead coal mines everywhere are being reincarnated as solar farms: https://qz.com/1153672/from-anhui-to-appalachia-dead-coal-mines-are-being-reincarnated-as-solar-farms/ “The world is quickly abandoning coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. But that’s not the end of the road for coal mines—in many countries they’re coming back to life as solar farms.”

Q&A: Will the reformed EU Emissions Trading System raise carbon prices? https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-will-reformed-eu-emissions-trading-system-raise-carbon-prices “Even before its adoption, the EU ETS was subject to years of fraught debate, lobbying and negotiation. After it started operating in 2005, it quickly ran into trouble, facing volatile carbon prices that crashed in the wake of the financial crisis, while industry pocketed windfall profits. Prices have remained stubbornly low ever since, undermining the supposed role of the ETS as the cornerstone of EU climate policy… In this Q&A, Carbon Brief runs through the details of the reforms and whether they will raise EU carbon prices. The Brexit question is also covered.”

Southward shift of the global wind energy resource under high carbon dioxide emissions: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-017-0029-9 - media coverage here: Global warming will weaken wind power, study predicts: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/11/global-warming-will-weaken-wind-power-study-predicts “Wind farms are key to tackling climate change but warming will significantly cut wind power across US and UK, though Australia will see winds strengthen”

'Soul-crushing' video of starving polar bear exposes climate crisis, experts say: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/08/starving-polar-bear-arctic-climate-change-video “Footage from Canada’s Arctic shows emaciated animal seeking food in scene that left researchers ‘pushing through their tears’”

Scientist wins $3 million prize for work on plants that fight climate change: https://nypost.com/2017/12/07/scientist-wins-3-million-prize-for-work-on-plants-that-fight-climate-change/ “A plant could eventually help cut atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major player in global warming, by as much as 50 percent. Dr. Joanne Chory was recently awarded the $3 million BreakThrough Prize in life sciences for her research on how we could combat climate change through crops.”

‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/11/tsunami-of-data-could-consume-fifth-global-electricity-by-2025 “Billions of internet-connected devices could produce 3.5% of global emissions within 10 years and 14% by 2040, according to new research, reports Climate Home News”

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/20/france-decrees-new-rooftops-must-be-covered-in-plants-or-solar-panels “Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday.”

A selection of interesting coverage of climate change denial;

  • Rutgers professor: Advice from an AIDS fighter about climate-change denialism | Opinion: http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/11/advice_from_an_aids_fighter_about_climate-change_d.html “We have lived to see the deadly outcomes of a past period of science denialism concerning AIDS in South Africa. Many of us won't live long enough to witness the full effect of today's environmental deregulation as our government denies climate science, but our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences.”
  • Introducing DeSmog UK’s Climate Disinformation Database: https://www.desmog.uk/2017/12/11/introducing-desmog-uk-s-climate-disinformation-database “Behind each climate policy failure is a network of politicians, corporate lobbyists, and shadowy think tanks pushing to preserve the fossil-fuelled status quo. DeSmog UK’s new database casts light on the activities of those pushing disinformation to dampen commitment to action on climate change or promote fossil fuels.“
  • New study uncovers the 'keystone domino' strategy of climate denial: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/nov/29/new-study-uncovers-the-keystone-domino-strategy-of-climate-denial “The body of evidence supporting human-caused global warming is vast – too vast for climate denial blogs to attack it all. Instead they focus on what a new study published in the journal Bioscience calls “keystone dominoes.” These are individual pieces of evidence that capture peoples’ attention, like polar bears.”
  • How do you Spot a Climate Science Denial Blog? Check the Polar Bears: https://www.desmog.uk/2017/12/01/how-do-you-spot-climate-science-denial-blog-check-polar-bears “One of the most glaring differences between legitimate science-based blogs and those that deny the science on anthropogenic climate change is how they write about polar bears and Arctic sea ice. Polar bears have long been a “poster species” for climate change. And as it turns out, a new study published by journal BioScience has found that on this issue there is almost zero overlap between climate science deniers and science writers.”

