Monthly Archives: May 2015

Festival THINK TANK at We Love Green

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This year the lovely WE LOVE GREEN Festival in Paris (May 30 – 31)  will host the Festival THINK TANK experiment. WE LOVE GREEN is one of Europe’s most sustainable festivals set in the majestic scenery of Parc de Bagatelle in Paris with a capacity of 14.000 visitors per day. The THINK TANK idea: to give the festival audience the opportunity to get to know leading activists, inspiring thinkers and social entrepreneurs during their main stage keynote speeches in between the music acts. And then swap ideas with them in a more intimate athmosphere in hosted discussions and roundtables. The programme will consist of a mixture of well known international speakers and inspiring french personalities, all delivering their views on the world we live in. And share their passion on how to create a better place for all of us. The sessions will be hosted by french TV journalist Sophie Jovillard (France Televisions) and Green Music Initiative’s founder Jacob Bilabel.   Among the high-profile speakers are KUMI NAIDOO, Executive Director of Greenpeace Worldwide; JEREMY RIFKIN, economic and social theorist and author of the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’; Sea Shepherd pirate Captain PAUL WATSON; Transantarctica explorer JEAN-LOUIS ETIENNE; YANNICK JADOT, Member of the European Parliament; PASCAL CANFIN, former French Minister of Development and now senior advisor on climate for the World Resources Institute; and RENAUD BETTIN from French non-profit NGO GERES (Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity). Projections include Wim Wender’s ‘THE SALT OF THE EARTH’ following the emotive work of photographer Sebastiao Salgado, and ‘SACRE CROISSANCE!’ (Sacred Growth!) by investigative journalist MARIE-MONIQUE ROBIN who explores the transition to a post-growth society. Documentaries include ‘THE CLIMATE BLUEPRINT’ by RUTH CHAO & FRAN X. RODRIGUEZ that sums up 40 years of international climate negotiations ahead of COP21, which takes place from 30 November to 11 December 2015 taking place in Paris. nd there will be music, too:

JULIAN CASABLANCAS + THE VOIDZ / RATATAT / JOEY BADA$$ / NICHOLAS JAAR / SIRIUSMODESELEKTOR / BEN UFO / ROMAN FLÜGEL B2B BARNT / CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS and many more… more here  http://www.welovegreen.fr/le-think-tank-quest-ce-que-cest/

The Festival THINK TANK is a cooperation between WE LOVE GREEN Paris, France Televisions, Festival International du Film d’Environment and the Green Music Initiative.

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Food Waste – time to take action!

food wasteA councillor whose campaign against food waste led to a law forcing French supermarkets to donate unwanted food to charity has set his sights on getting similar legislation passed globally. Arash Derambarsh said it was “scandalous and absurd” that food is wasted and in some cases deliberately spoiled while the homeless, poor and unemployed go hungry. Derambarsh – a municipal councillor for the “Divers Droit” (diverse right) in Courbevoie, north-west of Paris – persuaded French MPs to adopt the regulation after a petition gained more than 200,000 signatures and celebrity support in just four months. The amendment was approved as part of a wider law – the Loi Macron – that covers economic activity and equality in France and is expected to be passed by the national assembly on Tuesday, entering the statute books shortly afterwards.

And here in the UK there is a nw campaign – “Supermarkets should donate all unsold and edible food to charity to feed our homeless”: The appeal says “Our country may be developed, but everyday people go hungry for a variety of reasons such as unexpected bills, redundancy and homelessness. Latest government figures have revealed that 52,000 families were formally declared as homeless last year. This has resulted in an increasing need for food banks. Figures published by leading charity The Trussell Trust revealed that foodbanks fed 913,138 people nationwide last year including 330,205 children. Our supermarkets throw away millions of pounds worth of edible food each week. Food rotting in landfills doesn’t benefit our society so we think it should be given to charity.”  YOU CAN SIGN  UP HERE.

the-food-waste-project-partnershipA Greener Festival are proud to be part of the team behind 8th Plate: The Food Waste Project.  8th Plate is a project which aims to salvage 60 tonnes of festival food waste this summer, to make 143,000 ready meals for vulnerable people in society. Thousands of tonnes of perfectly good food is sent to landfill each year after going unsold at festivals and outdoor events. The number of unknown variables at live events means that large amounts of perfectly good food often goes unsold. A proportion of the food left over can’t be kept until the next event for food safety reasons, so it ends up going to landfill. The solution? Bring food off site so that it can be eaten before it becomes unsafe. We’re calling it 8th Plate because 1 person in 8 globally goes hungry. Any waste food collected through the project will be turned into ready meals for distribution to food banks and soup kitchens in the South West.

The National Caterers Associaction, NCASS,  has  partnered with FareShare South West and A Greener Festival to reduce the amount of food waste at festivals and events and develop systems to salvage food before it goes off. We’re calling it 8th Plate because 1 person in 8 globally goes hungry. Any waste food collected through the project will be turned into ready meals for distribution to food banks and soup kitchens in the South West.  Over the 2015 summer festival season, 8th Plate will set out to salvage 60 tonnes of food, to distribute around 143,000 meals and to save 270 tonnes of CO2 from the environment.

