Monthly Archives: June 2015

Extracts from the Pope’s Encyclical Letter






The Pope has criticised a slew of modern trends including the heedless worship of technology, our addiction to fossil fuels and compulsive consumerism and the Pope said humanity’s “reckless” behaviour has pushed the planet to a perilous “breaking point” and “Doomsday predictions,” the Pope warned, “can no longer be met with irony or disdain.” Citing the scientific consensus that global warming is disturbingly real, Francis left little doubt about who to blame: big businesses, energy companies, short-sighted politicians, scurrilous scientists, laissez faire economists, indifferent individuals, callous Christians and myopic media professionals. Scarcely any area of society escaped his criticism. “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Francis said. “In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”

“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to  seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant
resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated:  “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”.  All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave
their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to
flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they
bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to
such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters
points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded”

“Some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. People take sick, for example, from breathing high levels of smoke from fuels used in cooking or heating. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general. Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others. Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected.”

“These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.”



Global Sixth Mass Extinction has already begun

Caspian Tiger

Caspian Tiger

Humans have already triggered the start of Earth’s sixth mass extinction, threatening our own future as a species, a hard-hitting new study published in Science Advances  has claimed. The window of opportunity to prevent the worst diversity disaster since dinosaurs were swept from the planet 65 million years ago in the last mass extinction is “rapidly closing”, warn the authors. The Report says that in the last century vertebrates have been disappearing at a rate 114 times higher than would normally be expected without the destructive influence of humans, according to the scientists, who insist their analysis is “extremely conservative”. If the current pace of extinction is allowed to continue, species loss will have a significant effect on human populations in as little as three generations, it is claimed.

Once the damage is done, it could take millions of years for nature to recover, said the scientists, pointing out that since 1900, over 400 more vertebrates than expected had vanished. The lost animals included 69 mammal, 80 bird, 24 reptile, 146 amphibian and 158 fish species. Today, the spectre of extinction hangs over 26% of all mammalian species and 41% of all amphibians. Professor Paul Ehrlich, from Stanford University in California, a leading member of the team, said: “Without any significant doubt … we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event. adding “There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead. We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.” Loss of species disrupts ecosystems, leading to serious knock-effects felt by humans, the scientists stressed. Crop pollination by bees and the water purification of wetlands were two examples of biodiversity benefits which could be lost in three human lifetimes.
dinoMexican lead researcher Dr Gerardo Ceballos, from the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, warned that humans could one day follow in the footsteps of the dinosaurs. “If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” he said. The triggers for the extinctions include industrialisation deforestation and less obvious man made causes – for example the rapid rate in extinctions amongst amphibians can be traced back to the spread of a deadly fungus by global shipping.  Mass extinctions have occurred on five occasions throughout the history of life on Earth. The last event happened 65 million years ago when a giant meteor smashed into the planet, altered the climate, and wiped out the dinosaurs. Current man made climate change and habit loss as well as hunting and poaching are fuelling the sixth mass extinction.

The scientists used a conservative approach to calculate a natural “background rate” of two mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per century.
This was the rate of diversity loss that should be expected between mass extinctions. Given the number of species that had vanished over the last 100 years, it would have taken between 800 and 10,000 years for so many creatures to disappear if the background rate had applied.

The researchers concluded: “Our analysis emphasises that our global society has started to destroy species of other organisms at an accelerating rate, initiating a mass extinction episode unparalleled for 65 million years.” The authors said it was still – just – possible to avert a “dramatic decay of biodiversity” through intensive conservation, but time was running out. They wrote: “Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations – notably habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change. “All of these are related to human population size and growth, which increases consumption (especially among the rich), and economic inequity.” Extinct species include the Caspian, Bali and Javan Tigers,  The Barbary Lion, the  Dodo and the  Tasmanian Wolf (Thylacine).



popefrancisThe most anticipated papal letter for decades will be published in five languages on Thursday. It will call for an end to the ‘tyrannical’ exploitation of nature by mankind and Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality. Could it lead to a step-change in the battle against global warming?  But leading figures in the US on the American right are launching a series of pre-emptive attacks on the Pope before this week’s encyclical, hoping to prevent a mass conversion of the climate change deniers who have powered the corps of the conservative movement for more than a decade with the likes of James Inhofe, the “granddaddy of climate change deniers in the US” and chairman of the Senate environment and public works committee telling the Pope to stick to his job as a religious leader and Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic and a long-shot contender for the Republican nomination, saying “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.” More on the Guardian website here and here .

