August 31, 2008

This is the first of a series posting the UK Youth Climate Coalition ‘Founding Documents’. Today, we declare our mission.

Our Mission

To inspire, empower and mobilise a generational movement of young people in the UK to take action on climate change. By uniting together, we will demonstrate to decision makers that we will not accept failure.



August 31, 2008

If, like me, you’ve been watching the Democratic National Convention speeches on YouTube you must be impressed at the amount of space the energy crisis is getting.

It is the issue.

Governors and Senators mention climate change just about in every speech, their ‘addiction to foreign oil’, the high gas prices, off-shore drilling – it’s all about energy.

We could even call this the energy election.

Imagine if we had known that even two years ago – people are talking about renewables in a way we could only dream of! (Including some very unlikely, but welcome, characters!) Let’s hope American use this election to bring someone to the White House who has committed to ending oil imports from the Middle East within a decade, cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 and will lead the world in fighting my generation’s biggest threat: climate change.

Did you know that every year the destruction of forests and peatlands generates more greenhouse gas than every car, truck, train and plane on earth? This is roughly the same as the amount of CO2 that is emitted by the United States or China each year.

We should probably keep them around then.


This is just so friggin’ cool. It nearly makes me want to be an American (but not quite).

The Trek to Re-Energise America is a bike ride to Washington D.C., starting from all over the country. Riders will depart for the capital, leaving from their home states and sweeping up media attention and grassroots support as they go.

As the organisers write,
‘So, why a bike ride? Because we need to start thinking outside of the box. This is not a typical partisan political issue and we can’t continue treating it like one. PSA’s, slick ads in hip magazines and blog posts are not going to build this movement to where it needs to be in the small timeframe we have. It is going to take real, on the ground action from a lot of people in a lot of places. Hence, the obviousness of a bike ride. It’s been done before and it’s happening again in a few weeks, but we need to start thinking bigger.
The Trek tackles one of the fundamental problems of our movement, and that is momentum. Rallies and conferences are great and vital, but they are not necessarily movement builders. They can be great media events, but they also fall prey to “flash in the pan” problems. The Trek will take place in the summer of 2009 and will travel across the country, building grassroots support and media attention until converging on D.C at the end of July for a huge day of rallying and lobbying. And trust me, if you bike thousands of miles to talk to someone, you’d be amazed at how much more receptive they can be.’

The site is now live, and trust me, it’s got me thinking…!

Don’t Stop At The Lights

August 29, 2008

Faith groups are some of the most powerful agents of change.

Think of the Catholic church as part of the Polish Solidarity movement or the newly elected leader of Paraguay (known as the Bishop of the Poor).

The Church of England recently released a new manual entitled, ‘Don’t Stop at the Lights’ to encourage parishes to move towards a low-carbon community. Some of the suggestions go back centuries to look at medieval traditions such as using church land to grow certain plants, and a procession through the parish which could raise the profile of fighting climate change. Also included are ideas of using Lent as a good time for environmental audits and setting new energy saving targets.

The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, commented: ‘This book offers us not just tips on energy saving but a reorientation. The intention is not to urge Christians to get measured for a hair shirt but to rediscover ‘how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell together in unity’ with all that lives.’

It reminds me of something Barbara Kingsolver once said,

‘Your life doesn’t need so much stuff, if you have people in it.’

Man-Made Natural Disasters?

August 29, 2008

Here’s a thought.

If we’re fundamentally changing the climate, can we really claim that natural disasters are not man-made?

Sure, most would happen anyway, but not perhaps with the frequency and severity that we see them. I was reading this report from the international NGO CARE, and it’s a big question, especially when you consider that between 2005 and 2006, natural disasters killed 120,000 people, affected 271 million more and caused economic losses totalling US$250 billion.

Slow Travel

August 28, 2008

This summer I finally decided to free myself. Free myself from:

  • the stress
  • the crying babies
  • the constant announcements on the tannoy
  • the cramped leg room
  • the dreadful food
  • the awful toilets
  • the rowdy hen/stag night trips

I’m no longer going to fly on holiday or for my personal life! It’s so cool – I’m going to embrace Slow Travel – actually seeing the places I’m travelling to, avoiding the crowds and massively cutting my CO2 output.

Check out the Slow Travel website and read the awesome manifesto!

Creative Fashion

August 28, 2008

While I was living in Berlin, a friend of mine (who was living on an exciting Berlin budget) would always keep an eye out for the clothing item which looked ‘nearly’ right – often to be found in second-hand shops.

She’d take it home – add buttons, re-shape it, and turn it into this really beautiful, one-off piece that looked perfect for her!

I was reminded of this when reading this article in the Guardian about the end of cheap throw-away fashion.

“Even those who formerly and gleefully proclaimed Primark the new Prada are now suggesting that fast fashion has rather had its day. Apparently it is all about ‘investment dressing’ – buying one piece and loving it for a long time – now as fashionistas tighten their tiny little belts.”

(Sarah’s creativity extended to the make-shift Christmas tree in the background here!)

This photo, taken by Katya Evdokimova, won the category of ‘Changing Climates’, called After The Floods.

More than 55,000 properties were flooded in England in the summer of 2007 and £3bn worth of assets damaged. More rainfall is expected in the future as a result of human-induced global warming, deforestation and over development.

Over 70 images from the competition will be on show in London from September 17th.

Wrong Problem

August 27, 2008

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, recently addressed the government’s plans for new coal and nuclear power plants.

“The government has spooked everyone into thinking that we need nuclear by saying: ‘There’s going to be a terrible energy gap. The lights are going to go out in the middle of the next decade.’

There’s actually no evidence that that is the case at all. They have raised the wrong problem in order to push the wrong solution.

The real problem is that our energy mix is not green enough and that we are overdependent – as many people now realise because of the crisis in Georgia – on oil and gas from parts of the world that aren’t very reliable.

I think it is a question of political will. If we have been able to put a man on the moon, been able to create the welfare state, we could revolutionise the way in which we produce energy.”