CAN VEGANUARY LEAD TO REAL CHANGE?

This article looks into Veganuary and asks – can this annual event lead to real change?

Bake

For those of you not familiar with Veganuary, I have copied the following extract from their website:

Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try vegan for January and beyond.”

Two things prompted me to write this article. One was the time I spent in India in early December. This is truly a country where vegetarianism is completely mainstream and where meat eaters are ostracised, the same way vegans and vegetarians are in Western societies.

The other was the first walk down my local high street after returning from holiday earlier today. I was amazed by how many food outlets were signalling that they had a new range of vegan products, which I can only presume is tied to the public’s interest in Veganuary.

Every issue needs its breakthrough moment and perhaps Veganuary can be the catalyst for highlighting the health and climatic benefits of plant-based diets.

For single use plastics, this was undeniably Blue Planet 2, which shocked the world into action on this issue.

For climate change, this has been trickier, but the increase in volume and severity of extreme weather events has certainly raised the profile of this issue, with climate emergency being Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2019.

But in terms of veganism and plant-based diets, there has been nothing thus far that has created a momentous breakthrough for this issue.

Even globally renowned sports stars such as Lewis Hamilton, the Williams sisters and Nate Diaz amongst others being vegan does not seem to have had the impact that you would have expected it to.

Help in promoting a transition to plant-based diets is needed now more than ever.

In 2019 I published a few articles on this subject.

In my series looking into the top 20 solutions from Drawdown, plant-rich diets came in at number 4, in terms of its ability to reverse global warming. This shows just how much of a powerful solution this is.

#04 Plant-Rich Diet

In my series looking into the excellent book Meat the Truth, we looked into the massive moral, health and environmental consequences of excessive meat consumption in high income countries.

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 1

It is clear that action is required on a number of fronts, but the wastefulness and calorific inefficiency of meat production makes emissions from this sector particularly insidious.

I have borrowed the excellent graphic below from Dr Jonathan Foley.

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This shows that methane emission from animals account for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is a huge percentage when you compare it to other segments. This makes urgent action on this issue a prerequisite for an adequate response to climate change.

I am minded to quote the iconic Dogs Trust slogan of “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.” This is exactly what needs to emanate from Veganuary if it is to lead to real and meaningful change.

It is great if people reduce their meat consumption to zero for one month a year. But if those same people relapse and continue with the all too common excessive meat consumption for the other 11 months of the year, then the change will only have been illusory.

Every issue needs its breakthrough moment. With the quite frankly incredible hype surrounding the Greggs Vegan Steak Bake launch, pictured at the top, as well as other UK food retailers getting involved and increasing their vegan options; hopefully Veganuary 2020 can be this issue’s breakthrough moment. The time that plant-based diets become totally mainstream.

What you need to know

This article looked into Veganuary and asked – can this annual event lead to real change?

We looked at other issues such as single use plastics and climate change, which have successfully used the media to leverage themselves into the mainstream.

We looked into the sluggish progress of promoting vegan lifestyles, despite high profile endorsements from major sports stars.

We looked into the undeniably massive impact that meat production and consumption has on the environment and society. This stretches beyond just the climatic impacts, but involves moral and health impacts too.

In closing, I am cautiously optimistic that Veganuary can lead to real and meaningful change. But we need a better communication of the fact that when it comes to climate change, we very much are what we eat.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make vegan lifestyles mainstream?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

Travels in Sri Lanka 2

This article looks into week 4 of my holiday in India and Sri Lanka in December 2019.

On Monday I travelled from Ella to Unawatuna, which is on the south coast of the country.

The drive was very interesting in itself and we went past many beautiful waterfalls and I was lucky enough to see an elephant on the journey.

Travelling through Sri Lanka, I have been impressed with the amount of interesting Buddhist temples that you pass. I have posted a picture of one we went past below.

 

Unawatuna was a very beautiful place with friendly locals.

I have posted a picture below of the view from my accommodation. This was a great place to spend Christmas.

unawanatuna

The main beach in Unawanatuna was very beautiful and was a fun place to spend time over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

beach

After Unawanatuna I unravelled to Galle. This was a nice city. It was reasonably busy in the city centre and in the old town.

