Monthly Archives: October 2016

ANOTHER PLANET?

ten_indicators_of_global_warmingNasa has said that this year will almost certainly be the hottest yet recorded, after September narrowly turned out the warmest in modern temperature monitoring. Last month was 0.91C above the average temperature for that time of year from 1951 to 1980, the benchmark used for measuring rises. The new findings follow record-breaking monthly anomalies throughout this year, leading the agency to believe that because of the highs reported so far, 2016 will take the crown as warmest in the 136 years of modern data-keeping.

fridgeAt the UN conference in Rwanda, 197 nations have now agreed to drastically reduce their use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the  powerful greenhouse gas used in air conditioners, refrigerators, and foams – introduced to replace CFCs which were then destroying the ozone layer in the 1990s.  By cutting these pollutants, the world could avoid between 0.2°C and 0.44°C of warming by the end of the century, according to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. But its not all good news – developing economies have quite some time to phase out the gases. Developed countries like the United States will start cutting HFC use to phase out the greenhouse gases beginning in 2019. Countries like Brazil and India will have to cap their HFC use by 2024 — and they’ll receive aid to ease the transition. Ultimately, the deal could cut global HFC use up to 85 percent by 2047, the World Resources Institute estimates. Delegates meeting in Rwanda accepted the amendment to the Montreal and US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was a major victory for the Earth. “It’s a monumental step forward, that addresses the needs of individual nations but it will give us the opportunity to reduce the warming of the planet by an entire half a degree centigrade,” he told BBC News.

The number of plug-in electric cars on the world’s roads is set to pass the landmark of 2m vehicles by the end of 2016, with industry observers saying the electric car revolution is finally underway. A surging market in China is leading the way and Chinese-made models have pushed into the top five best-selling models. Europe is the second biggest market, followed by the US, but their traditional car manufacturers face a stern challenge from China and from Tesla, whose much-anticipated Model 3 is expected to go into production in 2017. In the United Kingdom, drivers of electric vehicles could be allowed to use bus lanes in five UK cities and even go first at traffic lights, to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, the government has suggested. Launching its consultation on clean air zones to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, the Environment Department said air pollution killed 50,000 people each year at an annual cost to society of £27.5bn.

Old growth forests in the Tarkine could be logged by private companies under plans being considered by the Tasmanian government to reverse a moratorium on harvesting 400,000 ha of high conservation value forests. The forests were part of 500,000 ha protected under the forest peace deal signed by the former Labor government in 2013, which would have seen them eventually gazetted into national parks. That deal was scrapped by the Hodgman Liberal government when it came to power in 2014, and the 400,000 ha of future forest reserves were rebadged as future potential timber production forests, to remain formally in reserves until 2020. More here.

Wind turbine near Kendal by Ben Challis

Wind turbine near Kendal by Ben Challis

Germany is taking steps to curb its booming windfarm sector in what it claims is a necessary move to stop the renewables revolution from undermining its own success. Critics, however, say the step will deal a blow to the country’s reputation as a leader in green energy. According to leaked plans from the German federal network agency, published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the government has had to halve its original target for expanding its windfarms in the windy northern flatlands because it cannot extend its power grid quickly enough to the energy-hungry south. On the UK, public support for onshore windfarms is far higher than widely believed, according to a new opinion poll, even in rural areas. Wind turbines are also far more popular than fracking or nuclear power, contrasting with the UK government’s decision to block onshore windfarms but back shale gas exploration and new nuclear power plants.  The ComRes poll, conducted for climate change charity 10:10, found that 73% of the British public supported onshore windfarms, with just 17% opposed, and the rest not sure. Strong support remained even when only considering the views of those from rural areas, who might live near windfarms: 65% support versus 25% against.

large-blueThe UK’s Big Butterfly Count has recorded its lowest number of common species since records began. Normally ubiquitous butterflies such as the gatekeeper, comma and small copper experienced their worst summers in the history of the count, which is run by Butterfly Conservation and began in 2010. Scientists said the low number of butterflies is “a shock and a mystery” because this summer was warmer than average and much drier in England than the previous worst year for butterflies, 2012, which was unusually cold and wet.

