Monthly Archives: March 2016

Why Big Data Matters for the Climate

By Beth Lillian

big-data-climate-change1One of the most significant advantages of the modern Information Age is our ability to gather, process and analyze data with a level of speed and precision that would have been unheard of just a decade prior.  Almost everything we do online and within the increasingly vast “Internet of Things” ecosystem leaves behind a digital footprint that can then be used to trace purchasing history, media consumption and other activities.

Using “Big Data” in this way has had a remarkably powerful impact on the private sector and within the realm of politics. Marketing research teams are able to construct highly detail profiles of consumers they wish to target – and political candidates are able to do the same, albeit with the intent of attracting and persuade specific chunks of the electorate.

As the worldwide revolution in data unfolds further, it’s pertinent to examine the way these new methodologies are evolving to change the way we think about our relationship to the planet and the issue of climate change. The United Nations has already recognized the utility in employing data to develop solutions to address the complex challenges presented by warmer temperatures, rising seas, and more extreme weather patterns.

bigdatascreenshotBy collecting vast amounts of data regarding our natural surroundings and then looking at it closely, scientists can gain a better understanding as to just how our actions impact the environment. Scarce resources can also be more effectively managed by taking a comprehensive view of supply and demand and adjusting output accordingly. Extensive swathes of climate data help us construct more accurate climate models than ever before, enabling more accurate predictions of future events and faster, more effective action plans. Of course, any computer model is only as good as the input that’s fed into it, so the ability to gather mountains of accurate information is crucial to the success of these projects.

The Global Ecological Land Units map is a project being jointly undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey and ESRI, a software firm that tries to solve big problems. They aim to map ecosystems across the entire world in unprecedentedly fine detail by taking into account local vegetation, geology, topography, precipitation and other features. As opposed to similar efforts in the past, this one will be based on actual data as opposed to the opinions of experts. This map will hopefully allow researchers to better understand the impact of climate change on specific areas of the world and help authorities better conserve the environmental resources located within their jurisdictions. Because the relevant info will be displayed in an interactive map, the workings of Mother Nature will become more easily comprehensible to people with only a lay understanding of science – like elected officials.

On a smaller scale, Opower is trying to get individual people to conserve energy. Many pay lip service to sustainability, but it’s hard to remain focused on such an intangible goal without some spurring along. After collecting information about energy use in specific neighborhoods, Opower sends its clients reports that let them know how they’re performing vis-à-vis their neighbors in terms of saving energy. This system harnesses our natural competitive instincts in order to get us to act responsibly by comparing ourselves against our nearby peers.

There are plenty of other attempts to apply big data to pressing ecological issues. Some are being made under the auspices of public organizations while others are being directed by private groups. They have in common a commitment to the philosophy of using all the data we have available to make the best possible decisions regarding the future of our planet.

Beyond allowing for the study and analysis of ecological happenings, data also plays an increasingly crucial role shaping public perceptions about global warming and climate action. “Addressable” advertising, which allows corporate entities as well as political campaigns to beam ad spots directly to specific viewers, has the capacity to direct public sentiment on a myriad of important issues. This year, pay cable companies DirecTV and Dish Network partnered to give presidential candidates access to their vast cache of customer information, thereby altering the way specific voters are engaged in the environmental debate. The Cruz campaign, for instance, has become well-known for its messages carefully tailored with information gained through “sentiment” data mining.

When confronting the serious issues tied to global warming and climate change, we ought not to remain wedded to the past. The development of new technology, such as inexpensive solar panels and time-shifting batteries, is making a big positive impact on our ability to cleanly satisfy our energy demands. The proper use of “Big Data” is another cutting-edge advancement that we can mobilize towards the benefit of the entire planet.