The Galle Fort is one of the most iconic things to visit in the city and it was a nice place to spend time during the day and in the evening.

galle.jpg

In Sri Lanka you are never very far away from nature. On my birthday I did a river cruise with an experienced guide that helped us look for wildlife.

birds

These proved difficult to photograph, but I did manage to see the following from the river: water moniotors, which are a type of lizard, several interesting types of birds and plants, wild peacocks, water buffalo and quite a few monkeys.

blue water lily

Pictured above is a Blue Water Lilly, which is the national flower of Sri Lanka.

What you need to know

This article looked into week 4 of my holiday to India and Sri Lanka in December 2019.

The coastal areas in Sri Lanka are very beautiful and have excellent weather at this time of the year.

It has rained at times but the temperature and sunshine has been invigorating.

The beaches are extremely clean and the water is very clear, with lots of good waves.

I had never been abroad for Christmas but this has been a great experience.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. Have you visited Sri Lanka, if so what did you make of it?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

Travels in Sri Lanka 1

This article looks into week 3 of my holiday in India and Sri Lanka in December 2019.

To get to Sri Lanka, most visitors will pass through Colombo. This was a nice city, with a good vibe.

It was extremely clean with friendly locals. Quite different from any comparable sized city I have been to in India.

I was surprised by how many Christmas decorations were up in Colombo, some of which were very beautiful.

I was not in Colombo for long, but I thought it was a nice place.

From Colombo I travelled to Kandy by train. Kandy is in the central region and we passed by some amazing landscapes on the train on the way there.

Kandy is famous for its Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This is a very holy place and I am glad I visited it as it was certainly impressive.

There is also a giant buddah statue on a hillside near to Kandy. This was also good to visit from up close, but was difficult to photograph well from afar.

In Kandy, there is also a very large and world famous botanical garden that is definitely worth visiting.

The orchid house there had some of the best plants that I have ever come accross and they had an amazing collection of some of the best bamboo specimens that I have ever seen.

In Kandy, there is also a really nice national park called the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary. This is very close and easy to get to from the city centre. This was a great place to escape to from the city. You can walk around the trails for hours and not go past the same place twice.  

I went there on a day that it was raining, but there was something special about being in the middle of a rainforest when it was raining.

After being in Kandy I travelled to Ella by train. This is a popular train that is famous for its breathtaking views from the side of the carriage and the journey didn’t disappoint.

Ella is a nice town with friendly locals and a relaxed atmosphere. One of the best things to do in Ella is to climb Ella Rock, which is a small mountain close to the city with excellent views.

I have included a picture above of the mountain itself and the view from the top.

It took around 2 hours to climb from town to the summit. There is a juice bar at the top and refreshment was definitely required after 2 hours of climbing.

In Sri Lanka you see many beautiful waterfalls, I have included a picture of one below.

What you need to know

Sri Lanka has surpassed my expectations as a country.

The hospitality in India is fantastic, but the friendliness of the locals in Sri Lanka is on another level.

I am looking forward to seeing more of the country, including the coast next week.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. Have you visited Sri Lanka, if so what did you make of it?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

Travels in India 2

This article looks into week 2 of my holiday to India and Sri Lanka in December 2019.

When I released my post last week, I was in Alleppy and about to travel further south in Kerala to Varkala. I had hoped to do this journey by train, but after turning up to the train station, we were told that the train was not for a few hours and that it was running very late. So we decided to get a taxi to Varkala.

Travelling on roads in India is an interesting experience. Most of the roads apart from major highways are dual carriageway’s. This makes for frequent overtaking by fast moving vehicles of slower moving vehicles.

There will be many times when you are certain that you will hit into an oncoming vehicle, but everything seems to work itself out.

Travelling to Varkala has been a big highlight of my trip. The weather there was amazing, they have a very beautiful beach, which I have included a picture of below as well as friendly locals.

The area also had very beautiful sunsets and I have included a picture of one below.

Some of the food that I had in Varkala was of an exceptionally high standard. I have included a picture of an Aloo Paratha that I had for breakfast one day. This is my favourite thing to have for breakfast when travelling in India.

After spending a few days in Varkala I got the train back to Kochi, where I stayed for 1 day, before flying to New Delhi.

New Delhi is certainly an interesting place, with a lot going on. Around the Main Bazaar area in the new town, you can find many shops, restaurants and places to eat, including rooftop cafes, which are a nice place to get away from the street and relax.

