ANOTHER PLANET?

THAMES-WATER-570The Environment Agency’s chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster, has confirmed that without the Thames Barrier London might have flooded after the worst tidal surge in 60 years saying: “We estimate that at least 800,000 homes and businesses have been protected by flood schemes in the past 24 hours” adding “Flood risk management assets, including the Thames and Hull Barriers, have protected thousands of homes and businesses from sea levels higher in some places than those that occurred during the devastating floods of 1953.” The Environment Agency said 1,400 homes were flooded in the UK, including 300 in Boston, Lincolnshire, alone.In Suffolk, police said there was no further threat from coastal flooding but local authorities warned that people should take precautions around floodwater. The Thames Barrier saved huge swathes of London from being submerged under floodwater and images released by the EA show how Greenwich, including the O2 arena, parts of Blackheath, the Naval College Gardens and West Ham’s Upton Park ground would have been under threat from floodwaters.

Indeed, London is likely to experience an “extreme weather event” in the coming years, the Mayor of London’s green adviser has warned. Matthew Pencharz said that whilst a tidal surge was ‘unlikely’, the capital could still suffer from flooding particularly in periods of intense rainfall. One of Mr Pencharz’s major challenges is both improving energy efficiency in London buildings and ‘keeping the lights on’ as demand for power continues to increases – the Mayor wants 25% of electricity generated locally by 2025 – up from the current 5%.

TEH_Turbine_9327TV celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has backed wind power generation in the UK, calling for wind farms to be seen as “fundamentally normal”. Addressing opinion leaders and farmers at the first ever Great British Wind Meal event, which looked at the benefits of wind power and its potential to sustain British food and farming, Fearnley-Whittingstall called wind power a ” very exciting crop”. He said: “We need to move towards an approach that wind energy and turbines are fundamentally normal. I don’t think anyone would say old-fashioned windmills were an eyesore.

The idea that hotels, buildings and other structures could one day heal the environment rather than produce a negative impact is not “beyond the realms of possibility”, says InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) head of sustainability. IHG’s vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability, Paul Snyder, told edie.net : “We’re moving away from just looking at environmental impact to becoming carbon neutral – but what’s beyond carbon neutral? I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility to think about buildings and hotels sometime in the future that actually by their very presence help the environment or remediate the environment”. With the average mid-scale hotel emitting 370 tonnes of CO2 per year, according to Conservation International, 23 leading global hotel companies, including IHG, have pledged to reduce their environmental impact under the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI).

Concerns have been raised by the scientific community over Santa’s emissions in the lead up to Christmas.  A group of scientists from the University of Leeds’ School of Earth & Environment have calculated that Santa’s carbon footprint from travel over the festive season to the UK alone could be as high as 9 tonnes per stocking – 25% more than the average Brit emits in a whole year.

formulaEFilm star and environmental activist Leonardo Dicaprio has teamed up with Venturi Automobiles to complete the 10 team line-up of next year’s first all-electric vehicle racing championship. The award winning actor has backed next year’s launch of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) Formula E series, which has, in part, been designed to promote the use of Electric Vehicles and to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans.  Dicaprio has co-founded the new Venturi Grand Prix Formula E Team and will join Richard Branson, who entered a Virgin team last week, as high-profile ambassadors for the new racing series.

The majority of UK cross-sector businesses and organisations have backed the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) review of the Fourth Carbon Budget, which concludes there is no basis to change the budget. The Government has announced that it will cut support for solar energy and onshore wind While financial support for onshore wind has been reduced by £5/MWh from 2015 onwards compared to the draft strike prices, the level of support for offshore wind has been increased by £5 per megawatt hour, from £135/MWh to £140/MWh.

Too many British shoppers are shunning misshapen fruit and vegetables and are responsible for a lot of food waste, a Tesco executive has said

Edie.net reports that Google, Walt Disney Company, Walmart and Microsoft are amongst a group of major US companies incorporating ‘internal carbon prices’ into their business strategies. Twenty-nine major publicly traded companies based in or operating in the US have disclosed a carbon price to the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), detailing both the risk and potential business opportunity for early action by their companies. The majority of companies covered in the report have established a price for carbon because they expect an eventual regulatory approach in some form to address climate change.

Work has started on Northern Ireland’s largest renewable energy project, an £81m biomass renewable power plant in Derry/Londonderry. The biomass renewable power plant is the first investment in Northern Ireland funded by the UK Green Investment Bank (UK GIB) via its Foresight managed fund.

The provision of kerbside collection infrastructure alone will not allow the UK to reach its 2013-2017 plastics packaging recycling targets, according to a new report from Recoup.The report, entitled UK Household Plastics Collection Survey, provides an in-depth review of the infrastructure in place and informs stakeholders on the core raw data and information such as current plastics packaging collection levels, recycling rates, collection methods and practices, and performance against the UK 2013-2017 plastics packaging recycling target.  According to the research, with 96% of local authorities providing a kerbside collection scheme for dry recyclables that includes plastic bottles, the average plastic bottle collection rate per household has only experienced modest increases in recent years and has plateaued.

Edie.net reports that major agri-business group Wilmar International has vowed to end its part in deforestation by driving its new policy to advance a responsible palm oil industry, the largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia. The company’s new policy, No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation, establishes mechanisms to ensure that both Wilmar’s own plantations and companies from which Wilmar sources will only provide products that are free from links to deforestation or abuse of human rights and local communities. It also includes measures to protect high carbon stock and high conservation value landscapes, and to “ensure respect for community rights and support for development”.

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