ANOTHER PLANET?

burning questionThe five UK conservative MPs who rebelled against the UK’s Climate Change Act and the requirement for the UK to cut is greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 say the 2008 law should be revoked. Noting that there has been no binding global agreements on reducing Carbon dioxide emissions,  in a statement Christopher Chop, Ann Widdecombe, Philip Davies, Andrew Tyrie and Peter Lilley call the Act a ‘profound mistake’ and says the Act needs to be revoked to protect British households.

The 28 leaders of the European Union have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, despite deep divisions among some Member States over how to produce energy. As well as carbon emissions, two 27% targets were agreed – forrenewable energy market share and increase in energy efficiency improvement. The former will be binding for the EU as a whole (not for individual Member States), while the latter will be optional but could be raised to 30% after a review in 2020. All three targets are compared to 1990 levels. the energy minister Ed Davey has told the Guardian it was a  “historic moment” on the road to a global climate deal adding  “It is probably the most significant environmental agreement that a British government has ever been involved in.”

The National Trust has switched on a 100kW capacity hydro turbine in Snowdonia as part of the £3.5m pilot phase of its Renewable Energy Investment project. The £550,000 turbine, situated at Hafod y Porth, will generate electricity which will be sold to Good Energy through the National Trust’s trading company – National Trust Renewable Energy Ltd.

Edie.net reports that Global biopower installed capacity is set to increase from 87.6 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 165.1GW by 2025 thanks to government support and environmental concerns. New statistics by consulting firm GlobalData reveal that the 165GW target could be enough to supply around 17% of the world’s electricity.  The predicted growth is representative of a boom period for renewable energy; wind power is expected to hit 200GW by 2030, while hydropower could reach 1700GW in the next twenty years. An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, with 3,700 major dams expected. The figures come from a University of Copenhagen study which found that renewables account for 20% of the global electricity production today, with hydropower contributing 80% of the total share.

UK businesses and universities will receive £5m funding to help them solve some of the world’s greatest agricultural challenges such as food security and sustainability. By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to grow to 10 billion. To feed everyone, food production will have to double, resulting in more food being produced over the next 40 years than in the last 6,000 years combined. This £5m subsidy is part of the government-sponsored £70m Agri-Tech Catalyst programme, which aims to make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability.

FrackOffThere has been much attention to water pollution risks from fracking, but there has been less research into air quality around fracking sites. Now a new study, co-authored by CEH’s Research Director Caroline Cox and published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health shines light on fracking air pollution risks. Along with the study, a report, Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Development Sites details the results from the sampling.

Oxford and Cambridge are among 10 of the world’s top universities to have published the ‘Green Guide for Universities’, helping universities worldwide become more sustainable. The Guide, by the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), identifies the challenges and opportunities of campus sustainability in terms of energy, waste, and water consumption.

In the UK, the National Grid has said that a series of fires and technical faults at power stations has reduced its spare capacity to the lowest for seven years at Christmas. Planned maintainance means that tere will be a real risk of ‘brown outs’ with reduced power output . Spare capacity (the difference between planned maximum use ad supply) of just 4.1% may not be enough if freezing weather comes to the UK – or two nuclear power stations which were closed for safety reasons fail to re-open on time.Some large industrial energy users ave agreed to shut down at critical times to reduce demand, in return for financial incentives. Gas supplies are also considered to be adequate, but may not meet demand if the winter is especially cold – or Russia shuts off gas supplies.

power station3The Jevons Paradox, which got its name from the economist William Stanley Jevons, predicts that “as technology progresses, the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource”. The canonical example of this is coal consumption in the early industrial era: As the machinery became more efficient at using coal, more coal was used because these efficiency gains made the whole process more economic and so it encouraged more use of the machines and more of those machines to be built. So – are we fighting a losing battle to reduce greehouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency ? More on Treehugger here

The world’s 10 greenest economies of 2014 may surprise you. Dual Citizen, a U.S. consulting group, has been ranking the environmental sustainability of national economies with its Global Green Economy Index since 2010. This year’s report includes data from 60 countries. They also measured the perception of green economies, or in other words, how green people think different countries are. Sweden, Norway and Costa Rica received the highest performance rankings for their economies – whereas Germany, Denmark and Sweden are perceived to have the greenest economies. More here.

pumpkinIn the run-up to Halloween, Sainsbury’s has launched a scheme to encourage customers to recycle their unwanted pumpkins locally through WRAP’s Recycle Now campaign. As part of the recycling initiative, customers will be able to bring their unwanted pumpkins back to 10 trial stores, to be turned into energy via anaerobic digestion through Sainsbury’s waste partner Biffa. The energy generated will, in some cases, be used to power Sainsbury’s stores.

 

 

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