Monthly Archives: November 2009

Do we have an appetite for energy from food?

Rotting leftover food and even sewage are going to be used to produce greener energy to heat Britain’s homes. From the 22nd November homes will be able to use the Ecotricity green gas tariff as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing waste going to landfill. With 18 million tonnes of food waste thrown away each year Ecotricity say that 700,000 homes could be heated by biogas which in generated in anaerobic digesters and can be used to produce electricity – or put into the gas network. At the moment homes would still be supplied with traditional gas but Ecotricity plan to move customers onto increasingly green sources, so homes could get their energy from sources that included up to 50% from biogas.

We have to point out that turning food into energy is not perfect – it would be better not to waste food in the first place, it would be better to use excess food on feeding humans and if not humans animals and it is probably better to compost food waste rather that use a biodigester.  Still the Food Recovery Hierarchy does say that it is better to biodigest than incinerating waste or sending to landfill.


Can Barak put Cop15 back on track?

The Observer reports that Barak Obama may be considering committing the US to greenhouse gas emission targets to get the seemingly stalled UN Copenhagen climate change conference back on track – the USA and China between them produce 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and a failure to get the USA to agree to meaningful targets is the biggest obstacle to achieving binding legal agreement at the Summit which is now only three weeks way.  The US failed to sign the last (Kyoto) treaty – with almost the entire US senate voting against agreement – but it seems that President Obama may commit to reduction targets of between 14% and 20% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Whilst this is significant progress it may not be enough to achieve agreement at Cop 15, where many countries are looking at far more significant reductions by 2020. That said, without the USA making any offer at COP 15, the talks on climate change and any hope of a binding result must surely fail.

Is it possible to be an eco-friendly tourist?

is your holiday getting a green light?

Many travel firms claim to be environmentally sound, but are they just cashing in? Here’s how not to be taken for a ride… in an article by Lucy Siegle on whether or not it’s possible to be an eco-friendly tourist.

 Also, look out for a new British Standard, BS8887-220 – for remanufacturing – making a new product from an old one. It’s got to be good!

As Cumbria faces one-in-a-thousand year floods, climate change deniers hack scientists email!

Bassenthwaite - before the rains began

As Workington, Keswick and Cockermouth in Cumbria faced serious flooding after a ‘one-in-a-thousand-year’ deluge,  computer hackers claimed that they had illegally obtained hundred of emails sent between leading climate scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Change Unit that allegedly show that the scientists colluded in manipulating data to show that climate change is real. As yet the veracity of the e-mails, which mostly relate to paleoclimate data which reconstsructs climate data using resources such as ice cores and tree rings,  has not been proven and the Guardian reports that the scientists involved have not commented on the story on the Air Vent blog.  

Meanwhile what certainly is true is that one very brave police officer, PC Bill Barker, has died in floods in Cumbria which have destroyed four bridges, flooded the town centre in Cockermouth and caused widespread chaos in West Cumbria. Over twelve inches of rain (314mm)  fell in one twenty four hour period onto already waterlogged land, raising levels in Bassenthwaite lake and causing flood defences (which were improved just over ten years ago) to fail at Cockermouth where the rivers Derwent and Cocker meet with over 1,000 houses affected, many flooded and others without power.  The unprecendetnted rainfall is a record for England – since records began – and was described by local MP Tony Cunningham as being of ‘biblocal proportions’.  PC Barker was on foot on Northside Bridge in Workington directing traffic away from the area when the bridge collapsed. The father of four was washed away in the collapse and his body was found later that day.

For some photos of Keswick under flood, have a look at local artist Jane Ward’s lovely blog

Greener Festival Award winners celebrate at the UK Festival Awards 2009

Winners of the Greener Festival Award 2009 at the UKFA

The UK Festival Awards took place on Thursday November 19th at the Indigo at the O2 in London and winners from Bestival, Camp Bestival, The Cambridge Folk Festival, Croissant Neuf Summer Party, Download, Hard Rock Calling, Isle of Wight, Standon Calling and Wireless celebrated picking up their Greener Festival 2009 Awards with Sangita Ladwa from Award sponsors Roberston Taylor and with Claire from AGreenerFestival. Thanks to everyone for turning up, it was a great evening and many thanks to the event organising team, especially Chris , Dan and Steve, for making this all happen.

Teresa, Claire, Helen, Cass & Luke Teresa, Claire, Helen, Cass & Luke

Here are the AGF team at the Awards Dinner – from left to right it’s Teresa Moore from Bucks New University who runs the green courses and new annual conference with AGF, Claire, the lovely Helen and the lovely Cass (environmental assessors) and Luke.

Ben, Sangita and the Croisssant Neuf team Ben, Sangita and the Croisssant Neuf team

The Croissant Neuf Summer Party green team pick up their outstanding award from Ben and Sangita – they went on to win the overall Greener Festival Award 2009 – and  it has to be said that it was a tough battle for the ultimate ‘Greener Festival’ Award for 2009. We assessed 37 festivals this year and there were some really excellent entries – with six outstanding awards in the UK and seven outside the UK. Very close to the top in the UK were the Isle of Wight Festival, Workhouse, Bestival, Big Tent and Waveform but the ultimate gong went to the Croissant Neuf Summer Party – a festival that that really goes back to the rootsy feel of days gone by yet remains modern and fresh. All of the power used on site is provided by renewable energy – either wind or solar power, driving one of the most eclectic music line-ups of the year. All caterers use fair trade and organic produce where available, locally brewed beers are prioritised and the organisers of Croissant Neuf positively encourage people to use public transport to get to and from the event – and if they can’t do that, the festival promotes car sharing to reduce fan’s carbon footprints. For good measure the festival decided to plant three trees on the estate where the event is held for ever car that comes to the festival and the organisers do as much as they can to maximise the recycling and minimise the waste produced on site to provide a low impact, friendly and fun festival.

Other winners on the night included Glastonbury for Best Major Festival, Bestival for Best Medium Sized Festival,  Beach Break Live for Best Small Festival, Camp Bestival for Best Family Festival, Blur at Glastonbury for Best Headline, Sex on Fire from the Kings of Lyon for Anthem of the Summer, Sonisphere for Best New Festival (which was dedicated to the much missed Maurice Jones) and T-in-the-Park for Best Toilets.

The isle of Wight team pick up their 'outstanding' award The isle of Wight team pick up their ‘outstanding’ award
Our lovely Awards - designed by Sade Goddard from keswick School, Cumbria Our lovely Awards – designed by Sade Goddard from keswick School, Cumbria

Photos by Sarah Moore. Additional photos by Ben Challis. (C) 2009. Please email us if you want any press photos – .

All new BS8901 comes at a price

A new version  of the British Standard for sustainable events, BS8901 has been praised for a new simpler format and a continued committment to sustainability principles, but the Managing Director of Seventeen Events, one of the original six companies which trialled the Standard before it was published said that although he welcomes the new version, he feels that it may prove too expensive for some organisations to afford. Andrew Williams told Main Event magazine ( that “I think the amount of money the BSI are charging for the standard is out of synch with current economic conditions” adding “at £138 + VAT many smaller organisations will be put off from buying BS8901, especially when many will have paid for the earlier version that has now been withdrawn.  I think it would be a gesture of goodwill if BSI were to offer some kind of discount, at least to companies who had already purchased BS8901.” Andrew added that to show his company’s committment to the new version, his company was  offering an hours free consultancy to any organisation, supplier or venue who needs an update on the Standard.

In other news, it was nice to see that Firefly Solar has won the Supplier of the Year Award at the 2009 Event Awards with MD Andy Mead saying “we are extremely pleased to have recived recognition for our hard workover the past two years and are glad the events industry is welcoming new companies and embracing evolving technologies like ours. and

London leads on green initiatives

Big Ben

London has taken a lead on promoting city based green initiatives with a range of new projects:

– first off, there is a new art installation in Trafalgar Square – the remains of trees which once stood as high as Nelson’s column are at the heart of ‘Ghost Forest’ put in place to highlight global deforestation and climate change (see )  

– next up, Mayor Boros Johnson has announced that he aims to have 25000 recharge points for electric cars in place by 2015 – go Boris go!

– There are plans for a new London Cycle Hire scheme and Cycle Superhighways to encourage pedal power in the capital 

– Five hydrogen buses will join TfL’s bus fleet in 2010 – running on hydrogen hybrid fuel, reducing CO2 emissions and helping in the fight against climate change

– London Underground are stepping up efforts to recycle the millions of free newspapers (The Metro, City AM and The Evening Standard) given out to Londoners each week. Current rates are now up to 40% plus.

– The Mayor has plans in hand for cleaner air in London by making sure all minicabs and taxis meet stricter emission regulations by 2012; by bringing in phase three of the Low Emission Zone;  and by supporting campaigns to cut pollution. See