Category: Climate Change (Page 1 of 8)

Happy Earth Day 2022!

Happy Earth Day 2022!

This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods.

For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.

EARTHDAY.ORG

Check out the images below to see how the King’s community has come together to engage with the climate crisis, developing innovative and inclusive solutions. Sign up to these initiatives here.

 

Also have a look at this recent research, co-authored by King’s Geography’s visiting professor Sampurno Bruijnzeel, which explores the importance of restoring native forests for greatest climate and environmental benefits – but this comes with trade-offs for wood production. 

Cycling in London event & survey

Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.On 3rd March, a cycling event was held at Bush House as part of Sustainability Month to increase awareness and understanding of how students and staff can get started with cycling in London.

The event consisted of a “Dr Bike” session, where external bike maintenance mechanics provided free bike health checks, advice, and small fixes (fully funded by Westminster City Council).

Students were also on hand to provide information to help others get into cycling, particularly focusing on commuting to campus. They discussed where the bike lockers are on campus and how to access them, information offered by external organisations (for example, TFL cycle safety pages and relevant council pages for cycle buddy schemes), and KCL’s Cycling club.


Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.

The COVID pandemic forced us to rethink how we travel to campus. Cycling was identified as being a safer, more sustainable mode of travel that also supports wellbeing. King’s is keen to support our ‘new ways of working’ so identifying where improvements to cycling provisions need to be made is central to that.

To help us identify what those improvements might be, please could you take this 5-minute survey by 17 May? Your responses will shape how we grow the estate to meet everyone’s needs. Please direct any queries to Ruonan Zhang.

The Careers & Employability Festival starts next week!

How does sustainability tie into a career in healthcare or arts & entertainment? What jobs lie in the environmental sector?

Join this Careers & Employability Festival to hear from professionals who studied subjects from clinical medicine to museum studies to geography and are now part of the Greener NHS Programme, own sustainable fashion businesses, work in climate finance, renewable energy, and more. They will be discussing how they incorporated sustainability into their careers.

Sound intriguing? Find more information and sign up here.

12 April: Be a sustainability changemaker in any and every career.
14 April: Assessing your future organisation’s commitment to sustainability.
26 April: Build your employability for a sustainability career.

An update from Jone de Roode Jauregi, King’s Climate Action Assistant

Hi all!

Photo of JoneMy name is Jone and I am a Climate Action Assistant in the Sustainability Team. I graduated from King’s with a BSc in International Management in May ’21 and have been working in the Sustainability Team since. 

My journey with the Sustainability Team started in my final year at uni when I joined the King’s Climate Action Network. It was a great experience working together with people from across King’s and brainstorming actions to make King’s more sustainable – both on- and off-campus. 

It was also during this year that I got the opportunity to learn more about sustainability in my studies, for example through the interdisciplinary Sustainability in Practice module and by writing my dissertation about sustainable behaviour during COVID-19. I also did a year abroad as part of my studies, during which I spent 5 months studying in Brazil and 5 months doing a climate diplomacy internship at the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica.  

Sustainability considerations play a big role in my personal life too. My diet is largely vegan, I mostly buy seasonal and local products and I rarely waste food; I travel as much as possible by train (e.g. from London to my family in the Netherlands or Spain) and I cycle in London; I buy in zero-waste stores when I can (e.g. at the food co-op Fareshares near Elephant & Castle which is run by volunteers); I limit the number of purchases I make (reinventing my grandma’s clothes was a great exercise); I switched to a renewable energy tariff; I use water, electricity and heating sparingly; I’m changing banks to a more ethical one; I raise the sustainability topic with friends and family, sometimes sign petitions and join marches, and I vote for parties which prioritise addressing the climate crisis and other SDGs, etc. For me, the key part lies in doing as much as I can to contribute to a better world through my individual actions, without restraining myself in such a way that it burdens me disproportionately. 

In my role as a Climate Action Assistant, I have been supporting the development of the university’s Climate Action Plan, the running of the King’s Climate Action Network, the creation of the KEATS sustainability module and seminar series, and the mapping of climate education and research across King’s. I also support the Sustainability Team’s comms and I look after our blog and newsletter. And I jump in here and there when things come up. 

I’ve been enjoying the work so far and I am excited to work on many more sustainability projects with the King’s community. I do not know yet where the future will take me, but I am keen to contribute to finding ways to live more sustainably taking better care of both people and our planet. 

An update from Rachel Harrington-Abrams, King’s Climate Action Assistant

Image of RachelHello everyone!

