Tag Archives: BP

ANOTHER PLANET?

droughteastafrica2016 was the hottest year on record, setting a new high for the third year in a row, with scientists firmly putting the blame on human activities that drive climate change. The final data for 2016 was released on Wednesday by the three key agencies – the UK Met Office and Nasa and Noaa in the US – and showed 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century. Direct temperature measurements stretch back to 1880, but scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years. More on the Guardian here.

The world must not allow the Paris climate deal to be “derailed” or continue to inflict irreparable damage on the environment, Chinese president Xi Jinping has said, amid fears the rise of Donald Trump could strike a body blow to the fight against global warming. Trump, who will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, has threatened to pull out of the historic Paris agreement and dismissed climate change as a Chinese “hoax” and “expensive… bullshit”. But in an address to the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday, which observers saw as a high-profile bid to bolster China’s image as a reliable and dedicated climate leader, Xi issued a direct challenge to those views, warning “there is only one Earth in the universe and we mankind have only one homeland”.

Radiation levels inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are at their highest since the plant suffered a triple meltdown almost six years ago. The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled by a huge tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011.

Scotland is seeking to dramatically cut its reliance on fossil fuels for cars, energy and homes after setting a radical target to cut total climate emissions by 66% within 15 years. In one of the world’s most ambitious climate strategies, ministers in Edinburgh have unveiled far tougher targets to increase the use of ultra-low-carbon cars, green electricity and green home heating by 2032. The Scottish government has set the far higher target after its original goal of cutting Scotland’s emissions by 42% by 2020 was met six years early – partly because climate change has seen winters which are warmer than normal, cutting emissions for home heating.

babyorangMore than half of the world’s apes, monkeys, lemurs and lorises are now threatened with extinction as agriculture and industrial activities destroy forest habitats and the animals’ populations are hit by hunting and trade. In the most bleak assessment of primates to date, conservationists found that 60% of the wild species are on course to die out, with three quarters already in steady decline. The report casts doubt on the future of about 300 primate species, including gorillas, chimps, gibbons, marmosets, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises.

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public. The communications director for Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and manmade carbon emissions are to blame. Former EPA staffers said on Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.  And Donald Trump was sharply criticised by Native Americans and climate change activists  after he signed executive orders to allow construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Both pipe projects had been blocked by Barack Obama’s administration, partly because of environmental concerns. But Trump has questioned the science of climate change and campaigned on a promise to expand energy infrastructure and create jobs.  The environmental movement is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”, according to an adviser to the US president Donald Trump’s administration. Myron Ebell, who has denied the dangers of climate change for many years and led Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until the president’s recent inauguration, also said he fully expected Trump to keep his promise to withdraw the US from the global agreement to fight global warming. The Republicans have backed off bill to sell 3.3m acres of public land after an outcry. Congressman Jason Chaffetz withdraws House bill 621 as conservationists and outdoorsmen vowed to continue fight over similar legislation. Chaffetz, a representative from Utah, wrote on Instagram that he had a change of heart in the face of strong opposition from “groups I support and care about” who, he said, “fear it sends the wrong message”.

Falling costs of electric vehicles and solar panels could halt worldwide growth in demand for oil and coal by 2020, a new report has suggested. A scenario that takes into account the latest cost reduction projections for the green technologies, and countries’ pledges to cut emissions, finds that solar power and electric vehicles are “gamechangers” that could leave fossil fuels stranded. Polluting fuels could lose 10% of market share to solar power and clean cars within a decade, the report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative found.

Shell_oil_croppedBut ……. global demand for oil will still be growing in 2035 even with an enormous growth in electric cars in the next two decades, with numbers on the road rising from 1m to 100m, BP has predicted. The oil and gas giant predicted that despite electric cars spreading rapidly and renewable energy recording exceptional growth, oil demand would still rise because of rising prosperity in the developing world. BP said electric cars would not be a “gamechanger” for the oil industry. “It’s not Teslas and the US. It’s the fact that 2 billion people, much of that in Asia, are moving to middle incomes, can buy their first motor car and that drives up oil demand. It’s that stuff that really matters,” said Spencer Dale, BP group’s chief economist.

In the final week of January London was put on “very high” alert as cold and still weather, traffic, and a peak in the use of wood-burning stoves combined to send air pollution soaring in the capital – and across swaths of the UK. According to data from King’s College London, areas of London including Camden, the City of London and Westminster all reached 10 out of 10 on the air pollution index, with many other areas rated seven or higher.

