Tag Archives: another planet

ANOTHER PLANET?

GAP_long_program_rgbSir David Attenborough, Unilever’s Paul Polman and former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey are among 27 leading scientists, business executives, academics and politicians that have signed a joint letter backing an Apollo-style research programme to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels. The letter, published today (16 September), argues that “a sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”. It urges the leading nations of the world to commit to the Global Apollo Program, which seeks to emulate the ‘space race’ of the 1960’s to encourage more spending on clean energy; in a bid to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within the next 10 years. More here.

Businesses must be willing to move from individual efforts to collective action in order to deliver long-term food security, WWF-UK has insisted.
A report published today (10 September) by the green group in partnership with the Food Ethics Council urges businesses to accelerate their contribution to addressing sustainable food security by understanding where food is sourced from and sold to, as well as exploring actions for the benefit of a wider society. Additionally, companies should only consider commercial benefits alongside social benefits of sustainable food security and encourage support of food security goals in the wider business environment, the report states.  WWF-UK expert on sustainable food security Duncan Williamson said: “It’s heartening to see that more companies are grappling with the issues of sustainable food systems, but if we’re all to reap the benefits, they need to act boldly, and quickly.”

An edible alternative to plastic water bottles made from seaweed has topped the UK round of an EU competition for new, more sustainable products. The new spherical form of packaging, called Ooho and described by its makers as “water you can eat”, is biodegradeable, hygenic and costs 1p per unit to make. It is made chiefly from calcium chloride and a seaweed derivative called sodium alginate. Ooho won the joint award with Alchemie Technologie, who have created a digital way of dispensing dye for the textile industry. Clothes are dyed selectively using a product similar to an industrial inkjet printer, replacing the full immersion process used currently, which consumes vast quantities of chemicals, water and heat. Both companies take home €20,000 of investment from the competition run by Climate KIC, created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with galvanising the transformation to a sustainable economy. They will go on to compete against entrepreneurs from across Europe. Other finalists presented a water purifier that captures energy from solar panels, an index that allows investors to track their financial exposure to carbon and a process that uses bio tanks to create paper from waste straw instead of trees. Entries were showcased at the Science Museum in London.  More here.

easterislandEaster Island –  home of the Rapa Nui – is often given as one of the best (or worst) examples of ‘ecocide’ – the Island’s inhabitants descended into cannibalism after the island was completely deforested – removing the basic raw material the islanders needed to survive.  The Island is still mostly treeless but islanders now say they care deeply about the environment and have fished its water using traditional methods – but fish stocks have been depleted by illegal industrial factor fishing boats. Now Chile has said that it will create a 300,000 square mile 200 mile wide reserve around Easter Island, which will be protected by satellite tracking system  to prevent factory ships fishing – using the technology to remotely monitor vessels. 3,000 people remain on Easter Island.

Hundreds more of England’s most important wildlife sites are now at risk from fracking after the UK government opened up 1,000 sq miles of land to the controversial technology, a new analysis has found. Among the 159 licences issued last month to explore for oil and gas onshore in the UK – likely to include fracking for shale oil or gas – are 293 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), the definition given to an area protecting rare species or habitats According to the RSPB, which compiled the list of SSSIs, the result could be significant damage to the UK’s remaining habitats for rare wildlife and plants. While the government has pledged to restrict fracking in national parks, in July it made a U-turn on a pre-election promise to protect the thousands of SSSIs in the UK. There are 4,000 such sites in England, more than 1,000 in Wales and 1,425 in Scotland. Fracking is the process of blasting dense shale rocks with high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals, in order to create tiny fissures that allow the microscopic bubbles of natural gas trapped within the rocks to escape, where they can be captured and piped to the surface. The technology is controversial, having caused minor earthquakes in the UK at the only site here to have been fracked in Lancashire, and is the subject of protests by environmental campaigners with fear of water table pollution and environmental damage. More on the Guardian here.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012The UK has fallen to eleventh place in a ranking of the most attractive renewable energy markets for investors by consultancy firm EY. EY’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) found that the Government’s renewable energy subsidy cuts were already having a tangible impact on renewable investment. It marks the first occasion in 45 issues of the RECAI that the UK has fallen out of the top-ten. This year alone, 23 large-scale projects representing around 2.7GW of energy have been publicly abandoned, putting a question mark over the long-term future for the UK’s renewable sector. The report also questions the Government’s opposition to the cheapest renewable technology – onshore wind – in light of its support for the more expensive and less popular nuclear and fracking options. More than half of the major sources of project finance for renewable energy developers say they will not lend to onshore wind projects in the UK until there is more clarity around subsidies. And the renewable energy industry was dealt yet another blow as the Conservative government rejected proposals for a £3.5bn windfarm off the south coast of England.
Energy Minister Lord Bourne has seemingly bowed to lobbying by local Tory MPs and refused planning permission for the 970MW Navitus Bay offshore wind farm in Dorset, over concerns about the projects’s visual impact.  A DECC Spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved.”

The UK Government should move away from out-dated green taxes which target businesses and instead offer green tax incentives to reduce carbon emissions, according to the manufacturers’ organisation EEF. In a new report titled ‘The Low Carbon Economy – From Stick to Carrot’, EEF reviews the carbon tax changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne in this year’s Budget Statement, ahead of the Government’s long-awaited autumn consultation into energy efficiency taxes. The report calls on the Government to ‘reduce the overall burden’ placed onto businesses through energy taxations and levies and replace the ‘confusing mix’ of regulatory programmes, noticeably the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

The newly elected Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has named his shadow secretaries for energy and environment as he looks to push forward his ambitious energy reform programme. Corbyn, who was elected Labour leader on Saturday 12th September, has appointed Lisa Nandy to head up the shadow Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Kerry McCarthy to lead the shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

hawksbill-turtle-thailandPopulations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, a report says. The study says some species people rely on for food are faring even worse, noting a 74% drop in the populations of tuna and mackerel. In addition to human activity such as overfishing, the report also says climate change is having an impact. The document was prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London. The report says that sea cucumbers – seen as a luxury food throughout Asia – have seen a significant fall in numbers, with a 98% in the Galapagos and 94% drop in the Red Sea over the past few years. The study notes the decline of habitats – such as seagrass areas and mangrove cover – which are important for food and act as a nursery for many species. Climate change has also played a role in the overall decline of marine populations.
The report says carbon dioxide is being absorbed into the oceans, making them more acidic, damaging a number of species. More in the BBC here.

In the UK Politicians and negotiators involved in the Paris Climate Summit (COP21)  “ought to feel the pressure from businesses” to achieve a global climate deal, the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said. Speaking at the Business for the Environment (B4E) Climate Summit in London, Lord Nick Bourne insisted “there is a feeling in the air” ahead of the crucial climate talks in December, but businesses must “keep the pressure up” to secure an internationally-binding agreement to keep global warming below two degrees. But Bourne’s speech was countered by business leaders at the event, who said the Conservative Government’s retrospective green policy changes are increasing the cost of capital and impacting investment in low-carbon technologies. More on edie.net here.

Global carbon emissions from the world’s aviation and maritime sectors could rise 250% by 2050 without tangible targets from governments to reduce carbon rates, a report has warned. The New Climate Economy has called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to lay out objectives to drastically reduce carbon rates, which are in danger of growing dramatically over the coming decades. The report, commissioned by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, has recommended initiatives for the ICAO and IMO to implement, in an attempt to stop combined global CO2 emissions reaching 32% by 2050.

Nine out of 10 new diesel cars break new EU pollution limits when tested on roads rather than test tracks, according to a new report. On average, the cars emit seven times the permitted level of NOx gasses, with the worst car producing 22 times the legal limit. Models from every major motor manufacturer breached the limit when they were evaluated in real-world conditions. From 1 September, new diesel cars in the EU have had to comply with emissions rules called “Euro 6”. However, carmakers can use a whole range of techniques to ensure that their cars perform far better under test conditions than when driven by ordinary drivers.

nissanleaf#In better news, Japanese carmaker Nissan has added a new 30Kwh battery to its flagship Leaf electric vehicle, improving its driving range by 25%. The Leaf, which previously ran on 24Kwh batteries, now has a driving range of 155 miles on a single charge thanks to the improved battery, which the company claims is the first of its kind for the market. The company claim the battery will only add 21kg of weight to the vehicle and will enhance vehicle performance by adding Carbon, Nitrogen and Magnesium to the electrodes. Sixty electric cars took part in a rally between Stirling and Glasgow over the weekend to celebrate the launch of a new electric vehicle (EV) subsidy. The sixty-mile round trip, led by Scrapheap Challenge presenter Robert Llewellyn in his Tesla, cost drivers around £1.50, compared to £9 for a petrol-powered journey. Taking place on Saturday, the convoy set off from George Square in Glasgow, and toured Stirling, before returning to Glasgow.

coffeenbeans2Fifteen thousand homes across London will be heated by waste coffee beans from local baristas under a new capital-wide scheme to get London to embrace the green economy. The scheme was developed by biofuel company Bio-bean which specialises in turning waste coffee into energy. It became a reality after the company won the Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award back in 2012. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The roaring success of previous winners like Bio-bean demonstrates the huge market for green technology ideas. They’ve done the hard grind and Londoners can now enjoy their daily coffee fix in the safe knowledge that as well as their own caffeine kick the energy levels of as many as 15,000 homes are being boosted.”

