KN Green Week: Eating the Environment Better
Emily Carter is lawyer living in central London with two small children. Although she knows a thing or two about the law, she is not an expert in the science of climate change or the answers to the current crisis. She has, however, been asking herself some questions…
The starting point for any conversation about environmental sustainability is clear. Our climate is changing, increasingly rapidly. Humans are responsible for this change. And the changes to the climate impact upon us all - irrespective of where we live and the way we live. And finally, as recently explained by Greta Thunberg with great clarity, time is running out to manage these changes in a way which protects our futures. The International Panel on Climate Change reported last October 2018 that we have only 12 years before an unsustainable 2 degree rise in global temperature becomes inevitable, with consequences which range from extraordinarily challenging to catastrophic.
Ignoring the issue is no longer an option. But where do we even begin? I wish to add my voice to those of the hundreds of thousands of students who have joined protests across 100 countries to point out the blindingly obvious: governments should be taking direct, immediate and decisive action on carbon emissions.
But what changes should I make to my own life? What concerns me, given the scale of the issue, is whether anything I can do makes any difference. There is a lot of information available concerning the environmental impact of what we buy and what we throw away, with new scientific and technological developments all the time. The information available is not always consistent or easy to follow. With the US President issuing an Earth Day message which fails to even mention climate change, it is clear that not all information can be trusted, and there are plenty of vested interests in the debate.
The answer, I believe, is to start asking some very basic questions when you are standing in a shop, browsing the internet or making decisions about big purchases.
You will find that some of these questions apply to most of what you consume, whether avocados, cars or coffee cups. And there are variations of these questions which can apply to all other areas of your life including your energy provider, your transport decisions and your financial investments.
If you cannot easily find out the answers, then it is time for all of us to start asking those who can and should know.
And do these day to day decisions make a difference? As consumers, our decisions are immensely powerful. By changing the way that we approach what we buy and what we throw away, and by letting those who supply us with our day to day goods and services that their answers to the questions above affect the decisions we make, change will follow.
And can an individual change the world? You only need to look at Greta Thunberg to answer that question.
Over the next week, we will be publishing blogs on four topics questioning the decisions we make on a day to day basis – about food, packaging and clothing. Finally, as lawyers, we could not resist writing about the potential of the law in holding governments to account.
As the UK settles into its tenth week of lockdown, we are starting to see glimpses of hope that we might soon be back to work, the gym, and school. But while we are all looking forward to enjoying things we did before lockdown, we shouldn't be so hasty to revert back to all of our old ways.
In the last week, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said the world was increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid” where the wealthy pay to escape the impact of climate change and the rest of the world is left to suffer.
In April 2019, Polly Higgins, a British barrister, passed away after devoting ten years of her life to a campaign for a new law of ‘ecocide’ – a law that would make corporate executives and government ministers criminally liable for the damage they cause to the environment. In this blog, we consider the current framework for punishing environmental crime at international level, and what the proposed crime of ecocide might look like.
Access to justice is central pillar to the rule of law. Ensuring individuals and organisations can afford access to justice is a real challenge, none more so than in environmental cases where the success is not driven by monetary reward.
According to the most recent data, two million people in London are living with illegal levels of air pollution. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the main pollutants and road transport is estimated to be responsible for 50% of total emissions.
We have seen in recent months various and different attempts by those who want to change the course of government policy on the issue of climate change.
For most of my life, shopaholic is a label I would have happily applied to myself. Shopping has always been a happy place for me. I have sought solace in the late night opening hours of Oxford Street’s shops after a tough day at work. I have laughed uncontrollably trying on ridiculous outfits while meandering the shops with friends on Saturday afternoons. I have felt a rush of delight at finding the perfect outfit for a friend’s wedding.
No doubt many of you reading this will have heard about the ‘Attenborough Effect’, sparked by his two latest series, ‘Blue Planet II’ and ‘Our Planet’. Whilst these series have changed the way many of us think about plastic and have made us see that things have to change, it is important that we understand that we, as individuals, have to be part of that change. How?
The aim of this blog is not to point the finger and attribute blame to people who eat meat, mangos and Manchego. I myself am far from perfect, and am fully aware that I need to re-evaluate my relationship with cheese and stop eating so many avocados. What this blog is intended to do, however, is to make us all think about, and be aware of, where our food comes from, the impact that food production has on the environment, and what we should be doing to reduce that impact.
Emily Carter is lawyer living in central London with two small children. Although she knows a thing or two about the law, she is not an expert in the science of climate change or the answers to the current crisis. She has, however, been asking herself some questions
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