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Prestigious group of universities granted millions by the arms trade



A freedom of information (FOI) request lodged by The Huffington Post has revealed that some of the UK’s top universities received at least £83m in funding from companies in the arms trade between 2008 and 2011.

The request to disclose this figure was put to the 24 institutions that make up the high-calibre member organisation, the Russell Group, which includes Cambridge, Oxford and five London-based universities.

Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, University College London and Warwick all refused to reveal how much they contributed to the total, the London School of Economics said it hadn’t received any funding of this kind, and Durham placed its total at just £67,000.

It was discovered that the remaining 16 institutions, though, had collectively received over £83m from the arms trade in the three-year period from 2008-2011 – nearly 72% of which came from private companies, with the rest sourced from the Ministry of Defence.

The news has sparked uproar amongst arms trade campaigners, with many saying that unethical investments of this kind by respected institutions sends out the wrong message to the public.

Arms companies fund research projects partly to ensure that certain research gets done”, said Beth Smith, universities network co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

By partnering with arms companies universities provide them with a veneer of respectability and help them to continue their devastating work.

Universities should play no role in supporting the arms trade.”

Responding to the results taken from the FOI request, a spokesperson for the Russell Group said, “Like all world-class universities, Russell Group institutions collaborate with a number of public and private sector companies on a wide range of leading research projects, including in the defence sector.

All our universities have robust systems in place to ensure any partnerships are appropriate.”

And it seems that in most cases, this particular spate of unethical investment is the latest in a long list of tarnished financial dealings.

Of the 16 universities that disclosed data, nine were given the lowest possible ethical investment rating in student network People and Planet’s 2012 Green League: Cambridge, Bristol, Cardiff, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Nottingham, Queen’s University Belfast, Sheffield and Southampton.

The Green League is a yearly chart that ranks institutions by their environmental and ethical performance. Each university is given an overall grade, ranging from first class, through to upper second class, lower second class, third class and down to failed.

Of the nine institutions that failed on ethical investment, Sheffield fared the worst, ending up with a third class score, while Cambridge, Southampton and Imperial College London performed marginally finished in the lower second class section.

And Imperial College emerged as the institution that had received the largest share of the £83m arms trade funding, after it scooped some £15.2m over the three-year period, in front of Sheffield (£13.8m), Cambridge (£13.8m) and Oxford (£9m).

A number of the universities have since responded to the accusations. A spokesperson for Oxford told The Huffington Post that all of its funding from the arms trade were from legitimate sources and would not be deemed illegal by UK law.

Universities part of the elite Russell Group might top every other educational ranking, and indeed, they might all house many of the UK’s future business and political leaders. But it seems that sustainable investment is, on the whole, not one of their strengths.

Further reading:

Greenwich steals top spot in green university ranking

Setting a sustainable example in our education system

Cluster bomb manufacturers ostracised by banks


How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener




green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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