ANOTHER PLANET?

FRACKEDPlanning decisions on the UK’s full scale fracking have been deferred for eight weeks by Lancashire county council (LCC), which was due to decide this week on two proposals from shale gas explorer Cuadrilla. But after council planning officers recommended last week that permission should be refused on the grounds of “unacceptable” noise and heavy truck traffic, Cuadrilla submitted revised proposals. LCC’s chief legal adviser said on Wednesday that these proposals were “substantive” and therefore had to go out to public consultation.

Our good friend Bruce said this on Face Book about the recent fracking vote which was substantially won by David Cameron and George Osbourne’s need for greed : “Well the vote has come through in favour of Fracking! So now it is going to be financed by our taxes, profits going to the shale companies and commissions going to their corrupt MP’s, local councils will have to support shale requirements to suppliment their annual budgets and/or face being sued for lack of profit by shale companies if the don’t let fracking happen in their council!!!”. He is SO right.

scotlandnofrackBut Fergus Ewing, the Scottish minister for energy, has now told the Scottish Parliament “I’m announcing today a moratorium [open-ended ban] on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments.” There’s still work to do to turn this temporary ban into an outright ban, but for now this is brilliant news! Well done safe and sensible Scotland!

shellShell, the Anglo-Dutch oil company, will cut its spending by $15 billion over the next three years – but not because of any public understanding of the problems caused by greenhouse gas emissions and climate change – just because the price of crude oil has collapsed by 60%. The group will scale back or cancel 40 planned oil and gas projects – but will spend another $1 billion on its first drilling programme in the Arctic – which has been marred by environmental fines and accidents.  Shell is also set to confront the risk that climate change may pose to its future, after backing a resolution from activist shareholders. The resolution, filed by 150 investors who control hundreds of billions of pounds, requires the oil major to test whether its business model is compatible with the pledge by the world’s nations to limit global warming to 2C. The 2C target means only a quarter of existing, exploitable fossil fuel reserves are burnable, according to a series of recent analyses. That implies trillions of dollars of oil, gas and coal held by investors could become worthless and that continuing exploration for fossil fuels may be pointless.

A new global pact on climate change, due to be signed this year in Paris, should be a “Magna Carta for the Earth”, Prince Charles has urged. He said this year marked potentially the “last chance” to save the world from the perils of global warming, with the Paris conference and the United Nations’ plan to replace the millennium development goals with a new set of sustainable development targets. “We simply cannot let this opportunity go to waste. There is just too much at stake, and has been for far too long.” He told a meeting of forestry and climate experts in London: “In the 800th anniversary year of the Magna Carta, perhaps this year’s agreement of the new sustainable development goals and a new climate agreement in Paris should be seen as a new Magna Carta for the Earth, and humanity’s relationship with it.”

The world can enjoy higher standards of living and more travel, while drastically cutting emissions to avoid dangerous climate change – but only with sweeping changes to our infrastructure, the natural world and agriculture, a new analysis has found. The UK government analysis also assumes that billions of people will remain in dire poverty at mid-century, despite efforts to lift them to greater prosperity, as the population rises to an estimated nine billion people. Dealing with greenhouse gas emissions will require a transformation of electricity generation, including an expansion of renewable energy and nuclear power, as well as more public transport and changes to the built environment, according to the key findings of the Global Calculator, an online software tool developed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with partners. DECC says the UK has reinforced its ‘leading position’ on climate change ahead of Paris 2015 with the launch of the  new tool to help businesses and governments understand the environmental impacts of energy and emissions policies.

suslive-headFor the first time, edie will be hosting an Innovation Zone at Sustainability Live 2015 to showcase the best emerging, pre-commercialised sustainability solutions.   The Innovation Zone will showcase 16 selected entries to an invited audience of potential investors and venture capitalists along with the show’s visitors from the business and public sectors.  Edie are looking for emerging products, technologies and solutions in the energy, waste, water and cleantech space which are yet to be commercialised but have reached trial or prototype stage. ENTER ONLINE HERE.

The number of monarch butterflies that reached wintering grounds in Mexico has rebounded 69% from last year’s lowest-on-record levels, but their numbers remain very low, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The impact of China’s clean air and renewable energy policies are beginning to have an impact on the country’s coal industry, according to reports suggesting domestic coal production fell last year. State media reported that coal production fell in 2014 for the first time this century, with production totalling 3.5bn tonnes between January and November representing a 2.1% fall on the same period in 2013.