FrackOffFracking should be allowed at one of two sites on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, a report has recommended. Lancashire County Council’s most senior planning officer was responding to an application by energy firm Cuadrilla to extract shale gas at Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood. The application for Little Plumpton has been recommended for approval. Roseacre Wood has been recommended for refusal. The final decisions will be taken by councillors next week. Planning officers had previously said the site at Preston New Road should be turned down because of concerns over the impact of noise. But now they have recommended its approval if a number of conditions are met, including controlling time limits, hours of working and highway matters. Fears remain about water table pollution, environmental damage and the risk of earthquakes. You can see the work of the recently (peacefully) arrested Paul Mobbs on the links between the UK Government and the UK fracking industry here . Paul was arrested under the Terrorism Act (Highways section) for blocking the entrance to Downing Street in his attempt to make a citizens arrest of four key members in the government. He has acted in this way as he believes that members in government are guilty of Misconduct In Public Office in reference to fracking. The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has dismissed claims that it intends to “fast-track fracking without public consent”.The Government has come under fire due to an open consultation being held by the Environment Agency, which could remove some of the red-tape around testing for oil and gas reserves at potential fracking sites. Currently, the Environment Agency is required to visit each potential fracking site, and carry out an environmental audit before activities can start. The proposed changes would instead create a one-size-fits-all set of regulations for companys looking to test oil and gas wells.However, the move has been described by green campaigners as “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

An international coalition of clean energy groups have launched a new campaign asking for the nuclear power industry to be barred from the UN climate talks in Paris. The Don’t Nuke The Climate campaign is being led by the Netherland’s World Information Service on Energy (WISE), and supported by green groups from Germany, Russia, France, Austria and the US. WISE director Peer de Rijk explained: “We are calling on 1,000 civil society organisations to join us for a campaign to block the nuclear industry’s lobby activities at COP21 and instead ensure the world chooses clean energy. It is the only real climate solution.”

A £200m tidal energy project in Lancashire is going ahead after the developers obtained rights to use the land. Natural Energy Wyre Limited will now take their project forward to the funding and planning application stage, after obtaining the rights from the Duchy of Lancaster. The project, dubbed the Wyre Tidal Barrage, is said to be UK’s first tidal energy power station, boasting an installed capacity of 90MW/hr. Essentially, a dam will be built across the 600m mouth of the Wyre estuary, and six turbines will capture the energy of the river as the tide moves in and out. The predictable nature of the tides reportedly offers a consistent reliable source of energy. The project has a lifespan of over 120 years, and will provide electricity for up to 50,000 homes in the UK.

legoThe world’s largest toymaker is to build a new Sustainable Materials Centre in its search for more environmentally-friendly materials to be used in its products and packaging. Lego will invest a billion Danish Krone (around £100m) into the research and development of new raw materials for its trademark Lego blocks.

A record 9,000 new ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were registered in the UK in the first quarter of 2015. The figures, published by the Department of Transport, represent a 366% year-on-year surge. The department said the increase was driven by more vehicles being eligible for grants, which subsidise up to 35% of the cost of a plug-in car and 20% of the cost of a plug-in van. The mo
dels accounting for the most registrations in the latest quarter were the Mitsubishi Outlander with 4,596 and the Nissan Leaf with 1,705. Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “I am delighted to see such a huge rise in the number of people buying ultra low emission vehicles.

ben ainslieFour time Olympic gold winner Sir Ben Ainslie has called on the UK’s sporting organisations to raise the profile of sustainability, as the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team’s new energy efficient headquarters in Portsmouth reaches its final stages of construction. BAR team principal Ainslie called for sports teams to use their position in society to draw attention to environmental issues and help inform the public about the importance of sustainability. “As societal role models, sports teams are in a privileged position,” Ainslie said. “They have the power to drive positive change through setting an example and drawing attention to the issues that matter, such as sustainability.” “As a team we are striving to become a truly sustainable business, however our ambitions extend far beyond this. We want to lead the way be educating and inspiring younger generations to drive sustainability forward.”

