Friday, June 21, 2019

Zero in 2050

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ZERO in 2050
We're on our way to zero in 2050 but maybe via 1984. Hello and welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 21 June.
I'm Anthony Day with your weekly helping of sustainability news. This is the week when Extinction Rebellion promised to blockade Heathrow airport but didn't, the week when Heathrow airport opened consultation on its plans for a new third runway, when outgoing prime minister Theresa May pledged to reduce the U.K.'s carbon emissions by not 80%, but by a full 100% by 2050. She's obviously leaving that for somebody else to achieve and we’ll examine how feasible that really is.
Is there more to life than GDP and growth? And how should we talk about all these sustainability issues? And 1984? Have you read it? This year is the 70th anniversary of its publication. It's the story of a totalitarian surveillance society. That certainly didn't happen in 1984, but you can make up your own mind about what's happening now.
First of all, a big hello and welcome to all of you across the world listening to the Sustainable Futures Report podcast. If it's your first, fifth or 50th time you're very welcome. And a special thank-you to my patrons who each contribute a small amount each month which helps to cover the costs of hosting and preparing this podcast. Find out more about that at All opinions are my own, the illustrations on the blog generally come from Pixabay, but otherwise I'll purchase from Shutterstock or similar. The music is licensed as well. I rely on a wide range of newspapers, TV and radio programmes and websites for content  and I credit my sources wherever possible. You'll find all the links on the blog, which contains the full text of each episode and it's at
Extinction Rebellion announced plans to blockade Heathrow Airport on 18th June in protest at the proposed third runway, but admitted the day before that it would not do so, nor would it disrupt the airport in July. Extinction Rebellion supporters have been prepared to be arrested at previous demonstrations, but maybe it was the threat of penalties including life imprisonment that led them to back down. Or perhaps it was a publicity stunt and they intended to back down all along.
Net Zero
As Theresa May leaves office she has announced that the UK will reduce its GHG emissions by 2050 as I said, not by 80% but by a full 100%. Zero net emissions by 2050. Is this a response to Extinction Rebellion’s Easter demands for the government to tell the truth, admit that there’s a climate crisis and announce plans to deal with it? Or perhaps Mrs May intended to do this all along.
What has she actually done? Last month Parliament debated the issue and came to a conclusion - without a vote - that there was indeed a climate crisis. This is now a matter of record, but the debate has no executive consequences and did not bind the government or instruct it do to anything at all. Mrs May says we will end the UK contribution to climate change by 2050 and claims that the legislation puts the UK on the path to become the first major economy to set net zero emissions target in law. What she has done is to amend the 2008 Climate Change Act to say that the UK’s net emissions will be reduced by 100% of 1990 levels, instead of the previous 80%, taking into account technological advances since the Act was first passed. Interestingly, the explanatory note to the amendment states “A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument.” 
Youth Steering Group
At the same time the prime minister announced the creation of the Youth Steering Group. The Group, set up by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and led by the British Youth Council, will advise Government on priorities for environmental action and give a view on progress to date against existing commitments on climate, waste and recycling, and biodiversity loss. They will start their review in July.
The main advice on how to achieve the 2050 target comes from the recent report of the Committee on Climate Change. As reported last month, the Committee set out the following steps: 
  • Quadrupling the supply of low-carbon electricity by 2050,
  • Improving the efficiency of the whole of the UK’s building stock and introducing low-carbon heating 
  • Introducing electric vehicles, which should be the only option from 2035 or earlier, (the present target for the UK government is 2040, although many other countries have chosen earlier dates.)
  • Developing carbon capture and storage technology and low-carbon hydrogen.  The committee says these are a necessity not an option, but such development has not so far been successful on a commercial scale,
  • Stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, 
  • Phasing-out potent fluorinated gases, (presumably used in refrigerators and air conditioning) 
  • Increasing tree planting
  • Introducing measures to reduce emissions on farms. 

The committee also said that these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.
Emissions Rising
This comes at a time when BP’s latest Statistical Review of World Energy reveals that carbon emissions from the global energy industry rose last year at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels.
Investors on the March
Also this week, 88 investors with nearly US$10 trillion assets are targeting companies that are not transparent enough about their environmental impact, and pushing them to disclose this information through CDP, the non-profit global environmental disclosure platform.
The investors are targeting 707 companies with US$15.3 trillion market capitalisation across 46 counties for not reporting their climate change, water security and deforestation data.
This includes Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Amazon, Volvo, Alibaba, Qantas Airways as well as palm oil company Genting Plantations Bhd.
These companies have been selected because of their high environmental impact and lack of transparency on these issues to date. 
546 companies are being targeted to disclose on climate change, 166 on water security and 115 on deforestation.
Counting the Cost
But according to The Independent, Chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused of trying to block Mrs May’s landmark bid to wipe out UK contributions to global warming by 2050, by claiming the bill will be more than £1 trillion.
Campaigners and opposition politicians protested that the chancellor’s warning – revealed in a leaked letter – ignored the massive cost of failing to act on runaway climate change. Nevertheless, as of this week Hammond was still reported as contemplating resignation, in protest at the cost of this and other projects which the prime minister has announced. He was strongly critical of measures which he believed would tie the hands of the next prime minister.
Financing the Debate
Open Democracy reports that two of the candidates hoping to be the next prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have both received campaign contributions from Tory donor and climate change denier Terence Mordaunt. Mordaunt is a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the advocacy arm of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation. The group has been accused of “giving a platform to fringe climate science deniers” and getting “credibility within the political world through its high-profile Westminster connections.” Boris Johnson has himself described concerns about climate change as a “primitive fear” that is “without foundation”, although he has since said that Extinction Rebellion were “right to sound the alarm about all manner of man-made pollution, including CO2”. But he suggested they should criticise China rather than the UK.
Ultimate Price of the Truth
A worrying report from the Guardian reveals that journalists investigating environmental crimes are considered to be as much at risk as they would be in a war zone. An increasing number of journalists are being murdered, with many more threatened and intimidated. Some people will go to extreme lengths to hold on to what everyone should share. Others find that the law will do their work for them.
Leave it to the Lawyers
In another article Open Democracy claims that legal action will prevent any prime minister from achieving Theresa May’s targets. The Conservative Party continues to support Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), mechanisms in trade agreements which are used by investors to sue government for changes in policy which harms their profits. The UK has ISDS agreements with 106 countries around the world, and is likely to sign more such agreements after Brexit. ISDS has been used by dozens of multinational companies, many of them headquartered in Britain, to challenge environmental legislation. 
In 2009, Swedish energy firm Vattenfall sued Germany for introducing policies designed to curb water pollution and carbon emissions - both of which, unsurprisingly, affected the profitability of their coal power station. The case resulted in a settlement where the local authority repealed the environmental legislation despite the fact that this led to Germany being found in breach of the EU habitats directive.
More recently, in 2012, US energy firm Lone Pine sued Canada over a ban on fracking in Quebec, under Canada’s free trade agreement with the US (NAFTA, since replaced by USMCA). The case went ahead despite local opposition to fracking, and evidence of the risks of fracking to the environment and human health. Although the outcome of the case is still pending, the precedent is likely to discourage other local and national authorities from regulating fracking. And it will make it very difficult for the UK to achieve its 2050 target. 
Heavy Breathing
Too many people seem to follow the Chancellor and to prize short-term convenience or economic growth over long-term risk. For example, Madrid’s new rightwing council has just suspended low-emissions zones. There are delays reported to introducing such zones in Birmingham and Leeds and there’s a petition calling for the new ULEZ in London to be scrapped, despite the capital’s appalling air quality.
