Festival Vision: 2025 unites UK festivals for a sustainable future.

FV2025_logo-300x300Over 40 UK music festivals have pledged to work together to create a more environmentally sustainable festival industry by signing Festival Vision: 2025 — the vision and roadmap for a sustainable future presented by industry think-do tank Powerful Thinking in its seminal environmental report, The Show Must Go On.

Festivals both large and small, with genres from rock music to words, are united around the vision. Bestival, Hay Festival, Shambala and Secret Garden Party have taken the pledge, and Festival Republic have signed up their entire portfolio of 11 UK festivals including: Latitude, V Festival, Reading, Leeds and BBC Proms in the Park.

The Vision: 2025 Festivals aim to halve festival emissions and reach 50% recycling rates by 2025. They have also pledged to reduce travel-related emissions and improve the sustainability of food sourcing. Integral to the pledge is the intention to measure, record and share key environmental impacts from festival operations using credible methods, such as the Julie’s Bicycle free Creative Green IG tools or by working with the A Greener Festival Awards, in order to track progress.

A full list of the participating Festivals and details of the pledge can be found on the Festival Vision: 2025 webpage along with key resources from The Show Must Go On report to help festival organisers make successful changes toward sustainable practices.

Festival Vision: 2025 Webpage: www.festivalvision2025.net

About Powerful Thinking: Powerful Thinking is a not-for-profit industry think-do tank working towards an energy efficient, low carbon and cost effective future for festivals. They are a coalition of industry stakeholders, working together to drive positive change for businesses, audiences and the environment. Powerful Thinking’s steering group members include: Julie’s Bicycle, A Greener Festival, The Association of Independent Festivals, Firefly Clean Energy, Festival Republic, Shambala Festival, Bestival, Kambe Sustainable Events, The Association of Festival Organisers, The Production Services Association and The National Outdoor Events Association.

 

Follow Powerful Thinking on:

Facebook : @powerfulthinking.org

Twitter: @powerthinkorg

#FestivalVision2025  #PowerfulThinking

 

Further information:

www.festivalvision2025.net

http://www.powerful-thinking.org.uk/resources/the-show-must-go-on-report/

For press enquires contact: bethan@powerful-thinking.org.uk / 07841558445

ANOTHER PLANE?

plastic-334546_960_720-300x200The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers in England has plummeted by more than 85% after the introduction of a 5p charge last October, early figures suggest. More than 7bn bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in the year before the charge, but this figure plummeted to slightly more than 500m in the first six months after the charge was introduced, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

The “carbon footprint” for the pollution caused by UK consumption has increased slightly, official figures show. The amount of greenhouse gases linked to goods and services consumed by UK households, including emissions from the foreign manufacture of imported products, rose by 3% between 2012 and 2013, the most recent data shows.

The Glastonbury Festival has  ditched plastic portable toilets after organisers decided they were causing too much anguish. The portable toilets – last year there were 3,000 on site – have been replaced almost entirely by organic compost toilets designed to minimise smells. These are supplemented by open-air “long drop” toilets. The festival management team felt the plastic “Tardis-like” toilet had passed its sell-by date. There was particular concern at how the toilets filled up too quickly and frequently overflowed. Jane Healy, Glastonbury’s sanitation manager, said: “The old plastic Tardis style is gone. Toilets have always been a massive talking point, and no one ever talks about toilets in everyone’s day-to-day life, but as soon as they get to a festival that’s all they want to talk about.

The European Commission has launched the world’s first system for classifying and banning endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), against a barrage of criticism from scientists, NGOs, industry and consumer groups. Endocrines are hormone-altering chemicals common in everyday substances from paint to pesticides that have been linked to an array of illnesses including cancer, infertility, obesity, diabetes, birth defects and reproductive problems. The Guardian reports that attempts to regulate them have been plagued by missed deadlines, buried official papers, censure from EU courts, and US pressure within the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations.

