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Amnesty and the Climate Crisis

‘For nearly six decades Amnesty International members around the world have been holding governments to account for their violations of basic human rights. What began in 1961 as a campaign to free Prisoners of Conscience is now a global movement that works to protect people from a broad range of human rights abuses in order to create a safer, more just world for us all. A key priority now is to hold governments to account for their inaction over the climate emergency. The need to put people and their human rights at the centre of the climate debate is increasingly urgent. Whether it is floods, drought, rising sea levels or burning rainforest, the climate crisis threatens rights across the board: the right to food and water, health, housing and homes, livelihoods, culture and development and, of course, the right to life itself. It impacts upon each and every one of[…]

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Building Resilience in Low-Income Communities

By Ellie Stevens of The Centre for Sustainable Energy. ‘What happens to low-income households whose energy bills suddenly increase – for example because prices rise dramatically or they experience a change in circumstances such as an elderly relative living at home. And how can such households and their neighbourhoods be supported to become more ‘energy resilient’? These are questions we at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) are exploring through Powering Up!, a 3-year project funded by the Friends Provident Foundation. We’re working in three low-income communities – Druffyn in Newport, Penhill in Swindon and Hamp in Bridgwater. The project started with a six-month ethnographic study undertaken by Bradon Smith in partnership with Bath University, which involved in-depth interviews and a workshop with three residents in each community. So what did we learn during the research? Firstly, that energy reduction is not a priority for most people we spoke to[…]

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Greener UK and Brexit

“The risk to the environment of the latest Brexit deal is high”, according to Greener UK, a coalition of NGOs including Friends of the Earth who are analysing the environmental consequences of Brexit deals and other government policies. See their webpage https://greeneruk.org/ and this 2-page briefing: https://greeneruk.org/…/Greener_UK_October_deal_briefing.pdf .

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Equality and the Environment – Swindon Equality Group

‘Equality matters in terms of health and happiness, but surprising new data reveals that it is also better for the environment – in the more equal rich countries, people on average consume less, produce less waste and emit less carbon.’– Danny Dorling: Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oxford. Author of books on equality such as ‘The Equality Effect’. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. Besides causing enormous suffering to people / communities / society (see the research published in ‘The Spirit Level’ book), the effects of inequalities on the environment are increasingly being realised. Check out this article, ‘The Rich, Poor and the Earth‘ by Danny Dorling, for an overview. Swindon Equality Group (SEG) are affiliated to the Equality Trust. They campaign locally to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing socio-economic inequality, of vital importance for[…]

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CHEESE at Penhill – Warm Homes project at the Community Cafe

Tuesday 26th February, 1-3pm at John Moulton Hall, Penhill Drive, Swindon SN2 5DU. The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) was at the Penhill community cafe to share the results of the CHEESE thermal image surveys taken from inside a couple of Penhill properties. The findings were discussed as well as ways to reduce fuel bills / conserve energy. Discussion was had as well about how to facilitate that for the local community. Draught-proofing is the most important and cost effective way to save energy in most houses – cold air leaking in through small cracks can replace the warm air in a room or house quite quickly. But finding where the cold air is coming in can be challenging. There is a lot more that can be done. Spreading information is a big part of the process of change. CHEESE (Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts) was started by someone I[…]

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Personal Actions In Context

This chart is a useful illustration to give a quantitative idea of the relative benefits of different personal life choices. Not everything is on there, and of course the relative importance of medium impact actions in an individual case depends on how much travel, energy and food consumed. However for an average household, most of the things that have the biggest effect on climate change and the attendant environmental degradation are represented. It is based on research at Lund University: for more detail see here: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html The main thing missing I think for a typical UK household is halving heat wasted in the home: but the ‘buying green energy’ bar gives an idea of the relative importance. It’s also important to note that ‘buying green energy’ means buying it from a supplier who only invests in green energy, not just using a ‘green tariff’ – see their full report for[…]

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Swindon Council Climate Change Motion – Thursday 24 January 2019

Come to Council to watch our local government debate Swindon’s first Climate Change Motion. On Thursday 24 January 7pm, a motion is being debated by Swindon council at it’s full council meeting. If you feel this is important, it would be very worthwhile to discuss it with your councillors and come to the meeting to observe the debate from the gallery. The details of the meeting and the currently proposed motion are here: https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=284&MId=9503&Ver=4 Many councils around the world and in the UK are starting to realise the urgency of action to mitigate climate change and the attendant environmental destruction. Bristol for example has recently passed a ‘zero carbon 2030’ motion, and London has followed suit: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/14/bristol-plans-to-become-carbon-neutral-by-2030 https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/assembly/call-on-mayor-to-declare-climate-emergency# Swindon could be in the vanguard of the transition to a zero-carbon economy, delivering economic benefits to Swindon in terms of new jobs and market opportunities. The motion as currently proposed by[…]

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Swindon Climate Cafe – Wildlife and Climate Change

Our fifth Climate Cafe featured a talk and Q&A on Wildlife and Climate Change by Simon Smith, who spoke about how wildlife adapts to climate change, and what can we do to help? Simon answered these questions with a focus on our local wildlife. Having worked and volunteered in environmental conservation for over 30 years, Simon is passionate about our local wildlife and how science can be applied to prevent extinctions. This was another free event put on by SCAN, and hosted by our friends at Darkroom Espresso. Photograph – Adonis Blue, one of the species benefiting from climate change (taken by Simon)

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Free Film Showing – ‘In Our Hands’

The seeds of a better food system. In Our Hands explores a quiet revolution that is transforming the way our food is produced and distributed. Our current industrial food system is a vast and wheezing giant that is only upheld by a stilted subsidy regime that pays out to landowners and leaves many farmers by the wayside. But from the hedge-rows and by-roads, the fields and furrows can now be heard the stirring of change! Stories from the global South have inspired farmers and food workers in our snug little island, with the idea of food sovereignty and a global movement to take back control of the food system. From the grazier reviving the art of pasture, to the grower erecting a poly-tunnel in the heart of East London or the farmer saving a handful of ancient grain, a new agricultural landscape is emerging. Here rural traditions meet modern innovations[…]

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