A new report has called on local authorities and manufacturers of ‘bulky waste’ – waste too big for normal disposal – to put a greater emphasis on the reuse of unwanted furniture. Rearranging the Furniture from the waste think-tank RSA and resources firm SUEZ, has revealed that 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste – 42% of which is furniture – is sent to landfill every year, despite over 50% of it being reusable. The report recommends that local authorities should become ‘resource returners’ rather than waste managers and that manufacturers should work closely with the authorities to implement a system that allows for collection of bulky products, to ensure they are sent back to the manufacturers for reuse.

The first ever worldwide waste report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says immediate action is required to shift from ‘take-make-use-waste’ to a circular economy. Global Waste Management Outlook – a report from UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – found that seven to 10 billion tonnes of urban waste is now produced each year, with three billion people across the globe still lacking access to efficient waste disposal facilities.  And volumes of waste are likely to double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, according to the report.

New research has revealed that 45% of the 100 world’s largest industrial companies are thwarting climate change legislation, while 95% are current members of trade associations accused of the same obstructionist behaviour. London-based non-profit organisation InfluenceMap teamed up with researchers from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists to conduct thorough forensic analysis on the companies’ transparency over issues such as global treaties, carbon reductions, climate policy and relationships with business associations, before ranking each of them with a score.  The research, which quantitatively ranks the corporations by region and sector as well as globally, concluded that corporate influence now extends much further than a PR-social media juggernaut by using trade associations and advocacy groups as influences to deter changes to climate policies. Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at the Union of concerned Scientists, said: “More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies. Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability. On Transparency, Phillips 66, Duke Energy, Reliance Industries and Koch Industries – all part of the energy sector and the US Chamber of Commerce – received the low ‘F’ rating.

cigbuttsWestminster in London has a major problem with discarded cigarette butts and thrown away chewing gum – but its now adopted some novel ideas to fight back against this blight – Edie.net reports that initiatives include a ‘Fumo’ music pole from Holland that rewards the public with audio and visual displays when cigarette butts are disposed of in the pole, a ‘voting ashtray’ that engages smokers with weekly sporting questions which are answered by putting the cigarette butt in the right compartment of the ashtray, the ‘Butts Out’ campaign where local pubs are stocking quirky portable ashtrays for smokers to use on the go and giant cigarettes that are installed in piles around the street to raise awareness of the City of London’s ‘No Small Problem’ campaign. Keep Britain Tidy will monitor the effects of the campaign.

elephantBetween 2010 and 2012, an elephant was slaughtered every 15 minutes. More than 100,000 elephants were killed to fuel the global illegal ivory trade.With national and international laws banning the ivory trade worldwide, where can buyers be sure to find it? On Craigslist. A recent investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society found that Craigslist users advertise 6,600 ivory and related wildlife products each year — worth over $15 million. And that study only examined a fraction of the sites — just 28 of the over 400 Craigslist sites in the U.S. Craigslist already prohibits the sale of animal parts, but this investigation proves it is little more than lip service. Feeling the heat, CEO Jim Buckmaster recently added ivory to the explicitly prohibited items, even though the company has done nothing to actually stop ivory sales on its website. Meanwhile, African elephants have been driven nearly to extinction. Tell Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster we want a Craigslist ivory policy with teeth, not tusks. Ban the sale of ivory on Craigslist.

Advertisements

ANOTHER PLANET?

sla-logoEdie.net’s Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 have broken the record for the highest amount of entries ever received in the awards’ 8 year history. Edie say they are all thrilled about the huge number of entries received – it is a sure reflection of how many of you are continuing to put the spotlight on sustainability And of course, it should also make for a great awards ceremony! With entry levels at an all time high, the 2015 awards promise to be something really special and Edie say “we cannot wait to get all leaders of sustainability under one roof to celebrate their achievements. More information here.

Twenty seven blocks of land across the UK have been formally offered to energy companies by the UK Government for the extraction of onshore oil and gas. The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which allocated the land, said that a further 132 blocks were still undergoing environmental assessments, with the results expected “later in the year”. The first 27 blocks, each around 10km2 , are located mainly in the North East, North West and East Midlands. The second tranche is also largely clustered in the North of England. UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said that onshore oil and gas – often recovered by fracking – would “play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come”.

arcticAnd Shell has received final permission from the US Government to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012. Having been granted permission by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) yesterday (17 August), Shell can begin exploratory operations into potential oil bearing zones in the Chukchi Sea of the coast of Alaska.The move comes after the icebreaker ship Fennica, which carries emergency well-capping equipment, arrived at the site.

Scottish Power has announced that its coal-fired Longannet power station will be closing on 31 March 2016 after 46 years of service . The closure was first announced back in March 2015, reportedly thanks to high carbon taxes and the high cost of connecting to the grid. Neil Clitheroe, the CEO of retail and generation at ScottishPower, said it was a sad day for the company, but green groups hailed the closure as a ‘historic step’ in Scotland’s energy transition.

Renewable power billionaire Elon Musk has introduced to the world his sleek new Powerwall – a wall-mounted energy storage unit that can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, all for US$3,500. That translates into an electricity price (taking into account installation costs and inverters) of around US$500 per kWh – less than half current costs, as estimated by Deutsche Bank. Read more here.

Leading representatives of Islam have called for action to tackle climate change across the world, at a symposium in Istanbul. Islamic representatives from the United Nations, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and the UK set out a climate declaration for the world’s 1.6bn Muslims. The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change says: “God created the Earth in perfect equilibrium … the present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of this balance.” The declaration from the leaders calls on the nations meeting in Paris in December later this year at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) talks on climate change to set clear targets, stressing the part well-off nations and oil-producing states have to play to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

birdsneonictonoidsThe bee-harming pesticides we’ve been fighting for years are worse than we imagined. Research suggests that neonicotinoids aren’t just decimating bee colonies — they’re hurting birds too. Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations of neonicotinoids, bird populations declined every year. This means our worst fears are coming true — neonicotinoids may be moving up the food chain and killing our birds and our bees. For the sake of the birds, the bees, and the whole food chain, THESUMOFUS are challenging one of the biggest neonicotinoids producers of them all: Bayer. “In two weeks, we’re going straight to Bayer’s door with our massive petition — and we hope to have your name in our massive petition box.” It’s not just the bees anymore. Neonicotinoids are killing our birds too. It’s time to get Bayer to stop producing these chemicals.

A new app that can reportedly cut household energy use by 10% is being rolled out to 200,000 Swedish homes. The Energy Tree app analyses data from the smart power grid to discover households’ energy trends and encourages users to consume less energy through personalised feedback and guidance. “The Energy Tree combines behavioural science and gamification with data analytics to engage and motivate households,” said a statement from the app developers Greenely. “By entering their energy consumption data into the user-friendly and accessible app consumers can realise a potential 10% reduction in energy use.” More here.

fde1Efficient recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) could be worth €3.7bn to the European economy by 2020, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Sheffield found that recycling electronic waste was already worth €2.15bn in 2014 and could rise to €3.67bn by 2020. On top of the significant revenue gain, more effective recovery of materials could be environmentally beneficial by reducing manufacturers’ reliance on natural resources. The paper, entitled ‘Recycling of WEEEs: an economic assessment of present and future e-waste streamswas published by Professor Lenny Koh from the University of Sheffield and Federica Cucchiellaa, Idiano D’Adamoa  and Paolo Rosac  (University of L’Aquila, Italy). Professor Koh said: “This research has strong relevance to addressing global issues of materials availability and security, reducing reliance on unused non-renewable materials, especially precious, critical and rare earth materials in manufacturing for sustainability and for consideration for substitution.”

litterA survey has shown that 30% of people in the UK believe that more should be done to educate school children about recycling. Conducted by Direct365, the research highlighted that more needs to be done to inform future generations on how to minimise waste and promote eco-friendliness. As part of their Green365 campaign, which aims to help industries reduce their environmental impact, Direct365 asked 750 people a range of questions as to what measures schools can take to improve waste management. The survey showed that almost 30% want to see schools teach kids how to prevent food waste, while 25% stated that energy-saving lessons should be on the National Curriculum. 11% felt that children need more guidance on saving water

whales being mudreredThe horrific mass slaughter of whales in the Faroe Islands has sparked a reaction from two cruise lines, who announced they will no longer send their ships there. The latest move against the annual bloody massacre announcing means that Hapag-Lloyd and AIDA cruise lines are looking at alternative destinations for their vessels.  Both AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd were contacted by Netherlands-based charity Sea Shepherd to immediately postpone cruises to the Faroe Islands in the face of the on-going slaughters. Dr Monika Griefahn, a director at AIDA, confirmed the re-routing of the company’s ships in a letter to the charity. She said: “In the interest of our crew and our guests as well as for reasons for species protection AIDA Cruises has decided to stop making port calls to the Faroe Islands until further notice.”

handgunIn Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, many people know the devastating consequences these weapons can contribute to. That’s where creative activist Pedro Reyes comes in. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. he has melted down  1,527 guns and turns them into shovels for planting trees. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. With this unique perception, he transforms things people see as broken and models them in a new way. He encouraged local residents to swap their guns for household and electronics goods vouchers before re-making the metal into shovels. Read More: http://www.trueactivist.com/artist-melts-1527-guns-and-turns-them-into-shovels-for-planting-trees/. Let’s be honest – of we divered all the vast amount of money spent on wars and weapons into food, medicine, education, culture and housing we would ALL be well fed, healthy and well educated.