Active travel & transport

Evidence Brief 16 – Roads and communities: The impact of major road infrastructure on health in local neighbourhoods – December 2017: http://www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/resources/evidence/eb-16-roads-and-communities/ “Brief in brief. Building new roads in urban areas can have both positive and negative effects on local communities. A new section of motorway constructed in Glasgow, Scotland appeared to have promoted car use, and we found no evidence that it had reduced road traffic casualties. Although it did help to connect some local residents with amenities and people in other places, those living nearer to the motorway tended to experience poorer mental wellbeing over time than those living further away.”

London Traffic Would Be At Least 20 Percent Slower Without Congestion Pricing: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2017/12/05/london-traffic-would-be-at-least-20-percent-slower-without-congestion-pricing/ “The number of automobiles entering London’s center each day has plunged by 44 percent since the start of congestion charging, even as the total number of people entering grew 23 percent.”

WHO – Towards more physical activity in cities: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/353043/2017_WHO_Report_FINAL_WEB.pdf “This publication focuses on physical activity and how it can be supported through urban planning. The focus on physical activity is explained by the fact that inactivity today accounts for an increasing proportion of deaths and disability worldwide and is associated with significant health care costs and productivity losses.”

Air quality & pollution

Welsh government to develop clean air framework: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2017/12/06/welsh-government-to-develop-clean-air-framework/ “Welsh Government Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn has announced a series of measures aimed at tackling air pollution in Wales, including the development of a clean air zone framework for the country.”

Five recipients of £1m air quality business fund announced: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2017/11/28/five-recipients-1m-air-quality-business-fund-announced/ “Five projects in line to receive a share of a £1 million fund to establish ‘Business Low Emission Neighbourhoods’ across London have been announced.”

Satellite Images Show Levels of Air Pollution Around the World: http://time.com/5045162/satellite-images-air-pollution/ “Images taken by a new European satellite show the levels and distribution of air pollutants around the world, including ash spewing from a volcano in Indonesia. The European Space Agency released images Friday made by its Sentinel-5P satellite that show high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in parts of Europe on Nov. 22. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly caused by vehicle emissions and in industrial processes. Another image shows high levels of carbon monoxide, commonly produce by fires, in Asia, Africa and South America.”

New Sentinel satellite tracks dirty air: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42196752 “It's been working less than a month but already the UK-Dutch-built Sentinel-5P satellite is returning spectacular new views of Earth's atmosphere.”

Air Quality: Sustrans and the Eunomia model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Fgy3jU-PaA “To improve the quality of the air that we breathe everyday there needs to be a shift from travelling by car to walking and cycling.”

Food & food security

New evidence of child food insecurity in the UK: http://foodfoundation.org.uk/new-evidence-of-child-food-insecurity-in-the-uk/ “Headline: 10% of children in the UK are reported by UNICEF to be living in households affected by severe food insecurity.”

Healthy Active by Design – Healthy Food: http://www.healthyactivebydesign.com.au/design-features/healthy-food “Planning for food recognises the importance of food and improving the availability and accessibility to healthy food through built environment characteristics. This includes considering retail types and locations, transport infrastructure to food retailers, food advertising, and potential for public open space to be used for food production and education. It also includes the provision of community amenities, such as water fountains, community gardens and breastfeeding facilities.”

Child obesity campaigners in row over new report’s lack of teeth: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/07/child-obesity-campaigners-in-row-over-new-reports-lack-of-teeth “Centre for Social Justice accused of omitting key recommendations to the benefit of the food industry over the health of youngsters”

Q&A: We need to produce ‘different food’, not more: http://www.scidev.net/global/agriculture/news/we-need-to-produce-different-food-not-more.html “The director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jose Graziano da Silva, said last month at a meeting convened by The Chatham House in London that the ‘green revolution’ food model — a push for new technologies to increase agricultural production — has reached its limits because of huge environmental costs. Now, he said, “nourishing people must go hand in hand with nursing the planet”.”

WTO and Food Security: http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/49/commentary/wto-and-food-security.html “At the forthcoming World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Argentina, the global community must address real subsidies in agriculture rather than a theoretical construct on the measure of support that also includes impacts of subsidies in rich countries and the tariffs that are duly allowed.”

