The Sustainability Leaders Awards 2014 are now open and entries will be accepted until the July 11th deadline. Brought to you by edie and its sister brand Sustainable Business, the RSA-accredited awards scheme singles out the very best in sustainable business initiatives, recognising and celebrating those organisations that are genuinely embedding it in business operations. MORE HERE. The Observer reports on the call for nominations for Britain’ 50 New Radicals 2014 – inspirational people, projects and organisations tackling major social issues including health and islolation, food, the environment, climate change and community regeneration. More at www.nesta.org
Scottish Renewables is calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to join forces and create a new body to examine the potential of hydroelectric pumped storage which the organisation believes would unlock £1bn of investment and deliver ‘a massive boost to UK energy security’. The industry body will release a new position paper on hydroelectric pumped storage at its Hydro Conference in Perth later today. The paper calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to establish an inter-governmental panel to look at how this energy storage technology can strengthen the UK’s energy security.
Mobile operator Vodafone has this month introduced a sustainability ranking scheme for mobile phones in the UK, to help customers compare the environmental and social impacts of different handsets. The scheme, which first launched in the Netherlands and is now available across nine international markets, involves an eco-rating being displayed on the packaging of new mobile phones in Vodafone stores and online. Using information retrieved directly from manufacturers, phones are scored from zero to five, based on both environmental impacts – like carbon emissions and how much water is used in manufacturing – and ethical factors – such as labour policies and health and safety practices for people assembling the phones.
The UK’s coalition government has said that a new Bill would exempt all small housing developments from new green standards and allow builders to pay their way out of full obligations. The introduction of ‘allowable solutions’ for zero carbon housing means, developers will not be required to meet the highest levels of energy efficiency on larger projects, instead being offered the option of off-setting by paying into alternative green schemes, or ‘allowable solutions’. The rate is likely to be between £38 and £90 per tonne of carbon. Better news came in the form of a commitment to reduce single-use plastic bag consumption – confirmation that the 5p plastic bag levy is to be introduced in England, a move announced by Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat conference back in September last year.
Chinas move to urbanise much of its population is having terrible effects on the environment: China’s campaign to bulldoze mountains to create land to build on could cause extensive environmental problems, scientists say. Researchers from Chang’an University in China have warned that dozens of mountains have already been flattened – and this is causing air and water pollution, soil erosion and flooding. Around the country, in cities such as Chongqing, Shiyan, Yichang, Lanzhou and Yan’an, dozens of hilltops have been levelled. The soil and rock is then used to fill in valleys, and overall this has so far created hundreds of square kilometres of flat terrain. They say that this activity is happening on an unprecedented scale.
Treehugger has a great article on using grey water – water from baths and showers – even washing up and washing machines – called How to reuse grey water in the home and yard explaining that grey water can be used for watering houseplants, landscaping, or even flushing the toilet, so it’s a resource we can use twice – and whilst you are there check out 10 tips from Grandma for a greener home like hanging out washing, easting seasonal food, getting a rain barrel and and reducing food waste.
Edie.net reports that The European Union’s is within reach of its 20% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2020, with emissions across its 28 member states falling by a further 1.3% in 2012. According to a report sent from the European Environment Agency (EEA) to the United Nations, emissions had fallen to 19.2% below 1990 levels, with the most recent reductions put down to reductions in transport and industry and a growing proportion of energy from renewable sources. But in another report, it seems Europe will need to tap more diverse sources of gas and develop more supplies of controversial shale gas within the continent, amid concerns over the Ukraine crisis. That’s according to a new energy security strategy unveiled by the European Commission . Green campaigners pointed to a change from earlier proposals for the strategy in favour of more emphasis on gas at the expense of green fuels and reducing demand. They slammed the published strategy for promoting fossil fuels too heavily and failing to give a key role to energy efficiency and renewables
President Barack Obama has unveiled a plan that will cut carbon pollution from power plants and promote cap-and-trade, undertaking the most significant action on climate change in American history. The proposed regulations Obama will launch at the White House on Monday could cut carbon pollution by as much as 25% from about 1,600 power plants in operation today, according to those claiming familiarity with the plan. Power plants are the country’s single biggest source of carbon pollution – responsible for up to 40% of the country’s emissions.
Hydrogen fuel cells – green or not? There have been books written about the “hydrogen hype,” and the hype continues – but Julian Cox recently tore down the idea that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are green and you can read more here.
Leaf rust is devastating Central American farmers, affecting 50 percent of crops, and ruining millions of bags of coffee. This year coffee growers are experiencing the worst epidemic of coffee leaf rust, or ‘roya,’ that they’ve seen since this disease was first discovered in 1976. Leaf rust is a fungal pathogen that infects coffee plants and causes them to shed their leaves. This inhibits photosynthesis and the plants die. It also prevents the current season’s berries from ripening and lowers carbohydrate accumulation in roots and shoots, which is where the next season’s berries are supposed to grow. Eventually, rust can kill the entire tree, setting a farmer back by 2 to 6 years, which is how long it takes for a replacement tree to grow harvestable fruit. Central America supplies 12 percent of the world’s coffee, grown by 351,000 farmers, who support a total of 2 million people. Leaf rust has affected half of its coffee crops. According to Fair Trade Magazine, 2.7 million bags of coffee – worth US$500 million – were completely lost to rust in the 2012-13 growing season. That represents 17 percent of all of Latin America’s coffee production. Honduras has declared a state of emergency. More on Treehugger.
A “multimedia exploration of the universe” pioneered by Björk, together with a group of ecology experts, is to be adopted into the curriculums of several north European countries, including her native Iceland. The singing star, who normally spends the first few months of the year in her home in New York, has been in Iceland collaborating with Scandinavian educationalists this spring to draw up the Biophilia Educational Programme. Her term “biophilia” is borrowed from the title an influential book by Edward O Wilson, published in 1984, which argued that the human race is designed to live side by side with other life forms. Björk brought out an app that played with Wilson’s concept and allowed users to download their songs as interactive educational games.
Wildlife groups have launched a Europe-wide campaign to outlaw a newly approved veterinary drug that has caused the deaths of tens of millions of vultures in Asia. They say that the decision to allow diclofenac to be used in Spain and Italy not only threatens to wipe out Europe’s vultures but could harm other related species, including the golden eagle and the Spanish imperial eagle, one of the world’s rarest raptors. Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory agent and painkiller, was introduced around the end of the 20th century in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh to treat sick cattle but is deadly to birds who feed on carcasses of dead animals.
Scientists have been left baffled after a nine-foot great white shark appears to have been eaten by a much larger animal. Researchers in Australia had tagged the shark as part of a study, but it washed up dead on a beach four kilometres away two months later. After checking the information on the tracking device, they found the shark had suddenly plunged to 1,900 feet deep into the ocean. Soon after, the tag saw a rapid temperature rise, the kind you may find inside a digestive system. The tag stayed at that depth and temperature for a number of days, before it surfaced and washed up on shore. Scientists can only think the shark may have been eaten by a bigger “colossal, cannibal great white shark” – at least 16 feet long and weighing over two tonnes. Eeeek!