Monthly Archives: December 2010

Splendour first winner of 2011 Greener Festival Award!

Australia’s Splendour In the Grass is the first winner of our coveted A Greener Festival award for the  2010/2011 festival season. Moving from their previous home of Belongil Fields, to Woodfordia-Woodford Folks Festivals beautiful site – albeit for a temporary time before they make their way over to a site to call their own. Walking through the site it’s easy to see why they chose this spot; with plenty of native woodland and happy-go-lucky fauna including resident kangeroos, owls and bats the site has given plenty of thought to blending in with the natural habitat. A state of the art water purification plant is in action and contributes to the excellent score received for water management.The environmental event management paperwork is outstanding and it is obvious that much thought has been given to initiatives such as the ‘tie a ribbon on a tree’ pledge to tree planting and the helpful eco-cops, uniformed warriors upholding the green peace. Environmental campaign groups are welcomed on site and enable the awareness raising process to start when the happy punters wander around the delectable nooks and crannies of a well-chosen site. SITG’s initiatives include:

· 8,427 carbon offset tickets purchased by festival attendees (more than 26% of attendees) who offset 875 tonnes of carbon emissions through the investment of $25,008 in renewable wind energy generation. Splendour in the Grass also invested $10,718 in renewable wind energy generation to offset more than 480 tonnes of emissions generated from hosting the event.

· 16 undergraduate environmental science students from the University of Sunshine Coast proudly donned the Eco Cops uniform to engage with and provide information to SITG punters. They handed out over 4,500 bin-ya-butts during the course of the festival

· Over 4,500 campsite recycling bins made from recycled cardboard were distributed to campers which helped to reduce the amount of waste being directed to landfill

· The above programs were supported by SITG’s Environment Policy, CO2 Emissions Policy, Procurement Policy, Turn Off and Save Policy and our Environmental Charities Policy.

http://www.splendourinthegrass.com/faqs.html?category=1#environment-initiatives.html

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Another Planet

The law of unintended consequences – part 83 – China’s plans to curb the number of cars in Beijing have failed miserably with the Vice Mayor who was in charge of traffic, Huang Wei, standing down. The plans to restrict vehicles to ease jams, parking problems and pollution were based on car ownership schemes that were due to come into force in 2011 – but a pre-emptive surge in car buying (30,000 cars were sold last week) has torpedoed the scheme. 240,000 ownership licences will be issued in 2011 by lottery, down from a total of 700,000 in 2010. Whether the cars will ever travel anywhere remains to be seen.

A really good article in the Observer on Boxing Day (26/12/2010) “After a wasted year, climate change must again be our priority“. The Keeling curve is indisputable – it shows that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising remorselessly …  more from Robin McKie at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/26/robin-mckie-carbon-emissions-up 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has projected that the United States will lead the world into catastrophic global warming over the next twenty five years. In its 2011 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA predicts that energy-related CO2 emissions will “grow by 16 percent [PDF] from 2009 to 2035,” reaching 6.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (or 1.7 GtC) http://www.climatechangenews.org/ .

Towns accross much of  Eastern Australia have been cut off by heavy rainfall with more expected in the next few days. The rain has had a serious effect on agriculture with the sugar crop badly damaged by weeks of flooding. The rain is belived to be the worst for 150 years. And Southern Spain is also experiencing climate change – this report from our special correspondent in Spain “this is the 5th year in Granada of heavy winter rain and no drought in summer. Before that they always had water shortages in Summer. Actually it has been the same on the coast because there were threatened restrictions every year (in some villages many hours without water ) when we were there until the last few years when the auhorities started saying there was enough in the reservoirs for 2 years or so even if there was no further rain. The frequent floods now being experienced in many areas are something new to many people”.

The Times reports that big corporate advertisers are beginning to shift their spend away from ‘product’ advertising towards promoting their corporate brands – and the industry hopes that if a company is seen as more environmentally friendly, purchasers will seek out its products. Whilst it is an encouraging move, expect oodles of greenwash and bucket loads of corportate nonsense.

And more on China: The UN is concerned that China will struggle to feed its billion plus population in the future, one fifth of the World’s population, because of land degradation, drought, urbanisation and an increasing reliance on fossil fuels and fertilisers (which add to pollution and soil damage).  UN Envoy Dr Olivier de Schutter noted that 37% of China’s territory was degraded and that 8.2 milliopn hectares of arable land had been lost to cities, industrial parks, natural disasters and foresty programmes.  This, coupled with an increasingly carnivorous diet in China, is pushing up food prices in China at a double digit inflation rate. Last year pork went up 17% and eggs went up 30%.  in a report to the UN and the Chinese government Dr Se Schutter said China needed to embrace sustainable agriculture and wean itself off fossil fuels, adding that China didn’t need to move to massive farms and industrial style farming saying that “Small scale farming is more efficient in its use of natural resources”.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/23/china-ability-to-feed-population-warning

