Monthly Archives: March 2015


detox-catwalk-420x309Greenpeace has  announced its Detox Catwalk, listing how major fashion brands rank on removing toxic chemicals from their supply chains and tackling water pollution.  As part of the four-year Detox campaign, fashion brands have had to commit tozero-discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 and require their suppliers to be transparent about water pollution incidents. The Detox Catwalk assesses how committed companies have performed against key criteria, including eliminating known hazardous chemicals from their products and moving towards full supply chain transparency.  The list has three categories; detox leader for those who have met their detox commitments, greenwasher for those who have only made partial progress, and detox losers for those companies who have not met their targets at all. Luxury British fashion house Burberry joined the campaign in 2014, and has thrown down the gauntlet to other luxury brands by making significant progress against its commitments, joining other recognisable UK highstreet brands such as C&A, Primark, Marks and Spencer and H&M on the list of ‘Detox Leaders’. Greenpeace identified sporting-giant Nike as a ‘greenwasher’, saying “the company is unwilling to embrace a transparency revolution across its global supply chain and still has not given a clear timeline to eliminate all PFCs in all its products.” Diesel, PVH, Only The Brave,  Giorgio Armani, Gap, Mango and D&G are amongst the shamed detox losers.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the best way to decarbonise British industry, according to a new report from the influential Green Alliance think-tank.  The report argues the Government should invest in large-scale CCS clusters as the most efficient way of reducing emissions. “To decarbonise industry, CCS is the only choice,” said report author Dustin Benton. “UK CCS deployment has been painfully slow to date, but creating industrial CCS clusters would cut carbon faster as well as cutting costs. Supporting clusters makes sense, whereas simply compensating energy-intensive industries for high carbon prices does not.” Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment.

Around 320,000 new electric vehicles were registered around the world in 2014, accounting for 43% of all electric vehicles currently on the road. The US is leading the charge, having added 117,000 electric cars, retaining the no. 1 spot for the world’s biggest fleet of e-vehicles.  The figures for China also spiked with nearly 54,000 new electric vehicles added, an increase of around 120%.  China’s fleet is the third largest in the world, just behind  Japan which saw a relatively muted 45% growth rate. The global growth rate was 76%.  And the resale value of electric cars will soon match their diesel counterparts, making them a more attractive proposition, experts have claimed.  Glass’s – a second-hand car valuator – said that the resale values of electric vehicles would continue to increase as the market becomes more accustomed to the technology.

droughtAnd more from China. The Chief of China’s Meteorological Administration, Zheng Guoguang, has said that China is suffering more acute effects from climate change than other countries. Chinas average surface temperature has increased by nearly twice the annual global average since the 1950s and the state news agency has warned that the country faces serious threats to food security, water resources, energy supply and economic development. Particularly at risk are crop yields, and the massive engineering projects that have defined China’s economic development such as the Three Gorges Dam and the south-north water diversion project.  Chinas economic losses from climate change run at eight times the global norm. Recently some Chinese states have begun to scale back heavy industry in the face of  toxic air pollution and the risk to food security and the need to feed the nation is seen as a top priority.

Longannet power station  in Fife looks – the ‘most polluting in Scotland’ – is set to close next year after losing out on a crucial National Grid contract to supply ‘voltage support’ services.  Owner Scottish Power had previously stated that the contract was its last hope of staying open, and the company today confirmed “in all likelihood” that it would close the station in March 2016. The £15m contract was instead awarded to the gas-fired Peterhead Power Station, in Aberdeenshire.According to a National Grid statement, Peterhead was selected thanks to its ability to provide system stability and resilience, and value for money for GB consumers.

orcaDodo tells us that SeaWorld, the much criticised family entertainment company much criticised for its treatment of captive orca whales is now facing a blizzard of derision oin twitter after it’s public relations team jumped blindly into the wild waters of the internet — only to be met with a virtual tidal wave of backlash, Using #AskSeaWorld, Twitter users can ask anything, and SeaWorld will post it on a central site. So far, the ones posted have been pretty tame; they include “How does SeaWorld care for their killer whales?” and “How long do killer whales live?” But on Twitter, it’s another story. A quick glance at the hashtag will give a pretty good idea of how Twitter is responding to the campaign – such as “#AskSeaWorld So it’s normal for a baby to be forcefully taken from it’s family & sent to a different country to live with abusive strangers?” and “#AskSeaWorld since when did money become more important than the care and safety of animals? #FreeTheWhales” and “When are you going to close already? #AskSeaWorld”. Orcas need to be in the sea – not a theme park.

cowsIs man’s obsession with meat and livestock a bigger problem than greenhouse gases produced by industrial and domestic use and generating energy? Is methane the planet’s worse nightmare? Have a look at the Cowspiracy – The Sustainability Secret:  which ends with the observation that most deforestation is to clear grazing land for animal agriculture and to produce soya to feed domestic animals:  its worth a watch reports that as part of the Budget, George Osborne has announced £60m funding to help UK companies develop and commercialise energy technologies of the future.  The flapship project to receive funding will be the Birmingham Energy Systems Catapult, which will initially focus on the improvement of energy networks – including heat, electricity and combustible gases. Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The Energy Systems Catapult will make Britain the best place in the world to develop new energy products and services, like local energy systems that can provide an alternative source of power to the national grid. “Locating the Catapult in Birmingham puts it right at the heart of a vibrant energy hub that will bring researchers and businesses together – a key component of bringing new and innovative ideas to market.”

