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The Sustainable Futures Report

Surviving climate change, resource depletion, the energy crisis - and staying in control

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The Carbon Offset Question

Carbon offsetting has been in the news this week and I've been working on an analysis of the pros and cons for a client. What's the answer? Well, it's certainly not simple as I shall attempt to explain. And then, in other news, I look at the Shell Prélude, the Aramco share offer, a new oilfield in Iran, tree planting in Turkey, and what looks like a U-turn on fracking in the UK less than a week after a moratorium was announced. And in Australia the extent and intensity of the wildfires almost defies description. Is climate change to blame?

17mins

15 Nov 2019

Rank #1

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Accentuate the Positive

It’s time to accentuate the positive - to explain to people what’s good about tackling climate change rather than frightening and depressing them with speculation about what could go wrong. This week I’m also talking about COP26, about HS2 and about nuclear options suggested by Bill Gates and Rolls-Royce. But first, last time I introduced Victoria, our latest patron, whose objective this year is to reduce her carbon footprint by 45%...

26mins

14 Feb 2020

Rank #2

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Ruminating on Food

Should we be vegetarian? Should we be vegan? Is it wrong, or even unsustainable to eat meat? Students at the London School of Economics seem to think so. Will we see, as some say, the end of farming? Will we return to mixed, organic agriculture or will the whole industry be revolutionised by technology? Are we condemning parts of the world to poverty and hunger while the rest of us over-eat our way to obesity and ill-health? The whole topic of food is full of questions and I don't pretend to have all or any of the answers, but at least I can provide some ideas, issues and opinions. 

35mins

28 Feb 2020

Rank #3

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The Uninhabitable Earth

 This week: a review of The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells, the attention that climate change is getting in Parliament and reactions to the American Green Deal. There’s more on extreme weather, on air pollution and a follow-up from The Lancet on the Planetary Diet.

18mins

8 Mar 2019

Rank #4

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Going Global

Right then. This week I’m going to talk about denial and whether climate change could lead to more pandemics in future. How will COVID19 affect developing nations and what are the implications of that for the rest of us? How is climate change affecting Africa and developing nations? And in other news, fantasies in Venice, cars in the sky, carbon reporting, fiddling investors, and why the British government thinks we should give up cars. Ready?

32mins

3 Apr 2020

Rank #5

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ZERO in 2050

We're on our way to zero in 2050. 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, and the week 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. Net zero emissions! Is there more to life than GDP and growth? There is in New Zealand. And how should we talk about all these sustainability issues? All this and more in your weekly helping of sustainability news. 

22mins

21 Jun 2019

Rank #6

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Next Week

Who knows what will happen next week? By the time you hear this you'll know far more than me. For the moment I'm just going to talk about re-wilding the countryside, global warming in Canada, what engineer I K Brunel thought about pollution, the downside of banning throwaway coffee cups, the future for gas home heating, the Lancet’s Countdown, naming and shaming some plastic polluters, coal-fired power plants and cleaning up the National Grid, air quality in London and regenerative farming.  But not necessarily in that order.

27mins

12 Apr 2019

Rank #7

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It's Later Than You Think

I call this episode “It’s later than you think”, but really it’s later than you want to think. We’ve had warnings for years about the climate crisis but as a global population we’ve been postponing serious action. Now, at the 11th hour plus 59 minutes there’s the World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. This one is serious. (As if the others weren’t.) In other news I’ll be talking about the moratorium on fracking, a citizens’ assembly, a new coal mine, smog in Delhi, why Trump may pull federal aid funds from California fire zones, why it could be the end of the runway for some private planes and why you may need more than wellies in Dublin. Finally Dr Matt Winning tells us about his work as a climate researcher and his other life as a stand-up comedian.

33mins

8 Nov 2019

Rank #8

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Tick Tock

Today is Friday, 20th September, the day of the global climate strike..  Also this week I'm talking about why scientists need to speak up and about those that do. The weather forecast is extreme. I bring you news of nuclear from Normandy, of VW from Australia, of living in a cardboard box and explain why I’m going nuts about packaging.

20mins

20 Sep 2019

Rank #9

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What Next?