Advertisements

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?

labourWith the UK’s general election fast approaching on May 7th, Labour has  launched a ‘green manifesto’ outlining a wealth of agenda on environmental issues. Labour has committed to the decarbonisation of the UK energy mix, has pledged to lead increased global climate change ambition, and will improve energy efficiency in it’s Green Plan. With the plan Labour intends to separate itself from the pack of political parties whose election manifestos contained few mentions of climate change or green policy.  One area Labour is keen to differentiate itself on is a decarbonisation target for 2030 for the UK’s electricity supply, giving business ‘certainty to invest’ in green technology and infrastructure, it says. It is quick to point out that conversely both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrat parties have blocked such a target in the last Parliament, and the Conservative manifesto explicitly rules one out for the next. Labour would stick to Climate Change Act (CCA). Put climate change “at the heart of foreign policy” as the “most important thing we can do for our children”.  Five Green Laws made up the environmental heart of the Liberal Democrat’s election manifesto, launched by Nick Clegg in London.  The laws are not quite “nailed to the front of the manifesto” as Energy Secretary Ed Davey promised in March, but they do mark the strongest commitment to the green economy issued by any of the three major parties. The Lib Dems say “The successful economies of the future will be ‘circular'” and they will set a statutory target to recycle 70% of waste in England.  They plan to make Britain carbon-neutral by 2050 and have a target of 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.  The Lib Dems say nuclear power stations “can play a role in building a sustainable economy”. Shale can also contribute to a low carbon economy, so a Low-carbon Transition Fund will be set up with shale profits.  The Green Party propose 90% reduction in emissions in the next 15-20 years, spend £35bn over the next parliament on renewable generation and adapting the national grid. The Greens will expand energy storage and biomass, “where sustainable” and would ban fracking and phase out nuclear in ten years. The Conservatives say they would stick to the Climate Change Act (CCA) and “cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible” and provide start-up funding for promising new renewable technologies and research, but only give significant support to those that “clearly represent value for money”. They would end support for new onshore wind farms .  The Conservatives would create a Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England, to reinvest shale profits. Support nuclear.  13800_10153768797716002_2061555411241677932_nUKIP would repeal the CCA – “the most expensive piece of legislation in British history”, having done “untold damage”. They support fracking and “UKIP supports and will invest in renewables where they can deliver electricity at competitive prices.” Only hydro meets this criterion, so the party will withdraw taxpayer and consumer subsidies for new wind turbines and solar PV. They say WRAP is “an unnecessary quango” – and it would be axed to apparently save the country £15.5m.  Finally on politics and politicians ….. a film consisting of promotional footage of David Cameron with a flaming seat to his trousers and set to Blondie’s 1988 hit ‘Liar Liar’ has been unveiled by green energy company Ecotricity on YouTube .  The #PantsOnFire film aims to highlight what it sees as a u-turn in Conservative ‘green’ policy by mocking the Prime Minister’s environmental record. The film includes Cameron’s various green ‘stunts’ including hugging huskies nine years ago, cycling across London and claiming to want to be the ‘greenest government ever’.  Its all here and more here. More than one in five Liberal Democrat and Labour election candidates have pledged to oppose fracking in defiance of their parties’ promises to foster the industry during the next parliament.  Seven of the Lib Dem front bench team, including spokespeople for the environment and energy, voiced their opposition to the party line. The pledge, circulated by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, asked candidates to promise: “If my constituency is at risk of fracking, I will oppose it. If my constituency is not at risk, I will oppose fracking nationwide.”

The amount of discarded electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) globally reached 41.8 million tonnes in 2014, with the vast majority neither re-used nor disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.  A new United Nations University (UNU) report says the e-waste represents $52 billion worth of potentially reusable resources, but thinks that less than a sixth was recycled properly or made available for re-use. According to the report the United States and China together produced nearly a third of the total sum alone. In the European Union 8% of its e-waste will just be thrown into waste bins – amounting to 0.7 million tonnes.

Humpback_Whale_underwater_shotThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed removing more than two-thirds of the world’s humpback whale population from the endangered species list. Humpback whales were first classified as in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1970. The NOAA’s proposal would remove 10 of the 14 recognized whale populations from the endangered species list, while two would be listed as endangered and the remaining two would be classified as threatened. Critics say that the move is to appease fishermen in Hawaii.  Protection and restoration efforts have been taking place over the last 40 years after a dramatic reduction in humpback whale numbers.

whales killedUntil the International Whaling Commission gave them protection in 1966, more than 200,000 were killed by commercial whalers.  The International Whaling Commission put a stop to all commercial whaling in 1986. All the whales remain protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and the US is still an active member of the International Whaling Commission. Environmental groups have said North Pacific whales continue to be vulnerable to factors including increased shipping, climate change and ocean acidification, which affects the prey stock.  The world’s leading zoo organisation has suspended its Japanese member over its involvement in the controversial dolphin hunts in Taiji. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Waza) has suspended the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Jaza) following a unanimous vote by its council.

