Sunday, 31 March 2019

Expanding women's property rights

A very appropriate piece for Mothers' Day, from the free market think tank, the Foundation for Economic Education: 

Expanding Women's Property Rights Isn't Just a Moral imperative, It's Also an Economic One

Countries who expanded women’s property rights also saw a tangible economic benefit.
The struggle for women’s liberation is often framed in terms of the campaign to secure the vote in the early years of the 20th century. Less heralded is the way women in several Western nations acquired property rights in the middle decades of the 19th century.
Prior to that, the system of "coverture" meant a woman transferred all her cash, bank deposits, and any other moveable property to her husband upon marriage. Although she could own a house or some land, her husband was entitled to rent it and keep the profit.
The moral case for ending such an arrangement needs little explaining, but a new study shows that countries who expanded women’s property rights also saw a tangible economic benefit.
As academics Moshe Hazan, David Weiss, Hosny Zoabi explain, the discrimination of coverture had serious economic as well as social consequences:
Consider the perverse incentives that coverture created. It would have been imprudent for a single woman to put money in a bank, or to hold any other asset except real property, because her future husband would simply take it away from her. Parents who wanted to give their daughters gifts or bequests would have been equally hesitant to put money in a bank, and would have used real estate instead. 
The trio’s research of the United States in the period before and after the end of coverture shows that enhancing the status of women galvanized the American economy. As the graph below shows, In states where women had more property rights, bank deposits, and loans both grew, while interest rates fell.
The knock-on effect of lower interest rates and more money being loaned out, according to the trio, was an increase in industrialization. That meant that the beneficiaries of non-discrimination were not just women, who now had more control over their own finances, but men who moved from punishing agricultural work into slightly less punishing and better paid industrial jobs.
None of this should come as any great surprise. As the likes of Paul Romer have shown, developing human capital is a crucial element of sustained economic success. That has profound implications for discrimination. Certainly, we ought to end unequal treatment as a moral affront. But a less discriminatory society is also one in which a greater number of people are able to realize their potential, to develop their human capital, which enriches us all.
There are easy economic wins just waiting to be realized for the 40 percent of countries where women still do not enjoy full property rights.
This is another example of the way in which liberal social policies based on the rule of law are the handmaiden of successful economies. It’s certainly possible for a country to become wealthy without treating all its citizens equitably, but as the research above amply demonstrates, doing so is much quicker and easier when everyone gets a fair crack of the whip.
And while much of the discourse about the future focuses on the risks and opportunities of various tech panaceas—AI, automation, robots, and so on—for the 40 percent of countries where women still do not enjoy full property rights, there are easy economic wins just waiting to be realized.

Expanding Women's Rights Isn't Just a Moral imperative, It's Also an Economic One - Foundation for Economic Education

A solution to our housing problems: socialisation

There have been calls for more social housing:
Futures Forum: A year on from the Grenfell Tower fire, and the debate around social housing continues...
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: "A vision for social housing"
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: build more council houses

But perhaps, rather than asking the state to do this, it can be a genuine grassroots initiative - as shown in Berlin - although the headline in the otherwise excellent piece in The Conversation recently calls this 'renationalise' rather than the activists' preferred 'socialise': 

Berlin’s grassroots plan to renationalise up to 200,000 ex-council homes from corporate landlords

Research Fellow in Urban Studies, University of Cambridge

In major cities throughout the world, the price of housing is on the rise: in 2017 alone, prices leaped by 20.5% in Berlin, 16% in Vancouver and 14.8% in Hong Kong. As rents keep going up, activists in Berlin are spearheading a novel proposal to nationalise housing. Such response might sound quixotic in cities such as London, but 54.9% of Berliners consider it reasonable. And instead of waiting for the government to act, citizens have taken matters into their own hands.
On April 6, 2019 the civic campaign Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen (DWE for short) starts collecting signatures, with the aim to hold a referendum that could lead to renationalisation of up to 200,000 council flats, which were previously sold to corporate landlords.
If successful, the move could provide a legal precedent for other cities to call for nationalisaton as a modern and legitimate solution to their housing crises. It could also prompt changes to international law, empowering legislation initiatives that see housing as a human right, as a strategic resource or as global commons.
For Berliners, it not only matters who owns the housing, but also how they own it. Nationalisation is often associated with centralised, if not authoritarian governance, and inefficient administration. That’s why DWE uses a different legal concept: “Vergesellschaftung” (which translates to “socialisation”) – or social ownership. This model presumes that once flats are made public, they will also be democratically managed.

