Monthly Archives: January 2011

Another Planet

Global warming causes big freeze? It seems that global warming is set to make Britain’s winters to be far colder – just like they have been for the last two years with temperatures in Britain far far below what they have been in ercent history. Dr Simon Boxhall from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton has said that melting ice in the Arctic Ocean over the last four years means that the  ice cover is at its sma;lest area since records began and this creates a high pressure system that sends freezing weather south to the United Kingdom. Brrrrrrrrrr!

Julie’s Bicycle and Music Week have announced the launch of the Julies Bicycle Green Business Award in recognition of environmental achievements made by companies working in the UK music industry.  This is the first award of its kind and is open to any company operating within the UK music industry. The presentation will be made at The Music Week Awards, taking place at The Roundhouse in London on 24th May 2011.  If your company has introduced successful green initiatives in 2010, you can enter and full details on how to be considered for the award can be found at the official Music Week website at www.musicweekawards.com/enter or alternatively please get in touch with Julie’s Bicycle at info@juliesbicycle.com . The Application fee is £30.

Mediterranean fish such as anchovies and sardines are migrating into the North Sea and could be caught of the coast of Scotland within the decade according to Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of the Norweigian Polar Institute. Warming oceans are causing noticeable shifts in fish populations he told the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway.

I’ve just lined my new food caddy with a corn starch liner for the first time as Islington introduces food waste recycling – almost all food waste will now diverted from landfill and will be recycled back into compost. Food waste is  30% of the average household’s waste – so this is a bog step forward – and it all looks lovely ! www.islington.gov.uk/recycling .

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch has shown that there are some exotic visitors to Britain’s gardens as birds such as the rarely seen waxwing and the redwing thrush look for food in urban areas, many driven to the UK by harsh winter conditions in Russia and North Eastern Europe. See www.rspb.org.uk .

A Suffolk based inventor believes he has afound a solution to the tens of millions of plastic milk bottles that end up in landfill every year – a paper based bottle which was inspired by a papier-mache balloon  made Martin Myerscough’s son – although it does have a thin plastic lining. The GreenBottle will be trialled by Asda in East Anglia.

Broadcaster Melvin Bragg (aka Lord Bragg) has joined the growing number of voices alarmed by the coalition government’s plans to sell of the UK’s wppdlands – in particular in the Lake District where he was born. He told reporters in the North West that “we need more of the Lake District in public hands, not less”. Forests at risk include Grizdale, Whinlatter and Ennerdale. See more at www.savelakelandsforests.org.uk .

Cheap, green and nutritious – is there a diet that can save the planet? The Observer reports on the World Wildlif fund has come up with a new diet that shifts consumers away from processed food and meat – increasingly blamed for obsesity, diabetes and heart disease . Meat is one of the key environmental issues – in the US alone 70% of land is given over to growing animal feeds along with asssociated water resource and pollution issues, and vast areas of rainforest are being cleared to satisfy our meet needs. In the UK we eat an average of 79Kg of meat each year – the new Livewell diet reduces this to 10Kg a year. See more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/30/livewell-plate-diet-nutrition 

The annual get together of ‘World leaders’ in Davos, Switzerland, you know, the politcians, the business leaders, the bankers, seem to have come to the conclusion that the banker bashing must now stop, that politicians and bankers weren’t really to blame, and they all need to be left alone to work out how to work on a clever new economic recovery. meanwhile …. not too much has been heard about clever solutions to climate change …..

Advertisements

APPLYING FOR THE GREENER FESTIVAL AWARD 2011

A Greener Festival was set up to promote sustainable music events and environmentally friendly practices at music and arts festivals around the World and our Awards scheme is now an integral part of the global fight against climate change. The Awards are in addition to our other activities – we have our well read website,  we run the annual ‘Great Big Green Ideas’ competition for members of the public to suggest green innovations for festivals, we run training schemes with Buckinghamshire New University and the European festivals organisation YOUROPE and  we provide speakers for panels and for conferences (in 2010 we had representatives at the International Live Music Conference (UK), Green Events Germany, Event Scotland and the Event Expo in Hungary).  We have new conferences planned for Finland and Hungary. In 2010 AGF released a double CD of emerging talent ‘Festivals Harvest’ in environmentally friendly packaging and AGF also undertake independent research, primarily on audience opinions. 