The-InterceptorThe BBC’s new primetime police drama The Interceptor has achieved top ratings for sustainability standards in TV production thanks to a raft of green initiatives. The cast and crew of the eight-part BBC One series worked to reduce carbon emissions and waste materials across the set, with The Interceptor receiving a maximum three-star rating from industry sustainability certification scheme Albert+. During production, actors and crew used electric vehicles behind the scenes to save eight tonnes of CO2 emissions – enough to drive 50,000 miles. The sustainability measures also enabled reduced production costs and using the environmentally-friendly vehicles saved the BBC an estimated £10,000 in fuel and London’s congestion charge. During the filming, the construction team ensured materials for props, paints and timber were sustainably sourced and used low-level lighting in the studio. Other measures included sourcing sustainable food and reducing the team’s carbon footprint by using reusable bottles rather than plastic ones. The crew also ensured scripts were not printed to cut paper costs and reported that 92% of waste was recycled. The Albert+ certification programme is run by Bafta and aims to help production teams reduce their impact on the environment using a three star rating system. More on here.

Britain, France, Netherlands, Malta and Luxembourg are projected to miss binding goal of getting 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020
The UK, France and Netherlands are set to miss a key EU renewable energy target and should review their policies to get back on track, the European Commission has said. A progress report for all 28 member states said that those three countries plus Malta and Luxembourg should “assess whether their policies and tools are sufficient and effective” to meet the target. Adopted in 2009, the binding target requires the EU to source 20% of energy from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass by 2020. An EU source said: “There are still five years to go [to meet the target], there is still time. We are not saying they [those countries lagging now] are going to fail. We are saying look into your policies and adjust them.” The UK Government recently announced that it was withdrawing subsidies for onshore wind farms a year early – making the UK even less likely to hit 2020 renewable energy targets with an estimated 1,000 new windfarms now at risk. Speaking to business leaders in London, Energy and Climate Secretary Amber Rudd said it was time to shift subsidies from onshore wind to other technologies that needed them more. But she did not say what those technologies would be, and the government has not announced compensatory subsidies for other forms of energy.


XX-Powerful-Street-Art-Pieces-That-Tell-The-Uncomfortable-Thruth26__880This from the Guardian: The world’s least-developed countries have accused richer nations of failing to provide financial backing for a strong new global climate treaty. With little negotiating time left ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris later this year, diplomats from nearly 200 countries meeting in Bonn have reportedly made little progress, raising the possibility of a last-minute diplomatic fiasco, as happened in Copenhagen in 2009. The mistrust between countries that built up in Copenhagen now threatens the Paris talks, said Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is chairman of the 48-strong least-developed countries group. “The [UN] process is flawed by a complete lack of trust and confidence between rich and poor countries,” he said. “We need time. Because of this lack of trust we have no other way of proceeding. We have to go ahead with baby steps. We are not making much progress, but we are going in the right direction. There are so many issues. It’s a process of attrition. “Every year there is a watering down of the commitments. It feels every year that we are losing out. Twenty countries contribute 80% of emissions, the rest 20%. Yet we in Africa are being asked to cut emissions. OK, we say, but help us. Give us finance, technology.” With only around 10 days’ worth of negotiations remaining after the Bonn talks close next week, no discussion has started on three vital issues: whether rich countries should compensate poor ones for the loss and damage done by extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change; how deep the overall emission cuts should be; and how countries should fairly share the burden of cuts.

food wasteGovernments across the world should make reducing food waste an urgent priority in order to save as much as £194bn annually by 2030, according to a report. Cutting food waste leads to greater efficiency, more productivity and higher economic growth, it said, but achieving such an aspiration would involve consumers cutting their own food and drink waste by as much as half. One third of all food produced in the world ends up as waste, with food wasted by consumers globally valued at more than £259bn per year. But that cost could soar to £388bn as the global middle class expands over the course of the next fifteen years, according to new figures from the UK government’s waste advisory body Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.  Their new report, ’Strategies to achieve economic and environmental gains by reducing food waste’, also identifies significant opportunities to improve economic performance and tackle climate change by reducing the amount of food that is wasted at various stages in the supply chain – in agriculture, transport, storage and consumption. It highlights how practical changes, such as lowering the average temperatures of refrigerators or designing better packaging, can make a big difference in preventing spoilage. Approximately 25% of food waste in the developing world could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment. More here. You can access the Report here.

