What we learned this week

A climate justice angle we don’t hear very much about – the Phoenix newsletter looks at climate and the caste system in South Asia,

Britain’s big housebuilders continue to erect whole estates of new homes all fitted with gas boilers. So it’s worth noting that one of them, Redrow, announced this week that they are going to fit heat pumps and underfloor heating as standard from now on.

That’s important in normalising heat pumps, which in some circles are still considered new, unproven, and only for enthusiasts – as the BBC explored recently in profiling some heat pump geeks.

It’s easy to forget that Britain even has carbon taxes because ordinary people don’t pay them, but NEF point out that the government is currently making more money from those taxes than it is spending on tackling emissions.

Also from NEF while we’re on the subject, the latest edition of their New Economics Zine looks at stories, and asks the question: can words change the world?

And for an example of words with power, I came across the poetry of Franny Choi this week, and her new collection The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On.

Highlights from this week

More wealth for the rich is a waste

If I go into a restaurant and order five meals when I only intend to eat one, that would be recognised as wasteful. If I bought five tins of paint when I only needed one, I’d be wasting my money. We understand waste at the micro level. Why do these rules not apply at the…

Uganda’s free electric motorbikes

In his new year’s address earlier this month, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni susprised people with a possible new transport policy. As part of a plan to electrify the country’s transport, motorbike owers would be able to trade in their petrol bikes for electric. “Free of course,” he added. “Just swap.” Motorbikes are a form of…

China’s sponge parks

In 2013 China had a notably heavy monsoon season. Over 200 cities experienced flooding, and it prompted a rethink in urban planning. How could cities be more resilient to flooding? An architect and urban designer called Kongjian Yu had a potential solution. He had developed an approach called ‘sponge cities’, and in 2015 China announced…

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