The monetary value of the world’s oceans has been estimated at US$24tn in a new report that warns that overfishing, pollution and climate change are putting an unprecedented strain upon marine ecosystems. The report, commissioned by WWF, states the asset value of oceans is $24tn and values the annual “goods and services” it provides, such as food, at $2.5tn. This economic clout would make the oceans the seventh largest economy in the world although the report’s authors, which include the Boston Consulting Group, say this is an underestimate as it does not factor in things such as oil, wind power and intangibles, such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation. The economic value is largely comprised of fisheries, tourism, shipping lanes and the coastal protection provided by corals and mangroves. More on the Guardian here.

bpThe BP archive containing scientific knowledge on renewable energy projects collected over decades as a result of a multi-billion-pound research programme is still closed to the public despite promises to the contrary. Critics said BP’s integrity was at stake and the archive held next to the Modern Records Office at Warwick University must be opened immediately. The oil company told its shareholders at the annual general meeting last week that BP shared all the information it had held on to – unless it was particularly commercially sensitive. Carl-Henric Svanberg, the BP chairman, was specifically asked about the store of research material kept under wraps in a corporate archive at Warwick University: “Nothing is locked away. We share everything happily.” But a spokesman at the company’s headquarters later confirmed what the Guardian had already reported: that no material for the last 40 years was available to the public.

And the overwhelming majority of BP shareholders have backed a resolution forcing the company to be more transparent about its impact on climate change.  Resolution 25, tabled at the BP AGM by a £170bn coalition of investors, was passed with 98% support and the backing of BP’s chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. The company has committed to publishing more information on its resilience to climate action, including whether limits on carbon emissions will damage the value of its oil and gas. HOWEVER – while BP has agreed to transparency, Svanberg made it clear to the Guardian that it would not be setting targets for its own greenhouse gas emissions any time soon, saying such targets could be “counter-productive”.

Three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground if humanity is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, a group of leading scientists and economists have said in a statement timed to coincide with Earth Day. The Earth League, which includes Nicholas Stern, the author of several influential reports on the economics of climate change; Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a climate scientist and adviser to Angela Merkel; and the US economist Jeffrey Sachs, urged world leaders to follow up on their commitments to avoid dangerous global warming. Spelling out what a global deal at the UN climate summit in Paris later this year should include, in its ‘Earth Statement’ the group demanded governments adopt a goal of reducing economies’ carbon emissions to zero by mid-century, put a price on carbon and that the richest take the lead with the most aggressive cuts.

London_smog-_UKEdie.net reports that the UK Supreme Court will hear ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government over its ‘failure’ to meet deadlines for legal limits on air pollution in what will be the culmination of a four year battle.  ClientEarth, a group of activist lawyers, want the Supreme Court to order the Government to produce a new plan to deliver urgent cuts to illegal UK air pollution levels. Under current EU Directive, member states had to comply with air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide by 2010. But the UK Government does not plan to meet these limits until after 2030 in 16 cities and regions across the country, including London, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow. That’s despite scientists estimating that at least 29,000 people die early in the UK from air pollution and Nitrogen Dioxide, mainly produced by diesel vehicles.

Edie.net reports that the proportion of a business’ energy bill that comes from the energy itself will drop below 50% by 2050. Currently, the cost of wholesale electricity currently makes up 65% of an energy bill but, according to Gavin McCormick, the business development manager at energy consultancy EnergyQuote, this will drop to 49% by 2050.

The National Trust has taken another step closer to reaching its ambitious renewable energy targets by installing an innovative hydro-electric scheme at one of its properties in Cheshire.  Quarry Bank, an 18th century cotton mill on the banks of the River Bollin, will switch on the new Kaplan turbine this week, generating 55% of the site’s on-site energy requirements. The National Trust – which has a target of generating half of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – says it has taken inspiration from Quarry Bank’s past for the installation of this new energy scheme.

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

GEI_Logo2015-largePNGThe leaders of the UK’s three main political parties, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have signed a cross-party pledge to tackle climate change.  The agreement includes commitments to an internationally binding deal at the crucial COP21 summit in Paris 2015, a promise to end unabated coal power generation and a pledge to agree a Carbon Budget in accordance with the Climate Change Act.  The agreement follows the close of the first international climate summit of 2015, in Geneva, where delegates produced the first draft of a possible “Paris Agreement” which will be negotiated throughout the year, before being agreed in the French capital in December.

The UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey has given the go-ahead for the giant Dogger Bank Creyke Beck offshore wind farm in the North Sea which is being hailed as one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the wind industry. The Dogger Bank Creyke Beck A and B wind project is now the largest consented offshore wind project in the world. It will have a maximum capacity of 2400MW and will generate enough electricity to power almost two million homes once built. The UK Government’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) also announced a new £60m investment to fund up to 30 community-scale renewable projects across the UK. And the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission have joined forces to launch two financial initiatives with a €715m investment to encourage private sector involvement in schemes that reduce energy use and conserve natural capital. In the US Citi will make $100 billlion available over 10 years to help finance “activities that reduce the impact of climate change and create environmental solutions”. The New York based bank will look for investment opportunities aimed at greenhouse gas reductions and resource effcienecy – such as sustainable transport, as well as access to clean water and affordable housing.

oil rigThe UK’s fossil fuel industry was deeply “unsettled” by comments from energy secretary Ed Davey raising the prospect that their assets could be rendered worthless by global action on climate change, according to a letter of protest sent to the secretary of state . Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, which represents the industry, wrote to Davey saying he was “perplexed” by the “conflicting and confusing messages” and accused him of making investment in the North Sea less attractive. The letter was released to the Guardian under freedom of information rules. The issue was also raised by Erik Bonino, chairman of Shell UK, at a meeting with Davey in January, at which Bonino said if Shell “knew there were to be no more fossil fuels, [it] could cash out and give shareholders their money back in four years”.

Creating biofuels from waste produced by industry, farms, and households could generate 36,000 jobs in the UK and save around 37m tonnes of oil use annually by 2030, according to a new report. Across Europe, hundreds of thousands of new jobs could be created by using these ‘advanced biofuels’, which could replace 16% of the continent’s road transport fuel by the same year, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) study said. But the gains will not come without ambitious policy to promote advanced biofuels, it warned.

Edie.net reports that supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is pioneering the use of ground-source heating technology by collecting the warmth from the back of its refrigerators to heat up its stores – cutting energy use by more than 30%. The new technology has already been installed at 30 Sainsbury’s stores across the country and the retailer is currently working with heating specialist Geoscart and British Gas to expand the roll-out to at least another 70 of its sites.    The ground-source heat pumps provide 100% of the stores’ heating needs by collecting the waste heat produced by the back of refrigerators and storing it in a heat chamber located in the ground beneath the supermarket. The subsurface rock makes for good insulation, keeping the heat for use in colder months, when the heat is pumped back up into the building as it’s needed.

harvardLawyers for Harvard University will appear in court to fight off attempts to force the world’s richest university to dump ivestments in coal, oil and gas companies from its $36bn (£23bn) endowment. A lawsuit filed late last year by seven law students and undergraduates argues the university has a duty to fight climate change by pulling out of fossil fuel companies. The university and the state of Massachusetts, which is also named in the lawsuit, are asking the judge to dismiss the case.

Orangutan3-226x300More from Edie.net: The Indonesian pulp and paper industry has once again come under fire from conservationists, this time for the legality of fibre supply. A new study from the Anti-Forest Mafia Coalition and Forest Trends analysed Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and timber industry data to assess the sustainability of the country’s booming pulp and paper industry. It revealed that more than 30% of wood used by Indonesia’s industrial forest sector stems from the unreported clear-cutting of natural forests and other illegal sources, instead of legal tree plantations and well-managed logging concessions.  The report singles out the zero-deforestation pledge made by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) whose ‘improvements’ we recently reported on – claiming “such a commitment would be impossible for all of Indonesia’s pulp mills to meet”. The pulp sector does not have sufficient supply from plantations to meet current industrial capacity, it says.

2015 could see coral bleaching on a global scale for the third time in history – and the first in the absence of an El Niño. That is the latest prediction from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), which has just launched a model to forecast threats facing the colourful reefs. Bleaching takes place when corals are stressed due to changes in light, nutrients or temperature. “It started in 2014 – we had severe bleaching from July to October in the northern Marianas, bad bleaching in Guam, really severe bleaching in the north western Hawaiian Islands, and the first ever mass bleaching in the main Hawaiian Islands,” said Mark Eakin, Noaa’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator. “It then moved south, with severe bleaching in the Marshall Islands and it has moved south into many of the areas in the western south Pacific.

BPREPORTThe chairman of the UK Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee says a new global climate deal due to be agreed at the COP21 Paris meeting must allow for carbon trading between countries. MP Tim Yeo believes the crucial COP21 summit in Paris should put in place a price on carbon, which would enable emissions trading systems around the world to link-up in future and ensure the world slashes climate-changing emissions in the most-effective way possible.   “Putting a price on carbon is absolutely essential if we are to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,” said Yeo. “But using taxes to set a carbon price does not guarantee any particular level of emissions reduction because the emitters may simply pay the tax and carry on polluting.  Oil giant BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley has joined calls for a global carbon price to counteract spiralling emissions over the next 20 years, as projected by the oil giant’s latest Energy Outlook report which predicts that emissions will rise by 1% every year from now until 2035 – far above any ‘safe’ emissions targets identified by experts. This adds up to a 25% increase, which is “materially higher” than a scenario whereby global temperature rises are limited to 2C, the company says.