food wasteTesco is to become the first British supermarket to launch a bold new scheme to donate leftover food to charity, as their CEO admitted they were “not comfortable” about throwing away thousands of tonnes of food every year which could have been eaten by people in need. Company chief Dave Lewis told The Huffington Post UK: “A number of years ago we identified that food waste was an issue for our business. ” Despite taking some measures to prevent food waste, Lewis said the company “didn’t feel good about” the fact that the fluctuating demand for different food in supermarkets meant “you’re left with food that passes its sell-by date but is still perfectly good for human consumption.” “This was something we didn’t feel comfortable about.”

the-food-waste-project-partnershipAnd  EighthPlate have teamed up with Formulate Media to make a short film about their ‎foodwaste‬ crusade, to be shown at the end of their year – collecting waste food from festivals in the United Kingdom and delivering it to those who need it. The team at A Greener Festival are proud to be part of  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.

Thrifty habits of our forefathers key to reducing waste “Make do and mend” – it was a way of life for generations gone by. But while the consumer age gives us more choice than ever, the downside is we are creating more waste than the Scotland can handle.

Last month the Saudi oil minister said that he recognised that eventually the world won’t need fossil fuels pointing to 2040 or 2050 as a cut off date. It not that the oil will run out – nor fears of climate change – its just that solar and wind power are becoming increasingly cheap to produce. Renewable technologies have risen from 13% of global power to 22% in the last decade – and the cost of generating solar power has fallen 80% in six years and wind power is 40% cheaper.  Last year $150 billion was invested in solar power and $100 billion in wind – with Elon Musk’s moves to develop batteries to store sustainable power until it is needed seen as a key move forwards. Daimler in Germany are also developing new batteries alongside Tesla’s moves.  Cheap, clean energy. what’s not to like? Unless you are an oil, gas or coal company …….. and the former chairman of Shell has said that investors moving their money out of fossil fuel companies is a rational response to the industry’s “distressing” lack of progress on climate change. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, who spent almost four decades at Shell and rose to be its chairman, also said the big oil and gas companies had been calling for a price to be put on CO2 emissions for 15 years but had done little to make it happen.

The value of Europe’s five biggest energy utilities dropped €100bn (£73bn) between 2008 and 2013 in part because of a dogged preference for coal over clean power investments, a new report says. The five firms – E.ON, RWE, GDF Suez, EDF and Enel – collectively lost 37% of their share value in the period, in part because of their increasing dependence on loss-making new coal generating capacity, according to the study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. As the recession on the continent dampened power demand and the EU enacted new clean energy laws, Europe’s coal use fell by around 5%. At the same time, the ‘big five’ firms increased their reliance on coal by 9%. More here.

SLAemailHeaderEntry to the edie Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 is now open with 13 categories to choose from. Long standing, distinguished categories such as the all-important Sustainability Leader Award are joined by some brand new categories, such as the Sustainable Business Models and the Sustainability Professional Awards, with all categories focusing on specific aspects of sustainability and the environmental and business improvements they drive. More here.

Norway’s parliament has formally endorsed the move to sell off coal investments from its $900bn sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest. It is the largest fossil fuel divestment yet, affecting 122 companies across the world, and marking a new success for the fast-growing and UN-backed climate change campaign. A new analysis said the fund would sell off over $8bn (£5bn) of coal-related investments as a result. The biggest single sell-off from Norway’s fund will be the UK utility SSE, in which the fund holds $956m of shares. The fund is also set to sell its $49m stake in Drax, which runs the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station. And the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has announced that it will divest about £1.2m (A$2.3m) of fossil fuel interests from its £45m (A$90m) endowment. The RACP is Australasia’s largest specialist medical college.

Shell_oil_croppedShell tried to influence the presentation of a climate change programme it was sponsoring at the Science Museum in London, internal documents seen by the Guardian show. The Anglo-Dutch oil group raised concerns with the museum that one part of the project “creates an opportunity for NGOs to talk about some of the issues that concern them around Shell’s operations”. The company also wanted to know whether a particular symposium at the museum was “invite only” – as that would ensure “we do not proactively open up a debate on the topic [of Shell’s operations]”.

Britain will be home to the world’s first ever tidal lagoon energy project as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has granted planning permission for a giant tidal power plant off the coast of Wales. In what has been hailed as a “exciting step” towards harnessing untapped tidal energy sources, the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed that the £850m Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project will be developed by British firm Tidal Lagoon Power. When fully operational, by the year 2023, the 320MW scheme could provide up to 8% of the UK’s electricity, adding up to £27bn to GDP by 2027.

The G7 summit of economic powers has thrown its weight behind a goal to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2100 in what has been hailed as an unequivocal sign on climate action. At the G7 Summit this week, the leaders of the US, UK, Japan, France, Canada, Italy and host nation Germany unanimously agreed to a full “decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century”.  Climate change topped the agenda for a series of session of the Summit, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel – once dubbed the ‘Climate Chancellor’ – making the official announcement on specific emissions goals: “We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050 and invite all countries to join us in this endeavor,” reads the official statement. “To this end we also commit to develop long term national low-carbon strategies.”

Approximately 425GW of energy storage will be needed to support the planet’s transition to 45% renewable energy by 2030, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The Abu Dhabi-based have published a roadmap to building 325GW of pumped-storage hydroelec­tricity, and 150GW of battery storage. Currently pumped hydro – pumping water uphill into large reservoirs when power is abundant and then letting it flow down again to generate power when needed – accounts for 99% of the world’s 142GW storage capacity.

The Guardian reports that developing countries have the opportunity to leapfrog the west in economic development, if they go straight to clean technology while rich countries struggle to wean themselves off fossil fuels, president Francois Hollande of France said on Wednesday. “They are going to be skipping the stage where industrialised countries were stopped fro a long time, for many decades,” he said. “We were dependent on fossil fuel, which means we now have to concentrate on the transition in the medium to long term of abandoning fossil fuels. But they have the chance to move immediately to the new technologies.” He said clean technologies such as renewable energy were “dropping in price and will continue to drop”, while industrialised countries faced costs in having to scrap old infrastructure and rebuild it anew in a low-carbon fashion. Developing countries, many of which are constructing scores of new cities to house their burgeoning populations, would be able to build them in a low-carbon way, with better energy efficiency, he told the annual meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in Paris.

Global warming has not undergone a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’, according to US government research that undermines one of the key arguments used by sceptics to question climate science. The new study reassessed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (Noaa) temperature record to account for changing methods of measuring the global surface temperature over the past century. The adjustments to the data were slight, but removed a flattening of the graph this century that has led climate sceptics to claim the rise in global temperatures had stopped. “There is no slowdown in warming, there is no hiatus,” said lead author Dr Tom Karl, who is the director of Noaa’s National Climatic Data Centre.

SOLAR POWERThe UK solar sector has seemingly become a victim of its own success, with big developers and investors now claiming they will not be making use of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme for large projects over the next year. According to a new survey conducted by PwC in conjunction with the Solar Trade Association (STA), the majority of developers who were responsible for adding more than 1GW to the grid in the past six months have said they will be focusing on smaller projects in the short-term, due to the recent closure of the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) support mechanism for large-scale solar farms. As of April this year, solar schemes larger than 5MW in size are no longer eligible for ROCs, which oblige electricity companies to buy a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. The changes led to an industry ‘gold rush’, whereby developers hurried to connect large systems to the grid in time to qualify for certificates.

Eighty of the UK’s largest businesses have sent an open letter to David Cameron urging him to tackle climate change and support a low-carbon UK economy. Signed by firms including BT, John Lewis, Coke, Mars, IKEA and Marks & Spencer, the letter calls for the Prime Minister do three specific things: Seek a strong global climate deal in Paris in December which limits temperature rises to below 2°C. Set an ambitious 5th carbon budget to drive forward UK emissions reductions and Establish a long-term framework for investment in the low-carbon economy. “We are some of the businesses that will help create the UK’s future economy,” said the letter, published in the Financial Times.

