Friday, October 27, 2017

Time for T in London?

Hello this is Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 27th November.
In London it could be time for T, or you could be better off on a bike. Yvonne Teo tells us about her sustainable adventures on a bike. Have you checked your carbon footprint? Best foot forward!
Guilty as Charged?
Transport for London has announced a supplement to the congestion charge - the T-Charge. They say, “Older vehicles driving in central London now need to meet minimum Euro emission standards or pay an extra daily charge. This is in addition to the Congestion Charge. The T-Charge (officially known as the Emissions Surcharge) operates in the Congestion Charge zone and is part of our commitment to help clean up London's dangerously polluted air.”
It’s official then, London’s air is dangerously polluted. The T-charge is £10 per day in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge. My car is 12 years old (last Wednesday) so I checked whether I was liable to pay. No, I have to pay the congestion charge, but not the T-charge. So that’s me feeling smug because I drive a Toyota Prius Hybrid. But then I never drive it in London.
Ultra Low Emission Vehicles and electric vehicles get a 100% discount from both charges. Everyone else driving a private car has to pay.
Tread Gently!
I mentioned my carbon footprint the other day and told you it was 11.7 tonnes, not far off the average for industrialised nations but way ahead of the 7.1tonnes for the UK. How do I measure up?
The biggest element was flights. I took into account a trip to Australia, which adds up to 2.7 tonnes and brings me down to 9 tonnes straight away. I know - but we have family out there, and I do try to cut down elsewhere. At least I thought I did. The next highest item is 10,000 miles in the car at 2 tonnes - and this was calculated on my specific low-emissions hybrid. It surprised me and reinforces the point of Karl Coplan, Kim Nicholas and Seth Wynes that getting rid of the car is one of the most effective ways of reducing your carbon footprint. That would bring me back to 7 tonnes. Next highest is 1.8 tonnes calculated on how much money we spend on food. Not sure what the actual algorithm behind that is. Then comes energy used in the home at 1.2 tonnes. I based this on a guess, so there could be an improvement here. We have solar panels, so the amount of electricity from the grid that we use should be lower than average. Shouldn’t we get a credit for the amount we feed back?
Next is 0.9 of a tonne calculated on the amount of money I spend on the car, excluding fuel costs. I put in the cost of maintenance and repairs, but should I also put in the cost of buying the car - for example purchase price less current value divided by age of the car? I paid for the car in full on purchase, but many people just take out a personal lease, so the formula behind this calculation must be more accurate in some cases than in others. 
The other 3 tonnes are calculated on the basis of what I spend on clothes, papers and books, TV, phone and computers, hotels, restaurants and pubs, insurance and recreation, culture and sport. I’d really like to know more about what’s behind all that. 
What’s your carbon footprint?

On your Bike!
The cleanest journey is of course by bike. If you don’t count the carbon footprint of manufacturing the bike.
Earlier this year I met Yvonne Teo who explained to me how she was promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, how she was supporting the Marawi people in the Philippines and how she's been talking to young people and people in schools about their futures. She’s also been talking to people in the House of Commons, riding a bike from London to Edinburgh and she was scheduled to represent the UK at a recent conference in Poland. 
Here’s what she told me:

