Monthly Archives: January 2015


bez and fracking!The UK’s fracking debate has turned up a few more notches, with neither of the main two parties seemingly safe custodians of our health or for our environment. Yes, whilst the Tories plot new laws to allow fracking under homes and schools, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osbourne focussed only on the economic benefits, Labour seemed like deer caught in the headlights and refused to support the move for a total moratorium on fracking  after pressure from Unions (again, we need leaders and thinkers in our Parliament and in our Unions, not sheep). What we ended up with are some ‘safeguards’ which this blogger doubts will guard anyone’s safety: Yes the Tory led coalition government has accepted amendments to planned legislation conceding that there will be no fracking in National Parks, sites of special scientific interest (SSIs) and areas of natural beauty – in the face of opposition from their own party led by ex Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and the former home office minister Lib Dem Norman Baker. But no – no temporary moratorium on fracking.  Other ‘safeguards’ supported by Labour include the depth of drilling and the need for an environmental impact assessment for fracking and maybe protecting drinking water.  And lets not forget earthquakes – yes, trial drilling in 2011 triggered two quakes here in the UK. Great! The fossil fuel companies, compliant politicians and our blinkered media have really pulled a fast one here. For more comment – there’s an interesting feature in the Observer on Joe Corre, who set up and then sold on lingerie business Agent Provocateur, who now with his Mum, fashion guru Vivienne Westwood is putting his money where his mouth is and campaigning against fracking. highlighting the health issues – along with water contamination, air pollution and environmental damage and who says the anti-fracking campaign “is an alliance of people right across the political spectrum. Fracking has opened their eyes to the whole way government is corrupted by lobbyists and scientists are corrupted by corporations. That’s why fracking is such a hot election issue”.

FrackOffBAD NEWS is that the Prime Minister’s plan to make citizens powerless to stop fracking firms drilling under our homes has been approved by MPs. Though 52 MPs pushed for a moratorium, it wasn’t enough to stop the new laws from getting the go ahead. Greenpeace organised a petition calling on MPs to vote against Cameron’s plan and that now stands at 360,000 strong — an incredible number. And while this awful law was approved today, Greenpeace says this: “Under the weight of huge public pressure, the consensus on fracking is crumbling. And the evidence that the industry is bad for the environment and for the climate grows week after week.” But not a good day.

The Sum Of Us says this:  The government still got its corporate-sponsored fracking bill onto the statute books — allowing the fracking industry to drill right under our homes without our permission. And it has another plan up its sleeve: It wants to spend £80 million of taxpayer money to boost the fracking industry’s terrible reputation.

No fracking way! The Business Department will soon make the final decision about this plan, so we need to take action now. The Business Department plans to fund the drilling of hundreds of boreholes all over the country. It’s trying to persuade us that fracking is safe — which it isn’t. Affected communities around the world have shown us that fracking pollutes the groundwater and air, is dangerous for our health, and emits large amounts of greenhouse gas. Instead of listening to its own parliamentary report, our desperate government is plotting to spend millions of pounds of our own money on duping us — but it’s not too late to squash this plan. David Cameron has boasted that his government is going ‘all out for shale’ — regardless of the fact that less than a quarter of the UK public thinks fracking is a good idea. And opposition to fracking has exploded all around the world: Protest camps, mass demonstrations and multiple rejections of local fracking applications have sprung up everywhere. Fracking will not lead to more affordable energy, nor will it tackle global warming — whereas investing in renewable energy will. We cannot frack the British countryside and hit our climate change targets. With yesterday’s vote the government love-in with the shale industry has taken a hit — let’s keep on fighting it.

Yes we need energy. But every pound spent on fracking is a pound not spent on sustainable energy – wind, water, tidal and sun. It’s there to have – but out lobbied by the fossil fuel corporates. With Lancashire County Council are about to decide on whether to allow the first fracking sites in the UK. We’re standing with people in Lancashire. As 38 Degrees say “Together, we can stop fracking” – sign 38 Degree’s petition here

And interestingly, Shanghai has become China’s first big local government area to ditch a formal growth target based solely on economic criteria – Shanghai is dropping economic growth from its annual work report – and will now look at factors including improvements to the environment, employment and the ability to keep bad debt under control. Shanghai had a 2014 GDP of $250 billion – although commentators say the new targets may not be easy to gauge.

