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Accelerating local climate action in the UK

Posted by Ric

OPPORTUNITY
Carbon Copy focuses on the power of local action and the potential of local areas to become a focus of climate policy. Because while climate change impacts the entire world, the specific challenges it creates – from flooding to biodiversity loss – manifest locally. Because those activities that drive the problem that create the emissions and destroy our ecosystems – for example, from poor policy decisions or corporate strategy – happen locally. And because most of what will constitute large scale change, at least in the near term, is the spread of ambitious local initiatives.

Our intended audience are not those environmentally driven individuals leading the charge; instead, it is the ‘early majority’ of the population who are on the cusp of making changes, as long as it makes social sense and appeals to their innate sense of fairness. According to Johan Rockstrom (renowned researcher in environmental science), we have a unique opportunity right now to target this receptive early majority of the population, as the most effective way to tip the scales towards dramatically changing our social norms.

AIM
Our aim is to hook up civic society with climate action and empower more people locally to embrace and help lead this fundamental change in how we live together.

RESEARCH OUTPUT
To date, people all over the UK have shared their climate action stories with us and we have published around 1000 initiatives on Carbon Copy. This is a unique collection of first-hand experiences that offer insights on how to bring people together locally in the name of climate action.

Using this original repository, referencing other published research reports and conducting interviews, we would like your help to research and understand the attitudes and preoccupations of the segment of population that could be persuaded to join in these kinds of local initiatives. Who are they, what are their motivations, what messaging would engage them, what kinds of community-led action would influence them? Who among them would have the biggest impact if they joined in?

The output of your research would help us answer these questions.

RESEARCH OUTCOME
Based on this understanding, we will adjust our current communication tactics and messaging to reach this audience more effectively. The 1000 climate action stories and people behind them will not simply inspire others, but lead to similar collective local action elsewhere as they copy what’s working.

Please note the start and completion dates for this research are flexible and we are open to suggestions.

Youth Climate Conference

Posted by Natasha

The Green Summit 2022 is a global youth conference to be held at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, on 13-16 December 2022, hosted by Humanitarian Affairs Asia in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand.

By attending the Green Summit, you will realise the important role that you play by taking responsibility for your own future. You will have the opportunity to network and exchange views with likeminded young leaders. You will acquire the knowledge, skills and contacts to take climate action in your own community to inspire and lead change at home.

Over four intensive days, delegates will listen to keynote speakers in the field of sustainable development, participate in green workshops, and engage in sustainable volunteering activities around Thailand, from tree-planting to ocean conservationism projects.

Delegates will leave as Humanitarian Affairs Green Ambassadors, joining an engaged and empowered community of future leaders in
the fight against climate change.

Download our Delegate Guide here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/19BJM9V6aBarZRdZk8OsvemyTpQ_pLhdn/view?usp=sharing
Visit the Humanitarian Affairs Asia website: https://humanitarianaffairs.org/green-summit/overview/
Follow us on social media: @haagreensummit (Instagram) and 'The Green Summit 2022' (Facebook).

Remedies for urban drainage problems

Posted by Daisy

The Brighton & Hove Green Party is leading an issue-based campaign which seeks to raise awareness of the widespread practice of illegal and intentional sewage dumping.

The behaviour of Southern Water – the supplier for 4.2 million consumers in Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – marks it out as the worst polluter amongst competitors elsewhere in the country.

Southern Water has been dumping untreated sewage along our beaches. The company argues that this is due to a mismatch between their infrastructure and volumes received. When it rains, water drains into the Victorian sewers where it dilutes the sewage and reaches volumes above and beyond what their treatment facility can handle. If they did not dump the raw sewage the excess fluids would flood the system and we would have sewage coming up out of the sewers.

The Environment Agency has investigated and found evidence that Southern Water has deliberately chosen to dump untreated sewage as this is cheaper than updating their infrastructure. This resulted in the company being fined £90m in July 2021. A catalogue of harmful activity was unearthed in the most extensive investigation by the Environment Agency (EA) to date. (Southern Water dumped raw sewage into sea for years | Pollution | The Guardian).

