Month: January 2015

The Environmental and Ethical Careers Conference

This week, EcoSoc talk about an exciting event coming to King’s on Monday 23rd March 2015: The Environmental and Ethical Careers Conference. 

The EECC offers students and recent graduates of King’s College London the chance to see and hear about the diverse array of organisations and opportunities in these two areas, and will provide sector-specific and role-specific careers advice that is otherwise difficult to find. The EECC is made possible by alumni donations to King’s Community Fund, and is co-organised by EcoSoc, the Careers Department and Sustainability team at King’s.

Sustainability and ethics are increasingly no longer just options for businesses, but a necessity to ensure long-term profitability.  The EECC will showcase a range of organisations with sustainability and ethics at the heart of their business and provide King’s students with the employability skills that are increasingly crucial for them to secure jobs after they graduate, through the multiple workshops running during the day.

For those students seeking a career that is both kind to their wallet and kind to the world, the EECC is the perfect opportunity to learn about the range of opportunities on offer.  The EECC will have many of the companies conventionally associated with ‘ethical or ‘green’ careers fairs, such as WWF or Amnesty International, but seeks to also look beyond this to showcase the wide array of ethical and environmental careers available and the diverse roles on offer.  We will seek to showcase diverse opportunities such as environmental consultancy with PWC, driving sustainability at industry giants like Unilever and Ford motors, environmental journalism at the Guardian, and becoming an environmental lawyer with some of the largest legal firms in London.

The format of the conference will be a combination of a careers fair in the Great Hall from 12.30 to 14.30 and a series of sector specific talks throughout the day on Strand Campus.

In the Great Hall, students can meet and talk to representatives from an array of companies that have sustainability and ethics at the core of their business, from industry giants such as Unilever to conservation charities like WWF.

The series of talks opens at 10.00 in the Edmund J Safra Lecture Theatre. This will provide an introduction to the EECC and an overview of the growing opportunities of ethical and environmental careers from industry experts.  Following on from this introduction there will be subject specific talks from 11.00-16.00 on Strand Campus.  Each of these talks will be focused on sustainability and ethical opportunities in one of six specific sectors: Law; Finance; Government and Conservation; Research and Industry; Media, and; Food and Retail.  The talks will each be one hour long and delivered by a panel of experts in the relevant fields, and include a Q&A session for students to get answers to any burning questions they have.

The EECC offers something for all students at Kings; whether you are set on an ethical career or just interested to find out what opportunities are on offer and how they compare to roles you have been considering, the EECC is for you!  The information on offer, the chance to talk to industry experts in a diverse array of fields and the plethora of key employability skills to be gained are not to be missed.

The Environmental and Ethical Careers Conference (EECC) will take place on Monday 23rd March 2015 and we look forward to welcoming you to the event. If you have any questions or would like further information, please email

Other news and events: 

The Great Green Hope: Enter Miss November

[The second guest post of 2015 comes courtesy of Tytus Murphy, a final year PhD student studying Neuroscience who is a member of the Health and Environment Action Lab (H.E.A.L.). Tytus is also a key member of EcoSoc and the Fossil Free campaign at King’s. The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability]

On a dreary and damp evening November I ventured north to John Dodgson House, a halls of residence at UCL, to attend a talk by Natalie Bennett – leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. I wasn’t the only one either as nearly 150 students and members of the public squeezed into the common room on level minus one. This was basement democracy at its finest. This was the ‘green surge’ taking off.

Enter Bennett to passionately outline the Green Party’s vision for a positive society with ‘no fear’. This fear describes what many of us feel; trapped in a perpetual state of anxiety as we obsessively contemplate our job security, the rampant rise of inequality, the decimation of public services and climate change. A feeling exacerbated by our waning political influence to change any of the above as the major political parties further homogenise.

To eradicate this fear and futility, Bennett puts forward that we must acknowledge that the economic, societal, political and environmental crises that we are facing should not be regarded as separate entities but rather as being inextricably intertwined. Our current system hinges on inequality and exploitation, with the spoils of environmentally damaging consumerism concentrated among the top one per cent. A world based on cooperation and democracy in the eyes of The Greens, however, would prioritise the many, not the few, and would not risk the planet’s future with unsustainable consumption. The centerpiece of The Green Party is their focus on ‘The Common Good’ whereby society is designed and delivered for the good of everyone.

After decades of near pathological focus on consumer driven growth, it is mightily refreshing to see the embracement of markedly different values that challenge business as usual. In the words of Bennett, a vote for The Greens is a vote for actual change. In particular, a vote that supports an end to austerity, the re-introduction of nationalisation for key public services such as the railways, progressive wealth and land value taxes, free university education and a living wage of £10 per hour – to name a mere smattering of the policies that The Greens are fully committed to. Of note, in 2010, they received scant praise for providing a thorough and fully costed manifesto, which Bennett states will be delivered again in 2015. Judging by the Chancellor’s recent autumn statement, costing manifesto pledges requires at least some degree of fine-tuning by The Tories.

Most strikingly, it is their willingness to tackle corporate power that I find most encouraging. For example, Bennett recalled that in 2010 Caroline Lucas (the sole Green MP in Parliament) tabled the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill which called for all companies to publish on a country by country basis what taxes they pay. If Luxemburg or the Cayman Islands popped up on this list it would be clear something has gone awry. With this information, H M Revenue & Customs and Companies House could chase up the tax that is owed to the country. The Greens believe that companies cannot opt out of corporate social responsibility; paying tax in the countries that afford them with their opportunities to trade is an integral part of this.

Regrettably, and with true Westminster corporate panache, the BiIl did not complete its passage through Parliament; consigning it to the ‘ for recycling’ paper tray. Despite this setback, The Greens continue to take a brave stance against the corrosive force of corporate influence on our politics, as evidenced by their staunch opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) proposals, a nefarious bilateral trade agreement that aims to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the profits made by corporations.

A hugely exciting aspect of the green surge is the rekindling of political activism, particularly among 16-24 years. Young Greens have doubled their members during 2014. These are not your typical inchoate firebrands either; these kids speak in citations, are organised and have been a positive force in the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and in helping bring about the ‘Free Education March’ last November. Bennett is vociferous when she says that ‘politics is not something that is done to you, it is something that you do’. The Young Greens epitomise this.

Notably, both Bennett and Lucas gave galvanising addresses to students on the day of the Free Education March and have been vocal supporters of strikes in the public sector. Bennett even joined workers on the pickett line at St Pancras Hospital in October in support of fair pay for health workers. Nigel Farage may sincerely dabble in the fag-pint ‘he’s one of us’ tactic but has never meaningfully supported participatory democratic action in the authentic and purposeful way that Bennett and The Greens continue to.

After Bennett gave her engaging talk she took a series of wide-ranging questions from the attentive audience for over an hour and a half. This was young people engaging in mature discussion about the society we want for our futures, facilitated by a person of great integrity who prioritises transparency over the veneer of a fine-tuned soundbite. Bennett speaks with a gruff Aussie candidness, imploring us to offer our input into shaping the discussion and plans for our collective future. Being part of this really did feel like the new kind of politics The Greens are advocating, where we all are empowered to make the changes we want to make.

One audience member asked ‘how will The Green Party fix the NHS funding crisis’. Where Labour and The Tories normally give a combinatorial spiel centred on increased funding, ringfencing and finding/making improved efficiencies, Bennett answer was that ‘we want to make people healthier, ours is a deeply unhealthy society’. With the longest working hours in Europe, there is scant time to engage in the things which keep us away from the hospital wards with the greatest efficacy; namely exercise, adherence to a balanced diet and spending time in enriched environments, including more time in the company of loved ones. A Green Government would try to ensure that these vitally important elements of our lives would become sacrosanct through the provision of a basic income guarantee, a living wage and rent caps. Without the constant dread of worrying about next month’s finances, time is created for what is really important; engaging in our communities and tending to our physical and mental health.

The Greens’ willingness to focus on addressing the root causes of societies ills over cosmetic initiatives and frameworks really does set them apart from the crowd.

Now and then there is the actual green stuff like using the polluter pays principle to implement a carbon tax with the proceeds being used to fund energy efficiency measures for everybody. Not to mention redistributing significant subsidies (measured in hundreds of millions) away from fossil fuel companies and towards the renewable sector. It does seem somewhat perverse to help fund ecologically violent extractivism (e.g. fracking) when the scientific community has already unanimously labelled 80% of known carbon reserves in the ground as unsafe to burn. The Greens have understood this for a long time and Lucas recently lead calls to divest the pension fund for MPs from fossil fuels; yet another exemplar of The Greens commitment to rapid decarbonisation in the face of an increasingly turbulent climate.

Now in a true test of your bias dear reader, I highly recommend you visit this website: to compare the policies of six UK political parties on a selection of key issues. As you make your selections you are blinded as to which party has formulated the policy. The results from this intelligent exercise have been telling, with the Greens currently attracting the largest share of the vote at around 27% with the Tories languishing behind with 14%. As part of our New Year’s resolutions for 2014, Bennett wanted everybody to vote for what they believed in. Now just imagine if everybody did this come May 2015? We would be in for some very hopeful times indeed.

Tytus Murphy

Member of the Health and Environment Action Lab (H.E.A.L)

Now let’s meet Ann – Sustainable Operations expert

We have introduced Tom, energy manager, and Martin, sustainable Lab’s coordinator, both who are working to minimise the impacts of King’s use of natural resources in our energy consumption. The role of the sustainability team is however much broader than just energy – it is our responsibility to embed sustainable culture throughout King’s operations. Enter Ann.