The Greener Festival Awards scheme recognises and rewards festivals who have made significant steps in reducing their environmental impact. To enter the Awards scheme a Festival needs to submit the Self Assessment along with all relevant supporting documentation. The Festival will then be ‘environmentally audited’ by an independent assessor and this Report along with your self assessment and supporting documents will form the basis of the Award Committee’s award.

The application fee is currently £200 plus VAT for UK Festivals and MUST be paid in advance. This is to cover the expenses of the environmental assessor and our administration.  If you festival is in Europe then the fee will be a minimum of E300 and in the USA US $300 and  you will need to liaise with the Awards Administrator on this (see contacts below). We have NO government or European funding of any sort whatsoever and we are a ’not for profit’ organisation.

The process is this

The festival will submit its Self Assessment / documentation and pay the application fee

The independent assessor is appointed

The independent assessor visits the event and then prepares the Independent Report

The assessor submits their Report and all supporting documentation they have received

The Awards Committee meets three times each year to confirm Awards

Additional supporting documentation: This might include and Environmental Policy, And Environmental Impact Rep/ort, a travel and transport policy, an office policy and a ‘Carbon Footprint’ or other report measuring  greenhouse gas emissions. We support the Julies Bicycle tools for measuring and reporting Greenhouse gas emissions (www.juliesbicycle.com).  We have also been looking at the tools developed by the sustainable Events Alliance as evidece of good practice Nationally supported schemes such as BS8901 and international ISO standards – initially ISO 9000 and now ISO 14000 and ISO 14001 are also useful and can be useful evidence, as of course would be equivalent schemes in other countries.  Support for schemes such as 10:10 or Climate Week (UK) may be of interest.

The Awards

The Australian Awards are the first to be announced each year, usually in March or April. We then try and have two further Committee meetings, one to look at UK, European and North American applications from the first half of the year (May, June, July) and then a final meeting in late September for the final festivals from the UK, North America and Europe which take place in August and September.

There are four categories of the Greener Festival Award:

Outstanding – for truly outstanding and inspirational events. These need to be exceptional events who have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, have excellent travel, transport and waste management programmes, protect the environment and minimise water use and communicate this to the public.

Highly Commended – for well managed environmentally aware festivals which have taken significant steps to reduce waste, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and engage with the audience.

Commended – for well-managed, environmentally aware festivals.

Improving – for festivals at the beginning of the green “journey” that can exhibit at least a significant engagement with the process of reducing the event’s environmental impact.

If you win the Award you will be entitled to use the Award Winners Logo.

Publicity

The Awards attract a significant level of press interest.  This can be generated by festivals themselves. We also receive press on a national level, in music industry trade press and even on an international level through organisations such as the BBC and the Discovery Channel. Out own blog www.agreenerfestival.com now has a large readership as does the sister site www.musicgreen.wordpress.com . We also blog at www.virtualfestivals.com.  The first Awards announcements are made on our website and then press released. We usually have an Awards ceremony for all UK winners in November in London. In Europe we are on the panel that judges the overall ‘Green n Clean’ Award’ winner from a Yourope’s Green ‘n’ Clean Award scheme winners.

Contacts

Awards Administrator  agreenerfestival@gmail.com  Awards information agreenerfestival@aol.com

Save our Forests

The UK government is planning a massive sell off of national forests. They could be auctioned and fenced off, run down, logged or turned into golf courses and holiday villages. The government of course say this won’t happen BUT I think we all know that the lack of attention to detail in legislation will mean that we will have yet another law of ‘unintended consequences’ – and yes, lose our forests. This is especially tragic if we lose ancient forests and unique habitats. We can’t let that happen. We need to stop these plans. National treasures like the The Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest and The New Forest could be sold off. Once they are gone, they will be lost forever. A huge petition will force the government to rethink its plans. If we can prove how strongly the public are against this, they will have to back down. Please sign the petition now – you can find it here at http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-forests#petition

Please say no to Chinese lanterns

Yes, they are beautiful, yes they are fun, and yes, many have a great emotional attachment to them. And now it seems that no celebration is complete without them. But they are a menace to farmers, crops and farm animals, to the wildlife and the environment and even to landing aircraft and boats at sea. And to festival goers who get burnt. What are they? Those Chinese ‘sky’ paper lanterns that are fuelled by buring oil and float away into the night sky.

