ANOTHER PLANET?

greenpeacePresident Obama has  approved Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic, helping Shell get one step closer to drilling in the Alaskan waters this year. Greenpeace say “Right now, Shell are desperately trying to avoid media attention as they put profits before the planet and prepare for potentially devastating Arctic drilling. So six volunteers are pursuing a Shell oil rig across the Pacific, on route to the Arctic drill site. They hope to shine a spotlight on Shell and show that the world is watching. But they will need our help. Join the Arctic movement and follow the journey of the six volunteers at http://grnpc.org/IgDhX

The US will pledge to cut carbon pollution by up to 28%, doubling the pace of current emissions cuts, under a global agreement on climate change to be finalised in Paris at the end of the year.  The Obama administration is expected to unveil its plans on Tuesday, joining China, the European Union, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland in outlining their plans to fight climate change after 2020, when the current commitments expire. The commitments offered over the next few months are seen as the building blocks of an international agreement at Paris for global efforts to fight climate change in the years ahead. More here.

As many as 95% of environmental professionals want to see sustainability issues given more prominence in the National Curriculum and other learning frameworks. That is the headline finding of a new poll from the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), which had 400 respondents. As well as installing sustainability in the curriculum, 88% of respondents wanted it included in the Government-prioritised STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

London_Big_Ben_Phone_boxLondon has taken sixth spot in a new ranking of 23 European cities on air quality, but mayor Boris Johnson is “lucky” to have been rated so highly as he has no plans to comply with air pollution laws until after 2030, if ever.  The “Sootfree Cities” rating, compiled by Friends of the Earth Germany and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), evaluated air pollution levels from transport, concentrating on measures put in place in cities over the past five years and looked at air quality plans for the next five years to take into account changes that were already in the pipeline. London received a ‘C-‘ ranking – below Zurich, Copenhagen, Vienna, Stockholm, Berlin, who came in at 1st to 5th respectively. Johnson’s city was praised for “showing effort to tackle its high levels of air pollution over the last years, including by implementing a congestion charge”.

Cruelty is no laughing matter, but sometimes playful tactics are the best way to get a compassionate message across. You can watch how  PETA France supporters used an April Fool’s joke to draw attention to Air France’s continuing policy of shipping primates to laboratories at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. The video is here.

Caroline_Lucas_2010Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has labelled the Green Deal an “absolute disaster” which epitomises a so-called green Government that has failed to deliver on a raft of environmental policies. Speaking to edie.net  in the aftermath of a heated panel debate between the four main political parties earlier this week, Lucas said the coalition’s Green Deal, launched at the start of 2013, has caused “untold damage when it comes to insulating people’s homes”. “The Green Deal has been an absolute disaster because, as we predicted at the time, the interest rates were far too high to encourage people to take it up,” Lucas said. “Under this Government, there has been an 80% drop in insulation measures provided for the fuel-poor.”

Investment in small and medium-scale renewable energy through crowdfunding is particularly appealing to the older generation, analysis of lenders has shown.  Trillion Fund analysed more than 300 lenders that have participated in funding wind projects through the platform which revealed a third of them to be over 61. Almost half of all funds raised (49%) have come from this age group, with older lenders individually investing more than twice as much as younger lenders.

The vast majority of Scottish adults want the next UK Government to take forward policies that tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  A new YouGov poll, commissioned by Scottish Renewables, found that almost two-thirds supported such green policies, while just 14% disagreed. It also revealed that 79% of Scottish adults support the continued development of renewable energy. In comparison, just 26% of the survey’s respondents back fracking for shale gas, 45% support new nuclear power stations, and half are in favour of the building or extension of coal and gas-fired power stations.

allotmentsNEW PETITION: Councils across the UK are currently selling off allotment land to developers, and if we don’t act now we will see these special plots of land slip away from us. Many allotments are on land that has become valuable and the last few years has seen a disturbing trend where councils have increased requests to deregulate allotments in favour of property development that do not always best serve local needs. Tell Eric Pickles we need to protect allotments. The promote self reliance. They educate. The provide cheap and nutritious food – and they are great social melting pots. SIGN HERE.

