ANOTHER PLANET?

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised a nuclear free future for the country by the 2030s but the pledge has prompted scepticism from opposition politicians and business leaders who fear job losses, a loss of technology exports and a rise in the cost of power. Until the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan was planning to build 14 new nuclear power stations to produce 50% of the country’s electricity by 2030. It will now move to fossil fuels and Japan will invest £400 billion in renewable energies which currently produce just 1% of Japan’s power (excluding hydro-electricity) – but in the short term Japan will miss it’s agreed Kyoto targets to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

A new fair trade oboe is being made by Marigaux, with wood sourced from community owned sustainable forests in Tanzania set up by Sound and Fair. The forests are homw to the rare  blackwood tree, used in oboes and clarinets. African Blackwood is an endangered species and is often illegally logged.

The list of animals on the Endangered Species List continues to grow – with giraffes, zebras, howler monkeys, hummingbirds and peacocks and  joining polar bears, giant pandas, rhinos and snow leopards.

Sue Perkins has been confirmed as the host for the Sustainability Leaders Awards on December 5th this year at London’s the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, announcing the winners and welcoming them on stage to receive their awards.  Full details including the entire shortlist and details about the gala black tie dinner and award presentation are available here. Comedian and TV presenter Sue  was the face of the Love Food Hate Waste ‘Freezer Expedition’ campaign, aimed at cutting food waste by encouraging householders to make the most of their freezer, both by freezing food that might otherwise be thrown away and by using forgotten food buried in the nation’s freezers.

Virgin Atlantic plans to recycle four million plastic bottles a year for use in its new amenity kits for airline passengers. The company has been working with one of its supply chain partners, MNH Sustainable Cabin Solutions, to develop the technology to make this possible.  The kits have been designed with sustainability in mind and are made from 100% recycled PET (rPET) material which is derived from a yarn created by smashing, melting, polymerising and spinning the PET bottles. Virgin says the resulting material has a 90% lower carbon footprint than nylon and can be recycled again at end-of-life. Any unused amenity kits will be collected for reuse. Elsewhere in business, Sainsbury’s is looking to enter into partnerships with councils to boost customer recycling facilities at a third of its stores in the UK, Waitrose has announced plans to open a third energy centre next year powered by waste wood in a pioneering “closed loop”  model and Brewery firm SABMiller is embarking on a pioneering partnership to improve food security through waste reduction and optimisation – looking to produce food from agricultural waste. Finally, the first sale of a robotic recycling system powered by artificial intelligence has been made in a deal worth over 1m with Dutch firm Baetsen Recycling and will be installed next February at its construction waste recycling plant in Son, in the Netherlands.

The US wind power market is under threat from rival energy sources, particularly cheap natural gas, and a threat to the tax credit – with thousands of jobs at risk.  The US Commerce Department has also put tariffs on steel turbine towers from China after finding they were being sold for less than the cost of production. A $1 billion subsidy schgeme for green energy will expire on December 31st and may not be renewed this year after what had been agreed by both Republicans and Democrats split on political grounds – Barack Obama wants the subsidy to stay – Mitt Romney is against – as is the oil industry.

The British public could save over £300m a year on their water heating costs by reducing their shower time by two minutes, according to research from E.ON.

Lord de Mauley has finally been confirmed as the new resource management minister at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) – two weeks after the UK Government’s cabinet reshuffle.

An EU energy efficiency directive, approved by the European Parliament, will enforce mandatory energy saving measures that could save the region billions of euros per year.  The energy-saving measures include renovating public buildings, energy-saving schemes for utilities, and energy audits for all large firms, which could cut energy consumption by 20%, saving the EU €50bn per year.  EC Rapporteur Claude Turmes said: “This essential legislation is not only crucial for achieving our energy security and climate goals, it will also give a real boost to the economy and create jobs”.

The UK’s Met Office has launched a wind production forecast service specifically designed for wind farms and wind energy production.

A survey conducted by warranty provider SquareTrade of 2,000 US iPhone users found that, based on the sample size, Americans have spent an estimated $5.9 billion on repairing and replacing broken phones over the past five years. That amount includes cost of repairs for minor issues and replacements for phones that were broken beyond repair as well as insurance deductibles on phones that were still under a warranty. More on gadget good sense here http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/iphone-users-have-spent-6-billion-broken-phones.html

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