ANOTHER PLANET?

Worthy Farm To Install UK's Largest Private Solar Panel SystemThe UK Government has launched its new solar strategy which aims to open up the market for mid-size, commercial and industrial onsite generation and to complete one million roof installations by the end of 2015. Much of the strategy’s focus will be on increasing mid-size deployment (larger than 50 kWp and up to 1 MWp), particularly on commercial and industrial buildings.  By driving cost reductions, innovation and improving the supply chain, the Government says its strategy will deliver a step-change in the deployment of solar PV in the UK by 2020. Car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has recently completed the installation of 21,000 photovoltaic panels at its new Engine Manufacturing Centre in Staffordshire, making it the UK’s largest rooftop solar panel array. Pictured is Michael Eavis with the Worthy Farm solar array on the site of the Glastonbury Festival.

The London Assembly Environment Committee has today called for more impetus on sustainable drainage and river restoration to reduce flood risk. The Committee says that focusing on these initiatives will create space for flood waters to be held higher in the river catchment and soak back into the ground.  It added that this will allow low-lying areas to flood safely at times of high water flow and is likely to “protect homes, roads and businesses”.

Supermarkets should redistribute unsold food to food banks rather than sending it to be recycled via anaerobic digestion (AD), a House of Lords committee has said. A report published yesterday (6 April) by the House of Lords European Union Committee, entitled ‘Counting the Cost of Food Waste’, said it was “morally repugnant” that at least 90m tonnes of food were dumped each year in the EU, including 15m in Britain.  It also suggested that supermarkets should be urged to scrap buy-one-get-one-free deals to help prevent food waste.

glast1Householders in the UK and France often assume that the recycling process ends when they discard an item, according to a new study commissioned by Coca Cola Enterprises and the University of Exeter. Edie.net say that the drinks giant initially commissioned the study with the University of Exeter to better understand how household dynamics influence recycling behaviours.  The research is entitled ‘Unpacking the household’, led by Dr Stewart Barr, observed 20 families, couples and single-person households in Great Britain and France, in their own homes, for six months.  The survey found that the majority of households do not have an accurate understanding of what happens to waste once it has been collected for recycling. It also highlighted how householders view recycling as a ‘linear’, rather than a ‘circular’ process.

Edie.net also reports that Ealing Council has partnered up with Greenreedem, a subsidiary of waste management firm Grundon, to introduce a recycling rewards programme for its residents. The scheme from Greenredeem will allow 130,000 households in the West London borough to earn points for recycling and other ‘green actions’ in order to boost local recycling rates and secure grants for local community projects. Residents need to register to the system and are awarded ten points for reporting what they have recycled each week, the accrued points – worth up to £70 annually – can be exchanged for discounts and offers. They can redeem points for discounts at more than 100 national retail outlets such as Marks & Spencer and Cineworld.

Amazon burningThe Amazon is becoming increasingly vulnerable to fires a new study by the National Academy of Sciences – a combination of drought, climate change and human activities such as deforestation and farming. Scientists from the USA and Brazil say that “these results provide …. experimental evidence of a link amongst extreme weather events, widespread and high-intensity fires and associated abrupt changes in forest structure, dynamics and composition”.

Air pollution in the UK contributes to 29,000 deaths each year and can shorten the life expectancy of citizens. Public Health England has calculated that air pollution impacts most significantly on city dwellers – in some parts on London one in twelve deaths can be partly attributed to long term exposure to car ehauset emissions and to a lesser extent emissions produced from heating buildings.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is calling for an anti-apartheid style of campaigning to boycott fossil fuel companies and countries that are failing to address climate change. Saying that in a ‘mad’ world dominated by greed, the interests of capital had been allowed to outweigh the interests of the planet and the interests of people, Tutu said “It is clear that those countries and companies primarily responsible for emitting carbon and accelerating climate change are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money. They need a whole lot of gentle persuasion from the likes of us. And it need not necessarily involve trading in our cars and buying bicycles! There are many ways that all of us can fight against climate change: by not wasting energy, for instance. But these individual measures will not make a big enough difference in the available time” saying in the Guardian newspaper “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies. We can demand that the advertisements of energy companies carry health warnings. We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry. We can organise car-free days and build broader societal awareness. We can ask our religious communities to speak out. We can actively encourage energy companies to spend more of their resources on the development of sustainable energy products, and we can reward those companies that do so by using their products. We can press our governments to invest in renewable energy and stop subsidising fossil fuels. Where possible, we can install our own solar panels and water heaters.” and “We cannot necessarily bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. But we can take steps to reduce its political clout, and hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up the mess”. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change-keystone-xl.

power station3The UN has urges huge increase in green energy to avert climate disaster.  Mitigation of Climate Change, by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of 200 scientists, makes it clear that by far the most realistic option for the future is to triple or even quadruple the use of renewable power plants. Only through such decisive action will carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere be kept below the critical level of 480 parts per million (ppm), before the middle of the century. If levels go beyond this figure, the chances of curtailing global mayhem are poor. The report – the third in a series by the IPCC designed to highlight the climate crisis now facing the planet – is intended as an urgent wake-up call to nations to commit around 1-2% of GDP in order to replace power plants that burn fossil fuels, the major cause of global warming, with renewable sources. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/12/un-urges-increase-green-energy-avert-climate-disaster-uk

The US Navy believes that its scientists may have developed a new technology that means that its ships will no longer need fossil fuel in the future – instead extracting hydrogen and carbon from saltwater in the oceans and converting these into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel that will be potent enough to drive a warship> Vice admiral Philip Cullom, deputy chief of naval operations, said any practical and affordable use was a number of years away. The US Navy is already looking to fuel its aircraft carriers with 50% biofuel by 2016 in an attempt to reduce the Pentagon’s annual $20 billion fuel bill.

The UK’s biggest biomass developers are quitting Britain after accusing the Government of prioritising wind power. Eco2 blamed a government U-turn on capping subsidies  for small biomass plants that are fuelled by straw or wood as the reason for the company’s withdrawal.

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