Monthly Archives: June 2012

Standby for your big bill!

UK homes waste 16% of their energy – or £1.3 billion from doemstic homes – on unneeded lighting and appliances left on standby. The worst offenders (according to the Energy Saving Trust) are these – and switching off could save most households £86 each year:

Luke on TV!

If you want to know what our friends at Dia de la Musica are up to,  and see Luke on Spanish TV, its all online (and in Spanish too) at http://www.lasextanoticias.com/videos/ver/festival_ecologico/614823

And more on V Festival’s ‘Every Can Counts’ here http://www.edie.net/library/view_article.asp?id=6176 – this time the article in English.

Greenpeace’s Save The Arctic campaign

The Polar ice cap is melting – in the last 30 years, we’ve lost as much as three-quarters of the floating ice cap at the top of the world. The volume of that sea ice measured by satellites in the summer, when it reaches its smallest, has shrunk so fast that scientists say it’s now in a ‘death spiral’.

For over 800,000 years, ice has been a permanent feature of the Arctic ocean. It’s melting because of our use of dirty fossil fuel energy, and in the near future it could be ice free for the first time since humans walked the Earth. This would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there – but for the rest of us too.

The ice at the top of the world reflects much of the sun’s heat back into space and keeps our whole planet cool, stabilising the weather systems that we depend on to grow our food. Protecting the ice means protecting us all.

Sign up to Greenpeace’s petition to create a global sanctuary at the top of the world at http://www.savethearctic.org/

Glastonbury and Festival Republic split

Festival Republic have confirmed that their partnership with Glastonbury Festival has come to an end, meaning that Melvin Benn, who first worked for the iconic Festival in the 80s and then returned prior to the 2002 Festival which featured the new ‘superfence’ as Licensee, will pass over the reigns as Operations Director in due course. Festival Republic were shareholders in the event. Benn will now focus on Festival Republic’s other festivals including Reading, Leeds, Latitude, Hove, Berlin and Electric Picnic.  .A statement from Festival Republic said:

Time moves on and now is the time for Michael and the Glastonbury team to pick up the reins again and build for the future. This will then allow Melvin and the Festival Republic team to focus on growing new Festival Republic events and the existing FR owned festivals here in the UK as well as internationally in Ireland, Germany and Norway as well as the time required of Melvin as Chairman of Wembley Stadium.”

The separation has been mutual and cordial and Melvin will oversee the change and the selection of the new Operations Director (yet to be appointed). The Festival Republic interest in GFL 2011 (the operational company of Glastonbury Festival) will be passed on to LNG, Festival Republic’s parent company, in a long term arrangement that genuinely secures the future of the Festival. (The Workers Beer Company interest in the same company remains unaffected).”

Another woodland fire sale?

This from 38 Degrees: There are worrying rumours of a behind-the-scenes effort to revive plans to sell off England’s woodlands. We may have less than a week to stop them and keep our forests safe for future generations.

Next week, the government’s forest panel will publish a new report on the future of our woodlands. [1] Rumours are circulating that some panel members want to clear the way for a fresh sell-off. We’ve got a few days to persuade the rest of them to block this new threat to our beautiful woodlands.

Please add your name to the urgent petition now, and then forward this email to your family and friends. We’ll do an emergency delivery to each of the panel members before next Wednesday:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/keep-our-woods-safe

It’s a bit depressing that anyone still thinks selling off England’s woodlands is a good idea! But it’s not all that surprising – the government forest panel includes vested interests from the private timber industry. [2] A huge people powered petition could help sway undecided panel members and make sure these vested interests don’t win out.

Our woodlands are at their best at this time of year. Animals and plants are flourishing. A new generation of children is learning to ride bikes and climb trees. For those of us that live in cities and towns, woodlands give us a chance to slow down and enjoy nature. And for tens of thousands of people, jobs in forests pay their wages. [3] That’s why last year, half a million of us stood together to stop them being sold off. [4]

The next few days are crucial to protect these beautiful wild places – please sign the emergency petition now:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/keep-our-woods-safe

ANOTHER PLANET?