ALLOTMENTS4A trial run took place during the 2014 summer season with great results. FareShare engaged with more than 100 traders at three different festivals. They collected over 10 tonnes of good quality food that would have gone to waste had they not offered to redistribute it. Two tonnes of food waste were redistributed from 64 traders at WOMAD Festival to shelters and centres in the South West. The project provided 4,762 meals for vulnerable people at Windsor Hall Wood in Shepton Mallet, Elim Connect Centre in Wells and the YMCA in Burnham-on-Sea. Each part of the initiative is a step towards improving sustainability at festivals and reducing unnecessary waste and costs while supporting vulnerable individuals. You can see what the Shambala Festival are doing with 8th Plate in 2015 here.

food wasteNCASS Director Mark Laurie says, “The amount of food wasted at festivals can be quite high so the ultimate aim is to manage stock as effectively as possible to minimise waste. Where inefficiencies occur we should be looking to help the people that need it most” adding “With the ever increasing costs of produce and fuel, sustainability is becoming a necessity for catering businesses rather than a luxury. Sometimes food waste cannot be helped which is exactly why this scheme has been set up.”

The Eighth Plate is a food salvage, research, and awareness project established by A Greener Festival, Fareshare SW, and the Nationwide Caterers Association. It is supported by WRAP and Esmee Fairbarn.

ANOTHER PLANET?

rspbThe RSPB faces a whopping £9 million fine for allegedly chopping down 1000,000 trees without a licence.  RSPB is the UK charity working “to secure a healthy environment for birds” and the RSPB has aims to save wildlife, protect wild places and defend nature is thought to have broken the law when it cleared 100 acres of Highland forest, despite failing to renew its logging licence. The clearance was part of a scheme to clear bog and peatland to boost birdlife at the Forsinard Flows reserve in Scotland. Forestry Commission Scotland have launched an inquiry and if found to have felled trees illegally the fine levied could be up to twice the value of the trees cut down. The RSPB were recently involved in the controversial decision to grant T-in-the-Park a licence to hold the festival at the Strahallan Estate:  In its response to Perth and Kinross Council, the wildlife charity made it clear that while it didsn’t oppose the new venue in principle, it would object to the music festival unless a number of strict measures are implemented. These were to ensure that nesting ospreys next to the proposed site are not disturbed. These measures include restrictions on the use of fireworks and lighting, and permanent ‘no go’ buffer zones around the active osprey nest. These zones would measure 500 m until after mid-June; this covers the period when the birds are likely to lay eggs, incubate them, and raise small chicks. After this time the zones would reduce to 250 m. At no point would festival goers or T in the Park staff enter these buffer zones. The RSPB also said an ‘ornithological clerk of works’, a specialist qualified and experienced bird expert, must also be appointed who wouldbe able to overrule others on site to stop any activities that may cause disturbance. Some T in the Park infrastructure, like the Slam Tent, big wheel and funfair would also be moved 500 m away from the osprey nest.

A group of French MPs has tabled a draft law to make it compulsory for supermarkets to hand over all unsold food still fit for consumption to charity. Many supermarket chains in France already donate unsold produce to charities, but 63 MPs from across the political spectrum would like to see the practice enshrined in law. Late in July, they tabled a draft bill making it compulsory for supermarkets with 1,000 square metres (10,800 sq ft) of floor space to give their “unsold but still consumable food products to at least one food charity”. Belgium became the first European country to introduce a similar a law in May.

france_europa_stampsAnd a new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels. Green roofs, as they are called, have an isolating effect which helps to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building during the winter or cool it in the summer. They are capable of retaining rainwater and reducing problems with runoff, and also offer birds a place to call home in the urban jungle.

London could be set for a wave of ‘social supermarkets’ that reduce food waste by selling surplus stock at much lower prices than the high street, thanks to £300,000 of new funding from Mayor Boris Johnson. Boroughs across the capital can apply for a share of the fund, which will go towards the development of pilot supermarkets aimed at local families on lower incomes, in a bid to tackle the rising problem of food poverty. “I want to see more innovative schemes on our high streets that tackle food waste, help communities and offer access to a variety of good standard cheaper food,” Johnson said.

lobster-164479_640The Guardian tells us that the the East Yorkshire Coastline to the  North Sea is by far the UK’s most prolific lobster ground. Before the boats were barred from entering it, in mid-2013, to allow for the construction of a 35-turbine windfarm, it provided more than 15% of the 3,500 tonnes of lobster taken from UK waters every year. Landed at Bridlington, and the smaller neighbouring ports of Flamborough, Hornsea, Withernsea and Easington, the lobsters – and a large quantity of crabs and whelks – are mostly exported and are highly prized in France, Spain and Portugal. Now, as they prepare to return, fishing crews hope that there will still be shellfish under the waves to catch. “The questions we are asking are: can we safely fish among the turbines and is there anything left to catch?” said Mike Cohen, chief executive of the Holderness Fishing Industry Group, the UK’s largest association representing lobster fishers. Since construction started, the windfarm’s owner, Dong Energy, has been working with Cohen’s group to gauge the effects of the turbines on crustaceans and white fish in the North Sea. The intention is to publish the research annually, allowing both sides to study the long-term impact on marine stocks as the world pushes ahead with offshore wind – a technology that is becoming a major industry in the north-east of England.

Sea creatures are set to shrink as the world’s oceans become more acidic. That is the startling warning given by an international group of biologists who have charted the likely impact of rising carbon dioxide levels on marine life. The group reveals that not only are hundreds of marine species likely to be wiped out as more and more carbon dioxide is dissolved in the Earth’s oceans but also that creatures that do survive – in particular those with shells, such as clams, oysters and snails – will be left puny and shrunken as a result. “We have already seen this effect in commercial oyster beds in the US, where marine farmers have had to stop growing young oysters in sea water because their shells could no longer form properly in our increasingly acidic seas. Instead they have to grow them in tanks where water acidity can be controlled,” said marine biologist Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University. “And as the oceans get even more acidic, the problem of species shrinkage – known as the Lilliput effect – will become more and more common. It is a clear warning of the extreme dangers we are facing as carbon emissions continue to rise around the planet.”

One of France’s most venerated winemakers, Thibault Liger-Belair, whose vineyards supply leading restaurants, including those owned by Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay, will this week risk a six-month prison sentence or a large fine for the sake of both his grapes and future generations by refusing to spray his vines with pesticide. He was ordered to spray his crop after an outbreak of flavesence doree 40km away. The disease kills young vines and reduces productivity in older plants.  Liger-Belair thinks that the pesticide damages the soil. He has been summoned to appear in court.

beesOkay this is super important so PLEASE read this and share it around: now that spring is in full swing and summer is approaching, if you see something like this do NOT call the exterminator. Call a beekeeper and they will relocate the bees for you. Bees are the most efficient and effective pollinators and they are unfortunately dying off because people keep trying to kill them. Bees are largely responsible for the pollination of most of the world’s fruits, vegetables and nuts so without bees we don’t have any of those foods. When bees swarm like this it’s because they’re about to relocate somewhere else and they are highly UNLIKELY to sting you in this state because they don’t have a hive or babies to protect. So TLDR; bees are your friend, don’t kill them, and call a beekeeper to RELOCATE them. Thank you.

hedgehogUK wildlife TV presenter Michaela Strachan has said that hedgehogs are declining so fast in the UK they could disappear in 10 years – despite the fact it would be relatively easy to protect the,m. Hedgehog numbers have declined from 30 million in the 1950s to 1.5 million in 1995 to less than a million now. Pesticides, busy roads and a loss of habitats are all blamed.  making urban parks and gardens for hedgehog friendly will really help – simple holes under garden fences to allow foraging is are a big help.

An Antarctic ice shelf called Larsen B Ice shelf which is the size of London is in the process of collapsing according Nasa scientists.

short-haired_bee_masterAccording to beekeeper Dave Schuit, who produces honey in Elmwood, Canada, he and his farm lost about 37 million bees (about 600 hives) once GMO corn started to get planted in the nearby area. “Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” Schuit said. He and other beekeepers are blaming neonicotinoids, or “neonics” for the death of many of their bees. Although Europe has eliminated the use of neonicotinoid class of pesticides from its market, the USDA still hasn’t banned the chemical presently produced by Bayer CropScience Inc. The reason pesticides containing neonicotinoids are banned in other countries is because they contaminate pollen and nectar, which in effect damages and kills insects like the bees. Two of Bayer CropScience’s most popular pesticides containing neonics include Imidacloprid and Clothianidin. These drugs continue to be marketed, even though they have been linked with many large-scale bee ‘die-offs’ in both European and U.S. countries.

airpollutionFossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments. The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change. The IMF estimate of $5.3tn in fossil fuel subsidies represents 6.5% of global GDP. Just over half the figure is the money governments are forced to spend treating the victims of air pollution and the income lost because of ill health and premature deaths.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has shelved plans to place an emissions cap on the world’s shipping fleet. A meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) discussed the plans for 90 minutes at a meeting in London this week before saying they would be reconsidered “at a future date”. A global target for greenhouse gas shipping emissions was proposed in April by the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum. The island nation is reportedly under threat from rising sea-levels which it attributes at least partially to shipping emissions.

windturbines_300New UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has confirmed the Conservative Party’s controversial plans to stop subsidies for onshore wind farms, claiming it is top of her agenda at the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC). In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, Rudd reiterated the Tories’ manifesto pledge to effectively bring an end to the development of new wind farms on UK land, outlining her hopes for the new measures to come into force by May 2016. The Hastings and Rye MP said: “It will mean no more onshore wind farm subsidies and no more onshore wind farms without local community support. This is really important. I’ve already got my team working on it. That’s going to be one of the first things we’re going to do.  “It’s not going to be an easy ride” for the new ministerial team at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the Levy Control Framework (LFC), domestic energy efficiency policies and Paris climate talks all posing significant challenges within the next year. That’s the warning of former Climate Minister Greg Barker, who believes Amber Rudd was a “fantastic choice” as the new Secretary of State at DECC, but a number of pressing matters will make for a challenging time in office, with the LCF budget sitting top of the pile.

The UK Green Investment Bank has today (18 May) taken a £236m stake in in the first offshore wind farm off the south coast of England, in a joint venture with energy giant E.ON. The 400MW Rampion Offshore Wind Farm on the Brighton coast will now commence construction and is scheduled to be operational by September 2018. The scheme will comprise 116 turbines, generating a total of 1,333GWh of renewable energy each year – enough to power 300,000 homes. It is also forecast to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4,215 kt CO2e across its 25-year lifetime, equivalent to taking 75,000 cars off the road. Prime Minister David Cameron has underlined his support for the UK Green Investment Bank during a visit to the organisation’s headquarters in Edinburgh. The visit, made by Cameron a week after his Conservative Party won the General Election, comes five years after the Green Investment Bank was launched to accelerate the UK’s transition to a greener economy.

Greenpeace and Amazon have become embroiled in a public spat after the charity claimed the online retailer’s renewable energy commitments “lacked basic transparency”. In its new ‘Clicking Clean’ report released this week, Greenpeace analysed the transparency, efficiency and renewable energy commitments of 17 tech giants, including Google, Facebook Amazon, IBM and Yahoo. Amazon was awarded an ‘F’ grade for its energy transparency, after failing to respond to a Greenpeace request for energy data.

Edie.net reports that Scotland has moved a step closer to implementing a nationwide bottle-deposit scheme with the publication of new feasibility report by Zero Waste Scotland. The report, published today (14 May), assesses the benefits of introducing a system where customers pay 10p or 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a can or bottle, and get the money back when they return the item to a collection point. The findings are broadly positive, with Eunomia – the consultancy that carried out the study – claiming that such a system would save local authorities £13m in collection and disposal costs.