Indigenous communities in Brazil are using a new project called Tribal Voice to publicise how their homes and lands are being destroyed by loggers, ranchers and miners. The peoples, from some of the remote areas of the world, use Tribal Voice to air their voices o the internet. In Brazil the powerful farming lobby is trying to persuade the Brazillian government to clear;ly map out tribal lands – something the agribusinesses want to control themselves. They are lobbying the Brazilian government to turn over control of the mapping from a independent agency to Congress itself – something tribespeople say would be a disaster. Tribal Voice (not to be confused with the UK based sustainable tourism consultancy or the clothing company both of the same name) say “Ever wondered what life’s like in a remote tribal community? What tribal people have to say about the world? Tribal Voice, a project by Survival International, brings the thoughts and experiences of some of the most diverse societies on earth direct to your screen in real time. We’re kicking off the project with two tribes in Brazil. The Guarani, whose land has been stolen and destroyed by plantations and ranches, are now sending regular updates about their lives, and their struggle to survive. It’s time to listen.”

The Guardian reRIOports that the world governing body of sailing is threatening to move events for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics out of the city’s polluted Guanabara Bay unless “a whole lot more is done very quickly” to clear the venue of floating debris and sewage. Alastair Fox, head of competitions for the governing body, ISAF, said: “We’ve got quite frustrated with it all,” adding that Brazilian “politicians and the government must get going”. Fox suggested two sailing courses located just outside the bay in the open Atlantic – and a third being planned there – could be used for all races. Three other courses have been planned inside the bay but may not be used. The enclosed bay is heavily polluted and has been described as an “open sewer” by Olympic sailors. The Rio state government promised to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay by 80% but has since admitted that goal is unlikely to be met.
Gyre ocean rubbishA giant mass of floating plastic rubbish in the Pacific Ocean is believed to be far larger than previously feared — even though it was first estimated to be twice the size of Texas. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is much more than patch now – its a vast toxic ‘ocean fill’ of rubbish dumped from ships and washed out from the West Coast of North America. Julia Reisser, the main oceanographer on the “mega expedition” made up of 30 ships that surveyed the Patch, said that they had found much more plastic than expected, “perhaps an order of magnitude more”. The Ocean Star, the 171ft mother ship of the expedition, docked in San Francisco carrying huge white bags and freezers filled with plastic samples taken from 80 separate locations in the patch. “The trawls we did found little marine life, but lots and lots of plastic,” Dr Reisser said. “I would say that we had hundreds of times more plastic than organisms on our catch.” The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered by Charles Moore, a sailor and oceanographer, in 1997 as he returned home from the Transpacific Yacht Race, which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu. More here and more on Plastic Soup News here.

An American solar firm has launched a new liquid technology that turns regular windows into solar panels which could be up to 50 times more productive than regular roof-based photovoltaics. The solar windows, designed for skyscrapers, are created by applying ultra-thin layers of liquid coatings on to glass and flexible plastics. These liquid coatings produce ultra-small solar cells and form groups called ‘arrays’.  Solar Window Technologies revealed its innovation via a webinar, with a video demonstrating the windows collecting electricity, which was then used to charge a monitor.

orangsStarbucks has become the latest major brand to come under fire from campaign groups for its palm oil policy, with a new video urging consumers to boycott the coffee shop chain. The video is part of an ongoing campaign from the SumOfUs group, which has almost reached its petition goal of 200,000 signatures calling on Starbucks to cut conflict palm oil from its supply chain. The video highlights that, while 99% of Starbucks coffee is ethically sourced and sustainably produced, the company is still implementing “environment-wrecking” palm oil in its other commodities, such as baked goods

The private sector could cut more than five hundred megatons of greenhouse gas emissions in the next five years, simply by scaling up existing green initiatives, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and energy consultancy Ecofys, analysed five current initiatives, such as the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 and En.lighten. The report found that expanding these schemes could save emissions equivalent to one years’ worth activity from 130 coal power stations. The report focuses in particular on so-called ‘cooperative initiatives’ between businesses, Governments and NGO’s. One of the programmes looked at is WWF’s Climate Savers, which aims to help companies develop zero-carbon business models.

In the USA President Obama has unveiled  a package of programmes to help America switch to cleaner energy, including $1bn in loan guarantees to boost ‘innovative’ technologies, like smart grids and solar rooftops. The funding will also go towards installing solar panels on military housing and helping low-income families become more energy-efficient The initiatives aim to boost innovation, ensure grid reliability and ‘help the country towards a low carbon future’.

Edie.net reports that Rebuilding Scotland’s energy sector around green technology could generate 44,000 additional jobs compared to the current oil-and-gas status quo. That’ s according to a new report – Jobs in Scotland’s new economy – published by the Scottish Greens.  The report states that 200,000 new jobs could be created by adopting more renewable energy, compared to the 156,000 people currently employed in the country’s fossil fuel industry.

Audi2018Audi has unveiled concept designs for its first all-electric SUV, with a full reveal expected at the International Motor Show 2015 in Frankfurt next month. The concept car – the Audi e-tron Quattro – would have a battery range of more than 310 miles. Audi says the E-tron Quattro would come somewhere between Audi’s current Q5 and Q7 models in terms of size, and a production model for the SUV could be expected from 2018. The German carmaker said the electric model was constructed using Audi’s experience of its electric Audi R8 e-tron sports car, which entered a highly limited, on-demand production run this year.

And a French start-up claims to have developed the world’s first Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for road freight vehicles. Popularised in Formula 1, a KERS system recovers the kinetic energy usually lost under braking, and uses it to power a small electric motor. French firm Adgero, working with German company Skeleton Technologies, claims to have developed a KERS system that can be used with trucks and lorries, reducing associated emissions by up to 25%.

deforestationbrazilgreenpeaceAnd finally back to Brazil: Germany has pledged €550m to help Brazil’s deforestation and energy efficiency programmes as part of a new climate change agreement between the two countries. Following Angela Merkel’s state visit to Brasilia on Thursday, the two countries issued a joint statement calling for an ambitious agreement at the Paris climate talks in December. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff promised to end deforestation by 2030, while Germany also donated €23m to help Brazil establish a rural land registry aimed at increasing monitoring of the Amazon. “Brazil is the key to all goals related to the climate,” said Merkel. She added that the biodiversity of the rainforest was as important as its carbon absorption. “What gets destroyed here cannot be replaced,” she said. More on Edie.net here.

ANOTHER PLANET?

Namibian lionThe Zimbabwean environment minister has called for  Walter Palmer, the 55 year old extraordinarily odious dentist who killed Cecil the beautiful and iconic  lion, to be extradited from the US to face trial for financing an illegal hunt. Oppah Muchinguri told a news conference that Palmer, 55, was a “foreign poacher” and said she understood Zimbabwe’s prosecutor general had started the process to have him extradited. Two men in Zimbabwe are already facing charges for illegal hunting and poaching: Theo Bronkhurst has said he believed he had the correct permit for the hunt. Zimbabwean wildlife authorities say they have suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in an area favoured by hunters following the killing of a lion popular with tourists. The National Parks and Wildlife Authority said  that bow and arrow hunts have also been suspended unless they are approved by the authority’s director. The authority says it is also investigating the killing of another lion in April that may have been illegal. The Independent  newspaper named 68 year old US surgeon Dr Jan Seski as the person who killed another lion with an advanced bow. He is based in Pittsburgh. Dr Seski, of Murrysville said in statement issued by his attorney that he had complied with rules and regulations. A local man, Headman Sibanda, has also been arrested in connection with that killing. Other reports says that Cecil’s brother Jericho has been shot dead by poachers in Zimbabwe, but local reporters believe this could be another lion.  Reports added that contrary to earlier fears, Jericho was protecting Cecil’s lion cubs after Cecil was killed by Palmer. Delta, United and American Airlines have banned the shipment of big-game trophies on flights after the illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. The airlines announced that they would no longer transport lion, rhinoceros, leopard, elephant or buffalo remains.

France’s top climate ambassador has said she is very concerned at the slow rate of progress on a negotiating text that will form the basis of a new international deal on global warming in Paris later this year. But Laurence Tubiana also said that negotiators from nearly 200 countries were making headway on the document, and made clear that the French government wanted to see serious progress on the text by October. The comments, in an interview with the Guardian, came as climate ministers met last week to advance international climate talks before a crunch UN summit in Paris this November and December. The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in June that the negotiations were proceeding at “a snail’s pace” after a fortnight of talks in Bonn cut the 90-page text by just four pages. Last Friday a new streamlined version was published, with the two officials overseeing it warning the “pace was slow” and there was an “urgent need, owing to serious time constraints, to accelerate the work”.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012Europe’s offshore wind power industry has set a record for its biggest ever year just six months into 2015. The biggest factor was a huge jump in turbines in German waters connecting to the grid, with Germany installing three times more electricity-generating capacity than the continent’s current leader, the UK.