The Chinese government is also trying to defuse a row with the USA over its plan to subsidise its green economy.  Plans to subsidise the manufacture of wind turbines have been described as ‘illegal subsidies’ by officials in the Obama administration.  Beijing insists its wind policies are good for the global environment but it seems China will take a concilliatory aproach with the US in trade talks.  Professor Pan Jiahua from the Sustasinable Development Research Centre said “at a global level the US action is terrible. Its very silly. This gives a very bad signal for the World. Its says the renewable energy technologies should not be encouraged. This is a huge blow to the fast deployment of wind energy.” China is committed to producing 90 Gigawatts of wind energy in the future, up from current output of 20 gigawatts in 2009.  More on Intellectual Property law and the environment can be seen here – a very interesting article by Scottish solicitor Gill Grassie on the role of patents in promoting (or restricting) green technology and progress titled Pooling Together: IP as Hero or Villain? at   http://jiplp.blogspot.com/2010/12/new-issue-and-guest-editorial-on-ip-and.html

Finally back to the UK Government’s daft plans to sell off our woodlands – we had said this “Caroline Spelman, the UK’s Environment Secretary, is expected to announce that the UK Government plans to sell off 150,000 hectares of forests and woodland that it owns, to property developers, large land owners and international companies. Cripes, firesales are always useless (Gordon Brown sold off all our gold on the cheap) but this one looks ridiculous. Still, only a rumour. But if it is ridiculously cheap and we imagine it will be (and probably cost almost as much to sell in ‘consultant’s fees’) – we would like to buy some please – especially at bargain basement prices – so – now we’ve said it publicly! Onwards with Festival Wood and maybe Festival Forest!” Sadly the plan itself now it seems a reality – read more  here: “For sale – all of our forests. Not some of them, or most of them – the whole lot. For sale: all of our forests. Not some of them, nor most of them – the whole lot;  Tories have never been treehuggers, but their plans to sell off all state-owned forests are unwarranted, unwanted and unworkable”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/dec/22/tory-privatisation-all-state-forests

Another Planet

As the UK’s big freeze continues, with widespread disruption on the roads and at airports, the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has indicated that the recent run of harsh winters has prompted him to review government planning for snow and ice on the grounds that current plans are based on the philosophy that  ‘hard winters happen so rarely’ . He is also going to ask  the government’s chief scientific officer to advise “whether what we are seeing over the last three years represents a step change in climate patters’.

The UK is expecting to have one of  its coldest night on record on December 20th, with many areas facing temperatures below -15C and the temperature  may drop to -26C according to forecasters.

I was in a Cotswold outdoor shop the other day (buying gloves and a fleece!) and noticed that the front doors were wide open with hot air pumping out onto the street and cold blowing in. When a customer suggested the doors might be shut, they were politely advised by the shivering girl on the till that company policy was to leave doors open. Now research by the Times newspaper seems to suggest that Cotswold are not alone – shops like Next, French Connection and Waterstones all have told staff to leave doors open even on the coldest days. The Times sent out a camera with thermal imaging and found that in one of London’s main shopping streets, other stores including Gap, Monsoon, The Body Shop, Superdrug and Topshop also left front doors wide open – often increasing the heat loss by having an ‘air curtain’ over the doors – where heated air is pumped down, enticing cold cusmers in – but creating massive energy waste. A study by Cambridge University showed that the policy would double a shop’s energy use. UK Retailers generate 24 Million tonnes of CO2 each year.  The pressure group ‘Close the Door’  is  asking retailers to change their policies. Me – Apart from being environmentally irresponsible, I am beginning to wonder how much open doors cost the shops – and thus the customer – ie me – and why I should pay!

The Mayor of Paris is introducing a new range of electric cars that can be hired for as littkle as E5. Autolib will have 3,000 electric cars stationed around Paris for subscribers to use, and the ‘Blue Car’ will take up to four passengers with costs from E5 for half an hour.  The vehicles will be exquipped with SatNav, can reach up to 130 km/h (80mph) and can travel for 250 km without recharging.  The car will take four hours to recharge. The scheme is aimed to reduce parking problems, traffic jams and pollution. The Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, hope the scheme will be as successful as his bike hire scheme, Velib, which now has  16,000 bikes  available to over 200,000  annual subscibers.

Finally can we wish a HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all who celebrate at this time of year or however they celebrate, and can we wish everyone a happy, healthy and green 2011!

Ben, Claire, Helen and Luke.

Photo  Ben – a Christmas 2010 photo taken on December 19th.

Billions up in smoke!

UK firms waste hundreds of millions of pounds every year by failing to recognise the full benefits of energy efficiency according to a new report from the Carbon Trust. The Trust says Financial Directors undervalue the financial returns of energy savig measures such as upgrades to heating and lighting systems, costing UK firms £1.6 billion each year. The Business of Energy Efficiency Report says that returns on energy efficiency investments are 48%.

http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/news/news/press-centre2010/2010/Pages/UK-businesses-energy-efficiency.aspx

Muddled ‘modest’ end to Cancun climate change talks

The UN Climate Change talks in Cancun, Mexico, have produced a “modest deal” that commits all the major economies to reducing emissions, but does not go far enough to keep global warming below 2C according to critics. The agreement, which took four years of endless talk from a rolling circus of delegates from up to 193 countries to negotiate, should help to prevent deforestation, promote the transfer of low-carbon technologies to developing countries and establish a green fund, potentially worth $100bn (£63bn) a year, to shield the more vulnerable countries from climate change. The Guardian identifies the main points agreed as

■ All countries to cut emissions

■ Finance for countries who avoid emissions from deforestation

■ Finance to potentially provide up to $30bn for developing countries to adapt to climate change now, and a fund of up to $100bn later.

