ANOTHER PLANET?

cyclesuperhighwayFull proposals for the world’s longest segregated urban cycle route  have been unveiled as Mayor Boris Johnson increases his efforts to improve rider safety in the capital. The 18-mile east-west superhighway will stretch from Barking to Acton and give protection to cyclists along some of central London’s busiest roads.Riders will have a dedicated, two-way kerb-segregated track on major thoroughfares including the Victoria Embankment, Parliament Square and the Westway flyover. Extra space will be made for cyclists by removing road lanes, parking and loading bays. “Island” strips along the Embankment and other routes will separate cyclists from vehicles and double as drop-off points for taxis, buses and coaches. TfL also plan to rip-up dangerous junctions at Tower Hill, Blackfriars, Parliament Square and Lancaster Gate, as well improving the number of ‘Quietways’, quieter routes along back streets, to link up with the Superhighways in the City and West End. Work on the Tower Hill to Paddington section will start early next year and the superhighway is due to be completed shortly before the mayor leaves office in spring 2016. A new north-south route from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross will be completed at the same time, forming a crossroads with the east-west route at Blackfriars. Ashok Sinha, London Cycling Campaign chief executive, said he congratulated Mr Johnson on ‘finally taking such a big step towards delivering’ on his promise to follow the Dutch model of cycle infrastructure. More in the London Evening Standard. Picture: Greater London Authority.

The Mayor of London has also announced a further investment of £12m to expand his programme to retrofit buildings across the capital, making them more energy efficient and reducing carbon emissions. The new funds will extend London’s existing retrofit work, which has improved the sustainability credentials of more than 400,000 homes and 350 public buildings, to more buildings across the capital.

windturbines_300The British summer may be over but it has ended on a high for the renewables sector, with new records set and wind generation levels exceeding both nuclear and coal. According to official National Grid statistics, wind overtook coal-fired power plants for generation on five separate occasions in August – the first time this has ever happened.  And global wind, solar and hydro energy grew at its fastest ever pace last year, equating to almost 22% of global power generation, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Paris-based organisation’s third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report estimates that global renewable energy generation will rise by another 45% to make up nearly 26% of global electricity generation by 2020. But it also warns that annual growth in renewable power will begin to slow after 2014, as policy and market risks threaten to slow deployment.

In the USA a ban on single-use plastic bags in California is expected to be signed into law after the states senate passed a bill barring single-use plastic bags from retailers from next July. The California Senate recently voted 22-15 to ban single-use plastic bags, making it the first state in the US to approve such a measure.

Coffeehouse giant Costa has announced that it has joined a paper cup recycling scheme called Simply Cups. By participating in the scheme, Costa hopes that it will be able to address the burgeoning issue of how to recycle paper cups within its concession outlets located at corporate offices, universities and transport hubs.

Edie.net reports that UK venture capital firm Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) has announced it has raised £135m for a new infrastructure fund to invest in a diversified portfolio of UK-based clean energy projects. The Environmental Capital Fund (ECF) will be used to support small-scale hydro power, energy efficiency, heat pump and district heating projects in a bid to meet an increased demand for capital from the UK’s rapidly growing clean energy market. And the World’s largest private bank UBS is urging investors to join the renewables revolution: UBS predicts that large-scale power stations will soon make way for electric cars and new solar technologies.   Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed say analysts.

Lib DemsIn the UK, the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include plans for five new laws to protect the environment and improve air and water quality, reduce waste, end to polluting coal power stations and an ambitious decarbonisation target for the electricity sector. The five green laws proposed by the Lib Dems are:

·A Nature Bill: key measures include legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, extending the ‘Right to Roam’ and establishing new marine and coastal reserves.

·A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill:

·A Zero Waste Britain Bill with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end biodegradable landfill.

·A Zero Carbon Britain Bill: key measures include introducing a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, expanding the powers of the Green Investment Bank and banning electricity generated from coal.

·A Green Transport Bill: key measures include establishing a full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

henryJames Dyson has suggested that Britain should leave the EU, over a dispute about vacuum cleaner energy efficiency regulations. A new law banning vacuum cleaners rated above 1,600 watts came into effect on September 1, as part of the European Commission’s plans to meet targets on energy efficiency – to much criticism in the UK press and reported panic buying or more powerful models. Dyson was not affected by the changes, as none of its vacuum cleaners are rated above 1,400 watts. However, the company’s founder claims the legislation is too crude and does not go far enough. The Mail Online thinks that banning vacuum cleaners isn’t about saving the planet – it’s about Brussels grabbing even more power. More on the Telegraph’s website here and the Guardian here who say despite what the tabloid papers think, it’s actually about getting designers to come up with energy-efficient appliances

How to Shop for Sustainable Sites and Vendors – by Kirsti Sanders on the CVent Event Planning website is well worth a read! Thanks to our environmental assessor Penny Mellor for spotting this and its a useful checklist for event planners.

world water weekWorld Water Week: Top 10 tips to reduce your consumption. Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource and there has never been a better time for businesses to help raise the profile of today’s most pressing water challenges and take extra steps to tackle the issues of water security and quality. ‘Quick fixes’ such as fitting aerated showerheads in staff showers, using low-flow taps in sinks and adding controls on urinals often have a payback of less than three months. Reducing water costs reduces your energy costs – and also your production costs. Water is five times more difficult to heat than granite, so hot water is very expensive, likewise water is heavy to pump around. Saving water will make a big dent in your energy bill, and optimising your water use will also optimise your other operations and lead to savings in production or improved performance. 