The old town is reasonably similar, but with narrower streets.

Near to the old town in New Delhi you can visit the Red Fort. This is definitely worth visiting as it is an impressive structure.

It is hard to tell from the picture, but the air pollution was bad on the day I went to visit it.

This is probably the most disappointing thing about New Delhi as after being in the city for a few days it is likely you will pick up a small cough due to the heavy air pollution in the city.

Nearby to the Red Fort, you can also visit the Paranthe Wali Gali. This is a district of shops, not dissimilar to Brick Lane in London, although these shops in New Delhi all specialise in selling paratha, which is one of my favourite things to eat in India.

On Friday I am heading to the Magnetic Fields festival in Rajasthan. So I am pre-populating this article for release on Sunday when I am away. I have been impressed with the festival’s commitment to sustainability and it should be a great event.

What you need to know

This article looked into week 2 of my holiday in India in December 2019.

If you are planning on visiting India, definitely make time to visit Varkala as it is a beautiful place.

New Delhi is also worth visiting as there is nowhere else in the world quite like it.

Rajasthan is also very beautiful and is definitely worth visiting if you have time.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. Have you visited India, if so what did you make of it?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

Travels in India 1

This is the first in a series of travel posts that I will publish during my visit to India & Sri Lanka in December 2019.

If you fly into Mumbai it is definitely worth spending a couple of days there.

I have put a picture of the Gateway of India above. It was a nice day when I visited this monument and it is one of the city’s biggest attractions.

The next best place I visited in Mumbai was Chowpatty beach. This was a lot better and cleaner than I expected it to be.

There are quite a few food and drink vendors at the back, as well as travelling salesmen who come up to you when you are sitting down. So you are never far away from something tasty to eat or drink when you are there.

After Mumbai, I headed to Kerala and this was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. Kerala’s slogan is Gods own Country and this is certainly an extremely beautiful part of the world.

My first stop in Kerala was Kochi, staying in the Fort Kochi part of the city. My next stop was Alleppy, the beach there was amazing and I have posted a sunset picture of it below.

If you visit Alleppy, one of the biggest attractions in the area is the backwaters. Which you can easily visit by boat from this location.

I have posted two pictures of the tour that I did into the Alleppy backwaters above. I did a day tour, which included breakfast and lunch. But you can do overnight tours.

The lunch that I got on the day tour was absolutely incredible. It was not just some of the best Indian food that I have ever had, but possibly one of the best meals I have ever had.

What you need to know

This article looked into highlights from week 1 of my travels in India.

I would recommend visiting Mumbai at least once as it is a mind blowing city. But after a couple of days, that will probably be enough as it is quite intense.

I would definitely recommend visiting Kerala as it is extremely beautiful, the people are super friendly and the food is amazing.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. Have you visited India, if so what did you make of it?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka

AVIATION & CARBON EMISSIONS

This article looks into aviation and carbon emissions. It follows on the back of last week’s article, which looked into carbon offsetting. The aviation industry is expected to be a major purchaser of carbon offsets so these two issues are closely interlinked.

Jp Valery

The selection of this theme is influenced by my personal life, as I am travelling to India soon, where I will be flying from London to Mumbai.

Looking into the carbon emissions associated with this outbound flight, for 1 economy seat, where the impact of radiative forcing is accounted for, this comes to 1.08 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (greenhouse gasses).

Where the impact of radiative forcing is not taken into account, this only reports a figure of 0.57 tonnes of greenhouse gasses. This is obviously dangerously misleading and why it is so important to account for radiative forcing when reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The UK department for the environment defines radiative forcing as the influence of non-co2 climate change effects of aviation. This includes elements such as water vapour, contrails and NOX emissions.

I think it is important to put the impact of the emissions from that 1 flight in some context. The average carbon emissions per head of population in the UK comes to 9.1 tonnes per annum.

So just that 1 flight alone, would be responsible for 11.8% of a person’s carbon footprint. Which for something which lasts only a few hours is a sign of just how energy and carbon intensive this activity is.

This is why technological innovation that lowers the carbon emissions associated with flying is so important.

You are not going to connect London to Mumbai via high speed rail or passenger ship. The only realistic option is to fly. This makes sustainable aviation essential.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon emissions and aviation.