The new social housing

The activists envision a new public institution aimed at providing affordable flats to Berliners of all nationalities. Tenants, administration workers and members of the public would be equally represented in its governing body, which would also include members of Berlin’s senate. All profits from rent would be used for the maintenance and modernisation of buildings, and for the construction of new housing.

But how much would it cost the city to reclaim apartments sold to corporate landlords, considering the record 20.5% leap in housing prices in 2017? While the exact amount of compensation would be negotiated in the court, there are reasons to believe that it won’t be anywhere near market prices.
Crucial here is article 15 of the German constitution, created after World War II, which allows either state or local governments to turn land, natural resources and means of production into collective ownership “for the purposes of socialisation”. This legal clause would be the key leverage to ban corporate landlords with more than 3,000 properties from of the city.
After World War II, legislators of all political factions believed economic monopolies to be dangerous for democracy. Indeed, several German industry giants had willingly cooperated with the Nazi state. Article 15 of the German constitution was designed as a tool to prevent what legal experts called a “misuse of economic power against society”.

Taking back power

According to Berlin’s housing activists, that is precisely what large housing corporations are doing today: using their economic power against society. Companies such as Deutsche Wohnen, Vonovia or Akelius – which all together own more than 200,000 flats in Berlin – can use their scale in such a way that existing mechanisms for rent control are bypassed.
For example, in Germany rent increases are usually justified in relation to the “Mietspiegel” (or “rent mirror”), calculated every year in relation to the average rent in the area. If a company owns several thousand units in one neighbourhood, its rent increases drive up the entire “rent mirror”, and so would perpetually justify further increases.
As demand for housing in Berlin has grown over the past 15 years, rents have been driven up to the point that – according to a recent study - 40% of Berliners aged between 45 and 55 are unlikely to be able to afford to stay in the city after they retire. Unless housing is socialised, that is.
Berliners are also entering into unknown legal terrain. Never in the history of the German constitution has article 15 been actually used, and until recently it seemed to have been largely forgotten. But it would be a mistake to see socialisation as an initiative confined to German law. Berlin’s housing corporations are active on the international stock market, and taking their property would lead the city government into a confrontation with international law which, in general, strongly protectscorporate private property.
This battle will be watched closely by proponents of nationalisation and other forms of progressive politics, right across Europe. While the lack of affordable housing in other cities may be driven by other factors – aside from mass housing ownership by large corporate landlords – the outcome in Berlin could lend strength to calls to nationalise empty property or vacant lots.
This would make a big difference in cities such as London, for example, where more than a third of properties in “prime” market areas remain empty. As it stands, compulsory purchase – a tool related to nationalisation – is currently being used in London for quite the opposite purpose. The city seizes council flats from tenants (who became homeowners under right-to-buy) to make space for commercial redevelopment of sites.
Enraged about the housing crisis, Berlin activists do not just push their legislators, they show them the way by actively searching for progressive possibilities inside the existing law and beyond it. However this particular legal battle pans out, Berliners have already reinvented and democratised nationalisation, turning it from a top-down state intervention, into a grassroots project. 

Berlin's grassroots plan to renationalise up to 200,000 ex-council homes from corporate landlords

Extinction Rebellion in Exeter: comment, photos, videos from Saturday's action

It's demonstrably clear that we need to do something about climate change:
Futures Forum: Climate change > Extinction Rebellion "striking at the end of the world" 

As the campaign group says: 

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. The government has failed to protect us. To survive, it’s going to take everything we’ve got.

