Boeing have launched a new flagship 330 seat aircraft which is said to be ‘leaner and greener’ than traditional aircraft. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was launched in the UK at the Farnborough air show last weekend and it is markedly different from conventional aircraft, having been built largely out of light-weight composite material. The airplane is powered by more fuel efficient Rolls-Royce engines – but primarily because of its lower weight the 787 is substantially more fuel efficient than older craft. When it was first conceived, the Dreamliner was a revolutionary concept, but rivals have since done much to catch up – not least as the price of oil has risen and risen – Airbus is building a similar series of planes dubbed A350 and rivals are being planned by manufacturers in Brazil, China and Canada. With air travel contributing substantailly to global greenhouse gas emissions, its not a no carbon solution – its not even a low carbon solution – BUT it is step in the right direction.
BA have also announced some environmentally friendly news – using up to sixty lorry loads of organic waste every day to fuel a new plant that will produce 16.4 million gallons of jet fuel every year. Whilst it is great that BA will be able to turn banana skins, cardboard, coffee grouts and tomato skins into biofuel, and that the plant will be self sustaining and ‘self powered’, it will only produce 2% of BA’s overall fuel needs.
From planes to bikes – and hats off to London Mayor Boris Johnson who is championing a bold new scheme to get more people cycling in the UK’s capital city. He has already closed 11 miles of roads in Ealing for a day to get more people out and about on bikes, and now Boris is launching the first two of a possible twelve cycling ‘superhighways’ which are bike only trackways linking the outskirts of the vast metropolis with the centre. On to[p of this, Boris is going to promote a scheme allowing people to hire out one of 6,000 bikes from 4,000 docking stations across the centre of London. Liverpool is set to follow in London’s footsteps (or tyre tracks) and a number of cities including Cambridge, Blackpool, Bristol and York and already well on the way to getting more and more people out of cars and onto bikes. Montreal has a working bike scheme with its ‘Bixis’ and Mexico City has just introduced 1200 Ecobici cycles – but its Paris that is the real leader with the ‘Velib’ scheme with 24,000 bikes for hire – based on a £24 annual subscription – and each bike gets used about 20 times a day – reducing car use by 2%. Vandalism and theft remain a problem as does the fact that some docking stations empty fast and others of course fill up (especially those downhill!) but the scheme is generally considered a big success.