Tag Archives: amber rudd

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parigi-570x350On November 29th at 12.00 noon in London we have the best moment of the decade to pressure our leaders to avoid catastrophic climate change. Together we can rise to the challenge and make this the biggest climate mobilisation ever. If you’d like a free t-shirt to wear at the LONDON march, please click here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/climate-march-tshirt

blackfishFinally, it’s a move we have all been waiting impatiently for: SeaWorld San Diego is to pull the plug on its orca show. Announced online Monday in a document posted by the company, SeaWorld has said that as of next year, its killer whale performances will be phased out. But unfortunately, that does not mean an end to orcas in captivity: These acts will be replaced with some kind of educational experience involving the animals, albeit supposedly in a more true-to-life setting. As before, SeaWorld claims that the intention is to inform and inspire, not treat the intelligent mammals as circus animals. The decision follows a series of blows to the organization. SeaWorld quickly fell out of favor after the release of a harrowing documentary film called Blackfish, which exposed the dark truth of the supposedly conservation-centered industry. Although there were many who argued that the documentary was inaccurate and misleading, the message spoke to people and there was a large amount of public backlash. Just six months after a publication demonstrated that orcas in captivity do not live as long as their wild counterparts, the state of California banned the captive breeding of these animals in October of this year. As part of this long-overdue ruling, SeaWorld San Diego was given the green light for a $100 million (£65 million) expansion to its killer whale tanks, although the company said they would still battle the California Coastal Commission’s decision. Now it seems they have finally backed down, and instead will invest a chunk of this money on developing a resort in the park in collaboration with Evans Hotels. orcaWhile this is fantastic news, the fight is certainly not over yet. Other states still permit the captive breeding of orcas, so until this practice is stamped out completely, we can expect to see the exploitation of these animals for entertainment purposes. SeaWorld is moving forward with plans for a Middle East expansion, the company has said. “We are making progress,” CEO Joel Manby said of the plans during a third-quarter earnings call with investors. “I don’t want anyone to think they’ve stopped.” He added that the company’s yet-unnamed partners on the project had traveled to Orlando, Florida, for a meeting last month. SeaWorld announced last year that they were looking into opening a new location in the Middle East, which has less of a stigma against whales in captivity, following a downturn in U.S. attendance and continued backlash over the alleged mistreatment of their orcas. http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/seaworld-finally-ending-killer-whale-shows0 and https://www.thedodo.com/seaworld-middle-east-expansion-1439983520.html

Edie.net reports that it is “difficult to say” whether or not the UK will hit its 2020 renewable energy targets, according to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, after a leaked letter revealed there could be a massive shortfall. The UK has legally-binding targets to source 15% of the UK’s final energy consumption from renewable sources in 2020. Within that goal, the UK has set itself subtargets of 30% of electricity from renewables, 12% of heat, and 10% of transport fuel. However, in a letter sent by Rudd to fellow cabinet members, and leaked to the Ecologist, Rudd reveals she expects the UK to miss its targets by around 25%, equivalent to a 50 TWh shortfall. By comparison, the entire renewable electricity output in Q2 2015 was less than 20 TWh. More than three quarters of the UK public support the use of renewable energy, according to the latest opinion poll from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The newest edition of DECC’s quarterly Public Attitudes Tracking survey questioned a representative sample of 2,121 households in the UK, with 76% saying they “support” the use of renewable energy for providing electricity, fuel and heat. Just 5% of respondents “oppose” renewables.  Public support for green energy has never fallen below 75% since the survey was first taken in March 2012. Up to 84% of the British public would like to see subsidies given to programmes that reduce energy waste, according to a new poll by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). The ComRes poll of more than 2,000 British adults found that 79% currently support subsidies insulating homes and 77% support subsidies for measures that cut energy waste in power transmission.

A major glacier in Greenland that holds enough water to raise global sea levels by half a metre has begun to crumble into the North Atlantic Ocean, scientists say. The huge Zachariae Isstrom glacier in northeast Greenland started to melt rapidly in 2012 and is now breaking up into large icebergs where the glacier meets the sea, monitoring has revealed. The calving of the glacier into chunks of floating ice will set in train a rise in sea levels that will continue for decades to come, the US team warns.

The EU has warned the Obama administration that a global climate deal at the Paris summit must be legally binding, after the US secretary of state John Kerry said that it “definitively” would not be a treaty. “The Paris agreement must be an international legally binding agreement,” a spokeswoman for the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete , told the Guardian. “The title of the agreement is yet to be decided but it will not affect its legally binding form.”

beesThe European Food and Safety Authority (Efsa) has removed barriers to the relicensing of glyphosate, a best-selling herbicide, despite World Health Organisation (WHO) warnings that the substance is “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The ruling opens the door to a new 10-year licence for glyphosate across Europe, although the authority set a threshold for exposure to the substance of of 0.5mg per kg of body weight for the first time. “Glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential,” the Efsa assessment found. And Friends of the Earth (FoE) have lost their High Court battle in the UK to stop permission being granted for farmers to drill oil seed rape coated with two neonicotinoid pesticides this autumn. Enviroment Secretary Liz Truss had earlier usedher powers to partially lift a EU ban.

Warmer seas are making sharks less aggressive and smaller. Scientists in Australia who studies the Port Jackson shark said that warmer seas and ocean acidification reduced shark’s ability to smell and hunt.

The 15 operational carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects worldwide will capture 28 million tonnes of carbon this year alone, a new report from the Global CCS Institute has found. According to the report,  global CCS schemes will store and capture 40 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2017, when 22 projects will be online. This has the same reduction effects as removing eight million cars from the road.

Eight of the world’s 10 most polluting countries are expected to double their collective renewable energy capacity in the next 15 years, a new study from the World Resources Institute (WRI) has found. WRI’s analysis, Assessing the Post-2020 Clean Energy Landscape, looks at plans from eight of the 10 largest greenhouse gas emitters — Brazil, China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and the US — concluding that their cumulative clean energy supply will jump from approximately 9,000 TWh in 2012 to 20,000 TWh in 2030.

640px-FHM-Orchestra-mk2006-03 (1)England’s arts and culture sector has saved 12,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and £2.3m in the last two years thanks to an ambitious sustainability programme organized by Arts Council England and green charity Julie’s Bicycle. More than 700 arts and cultural organisations have signed up to the Environmental Sustainability Partnership programme, which requires participants to track their energy and water usage and implement an up-to-date environmental action plan. 98% of reporting Arts Council funded organisations (700) were involved by 2015 compared to 14% in 2012. According to an update on the programme, emissions from the sector fell by 5% a year since 2012, despite overall growth. “The results indicate that the country’s arts and cultural sector is now leading in sustainable behaviour change,” reads a statement from Art Council England and Julies Bicycle. More here and on the Julie’s Bicycle website here.

A new European Commission initiative, to be launched next year, will make it easier for smaller energy efficiency projects, such as building renovations, to get EU funding. The plan, “a matter of priority”, is mentioned in a leaked draft of the executive’s forthcoming State of the Energy Union report. It is being finalised after EU leaders broadly agreed the Energy Union strategy to bolster the EU’s resistance to shortages and fight against climate change. According to the draft report – which could feed into future legislation – most member states need to “accelerate their ambition levels” to hit their 2020 goals.

Safely obtained biogas from human waste could generate electricity to power all of the households in in Indonesia, Brazil, and Ethiopia combined, if researchers can harness the correct innovative technologies. That’s according to a new report from UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, which estimates that biogas extracted from worldwide human waste could have a value of up to $9.5bn as a natural gas equivalent. The Valuing Human Waste as an Energy Resource report states: “Rather than treating our waste as a major liability, with proper controls in place we can use it in several circumstances to build innovative and sustained financing for development while protecting health and improving our environment in the process.” The report notes that dried fecal matter – which releases biogas that is approximately 60% methane by volume when broken down in an anaerobic system – has energy content similar to coal and charcoal and could replace up to two million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel, preventing deforestation.

The first mass production hydrogen cars, billed for more than a decade as a clean alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles but only glimpsed as concepts at automotive trade shows, have arrived on British roads. Leading the charge are South Korean manufacturer Hyundai, with a £53,000 “crossover” – a squashed SUV that looks like a normal car, and the world’s biggest carmaker, Toyota, with a futuristically styled saloon priced at £66,000. Honda has promised to launch its model in the UK during 2017.

It is now harder for UK citizens to hold government and polluters accountable for damaging the environment than it is for people in China, the head of a leading environmental law firm has told the Guardian. Changes to the costs and administration of environmental legal challenges in the UK could potentially “chill the ability of citizens to bring cases” to protect the environment, said James Thornton, chief executive of NGO ClientEarth, ahead of delivering the annual Garner lecture to a host of environmental leaders on Wednesday. In the lecture, Thornton will criticise government proposals to dramatically increase the amount for which charities and individuals are liable if they lose an environmental case deemed to be in the public interest.

BBChuwSupermarket Morrisons’ efforts to encourage customers to buy wonkier-shaped vegetables have been branded “pathetic” by the chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The BBC show Hugh’s War on Waste  saw the broadcaster giving away oversized and curvy parsnips outside a Morrisons branch in Wimbledon, to highlight the food waste he says is caused by supermarkets’ excessively exacting cosmetic standards. In response the supermarket undertook a trial of selling wonky courgettes alongside so-called ‘class one’ courgettes, but found the ‘ugly’ ones sold much more slowly.   “When you see the frankly pathetic little trial that Morrisons did with those courgettes, where they put some really substandard squashy ended ones in one pile next to some gleaming perfect ones at the same price, would you believe, people went for the really lovely ones? That’s not what we’re asking supermarkets to do,” Fearnley-Whittingstall told the Guardian in an interview. A Morrisons’ spokesman said customers had “voted with their feet”, and the only wonky veg that sold well in a trial in its Milton Keynes store was when bagged up and sold at a reduced price as a ‘value’ option. However the company told the Guardian that before the end of the year it would begin permanently selling lines of wonky potatoes, carrots, onions and parsnips at cheaper-than-normal prices across its stores. Image: Photograph: Alex Hudson/Keo Films/BBC.

The Crystal is a new all electric building that uses solar power and a ground source heat pump to generate its own power. The Wilkinson-Eyre designed building showcases state of the art technology to make buildings more efficient and acts as a hub for debate on sustainable urban living. The venue’s energy management system, designed by Siemens, controls all of the electrical and mechanical systems in the building – including the 17KM of piping used for the ground source heat pumps – and 60% of outgoing heat or cooling energy is recovered. The venue has no heating costs – and uses special glass to manage temperatures both in summer and winter, and specially designed lighting to reduce power use.

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So true ….

wind power

ANOTHER PLANET?

parigi-570x350The 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.

Virgin_atlanticEdie.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.

windturbines_300Onshore 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.

african-elephant2A 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.

great barrierThe 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.

babyorangFires 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.

ANOTHER PLANET?

earth overshoot dayWe’ve Consumed More Than the Earth Can Produce This Year: Its 2015 and Thursday, August 13, is Earth Overshoot Day, when resource use is expected to outstrip the capacity for production—and it’s getting earlier every year.

A “Godzilla” El Niño may be on the way – with one of the strongest since record-keeping began in 1950. Above-normal, or very warm, temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are warmer than they were in August of 1997, when the strongest El Niño on record occurred. This is an indication that we could be rivalling the 1997-1998 record El Niño event that caused devastating flooding and mudslides across California. California is in the midst of a severe four-year record weather drought, with little relief in sight, but things may be changing in the coming months.  “This definitely has the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño,” Bill Patzert of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, California, said.

Scottish ministers are planning to formally ban genetically modified crops from being grown in Scotland, widening a policy divide with the Conservative government in London. Ministers in Edinburgh are to apply to use recent EU powers that allow devolved administrations to opt out of a more relaxed regime, which is expected to increase commercial use of GM crops around the EU. The move will reinforce a long-standing moratorium on planting GM crops in Scotland and allow the Scottish National party to further distance itself from the UK government.

Amber Rudd MP

Amber Rudd MP

So much for empowering local communities. Fine – as long as they don’t make decisions the UK government doesn’t want. I for one dnt want polluted water tables,the risk of earthquakes and massive environmental damage: Many many agree.  BT Shale gas (fracking) planning applications are to be fast-tracked under new government measures to crack down on councils that delay on making a decision. Councils will be told they must rule on applications within the current 16-week statutory timeframe. If they repeatedly delay, ministers might take over the power to decide all future applications in that local area.  The applications to frack in Lancashire by energy company Cuadrilla was massively opposed by local people. The proposal,  to drill and frack eight wells, were first submitted in May 2014, but Lancashire county council’s development control committee repeatedly delayed to consider more evidence. The committee finally rejected the bids in June, on the grounds of unacceptable visual impact and noise. Environmentalists say it makes a mockery of the government’s promise to give power to local people. The government says it will take local views into account, but that developing shale gas is a national priority that must not be held up. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We need more secure, home grown energy supplies – and shale gas must play a part in that” and “We can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years. We need a system that delivers timely planning decisions and works effectively for local people and developers.” More on the BBC here and the Guardian here.