Tens of millions of people along the East Coast of the U.S have hunkered down for a snowstorm thay could be the worst on record. Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service said Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get the most snow, about 2 feet. New York could see 10 inches to 20 inches, Hartford, Connecticut, 1 to 2 feet, and Philadelphia and central New Jersey about 6 inches. The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. On Monday, life abruptly stopped across the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest plowing crews. 7,700 fligts were cancelled in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday and Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark. “When you wake up in the morning, it is going to look like a blizzard,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, echoing the concern of many government leaders. Forecasters originally said the storm could bring 1 to 3 feet of snow and punishing hurricane-force winds. But early Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying New England would fare the worst, but even then not as bad as expected. But still bad!

Claims that 2014 was the hottest year ever on record may not be 100% accurate. The UK’s Met Office 2014 had not been quite as warm as predicted although it probably equalled the record set in 2010.  2014 was certainly one of the top ten hottest years on record and “adds to the set of near record temperatures seen over the last two years”. NASA and the NOAA in the USA recently announced 2014 was the warmest since records began in 1880.

pangolinA £1 million cache of ivory and pangolin skins has been seized in Uganda – the three crates were destined for Amsterdam and were labelled as ‘communications equipment’. The tusks in the crates weighed more than 700KG and there were two tonnes of pangolin skins – Pangolins are scaly mammals that live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poaching for illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss have made these extraordinary creatures one of the most endangered mammal groups in the world – pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Image from

Prince Charles has warned World leaders that they will be condemned by their grandchildren if they fail to take effective action to protect rainforests and prevent dangerous climate change. The Prince warned that politicians in an “increasingly uncertain world” had one “last chance before we end up with an irreversible situation” calling for an “integrated approach to forestry, agriculture, fisheries, water and energy”.

greenpeace fishingTalking of fishing ……  Greenpeace is taking the UK government to court over fishing quota saying “Who should be first in line to get fishing quota? We think it should go to those who fish sustainably. And hard-won reforms to EU fishing laws now gives our government a mandate to do just that. But the UK government is failing to take action. Instead, they’re keeping the status quo, and favouring the industrial fleet instead” . Read more here…/greenpeace-comes-to-the-aid-  … and like/share if you agree that fishing should be low-impact and support the UK economy.




9.30 – 10.00 REGISTRATION



Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director of Hay Festival discusses what they are doing to crack the more difficult sustainability issues associated with festival management. Exploring issues and solutions for the festivals waste, transport, energy and procurements.


Waste and resources expert Ed Cook updates us of the latest regulations and applications for managing waste, and takes a candid look at the ‘green wash’  that still exists in the industry.


How can events seek not only reduce their waste, but create value from any excess? Experts in the field share their knowledge and experience, as well as launching the new food waste salvation project for festivals by Fareshare SW, National Caterers Association and A Greener Festival.

11.35 – 11.50 COFFEE BREAK

11.50 – 12.15 KEYNOTE SPEECH: BEN HARDY (BRISTOL GREEN 2015) Bristol is Europe’s ‘Green Capital’ for 2015


Communication – How important is the communication of your successes and failures to a festival’s green agenda? Can use of “green” language discourage engagement in the entertainment industry for fear of “hypocrisy” backlash. It’s time to change the conversation and push things forward.


13.20 – 14.20 LUNCH



Ruth Daniels presents this project of In Place of War which co-creates cultural spaces in the most under-resourced communities in the world, working where others do not. To date, it has collected over £120,000 worth of unused musical instruments and studio equipment from the UK. By shipping them to groups around the world, they aim to empower local people to make their own opportunity and change. Change The Record also mobilses musicians, records albums and makes sustainable festivals in the places we work. Their current projects are in the oldest township in Zimbabwe – Makokoba; the biggest favela in Rio – Rochina; and the middle of remote jungle in DR Congo – Kisangani.