We’re one step away from a glyphosate-free EU. For the third time in a row, member states have refused to back the Commission’s proposed licence extension for weedkiller glyphosate. But the Commission won’t take no for an answer, and will try to force through a last-ditch appeal in Brussels June 24. Otherwise, a whole lot of Monsanto’s Roundup will be coming down from shelves across Europe this year. SumofUs.org tells us that instead of heeding the cancer warnings of the WHO, the European Commission has tried to do Monsanto’s dirty work by pushing through a licence extension despite experts agreeing that a ban of the pesticide is necessary to prevent contamination of our food, water, and soil. Make your voice heard and Tell EU member states to deal the final blow and reject any extension of the glyphosate licence on June 24.

greatapesForest wildfires rampaging across Russia are being significantly under-reported by authorities, according to analysis of satellite data. Climate change is making wildfires much more likely in Russia, but regional officials have been reluctant to report the true extent of the problem, and campaigners are warning that the harm to forests, property and human lives could rise. While the recent forest fires around Fort McMurray, Canada, destroyed more than 580,000 hectares, those in Russia have burned up to 3.5m hectares since the start of 2016, according to Greenpeace Russia. It said at least 1m hectares were in flames at the end of May in the country, which is home to the largest forests in the world.

The Guardian tells us that a UK shale gas company is considering dumping waste water from fracking in the sea, emails from the company show. Ineos, which owns the Grangemouth refinery and holds 21 shale licences, many in the north-west, North Yorkshire and the East Midlands, has said it wants to become the biggest player in the UK’s nascent shale gas industry. In an email sent in March to a resident in Ryedale district, North Yorkshire, where councillors gave the go-ahead to a fracking application by another company in May, a senior executive said that water produced during fracking could be discharged in the sea after being treated. It has not previously said where treated water would be released.

Norway’s parliament has approved a radical goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030, two decades earlier than planned. MPs voted for an accelerated programme of CO2 cuts and carbon trading to offset emissions from sectors such as Norway’s oil and gas industries, which are unlikely to be phased out in the near future. The minority government’s ruling Progress and Conservative parties withdrew their support for the motion at the last minute. But their argument, that ambitious emissions reductions now could interfere with future climate negotiations, was roundly defeated.

Following a series of new heat and melting records in the Arctic, nearly 400 international scientists have called on Barack Obama to rule out further expansion of oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters under US control. The letter, signed by prominent Arctic, marine and climate specialists – including a former member of Obama’s administration, urges the president to rule out any future hunting for oil in the waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. “No new oil and gas leasing or exploration should be allowed in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the foreseeable future, including in the next five-year leasing plan,” the scientists write in the letter.

coffee-mugs-1387830_960_720“I’ve got a megaphone and I’m not afraid to use it!” yelled Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on BBC One last night as the TV chef-turned eco warrior took his ‘War on Waste’ to the high street coffee shops. The problem: more than 5,000 coffee cups are now thrown away every minute across Britain, but less than 1% of those cups are actually recycled due to complex sorting and contamination issues. So, what’s the solution? More innovative cup designs? Better recycling infrastructure? Consumer behaviour change programmes? Or supply chain collaboration? Listen to edie’s latest podcast episode and read the stories that follow to find out how we can solve the great coffee cup conundrum.

badger-44202_960_720Badgers and cattle never came into close contact during a new field study examining how tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted between the animals. Most TB in cattle is contracted from other cattle but some infections come from badgers. The new research indicates that the disease is not passed on by direct contact, but through contaminated pasture and dung, with potentially significant implications for farm practices such as slurry spreading. It also suggests why TB in cattle is so hard to control even when cattle and badgers are culled, as the bacteria can survive in fields for months. Eradicating TB will require addressing this risk, the new research implies. TB is a serious problem for farmers, with 36,000 infected cattle slaughtered in Britain in 2015 at a cost to the taxpayer of about £100m. One key element of the government’s control programme, England’s controversial badger cull, is set to expand. Foremost experts say this “flies in the face of scientific evidence” and that the cull is a “monstrous” waste of time and money. The new research has not changed their conclusion.

amazon-indians-69589_960_720Plans to build a giant hydroelectric dam in the heart of the Amazon rainforest have been halted by Brazil’s environmental protection agency because of mounting concerns about the fate of indigenous communities and wildlife living in the area. The 8,000-megawatt São Luiz do Tapajós (SLT) dam would have been the sixth-largest hydroelectric dam in the world, spanning the five-mile wide Tapajós river and drowning 376 sq km (145 sq miles) of rainforest that is home to some 12,000 Munduruku Indians.

