ANOTHER PLANET?

power station3Business leaders in the UK are warning the Prime Minister not to scale back ‘green levies’ on energy bills. Leaders from more than 50 of the UK’s leading companies and professional institutes operating in the built environment have signed a letter addressed to David Cameron urging the Government not to scale back schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) in a bid to reduce consumers’ energy bills. David Cameron said he wanted to “roll back” green regulations and charges, an approach which has been branded “short-sighted”, with environmental campaign groups suggesting it could put green jobs and investment at risk. WWF-UK chief executive David Nussbaum said the call for the rolling back of green regulations could be a false economy saying”Acting now to insulate homes and help people be more energy efficient is the best way to reduce their energy bills immediately”.

More on our ‘green government’: The Government yesterday narrowly voted against an amendment to the Energy Bill that would have seen a 2030 decarbonisation target for the power sector set in 2014. The result, which means the earliest a target will be set is 2016, has been heavily criticised by green businesses and environmental groups.

Edie.net reports that action to tackle food waste could depend on whether the issue can attract the same profile as campaigns such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s on fish discards. During an inquiry in the House of Lords, peers likened the practice of throwing fish back into the sea to ploughing crops back into the ground. In fact, food waste is seen as a “quantum higher” in terms of economic and environmental costs. Fish discards received worldwide media and political attention thanks to the high-profile Fish Fight campaign run by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

EveryCan-1280x960-04Drinks can recycling programme Every Can Counts has launched five new can crushers around shopping, commuting and academic sites in Scotland. The drinks can crushers will be unveiled at Stirling’s Thistles Shopping Centre, Falkirk Bus Station, Queen Margaret University, Dundee College and Elgin Academy and is part of Zero Waste Scotland’s work to ensure aluminium and steel can be recycled.

Greywater recycling systems could make a significant contribution towards cutting water consumption, but are unlikely to catch on in the UK without financial incentives according to new research. The systems are currently expensive and are not widely used in Britain, a report from the College of Estate Management has said. The study calls on the Government and water companies to do more to explain the importance and benefits of greywater recycling to the public.

Cars cars cars: The new transport minister has reiterated the government’s “unwavering, long-term commitment” to decarbonising road transport. Speaking at the launch of a new electric vehicle car club in London today, Baroness Kramer said the drive towards low-carbon vehicles was not just about tackling climate change, but to make the UK “a global leader in green vehicle technologies and engineering”. Every major car manufacturer has met their 2012 targets for vehicles’ average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). Cars sold by the 20 companies selling more than 100,000 cars in 2012 made up 94.5% of the total fleet, and emitted 130.4 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km) on average, which is 1.8 g lower than the European fleet average. Of the large manufacturers, Fiat had the lowest average emissions (117g CO2/km), while Renault, Peugeot, Toyota and Citroen also had emissions well below the average.

EU1European Cabinet Ministers responsible for energy and climate change have come together to set out their vision for a low carbon economy. Gathering in Brussels for the Green Growth Summit, European ministers have called for three “urgent” EU priority actions. The actions are to agree an “ambitious” EU 2030 Energy and Climate Policy Framework, reform the structure of the EU’s Emissions Trading System and ensure the EU is in a position to put an ambitious emissions reduction offer on the table at the Ban Ki-Moon-hosted World Leader’s Climate Summit in autumn 2014.

Upcycling technologies could be adopted for waste materials on a mass scale globally by 2018 with intense activity in this sector already being experienced in North America and Europe. According to new research from Frost and Sullivan, certain government bodies are already leading the charge such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission. In addition Asian countries have started to embrace this technology and it is expected they will catch up with the US and Europe by 2018 across sectors including chemicals, metals, food processing, textiles, paper and pulp, sugar, leather, glass, petrochemicals and polymers.

Scotland’s household waste recycling rate reached 41.2% in the 2012 calendar year, according to new statistics released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) today (28 October), up from 40.1% in 2011.

SusKes reports on ‘another good news story’ from Malawi where the positive effect of FairTrade can be seen: Smallholders who grow tea, including Sainsbury’s Red Label Tea, now receive the FairTrade premium, and they have used the extra funding on a range of different projects including new classrooms, adult education classes, clean water supplies and they have brought solar panels to allow students – and their parents – to study at home in the evening using power generated during to day to power lights at night – replacing smoky and polluting kerosene lamps.

After Cumbria County Council rejected plans to bury nuclear waste in the Lake District, the UK Government developed a new plan – take the County Council out of the mix and allow the decision to be made by Copeland and Allerdale borough councils – who were in favour of the scheme. Even local labour MP Jamie Reed, whose constituency includes the Sellafield nuclear plant – is happy that plans are once again back in place to bury the waste. meanwhile local opposition groups are planning for a second battle – even though they won the first! In other Sellafield news, it seems the taxpayer funded consortium running the plant is performing even more poorly than thought. The National Audit Office has highlighted the failings at Nuclear Management Partners – a US/UK/French consortium – which is running behind schedule and over budget on most of the nuclear clean up work it has been contracted to complete, according to the Times.

Fracking could be subject to tight new EU rules as part of Europe’s 2030 energy and climate change strategy. Connie Hedegaard said that the fracking industry would benefit from from consistent riles across Europe and said she didn’t want investment in shale gas to replace progress towards renewable energy resources. New legislation is expected for burgeoning the shale gas industry – covering all of the potential environmental hazards including water contamination, methane emissions, noise and increased transport.

The Co-operative bank, long seen as one of the more ethical banks in the UK with an environmental conscience to boot, is going to have new owners who will own 70% of the Bank after it’s  ill advised 2009 acquisition of the Britannia Building society left it with a $1.5 billion capital hole. And the new owners …… a group of hedge funds including Aurelius Capital, Silver Point Capital, Caspian Capital, Beach Point Capital and Canyon Capital. The deal already has the blessing of the Bank of England.

bluefin-tunaDeep sea trawlers have escaped a ban on nets that scour the ocean floor endanger rare species after the EU Parliament’s Fisheries Committee gave in to pressure from Spain, Portugal, France and Scotland – meaning that deep sea trawling – which catches many many unwanted fish, damages the ocean floor and depletes fish stocks – will continue (until all the fish are gone). There will be some checks on the very largest boats, quotas will be more tightly scrutinised and environmental impact studies will have to be funded by the fishing industry.  The UK said that 200 UK boats could have been affected by a ban on trawling and gillnetting.

Households in the UK throw away the equivalent of 86 million chickens each year ….. along with 24 million slices of bread, 5.9 million glasses of milk and 5.8 million potatoes – and WRAP says the 4.2 million tonnes of waste food costs us £12,5 billion each year.

And finally – climate change gases are at their highest ever levels – and levels of CO2 and methane in the atmosphere grew faster in 2012 than any year in the previous decade. The World Meteorological Organisation said that emissions are set to be 8-12 billion tonnes higher in 2020 than were agreed at the Copenhagen summit three years ago. CO2 reached 393.1 parts per million in 2012, 40% higher than pre-industrial age levels.

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