Indian SummerThe new Conservative Government is being urged to work closely with the waste-management sector to counteract an anticipated downturn in recycling rates across England. Government figures released this week showed that English recycling rates increased from 43.9% to 45% in the 12 months to September 2014, but quarterly recycling rates rose just 0.1% year-on-year. And Jakob Rindegren from the Environmental Services Association (ESA) believes recycling rates may have actually dropped since the figures were collected, jeopardising progress towards an EU target of recycling half of household waste. Rindegren said: “Given recycling market turbulence in the last 6 – 9 months, it may be the case that we haven’t been able to sustain this improved performance since September.

One of France’s most venerated winemakers, Thibault Liger-Belair, whose vineyards supply leading restaurants, including those owned by Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay, will this week risk a six-month prison sentence or a large fine for the sake of both his grapes and future generations by refusing to spray his vines with pesticide. He was ordered to spray his crop after an outbreak of flavesence doree 40km away. The disease kills young vines and reduces productivity in older plants. Liger-Belair thinks that the pesticide damages the soil. He has been summoned to appear in court.

deepgreenSwedish company Minesto has been awarded a £9.5m EU grant to set up a marine power plant in North Wales. Minesto will use the money to establish a UK headquarters and install its ‘Deep Green’ turbine system off the coast of Holyhead. The so-called Deep Green, operates like an underwater kite, and claims to be the only proven marine power plant to generate electricity from low velocity tidal currents. Cleverly, the kites can reach speeds up to 10 times higher than the water current.

California’s drought continues, now with increasing worries that the water shortages will began to effect the state’s agriculture which uses 80% of the state’s increasingly scarce supply water – with almonds being singled out as a the 150,000 new acres of almond trees guzzle up water – the almonds in California use more water than all indoor residential uses: to produce 16 almonds, 58 litres of water are needed. Three mandarins need 161 litres and a bunch of grapes 91 litres of water.

Barclays Bank owned Third Energy has submitted an application to North Yorkshire County Council to frack at Kirby Misperon, 20 miles west of Scarborough. Local Bowland shale rock formations need to be hydraulically stimulated to release gas.

Esc2015logoAnd finally, the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna will be a Smart Green Event. The World’s biggest TV Entertainment Event with more than 200 Million viewers and participants from 39 countries will set the standard for future shows with attention paid to Energy Efficiency, Waste Reduction, Mobility, Inclusion, Regional and Organic Catering (still some meat…) and Resource Management . The Green Music Initiative and it’s partners Elevate Festival, EE Music, ORF, Vienna, Austria and others are working hard to make this happen. Well done to SWEDEN for winning on the night.

Another Planet?

Caroline_Lucas_2010Recently re-elected Brighton Pavillion MP Caroline Lucas of the Green Party will be returning to the Eco Technology Show in Brighton this year to chair the important discussion titled “The Future of Energy Efficiency”. She will be joined by a panel of energy efficiency experts including Matthew Farrow, Executive Director of the Environmental Industries Commission, Christoph Harwood, Director of Marksman Consulting, Mike Walker, Sustainable Energy Using Products Team at DECC and Alex Hunt, Partner of The Green Building Partnership. Held on Friday 12th June 2:50pm – 3:50pm, this is just one of over 70 free keynotes, panels and talks spread across the three seminar areas throughout the show. You can see the full talk schedule here. Its free to register.

fde1Up to 90% of the global electronic waste produced each year – worth nearly $19bn – is illegally traded or dumped, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). And the “mountain” of illegal e-waste is exhausting valuable resources and contains hazardous elements which pose a “growing threat” to the environment and human health.
UNEP’s ‘Waste Crimes‘ report found that the electronics market generates around 41 million tonnes of e-waste a year, of which 60-90% is illegally traded or dumped. Interpol estimates that one tonne of e-waste can be sold at around $500 on the black market, thanks to harvestable precious metals . UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said: “We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of electronic waste rolling out over the world.

The world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies are receiving huge and rising subsidies from US taxpayers, a practice slammed as absurd by a presidential candidate given the threat of climate change. A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidises were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

airpollutionEnvironmentalists are demanding that the EU close a research fund which they claim offers coal companies tens of millions of pounds of public money in grants. The European commission’s Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) has awarded €144m (£107m) to companies such as E.On UK, RWE Npower and UK Coal Production Ltd, according to research by Greenpeace Energydesk. Most of the the money is spent on mining infrastructure, management and unconventional use of deposits, and on coal preparation and upgrading. Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s chief scientist, said that the fund made little environmental, economic or scientific sense.

Amber Rudd will replace Ed Davey as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s reshuffle of the new Tory Government. The Hastings and Rye MP, who held onto her seat in Parliament in last week’s General Election, has been promoted from her previous position as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The European Green Capital of the year, Bristol, has opened its first-ever community-owned solar farm. The 1.8MW Moorhouse Solar Farm will deliver 1,780 MWh of renewable electricity into the grid each year – enough to power around 430 homes each year – and save 850 tonnes of CO2 a year. The 1.8MW installation park was built by local company Solarsense and funded by Low Carbon Gordano, a co-operative whose purpose is to help the local community to reduce energy costs and become more sustainable.

One in three European birds is endangered, according to a leaked version of the most comprehensive study of Europe’s wildlife and natural habitats ever produced. The EU State of Nature report, seen by the Guardian, paints a picture of dramatic decline among once common avian species such as the skylark and turtle dove mainly as a result of agricultural pressures, and also warns that ecosystems are struggling to cope with the impact of human activity.

Norway’s biggest oil producer is establishing a new business encompassing renewable energy and other low-carbon energy solutions. Statoil, which is the world’s eleventh largest oil and gas company, announced today (12 May) that it is to set up New Energy Solutions (NES); to compliment its existing business and “drive profitable growth” in the green energy market.