Can a house where wood is burned for heat really be called green?  After writing “From the straw bale wrap to the lime plaster finishes, this cottage is as green as it gets” there was a huge amount of comment about the use of wood for heating. “…as green as it gets”? I would like to respectfully disagree. It’s unfortunate that “renewable” is now equated with “clean”, “green”, “healthy”, and “good-for-the-planet”.Yes, wood is renewable, but burning it as fuel has none of these positive attributes. Make up your own mind by reading the article on TreeHugger.

Small is Beautiful is back at CAT!

flyer vectorThe Small is Beautiful festival returns to CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) in Wales for 2016 in a ‘lite’ format –  pulling together all the key elements; talks, workshops, debates, arts and music – and the event will be a microcosm of the main event, squeezed into one day.

Organisers say that”With the political maelstrom triggered by the EU referendum vote, and the uncertainly this has caused, not least towards the future of UK environmental policy, it was deemed a theme that was too important to ignore”  and the content of the festival for 2016 will address the following question:

“Does the UK’s vote to withdraw from the EU tell us that human scale change must be achieved at the local level or should we redouble our efforts to form new international partnerships?”

The keynote addresses will come from current Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and the recently appointed director of Practical Action, Paul Smith Lomas. This year’s discussion on the above theme is sure to be hotly debated and will be chaired by Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation, who spoke compellingly at last year’s event.

The festival offers a wide selection of engaging workshops and mobilisation groups for you to share your thoughts and get your hands dirty. This year these will range from aquaponics to wind empowerment, and from green economics to community action. Something for everyone, as they say!

After dinner there’s a chance to dust off your dancing shoes and get on down to some of the finest hand-picked artists in the UK: Count Drachma, The Saltcutters, and – in what is fast becoming an annual tradition – the Small is Beautiful All Star Ceilidh Band. The colourful sounds of Hi-Five Hi-Fi will keep us dancing into the wee small hours… for those with a bit of stamina.

Small is Beautiful will also be curating talks and debates on each day of the weekend at Festival No.6 in Port Merion, only an hour away from CAT, the week before Small is Beautiful. Should you be at the festival, do come and listen to the talks, and come and say hello to the team. They would love to see you there!

Another date for your diary is 9th – 11th June 2017, when the festival will be returning to CAT as a full weekend affair, taking on the theme of housing from all angles: socio-economic, policy, building materials, global approaches etc. Tickets will be on sale from 10th September, and there will of course be discounts available for those buying them at the event.

Small in Beautiful at CAT, 10th September 2016. Tickets from £30, with concessions available. Visit http://www.smallisfestival.org/ for more info and to book.  If you’d like to stay at CAT before or after the festival, call Becky on 01654 704973.

CAT: Llwyngwern Quarry, Pantperthog, Machynlleth SY20 9AZ

OSWALD’S GIANT GROWTH LEAVES THE LADIES GASPING

OSWALD GRIMETHORPE

Oswald Grimethorpe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mr Grimethorpe’s  marrow

A Wigan pensioner has been left ‘shocked’ and outraged’ after his win in the Wigan Rotarian Annual Flower and Vegetable Show was reported in the local press with a huge dose of  ‘smut and innuendo’. Oswald Grimthorpe, a retired boilermaker, said he was furious after reports that his giant marrow had won the ‘biggest growth’ category (marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes) were captioned with headlines such as ‘Oswald still has a whopper’ and ‘Grimethorpe unveils his growth for the ladies’ in various local newspapers. The Wigan & District Herald ran their article under the strapline ‘Pensioner rears enormous fleshy growth to impress  his audience’ – a comment Mr Grimethorpe said ‘reeked of smut and innuendo.