I am a Climate Action Assistant in the Sustainability Team and have worked in this role over the past year to grow the climate research community and interdisciplinary strategy at King’s. I am also a second-year PhD student in the Department of Geography, studying multilateral governance and decision-making on adaptation policy, particularly in situations of extreme environmental change where relocation or resettlement may be utilised. As a climate researcher myself, I am personally invested in building stronger connections with researchers across disciplines and scaling our impact as a university. As a result, I have been able to identify areas for improvement based on the experiences of fellow researchers and support efforts to unite the climate research community as part of the Sustainability Team.

Prior to beginning my PhD in 2020, I spent six years working on and studying different dimensions of climate and sustainability policy. After graduating from university, I spent two years in The Climate Group’s New York office, supporting businesses and sub-national to set shared climate action goals, develop renewable and energy efficiency targets, and evaluate their own impacts and those of their value chains. I earned my MA in Environmental Policy in 2019 from Sciences Po Paris, where I continued to explore the dimensions of sustainable transitions, including financing for climate adaptation, decarbonisation of the grid, and sustainable resource governance.

Now through my PhD, I consider the high-level policy decisions that define how governments manage adaptation. As part of the Sustainability Team, I support our research community to connect, inform, and respond to these and other dimensions of the climate crisis. I contribute to the development of the university’s Climate Action Plan and the work of the Zero Carbon Research group within the Climate Action Network. I also help coordinate the Climate Hub, one of our existing interdisciplinary research centres based on SSPP and facilitate networking and interdisciplinary partnerships across departments. I am currently involved in setting up a new network for PGRs studying climate change at King’s and am contributing to the ongoing development process for the university’s climate and sustainability research strategy.

While I primarily focus on climate research, as part of the Sustainability team I have been able to engage with other areas of our Climate Action Strategy and the work of the CAN. I have explored the costs and benefits of offsetting for net-zero emissions, and the decisions made in this area by our peer institutions; I also contributed to our efforts to map our current footprint for climate and sustainability education across the university. I was also incredibly fortunate to be able to attend COP26 alongside a colleague both for my own research and as a representative of the Sustainability team. My time in Glasgow provided a unique chance to connect with climate researchers at other UK institutions and build stronger connections with other Sustainability practitioners working within universities.

Sustainability Month 2022: a true celebration

What a month! Throughout February, we welcomed hundreds of people to more than 20 social and educational events focused on taking action around the Sustainable Development Goals. Organised by students, staff members, and alumni from across disciplines, this month was a true celebration of the breadth of sustainability and the King’s community’s involvement in it.

We learned to reflect on our stories in the climate and nature crisis and got inspired to take action in the events on volunteering, recycled glass, plant-based diets, and greener ways to grow your veg. We learned how we might address the climate crisis from a policy perspective, what digital start-ups can do to advance the SDGs, and what some of the main inequality issues are in South Korea. The interconnectedness of environmental and social sustainability was highlighted during the panel for climate justice and the event on the climate crisis and refugees, and we learned how we might go about translating that into education. The Shots for Hope exhibition and the Visions for the Future workshop series helped us to stay hopeful in the face of the climate crisis.

The month brought people together socially in events such as the sustainability quiz night, stitch and pitch, and the show the love campaign, as well as professionally in the interdisciplinary sustainability research forum and the London Student Sustainability Conference. The events on careers in sustainability helped students explore the breadth of what this means for their future.

If you missed an event, you can find the event recordings here. Not all recordings have been uploaded yet, but we aim to do so as soon as possible. We will also be posting event summaries and reflections on our blog over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for those. If you have any feedback you would like to share, please fill out this feedback form. If you would like to write a blog post on an event you organised or attended, feel free to get in touch.

International Women’s Day 2022: Women, climate change, and ecofeminism

The facts are clear: women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. This vulnerability has several social, economic and cultural causes, including the fact that the majority of people living in poverty are women, and they are often the ones responsible for putting food and water on the table which is becoming increasingly difficult due to climate change.

However, on this day celebrating the achievements of women, it is important to highlight how women are simultaneously at the forefront of global sustainable development. Women need to be at the heart of climate action, because “women possess unique knowledge and experience, particularly at the local level, their inclusion in decision-making processes is critical to effective climate action” (UN Women, 2022). Studies have shown that women’s participation both at the local level and in national parliaments leads to better outcomes for both people and planet.

“Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach” (UN, 2022). Why is this so important? Let’s explore ecofeminism for some potential answers.

