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University of Oxford academics demand fossil fuel divestment

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Some 67 University of Oxford academics, including the former science adviser to the British government, have called on the institution to divest from fossil fuel companies.

In an open letter to the university’s vice chancellor, the academics urge the world-renowned institution to join the fight to stop climate change by “ridding its £3.8 billion endowment of investments in fossil fuel companies“. 

The letter says that Oxford has a “responsibility to show leadership in tackling one of the greatest challenges we as a society currently face”.

The signatories, including Lord Robert May, former chief scientific adviser to the government, have thrown their support behind the student-led Fossil Free campaign.

In the UK’s biggest public demonstration against fossil fuel investments to date, the Fossil Free campaign took more than 150 Oxford students and residents to the streets on Saturday. The protestors were also calling on local authorities to ditch their fossil fuel holdings.

The growing global fossil fuel divestment movement has urged investors to divest their shares in companies that extract, trade or burn fossil fuels. Principally, this is because of the massive environmental impact that such companies have.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report concluded that carbon-intensive energy production was the single biggest contributor to global warming.

Energy companies continue to search for new fossil fuels reserves, despite warnings from the IPCC that 80% of the reserves such companies have already claimed must never be used if dangerous climate tipping points are to be avoided.

In an effort to prevent this, campaigners like those in Oxford have pressurised shareholders and worked to stigmatise the industry.

Dr Dominic Roser of the Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations, a signatory of the letter, said, “We must change our perception of the fossil fuel industry. They exploit our society’s hunger for this lethal source of energy.”

Alongside the moral case for divestment, campaigners have also sought to make shareholders aware of the financial case for divestment.

If policies are introduced to ensure that the majority of fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burnt remain buried, this would massively devalue the assets of fossil fuel firms – leaving them as ‘stranded assets’. 

Recent analysis by the thinktank Carbon Tracker warned that as much as $1.1 trillion (£650 billion) of investors’ money is currently at risk as a result of this.

“We know about housing bubbles. Now we have a carbon bubble, a bubble of unreal value”, explained Dr Brenda Boardman, another signatory of the letter. 

“It is too risky to own shares in this bubble. It has to burst and will burst if we are sane and want to avoid dangerous climate change.”

This, the academics argue, means the university must also think about its fiduciary duties, at a time when many other institutions, organisations and wealth funds are also considering divestment. 

The University of Oxford is currently consulting on the issue, with a review to be held on July 2.

If it decides to divest, Oxford will join a number of US universities that have already signed up to the cause, including the prestigious Stanford University. Earlier this month, the board of trustees at Stanford pledged to switch investments from coal to “sustainable solutions.

Photo: Adam Ramsay via Twitter

Further reading:

Oxford residents and students to march for fossil fuel divestment

Brighton’s Brighthelm becomes first UK church to divest from fossil fuels

$1.1tn of ‘high cost’ oil investments at risk

Divestment: Stanford to shift investments in coal towards ‘sustainable’ solutions

The investment case for fossil fuel divestment

 

Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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