Edie.net reports that the renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland has received a welcome boost this week with the launch of a new fully-funded solar solution which could save businesses up to £320m. Kingspan ESB – a joint venture between building technology firm Kingspan and Ireland’s largest energy company ESB will make photovoltaic (PV) energy available to businesses without the investment normally required in the capital outlay, installation or maintenance of a PV system. The funding solution unlocks cost savings of more than £320m over the next 25 years – £5.6m each year – along with significantly improved sustainability and environmental credentials for local businesses.

teaser313_bayer_bees_bundMore than two out of five American honeybee colonies died in the past year, and surprisingly, the worst die-off was in the summer, according to a federal survey. Since April 2014, beekeepers lost 42.1% of their colonies, the second-highest rate in nine years, according to an annual survey conducted by a bee partnership that includes the US Department of Agriculture. “What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” said study co-author Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

Climate change campaigners reacted with disappointment as Edinburgh University announced on Tuesday that it would not fully divest from fossil fuels. Students lay down in protest on the steps of the building where senior vice principal Professor Charlie Jeffery set out the unanimous decision by the university’s court. Insisting that the university was committed to a change of investment policy, Jeffery said: “Our commitment is to engage before divestment, but the expectation is that we will bring about change by engagement.”  Boris Johnson has rejected a motion by the London assembly calling on City Hall’s pension fund to divest from fossil fuels, arguing the UK needs to press ahead with fracking to avoid being reliant on the Middle East and Russia for gas.  The Mayor of London said that a more realistic approach was needed than divestment, which he called a “sudden cliff edge”.

worldbankCountries could reduce the cost of decarbonisation by a third by enacting green policies immediately, according to a new report from the World Bank. The Decarbonising Development report lays out three steps for countries to follow in order for the planet to produce zero net emission by 2100. The steps include establishing a carbon price, providing support for those most affected by climate change, and setting defined targets.  The solutions exist, and they are affordable – if governments take action today, the report says. It warns, however, that costs will rise for the next generation the longer action is delayed. Data from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report suggests that waiting just 15 more years and taking no action until 2030 would increase costs by an average of 50 percent through 2050 to keep temperatures from rising less than 2°C. “Choices made today can lock in emissions trajectories for years to come and leave communities vulnerable to climate impacts,” said World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte. “To reach zero net emissions before the end of this century, the global economy needs to be overhauled. We at the World Bank Group are increasing our focus on the policy options.”

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and BRE’s training body, the BRE Academy, have formed a new partnership to develop sustainability training courses with a focus on the built environment. The agreement will see industry-relevant training courses embedded into Higher and Further Education programmes, as the effects of global warming are felt on buildings and infrastructures worldwide. IEMA chief executive Tim Balcon said: “Training and education provision is a key service which we provide for our 15,000-strong global membership, who are focussed on driving more sustainable practices and standards across all sectors. “This collaboration with the BRE Academy will enable us to offer new skills programmes with a focus on the built environment which plays such an integral part of every business and industry as well as the economy.

ecocideEcocide: The Psychology of Environmental Destruction:  Recent scientific reports about climate change make grim reading. A paper published in The Economic Journal by the respected UK economist Lord Stern states that the models previously used to calculate the economic effects of climate change have been ‘woefully inadequate.’ They have severely underestimated the scale of the threat, which will “cost the world far more than estimated.” What makes the situation even more serious is that climate change is just one of the environment-related problems we face. Others include the destruction and pollution of ecosystems, the disappearance of other species (both animal and plant), water shortage, over-population, and the rapacious consumption of resources. Now in his book Back to Sanity, Dr Steve Taylor suggests that human beings may be collectively suffering from a psychological disorder (‘humania’), and our reckless abuse of the environment is one of the best pieces of evidence for this. Would a sane species abuse their own habitat so recklessly? And would they allow such dangerous trends to intensify without taking any serious measures against them? More here.

Nearly two thirds of online shoppers now consider ‘green packaging’ when deciding where to shop according to a new poll. The survey of more than 500 internet shoppers, conducted by logistics firm Dotcom Distribution, found widespread support for environmentally-friendly packaging and green supply chain practices. Around 61% of respondents considered green packaging in their shopping choices with 57% saying it is important to them.

The plantable coffee cup

The plantable coffee cup

A new project called Reduce Reuse Grow is hoping to turn a major source of pollution into a positive solution that plants seeds! The project hopes to build a plantable coffee cup that has seeds built into the actual design. Alex Henige, a senior at California Polytechnic State University is the founder of the project, has created a kickstarter page to fund the new idea. Read More HERE. 569 backers have already pledged $21,077 to help bring this project to life – – “A coffee cup that has native seeds embedded within the material to be used for reforestation in your local communities.”

Shell_oil_croppedThe last intact section of one of Antarctica’s mammoth ice shelves is weakening fast and will likely disintegrate completely in the next few years, contributing further to rising sea levels, according to a Nasa study. The research focused on a remnant of the so-called Larsen B Ice Shelf, which has existed for at least 10,000 years but partially collapsed in 2002. What is left covers about 625 sq miles (1,600 sq km), about half the size of Rhode Island. Antarctica has dozens of ice shelves – massive, glacier-fed floating platforms of ice that hang over the sea at the edge of the continent’s coast line. The largest is roughly the size of France. Larsen B is located in the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends toward the southern tip of South America and is one of two principal areas of the continent where scientists have documented the thinning of such ice formations.