The enquiry found that between 2010 and 2015, Southern Water knowingly dumped untreated sewage on 10,741 occasions at the 17 sites examined by the EA. 78% of these occurrences were illegal (Guardian, 2021). Treatment works were being deliberately maintained at less than half of their capacity in the interests of maximising profits. The tanks that exist throughout the apparatus were kept full, leaving them to turn septic and contaminate the sea with a venomous potion of sewage and precipitation. This is the probable origin of faecal matter found in shellfish along the south coast, which risked exposing consumers to the potentially fatal norovirus (Guardian, 2021). Similarly, pollution with untreated sewage is introducing E. coli into waters making swimmers and bathers ill (BBC, 2021). All of this paints a bleak picture of what Surfers Against Sewage CEO, Hugh Tagholm, labelled ‘criminal capitalism’.

Southern Water is ‘committed’ to curtailing the recurrence of storm overflows from their combined system, proposing to reduce storm releases by 80% by 2030. We are increasingly seeing this infrastructure activated to tackle routine rainfall, pumping raw sewage into our rivers and seas with a disturbing regularity. That’s why the Green Party has been leading calls for a commitment to zero sewage in our water.

From Parliament to council chambers, Greens are speaking out against Southern Water’s blatant dereliction of duty. In October 2021, Green MP Caroline Lucas criticised the 265 Conservative MPs who voted to cut back an amendment to the Environment Bill which would have given the water companies a legal duty of care not to pollute. Meanwhile, in the House of Lords, Jenny Jones has called out our “toothless” system of environmental enforcement and weak regulatory structures.

In Brighton & Hove, Councillor Elaine Hills proposed a Notice of Motion which asks Southern Water to stop sewage overflows by 2030, invest in sustainable water management locally and explain their plans before council committees and the public. Her counterparts in Lewes Green Party, Councillor Matthew Bird and Green Council Leader Zoe Nicholson, have demanded that Southern Water detail how they will prevent sewage pollution in the River Ouse.

Meanwhile, Councillor Martin Osborne has been appointed chair of The Aquifer Project (TAP), a partnership comprising the South Downs National Park Authority, Southern Water, the Environment Agency and Brighton & Hove City Council. The first priority for TAP is progressing the development of a new system which will counteract polluted runoff from contaminating groundwater in Wild Park, Brighton. The Wild Park Rainscape will encompass a multitude of planted permeable basins that sequester rainfall.

Communities can be supported through investment in sustainable urban drainage systems – known as SuDS. SuDS are designed to mimic the natural interception and diversion of surface water. The term covers a range of environmental measures such as wetlands, green roofs, rain-water harvesting systems and porous asphalt. Two SuDS are planned for Brighton & Hove, and the first is almost complete. This innovative project in the north of the city will provide soft surfaces to intercept water at the midpoint of a ‘flow path’, that is, a long sloping road. This should prevent a surplus of surface water from running downhill, and thus overwhelming drainage systems during intense downpours. In Sweden, SuDS have been crucial to flood prevention, absorbing up to 90% of stormwater in some areas and preventing the need to discharge sewage overflow into the sea.
The essence of the research project is for a student to look into the remedies for urban drainage problems, to inform our campaign. We need to create better drainage and infrastructure to support an increase in water due to climate change and extreme weather conditions.

We would particularly like to quantify the problem and gather some data on the impacts of sewage spills and weather conditions in the area under Southern Water’s care. This includes investigating and listing the impacts of: aquifers under Brighton & Hove drying out, and flooding in the valley by The Level and Hanover. It would be useful to find out if any modelling has been done to see how the weather is expected to change regionally as a result of global warming.

This opportunity is flexible in terms of the time commitment and start date. We have an office in central Brighton, right by the station. We are happy for the student to join us in the office or work remotely.

Podcast: The future we choose – UCU Green New Deal

Posted by Meg Baker

This is an exciting opportunity to raise awareness and contribute to the communications of what a green transition can look for universities and colleges. It builds on the UCU Green New Deal, which is a framework for staff in universities and colleges to use for negotiating with their employers to ensure our education institutions are making a green transition, and bringing the workforce and students with them. More information on the UCU Green New Deal can be found here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/green-new-deal

You will be supported by staff working on environment and sustainability at UCU to identify the framing for the podcast episodes and key individuals to interview.

We are seeking someone who is a confident communicator and able to facilitate an informative and inspiring interview to be included on UCUs new podcast series.

It is likely interviews will take place online, so recordings will be through the online platforms used for the interviews (e.g. zoom). Ideally you will have some experience or an interest in editing audio materials to streamline the interviews.

Utilising Policy to Improve Climate Crisis Education across the Scottish Education System

Posted by Sonya Peres

Summary
SAGES are offering a unique opportunity for a short-term Internship with the Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK) specifically working on the Teach the Future campaign, a student and pupil-led campaign lobbying Government to repurpose the education system for the climate emergency. The intern will research education policy to feed into meetings with Members of Scottish Parliament and to write consultation responses on behalf of Teach the Future Scotland. Teach the Future Scotland’s Asks have been embedded into the election manifestos of both the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party and consequently, there may be other objectives/areas of policy research as part of the role depending on the results of the May 6th election.

Background

Aims and Objectives
The role of the SAGES intern will be to support researching policy education policy and sustainability to advance Education for Sustainable Development across Scotland.

The primary objective are as follows:

Objective 1: Research policy surrounding each Teach the Future Scotland Asks ahead of meetings with civil servants and councils.

Objective 2: Research policy surrounding Teach the Future Scotland Asks to improve and update/improve Asks following Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

Objective 3: Research policy relevant to Teach the Future Scotland Asks to respond to consultations on behalf of Teach the Future.

Timeframe
Teach the Future Scotland will be working with Scottish Government in the lead up to COP26 to implement Asks. There will normally be around 1-2 meetings with MSPs or civil servants a month and around 2 consultations a month.

Person specifications
Please note – the applicant must be a member of SAGES (If you attend a SAGES Institution*, you are eligible to become a SAGES member).
We are looking for an Early Career Researcher or SAGES Graduate student:
• Either working towards, or has recently completed a PhD
• Knowledge and/or experience of working with education policy
• Knowledge and/or experience sustainability policy
• Strong research and synthesis skills.
• Strong communications skills (written and verbal)
• Independent worker who can plan their own workload and is confident in their ability to deliver a well written report.
• DBS or PVG check

How to apply
To apply, please provide a one-page cover letter detailing why you are the right person for this Policy Internship as well as a CV (2 pages maximum) to Laura Scotland at the University of Edinburgh. Please include one reference that you are happy for us to contact, should you be successful.

Questions can be directed to sonya@teachthefuture.uk Sonya at Teach the Future.

*SAGES Partner Institutions: Universities of Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling, SAMS UHI, SUERC, UWS and the British Geological Survey, Scotland.

Deadline: 16th June 2021.

The Sustainability Improves Student Learning website is designed for STEM academic faculty to learn how to educate for sustainable development. This great website needs periodic updating.

Posted by Wendy

Looking for an undergraduate or graduate student to maintain the website.

Employment, family and sustainability

Posted by Catherine

Neuroscience has demonstrated that the relationships we experience, particularly early in life, have a significant impact on our future life outcomes. Recent ONS data has also confirmed that when family and key relationships are working well, they are the leading factor supporting our resilience through tough times. Our research, has highlighted the key role employers and organisations play in influencing whether families of all forms, thrive or not. The Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as actions that take account of impact on current as well as future generations and we want to strengthen the understanding, commitment and inspiration of employers and corporations to shift the dial on this key issue.

We are currently confirming budget available and are open to discussing the best ways to deliver this opportunity and attract someone who will be the right fit. We are currently in discussion with other potential partners which is likely to result in this brief being finetuned.

The objectives of our overall project are:
1. To scale an urgent and national-level on family as a central part of organisational sustainability practice
2. To partner with 2-3 leading entrepreneurs to further develop their learning, practice and tools to inspire wider system change, inclusive of diverse and dynamic families
3. To partner with leading sustainability and employment groups to scale conversation and action and embed this within their ongoing support to organisations
4. To share learning with government professional bodies to influence future regulation and good practice

We are open to other ideas; our thinking is that this colleague would work with us to develop the following outputs:
- creation of a business case template to support organisational champions to get traction on family as an ESG issue
- creation of 2-3 simple organisational self-assessment tools and processes which inform meaningful organisational improvement
- meaningful and accessible metrics that align with existing ESG frameworks
- strong partnerships with key sustainability organisations (as a result of high quality work and relationship building)
- recommendations for inclusion in influencing activities with investment activists, professional bodies and government consultations on future employment and ESG

We are a micro organisation which works remotely and part-time as business as usual. We have a system of annualised TOIL and flexible working. Employees provide their own equipment. There are many opportunities to learn and develop through the organisation and role including access to some external training and networking opportunities. There will be an expectation of strong planning, problem-solving ability, active listening and relationship building skills. Since we are breaking new ground and influencing from a low starting position, it will be important that candidates are both resilient, self-aware and communicative. We are an inclusive organisation with a strong commitment for all families -whatever their make up or circumstances- to thrive.