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Charles Clover’s speech at the British Oceans Coalition event: full text

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On Wednesday night, MPs Zac Goldsmith, Nick Hurd, Richard Benyon and the Houses of Parliament played host to the Conservative Environment Network’s reception for the Great British Oceans coalition. This is the speech give by Blue Marine Foundation founder and chair, Charles Clover.

I’d just like to say a few words of thanks to Oliver (Letwin MP), on behalf of the Great British Oceans coalition, for ensuring this Conservative manifesto commitment became a reality.  I’d like to thank Zac (Goldsmith MP), Nick (Hurd MP), Richard (Benyon MP) and the Conservative Environment Network, particularly Ben (Goldsmith chair of CEN and founder of Menhedin Capital), for their part in that too.

The Blue Belts commitment is the right thing to do.  I believe David Cameron said.  The two potential large marine reserves mentioned in that commitment, Pitcairn and Ascension, plus South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands, would compare with the creation of the first American national parks in the 19th century or African ones like the Kruger and the Serengeti in the 20th.  But these 21st century marine ones will be even larger.  They will be achievements on a global scale – and we thank you for them.

As we’ve heard in the news today, the world’s oceans are in crisis.  So we see it quite simply as the responsibility of any country with a marine estate to take the recommended measures to protect species and habitats for future generations – particularly a country with 30 times its land area as sea, as Britain has, and 94 per cent of its biodiversity in its overseas territories.  We are delighted that the government has committed to doing so and we are proud to support it and the populations of the Overseas Territories in whatever ways we can, with lobbying, expertise and even whatever limited money we in the conservation movement can raise.

This is an example of working together – between MPs, NGOs, the Foreign Office and the government as a whole, look who is in this room – which compares very favourably with action on climate change.  We, in the GB Oceans coalition are already working with the population of Ascension to find funds to support marine protection and helping the Pitcairn islanders and the Foreign Office with enforcement.

I think it is important to remember that the manifesto says – as Oliver pointed out – that the point of Blue Belts is to protect precious marine habitats.  The manifesto says so several times.  It is not just a fisheries management or marine spatial planning exercise.  But I think it is also important to stress that we are not looking for a one-size-fits all solution.

The 14 Overseas Territories are all very different.  They go from almost unpopulated to very populous, and from those who have no domestic need of commercial fishing to those for whom fishing forms the major source of income.  Let us be quite clear about our expectations.  We would like to work with OT governments to see large fully protected marine reserves in maybe five overseas territories.  But, and I would like to spell this out very clearly, that absolutely does not mean we campaigners want to stop all fishing in an Overseas Territory’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

We do not believe in a simple choice between either sustainable fishing OR very large no-take zones.

We believe a Blue Belt does mean reserves and marine protected areas but this can be compatible with sustainable fishing within the same EEZ.  These are the kinds of win-wins – for people and the marine environment – that we are after and are already working on.

In Ascension the population actually wants to protect its rich marine resources which are being poached illegally without any enforcement at present.  As they are only 800 people with a marine estate larger than Germany, they simply cannot afford to do this at their own expense.  So we have to help Ascension create a new economic model based on marine protection, probably involving sustainable fishing in part of its EEZ and the Atlantic’s largest marine reserve, for turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins, in the rest.  At the moment the fishery is closed.  There is no policing of any incursions of the Far Eastern long line fleet which may be assumed to be plundering the place and which is suspected of having slave crews.  History is repeating itself here for Ascension was the place where the Royal Navy used to intercept slave ships sailing to Brazil which only abolished slavery in 1888.  We should be insisting that people wherever they are in our Overseas Territories in the words of Rule Britannia, those in our Overseas Territories, never, never, never shall be slaves.

So I wanted to explain how we are already trying to help the OTs populations to secure their own ambitions for marine protection – and we’d like to do more.

But I would also like to point out that the government needs to look again at a few things which seem no longer compatible with the manifesto commitment.

First, the money.  There are very few sources of science or environmental funding for the overseas territories, other than the excellent Darwin fund, which isn’t enough.  It would be helpful if DFID funding could support the Blue Belt manifesto commitment as part of the review of aid spending.

Second, Britain need to support efforts to create reserves and MPAs on the High Seas – at the moment Britain’s muted support for those things seems to be at odds with the manifesto commitment.

Lastly we need to shift various obstacles currently in the way of helping to provide OTs with the benefits of marine protection by developing tourism and discovery science.   I gather it is called science tourism because scientists often drink a lot, need to stay somewhere and may do it for some time.  It can be worth a lot of money to an island.

On Ascension an obstacle the locals find annoying is the failure of the US and UK to open up the Wideawake Airport – named after a loud colony of sooty terns nearby – to civilian flights.   That is essential to Ascension’s economy, but it is rather convenient to the military of both countries to keep people out.  The Wideawake Agreement, as it is called, ran out a couple of years ago.

Given the commitment of both President Obama, John Kerry, David Cameron and Oliver Letwin to marine reserves, that will no longer do.  It is time to wake up and sign the Wideawake Agreement.

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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