Monthly Archives: August 2009

Forest fires ring Athens as Greece declares state of emergency – and all around the world extreme weather tops the agenda.

fireThousands of Greeks were battling to save their homes from put of control forest fires which have now reached the edges of Athens, prompting the Greek government to declare a state of emergency and call on support from Italy, Cyprus and France. It is estimated that 120,000 hectares of forests have been destroyed as well as hundreds of homes. In the 2007 fires seventy people died. Elsewhere extreme climate change and human activity are being blamed for the severe drought in Northern China where five million people now face drinking water shortages – in a region stretching from the Jilin province in the North East to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia in the North. China’s livestock also face water shortages and 22 million acres of farmland have been damaged by the drought. The live music industry hasn’t escaped extreme weather either: Apart from the torrential rainstorms and floods which have blighted festivals like Glastonbury and Roskilde (most notably in 2007), one woman died and seventy were injured when a freak storm hit the Big Valley Jamboree Festival in Canada in August 2009 and in central Europe a severe storm with strong winds and torrential rain caused a large marquee at the Pohoda festival in Slovakia to collapse in July – killing one fan and injuring fifty more, some very seriously. Even the Benicassim festival in Spain suffered a temporary suspension when high winds on the 17th July meant that the Kings of Leon couldn’t play as conditions were too dangerous – with high winds affecting the main stage and destroying many camper’s tents and


London’s Climate Camp begins this week

climate campAn undisclosed site near London will host the Climate Camp this week when thousands of green activists receive a text messages alerting them to the secret location of what is likely to be this year’s largest environmental demonstration. The Climate Camp starts at noon on Wednesday (26th August) when activists will leave 10 gathering points around the capital and head for the site, whose location has so far been kept secret although the Metropolitan Police are expected to send officers to each of the meeting points. Senior officers have held five meetings with protesters to prepare for the event, saying they intend to use “community-style” policing to avoid a repetition of their controversial handling of protests during the G20 summit and the rather heavy handed and somewhat embarrassing activities of the Kent Police at the Kingsnorth coal fired power station demonstrations – although activists now seem concerned that the controversy over the policing of protests is detracting from the central issue of trying to avert climate change. It is hoped a number of Native Americans from the Cree nation will join the protest to highlight the part British funded extraction of oil from tar sands, a highly polluting practice that extensively uses water and power to extract oil – releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as part of the process. BP, Shell and part publicly owned Royal Bank of Scotland are all named as participants for their ‘criminal’ activities in extracting oil from the tar sands of Canada and the resulting environmental damage.

Carbon reduction commitment on UK Government’s agenda



The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) is likely to be one of the most far-reaching pieces of regulation to come out of Whitehall for years. The CRC aims to be a broad carbon trading scheme for the big energy users and carbon emitters not already covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and it will impact on both public and private sector organisations when it kicks in April 2010. In practice, organisations will not have to be vast to be covered by the CRC – most secondary schools, hospitals, supermarkets, major offices and local authorities will find themselves needing to comply and Defra expects around 20,000 organisations to be affected by the CRC initially – although Government departments with poor energy efficiency could find themselves in the embarrassing position of being forced to buy carbon credits from better-performing private companies Schools will get free advice on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Big energy users will have to put cash into a central pot and then receive payouts according to how successful they have been in reducing carbon although the scheme also aims to take into account the fact that those who have already taken steps to reduce their emissions will find it harder and more expensive to make further cuts. reports that organisations that can demonstrate that they measure, manage and reduce their carbon footprint could find themselves in a better starting position when the CRC begins – one way the CRC will do this is to give extra credit to organisations that have achieved the Carbon Trust Standard, a kitemark that shows a commitment to continual carbon cuts and one year on from the standards launch, 100 organisations have been certified cutting the UK’s emissions by 600,000 tonnes of carbon and saving over £50m in energy bills – banking giant HSBC was the 100th achiever, following big brands such as Asda, Tesco, O2, Eurotunnel and Eversheds.

You can find a CRC resource at

Sign up to protect grass roots music

tn_IMG_4668Licensing Authorities admit live music licensing figures were wrong

The Stage reports that the Local Government Association has been forced into an embarrassing reversal on claims made by its licensing spokesman who had significantly overstated the levels of live music being staged in pubs and bars across the country.  It seems Chris White, chair of the body’s culture, tourism and sport board, claimed that 80% of premises where alcohol is sold were also licensed to host gigs – a figure which was disputed by live music campaigners – now the LGA has removed it from the article and conceded that only 55% of venues hold such a licence.  Music campaigners, led by UK Music CEO Feargal Sharkey, believe that the Licensing Act 2003, which forces all venues to obtain a licence before hosting live music, has led to a decrease in music provision across the country. They are calling for an exemption for small venues to boost the number of gigs – a proposal that has been opposed by the LGA, which instead supports a new minor variations licensing process.

A petition on the Downing Street website calling on the government to relax licensing laws for live music has attracted more than 5,100 signatures within two weeks. For more, see

See  and for more on this topic see (August 2009) and

Red Bull recycling shame

bull ... errrm ... trouble

bull ... errrm ... trouble

Red Bull has been hit with the biggest fine in the UK’s waste history after admitting breaking recycling laws. The drinks company was ordered to pay £261,278 by Southwark Crown Court after admitting charges of not recovering and recycling their packaging. The firm pleaded guilty to failing to tell the Environment Agency that it was a producer of packaging waste and to not recovering or recycling packaging waste for eight years between 1999 and 2006. Red Bull was also ordered to pay also ordered to pay £3755 in costs to the Environment Agency. Red Bull was also ordered to pay compensation of £6854 to the Environment Agency for unpaid registration fees for the years 1999 to 2006.  To be fair it appears that when the company realised it mistake it went to the Environment Agency and has since complied with the law – which is in place to reduce packaging and waste and designed to support  the recycling industry.


Warning over innacurate DEFRA carbon calculator

best foot

best foot

DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)  has been forced to correct mistakes in greenhouse gas conversion rates it has published for businesses to measure their carbon footprints after Best Foot Forward (BFF) claimed the newly released GHG conversion factors for business carbon measurement and reporting were not accurate.  GHG conversion factors allow businesses to work out the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions caused by different activities, such as energy use, water consumption, waste disposal, recycling and transport. Companies can then use the resulting figures to measure and manage their carbon footprint and pinpoint where cuts can be made.  BFF has advised its own clients to download the latest DEFRA/DECC spreadsheet and to delete the old ones to avoid confusion.  BFF says the errors it found in the updated June 2009 factors affected the conversion rates for biofuels and aviation and inconsistencies between the way in which overseas and domestic electricity is accounted’. 


Best Foot Forward’s website is at

BFF logo

Atlanta serves up sustainable transport solutions

The Atlanta Jazz Festival is one of our first winners of the 2009 Greener Festival Award and we are very impressed with their sustainable transport solutions. A city centre festival, Atlanta runs shuttle buses to and from the Festival site, enabling the Festival to be effectively car free

The shuttle The shuttle

and the Festival  also encourages patrons to walk to and from the event.

Walk on by ... Walk on by …

The festival crew and artists use these stylish electric buggies

I like driving in my car, it's not quite a jaguar I like driving in my car, it’s not quite a jaguar

And even the emergency medical crew get around by bike!

My temperature is rising! My temperature is rising!

 But of course, Atlanta serves up great music too!




Photos courtesy of
Atlanta Photographer for Corporate Event Photography

Robb Cohen Photography.