And the Government has given the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) £200m to expand its investment portfolio into India and Africa. In a letter to Parliament, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said the joint venture with Decc would maximise the impact of UK climate aid.  “Unmitigated climate change will hit the poorest first and hardest,” said Davey. “It is vital that we use public climate finance to catalyse private investment into developing countries.” The GIB will focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, using the same framework as its UK operation: invest based on commercial viability and mobilise additional private sector finance.  The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is also one of three investors funding a first-of-its-kind £111m recycling and waste facility in Scotland. The Levenseat project will see a 12.5MW energy from waste (EfW) plant built alongside – and ultimately used to power – a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF).

Frozen food giant Iglo Group is investing £3.7m to launch a campaign encouraging people to freeze food to reduce waste across Europe.
Related articles. Iglo is teaming up with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in the pan-European iFreeze campaign which aims to inform customers on the benefits of freezing on a million occasions by 2020 through TV and print advertising, online tips and on-pack advice. Iglo hopes the campaign will reduce the €260 of food waste thrown away by every European household each year.

Flexible laminate packaging, such as food and drink pouches, could soon be included in existing household recycling schemes thanks to a new trial. The project, first announced in June 2014, is being funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Action Based Research programme in partnership with major food brands Nestlé UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola Enterprises. One aim is to determine best practise to increase the amount of flexible laminate packaging collected by testing different methods of engagement with residents. It should provide insight on how communication, customer behaviour and brands will influence collection rates.

FrackOffThe former chief of the Environment Agency is “hugely sceptical” on the prospects of fracking for shale oil in the UK, saying it is far from clear that the process should be used to extract quantities of oil from downlands in the south-east of England.  Lord Smith of Finsbury, better known as Chris Smith when he was a Labour MP and minister, said: “The environmental case for shale oil is much more adverse than for shale gas. It’s much more difficult to make the case for shale oil.” Smith chairs the taskforce on shale gas, an independent group funded by fracking companies to examine how shale gas exploration should be overseen, which on Wednesday advocated that a new single regulator should be put in charge of all inland gas and oil extraction in the UK, whether from shale fracking or other methods. And do you want to see what your local politicians think about fracking? The Frack Free Promise is supported by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Across the UK, they have been asking local  candidates in the may 7th general election to oppose fracking in their constituencies if they’re elected – have a look here!

UK,Businesses will soon be able to take solar panels with them when they relocate without losing subsidies, the Government has announced From summer 2019, medium and large building-mounted solar PV systems will be allowed to be moved between buildings without the loss of Feed-in Tariff (FIT) payments. Previously FiT payments ended when solar panels were relocated, meaning commercial tenants were unwilling to invest in renewable technologies.

The mining town of Broken Hill in Australia is fast running out of water. The widespread drought in Queensland and New South Wales, blamed on climate change, has drained the town’s water reserves so they may well run out by August. The area has experienced more frequent and more intense droughts.

Lobbyist and public relations consultant Dr. Patrick Moore, who has worked for pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto and others in the pesticide industry – and Greenpeace – has refused to drink a glass of Monsanto’s weed killer “Roundup” after labeling the substance safe to drink, saying he would be ‘stupid’ to do so, and then walking out on the interview calling the interviewer a ‘jerk’. It’s all on video!

And more of the same! Appearing before a Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation committee hearing, a local farmer received nothing but silence from the pro-fracking members of the board after he invited them to drink glasses of water tainted by fracking. In the video,  Nebraskan James Osborne used his 3 minutes before the committee to visually explain what fracking waste can do to the water table, dramatically pouring out water containing his own “private mixture” of fracking additives.

Cholita - the spectacled bear

Cholita – the spectacled bear

And finally – Cholita, An endangered Andean spectacled bear is awaiting an airlift to the U.S. after a brutal life in a Peruvian circus has left her maimed and bald. The bear was discovered two weeks ago during a surprise raid on a circus in north Peru by Animal Defenders International (ADI) – her teeth had been smashed in and her paws damaged and claws removed by the circus.  ADI now need to raise funds to send the bear to Colarado, in the USA, along with 33 lions and 25 monkeys in the largest airlift ever of freed performing animals. Remember – this bear should look like Paddington Bear – and Paddington athor Michael Bond has thrown his weight behind the campaign saying Cholita’s plight was a “Horrible story”. More on the fundraising here.  ADI began its Stop Circus Suffering campaign in South America in 2007 after an undercover investigation into the abuse of wild animals – whose use is now banned in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Columbia, El Salvador Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico.

When you do something eco-friendly and people say “oh thats so inspirational”: Well, “it shouldn’t be inspirational, it should be the norm”: Thank you

Live Earth – lets take real climate change action now

live earthAnnounced by climate change front-man Al Gore, music TV producer Kevin Wall and music legend Pharrell Williams, this event will revive the Live Earth template on June 18th to rally action on climate change.

From Sydney to Rio to Durban to Antarctica to New York and Beijing, Live Earth together with the United Nations will once again create a series of events over 24 hours on six continents. The hub of this global affair rightly comes from Paris at the Stade de France, the same city that will host the much anticipated United Nations conference five months later.

live-earth-2-300x214Ban-Ki Moon commented that “Live Earth ‘Road To Paris’ will bring us together, and amplify our voices. It will help us seize the opportunity of a low carbon future. We all have a role to play in building a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world for ourselves and for our children. I urge people everywhere to take climate action now.”

Live Earth 2015 will be broadcast across all major media platforms and its take-home message of inspiring climate action is bolstered by an online campaign to bring together a billion voices to deliver the strong message of the urgent need for action on climate change. People across the globe want climate action and when enough people demand it, leaders will take note. Live Earth 2015-Road to Paris seeks to harness and unite these voices to pressure leaders to agree bold emission targets later this year.


princeofewalesThe Prince of Wales has said that he is haunted  by images of dead sea birds killed by discarded  plastic in the oceans. In a speech where he focussed on the impact of waste on marine wildlife, Prince Charles said that eight million tonnes of plastic entered the oceans every year and half of all marine mammals now have plastic in their gut. The Prince went on to highlight the circular economy (where resources are recovered, re-used and recycled rather than being  designed to be discarded once used) and said “the circular economy is the solution, which speaking as a grandfather, we owe it to everyone’s grandchildren to grasp”.