Corporate fleet managers across Europe could cut millions of tonnes of CO2 and save £20bn a year by taking advantage of available green technologies and efficiency techniques. That’s the conclusion of a Greenpeace-commissioned report by sustainability consultants CE Delft. As well as simply switching to electric and hybrid vehicles, the report covers a wide variety of approaches to reducing fuel consumption. For example, drivers can be trained to drive more efficiently, cutting fuel costs and emissions by 20%, the report estimates. Retro-fitting vehicles with aerodynamic features, new tyres and weight reductions could also cut fuel consumption by up to 45%. reports that investments in the coal and oil sectors will see annual losses up to 2% over the next 10 years, if the world’s governments commit to limiting global warming to 2C at Paris later this year. By contrast, returns from the renewables sector would be expected to double in the next ten years from 5.3% to 10.4%. Those stats are from a new report released this week by consultancy firm Mercer. The report warns that investors should consider moving away from fossil fuel sectors, which could see their profitability wiped out by concerted global action against climate change. Under a 2C pathway, Mercer predicts coal stocks to provide average returns of -2.0% a year for the next 10 years, and oil stocks to return -0.7% a year. Utilities’ returns are also expected to fall from 5.1% a year, to 1.2%. And that’s why the coal, gas and oil sectors lobyy and lobby and lobby.

Zero Waste Scotland has launched its first recycling superstore in the Scottsih Highlands. The Blythswood Care’s store – opened on June 5 – is the first of Zero Waste Scotland’s re-use ‘hubs’, which it hopes will popularise the concept of a circular economy. The shop in Dingwall will sell a variety of second-hand items ranging from furniture and kitchen appliances, to carpets, toys and clothes. The store also features a Repair Club, with staff demonstrating sewing skills and furniture repairs to customers.

World Environment Day: 10 things we should ALL be thinking about


HOPIn the UK, collaborating with other nations to combat climate change and the release of a new Energy Bill to increase energy security in the UK were among the key announcements in the first all-Conservative Queen’s Speech since 1996. The Queen gave just two mentions of energy and the environment in her 10-minute speech, to the disappointment of green groups and sustainability professionals alike. First, she said “measures will be introduced to increase energy security,” and later she stated that the new Tory Government “will seek effective global collaboration to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change – including at the climate change conference in Paris later this year.”

The Evening Standard reports that London is set to become Europe’s green tech capital under bold proposals being drawn up by environmental chiefs. Mayor of London Boris Johnson is backing the plan to create a clean tech hub in west London following the startling success of Tech City in the east. An outline plan will be delivered to the London Sustainable Development Commission on how to attract hundreds of start-up and larger eco-firms to Park Royal and the Old Oak Common area as it is redeveloped with the arrival of Crossrail and the HS2 rail line. Former climate change minister Greg Barker, who now chairs the LSDC, said: “Our ambition is to create the largest concentration of clean tech businesses outside of California and [become] Europe’s No 1 destination for green entrepreneurs. “Unleashing the green entrepreneurs is really going to drive this forward and take this to the next level.”

India is enduring such a severe heat wave some of its roads are actually melting. Over 1,000heat-related deaths had been reported as temperatures soar up to 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Farenheit.) in some parts of the country. Most of these deaths have occurred in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Telangana. Meteorological officials have said the heat would likely last several more days – scorching crops, killing wildlife and endangering anyone laboring outdoors. More here.

oil rigEdinburgh University has announced plans to divest from coal and tar sands within the next six months, apparently reversing a recent ruling by the university’s court. On 12 May, Edinburgh rejected plans to divest from all fossil fuels, saying it would do so only where feasible alternative sources of energy existed, and where companies were not investing in low carbon technologies. The decision sparked outrage from students and campaigners, including pickets, marches on campus and a 10-day occupation of the university central management building.

And staying in Scotland, reports that Zero Waste Scotland is offering interest-free loans up to £100,000 to help Scottish businesses improve their resource efficiency. The loans will help fund new heating systems and experiments into improving industrial processes, amongst other things, which could help save businesses up to £2.9bn in total. Resource Efficient Scotland, a programme of the Government-funded Zero Waste Scotland, will be overseeing the programme and carrying out audits on applicants. Head of Resource Efficient Scotland Marissa Lippiatt said: “Making resource efficiency a priority doesn’t just benefit the environment; it can also lead to cost savings and a real competitive advantage” adding “We know that time, money and expertise can often be perceived as a barrier, particularly for small businesses. These funds can help overcome some of these barriers, and I hope to see businesses taking this opportunity and making progress in becoming more sustainable.”