Ann joins the sustainability team as Sustainable Operations Manager. Starting just before Christmas, Ann has begun to sink her teeth in to a variety of projects. So Ann, tell us more about your role:

‘My role as Operations Sustainability Manager is primarily involved with championing and embedding sustainability across the university. This includes working closely with colleagues both in Estates and Facilities and across the wider university; and together with students to help deliver the university’s sustainability objectives while minimising the impact of King’s on the environment. The focus of my role include areas of sustainability such as travel, sustainable procurement, waste & resources, sustainable construction and, development of our Environmental Management system.

In the past my career has included a working for a range of sustainability roles within a variety of industries in the private sector including a renewable energy company, buildings interiors fit out company and as an airport operator.

I’ll be at the next Sustainability Forum on 27th January at the James Black Centre, Denmark Hill so please feel free to pop along and say hello!’

So Ann is implementing an environmental management system; in other words she will be ensuring all sustainability policies and procedures become apart of our culture here at King’s so we can reduce our carbon footprint.Once Ann has had a chance to catch her breath, she will be no doubt providing updates in her progress.

Since Ann has started, she has been leading our latest initiative: Sustainability Champions. The Sustainability Champions programme is a great way to get involved with sustainability at King’s at the grassroots level. We are looking for passionate staff who would like to champion sustainability in their workplace and help King’s have a positive impact on our surrounding environments. Please get in touch if you would like to become a champion:

News, stories, and interesting bits.

Upcoming events

Sustaining our climate: taking the initiative

[This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Joanna Peasland, a first-year Geography undergraduate. The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability]


2nd October 2014. Copenhagen, Denmark. The IPCC Synthesis Report is released.

The Guardian’s article: “IPCC: rapid carbon emission cuts vital to stop severe impact of climate change” contextualises this latest release of the Panel’s current state of affairs with regards to global environmental change with an unambiguous sense of urgency.

The overriding message is not a new one, but demands to be received with more gravity than it has previously: the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly pervasive, and pose irreversibly dangerous risks unless we reduce carbon emissions to zero and rapidly integrate sustainable energy sources into society. Moreover, the technological and the economic feasibility of switching to alternative sources of energy is now being justified by this united global voice in preparation for much anticipated climate talks in Paris next year.

It goes without saying that release of the most comprehensive report on climate change since 2007 has pushed this environmental issue to the forefront of media coverage. Governments, institutions and populations are divesting in fossil fuels and investing in renewables. This ultimately has one of the two consequences for the future: our planet will descend further toward catastrophic changes or it will benefit from the mitigation of such changes. What follows is a selection of some of the items that have caught my eye during the first semester of the academic year – paved with problems but equal promise. They highlight some of the more ambitious movements towards a revolution in energy policy and a more sustainable future, at a time – seemingly to me –  when the debate about global climate change has never been so exhilarating!

Wind power

Browsing through various newspapers’ online ‘environment’ sub-sections led me to an inspiring read on Denmark’s progression in transforming their energy economy in the New York Times by Justin Gillis; A Tricky Transition From Fossil Fuel: Denmark Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy. Gillis discusses the feasibility of the country’s target of eliminating fossil fuels from the energy mix by 2050: a goal which really does set the benchmark for carbon emissions reductions worldwide. This is a country where already, more than 40% of their grid is fed by renewables. These targets however, do not come without their costs. I picked up on one point in particular: Gillis writes of a somewhat imposing ceiling on the Danes’ smooth sailing to sustainable success – the economics of it all. Intermittent wind power makes the country potentially extremely vulnerable, therefore some traditional power plants are favoured as a support system in the event of a blackout that are propped up with various subsidies. These power companies cannot sustain this because their profits will eventually stagnate. International imports of energy bring additional predicaments in the form of the simple ‘ripple effect’ of relying too heavily on outside sources and a potential monopoly game that could play out with increasingly asymmetric power relations. As Gillis suggests, a re-design of the workings of the energy market is required. Perhaps this is as important as the switch to renewables itself. Much like new models of manufactured goods, its accessories, its ‘supporting infrastructure’, must adapt and progress also in order to harmonise with changes of the product itself.

It would be foolish not to mention the agreement pledged by Mr Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, aiming to reduce carbon emissions below 1990 levels back in November. A deal well received by a wider community; US climate negotiators (apparently) received great applause for it during the climate talks at Lima in early December. Tim McDonnell’s piece for Climate Desk –  Obama’s Deal With China Is a Big Win for Solar, Nuclear and Clean Coal – offers a useful appraisal. China is now compelled to firmly hold its place as the world’s frontrunner of the renewable energy sector, through a requirement to source an amount of energy equivalent to the entire electricity grid of the States, entirely from renewables by 2030, as it now has commercial backing from the US. Coupled with caps on emissions and further cuts in the US, this progression will clearly be mutually beneficial for both countries and for the greater good of the environment.