Many of the areas that have been recently marked as potential sites for fracking are rich in wildlife that perform crucial functions from pollination to decomposition, researchers have found. Scientists say that almost two-thirds of the areas that have been labelled as suitable for shale gas extraction have levels of biodiversity equal to or above the national average, according to a new analysis of records collected from across the country. “A lot of the areas that have opened up to shale gas licensing actually harbour much higher than average levels of biodiversity,” Tom Oliver, of University of Reading who is a senior author of the study in the Journal of Applied Ecology told the Guardian. “We only have one natural heritage and we have to protect it and so using these data to highlight those very valuable sites and to facilitate their protection is hopefully a useful thing to do.”

snow-leopard-mother-cub-580A report from Traffic says that hundreds of snow leopards are being killed every year across the mountains of central Asia, threatening the already endangered big cat, according to a new report. There are as few as 4,000 of the solitary and elusive cat remaining and numbers have fallen by a fifth in the last 16 years. But between 220 and 450 are killed each year, says Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, ahead of a meeting on the crisis at the UN in New York. The number could be much higher, the NGO warned, as killings in remote mountain areas often go undetected. An Ounce of Prevention: Snow Leopard Crime Revisited.  Combatting poaching and illegal trade of snow leopards is a key objective of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), which unites all 12 snow leopard range countries with intergovernmental and non-governmental organization partners.

A lawsuit has been filed against the Norwegian government over a decision to open up the Barents Sea for oil exploration which campaigners say violates the country’s constitution and threatens the Paris climate agreement. The case is being brought by an alliance including Greenpeace, indigenous activists, youth groups, and the former director of Nasa’s Goddard institute for space studies, James Hansen. And  Exxon Mobil Corp asked a US federal court to throw out a subpoena from New York state that would force the oil company to hand over decades of documents as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it misled investors about climate change risks. The filing means Exxon has now requested the US district court in Fort Worth, Texas for injunctions against two major climate subpoenas: one issued by New York and another from Massachusetts that the company challenged in June. Exxon, which for more than a decade has acknowledged the risks of climate change, has criticised the prosecutors’ inquiries as politically motivated.

First 2016 Greener Festival Award Winners Announced at ADE Green

2016-winners-of-the-greener-festival-awards-at-ade-greenThe first winners of the Greener Festival Award 2016 have been announced at ADE Green, part of the massive Amsterdam Dance Event.

Welcome to the Future, DGTL, Liberation Festival and Extrema Outdoors were all winning Dutch events who participated in the Award scheme in 2016, and the awards ceremony was organised with Green Events Nederland.

The one day ADE Green took place yesterday (October 19th 2016): ADE Green is a pioneering conference on sustainability, innovation, and social change looking at meaningful solutions for the future. This year, panels and workshops included a focus on sustainable management at major festivals, and series of in-depth workshops where initiatives such as the reusable festival cup and sustainable event management were explored, Green Events Nederland offered tips and tricks for a waste free festival, and other workshops included sanitation – and whether human waste is the the “new gold”, and how to make the right choice of food – whether biological, local and vegetarian, as well as the impact this choice has on the environment. ADE Green returns to ADE in 2017.

To enter the award scheme, led by A Greener Festival, events submit a self assessment which is followed by an on site independent inspection, post event data gathering and a detailed report by the environmental assessor. The assessment forms the basis for the events Environmental Impact Assessment and is a important tool to help events to identify where improvements can be made, as well as celebrating the positive and successful existing actions.

Organiser of Extrema Outdoors, Marcel Mingers’ said: “We are delighted to win this award, which is a great reward for our efforts. Extrema is looking forward to an even greener future.”

A Greener Festival has assessed over 300 festivals over the last 10 years, and re-launched the Awards criteria in 2016 raising the bar and increasing the feedback and reporting available to events. This year’s winners have also already added another 25 trees to AGF’s Festival Wood in Scotland, a decidious re-forestation project managed by Trees for Life.

agf_award_2016-logo-nostars-1Ben Eddie, the AGF Awards Co-ordinator said “I am thrilled to have represented A Greener Festival at the sold out 4th edition of ADE Green at De Brakke Grond, the perfect platform and a new partnership. I was even more pleased  to have opportunity to meet familiar names from coordinating our UK & Europe awards for the first time this year. It was a real pleasure to present the Dutch awards to Liberation and Extrema Outdoor NL (both Commended), and DGTL and Welcome to the Future (both Highly Commended). It was an inspiring program and what better way to finish a packed day of workshops, presentations, and panels than by celebrating the successes of our first Award winners of 2016. It was also awesome too see such a mix of industry professionals, suppliers, and the next generation of festival and live event organisers and students in the same space. The future is now!”

The first results:

Welcome to the Future (HIGHLY COMMENDED)

DGTL Festival (HIGHLY COMMENDED)

Liberation Festival (COMMENDED)

Extrema Outdoors (COMMENDED)

ANOTHER PLANET?

cc-1-300x180EU ministers have agreed to ratify the landmark Paris climate agreement at an extraordinary summit in Brussels on Friday, all but guaranteeing that it will pass a legal threshold to take effect next week and sparing the bloc’s blushes in the process. The EU’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The EU’s member states decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement. We must and we can hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies.