The US security establishment views climate change as real and a dangerous threat to national security. But Canada takes a very different view, according to a secret intelligence memo prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The memo, stamped “Canadian eyes only”, repeatedly casts doubt on the causes of climate change – the burning of fossil fuels – and its potential threat. The 44-page intelligence assessment of Canada’s environmental protest movement was prepared for the government of Stephen Harper, who is expected to roll out new anti-terror legislation. More on the Guardian here.

British food security is not being harmed by the spread of solar panels in the countryside as claimed by the UK’s environment secretary, documents from her own department reveal. Liz Truss told farmers last October that they would no longer receive agricultural subsidies for land that had solar power on, saying the “ugly” panels were “a blight on the countryside and villages” and were pushing production of meat and produce overseas. “I am committed to food production in this country and it makes my heart sink to see row upon row of solar panels where once there was a field of wheat or grassland for livestock to graze,” she was quoted as saying at the time. But environment department officials have admitted in private correspondence and documents released under freedom of information rules that they hold no data on the land covered in England by solar panels; they have no idea how much they will save in agricultural subsidies through the change; and the claim that solar power is harming food production does not stack up.

FrackOffGermany has proposed a draft law that would allow commercial shale gas fracking at depths of over 3,000 metres, overturning a de facto moratorium that has been in place since the start of the decade. A new six-person expert panel would also be empowered to allow fracks at shallower levels. Meanwhile in Australia, the Queensland government may adopt tough new regulations to tackle the amount of pollution flowing onto the Great Barrier Reef, with the state’s first ever reef minister vowing to strengthen protections to avoid the ecosystem being listed as “in danger” by the UN. The new Labor government has promised to slash the amount of nitrogen flowing on to the reef from key catchments by 80% by 2025, while also cutting total suspended sediment reaching the reef by 50% by the same year.

formulaeAnd finally, Battersa Park in South London will host the finale of the inaugural Formula-E series after planning permission was granted by Wandsworth Council. The race will feature the single seater electric racing cars launched at the first race in Beijing last September and is scheduled for June 27th and 28th on a 2.92km 15 turn circuit designed by British architect Simon Gibbons. Brazillian driver Lucas di Grassi (e-dams Renault) tops the leader board with 58 points followed by Brit Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) with 48 points and Swiss driver Sébastien Buemi (Audi Sport ABT) on 43 points.  In other e-car news from Treehugger, rumours abound that Apple is planning to go head-to-head with Tesla by going in the electric car market. Exhibit A is a Wall Street Journal piece that cites “people familiar with the matter” who claim that a project with the code name of “Titan” is underway, with a thousand-people team under Apple Vice President Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer who was on the teams that created the iPod and iPhone, and Johann Jungwirth, who was Mercedes Benz’s R&D chief before being hired by Apple last fall. Exhibit B is is tha Apple and Tesla are currently engaged in a talent war, poaching each other’s employees  and Exhibit C comes from the late Steve Jobs himself who apprently  told John Markoff of The New York Times that if he had more energy, he would have liked to take on Detroit with an Apple car.”

ANOTHER PLANET?

Water is now one of the highest global risks, alongside the economy, unemployment, food shortages and extreme weather patterns, new research has found. Edie.net report that the ninth edition of the Global Risk Report, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), identified water security as a top priority for the planet – while also finding that women and younger people are most likely to recognise this.  The study pointed to what it called “a significant decline in the quality and quantity of fresh water, combined with increased competition among resource-intensive systems, such as food and energy production” as a key resource risk facing both business and wider society.

BP_Petrol_StationThe European Commission has set out a 2030 EU-wide renewable energy target at 27%, but will not include a binding target for individual countries.  The Commission set a target to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, which will be widely welcomed by environmentalists as it has been revised upward from its existing 2020 target of 20%. However, environmental groups and the renewables industry will be disappointed by the 27% renewables target as many have been calling for a more ambitious goal, with some calling for 45%. Edie.net say that the exclusion of an EU-wide energy efficiency target will also incite anger amongst environmental groups. Also in the news, BP says that global carbon emissions are set to rise by 29% by 2035 as a result of a 41% increase in energy consumption.  BP’s Energy Outlook report predicts that although the rate of growth of emissions declines over the period, emissions are nearly double the 1990 level.