An implication of the new deal is undeniably the eventual rise of cost for the US as a net energy importer as the stock prices of solar power will escalate as it is integrated into China (exactly when and how much by is largely undefined as of yet). But, to grossly oversimplify the situation, the US has now publicised its seemingly increased support for China’s technological advancements, thus the optimist in me is hopeful for the future energy relations between the two powerhouses. With massive carbon capture and sequestration and nuclear plans also on the agenda, McDonnell writes of the hoped geopolitical ease of this deal relative to global scale, legalistic treaties.

Of course, there is internal contention brewing within Congress. Appropriately dubbed ‘climate deniers’, Republicans have reacted badly as their bone of contention claiming that China is unwilling to take steps to cutting emissions has all but been demolished in the wake of news of the talks. The Guardian writes of the backlash such as threats to implement continual legislative walls to Obama’s green promises by the likes of Republican speaker of the House John Boehner. There is certainly no easy route to changing the national behaviour and organisation of the US energy system, to put it lightly.

As I write, the year (2014) is drawing to a close yet anticipation for change is hanging high. News of daily developments flood my social media timelines as leaders in governance from all corners of the globe have spent two weeks negotiating climate at the UN 20th Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru. The Green Climate Fund has reached its first milestone with vast contributions from both some of the most advanced and emerging economies alike. Even Australian leader, Tony Abbot, pledged 200 million dollars (AUS). The fund is a “start” to addressing the problematic relationship between developing nations and exploitation of fossil fuels, writes The Climate Reality Project activism blog. My question is how exactly it will be distributed and who will be the most favoured recipients of this fortune?

Does the hype surrounding such global efforts cloud worrying developments that directly combat sustainable initiatives? In the UK, George Osborne’s autumn statement favoured advancing the dreaded Shale Gas industry, granting 31 million pounds of taxpayers’ money for research drilling and an additional few million on “public engagement” writes Damien Carrington for The Guardian. Burying our heads in the sand, for better use of a cliché, and pursuing ‘less conventional’ fossil fuel route is neither clever nor safe – on many levels.

North Sea oil rig

An issue this pervasive is bound to leave me ignorant to the great complexities of the political and economic implications of these crucially needed sustainable initiatives. Rush the transition to renewables and entire industries come crashing down, not to mention the jobs within them, yet must we accept that sacrifice to some degree may be inevitable however we approach it? Problems are likely to greet us at every corner. However, these simple but beautifully witty and fiercely blunt words of Dr. Guy McPherson stay with me and reaffirm my attitude: “if you really think the economy is more important than the environment, trying counting your money while holding your breath”. The pragmatism being, of course, that climate change could not be more inconvenient to the economy. But it is this very inconvenience that makes it most certainly in our long-term interests to transform our energy habits. And transform we must.

– Joanna Peasland (

Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA, United States Government, Hakan Dalhstrom, UNISDR Gallery

Welcome back – a new year and new term

Welcome back to students and staff – we hope you have had a happy and sustainable holidays!

We are pleased to share with you that King’s reduced our electricity consumption by 43 per cent and gas by 24 per cent compared to normal December usage. The Sustainability Team would like to thank you for all reducing our electricity and gas consumption over the winter break. This resulted in savings of £73,000 and 338 tonnes of CO2. We managed to improve by 24 per cent against the winter break of 2012/13. This is a fantastic achievement but there is still room for improvement.

University-wide efforts are helping us to achieve our energy and carbon reduction targets. Shutting down unnecessary items, including lab equipment, lighting and PCs wherever possible led to this result. This builds on the success of the Blackout project in late 2014. This year we will be aiming to achieve similar savings every holiday, weekend and evening when non-essential equipment, such as lights and computers, are not needed.

Looking forward to the term ahead we have a jam-packed schedule. The Sustainability Champions project is set to officially launch next week, swiftly followed by Green Week, and Fairtrade fortnight. We are looking for enthusiastic people who would like to be involved at driving sustainability at King’s and helping with any of the former mentioned projects.

Fairtrade fortnight is especially important; we will be celebrating 20 years of Fairtrade, King’s is aiming to gain accreditation for being a Fairtrade university. The fortnight will be focusing on core commodities – cocoa, sugar and tea. This is the chance to take action to ensure marginalised farmers around the world have decent working conditions and are paid a fair price for their produce. Watch this space for the full Fairtrade fortnight schedule.

News, stories & interesting bits

Upcoming events