Monthly Archives: December 2014


OBurning wood in power stations might actually be good for trees – so says Professor Robert Malmsheimer at the State University of New York. A number of environmentalists and scientists have argued that burning wood in power stations harms forests, produces pollution and once the carbon cost of transport is added in is hardly a ‘green’ or sustainable solution. But Professor  Malmsheimer says such arguments  misunderstand the forestry industry and the type of wood used in biomass  – and that an increase in and for wood would increase forest area and productivity as land owners respond to economic stimuli.

It seems billions of pounds of UK taxpayers money will be given to ‘dirty’ coal burning power stations in the UK – to guarantee that the lights stay on in the UK when power from sustainable power – in particular wind power – fluctuate and cannot meet peak demand. Coal, gas and nuclear plants are all entitled to bid for the funding. Even the energy companies know the scheme is bonkers – back in October Sam Laidlaw the boss of Centrica said there was something wrong with government policies that tax coal plants for carbon emissions with one hand and subsidise them with another and that the paradox means that old dirty coal plants “will be paid extra to stay online for longer”.  Greenpeace – agreeing with Centrica (!) called the policy ‘counter productive’ and ‘bizarre’ and that it would be consumers who met the cost.

windturbines_300And the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that the public was “fed up” with onshore windfarms and said the country did not need any more subsidised turbines on land now that the energy source was capable of providing 10% of UK energy.  He said: “Let’s get rid of the subsidy, put them into the planning system. If they can make their case, they will make their case. I suspect they won’t and we’ll have a reasonable amount of onshore wind, we’ll have safer electricity supplies as a result but enough is enough and I’m very clear about that. Cameron’s remarks to the liaison committee of MPs are at odds with polling conducted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change that suggests onshore wind is popular and his own Climate Secretary Ed Davey. And Secretary of State Eric Pickles has been sharply criticised by the renewable energy industry for delaying the approval of many onshore wind energy developments in which he has intervened.  The criticism comes in the wake of a new report from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee, which warns that Pickles’ recent actions risk reducing investment in the clean energy sector. However on a more positive note the UK Government has tannounced details of the National College of Wind Energy based in the Humber area.  Set to open its doors in late 2016, the college will offer students post-A-level professional qualifications; equipping young people with the engineering and technical skills required in the wind industry – particularly offshore, where ‘a large growth in skills is needed’.

Lord Stern has made broadly positive remarks about the results fron the UN Cop summit in Lima. Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change said  “This is an important step towards a new agreement at the climate change summit in Paris in December 2015, but it still leaves a number of important issues to be worked out between countries over the next 12 months” adding”It is vital that countries put forward before the Paris summit intended nationally determined contributions that are both ambitious and credible. However, it is already clear that the scale of action to control and reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases will collectively not be consistent with a pathway that will mean a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous global warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial level.”

Invitación Física versión editableAlso at the Lima climate summit, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) restated the importance of biofuels, such as ethanol, in reducing GHG emissions in the transport sector.  Biofuels are presently one of the most commercially viable fuel alternatives to crude oil in the medium term, proven to reduce GHGs from 40% to 90% compared with fossil fuels. GRFA spokesperson Bliss Baker said: “Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector, those GHGs need to be a priority if we are going to make a significant contribution to combating climate change. Biofuels must be an integral part of that fight.”

Many Alpine ski resorts are facing their worst season for 150 years with snowfall way below the annual norm. The glacier resort of Tignes has only 13 of its 79 lifts operating and some guests in Chamonix are being bussed to other resorts. The snowfall on Flaine’s upper pistes – just 20cm in 2014 – is less than 10% of 2012’s 240cm snowfall.

President Obama has taken  action to protect one of Alaska’s most powerful economic engines and one of America’s greatest national treasures: Bristol Bay. He signed a Presidential Memorandum that withdraws these beautiful and pristine waters from all future oil and gas drilling. “These waters are too special and too valuable to auction off to the highest bidder,” the President said.

Millions of dicarded plastics bags pollute our oceans

Millions of dicarded plastics bags pollute our oceans

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.  Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25tn plastic particles in the oceans, most of them “micro plastics” measuring less than 5mm. The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world’s oceans.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says global governments must ‘radically accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technology’ as a new report reveals demand for coal will break the nine-billion-tonne level by 2019.   The organisation’s annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report concludes that the fate of the global coal market will be determined by China, which will continue to account for three-fifths of demand growth during the five-year outlook period.