Researchers are finding new ways to reduce the environmental impact of fireworks without affecting their performance, according to the Institution of Chemical Engineers.  Fireworks are a significant cause of short-term, localised air pollution consisting of sulfur dioxide and fine particles of potentially toxic metallic elements such as potassium, magnesium, barium, copper and aluminium.  Studies have shown that fireworks displays at festivals like Diwali (festival of lights) can increase air pollutants by nearly six times and the Lantern Festival in China by a similar level.

UK Environment Secretary has been accused of ‘complacency’ stemming from his climate change scepticism – after it was revealed that his Department spent 41% less on climate change initiatives in the last 12 months. The figure of a £17.2 million spend came fro a Freedom of Information Act request and the shadow Environmental Secretary Maria Eagle said the drop in spending showed a ‘incredible level of complacency about the threat to the UK from climate change. Defra is in charge of preparing the UK’s response and adapting  to climate change: It did increase overseas spending from £20 million to £30 million – resulting from agreements made at the 2010 UN Conference on Climate Change in Cancun to fund the International Climate Fund. On Monday 27th January, after another weekend of heavy rains,  Mr Paterson faced angry residents in Somerset whose homes and properties had been repeatedly flooded this winter – and promised action.

A new study says that tropical rainforests are becoming less able to cope with climate change – and now for each 1C rise in temperatures, the rainforests release and extra two billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Gradual rises in temperature can actually promote the absorption of CO2 in rain forests, but the beneficial effects are now being outweighed by detrimental impact on forests by heat and drought.

Welsh FlagWelsh councils have received a funding boost to help them increase recycling rates with the announcement that the Assembly’s collaborative change programme will run at least until the end of the 2015-16 financial year. The programme was established in 2011 to help ensure that Wales meets the recycling targets set out in the Wales Waste Strategy, Towards Zero Waste, and the requirements of the EU Waste Framework Directive for separate collections of waste to be set up.

Leicester City Council has teamed up with De Montfort University (DMU) on a smart metering project that is expected to reduce water wastage by 10% and energy use by 10% in public buildings. The project, called Smartspaces, makes use of the extensive energy metering in public buildings which collect electricity, gas and water consumption data in buildings every 30 minutes. And in Scotland, two public consultations have been launched to help inform the next stage of Scotland’s plans for sustainable management of rivers, lochs, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.

ANOTHER PLANET?

BP_Petrol_StationPetrol sales in the UK  have plummeted in the last five years, according to official figures. In 2007, forecourts sold 22.87 billion litres of petrol but the annual figure had slid to 17.42 billion litres by 2012, Government statistics highlighted by the AA showed. Diesel sales, though, have risen slightly over the last five years, going up from 14.80 billion litres in 2007 to 16.73 billion litres in 2012. Taking petrol and diesel sales together, fuel stations sold 37.67 billion litres of fuel in 2007 but only 34.16 billion litres in 2012. AA president Edmund King said: “Greater take-up of diesel cars and smaller petrol vehicles has contributed to this overall decline in UK fuel sales over the long term. However, soaring pump prices have taken a huge toll on petrol sales more recently – during the 10p-a-litre price surges last March and October pump sales of petrol fell by up to 5%.”

Sumatran_Rhino_2There are five species of rhino on the planet, all threatened with extinction – with two close to the edge. The Javan, which went extinct i Vietnam three years ago,  and there are now only 35 animals left in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia. There are probably less than 100 Sumatran rhinos left – the Indian rhino is threatended, and last year at least 745 black and white rhinos were poached and killed in Africa. The demand for rhino horn for traditional Chinese medicines seems to be insatiable and is driving the rhino closer and closer to oblivion.

Offbeat Spaces, the Youtube design channel, tips us to this very clever 200 square foot tiny house, built by the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vermont. The Elephant House is designed to be “a prototype for small-scale living, providing a host of innovative design ideas for other builders”. The light fixtures are made from recycled plumbing. The exterior walls are made of one of shou-sugi-ban, a Japanese wood treatment where the wood is burned with a torch to create an exterior skin of black char. It lasts a long time and is actually fire resistant. And its heated by straw and manure! And check out Tiny Texas Houses believes who believe that the future of sustainable building lies in local materials that are “already harvested, sliced, diced, formed, and proven healthy, toxin free, priced for human energy”: With the apt motto of “building the future with the past,” their tiny homes are each an individual exercise in resourcefulness and diverse regional styles stemming from the wide variety of materials saved from demolitions.

In Borneo International Animal rescue arrived just in time to save a group of orang-utans whose home, pristine rain forest, had been bulldozed to make way for palm oil plantations.