September 2016 is a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million (ppm). That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.  And global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention. A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.

Electricity generated by solar panels on fields and homes outstripped Britain’s ageing coal power stations over the past six months in a historic first. Climate change analysts Carbon Brief found more electricity came from the sun than coal from April to the end of September, in a report that highlighted the two technologies’ changing fortunes.

FrackOffHorizontal fracking can go ahead, the government has said, in a landmark ruling for the UK shale gas industry. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has approved plans for fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton in Lancashire. Environmentalists and local campaign groups reacted angrily, saying it was a denial of local democracy. It means, for the first time, UK shale rock will be fracked horizontally, which is expected to yield more gas. A second site, Roseacre Wood, has not yet been given the green light amid concerns over the impact on the area.  Javid  overturned Lancashire council’s rejection of a fracking site, paving the way for shale company Cuadrilla to drill in the county next year and provoking outrage from local groups, environmentalists and politicians. The council cited visual impact and noise when it turned down the company’s two planning applications to frack on the Fylde last year, but a month later Cuadrilla submitted an appeal.

pangolinPangolins, the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal, were thrown a lifeline at a global wildlife summit on Wednesday with a total trade ban in all species. More than a million wild pangolins have been killed in the last decade, to feed the huge and rising appetite in China and Vietnam for its meat and its scales, a supposed medicine. The unique scaly anteaters are fast heading for extinction in Asia and poachers are now plundering Africa. But the 182 nations of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) unanimously agreed a total ban on international trade on all species at the summit in Johannesburg, prompting cheers and applause from delegates.  More on the Guardian website here.

air pollutionChina is the world’s deadliest country for outdoor air pollution, according to analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The UN agency has previously warned that tiny particulates from cars, power plants and other sources are killing 3 million people worldwide each year. For the first time the WHO has broken down that figure to a country-by-country level. It reveals that of the worst three nations, more than 1 million people died from dirty air in China in 2012, at least 600,000 in India and more than 140,000 in Russia. At 25th out of 184 countries with data, the UK ranks worse than France, with 16,355 deaths in 2012 versus 10,954, but not as poorly as Germany at 26,160, which has more industry and 16 million more people. Australia had 94 deaths and 38,043 died in the US that year from particulate pollution.

Shoppers in England have become much more likely to take their own bags to the high street since the introduction of a plastic bag charge nearly a year ago, a study has found. More than nine in 10 people now often or always carry their own bags, up from seven in 10 before the 5p charge came into effect, and the public became much more supportive after it started. The number of plastic bags taken from supermarkets and big retailers in England has fallen by 85%.

The Labour party has strengthened its opposition to fracking, saying it would ban the controversial technique for extracting shale gas if it came to power. Speaking at the Labour conference in Liverpool, shadow energy and climate secretary Barry Gardiner is to announce the party will be going further than its previous policy of a moratorium until environment conditions are met.

Virgin_atlanticThe Guardian reports that world’s first agreement to curb aviation’s greenhouse gas pollution has been struck by 191 nations in a landmark United Nations accord, although environmental groups have warned the deal doesn’t go far enough. A meeting of 2,000 delegates at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency, in Montreal has settled upon a global emissions-reduction scheme that will apply to passenger and cargo flights that generate more than 10,000 tonnes of annual greenhouse gases. The deal, aimed at reducing the growing climate impact of plane travel, follows years of disagreement between nations on how to slow emissions from the sector. Instead of facing a cap or charge on emissions, airlines will be involved in an offsetting scheme whereby forest areas and carbon-reducing activities will be funded, costing about 2% of the industry’s annual revenues. Global aviation emissions in 2020 will be used as a benchmark, with around 80% of emissions above 2020 levels offset until 2035. A push by the shipping and oil industries for a five-year delay to curbs on toxic sulphur emissions would cause an extra 200,000 premature deaths from lung cancer and heart disease, according to an unpublished International Maritime Organisation (IMO) study.

Romania has banned all trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats in a surprise decision that gives Europe’s largest population of large carnivores a reprieve from its most severe and immediate threat.

plasticbagThe vast patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is far worse than previously thought, with an aerial survey finding a much larger mass of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items than imagined. A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic waste at the northern edge of what is known as the “great Pacific garbage patch”, located between Hawaii and California. The density of rubbish was several times higher than the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation part-funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated.