HSE International

Glasgow becomes first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels

Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, in a turning point for the British arm of the student-led global divestment movement.

After twelve months of campaigning led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court this afternoon voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.

Describing the result as “a dramatic beachhead for the divestment movement”, American environmentalist Bill McKibben said that it sent a powerful signal that Europe would be “just as powerful in this fight as Australia and North America”.

The founder of climate campaign group 350.org added: “That it comes from Glasgow, which has as much claim to birthing the industrial revolution as any city on Earth, makes it that much more special. Everyone from the Rockefellers on down is realizing it’s time to move on.”

As of last month, more than 800 global investors – including foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers, religious groups, healthcare organisations, universities and local governments – have pledged to withdraw a total of $50bn from fossil fuel investments over the next five years as a result of the campaign which began on college campuses in the United States three years ago.

Writer and activist Naomi Klein said that Glasgow University had joined “a fast growing global movement providing much-needed hope to the prospect of climate action.”

“Students around the world are making it clear that the institutions entrusted to prepare them for the future cannot simultaneously bet against their future by profiting from corporations that plan to burn many times more carbon than our atmosphere can safely absorb,” said Klein.

“They are sending an unequivocal message that fossil fuel profits are illegitimate – on par with tobacco and arms profits – and that brings us a significant step closer to demanding that our politicians sever ties with this rogue industry and implement bold climate policies based on a clear, progressive ‘polluter pays’ principle.’”

Original Source: http://bit.ly/ZR8qhT

Road Safety News: GoSafe launches new 20mph schools campaign

A new campaign has been launched in Wales to encourage drivers to adhere to 20mph limits outside schools.

The campaign, ‘20mph Rule Outside Schools’, has been launched by GoSafe, the Wales Road Casualty Reduction Partnership, to “educate drivers about the importance of adhering to the relevant limit”. As part of the campaign, GoSafe is focusing on enforcing 20mph areas outside schools during September.

GoSafe says “slower speeds in communities have also been shown to support people to become more active, through increased cycling and walking”.

Chris Hume, GoSafe partnership manager, said: “The launch of ‘20mph Rule Outside Schools’ will help road users to stop, think and kill their speed, encouraging local people who use the roads to have greater respect not only for one another but also their surrounding community.

“We will continue to work together with our partners on community engagement activities to make the streets outside schools safer. Our aim is for everyone in Wales to understand the effects that those exceeding the 20mph limit can have on families and friends.”

Tim Burton, deputy police and crime commissioner for Dyfed Powys, said: “The lives of too many young people are put at risk due to bad driving. Every motorist should take this 20mph message on board; it will help avoid personal tragedy and family heartbreak on our roads.”

Susan Storch, chair of Road Safety Wales, said: “Children are potentially amongst the most vulnerable road users because of their age and lack of experience in certain situations.

“Reducing speeds outside schools will encourage children to walk and cycle to school, reduce congestion and improve the residential environment. Working with our partners in GoSafe we want to remind drivers and riders that lower speeds provide a safer road environment.”

Original Source: http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/3873.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Welsh Universities confirm asbestos in student bedrooms

More than 3,000 students in Wales slept last year in university bedrooms containing asbestos, BBC Wales has learned.

Cardiff, Aberystwyth and the University of Wales Trinity St David all confirmed they have rooms with the material.

They said that because the material was considered low risk in the rooms, they do not tell students it is there.

The British Lung Foundation called this “reckless” while the National Union of Students called for transparency.

Damage risk

Around 15,000 students in Wales live in university-owned halls of residences.

Asbestos was widely used as a building material from the 1950s until the 1980s, often as fireproofing and insulation.

The Health and Safety Executive says that as long as asbestos is not damaged – or located somewhere where it can be easily damaged – it does not pose a risk.

But it says the fibres if inhaled can cause lung complaints like asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Cardiff University has the highest number of bedrooms with asbestos – it estimates there are around 1,500 where the material is present at halls including Cartwright Court, Aberconway Hall, Talybont North and Roy Jenkins Hall.
Cartwright Court, Cardiff
                              Asbestos is present at Cartwright Court in Cardiff

 

A spokesperson for the university said: “We hold the health, safety and security of our students in the highest priority.

“As we believe that the control measures and management procedures we have in place sufficiently minimise the risk, we do not advise students where low risk Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are present.”

 

Aberystwyth University said asbestos was present in 1,088 bedrooms in Cwrt Mawr, Pantycelyn and Penbryn Halls – most of which is in vinyl floor tiles under carpets which the university said posed no risk.

Pantycelyn hall, Aberystwyth
                              Pantycelyn is one of the halls in Aberystwyth which contains asbestos

 

A spokesperson for the university said it “complies with legislative standards, and undertakes the appropriate asbestos testing and surveys”.

 

The University of Wales Trinity St David said asbestos could be found in 443 rooms at its Lampeter and Carmarthen campuses.

Student halls at Lampeter                          Several halls of residence in Lampeter contain asbestos, including Walker Hall (left) and Dawson Hall (right)

 

“All student bedrooms at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David have been surveyed in accordance with the relevant Health and Safety Executive requirements,” a spokesperson said.

“The university is currently reviewing its position on informing students,” they added.

Beth Button, president of the National Union of Students (NUS) Wales, said: “It is concerning to hear that such a large number of rooms in university accommodation across Wales may contain asbestos.

“We strongly encourage institutions to take this issue seriously and put the safety of students first, whilst ensuring they remain completely transparent with students about the standards of their accommodation.”

Dr Emrys Evans, chest physician and spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation Wales, said he was concerned after their research in 2012 found that “awareness of asbestos in Wales is generally quite low, with just 27% of people able to confidently identify asbestos in their homes”.

“Exposure can often occur unwittingly, and so wherever people live or work they should reliably be informed of the presence of asbestos. Not to do so is reckless,” he added.

The information was given to BBC Wales as a result of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

Four Welsh universities – Cardiff Metropolitan, Swansea, Bangor and Glyndwr – said none of the rooms in their accommodation contained asbestos.

The University of South Wales said some rooms at its Caerleon campus contained asbestos but they were no longer used.

Original Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-28858897