Environmental groups and experts hit out at the US government on Tuesday following its announcement that the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell would be allowed to resume offshore exploration and drilling in the Arctic’s American waters. Unforgiving conditions in the Arctic’s icy waters not only make the chances of a spill likely, the complete lack of infrastructure in place to deal with a potential disaster means the consequences of the move could be calamitous, environmental activists and experts say.

scotlanbdthebrave

 

T-in-the-Park gets a green light

t-in-park-moving-2015-strathallanT In The Park has been approved by Perth and Kinross Council after the development management committee held 90-minute hearing that saw supporters and opponents of the planned event outline their positions. It’s the first year the DF Concerts promoted festival will be staged at Strathallan Castle, although there was resistance from concerned locals worried about the festival’s impact on the grounds and the risk to wildlife, in particular a pair of nesting ospreys. Conditions have been imposed. RSPB Scotland, which worked with DF Concerts on plans to mitigate disturbance to the birds, welcomed those. No councillors spoke against the plans, despite 1,600 letters of objection being lodged. Councillors discussed a report from development quality manager Nick Brian, who had recommended they give a short-term green light to the event. During that period the impact of the festival on the area will be assessed in detail, informing a decision on its longer-term future at a later date. DF’s Geoff Ellis said “It is our intention to work closely with all residents to ensure that we are excellent neighbours and minimise any disruption to local life. Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith claimed the planning process had been “very badly handled” by the council and event organisers adding “This is a decision which has clearly divided local opinion over many months”.

T in the Park, which attracts 85,000 music fans each day, was forced to move from its home at Balado, near Kinross, after an underground pipeline sparked safety fears.

The event takes place 10 to 12 July. Kasabian, The Libertines and Noel Gallagher are all headlining the event and other acts include Avicci, Twin Atlantic, David Guetta, The Prodigy, Jessie J, Paloma Faith, St Vincent, Jessie Ware, Fatboy Slim and Rudimental.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/t-in-the-park-gets-green-light-for-strathallan-castle-move.1431426607

ANOTHER PLANET?

Zebra_Botswana_edit02Africa’s big cats are facing a hungry future as human population pressure, hunting and habitat destruction for livestock farming needs reduce the number of their prey species. Zebras, antelopes, tapirs and giraffes are rapidly diminishing and sometimes facing extinction in grasslands, savannahs, deserts and forests according to the Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit who analysed data on the world’s largest 74 herbivores and said “without radical intervention [they] will continue to disappear from numerous regions. The Grevy’s Zebra population in the Horn of Africa has halved in the last 20 years with only 2,200 remaining in an area less than 10% of what it was, only 600 African wild ass remain on 2.5% of their natural range, the remaining 80,000 giraffe have just 11.3% of their former range and  2,500 pygmy hippos just 1.3%. Forest elephants in Africa were down 60% in the the years up to 2011 and poaching continues to decimate the elephant and rhino populations.

Edie.net reports that the pledges made by major international emitters ahead of the Paris UN conference are not strong enough to limit global warming to 2C, according to team of researchers led by Nicholas Stern.  The US is expected to offer emissions cuts of 26% to 28% by 2025 , the EU has agreed to cut its emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, while China has promised its emissions will peak by 2030. However, these proposed cuts put the trio on track to generate between 20.9 and 22.3 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent in 2030. Current and planned policies from the rest of the world suggest they will produce around 35 billion tonnes of CO2e, putting the global total at around 56bn tonnes CO2e.  At best, this is 12bn tonnes more than the level UNEP says would give the planet a 50-66% chance of limiting global warming to less than 2°C. “Countries should be considering opportunities to narrow this gap before and after the Paris summit,” said the paper overseen by Stern, who is chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

greenpeace adA few months ago Greenpeace published a newspaper ad stating: “Experts agree – [fracking] won’t cut our energy bills.” The ASA asked for evidence to back up the claim — so Greenpeace submitted statements from 22 experts and commentators including leading academics, the energy secretary Ed Davey, and even quotes from fracking firm Cuadrilla. This wasn’t enough for the ASA and they still said the ad was misleading. But the only evidence they could provide to back that up?… A quote from the prime minister. Greenpeace so pint out that the chair of the ASA, Lord Chris Smith, happens to be the head of the Task Force on Shale Gas (a group funded by the fracking industry).

 

Employment in renewable energy increased by 9% across all sectors last year, with biomass heating emerging as the best-performing sector in terms of recruitment.  The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has today (1 May) released its annual regional and national jobs analysis, revealing significant growth in the UK’s green energy labour market. The total number working in the renewables industry has risen to more than 112,000, outstripping growth in market values in many other sectors.  The UK now boasts the third largest utility-scale solar capacity in the world after a flurry of first quarter installations.  New figures from market analysts Wiki-Solar show that the UK added 1.5GW of utility-scale capacity, leapfrogging Germany and India for the third spot. And  Council recycling services in England saved 4% more greenhouse gas emissions in 2013/14 than in 2012/13, thanks mainly to increased captures of metals and plastics.  That’s according to the third annual Recycling Carbon Index Report from consultancy firm Eunomia, which shows that 64% of England’s local authorities increased their emissions savings over the past year, despite a levelling off of the country’s recycling rate performance. Wales and Northern Ireland faired even better, reducing overall emissions by an additional 6%, and 7% respectively.

airpollutionEU lawmakers have agreed to fastrack a reform to the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS), to deal with the surplus of allowances in the system.
Related articles. Representatives from the European Parliament and the European Commission decided to establish a market stability reserve (MSR) in 2019 – two years earlier than originally planned. Approximately two billion backloaded and unallocated allowances will be put into the MSR before they flood the market at the end of the decade.  The current surplus “surpresses the carbon price” and means Europe’s worst polluters are “not held to account over their emissions”, according to green groups.