Authorities have forced protesters in kayaks from a river in Portland, Oregon, where they were trying to stop a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker from leaving dry dock and joining an Arctic oil drilling operation. Police also tried to lower protesters who were dangling from a bridge into the water below. Sergeant Pete Simpson said safety was the main priority, and police and coast guard officers were joined by firefighters and a rope-rescue team. A federal judge in Alaska had earlier ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a fine of $2,500 for every hour that protesters continued to block the icebreaker from leaving for the Arctic.

beesThe manufacturers of controversial pesticides took part in a key meeting on whether a Europe-wide ban on their chemicals should be lifted in the UK, according to newly published documents. The record of the meeting of the UK government’s expert committee on pesticides (ECP) had previously been suppressed. Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, have been linked to serious harm in bees, including a drastic reduction in queens, and were banned across the EU in 2013. Bees and other pollinators are essential for many crops but are in decline due to the impact of pesticides, loss of habitat and disease. The National Farmers Union (NFU) applied for an “emergency” suspension of the neonicotinoid ban for oil seed rape fields in the UK, which they said were under attack from pests. The newly released record of the meeting on 20 May shows manufacturers Bayer and Syngenta were the only external representatives invited to answer the ECP’s questions. More here and also take a look at theSumofUs’s report that “Bayer, BASF and Syngenta are suing the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world” and theSumofUs add “A huge public push won this landmark ban — and we can’t sit back and let Big Pesticide overturn it while the bees vanish.” The EU banned these bee-killers in May 2013, after a massive public campaign and a clear scientific finding from the European Food Safety Authority that neonics pose huge risks to bee populations: “Let’s defend this landmark ban for the bees and our food supply.” Interestingly the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board has said that their research shows that the oil seed rape harvest this year looks like being a record breaking success, somewhat undermining the NFU’s allegations that the neonicotinoid ban has damaged harvests – and prompting the question – WHY do the chemical companies and the NFU want this ban overturned and why do they want to put our bees at risk? Interesting theories here – and let’s not forget the recent debate about Monsanto and others creating genetically modified plants that have sterile seeds – so called ‘terminator seeds‘ – so you always have to buy your seeds from the chemical companies –  and more here.

shell
lneLive Nation Entertainment and Shell Oil have formed a marketing alliance making Shell the official fuel and Pennzoil the official lubricant sponsors at eight of LN’s North American amphitheatres. The pact extends Pennzoil’s collaboration with Live Nation, with Backseat Pass – a video series on a customized website that will feature artists performing in the back seat of a moving vehicle. The deal also gives Shell and Pennzoil naming rights on VIP pavilion decks and parking lots, according to the announcement. The sheds included in the sponsorship are PNC Music Center in Charlotte, N.C.; First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Chicago; Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J.; Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas; Irvine Meadows Pavilion in Irvine, Calif.; Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta; Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif.; and Molson Canadian Amphitheatre in Toronto.

A London-listed mining giant Vedanta Resources has been polluting the drinking water and poisoning farmland in villages in Zambia and threatening a wider health disaster with its copper mining activities, the Observer has found. London law firm Leigh Day has issued proceedings in the High Court in London on behalf of 1,800 people who claim to have been affected by the company’s copper mining pollution. “The case could take three years to resolve,” said Leigh Day senior partner Martyn Day, recently returned from Zambia, where lawyers and paralegals have been taking witness statements from people living near the rivers and the company’s operations. A Vedanta spokesman said: “All Vedanta’s operating subsidiaries take the health of their employees, the wellbeing of surrounding communities and the environment very seriously. Our subsidiaries are committed to ensuring they operate in a safe and sustainable way.”

solarAs a senator President Obama had been in favour of coal subsidies to reduce the USA’s reliance on imported oil. Now the President’s Clean Power Plan is targeting coal in a move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Today in the USA the solar industry employs more people than coal and the Clean Power Plan is aimed at accelerating the move to renewables and is part of a major new White House initiative on climate change.  The measures will place significant emphasis on wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources. However, opponents in the energy industry have vowed to fight the plan. They say Mr Obama has declared “a war on coal”. Power plants fired by coal provide more than a third of the US electricity supply. The revised plan will aim to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 32% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

Green groups in the UK have compared US President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the lack of UK Government action, claiming Prime Minister David Cameron needs to do more to meet climate change targets. Commenting on the announcement of the Clean Power Plan, Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said recent Conservative U-turns on environmental policy were making the UK look “parochial and small-minded.”

The Prince of Wales is planting 1,000 rare varieties of apple trees in a bid to create a ‘gene bank’ as the apple growing agribusiness sector moves towards a narrower and narrower range of commercial trees.

Lady Elliott Island, Great Barrier Reef by Jasmine ChallisAnd in Australia, the approval for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine has been overturned by a federal court. The case alleged environment minister Greg Hunt approved project without regard for conservation advice for two endangered species and the court ruled that  Hunt ignored his own department’s advice about the mine’s impact on two vulnerable species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.  Sue Higginson, the principal solicitor at the Environmental Defenders Office NSW, which ran the case for the conservation group, said: “This kind of error in the decision-making process is legally fatal to the minister’s decision” and “The conservation advices were approved by the minister in April last year, and describe the threats to the survival of these threatened species, which are found only in Queensland.” The court did not rule on the conservation group’s separate argument that Hunt failed to consider the impact of carbon emissions from burning of thermal coal from the Carmichael mine – which would exceed Australia’s annual emissions – or Adani’s “poor” environmental track record overseas.

There will be an international ‘megashift’ towards energy storage – batteries in particular – within the next 10 years, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has predicted. In a new study, ARENA forecasts that the cost of Li-ion batteries will fall 60% by 2020 and the cost of flow batteries will fall by 40%, leading to an installation boom. The report states: “The rapid uptake of solar PV provides a useful analogy to what could occur in the energy storage market, as technology prices have potential to reduce as technology development simultaneously improves.

China is set to begin the construction of what is expected to be the world’s largest solar thermal power plant. The Delingha plant, which will cover 25km of land in the Gobi desert, is slated to have a 200 MW capacity – enough to supply one million homes with electricity. Once fully operational, the plant will prevent the burning of 4.26 million tonnes of coal every year, reducing CO2 emissions by 896,000 tonnes.

football leagueThe sharing economy picked up an unlikely new advocate this week as the Football League announced a new partnership with Liftshare.com to encourage fans to travel to games as efficiently as possible. The partners have a launched a ‘Get to the Game’ travel platform, where fans can post details of their match day travel and offer their spare car seats to other fans for a split of the total petrol costs. More on edie.net here.

Leicester City Council is planning to add cycling to the city’s sustainable transport network using new Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EPAC) hubs. The city council and sustainable travel experts Go Travel Solutions have submitted the full application for funding for the electric bike hubs as part of a bid for a share of £500,000 from the Department of Transport. The UK Government is aiming to develop electric bikes in cities and at tourism hotspots around England.

WRAP-1Recent UK Government spending cuts led to a 38% drop in income for the Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) in 2014/15, despite the organisation delivering a five-fold return on its funding. According to WRAP’s latest annual report, total income for 2014/15 was £40.7m, down from £66.3m the previous year, with the drop “mainly due to reductions in central Government funding”. But the deep cuts appear overly punitive, given the success of the organisation. In the report, WRAP claims that for every £1 of funding spent on priority programmes like Love Food Hate Waste, it leveraged £2 of external contributions.

Supermarket chain Morrisons has announced it is working with charity FoodCycle to tackle UK poverty and food waste. Morrisons group corporate services director Martyn Jones said: “Our colleagues work hard to minimise waste every day and we know that our customers really care about this. “Our partnership with FoodCycle will allow us to find a good home for the small amount of unsold or used food in stores and support FoodCycle’s great work in the community.”

ANOTHER PLANET?

sea iceIce in the Arctic staged a surprise revival in 2013, bucking the long-term trend of decline, according to the first analysis of the entire ice cap’s volume. The revival was the result of cooler temperatures that year and suggests that, if global warming was curbed, the Arctic might recover more rapidly than previously thought. The shrinking Arctic ice cap is one of the best known impacts of climate change. The indication that it could be reversible is rare good news for a region where climate change has driven up temperatures far faster than the global average. The extent of Arctic ice has shrunk by 40% since the late 1970s, when satellite measurements began. But getting comprehensive data on the thickness of the ice, rather than just its area, was difficult until the European Space Agency launched the Cryosat satellite in 2010. Image: Average thickness of Arctic sea ice in spring as measured by CryoSat-2 between 2010 and 2015. Image: CPOM/ESA.

But whatever the sea ice is, or isn’t, doing – 2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record. There have already been heatwaves in Spain and France, droughts in California and Portugal, thousands of deaths from the heat in India and forest fires in Alaska. Now figures from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that the average global temperatures in the first six months are the highest for 136 years and is 0.85C hotter than the average in the last century. One of the strongest El Nino’s for decades will just add to the warming. In California there is a new business – lawn painting – turning parched brown lawns back to a ‘natural’ green

An unprecedented coalition of the UK’s most eminent scientific, medical and engineering bodies says immediate action must be taken by governments to avert the worst impacts of climate change. But the joint communiqué, issued by 24 academic and professional institutions, also says that tackling global warming would drive economic progress, benefit the health of millions by cutting air pollution and improve access to energy, water and food. To have a reasonable chance of keeping warming below 2C, the internationally agreed danger limit, the world must end all emissions within the next few decades, the communiqué warns. The British Academy is one of the 24 institutions and its president, the climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern, said David Cameron and the UK had a special responsibility to lead the fight against climate change. “The UK led the world with both the modern scientific revolution and the industrial revolution, and must lead again now on the creation of a safer, cleaner and more prosperous world,” Stern said. Another institution involved is health research charity the Wellcome Trust, which has been the focus of a Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign. The campaign has asked the charity to sell its substantial investments in fossil fuel companies. The Wellcome Trust acknowledges climate change is a great threat to health and the campaign argues that it is therefore “morally and financially misguided to invest in companies dedicated to finding and burning more oil, gas and coal.”

