Monthly Archives: September 2015

ANOTHER PLANET?

popefrancisPope Francis has called for further action on climate change saying that it was “a critical moment of history”, on the first day of his visit to the US. Speaking to a crowd of more than 11,000 people on the White House South Lawn, the pontiff said the problem could “no longer be left to a future generation”. President Barack Obama said the Pope reminded people “that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet”.

US President Barack Obama has announced his administration will invest more than $160m in innovative technology across a range of American cities in an attempt to help local communities tackle key sustainability challenges. The ‘smart cities’ program was announced in concurrence with a forum as part of Smart Cities Week and will encourage cities to stop looking for a ‘single silver bullet’ and instead cooperate with governments, NGOs and businesses to build thriving sustainable communities. Obama said: “Every community is different, with different needs and different approaches. But communities that are making the most progress on these issues have some things in common. They don’t look for a single silver bullet; instead they bring together local government and nonprofits and businesses and teachers and parents around a shared goal.”

Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged to divest his personal wealth and charitable foundation’s fund from fossil fuels, joining a group of investors worth more than $2.6trn, according to new figures. A report from Arabella Advisors has revealed that the divestment movement has grown 50-fold over the last year, now featuring 400 institutions and 2,000 individuals. DiCaprio, who announced his own divestment this week, said: “Climate change is severely impacting the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants, and we must transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, the main driver of this global problem.

Environmentalists have criticised a decision to appoint a former consultant to major oil and gas companies as UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s key adviser on energy and environment policy. Stephen Heidari-Robinson, a little-known consultant from oilfield services company Schlumberger, arrives in Downing Street just months before the prime minister is expected to attend the UN’s global climate change summit which begins in Paris in December. A Number 10 spokesman confirmed the appointment of Heidari-Robinson, who started in the job this week. It is understood he will serve as a lead energy and environment adviser to the prime minister, liaising with senior ministers and officials across Whitehall.

London_Big_Ben_Phone_boxAnd former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore has has called on the British government to resume its former leadership on climate change, in order to forge a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions this December at a crunch conference in Paris. While saying he would not interfere in other countries’ politics, Gore said he was “puzzled” by the Conservative government’s measures to roll back support for renewable energy. Gore, who spoke at an event hosted by Green Alliance,  was followed by a speech from CBI director general John Cridland, who warned the government’s surprise decision to impose deep cuts on a host of renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes sent a “worrying signal” to investors and businesses.

Britain could get 85% of its energy – not just electricity – from renewables by 2030, a new Greenpeace-sponsored report has found.  The study, carried out by analysts at Demand Energy Equality, used 11 years of real weather data to model renewable output and how it can match up to expected demand. It found that renewables could meet the vast majority of the country’s energy needs if the UK Government chooses to support a major expansion of wind and solar farms and promotes a variety of new technologies such as ‘smart fridges’, electricity storage, energy efficiency, tidal power and electric cars.

A host of high-profile companies, including NIKE and Procter & Gamble, are the latest to join RE100 – an initiative whose members are committed to sourcing 100% renewable energy. Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya and Walmart have also signed up to the campaign, which has seen members rise from 12 to 36 just one year after launch. Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group which helped establish the initiative, said: “Research shows that the most ambitious companies have seen a 27% return on their low carbon investments – no wonder new names keep joining RE100.

The market for utility-scale battery storage is expected to increase 18-fold by 2024, according to analysis released today by market research firm Frost & Sullivan. Revenue from grid-connected utility-scale batteries totalled $0.46bn in 2014, but is expected to rise to $8.30bn in 2024, driven by “impressive technological breakthroughs and growth in manufacturing capabilities”. For example, Tesla’s forthcoming Gigafactory in Nevada, which will be producing 35GWh worth of batteries by 2020 – more capacity than was produced globally in 2013.

BP_Petrol_StationEdie.net reports that Chevron, BP and Shell are among 50 oil companies who face an investigation from the Phillipine courts, after accusations that they have fuelled ‘catastrophic climate change resulting in human rights violations’. A complaint has been submitted to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, demanding an investigation into the top 50 investor-owned companies which release the most CO2 emissions annually. The complaint calls for the investigation to launch this year as it will establish a ‘moral and legal precedent’ that big polluters can be held accountable for current ‘human rights infringements’. Between 2000 and 2008, weather-related disasters accounted for 78% of all disaster-based deaths in the Philippines. Over the last 10 years the country had to deal with damages of up to $24bn due to storms affecting 12.1 million people.

The man who tried to become the world’s first climate refugee is set to be deported from New Zealand in the next week. Ioane Teitiota overstayed his visa in New Zealand in 2011 and faced deportation. However, he launched a legal appeal, claiming that his homeland – the Pacific island nation of Kiribati – was threatened by rising sea-levels. Kiribati’s land averages little more than six feet above sea level and is one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to rising sea levels, driven by climate change. Sea levels are expected to rise between 2.5-6.5 feet by the end of the century, putting much of Kiribati underwater. However, Teitiota’s appeals have been rejected throughout the New Zealand judicial system, with the Supreme Court ruling against him in July. Earlier courts called Teitiota’s argument ‘novel but unconvincing’, adding that millions in low-lying countries faced a similar plight.

Plans to build a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence in Pembrokeshire have been unveiled in Wales, in a bid to make the area an international standard-bearing for green energy.

Edie also reports that Sainsbury’s has launched a five-year, £10m innovation project to try and tackle the problem of household food waste in the UK. The supermarket is searching for a town in the UK that will become a ‘test bed for innovation’; to find which initiatives are most effective in reducing food waste. Findings and recommendations from year one of the ‘Waste Less, Save More’ initiative will be developed into a blueprint and made public so that communities across the country can benefit from the results.
Sainsbury’s says it will then focus on “making a long-term difference” and measuring the impact of the activity, with the final phases of the project exploring opportunities to reduce other forms of waste.

Disposable nappies, incontinent pads and feminine hygiene products will have a new life as plastic bins and pet litter thanks to a new recycling facility planned for West London. Development plans for the UK’s largest Absorbent Hygiene Product (AHP) recycling site in Hayes have been submitted by Knowaste – an American recycling firm which aims to build seven such facilities across the UK within the next five years. The £14m ‘Hayes 180’ site, which is planned to launch in early 2017, will charge local authorities and commercial hygiene companies a set fee to use the facility, replacing the existing mandatory landfill or incineration costs associated with AHPs.

babyorangThe SumOfUs tells us that ” At last! After more than a year of campaigning, Doritos and its parent company PepsiCo just came out with a new palm oil policy. Thanks to you, the policy contains stronger language around human rights and carbon emissions. And PepsiCo is the first company that’s agreed to publish an action plan within 3 months of releasing this new policy But, there’s a problem. The new policy still contains massive loopholes.  Under the policy, the rainforest will still be destroyed, endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and orangutan will still suffer, and workers (many of them children) will still be exploited. How? The policy does not cover PepsiCo’s business partner in Indonesia, Indofood, which produces all of PepsiCo’s products in Southeast Asia. But PepsiCo has caved to our pressure before — and we can get them to cave again”. MORE HERE – and please SHARE!

At the end of November, world leaders will meet at the UN climate talks in Paris. It’s a crucial moment, as negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out. Inspired by their faith, pilgrims from across the UK will come together to call on world leaders to agree a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal in Paris. The Church of England, Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund have come together to organise a Pilgrimage2Paris ahead of the UN talks. The pilgrimage will start in London on 13 November and arrive in Paris on 27 November.

african-elephant2 Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and the president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama made ​​history today by announcing rapid measures from their two countries to protect elephants from poaching crisis they are facing. In a joint statement, the presidents pledged to enact “nearly complete bans on imports and exports of ivory, including significant and immediate restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies.” They also promised “take meaningful and timely action to end the ivory trade in their domestic market.” In addition, the two leaders pledged to intensify their cooperation to curb the increase in wildlife trafficking that endangers countless species around the world. The United States government had already committed to a “near total ban” of the ivory trade. This represents a big step forward from their Chinese counterpart. More (in French) on the IFAW here.

Shell has abandoned its controversial drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic in the face of mounting opposition in what jubilant environmentalists described as “an unmitigated defeat” for big oil. The Anglo-Dutch company had repeatedly stressed the enormous hydrocarbon potential of the far north region in public, but in private began to admit it had been surprised by the popular opposition it faced.Shell said  it had made a marginal discovery of oil and gas with its summer exploration in the Chukchi Sea but not enough to continue to the search for the “foreseeable” future. Or see the Daily Mash here.

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The plastic waste killing our seas

Some horrifying facts about plastic waste (Source: Ecowatch)

Gyre ocean rubbish• In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles—are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
• Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
• 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
• Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
• We currently recover only five percent of the plastics we produce.
• The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
• Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.
• The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world’s oil production (bioplastics are not a good solution as they require food source crops).
• Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
• Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
• Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
• 46 percent of plastics float (EPA 2006) and it can drift for years before eventually concentrating in the ocean gyres.
• It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
plasticbag• Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from the land.
• The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
• Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
• One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
• 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
• In samples collected in Lake Erie, 85 percent of the plastic particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and much of that was microscopic. Researchers found 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile.
• Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
• Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).
• Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.

MORE HERE

And did you know OUR PLASTIC WASTE COULD BE TURNED INTO REUSABLE OIL – this man has invented a machine for your kitchen that does just this. Its not perfect a perfect solution – but its better than polluting our oceans – why don’t we know about these things? Another one here – Gakona’s Plastic to Oil Machine.

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Food meets sustainability at ADE Green

ADEGreen

Roskilde’s Mikkel Sander, Dionne van Zijl of Youth Food Movement and Dede Flemming of Lightning in a Bottle share their experience of working with sustainable food strategies and what they have learned along the way.

Tickets for ADE Green (€25,-) are available here (also accessible for 1- & 5- day conference ticket holders).

Food and festivals
Food…we all love it, and we all need it, and as you’ll see at this year’s ADE Green, music festivals are leading the way in proving that we don’t have to mash-up the planet to produce it. Co-curator of the panel ‘Beyond Organic, What Is Good Festival Food?’ Laura van de Voort of Green Events Nederland, explains. “With 9,6 billion people living on our planet in 2050 the food supplies need to increase enormously while the sources are decreasing. Also diseases like obesity and the environmental impact of producing food – 20-25% of greenhouse gasses are caused by it – are big issues that need to be discussed. To tackle this issue in the heart of one of the most popular industries – the dance industry – is a good step towards greater awareness and hopefully resulting in behavioural change.”

But now it’s about persuading festival organisers to serve food in a sustainable way, look at their processes and share with them the lessons learned to make implementation easier.
“Festivals have a unique opportunity to communicate directly with their visitors and food is a perfect way to do that. And of course, good food can also contribute to the overall festival experience. And festival visitors are ready. The extra love and fewer pesticides give every meal a better taste. Even hamburgers and fries can be organic and locally produced.”

