ANOTHER PLANET?

solarThe UN’s top climate change official is calling on politicians to see global warning as a huge business opportunity – and that tackling climate change would provide significant economic opportunities.  The “very strange” weather experienced across the world over the last two years was a sign “we are [already] experiencing climate change,” the executive secretary of the UN climate secretariat told the Guardian and Christiana Figueres also said that politicians need to put aside their ideological differences and recognise the need to work together to fight climate change saying its not about ‘partisan politics’. 

Almost £30bn of private sector investment has been ploughed into the renewable energy industry since 2010, delivering 4.2 % of UK energy and sustaining over 100,000 jobs in 2013 alone. These are some of the key findings of a new report by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) in collaboration with Innovas and PwC. REview – Renewable Energy View: 2014 takes an in-depth look at the growth of renewables; jobs and turnover in the renewable energy industry and investment in renewable energy projects – and predicts that £64.4 billion is expected to be invested in renewables by 2020 in order to achieve Government projections for renewable electricity and heat.  Key findings here.

In our last two Another Planet postings we looked at the main policies of UKIP, the Green Party, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. Now its the turn of the Labour Party who have also released a most peculiar ‘spoof’ party political broadcast that featured a bunch of of Tory ‘toffs’ with posh accents and an apparent ignorance of what the NHS is – and a shrinking Nick Clegg – but no actual Labour policies. Most odd – and accusations flew that the Labour advert was a ‘declaration of class war’. Much more importantly, Labour say this – ‘Only Labour will tackle the cost-of-living crisis’ and Labour promises to freeze gas and electricity prices until 2017, reform the energy market to prevent customers being ripped off, expand the provision of free child care for working parents, get 200,000 new homes built by 2020 and get jobs for young people with a compulsory job guarantee for young people who have been out of work for more than a year. On Europe Labour say that 3.5 million jobs depend on Europe and  leaving the EU would cost jobs and make it harder for young people to get jobs – and would undermine consumer rights and the rights of workers saying ‘we need labour leadership in Europe to push for reforms, jobs and growth. More at www.labour.org.uk.

Edie.net reports that economic modelling used by the UK Treasury to assess the costs of action on climate change ‘should be treated with extreme caution’, according to a new report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and WWF-UK. The report, entitled ‘(Mis)understanding Climate Policy’, investigates the modelling conducted by HMRC, which assesses the impact of the UK’s carbon budgets on GDP.  It reveals that the current model ignores the economic impacts of climate change – such as the recent floods – along with the job-creation potential of the ever-growing low-carbon industries.

usaClimate change has moved from the corners of the earth into the American backyard, the country’s leading scientists have warned, releasing a landmark report they hoped would spur action on climate change. The 840-page National Climate Assessment was seen as the definitive account of the effects of climate change on America, and of the country’s efforts to deal with climate change. The findings were immediately embraced by the White House as “actionable science” which would guide Barack Obama as he moves to cut carbon emissions from power plants next month and for the remaining two years of his presidency. More here  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/06/climate-change-report-us-dire-warning?CMP=EMCENVEML1631

And that study in the USA says that US floods, extreme heat, rainfall and droughts will put homes worth $1 trillion at risk. Extreme heat and rainfall would put stress on the North East and challenge New York’s ageing infrastructure – and droughts and fires will damage the increasingly arid South West – along with insect plagues and an increase in disease such as dengue fever from mosquitoes in the South and coastal cities such as Miami will experience an increased risk of flooding from storms and rising sea levels. The report, The National Climate Assessment, is based on a four year study involving more than 300 scientists, with Dr John Holdren, the white House’s leading scientist said the report was the ‘loudest and clearest alarm bell to date signalling the need to take urgent action to combat the threats to Americans from climate change’ and that climate change was not a ‘distant threat’ but was affecting all parts of the US.

With speculation mounting that support for large-scale solar is going to be cut by the Government, leading renewable energy organisations have voiced concerns that another badly handled review of the sector could spook investors and bring uncertainty to Britain’s solar industry. Government sources have reportedly confirmed that an announcement is ‘imminent’ concerning changes to support levels for solar power schemes. But industry bodies are warning that drastic amendments to policy can lead to job losses and damage investor confidence across the renewables sector.  “We urge DECC to tread very carefully if it does indeed plan to review the support mechanisms for large scale solar,” said Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA). “This sector is creating jobs and bringing down costs rapidly.”

US retail giant Walmart has brought together members of its supply chain with the aim of developing a $100m ‘Closed Loop Fund’ to improve the USA’s recycling record. The recycling fund is designed to increase recycling rates in the US by providing low interest loans to municipalities to advance projects that increase collection and improve recycling infrastructure.

lessco2Tesco has slashed its freight transport emissions by 14 per cent over the past two years, off the back of a 50% reduction achieved between 2006 and 2012 – making more use of sea and rail travel, and making sure delivery lorries are as full as possible before they set off. Tesco even have their own branded ‘LessCO2’ freight wagons running on UK railways in natty blue branding!

A £27 million hunt for foxes in Tasmania has found no evidence that foxes have ever reached the Australian island state – save for one lone male who was seen jumping off a ship. Evidence of corpses of foxes were found be be elaborate hoaxes and a decade long hunt for foxes and poisoned baits yielded not one fox; the hunt was based on a rumour from a late night bar conversation that 19 cubs had been released into the wild, threatening local species.

Also in Australia, a controversial experiment in the seas of Western Australia to capture and kill Great White sharks – seen as a deadly threat to swimmers – has failed to net a single Great White – although many other sharks and large fishes were killed by the drum lines. The state still wants national Government approval to extend the trial programme for a further three years.

In Vietnam, Chinese ships have fired water cannons and rammed Vietnamese boats trying to prevent the erection of a massive oil rig in the South China Sea. In a separate incident, the Philippines have arrested 11 Chinese fishermen for catching endangered turtles.

Religious leaders should pull their money out of investments in fossil fuel companies and encourage their followers to do the same, according to the UN’s climate chief. Christiana Figueres, who is speaking at St Pauls Cathedral on Wednesday night, urges faith groups to “find their voice” and “set their moral compass” on climate change, in an article published in the Guardian.

Welsh FlagEdie.net reports that the Welsh Government has unveiled a consultation on new waste collection guidance that aims to help councils and businesses understand what recycling services they are legally obligated to provide under waste law. The draft statutory guidance on separate waste collections has been launched by the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies, to “support organisations and businesses affected by new European Union legal requirements for the separate collection of four waste materials – paper, metal, plastic and glass”.  The regulations state that from January 2015 separate collections of at least paper, metal, plastic and glass are required where they are technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) and appropriate to meet ‘the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors’

Composting specialist Great Green Systems (GGS) has announced that its parent company Lock End Investments (LES) has signed a contract with Cumbria County Council to help divert household food waste away from landfill. More than 6,500 homes in the county will have access to new subsidised composters to help them to compost household food waste.

large-blueAerial pesticide spraying of UK woods will go ahead despite fears over wildlife and even though documents show Natural England believes spraying will not eradicate oak processionary moth – which is a major problem – and could harm butterflies. More here http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/04/aerial-pesticide-spraying-uk-woods-fears-butterflies?CMP=EMCENVEML1631.

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