We looked into the carbon emissions associated with 1 flight from London to Mumbai and the problems associated with not accounting for the impact of radiative forcing.

I don’t believe that aviation has committed some kind of original sin and I believe that technological breakthroughs will make a sustainable and connected future possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation sector?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

CARBON OFFSETS & SUSTAINABILITY

This article looks into carbon offsets and sustainability. Do these various initiatives offer a pathway for high-carbon industries to rapidly decarbonise? Or are they misleading customers and corporate stakeholders as to the true sustainability of a business?

Ian Livesey

There is no doubt that this was all kicked into the mainstream with Easy Jet’s promise to become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network, announcing that it would offset all jet fuel emissions through a variety of carbon offsetting mechanisms.

This all sounds wonderful, but if everything was as easy as paying others to reduce carbon emissions, so that high carbon industries could continue to emit high volumes of emissions and reduce their contribution towards climate change at a slower rate, then why was this not thought of earlier? The reason, is that what is sold as a bonified solution that stimulates progress is a murky world where emissions may be falling, staying the same or in some cases increasing.

Kevin Anderson, who I have written about before as he is a major authority on climate change was quick to step in with his perspective that carbon offsets do not work as they are portrayed. You can find images of his Twitter thread below.

Kevin Anderson Tweet 1

Kevin Anderson Tweet 2

Kevin makes two really good points in his Tweet. One is that the science and mechanics around carbon offsets is far from settled. The other is around total emissions, rather than efficiency. If you buy planes or other machinery that is marginally more efficient, but you buy more of them and use them more, the carbon reduction gains from improved efficiency will be cancelled out by the increased volume of carbon emitting activity.

In his Tweet, Kevin shares a link to his 2012 article in Nature The Inconvenient truth of carbon offsets. I will pick out what I consider to be the best bits from this article.

Kevin shares the following opinion:

“Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.”

He goes on to explain that:

The science underpinning climate change makes clear that the temperature rise by around the end of this century will relate to the total emissions of long-lived greenhouse gasses between 2000 and 2100.

Kevin then moves on to make what I consider his most valuable argument:

The promise of offsetting triggers a rebound away from meaningful mitigation and towards the development of further high-carbon infrastructures… If offsetting is deemed to have equivalence with mitigation, the incentive to move to lower-carbon technologies, behaviours and practices is reduced accordingly.”

Overall, from Kevin’s analysis, it is hard to take anything positive about carbon offsetting.

Then towards the end of the week, I saw another article on carbon offsetting doing the rounds that really caught my eye. It came from the most unsuspecting of sources, CNN.

CNN article

I was really impressed with quality of this article and for taking on the challenge of explaining to the public that there are no easy solutions. Carbon offsetting is not a panacea for high-carbon, energy-intensive industries to become sustainability leaders overnight.

The only thing that I would improve about the CNN article, is that it is important to include the impact of radiative forcing when talking about the impact of carbon emissions from the aviation sector. Failure to do this portrays an unrealistically low carbon impact from this sector.

But I have to say that it is positive to see a major news outlet such as CNN take on a challenging subject such as carbon offsetting and explain to their readers that this does not offer a magic bullet to addressing climate change.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon offsets and sustainability.

We looked into the Easy Jet carbon offset guarantee that was recently announced.

We looked into the rebuttal by Kevin Anderson and his 2012 article in Nature.

We also looked into a surprisingly good article in CNN by Julia Buckley which exposes the limitations of carbon offsets.

The key takeaway should be that the whole process of carbon offsetting is fraught with limitations. Some sides of the argument would say that it is an overall negative activity as it distracts from reducing emissions and facilitates increased investments in high-carbon industries. There are those who say it is either a harmless activity or something which is an overall positive in helping to lower emissions in high-carbon industries until such a time that technology allows them to be responsible for fewer emissions.

On this argument I am likely to side with Kevin Anderson as he is a major authority on climate science. If they are even slightly less effective than they are promoted as being and if they distract even remotely from mitigation activities and increase emissions in the short run, then they are a negative force. The onus is on the providers of the offsets and the companies wishing to be declared as carbon neutral to prove that they are leading to overall carbon emissions reductions.

As with most things in life, things that seem simple very often turn out to be a great deal more complicated than originally thought.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the effectiveness of carbon offsets?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby