Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bee happy! Bee killers banned

bee-300x150The European Commission will now be able to restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue. The pesticides which contain Neonicotinoid chemicals are believed to harm bees, and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollination. Sadly the UK environment minister, Owen Paterson, voted against the ban. Despite pressure from the giant chemical companies such as Syngenta and Bayer who say the science is inconclusive, enough other countries voted in favour and the vote was won – although it was close.

In the UK, 38 Degrees orchestrated a campaign that saw over 300,000 people signing  the petition to ban these pesticides and over 40,000 people emailed MPs. In the environment minister’s constituency, in North Shropshire, over 50 local 38 Degrees members came face to face with him to deliver the petition and demand he changed his mind. Hundreds of 38 Degrees members joined up with a host of other campaign organisations to hold a ‘March of the Beekeepers’ in Parliament square and Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said Monday’s vote “makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban. The environment minister, Lord de Mauley, countered, saying: “Having a healthy bee population is a top priority for us but we did not support the proposal because our scientific evidence doesn’t support it. We will now work with farmers to cope with the consequences as a ban will carry significant costs for them.”

The European Commission will now have the option to impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids – and the UK cannot opt out.  The three neonicotinoids are clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam. A report published by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.  That said, they are probably not the only factor working against bees – the varroa mite has been a serious ongoing problem for bees and beekeepers, and pollution and climate change present challenges too – last year’s soaking wet British summer had a near catastrophic effect on many colonies. But lest we forget – once the bees have gone – humans have only a couple of years left ……….

 

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ANOTHER PLANET?

drought2

Millions of people will be unable to afford food in parts of Africa and Asia in the near future as climate change effects the way food is farmed. The prospect of millions of people starving to death is further fuelled by the expected global population explosion that is expected by 2050 – meaning 60% more food will be needed – as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures put the world’s food supplies at risk. In some areas such as West Africa, where rainfall will increase, and Northern Europe where temperatures will rise, food production may actually rise: But by 2050 Southern Europe will need better irrigation to farm crops,  Sub Saharan Africa will see crop yields reduce by up to 20%, The USA will have the manage droughts, floods and extreme heat, Russia will see wheat production decline and forest fires increase, China will have insufficient food supplies by 2030 as temperatures rise, and Australia will see ongoing droughts in key growing areas. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/13/climate-change-threat-food-supplies?INTCMP=SRCH

The cold British spring has had a dramatic effect on migrating birds, with many starving to death as they arrive on the island only to find that usual food sources are very limited or non-existent. Many birds such as swallows, willow warblers and house martins who have travelled thousands of miles are finding no insects to feed on – and 11 stone curlews have been  found dead on beaches in Norfolk, with many others presumed perished.

A new documentary film says that Orcas kept in captivity are deeply traumatised by the experience. The film, Blackfish, which focuses on a killer whale called Tilikum, says that the so called ‘humane’ regime  at SeaWorld –  capture, captivity and training turns the whales into killers. Tilikum has killed two trainers and one uninvited visitor since 1991. Film maker Gabriela Cowperthwaite gained access to many films shot by staff and trainers which has previously been kept secret  by SeaWorld.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/14/killer-whale-seaworld-orlando

At the end of March  the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline, which brings Canadian crude oil from Illinois to Texas, ruptured, leaking at least 80,000 gallons of oil into the Central Arkansas town of Mayflower. Now an update  from TreeHugger about the the oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.  It is a shocking story with local people up in arms about the firm hired to under take the clean up – and for more  see   As Exxon censors local media, citizen journalists document Arkansas oil spill. Can the pros be doing more? and see http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/04/13/arkansas-private-contractor-mayflower-tar-sands-spill-keystone-xl

Inspired by natural processes, patterns and systems, the Looper is mobile, luxury “self-sufficient living pod” of tensile fabric stretched over a sustainably-sourced wooden frame. The designers come from a variety of disciplines ranging from architecture to permaculture to structural engineering and it is  fascinating to see completely new concepts like this caterpillar-shaped prefab tent from Nomadic Resorts. The pod measures 10 metres long by 4 metres wide and is designed to have as light of a footprint as possible, there are solar panels powering LED lighting, a fully functioning bathroom with wastewater treatment, a changing room, office with wi-fi and a sleeping area.

power station3A coalition of 45 organisations has issued a report which argues that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has systemic and unresolvable problems. The scheme, desgfned to promote EU carbon emission reduction targets,  allows EU companies economising on carbon to sell an allowance to those who are less efficient.  But the price has collapsed. Published by NGO, the Corporate Europe Observatory, the report came just hours before the European Parliament votes on the European Commission’s proposal to backload 900 million emissions permits within the EU ETS.  Edie.net reports that one signatory, the NGO FERN, which keeps track of the European Union’s involvement in forests and its carbon and ecosystems, said “We do not think it is going anywhere, it is fundamentally flawed and even if you backload 900 million permits we know it is not going to pick up the prices because it is not enough. Even with knowledge that the ;price of carbon had collapsed  and there was no economic incentive to economise on carbon emissions, the European Parliament voted against a ‘back-loading’ of carbon emissions allowances under the ETS) and the UK Government has expressed its disappointment in the vote rejecting the European Commissions backloading proposal under the controversial EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) but said it respects the views of MEPs.

But governments Worldwide DO have to act: But do you wonder why they don’t in the face of now almost universal scientific evidence on the real dangers of global warming? Well just think of the combine might of the fossil fuel industries – oil, petroleum, gas, goal – and their vast economic and lobbying power. There is a very good article in the Observer by Will Hutton today (21st April 2013) where Will makes the point “a new report, Unburnable Carbon 2013, showed that stock markets worldwide are cumulatively valuing coal, oil and energy companies’ huge reserves of fossil fuels as if they will all be burned, even though, at best, only 40% could ever be used if the world is to cap the increase in global temperatures by 2C this century. Further, in 2012, the top 200 energy companies spent $674bn on finding new reserves, reinforcing the collective absurdity. In other words, there is either a carbon bubble with investors and companies wildly over-speculating on the value of owning fuel reserves that can never be burned, or nobody believes there is the remotest chance that the world will stick to the limits on fossil fuel use congruent with containing global warming.” The worlds fossil fuel companies are valued at $4 trillion.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/21/carbon-problems-financial-crisis-hutton

green dealMarketing for the UK’s Green Deal is under-funded compared with the proportions of budgets allocated to marketing by large retailers, according to Travis Perkins’ Matthew Wright. Talking at Sustainability Live in Birmingham today, Wright said his company “desperately” needed to see some more communication and publicity surrounding the Government’s flagship energy efficiency retrofit scheme.  “It is just completely inadequate. They have spent £10m and if you think how much Tesco and John Lewis spend on their advertising, it is insignificant, it is a drop in the ocean,” he said.  Green Deal assessments lodged in March reached 7,465, up from 1,729 in February, according to the Governments latest figures. A total of 9,268 Green Deal Assessments have been lodged since the scheme launched on 28 January 2013, up from 1,803 at end of February.

Markets for mixed polymer waste may be opening up as a pan-European consortium proposes to manufacture high value products such as flood defences from these materials. Material scientists from PRIME (Plastic Recyclate Impression Moulding Engineering) have combined their expertise to build a prototype rig that has produced the first test barrier panel from mixed plastics waste, which can be used in flood defences.  http://www.edie.net/news/5/Mixed-plastics-waste-reuse-flood-defence-/

Scottish Water has been fined £20,000 after a sewage spill from the Lochwinnoch Sewage Treatment Works located adjacent to Castle Semple Loch in Renfrewshire. After an investigation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the company pleaded guilty to allowing partially treated sewage effluent and activated sludge to escape the works and make its way to wetlands directly dependent on the Loch.  http://www.edie.net/news/4/Scottish-Water-fined-over-pollution-incident-in-Renfrewshire-/

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have said they are adequately prepared to deal with the effects of climate change and the potential increase in air turbulence over the next half century. According to a report published this week by University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, climate change will increase the strength of turbulence on flights by 10-40%, while an increase in the frequency of turbulence is set to rise between 40–170% by 2050.

The Government has committed to support the winning projects of its £1bn carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition, if they choose to apply for European finding. The European’s NER 300 investment programme for low-carbon technologies is aimed at promoting the commercial demonstration of CCS and innovative renewable energy (RES) technologies

The excessive use of water in the process of hydraulic fracturing must not be underestimated given the unpredictable nature of water in the UK, according to one expert, Steve Thompsett , head of climate resilience and adaption at civil engineering firm Jacobs.

Allotment news

allotmentsMid April is really late to make my first proper visit to the allotments but the cold weather – including the recent snow – put paid to any plans to go earlier. The only previous trips had been to drop off  kitchen waste for composting and check for damage! But the potatoes were waiting to go in and so I decided that this Friday – nearly mid April with rain forecast – would be best, and I spent quite a few happy hours up on my plot here in Cumbria.

First off was to check for damage – the rhubarb had come up early and has suffered from some ice and frost damage – not too bad – one of the other gardeners had wrapped their crop in straw, which is something I might do next year. Otherwise the plot was in quite good shape. The new fruit bushes I had planted last year (red and black currants and a third  gooseberry bush) all had tiny buds forming, and the raspberries looked healthy enough, with no wind damage. Then I pulled back the black fabric covering which had been over my asparagus bed and the bed where the spuds will go – always satisfying to see the fresh spill – although there was evidence of ‘mole’ earthworks – but moles dig up good soil and so this was something to be lived with!

I managed to dig and put in 14 short (2 metre) rows of potatoes –  with the seed potatoes 30cm (1ft) apart in each trench, and the rows about 60cm (2 ft apart) – to allow for earthing up which protects new growth against frost. I added plenty of well rotted horse manure to the trenches  so the soil has been improved (again) and is now a far cry fro the barren rocky weed infested plots we took on 4 years ago. This year I planted two varieties of second earlies – Kestrel, and Maris Peer, one early maincrop, Maris Piper, and two main crops – Setanta and Sarpo Mira. I have prioritised ‘blight resistant’ varieties (especially (Sarpo Mira)- which seem to do a lot better up here and fight of viruses.

I have about 24 pots with broad beans (Jubilee Hysor) waiting to sprout and go out – again far later than usual: broad beans are fairly hardy and sometimes I plant out out seeds directly into the soil in November or late February – but frozen ground prevented that this year, and as everything is at least a month later than the last years, April will have to do. Quite soon – but not yet – I will be planting out peas (Misty), and growing courgette plants in pots (Defender F1, Venus F1 and All Green Bush) and runner beans (Scarlet Empire and Firestorm) in pots. That should give them a head start for when it gets warmer. Along with those plants, I will squeeze in some cabbages and carrots (maybe) – that will be about it: I have a productive strawberry bed along with the other soft fruit, a plot of mint – and the main problem there is containing it (!) – and the rhubarb – so lots of tasty things to come.

I really didn’t want to hope for rain, but the soil was very dry – but JUST as I finished the last row of spuds, the heavens opened for a good old downpour. There again, going on last year’s erratic weather patterns, its quite possible that deluge will come soon! Now off to Helen’s wedding with the rest of the AGF team – nursing a sore back – from all that digging!

ANOTHER PLANET?

BP_Petrol_StationPetrol sales in the UK  have plummeted in the last five years, according to official figures. In 2007, forecourts sold 22.87 billion litres of petrol but the annual figure had slid to 17.42 billion litres by 2012, Government statistics highlighted by the AA showed. Diesel sales, though, have risen slightly over the last five years, going up from 14.80 billion litres in 2007 to 16.73 billion litres in 2012. Taking petrol and diesel sales together, fuel stations sold 37.67 billion litres of fuel in 2007 but only 34.16 billion litres in 2012. AA president Edmund King said: “Greater take-up of diesel cars and smaller petrol vehicles has contributed to this overall decline in UK fuel sales over the long term. However, soaring pump prices have taken a huge toll on petrol sales more recently – during the 10p-a-litre price surges last March and October pump sales of petrol fell by up to 5%.”

Sumatran_Rhino_2There are five species of rhino on the planet, all threatened with extinction – with two close to the edge. The Javan, which went extinct i Vietnam three years ago,  and there are now only 35 animals left in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia. There are probably less than 100 Sumatran rhinos left – the Indian rhino is threatended, and last year at least 745 black and white rhinos were poached and killed in Africa. The demand for rhino horn for traditional Chinese medicines seems to be insatiable and is driving the rhino closer and closer to oblivion.

Offbeat Spaces, the Youtube design channel, tips us to this very clever 200 square foot tiny house, built by the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vermont. The Elephant House is designed to be “a prototype for small-scale living, providing a host of innovative design ideas for other builders”. The light fixtures are made from recycled plumbing. The exterior walls are made of one of shou-sugi-ban, a Japanese wood treatment where the wood is burned with a torch to create an exterior skin of black char. It lasts a long time and is actually fire resistant. And its heated by straw and manure! And check out Tiny Texas Houses believes who believe that the future of sustainable building lies in local materials that are “already harvested, sliced, diced, formed, and proven healthy, toxin free, priced for human energy”: With the apt motto of “building the future with the past,” their tiny homes are each an individual exercise in resourcefulness and diverse regional styles stemming from the wide variety of materials saved from demolitions.

In Borneo International Animal rescue arrived just in time to save a group of orang-utans whose home, pristine rain forest, had been bulldozed to make way for palm oil plantations.

In the UK pressure is mounting in England for a charge on plastic bags as many shoppers cant lose the habit of picking up new bags every time they shop and then sending the used bags to landfill – or leaving them around to  end up trees, eaten by animals, or blown into the sea. Almost 8 billion single use carrier bags were used in the UK in 2011 – 254 per second – or 61,000 tonnes of plastic.  A 5p per bag charge was launched in Northern Ireland on April 9th. Wales already has a charge – resulting in a 90% drop in bag waste – and all money collected is passed into environmental work. The Northern Ireland levy will increase to 10p next year. Plastic bags take between 500 and 1000 years to degrade in landfill.

The European Commission has released “Building the Single Market for Green Products”. The Commission has also issued a Recommendation on the use of the now published Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) methods. You can find the official press release here and Further information on the process is available here. In the words of EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik: “To boost sustainable growth, we need to make sure that the most resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly products on the market are known and recognisable. By giving people reliable and comparable information about the environmental impacts and credentials of products and organisations, we enable them to choose. And by helping companies to align their methods we cut their costs and administrative burdens.”  There will be more about the communication and the planned pilot projects from the European Commission and perspectives from stakeholders at the upcoming PEF Policy Conference on 29-30 April in Berlin.

A £5m fund has been awarded to the National Union of Students (NUS) in an attempt to ensure sustainability remains a priority within British higher education. The Students’ Green Fund, provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), aims to help students engage with their universities and colleges on sustainable development.

The UK needs significant levels of new infrastructure to renew ageing facilities such as energy, transport and water management to meet future demand and help deliver a low carbon economy. Speaking to edie.net, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment’s (IEMA) policy & practice lead Josh Fothergill said much of this investment will relate to energy and transport infrastructure; however significant work will also progress related to water, sewerage, flood and coastal management infrastructure saying “The environment profession will have a vital role in delivering this much needed infrastructure but does it have the right tools to help secure the UK’s economic and environmental future?”

The World’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, has reached its full capacity of 630MW with the commissioning of its final wind turbine. All 175 wind turbines are now exporting power to the national grid and are expected to produce enough electricity to power almost 500,000 households a year.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have launched a new website to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) understand their environmental responsibilities and encourage good environmental practice. Called NetRegs, the website contains guidelines for businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland to help them comply with environmental regulations.

More inclusivity must be built into London’s smart city agenda to safeguard its infrastructure against future climate threats, a leading sustainability analyst has warned. Forum for the Future CEO Peter Madden spoke of the importance of futureproofing big cities like London so that they could function effectively as low carbon hubs as demand grows for more housing stock and transport frameworks.

The motor industry has highlighted the benefits of low carbon vehicles on UK roads after figures showed a decline in fuel sold in the last five years (see above). Vauxhall told edie.net that the motor car was “vastly cleaner” than it was just 10 years ago with a huge number of vehicles now on sale at under 100gm of CO2. Nissan put the reduction in fuel sales down to consumers seeking more efficient cars because of tax and fuel costs.  The company also noted that “manufacturers had made great strides and improved fuel efficiency in the past few years.”  In addition, Nissan said its electrical vehicle (EV), LEAF, has just had its best ever sales month in the UK. And Ford is rolling out eco-paint technology across its manufacturing sites in a bid to further reduce CO2 emissions during vehicle production. The 3-Wet technology process, already in operation at eight of Ford’s plants in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, have reduced emissions by up to 25% and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 10% at those sites. And how about a sugar powered car? Xylose, a sugar found in plants, has been used to produce gas to power cars which release almost no greenhouse gases when used. Sweet!  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Vauxhall-and-Nissan-back-low-carbon-vehicles-as-fuel-sales-plunge-/

Southern Water has pledged to utilise low-carbon technologies and sustainable best practices to improve water supplies. According to the company’s 25 year Strategic Statement, investment in new technology such as sensors and monitors, will enable it to improve the reliability of water supplies by helping it to identify and repair burst mains before they cause problems.

We have heard of the very sad news of the death of UCL scientist Katharine Giles, who was killed whilst cycling to work in central London. Dr Giles worked as a research fellow at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL  and was well known for her work on global warming. She was killed by a turning lorry in Westminster, and is the second cyclist to die in London this year, renewing calls for better protection for cyclists against lorries and HGVs – better planned cycle lanes at junctions, and lorries fitted with better mirrors, sensors and cameras if they wish to drive in cities.

Rave to save the planet?

green clubRave to save the planet?”: Panel discussion @ prolight + sound fair in Frankurt am Main, will take place on April 12th 2013, 3-4 pm.
Up to 7000€ energy costs can be saved by means of energy audits in clubs. We’ll explain how it works during this panel discussion:
– what are the biggest energy saving potentials for clubs?
– Where can I receive funding for an energy audit?
– Where to find a energy consultant with club expertise?
– Is there a certification for climate friendly clubs? Yes there is! We’ll explain how it works.

If you want to participate in the panel discussion, please register by sending a short email to: dashuber@thema1.de
Dialogue language will be German.

About the Green Club Index Project:
The Green Club Index (GCI) addresses the big potential of emission reductions in the club scene. Initial experiences have been gained designing energy profiles to fit the specific characteristics of clubs. Currently, several pilot projects in a national and international context are planned and being conducted as part of the Green Club Index Project. These ‘best practises’ showcase that energy audits in clubs are useful and necessary. In this way other interested club operators are encouraged to ask for energy advice themselves, which consequently raises the request of adequate offers from energy consultants. So in the long run, the Green Club Index Project aims at stimulating a new market for energy audits in the club scene.

For further information, get in touch with Roman at +49 30 7790 779 12.

Bee involved

bee-300x150From 38 Degrees …..

“This morning, an important parliamentary committee said the pesticides that are being blamed for killing our bees should stop being used.  They agree with scientists and other governments across Europe that these pesticides are a danger to bees.

But Owen Paterson, the environment minister, is refusing to listen to the mounting scientific evidence. In just a few weeks he will vote on whether these pesticides should be taken out of use across Europe. Last time he refused to vote in favour. This time let’s make sure he votes to protects our bees.

The petition to protect our bees is growing fast, more than 100,000 of us, including you, have now signed it. If we can grow the petition even larger, we can send a message that he’s not only going against science, but he’s going against public opinion too.

Please can you forward this to your friends and ask them to sign the petition too? They can sign the petition here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/save-our-bees

Bees pollinate apples, cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and many many more of our fruit and veg.  France and Italy have already taken steps to ban these pesticides but our minister is putting his head in the sand.

With this new report, Owen’s refusal to act looks even more ridiculous. Even his fellow MPs are saying these pesticides should stop being used.He talks a lot about protecting our bees, but his actions seem to do nothing but protect the pesticide industry’s profits.

P.S: Can you share the petition with your friends on Facebook and Twitter:
Facebook: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/bees-facebook
Twitter: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/bees-twitter

ANOTHER PLANET?

So what do young people have to look forward to in the future – well – it’s a ‘perfect storm’ :  ever increasing numbers of humans alongside worrying food and water shortages, and falling energy resources. Fun eh?

China had more than 50,000 rivers mapped in the 1990s – and now it has just over 20,000, with over 28,000 having disappeared. Chinese officials, fumbling for an explanation, have put the blame on poor maps, or perhaps climate change that has caused rivers to dry up. Both may have an element of truth, but environmentalists point to the disappearance of rivers on the rush for economic growth with heavy use in industry and agriculture both to blame for a shortage of water in rivers – and a rise in pollution. The iconic Yellow River often runs out of water before it reaches the sea – posing both environmental and social risks.

red-kite-430We’ve blogged about the dangers posed by neonicotinoid pesticides a few times now – mainly in the context of their threat to bees – and there has been recent good news with garden centres across the country starting to withdraw products that contain neonictinoids, – and the EU is also looking into the risks: Now it seems the damage caused by the chemicals may be much wider with other insects such as damselflies, and birds at risk.  A new paper by former Canadian government scientist and a US Bird Conservancy Pesticide Programme manager   says the chemicals can kill many species of birds and damage entire food chains. Birds at risk include the sparrow, the grey partridge and the mallard duck. Ellie Crane, the RSPB’s agricultural policy officer has called for an “immediate ban on the use of neonicotinoids in crops that are attractive to pollinating insects”.  Paper: The Impact of the Nations Most widely Used Insecticides on Birds (by Dr Pierre Mineau and Cynthia Palmer). More at http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/its-not-just-bees-popular-pesticides-are-killing-birds-too 