A high-level climate change task force has warned that world leaders must do more to react to climate change, and calls for the Rio+ 20 conference to take threat seriously. The Climate Change Task Force (CCTF), which consists of scientists, economists, former heads of state, Nobel Prize laureates, as well as climate and sustainable development experts from developed and developing countries, aims to encourage political change to address climate change.  As a result, it has launched an appeal calling for the United Nations (UN) sustainable development conference in Brazil to “prioritise action against the drivers of global warming”, and argues that climate change must be positioned in the “wider context” of sustainable economic and social development.

Big Belly Solar Compacting Waste Bins are powered by a solar compactor that converts the Sun’s energy into electricity to power an internal compactor, which crushes the waste and increases the capacity up to eight times that of a normal litter bin. We are told ” the bins are robust and stylist, they cannot crush or hurt wildlife, they eliminate the problems of bees and wasps in the warmer months and keep odours contained.  Already, many Councils, Universities, Theme and Country Parks are already taking advantage of the many benefits the Bins deliver.” The bin even sends out an alert when it needs emptying! It doesn’t allow waste sorting, but its a clever thing – more  on BBC Newsround at   http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/17671518 .

UK honey prices will rise after a 16% decline in hives in England. The British Beekeepers Association say the bigger than expected decline is thought to be due to the varrora mite infestation and the weather – when warn autumn weather allowed increased wasp activity to the detriment of bees, a cold winter interrupted breeding and the current wet weather is curtailing foraging for pollen and nectar. In the 2007-2008 winter hives declined by 30% and beekepers are calling for a review of UK and EU farming policies more research into the effects of pesticides. Overall hive numbers are down 50% in the last 20 years.

The UK has signed an energy agreement with Iceland, which will enable Iceland’s volcanoes to supply deep geothermal energy to the UK. And A pioneering energy partnership between the UK and Norway, which aims to secure affordable and sustainable long term energy supplies for the two countries, has been unveiled across a wide range of energy activities including “safe and environmentally sensitive oil and gas extraction” (hmmm),  long term gas supply, renewable energy investment, electricity interconnection and international climate change policy development. And Wales and Denmark have also pledged to work together on sustainability opportunities ahead of the Rio+20 summit taking place later this month.

Edie.net reports that critics of public funding for renewable energy developments have been challenged to look again at the level of ongoing financial support provided to other parts of the UK’s energy mix. Targeting their comments at anti-wind farm campaigners, in particular, the lobby organisation, Scottish Renewables, told Edie today that critics of renewables tend to overlook the ongoing financial support provided to other electricity generators.

Roadchef motorway services have launched the UK’s first network of rapid charge points for electric cars, enabling drivers to drive the length of the country. As part of the project, a network of rapid charge points, capable of filling a depleted battery in 30 minutes or less will be installed across the country, with the first being switched on at Clacket Lane Services on the M25.

Sticking with cars ….. green or not …. the EU risks losing its leadership position on fuel efficient cars beyond 2020, according to a leading environmental NGO.  Sustainable transport campaigners Transport & Environment (T&E) have warned that a proposed EU target for new car emissions of 95g/km by 2020 will not be enough to ensure Europe maintains its leadership position in fuel saving technologies.  It also claims that European drivers would welcome tighter CO2 standards for cars as it could help them save €500 per year at the pump on average if this proposal is adopted.

Edie.net also report that the waste industry must reinvent itself in preparation for a circular economy if it is to have a vibrant future. At the opening session of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management’s (CIWM) annual conference a panel of resource experts spoke of the importance of the growing appetite for a society in which waste will be effectively designed out – and challenged waste companies to start realigning their business models fast.  And Dame Ellen MacArthur has called for greater engagement among Europe’s political leaders if the ambition of a circular economy is to be realised. The former round the world yachtswoman turned sustainability campaigner was speaking at the European Commission’s launch of a high-level steering committee to drive greater resource efficiency across EU member states that took place in Brussels last week.