Britons should brace themselves for more extreme winters as weather conditions become more volatile, scientists have warned. A study of seasonal records dating back to 1899 found that while most seasons have not changed dramatically, winter has become much more unpredictable. The results suggest the idea of a typical British winter is increasingly becoming a myth, with wide swings from mild but stormy conditions like those which hit the UK this year to extremely cold temperatures and snow in another year becoming more common. Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Sheffield and the Met Office found that seven out of the 10 most extreme winter conditions over the last 115 years have occurred in the last decade. Professor Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, said: “This indicates that British winters have become increasingly unsettled. If this trend continues, we can expect more volatile UK winter weather in decades to come.” More on the Huffington Post here.

Brazil is the most dangerous place in the world to be an environmentalist. It accounts for about half of all recorded killings of environmental advocates. That incredibly dangerous environment makes what photographer Lunae Parracho documented even more incredible. Parracho  followed the Ka’apor tribe, an indigenous community in Brazil, as they fought back against illegal loggers. some amazing photos here http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/13-incredible-photos-of-amazon-tribe-fighting-back-against-illegal-loggers/

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide which experts think the planet may struggle to deal with according to the World Meteorological Organisations’ (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin which called for “concentrated international action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change.”  The report also said that C02 levels increased at the quickest rate since 1984, suggesting the while emissions are rising; the earth’s ability to absorb the gas may also be declining.

UK Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey has insisted that economic growth and carbon reduction can go hand in hand as the has set out the UK Government’s vision for a legally binding global climate deal in Paris next year. ‘Paris 2015: Securing Our Prosperity Through a Global Climate Change Agreement’ is a new document which argues that action on climate change is needed ‘on a coordinated global scale from every country in the world’. And Prime Minister David Cameron is being urged to push for a global countdown to zero emissions ahead of his expected attendance at the New York climate summit later this month. A coalition of five leading environmental groups – Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Green Alliance, RSPB and WWF – have set out their hopes and expectations for a successful climate package to be delivered by the end of next year, with other global leaders including Barack Obama confirmed to attend the major international climate talks on 23 September.

downloadJapanese electronics and ceramics manufacturer Kyocera has announced that it is beginning work on what will be the world’s largest floating solar installation. The 2.9MW project comprises two separate floating arrays in the Nishira and Higashihira reservoirs in Kato City. The electricity generated will provide the equivalent power for roughly 920 typical households and will be sold to the local utility through Japan’s feed-in-tariff system. And the UK is leading the way when it comes to offshore wind power, with a 52% share of the international market last year, according to new figures.  GlobalData has released a new report which reveals that the UK’s cumulative offshore wind power installed capacity increased from 0.3GW in 2006 to 3.7GW in 2013 – a 42.9% increase. The research firm puts this increase down to aggressive renewable targets, policy backing and a shift towards a greener climate,

Our friends at eco-clothing brand Rapanui have come up with a novel solution to the problem of ‘throwaway fashion’ by offering store credit to customers who return last season’s clothes. Customers’ old clothes will be recycled properly, with Rapanui building on a reputation of sustainability; making it’s t-shirts, tops and sweats from 100% certified organic cotton in a wind-powered factory.  “Our customers look forward to each new season but it seems a shame that our products end up unused in the wardrobe after six months,” said designer Martin Drake-Knight.”It means there’s a conflict between fashion and the environment. We want to heal that and find a way for people to enjoy shopping, and fashion, without creating mountains of waste.”

Edie.net reports that the USA’s first commercial-scale biofuel plant is now open and will eventually produce more than 110 million litres of fuel a year from corn waste. The £167m plant, named ‘Project Liberty’, is situated in Emmetsburg, Iowa and converts baled corn cobs, leaves and stalks into renewable fuel. Its development was supported by more than £60m in grants from the US Department of Energy and Agriculture (DOE).  America’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes the Project Liberty opening is proof that the country is ready for advanced renewable energy production.

Energy efficiency has become the world’s ‘hidden fuel’ and has the potential to stimulate massive economic growth, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Entitled ‘Capturing the multiple benefits of efficient energy’, the report ramps up the pressure on the European Council of Ministers, which will decide upon its 2030 energy saving target in the next few weeks.

Big brands such as Coca-Cola Enterprises, Nestlé and retailer Marks & Spencer have partnered up to launch a new plastics recycling campaign called Pledge 4 Plastics. The new Government-backed cross industry partnership is led by plastics recycling body Recoup. It aims to increase the collection of plastic packaging for recycling. The initiative has been formulated in response to challenging packaging recycling targets set by the Government for the period 2013-17. Plastic packaging recycling levels need to double over this five year period.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012The renewable energy industry has united to launch a series of ‘key tests’ for the UK political parties ahead of the next General Election. Leading renewable energy trade bodies including the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), the British Hydropower Association (BHA), the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA), RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables and the Solar Trade Association (STA), have launched a renewables manifesto statement and campaign hosted on the Action for Renewables website. The six key tests laid out by the grouping are:
1. Support the Climate Change Act to keep us on course to meet our carbon commitments and back global efforts to tackle climate change.
2. Set a new renewables target for 2030 of 30% of UK energy.
3. Back the Independent Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to set a binding target for low carbon electricity by 2030.
4. Fund the Renewable Heat Incentive for new applications after 2016.
5. Boost the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation to reach the 10% renewable energy target for transport by 2020.
6. Reform the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure the market takes account of all sectors’ polluting cost of carbon emissions.

GOOD NEWS !

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