Landing the blame: overfishing in the Baltic 2018: http://neweconomics.org/2017/12/landing-the-blame-baltic-2018 “Fisheries ministers risk damaging our natural resources beyond repair by consistently setting fishing limits above scientific advice. This is our third year running a series of briefings to identify which member states are standing in the way of more fish, more profits, and more jobs for European citizens.”

Big fish, little fish – understanding local economies using interactive visualisations: https://datasciencecampus.ons.gov.uk/2017/12/12/big-fish-little-fish-understanding-local-economies-using-interactive-visualisations/ “To meet the thirst for more local data, we have developed a visualisation tool, (Fig. 1) which combines information collected by ONS with open data to explore the fishing industry in the UK interactively, without identifying individuals or businesses. The project has explored how visualisation can be used to paint a more detailed picture of different geographical data without disclosing sensitive information.”

World’s First Underground Urban Farm Opens For Business in London: http://www.sciencealert.com/world-s-first-underground-urban-farm-opens-for-business-in-london “The world’s first underground urban farm has started trading in London, making use of old World War II tunnels underneath the city to host an eco-friendly, sustainable farming business.”

Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/11/mass-starvation-humanity-flogging-land-death-earth-food “Brexit; the crushing of democracy by billionaires; the next financial crash; a rogue US president: none of them keeps me awake at night. This is not because I don’t care – I care very much. It’s only because I have a bigger question on my mind. Where is all the food going to come from? By the middle of this century there will be two or three billion more people on Earth. Any one of the issues I am about to list could help precipitate mass starvation. And this is before you consider how they might interact.”

WMHPG news, information and resources 8 December 2017

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

Consumption is the bottleneck for sustainable development: https://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/consumption-is-the-bottleneck-for-sustainable-development “From ending poverty to improving wellbeing, gender equality, cities' resilience or climate action - while synergies among most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foster progress in sustainable development, there are some key conflicts or bottlenecks that could hamper achieving the SDG objectives for 2030.”

A number of articles on plastic waste;

  • UN commits to stop ocean plastic waste: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-42239895 “Nations have agreed that the world needs to completely stop plastic waste from entering the oceans. The UN resolution, which is set to be sealed tomorrow, has no timetable and is not legally binding. But ministers at an environment summit in Kenya believe it will set the course for much tougher policies and send a clear signal to business. A stronger motion was rejected after the US would not agree to any specific, internationally agreed goals.
  • Tax plastic takeaway boxes: the scourge of the oceans: https://theconversation.com/tax-plastic-takeaway-boxes-the-scourge-of-the-oceans-87818 “This week, the UK Government will discuss the possibility of introducing taxes on single-use plastic items, such as bottles and takeaway containers, to try to reduce the amount of plastic pollution entering the oceans. This follows the successful introduction of the 5p plastic bag initiative in 2015 which reduced plastic bag use by 80%. This taxation on single-use plastics could be a major step towards improving the “plastic ocean” which humans have created.”
  • Co-op and Iceland back bottle deposit scheme to reduce plastic pollution: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/30/co-op-iceland-bottle-deposit-scheme-uk-reduce-plastic-pollution “Iceland and the Co-op have become the first supermarkets to support a bottle deposit scheme after the government sought views on the idea to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans.”
  • Chinese ban on plastic waste imports could see UK pollution rise: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/07/chinese-ban-on-plastic-waste-imports-could-see-uk-pollution-rise “A ban on imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste by the Chinese government from January could see an end to collection of some plastic in the UK and increase the risk of environmental pollution, according to key figures in the industry.Recycling companies say the imminent restrictions by China – the world’s biggest market for household waste – will pose big challenges to the UK’s efforts to recycle more plastic.”

Towards a Pollution-Free Planet: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/speeches/2017/towards-a-pollution-free-planet.html “UNDP fully supports the objectives of this year’s Assembly and its call to work towards a pollution-free planet to help advance multiple SDGs. As highlighted in the Report of the Executive Director of UN Environment, the impact of pollution and its many drivers is devastating the lives and livelihoods of those groups who are most at risk and least responsible for the unsustainable policies and practices that are degrading our planet.”