Are you pro-fracking? Have a look at this article: “Shirley “Sug” McNall is leaning up against a fence staring at a natural gas well about 40 meters from a playground behind the primary school where her daughter used to teach in Aztec, New Mexico. She believes that the gas industry and the explosion of fracking in her state is responsible for serious impacts on local air quality which are affecting people’s health. Her fears were boosted last year when Nasa satellites identified a methane bubble over Aztec visible from space. The bubble suggests that during drilling and production the natural gas industry is not capturing all of the gas they unlock from deep in the ground and significant amounts of this methane and other chemicals are leaking into the sky. McNall believes that other more dangerous gasses are being released too.”  MORE HERE.

Namibian lionIn South Africa, the practice of ‘canned hunting’ has come to light after the recent killing of Cecil the Lion in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Some 1,000 lions are killed each year by mainly American recreational big-game hunter – but these are not wild lions – these are lions which have been raised on ‘farms’ – bred to be slaughtered. It seems that American tourists leaf through brochures to pick the lion they wish to ‘hunt’;. some 7.000 lions are kept in often very confined captivity (more than three times the number who live wild) – with an average price for a kill being £20,000 andf the industry is worth about £14 million each year to the South African economy. Most kills are stuffed and mounted although recently a number of airlines said they would no longer ship the kills home to the USA. Wild lions are protected by law.

food wasteThe UK is the worst-performing country in Europe when it comes to food waste, throwing away almost 6kg of food per household every week.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that Europe as a whole wastes 22m tonnes of food a year. But the UK was the worst offender, wasting the equivalent in weight of one can of beans per person, every single day. Romania was the most efficient country, but still threw out the equivalent of an apple per person per day. The study found that 16% of all food that reached consumers was thrown away, with the vast majority of this waste being avoidable.

Close to 1,000 health professionals from around the world have thrown their weight behind an open letter asking the multi-billion pound health charity, the Wellcome Trust, to move its money out of fossil fuels on ethical grounds. The letter invokes one of the foremost principles of medical ethics, asking the Trust to “do no harm” because of the current and future impacts of climate change on global public health. The 946 signatories to the letter span the health profession and include nurses, academics, therapists, doctors, students, retired practitioners and dentists. While hundreds come from the UK, the US and Australia, many other countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Malaysia are also represented. Some of the largest US Catholic organisations have millions of dollars invested in energy companies, from hydraulic fracturing firms to oil sands producers, according to their own disclosures, through many portfolios intended to fund church operations and pay clergy salaries. This discrepancy between the church’s leadership and its financial activities in the US has prompted at least one significant review of investments. The Archdiocese of Chicago, America’s third largest by Catholic population, told Reuters it will re-examine its more than $100m (£64m) worth of fossil fuel investments.

Major “shocks” to global food production will be three times more likely within 25 years because of an increase in extreme weather brought about by global warming, warns a new report. The likelihood of such a shock, where production of the world’s four major commodity crops – maize, soybean, wheat and rice – falls by 5-7%, is currently once-in-a-century. But such an event will occur every 30 years or more by 2040, according to the study by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience. Such a shortfall in production could leave people in developing countries in “an almost untenable position”, with the US and the UK “very much exposed” to the resulting instability and conflict, said co-author Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House. More on edie.net here.

china air pollutionAir pollution kills an average of 4,000 people every day in China, according to a new study by researchers at Berkeley Earth. The California-based climate-science group found air pollution resulted in up to 17% of all China’s deaths, with 38% of the country’s population of 1.3bn breathing air that would be considered ‘unhealthy’ by US standards. The results of Berkeley Earth’s report estimated around 1.6 million Chinese are killed each year as a result of air pollution, particularly from PM2.5 particulate matter which damages lungs, causes heart attacks, cancer and asthma. The researchers argue most of the air pollution comes from China’s coal consumption and say switching from dirty coal to nuclear power, natural gas and renewable energy could bring down emissions.

Leaked documents show the UK is pushing for watered-down EU air pollution laws to be weakened further, arguing they would cause pit closures leading to substantial job losses and the need to import coal. The EU rules could help curb toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, although campaigners criticised them following revelations that they were partly drafted by the same companies they were meant to regulate. But a confidential government submission to Brussels, seen by the Guardian, says that the UK would have to import coal from Russia, Colombia and South Africa to meet the new standards, because British coal has such a high sulphur content.

One of the UK’s largest banks, Standard Chartered, has announced it is pulling out of a major coal mining project in Australia. The announcement follows an extended campaign by environmental groups. Standard Chartered is the second financial institutional to walk away from the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland in the last few days. Last week the Commonwealth Bank of Australia also announced it was abandoning the venture after the federal court of Australia overturned the government approval for the mine.

Shell_oil_croppedShell is set to restart its controversial hunt for Arctic oil, three years after the company’s last ill-fated venture north. The Polar Pioneer rig began drilling on 30 July, but US safety standards have prevented the company from sinking a well deep enough to hit oil until a key safety vessel, an icebreaker called the Fennica, was in the Chukchi Sea. Shell said that the vessel was now in the area and it had informed the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that it was ready to go for oil. A spokeswoman for the company said: “Fennica is in the Chukchi Sea, drilling continues, and we have requested the permit to drill deeper in this exploration well.”  More here.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has called for the EU to drop import tariffs on Chinese solar modules, claiming the cheaper equipment could help the industry overcome subsidy cuts. Since December 2013, Chinese imports to Europe have been subject to anti-dumping tariffs, which enforce a minimum price of €0.56 per watt and annual import quota of 7GW. The rules are intended to protect European manufacturers who cannot produce important equipment at the same price as Chinese firms – who are supported by substantial Government subsidies. However the REA says the tariffs, known minimum import pricing (MIP), have prevented module costs from coming down in the UK over the past few years.

decc-figuresRenewable electricity generation outpaced natural gas this month to become the second largest source of electricity worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency. Globally, coal remained king with 9,613TWh of electricity produced, around 41% of global electricity production compared to 5,130TWh (22%) from renewable energy sources. In OECD economic zone countries, electricity production fell slightly by 0.8% from 2013-14, with massive decreases in coal electricity production offset by increases in non-hydro renewable energy production from wind and solar power. The report also found in OECD countries that solar power had overtaken solid biofuels, used in biomass plants, to become the second largest non-hydro renewable source after wind power.

A new contender for Britain’s greenest home has been unveiled in North Yorkshire. The four-bed house, known as Furrows, will have a unique renewable energy system, allowing it to generate more than 13,000 kWh of electricity and heat a year. Around 5,000 kWh will be used by Furrow’s homeowners with the remaining 8,000 kWh exported to the grid – enough electricity to run two further houses. Furrows features a combination of 64 solar PV and solar thermal panels, with all spare energy diverted to an on-site storage system for evening use outside of sunlight hours. More here.

German energy company E.ON has started constructing the world’s first modular large-scale battery in the German town of Aachen. The modular aspect of the design means that various battery technologies can be ‘plugged in’ to the system – a world-first for a battery of this size. The system, known as M5BAT, will be housed in a former office building that is being converted specially for the installation. In total, the batteries and other components of the storage system will stretch over two floors and the roof, covering around 500 m² of floor space. M5BAT is backed by a €6.7 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of its “Energy Storage Funding Initiative”.
Football_iu_1996This year for the first time, fans across the entire football league are being encouraged to cut emissions by car-sharing their way to away games, while Premier League giants Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have all embraced ambitious sustainability strategies. As the football seasons kicks off, the greenest football club in the UK doesn’t feature in the Premier League. In fact, it plays in a division four tiers below the top flight. Forest Green Rovers have taken up the cause their name proclaims, aiming to become the most sustainable football club in Britain and “probably the world”. Chaired by Dale Vince, CEO of green energy company Ecotricity, who told reporters “The pitch is organic, we recycle all the water that lands on the pitch and reuse it, we’ve got solar panels on the roof of the stand, electric pumps to charge electric cars and we have a fully vegan from the start of this season.”  The club says it is aiming to irrigate the pitch using only collected rain water and runoff to make it independent from the mains. It has also received national and international coverage of its sustainability work, including for its meat free, fully Vegan menu – another first for UK football clubs.  The club is planning further sustainability developments with Ecotricity releasing concept designs last month for a new Eco Park, a 100-acre sports complex and green technology centre near Stroud.  In the top flight,  Chelsea have strong Green credentials. The club became the first football team to join the Green 500 Campaign, with pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 10%. Chelsea has also installed energy efficient lighting systems and recycles 100% of its waste, much of which is used for renewable energy generation.  Arsenal’s move to the Emirates Stadium saw a raft of new sustainability measures implemented which makes the ground one of the greenest in the country. As well as watching its spending following the multi-million pound move, the club has introduced a number of green initiatives, such as the use of voltage optimisation equipment and LED lights which have reduced power use by up to 20%. The stadium’s recycling policy sees waste minimisation across the club as well as the recycling of plastic and glass for fans on match days. The club says it recycles an average of 10 tonnes of cardboard and plastic and month as well as diverting 1.5 tonnes of glass per match from landfill. More here.

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