Shipping owners using European ports will have to report on the CO2 emissions of their vessels, under a new proposal approved by MEPs. The new rules – intended to encourage efficiencies and cut emissions – will apply from 2018 for ships weighing over 5,000 tonnes. Warships, fishing boats and ‘wooden ships of a primitive build’ will be exempt. Maritime transport is not currently subject to any emissions reductions measures and shipping emissions have increased by approximately 70% since 1990. If that upward trend was allowed to continue, the sector would account for between 6-14% of global emissions by 2050.

The fossil fuel industry is a bigger threat to global health than tobacco and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust have a moral obligation to divest from it, an international organisation that represents 1 million medical students has said.  A letter to the charities from the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) called on the charities to drop their fossil fuel company interests, which amount to almost £1.5bn. The students said investments in coal, oil and gas companies were in direct contravention of the solemn Hippocratic 0ath, which doctors take before they begin their service.  The Church of England has pulled its money out of two of the most polluting fossil fuels as part of what it called its moral responsibility to protect the world’s poor from the impact of global warming.  In a move approved by the church’s board it divested £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal – the first time it has ever imposed investment restrictions because of climate change.

TropicalIslandLeonardo DiCaprio has announced plans to create “the world’s most sustainable island resort” which will push the boundaries of green design, architecture and eco-tourism. The Hollywood actor and environmental activist is working with Restorative Hospitality, a subsidiary of ethical real estate firm Delos, to develop a 104-acre ‘restorative island’ at Blackadore Caye in Belize. Upon its completion in 2018, the island will feature 68 villas, 48 estate homes, three restaurants, a spa and a private clubhouse – all incorporating sustainable building techniques that will restore and regenerate the surrounding ecosystem and reverse the effects of climate change.

The Foundation for Deep Ecology and the Population Media Center have released a collection of astounding photographs that illustrate the devastating effects of out-of-control growth and waste, and it’s breathtaking. “This is an issue that people care about, and oftentimes it’s just not discussed by mainstream media,” Missie Thurston, director of marketing and communications at the Population Media Center said.  In September, world leaders will try and agree on sustainable development goals that will take us through 2030. In December, in Paris, the United Nations will attempt to finally set binding limits on pollution. 2015 will dictate “how we address our degrading planet over the next few decades”. What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images.

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ANOTHER PLANET?

teslaA cryptic tweet from Tesla boss Elon Musk has got everyone talking about a potential new utility scale battery. So far, specific details are thin on the new battery designed for home use that Tesla’s announcing next week. But just based on what we do know, it’s a pretty big deal. The quest for a good battery that can store home-generated power is kind of like the holy grail for a renewable energy future. This one product might change everything. A New York Times article published earlier this week essentially sets up the problem that Tesla’s battery will solve. In Hawaii, 12 percent of homes have some kind of solar energy, by far the highest rate for any place in the US at the moment. In fact, that rate is growing too quickly—solar customers are dumping so much energy back onto the grid that they’re taxing the delicate and often aging infrastructure that was only designed to deliver power to homes. What’s happening in Hawaii is actually indicative of what’s going to be an issue everywhere as many cities start to see an increase in large-scale solar implementation: There’s going to be too much energy generated, and nowhere to put it. More on Gizmodo and the Times tells us that the wall mounted battery called the Powerall will be able to store 7 kilowatt hours on a daily cycle and will cost $3000 – a further 10 kWh storage capacity will be available for $3,500. A single run of a washing machine uses about 2.3 kWh, a refrigerator uses 0.2 kWh per day and flat screen TV 0.1 kWh per day.

wildflowersFrom Friends of the Earth comes an important message from nature campaigner Sandra Bell who says “Laws protecting our most important nature sites, from Dartmoor to the North Yorkshire Moors, are at risk right now. Because of a review by the European Commission happening at the moment there’s a real danger these critical laws could be weakened. But if thousands of us say we want to defend these nature laws, the European Commission will have to protect them and make sure they are enforced. Please read my blog on why these laws matter and tell me your own reasons for protecting nature. As part of its review the European Commission has just launched a public consultation. The consultation asks why we want these laws, known as the Nature Directives. I’ve been working with partners across Europe on how to make it easy for all of us to respond. Please leave a comment on my blog saying why nature is important to you. It’s critical we stand up for existing nature laws. My blog gives plenty of reasons to defend them. But it’s not just about protecting our most important nature sites and species. Experts say we need to connect these sites by restoring nature across the country.  We all have personal connections to nature. We need to make sure everyone has access to thriving nature everywhere.  I’m looking forward to us all working together to achieve that. Thanks for stepping up for nature.”

The UK is in breach of European air quality standards and must draw up plans to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, the Supreme Court has ruled.  The decision marks a major victory for environmental NGO ClientEarth, who brought the case to court in an effort to force Government to act. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by diesel vehicles and can cause breathing difficulties for children, older people and asthmatics. The five Supreme Court judges ruled unanimously that “the Government must prepare and consult on new air quality plans for submission to the European Commission … no later than December 31 2015”.

The financial cost of air pollution in Europe stands at more than $1.6tn (£1.5tn) a year, a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found, equating to about a tenth of the GDP of the continent. While air pollution has long been known to be a major environmental burden, the costs in human and economic terms have not been categorised before. The costs come in the form of 600,000 premature deaths each year, and the sickness caused to hundreds of thousands of other people from preventable causes, such as pollution from small particles that come from the exhausts of diesel vehicles, and nitrogen dioxide, a gas that can inhibit breathing in vulnerable people.

Air pollution causes babies to be born smaller, according to a study of babies born just after the Beijing Olympics. The  Guardian tells us that the research surveyed the birth weights of 83,672 babies born in Beijing around the time of the 2008 Olympics, when the government closed down industry, raised vehicle emissions standards, stopped construction and introduced a license plate rotation to slash the number of vehicles on the road. The massive state intervention created a one-off natural laboratory in which air pollution levels in one of the most choked cities on Earth reduced by between 18% and 59% during the summer of 2008. Birth weights were an average of 23g higher for babies who were in the eight month of pregnancy during the summer of the Games than during the same period in 2007 and 2009 .

A new report has revealed that the UK’s onshore wind industry contributed £906m to the UK economy last year, of which almost 30% directly benefits local areas.  The report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, shows the industry’s contribution to the UK economy is increasing, having risen by 65% (£358mn) since 2012. It also shows that each megawatt of installed onshore wind has brought more than £2m to the UK over its lifetime, of which 69% is remaining in the UK.

Orangutan3-226x300The winner of a major conservation prize has called on the Indonesian government to halt a road-building plan that threatens the last place on Earth where elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and orangutans live together. The plan for the Ladia Galaska road network has been approved by the Aceh government, but requires consent from the central minister for home affairs to go ahead. Panut Hadisiswoyo, who won a £35,000 Whitley Award on Wednesday for engaging north Sumatran communities on orangutan conservation, said the development would be a disaster for the densest remaining population of Sumatran orangutans. “The spatial plan must be cancelled and must be revised to include the Leuser ecosystem so that development is in line with the conservation goals in Sumatra,” said Hadisiswoyo. The plan currently makes no mention of the precious ecosystem it threatens.

Humpback_Whale_underwater_shotMany species of whales and dolphins are facing extinction – and are far more likely to die out than other marine creatures – regardless of human intervention by hunting. Ocean mammals are ten times more likely to die out than bivalves such as mussels and clams. The new research looked at the skeletal fossil records of sharks, whales, corals, molluscs and other animals . And one in six of the planet’s species will be lost forever to extinction if world leaders fail to take action on climate change, according to a new analysis. The stark warning on the scale of global warming’s impact on animals and plants comes just months before nearly 200 governments meet for UN climate talks in Paris in an attempt to forge a global deal on cutting carbon emissions. Conservationists said such a large loss would be a tragedy with serious ramifications for people as well as ecosystems.

After sweltering through its hottest year on record in 2014, England is likely to feel the effects of more human-induced climate change in the future, an Australian-led research team has discovered. In a new study published in the journal ‘Environmental Research Letters‘, the international team led by the University of Melbourne’s Dr Andrew King discovered that England could be up to 13 times more likely to experience temperatures that contribute to warmer-than-average years. King, from the university’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, said that a high concentration of human activity in such a small area has contributed to England being more susceptible than other countries to anthropogenic, or human- induced, climate change. He said his team analyzed data from the Central England Temperature record (CET), dating back to the 17th century, to show that human activity will only continue to impact climate in the area. Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, who co-authored the study, said climate change had become so influential on the world’s weather that its effects could be modelled at increasingly local levels. “Climate change has become so strong over the last 10 to 15 years that you can really sense it now on the local level. Fifteen years ago you could only really see it if you looked at the global mean temperature. And now any old thermometer can show you that the temperatures are increasing,” he said.  Environmental Research Letters is a quarterly, open-access, electronic-only, peer-reviewed, scientific journal covering research in all aspects of environmental science. It is produced by IOP Publishing

Edie.net reports that a fter more than 10 years of debate, the European Parliament has agreed new laws to limit the use of crop-based biofuels across the continent. The new rules effectively limit the use of biofuels in the transport sector at 7%, which count towards the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020. The decision will prevent up to 320 million tonnes of CO2 – equal to Poland’s total carbon emissions in 2012 – from entering the atmosphere. It has dually been welcomed by green groups and industry bodies alike.

skeltonThe European Space Agency (ESA) has chosen a new energy storage technology for possible orbit in 2018 which is expected to cut mission costs and improve energy efficiency.  The chosen ultracapacitor technology is also beginning to be used within the automotive and renewable energy markets to provide green and cost-effective energy storage. Developers Skeleton Technologies have developed an energy storage method that stores energy in an electric field using ‘curved graphene’. The ESA will use the energy storage in space to provide surges of power on satellites and other spacecraft, and provide a continuation of energy when spacecraft are unable to harvest energy with solar cells from the sun.

Renewable energy sources accounted for more than three quarters of new capacity installed in the US in the first quarter of 2015. According to a federal report ,”Energy Infrastructure Update”, 900MW of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower was installed in the US, compared to 300MW of natural gas. Wind power was the leading technology, with more than 600MW of new capacity added.

And if you wondered what Al Gore, former  Vice President of the United States and chairman of The Climate Reality Project, said in his talk: Reality of the Climate Crisis and Road Forward for Humanity.  Wonder no more. Its all on YOUTUBE here. The event is part of the Haas School of Business’ Dean’s Speaker Series and is co-sponsored by the Institute for Business & Social Impact at Berkeley-Haas.

Edie.net reports that the rapid expansion in the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry over the past year has taken it from an ’emerging, niche waste treatment industry’ to one providing a significant contribution to the UK’s electricity production.  That’s according to the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) speaking at Sustainability Live as it launched its second annual AD deployment report. But further development of the industry is expected to be hampered by supply chain security, especially food waste contracts, and a ‘perverse’ cost control mechanism.

A sewage-filled Rio de Janeiro beach has been removed from the list of venues for a surfing competition in the city in May, the World Surf League said on Wednesday. A spokesman, Dave Prodan, said São Conrado beach had to be removed as a competition site “due to pollution issues”. São Conrado had been a backup for the Rio Pro event scheduled for 11 to 22 May, to be used in case of sub-par waves or other problems at the primary venue, nearby Barra da Tijuca beach. More here.

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