Roskilde Festival’s work with sustainability
ADE Green keynoter in the form of Roskilde Festival’s food strategist Mikkel Sander (DK) is responsible for Roskilde Festival’s work with sustainability. The F&B (food and beverage) strategy plays a major role in that, because many of the goals on F&B are closely connected to environmental issues like the conversion to organic of the festival’s food. “My role is to drive that work forward, keep everyone focused on the target ahead, secure management backup, inspire the team with new ideas and be a resourceful helper to the many volunteers who are doing the hard work.”  “Attending Roskilde is a special experience because of the unique combination of a crowd of 135.000 people, over 32,000 volunteers, the peaceful, youthful and loving atmosphere, the openness towards others, the escapism, and the curiosity to explore the unknown, whether it’s music, other people, or your own identity. And the great food of course! On top of that, Roskilde Festival has been a non-profit organisation since 1972, and all profits are donated to charity after each festival. This year that amounted to 3,5 million euros. So taking a responsibility for the world we share is part of Roskilde’s DNA. And since environmental problems are our biggest global challenge, it’s natural for us to take a stand. Actually it should be for any company, person or event – non-profit or commercial. But of course the long tradition of taking the green agenda seriously in Denmark helps us because it’s easier for the participants to understand its importance, and it’s easier to find relevant partners to undertake projects with.”

Sustainable food strategy
The ‘Beyond Organic, What Is Good Festival Food?‘ panel features Mikkel Sander (DK), Dionne van Zijl (NL) of the Youth Food Movement and Dede Flemming (US) of Lightning in a Bottle, discussing their experience of working with a sustainable food strategy, as well as the lessons learned, and which types of changes can have the greatest impact.

About ADE Green
The ADE Green conference is an one-day symposium for anyone who wants to know more about sustainability, innovation and social change across the entertainment industry. The event features an afternoon packed with interactive panels, inspiring speakers, debates and workshops.

Date: Wednesday October 14
Venue: De Brakke Grond
Tickets for ADE Green (€25,-) are available here (also accessible for 1- & 5- day conference ticket holders).

Read more:
ADE Green hosts activists keynoters
– Festivals and events are mini-civilisations, spaces for experimentation and inspiration
– ADE Green teams up with Open House

ANOTHER PLANET?

GAP_long_program_rgbSir David Attenborough, Unilever’s Paul Polman and former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey are among 27 leading scientists, business executives, academics and politicians that have signed a joint letter backing an Apollo-style research programme to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels. The letter, published today (16 September), argues that “a sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”. It urges the leading nations of the world to commit to the Global Apollo Program, which seeks to emulate the ‘space race’ of the 1960’s to encourage more spending on clean energy; in a bid to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within the next 10 years. More here.

Businesses must be willing to move from individual efforts to collective action in order to deliver long-term food security, WWF-UK has insisted.
A report published today (10 September) by the green group in partnership with the Food Ethics Council urges businesses to accelerate their contribution to addressing sustainable food security by understanding where food is sourced from and sold to, as well as exploring actions for the benefit of a wider society. Additionally, companies should only consider commercial benefits alongside social benefits of sustainable food security and encourage support of food security goals in the wider business environment, the report states.  WWF-UK expert on sustainable food security Duncan Williamson said: “It’s heartening to see that more companies are grappling with the issues of sustainable food systems, but if we’re all to reap the benefits, they need to act boldly, and quickly.”

An edible alternative to plastic water bottles made from seaweed has topped the UK round of an EU competition for new, more sustainable products. The new spherical form of packaging, called Ooho and described by its makers as “water you can eat”, is biodegradeable, hygenic and costs 1p per unit to make. It is made chiefly from calcium chloride and a seaweed derivative called sodium alginate. Ooho won the joint award with Alchemie Technologie, who have created a digital way of dispensing dye for the textile industry. Clothes are dyed selectively using a product similar to an industrial inkjet printer, replacing the full immersion process used currently, which consumes vast quantities of chemicals, water and heat. Both companies take home €20,000 of investment from the competition run by Climate KIC, created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with galvanising the transformation to a sustainable economy. They will go on to compete against entrepreneurs from across Europe. Other finalists presented a water purifier that captures energy from solar panels, an index that allows investors to track their financial exposure to carbon and a process that uses bio tanks to create paper from waste straw instead of trees. Entries were showcased at the Science Museum in London.  More here.

easterislandEaster Island –  home of the Rapa Nui – is often given as one of the best (or worst) examples of ‘ecocide’ – the Island’s inhabitants descended into cannibalism after the island was completely deforested – removing the basic raw material the islanders needed to survive.  The Island is still mostly treeless but islanders now say they care deeply about the environment and have fished its water using traditional methods – but fish stocks have been depleted by illegal industrial factor fishing boats. Now Chile has said that it will create a 300,000 square mile 200 mile wide reserve around Easter Island, which will be protected by satellite tracking system  to prevent factory ships fishing – using the technology to remotely monitor vessels. 3,000 people remain on Easter Island.

Hundreds more of England’s most important wildlife sites are now at risk from fracking after the UK government opened up 1,000 sq miles of land to the controversial technology, a new analysis has found. Among the 159 licences issued last month to explore for oil and gas onshore in the UK – likely to include fracking for shale oil or gas – are 293 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), the definition given to an area protecting rare species or habitats According to the RSPB, which compiled the list of SSSIs, the result could be significant damage to the UK’s remaining habitats for rare wildlife and plants. While the government has pledged to restrict fracking in national parks, in July it made a U-turn on a pre-election promise to protect the thousands of SSSIs in the UK. There are 4,000 such sites in England, more than 1,000 in Wales and 1,425 in Scotland. Fracking is the process of blasting dense shale rocks with high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals, in order to create tiny fissures that allow the microscopic bubbles of natural gas trapped within the rocks to escape, where they can be captured and piped to the surface. The technology is controversial, having caused minor earthquakes in the UK at the only site here to have been fracked in Lancashire, and is the subject of protests by environmental campaigners with fear of water table pollution and environmental damage. More on the Guardian here.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012The UK has fallen to eleventh place in a ranking of the most attractive renewable energy markets for investors by consultancy firm EY. EY’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) found that the Government’s renewable energy subsidy cuts were already having a tangible impact on renewable investment. It marks the first occasion in 45 issues of the RECAI that the UK has fallen out of the top-ten. This year alone, 23 large-scale projects representing around 2.7GW of energy have been publicly abandoned, putting a question mark over the long-term future for the UK’s renewable sector. The report also questions the Government’s opposition to the cheapest renewable technology – onshore wind – in light of its support for the more expensive and less popular nuclear and fracking options. More than half of the major sources of project finance for renewable energy developers say they will not lend to onshore wind projects in the UK until there is more clarity around subsidies. And the renewable energy industry was dealt yet another blow as the Conservative government rejected proposals for a £3.5bn windfarm off the south coast of England.
Energy Minister Lord Bourne has seemingly bowed to lobbying by local Tory MPs and refused planning permission for the 970MW Navitus Bay offshore wind farm in Dorset, over concerns about the projects’s visual impact.  A DECC Spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved.”

The UK Government should move away from out-dated green taxes which target businesses and instead offer green tax incentives to reduce carbon emissions, according to the manufacturers’ organisation EEF. In a new report titled ‘The Low Carbon Economy – From Stick to Carrot’, EEF reviews the carbon tax changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne in this year’s Budget Statement, ahead of the Government’s long-awaited autumn consultation into energy efficiency taxes. The report calls on the Government to ‘reduce the overall burden’ placed onto businesses through energy taxations and levies and replace the ‘confusing mix’ of regulatory programmes, noticeably the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

The newly elected Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has named his shadow secretaries for energy and environment as he looks to push forward his ambitious energy reform programme. Corbyn, who was elected Labour leader on Saturday 12th September, has appointed Lisa Nandy to head up the shadow Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Kerry McCarthy to lead the shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

hawksbill-turtle-thailandPopulations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, a report says. The study says some species people rely on for food are faring even worse, noting a 74% drop in the populations of tuna and mackerel. In addition to human activity such as overfishing, the report also says climate change is having an impact. The document was prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London. The report says that sea cucumbers – seen as a luxury food throughout Asia – have seen a significant fall in numbers, with a 98% in the Galapagos and 94% drop in the Red Sea over the past few years. The study notes the decline of habitats – such as seagrass areas and mangrove cover – which are important for food and act as a nursery for many species. Climate change has also played a role in the overall decline of marine populations.
The report says carbon dioxide is being absorbed into the oceans, making them more acidic, damaging a number of species. More in the BBC here.

In the UK Politicians and negotiators involved in the Paris Climate Summit (COP21)  “ought to feel the pressure from businesses” to achieve a global climate deal, the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said. Speaking at the Business for the Environment (B4E) Climate Summit in London, Lord Nick Bourne insisted “there is a feeling in the air” ahead of the crucial climate talks in December, but businesses must “keep the pressure up” to secure an internationally-binding agreement to keep global warming below two degrees. But Bourne’s speech was countered by business leaders at the event, who said the Conservative Government’s retrospective green policy changes are increasing the cost of capital and impacting investment in low-carbon technologies. More on edie.net here.

Global carbon emissions from the world’s aviation and maritime sectors could rise 250% by 2050 without tangible targets from governments to reduce carbon rates, a report has warned. The New Climate Economy has called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to lay out objectives to drastically reduce carbon rates, which are in danger of growing dramatically over the coming decades. The report, commissioned by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, has recommended initiatives for the ICAO and IMO to implement, in an attempt to stop combined global CO2 emissions reaching 32% by 2050.

Nine out of 10 new diesel cars break new EU pollution limits when tested on roads rather than test tracks, according to a new report. On average, the cars emit seven times the permitted level of NOx gasses, with the worst car producing 22 times the legal limit. Models from every major motor manufacturer breached the limit when they were evaluated in real-world conditions. From 1 September, new diesel cars in the EU have had to comply with emissions rules called “Euro 6”. However, carmakers can use a whole range of techniques to ensure that their cars perform far better under test conditions than when driven by ordinary drivers.

nissanleaf#In better news, Japanese carmaker Nissan has added a new 30Kwh battery to its flagship Leaf electric vehicle, improving its driving range by 25%. The Leaf, which previously ran on 24Kwh batteries, now has a driving range of 155 miles on a single charge thanks to the improved battery, which the company claims is the first of its kind for the market. The company claim the battery will only add 21kg of weight to the vehicle and will enhance vehicle performance by adding Carbon, Nitrogen and Magnesium to the electrodes. Sixty electric cars took part in a rally between Stirling and Glasgow over the weekend to celebrate the launch of a new electric vehicle (EV) subsidy. The sixty-mile round trip, led by Scrapheap Challenge presenter Robert Llewellyn in his Tesla, cost drivers around £1.50, compared to £9 for a petrol-powered journey. Taking place on Saturday, the convoy set off from George Square in Glasgow, and toured Stirling, before returning to Glasgow.

coffeenbeans2Fifteen thousand homes across London will be heated by waste coffee beans from local baristas under a new capital-wide scheme to get London to embrace the green economy. The scheme was developed by biofuel company Bio-bean which specialises in turning waste coffee into energy. It became a reality after the company won the Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award back in 2012. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The roaring success of previous winners like Bio-bean demonstrates the huge market for green technology ideas. They’ve done the hard grind and Londoners can now enjoy their daily coffee fix in the safe knowledge that as well as their own caffeine kick the energy levels of as many as 15,000 homes are being boosted.”

A new report has called on local authorities and manufacturers of ‘bulky waste’ – waste too big for normal disposal – to put a greater emphasis on the reuse of unwanted furniture. Rearranging the Furniture from the waste think-tank RSA and resources firm SUEZ, has revealed that 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste – 42% of which is furniture – is sent to landfill every year, despite over 50% of it being reusable. The report recommends that local authorities should become ‘resource returners’ rather than waste managers and that manufacturers should work closely with the authorities to implement a system that allows for collection of bulky products, to ensure they are sent back to the manufacturers for reuse.

The first ever worldwide waste report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says immediate action is required to shift from ‘take-make-use-waste’ to a circular economy. Global Waste Management Outlook – a report from UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – found that seven to 10 billion tonnes of urban waste is now produced each year, with three billion people across the globe still lacking access to efficient waste disposal facilities.  And volumes of waste are likely to double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, according to the report.

New research has revealed that 45% of the 100 world’s largest industrial companies are thwarting climate change legislation, while 95% are current members of trade associations accused of the same obstructionist behaviour. London-based non-profit organisation InfluenceMap teamed up with researchers from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists to conduct thorough forensic analysis on the companies’ transparency over issues such as global treaties, carbon reductions, climate policy and relationships with business associations, before ranking each of them with a score.  The research, which quantitatively ranks the corporations by region and sector as well as globally, concluded that corporate influence now extends much further than a PR-social media juggernaut by using trade associations and advocacy groups as influences to deter changes to climate policies. Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at the Union of concerned Scientists, said: “More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies. Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability. On Transparency, Phillips 66, Duke Energy, Reliance Industries and Koch Industries – all part of the energy sector and the US Chamber of Commerce – received the low ‘F’ rating.

cigbuttsWestminster in London has a major problem with discarded cigarette butts and thrown away chewing gum – but its now adopted some novel ideas to fight back against this blight – Edie.net reports that initiatives include a ‘Fumo’ music pole from Holland that rewards the public with audio and visual displays when cigarette butts are disposed of in the pole, a ‘voting ashtray’ that engages smokers with weekly sporting questions which are answered by putting the cigarette butt in the right compartment of the ashtray, the ‘Butts Out’ campaign where local pubs are stocking quirky portable ashtrays for smokers to use on the go and giant cigarettes that are installed in piles around the street to raise awareness of the City of London’s ‘No Small Problem’ campaign. Keep Britain Tidy will monitor the effects of the campaign.

elephantBetween 2010 and 2012, an elephant was slaughtered every 15 minutes. More than 100,000 elephants were killed to fuel the global illegal ivory trade.With national and international laws banning the ivory trade worldwide, where can buyers be sure to find it? On Craigslist. A recent investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society found that Craigslist users advertise 6,600 ivory and related wildlife products each year — worth over $15 million. And that study only examined a fraction of the sites — just 28 of the over 400 Craigslist sites in the U.S. Craigslist already prohibits the sale of animal parts, but this investigation proves it is little more than lip service. Feeling the heat, CEO Jim Buckmaster recently added ivory to the explicitly prohibited items, even though the company has done nothing to actually stop ivory sales on its website. Meanwhile, African elephants have been driven nearly to extinction. Tell Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster we want a Craigslist ivory policy with teeth, not tusks. Ban the sale of ivory on Craigslist.

Freedom from Food Waste

foodYou’d assume that more individuals would be shocked into action after learning that every year a third of the food supply around the world never makes it to the dinner table. It rots in the fields, while being transported or after arriving at market shelves. And even it does make it home, it still stands a high risk of going unnoticed in the refrigerator and exceeding its expiration date.

In developed nations where food is cheap and plentiful, the reality of food waste is a tough topic to drive home. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, however, United Kingdom households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased. This means that approximately 32% of all food purchased per year is not eaten. The implications extend far beyond financial expenditures – food waste has massive health and environmental consequences as well.

Money Costs

The cost of growing and disposing of food never used is estimated at $1 trillion dollars globally. Other costs include $172 billion of water, over $400 billion from increased greenhouse gas emissions and $150 billion of additional healthcare costs due to pesticide exposure.

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Social Costs

About 800 million people go to bed hungry every night in the world despite a food surplus that could feed 2.5 billion more. Hunger leads to sickness, deaths and political instability. These food waste side effects are especially tragic considering that the resources expended producing that surplus could be redirected toward technology improvements to improve the “cold chain” of food supply in developing countries.

Environmental Costs

Food production is not a carbon-neutral proposition. The burning of fossil fuels by farm machinery, trucks, and fertilizer plants accelerates climate change, and food waste’s contribution is significant, since rotting food produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. According to Enmax, in total, an excess of 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases arise from food waste annually. Additionally, as the frequency and severity of droughts increase, both freshwater and arable land become increasingly scarce commodities. Food production utilizes a large percentage of our valuable water resources, and as it goes from farm to store to landfill, it continues to squander precious freshwater.