Social Impact and the wider reach of Sustainability. Without an ecosystem to support life there are no social issues to consider, but the reality is the impacts of environmental changes are felt hardest by the poorest, and the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Without care for our social structures, our relationships and our communication, the environment will continue to degrade. Events are pivotal for our social needs, and often social changes, both now and throughout history. How can we, and how are we using this tool to it’s greatest effect?

15.30 – 15:50 COFFEE BREAK


Rob Scully takes us on a journey through the “David” approach to the “Goliath” task of managing Glastonbury Festivals sustainability plans and actions. Can we influence audience behaviour by changing their experience on site? Topics will include campsite waste, recycling and customer behaviour, public transport Initiatives, sustainable market trading, elimination of single use plastic and re-use.


How do you influence audiences to more sustainable behaviours?There is a growing view that audiences will change behaviours where they see a “value” either  to themselves and or to others. This doesn’t just apply to environmental issues but also to engagement with social impact schemes. What do we mean by value. What examples can we point to where “value” has been added and behaviours have changed. This session will look at both the theory behind these questions and  some examples where this approach has proved successful.

GET YOUR TICKETS – Green Events & Innovations 2015, ILMC, London.



tigetwikiFinally some good news for tigers – one of our most beautiful and most endangered species. Hunting and poaching (to feed the demands of chinese ‘medicine’) has decimated the tiger population across Asia, but now India has said that there has been a 30% increase in wild tiger numbers – up to 2,226 this year from 1,706 in 2010. Still woefully tiny, but better and India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar called the rise a ‘huge success’ after intensifying efforts to stamp out poaching and re-introduce tigers to areas where they had been wiped out, and halt the steady destruction of their natural habitat.

And in South africa, 100 rhinos have been moved to new and secret locations in neighbouring states. South Africa has some 80% of the world’s remaining rhino population and is at the epicentre of the poaching crsis – it lost 1,215 animals last year, a 20% rise on 2013.

Climate change may be wiping out California’s famous big trees which are dying off faaster than ever. More than half of the state’s redwoods, ponerroas pines and other giant trees have died in less than a century. The trees are more susceptible to high temperatures and water shortages than smaller trees.

The symbolic doomsday clock moved to three minutes before midnight because of the gathering dangers of climate change and nuclear proliferation, signalling the gravest threat to humanity since the throes of the cold war. It is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1984, when arms-control negotiations stalled and virtually all channels of communication between the US and the former Soviet Union closed down. The scientists who set the clock say world leaders have failed to face up to the dangers of climate change and the risk of a ‘potential catastrophe’. US scientists say 2014 was the hottest on record. Nasa and Noaa scientists reported that 2014 was 0.07F (0.04C) higher than previous records and the 38th consecutive year of above-average temperatures. That didnt stop the US Senate from viting that climate changeis NOT caused by human activity. The Senate voted virtually unanimously that climate change is occurring and not, as some Republicans have said, a hoax – but it defeated two measures attributing its causes to human activity. Only one Senator, Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, voted against a resolution declaring climate change was real and not – as his fellow Republican, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma once famous declared – a hoax. That measure passed 98 to one. But the Senate voted down two measures that attributed climate change to human activity. “Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will,” Inhofe told the Senate. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.” CLIMATE CHANGE IN PICTURES.