Warm and cuddly global goals? The international community must get real: https://www.theguardian.com/working-in-development/2017/dec/05/warm-and-cuddly-global-goals-sdgs-international-community-has-to-get-real “At the moment the SDGs simply offer UN member states a free pass to pat themselves on the back, despite their collective failures”

The rich, poor and the earth: http://www.dannydorling.org/?p=6266 “The most important benefit of the equality effect may be that it leads us to behave in ways that are less environmentally damaging. The evidence for this is only emerging now. We can track the effect across a range of indicators by looking at the 25 richest countries in the world, which have varying levels of inequality.”

Healthy planning & environment

Designing healthy communities: creating evidence on metrics for built environment features associated with walkable neighbourhood activity centres: https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-017-0621-9 “Built environment features surrounding NACs (neighbourhood activity centres) must reach certain levels to encourage walking and deliver walkable communities. Research and metrics about the type and quantity of built environment features around both walking trip origins and destinations is needed to inform urban planning policies and urban design guidelines.”

Planning and healthy cities. Volume 2: https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/planning-and-healthy-cities-volume-2/amp/ “I cant speak the language of planning. Nor to I have anything like anything other than a rudimentary understanding of the systems or the law in this space. Here are some cliff notes on why planning is so very important for our health. “Health” people (aka NHS or indeed public health professionals aren’t the answer), it needs to be addressed through the local and national planning framework.”

Area of protected land larger than California at risk from drilling under Trump: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2017/12/05/area-protected-land-larger-california-risk-drilling-trump/ “An area of protected land larger than California could be at risk from fossil fuel development, as the Trump administration looks to ramp up drilling on federal lands – according to a new investigation by Unearthed.”

Fracking: cognitive dissonance on an industrial scale: http://neweconomics.org/2017/12/fracking-cognitive-dissonance/ “The Government brought out its long-awaited Industrial Strategy earlier this week – all 250 pages of it. It contained just one teeny tiny, rather apologetic, bit about shale gas, which we are told (again) has the “prospect” of “creating jobs”. Then it quickly goes on to talk about something else. Quite right too, because the chapter in which it sits is not supposed to be about fossil fuels, but “clean growth”.”


How can councils secure the delivery of more affordable homes? https://www.tcpa.org.uk/how-can-councils-secure-the-delivery-of-more-affordable-homes-final-report “The ten-month project is the result of seminars, round tables, a survey and workshops with pilot councils, which have each looked to identify, analyse and transfer knowledge on new ways of securing affordable homes. The TCPA has engaged with more than 200 representatives from over 130 councils, including officers and councillors responsible for housing, planning, regeneration, asset management, economic development and finance. The final report includes a series of recommendations for government about how they can support council innovation.”

If Britain does build a million homes, let’s not make a million more people lonely: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/27/budget-million-homes-lonely-people-community “The budget pledge on housing is good news. But as I realised on moving to the UK from India, it must be designed to increase community, not isolation”

Every Flat in a New South London Development Has Been Sold to Foreign Investors: https://www.vice.com/amp/en_uk/article/qkq4bx/every-flat-in-a-new-south-london-development-has-been-sold-to-foreign-investors “When the Heygate Estate was demolished there were promises of social housing and a "community feel", but it's all fallen through.”

Half of UK’s wealth rests on shaky foundations: a new approach to land and housing is urgent: http://neweconomics.org/2017/12/land-wealth-shaky-foundations/ “To prioritise people’s basic needs over headline figures and the profit of private developers, the government must halt the public land sale, and instead support a People’s Land Bank – retaining land for public or community ownership and the development of homes suitable to community needs. And it should strengthen compulsory purchase powers to help retain land value rises for public benefit.”

Climate change & sustainability

Turning Points: Trends in Countries’ Reaching Peak Greenhouse Gas Emissions over Time: http://www.wri.org/publication/turning-points-trends-countries-reaching-peak-greenhouse-gas-emissions-over-time “This paper assesses each of the world’s countries in terms of whether their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have peaked, when they have peaked, and whether they have a commitment that implies an emissions peak in the future. The paper finds that an encouraging trend is emerging: the number of countries that have reached peak GHG emissions levels or have a commitment that implies a peak in emissions in the future grows from 19 countries in 1990 to 57 countries in 2030. The share of global emissions covered by these countries grows from 21% in 1990 to 60% in 2030.”