Dorset and Somerset Fire Service have reported a marked increase in lantern fires in the past year and Somerset MP David Heath has also called for action to make Chinese Lanterns safe to livestock and wildlife. Speaking in parliament, Mr Heath drew attention to the growing trend to set off Chinese lanterns, which are carried by convection currents across the countryside. Apart from the fire risk, Mr Heath said that the lanterns contain a metal wire which, if it is chopped up into hay or silage can cause harm to cattle and other livestock. Mr Heath said: “This is a growing trend in our part of the world, particularly at the open air festivals like Glastonbury, and I can well understand the attractions. The illuminated paper lanterns look spectacularly beautiful against the night sky. Unfortunately, the problem comes when they land in fields which are subsequently mown and as a result we get fragments of wire in animal feed-stuffs. I certainly don’t want to be a kill joy, and I certainly don’t want to ban them, but I hope the government will take action to ensure they are made in such a way as to avoid the metal wire and replace it with something biodegradable. I gather a lot of these are imported from China, and safe alternatives do exist. It would be far better for the safety of animals if they were the ones that people used from choice.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have also pointed out that over 500 false alarms last year were put down to lanterns being mistaken for flares at sea and the coastguard being called out for no good reason, and now The National Farmers Union and the Civil Aviation Authority have called for a ban on the sale of “sky” lanterns

We read this interesting post on a festival discussion board “They are officially banned at Glastonbury festival and have been for a couple of years if you read the festival small print but more and more do seem to come in each year. They were not so bad years ago when it was just a few being let off from the stone circle but now you get all sorts of muppets trying to launch them in the middle of the crowd down at the stages. Frequently they don’t get airborne enough and just come down on someone’s unsuspecting head or tip hot wax on some poor sod about ten people away from the muppet that launched it (or failed to), can’t believe the idiocy of some people. Only a matter of time before one lands amongst the tightly packed nylon tents at Glasto or Reading etc and either the tents or the dry grass around them turns into a major people-cooking disaster.”

The Glastonbury Festival confirmed that it already asked festival goers not to bring lanterns on site – to protect Worthy Farm and the surrounding countryside and told us that the Festival was still actively discouraging lanterns along with wax flares and fireworks except for the official display in 2011. Lattitude has also joined the growing number of festivals banning Sky lanterns. They are pretty, they are lovely – but they are pretty destructive too and if you really do love the countryside then it is best to adopt the policy of  ‘leave no trace’. So please just say “no” to Chinese lanterns.

Another Planet

A deadly new virus is spreading through Britain’s forests – seemingly the same virus that killed millions of oak trees in California.  The virus, Phytophthora ramorum,  first indentified in imported shrubs in 2002, appears to have jumped species and is being considered a serious risk to all of the UK’s woodlands. Spores can be carried in the wind as well as carried on bike tracks and feet, with most outbreaks so far concentrated in Cornwall, South Wales and the coast of Northern Ireland.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s expose of the European Union’s fishing quota waste and the destructive fishing techniques such as purse seining, which are decimating tuna stocks, has already prompted change – thousands have signed up to the Fish Fight petition, and UK supermarket chain Tesco have said that they will swap to 100% pole and line caught tuna for their own brand of the tinned fish. Princes are now at the bottom of a Greenpeace league table for the worst environmental offenders for tuna fishing and even Princes have indicated that they will remove the (‘outrageous’) line that Princes is “fully committed to fishing methods that protect the marine environment and marine life” from their tins. EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has conceded that we ‘cannot afford to throw fish away – it is not sustainable” and  UK fisheries minister Richard Beynon MP has promised to fight to end fishing discards – dumping too small fish that have been caught but are already dead – at the next revision of the EU’s Common Fishing Policy. To sign up to the campaign go to www.fishfight.net

An interesting comment and solution to the UK Coalition government’s dreadful plans to sell of the UK’s state owned woodlands “We can transform our countryside. Put forests in the hands of people’ by Andy Wightman in the Observer (16 January). You can read it all at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/16/andy-wightman-woodlands-public-ownership

Motorhead, Mastodon, In Flames and Parkway Drive join the ‘Big 4’ at Sonisphere 2011 UK

Motörhead will make their debut appearance at Sönisphere UK this summer, giving fans their first chance to see songs from the recently released “the Wörld”. Also confirmed are Mastodon who return to Knebworth this summer, having played at the inaugural Sonisphere back in 2009. In Flames are also returning to the UK for their first appearance since 2009’s Taste of Chaos tour. Making the long journey over from down under, Australia’s Parkway Drive pay their first visit to Sonisphere, bringing with them an arsenal of mosh-inducing metalcore. The newly announced bands join the ‘big 4’ from the metal world – Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth along with confirmed headliners Slipknot and Biffy Clyro for the festival which runs from Friday July 8th 2010 to Sunday July 10th at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire. The touring metal feast will also visit Poland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

http://sonispherefestivals.com/

Another Planet

Italy begins 2011 with a ban on plastic bags in shops and supermarkets, making it the first country to ban plastic bags in Europe. Italians are among the top consumers of plastic bags in Europe and use more than 300 per person a year, or around a quarter of the 100 billion plastic bags that are used annually across Europe.  Italian shoppers will now be offered alternatives such as biodegradable plastic, paper or fabric bags.

The Green Energy Training Centre (GETC) in Wirral , UK, opened its doors in November last year and has begun its training courses in renewable energy technologies. The centre offers training and qualifications in installing green energy microgeneration technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar panels and heat pumps.  The UK housing minister, Grant Shapps, has confirmed that non-domestic new builds must be zero carbon by 2019.  The minister also said the government is working on an approach to finalise the definition of zero carbon homes. In Taiwan the country’s first energy-saving and zero-carbon building is about to open: The YS Sun Green Building Research Centre in the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in the city of Tainan, part of which is underground, features technologies including ‘natural buoyancy ventilation’ which lets the 300 capacity conference hall stay cool in summer and warm in winter without using the air conditioning. It was also constructed with 200 tons of serpentine jade cement, which have high levels of alkaline, magnetic field and hydroxyl radicals which, supposedly, naturally purify air. The centre will serve as NCKU’s international conference centre and exhibit other green building technologies.

The Irish government is co-funding a Euro 150,000 research project into CETO wave technology.  The project is being funded by Australian wave energy developer Carnegie Wave Energy Ltd and the Sustainable Energy Association (SEAI). The CETO system converts wave energy into zero-emission electricity and desalinated water. It is fully submerged and anchored in deep water and works through a system of submerged buoys which are tethered to seabed pump units and move with the motion of the passing waves.

The UK Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has called for a reform of EU farming subsidies. She will say that the Common Agricultural Policy needs to be fundamentally changed so that farmers who protect the environment should get rewards and there should be less reliance on direct payments.

In the USA, the Commission investigating the BP oil spill has found BP and other companies guilty of complacency and blames cost cutting and poor management and engineering decisions. The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has released forward chapters in advance of the full report which will come out on January 11.

Environmental law organisation, ClientEarth, says major retailers in the UK are misleading customers over the labelling of fish. The organisation inspected the labelling by major supermarkets and in their subsequent report, they say that labels, such as ‘sustainably sourced’, ‘protects the marine environment’ and ‘responsibly farmed’ were misleading or unverified on 32 products out of 100 examined.  In a survey by Ethical Consumer magazine, UK shoppers are urged to cut the environmental cost of their shopping by choosing Marks and Spencer or the Co-op, who they name as the UK’s greenest supermarkets. Down at the other end of the scale were Tesco, ASDA and Netto. The environmental and ethical performance of 19 of the country’s leading supermarkets and convenience stores were scrutinised in the survey.

In Australia, Brisbane, the continent’s third largest city, has been partly evacuated as the death toll from rising flood waters continue. The city is home to about 2 million people. At least ten people have died in the past 24 hours and many more are missing and the Australian police fear the death could rise as floods sweep into the city. Floods in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil,  caused by torrential rain, have now caused massive landslides resulting in the death of over 500 people. A Tragedy. Sri Lanka is also experiencing flooding, at least 27 peole have died, 20,000 are homeless and more than 350,000 displaced

See more on these stories at http://www.edie.net/news/index.asp?channel=0 and at  http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=19225 and at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=19207  and at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=19211 and at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=19224