  1. The Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
  2. The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
  3. A national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
Extinction Rebellion | Rebel for Life 

The campaign was in Exeter yesterday:
Futures Forum: Extinction Rebellion in Exeter tomorrow: 11am Saturday 30th March 

And their Facebook pages have the photographs to show it:
Extinction Rebellion Exeter was live. - Extinction Rebellion Exeter

Also to be found on the VGS news pages:
Extinction Rebellion takes over Exeter city centre - Vision Group for Sidmouth

Here are a few recent comments:

James Brown Great event yesterday. Really well organised, great effort. 
It was especially lovely to meet my new affinity group ahead of the International Rebellion in London from 15th April.

To everyone joining our page after seeing us in town today - welcome and please come along to our meeting on Friday evening from 6pm 

And from the last few weeks:
Great organisation with great ethos and really committed to demonstrate non violent direct action
Because they want to force there views down peoples thoughts rather than let them make there own inf... See more
A bunch of self entitled children pitching a fit because they don't like the way the world works.

Extinction Rebellion Exeter - Home | Facebook

Property acquired in Sidmouth by offshore companies

There's a lot of money sloshing around in tax havens:
Futures Forum: How the corrupt London property market has happened >>> Kleptocracy, a hobbled planning system and an obsession with house prices
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: of Paradise Papers and specialising in vulture funds
Futures Forum: "If Brexit was the creation, in part, of this new world of offshore money and political influence campaigns, Brexit may well ensure that it continues unrestricted."

Earlier in the month, Private Eye published the results of its research into the offshore haven:

Selling England (and Wales) by the pound

IN September 2015 Private Eye created an easily searchable online map (see below) of properties in England and Wales owned by offshore companies. It reveals for the first time the extent of the British property interests of companies based in tax havens from Panama to Luxembourg, and from Liechtenstein to the South Pacific island of Niue. Most are held in this way for tax avoidance and often to conceal dubious wealth.

Using Land Registry data released under Freedom of Information laws, and then linking around 100,000 land title register entries to specific addresses, the Eye has mapped all leasehold and freehold interests acquired by offshore companies between 2005 and 2014.

Using this data the Eye published a series of exposes of the companies, arms dealers, oligarchs, money launderers and others who use offshore companies. Now Private Eye, using the same data, is also publishing a database of all properties acquired by offshore companies from 1999 to 2014, showing the address, the offshore corporate owners (some have more than one) and, where available, the price paid.

To download the 1999-2014 database, click here » (Excel file, 8.2MB)

Download the FREE Tax Haven Special Report here » (PDF)

Want to know which tax haven companies own property in your town? | East Devon Watch

A close-up of Private Eye's map here in Sidmouth shows a seafront hotel, acquired about five years ago and now with a new name - where work is currently underway to build new housing right on the main road - the application having been contested by the Town Council at the time:

Private Eye Magazine | Official Site - the UK's number one best-selling news and current affairs magazine, edited by Ian Hislop

At the same time, the Global Witness group has been campaigning for greater transparency: 


18th March 2019

We found that 87,000 properties in England and Wales were owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens – an almost identical number to when we last measured in 2017. The total value of these properties, which are mostly clustered in the priciest parts of central London, is at least £56 billion according to Land Registry data – but it could be as much as double that once inflation and missing price data are taken into account.

Brexit chaos should not distract from cleaning up Britain's property sector | Global Witness

And the Herald is showing interest: 

There are 100 properties in East Devon owned by tax haven companies

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 March 2019

Harriet Clugston

There are 100 properties in East Devon owned by companies registered in offshore tax havens, which campaigners warn could be being exploited by criminals.

Analysis of the Land Registry for England and Wales has revealed more than 87,000 properties worth an estimated £100billion are owned by anonymous overseas companies.

Campaign group Global Witness, which carried out the research, says the figures demonstrate the ‘alarming scale of the UK’s secret property scandal’, which criminals could be using to launder money.

In East Devon, there are 103 properties owned by companies registered outside of the UK. Of these, 100 are owned by companies based in so-called secrecy jurisdictions, or tax havens – countries whose laws allow them to keep their financial activities private or to pay a low amount of tax.

Companies registered in Guernsey own the largest share in East Devon, with 34 properties. This is followed by Jersey, on 33 properties, and the Isle of Man, with 28.

Information about the sale price has been provided for 28 per cent of the tax haven-owned properties, which had a combined cost of £14million.

Global Witness used the average price of property in East Devon to estimate the value of the remaining properties, which suggests the true value could be £49million after inflation is taken into account. This could be a conservative estimate, as property prices in England and Wales generally rise above the rate of inflation, it added.

The group said the government had pledged to introduce a new register of UK property owners, but that progress had been slow.

Ava Lee, senior anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, said: “It’s increasingly clear that UK property is one of the favourite tools of the criminal and corrupt for stashing and laundering stolen cash.

“There’s some good news. Parliament is reviewing a draft law that could force these secret owners out of the shadows. We’re calling on the Government to table this legislation as quickly as possible, so we can find out who really owns so much of the UK.”

The new legislation would mean companies buying property in the UK would have to reveal the identity of their owners.

Across the South West, there are 5,360 properties owned by overseas companies, 89 per cent of which are registered in secret jurisdictions – 4,795 in total. The properties owned by companies registered in tax havens are worth an estimated £3billion.

HMRC said there is ‘absolutely no place for illicit finance in the UK’.

A spokesman said: “We take our response to money laundering very seriously through our supervision of high risk sectors. Increasingly we are seeking to use our supervisory, enforcement and tax powers in concert, enabling us to increase our focus on the enablers of tax crime and money laundering.”

He added that estate agents were legally obliged to register with HMRC for anti-money laundering supervision, and faced action if they failed to do so.

There are 100 properties in East Devon owned by tax haven companies | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Cutting CO2 vs "Make Cars Great Again"

Can we have our cake and eat it - continue to drive freely whilst cutting down on our CO2 emissions?
Futures Forum: Cutting Exeter's car emissions by getting motorists to drive differently, by using technology >>> launch of "Breathe Exeter" Thursday 25th April

However, it is very difficult to square this particular circle, as demonstrated in a recent piece from Wired: 


This story originally appeared on The New Republic and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.



Germany was supposed to be a model for solving global warming. In 2007, the country’s government announced that it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2020. This was the kind of bold, aggressive climate goal scientists said was needed in all developed countries. If Germany could do it, it would prove the target possible.

So far, Germany has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 27.7 percent—an astonishing achievement for a developed country with a highly developed manufacturing sector. But with a little more than a year left to go, despite dedicating $580 billion toward a low-carbon energy system, the country “is likely to fall short of its goals for reducing harmful carbon-dioxide emissions,” Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday. And the reason for that may come down not to any elaborate solar industry plans, but something much simpler: cars.

“At the time they set their goals, they were very ambitious,” Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations’ top climate change official, told Bloomberg. “What happened was that the industry—particularly the car industry—didn’t come along.”

Changing the way we power our homes and businesses is certainly important. But as Germany’s shortfall shows, the only way to achieve these necessary, aggressive emissions reductions to combat global warming is to overhaul the gas-powered automobile and the culture that surrounds it. The only question left is how to do it.

In 2010, a NASA study declared that automobiles were officially the largest net contributor of climate change pollution in the world. “Cars, buses, and trucks release pollutants and greenhouse gases that promote warming, while emitting few aerosols that counteract it,” the study read. “In contrast, the industrial and power sectors release many of the same gases—with a larger contribution to [warming]—but they also emit sulfates and other aerosols that cause cooling by reflecting light and altering clouds.”

In other words, the power generation sector may have emitted the most greenhouse gases in total. But it also released so many sulfates and cooling aerosols that the net impact was less than the automobile industry, according to NASA.

Since then, developed countries have cut back on those cooling aerosols for the purpose of countering regular air pollution, which has likely increased the net climate pollution of the power generation industry. But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions,” while “in total, the US transportation sector—which includes cars, trucks, planes, trains, ships, and freight—produces nearly thirty percent of all US global warming emissions ... .”

In fact, transportation is now the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States—and it has been for two years, according to an analysis from the Rhodium Group.

There’s a similar pattern happening in Germany. Last year, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased as a whole, “largely thanks to the closure of coal-fired power plants,” according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the transportation industry’s emissions increased by 2.3 percent, “as car ownership expanded and the booming economy meant more heavy vehicles were on the road.” Germany’s transportation sector remains the nation’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but if these trends continue, it will soon become the first.

Clearly, the power generation industry is changing its ways. So why aren’t carmakers following suit?

TO AMERICAN EYES, Germany may look like a public transit paradise. But the country also has a flourishing car culture that began over a hundred years ago and has only grown since then.

Behind Japan and the United States, Germany is the third-largest automobile manufacturer in the world—home to BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagen. These brands, and the economic prosperity they’ve brought to the country, shape Germany’s cultural and political identities. “There is no other industry as important,” Arndt Ellinghorst, the chief of Global Automotive Research at Evercore, told CNN.

A similar phenomenon exists in the United States, where gas-guzzlers symbolize nearly every cliche point of American pride: affluence, capability for individual expression, and personal freedoms. Freedom, in particular, “is not a selling point to be easily dismissed,” Edward Humes wrote in The Atlantic in 2016. “This trusty conveyance, always there, always ready, on no schedule but its owner’s. Buses can’t do that. Trains can’t do that. Even Uber makes riders wait.”

It’s this cultural love of cars—and the political influence of the automotive industry—that has so far prevented the public pressure necessary to provoke widespread change in many developed nations. But say those barriers didn’t exist. How could developed countries tweak their automobile policies to solve climate change?

For Germany to meet emissions targets, “half of the people who now use their cars alone would have to switch to bicycles, public transport, or ride-sharing,” Heinrich Strößenreuther, a Berlin-based consultant for mobility strategies told YaleEnvironment360's Christian Schwägerl last fall. That would require drastic policies, like having local governments ban high-emitting cars in populated places like cities. (In fact, Germany’s car capital, Stuttgart, is considering it.) It would also require large-scale government investments in public transportation infrastructure: “A new transport system that connects bicycles, buses, trains, and shared cars, all controlled by digital platforms that allow users to move from A to B in the fastest and cheapest way—but without their own car,” Schwägerl said.

One could get away with more modest infrastructure investments if governments required carmakers to make their vehicle fleets more fuel-efficient, thereby burning less petroleum. The problem is that most automakers seek to meet those requirements by developing electric cars. If those cars are charged with electricity from a coal-fired power plant, they create “more emissions than a car that burns petrol,” energy storage expert Dénes Csala pointed out last year. “For such a switch to actually reduce net emissions, the electricity that powers those cars must be renewable.”

The most effective solution would be to combine these policies. Governments would require drastic improvements in fuel efficiency for gas-powered vehicles, while investing in renewable-powered electric car infrastructure. At the same time, cities would overhaul their public transportation systems, adding more bikes, trains, buses and ride-shares. Fewer people would own cars.

At one point, the U.S. was well on its way toward some of these changes. In 2012, President Barack Obama’s administration implemented regulations requiring automakers to nearly double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles by the year 2025. But the Trump administration announced a rollback of those regulations earlier this month. Their intention, they said, is to “Make Cars Great Again.”

The modern cars they’re seeking to preserve, and the way we use them, are far from great. Of course, there’s the climate impact—the trillions in expected economic damage from extreme weather and sea-level rise caused in part by our tailpipes. But 53,000 Americans also die prematurely from vehicle pollution each year, and accidents are among the leading causes of death in the United States. “If US roads were a war zone, they would be the most dangerous battlefield the American military has ever encountered,” Humes wrote. It’s getting more dangerous by the day.

Cutting Exeter's car emissions by getting motorists to drive differently, by using technology >>> launch of "Breathe Exeter" Thursday 25th April

Cars are one of the worse producers of CO2:
Transport becomes most polluting UK sector as greenhouse gas emissions drop overall | The Independent

And one way to reduce this is to at least make people aware - and quite drastically:
Futures Forum: Extinction Rebellion in Exeter tomorrow: 11am Saturday 30th March

There are ways to drive in a more 'eco-friendly' way, however:
11 ways to cut your driving emissions | RAC Drive

And there are also devices being introduced, to encourage 'smoother driving' - and so reduce emissions:
How it works | Lightfoot

It's being launched next month in Exeter:
Breathe Exeter Launch Tickets, Thu 25 Apr 2019 at 18:30 | Eventbrite

Here's part of a puff-piece on the Devon Live website - its claims rather at odds with the reality on the ground as demonstrated earlier today in Exeter. Still, maybe we can have our cake and eat it... 

Plans unveiled to make Exeter a global leader in cutting car emissions

Lightfoot is investing £500,000 in Breathe Exeter

Hannah Finch
28 MAR 2019

Ambitious plans to make Exeter a global leader in low vehicle emissions is set to be launched.

A new movement is being pioneered by connected car technology developer Lightfoot in a bid to slash vehicle emissions through the actions of drivers, rather than government policy.

The maker of the world’s first technology to reward better drivers is investing over £500,000 in Breathe Exeter, a radical new initiative, which aims to remove the equivalent of 1,000 cars’ worth of emissions from the city’s air by the end of the year, simply by changing the way motorists drive.

With one month to go until the initiative is officially launched, Lightfoot has detailed its plans to make Exeter a global leader in the reduction of vehicle emissions through Breathe Exeter.

It aims to build support from individuals, businesses and public sector bodies that wish to play their part in making Exeter a “cleaner, greener” city by the end of 2019.

To achieve its goal, Lightfoot, headquartered on the outskirts of Exeter, aims to install its in-car technology, often described as “the Fitbit for cars”, in at least 5,500 vehicles by the end of 2019. The device costs just £149.

The lightfoot device in action

Drivers installing Lightfoot can expect to save an average of £160 per year on their fuel bill, meaning the device more than pays for itself in fuel savings alone, if they reach Lightfoot’s ‘Elite Driver’ standard - requiring a Lightfoot score of 85% or above. At this point, fuel and emissions savings of up to 20% become possible.

Those reaching Elite Driver standard are also automatically entered into cash prize draws and can enter competitions to win the latest tech, exciting experiences, and luxury produce that reward their efforts to drive more efficiently. Lightfoot will soon be launching The Drivers’ Lottery, which will expand its prize offering significantly with many more rewards for better drivers.

Motorists maintaining Elite Driver status can also look forward to 20% off their car insurance, as well as hundreds of savings on the high street and via online retailers. Users have the potential to save and earn over £750 per year with the discounts and rewards attainable through Lightfoot.

Commenting on the countdown to Breathe Exeter, Mark Roberts, founder and CEO of Lightfoot, said: “Through Breathe, we aim to remove 550 tonnes of pollutants from our city’s air by the end of December. To do this, we need just 10% of the city’s cars and vans to install Lightfoot.

“Our aim is to work with the city’s many enlightened businesses and citizens to make this happen, creating a greener, safer, less polluted city for all – whether you drive or not.

“For those joining us on this journey, there is a huge opportunity to make a positive difference – to create a blueprint for other cities to follow, proving that a social movement for change can have a bigger, more immediate impact than slow-moving national policy. Together, we can dramatically cut CO2, NOx, and particulates through one simple action - smoother driving.”

Mark Roberts added: “Breathe Exeter marks the first step of what could be an international movement to instantly and permanently reduce pollution and emissions on the roads of our cities. This is an opportunity for drivers to take the lead; to make a difference through their own personal actions, and to benefit from rewards and savings in the process.

“We see this as the perfect social movement where everyone benefits – whether it’s a child in the playground or the tourist admiring Exeter Cathedral. This is community activism working for the good of everyone.

“In our eyes Breathe is a ‘now’ solution to the growing global issue of vehicle emissions. Achieve our goals in Exeter and we will set a precedent for others to follow around the globe.”

Lightfoot is available to purchase from Halfords at Rydon Lane, Exeter. Its high-tech analytics and configurable in-cab feedback enable users to maintain a driving style that keeps their engine in its ‘sweet spot’ – where it uses the least fuel, emits the least pollution, and is most efficient.

Lightfoot’s technology has been widely used in the fleet sector by household names including Virgin Media, Greencore, and South West Water. It has also been trialled by private motorists in Exeter over the past two years, enabling the company to refine its technology and rewards platform in readiness for Breathe Exeter. Lightfoot users typically see reductions in fuel costs by up to 20%, harmful emissions by 20%, at-fault accidents by up to 40%, and wear and tear costs by 45%.

Plans unveiled to make Exeter a global leader in cutting car emissions - Devon Live

Climate change is decimating fishing stocks in the North Sea by 35%

"In 2018 the U.S. and nine other countries formally recognized that warming was creating new access to fishing stocks. In response, the 10 countries agreed to a moratorium that bars fishing until scientists are able to assess whether Arctic Ocean fisheries can be used sustainably" - as covered by National Geographic today:
The Arctic Ocean—facts and information

Other fishing areas have also been facing a lot of stress:
Fishing: Australian fish stocks drop a third in decade - Sydney Morning Herald
Warming oceans cast a chill over New England's sea turtles - massive science

Including the North Sea, as covered by Plymouth Live:
Fish stocks drop by up to 35 per cent thanks to climate change - Plymouth Live

Here's an overview from the i newspaper: 

How global warming is decimating some fish populations and helping others

North Sea fish hit hardest by climate change

March 22nd 2019

The surprise discovery this month that climate change has decimated key North Sea fish populations means fishing quotas must be reconfigured to take account of global warming, experts say. A groundbreaking study has found that the North Sea is being hit much harder by climate change than any other major fishery in the world. It found that seven major North Sea species, including cod and haddock, have collectively tumbled by 34.6 per cent since 1930, soley as a result of ocean warming. When other factors such as overfishing are included the over declines are much higher still.

Role of climate change largely unnoticed

But while the crisis facing our seas has been long been blamed on overfishing, climate-change induced ocean warming has been playing a considerable – but largely-unnoticed – role in declining fish populations, the study finds.

This discovery suggests that, even if quotas were strict and successfully enforced, fish stocks face the threat of further major declines in the future as the oceans continue to warm. As such, the institutions responsible for setting quotas – which in the case of UK fishing waters is the EU – should explicitly factor in the impact of climate change in their calculations, according to environmental law firm ClientEarth.

“We are alarmed by reports that climate change is impacting North Sea fish stocks and particularly concerned about the additional strain this puts on vulnerable stocks that are already struggling due to overfishing,” said Jennifer Reeves, fisheries lawyer at environmental law firm ClientEarth. “EU decision-makers must start considering how climate change will impact fish stocks when setting quotas and fisheries management policies,” she said.

Non-fishing factors like climate change need to be taken into account when deciding how much fishing can take place, to ensure the overall cumulative impact is not unsustainable. Otherwise at some point quotas will no longer reflect the reality of species distribution across the EU, she said.
After Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, responsibility for quotas would switch to the UK government whereas if it leaves with a deal it is likely the UK would be subject to EU quotas for at least two years, experts say.

Chris Free, the University of California Santa Barbara researcher who led the study, is calling on fisheries managers all over the world to “account for climate change” in their management decisions. His research, conducted while he was at Rutgers university, separated out the effects of warming water from overfishing and other factors.

It found that North Sea fish stocks declined by almost twice the level seen on the Iberian Coast, the next biggest casualty of climate change of the world’s fisheries – which saw stocks decline by 19.2 per cent between 1930 and 2010.

Major fish stocks suffer

Over that period, the volume of cod, haddock, whiting, herring that can be sustainably fished in the North Sea every year has fallen by about a quarter as the warming water kills off huge volumes of plankton, the tiny organisms that lie at the base of the marine food chain, the study found. This has drastically reduced food supplies for fish – some of which eat the plankton and others which eat other marine organisms that rely on them for their food.

The North Sea has been hit particularly hard because, due to the quirks of global warming, temperature rises are distributed unevenly around the globe – and the North Sea has risen considerably more than most other seas. It has increased by 0.8C from an average of 9.8C in 1930 to 10.6C in 2010.

Sandeels also being hit

North Sea Sandeels are also suffering, with climate change dragging down populations by around 30 per cent over the period.

Euan Dunn, the RSPB’s Principal Policy Officer said, “There is now compelling scientific evidence that rising sea temperatures are reducing the abundance of sandeels on which so many of our seabird species rely to feed themselves and raise young. This is likely to be a key reason behind the major recent declines in seabird populations such as the kittiwake and puffin.”

The 34.6 per cent decline in fish stocks recorded in the North Sea as a result of climate change compared to a 5.3 per cent drop in the South Atlantic Ocean and a 4.7 per cent drop in the North Atlantic Ocean. Only the tiny Sea of Japan, situated within the Japanese archipelago, was higher, at 34.7 per cent

Overall, fish stocks around the world fell by 4.1 per cent between 1910 and 2010 as a result of ocean warming, according to the first study to comprehensively quantify the effect of climate change on fish stocks worldwide.

Experts say the study is groundbreaking because it finds the effects of climate change are already upon us.

“We were stunned to find that fish around the world have already responded to ocean warming. These aren’t hypothetical changes sometime in the future,” said Malin Pinsky, of Rutgers’ University.

The study

The research examined 235 fish populations made up of 124 species in 38 regions of the world. It used a standard measure of fish stocks calculated by determining the number that could be sustainably fished each year if the fishery was perfectly managed – meaning no overfishing, no disease, oil spills or other negative factors.

Known as the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), any changes in this level is soley governed by ocean warming.

In reality, despite widespread efforts to use quotas to put a lid on it, overfishing does occur – putting further pressure on fish populations, many of which are already under siege from climate change.

A fisherman’s tale: 

Graham Doswell, a small-boat fisherman based in Eastbourne, has definitely noticed a change in fish distribution in his decades as a fisherman in the English channel and thinks global warming is likely to be a major factor.

“There are lots of difference, for sure. Three or four years ago there was tons and tons of cod in channel and this year its been very scarce, almost non existant,” he said. “Meanwhile, the herring are changing their patterns. They come out of the North Sea and round into the channel – but they seems to be a month later than it used to be,” Mr Doswell added.

Bass moved into North Sea

“The bass have moved further up into the North Sea – whereas you didn’t use to catch bass in the north sea.”

Mr Doswell said there is no doubt that the sea is getting warmer. “When I was fishing with my father, we used to measure the water temperature – and in the winter used to be far, far cooler than it is now,” said Mr Doswell, whose boat is 9.8 metres long – classing it as small.

“I am concerned about global warming. Being a small boat fisherman, we haven’t got the capacity to say ‘Oh the fish have moved up into the North Sea, we can follow them round’. We’re stuck with what we’ve got here and if it carries on changing it could be a problem,” he said.

How North Sea compares to others

To put the climate change effect into perspective, the North Sea haddock population fell by 59.9 per cent overall between 1990 and 2010 as a result of overfishing and other factors – as well as ocean warming. North Sea Whiting declined by 39.8 per cent, cod by 39.2 per cent and sole by 38.9 per cent over the same period.

“Overfishing provides a one-two punch to fisheries facing warming waters. It not only makes fisheries more vulnerable to ocean warming, but continued warming will also hinder efforts to rebuild overfished populations,” said Dr Free.

Debbie Crockard, senior fisheries policy advocate at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “The combination of climate change and overfishing is problematic as the cumulative impacts are often much more severe than individual ones.”

The oceans that have benefitted from global warming

While most fish species in most seas are suffering from ocean warming some are benefitting. The Mediterranean Sea and the Norwegian Sea, saw increases of 0.6 per cent and 1.1 per cent, in major fish stocks respectively, between 1930 and 2010, as they benefitted from warming waters. Meanwhile, the South Pacific saw a 4.2 per cent rise and the Baltic Sea an 11.2 per cent jump.

The winning fish

Likewise, while some fish are suffering at the hands of global warming, others were flourishing. The Greenland Halibut, living in the Gulf of St Lawrence between the US and Canada, for example, have seen their stocks rise by 53.6 per cent in 80 years as a result of climate change.

In the same waters, the Atlantic Cod is up by 45.9 per cent while the Atlantic Herring of the Bothnian Sea, between Sweden and Finland, have increased by 30.6 per cent.

Experts suggested any benefits due to climate change could be relatively short lived, however. “Fish populations can only tolerate so much warming. Many of the species that have benefited from warming so far are likely to start declining as temperatures continue to rise,” said Olaf Jensen, also of Rutgers.

How global warming is decimating some fish populations and helping others