UK tries to hamper EU citizens selling their own renewable energy: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2017/11/30/brexit-uk-hamper-eu-citizens-selling-renewable-energy/ “Analysis of UK comments on the provisions for so-called ‘energy citizens’ – which are set out in proposals for a revised EU Renewable Energy Directive – reveals attempts to curb prospects for households selling excess electricity generated from their own solar panels. The UK delegation’s suggestions include introducing limits on households’ ability to share power generated by community renewable energy projects and enabling charges to be levied on homes that seek to sell their electricity to the grid.”

Relationship between season of birth, temperature exposure, and later life wellbeing: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/11/28/1702436114.short?rss=1 “We find that an extra day with mean temperatures above 32 °C in utero and in the first year after birth is associated with a 0.1% reduction in adult annual earnings at age 30. Temperature sensitivity is evident in multiple periods of early development, ranging from the first trimester of gestation to age 6–12 mo. We observe that household air-conditioning adoption, which increased dramatically over the time period studied, mitigates nearly all of the estimated temperature sensitivity.”

Guest post: ‘Keeping lights on’ is not just about increasing supply: https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-keeping-lights-on-not-just-about-increasing-supply “We have recently produced a briefing paper focusing on whether the UK is facing an upcoming electricity crisis, with the aim of investigating whether the wide levels of concern seen over the past few years are justified. We found several interesting findings, directly applicable to the UK, but of interest more widely to those countries facing similar concerns.”

Melting Ice Could Cause More California Droughts: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/melting-ice-could-cause-more-california-droughts/ “Sea ice loss in the Arctic may trigger atmospheric effects that drive precipitation away from the state”

Stella McCartney calls for overhaul of 'incredibly wasteful' fashion industry: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/28/stella-mccartney-calls-for-overhaul-of-incredibly-wasteful-fashion-industry “UK fashion designer backs Ellen MacArthur foundation campaign to stop the global fashion industry consuming a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050”

Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future: http://grist.org/article/bitcoin-could-cost-us-our-clean-energy-future/ “Simply put, bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. What’s more, this is just the beginning. Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse.”

Climate change is radically reshuffling UK bird species, report finds: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/05/climate-change-is-radically-reshuffling-uk-bird-species-report-finds “New migrants are arriving while rising temperatures drive others away, and egg laying is taking place earlier in the year”

UK could cut food emissions by 17% by sticking to a healthy diet: https://www.carbonbrief.org/uk-could-cut-food-emissions-17-per-cent-by-sticking-to-healthy-diet “The UK could shed close to a fifth of its greenhouse gas emissions from food production if every Briton stuck to a healthy diet based on government guidelines, a new study concludes.”

UK government to release funding for mini nuclear power stations: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/03/mini-nuclear-power-stations-uk-government-funding “Up to £100m expected to be announced in effort to make UK leader in technology and provide fresh source of clean power”     

Analysis: How developing nations are driving record growth in solar power: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-developing-nations-driving-record-growth-solar-power “Emerging markets now account for the majority of growth in solar power, according to new data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Led by China and India, these developing economies are behind dramatic recent growth in solar capacity, which expanded by 33% in 2016. China alone installed 27 gigawatts (GW), around 40% of the world’s new solar last year. Brazil, Chile, Jordan, Mexico and Pakistan all at least doubled their solar capacity in 2016. In total, solar accounted for 19% of all new generating capacity in the emerging markets tracked by BNEF.”

Emerging markets now account for the majority of growth in solar power, according to new data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).            Led by China and India, these developing economies are behind dramatic recent growth in solar capacity, which expanded by 33% in 2016. China alone installed 27 gigawatts (GW), around 40% of the world’s new solar last year. Brazil, Chile, Jordan, Mexico and Pakistan all at least doubled their solar capacity in 2016.

Active travel & transport

Physical activity, Air Pollution and Transport: https://www.sochealth.co.uk/2017/12/01/physical-activity-air-pollution-transport/ “Walking and cycling: can provide the same health benefits as sports or other exercise - can increase cardiorespiratory fitness - to work is as effective as a training programme and can fulfil the recommendations for physical activity - and it’s good for the local economy”

Respiratory and cardiovascular responses to walking down a traffic-polluted road compared with walking in a traffic-free area in participants aged 60 years and older with chronic lung or heart disease and age-matched healthy controls: a randomised, crossover study: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32643-0/fulltext?elsca1=tlpr “Short-term exposure to traffic pollution prevents the beneficial cardiopulmonary effects of walking in people with COPD, ischaemic heart disease, and those free from chronic cardiopulmonary diseases. Medication use might reduce the adverse effects of air pollution in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Policies should aim to control ambient levels of air pollution along busy streets in view of these negative health effects.” – media coverage here: Traffic fumes in city streets 'largely wipe out exercise benefits for over-60s': https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/05/traffic-fumes-in-city-streets-largely-wipe-out-exercise-benefits-for-over-60s

Contextualising Safety in Numbers: a longitudinal investigation into change in cycling safety in Britain, 1991–2001 and 2001–2011: http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2017/11/30/injuryprev-2017-042498 “Conclusion: The SiN (safety in numbers) mechanism does seem to operate longitudinally as well as cross-sectionally. However, at a national level between 2001-11 it co-existed with an increase in cyclist injury risk both in absolute terms and in relation to other modes. Our analysis is consistent with the existence of a SiN effect for people cycling in Britain in 1991, 2001 and 2011, and between the years in question. Not only do local authorities with more cycling tend to have a lower per-commuter risk, but places where cycling grew tended to become relatively safer per commuter, and places where cycling declined tended to become relatively less safe per commuter. It is, however, important to look at these findings in context.”

Electric Cars Are Not The Best Way To Tackle Air Pollution, Cycling Is: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/electric-cars-are-not-the-best-way-to-tackle-air-pollution-cycling-is_uk_5a182c8fe4b0bf1467a84630 “Electric cars don’t ease congestion. Cycling should be prioritised to help with the crippling congestion we face in large cities, not only in the UK, but across the world. Here, congestion is getting worse and costs the economy up to £11bn a year. If we switched to bicycles, the same 3.5 metre-wide single lane roads that can transport 2,000 people an hour by car could facilitate 14,000 people by bicycle. That’s without factoring in the amount of road space taken up by parking. Perhaps we should focus on improving our cycling infrastructure across the country, rather than on electric charging stations for cars and providing subsidies for customers.”

WATCH: Jaguar Land Rover's self-driving cars take to the streets of the West Midlands: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/business/2017/11/17/jaguar-land-rovers-self-driving-cars-take-to-the-streets-of-the-west-midlands/#U7il5cQApBzaFIOj.99 “The UK's first on-the-road trials for self-driving cars in a city are taking place in the West Midlands as Jaguar Land Rover puts its experimental autonomous vehicles through their paces.”

No justification for making helmets compulsory, say cycling campaigners: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2017/11/24/no-justification-for-making-helmets-compulsory-say-cycling-campaigners/#tMrGibrymAufEELJ.99 “Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman and charity Cycling UK have both spoken against mandatory helmets.”

Electric cars already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel – study: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/01/electric-cars-already-cheaper-to-own-and-run-than-petrol-or-diesel-study              “Exclusive: Pure electric cars cost less over four years than petrol or diesel cars in the UK, US and Japan, researchers say, but China is set to lead the market

Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/transport-statistics-great-britain-2017 “Report showing statistical trends in the British transport sector for the year 2017.”

Air quality & pollution

Statement to the 2017 UN Environment Assembly from UN Secretary-General António Guterres: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/news/statement-2017-un-environment-assembly-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres “Dedicating this Assembly to working towards a pollution-free planet highlights the urgent need for rapid, large-scale and coordinated action by leaders from governments, industry, the scientific community and civil society. It also highlights the incredible opportunity to promote equitable and sustainable social and economic development.  Beating pollution will help reduce poverty, improve public health, create decent jobs, address climate change and protect life on land and sea.”

Walking and cycling investment ‘prevents air pollution deaths’: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2017/12/04/walking-cycling-investment-prevents-air-pollution-deaths/ “Meeting targets to increase the number of trips made on foot and by bicycle could prevent as many as 8,300 premature deaths per year linked to air pollution.”

New study reveals air pollution can alter the effectiveness of antibiotics and increases the potential of disease: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2017/march/new-study-reveals-air-pollution-can-alter-the-effectiveness-of-antibiotics-and-increases-the-potential-of-disease “Researchers from the University of Leicester have for the first time discovered that bacteria that cause respiratory infections are directly affected by air pollution - increasing the potential for infection and changing the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment. The interdisciplinary study, which has been published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, has important implications for the treatment of infectious diseases, which are known to be increased in areas with high levels of air pollution."

Danger in the air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Danger_in_the_Air.pdf “While all children are vulnerable to air pollution, the youngest children are most at risk. New UNICEF analysis focusing on very young children finds that almost 17 million babies (children under the age of one) live in some of the most severely affected regions of the world, where outdoor air pollution is at least six times  higher than international limits.   The majority of these babies – approximately 12 million – live in South Asia”

Air pollution from London traffic is affecting the health of unborn babies: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_5-12-2017-17-51-33 “The findings come from a study of more than half a million infants, which suggests that pregnant mothers exposed to air pollution from London’s busy roads are more likely to give birth to babies that are underweight or smaller than they should be. When it comes to traffic-related noise, however, they found no conclusive effect on babies’ health.”

UK government 'being dragged screaming' to tackle air pollution: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/30/uk-government-being-dragged-screaming-to-tackle-air-pollution “MPs say ministers are showing no confidence in tackling the illegal levels of air pollution that prematurely kill an estimated 40,000 people a year”

Food & food security

Global Food Security Alert: November 28, 2017: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-food-security-alert-november-28-2017 “Following unprecedented food assistance needs in 2017, little improvement is anticipated during the coming year. Across 45 countries, an estimated 76 million people are expected to require emergency food assistance during 2018. Four countries – Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria – face a credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5). Given that no improvement in underlying conditions is expected in these countries, the provision of humanitarian assistance will be a primary determinant of whether Famine is averted.”

Who uses foodbanks and why? Exploring the impact of financial strain and adverse life events on food insecurity: https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/advance-article/doi/10.1093/pubmed/fdx133/4555347 “Conclusions - Benefit-related problems appear to be a key reason for foodbank referral. By comparison with other disadvantaged groups, foodbank users experienced more financial strain, adverse life events, both increased the severity of food insecurity.”

Help a Hungry Child: Inside the school surrounded by fast food shops where children go hungry: http://www.independent.co.uk/helpahungrychild/child-poverty-help-hungry-school-fast-food-shops-waste-obesity-stanhope-primary-headteacher-sahreen-a8073531.html?amp “Headteacher Sahreen Siddiqui is determined to change things for the better, which is why Stanhope Primary School has joined The Independent's Christmas appeal”

Reality Check: Why ban fast food within 400m of schools? https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/health-42172579 “London Mayor Sadiq Khan's new planning strategy says fast food outlets should not be allowed to open within 400m of schools. It is part of his plan to fight childhood obesity and has been welcomed by experts contacted by Reality Check who felt it would be a good first step, with work also needed on existing fast food outlets.”

Children in poor areas exposed to five times as many fast food takeaways: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/dec/01/schoolchildren-poor-areas-exposed-fast-food-takeaways “More than 400 schools in England have 20 or more takeaways nearby, data reveals, with the problem at its worst in London”

IUCN Red List: Wild crops listed as threatened: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42204575 “Wild relatives of modern crops deemed crucial for food security are being pushed to the brink of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”

The Vertical Farm: An idea whose time has come? http://tsss.ca/channels/food-and-sustainability/the-vertical-farm-an-idea-whose-time-has-come “By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will live in urban centers and that number will have increased by about 3 billion people in the interim – a big challenge and opportunity to feed. One emergent model is indoor farming, aka, vertical farming.”

Overuse of antibiotics in farming is a major new threat to human health, says UN: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/05/over-use-of-antibiotics-in-farming-is-a-major-new-threat-to-human-health-says-un “Antibiotics that has spilled from farms into the natural environment may be a bigger factor in spreading resistance to life-saving drugs than previously thought, report says”

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