The number of used wet wipes littering UK beaches has increased by 50% in the last year, according to the Marine Conservation Society. This is because many people put them down the toilet instead of in the bin, said the MCS. Rubbish on UK coasts rose by 6.4% from 2013 to 2014, it said in a report. The report – published as part of the MCS’s annual Great British Beach Clean – was based on litter found by more than 5,000 volunteers on 301 UK beaches, from 19 to 22 September last year. The MCS is calling on the government to implement a national marine litter action plan to address the main sources of rubbish in the UK’s seas, from the public, fishing, shipping and sewage-related debris. The government is currently consulting on the measures needed to meet EU standards on marine litter.

bluefin-tunaThe UK is to establish the world’s largest continuous marine reserve in waters around the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific, the government has said. While not mentioned in chancellor George Osborne’s speech, the new budget confirms that the government will go ahead with designating the ocean around Pitcairn – famous partly as the island where the mutineers of the Bounty settled – as a marine protected area (MPA). The zone is expected to ban commercial fishing, and will cover a 834,000 sq km (322,000 square miles) bio diverse area.

There is a writer in the Times newspaper called Matthew Ridley who usually drives me mad – writing blinkered and ill informed articles, usually littered with insults about climate change scientists and environmentalists, and singularly lacking in one thing – common sense. I only found out recently (a) he has a seat in the UK’s House of Lords as he is a hereditary peer – yes in the UK you can still be in Parliament by virtue of your birth – and (b) says this about his interests in coal mining “I have a financial interest in coal mining on my family’s land. The details are commercially confidential, but I have always been careful to disclose that I have this interest in my writing when it is relevant; I am proud that the coal mining on my land contributes to the local and national economy; and that my income from coal is not subsidized and not a drain on the economy through raising energy prices. I deliberately do not argue directly for the interests of the modern coal industry and I consistently champion the development of gas reserves, which is a far bigger threat to the coal-mining industry than renewable energy can ever be. So I consistently argue against my own financial interest.” HOWEVER – he has just penned a remarkably sensible piece on the threat to our oceans – its a shame its still peppered with ‘anti green’ rhetoric (he starts with ‘ignore the eco doom-mongers obsessed with climate change’) but rightly points out that over fishing is the biggest threat to our seas  – rightly pointing out that the fishing free for all in almost all of our oceans with species after species being fished to extinction or near extinction – and also points out that over fishing has far more impact than climate change on ocean acidification – and of course the negative effect over fishing on other species that feed on fish like puffins, kittiwakes and arctic terns (although then calls the ‘climate obsession’ a ‘red herring’ – ho ho ho). Ridley’s solution is technological – tracking all fishing vessels and investing in technology to police fishing – which surely are all desperately needed.

As Britain warms up there is an ever approaching risk – tropical disease such as malaria, dengue fever and west nile virus are all thriving further and further North and in Britain climate change and the growth of wetlands makes our environment more and more attractive to these diseases. Mosquitoes are spreading, and Malaria has already reached Greece – west nile has killed 1,900 people in the USA since 1999.

Greenpeace UK tells us that Costa Rica has been powered only by renewable energy for 75 days in a row! No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December last year. Cleaner, greener energy is possible.

sea_ice_polar_bearThe Huffington Post reports that Arctic sea ice this year is the smallest in winter since satellite records began in 1979, in a new sign of long-term climate change, U.S. data showes. The ice floating on the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole reached its maximum annual extent of just 14.54 million square kms (5.61 million sq miles) on Feb. 25 – slightly bigger than Canada – and is now expected to shrink with a spring thaw. “This year’s maximum ice extent was the lowest in the satellite record, with below-average ice conditions everywhere except in the Labrador Sea and Davis Strait,” the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said in a statement. A late season surge in ice was still possible, it said. The ice was 1.1 million sq kms smaller than the 1981-2010 average, and below the previous lowest maximum in 2011. With the return of the sun to the Arctic after months of winter darkness, the ice shrinks to a minimum in September. The U.N. panel of climate scientists links the long-term shrinkage of the ice, by 3.8 percent a decade since 1979, to global warming and says Arctic summertime sea ice could vanish in the second half of the century.

DRAX POWERAs news broke that the Gates Foundation, the charity run by Bill and Melinda Gates, who say the threat of climate change is so serious that immediate action is needed, held at least $1.4bn (£1bn) of investments in the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies, according to a Guardian analysis of the charity’s most recent tax filing in 2013, and the Guardian Reports that the Wellcome Trust has quietly sold off a $138m (£94m) investment in ExxonMobil, the oil giant which previously funded climate change denial, the Guardian can reveal. But the medical charity, which says “climate change is one of the greatest contemporary challenges to global health”, has refused to divest all its fossil fuel assets, the Guardian’s Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger has penned a article saying yes, that The world has much more coal, oil and gas in the ground than it can safely burn. That much is physics. Anyone studying the question with an open mind will almost certainly come to a similar conclusion: if we and our children are to have a reasonable chance of living stable and secure lives 30 or so years from now, according to one recent study 80% of the known coal reserves will have to stay underground, along with half the gas and a third of the oil reserves. If only science were enough. If not science, then politics? MPs, presidents, prime ministers and members of congress are always telling us (often suggesting a surrender of civil liberties in return) that their first duty is the protection of the public. Much more here.  Students occupied an administrative building at Oxford university  in protest at the university’s decision to defer a decision on whether to dump its shares in fossil fuels. Around 15 student activists peacefully occupied the Clarendon Building and unveiled a banner. One activist told the Guardian that two police vans and two squad cars arrived at the university. “There’s lots of police around. They’ve put two security guards inside here with us,” she said.

elephantAfrica: frontline of a ‘wildlife war’ that the world is losing’. This excellent article in the Observer by David Smith highlights the increase in poaching accross Africa and the somewhat limited actions being taken to combat the organised criminal gangs behind the trade in ivory, rhino horns and other animal parts. The illegal wildlife trade is thought to be worth £12 billion each year and has joined drugs, human trafficing and arms as one of the world’s biggest criminal rackets. And yet very few of those behind the trade ever face prosecution as corruption, political indecision and incompetence – although some countries like Tanzania and Botswana are starting to take real action to protrect what’s left of their wildlife, not least as the beneficial economics of tourism become ever clearer – and countries such as Thailand begin to fight back against end users – recently launching a campaign against ivory. More here.

The boss of BHP Bilton has said that carbon capture and storage could be a ‘goldmine’. Whilst its good to know Andrew Mackenzie is reacting to the problems of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, the problem is – that’s a short term fix as the oil, gas and coal producers clearly know – their business model is built on producing and burning fossil fuels, and now they want everyone else to pay for the pollution! A better solution? Look at the sky – the sun is up there ready to provide us with FREE energy! feel the wind. HArness the tides and the energy in rivers. Mackenzie thinks that the investment in carbon capture should be at the same level as renewable energy – here at AGF we think thats the wrong way round – carbon capyure and storage is surely a last gasp policy which asks the public to protect and fund the dangerously damaging and polluting fossil fuel industries.

An employee of Florida’s environmental protection department was forced to take a leave of absence and seek a mental health evaluation for violating governor Rick Scott’s unwritten ban on using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” under any circumstance, according to a complaint filed against the state. Longtime employee Barton Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed.]

The amount of carbon the Amazon’s remaining trees removed from the atmosphere fell by almost a third last decade, leading scientists to warn that manmade carbon emissions would need to be cut more deeply to tackle climate change. Trees in untouched areas of the forest have been dying off across the basin at an increasing rate, found the study, published in Nature. Meanwhile the tree growth produced by higher CO2 levels in recent decades levelled off. The authors said this may be because the Amazon’s seasonal weather variation had become more extreme. They also suggested more CO2 in the atmosphere was, counterintuitively, leading to trees dying younger. Dr Roel Brienen of Leeds University said the Amazon was responsible for one-fifth to one-quarter of carbon sequestered on land, so any decline in its efficiency as a carbon sink was of consequence to efforts to combat climate change.

short-haired_bee_masterEurope’s wild bee population is in dramatic decline with nearly one in 10 species facing the threat of extinction, according to the first ever assessment of all the continent’s nearly 2,000 bee species. Another 5.2% of bee species are likely to be threatened in the near future, while more than a quarter of species such as the European bumblebees are at risk of dying out, said the study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has  lifted the lid on Coalition in-fighting over green policies that provided cheap or free home insulation for tens of thousands of Londoners. In an interview with the Evening Standard, he accused the Conservatives of “panicking” when Labour leader Ed Miliband vowed to freeze energy bills in Autumn 2013 — triggering a dispute that went all the way up to the Coalition’s inner circle of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander. The Lib-Dem Cabinet minister said the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had repeatedly tried behind closed doors to block energy efficiency rules and wind power. Mr Davey said he thought the Prime Minister was torn between genuinely supporting green energy and pressure from Right-wingers, while some Tories had been “dinosaur-like, both on the back benches and in the Cabinet”.

Treehugger tells us that Taron Stead, a 17-year-old from Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, England, had just bought a new mountain bike. He went for a maiden ride to test it out, but unfortunately was hit by a car in the early morning rush hour. So far, so sadly banal. Accidents happen. But what happened next makes my blood boil: The silver-colored Ford (either a Focus or a Mondeo) that hit Taron stopped, a woman who was sitting in the passenger seat got out (the driver was male), told the bloodied teen that she had kids in the car, that they were late for school, and that she didn’t want his blood to upset them. Then she got back in the car and they left. They didn’t even ask if he was okay or left their information.

Levi-Strauss-wash-less.jpg.650x0_q85_crop-smartAnd more from Treehugger:  Levi’s have released a new Life Cycle Assessment for their jeans as part of an effort to promote more sustainable water usage. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a useful tool that looks at the different environmental impacts of a product. It follows the process from the very beginning where the raw materials are grown, mined or synthesized, through manufacturing and consumer use, to disposal or recycling. Levi’s has taken a number of steps to reduce its water footprint throughout the production chain, including working with the Better Cotton Initiative and introducing water saving and recycling processes to their manufacturing facilities. According to Stephen Leahy’s “Your Water Footprint,” it takes 7,600 liters of water to grow the cotton and manufacture a typical pair of jeans. According to Levi’s Life Cycle Assessment, a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans uses 2,835 liters of water for the same steps. Levi’s wants to promote the idea that you can wear your denim ten times or more before washing is needed.


Would Glad’s ‘trash bag tent’ solve festival waste issues AND left behind tents?

Glad-Tent-1-537x359California-based company Glad may specialize in dustbin liners and food storage containers, but they recently unveiled a brilliant one-person trash bag tent for camping, music festivals and other outdoor events. The concept was launched at the SXSW 2013 music festival in Austin, Texas, where tents were distributed to campers and festival attendees on the condition that they would use them after the festival as garbage receptacles for cleaning up their campsite.