The Guardian reports on illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean: “Staying hidden behind sea ice and large waves, sailors aboard a navy patrol boat from New Zealand sneaked up on three suspected poaching ships, then took photos and video of the fishermen hauling in prized fish in banned nets from the ocean near Antarctica. Seemingly caught red-handed, the crews of the rusting vessels just kept on fishing. Authorities say this month’s high-seas confrontations, and the detailed evidence collected, mark a first in Antarctic waters, where regulators have long suspected poaching activities but have found them difficult to police in an area that’s roughly the size of the continental United States. It is a huge illegal business. Each of the ships could hold more than $1m worth of Antarctic toothfish, marketed in North America as Chilean sea bass.” More here.

spirit science

Fossil fuel companies have taken up majority positions in key renewables trade groups steering them towards a pro-gas stance that influenced Europe’s 2030 clean energy targets, industry insiders claim. Big energy firms such as Total, Iberdrola, E.On and Enel have together adopted a dominant position in trade bodies such as the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Their representatives now constitute a majority on both group’s boards. Officials in EPIA were told to argue for a renewable-gas alliance as the answer to Europe’s energy security concerns, while EWEA lowered its 2030 clean energy ambitions by a third, according to ex-staffers, renewables experts and policy insiders. They argue that the more pro-gas stance influenced the 2030 climate targets adopted by EU governments last year.


The former Tory environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, has called for a ban on fracking in the UK ahead of a report by an influential committee of MPs that is expected to conclude fracking could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The intervention by Spelman, a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, comes as the UK government’s drive for fracking came under heavy political attack.



Live Earth 2015 announced for 18th June

live earthEight years after the inaugural Live Earth, co-founders Al Gore and Kevin Wall will revive their campaigning worldwide festival in 2015 in the lead-up to this year’s UN climate change conference in Paris. Wall and Gore announced the details of Live Earth 2015 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where they were joined onstage by Pharrell Williams, who will serve as Live Earth’s creative director.

Live Earth will unite voices from around the world to deliver a single message to world leaders to reach a binding agreement to tackle climate change at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. On June 18, Live Earth concerts will take place across the world, on six continents on one day, reaching over 2 billion people across more than 190 countries with shows in Paris, New York, Brazil, South Africa, China and Australia and one act will play a seventh concert on Antarctica.

LeeFest rests to grow, Sonisphere has no acts to show, Barcelona Metal clobbered by VAT and fees, but Kendal Calling to grow and grow

leefestLeeFest is to take a year off in 2015 before moving to a new, bigger site in 2016. Headlined in 2014 by Frightened Rabbit and The Cribs, the festival has grown in size in it’s 8 years from a party in organiser Lee Denny’s back garden to a 2500 capacity weekender with camping. Upon confirming that the event will be taking a fallow year, Lee Denny said in a statement: “After an amazing five years the event has outgrown its current home at Highams Farm, and the time has come to move on”. He continued, “We’re gutted that we won’t get to see you all this summer, but this will serve to make LeeFest all the more awesome. The festival is still being run entirely by volunteers, despite its unbelievable growth, so we often don’t get a chance to work on the big picture stuff. This is a unique opportunity for us to make LeeFest more sustainable, more creative and even more ambitious in the long term”.

Sonisphere2014The promoters of Sonisphere have confirmed that there will be no UK edition of the metal fest this year, after failing to secure suitable headliners to lead the event. The 2012 UK edition of Sonisphere was cancelled , as was 2013 in the UK. but last summer Iron Maiden, Metallica and The Prodigy headlined a special edition designed to celebrate 40 years of rock music at its English base Knebworth Park. In a statement organisers said “Team Sonisphere reluctantly confirm that Sonisphere will not take place in the UK in 2015. We’ve been working hard to get a line-up that we felt was good enough but also on a weekend which would avoid other events that we know rock fans would want to support” addeding “Unfortunately our last irons in the fire have just been extinguished and it’s clear that we won’t be in a position to run the event this year. We’ve said in the past that Sonisphere will only go ahead if we feel it is going to be good enough and that hasn’t changed. We hope all rock fans have a great summer with all the festivals and concerts already in the calendar and we plan to see you all in 2016”.

BarcelonaMetalFest2014And the Barcelona Metal Festival has announced that it will also not take place in 2015. Launched last year, with its first edition headlined by Within Temptation, organisers have blamed the ever increasing artiste fees and Spain’s high VAT rate for the cancellation. A statement on the event’s website reads: “The conditions were not favourable for us to be able to hold this second edition in 2015 in the manner we would have liked. The proliferation across Europe of festivals of this genre, the increase in the fees of many bands and the fact that Spain has the highest rate of VAT in Europe on the price of a ticket (21%), means that our offers were not sufficiently attractive for artists of the calibre required by BMF”. The event had been set to take place on 13 Jun. Organisers say that they hope to return in 2016.