australiatemprpedictionsThe Guardian reports that Australia could be on track for a temperature rise of more than 5C by the end of the century, outstripping the rate of warming experienced by the rest of the world, unless drastic action is taken to slash greenhouse gas emissions, according to the most comprehensive analysis ever produced of the country’s future climate. The national science agency CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have released the projections based on 40 global climate models, producing what they said was the most robust picture yet of how Australia’s climate would change. The report stated there was “very high confidence” that temperatures would rise across Australia throughout the century, with the average annual temperature set to be up to 1.3C warmer in 2030 compared with the average experienced between 1986 and 2005.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey has admitted that the UK is in danger of missing renewable heat and renewable transport targets for 2020. In an effort to comply with a legally binding EU target to source 15% of energy from renewables, the UK has set itself subtargets of 30% of electricity from renewables, 12% of heat, and 10% of transport fuel. While the UK is on track to hit its electricity targets, Davey said there was work to do on heat and transport.  Renewables supplied just less than 18% of electricity in the first three quarters of 2014, while biofuels accounted for around 4% of all road fuel in the same period. The most recent figures edie could find for heat (2012) suggested that just 2.3% of the UK’s heat comes from renewable source

Edie.net reports that European countries should be given binding targets for installing technology to capture and store carbon emissions, according to a new report for the European commission The UN’s climate science panel says such technology could have to account for over a fifth of the world’s carbon cuts by 2050 and the new paper, produced by consultants for the EC, says there is a “genuine and urgent” need for it in Europe.  Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an experimental technology that traps emissions produced at power plants to reduce their contribution to climate change.

FOOD WATE2A cross-party group of MPs has urged the UK Government to provide WRAP with ‘sufficient public funding’ for it to maintain momentum in its food waste reduction programmes. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) made the announcement in a report it published, today (22 January), entitled ‘Food security demand, consumption and waste’.  Due to the Government’s Spending Review, WRAP has seen its funding cut from £48.1m in 2010-11 to £17.6m in 2014-15. Funding for 2015-16 is anticipated to be £15.5m. However, WRAP has recently achieved charitable status, which could allow it access to wider funding such as from trusts and charities.  WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment Phase 3 has seen 80% more food being redistributed by retailers and food manufacturers, and a 4.5% reduction of the carbon impacts of packaging in its first year. The organisation released the first-year results of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3 – a voluntary agreement supporting retail businesses to improve their overall performance and reduce their environmental impact.   Food waste prevention efforts have seen food donations rise from 21kt in 2012 to 38kt in 2013, and companies are well ahead of a 2015 target of zero increase in the carbon impact of packaging; through reductions in packaging, an increase in recycled content and the use of different materials.

UK wind energy broke new records for monthly, weekly and half-hourly generation in January, providing enough energy to power almost nine million UK homes.  New official figures from the National Grid reveal that 14% of Britain’s energy (4.1TWh) came from wind turbines last month. The weekly record was also broken with 1.119GWh generated, and the half-hourly record was exceeded on 2 January, when wind supplied 31% of the nation’s energy demands. Wind power output in Scotland got off to a “flying start” last month, generating enough energy to supply the electrical needs of 146% of Scottish households.

Sunday’s Super Bowl match, which was watched by more than 100 million people worldwide, was the first to be lit entirely by energy-efficient LED lights.  New York-based LED company Ephesus installed 312 new LED fixtures at the 72,000 seat University of Phoenix stadium, which played host to the Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The stadium’s new lighting system replaced 780 metal halide bulbs, saving 75-85% of power – almost a million watts. Ephesus Lighting’s president Mike Lorenz said the Super Bowl’s estimated global audience of 110 million people provided the perfect platform to showcase the LED technology.

Edie.net reports that  US President Barack Obama has released his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2016, featuring a $450m spending bump for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a new $4bn fund to encourage states to cut emissions from power stations. More than half ($239m) of the EPA funding boost will go towards the EPA’s Clean Power Plan which also tackles power plant emissions.  On renewable energy, the plan proposes to permanently extend a tax credit for wind energy and a tax credit for solar power, which together would cost the government $31.5 billion over the next decade. The President also pledged $7.4bn for clean energy and efficiency developments at the Departments of Energy and Defence.

droughteastafricaBelief in the reality of climate change and its human causes is at its highest level amongst the British public since 2005, having significantly risen in the past year following the recent storms and flooding.  A report by Cardiff University – Public perceptions of climate change in Britain following the winter 2013/2014 flooding – focused on people’s responses to the series of exceptional flooding events that affected the UK in late 2013 and early 2014. “Our findings demonstrate that an association between last year’s winter flooding and climate change has been forming in the minds of many ordinary people in Britain, who also view these events as a sign of things to come,” Cardiff University’s School of Psychology’s Professor Nick Pidgeon told Edie.net.

And finally but hopefully not terminally …..  The European Union climate chief Miguel Arias Canete says talks at the next major climate summit in Paris this year will not be a failure even if governments fail to keep warming below the dangerous 2C threshold. The comments, downgrading expectations for a strong outcome at Paris, suggest that the architects of a global climate deal are already resigned to the prospect that governments will fail to aim high enough when setting out their targets for cutting greenhouse gas emission in the coming months.

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