Putting people at the heart of efforts to tackle climate change

by Lorraine Whitmarsh

There have been stark warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Committee on Climate Change that rapid, society-wide decarbonisation is needed, and that we need to work harder if we are to avoid devastating climate change.

We may have as little as a decade in which to significantly cut emissions, and doing this will require fresh thinking. So far, emission cuts have mostly been achieved by changing electricity supply. But if we’re going to tackle demand – and particularly in high-impact but challenging areas like food, transport, heating, and material consumption – we can’t do this by technological change alone. We can only do this by transforming the way we live our lives, challenging norms, and reconfiguring organisations and cities. Continue reading

Better lives with better toilets

by Ian Ross

Imagine not having somewhere safe to go to the toilet. Really imagine it – leaving your house and defecating behind a bush or a building. It’s hard to bend your mind to consider that, if you’ve had access to a clean, comfortable bathroom since you were a child. However, around the world, 900 million people have no option but to defecate in the open. A further 1.4 billion use a toilet that doesn’t meet World Health Organization standards for ‘basic’ toilets, meaning that it could still be a direct source of disease. Continue reading

Notes on a G-string

by Rosie Cowan

An item of underwear recently made headline news in the Republic of Ireland. The lacy thong was produced in a Cork courtroom, where a female defence barrister declared it proof that a 17-year-old rape complainant was ‘up for it’ – keen to have sex on the night in question. The jury of eight men and four women took just under an hour to acquit the 27-year-old defendant. Continue reading

Can the poor pay for drinking water?

by Rob Hope

Economists often ask awkward questions. With safe drinking water a human right as well one of the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) there must be the money to pay for everyone to get drinking water, right? Apparently not. With over two billion people without safely-managed water and 663 million without basic water the costs to meet the target by 2030 runs to US$114 billion per year.

The policy puzzle is how to square safe water for everyone with financial sustainability? As words fly up, delivery on the ground remains tricky. So if we ask the question from the perspective of the poor, and what they will pay, does that help us think of new ways forward? Continue reading