The UK can cut the cost of decarbonising its electricity supply by more than £3.5bn if it can create a grid-scale electricity storage system to balance the variable output of renewables. That’s according to a report from QBC, a company looking to build such a system. The group’s technology of choice is pump storage – pumping water uphill into large reservoirs when power is abundant and then letting it flow down again to generate power when needed.

And British consumers are being ‘kept in the dark’ about the sourcing practices of some of the UK’s largest timber users, according to a new report from WWF. The research – Do timber products in the UK stack up? – analysed 26 products from 17 different companies and found that none could provide evidence that they had carried out ‘sufficient due diligence’ in ensuring a sustainable timber supply. Only one company (Cargo) was able to provide any documentation about its product, although the information was in Chinese.

honeybee1Morgan Freeman has turned his 24 acre ranch near Mississippi onto a sanctuary for bees. Freeman has said that he is especially concerned about the declining numbers in the bee population which is a big part of the reason why he decided to start keeping them. Freeman now spends his days feeding them with sugar and water. His gardener also chips in by planting acres and acres of bee-friendly plants including clover, lavender and magnolia trees and told reporters  “There’s a concerted effort to bring bees back onto the planet…We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation…”  And Londoners are rallying to protect the honeybee with growing numbers of residents installing hives in their gardens. The number of people in the capital hosting their own colonies has more than doubled in five years to 3,500 following high-profile campaigns to save the bees. The Co-Operative’s Plan Bee drive, launched to combat the decline in pollinating insects, says honeybee numbers have fallen by up to 30 per cent in recent years, with worldwide bee populations in similar decline.  The British Beekeepers Association says an average of 9.6 colonies in every 100 perished between October 2013 and March last year — double the number that should be lost in winter. A loss of habitat and rising pollution are thought to be chiefly to blame. Barnes & Webb which installs and manage hives in London, said they are having to turn people away as demand soars. They have installed 40 hives since 2012, half of them in the past 12 months, mostly in north-east London. The honey sells in Selfridges and other London stores.

Thames Water will soon be 100% powered by renewable energy, after inking a five-year, £520m supply deal with Drax-subsidiary Haven Power. The deal has an option for two further five-year renewals which could increase the overall value of the contract to more than £1.5bn over 15 years. Thames Water – the UK’s largest water and sewerage company – currently sources about 20% of its electricity through self-generated renewables.

A female cyclist who was hit by a lorry in south London during a day of horror on the capital’s roads has died, police said. Esther Hartsilver, 32, was injured in the crash on Denmark Hill on Thursday morning. Ms Hartsilver, a senior physiotherapist, was taken to King’s College Hospital, where she was a member of staff but died later, police said. She is the sixth cyclist to die on London’s roads this year. All have involved HGVs. Another cyclist in her mid fifties was killed in a multi vehicle crash in Walton on Thames. A van driver was under arrest on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. A third male unicyclist was fighting for his life is hospital after being trapped under a double decker bus in Walthamstow – he was freed after a crowd of  around 100 people who were in the area lifted the bus.   In April, renowned designer Moira Gemmill, 55, who was overseeing renovations at Windsor Castle, was killed in an accident near Lambeth Bridge. In February, French-born Claire Hitier-Abadie, 36, a mother of two, died after being struck by a Crossrail lorry as she rode a cycle-hire “Boris bike” through Victoria, central London.

airpollutionThe world’s nations have one last chance to slow climate change: “It is becoming apparent that 2015 may be a critical year for the issue of climate change, in more ways than one. The obvious way, of course, is through the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop21) opening in Paris in six months, where the world community will try to agree a legally binding deal to limit the carbon emissions causing the atmosphere to warm (and for which the Global Apollo Programme to lower the cost of low-carbon energy, which we report on today, might play a vital role).”  The Paris conference may be the final chance the world gets to keep rising temperatures below the agreed danger threshold of 2C above the pre-industrial level. The last attempt to cut such a deal, at Copenhagen in 2009, collapsed amid fierce argument about who should do what, between the developed countries, led by the Americans, and the developing nations, led by the Chinese. More from Michael McCarthy here

A group of leading scientists have joined the campaign to end the use of coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels, within 10 years – promoting cheaper green energy in a move to abate climate change.  The Global Apollo Programme aims to make the cost of clean electricity lower than that from coal-fired power stations across the world within 10 years. It calls for £15bn a year of spending on research, development and demonstration of green energy and energy storage, the same funding in today’s money that the US Apollo programme spent in putting astronauts on the moon.The plan is the brainchild of a group of eminent UK scientists, economists and businessmen including Sir David King, currently the UK’s climate change envoy, Lord Nicholas Stern, Lord Adair Turner and ex-BP chief Lord John Browne. King said green energy already had advantages over fossil fuel power in cutting deadly air pollution and reducing the carbon emissions that drive global warming. But he said making clean energy cheaper was important too: “Once we get to that point, we are winning in all the battles.”

Tesla has announced that the first of its utility-scale Powerpack battery systems will be deployed in Ireland next year, under a new deal with energy storage firm Gaelectric. The 1MW pilot system will is said to be the first in a series of battery projects designed to help integrate renewable energy sources into the Irish grid. Tesla said it will also be exploring opportunities for other Tesla Energy products in residential and commercial applications.

The UK government has pledged £50m funding to help encourage investment in renewable energy projects in developing countries. The cash – set aside from existing funding for the International Climate Fund – will go into the Climate Development Finance Facility (CDFF). The CDFF aims to stimulate funding for medium to large scale (between 25-75MW) renewable energy projects in emerging economies where finance would otherwise be hard to come by. It provides assistance from the development phase, through construction, to refinancing options after completion.

food wasteAlmost 130,000 people have signed a petition calling on the UK government to force supermarkets to give unsold food to charities. The petition is calling for a law to be passed forcing retailers to donate leftover produce that is still safe to eat to food banks. It is almost two thirds of the way to its target of 200,000 signatures, just nine days after being launched. Lizzie Swarf, who started the the campaign, pointed to a new French law which passed on Tuesday, as inspiration.

An ambitious project to build the world’s first tidal lagoon for generating clean electricity off the coast of Swansea has triggered an environmental row on the south coast of Cornwall. And a second row is brewing, with a Chinese construction group in pole position to win a huge contract to undertake marine works at Swansea Bay, despite key promises by the developers to prioritise local involvement. The Cornish dispute centres on a project to reopen a quarry at Dean near St Kevergne on the Lizard Peninsula, to source at least 3m tonnes of stone for the Swansea project. Many residents in Dean and St Kevergne, some ocean scientists and all the local candidates in May’s general election oppose the quarry scheme. The Cornish stone would be used to build a six-mile long breakwater in Swansea amid hopes of generating significant shipping volumes in a newly-created marine conservation zone.

Thank you Robertson Taylor

RT_EntIns_Hi-Res-Stack 2014Our friends at Robertson Taylor W&P Longreach, who provide entertainment insurance worldwide, have agreed to sponsor A Greener Festival for 2015 – 2016. Robertson Taylor have been sponsors of our Awards scheme for seven years now, but with the scheme taking ‘a year off’ they have kindly agreed to sponsor our website this year.

A Greener Festival co-founder Ben Challis said “Robertson Taylor have been fantastic supporters of our environmental work with live events over the years and their generosity in funding the running costs of our website this year is truly appreciated by the whole team at A Greener Festival. We also plan to keep on working with a range of strong campaigns we have already committed too including Powerful Thinking – the not-for-profit industry think-do tank working towards an energy efficient, low carbon and cost effective future for festivals; Love Your Tent – the campsite waste campaign created by Eco-action Partnership in association with A Greener Festival and designed to bond people with their portable homes; and our new project 8th Plate – a partnership with FareShare SouthWest and the Nationwide Caterers Association – it’s a food waste project which aims to reduce the amount of food waste at events and develop systems to salvage food and redistribute food – before it goes off – and builds our work with Sustain who publish the ‘ Good Food for Festivals Guide‘ and the ‘ Good Food Guide for Festival and Street-food Caterers‘. We also plan to keep supporting the GO Group (Green Operations Europe); we now have a partnership with the ILMC to present our annual conference, Green Events & Innovations in 2016. On top of this we plan to keep planting trees in Festival Wood! Robertson Taylor’s support will make all of this possible – so it’s a big ‘thank you’ from us!”

John Silcock, CEO at RT, added, “The environment is and will always be an important issue. As part of our community programme, we are delighted to support A Greener Festival’s work and to support festivals that are reducing their environmental impact.”

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