The UK transport industry must embrace biofuels if it is to meet EU decarbonisation targets, a Government-backed report has claimed.  The Transport Energy Task Force concluded that there is a ‘clear role for biofuels’ in UK transport despite the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles. The report added that the UK should only support ‘sustainable’ biofuels – i.e. those with a “low risk of indirect impacts on other land based industries and activities”. Edie.net says that biofuels remain somewhat controversial, in part because of their potential impact on food crops. But a sustainable way to counteract this, according to the Report, is to use wastes as feedstocks rather than growing dedicated crops.

The Scottish and UK Governments have announced a £4.2m investment in industrial research and feasibility studies for a 570MW Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plant in Scotland.  The investment – £2.5m from the Scottish Government and £1.7m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – will allow US based Summit Power Group to undertake development work ahead of its ultimate goal of designing and building its proposed Caledonia Clean Energy Project in Grangemouth Scotland. The intended plant will combine coal gasification with CCS technologies in a single facility for the first time. The technology should capture 90% of CO2 emissions from generation which would then be pumped via existing on-shore and sub-sea pipelines for permanent storage 2km beneath the North Sea.

UK Green-energy supplier Ecotricity has secured £70m through a refinancing deal with Aviva Investors, which it says will allow it to almost double its energy-generating capacity. The agreement – underpinned by Ecotricity’s existing 60MW estate – will help fund a 40MW growth over the next 18 months, according to founder Dale Vince. Vice said: “Harnessing our customers bills and turning them into windmills got Ecotricity to where it is today – that ‘bills into mills’ model has worked well for us over the last 20 years.

The UK Government could subsidise up to £1,500 of the cost of electric motorbikes and scooters as part of a plan to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream.  Up to £7.5m will be set aside in total to help bikers bridge the cost-gap between a zero emission electric motorcycle and conventional petrol versions.  And UK businesses will be permitted to install rooftop solar arrays of up to 1MW in size without the need for planning permission, under new Government changes confirmed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Indeed the UK is in the midst of a green investment revolution, according to the head of sustainable finance at the Green Investment Bank.  Speaking exclusively to edie.net , Gavin Templeton said that institutional investors at home and abroad are turning their attention to UK green infrastructure projects for the first time. “It’s not quite a tsunami, but the smart money which has never invested in the UK before, is coming now,” said Templeton. “I think it’s a sea change. Over the last 18 months institutional investors have started seeing sustainability as a good investment rather than something that is simply nice to have”.  Green Investment Bank fund manager Foresight has announced a £4m investment in a farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at Old Quarrington, Durham.  It is the first investment by the recently created GIB-backed £50m Recycling and Waste LP fund, unveiled by Business Minister Matthew Hancock in February.

Doctors and other health professionals have added their weight to the campaign for an immediate moratorium on fracking in the UK as a new report from health charity Medact warns that exploratory drilling for shale gas poses a serious risk to public health.  The report – Health & fracking: the impacts & opportunity costs – claims that a suspension of activity is needed to allow time for a full and comprehensive impact assessment to be completed, instead of simply going “all out for shale” as David Cameron has previously stated. “Climate change is the biggest long-term threat to global public health,” said report co-author Dr Patrick Saunders. “Suspending fracking now will also allow time for the independent UK Committee on Climate Change to complete its next assessment of the climate change risks.”

Shell_oil_croppedShell and its oil and gas peers are narcissistic, paranoid and psychopathic, and engaged in a cynical attempt to block action on global warming, according to the UK’s former climate change envoy.  In an open letter to Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden, John Ashton said the company’s promised transformation in response to climate change is in reality “a manifesto for the oil and gas status quo”. The companies justified their strategy, he said, with the unsupported claim that the economic and moral benefits of providing cheap energy to the world’s poor exceeds the risks to the same people from climate change. Ashton, an independent commentator and until 2012 the UK’s top climate diplomat, wrote the letter, published in the Guardian, in response to a speech by van Beurden in February. The Shell CEO said those calling for “fossil fuels out, renewables in” were naive and said provoking a sudden death of fossil fuels was not a plausible plan to tackle global warming.

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