Ecofeminism

First of all, what is ecofeminism? It is a social movement bringing together feminism and environmentalism, arguing that the domination of women and the degradation of the environment have the same root causes: patriarchy and capitalism (Buckingham, 2015). The key word in ecofeminism is domination. According to Vandana Shiva, development and globalisation are a continuation of our obsession with domination of the ‘other’, whether this is nature, women, indigenous peoples, or subordinate classes (Clark, 2012).

Therefore, “any strategy to address one must take into account its impact on the other so that women’s equality should not be achieved at the expense of worsening the environment, and neither should environmental improvements be gained at the expense of women” (Buckingham, 2015). For solutions to be impactful they have to address both feminism and environmentalism and this can only be meaningfully done by reversing current values to prioritise care and cooperation over more aggressive and dominating behaviours.

An inspiring example: Mariama Sonko

Mariama Sonko leads the ecofeminist movement Nous Sommes la Solution (NSS) meaning “we are the solution”, which brings together more than 500 rural women’s associations in Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Mali to promote sustainable agroecology and fight large-scale industrial farming. What ecofeminism means to her? “The respect for all that we have around us.” Doesn’t sound like a too difficult ask to me.


Check out Women4Climate: an initiative aiming to empower and inspire the next generation of women climate leaders.

Get involved in International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month at King’s. Check out the events KCLSU is organising throughout the month here, from panel events and movie nights to leadership masterclasses about challenging misogyny and being an ally to women. The chaplaincy is also organising an event to watch and discuss the movie Stranger/Sister. Explore King’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and their upcoming events here. Find out more about King’s dedicated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, the staff gender equality network Elevate, and KCLSU’s Women’s Network.

At King’s, we are slowly moving in the right direction, but there is of course more to do. In 2021, King’s Gender Pay Gap was 14.8%, down from 17.1% the year before. Read the news article on King’s 2021 Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gaps figures here, and while you are at it, check out how King’s has been awarded the Workplace Equality Index Award in recognition of its commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion at work.

King’s Climate Action Network: what’s new?

The King’s Climate Action Network (CAN) is an open, interdisciplinary forum bringing together people from the King’s community who are passionate about climate action. The CAN focuses on solutions to reduce our carbon emissions while also maximising our positive impact on climate action.

Between 2020 and 2021, the network brainstormed more than 50 actions to be taken forward by the university. This year, the CAN has grown to more than 300 members who are working on implementing these actions.

What has the King’s Climate Action Network been up to these months? From research and responsible investment to our estate and travel, we have been discussing our priorities for the year ahead in our sub-group meetings. Members have signed up to smaller working groups to start implementing actions. 

Zero Carbon Estate

In the Zero Carbon Estate group, we heard about the progress the Energy Team and others have been making on a range of actions. We discussed setting up an ‘Energy Champions’ scheme where people could work on energy projects and receive formal recognition for them. This volunteering programme would include energy audit training, encouraging students to report issues and ideas throughout the year. We also brainstormed how we could get more creative with our communications to better engage our community.

Responsible Investment

In the Responsible Investment group, we explored the best ways to get student and staff input into a refresh of King’s Ethical Investment Policy. During the CAN plenary, we had a fruitful discussion with King’s Finance Team about the Ethical Investment Policy they have been working on. Key suggestions that were made by CAN members included increasing transparency and participation, developing clear definitions, embedding more ambitious wording and targets, and collaborating with the wider sector. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here.

Community & Engagement

In the Community & Engagement group, we have started planning a listening campaign to explore how King’s can best support/work with our local communities around climate action. We also discussed an exciting opportunity to shape the Science Gallery’s strand on climate change which will open next year.  Moreover, a group has started working on a plan to engage with secondary school audiences by educating them on science-based climate research and offering them climate-related research opportunities. We are also looking into how we can strengthen collaboration with our local councils around climate action.

Zero Carbon Research

In the Zero Carbon Research group, we brainstormed ideas to get climate researchers from across disciplines together. Following these conversations, the CAN is organising a panel event together with KBS on interdisciplinary climate research with academics from across King’s. A future event could also include ‘sandpit’ exercises where cross-disciplinary researchers come together for a short time to create projects around a given theme.  

Travel

In the Travel group, we discussed encouraging active travel by implementing a cycle bank system to pass on cycles within the King’s community and organising ‘cycling inductions’ at the start of the term. The new King’s Travel Manager will also drive action around business travel, for example by defining a scoring system to help identify what business travel is essential and what is not, and by creating guides on how to travel sustainably to some key destinations. A group is also working on estimating emissions from student end-of-term travel and brainstorming how we could promote slow travel.

