The United Nations (UN) has released a streamlined version of the negotiating text that will be used at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in December. The new document, drawn up by two co-chairs for the talks – Algerian diplomat Ahmed Djoghlaf and US counterpart Dan Reifsnyder – has been cut down from 89 to 20 pages, in a bid to provide a more succinct starting point for final round of pre-Summit talks in Bonn, Germany, later this month. The text clarifies which elements of the Paris climate talks would be legally binding agreements and which elements will be given a more flexible approach with decisions that can evolve over time. Legally-binding elements include long-term global goals for halting and reducing global GHG emissions to a near-zero phase, which will be implemented by countries submitting carbon reduction plans every five years intensifying their efforts in the process. Crucially, the draft has removed any mention of the shipping and aviation sectors, despite ample warnings that emissions in these sectors could skyrocket by up to 250% by 2050 without tangible targets from governments. The draft also mentions climate finance, offering up the potential for any country to increase their pledge to provide $100bn a year after 2020. However, the emerging ideology of a carbon market has been largely ignored.
Edie.net reports that twenty-eight chief executives and aviation association leaders have penned an open letter to global governments urging them to commit to a joint approach to help deliver emissions reductions across the sector. The letter, coordinated by the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), has been signed by executives of companies representing over 90% of the world’s air traffic with a combined revenue of nearly a trillion dollars. It calls on governments to work with aviation companies to introduce a meaningful market-based measure – which considers ‘fair and equitable solutions’ for all countries under a range of circumstances – to reduce aviation emissions.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron effectively ignored energy and climate change at the Conservative Party Conference, despite the crucial Paris climate talks being just a few weeks away. Giving his closing speech at the Conference in Manchester , Cameron reiterated that tackling climate change is “at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission” – his only ‘green’ mention. Instead, affordable homes, social mobility and an outspoken attack on Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn took up the majority of Cameron’s hour-long speech. Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed plans to establish a new independent body to fast-track the building of new energy and transport infrastructure across the UK. The new National Infrastructure Commission will be led by Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis, Osborne said at the Conference.
Onshore windpower is now the cheapest form of energy in Britain – but the Government continues to resist onshore turbines. New figures show they not only produce cheaper energy than coal, oil or gas power stations, but also remain far cheaper than offshore turbines. Onshore wind farms currently produce about 60 per cent of the UK’s wind power output. Although they are set to remain the predominant form of renewable energy in the next few years despite opposition in Westminster – which has stopped subsidies and given the final say on whether a project should go ahead to local residents – supporters of green energy say the country is missing a chance to maximise their potential. The cost of onshore wind power has fallen from $108 (£70.20) per megawatt hour (mWh) a year ago to $85 today, as they become more efficient and cheaper to build. Over the same period, coal-fired power stations have seen their costs rocket from nearly $98 mWh to $115 and gas from $100 to $114, after the EU agreed new rules that will greatly increase the amount they must pay for their carbon emissions. Offshore wind costs $175 mWh, according to the research, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. More on the Independent here. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has given her full backing for the cutting of subsidies for onshore wind and solar, insisting that “renewable energy can stand on its own two feet”. speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester Rudd said: “As we have already shown, we will be tough on subsidies. There is no magic money tree” adding “We said in our manifesto that we would halt the spread of subsidised onshore wind farms, and that’s exactly what we have done – this would have been impossible in the coalition” and “I support cutting subsidies – not because I am an anti-green Conservative, but because I am a proud green Conservative on the side of the consumer. We must be tough on subsidies. Only then can we deliver the change we need.” Ecotricity boss Dale Vince has accused the government of rigging the electricity market, by showering fossil fuels and nuclear power with huge subsidies, while taxing renewables and insisting they must ‘stand on their own two feet’. One of the pioneers of the United Kingdom’s renewable energy industry says the British government is distorting the market in an attempt to support fossil fuels and nuclear power. As news broke that two major UK solar companies, Climate Eneregy who installed solar panels, insulation and energy efficient boilers, and solar panel installer Mark Group, had gone out of business with over 1,000 jobs lost, the government subsequently confirmed it would delay the deadline for ending the wind subsidy. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has denied that subsidy cuts were responsible for the collapse of two solar panel installers in as many days, blaming the company failures on “commercial decisions”. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2985752/uk_rigging_power_market_against_clean_energy.html
Wind energy drove £1.25bn of investment into Britain’s economy last year, with the industry now employing 30,500 people, according to a new report from RenewableUK. The ‘Wind Energy in the UK’ report reveals that wind power has grown to generate 10% of the UK’s electricity needs, as more than 2GW of capacity was installed in 2014/15 – a growth of 18%, bringing total UK capacity to over 13GW. The study breaks down the expenditure in the industry, with £840m spent on offshore technology and a further £402m spent on onshore. Together, the two sectors provide 15,500 direct and 15,078 indirect jobs.
Africa could generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 if they were to follow guidelines laid out in a new report from the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA). The Africa 2030 report is part of IRENA’s global REmap 2030, which outlines methods to double the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix by 2030. More here.
The BBC has apologised for airing a half-hour radio show earlier this year in which a series of high-profile climate sceptics lined up to disparage the science behind global warming. What’s the point of the Met Office, aired in August, did not make clear sceptics are a “minority voice, out of step with scientific consensus,” the corporation said in an email to climate scientist Andy Smedley. “This was an unfortunate lapse for which we apologise and we would like to assure you we remain committed to covering all aspects of the subject in the most accurate and responsible way possible.” Presented by Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts, the show featured Peter Lilley MP, Graham Stringer MP, forecaster Piers Corbyn and Andy Silvester from the TaxPayers’ Alliance. All had previously questioned the veracity of climate science. They took the opportunity to mock the Met Office over its weather forecasting and climate modelling work.
The Mayor of Krakow has told the Guardian he will introduce a ban on coal use in households, offices, government buildings and restaurants after an amended Environmental Protection Act was signed by the country’s president, Andrzej Duda. Poland’s second largest city is as famed for the filthy smog that cakes its buildings and streets, as for its beautiful historic buildings. The European Environmental Agency has ranked it the third most polluted city in Europe and its particulate matter (PM) pollution can reach six times the safe levels.
Wildlife is abundant around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, despite the presence of radiation released by the world’s most catastrophic nuclear explosion nearly three decades ago, researchers have found. The number of elk, deer and wild boar within the Belarusian half of the Chernobyl exclusion zone today are around the same as those in four nearby uncontaminated nature reserves. Wolves, which are commonly hunted in the region because of their impact on livestock, were seven times as abundant with the zone, according to a new study.
Scotland’s renewable energy sector displaced 12.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year – a 120% increase since 2010, new data has revealed.
The figures were published in response to a recent Parliamentary Question tabled by Callum McCaig and answered by UK Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. They confirm that renewable energy projects – including wind, hydro and solar schemes – prevented the release of more than a million tonnes of CO2 per month in 2014. Twenty six million tonnes of carbon was displaced by the renewables industry in England, along with 2.2 million tonnes in Wales. More on edie.net here.
Last week, Poland became the fourteenth country in Europe to ban GMOs. One week later, the list of countries against genetically engineered crops has grown, with an estimated 17 EU nations in favor of boycotting GM maize and Monsanto altogether. Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, announced that the country of Wales will take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing Eu-authorized GM crops. She says that the nation plans to ban GM corn as well as 7 other GM crops authorized by the EU. In a press release shared by Greenpeace, it is relayed that at least 17 EU countries and four regions (in two other countries) are in the process of banning the cultivation of GM crops on their territories. The cut-off for nations to join the opt-out was October 3 of this year. By October 5, thirteen EU countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland) and four regional administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK, and Wallonia in Belgium) had formally notified the Commission of their intention to ban GM crop cultivation. Read More HERE.
A Chinese woman dubbed the “ivory queen” for her alleged leadership of one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings has been captured and charged. Yang Feng Glan is accused of smuggling 706 elephant tusks worth £1.62m from Tanzania to the far east. The Elephant Action League, a US-based campaign group, described her as “the most important ivory trafficker ever arrested in the country”. The 66-year-old is said to have been a crucial link between east African poaching syndicates and buyers in China, where ivory is prized for ornamental use, for over 14 years. Tanzania’s national and transnational serious crimes investigation unit had been tracking Glan for more than a year, according to the Elephant Action League.
The development of modular water sanitation infrastructure; an iron-deficiency educational programme and a water-saving shower have been announced as the three winning ideas from Unilever’s global innovation crowdsourcing campaign. The Unilever Foundry campaign, launched in June this year, encouraged peer-to-peer collaboration to create solutions to sustainability issues in the areas of sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. One hundred and fifty ideas were submitted across the three categories. “The Unilever Foundry ideas platform enables the general public to share ideas and develop solutions which help to make sustainable living commonplace,” explained Unilever’s senior vice president of sustainable business development and communications Sue Garrard. “Good ideas can come from anywhere, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the initial response to the three launch challenges. In addition to recognising and celebrating these ideas, we’re now looking at how we can support these innovators to bring these ideas to life.” The winner of Improving Access to Sanitation category was Saurabh Saraf’s, whose ‘Waterhubs’ idea involves the development of a modular water and sanitation infrastructure that will provide resource recovery, water treatment and shower and laundry services for urban slums. in the Imaging the Shower of the Future category, Yehuda Goldfisher’s winning idea involved a shower solution which incorporates two buttons: the first button wets the body before soaping, while the second button introduces a longer burst of water to wash the soap off while restricting water consumption.
Work on building the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has been delayed to spring 2017 because the government is taking “longer than expected” to finalise a contract for difference (CfD), Tidal Lagoon Power has said. A spokesperson for the firm said it would be ready to build once the remaining permissions have been secured and financial close with investors is achieved.
The Guardian reports that cientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. For coral scientists such as Dr Mark Eakin, the coordinator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch programme, this is the cataclysm that has been feared since the first global bleaching occurred in 1998.
Fires raging across the forests and peatlands of Indonesia are on track to pump out more carbon emissions than the UK’s entire annual output, Greenpeace has warned. As well as fuelling global warming, the thick smoke choking cities in the region is likely to cause the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in the region and is also destroying vital habitats for endangered orangutans and clouded leopards with the drifting smoke also provoking protests from neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The fires are mostly started deliberately and illegally to clear forest for paper and palm oil production, benefitting from recent droughts.