All the bad news needs some good news in reply – and a NEW festival has launched in the UK! Bestival’s Rob de Bank has announced a June event for Southampton called Common People – with Fatboy Slim and Band of Skulls already on the bill.

kendalKendal Calling has been given the go-ahead to grow its capacity to 35,000 over the next three years following the withdrawal of objections ahead of an Eden Council licensing committee meeting which was due to be held today. A spokesman for Eden Council confirmed late yesterday that an agreement had now been reached between the organisers and the local authority’s environmental health department which had resulted in a slight amendment to some of the conditions. The festival will start at 5pm on Thursday, 30th July, as opposed to noon, and will continue until Sunday, 2nd August. The capacity can rise from the current 20,000 capacity by 5,000 each following three years to 35,000.

And well done Kendal calling for a great rail offer with Virgin. Way to go to Cumbria!

virgin kendal


Orangutan3-226x300Do you want to know about the link between those morish snack devils Doritos, the destruction of our rain forests and palm oil production? Well campaign group SumofUs have produced a rather amusing video. It IS amusing,  but it doesn’t have a happy ending. Rainforests across Southeast Asia are being destroyed every day to make way for massive palm oil plantations, where workers, even children, are trapped in modern slavery to cultivate the vegetable oil. The clearing of these rainforests and peatlands are driving many species like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger to the brink of extinction, while also polluting the Earth’s atmosphere by releasing gigatons of greenhouse gases. Dorito’s parent company PepsiCo buys 427,500 tonnes of palm oil ever year – lets ask PepsiCo to act responsibly towards Palm Oil production: more at and SumofUs has launched an advertising campaign which features posters on UK buses and the online video (called A Cheesy Love Story – the Ad Doritos Don’t Want You To See), backed by a ‘five figure ad-buy”.  The ad is also scheduled to undermine Doritos’ high-profile ‘Crash the Superbowl’ campaign, which offers a member of the public a chance to create an advert to be aired during America’s most watched television event. “We’re calling on PepsiCo to stop using irresponsible palm oil in its products because it comes at a terrible human and environmental cost,” said SumOfUs senior campaigner Hanna Thomas. In response, PepsiCo told edie: “It is no surprise that SumofUs’ continual mischaracterizations of our palm oil commitments are patently false and run counter to the positive reception our policies have received from expert organizations in this arena. “PepsiCo has repeatedly stated that we are absolutely committed to 100% sustainable palm oil in 2015 and to zero deforestation in our activities and sourcing.

rainforestwikiAnd in South America,  the surge in the price of gold has led to increased deforestation of the Amazon and other South American forests, according to a new study of mining impacts. With the rewards now higher than the risks, small scale garimpeiros – artisanal miners – are flocking into protected areas to extract the precious metal from low-grade seams under the tropical forest that were previously unprofitable, says the paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

farmlandGM crops could be speedily brought to the UK market after MEPs voted to allow countries to choose whether to grow the crops . The new EU law, which comes into force this spring, will allow states to cultivate GM crops that have already been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa). According to Sarah Cundy, the UK’s head of GM policy and regulation, that could happen quickly. “We now expect to see GM maize 1507 get its final authorisation in the near future, and new applications should be approved much more quickly than has been the case until now,” she said in an email to the National Farmers Union. UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss has thrown her weight behind genetically modified (GM) food, saying the technology can have a positive environmental impact. Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, South West Norfolk MP Truss said that GM crops – which are largely banned in the UK – have an important role to play. “If you look at what has happened in the US, crops are being grown in a more environmentally friendly way with less water usage and less pesticide usage,” she said. “I would like us to have that opportunity. Our farmers need access to technology that will help them work in world markets.”

