ANOTHER PLANET?

The UK’s ‘Green Deal’ – a scheme to provide loans to improve energy efficiency in homes – seems like a great idea. But Greg Barker, the Climate Change minister, has had to admit that since the scheme was introduced last month on October 1st, not one single assessment has taken place.  Its a shame – as improvements such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, boiler upgrades, draught proofing and double and triple glazing can give householders substantial savings on their ever rising energy bills. Assessments are meant to help householders understand how much they can save and how much they could borrow – its a ‘Golden Rule’ that borrowings should not exceed planned savings.

After an extraordinary cloudburst in London last week, it came as no surprise when we saw a study saying that rain in the UK has been falling  more heavily over the last 100 years, and since the 1960s the intense downpours have more than doubled and as climate change takes hold.With warmer wetter summers, it’s expected that the deluges will get worse with increased flooding in the UK. The Warmer North Atlantic will also push Southern Europe towards drought with hot dry Mediterranean summers. Another wet week and windy week was expected in the UK, with flash flooding, bridge failures  and landslides predicted. A motorist died in Somerset last week trying to cross a flooded ford in a  4×4.

Green campaigners have reacted furiously to news that the Government have delayed a decision whether or not to set a decarbonisation target range for 2030. The World Wildlife Fund called the postponement of a decision until 2016 “seriously disappointing” describing it as “a failure of leadership”.  The Government will also exempt energy intensive industries from costs arising from new long-term ‘contracts for difference’ (CFD), which are designed to increase investment in low carbon technologies. The announcement will be made alongside the introduction of the Energy Bill today by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey. But in better news, The first zero-energy cost business park, which will see tenants free of energy bills, was launched, Located in Wigan. The £2.7m development Armstrong Point, was opened by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities Baroness Hanham who described the project as “exciting and innovative” and The Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been officially launched by the Business Secretary Vince Cable. Speaking in Edinburgh at its new headquarters, Cable said the bank, which will make £3bn of government money available for investment in the green economy, would “position the UK in the forefront of the drive to develop clean energy.” And finally Gas and electricity regulator Ofgem has released £45.5m of funding for five low carbon electricity distribution projects.

Water must be managed within sustainable limits in order to stop the damage to ecosystems, says the European Environment Agency (EEA). According to a report published today, pollution and excessive water use are harming ecosystems across Europe which are indispensable to Europe’s food, energy, and water supplies.  Entitled ‘European waters – current status and future challenges’, the report brings together findings from nine other EEA reports published during the course of 2012 and early 2013.  More at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=23623

One-fifth of the world’s natural resources that are extracted for use end up as waste according to new research which examines the hidden environmental costs of raw materials use. A study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) has found that 62 billion tonnes of resources such as minerals, wood, metals, fossil and biomass fuels are extracted from the earth each year.

Almost one fifth of Irish electricity usage now comes from renewable sources, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), reducing Ireland’s fossil fuel imports by an estimated €300m (£242m) last year.

Europe must adapt to the effects of climate change or risk devastating damage costs caused by extreme weather events, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Samsung and Apple must face obligatory reporting rules for their supply chains and material use, says Friends of the Earth (FoE). FoE recently carried out a six-month investigation which found that tin used in popular brands of smartphones is linked to the devastation of the environment in Indonesia.  According to FOE, electrical giants Samsung and Apple deal with companies that use tin mined on Bangka Island in Indonesia, but refuse to confirm or deny the allegations.  More at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=23631

Green that screen! The Odeon Cinema Group has embarked on a drive to double recycling rates by the end of 2014 across all of its theatre sites in the UK.

Nike has unveiled its latest environmental low impact product – the GS2 football boot, constructed using a range of renewable plant-based and recycled materials. Claimed to be the “most environmentally friendly boot available” on the pitch, every component of the GS2 boot has been optimised to reduce weight and waste, creating Nike’s lightest football boot ever at 160 grams, based on a size 9.

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