This time I’ll be talking about the growth in renewable power including signs that France may prioritise renewables over nuclear, climate rules for corporations, forces behind climate denial, plumbing the depths of abandoned coal mines and some news and comment on climate science. But first, news from California. 

24mins

1 Nov 2019

Rank #10

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Away with All Cars?

I didn't buy a car this week - not even an electric. The Commonwealth research organisation suggests the age of the car is coming to an end. How will that work? I didn't eat red meat this week which is just as well because both George Monbiot and Mark Lynas say I shouldn't. But what does the IPCC tell us? Can the four-day week or the four-hour-day become a reality? And I don’t know about straws in the wind, but there are still far too many straws in landfill at the moment.

28mins

16 Aug 2019

Rank #11

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Reimagining Capitalism

Rebecca Henderson, Harvard Professor, Author and Authority on Reimagining Capitalism talks to the Sustainable Futures Report.

31mins

17 Apr 2020

Rank #12

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Offsets - taking it easy(Jet)

The week before last I was talking about carbon offsets - and all of a sudden everybody else is talking about carbon offsets, even Julia Hartley Brewer. You’ll hear her later. easyJet tells us that Tuesday 19th November was a historic date - was it though? And listener Ian Jarvis asked some pertinent questions which I’m going to try and answer.

22mins

29 Nov 2019

Rank #13

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Thinking Aloud

We need to do something about climate change. David Attenborough says so. Extinction Rebellion says so. Kids are coming out of school on Friday to say so. We need to do more. Business needs to do more. The government needs to do much more. I'm trying not to shout, but it's important.

15mins

15 Feb 2019

Rank #14

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Taking Back Control

It’s the final Sustainable Futures Report of 2019 - episode No. 45.  I’ll be commenting on the British General Election, although it won’t take long. More important is the outcome of COP25, the UN Climate Conference in Madrid, where hard-fought negotiations struggled into extra time over the weekend. And Sarah Tuneberg of Geospiza explains how we can take back control of the "natural" disasters already being caused by climate change.

31mins

20 Dec 2019

Rank #15

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It's Getting Serious

It looks like we should be preparing for more extreme weather like the extremes we’ve seen across the world in the last few days. Does the future lie in trees or in peat bogs, or in the US, where President Donald Trump claims his country leads the world on environmental issues? Greta Thunberg has had her biggest compliment yet while legal action over the climate crisis takes place in some 28 countries and the wind seems to be changing for the British Conservative Party. Despite all this there’s reason to hope. Go to climateoptimist.org and find out why. If you want to follow up on any of the stories you can find where I’ve got them from by going to the blog at www.sustainablefutures.report.

22mins

12 Jul 2019

Rank #16

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Fired Up!

In the climate crisis news this week: the Amazon fires, why they’re not the only fires, why they may not be as bad as you think and why they may be much more serious in ways you don’t expect. The future for the consumer society. Prof Sir Ian Boyd, retiring chief scientific advisor at Defra, has set out his thoughts, which look very much like system change to me. And the flying prince. Are carbon offsets making his travel carbon neutral?

20mins

6 Sep 2019

Rank #17

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Tipping Point

Have a Swedish schoolgirl, a naturalist in his 90s and a civil disobedience campaign in the streets of London finally led people to realise that the climate is in crisis and that it affects us all?

15mins

26 Apr 2019

Rank #18

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A Matter of Principle

This week’s episode is devoted to a matter of principle. Would you be arrested for your principles? Would you go to prison for your principles? I recently met Zoe Cohen who believes that she should go that far to protect herself, her family and indeed the rest of us from the risks of catastrophic climate change.  She told me why.

30mins

13 Sep 2019

Rank #19

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Running to Catch Up

In positive news Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam was cleared by a jury over his King's College protest, the Committee on Climate Change believes that the UK 'can cut emissions to nearly zero' by 2050, Greta Thunberg addressed MPs and the UK Parliament subsequently declared a climate change emergency.   On a more challenging note, Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, called for stronger penalties for demonstrators, the Committee on Climate change warned that it might be necessary to curb the growth in UK flying while the Environment Agency predicted that flooding caused by the climate crisis could force some UK towns to be abandoned.   And then there's that flying taxi...

24mins

21 May 2019

Rank #20