When you talk about BIKE, it makes me to think about something that is with two wheels which is called bicycle. And then the second is; ''Be Inspired, Keep Empowering'', which is something that I want to do in my life, so I want to inspire more people and I want to be empowering more young people especially to know about sustainable development goals and also to find their passion in their lives. So basically I'd like to introduce about project BIKE, which is; it is a project to raise funds for the Marawi community from the Philippines that erupted by the military and the local terrorist group on the 23rd of May. And then, this plan is to have the leader, which is me, to cycle from London to Edinburgh and also deliver 50 speeches in a year and also to help 20 children with education specifically and also to raise fund for the Marawi as well. 
Hi, my name is Yvonne; 
so I'm 22 and Malaysian. I have mild ADHD which I'm very proud of and I’m the regional director for ASEAN Youths Leaders Association. So, as you can see from this picture, the young kids are very, very happy and of course this place is rich in beautiful landscapes and nature. Wow, they have a very beautiful city that's called Philippines, which is where my heart belongs to. Philippines is a place where I'd say I start from zero to become a hero. Why am I saying zero, because I was a student with nothing and I wasn’t sure or I was really unsure about my life or what I want to be and also about discovering so called career. I’m not sure whether it's a career, but I’d say that's a passion in my life.
So, I was really lucky, I got into Asian Development Bank, which is one of the very big organisation delivering a project with my team called project Neverland and we're pretty lucky to get into the second place and then also this is some of the photos that I was interviewing one of the cleaner for some of the projects. And of course I was really lucky to be in some villages and I met the lady which is the one who carried me and she's really, really lovely. I was actually trying to cross the river by myself, but she insist and she’s actually the secretary from the village as well. And of course, because of Philippines that gave me just one simple chance and of course that conference was actually sponsored by my vice-Chancellor which is Dr. Paul Chan. He actually sponsored me to be in the Philippines, to be in that conference and I'm very grateful till now that changed my life completely. And of course I was granted by UNICEF for being the most initiative delegate in one of the conference which is called ''ASEAN Youth Initiative Conference'', if I'm not mistaken this last year and of course I was also really lucky to meet people like Dr. Amin and Tony Fernandez; the CEO of A-Asia and I also got the chance to be in the House of Commons to meet different kind of people, like-minded people to talk about sustainable development goal and also women empowerment.
And this is one of the recent photos when I was in Japan last May and as a representative of AILA partnership with Plan International and this lady is from Plan International UK, she's the CEO of it and also from one of the CEOs from Plan International Japan. And I also facilitated several sessions in the United Nations Bangkok with one of the conferences named Asia Pacific Youth Exchange. I've also being to India for some conferences as I was also on the news in China and I was also on like some other news and also in Indonesia and other places as well. So this is the map that showed that I’ve been to several countries in a year time to spread and to talk about sustainable development goal, because that's really an important thing that we and everyone should know especially young people.
The Maravi People
 On 23rd of May which was the day after Manchester attack which was really a sad tragedy, that day and I saw this and this. All of these were in the Philippines and it happens in the beautiful land that I care about. At that moment, I have two friends of mine who live in that community called Maravi, he told me that the situation in Maravi is really, really bad, but nobody is concerned about it. Maybe there are some, but I'd say it's not much as compared with the Manchester attack. So, what breaks my heart was, everyone is concerned about just one, but they also forgot about some other places like Iran also having the same situation on the same day. So, I wanted to tell people that we should also spread love, not only because you are same nation or you're just from one particular country. But we should also spread love throughout the world, so that’s why being a Malaysian who lives in the UK, but I still care about what’s happening around me which is the Philippines and of course in Iran too. So I had a thought; honestly I must exert myself in order to return as much as I've received. I honour and I know how much I received from the Philippines and I know that I have to return some day, so I told myself, why not now?
Cycling for Beginners
Being a Malaysian in the UK, in the Philippines, I told myself; let's do something and I was thinking what things that I should do; why not carry out a charity campaign. There goes the bike and I was like, yeah, cycle around the UK. It may sound fun because for me, a person who has no idea about cycling and I have zero, not really zero, but maybe 10% or 20% of experience with cycling because I don’t like to cycle as I had a bad memory as when I was cycling, I fell off from a bike and all. So, I told myself, okay let’s challenge this maybe in the daytime, I expect myself to just pedal 18-20 miles because I have no idea on adjusting the gears and I can't really balance on well and all. With 60 litres gear at the back of my bicycle, that was really heavy, but actually on the first day I did 50 miles, which I never expect that. And normally, I can do 38 miles, but minimum average is like 28 miles, so the longest could be 52 miles. 
The SDGs
Besides cycling, I've being SDG activists, I also concern about sustainable development goals and I slowly realise that SDG are not well known across the UK. And also being an SDG activists, I shouldn't only care about what’s happening or what I've carried before and also that I have to utilise what I have at the moment which is in the UK and doing something similar that I did, which is talk to the young kids or talk to anyone who cares about our future, everyone cares. So, I decided to talk about SDG; well it was really tough because going to the schools and to give speeches is not an easy procedure. So, how many calls do I make in a day? 20, 30, 50 and I got more than hundred rejections. It was really depressing at the beginning, but slowly when the teachers started to revert back to me saying that it would be really nice and I started to build up and especially when I successfully delivered a speech from the face of the kids and I realised that I’m doing something right. So, how about the funding? All the funding that we have collected is not to me, they are doing all on my basis. So, all the donations are through online and all these funding and the website was actually carried out by the US government of Alumni Association from Denver and AFS, which is ''international cultural programs also from the States. ASEAN Youth Leaders Association, part of my organization from Denver, YSALI; ''Young Service Asia Leadership Initiative'' and also Rotary club in the Denver.
So what's the outcome of this? 
So cycling, I cycled in different kind of routes, it would be motorway; A1 crazy main road and also like farm, field and there was one time I got into the field from Ripon all the way to Durham and it was 60% slope and I had no idea what’s happening down there. So, at the moment, after I pass through this way, what came into my mind was; do it or die. I have no choice, I have to do it or else I'll just die in the middle of the field, nobody except horses. When I got down, there were two horses waiting for me, chasing me. It was really fun trying to pedal and also lots of sheep, it's alright. I also cycled under the rain, I conquered one of the fear with myself that I hate cycling under the rain because I fell off when it was raining, so that’s why I stopped cycling. And of course I also passed through like parks and I met different kinds of people, like this is from Bedlington and it was really lovely to meet them too.
Back to School
Delivering speeches in the school, it was really, really, really the happiest moments in my life for all the speeches because you cannot imagine how smart, how lovely these young people are and they really care about the future, so I know I have a big mission that I have to deliver this message to them - and of course to spread love.
New Friends
This is James and Aileen, on the first day when I met them in Cambridge I was very depressing, because from cycling London to Cambridge and I stopped in Saffron Walden and I was really expleted and that’s why I sat in my tent in Saffron Walden which is 10 miles away from Cambridge. And it was 10 PM and I sighted these cars that passed my tent and they stopped. They did nothing and I was waiting in my tent and it was actually not really a spot that everyone can spot me, it was just like under a tree. So I was there, I just stayed in my tent and I was like oh shit, what's happening. Because it’s like the first camping experience that I had in my life, I never camped in my life, so that was my first, first, first time and my parents were actually really mad about it because they didn't expect their kid to be 10 PM out and camping in some other places. And then there was somebody at the time of 12 AM threw the water bottle and also the traffic cone to my tent when I was asleep and I was totally freaked out. It was really sad and it really shocked me and luckily my friends gave me a ring that time, so my phone rang and that's like the voice. So they thought it was the alarm and they just ran off and I heard them laughing and then I was really sad, but I tried to peek what was happening and I realised that it's all clear. I quickly packed everything and it was dark and dim and I just pedalled all the way to Cambridge. That was my first day, it was horrible. And I met them, they were really, really nice and they looked after me.
This is also the lady that I met on the first day as she gave me a place to clean myself up and of course I also met different kind of people in the camp site. This is the boss of the camp site in Fiskerton, his name is called Lass and he’s really nice that he also tried to look after me; he talks to my so-called English parents. I also met English parents throughout the journey and of course I also met really nice people because I was cycling all the way through the muddy areas, the muddy roads and it was like full of muds and it was really completely dirty. I met him because my tyre punctured, I met him in Cramlington and he and his family cleaned my bike up which is really, really nice.
The Right Road
Basically it's more like what’s happening throughout this bike ride and a deep reflection of this campaign is I know I’m doing something right and I’m not wasting my time first of all.
And second, the world is still beautiful because I remember at the very beginning when I was carrying out this charity bike ride, everybody told me that Yvonne, stop this, don't do it, the world is really dangerous and then slowly I still keep the faith in myself and I told them I'm still going to do this, I'm going to carry out this one and I continued cycling and cycling and I’m not listening to anybody, but listening to the voice of myself. So, the lesson that I learned is listen to your voice, just continue doing it and then I made it.
And then the third thing is, invest in young children. The young kids, the young teenagers they are the future because they are the ones who decides what’s going to happen in the future and I really believe that that’s the most important thing at all. And of course, we have to focus on sustainable development goal, that’s the most, most important thing. Climate change is real, education is strongly needed, every single one, if that’s a possibility. The health conscious: everything has to be constant. Thank you very much.

That was Yvonne Teo. Happy Cycling, Yvonne! - and thank you for talking to us.
You can find out more about Project Bike at and Yvonne is on Facebook.

I'm Anthony Day and this has been a special edition of the Sustainable Futures Report. There is a new episode of the report every week on Friday, so if you're reading the blog go to to find the podcast or if you're listening to the podcast go to to find the text. There is an archive of well over 200 editions so please feel free to browse.
For the moment this is Anthony Day and I'll have a fresh new episode for you next Friday.
Thanks again to Yvonne and bye for now.

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