Our good friend Holger Jan Schmidt commented on FaceBook “I’m not convinced as it stillmeans that these have to be distributed to all visitors and – most importantly – it promotes one-way-behaviour. And i am sure it needs much more resources and energy to produce them compared to a wastebag. Nevertheless, if we agree on “we can’t change the world and need to deal with the status quo” it looks like a rather smart way of doing so”.

But it still ends jup in the trash.

More here


BP_Petrol_Station“Our problem has a lot less to do with the mechanics of solar power than the politics of human power” …. “For a quarter of a century, we have tried the approach of polite incremental change, attempting to bend the physical needs of the planet to our economic model’s need for constant growth and new profit-making opportunities. The results have been disastrous, leaving us all in a great deal more danger than when the experiment began.” …. “it’s not too late to avert the worst, and there is still time to change ourselves… Because the thing about a crisis this big, this all-encompassing, is that it changes everything. …. It means there is a whole lot of stuff that we have been told is inevitable that simply cannot stand. And it means that a whole lot of stuff we have been told is impossible has to start happening right away.”  This extract  is taken from the Introduction to This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein,  where the author calls the climate crisis a civilisational wake-up call to alter our economy, our lifestyles, now – before they get changed for us noting “It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when an elite minority was enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s”.

February is one of the first months since before months had names to boast carbon dioxide concentrations at 400 parts per million. Such CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have likely not been seen since at least the end of the Oligocene 23 million years ago, an 11-million-year-long epoch of gradual climate cooling that most likely saw CO2 concentrations drop from more than 1,000 ppm. Those of us alive today breathe air never tasted by any of our ancestors in the entire Homo genus. Greater concentrations will be achieved, thanks to all the existing coal-fired power plants, more than a billion cars powered by internal combustion on the roads today and yet more clearing of forests. That’s despite an avowed goal to stop at 450 ppm, the number broadly (if infirmly) linked to an average temperature rise of no more than 2 degrees C. More likely, by century’s end enough CO2 will have been spewed from burning long-buried stores of fossilized sunshine to raise concentrations to 550 ppm or more, enough to raise average annual temperatures by as much as 6 degrees C in the same span. That may be more climate change than human civilization can handle, along with many of the other animals and plants living on Earth, already stressed by other human encroachments. The planet will be fine though; scientists have surmised from long-term records in rock that Earth has seen levels beyond 1,000 ppm in the past.

sea_ice_polar_bearPledges at this year’s climate summit to cut carbon emissions are likely to fall far short of the targets needed to avoid heating the planet by more than 2C. That is the stark conclusion of a report by a team led by British economist Nicholas Stern. The group, based at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, concludes that action planned by countries – in particular the European Union, the US and China – will still leave the world emitting 10bn tonnes of carbon a year in excess of levels needed to prevent global warming from having devastating consequences. “Intended national contributions will not be consistent with the international goal of limiting the rise in global mean surface temperature to no more than 2C,” states the report, whose publication follows Saturday’s climate action march in London which organisers say was attended by 20,000 people. Scientists say 2C is the maximum increase in temperature the world can tolerate without risking environmental mayhem – which could include rises in sea level, melting of the ice caps, drought in Africa, America and Asia, storms and ocean acidification. Loss of ice caps would lead to less solar energy being reflected back into space, while thawing tundra would release more methane and other greenhouse gases currently frozen in polar regions . Both processes could lead to even greater temperature rises. More on the Guardian website here.

A slowdown in China’s economic growth helped the world to a pause in the upward rise in greenhouse gas emissions last year, according to new data. China burnt less coal last year than expected, as the projected rise in its energy demand faltered along with the rise in its economic growth, and as the expansion of its renewable energy generation continued. Emissions of carbon dioxide related to energy use were flat in 2014, compared with the previous year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday. Previous pauses or falls in the upward march of global emissions, such as that experienced in 2009, were closely related to economic shocks.  The 100 global power companies most at risk from growing pressure to shut highly polluting coal plants have been revealed in a new report . Chinese companies dominate the top of the ranking but US companies, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, occupy 10 of the top 25 places.

giant-tortoise-galapagosFor the first time in more than one hundred years, researchers have found newborn baby tortoises on the tiny Galapagos island of Pinzón. It’s a major win for a population that has struggled after being nearly decimated by human impact. “We found ten tiny, newly hatched saddleback tortoises on the island early last month,” wrote a trio of researchers in the January 15th issue of the journal Nature. “There could be many more, because their size and camouflage makes them hard to spot. Our discovery indicates that the giant tortoise is once again able to reproduce on its own in the wild.” More on the Huffington Post.

Tara+Fitzgerald+fishloveOver fishing, primarily by French commercial trawlers to meet growing public demand,  is rapidly depleting Sea Bass stocks in the North Sea. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea recently advised that the sea bass catch should be reduced by 80% in the English Channel, Southern North Sea, Irish Sea and Celtic Sea. However despite a EU ban on large trawlers, worries remain about small British trawlers which use trammel netting which catch breeding fish which could cause the population to crash by 2018.  The Angling Trust has called for catch limit in UK territorial waters.

And another fishy tale. The owner of the Dutch super-trawler Frank Bonefaas has been allowed to keep the £437,000 it received from selling an illegal haul of mackerel that it had caught in a protected area of the South West of England- designed to protect juvenile fish from fishing. Fisheries Protection officers from HMS Severn boarded the 120M trawler in March last year and found the catch – and last week the master and owner of te trawler were fined just £97,000 with £5,000 costs at Bodmin Magistrates Court – effectively meaning they profited from their crime after being allowed to keep it by the Marine Management Organisation. The MMO had invited the court to impose a fine matching the value of the catch but it has chosen not to do so according to the Times (11.03.15).

