ANOTHER PLANET?

smogchinaBeijing is suffering its worst smog and air pollution anyone can remember. Severe pollution has hit much of northern China, with some particle readings well over 10 times the internationally accepted safety limit. The WHO’s China representative admitted the thick smog had resulted in a “crisis”. Residents have been warned to  to stay indoors as thick grey smog shrouded the capital a week before the annual meeting of China’s legislature. In a bid to fight Beijing’s pollution, 147 industrial companies have cut or suspended production, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing the Beijing Municipal Economic and Information Commission. In Liaoning and Shandong provinces, visibility fell to less than 50 meters and expressways were closed, Xinhua said. Chinese scientists have warned that the country’s toxic air pollution is now so bad that it resembles a “nuclear winter”. The acrid air is now so polluted it is slowing photosynthesis in plants – and potentially wreaking havoc on the country’s food supply, experts have said. The smog has now spread to Japan, increasing concerns for health there.

The London Metro has published aerial images of mass deforestation of the rainforest in Indonesia – saying that the forests were cleared to make way for palm oil plantations to provide a supply chain to Proctor & Gamble – who produce Head & Shoulders shampoo. Greenpeace say “Head & Shoulders customers will be shocked to learn of the scale of destruction involved in making their shampoo, destruction which other manufacturers have already proved unnecessary. P&G must clean up their act and commit t buying all of their palm oil form sustainable sources that protect the forest s and the wildlife that lives there”. P&G have said they will investigate the allegations which centre on the BW Plantation Group.

The EU competition regulators have begun preliminary investigations into whether a UK government loan for £75 million to the Drax power station to convert from coal fired generation to biomass was legal.

33 major road junctions in London are to be bulldozed in a £300m scheme to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians. It means the end of the road for some of the capital’s notorious traffic “gyratories” including Archway, Aldgate, Swiss Cottage, Elephant & Castle and Wandsworth. On the back of news that two more cyclists had been seriously injured in the past 24 hours,London Mayor Boris Johnson said  “These road junctions are relics of the Sixties which blight and menace whole neighbourhoods. Like so much from that era, they’re also atrociously-designed and wasteful of space.”. 150 cyclists have been killed or seriously injured at the junctions in the last three years.

There are lots of electric and hybrid cars for sale in the UK – with dealers reporting an influx of one year old cars – the AA said their website had twice the number of last year.  It seems the high cost of the vehicles and their relatively low range is putting people off – even though 6.709 drivers have used the £5000 government grant towards buying a new electric car.  Three quarters of charging points in London have not been used in the last three months – only 371 out of a total of 1,396 charging points in London had been used. The Committee on Climate Change now say that by 2020 only 9% of new cars will be electric – down from a previous estimate of 16%.

OEdie.net reports that Furniture giant IKEA has had its forest management certificate suspended for its operations in Karelia, Russia, after the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) revealed concerns with poor forestry practices. The FSC, which promotes the responsible management of the world’s woodland, said that forest management issues such as a lack of proper environmental impact assessments used at the local level before harvest has led the organisation to suspend IKEA’s FSC certificate for its Karelia operations, which is near the Russian-Finnish border.  A new online monitoring and alert system that encourages better forest management will help tackle deforestation – an issue that poses a “material risk to businesses”. The Global Forest Watch system, launched by a group of partners including Google, UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), uses the latest satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to provide access to “timely and reliable” information about forests.

Despite the UK experiencing the wettest winter in 250 years, researchers are warning that Britain’s food supply is likely to become increasingly susceptible to global water shortages.  Researchers from the University of Bath and University of Loughborough have warned that many everyday commodities, such as food and manufactured goods, and especially those that rely on the availability of land or water, are sensitive to climate change on a global scale.

The UK Government has announced a major investment in the world’s first gas-fired carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility to be constructed in Peterhead Scotland. As part of a £100m investment in the new technology, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said the CCS plant will help ensure “a cleaner, greener future for the North Sea”.

The UK Chancellor has called on environmentalists to drop opposition to nuclear power and shale gas as they can be inexpensive solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that climate change should be tackled in “as cheap a possible way”, George Osborne said on Thursday as he called on environmentalists to drop their “ideological” opposition to nuclear power and shale gas.

Pharrell Williams has announced a partnership with designer denim label G-Star RAW to create jeans out of plastic waste taken from the world’s oceans. The new initiative is called ‘Raw for the Oceans’ and it aims to tackle the problem of plastic litter filling up in the world’s oceans.

WTTFrecycleID&T’s Welcome to the Future and Mysteryland dance festivals in the Netherlands have both been awarded 3 stars for their latest Industry Green certifications, the highest rating possible and a fantastic achievement. Welcome to the Future achieved an impressive 44% reduction in carbon emissions per audience day between the 2012 and the 2013 event. Key achievements in 2013 include reducing red diesel consumption by 50% per audience day compared with 2012 and reducing waste to landfill and increasing recycling rates by 15%. And congratulationsto the NEC group, two of whose venues achieved Industry Green certifications: LG Arena (2 star) and the National Indoor Arena (1 star)

More news from Julie’s Bicycle – March 5th is the UK launch of EE MUSIC, a pan-European initiative focusing on energy efficient culture in the European events sector. We’ve translated our IG tools into 10 different languages and are working across 27 countries with 8 other partners including Germany’s Green Music Initiative. Speakers include Katie Maddison (Bestival), Carlijn Lindemulder (ID&T), Chris Johnson (Shambala Festival / Powerful Thinking), Auro Foxcroft (Village Underground), Jacob Bilabel (Green Music Initiative), Hattie Park (BBC) and Alison Tickell (Julie’s Bicycle).

cw-logoThe very next day Thursday March 6th is our own GREEN EVENTS & INNOVATIONS CONFERENCE! The must go to sustainable events conference for 2014. More details here and you can register here http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/green-events-innovations-conference-tickets-9578199653

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