ANOTHER PLANET?

Boris's bikes - we need safe roads too

Boris’s bikes – we need safe roads too

In the UK the Department for Transport has put up £2m of extra funding for nine travel schemes aimed at encouraging more sustainable travel choices. The funding is being drawn from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund and will benefit the travel schemes that predominately focus on reducing cars journeys.  One scheme being carried out in the Tyne and Wear area encourages families to use push bikes for the school run and will receive £609,000 of funding, while a scheme in West Yorkshire, which aims to help job seekers access work through sustainable modes of transport, will receive £590,000. And Edie.net also reports that The UK government has announced that it will financially support eight renewable energy projects that could generate enough electricity to power more than three million homes. Once built, all eight projects, of which five are offshore wind farms and three biomass projects, could add a further 4.5GW of low-carbon electricity to Britain’s energy mix (around 4% of capacity), according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, has officially opened Wales’ first purpose-built anaerobic digestion facility in Llwyn Isaf, near Caernarfon. The AD facility is called Prosiect GwyriAD. It will treat food waste collected by local authorities and generate renewable electricity.

In the Times newspaper Matt Ridley suggested that climate change experts are “now saying that strong growth doesn’t hurt the environment – it protects it” and that “the richer we get – the greener we’ll become”. It a a well argued piece and cleverly uses the IPCC’s own projections – just missing out on the two elephants in the room: the fact that we may not have a long term to change our behaviour and adopt greener policies – and that there is no mention of the subtle but clearly effective lobbying power of the oil, gas and coal industries that corrupts so many debates and policies.  The Times April 21 2014 (Opinion, P23).

everestClimate change is having a profound effect on the ‘business’ of climbing Mount Everest, the World’s highest peak.The recent deaths of 16 Sherpas preparing the Southern route on Khumbu Icefall in April 18th mean that some climbers may switch to the steeper, colder and more technically challenging Northern route. Many climbers now say the South Col route is unsafe and that global warming and melting ice has already stopped climbs ion two adjacent peaks –  Ama Dablam and Mount Pumori. This year over 350 foreign climbers had planned to climb Mount Everest from Nepal, and 50 more from Tibet. Photo: Rdevany.

If you wondered what the Green Party’s position is on current issues in the UK as the European Parliament elections approach,  I had a look at Green Voice who say this (although I have to say give no explanation of how some of this will be funded – but their website is here http://www.greenparty.org.uk/): NHS Privatisation – No / Public Service Cuts – No / Major investment in social and affordable housing – Yes / Ethical foreign policy – Yes / Student tuition fees – No / Publicly owned railway – Yes / Fair tax and a clampdown of evasion – Yes / Fracking – No / Nuclear Power – No / Nuclear weapons – No / HS2 – No: Promises include to create millions of new jobs in green industries; effective regulation of banks; a living wage rather than a minimum wage; reform the EU so it is more cost effective and democratic; speak up for human rights and vulnerable groups. Push the EU to take urgent action to combat climate change. Campaign to change the EU’s agriculture and fisheries policies to protect biodiversity and long term food security. UKIP’s election literature leads with a criticism of the thre main parties – Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, saying ‘our politicians have allowed open door immigration – only UKIP will take back control’. Noting that EU Commissioner Viviane Reding had said that she wanted to build a ‘United States of Europe with the Commissoin as government’,  UKIP advocates leaving the EU – promising this will create more jobs and a faster growing economy – less pressure on schools and health and welfare, and that fuel and food will be cheaper – and that there would be vast monetary savings fro leaving the EU. UKIP also want to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights, and of course, control immigration.  (www.ukip.org)

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched a new £500 million initiative to boost the use of electric and hybrid vehicles in the UK. At least £200 million is being set aside to fund grants of up to 25% of the cost of ultra low emission vehicles – up to a maximum of £5000. More recharge points will be installed across the country and £100 million will be spent on research and development of low emission technology over the next five years.

In Australia a cyclist who was on the edge of the road when  hit from behind by a car – despite there being lights on the back and front of his bike has learned that the texting driver’s response was that she “just don’t care ” The victim suffered a spinal fracture which required surgery and placement in a spinal cage, as well as a broken big toe and lacerations to his head and body. He was originally told he could be left a paraplegic and spent three months recovering. Driver Kimberley Davis, 21, of Grant Street, Port Fairy was found to have used her phone to text while behind the wheel 44 times before hitting her victim, sending and receiving 22 text messages to seven different people. She refused to help her victim and parked 100 meters up the road and couldn’t believe that he had to call triple-O (the equivalent of 9-1-1 and 999) emergency services in Australia). She was on a “provisional driver” license. When questioned by police officers two days after the accident, she said:“I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bull***t and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it. I’m kind of p****d off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car. I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist. I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist.” Davis escaped with a remarkably light sentence –  a fine of $4500 and a driving ban of nine months.  More on Treehugger.

apple-logoApple’s efforts to get greener were celebrated on Earth Day looking at f0ur categories : Climate changetoxinsfinite resources, and a more broad “our progress“: A new video narrated by Apple CEO Tim Cook and a letter by Lisa Jackson, Apple’s head of green initiatives and the former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The video references some of the things that were recently highlighted by Greenpeace, such as Apple’s use of 100% renewable energy for its data-centers, and Apple’s new sapphire facility in Arizona, which has been powered by clean energy from day one, as well as a new data center + solar farm that they’re building in Nevada. Check it out here http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/apple-gives-us-glimpse-their-environmental-efforts-earth-day.html.

tornado_Justin HobsonAt least 28 people have died in the USA  as a massive, slow-moving but extremely violent storm system refused to release its grip on a wide swath of the nation. The twisters and and high winds flattened homes and businesses, uprooted trees and flipped cars across sections of the South and Midwest. The National Weather Service was investigating reports of almost 100 tornadoes. The storms moved from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa  – and  on to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee  – and then on to the Carolinas, Virginia and the Gulf. Photo: Justin Hobson.

Hospitality businesses across the UK should be recycling surplus food, as a new report reveals the sector is set to spend an extra £32m sending food waste to landfill this year. The report carried out by food waste recycler ReFood claims that, while achieving zero food waste to landfill remains a ‘big challenge’, it is achievable for hotels, restaurants and pubs.  “Food waste is a valuable resource and one we shouldn’t be leaving to rot in landfill sites,” said ReFood’s commercial director Phillip Simpson. “With annual rises in landfill tax, separating food waste for recycling makes sound and long-term economic, as well as environmental, sense.”

Edie.net reports that almost all Member States of the European Union (EU) are not only showing low ambition in achieving energy savings targets they are also failing to demonstrate how targets will be reached, a new study claims. The study carried out by the Coalition for Energy Savings analysed Member States’ plans for achieving 1.5% annual end-use energy savings – set under the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive.  According to the study, twelve plans, including the UK, Finland, Germany, Sweden and all central and eastern EU countries except Croatia and Latvia, are either incomplete or of low quality.

SumatraRhinoHornbill (1)Asia Pulp and Paper, one of the world’s biggest paper companies, is to support the conservation of 1m hectares of rainforest in Indonesia, as a way of reducing its impact on the habitats of endangered species such as orangutan, elephants and tigers.  However, conservation experts said the plans would be difficult to make work and would not solve the problem of loggers depleting the animals’ natural habitat.

Google has announced a deal that will see its data centre in Iowa, US supplied with up to 407MW of energy generated by wind. The technology giant signed a deal with MidAmerican Energy, who will supply Google’s Iowa operations with the wind-generated power and allow the company to expand its renewable energy usage as require. In January, Google committed $75m (£45m) in a 182 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Carson County, Texas while in November 2013 it announced an $80m investment in six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona.

Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, believes there is a ‘huge business opportunity for those who grasp the green mantle’ and is urging companies to adopt clean energy and support climate policy at national and international level. Speaking at the 10th anniversary conference of The Climate Group in London Davey said that the nation’s businesses hold the key to delivering emissions reductions before a new global treaty comes into force.  “For a business to gamble that climate change won’t happen just doesn’t make commercial sense,” he said. “No boardroom worth its salt can avoid making the long-term risk assessments climate change threats require.”

Farmers across the country are now able to apply for a loan of up to £400,000 to build small-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) plants on their land, as part of a £3m initiative from Defra and WRAP. The On-farm AD Loan Fund, launched last October, is designed to support farmers that are struggling to obtain the finance to build AD plants which, in practice, generate less than 250kW of energy and utilise farm waste such as manures and slurries.  “The On-Farm AD Loan fund is to help farmers convert more of their farm waste into renewable energy and valuable fertilizer through the process of Anaerobic Digestion,” said WRAP’s CEO Liz Goodwin.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s