Australian researchers have set a new world record by converting more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity. The record was achieved by scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, and verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the United States.”This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor Martin Green said. “The new results are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia.”

Anaerobic digestion (AD) enjoyed a bumper year in the UK according to the latest sector survey published today (11 November) by WRAP, but Scotland did not contribute to the growth.  The number of AD sites in the UK has increased from 87 to 117, while capacity increased by 55% to 3.20mt. This operational growth has led to a boost to employment in the sector – up 36% to 482 full-time jobs.

schnipeldiscoThe “Schnippeldisko” (chopping disco), which is organised by Slow Food Youth,  raises awareness of the industrialisation of farming in Germany. On the 16th of January 2014 many helping hands come together at Zirkus Cabuwazi in Berlin Friedrichshain to chop about a ton of vegetables as ingredients for a “protest soup” that will warm the hearts and bellies of the thousands of “Wir haben es satt!”  participants the following day. And even better – all vegetables used for the protest soup are from the region of Brandenburg and are usually rejected by retailers as they don´t fit into the German trade standard – too big, too small or have an unusual shape, but there is literally nothing wrong with them – of course! To make cutting of all those vegetables more fun and to create a real ´disco´ feeling the organisers have invited DJs Florinn & Decent, who will pump out the best music around!

LIB1And finally from Jarno in the USA who reports that the International Music Festival conference, IMFcon, took place in Austin from the 7th until the 9th of December. An interesting conference where topics such as big data at festivals, fan loyalty, marketing & sponsorship, and the global success of EDM were discussed. One of the discussions was dedicated to sustainability with panelist such as Karen Cohen from Symbiosis Events, Melissa mcClary from Klean Kanteen and Nick Algee. Jarno says in his opinion “more time could, and should, have been dedicated to this particular subject. Sustainability is a vast area that can not possibly be discussed and explained in 45 minutes”. But its a start! And Lightning in a Bottle, awarded the Outstanding Award from A Greener Festival this year, were at IMFcon and this presented the perfect opportunity for Jarno to present Dede and Jesse Flemming, from The Do Lab, their award.  As Jarno says – Two very humble men who are passionate about their festival and about sustainability.  Congratulations!


ANOTHER PLANET? Peru paralysis: Lima limps to a lacklustre conclusion

Invitación Física versión editableFrustrated climate campaigners have claimed that the world is on course for an unsustainable four-degree rise in temperatures, as two weeks of negotiations in Lima for a climate change agreement headed for an unsatisfying conclusion – with delegates having to extend stays to try and reach some (any) sort of conclusion. And it started so well – on the back of news of the USA and China’s historic deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions there was hope in the air. No  more: “We are on a path to three or four degrees with this outcome,” said Tasneem Essop, international climate strategist for WWF. She said the final draft text, a five-page document put forward for approval on Saturday, offered little assurance of cutting emissions fast enough and deeply enough to curb warming. “We are really unhappy about the weakening of the text. This gives us no level of comfort that we will be able to close the emissions gap to get emissions to peak before 2020,” she said. Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, put it even more succinctly: “It sucks. It is taking us backwards.” The talks at Lima had been charged with producing the blueprint for a climate change agreement due to be finalised in Paris at the end of next year. “Let me be frank. There are parts of this text that make me very uncomfortable and parts that are very thin,” said Tony deBrum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands. By the time the final draft text appeared, it had been stripped of language that would have required the emissions cuts offered by countries to keep warming below the two-degree target with developing countries such as India refusing to be tied to a global agreement to protect their economies. More here

Lima also made its mark with a fairly large carbon footprint of its own. Hundreds of delegates from 190 nations  flew to Peru (with many flying on to take part in holidays and social activities) which was a fairly bad start – but then news emerged that the entire conference complex – which was meant to be powered with hydro-electricity, was almost entirely powered by diesel generators :  7,000 KkW from diesel and just 640kW from hydro-electric power. Local transport was in 300 ancient diesel buses,  as there was no local train station – and 121 electric and hybrid cars donated by Japan didn’t arrive in time for the conference. Just 40 delegates braved the free bicycles provided due to the dangers on Lima’s roads.

Global warming, pollution, over fishing, poaching and and habitat destruction mean that the world is facing the sixth ‘great extinction’ with 41% of amphibians, 26% of mammals and 13% of birds set to disappear . Many species are already on the brink including the Sumatran elephant, Amur leopard and mountain gorilla – but more and more species including bonobos, blue fin tuna and loggerhead turtles are set to soon disappear. The previous five ‘great extinctions’ were caused by geological or astronomical events such an asteroid colliding with the earth (which wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago).

animal-rights-social-ads-call-of-the-wild-sanctuary-asia-4Here is a link to some very gruesome and brutal images, but they have to be shown because of their important message – they raise awareness of the often unseen casualties of deforestation around the world. Creative and art director Ganesh Prasad Acharya, together with copywriter Kaushik Katty Roy, created these social ads for Sanctuary Asia, one of the first and greatest environmental news magazines in India. The slogan on these ads is this – “When the wood go, wildlife goes” drives home the point made by these macabre images – when you cut down habitats, you might as well kill the animals that live there as well. Rainforests contain as much as 80% of the world’s biodiversity, so their rapid destruction in South America and Asia is a serious problem.

In the UK three energy companies, SSE, Scottish Power and  GDF have been fined a total of £4.6 million for failing to meet targets to insulate low income homes after more than 2,000 missed out on insulation and more efficient boilers – and cuts to their bills – in 2012-2013.

orcaSeaWorld has seen a dramatic collapse in it’s share price as consumers begin to realise that far from being a place where they can witness the marvels of marine life, the company’s 11 marine themed “amusement” parks in the USA are a place of unbearable torture and solitude for some of the larger marine mammals such as orcas. The film Blackfish has plagued the company which has now seen its chief executive, Jim Atchinson, ousted, revenues down 7%,  attendances down 4.7% and the share price down 44%. See where Seaworld keep a lonely Orca:

The Bush Theatre have achieved a 3 star Creative Industry Green rating. Julies Bicycle say “Their outstanding commitment and hard work to reduce their environmental impact has resulted in a whopping jump from 1 to 3 stars in just one year! We are delighted to award them with the highest possible rating for their amazing ongoing efforts.” Bush Theatre reduced their energy emissions per performance by a massive 15.5% since last year, through installing a more efficient boiler. Emissions from water use was reduced by 32.1% and waste emissions per performance has decreased by 47.8%. Bush Theatre gets a special nod for embedding environmental sustainability into the operations of the company on all levels, alongside their exceptional engagement with suppliers and communication with their team and audience.

And finally …. Tommy Hilfiger has launched a jacket with solar panels. The $599.00 jacket is certainly not cheap – and is available in men’s and women’s styles and weighs four pounds. The removable solar panels charge a battery that connects to a cord in the pocket, which you can use to charge your portable devices. Hmmmmmmm!


Invitación Física versión editableA message from Avaaz:  The world is about to sign up to a 100% clean energy future! But the goal to completely cut carbon is at risk at the Lima climate talks. Let’s flood negotiators with messages now to make sure they know the world is watching, and to stand strong for climate action! Right now, Ministers from all over the world are on their way to Lima, Peru to hammer out the agreement. But oil, coal and fracking companies, and countries that want to keep polluting are lobbying hard to pull this crucial target from the text. That’s where we come in. People power forced through this crucial goal, now we have to protect it! If we don’t, scientists are clear — catastrophic and runaway climate change is inevitable. Our best chance of blocking back-room deals with polluters is bombarding our Ministers with thousands of messages. If enough of us act, they’ll know they’re being watched and expected to stand strong for the goal of 0 carbon, and 100% clean energy. Send your message now! have done a marvellous job with updates from Lima – on Moday they reported that for the first time since 2009, the environmental assessor Climate Action Tracker has calculated a lower projected warming over the 21st century thanks to the new proposed post-2020 actions from China, the US and the EU. However, it warned this is still not enough to limit warming below 2˚C. If China, the United States and the European Union, who together comprise around 53% of global emissions, fully implement their post-2020 plans, they would limit global temperature rise to around 3˚C by 2100.  On the preceding Thursday Japan prompted controversy at the conference by using $1bn of UN climate loans to fund coal power stations. Japan says these plants burn coal more efficiently and are therefore cleaner than old coal plants, but the transgression prompted a vociferous response from environmental groups. More than 250 NGO’s co-signed a letter to the Green Climate Fund – which will soon be the largest financier of green projects – warning that it cannot be used to fund fossil-fuel power generation.  Leaders from Latin American countries are expected to announce a major new initiative to restore forests and agricultural lands on Sunday in Lima. Initiative 20×20 is a country-led effort to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land in Latin America and the Caribbean. The plan is part of the Bonn Challenege – a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares of land around the world by 2020. And  the German Government injected some urgency into proceedings yesterday when it approved a broad new strategy designed to ensure it meets its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2020. The savings will be driven by deep cuts in emissions-from-buildings, and the waste, energy and transport sectors. The key elements of the plans include tax incentives for energy-related building renovations, an electric car rollout, and a clampdown on oil-and-coal power stations.  The UK Energy and Climate Change SecretaryEd Davey has called on countries at the UN climate talks in Lima to make carbon reduction pledges before the first quarter of next year. After his first day in Lima for COP 20,  Davey said ambitious pledges were needed to created momentum for a deal at Paris 2015 and Davey said: “At home and abroad the UK has led the way – more than doubling renewable energy since 2010 and securing an ambitious target to reduce EU emissions by 2030. The World Meteorological Organisation underlined the importance of the conference, announcing  that 2014 was due to be the hottest year ever recorded.