ANOTHER PLANET?

desertClimate change may actually bring deserts back to life – and arid parts of California, central Asia, the Sinai, Southern Africa and central Australia may see more frequent downpours. Researchers say that climate change is already driving an increase in extremes of rainfall and snowfall across most of the globe, even in arid regions, and this trend will continue as the world warms. The article in Nature Climate Change says the role of global warming in unusually large rainfall events in countries from the United Kingdom to China has been hotly debated, but the latest research shows that climate change is driving an overall increase in rainfall extremes. “In both wet and dry regions, we see these significant and robust increases in heavy precipitation,” says Markus Donat, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, who is the study’s lead author. John Connor, Chief Executive of the Climate Institute in Australia pointed out that in Queensland what were ‘once in 100 years’ downpours were now happening every 2 or 3 years. The results suggest that both annual precipitation and extreme precipitation increased by 1–2% per decade in dry regions, including western North America, Australia and parts of Asia. Wet areas, including eastern North America and Southeast Asia, show similar increases in the size of extreme precipitation and smaller increases for annual totals. More here and Nature Climate Change here.

Instrumental_Temperature_RecordThe world is on track to reach dangerous levels of global warming much sooner than expected, according to new Australian research that highlights the alarming implications of rising energy demand. University of Queensland and Griffith University researchers have developed a “global energy tracker” which predicts average world temperatures could climb 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2020. That forecast, based on new modelling using long-term average projections on economic growth, population growth and energy use per person, points to a 2C rise by 2030. The UN conference on climate change in Paris last year agreed to a 1.5C rise as the preferred limit to protect vulnerable island states, and a 2C rise as the absolute limit.

And February smashed a century of global temperature records by a “stunning” margin, according to data released by Nasa. The unprecedented leap led scientists, usually wary of highlighting a single month’s temperature, to label the new record a “shocker” and warn of a “climate emergency”. Record-breaking temperatures ‘have robbed the Arctic of its winter’ and the Nasa data shows the average global surface temperature in February was 1.35C warmer than the average temperature for the month between 1951-1980, a far bigger margin than ever seen before. The previous record, set just one month earlier in January, was 1.15C above the long-term average for that month. More here.

An £800 pollution tax should be put on sales of new diesel cars, with the proceeds used for a scrappage scheme for older diesels, according to the thinktank Policy Exchange. The move, proposed ahead of George Osborne’s budget on 16 March, would encourage motorists to move towards lower emission vehicles and significantly reduce air pollution, according to the thinktank, which is close to Osborne. The idea is also backed by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and an influential committee of MPs.

Falling coal use in China and the US and a worldwide shift towards renewable energy have kept greenhouse gas emissions level for a second year running, one of the world’s leading energy analysts has said. Preliminary data for 2015 from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector have levelled off at 32.1bn tonnes even as the global economy grew over 3% . Electricity generated by renewable sources played a critical role, having accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015. Wind power produced more than half of all new electricity generation, said the IEA

starbucksAnd the UK government has slapped down a suggestion by a minister that coffee shop cups could be taxed to prevent millions of them being thrown away. Rory Stewart told MPs there was a “huge” problem with unrecyclable, plastic-lined paper cups.  He said the plastic bag tax had been a success and cups would be a “very good thing to look at next”. Mr Stewart’s department Defra released a statement saying there were “no plans” for a tax. Campaigners say that disposable coffee cups handed out in their billions are “virtually impossible” to recycle despite major cafe chains claiming theirs are eco-friendly.

The Obama administration abandoned its plan for oil and gas drilling in Atlantic waters on Tuesday, after strong opposition from the Pentagon and coastal communities. The announcement from Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, to bar drilling across the length of the mid-Atlantic seaboard reverses Obama’s decision just a year ago to open up the east coast to oil and gas exploration, and consolidates his record for environmental protection.

otcaThe US theme park operator SeaWorld says it is ending its controversial orca breeding programme. The decision means the orcas currently at the parks will be “the last generation”, the company said. SeaWorld, which has 12 parks across the US, has faced heavy criticism over alleged poor treatment of its captive orcas, also known as killer whales. Activists have called for the orcas to be released into the wild but SeaWorld claims they would likely die. “For as long as they live, the orcas at SeaWorld will stay in our parks,” the company said in a Los Angeles Times article.  The company it would also also scrap plans for a $100 million project called “Blue World” that would have enlarged its orca habitat at SeaWorld San Diego. So the whales stay, in captivity, in misery.