Biofuels produced with low or no risk of indirect land use change (ILUC) could contribute significantly to achieving the European Union’s 2020 climate and energy targets in transport. That’s according to a new study published by researchers from the University of Utrecht, suggesting that ILUC can be mitigated if the right practices are put in place – especially when biofuels are produced from crops grown as a result of increasing agricultural crop yields on under-utilised land. ILUC occurs when biofuels are produced on existing agricultural land and the demand for food crops remains, leading to the production of food elsewhere. This may result in land use change by, for example, changing forest into agricultural land which causes a substantial amount of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.

FrackOffOur good friend Hannah tells us: Oh no! Apparently Leeds is earmarked for fracking! If the trespass law is changed, as the government want it to be, then they could be drilling under my bloody house! I’ve just written to tell them that I don’t want my land trespassed on and criminally damaged… If you live in leeds please do the same.  And indeed the the government is trying to change the law, so big energy firms can drill for gas under our homes without asking us. But together we can stop these plans in their tracks. To change the law, they need MPs to vote for it in parliament. And the vote’s in just a few weeks. Let’s make it clear that backing dirty energy companies over constituents would be a toxic move. A huge people-powered petition against the plans – which we can hand-in to our MPs – will make sure all MPs know the way they should vote. Will you stand up for your home – and everyone elses? The government can’t be allowed to pass a law changing the trespass act for their own financial gains, and the financial gains of the oil companies, at our expense. It’s criminal! so write to your MP – and 38 Degrees have set up a petition which you can sign online telling MPs “74% of the public in Britain are against changes to trespass laws that would allow fracking companies to drill under homes without permission. I urge you to oppose government plans to change the law and vote against them when you have the chance.” Click here to sign the petition and more on the big debate about fracking in the Observer newspaper here “A county divided: is Lancashire ready for its fracking revolution?

Let’s not forget what Nestlé’s Chairman of the Board, Peter Brabeck, said was his philosophy to the concept of a basic human right to water : “The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.” More here.

Pope Francis has waded into the global debate about climate change, saying that he believed that man was primarily responsible and that he hoped this year’s Paris conference would take a courageous stand to protect the environment. The Pope said his long-awaited encyclical on the environment was almost finished and that he hoped it would be published in June, in time provide food for thought ahead of the UN climate meeting Paris in November.

Clean energy investment bounced back strongly in 2014, totalling $310bn, the highest amount since 2011 and a year-on-year growth of 16%. The figure – which represents a 500% increase on 2004 – was boosted by newly competitive large-scale and rooftop solar PV, and a record number of offshore wind projects, according to the report from London-based analyst Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Solar accounted for almost half of total clean energy investment in 2014, its highest share ever. Last year, solar attracted funding worth $149.6bn, up 25% on 2013. But the recent collapse in the price of oil may change that: On 20 June 2014, the price of crude oil stood at $115 a barrel. On 12 January 2015, the price has crashed to $48 a barrel, leading commentators – including Sir Richard Branson – to suggest clean energy will be damaged as suppliers abandon renewables in favour of cheap oil. However, reports that industry analysts have responded by saying that oil price fluctuations, at worst, will have a minimal effect on renewables and, at best, could benefit the industry, which is bigger and more resilient than ever before. Indeed, an overlooked storyline is that the mushrooming renewable energy industry is actually contributing to oil’s price plunge. Along with efficiency measures and shale gas, renewables have helped dampen demand for oil by about half a million barrels in the US alone since 2006.

Large-scale wave energy is comparatively more reliable, consistent and potentially cheaper than other forms of energy generation, including wind power. That’s according to a new report, published in the journal Renewable Energy, which claims that wave energy in high-resource areas such as the Pacific Northwest will have fewer problems with variability than other energy sources.  Moreover, the short-term generation capacity of wave energy can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy, and any potential variability could be further reduced if its implementation was balanced over a larger geographic area, according to the report.  More here.

droughteastafricaHumans are “eating away at our own life support systems” at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years by degrading land and freshwater systems, emitting greenhouse gases and releasing vast amounts of agricultural chemicals into the environment, new research has found. Two major new studies by an international team of researchers have pinpointed the key factors that ensure a livable planet for humans, with stark results. Of nine worldwide processes that underpin life on Earth, four have exceeded “safe” levels – human-driven climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans due to fertiliser use. More on the Guardian here.