HSBC has invested $100m in a five-year Water Programme set up in partnership with WaterAid, WWF and Earthwatch, after reporting that gross domestic product (GDP) will be affected by water scarcity. Even the UK’s water security is at a critical point and decisive action must be taken to safeguard water resources, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). ICE is now calling for the creation of a UK Water Security Taskforce to deliver an integrated roadmap to water security by spring 2014, based on strategic plans from all Governments.

Discarded fishing nets are to be recovered and turned into carpet tiles through a pioneering community-based supply chain initiative. Global carpet tile manufacturer Interface has teamed up with conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to tackle the growing problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities.  The announcement, which coincides with World Ocean Day, sees the unveiling of a pilot launch – the Net-Works partnership – that will trial the scheme on Danajon Bank in the Philippines.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman have all asked PM David Cameron to provide more support for green industries to boost the economy, and stop the UK falling behind other countries, and losing its global leadership on the environment.

Rain, rain, rain – but what are we gonna do?

It may come as no surprise that many parts of the United Kingdom had more rain in one day this week than they would have had in a month. Certainly the 55,000 fans at the Isle of Wight have had a muddy and wet time, and and organiser John Gidddins has apologised for the chaos and  promised that lessons would be learned for future years. Mr Giddings said that he was working with the police and the local council to create a plan to help people get away from the festival as easily as possible after Bruce Springsteen closes the event this evening. This involves more than 100 4×4 vehicles being on duty in the car parks to help tow stuck vehicles out and extra police officers being drafted in to help. But what is wrong witn our weather?

Eleven out of the last twelve summers have been the hottest on record – and this is the wettest June for 230 years. Just this Friday Keswick had 8.86 cm of rain, and River Calder flooded at Hebden bridge. Other flooded areas included Croston (great potatoe pies and I am sure I was there when it flooded 25 years ago so it’s not a one-off), Todmorden and Wigan. If you go out walking, if you farm, sail, run an outdoor activity centre, have a garden – or go to festivals – you will have noticed our weather is changing. And yet many still insist that climate change is a big myth – they must be blind – or just believe the PR put out by oil, gas and coal industries which is clearly is amazingly effective. And the debacle of Rio +20 is symptomatic of the lack of enthusiasm for change – we sort of know we need to change – but at the moment economics always trumps climate change and, energy is a big part of all economies. The UK’s government the greenest ever? Ermmm no. And the Olympics the greenest games? Hmmmm – lets wait and see. And it seems to matter not one jot that wind, water and solar energy are cheap alternatives which we can control and manage and that here in the UK we now  have little in the way of fossil fuels. Why don’t we change? Why do we keep pumping CO2 out and burning fossil fuels? Isn’t it in everone’s interests to move to sustainable energy? why is this even a political issue – it should be a no brainer shouldn’t it?

Will Hutton had written a great piece in the Observer today (24th June) titled “A catastrophe if global warming falls of the international agenda” who points out that climate change trends 20 years ago, already visible but less marked, prompted the first earth summit in Rio saying “The second one closed on Friday night with a political declaration as long as it was vapid. There were plenty of warm words and reaffirmations of intent – but nothing that might address the intense pressure on the natural environment” adding “There was, for example, no deterrent to the burning of fossil fuels or incentive to make renewable ones more economically attractive. Targets for sustainable development? Forget them. And so it went on — a non-event that hardly got reported” and “There was the usual cast of suspects. China and India were determined that action on carbon emissions must be undertaken by the west and not by them, so creating political deadlock. American oil, car and airline companies lobby intensely to stop any tax being levied on oil and gas, while global banks lobby no less furiously against a financial transactions tax whose proceeds might be used to alleviate the impact of  climate change”.

It’s a  really good read – and you can find it here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/will-hutton-climate-change-action