■ A new UN climate fund to be run largely by developing countries

■ Easier transfer of low carbon technology and expertise to poor countries

■ China, the US and all major emitters to have actions inspected

■ Scientific review of progress after five years

However, delegates failed to reach agreement on how far overall global emissions should be cut, and there seem to be a large number of  loopholes for countries to avoid making the deep reductions that scientists say are needed – Japan has basically been allowed to avoid making binding  pledges for example.

Chris Huhne, the UK’s Climate Secretary said “This is way better than what we were expecting only a few weeks ago. This is a significant turning point. It clearly says that there should be reductions from developing countries. It takes us forward to a legally binding overall outcome,” he said. He added that it would give industry more confidence to invest in low-carbon economies and would encourage Europe to commit to a 30% cut in emissions by 2020. Todd Stern, the US State Department Climate Change Envoy, said the deal at Cancún had given substance to the notion of an inspections regime, which were raised at Copenhagen. But by his own admission, and that of campaigners, Cancún represented only incremental progress and a number of countries, notably Bolivia, were resistant to the deal (although becausxe it didnt go far enough).  Friends of the Earth called the agreement a “slap in the face” and warned that it could still lead to a temperature rise of 5C

See more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/11/mexico-cancun-environment-climate-summit

http://www.actualidadnoticias.com/news_777831_UN-climate-deal-binds-all-nations.html

Gisele and The Green Team

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has joined our own ECOGIRL as a cartoon superhero – with her five all girl team out to save the planet. The 30 year old Brazilian model is now the heroine of ‘Gisele And The Green Team’ whose missions aim to make the world a safer and greener place.

The website also has some useful information aimed at kids – with clear and simple explanations of global warming, acid rain, deforestation, water pollution, animal poaching, overfishing, wetlands and green living  – as well as a ‘boutique’, ‘secret missions’, games, ‘go green’ and ‘girl power’. For more see http://www.giseleandthegreenteam.com/#/go-green/  

You can see Gisele and the Green Team in action in The Case of the Lawless Loggers here http://www.giseleandthegreenteam.com/#/mission-room/19694898/ and The Case of the Illicit Arsenic  here http://www.giseleandthegreenteam.com/#/mission-room/19738220/

Bundchen said “I wanted to find ways to educate kids and about a subject that is very important to me, saving the planet” and added “I am so excited because I have been working on this for the past two years and I can’t believe it is finally coming to life… My motto is the three Rs: reduce, re-use and recycle.

Ecogirl is a registered UK and Community Trade Mark.

Cancun talks headed for ‘disaster’

The European Union’s  president, Herman Van Rompuy, has predicted “disaster” at the latest crucial round of global climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico and voiced relief that he stayed away from the Copenhagen summit a year ago. The Guardian says that after a meeting with Van Rompuy in December last year, just after he was the surprise choice to be the first president of the European council, a senior US diplomat described the Belgian as “animated and frustrated”.Van Rompuy said the Copenhagen climate change talks had been “an incredible disaster”. Looking forward to the current negotiations in Cancun in Mexico, the European leader predicted that these would be a disaster too. 

Van Rompuy complained bitterly that the Europeans had been “totally excluded” and “mistreated” in Copenhagen and said he was only lucky that he had decided to stay away. In a postmortem he said that the EU, proudly branding itself the world pioneer in combating climate change, had been snubbed by the US and China at the talks in Denmark, delivering a blow to prestige from which the EU has yet to recover. “Had I been there my presidency would have been over before it began,” the cable quotes him as saying. The diplomat noted: “He thought it was a wise decision not to attend the conference despite the pressure. He was not angry, in the sense that he never seems angry, but he was as animated and as frustrated as I have seen him.” In public the EU is talking up the case for reviving climate change agreement hopes in Cancun, but last December Van Rompuy was dismissive and pessimistic, both about the Cancun negotiations and about the very format for the talks. “Van Rompuy said he has “given up on Mexico’,” the American reported, while his chief of staff, Van Daele, likened the Cancun talks to the repeat of a bad film and said: ‘Who wants to see that horror movie again?’ “. Van Rompuy strongly criticised the unwieldy format of the talks, with too many players involved. He urged a concentration on the US, the EU and China, focusing his efforts towards a European-American breakthrough at their summit planned for last May, which in the end did not take place.

See more in the Guardian (4th Deceber 2010) and online at http://www.poten.com/NewsDetails.aspx?id=10830455 and see more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/02/cancun-climate-change-summit-us and http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord