First Year Student’s Perspectives on what a Sustainable Liverpool Looks Like

Post by Dr Alex Nurse

A few weeks ago, Pete North and I ran a seminar with the first year students taking the ‘Living With Environmental Change’ module.  Following discussions about what makes a sustainable city, we wanted to see what the first years themselves thought about what Liverpool was doing both right and wrong, as well as what it could do moving forward.

To help us, we used the World Cafe model of discussion, breaking into seven groups, each with a specific topic.  They were decided by the key areas for action identified in the recently published Environmental Audit of Liverpool, which in turn became key focus areas for the city’s new Green Partnership.

Those areas were: Energy, Transport, Green Infrastructure, CO2 emissions, Eco-Innovation and Waste/recycling.  We also added an extra table discussing the City’s overall priorities.After that, we set the students to it – taking ten minutes on each table to discuss their thoughts, writing down their best ideas for those who would follow.

Student ideas about Waste & Recycling

Student ideas about Waste & Recycling

We felt that there some excellent ideas and some great examples of forward thinking that could really benefit the city.  One example included a shift to consider wastefulness alongside traditional conceptions of waste/recycling, with the group suggesting greater use of clothes/food banks. Whilst the students weren’t fans of the recent move by the City Council to suspend Liverpool’s bus lanes, they were excited by the prospect of the Scouscycles bike hire scheme.  Similarly they had numerous ideas that the city could adopt to encourage the more efficient use of transport such as car-pool lanes and they were very keen for the rollout of Merseytravel’s Walrus Card (the Liverpool equivalent of the Oyster Card) to be completed.

Eco-Innovation Ideas from the students

Eco-Innovation Ideas from the students

In the coming months, Low Carbon Liverpool will have the opportunity to present evidence to the upcoming Mayoral Commission on the Environment, as well as continuing to feed into the activity of the Liverpool Green Partnership.  We plan to use some of those best ideas to help shape the evidence that we present, and hope that some of them may be realised.

For more information on Low Carbon Liverpool, or to find out how to get involved, please visit www.lowcarbonliverpool.com

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Low Carbon Liverpool final event.

 

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Pete North, Alex Nurse and Tom Barker from the Department of Geography and Planning have been working with partners across the city for the past four or so years on a project “Low Carbon Liverpool“, funded by the ESRC.  The project has been examining the extent that the city has the right policies to secure its prosperity with what we need to do to avoid dangerous climate change.   Last Thursday, we held the latest in our funded seminar series, given to a packed house at the Foresight Centre.

 

After a welcoming address from Cllr Tim Moore, cabinet member for Climate Change for the City of Liverpool, the first of our speakers was John Flamson, director of Partnerships and Innovation at the University of Liverpool, who formally launched the Liverpool Green Partnership.   A coalition of actors and institutions from around the city including the University, Liverpool Vision, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Liverpool NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and the Eldonians, the Green Partnership seeks to build a greener city by working together to join up our policy working.

 

Following this, we heard from Peter North who talked about Low Carbon Liverpool’s progress over the life of its recent ESRC funding period, and emphasised some of the key messages – particularly how those cities perceived as being the most successful are equally those taking action on environmental and sustainability issues.

 

Then, we heard from our keynote speaker Krista Kline, managing director of the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative (LARC) on Sustainability and Climate Change.  Krista spoke to us about the key lessons that can be taken from LA – which faces its fair share of climate related issues – and how they can be applied to Liverpool.  In particular, Krista emphasised the need for collaboration on policy making, as well as the need to effectively connect abstract ideas of climate change to citizen’s everyday lives.

 

Following Krista’s talk and a brief Q&A, we heard from Walter Menzies, the former head of the Mersey Basin Campaign and now of the Atlantic Gateway, as well as being a visiting Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning.  In an inspiring talk, Walter spoke of how a long-term project can realise ambitious policy objectives, providing the right structures are in place.  In particular, Walter emphasised the importance of leadership, vision, including business interests, good communications and professionalism.

 

Finally, we heard from Colleen Martin, assistant Director for the Environment from the City of Liverpool, who outlined Liverpool City Council’s own work and agenda moving forward, including plans for the upcoming Mayoral Commission on the Environment.  In her talk, Colleen emphasised that there is already much going on within the city that we can celebrate – a fact highlighted in our recently published Environmental Audit.

 

All of Thursday’s speakers were hugely inspiring, in arguably our most successful event to date.  We’d like to thank everybody who came along, and we plan to make further announcements soon as the project evolves into a Green Partnership for Liverpool, and continues to discuss the possibility of Liverpool bidding to be a European Green Capital as well as mainstreaming the transition to a low carbon economy into the city’s economic development strategy.

 

 

Low Carbon Liverpool Event Report: How do we build a Successful, Sustainable and Green European City?

Last week Low Carbon Liverpool held our latest seminar, focusing on how Liverpool should continue to progress its burgeoning environmental agenda.

Councillor Tim Moore opened proceedings with an update on council proceedings, including the recent announcement of a Mayoral Commission on sustainability in Liverpool by Mayor Joe Anderson.  He also spoke about the importance of youth involvement in this agenda, highlighting the significance that several student and youth groups were present at the event, including members of the School’s Parliament and Geography’s own Dan Wilberforce and Jonathon Clarke.
 
Following this, and after a short introduction into the Low Carbon Liverpool project from Peter North, I spoke about the recent environmental audit that has been taking place.  Taking the form of a ‘dummy bid’ for European Green Capital, the audit covered 12 key areas of Liverpool’s environmental performance including climate change, transport, green space, waste management and energy performance.  Overall, the results paints a positive picture, with Liverpool’s performance sitting at the cusp of an average-excellent performance, when considered against past Green Capital winners.  These results were supported by excellent data covering Liverpool’s green/natural spaces, as well as the quality of the river Mersey and its cleanup over the last two decades.  However, several areas were flagged as under-performing.  They included cycle lanes, water metering, hybrid cars and recycling rates.  Moving forward, the key recommendations to stem from the audit were that the city now makes strides to improve the underperforming areas, while seeking to advance performance across all other areas.
 
After the interim audit results were presented, we heard from several speakers, talking about the platform for change in Liverpool.  Stuart Donaldson from the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority spoke about their plans to improve waste management in Merseyside, Les Bellmon spoke about the Eldonians’ strategy for renewable and sustainable power production in North Liverpool and Paul Nolan talked about the excellent work being undertaken by the Mersey Forest across the Liverpool City Region.

Then we heard from youth representatives, representing the University of Liverpool and Liverpool School’s Parliament.  They spoke passionately about the need to drive forward future action today and the important role that this agenda plays in making Liverpool an attractive place to live and work.
 
In the final session, the event broke into roundtable discussions on the audit results, and what Liverpool’s next priorities should be.  In particular, the groups suggested that the Mayoral Commission now focus on:
 
– Increasing recycling levels
– Improving the quality of the cycling environment (and improving attitudes towards cycling)
– Seizing the opportunities to promote a green economy.  In particular this should focus on eco-innovation which can underpin improvements in many other areas.
– Transport:  Moving across the city should become easier

As well as this, the audience suggested that this can be achieved through better communication from the council, as well as applying its existing strategies more effectively.

 

Now that it has a good evidence base in place, the city now seems keen to advance this agenda.  We remain positive that Liverpool is making some excellent steps in the right direction.  Now, the ball is very much in Liverpool’s court.

For more info, see: lowcarbonliverpool.com

Copies of the slide presentations are available here

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Taking a trip… by Andy Plater

I thought you’d appreciate a bit of an insight into a conference trip.  I was recently invited to attend a conference at the State Key Laboratory for Estuarine and Coastal Research (SKLEC) at East China Normal University.  As well as taking part in the ‘International Symposium on Climate Change and Human Activities: Coastal Causes and Consequences’.  The event was a culmination of a number of research projects being undertaken at SKLEC, many involving international colleagues, and especially the Dutch coastal engineering community.  I guess I was invited because I’ve now been working with the folks at SKLEC and ECNU for nearly 20 years!  This has involved staff and postgraduate exchanges, training workshops, and various field and laboratory research projects.  This link stems from the President of ECNU, Prof. Yu Lizhong, being a former postgraduate in the Department of Geography at Liverpool, and has now grown into an institutional partnership.

The discussions on the afternoon of the first day centred on various initiatives to attract overseas postgraduates and postdoctoral research fellows to SKLEC.  I was rather dwarfed by the research reputations of the other contributors, especially the Dutch coastal researchers: Roelvink, de Vriend, Stive and Winterwerp.  The best thing was to meet Willard Moore – someone who I’ve wanted to meet since I did my PhD.  He was such a lovely chap. The discussions extended through to the early evening, although I headed off to have dinner with Lizhong, Zhang Weiguo (my good colleague and Deputy Director of SKLEC) and Rick Battarbee (who was visiting various research institutes in China).  I then retired to start on my presentation – and to begin the battle with jet lag.  It’s always easy to get to sleep on the first night in China, but you generally wake up at 3 am.  Still, being up and about at that time gives you an opportunity to Skype home.

Breakfast was non-existent on day two – I’d managed to get back to sleep at about 6 am and ended up waking at 8:30 am for a conference start at 9:00 am.  The sacrifice was worth it; there were plenty of tea and cakes during the session of keynote talks which were mostly on coastal modelling, sedimentary processes and coastal evolution.  Changsheng Chen’s presentation on the development and application of FV-COM was superb.  Ian Townend also did a great job on the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.   Despite the serious attractions of a few Tsingtaos with Ulo Mander, Chris Craft and Richard Bellerby (new colleagues arising from off-line discussions during the meeting), I had to go and finish my talk – and again wage war with the early wake-up. 

Attendees at the conference – I’m at the back!

I successfully managed breakfast on day three – along with Chris Craft who was another early riser.  The parallel session talks at the conference were quite a challenge.  The themes of the various talks were, er, varied, as were the experiences of the numerous presenters.  Rather lax chairing of the sessions also meant that we ran on.  The same applied to the afternoon, where over-running of the first session meant that I hurried into the session to give my talk on using numerical modelling in support of coastal management decision-making.  It seemed to go pretty well – and I had a couple of quite challenging questions, notably on how providing advice for decision makers could learn from the experiences of the recently jailed Italian seismologists!

That night was the formal conference dinner at a plush restaurant in Shanghai… and the inevitable karaoke. We knew it was going to be done on a ‘national’ basis so John Dearing and I nervously tackled the various dishes – from hairy crab to whole fish soup.   And as representatives from the various nations did their thing, stage-managed impressively by Dano Roelvink who seemed to be a bit of a karaoke king, I was desperately seeking the lyrics for “On Ilkley Moor baht ’at” on my phone.  As we took to stage, I secured additional performers in the form of Richard Bellerby and Ian Townend.  To the cheers of “The Beatles!” we disappointed the international audience pressed on with our planned rendition.  It wasn’t too bad at all (phew) – especially with Richard knowing where to chip in with some smutty little additions.  The evening ended with me, Ulo, Chris, Richard and Norbert Hertkorn heading off to ‘The Pub’ outside the back gate of the university – and then returning in the early hours by having to climb over the gate!

The fourth day saw the conclusion of the conference in the morning, and then me spending some time in the magnetics laboratory at SKLEC helping Da Dong, a PhD student at ECNU, identify some Chinese diatoms.  Surprisingly, the preservation was really good.  I also had a good chat with Weiguo and Lizhong about setting up a dual PhD programme between the University of Liverpool and ECNU.  UoL graduates really should be thinking of a future in Shanghai, especially in the area of environmental research and resource management.

That evening I headed off to the airport with Simon Neill, a lecturer from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor.  He was due to fly back via Abu Dhabi but his flight was cancelled.  Fortunately, he was transferred onto my flight (via Doha), so we compared notes on the crappy superhero and sci-fi films that we watched on the way back.  Do not waste any of your valuable time watching the remake of Total Recall!

50 PhDs – almost there!

Post by Prof. Andy Plater

As intricate processes go, the Centre for Global EcoInnovation isn’t far off achieving its first goal of 50 PhDs at the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster.  We’re building a new style of PhD – one where the research need is driven by regional small businesses and where the academic community can help deliver research-led products and services that aim to reduce carbon emissions and waste, and promote sustainable energy and resource use. Seven of these will be supervised in Geography, Civic Design and Ecology at Liverpool.  I really can’t wait for them to start on the 1st October – it’ll be a massive achievement.  Sorry to all the businesses and academics who were unsuccessful this time.  I hope we’ll at least be able to progress some important research through work-based dissertations or Masters projects.