Mr Grimethorpe, of 33 Colliery Road,  Ince in Makerfield, said his life had been ‘left in tatters’ after the the win. He told reporters ‘I was at Wigan Wallgate Station yesterday when a young lady and her friends, all may I say unknown to me, approached me and asked if she could ‘measure my marrow’. One of her friends said she fancied ‘a look at my courgette and any plums I might have to hand’. ” This is OUTRAGEOUS.

Mr Grimethorpe has said he did not personally enter the Marrow or indeed any of his vegetables, and this was done by his ‘idiotic’ nephew, who he now claims labelled the winning entry as ‘Oswalds’s whopper’ which has prompted the press melee. Young nephew Ben (who could not be reached for comment) had also entered a plate of courgettes under the entry name ‘Oswald’s super sized veg’ and a stick of asparagus under the entry of ‘Grimethorpe’s spear’. Mr Grimethorpe added that the labelling of his jar of gherkins and a pair of prize walnuts ‘could not be repeated in a family newspaper.

Mr Grimethorpe won a £5 voucher for ‘Cyndi’s Private Massage Service’ for his best in show victory (vegetables). He added that his prize tulip had wilted so he had not been able to enter the flower competition, leaving a  red hot poker the stand out winner.  Other winners at the show, held on Saturday at the St Mary Mead Parish Hall on Digben street, included  Mr Makefield’s enormous cucumber which won ‘the most impressive’ crop category, and Mum of eleven Mrs Markham who won the ‘bun in the oven’ prize.

ANOTHER PLANET?

Portugal-Old-houses-in-portoPortugal kept its lights on with renewable energy alone for four consecutive days in a clean energy milestone revealed by data analysis of national energy network figures. Electricity consumption in the country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday, the analysis says. News of the zero emissions landmark comes just days after Germany announced that clean energy had powered almost all its electricity needs on Sunday 15 May, with power prices turning negative at several times in the day – effectively paying consumers to use it.  And Germany experienced the same phenomenon when a particularly bright and sunny day supercharged their solar and wind power sectors. Around 1 p.m. on May 8, the nation’s renewable energy generating facilities were supplying around 55 gigawatts of the 63 gigawatts being consumed – about 87 percent of the total electricity consumption. With the addition of the country’s conventional power plants, the output actually exceeded the national demand. This energy surplus meant that, for a brief time, energy prices were actually negative, meaning consumers were effectively being paid to consume electricity. A similar feat occurred in Denmark last year, when a terrifically windy day boosted their wind power sector so much that these turbines alone generated 140 percent of the nation’s electricity demand, with the excess energy being exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

paris smogFarming is the biggest single cause of the worst air pollution in Europe, a new study has found, as nitrogen compounds from fertilisers and animal waste drift over industrial regions. When the nitrogen compounds are mixed with air already polluted from industry, they combine to form solid particles that can stick in the fine lung tissue of children and adults, causing breathing difficulties, impaired lungs and heart function, and eventually even premature death. The compounds come from nitrogen-rich fertilisers, which have been in common use for decades. Nitrogen, the major content of the air we breathe, is essential for plant growth, and enhancing that growth has led to a massive industry in putting nitrogen – already naturally present in soils – back into the ground in greater quantities. Ammonia, whose chemical composition is nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3), is a byproduct both of fertilised fields and of animal waste, as it can come from the breakdown of livestock excretions.

RoundUpBestselling weedkillers by Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta could be removed from shops across Europe by July, after an EU committee failed for a second time to agree on a new license for its core ingredient, glyphosate. The issue has divided EU nations, academics and the World Health Organisation (WHO) itself. One WHO agency found it to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” while another ruled that glyphosate was unlikely to pose any health risk to humans, in an assessment shaded by conflict of interests allegations earlier this week. EU officials say that while there could be a voluntary grace period of six-12 months, unless a compromise can be found, the product’s license will be allowed to expire on 30 June.  Now that EU nations have refused to back a limited extension of the pesticide glyphosate’s use, it seems Monsanto’s Roundup and other weedkillers will be withdrawn from shelves if no decision is reached by the end of the month.

Degradation of the world’s natural resources by humans is rapidly outpacing the planet’s ability to absorb the damage, meaning the rate of deterioration is increasing globally, the most comprehensive environmental study ever undertaken by the UN has found. The study, which involved 1,203 scientists, hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments brought together by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), concludes that without radical action the level of prosperity that millions of people in the developed world count on will be impossible to maintain or extend to poorer countries. Water scarcity is the scourge of some of the poorest regions on Earth, the study found, leaving developing countries increasingly unable to feed themselves, and causing hardship for millions of people. There appears little prospect of this dire situation being remedied, according to the UN, without radical action being taken. More on the Guardian here.

Last April was the hottest April on record globally – and the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records. The latest figures smashed the previous record for April by the largest margin ever recorded. It makes three months in a row that the monthly record has been broken by the largest margin ever, and seven months in a row that are at least 1C above the 1951-80 mean for that month.

Rex Tillerson, the boss of oil giant ExxonMobil, said cutting oil production was “not acceptable for humanity” as he fought off shareholders’ and activists’ attempts to force the company to fully acknowledge the impact of climate change on the environment and Exxon’s future profits. During a long and fractious annual meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, Tillerson, who serves as Exxon’s chairman and chief executive, beat back several proposals to force the company to take more action on climate change.However, dissident shareholders won a vote that could make it easier for them to propose board candidates concerned about climate change and remove incumbent directors. The Guardian reports that Tillerson said Exxon had invested $7bn in green technology, but the science and technology had not yet achieved the breakthroughs needed to compete with fossil fuels. “Until we have those, just saying ‘turn the taps off’ is not acceptable to humanity,” he said.

Biodegradable plastic water bottles and shopping bags are a false solution to the ubiquitous problem of litter in the oceans, the UN’s top environmental scientist has warned. Most plastic is extremely durable, leading to large plastic debris and “microplastics” to spread via currents to oceans from the Arctic to the Antarctic, a UN report found. Greener plastics that breakdown in the environment have been marketed as a sustainable alternative that could reduce the vast amount of plastic waste that ends up in the sea after being dumped. But Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme, told the Guardian that these biodegradable plastics were not a simple solution. “It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50C and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down,” she said.

floodsThe Paris floods, that saw extreme rainfall swell the river Seine to its highest level in decades, were made almost twice as likely because of the manmade emissions driving global warming, scientists have found. A three-day period of heavy rain at the end of May saw tens of thousands of people evacuated across France, and the capital’s normally busy river closed to traffic because the water levels were so high under bridges. As artworks in the Louvre were moved to safety and Paris’s cobbled walkways were submerged, the French president, François Hollande, blamed the floods on climate change. Now a preliminary analysis by a group of scientists, including the Dutch weather agency and the University of Oxford, has concluded the risk of the flooding event in Paris was almost doubled – multiplied by a factor of 1.8 – by humanity’s influence on the climate.

Alaska is on track for hottest year since records began. The warmest spring on record has helped push states’s year-to-date temperature more than 10°F (5.5°C) above average, reports Climate Central.  A record number of Americans believe global warming will pose a threat to their way of life, new polling data shows, amid strengthening public acceptance that rising temperatures are being driven by human activity. “I think a shift in public opinion and consciousness has been underway for several years now,” Michael Mann, a prominent climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, told the Guardian.