Meanwhile, XR says 2050 is far too late and we need to aim for 100% reduction by 2025. Norway and Finland are committed to 100% reductions by 2030 and 2035 respectively, so the UK is not quite the leader that Mrs May would like to suggest.
Measuring Happiness
Philip Hammond is concerned that going for a low carbon future will damage the economy, but should GDP and economic growth be our targets? They don’t think so in New Zealand where the Treasury has just published its first wellbeing budget. 
Introducing the document, Prime Minister JACINDA ARDERN says,
“… while economic growth is important – and something we will continue to pursue – it alone does not guarantee improvements to our living standards.
“Nor does it measure the quality of economic activity or take into account who benefits and who is left out or left behind.
“Growth alone does not lead to a great country. So it’s time to focus on those things that do.
“Our five Wellbeing Budget priorities show how we have broadened our definition of success for our country to one that incorporates not just the health of our finances, but also of our natural resources, people and communities.”
Those priorities include: 
  • supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders.
  • reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing
  • lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, 
  • supporting a thriving nation in the digital age
• creating opportunities to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy.
Hash Total
She’s quite right that GDP does not take into account the quality of economic activity. Floods, fires and droughts can all cause immense damage to an economy with enormous costs to repair and put things right. All those costs are added to GDP, and increased GDP in such circumstances is certainly no indication of a better quality of life. As we do things differently to protect ourselves from the climate crisis we should look much more at wellbeing than cold hard cash.
Mind your Language
Is it what you say or how you say it? (And let’s not get into the Milgram controversy here again.) [actually that should be the Mehrabian controversy]
A leaked document on the EU’s priorities has been criticised as offering little more than “a collection of buzzwords” to tackle the climate crisis and accelerating the destruction of the natural world.
“European leaders are feeling the pressure to talk big on climate, but their strategic agenda is more of a collection of buzzwords than an emergency response to humanity’s greatest threat,” Greenpeace’s EU director, Jorgo Riss, said. “This list of contradictory proposals suggests European leaders will prioritise economic growth in much the same way as before, driving social inequalities and fuelling the climate and ecological crisis even further.”
Style Guide
There is no doubt that the words we use are important.
In common with other newspapers and magazines, The Guardian has a style guide and has just announced some revisions. For example:
  • Use climate emergency, crisis or breakdown instead of climate change
  • Use global heating instead of global warming
  • Use wildlife instead of biodiversity 
  • Use fish populations instead of fish stocks
  • Use climate science denier or climate denier instead of climate sceptic
Readers took issue with some suggestions: “Wildlife” is insufficient to describe “biodiversity” - “Carbon emissions” should be “carbon dioxide emissions” - Consider “climate instability” instead of “climate heating” and talk not of heating, but of overheating.
The point of these changes was to stress the urgency of the issues. The author of the style guide responded that these were indeed guidelines and if the previous terms appeared to be more relevant to the context there was no reason why they should not still be used.
Hold your tongue!
Contrast this with news from United States.
CNN reports that according to the Washington Post, policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told by others in the Trump administration that the use of seven specific words and phrases would be prohibited. On the list are the words "vulnerable," "diversity," "entitlement," "transgender," "foetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based." The decision has not only been deemed as reckless and dangerous, but an offence to the scientific community. 
It reminds me of 1984, the novel by George Orwell published 70 years ago. You should read it. I read it at school long before 1984 and waited to see whether it would actually come true. It's the story of a totalitarian surveillance society and no, that didn't happen in 1984 but some aspects of the story seem scarily familiar, particularly what’s going on in China. In the novel the government also changes the way that people communicate by insisting on the use of a modified and simplified language called Newspeak. Newspeak was to be be spoken in staccato rhythm, using short-syllable words that are easy to pronounce, which generates speech that is physically automatic and intellectually unconscious, thereby diminishing the possibility of critical thought occurring to the speaker. There are no irregular verbs, so in Newspeak he runned, not he ran. There are no opposites, just ungood, unwarm, unyoung and so on. Eliminating words with shades of meaning debases communication. What could the Trump administration be thinking of?

And in Other News..
Scottish Power is reinforcing its green credentials by installing battery storage. The company will connect an industrial-scale battery, the size of half a football pitch, to the Whitelee onshore windfarm early next year to capture more power from its 215 turbines. They claim that the 50MWh unit marks a big step towards continuous renewable power for UK.
While Scottish Power is optimising its renewables and Norway is dropping fossil fuel investments from its sovereign wealth fund, coal is still in demand - increasing demand - for generating electricity. Witness the new coal mine operated by an Indian company in Queensland, Australia. The British government has also give approval for the opening of a deep coal mine near Whitehaven in Cumbria. That coal may not be for electricity, rather for metallurgical use, but once burnt for whatever purpose, coal leaves emissions.
Extreme Weather
I was talking to audiences earlier this month about extreme weather and how a month’s rain in an afternoon was becoming increasingly common. Last week parts of Lincolnshire received two months’ rain in two days and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes. As I write this the Met Office has issued a yellow warning of further rain, hail and thunderstorms in the area. Climate change? It’s just weather, isn’t it Mr Trump?
They’ve got some in France, too. France declared a state of natural disaster after rain and hail storms lashed a swathe of the south-east on Saturday 15th June, devastating crops.
The flash storms, which brought hailstones as big as pingpong balls to some areas, killed two people in France and Switzerland, and injured at least 10 others.
The worst-hit area, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region, is at the heart of France’s food production and known as the “orchard of France”.  The storms lasted for as little as 10 minutes, but still wiped out 80% - 100% of crops.
Getting Control
We need to stop this. The problem is that the climate crisis is like stopping an oil tanker. You can put an awful lot of energy into slowing it down, but you have to wait - and wait - before you actually see any effect. Meanwhile people are urging us to keep going because we haven’t hit anything yet. True, but when we do, the collision will be catastrophic.
And on that note…
And on that happy and uplifting note I leave you for another week. I'm Anthony Day and that was the Sustainable Futures Report. Thank you for listening and thank you for your support. I'm always keen to get your feedback either online or is sent to me directly via 
More to come
I've got a number of topics lined up for future episodes, at least in my mind. Next week’s episode will again be about plastic pollution - there’s so much more to report. I'll also look at direct air capture of carbon dioxide, about synthetic meat and about global heating, heat waves and ice melt. (And you can guess how the voice recognition software spelt that.)
Rare Earths
The topic for the following episode will be rare earths. I touched on them briefly last time: but I now know much more on their use, on their extraction and their recycling. I'll include an interview with Dr Alice Courvoisier on the subject. The week after that I hope to be able to look at the catastrophists;  people who believe in near-term human extinction and social breakdown. Why do they believe in this? What do they believe we should do?
Any hope?
People have asked me whether there is any hope and whether we are wasting time bothering about the future. My response is that if I didn’t believe in a future or at least in my ability to do something however small about it, I wouldn’t bother getting up in the morning.
I do. And so should you.
Let the future be what we make it, not what happens by default.
I’m Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.
I’ll be back next week.
I hope you will.

Environment reporters facing harassment and murder, study finds

Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

Climate Change deniers support Tory leadership contenders
New prime minister will be unable to fulfil May’s promises
Climate change: Should the UK's 2050 target be sooner?
Major global firms accused of concealing their environmental impact
Madrid’s new rightwing council suspends low-emissions zone

Scottish Power to build vast battery to improve wind energy supply

Is time to end our fixation with GDP and growth?
Minding our language
EU climate goals 'just a collection of buzzwords', say critics
The urgency of climate crisis needed robust new language to describe it

Newspeak - see Wikipedia

France to declare natural disaster after storms rip through crops
Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia

Friday, June 14, 2019

Cutting the Carbs

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Hello, this is Anthony Day with your Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 14th June. This week we're cutting the carbs. No, not carbohydrates, not carburettors, no we’re cutting carbon footprints. Yes, we will talk about food, in the context of food waste as I promised last time, and about food distribution and packaging. The supermarkets are stirring. (Although not much.) Also free speech and free thinking, what going green will cost the government (although the government’s denied it) and an update on an update about rare earth metals.
In Denial
First I’ve come across some worrying examples of climate change denial. Yes, I know, I’ve been promising for a while to research denial and let you know what I’ve found. I have been reading up on it quite extensively and it’s far more complex than I imagined. The ideal would be to provide a single-page guide to recognising a denier and how to talk them out of it. Not much chance of that, I’m afraid. There’s much more detail, but I know if I produce a comprehensive study you’ll never read it, and why should you - we’re all busy people. I’m aiming to produce something about the length of an episode of the Sustainable Futures Report. But remember what Blaise Pascal once said: “I have made this letter a rather long one, only because I didn't have the leisure to make it shorter.” Less is more, but sometimes less takes more time.
Tales out of School
Anyway, the first story comes from United States. Over there it is the custom for the top students of the class leaving high school to make a valedictory address. Schools across the nation have made it very clear that nothing can be said in these speeches about catastrophic climate change because it is a political issue. I think someone should tell the school authorities that stopping people from talking about it won't make it go away.
It’s only weather 
The second issue comes from a public meeting that I attended recently. A lady there told everyone that although 93% of scientific opinion supports the idea of the climate crisis, she believes in Piers Corbyn, who strongly disputes that climate change is man-made. “After all,” she said, “he is a trained meteorologist.” I expect there are many other trained meteorologists among the 93%, but if you don't want to believe in climate change just find the meteorologist that supports your view.
It’s still only weather
During his recent visit to United Kingdom President Trump had a 90 minute meeting with the Prince of Wales who explained to him in detail why climate was an acutely urgent issue. Nonetheless, the New York Times reports that the Trump administration is creating a new climate review panel which will question the National Climate Assessment, due to be updated for 2021 or 2022. The assessment will report on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and present a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels. Officials have made it clear that worst case scenarios will not be included.
News from Scotland
Just to keep you up to date with the urgency of the climate crisis, let me quote from a recent lecture by Francesca Osowska, chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, at Royal Society of Edinburgh.
“Let me paint you a picture of what we could have in Scotland if we don’t act by 2030.  Imagine an apocalypse – polluted waters; drained and eroding peatlands; coastal towns and villages deserted in the wake of rising sea level and coastal erosion; massive areas of forestry afflicted by disease; a dearth of people in rural areas; and no bird song.  All of this is possible, and there are parts of the world we can point to where inaction has given rise to one or more of these nightmare landscapes.”
The whole speech is worth reading and there’s a link on the blog. 
Cows and Sheep
We need to cut our carbon footprint. I was explaining to my audience last week about how cows and sheep produce that dangerous greenhouse gas methane, and how if we went vegetarian or at least reduced the amount of meat in our diets it would help to cut the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air. “Are you sure it will really reduce methane emissions?” asked a lady in the room, “I’ve been vegetarian since Christmas and it’s changed my digestion an awful lot.”
In Australia
They’re working on it Australia - emissions from livestock, that is. The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework reveals that, using 2005 as the baseline year, the industry has reduced emissions by 57% (for the most recent reporting period of 2016). This has been achieved largely through a focus on improving productivity and vegetation management practices, so the improvements have come from land management while the cattle continue to belch methane. Nevertheless, the industry has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030. The data shows that in Australia it now takes 12.6kg of carbon dioxide equivalents to produce a kilogram of beef pre-processing. In future changes to the diet of the cattle will contribute to methane reduction. They say, 
“Methane production in the rumen can be inhibited by bioactive additives. This is the most promising pathway to significantly reduce or eliminate methane emissions. Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is focused on working with existing research partners such as CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and James Cook University, as well as establishing new partnerships to further develop bioactive additives, such as Red Asparagopsis seaweed which has been shown to virtually eliminate methane emissions from livestock. However, key barriers to overcome include developing a consistent and affordable supply and a delivery mechanism for intensive and extensive animal feeding systems.” 
I’d heard about researchers in the Netherlands experimenting with seaweed. Seems as though it could make a dramatic change to the emissions from the beef industry. But will they be able to do the same for sheep, and how will it affect the economics of meat production?
At Home
Of course we can all do our bit at home to reduce our carbon footprint.  Writing in the Irish Times, Conor Pope says, 
“Irish people could handily reduce the amount of carbon we generate by about a third by being more mindful of what we are doing. The steps we can take might be small but by taking even some of them you will feel better about yourself and save a few bob into the bargain. What’s not to like about that?”
Here’s what he suggests:
  • Drive less
  • Drive greener - here he suggests an electric car, but as discussed previously they are not right for everyone yet. And I’ve no idea how widespread charging points are in Ireland.
  • Drive smarter, by keeping the tyre pressures correct, not running the engine to heat the car before you leave and taking the roof box off when you’re not using it.
  • Cycle more
  • Eat less meat - unless of course the livestock has been fed on seaweed
  • Shop better, and avoid wasting food 
  • Shop local, and avoid food miles
  • Be a better shopper. Don’t buy what you don’t want, don’t need or won’t last. Buy quality, and then reduce, re-use and recycle.
  • Insulate your home and cut your heating bills
…and he mentions several other things like drinking tap water, not bottled water, and of course flying less.
…and Abroad
The World Economic Forum joins the debate but takes a more philosophical approach with its “5 ways you can personally fight the climate crisis”. First, it says, you must join the discussion. “When you consider the climate crisis in your decision-making, others notice. Discussion begins, and the effect of your decision is multiplied. The reason that brands recruit influencers to wear their clothes, drive their cars and visit their hotels is because they know that people are more likely to follow the preferences of those they relate to or aspire to emulate.” 
Secondly, you must “Tap into your relationship capital.” By this they mean you might know someone of influence in your network. Persuade them to take action. “Get to know your local, regional, national and global policy landscape”, and presumably do something to reinforce it or change it as appropriate. “Amplify the voices of others”, like Greta Thunberg, when she urged adults to “wake up and act like the house is burning”. And finally, “Recognise the journey.” Support each other and make sure we’re all moving in the same direction.” Well, I said it was a bit more philosophical. 
Chile has just announced that it will go carbon neutral by 2050. That will be a remarkable achievement for a country which is heavily developed dependent on coal. Although Chile represents a mere 0.25% of global emissions, the country is one of the 10 most vulnerable nations to climate change.
Counting the Cost
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was reported by the Financial Times this week as saying that the UK net zero emissions target would ‘cost more than £1tn’. There would be no money left for schools and hospitals or the police. Shortly afterwards a message came from the government at 10 Downing Street that he didn’t say that at all. I know this is beginning to sound like a cliche, but there will be no jobs on a dead planet, and no schools, hospitals or police either. 
As you may be too well aware, the process of electing a new leader of the Conservative party, who will automatically become prime minister, is well under way at the moment. While it is not clear who will win, and on past performance the favourites never does, it is close to certain that Philip Hammond will not survive as Chancellor under the new regime.
Watching Waste Lines
Last month Ben Elliot, the Government's Food Surplus and Waste Champion, hosted a major symposium - ‘Step up to the Plate’ - at London’s V&A Museum. Major players from the worlds of food retail and hospitality, along with social media influencers and well-known chefs, joined forces to pledge ground-breaking action to reduce food waste. The event was organised by WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme. The launch video started with the staggering statistic that globally one third of all food that is produced is wasted, and the majority of that is wasted in the home. They say,
“Wasting food is an environmental, moral and financial scandal. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the USA and China. An estimated 800 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and in the UK we squander 10 million tonnes of food and drink every year.”
That’s about £500 per household, or £15bn and if you add in  the £5bn  wasted by business that makes an annual £20bn.
At the event, organisations were encouraged to “step up to the plate to stop the food waste crisis” by signing a pledge to adopt the following commitments:
  1. Set targets, measure results and take action. Food businesses will adopt the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.
  2. Organisation will embrace a Food Conversation week of action in November 2019 by spearheading activities and engagement with citizens, including the younger generation, to highlight the changes we can all make. 
Individuals can sign the pledge and commit to:
  1. Inspire continued action - by persuading other people.
  2. Change my habits  - “I will be a Food Value Champion at work and at home, buying only what I need and eating what I buy, wherever I am.”
These last two sound a bit like the WEF actions for cutting carbon. Let’s watch out for the Food Conversation week of action in November.
Super Food
The supermarkets have recently been in the firing line both because of food waste and because of packaging.
Sainsbury’s has not a had a good press recently and has been accused of doing far less than its competitors to reduce plastic and other packaging. The company has recently produced a report entitled The Future for Food which looks at what we will be eating in 2025, 2050 and 2169. They seem to have chosen the last date as the 300th anniversary of the founding of the firm. The report mentions packaging four times, but only in terms of packaging design. Recycling doesn’t appear at all. It does mention waste and suggests that waste could be eliminated altogether by 2169. Can we wait that long? There are some fascinating facts and intriguing prospects of the future in this report but I fear there are more immediate concerns which need urgent attention.
Unpacking packaging
The Guardian features “How one woman’s crusade against plastic sparked a new era at Waitrose” It’s the story of Catherine Conway who came up with the idea of selling foods and household products unpackaged, where people brought their own re-usable containers. Now Waitrose is trialling the idea in one of its supermarkets. The event which kicked the market into life was David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which suddenly made people realise that they needed to find ways to avoid single-use plastic. Let’s see what happens. Will it cost more, or less? Will consumers give the extra time needed to fill containers? Will they buy an extra container if they rush in and find they’ve left theirs at home?
This is not a unique idea. A corner shop near me called the Bishy Weigh (don’t ask) has opened recently to do just this. All power to them!
More Tips
And The Guardian added some tips at the end of its article (it’s all tips this week, isn’t it?)
Clean up
Swap your soap dispenser and shampoo and conditioner bottles for bars.
Water supply
Carry a refillable water bottle with you. Download the app from  to find places near your location which will allow you to refill your bottle.
Freeze out the bags
Buy biodegradable clear bags instead of plastic freezer bags.
Cut the clingfilm
Instead of clingfilm, use greaseproof paper or if you need something that will grip to bowls and plates opt for a reusable beeswax wrap.
A lot of bottle
Get your milk delivered in glass bottles which can be returned and reused. Use  to find your closest deliverer.

I’ve mentioned a company called a number of times. They sell detergents, handwash, washing up liquid and so on as concentrates, delivered by post. You just mix it with water in your re-usable bottle. You can send the empty concentrate containers back to them for recycling by freepost. I just don’t know why they’re not cleaning up. I did ask them for an interview a few months ago but they said the time was not right. Maybe I should contact them again. Meanwhile we’ve been using their products at home for at least the last five years. In the same bottle.

And finally,
Catch the BBC’s War on Plastic on iPlayer with further episodes to come on Mondays. I told you last time about the dumps in Malaysia. In these programmes Hugh and Anita show you the pictures, and they tell you a lot more eye-opening statistics. More to come.
I also spoke last time about electronic waste and rare earth metals. On the day of publication I went to a lecture on that topic as part of the York Festival of Ideas. I learnt an awful lot more and I'm meeting with the presenter for an interview shortly, which I'll share with you.
I was on Radio Sangam for two hours on Sunday. Thanks to those of you who came up with ideas for the playlist which we used. I’ve been promised a link to the recording, so you can listen and see what you think.
That's it for this week. I'm Anthony Day and that was the Sustainable Futures Report. I've been talking about climate change and the environment and pollution and raising related issues for 10 years and more and it's been quite a difficult task to find audiences that want to listen. All of a sudden that's changed so I hope that I can continue bringing you this podcast as well as talking to live audiences across the country. If you have an audience or group or an organisation that would like some awareness-raising on the broad panorama of sustainability, from climate change to pollution, do get in touch. Contact me at 
Well, as I always say, there will be another episode next week. There are just so many things going on and so many people I want to talk to and interview about climate change, climate catastrophe and how we go forward. If you have any ideas on things which you think I should follow up I'm always ready to hear them, but I'm afraid it may take me a while to be able to act on them.
Oh, and if you’d like to continue to support the Sustainable Futures Report why not become a patron from as little as $1 per month? You’ll find details at Thank you to all my existing patrons, and thank you too for listening.
End of another episode.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report .
I'm Anthony Day
Till next time. 


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