The Guardian reports that  fishermen could soon be given carte blanche to overfish without needing to worry about restoring fish populations to a healthy state under a leaked European commission proposal seen by the Guardian. If it is approved, the blueprint for the Baltic Sea could soon be applied to the North Sea too, potentially threatening the future of some cod species, MEPs say. The plan would add exemptions to catch limits that are supposed to become mandatory by 2020 and practically remove a commitment to restoring fish stocks to healthy levels by the same year. “With this proposal, overfishing will continue and, in a worst case scenario, [Baltic] cod will disappear. It is that serious,” Linnéa Engström, the vice-chair of the European parliament’s fisheries committee told the Guardian.

A mutiny by several EU states has forced the postponement of a vote in Brussels on relicensing a widely used weedkiller that the World Health Organisation has found is probably carcinogenic. Italy joined France, Sweden and the Netherlands in opposing a new 15-year licence for glyphosate at a meeting which had been expected to rubber stamp its reapproval on Tuesday. The European Commission may now bring forward a new proposal to cut the licence’s length, or create a list of “co-formulants” whose use can be limited or banned. These surfactants increase a plant’s uptake of glyphosate, and can be more dangerous than the herbicide alone. But the Netherlands is calling for the relicensing to be put on hold until after a separate evaluation of glyphosate’s toxicity next year.

European_Turtle_Dove_(Streptopelia_turtur)Hunters in Malta will be permitted to shoot 5,000 turtle doves this spring despite the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently adding the migratory bird to the “red list” of species at risk of being wiped out. The Maltese government, the only EU member to allow recreational spring hunting, said it was taking “special measures” to minimise the impact of its shoot on the bird’s plummeting population, cutting the shooters’ allowance from 11,000 birds. But conservationists said continuing the spring hunt went against the best scientific advice and appealed for the EU to take action against Malta.

beesWELL DONE FRANCE:  France have announced plans to completely ban the use of pesticides due to unusually high bee deaths worldwide, which French authorities claims pesticides are responsible for. Lawmakers have approved plans to ban some of the most popular pesticide products on the market, going above and beyond European Union requirements. The French outright ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was adopted by a narrow majority late on Thursday by France’s National Assembly as part of a draft bill on biodiversity that also contains an additional tax on palm oil. The senate still needs to approve the new law.

6th GO GROUP WORKSHOP in Cologne – April 11 & 12 – FINAL PROGRAMME – Register NOW!

go6th GO Group Workshop
Festival and Event Sustainability
Hochschule Fresenius, Cologne
11 & 12 April 2014

Greener, smarter, more sustainable – it’s not special interest anymore. GO Group’s motto and core topics are far up on the agenda today. In the five years of its existence the pan-european think-tank brought together hundereds of festivals, scentists, initiatives and suppliers involved in festival and event organisation and helped them exchange about green and sustainability related issues.

köln

But still we GO on, because there is need for this interactive, open and communicative format we have successfully set up as GO Group workshops all over Europe.

Now it’s time for the 6th international GO Group workshop in Cologne.

We kindly invite you to this 2-day seminar at the Hochschule Fresenius (University of Applied Sciences), on April 11 and 12 2016. The workshop is kindly hosted by Hochschule Fresenius Cologne and GreenEvents Europe Conference.

The 6th GO Group workshop for Sustainable Festivals and Events will focus on “Audience psychology” (day 1) and “social aspects and responsibility” (day 2).

Look forward to inspiring  presentations,  discussions and case studies from experts and major festivals as well as group workshops on both days!

Register here – NOW!
250€ Regular fee incl. all fees, 19% VAT and lunch on both days.
190€ Yourope members rate incl. all fees, 19% VAT and lunch on both days.

The workshop program:

The workshop language will be English.

Confirmed GO Group speakers:

  • Jacob Bilabel, Green Music Initiative (GER)
  • Christina Bilde, Roskilde Festival (DK)
  • Daniel Brunsch, University Cologne (GER)
  • Svetlana Harms, Hochschule Fresenius (GER)
  • Ina Kahle, FKP Scorpio (GER)
  • Dr. Katja Mierke, Psychology School/Hochschule Fresenius (GER)
  • Teresa Moore, A Greener Festival, Former Bucks University (UK)
  • Amit Ray, INTEBUS/Hochschule Fresenius (UK/GER)
  • Holger Jan Schmidt, GreenEvents Europe (GER)
  • Markus Wörl, Tollwood Festival (GER)

Sun 10 April 2016, 19h
GO Group get-together @ Cafe Sehnsucht (Körnerstraße 67, 50823 Köln-Ehrenfeld)
There will be a casual get-together on the pre-workshop evening at this bio-certified restaurant. (This one is on everyone’s own expenses)

Day 1,
Tue 12 April 2016, 9h
Main topic: Audience psychology
incl. lunch & Coffee Break

10.00 Welcome & first round-up
Svetlana Harms (Hochschule Fresenius) & Holger Jan Schmidt (GreenEvents Europe)

           Morning session: On the social psychology of festival crowds: Scientific findings for fostering responsible and sustainable behavior:
10.40 Melting away in the mass: The social psychology of responsibility, group identity and deindividuation
Prof. Dr. Katja Mierke (Psychology School/Hochschule Fresenius)
11.20 Norms, role models and effective signposts: The social psychology of littering and sustainable behavior
Prof. Dr. Katja Mierke (Psychology School/Hochschule Fresenius)
12.00 Lunch
13.30 Roskilde case study
Christina Bilde (Roskilde Festival)
14.15 Communication Psychological Aspects of Individual and Group Behavior during Events
Daniel Brunsch (University Cologne)
15.00 Coffee break
15.30 Group sessions
Hosted by Ina Kahle (FKP Scorpio/Leuphana University), Svetlana Harms (Hochschule Fresenius) & Holger Jan Schmidt (GreenEvents Europe)
17.30 Results and Wrap-up

20.00 GO Group Dinner @ Restaurant ECCO  (Kartäuserwall 7-11, 50678 Köln) – This „clean food dinner“ is hosted by Yourope (the European Festival Association)

Day 2,
Tue 12 April 2016, 9h
Main topic: Social aspects and responsibility
incl. Coffee Break & lunch, topics:

09.00 Burned Out Activists – How the Social Change Revolution eats up its kids. (And what to do about it)
Jacob Bilabel (Green Music Initiative)
09.40 Tollwood Festival case study
Markus Wörl (Tollwood Festival)
10.20 Coffee Break
10.30 Values, ethics and the audience
Teresa Moore (A Greener Festival / former Bucks New University)
11.15 Integrating successful CSR Practices: What can we learn from business?
Amit Ray (INTEBUS/Hochschule Fresenius)
12.00 Lunch
13.30 Group sessions
Hosted by Ina Kahle (FKP Scorpio/Leuphana University), Svetlana Harms (Hochschule Fresenius) & Holger Jan Schmidt (GreenEvents Europe)
15.30 Results, Wrap-up & Good-bye
16.00 The End

Travel Service:

Travel Center / Hochscbhule Fresenius
Inga-Yvette Lenzen
Im MediaPark 4c · 50670 Köln
Tel. +49 (0)221 973199- 752
inga.lenzen@hs-fresenius.de

GO are happy to help you with your arrangements. GO are able to offer special deals for the nearest hotels and give you the chance to share a hotel with the GO Group speakers and fellow participants.

A message from Boom

index_r1_c1index_r2_c1 index_r3_c1index_r4_c1

GREEN EVENTS & INNOVATIONS – THE ROUND UP

THE SUMMARY OF SUMMARIES

GEI 2016

KEYNOTE

Joanna Haigh, Professor and Co Director of the Grantham Institute launched the day with the big picture of Climate Change. The world is currently more than half way to the 2°C “dangerous change” threshold and global decarbonisation of energy supplies is a necessity to constrain global warming.

We heard a quick fire round of presentations including Rob Scully of Zap Concepts, who demonstrated how their “Smart Power Plan” helped Xtrema Outdoors to reduce their fuel  and  generator use by 62% and 38% respectively over 4 years by working with the suppliers and organisers to correctly spec, monitor and analyse the true power needs of the event. Sarah Chayantz of We Love Green showed their amazing reclaimed stage design and creation project with full circular economy approach. Finally Dr Jonathan Winfield of UWE’s Bristol Bioenergy Centre amazed us with the Pee Powered Toilet which takes urine as a fuel source and turns it in to energy – cleansing the urine in the process! He noted that Glastonbury urine was perhaps an unusual specimen!

 A GREENER FESTIVAL AWARDS AND NEW TRAINING SCHEME

Teresa Moore and Claire O’Neill give insight to their re-launched Greener Festival Award inviting applicants, and announced the new Festival Environmental Auditor training. With the first training days scheduled for April and May it is now open to all with an interest in deepening their knowledge of Festival and Event Sustainability.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE OF LOCAL ACTION

After a short break Holger Jan Schmidt of Yourope and Go Group welcomed a stellar line up of festival organisers including Jason Mayall from Fuji Rock Festival, Japan, Peter Noble from Bluesfest Byron Bay, Australia, Michal Kaščák, Pahoda Festival, Slovakia and Steve Taylor from Lake of Stars, Malawi. Fuji Rock Festival gave incredible insight in to the festivals full life cycle actions, from turning wood to chop sticks and plastic bottle tops to staff jackets! They sort all waste on site meticulously with every bin manned.

Chris Tofu and Fruzsina Szep

Chris Tofu and Fruzsina Szep

CULTURE LOVES, SUPPORTS AND UNITES

The following session presented by the enigmatic Chris Tofu really left us stunned and inspired. Welcoming Maxine McMinn of the Refugee council who drove home that refugees are in all towns and cities, and should be welcomed and integrated with society by inclusion in our events, and Tim Benson spoke of the work to take solar panels to the communities of Malawi with Love Support Unite Foundation. There was barely a dry eye in the house hearing from Steve Bedlam of Refugee Community Kitchen, arriving direct from Calais and back there now.. To gain insight in to the suffering of people who “feel like they are no longer human”, unable to feed, cloth or house their families. Up to 80% of the people on the ground helping the refugees are not from international charities, but individuals from the festival community giving their time and skills. There is a fear for what will happen in summer when that community return to make a living in festivals and the number of refugees increases with the calmer seas of the summer. This session was rounded off by Fruzsina Szep of Lollopolooza Berlin who presented the Yourope Mission Statement. The importance of the Cultural industries in being a positive influence for connecting people of all cultures, races, sexual orientations and nations in celebration, must unquestionably be a driving force behind what we as a community and industry do.

t-in-park-moving-2015-strathallanT IN THE PARK – STEVE TAYLOR

After lunch Steve Taylor of T In The Park give a hugely insightful account of the works and experiences of the festival this summer in their highly public site move and the Environmental impact assessment, planning permission and conditions they had to fulfil. Due to the added conditions the festival had to be entirely built in 7 weeks.  Taylor highlighted how they underwent a level of biodiversity assessment that he had never experienced before. A huge amount was learned and level of commitment of the team behind the event is ongoing to continue to work with the site and with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

Disrupting Complacency panel

Disrupting Complacency panel

DISRUPTING COMPLACENCY – HARD TO SWALLOW NECESSITIES.

The following Disrupting Complacency Session, presented by Juhi Shareef, was indeed rather disruptive with some explosive discussions and viewpoints put forwards. Livvy Drake of Shambala festival spoke of the events announcement for the festival to go meat free this year, followed by Hamish Skermer’s announcement that running your own festival essentially means you become “self declared mayor of utopia” and stressed that if we always follow bureaucratic processes to the letter we will stifle innovation and progress. Skermer also highlighted the British ability to “have a very high tolerance of a very low expectation” in the case of festival toilets as something quite incredible but also unnecessary.

Steve Muggeridge came from an opposite perspective of a festival organiser in the form of community led Green Gathering where there is a democratic process to all decisions effecting the festival community. Muggeridge highlighted that if you treat punters like punters they behave that way, whereas if they are involved in the decision for a change they police themselves, and stressed the need for greater stakeholdership, communication and engagement which demonstrates why a change is a good idea.

Rob Scully gave an example of the stainless steel cup produced for Glastonbury Festival, where 200,000 will be used on site this summer. Much of implementation is allaying fear of operational issues or impact on sales. This raised the concept of “rapid prototyping” through festivals, and certainly in the case of the cups it was trailed and in fact easier than expected – now ready large scale implementation. Livvy Drake highlighted that money saved on cleaner site and not having to empty bins, as well as positive impact for audience having a clean site should be included when weighing up whether to do this. Initiatives should not be considered in isolation but take in to account the bigger picture.

GREENEVENTS

 

JOINT APPROACH – TIME TO ASSEMBLE.

Moderated by Caroline Clift of Stand Out Magazine we heard from 3 great collectives in the events industry starting with Creative Carbon Scotland and Festival Edinburgh who represent 12 festivals in the region. They find great advantage from being able to share risks with new approaches towards sustainability. Dominique Behar of Réseau éco événment quote a wonderful African saying “Alone I go faster, together we go further”. His collective in Nantes represent many different kinds of events, and as well as the environmental focus aim to increase accessibility of events not only for those with physical disabilities but also those economically disabled, for example the homeless. Dominique highlighted that cities are trying to change the behaviour of its inhabitants, and we are helping them to do this.

Dominique called for submissions to the Climate Change Summit in Nantes this September, the deadline in 7th April. Chris Johnson called for the industry to unite and sign up to the Festival Vision 2015, as well as presentation of the outstanding Show Must Go On report which is an in depth look at where the industry is right now in relation to its impacts on the environment, and where it need to be heading.

Finally, Greg Parmley joined to give a snapshot of what the ILMC have been working on to raise their own sustainability performance with actions to reduce waste through all aspects of the event and raise awareness amongst exhibitors and delegates. The biggest impact for ILMC is the audience travel, which is why they have included an optional contribution to the Festival Wood project from A Greener Festival and Trees for Life to reforest the Scottish Highlands. Greg highlighted that the green sessions he has tried to co-ordinate at ILMC in the past were disappointingly attended, and there is a need to raise the engagement of the sector in these important issues. The partnership with GEI is helping to bridge this gap between belief, intention and action.

 

International Live Music Awards – The Arthurs – The Winners!

With Emma Banks again on top form as master of ceremonies, emerging triumphant from the Lancaster Balltoom at the Savoy Hotel  on Saturday Night with Arthur Awards grasped in hand were:

Amber McKenzie

Amber McKenzie

IQ Editor Gordon Masson, Emma Banks & Ben Challis

IQ Editor Gordon Masson, Emma Banks & Ben Challis

The O2 Arena (Best Venue or First Venue to Come into Your Head)

Beat the Street (Best Production Services – Services Above and Beyond)

Ben Challis (Professional Services Award – Most Professional Professional)

Rock Am Ring (Best Festival – Liggers’ Favourite Festival)

Ticketmaster (Best Ticketing Company – The Golden Ticket)

ITB’s Amber McKenzie (Best Assistant – The People’s Assistant

Joanna Young from Live Nation UK (New Leader Award – Tomorrow’s New Boss)

Steve Strange from X-ray Touring (Best Agent – Second Least Offensive Agent)

Kilimanjaro Live’s Steve Tilley (Best Promoter – Promoter’s Promoter)

Jules Frutos from Le Bataclan in Paris (Outstanding contribution – The ILMC Bottle Award).

ANOTHER PLANET?

Leonardo_DiCaprio_2014Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation as he picked up his first Oscar for his performance in the Revenant, after five acting nominations and one nomination as producer of best picture nominee Wolf of Wall Street. He thanked his director and co-star Tom Hardy for his “fierce talent on screen” and “friendship off screen” before campaigning for action to combat climate change, saying making The Revenant was “about man’s relationship to the natural world”. “Climate change is real – it is happening right now,” said DiCaprio. “It is the most urgent threat facing our species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” He asked the audience to “support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who’ll be affected by this”. He added: “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

Bryde´s_whaleConservationists are hopeful that an end to commercial whaling in Iceland has moved one step closer following media reports that no fin whales will be hunted there this summer. Kristjan Loftsson, the director of Iceland’s largest whaling company, told daily newspaper Morgunbladid on Wednesday that Hvalur HF would not be sending out vessels to slaughter the endangered whales this season because of difficulties exporting the meat to the Japanese market.

This winter will be the warmest ever for England since records began in 1659. The central England temperature figure has seen an average temperature of 7C – beating the previous high of 6.8C in 1868-69. It will also be the second wettest winter on record according to preliminary figures from the Met Office – and the wettest ever in Wales and Scotland.

Australia’s big four banks are continuing to finance fossil fuel projects despite embracing a 2C or better global warming target, according to figures from financial activists Market Forces. The Guardian says the Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and National Australia Bank signed off on loans totalling $5.5bn to coal, oil, gas and liquefied natural gas projects in 2015, a figure that is higher than three of the preceding eight years. Among the deals were eight loans for coal projects signed in Australia in 2015, with a total value of $4bn, including for struggling Whitehaven Coal, operator of the controversial Maules Creek mine. All of the projects had some financing from the big four banks, with their contributions totalling $995m.

PLEASE HELP US

PLEASE HELP US

Some of the world’s largest consumer companies are clueless as to whether palm oil they buy from Indonesia is linked to rainforest destruction, new analysis from Greenpeace shows. The environmental group surveyed 14 companies including multinationals such as PepsiCo, Mars and Unilever, and found that none could confidently claim that no Indonesian rainforest was destroyed in the making of their products. According to the report, titled Cutting Deforestation Out Of The Palm Oil Supply Chain, most companies could not say how much came from suppliers that comply with their own environmental standards. And only one company, Ferrero, could trace nearly 100% of its palm oil back to the land where it was grown.

The Guardian reports that the Nevada regulator imposed costly new rules for residential solar customers. The decision to replace economic incentives with new higher fees pulled the carpet out from under an industry that provided 8,700 jobs in the state last year, according to the Solar Foundation, and stranded some 17,000 homeowners who have already gone solar with a financial liability on their rooftops. Three companies, including SolarCity, announced they were quitting the state, laying off about 1,000 workers.

The bank set up by the government to to fund green infrastructure and cited frequently by David Cameron as evidence of the UK’s leadership on climate change will no longer be required by law to invest in green schemes, under moves put forward by ministers. Campaigners said that changes proposed on Tuesday by small business minister Anna Soubry effectively delete the clause enshrined in legislation that gives the green investment bank its green purpose. But ministers insist the bank’s green mission will still be protected through a ‘special share’. The £3.8bn bank was established in 2012 to “accelerate the UK’s transition to a greener, stronger economy” by investing in renewable energy and other “green” schemes.

The European commission plans to give a new 15-year lease to a controversial weedkiller that was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A draft implementing law seen by the Guardian says the commission has decided it is appropriate to renew the licence for glyphosate after a lengthy review, which sparked a scientific storm. Glyphosate is a key ingredient in bestselling herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup brand and is so widely used that traces of its residues are routinely found in British breads. More on the Guardian here.

The third global coral bleaching event to be recorded is snaking its way around a warming globe, devastating reefs and now threatening the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. It  was announced the bleaching event, which began in 2014, is already the longest in history and could extend well into 2017. “We may be looking at a two- to two-and-a-half-year-long event. Some areas have already seen bleaching two years in a row,” says Mark Eakin, coordinator of the Coral Reef Watch program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Corals around Hawaii have been hit twice by the event already, with Fiji last week smacked by a gust of warm water that devastated coral and killed tonnes of fish, just before Cyclone Winston tore through the island nation. Fiji had already been hit by the same extended bleaching event last year.

air pollutionAir pollution both inside and outside the home causes at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to new report, which estimates the cost of the damage at £20bn. The major health impact of outdoor air pollution is relatively well known but the report, from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also highlights the less understood impact of indoor pollution, as well as the growing evidence of harm to children’s health and intelligence. Indoor air pollution is estimated to have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths across Europe in 2012, the report states. The UK government must take steps to tackle air pollution within days or face further legal action, it has been warned. The Sureme Court had already said the Givernment needed to take action and the UK is now in breach of EU air pollution rules. Environmental law firm ClientEarth has sent a final warning letter to environment secretary, Liz Truss, giving her 10 days to act or face action in the High Court. As many as 40,000 people die each year in the UK from air pollution. And in Germany, new research has shown that increasing air pollution has had a detrimental effect on Bundesliga football. Researchers at the IZA Economics Institute in Bonn will persent research later this month showing air pollution has a significant effect on professional footballer’s performance. Their research covers the 1999-2011 seasons in Gemany’s top league. The European Environment Agency puts the cost of air pollution in Europe at E200 billlion.

And climate change could kill more than 500,000 people a year globally by 2050 by making their diets less healthy, according to new research published in the Lancet. The research is the first to assess how the impacts of global warming could affect the quality of the diets available to people and found fewer fruit and vegetables would be available as a result of climatic changes. These are vital in curbing heart disease, strokes and diet-related cancers, leading the study to conclude that the health risks of climate change are far greater than thought. Climate change is already judged by doctors as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century, due to floods, droughts and increased infectious diseases, with the potential to roll back 50 years of progress.

african-elephant2More African elephants are being killed for ivory than are being born, despite poaching levels falling for the fourth year in a row in 2015. The new data, released on UN world wildlife day on Thursday, shows about 60% of elephant deaths are at the hands of poachers, meaning the overall population is most likely to be falling. “African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival, especially in central and west Africa where high levels of poaching are still evident,” said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which collects the data. At least 20,000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2015. But Scanlon said there were some encouraging signs, including in parts of eastern Africa, such as in Kenya, where the poaching trend has declined.

Environmentalists in Florida are celebrating the failure of an oil industry-backed bill they say would have opened a pathway to fracking in the ecologically sensitive Everglades wetlands. State lawmakers unexpectedly dropped the measure in a hearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday, just as they were about to begin debate on the controversial, high-pressure drilling practice, bowing instead to a groundswell of public opinion.

ceElectricity use is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions globally and in the UK, and now Julie’s Bicycle are hosting a new WEBINAR – Getting to Grips with Clean Energy to update the creative industries on green energy : Care should be taken when choosing a green electricity tariff here in the UK, as some suppliers make unverified claims about where their electricity comes from and the environmental benefits. If you are feeling tested by tariffs, Julie’s Bicycle is on hand to help you navigate and make sense of your energy options. JB will be discussing clean energy sourcing with Good Energy, the UK’s first dedicated 100% renewable electricity supplier, and ensuring you are getting a genuinely clean and green tariff.  JB will be covering related topics like joint procurement, funding and investing, community energy and roof leasing, with a healthy dose of intelligence and case studies from the sector and beyond. Book your free spot by clicking the booking link here.

sscJulies Bicycle also let us know that applications are now open for the first International Summer Course on Sustainable Cultural Management, in partnership with mitos21 and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.   This takes place between the 6th – 10th June 2016 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Sustainable Cultural Management will share knowledge and experience from cultural organisations and practitioners across Europe and North America who are pioneering “green” practice. Participants will develop new knowledge, skills and perspectives. You will come away with an understanding of sustainability from creative, governance and operational perspectives, and the tools and resources to put your learning into action. The course will cover everything from managing buildings, to creating and touring productions, creating sustainable partnerships and meaningful collaborations, and engaging audiences. There is a deadline: 15th March 2016. So Apply NOW! More information here

warwickAnd finally from JB – Doing Nothing Is Not An Option is a major Tipping Point event in partnership with Warwick Arts Centre who along with Julies Bicycle will ve exploring the role of the performing arts in leading change and shaping new stories about the present and the future.  Over three days #DNNO2016 will being together 200 participants to work, play and eat together. Writers, directors, producers and others, together with climate specialists of all types – will come together to shape new ideas and develop a platform for new creative responses. We’ll also enjoy a public festival of climate related performance work. Delegates will share knowledge, experience and understanding of climate change and will leave feeling affirmed, informed and energised; their horizons broadened, their imaginations enriched and their practice developed. #DNNO2016 will also launch a round of commissions in partnership with producing organisations from across the country.  17th June 2016 (10.00 – 17.00) Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick. More information here.