Students & Education

In the Students & Education group, we have been discussing the pilot KEATS sustainability module and the SDG curriculum audit we have started on. We also discussed creating an interdisciplinary toolkit to show how climate relates to each field and developing a ‘Spotlight on Sustainability Careers’ event series. A group of students is also working on a climate careers podcast.

Find out more about sustainable education at King’s here.

Procurement & Waste

In the Procurement & Waste group, we discussed among other things how we could draw people’s attention to the importance of this area – it does represent the biggest part of our emissions after all! We have started to work on improving our methodology for estimating supply chain emissions, starting with food. We are also looking into opportunities for supplier engagement events, waste projects and communications, and developing feedback sessions with King’s Food about climate-friendly food.


The CAN sub-groups meet every 6-8 weeks, and the entire network comes together twice per term. Smaller working groups meet in between to carry out actions. Members are welcome to join one or more subgroups.

Sign up to the King’s CAN to be part of this journey and work together with students and staff from across the university to drive climate action! Find out more here or email Maria Rabanser or Jone de Roode Jauregi if you have any questions.

Sustainable education at King’s: what’s new?

What is King’s doing to strengthen sustainable education? Find out about three key projects we are working on at the moment below.

KEATS Sustainability Module

King’s Sustainability has launched an online, open-access, interdisciplinary KEATS sustainability module, aiming to offer everyone, no matter their field, a broad understanding of sustainability.  The module is being put together by a team of incredible students, staff and King’s alumni. This year will still be a pilot, but with the involvement and support of this year’s enrolled students, we hope to officially launch it as a finalised module in the new academic year. This pilot year, we have been releasing a new content section every two weeks.

So far, content on “what is sustainability”, the climate crisis, and sustainable food are live. There is also a section with tips on how to take action and an overview of our favourite sustainability resources. The contents include engaging short videos, text, and padlets to encourage discussions. There is also a short quiz at the end of each section to test participants’ knowledge, and evaluation forms to continue to shape the module according to people’s feedback.

Boost your knowledge of sustainability and help shape sustainable education at King’s by enrolling via this link By signing up, you will test the sustainability module and shape it with your feedback and ideas.   

Sustainability Seminar Series

Alongside this module, we have been hosting a Sustainability Seminar Series which is running throughout the academic year covering some of the biggest topics in sustainability. It offers the entire King’s community an opportunity to learn more about climate science, justice, sustainable agriculture and much more from seminal speakers in the field. Through these monthly 90-minute sessions, participants get the opportunity to fully engage with the subject in the breakout room discussions and Q&As with the speaker. The series aims to be interactive, empowering and motivate everyone to take action!

The first seminar featured climate expert Dr George Adamson on Bringing Climate Change Home. He discussed how we can address climate change at the scale of the everyday by understanding climate change as an interaction between place, personal history, daily life, culture and values. You can watch the lecture hereThe second seminar focused on climate, perception framing, and culture. We were joined by Dr Joachim Aufderheide from the Philosophy Department who helped us think critically about the concept of sustainability, understand how different disciplines tend towards different conceptions of sustainability, and consider moral issues around sustainability. You can watch the recording here 

The next seminar on the 25th of January 2.00-3.30 PM will focus on “Rethinking the Economy for a Sustainable Future”. We will host a very special panel with experts Enrich Sahan (Business & Enterprise Lead at the Doughnut Economics Action Lab), Julia Steinberger (Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Lausanne), and Vincent Liegey (spokesperson for the French degrowth movement). Save the date to make sure you do not miss out on this special session.  

Sign up for the series here.

SDG Curriculum Mapping

We are also very excited to have embarked on a new journey: mapping out all modules at King’s alongside the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). All students and staff can sign up as volunteers to support this project. It is a great opportunity to find out where environmental and social sustainability currently sits within the curriculum at King’s while building key skills such as auditing, research, and analysing data. 

The first training session led by SOS-UK took place on 13th December, where participants were trained to do a guided audit across programmes and modules and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to do the mapping. The full volunteer description is available here. 

Register your interest here.

Why are disabled voices needed in climate change discussion?