Solar-powered devices aren’t just for the off-grid adventurers and power-hungry gadget-loving crowd, they’re also quite useful in the farm and urban garden, as they can provide the juice needed to fulfil many basic functions for the small grower and farmer alike. More on Treehugger here.

skiingThe Alps have had a fantastic winter for winter sports enthusiasts, but scientists and locals are observing ongoing changes in the weather as global warming starts to take its toll on resorts like Chamonix. The changes are particularly noticeable at lower levels, and it seems that there is 40% less snow cover under 1000M, and the level at which precipitation changes from snow to rain has dropped 200M. And its no secret that the glaciers are all shrinking now – the Mer de Glace as lost 65M in depth and 300M  in length since 1996.  Average temperatures in Chamonix have risen by 1.5C in the last 75 years.

power station3Official figures from DECC have confirmed that the amount of UK electricity generated using renewables increased significantly in 2012 compared with 2011. However, while low carbon electricity’s share of generation increased from 28% in 2011 to 30.5% in 2012, coal power rose by 9% to make up 39.5% of electricity generated, becoming the biggest single source of UK electricity in 2012. And after less than seven months as Energy Minster, John Hayes has been replaced by Michael Fallon in a mini reshuffle, announced  by Prime Minister David Cameron. Hayes has met fierce criticism during his tenure as Energy Minister for his negative stance on wind power which contradicted the views of his liberal democrat chief Energy Secretary Ed Davey. http://www.edie.net/news/6/BREAKING–Hayes-replaced-with-Fallon-as-Energy-Minister-/

The European Union’s 27-Member State and Norway emitted around 1,876 million tonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gases in 2012, a decrease of 1.4% on 2011.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged governments around the world to reform fossil fuel energy subsidies which currently amount to $1.9tr (£0.86tr). In it’s report Energy Subsidy Reform – Lessons and Implications, the IMF says reforming the system could spur economic growth and help the environment.

The Bluewater shopping centre’s strategy for cutting its annual energy bill by 50%, with the aim to become Europe’s most energy-efficient retail complex, will be a benchmark for future energy management projects, says Lend Lease’s Pascal Mittermaier. And in more retail news, John Lewis Partnership offers a compelling retail perspective on how corporate resource efficiency is reshaping the waste supply chain in the second of our Resource Revolution thought leader video interview series. You can see the video here http://www.edie.net/news/5/VIDEO–John-Lewis—Waste-won-t-exist-in-20-years–Resource-Revolution/

Businesses across the world are increasingly expressing an interest in unlocking economic opportunities around the circular economy, Dame Ellen MacArthur has said. The former yachtswoman, who is leading on the global business case for regenerative systems change has revealed that her own think tank, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been approached by numerous companies, organisations and countries seeking to learn more about this transition.

Ireland has seen a dramatic loss of water bodies in pristine condition due to relatively low intensity activities, such as field drainage, and pollution, according to a new report. Ireland Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new research report outlines strategies to protect pristine waterbodies from degradation. Commenting on the findings, consultancy firm RPS’ Fiona Murphy said “We have identified two requirements in particular: much tighter planning controls for those areas which are fortunate to have pristine water catchments and a code of best practice which would set out control mechanisms in sensitive areas for the use of pesticides, the establishment and maintenance of forestry and currently unregulated activities such as overgrazing”. http://www.edie.net/news/4/Ireland-addresses-protection-needs-of-pristine-water-sites/

The first local authority in England to offer residents a dedicated weekly nappy recycling service has scaled new heights in its drive to divert the absorbent hygiene waste from landfill. Cheshire West & Chester Council’s commitment to increase recycling rates and slash the volume of this waste stream sent to landfill has drawn Australian waste management firm Relivit to the UK to see the ‘Nappycycle‘ service in action.

The UK has just recorded its coldest March and coldest Easter for 50 years, so here’s our Top Ten Tips to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

* Insulate your loft

* Install LED lighting

* Is your boiler efficient? Check it! Or think about a biomass boiler

* Insulate your walls

* Have an efficient shower head

* Install solar panels – in the UK, the Green Deal scheme may help with costs

* Have thermostatic controls

* Think about an air or ground source heat pump

* Draught proof your house – quick and cheap!

* Install double glazing

Fuel bills are going up –  save money too!