The Mountain Pine Beatle is decimating vast tracks of Canada’s forests. Canada has the third most forests in the world (3,101,340 km2) after Russia (7,762,602 km2) and and Brazil ( 4,776,980 km2).

The 48MW Southwick Estate Solar Farm in Hampshire is now operating as the UK’s largest solar farm following grid connection earlier this week.  The project, which is generating enough renewable electricity to supply the equivalent of 14,500 homes, has overtaken the UK’s previous largest solar farm – the 46MW Landmead solar farm in Oxfordshire – by just 2MW of capacity.  And the UK’s ‘buoyant’ utility-scale solar market could soon be the third largest in the world, according to industry experts. In a new report, Wiki-Solar – an international commentator on utility-scale solar – found that the UK is currently the fifth-largest market in the world when it comes to utility-scale solar, which is defined as systems above 4MW, and the nation is set to embark on an installation spree in the coming months.

Two separate reports have shed light on the expected upsurge in electric vehicle (EV) demand, and the multitude of benefits that this market growth will bring to the UK’s environment, economy and health. The first report, by technology market analyst BCC Research, charts the expected growth of the global EV market until 2019, while a second report from Cambridge Econometrics outlines how such growth would boost the UK economy, reduce national emissions and therefore lessen effects on human health. More here.

Biomass combined with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) remains the only credible route to deliver negative emissions to help meet the UK’s 2050 climate change targets, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has reiterated.  The public-private partnership, which connects global energy and engineering companies such as BP, Rolls-Royce and Shell with the UK Government, has released a second report in the space of a month that stresses the importance of biomass to the UK’s future energy mix.The report builds on the ETI’s existing finding that not including biomass and CCS in the UK’s plans will double the cost of deliver a low carbon transition.

teaser313_bayer_bees_bundGreat news! German chemical giant Bayer has failed in its attempt to sue Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) over its claims that a pesticide, manufactured by Bayer, harms bees. This week a judge in Dusseldorf ruled that Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) had a right to voice its concerns about thiacloprid. Thiacloprid is a type of pesticide called a neonicotinioid. The European Commission banned 3 other ‘neonics’ – as they are often known – after damning findings back in 2013. Europe’s official food safety agency stated they posed a “high acute risk” to honey bees. Thiacloprid wasn’t among the banned neonics. It remains on sale in Germany, and in shops and garden centres here in the UK. There is evidence that it can make bees more likely to die from some common diseases – and can make it harder for them to find their way back to their hives. Friends of the Earth is now asking the European Commission to take a precautionary approach – suspend thiacloprid and review its safety.

China now has enough wind farms to produce more energy renewably than all that is made by America’s nuclear plants as the growing nation expands its power generation to fuel its new mega-cities. More here.

And a new poll has revealed that increased wind power capacity development in Scotland is not swaying support among Scottish adults, with it instead rising. More than seven in 10 adults polled in February 2015 by YouGov said they supported the continued development of wind power, rising from 64% in February 2013. Scottish Renewables said the capacity of onshore wind in Scotland has risen by 20% in the same period. Support was shown to be highest among Scots aged between 18-24, at 81%, and lowest among those aged 55 and older, but wind still receives support from two-thirds of that demographic.

Oxford University has deferred its decision on whether to divest fossil fuels from its £3.8bn endowment, saying the matter needed “thorough consideration”.

Mountain gorilla The boundaries of one of Africa’s oldest national parks, Virunga, may be re-drawn to allow a British oil company, Soco International, to drill for oil. The Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has already allowed test drilling and a leaked letter from the Prime Minister shows an apparent intention to to allow ‘minor modification’ to the National Park’s boundaries – the Park is home to the endangered mountain gorilla amongst many other animal species and plants.

Environmental group WWF has called on the EU to stop spending money trying to rejuvenate the current economy and instead reap the financial benefits of switching to a sustainable system.  The charity has published a new report, From crisis to opportunity: Five steps to sustainable European economies, to serve as a roadmap for European policymakers. Released ahead of a vote on Jean-Claude Juncker’s crucial €300bn economic stimulus plan, the report says the bloc would be better served focusing on the symptoms of the spluttering economy: diminishing natural resources and markets failing to take this into account. Damages from floods have cost more than €150bn over the past 10 years, air pollution costs around €537bn every year and EU industries import every year more than €300bn of raw materials no longer available in Europe, the report states.

A prototype toilet has been launched on a UK university campus to prove that urine can generate electricity, and show its potential for helping to light cubicles in international refugee camps.  Students and staff at the Bristol-based University of the West of England are being asked to use the working urinal to feed microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks that generate electricity to power indoor lighting. The project is the result of a partnership between researchers at the university and Oxfam, who hope the technology can be developed by aid agencies on a larger scale to bring light to refugee camp toilets in disaster zones.

The multifaceted landscape of sustainability reporting has become overwhelming for businesses and is leading to a general lack of engagement around CSR communication.  That was the argument put forward by Verity Lawson, sustainability reporting manager at British American Tobacco, at edie’s Smarter Sustainability Reporting conference in London. In a panel discussion featuring representatives from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and Global Compact Network, Lawson questioned the need for all of these sustainability reporting standards and frameworks.

The Five Green Laws are nailed to the front page of our manifesto,” proclaimed UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey as he announced further details of the green policies that the Liberal Democrat Party would implement if elected in May.  Davey and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg confirmed details of two green policies this week: to double the UK’s production of renewable energy by 2020 through a new Zero Carbon Bill and to extend the upcoming plastic bag charge to incorporate all single-use bags. Both policies fall within the party’s ‘Five Green Laws’ which it plans to introduce in the next Parliament. The Zero Carbon Britain Bill, which the Lib Dems would introduce after the general election, would “end UK’s adverse impact on climate change”, according to the party.

More from the UK:  Around 12,000 new UK homes are being built at flood risk every year due to a failing climate change adaptation plan, MPs have warned.  The Environmental Audit Committee released its analysis of the National Adaptation Programme (NAP), finding that “there is no sense we are tackling priority risks”.

gm crop 2A commercial greenhouse in Australia that grows tomatoes using desalinated water produced by solar-thermal technology will save 700 million litres of freshwater and 14,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year. Sundrop Farms, which supplies fresh fruit and vegetables to businesses across Australia, has secured £76m worth of private funding for the 20-hectare (0.2km2) greenhouse in Port Augusta, South Australia. Set for completion in 2016, the greenhouse will use desalinated seawater to grow crops. And the on-site desalination plant will be powered by concentrated solar-thermal technology (not solar PV panels). “As the world’s population continues to grow, Sundrop Farms is de-coupling food production from finite resources and relying instead on renewable resources to grow the world’s food industry, not just profitably, but sustainably,” Sundrop said in a statement.

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshipping.” Hubert Reeves

Join the Energy Revolution

GreeER_Logo_7ner Festival is a supporter of the Energy Revolution, an unprecedented collaboration to tackle climate change. When you buy your festival ticket this year at any of the member festivals, take part in history, by accounting for your travel impacts. By working together we can account for millions of miles of travel impacts helping to fund a festival wind turbine. Lets keep the party going, forever…

Energy Revolution is a festival initiative that crowd-sources donations and invests in clean energy to tackle climate change and create a sustainable future for everyone.

Audience travel makes up around 70% of a festival’s carbon footprint. Together we can account for millions of miles of travel, and turn a problem into a solution – renewable energy is the best chance we have to reduce global emissions to safe levels. 100% of donations will go directly towards producing clean and renewable energy forever, replacing dirty fossil fuels with wind and solar power.

Participating festivals are also tackling their energy by using renewables where possible, reducing energy consumption, and investing directly into renewable energy projects. Founding festivals include Bestival, Camp Bestival, Standon Calling, Boomtown, Kendal Calling, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness, Shambala Festival and Love Saves The Day.

Energy Revolution is currently partnered with The Converging World charity who operate wind turbines in the Tamil Nadu area of India replacing non-renewable ‘dirty’ energy from the national grid with clean, renewable wind energy, and increasing the quality of life for rural communities. As a festival community we can fund a huge 1-mega watt turbine in under 5 years! As a community of hundreds of UK festivals and over two million festivalgoers we can create change on a huge scale.

See the video here:

For more information visit the Energy Revolution website


power reports that the Conservative Party’s low-carbon ambitions were thrown into question as one of its MPs became embroiled in a row about the science of climate change and condemned further investment in renewables.  During a heated political debate which was supposed to focus on how the next Government will replace the UK’s polluting power stations with green alternatives, Peter Lilley took his time at the plinth to suggest that politicians of all parties – including his own – have “enormously exaggerated” the effects of global warming. The Hitchin and Harpenden MP said there is an “extraordinary arrogance” surrounding the true cost of developing and supporting renewable energy technology, pointing out that the potential costs of implementing the Climate Change Act could be twice the amount of the maximum financial benefits for the UK.

New limits on air pollution in Europe have been watered down because governments are allowing some of the worst polluters to help draw up the rules, according to a Greenpeace investigation. The Guardian has also learned that despite UK claims to the contrary, energy industry representatives repeatedly and forcefully pushed for weaker pollution limits at meetings in Brussels. As a result of ongoing lobbying, the proposed European Union standards on toxic emissions from coal plants will be less strict than in China, the green campaign group said. Greenpeace analysed the backgrounds of hundreds of representatives who have been appointed by governments to sit on a key official group that is formulating new limits on air pollution across Europe. It found that out of 352 members of the technical working group, 183 are either employed by the companies that are being regulated, or by lobby groups that represent those companies.

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans will suffer a premature death in the next two decades as the result of governments’ failure to act on air pollution, Europe’s environmental watchdog has warned. In 2011, the latest year for which figures have been reliably collated, more than 400,000 are estimated to have died prematurely as a result of breathing toxic fumes, despite recent improvements in some countries The UK has been one of the worst offenders, with government figures showing that European Union regulations on air quality will not be met in cities including London, Birmingham and Leeds until 2030.

SOLAR POWEROnshore wind projects are the big winners from the Government’s first Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, receiving more than half of the contracts.  In an announcement , the Government handed CfDs to 15 onshore wind projects, five to solar, three to Advanced Conversion Technologies (energy from waste), two to CHP and two to offshore wind. The CfDs – for large scale renewable projects – guarantee a ‘strike price’ for each MWh of power produced for the next 15 years. In total, 2.1GW of capacity has been procured, at a total cost of £315m.  Low-carbon energy sources supplied at least 35% of the UK’s electricity in 2014, according to figures released by Decc.  That’s up by around 3% over 2013; an increase driven by an 11% uptick in wind output.

And the UK’s Green Party leader Natalie Bennett says the labelling of the coalition as the ‘Greenest Government Ever’ has become a “sick joke” after four years of mixed political messages, failed green policies and a lack of urgency on the transition to renewable energy sources. Speaking to edie on Tuesday, Bennett said the UK has a “tremendously exciting opportunity” to develop a green economy, but more stable, long-term policies will be needed from the next Government to avoid falling behind the rest of Europe.

tigetwikiThe Duke of Cambridge has condemned the trade in illegal wildlife as a “vicious form of criminality” and said that China can be a global leader in the fight against it in a speech on the last day of his visit to China. Speaking at the Xishuangbanna Elephant Sanctuary in Yunnan Province, Prince William said: “it is appalling that elephants – and many others – may be extinct in the wild in our lifetimes”. The extinction of elephants and other animals such as rhinos and pangolins would be “an immeasurable loss to the whole of humanity,” he said.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) is calling on the next UK Government to make community energy a priority by removing the current barriers to the sector’s development. It has issued a seven point plan for action that would help community energy realise its full potential.  The environmental group says that community energy has the ability to be a driving force in the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Currently only half a gigawatt of energy in the UK is produced by community projects, compared to over 25 GW in Germany – almost 30% of its total energy generation mix. The current coalition Government introduced the UK’s first community energy strategy in January 2014. But the removal of financial incentives by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement is reportedly actively discouraging green energy community projects.

Europe is experiencing an explosion in health costs caused by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that is comparable to the cost of lead and mercury poisoning, according to the most comprehensive study of the subject yet published. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the human hormone system, and can be found in food containers, plastics, furniture, toys, carpeting and cosmetics. The new series of reports by 18 of the world’s foremost experts on endocrine science pegs the health costs of exposure to them at between €157bn-€270bn (£113bn-£195bn), or at least 1.23% of the continent’s GDP. More on the Guardian here.

lemurAround the world, animals that pollinate flowering plants are in decline. An increasing number of pollinating mammal and bird species are moving towards extinction, according to the first study of its kind. Other, so far unpublished studies, also suggest that pollinating insect species are also heading towards extinction. If these trends continue, say the studies’ authors, key species will be lost, with potentially significant impacts on how ecosystems function. The latest assessment is published in the journal Conservation Letters, by ecologist Eugenie Regan of the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, based in Cambridge, UK, and an international group of colleagues. In their research, the scientists point out that animals such as lemurs, bats and possums as well as birds such as the hummingbird and the honeyeater pollinate more than 87% of flowering plant species, and humans use many of these plants for food, livestock forage, medicine, materials and other purposes. More on the BBC here.

Large UK manufacturers could be forced to move their operations overseas if countries cannot agree a unilateral cap on emissions at the UN climate change conference in Paris.  That’s the view of Susanne Baker, senior climate and environment policy adviser at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF. Speaking exclusively to edie, Baker said that a global agreement would have a “truly profound effect” on British manufacturers. Calling for a level playing field she said “At the moment we are competing under regulations – which other countries don’t have – which needs to be overcome if we are to be globally competitive,” she said. “For industries that rely on trade and have heavy energy use as part of their manufacturing process, the only way to meet targets in future [without a global agreement] could be to shift manufacturing overseas.”

Google’s latest renewable energy investment will be providing almost half of a new $750m fund by SolarCity Corp to finance 25,000 residential solar projects, marking the technology giant’s largest renewable energy investment to date.  And Marks & Spencer (M&S) has completed the installation of the UK’s largest single-roof-mounted solar panel array at its East Midlands distribution centre.  The 24,272 PV panel system, which covers the site’s 900,000sq.ft roof, will generate over 5,000MWh of electricity per year – the equivalent amount of energy to power 1,190 homes.

Members of the indigenous Achuar tribe from the Peruvian Amazon have won an undisclosed sum from Occidental Petroleum in an out-of-court settlement after a long-running legal battle in the US courts. They sued the company in 2007, alleging it knowingly caused pollution which caused premature deaths, birth defects and damaged their habitat. It is the first time a company from the United States has been sued in a US court for pollution it caused in another country, Marco Simons, the legal director of EarthRights International, which represented the Achuar people in the lawsuit, said. It set a “precedent” which he said will be “significant for future cases and has already been cited by other courts in the United States”.

The EU could increase its carbon price tenfold without any real impact on international exports, academics have found. Researchers from the London School of Economics and the Grantham Research Institute found that increasing the EU carbon price from its current €7/tonne of CO2 to €65 would be equivalent to a 30% rise in energy prices for manufacturers. But such a cost increase would reportedly cause exports to fall by only 0.5% and imports to rise by 0.01%.

apple-on-branchBirmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) has become one of the first local businesses to send its food waste to Severn Trent Green Power’s £13 million anaerobic digestion (AD) plant.  The NEC expects to send 120 tonnes of food waste to Coleshill, which is only four miles away, annually.

Extending the product life of everyday foods by just one day could prevent 250,000 tonnes of food waste each year, according to the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP).  The waste charity released a report detailing five ways in which suppliers and retailers can easily extend the product life of everyday foods, including milk, chicken, and bread – without any ill-effect. Product life increases of just one day would save around 5% of the UK’s preventable food waste, with a benefit to consumers of around £500m. Retailers also stand to save £100m.

Tidal Lagoon Power has submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment scoping report for the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon, which would have a capacity of 1.8GW to 2.8GW.  The project will be the UK’s first full-scale tidal lagoon power plant, representing a major step towards the delivery of full-scale tidal lagoon infrastructure in the country. Tidal Lagoon Power expects to submit a full planning application for Tidal Lagoon Cardiff, which will include 90 turbines set within a 22km breakwater, in 2017. A decision is expected in 2018. The project follows the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon which was developed as a scalable pilot for the sector and is due to receive a planning decision by June 2015. More here.

el ninoA long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived. The US National Weather Service has now proclaimed the phenomenon is now in place. It​ involves a warming of a certain patch of the central Pacific that changes weather patterns worldwide, associated with flooding in some places, droughts elsewhere, a generally warmer globe, and fewer Atlantic hurricanes. El Niños are usually so important that economists even track them because of how they affect commodities although tis one appears weak and late and there may be a slight decrease in the number of Atlantic hurricanes this summer.