ANOTHER PLANET?

china air pollutionOutdoor air pollution has grown 8% globally in the past five years, with billions of people around the world now exposed to dangerous air, according to new data from more than 3,000 cities compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO). While all regions are affected, fast-growing cities in the Middle East, south-east Asia and the western Pacific are the most impacted with many showing pollution levels at five to 10 times above WHO recommended levels.  New mayor of London has called air pollution ‘our biggest environmental challenge’ and plans to bring the increased ultra low emission zone into force early, unveiling plans to substantially increase the size of London’s clean air charging zone to tackle the capital’s illegal air pollution levels

Two of the world’s most widely used insecticides, imidacloprid (made by Bayer) and thiamethoxam (Syngenta) cause significant harm to bumblebee colonies, a new study has found, but a third had no effect. The study shows the distinct effects of each type of neonicotinoid pesticide, from cuts in live bees and eggs to changed sex ratios and numbers of queens. Clothianidin (Bayer) had no effect other than increasing the number of queens produced. Previously, the different types of neonicotinoids have often been treated as interchangeable. Neonicotinoids and other pesticides have been implicated in the worldwide decline in pollinators, which are vital for many food crops, although disease and loss of habitat are also important factors. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids harm individual bees . The EU imposed a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops in 2013. And a second report  has found that despite farmers pleas to use the bee killing chemicals – UK crop yields have actually INCREASED since the ban. Government figures show that oilseed rape harvest increased by 6.9% in 2015 – undermining the National Farmers Union arguments that farmers were struggling without the pesticides.

Zombie-Bee_2More than a quarter of American honeybee colonies were wiped out over the winter, with deadly infestations of mites and harmful land management practices heaping mounting pressure upon the crucial pollinators and the businesses that keep them. Preliminary figures commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that 28% of bee colonies in the United States were lost over the 2015-16 winter. More than half of surveyed beekeepers said they suffered unsustainable losses during the winter.

Solar Impulse has completed the Pacific Crossing! Bertrand Piccard pierced through the night sky, gently kissing the runway with a smooth landing at Moffett Airfield, California. The transition from the gentle wonders of the sky to the shared elation of landing was quick. He descended from the cockpit where he had been sitting for the past 62 hours and greeted his solar brother, André Borschberg. He had been waiting for Bertrand at Moffett Airfield since Friday afternoon, making final preparations on the ground before his arrival.

JB LOGOJulies Bicycle have an interesting article and opinion online about the ‘Brexit’ and how that will impact on the UK asking – what might it mean for the environment and how might that affect the arts and creative sector? And the answer?  Well you can read the article here, but here’s an extract:

We at Julie’s Bicycle are deeply concerned about the impact a ‘Leave’ vote could have from an environmental perspective.

Leaving the EU at this crucial climate change juncture could seriously destabilise the UK’s policy response and, with the prospect of at least several years of uncertainty, undermine the much-needed rapid investment in renewable energy and infrastructure that a successful low carbon transition requires. It would also jeopardise the UK’s leadership in global climate policy negotiations by isolating the country just when unprecedented international cooperation is needed.
Leaving the EU would risk the past 40 years of environmental protection legislation in the UK and the resulting benefits for habitats, wildlife, and human health and well-being. Some of these already compromised protections could be lost more or less overnight, whilst others could be weakened or rolled back entirely by UK parliament over the coming years – a risk we are particularly concerned about under the guise of ‘cutting red tape’. Some of this so-called ‘red tape’ has been instrumental at setting standards for air and water quality, stemming the loss of habitats and species, and ensuring we do not erode our vital natural heritage that is inseparable from our cultural heritage.

african-elephant2Tusks from more than 6,000 illegally killed elephants have been burned in Kenya, the biggest ever destruction of an ivory stockpile and the most striking symbol yet of the plight of one of nature’s last great beasts. The ceremonial burning in Nairobi national park at noon was attended by Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta and heads of state including Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, high-ranking United Nations and US officials, and charities. A wide network of conservation groups around the world have sent messages applauding the work.

The Guardian reports that  VW and Shell have been accused of trying to block Europe’s push for electric cars and more efficient cars, by saying biofuels should be at heart of efforts to green the industry instead. The EU is planning two new fuel efficiency targets for 2025 and 2030 to help meet promises made at the Paris climate summit last December. But executives from the two industrial giants launched a study on Wednesday night proposing greater use of biofuels, CO2 car labelling, and the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) instead. In reality, such a package would involve the end of meaningful new regulatory action on car emissions for more than a decade, EU sources say. But Shell insisted it is not trying to block an EU push for electric cars.

gbrThe hot water temperature that drove the devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef this year was made 175 times more likely by human-caused climate change, and could be normal in just 18 years, according to preliminary findings by leading climate and coral reef scientists. Great Barrier Reef tourism operators refuse media and politicians access to bleached reefs . The scientists said they took the unusual step of releasing the work prior to peer-review, because the methods used to reach the findings are now accepted in the climate science community and the alarming results needed to be released as quickly as possible. “We are confident in the results because these kind of attribution studies are well established but what we found demands urgent action if we are to preserve the reef,” said Andrew King, a lead author of the study from the University of Melbourne. More here.

Plans to build more coal-fired power plants in Asia would be a “disaster for the planet” and overwhelm the deal forged at Paris to fight climate change, the president of the World Bank said on Thursday. In an unusually stark warning, the World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, noted that countries in south and south-east Asia were on track to build hundreds more coal-fired power plants in the next 20 years – despite promises made at Paris to cut greenhouse gas emissions and pivot to a clean energy future. In the US, coal use is in sharp decline – and the country’s biggest companies are in bankruptcy. But there is still strong demand for coal in south Asia and east Asia, where tens of millions still have no access to electricity.

The leak of the text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) might mark the beginning of the end for the hated EU-US trade deal, and a key moment in the Brexit debate. The (unelected) negotiators have kept the talks going until now by means of a fanatical level of secrecy, with threats of criminal prosecution for anyone divulging the treaty’s contents.  The texts include highly controversial subjects such as EU food safety standards, already known to be at risk from TTIP, as well as details of specific threats such as the US plan to end Europe’s ban on genetically modified foods. The documents show that US corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in future. If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits in their own corporate court system that is unavailable to domestic firms, governments or anyone else. More here on the Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ttip-leaks-shocking-what-are-they-eu-us-deal-a7010121.html

Fracking has triggered earthquakes from Ohio to Oklahoma, and fouled rivers in Pennsylvania to North Dakota – and now the Obama administration is being sued by environmental groups to crack down on the industry. A coalition of environmental groups has now issued legal action against the USA’s  Environmental Protection Agency to demand a strong uniform standard for the transportation, storage and disposal of frack waste. Since 1998, when the modern era of fracking began in Texas, the industry has generated hundreds of billions of gallons of frack waste – packed with toxic chemicals such as benzene and naturally occurring substances underground such as radium and arsenic – and there are almost no rules governing the process, environmental groups said. “Updated rules for oil and gas wastes are almost 30 years overdue,” said Adam Kron, senior attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project.

Wind turbine near Kendal by Ben Challis

Wind turbine near Kendal by Ben Challis

The idea that renewable energy can power the UK is an “appalling delusion”, according to the final interview given by former chief scientific adviser, the late Professor Sir David MacKay. The sensible energy and climate change plan for the UK, MacKay said, was for the country to focus on nuclear power and carbon capture storage technology, which traps the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. In that scenario, the amount of wind and solar the UK needed would be almost zero, he said. However, solar could be a very important power source in other countries, he said, where sunny summers coincided with a big demand for electricity for air conditioning. Prof MacKay also said electric cars are going to be a “massive hit” but said he was “very disappointed” by the lack of progress on CCS, after the government cancelled a pioneering £1bn programme at the last minute.  The attractions of Britain for investors in renewable energy projects are at an all-time low, an authoritative new report has found. The UK routinely topped the annual league table for attractiveness to clean energy companies, run by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY), in the mid-2000s. For the first time, however, it has slid to 13th in the global rankings.

The world is hurtling towards an era when global concentrations of carbon dioxide never again dip below the 400 parts per million (ppm) milestone, as two important measuring stations sit on the point of no return. The news comes as one important atmospheric measuring station at Cape Grim in Australia is poised on the verge of 400ppm for the first time. Sitting in a region with stable CO2 concentrations, once that happens, it will never get a reading below 400ppm. More from the Guardian here.

Boom By Bike Initiative

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