Amber Rudd MP

Amber Rudd MP

After news of the UK government’s swathe of changes to its environmental initiatives caused widespread negative comments,  the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said such drastic changes were needed to drive down consumer bills. Lord Nick Bourne, who is responsible for the Conservative Party’s energy efficiency policy, says last week’s decision to axe the Green Deal along with recent moves to restrict clean energy subsidies will mean “people are not paying bills that are totally unaffordable”. Speaking to edie.net,  Bourne said: “This is a new Government and we are setting the scene. What we’ve done this week and last week is ensure bills will come down. We’re keen to strip some of these measures out… to have a simplified system which is subsidy-free.” And a week after the Conservative Government cut renewable energy subsidies and closed off key energy efficiency schemes, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has said “it cannot be left to one part of the political spectrum to dictate the solution” to climate change. In her first major speech on climate change since the election, Rudd said that she understands why people see tackling global warming as “cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism” but said “It was Margaret Thatcher who first put climate change on the international agenda. She [said] ‘the danger of global warming is real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.’ I agree.” Rudd reiterated that the Tories are committed to climate action, and that “our long-term economic plan goes hand in hand with a long-term plan for climate action”.  Image.

Insurance giant Aviva has announced a target to invest £500m every year for five years in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The announcement of £2.5bn worth of investment will give the insurance giant carbon savings of 100,000 for these investments. Aviva’s plans were announced in a speech by chief executive Mark Wilson at the launch of an Aviva-commissioned report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which investigates the economic risks of climate change. Aviva chief executive Mark Wilson said: “As an investor, we’re going to challenge fossil fuel companies to look longer term and to the low carbon economy. We will divest where we think a company is not making sufficient progress towards the engagement goals set.”

The UK solar industry remains on track to deliver power without subsidies by 2020, but clearer and more stable support from the Government will be needed in order to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ of deployment. That’s the conclusion of a major new report from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and consutancy firm KPMG, released just a day after the Tories unveiled shock proposals to end a key subsidy support scheme for solar energy developers. “This report shows how close solar is to competing with traditional power generation, and with positive government decisions we can ensure the smooth transition from subsidy to business as usual,” said REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska.

The number of single-use plastic bags handed out by UK supermarkets has increased for the fifth year running to 8.5bn, figures show. The number is up by 200m on 2013 despite the average household already having 40 plastic bags stashed away, research from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found. In England, the number of single-use bags from supermarkets rose from 7.4bn in 2013 to just over 7.6bn, the statistics from waste reduction body Wrap revealed.

beesA farmer and beekeeper has revealed that 37 million bees dropped dead after other farms in Ontario, Canada sprayed neonictinoids on their GMO crops. Bees’ importance to the planet cannot be overstated. The tiny, bumbling bee is responsible for pollinating one-sixth of flowering plants in the world, and also about 400 different types of agricultural plants. In fact, it is estimated that just last year, the honey-producing pollinators helped provide over $19 billion worth of agricultural crops with their pollination services. Globally, they are responsible for helping to create a $300 billion revenue.

Argos is to become the first big UK retailer to offer customers the chance to trade-in their unwanted mobile handsets and tablets as part of a new recycling initiative.The service  will allow customers to take older handsets and tablets to any of the firm’s 788 stores where they will be paid for the items in Argos vouchers. The items will then be refurbished and sold on, or recycled for parts. Argos has been supported in developing the take-back scheme by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which through the EU Life+ funded REBus project is seeking to help companies implement resource efficient business models to keep products in use for longer. UK householders are estimated to have around £1bn worth of electrical and electronic equipment in their homes which is no longer used, and two-thirds of those surveyed by WRAP said they would be willing to trade in their tech products with a reputable retailer.

Apple, Coca-Cola and Walmart are among 13 American multinationals that have put forward $140bn of new low-carbon investment in an announcement at the White House today (27 July). The 13 companies have expressed their support for US President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut six billion tonnes of carbon pollution by 2030 at a White House event hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. The businesses have signed up to an American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Together, the companies are voicing strong support for the Paris climate change talks which will be held in December. The group aims to demonstrate a commitment to climate action, with collective investment of $140bn in low-carbon technologies and plans for more than 1,600MW of renewable energy. The companies launching the Climate Pledge include Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, GM, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi-Co, UPS and Walmart.

And more from the USA:  Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has promised to build more than 500 million solar panels by the end of her first term has US President. In an announcement on her campaign website yesterday (26 July), Clinton said climate change required the US to stand up and do more to invest in clean energy. Clinton said: “You don’t have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all. You just have to be willing to act.”

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012And the US has put steel in the water for what will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The Block Island project, developed by energy company Deepwater Wind, has begun construction of its first large-scale offshore wind facility. The landmark project will see the construction of a five-turbine, 30MW capacity wind farm in Rhode Island state waters. The turbines will rise 589ft above sea level, making them some of the tallest wind turbines in the world with the capability to withstand a ‘Category 3’ storm.

Zero Waste Scotland’s chief executive Iain Gulland has  announced the launch of a new fund to boost remanufacturing innovation. The resource efficiency organisation opened a fund offering awards of up to £100,000 over two years to encourage remanufacturing for items such as commercial and industrial equipment, furniture and small electronics. “The remanufacturing sector presents a fantastic economic opportunity for Scotland,” said Gulland, “and Zero Waste Scotland is focused on getting the right infrastructure and supply of products and materials in place for Scotland to reap the rewards.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott may be more interested in economic growth than climate change but the fact that scientists say climate change is prompting man eating salt water crocodiles, cane toads and dengue fever carrying mosquitoes to move South down the gold coat must surely cause him some concern – maybe?

Greenpeace have released this rather telling image: Its TRUE!

bees

ANOTHER PLANET?

warm houseThe UK government has quietly dropped rather sensible plans to ensure new homes are ‘zero carbon’ rated – well insulated and with heat pumps and solar panels to reduce homeowners reliance on fossil fuels. The change in direction also cancels plans to require builders to offset carbon dioxide emissions by paying for reductions elsewhere – eg with LED street lighting to reduce electricity use.   The move will save an average of £2,500 per build but will, according to the UK Green Building Council, raise energy bills in new homes.

chan-homChina has been hit by its worst typhoon in decades. Typhoon Chan-hom slammed ashore with winds of up to 160 kilometres (100 miles) per hour near Zhoushan, a city east of the port of Ningbo in Zhejiang province. It dumped more than 100 millimetres (4 inches) of rain  — about a month’s average in less than 24 hours, China Central Television and the Xinhua News Agency reported. Strong winds and heavy rainfall submerged roads, felled trees and forced the evacuation of 1.1 million people.

Ricky Gervais is calling for a conservation officer who was suspended for refusing to kill two bear cubs to be reinstated. Bryce Casavant was suspended without pay after he refused to kill two young bears who were left orphaned when their mother was killed for raiding a freezer full of meat at a mobile home in British Columbia, Canada. Rather than kill the cubs, the conservation officer took them to a veterinary hospital and they are now at a wildlife recovery centre, CBC reports.

An “induced implosion” of the fossil fuel industry must take place for there to be any chance of avoiding dangerous global warming, according to one of the world’s most influential climate scientists. professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, an adviser to the German government and Pope Francis, said on Friday: “In the end it is a moral decision. Do you want to be part of the generation that screwed up the planet for the next 1,000 years? I don’t think we should make that decision.” Schellnhuber was speaking at a major science conference in Paris, taking place before a crunch UN summit in December, also in the city, at which nations must seal a deal on global warming. World leaders were sent a stark message in the communique issued by the conference, which warned that the opportunity to avoid disaster is rapidly diminishing. Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador, said the aim of the UN summit is to send a signal that the transition from coal, oil and gas to a low-carbon economy is inevitable. If the aim is achieved, Tubiana told the Guardian, “you will see a massive acceleration [to a greener economy], particularly on the investment side in the next five years”. More on the Guardian website here.

mountaingoriilaOil drilling in the home of the last mountain gorillas could be put on hold after The Congo’s new minister for the environment, Bienbenu Liyota, said he was opposed to drilling in the Virunga National Park, a reversal of previous policy. Oil exploration is currently banned within the park but the Government had planned to re-draw its boundaries. The British company Soco International has a exploration permit for the Park but has been accused by Global Witness of attempting to intimidate, assault and torture opponents. The DRC Government will now investigate these claims. The Times says Soco hired its own lawyers, Clifford Chance, to investigate the claims, who said the claims were ‘substantially inaccurate’. Why should we care? Take a look at this film by Damian Aspinall when he reunites with the now 10 year old Kwibi and his family in Gabon.

rubbishatglastersThe Guardian take a look at the rubbish left behind at the Glastonbury Festival: “Glastonbury’s rubbish: going against the green ethos ruins it for everyone” Despite the 40,000 bins, Worthy Farm after the festival is an apocalypse of scrap metal, plastic bottles and abandoned tents. It’s enough to stop me going back. More here http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/01/glastonburys-rubbish-green-ethos-ruin-festival-worthy-farm-tents?CMP=fb_gu and images here http://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewtucker/the-bleakest-photos-of-post-glastonbury-carnage#.byQ6R3n1L

Long-haul flights are getting longer due to stronger winds caused by global warming, according to a study.
Scientists linked a small increase in return-journey times of long-haul flights with an increase in the variation of the jet stream, the high altitude air that flows from west to east. Just one minute’s extra flight time would mean jets spend approximately 300,000 hours longer per year burning roughly a billion additional gallons of jet fuel, they said. Passenger jet fuel already accounts for 3.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions but changes in wind speeds could lead to more fuel being used, more carbon dioxide emissions and an increase in global warming.