Also in Lima,  More than 100 cities from around the world have signed up to the testing phase of a new protocol which claims to be the first standardised international agreement to measure and report city emissions.  The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC)  aims to help cities set mitigation goals, create more targeted climate action plans and track progress over time. The GPC is already supported by 100 cities that are home to 107 million people; emitting more than 1.1 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases.

A coalition of UK businesses with turnover of more than £280bn have thrown their weight behind a new macro-economic roadmap for Britain that prioritises sustainability and equality over growth. The campaign, called An Economy That Works, is based around a recent report of the same name from the environmental lobbyist group Aldersgate Group. The report warns that growth alone is unsustainable and the UK should instead focus on low carbon, high employment, equality of opportunity and preserving natural resources. The coalition – which includes Aviva Investors, BT, Friends of the Earth, Interface, Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, Nestlé and Sky – will work with the UK Government to identify key policy levers for change and encourage wider uptake of innovative business practices.

food wasteSupermarket giant Morrisons binned of 10,000 Cornish pasties after their delivery driver arrived 17 minutes late for collection, according to a report on hunger in the UK. The report also found that 4.3 million tons of edible food is discarded annually. Only 2 percent of the waste food generated by supermarkets, restaurants and food manufacturers is given to the poor. The rest is left to rot in landfill sites. In extreme cases, like the Morrisons pasty incident, huge amounts of food is thrown away because it is misshapen or does not fit supermarket requirements. Don Gardner, a food bank manager from Cornwall, said he was offered 10 tons of tomatoes because they were “too big” for Tesco. The non-profit social enterprise Food Aware, which campaigns for the fair distribution of resources, estimates the annual value of food thrown away in the UK is £23 billion, two thirds of which comes from retail and producers. Speaking to RT, Sean Gibbons, the Director of Food Aware said “The current supermarket food waste problem is significant, sensitive and literally ‘a hidden world’. Although, there are some great examples of some supermarkets doing the right thing and donating surplus food to charities/community organisations, there is still much work to be done” adding “Our issue at Food AWARE is‎ that the food industry do no want to redistribute any food which is near or past its ‘Best Before’ date as this would affect them financially” he added.  A cross-party group of MPs has urged the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to set food retailers and manufacturers a target of doubling the proportion of surplus food they redistribute to food assistance providers and other voluntary organisations to help eliminate hunger. The cross-party group of MPs published a report, funded by the Church of England, entitled ‘Feeding Britain’ , as part of a parliamentary inquiry into hunger and food poverty. It reiterates that more than 4 million tonnes of edible food is binned every year by the UK food industry – with just 2% donated to charity.

In the UK, three conservative MPs are blocking a private members bill to ban wild animals from circuses. Yes, stept forward Andrew Rosindale, Christopher Chope and Philip Davies who seem to think keeping wild animals in cramped quarters and vehicles and using them in shows is just fine and dandy. 90% of the British public think the practice is at best ‘outdated’ – and the bill has cross party support. But hasn’t passed into law yet. If you want to see how HAPPY two bears are after being released from the hell of  living in a circus truck ….. watch this

Double_PyramidThe Double Pyramid is an innovative way of portraying how the ecological footprints of our food compare to their nutritional value. The “Double Food-Environmental Pyramid” was designed and launched by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition in 2010. Researchers from Italy wanted to combine nutritional guidelines with environmental issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and ecological footprints. The result is the Double Pyramid, which reveals an interesting fact: the most environmentally friendly foods are often the healthiest ones for human consumption, and many foods that are damaging to our bodies are also damaging to the environment. The inverted environmental pyramid shows ecologically-intensive foods at the very top, such as meat and cheese. As you look down the pyramid, you’ll find fish, olive oil, other dairy products, and legumes. At the bottom are the least ecologically-damaging fruits and vegetables. More on Treehugger here.

A couple of years ago, Microsoft revealed its plans to build a data center powered by biogas in Wyoming and now that plan has become a reality. The small data center is connected to the Supercomputing Center of the University of Wyoming and is not connected to the local power grid at all; it’s completely autonomous and powered by renewable energy. The data center holds 200 servers and is powered by methane that comes from biogas harvested from an on-site sewage treatment plant’s digestion tanks. A 300-kilowatt fuel cell converts the gas into electricity through an electrochemical process. The data center uses about 100 kW of that energy while the sewage treatment plant uses the other 150 kW to off-set its energy needs.

giant-tortoise-galapagosThe Española giant Galapagos tortoise, which can weight 250 kg (550 lbs) and live a century, was really in bad shape in the 1960s. The island of Española, which is part of the Galapagos ( only had 15 individual – 12 females and 3 males after the introduction of non native goats that went wild and competed for the tortoises’food. Now and thanks to a 5-decade conservation effort, the species now seems to have made a ‘miraculous’ and, most importantly, stable recovery with over 1,000 tortoises on the island.

2,400 hybrid buses, zero-emission taxis and 10,000 street trees will all be coming to London as part of new plans announced by Boris Johnson in a bid to tackle the capital’s air pollution problems. The Mayor of London confirmed around £330m of new funding – the majority of which will be spent on green buses and taxis – to assist with plans to create the world’s first ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ in central London in 2020.

SumatraRhinoHornbill (1)And finally back to Peru – where the Guardian reports that ther is a disaster being hidden from the environmental leaders gathered inside the walls of a military compound in Lima on their mission to fight climate change. Over the last few months – as Peru helped guide the United Nations climate negotiations – five separate oil spills along a main oil pipeline through the Amazon have spewed thick black clots of crude across jungle and swamp and carpeted local fishing lagoons with dead fish. For the indigenous peoples living downstream in clusters of tin-roofed and thatched houses on the banks of the Marañón river, it’s been a season of sickness and fear – on a good day, in the village of San Pedro, a Kukama Indian community, the villagers say they can find up to 30 species of fish in the lagoon. But what Bela and Castillo saw on that day left them shaken: a dead capybara (the world’s largest rodent), coated in crude and floating belly-up in the fishing ground that had been the villagers’ main source of food qwith one villager saying  “You could smell oil, and the leaves on the bank were black”. The state owned oil company blames te leaks on sabotage.  Indigenous peoples and campaigners reject the charge. They say the Peruvian regulators and the state-owned oil and gas company have not done enough to maintain the pipeline, which dates from the early 1970s. Peruvian officials estimated the first spill at 2,000 barrels. The most recent spill was several times larger, the villagers say.


Bereaved mother welcomes Magistrates Court ruling that legal highs are unsafe

aifdontbeinThe mother of a young man who died after taking a legal high has welcomed a decision by Canterbury Magistrates Court which declared that ‘legal highs’ seized in raids across Kent were unsafe. The decision means that local authorities across England and Wales can now use existing trading standards laws to tackle the sale of legal highs. Karen Audino, whose son Jimmy Guichard died in October last year after taking a herbal substance that resulted in a heart attack and brain damage told the Times (04.12.14) “I’m absolutely thrilled this has happened. The shops aren’t going to be able to display what is in them because they don’t know”. Jimmy died aged just 20 in hospital in October 2013. A bag containing a herbal substance, said at the time to be synthetic cannabis from the UK Skunkworks shop based in Chatham in Kent, was found next to Jimmy where he had collapsed.

Back in June 2014 widespread raids were carried out across Kent at shops suspected of selling legal highs. Officers from Kent County Council’s Trading Standards and the Police targeted 14 stores in surprise visits as far afield as Canterbury, Maidstone and Gravesend. The stores had previously been sent a letter saying that so called ‘legal highs’ had the potential to kill. It called on them to stop selling legal highs. It also explained how they are designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs, and had at that time caused at least one death in Kent. Trading Standards instigated the raids using laws that are designed to protect the public from harm – Medway Council said it believed that the products fell under the provisions of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 which prohibit any unsafe product from being supplied – goods sold to the public must be safe and shops must know what is in products so they can alert customers to any risks – such as allergic reactions. Whilst some legal highs carry a disclaimer that they are not fit for human consumption, Magistrates were told that the shops were aware that they were being used for human consumption. Magistrates said more than 600 of the products seized were unsafe. Kent Trading Standards confirmed that three people had died in Kent as a result of taking legal highs, and sixty eight deaths had died nationally in 2012.

Legal highs are substances that are used recreationally but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971), not licensed for legal use, and not regulated as a medicine (Medicines Act 1968). M any drugs previously sold as legal highs are now controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, including mephedrone (meow meow), BZP and GBL. But often new versions are created and sold just as fast as the government can ban them – and the decision by the Canterbury Justices gives local authorities a far more flexible tool in tackling the problem of dangerous legal highs.

A letter from the Canterbury branch of Skunkworks to the local MP Julian Brazier in 2013 said the shop had “extremely high moral codes” and UK Skunkworks said “The paraphernalia that we sell is not for drug use, we sell a wide range of popular products that are received very well by an adult market” adding “The online industry of products we sell is extensive, however up until now the regulation of the products has been impossible” and “Our stores operate a number of strict policies and are enforced by a large team” and that “These policies ensure that young people under the age of 18 can not enter our stores whatsoever.” The letter ended saying: “Calling for UK Skunkworks to be shut down is a pitiful attempt at dealing with the issues we face.

Dont be in the dark about legal highs – more from the Association of Independent Festivals here and and and

(Eco) Letter To The Boomers III


UK move towards a sky lanterns ban

chinese3-1023x663After years of protest and pressure from campaign groups including AGreenerFestival, local authorities across the UK are now looking to ban ‘Chinese’ or ‘sky’ lanterns. The sky lantern, also known as Kongming lantern, are paper balloons with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. It is currently estimated that over 200,000 sky lanterns are launched in the UK every year. The Glastonbury Festival has prohibited the use of sky lanterns for some years to protect Worthy Farm and the surrounding countryside – one of Michael Eavis’s cows died after ingesting metal wiring from a burnt out sky lantern and Eavis said “I am surrounded by farmers and when Glastonbury Festival takes place it’s sky lanterns they get angry about.” Earlier this year Knebworth House also banned the use of sky lanterns, ahead of Sonisphere 2014. Knebworth managing director Martha Lytton Cobbold said the danger posed by sky lanterns to property, livestock, and the environment is something organisers have been aware of for a long time. The lanterns have been blamed for fires on farms and in woodland, deaths of domesgticv animals and wildlife and for causing unnecessary call outs for emergency services such as the Coastguard when lanterns are mistaken for distress flares.Lanterns are banned in Austria, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Brazil, Australia and some areas of China. The UK government has not ban sky lanterns, but the Trading Standards Institute has an industry code of practice to provide guidance for manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of sky lanterns, covering their manufacture, and warnings and instructions that must be provided. 


droughteastafricaThe World is on course for the hottest year ever in 2014, the United Nations weather agency said on Wednesday, heightening the sense of urgency around climate change negotiations underway in Lima. Preliminary estimates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) found global average land and sea surface temperatures for the first 10 months of 2014 had soared higher than ever recorded. The findings – broadly in line with those of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and other scientific agencies – indicate that by year-end 2014 will break all previous high temperature records. The steady escalation of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, have seen a succession of record-breaking years for temperature since the dawning of the 21st century and 2014 promises to be no exception, the WMO said. More here.

The Guardian reports that  UN climate negotiations opening in Lima on Monday have the best chance in a generation of striking a deal on global warming, diplomats say. After a 20-year standoff, diplomats and longtime observers of the talks say there is rising optimism that negotiators will be able to secure a deal that will commit all countries to take action against climate change. The two weeks of talks in Peru are intended to deliver a draft text to be adopted in Paris next year that will commit countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions without compromising the economic development of poor countries. Diplomats and observers of the UN climate negotiations said recent actions by the US and China had injected much-needed momentum.

cowsCurbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to a new report titled Livestock, Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector. But governments and green campaigners are doing nothing to tackle the issue due to fears of a consumer backlash, warns the analysis from the thinktank Chatham House. The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming. “Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” said Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”

volcano1A new study has found that when particulates from small volcanic eruptions are properly accounted for, volcanoes may be responsible for much of the slowdown in global surface warming over the past 15 years. Sulfur aerosol particulates pumped into the atmosphere from volcanic eruptions cause short-term cooling by blocking sunlight. Until recently, climate scientists thought that only large volcanic eruptions had a significant impact on global temperatures. There haven’t been any big eruptions since Mount Pinatubo in 1991. However, studies published over the past few years have found that even moderate volcanic eruptions can pump significant amounts of aerosol particulates into the atmosphere. reports that energy supplier E.ON has announced that it wants to focus more heavily on renewable energy and transfer fossil fuel power generation to a new independent company – the New Company.  Through its publicly-listed company – the majority of which will be spun off to E.ON SE shareholders – E.ON will combine conventional power generation, global energy trading and exploration and production businesses. E.ON itself will further develop each of its three core businesses: renewables, distribution networks and customer solutions, to respond to ‘dramatically altered global energy markets, technical innovation, and more diverse customer expectations.’

The time has come: The 2degrees New Generation initiative, has reached its climax. Here are the top 25 under 25s currently working in sustainable business. More here

“The French city of Grenoble is banning billboard advertising. It will instead open community spaces and plant trees. City authorities say they have decided not to renew its contract with one of the world’s top outdoor advertising companies, JC Decaux. From January Grenoble will remove more than 300 ad locations. Fifty trees will take their place in time for spring. The city’s deputy mayor Lucile Lheureux explained: “The business model of street advertising is down. Advertisers want to upgrade to digital screens. We don’t want to make that move. We don’t want our city’s children bombarded with animated advertising on TV screens in the street.”

In recent years there has been a sea change in the general public’s opinions when it comes to stupid corporates pretending they are ‘green’. Here’s 4 examples of greenwashing FROM 38 DEGREES you won’t want to imitate including a  look at the ludicrous ‘Red Tractor’ mark and the assertions made by American meat manufacturer Tyson  that its poultry products were  “100% Free from Antibiotics” . Greenwashing at its worst.

cyclistssolsticeThe UK Government will introduce a package of measures totalling £214m in a bid to help double the number of bicycle journeys made by 2020.  The largest single investment in cycling was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a cycling summit.

The amount of biomethane injected to the UK grid has doubled every year since 2011 and is set to more-than quadruple in 2014.  That’s according to data collected by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) from the UK’s four Gas Distribution Networks following a meeting at the Energy Institute. The figures show that there are now 10 biomethane-to-grid plants generating nearly 1TWh compared with just 0.16TWh last year.

A British cleantech company has started a crowdfunding campaign to help launch a product which it claims can provide one billion people with water using only the power of the sun.The ‘Desolenator’ transforms seawater into pure distilled water without any other inputs, and lasts for up to 20 years. A crowdfunding campaign was launched for the Desolenator on 30 November at Indiegogo, looking for $150k to “accelerate the product development process and help us move from our current prototype to a finished product ready for mass production.”

tree-cathedral-cattedrale-vegetale-giuliano-mauri-1Bored Panda tells us – quite rightly – that a building doesn’t have to be a dry and dead thing. Italian artist Giuliano Mauri’s epic Cattedrale Vegetale (or Tree Cathedral) is the perfect example of architecture that, instead of competing with or complementing nature, is quite literally a part of it. The late artist’s two groves of trees are destined to grow into a pair of magnificent basilicas. The framework columns seen in these photos will eventually rot away and decay, to be replaced by the hornbeam trees planted in the centre of each frame. As these grow, their canopies will mesh together to form the vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral. Mauri, who died in 2009, laid the groundwork for his first visionary cathedral in Valsugana, Italy in 2002. The framework of the cathedral at the foot of Mount Arera in the northern Italian region of Lombardy was completed in 2010. More here and more images here