On 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
Finally, 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. While 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.”
The 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.
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.
Supermarket 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.