According to the new UN report, major changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems, with a shift toward local small-scale farmers and food systems recommended. Diversity of farms, reducing the use of fertilizer and other changes are desperately needed according to the report, which was highlighted in this article from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. It also said that global trade rules should be reformed in order to work toward these ends, which is unfortunately the opposite of what mega-trade deals like the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are seeking to accomplish. The Institute noted that these pending deals are “primarily designed to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy…” rather than the reflect the urgent need for a shift in agriculture described in the new report. More here.

The renewable energy sector is in a state of dismay following the new Government’s decision to remove the exemption for renewables under the Climate Change Levy (CCL) in the new UK Budget. The Summer Budget saw Chancellor George Osborne drop the CCL renewable energy exemption bomb: a move branded a ‘punitive measure’ which will leave renewable electricity generation eligible for the Levy. The CCL – which has been in place since 2001 – allowed businesses and public sector bodies to source renewable energy under the exemption, valued at £5.50 per MWh. But when these changes come into effect on 1 August, this exemption will disappear, leaving many new schemes hanging in the balance. Edie.net comments that oil and gas will continue to receive tax relief – at a cost to the Government of £10m in 2020/21 – with the Tories set to expand North Sea investment.

Climate change should be treated with the same gravity as the threat of nuclear war, a major new report from the UK Foreign Office has warned.
The report, Climate change: A risk assessment, warns policy-makers of the catastrophic effects of the worst-case scenarios of climate change, urging them to prepare for the worst. Writing in the report foreword, the minister of state for the Commonwealth and Foreign Office, Baroness Joyce Anelay, said: “In the past, when assessing the risk of climate change, we have tended to take an approach that is, perhaps, too narrow – or incomplete. “In public debate, we have sometimes treated it as an issue of prediction, as if it were a long-term weather forecast. Or as purely a question of economics – as if the whole of the threat could be accurately quantified by putting numbers into a calculator. Often, too, we have not fully assessed the indirect or systemic risks, such as those affecting international security.” Baroness Anelay added that a holistic approach was needed, adding: “It is an approach that applies as much to climate change as to, for example, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.”

A new report from the London Assembly Environment Committee has warned Boris Johnson that he needs to accelerate his air quality programs to comply with EU and UK laws. The report claims that diesel vehicles are to blame for much of London’s air pollution problems and must be banned from the centre of the capital as soon as 2020. Official estimates suggest that over 3,000 deaths each year in London are attributable to air pollution, while the UK Supreme Court recently ordered the Government to tackle the dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) found in the UK. Diesel exhaust fumes account for around 40% of London’s emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012Amazon is to construct a 208MW wind farm which will become the first utility-scale wind farm in the US state of North Carolina. The new wind farm for Amazon Web Services will be constructed with energy company Iberdrola Renewables and will generate around 670,000 MWh of wind energy per year, starting in December 2016. On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%. Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power.

The Church of England has adopted a new climate change policy which will see it divest from coal mining and oil from tar sands. The Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted overwhelmingly to support the new policy yesterday which will set new guidelines for the Church’s investing bodies. The Church plans to divest from companies deriving more than 10% of their revenue from the extraction of thermal coal and tar sands oil.

Global governments must work together to cut short-lived climate pollutants as well as tackling long-lived CO2 emissions, according to a report published in the journal Nature Climate Change published today. Short-lived pollutants – which include black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane – are having a dramatic, short-term effect on global temperatures and air pollution, the report claims.  It argues that prioritising cuts to short-lived pollutants is necessary to limit climate change in the short-term to less than 2OC.

airpollutionThe European Parliament has endorsed plans to reform the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The Parliament voted 495 to 198 in favour of measures intended to reduce the surplus of carbon credits available to ensure the correct price of carbon – bringing the move forward to 2019, two years earlier than originally planned. MEPs argued a glut of around two billion excess carbon allowances had accrued, undermining the EU’s emissions trading system. MEPs have also passed a European circular economy report calling for a 30% increase in resource productivity by 2030, which could add nearly two million green jobs. The resolution supported a report from the European Parliament’s environment commission which called on the European Commission to produce binding waste reduction targets by the end of 2015. But the UK has rubbished the idea of Europe setting new targets for recycling, despite warnings from the EU’s environment commissioner that such measures should be non-negotiable. Goals for recycling household waste are expected to give teeth to an upcoming EU ‘circular economy’ package, but a paper on the UK’s position, seen by the Guardian, argues that any new targets should be put on ice.

The insurance industry must be utilized to protect citizens at risk from climate change, a new report from the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has claimed. The report, titled Insurance regulation for sustainable development, analysed the role of the insurance industry in protecting societies against climate risk. It found that, as well as providing financial protection, insurers could encourage people to better protect themselves from climate risks through incentives in insurance contracts. The industry also has a unique expertise in identifying and mitigating risk, argued the report, while the global nature of insurance markets would help to spread the financial impact of climate disasters, especially for poor regions.

defRACKING

 

David Cameron has postponed plans to water down the foxhunting ban after the SNP vowed to vote against the changes. The vote on the changes, which would have lifted the two-hound limit on hunting foxes for vermin control purposes, was due to take place on Wednesday 15th July. Despite the changes only affecting hunting in England and Wales, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon today confirmed her party’s MPs would vote against the amendment.  The 56 SNP MPs, together with Labour and a sizeable number of Tories opposed to foxhunting, would likely have led to the measure being defeated. Chris Pitt, Deputy Director of Campaigns at The League Against Cruel Sports, told The Huffington Post UK: “In one sense this is good news because we’ve got a temporary reprieve for the foxes as the Government realise they weren’t going to win.

foxy

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

Splasticbagelfridges is to rid its stores of all single-use plastic water bottles as part of a campaign to reduce pollution of the oceans. Instead, the department store is encouraging customers to bring their own water bottles to fill at a newly-opened traditional drinking fountain in its London food hall. The initiative, part of an ongoing partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Marine Reserves Coalition (MRC), aims to reduce plastic waste in the oceans and help facilitate a change in behaviour around the use of plastic. Selfridges said it sold around 400,000 single-use plastic water bottles a year through its food halls and restaurants. And Hawaii has become the first U.S. state to ban plastic bags! This follows Oahu joining the other Hawaiian islands in banning plastic bags from its stores. Although there are some exceptions to the ban, this is a step in the right direction for solving our planet’s plastic waste problem. Up to 13 milllion tonnes of plastic enters our seas each and every year year – entering the food chain, killing marine wildlife and birds, and polluting vast swathes of our oceans.

roadsiderubbishMotorists should be routinely fined for dumping litter amid claims that many roads are overwhelmed by rubbish, council leaders say. Local authorities should be given the power to levy penalties against car owners when litter is seen being flung from a window — even if it comes from back-seat passengers, it was claimed. The Local Government Association said councils were struggling to cope with the “staggering and spiralling” amount of discarded bottles, drinks cans, crisp packets and cigarette boxes. North hertfordhire recently removed 80 tonnes of litter from an 18 mile sytrech of A roads and In Leicestershire 20 tonnes of litter were found on a 10 mile stretch of the A42. At persent local authorities cannotfine unidentified litter throwers, however pig like, lazy and selfish they are. We need a PIG ISLAND for these people to move to where they can live and fester in their squalor. Drivers who drop litter from their cars should be fined and receive a penalty point on their licence, campaigners have urged. Keep Britain Tidy wants the penalty to apply even to those who drop apple cores and other biodegradable waste.

If Lancashire won’t frack we will, insist Yorkshire residents: The campaign to start a British fracking industry is to shift across the Pennines, with an application to frack in the North York Moors National Park. There are an estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas in the bowland shale and as local pro-fracking group has been set up to support a move t bring hydraulic fracking to Kirby Misperton.  If only 10% of the gas were extracted it would provide Britain’s gas needs for the next 40 years. Ohhhh Yorkshire ….. fracking operations to extract shale gas in Britain could cause nearby house prices to fall by up to 7% and create a risk of environmental damage, according to a government report that has been published in full for the first time. Entitled Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) draft document was released on Wednesday after a freedom of information battle. As an official assessment of the impact of fracking, albeit in draft form only, the Report warns that leakage of waste fluids could affect human health through polluted water or the consumption of contaminated agricultural products.

Ecuador is planning to auction off three million of the country’s 8.1 million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, Jonathan Kaiman of The Guardian reports. The report comes as oil pollution forced neighbouring Peru to declare an environmental state of emergency in its northern Amazon rainforest. Ecuador owed China more than $7 billion — more than a tenth of its GDP — as of last summer. In 2009 China began loaning Ecuador billions of dollars in exchange for oil shipments. It also helped fund two of the country’s biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects, and China National Petroleum Corp may soon have a 30 per cent stake in a $10 billion oil refinery in Ecuador. More here.

Prince Charles has given his backing to a campaign to discourage investent in fossil fuel companies. In a speech he said that coal, gas and oil cmpanies should not receive taxpaer subsidies and the Keep It In The Ground campaign was ‘clear, compelling and powerfully resonant”. He called for profound changes in the global economy to avoid catastrophic climate change.

BP_Petrol_StationBP has agreed to pay $18.7 billlion to settle legal actions brough in the USA over the  2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The envieonmental catastophe had already cost the oil giant $5.5 in fines under the Clean Water Act; the latest settlement came after an action from by the Department of Justice and the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida to cover damages to individuals and business not covered by anm earlier settlement. Judge Carl Barbier had found BP to have been ‘grossly negligent’ in its management of the oil well.

WWF and Unilever have launched a one-year partnership to engage consumers in the fight against deforestation. The partnership between the conservation organisation and the multinational consumer goods firm will seek to raise awareness of the importance of the world’s forests, as well as protect one million trees. The partners will support protection programmes in Brazil and Indonesia, two countries with some of the highest historical rates of deforestation in the world.

Clothing manufacturer Adidas has celebrated its partnership with Parley for the Oceans by creating a prototype shoe made from recycled ocean waste and deep-sea gillnets. The concept shoe, unveiled at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, is the first in a line of ocean-waste products that Adidas plans to release this year. Adidas global brands executive Eric Liedtke said: “This partnership allows us to tap into new areas and create innovative materials and products for our athletes. We invite everyone to join us on this journey to clean up the oceans.”

grousePeat bogs in the UK are at risk … just so some can shoot birds …….. “They are home to a diverse range of wildlife and up to 8,000 years old. And, according to a damning analysis by an independent government advisory body, the UK’s upland peat bogs are facing a sustained threat from the shooting classes’ desire to bag grouse. The Committee on Climate Change’s 2015 progress report to parliament notes: “Wetland habitats, including the majority of upland areas with carbon-rich peat soils, are in poor condition. The damaging practice of burning peat to increase grouse yields continues, including on internationally protected sites.” Burning creates different heather habitats. Young heather is nutritious while more established heather provides a place for nesting grouse. Creating a patchwork comprising heather of different lengths is a land management tool that experienced gamekeepers can use to increase grouse yields.” More on the Guardian website here.

London_smog-_UKLondon Mayor hopeful  Sadiq Khan MP, Member of Parliament for Tooting and Shadow Minister for London has released figures showing that London boroughs have routinely breached EU air pollution limits over the last 5 years. Almost all local authorities missed targets set for key air quality measures including levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, linked to asthma and lung damage,  and not one of the 32 boroughs meeting ozone objectives. There has been progress in reducing the amountof larger particles, known as PM10, in London’s air. Kahn had previously spoken out against the government’s inaction on air quality. Speaking at the launch of a national campaign against air pollution, Sadiq Khan MP has called for a national framework for Low Emission Zones to enable local authorities to encourage the use cleaner, greener, less-polluting vehicles. Sadiq has also called for greater powers for local authorities to tackle low levels of air quality in their communities.

UK Chancellor George Osborne has brought further uncertainty to green leaders, with an emergency Budget that confirmed more taxes for renewables along with tax-breaks for oil and gas. Delivering his second Budget in four months on Wednesday – the first all-Conservative budget in nearly 20 years – Osborne failed to offer much good news for the low-carbon economy; instead bringing further uncertainty to the sector. Osborne announced that the Government would be changing the Climate Change Levy, which businesses pay on their energy use. The Levy is “outdated”, according to the Chancellor, who said an exemption for renewables in the CCL will be removed.

Low-carbon economic growth can become the new normal and limit the impact of climate change, according to a new report from the New Climate Economy, part of the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate. The report identifies ten economic opportunities that could close 96% of the gap between business-as-usual emissions and the level needed to stop dangerous effects of climate change – these include raisding energy efficiency,  committing to carbon pricing, investing $1trn in clean energy and restoring forests. The report argues low-carbon and climate-resilient growth is possible, but calls for investment and strong political willpower. Lord Stern, co-chair of the commission, said more and more counties were committed to integrating climate action into their economic plans, suggesting economic growth and emissions reduction could go hand-in-hand. More on edie.net here.

HoneyBeeA new study from Harvard University, published in the June edition of the Bulletin of Insectology, puts the nail in the coffin of the clever misinformation spread by the likes of chemicals giants  Bayer, BASF and Syngenta  about the rapid declines in the world’s bee populations. Neonicotinoids are killing bees at an exponential rate, they are the direct cause of the phenomenon labeled as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Neonicotinoid’s are the world’s most widely used insecticides. “The results from this study not only replicate findings from the previous study, but also reinforce the conclusion that the sublethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD.” For this study, researchers examined 18 bee colonies at three different apiaries in central Massachusetts over the course of a year. Four colonies at each apiary were regularly treated with realistic doses of neonicotinoid pesticides, while a total of six hives were left untreated. Of the 12 hives treated with the pesticides, six were completely wiped out. Those who make and spread misinformation about these chemicals should be imprisoned.

Revenues from sustainable products or services are growing up to six times faster than ‘normal’ equivalents, according to new research from the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi). The Institute, which provides data-driven information to investors, analysed 12 companies listed in the S&P 100 that sold and tracked ‘sustainable’ products and services.
The study found between 2010 and 2013, revenues from these portfolios grew by 91% – around six times faster than the rest of the companies’ products.

Coronation_Street_TitlesThe television industry has been in the news with ITV’s Coronation Street winning the Film & TV  Award in the Observer’s prestigious  Ethical Awards for the lowest possible environmental impact with innovations including “whether that be the art department or recycling old sets [Corrie has achieved an impressive 90% recycling rate for its waste streams] or making sure that new wood is from sustainable resources. We also have an allotment and we’re growing some of our veg on site here, too”, Televisual has highlighted the fact that whilst some shows have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprints, the production sector needs to do far more. Solar was used to power the entire shoot of Operation Grand Canyon with Dan Snow while Springwatch ran its unit base and remote camera set ups with energy from renewable generators – but Televisual says despite these success stories, the TV production sector has a poor track record when it comes to the environment and a ‘step change’ in behaviour is needed. Its not all doome and gloom. The BAFTA led ‘Albert’ Consortium have been working hard to reduce the impact of the UK TV industry and their carbon calculator has now logged over 1,000 productions – but says the TV sector needs t be more proactive in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shrinking film and TV’s carbon footprint. With a new training course in place for 150 executives from film & TV in place and a news website called www.mediagreenhouse.co.uk, the Albert consortium are also launching a major new survey into sustainability and climate change and the challenges they pose for the TV industry. And if you want to know how Anna Karenina saved money with BS8909 – the answer is here and more on TELEVISUAL here

SensationAnd news from Julie’s Bicycle: Our friends at Julie’s Bicycle and ID&T have created a new carbon calculator tool for indoor events. This new addition to our IG Tools was launched at ID&T’s 40,000 capacity Sensation dance event at Amsterdam Arena last weekend. The Tool enables you to quantify a range of impacts associated with your indoor event, including: energy, water, waste and travel. You can graphically analyse results to help inform action and easily export your results too. It’s available now and free to use at www.ig-tools.com. Julie’s Bicycle CEO Alison Tickell said “When one of the biggest dance promoters in the world is getting passionate about carbon we know that change is coming. Getting to grips with actual environmental impacts is a huge step forward; the new IG Tool will help not just ID&T but promoters all over the world to step up to the climate challenge.” Carlijn Lindemulder, Head of Sustainability at ID&T added ““It was a long time wish for us to be able to measure the environmental impacts of our indoor events. Working with Julie Bicycle on this exciting new tool gives Sensation the possibility to understands its environmental impacts, and design effective strategies to reduce them.”

takethegreentrainTake the Green Train was a seminar on environmental sustainability in music and jazz held at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival at the Sage Gateshead in April 2015, featuring guest speakers, case studies, green touring top tips, and ideas for future trajectories for the EJN membership on environmental sustainability. We want to make sure the learning and outcomes of the day are shared as widely as possible among the network, so have produced the following event report which summarises the various presentations and discussions from the day. Download the report here.

MMMAnd finally from Julie’s Bicycle: Have a listen to the first edition of the EE MUSIC Mixtape Series, where artists from Elevate Festival have been exploring energy and the environment in a series of exclusive mixes. In Part 1, Mixmaster Morris has intertwined samples and songs combining everything from Onethrix Point Never, Louis Armstrong to visions of a sustainable energy future. LISTEN HERE!

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

frackfreelancsLancashire county council has rejected a planning application by shale gas explorer Cuadrilla to frack in the county, in a major blow to what would have been the UK’s biggest round of fracking so far. Hundreds of anti-fracking campaigners outside the county hall in Preston, where the verdict was announced, reacted with delight and cheers, and people in the council chamber applauded. The surprise rejection regards a site at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton on the Fylde, where Cuadrilla had hoped to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas. Nine of the councillors on the 14-strong development control committee voted in favour of a motion to reject the application on grounds of visual impact and unacceptable noise, and also rejected a related application for an array to monitor seismic activity. It is expected that Cuadrilla will appeal the decision.  In a statement, the company said it was “surprised and disappointed” at the decision, and it remained committed to extracting shale gas in Lancashire. “We will now take time to consider our options regarding an appeal for Preston New Road, along with also considering appeals for the planning applications recently turned down, against officer advice, for monitoring and site restoration at Grange Hill, and last week’s decision to refuse the Roseacre Wood application,” the statement said.  Ken Cronin, chief executive of Ukoog, which represents the shale industry, called on the government to review the planning process. “This after 15 months of a long, drawn-out process cannot be right, and I urge the government to urgently review the process of decision-making.”  More here (and Image).