This guest blog post was written by Poppy Ellis Logan (she/her) in celebration of the UK Disability History Month running between 18 November and 18 December 2021. Poppy is researching population preparedness for power outages for her PhD with the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response, based in the IoPPN. In her spare time, she is Co-President of the KCL Neurodiversity and Mental Health Society. For more information on either, contact k20120570@kcl.ac.uk or president.NDMH@gmail.com


Why are disabled voices needed in climate change discussion, and how does this link to the disability history month theme of hidden impairments?

The climate change discussion is not just about prevention, but also about the response. The climate emergency is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather and environmental hazards around the world. The term typically used for the consequent events is ‘natural disaster’, however, there is a growing argument that this terminology fails to reflect the fact that these disasters are governed by human decision-making. This decision-making includes the planning, preparation and response to such events, and influences how extensively the local community are affected.

Disabled people experience marginalisation, inequality, and discrimination in many settings, including during disasters. Around the world, disaster planning and response are often not inclusive, failing to accommodate access and functional needs and thereby placing disabled individuals at a greater risk than others. Although policy progress is being made, with the Sendai Framework calling for disability inclusion in disaster management, we continue to see access and functional needs being overlooked. This applies to the climate emergency; local government associations are often unclear on the impacts of climate events on disabled members of the community and rely on local disability groups to advise them about how to even communicate with disabled people (despite 15% of people living with a disability). Consequently, timely warnings, evacuation routes, public shelters and relief or recovery efforts are often inaccessible.

This is a problem. In a disaster context, information is vital – both in terms of providing a warning for an event, and for ensuring that the public is well-informed about what is happening and what they can do to protect themselves. If this information is not accessible or if accessible formats are disrupted due to an event, people who require alternative forms of communication are left behind. On another level, social support typically plays a vital role in disasters, with mutual aid and altruism as a common theme across a range of events. However, disabled people are more likely to be marginalised, and thus may be less likely to receive social support from neighbours. Moreover, simply a practical level, people with alternative communication needs or hidden impairments are less likely to receive the right support from both their neighbours and emergency responders. The consequence is that disabled people may rely substantially on each other, on assistive technology, or on close personal networks for accessible disaster information.

These issues around communication and accessibility have perhaps been less visible during the ongoing COVID-19 disaster, possibly because we have been locked down in our own spaces, with continued access to online networks and digital devices. However, there is a risk that wider conceptions of disability and of ‘vulnerability’ in a disaster now become shaped by COVID-19, despite widespread criticism of their formulation and usage from disabled communities. The likelihood of this could be decreased by centring disabled voices in planning and decision-making for a range of events. Better representation of the diversity of disability in planning and decision-making could reduce the tendency to categorise disabled people into one homogenous ‘vulnerable’ group. Such makeshift categorisation is both ‘Othering’ and leads to assumptions around presumed vulnerability in a disaster context that fails to recognise the diversity of disability, the role of the environment in ‘disabling’ an individual, and the strengths and resources that disabled people may be able to bring to disaster settings.

One crucial point underlying this is the understanding that vulnerability is not static. Access and functional needs are very much context-dependent, and the needs (and members) of Priority Groups will vary from one disaster to another. Those deemed ‘clinically vulnerable’ during a pandemic may be very well prepared to cope during a blizzard. The people who may be affected by severe weather events are therefore not the same as those in our current conception of disability and vulnerability during the pandemic.

As an example, people around the UK are currently managing the effects of both Storm Arwen and Storm Barra. Both storms have resulted in power outages. During Storm Arwen, the access and functional needs of people with disabilities that are clearly reliant on electricity for their management were overlooked, despite media attention. The literature on power outages has previously identified that people who use electronic medical devices will be placed at risk by such events. However, there is a gap in the literature about how best to accommodate these needs. Moreover, it is less widely understood that power outages could remove all social support, crisis alert and information sources available to a person with alternative communication needs common to many hidden impairments.

Accommodating for a range of access and functional needs (including needs that are unrelated to disability) in disaster settings is something that has seen improvements, but still has a long way to go. To speak frankly, involving more disabled voices could cut out a lot of steps – there is nobody better to provide knowledge, experience and insight into access and functional needs during an event than the people who actually experience these needs each day. Universal inclusion may be a pipedream, but it might be easier to trust that the response for the next climate-induced disaster will consider the needs of people who use sign language, have unpaid carers, or require controlled medications, if people with a range of disabilities were prominently represented throughout the planning.


Find out more about the KCL Neurodiversity and Mental Health Society here. Also have a look at the Disabled Students Network and the Disability Awareness Society.

Check out Access King’s and the events they have lined up for the UK Disability History Month. This is the Staff Disability Inclusion Network at King’s College London.

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