 

marrow by ben cWhat You Can Do

Fortunately, each of us can make an enormous impact on reducing food waste:

  • Shop your refrigerator first. Smartphone and online apps help you prepare meals from what you have on hand. These help you trim your grocery purchases as well.
  • Prepare and serve smaller portions. This is also a good way to mind the calories.
  • Use sell-by or expiration dates as guidelines, not deadlines. Food a few days past these dates is not necessarily spoiled.
  • Donate excess food to food banks. This reduces landfill waste and helps those who are hungry.
  • Learn how to can or otherwise preserve excess food so it does not end up in the garbage.
  • Perhaps most importantly, become aware of how much food you do waste. Keep track of anything you throw out. This step motivates you automatically to throw away less.
  • More ways to reduce food waste can be found here.

Other solutions to food waste are focused on improving access to refrigeration, creating more efficient transportation networks, regulating how much waste food from restaurants and individuals can be added to landfills and getting more food to hungry people.

Despite the stunning statistics concerning food waste, improving an awareness of the problem is one of the biggest barriers that stands in the way to solving it. When people truly understand the profound monetary and human costs associated with allowing perfectly good food to become trash, they will be more mindful of the ways in which it can be prevented. Hopefully, working together, we can all come up with effective solutions to reduce food waste and help restore the planet.

 

Beth Kelly © 2015

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

parigi-570x350The Guardian view on Paris 2015 back in January – still worth a read: COP21 – the world’s last best chance to reach an agreement on cutting carbon emissions: The Pope, President Obama and President Xi are all on the same side. But it doesn’t guarantee victory:

This time last year the water was lapping at front doors from Godalming in Surrey and Tonbridge in Kent, they were still clearing up after a tidal surge along the east coast in early December, the Scottish lowlands were on full flood alert and there were ominous signs of the catastrophe looming for the Somerset levels. No single weather event is evidence of climate change, but the freak weather of those months left no one in any doubt of what an extreme weather event would look like. There was nothing more for the climate change scientists to add.

This time next year, the Paris summit that holds out the best hope for a broad, UN-brokered agreement on cutting carbon emissions will be over. It is of universal importance that a deal is struck that is ambitious and achievable. There are several reasons why that looks more possible now than it has done for years. President Barack Obama clearly hopes that he can make climate change part of his legacy. He is reportedly ready to use his powers to override Congressional opposition to his proposal for a cut in carbon emissions, by 2025, of between 26% and 28% over the 2005 level. The US readiness to make a commitment was matched by China’s president Xi Jinping, for the first time, offering a date for “peak” carbon emissions of 2030. The agreement, announced in November after the two leaders met in China, was welcomed by the UN’s climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, who said it would make a real contribution to the success of the Paris conference. And the EU has agreed to a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990, as well as to new targets for the generation of renewable energy.  READ THE WHOLE EDITORIAL HERE.

The UN climate talks in Bonn have been “painstakingly slow” according to some observers, but the final day generated some optimism, particularly with regards to funding for poor countries dealing with extreme weather. Negotiators gathered in Bonn over the past four days to work on the text of a climate deal that can be presented to heads of state in Paris in December. The negotiators’ role is to simplify and streamline the text into a document that can be easily debated and hopefully agreed upon

SOLAR POWERThe cost of generating electricity from renewable resources such as solar and wind has more than halved in the last five years according to the International Energy Association. The group’s new report, entitled ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition’, suggested that the median cost of producing baseload power from solar power, fell from around $500/Mwh to $200/Mwh over five years. Likewise, the cost of onshore wind fell to around $100/Mwh. And onshore wind could be cost-competitive with new gas generation by 2020 but needs continued Government support to get there, a new report from centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange has found. The report, Powering Up: The future of onshore wind in the UK, claims that onshore wind is the cheapest form of low carbon energy and “should logically continue to play a role in cutting carbon emissions”. In June, the Government announced plans to end the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy for onshore wind from March next year. It also mooted the possibility of banning onshore wind from the RO’s replacement subsidy scheme – the Contracts for Difference auction. As many as 73% of manufacturers want to see legislative reform of the UK’s current environmental and climate change policies, according to a new survey by the manufacturers organisation EEF. Respondents claimed that existing regulations are harming their international competitiveness.
There are at least 10 pieces of legislation affecting manufacturers on waste alone, with another five key pieces of legislation that relate to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. More on Edie.net here.

badgersBadger culls in Dorset, Somerset and Gloucestershire have got under way, the UK government has confirmed. The  UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has not said exactly when the culls began in the three counties. Dorset is a new area for the pilot cull, but it is the third year for Somerset and Gloucestershire. It is thought 2,000 badgers will be killed and ministers and farmers insist culling is necessary to tackle the spread of bovine TB, which results in thousands of cattle being slaughtered every year. The Badger Trust has said that figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request from Defra showed that the last cull cost the British Public £6,100 for each badger killed. Wendy Higgins, from Humane Society International, said: “The point of the culls was to find out if the culls were feasible, safe and humane to shoot a specific number of badgers over a particular period of time. The culls of year one and year two have shown a spectacular failure… We don’t need to carry on pointlessly shooting badgers in order to prove what we have already seen which is that culling badgers is a pointless failure.”

Gibraltar, don’t let go on National Day on September 10th. The mass release of balloons will kill more than your good reputation – it will kill far too many sea birds.

India’s Ministry of Power has announced it will replace all conventional lightbulbs in streetlights and the domestic sector with LED bulbs by 2017. The programme will reduce power load by 5 GW, saving 10.5bn kWh every year, translating to savings of £581m. Twenty million bulbs will be replaced by LEDs at an estimated cost of £250m. The plan was first mooted back in January, but the Minister of Power Piyush Goyal announced on Friday that it would be completed in the next two years. And Japanese solar firm Kyocera has completed the installation of 4,300 solar streetlights along Brazils new motoring artery, the Arco Metropolitano do Rio de Janeiro. More than half of the newly-built 145-km road, which connects the five main highways crossing Rio de Janeiro, will be lit by solar lights. The entire project will produce around 2.8GWh of solar energy per year, equivalent to the amount of power used by 1,500 average homes and equal to the carbon dioxide emissions that 1,583 acres of forest would offset. Rio de Janeiro has become the first city to reach full compliance with the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of city leaders dedicated to making their cities more resilient to climate change.

Researchers in Brazil have finished constructing a 325-metre high tower that will analyse the Amazon rainforest’s gas emissions, to help understand climate change. The €8.4m Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) is taller than the Eiffel Tower and will start collecting data on heat, water, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns over the rainforest later this year. It will link up with two smaller towers to collect data for 20 to 30 years.

The Times reports that Soma Oil & Gas, the oil company chaired by Lord Howard, the former Conservative leader, did not tell the Somali government that it was paying a Canadian lawyer who was allegedly advising the Somali oil ministry. The company is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK.

droughtEdie.net reports that countries from the Middle East will likely be be exposed to ‘extreme water stress’ by 2040, threatening national security, the World Resources Institute has found. WRI scored future water stress—a measure of population and surface water depletion—in 167 countries using their Aqueduct analysis. The report suggested that 33 countries would be at risk from water-stress, 14 of them from the Middle East. Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon all scored 5.00 out of 5.00 in analysis highlighting countries at continuous risk from water scarcity in the next 25 years. The deterioration of the Middle East, home to over 350m people, will threaten economic growth and national security, according to the report. It will likely see more people move to increasingly overcrowded cities, and some of the effects are already being seen with the ‘death’ of the Dead Sea.

smansshpwThe Showman’s Show have said that numerous exhibitors  at the outdoor events exhibition event on the 21st and 22nd October will be showcasing their environmentally friendly credentials.  From fuel-saving power solutions, re-useable plastic cups and lithium LED towerlights to collapsible toilets and fully recyclable carpet there are a host of innovative products on display for visitors to browse. The Showman’s Show have also introduced a new category to the Show’s stand awards – the Green Supplier and Innovation Award. It will recognise and reward the exhibitor who best demonstrates that they are making a special effort toward environmentally sustainable practices, products and services. The submissions will be judged by event sustainability champion, Chris Johnson of Powerful Thinking, who has also set the criteria. More here.

Screen-shot-2015-09-07-at-15.29.01Kambe Events have announced a master class for event professionals has been announced in Bristol on 19 November 2015. Bristol is the European Green capital in 2015. The day will include presentations by waste experts, behaviour change experts and festival directors, followed by a practical workshop to create your own action plan for 2016. Kambe Events, the company behind the award-winning Shambala Festival, will be joined by leading experts for an all day practical workshop on how to improve your audience experience, change behaviours, manage costs and minimise your environmental impact by approaching waste management in a holistic way. In a statement Kambe said: “Imagine: A festival site where all you can see is grass rather than litter; an audience which recycles without thinking; being clear about the best options for managing your waste, and knowing what happens to your waste when it leaves site. It’s possible, but why learn the hard way when you can gain insights from leading industry experts with over a decade of specialist experience”. The event will cost £195 + VAT per participant (Earlybird, AIF and AFO member discounts available). Earlybird Discount: 25 per cent until 30 September 2015. More here.

sla-logoedie have nnounces the Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 finalists – and you can find them all here !

More than three quarters of UK households would support renewable energy projects such as wind turbines and solar farms if the profits generated benefitted the local community, a poll has found. Co-operative Energy polled 2000 UK adults in order to reveal public attitudes on community projects in the wake of the Government’s decision to consult on subsidy withdrawals for community energy generation investment. Co-operative Energy general manager Ramsay Dunning said: “The overwhelming picture from our poll is that the British public support renewable, and most importantly, community energy generation. Therefore the Government’s decision to withdraw its support from the renewable sector is extremely disappointing and at odds with popular opinion.

Ed Davey, the former energy and climate change secretary, has accused George Osborne of putting tens of billions of pounds’ worth of private sector investment at risk with an assault on the green agenda he pioneered. The Liberal Democrat said the chancellor was pursuing “bonkers economics” and an ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy that risked leaving the UK hopelessly dependent in the longer term on fossil fuels such as gas. Phasing out aid for zero-carbon homes, onshore windfarms and solar arrays are among a raft of measures introduced by the Tories which represented “disastrous” economics, said Davey in his first interview since losing his seat in parliament.

In better news, whisky, forestry and household by-products will be turned into biofuels thanks to new funding awarded today by the Department for Transport. Three UK companies will share a £25 million fund to help them turn waste products into green fuel. And the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a £775,000 fund to help local authorities improve the collection, re-use and recycling of electrical goods. Councils are being urged to bid for a portion of the funding, with £40,000 available for individual local authorities, and up to £100,000 available for consortia bids.  also in the enws, the Environment Agency will use €640,000 in funds from the European Union to develop a network aimed at stopping the illegal international shipping of waste. The fund, which comes from the European Union’s ‘LIFE’ programme, will help develop the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE).

windturbines_300Still in the UK, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has rejected four planned onshore wind farms in mid-Wales with a potential capacity of more than 350 MW. The reasons behind the refusals included adverse visual effects, local wildlife damage and a negative impact on tourism. A DECC spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to each application, and the planning and energy issues involved.” A fifth windfarm was granted consent, but denied permission to build an overhead power line, putting its feasbility in doubt. However, plans to expand Scout Moor onshore wind farm in Lancashire have been given the green light by the local council. Developers Peel Energy and United Utilities want to add a further 16 turbines to the 25 existing turbines; effectively bringing the total capacity of Scout Moor to 101.8MW – making it England’s largest wind farm, ahead of SSE’s 68MW Keadby project in Lincolnshire which has 34 turbines supplying 2MW each. The UK’s largest is Whitlee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow in Scotland, with 140 turbines and an installed capacity of 322MW. More on edie.net here.

Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management – could save as much as $22tn and avoid the equivalent in carbon pollution of India’s entire annual output of greenhouse gasses, according to leading economists. The Global Commission on Climate and Economy, an independent initiative by former finance ministers and leading research institutions from Britain and six other countries, found climate-smart cities would spur economic growth and a better quality of life – at the same time as cutting carbon pollution. If national governments back those efforts, the savings on transport, buildings, and waste disposal could reach up to $22tn ($14tn) by 2050, the researchers found. By 2030, those efforts would avoid the equivalent of 3.7 gigatonnes a year – more than India’s current greenhouse gas emissions, the report found. The finding upends the notion that it is too expensive to do anything about climate change – or that such efforts would make little real difference. Not true, said the researchers.

Amazon burningInternational governments could be unwittingly driving deforestation through misguided agricultural subsidies, a new UN report has found. The report examines the forest-food nexus, which is becoming evermore strained by the need to increase food production by up to 70% by 2050. However, current subsidy support systems are ineffective for increasing crop yields and harmful for forests, the report claims. “The negative impact of subsidies on forest cover is often caused by outdated and incoherent policies,” explained United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner. And the first ever worldwide waste report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says immediate action is required to shift from ‘take-make-use-waste’ to a circular economy. Global Waste Management Outlook – a report from UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – found that seven to 10 billion tonnes of urban waste is now produced each year, with three billion people across the globe still lacking access to efficient waste disposal facilities.  And volumes of waste are likely to double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, according to the report.

A European transition to the circular economy could create three million extra jobs by 2030 and reduce unemployment by 520,000, a new WRAP study has claimed. The report, Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies builds on previous WRAP studies of the employment potential of closing the loop and extrapolates the findings across all 28 EU member states. The report found that there are already 3.4 million people employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste & recycling and rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. On the current development path, the circular economy is expected to create an extra 1.2 million jobs; and reduce structural unemployment by around 250,000. However WRAP claims both of these figures could be more than doubled by an ambitious development plan. In the charity’s own response to the EU’s public consultation on the circular economy, WRAP called for a specific food waste policy, greater encouragement of resource efficient business models, and the creation of a ‘target vision’ of what the ideal EU circular economy would look like.

The number of single-use carrier bags (SUCBs) has fallen by over 70% in Wales since a 5p charge was introduced, a new report has found, just weeks before the scheme is launched in England.

Some of the world’s largest food, beverage and tobacco brands are missing out on significant financial and production quality gains by failing to mitigate climate risks and reduce carbon emissions, a new report has warned. The report from CDP, titled ‘The forgotten 10%: Climate mitigation in agricultural supply chains’, collected data from 97 global companies on behalf of 822 investors that represent over a third of the world’s invested capital. It looked specifically at the agricultural production portion of producer’s supply chains, which is now responsible for 10-14% of global emissions. CDP concluded that food and beverage companies must widen their focus beyond their own operations to realise ‘significant opportunities’ from working with suppliers to cut emissions. “Collaboration with stakeholders holds the key for brands seeking to unlock opportunities to become resilient to climate change,” explained CDP’s co-chief operating officer Frances Way. “Our data shows that companies who engage with one or more of their stakeholders are more than twice as likely to see returns from emissions reduction investments as companies that don’t.” More here.

Namibian lionThe Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, a South African ranger group consisting mostly of women, has been named as one of the winners of the top United Nations environmental prize. By bestowing its Champions of the Earth award to the Black Mambas, in the Inspiration and Action category, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is recognizing the “rapid and impressive impact” the unit has made in combatting poaching and the courage required to accomplish this task, the agency said in a news release.

Kambe Events responds to industry appetite for approaches tackling campsite waste issue

Beautiful festivals: Managing Waste successfully 

19th November 2015, Bristol.

Carolina Faruolo - Shambala 2015 - 9c20423a-4eb4-11e5-a987-aee5d44592c4 - WebIs it inconceivable to imagine: A festival site where all you can see is grass rather than litter; audiences who recycle without thinking; having confidence about managing your waste responsibly, and knowing what happens to your waste when it leaves site. It’s possible, but why learn the hard way when you can gain insights from leading industry experts with over a decade of specialist experience.

In the recent Green Manifesto Survey conducted by Kambe Events in partnership with the AIF and AFO 84% of participants cited waste as a key issue for them.

In response to this, Kambe Events, the company behind one of the UK’s greenest festivals, Shambala, in association with Resource Futures, the UK’s leading waste management consultancy are hosting a one day training event to address the issue.

Bringing together leading waste management and behaviour change experts, the day will consist of presentations, discussion and a practical session so attendees will come away with an action plan and various resources for their 2016 event.

The event on 19th November, hosted at Kambe House in Bristol, the European Green Capital  2015 is limited to 20 places. Take advantage of the Early Bird discount and book before 30th September.

Find out more on the Kambe Events Workshop page  http://kambe-events.co.uk/service/workshop/

Image by Carloina Faruolo