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has published its first report under the new Parliament on the UK’s progress towards meeting emissions reduction targets. The CCC found that the UK has made “good progress”, but warns that decisions made in the next five years will have an enormous impact on whether the UK successfully adapts to and limits global warming. “The most cost-effective approach to dealing with climate change requires steady progress over many years,” said the report. As a result it calls for policy clarity on issues such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Levy Control Framework, to encourage long-term investments in green infrastructure. The Committee also reiterates its support for a wide spectrum of low carbon technology including renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear energy. More on edie.net .

Staying in the UK, the government has quietly dropped a plan to allow households to opt out of junk mail after a row between the Department of the Environment and the Direct Marketing Association – which represents the companies that produce the thousands of tonnes of waste every year. The current scheme only blocks addressed junk mail. and a new scheme was meant to start back in 2012 with then Environment Secretary hailing the scheme as a major breakthrough in the battle against the ‘mountain of unwanted, unsolicited mail, most of which is thrown out’.

People who pave over their front and back gardens should be forced to return them to lawns and vegetable and flower beds to prevent our cities getting too hot – that’s according to the UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change. Concrete absorbs heat and doesn’t absorb rainwater meaning both heat and flooding will increase with an ever increasing loss of vegetation in cities. And new research from the University of Leicester says that more than 2,000 sq km of Britain’;s countryside has been lost to development, building and resource exploitation in just six years – with forests, wetlands and farmland being cleared to make way for urban development, mineral extraction, golf courses, roads  and wind farms between 2006 and 2012.  The study said that the loss of wetlands which store carbon is particularly concerning.

Permission has been given for a £1.7 billion potash mine in the North York Moors by the Park’s planning committee in a 8-7 vote. The mineral mine, near Whitby, is one of the biggest developments in a National Park for decades. Sirius Minerals says the project will generate 1,000 jobs directly with a further 1,000 indirect jobs being created.

China - sometimes all we need is the air that we breathe

China – sometimes all we need is the air that we breathe

China has formally pledged to peak its carbon emissions by 2030, but says it could begin reductions ahead of time. According to a statement, China will also aim to cut its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% compared to 2005 levels and increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption by 20% by 2030. After a meeting with French President Hollande, Chinese Prime Minister Li Kepiang said: “China’s carbon dioxide emissions will peak by around 2030 and China will work hard to achieve the target at an even earlier date.” China’s commitment confirms its plans for cutting carbon emissions and comes ahead of the United Nations climate talks in Paris in December.

London_smog-_UKA new campaign plans to bring together businesses, government and local groups to solve the problem of air pollution in the UK. Deliver Change, a non-profit organisation focused on sustainable technology projects, launched the campaign in central London y at an event hosted by the Wellcome Trust. The ‘Let’s make air pollution visible’ initiative aims to bring together businesses and policy makers to tackle poor air quality in the UK. Deliver Change chief executive Jonathan Steel said: “Air pollution remains the greatest invisible threat to our health today, as well as to the economic performance of our cities. People are waking up to the problem, but we need to be able to see the ‘unseeable’.”

The White House has churned out about 40 new measures to fight carbon pollution just since the start of 2015, stepping up the pace ahead of critical talks for a global climate change deal. Two years after Barack Obama’s sweeping promise to fight climate change on 25 June 2013, the president has used his executive powers to spit out new climate events or announcements at a dizzying rate of one every 4.5 days this year, according to the running tally kept by the White House. Those measures are offset by furious attempts by Republicans and industry to stop the climate plan in its tracks, and other Obama policies which campaigners say would increase the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, such as opening up the Arctic, one of the world’s great “carbon bombs”, to oil drilling and expanding coal mining in Wyoming’s Powder river basin. A new free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could also weaken climate protections, campaigners said. But Obama is still constructing a significant record on climate change says the Guardian. US President Barack Obama recently admitted to Sir David Attenborough that the US is “not moving as fast as we need to” in its efforts to tackle climate change. In a TV interview, broadcaster and naturalist Attenborough questioned Obama’s environmental record after six and a half years in office, suggesting the US should attack climate change with the same zeal as it attacked putting a man on the moon. Attenborough said: “Supposing you said that within 10 years the US will energise the world to find a solution, to find a way of exploiting sunshine and finding ways of storing energy? Because if you did that, so many problems would be solved.” Obama replied: “That’s what we are going to be shooting for.”

doubledeckerelectricThe world’s first electric double decker bus will be on the roads in the UK this year under plans to cut emissions.Five buses will be in use in London by October – joining the eight single decker electric buses introduced in London in 2013. The 312 route between Norwood and South Croydon will be electric bus only. The buses can run for 162 miles between charges and a recharge takes about 2 hours. “The iconic red double-decker bus is about to become greener than ever,” said Mayor Boris Johnson. “I could not be more pleased that London will play host to these exciting pure electric double-deck buses, and I’m sure the lucky users of route 16 will embrace it with gusto.

Cycle networks have brought more than £7 billion in benefits according to the National Cycle Network by reducing pollution, improving health and cutting the number accidents.

Bill Gates has announced he will invest $2bn (£1.3bn) in renewable technologies initiatives, but rejected calls to divest from the fossil fuel companies that are burning carbon at a rate that ignores international agreements to limit global warming. Speaking to the Financial Times, Gates said that he would double his current investments in renewables over the next five years in a bid to “bend the curve” on tackling climate change. Gates has called for international Governments to triple R&D funding for renewable technologies in order to find a ‘magic solution’ to climate change. Gates told the Financial Times that current renewable technologies would only be able to reduce CO2 emissions at “beyond astronomical cost”. Instead, he wants Governments to support new ideas such as high altitude wind power, which uses tethered kites and gliders to capture the high-speed winds circling the atmosphere at 20,000 feet. He also highlighted the potential of ‘solar chemical’ power, which creates an artificial version of photosynthesis to produce hydrocarbons, as well as Travelling Wave Reactors, which use nuclear waste to produce energy.

Europe will likely get more than half of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the next decade if EU countries meet their climate pledges, according to a draft commission paper.A planned overhaul of the continent’s electricity grids will now need to be sped up, says the leaked text, seen by the Guardian. “Reaching the European Union 2030 energy and climate objectives means the share of renewables is likely to reach 50% of installed electricity capacity,” says the consultation paper, due to be published on 15 July. “This means that changes to the electricity system in favour of decarbonisation will have to come even faster.” The EU has set itself a goal of cutting emissions 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, and an aspiration for a 27% share for renewables across Europe’s full energy mix, which includes sectors such as transport, agriculture and buildings that do not necessarily rely on electricity. Around a quarter of Europe’s electricity currently comes from renewable sources.

renault-joins-formula-e-championship_pressshotformulaEBusiness leaders have thrown their support behind renewable power as the final two races of the Formula E season took place in London.
Sustainability chiefs from Formula E, IKEA, Marks and Spencer and Infosys – all partners of the Climate Group initiative RE100 – said renewable power was good for business and should be a priority for governments tackling climate change. Ahead of the weekend of racing, Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag said powering the cars cleanly was vitally important to the racing series: “We know that to reach the full potential of electric vehicle benefits we need to use renewable energy.”

A pan-European transition to a circular economy would generate around €1.8trn of benefit for European economies every year, a major new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has claimed. The Growth Within report – the subject of a nine-month study – presents a vision of how the circular economy could look for three of Europe’s most resource-intensive sectors: food, mobility and the built environment.It claims that transition would generate a primary resource benefit of €0.6trn per year, with an additional €1.2trn in non-resource and externality benefits. This would be accompanied by better societal outcomes including an increase of €3,000 in household income, a 16% reduction in congestion, and a halving of carbon dioxide emissions.

chambersbayThe US Open golf championship has been held at a course labelled “the poster child of sustainable golf”, but not all players are happy with the new water-reduced playing surface. For the first time, the US Open was held at Chambers Bay golf course in Washington – a course with a strong sustainability focus. It uses a limited amount of water compared to many other golf courses in the US, which often rely on lush but incredibility water-intensive grass and water features. Chambers Bay is a walking-only course, meaning it doesn’t allow golf carts. This has allowed the course team to plant ‘fine fescue’ grass, which is highly drought-tolerant and requires far less water to maintain than many traditional US golf courses.

And finally …. This year’s Edinburgh International Fashion Festival will feature a new focus on sustainability, thanks to a new partnership with Zero Waste Scotland. From 23-26 July, the festival will focus on the issue of sustainability, engaging businesses and consumers in improving the environmental credentials of the fashion industry. The collaboration comes as part of the UK-wide ‘Love Your Clothes’ campaign which encourages people to better value their clothes and buy longer-lasting items. Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Ian Gulland said: “We’re delighted to be part of such a prestigious event with Edinburgh International Fashion Festival, focusing on an issue which will be crucial to the industry’s future – how best to embed sustainability in its practices.”