We may be seriously underestimating the true cost of climate change. A new study says that the economic cost of each tonne of carbon emissions may be six times higher than the value the USA government uses as a a guide to its energy regulations. The Stamford University study says the economic cost of each tonne of carbon is $220, not $37 as previously thought.

Harvard has newly invested tens of millions of dollars in oil and gas companies, rebuffing campaigners’ demands to sever the wealthy university’s ties to the companies that cause climate change. The university’s refusal to withdraw an $32.7bn endowment from fossil fuels has frustrated campaigners and resulted in a law suit brought by seven Harvard students. The university – the world’s richest – is due to appear in court next month.

Billions of pounds of public money is to be spent supporting ‘green’ boilers, despite evidence from the government’s own experts and industry that they will do little to help the UK meet its clean energy targets. A study by the Department of Energy and Climate Change found that biomass boilers in the non-domestic sector were around 10-20% less efficient than expected. Those boilers account for 90% of payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the government’s flagship scheme to encourage a shift to low carbon heating.

Also in the UK, the first battery-powered train to run on Britain’s rail network in more than 50 years will carry its first passengers this week. The modified Class 379 Electrostar train – also known as an Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU) – is part of a project to roll out a fleet of quieter, more efficient battery-powered trains. The project, co-funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), contributes to Network Rail’s commitment to improve sustainability, reduce its environmental impact and reduce the cost of running the railway by 20% over the next five years.

And the UK waste and resources industry has condemned a ‘disappointing’ Government response to a report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) which criticised Defra for ‘stepping back’ from waste. The original Waste Management report from EFRA, released in October, expressed concern that the 2020 EU target of 50% household recycling will not be met in England without clear Government leadership, renewed policy drivers and support from Defra, to which the Department replied that it would “respond to the report in due course”.

European water companies could soon benefit from a new circular economy innovation which will enable them to recover humic acid – a valuable fertiliser Humic acid is currently discharged as a waste product during the drinking-water blanching process, but Dutch water firm Vitens has developed a way to recover it in its pure fertilising form, and wants to bring the circular process to the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. Ms Lieve Declercq, chair of the Vitens executive board said: “Thanks to the sustainable usage of humic acid, we are able to reduce the use of artificial fertiliser and phosphates in agriculture and horticulture.

greens beatAnd finally,  Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett has responded furiously to the decision by Ofcom to exclude the Greens from its list of ‘major parties’ (and the televised TV debates) ahead of the General Election in May, claiming that it ‘risks doing damage to British democracy.’ In its consultation, the media industry regulator said: “The [Green] Party has not demonstrated significant past electoral support in General Elections. “The Green Party has performed better in some other forms of election, such as the 2014 European Parliamentary elections, obtaining 8% and 8.1% of the vote in England and Scotland – and numerous postings on FaceBook pointed out that that the Greens had more members than either UKIP and now exceeds membership of the LibDems.

Cash for Containers Campaign


More of our green winners at the European Festival Awards

Three more festivals picked up their Greener Festival Award 2014 certificates at the European Festival Awards in Groningen, Holland, on the 14th January with OyaFestivalen (Norway) and Ilosaarirock (Finland) both picking up their ‘Outstanding’ Awards and Northside (Germany) picking up their ‘Highly Commended’ Award from European Festivals Awards host and A Greener Festival co-founder Ben Challis.

Denmark’s Roskilde Festival picked up the GO (Green Operations) Award in the main Festival Awards Europe for their campaign against food waste

Ilosaarirock collect their Award

Ilosaarirock collect their Award

Katri seems pleased!

Katri seems pleased!

The Oya Team collect their Award

The Oya Team collect their Award

Well done Northside!

Well done Northside!