In the UK pressure is mounting in England for a charge on plastic bags as many shoppers cant lose the habit of picking up new bags every time they shop and then sending the used bags to landfill – or leaving them around to  end up trees, eaten by animals, or blown into the sea. Almost 8 billion single use carrier bags were used in the UK in 2011 – 254 per second – or 61,000 tonnes of plastic.  A 5p per bag charge was launched in Northern Ireland on April 9th. Wales already has a charge – resulting in a 90% drop in bag waste – and all money collected is passed into environmental work. The Northern Ireland levy will increase to 10p next year. Plastic bags take between 500 and 1000 years to degrade in landfill.

The European Commission has released “Building the Single Market for Green Products”. The Commission has also issued a Recommendation on the use of the now published Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) methods. You can find the official press release here and Further information on the process is available here. In the words of EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik: “To boost sustainable growth, we need to make sure that the most resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly products on the market are known and recognisable. By giving people reliable and comparable information about the environmental impacts and credentials of products and organisations, we enable them to choose. And by helping companies to align their methods we cut their costs and administrative burdens.”  There will be more about the communication and the planned pilot projects from the European Commission and perspectives from stakeholders at the upcoming PEF Policy Conference on 29-30 April in Berlin.

A £5m fund has been awarded to the National Union of Students (NUS) in an attempt to ensure sustainability remains a priority within British higher education. The Students’ Green Fund, provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), aims to help students engage with their universities and colleges on sustainable development.

The UK needs significant levels of new infrastructure to renew ageing facilities such as energy, transport and water management to meet future demand and help deliver a low carbon economy. Speaking to edie.net, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment’s (IEMA) policy & practice lead Josh Fothergill said much of this investment will relate to energy and transport infrastructure; however significant work will also progress related to water, sewerage, flood and coastal management infrastructure saying “The environment profession will have a vital role in delivering this much needed infrastructure but does it have the right tools to help secure the UK’s economic and environmental future?”

The World’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, has reached its full capacity of 630MW with the commissioning of its final wind turbine. All 175 wind turbines are now exporting power to the national grid and are expected to produce enough electricity to power almost 500,000 households a year.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have launched a new website to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) understand their environmental responsibilities and encourage good environmental practice. Called NetRegs, the website contains guidelines for businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland to help them comply with environmental regulations.

More inclusivity must be built into London’s smart city agenda to safeguard its infrastructure against future climate threats, a leading sustainability analyst has warned. Forum for the Future CEO Peter Madden spoke of the importance of futureproofing big cities like London so that they could function effectively as low carbon hubs as demand grows for more housing stock and transport frameworks.

The motor industry has highlighted the benefits of low carbon vehicles on UK roads after figures showed a decline in fuel sold in the last five years (see above). Vauxhall told edie.net that the motor car was “vastly cleaner” than it was just 10 years ago with a huge number of vehicles now on sale at under 100gm of CO2. Nissan put the reduction in fuel sales down to consumers seeking more efficient cars because of tax and fuel costs.  The company also noted that “manufacturers had made great strides and improved fuel efficiency in the past few years.”  In addition, Nissan said its electrical vehicle (EV), LEAF, has just had its best ever sales month in the UK. And Ford is rolling out eco-paint technology across its manufacturing sites in a bid to further reduce CO2 emissions during vehicle production. The 3-Wet technology process, already in operation at eight of Ford’s plants in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, have reduced emissions by up to 25% and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 10% at those sites. And how about a sugar powered car? Xylose, a sugar found in plants, has been used to produce gas to power cars which release almost no greenhouse gases when used. Sweet!  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Vauxhall-and-Nissan-back-low-carbon-vehicles-as-fuel-sales-plunge-/

Southern Water has pledged to utilise low-carbon technologies and sustainable best practices to improve water supplies. According to the company’s 25 year Strategic Statement, investment in new technology such as sensors and monitors, will enable it to improve the reliability of water supplies by helping it to identify and repair burst mains before they cause problems.

We have heard of the very sad news of the death of UCL scientist Katharine Giles, who was killed whilst cycling to work in central London. Dr Giles worked as a research fellow at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL  and was well known for her work on global warming. She was killed by a turning lorry in Westminster, and is the second cyclist to die in London this year, renewing calls for better protection for cyclists against lorries and HGVs – better planned cycle lanes at junctions, and lorries fitted with better mirrors, sensors and cameras if they wish to drive in cities.

ANOTHER PLANET?

The UK’s first recyclable corporate clothing range, created entirely from biodegradable and sustainable sources, has been launched by the Midcounties Co-operative Funeral Group. The ceremonial clothing, for staff, Created by Lyn Oakes corporate tailors, is made using 100% wool sourced from natural, sustainable and renewable sources and the interlining of the garments are either derived from viscose or made using 100% recycled PET plastic bottles. The buttons are made from the Corozo nut. The company already runs an electric fleet of vehicle and offers banana leaf and cardboard coffins.

peral bordredThe deluge of rain in the United Kingdom in 2012 has been apocalyptic for the butterfly population, pushing some of Britain’s rarest species such as the high brown fritillary to the edge of extinction – and with populations of some common species such as the cabbage white and tortoise shell dropping by more than half. The black hairstreet lost 98% of its population.

Peru has declared an environmental emergency  in the Amazon saying that Pluspetrol, which took over Occidental Petroleum’s oil fields in the rain forest, has 90 days to clean up polluted areas and reduce the risk of contamination to the local population, with many having unacceptably high levels of lead and cadmium in their bodies.  Meanwhile and seemingly oblivious to Peru’s problems, Equador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazon rainforest to Chinese oil companies angering local people –  who say they have not consented to oil projects. More here  and here .

Oil giant British Petroleum is well-known for the Deepwater Oil Horizon disaster and its much-criticized handling of the clean up’s aftermath. Now the company’s interference with its environmental record, on Wikipedia has caused a stir: Angry Wikipedia editors estimate that BP has rewritten 44 percent of the page about itself, especially about its environmental performance.

Planning has been approved by the UK Government for construction of the first nuclear power station in the UK since 1995. The multi-billion pound project at Hinkley Point, Somerset will generate enough low carbon electricity to power the equivalent of five million households, making it one of the largest power stations in the UK. The Government has outlined a £1bn support package for the aerospace industry that will focus on increasing the energy and fuel efficiency of aircrafts.

The shutting down of Cockenzie power station in Scotland has been welcomed by environmental lobbyists. Dubbed one of Europe’s “most “power stations, ScottishPower’s coal-fired plant, in East Lothian, has shut down its four turbines for the last time today as the company plans to replace it with a gas-fired facility.

A shift to low carbon vehicles will reduce the total cost of running Europe’s auto fleet and lead to “mildly” positive economic impacts including indirect employment gains, according to a new report. Edie.net reports that the report, from consultancies Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA, compares two scenarios against a reference case where vehicle efficiency is frozen at the current level.  In the first scenario, named Current Policy Initiatives, cars and vans achieve the EU’s proposed 2020 CO2 target of 95g/km and 147g/km respectively but efficiency improvements moderate to a rate of less than 1% annually thereafter.  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Shift-to-low-carbon-fleet-will-boost-Europes-economy/24239/

Invicta Plastics, A British company has created the world’s first rigid, food-safe products from 100% recycled plastic bottles, lids and milk cartons.  Coca-Cola is among the first brands to test the new products, whilst Coca-Cola Enterprises, sustainable packaging firm Greenpac and retail giant Asda are also working with Invicta to explore the potential of the processes for point-of-sale products and merchandise

Growth in the biofuels industry is being ‘stifled’ by continued lobbying from the oil and gas sectors, according to the founder and director of Forum for the Future. Speaking at the 2013 World Biofuels Markets Exhibition and Congress, which incited debates on the role of biofuels in achieving global energy security, Forum for the Future’s Jonathon Porritt, said “the oil and gas industry is a problem for the biofuels industry”.  Porritt was backed by General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Co-chair of Growth Energy: “You’re up against massive lobbying from the oil industry. Both industries need to band together and stop fighting each other.”

The UK Government has revealed that just 1,800 assessments have been carried out in homes and businesses since the Green Deal scheme launched in January.   According to the first statistics on the Green Deal, £26.9m worth of contracts has been traded through the Green Deal’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) brokerage system since the launch of the scheme. The UK Government has said the figures are encouraging, while Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said they showed clear signs of a promising new market gathering momentum.  Davey has also told reporters that climate change policies will keep DOWN energy prices. Energy security and sustainable energy would reduce the UK’s reliance on oil and gas brought on international markets – recently wholesale gas prices almost doubled as demand soared. Energy saving policies, better boilers, righter building regulations, the green deal scheme and smart meters could save the average household £166 each year – an 11% saving.  Current;y investment in wind power costs households £18 each.

Fly-tippers and other serious waste offenders could be slapped with larger fines underr new environmental sentencing proposals. The new draft sentencing guidelines from the Sentencing Council cover offences like fly-tipping and waste disposal that cause pollution or harm to health. With waste crimes causing significant environmental damage and impacting on communities and legitimate businesses, the proposals aim to ensure that the level of fines handed out to offenders matches the seriousness of the offences they have committed.  A wide variety of offences are covered that mostly come under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. http://www.edie.net/news/5/New-sentencing-proposals-crack-down-on-waste-criminals/24227/

Wales has the potential to be a world leader in marine energy technology and production, says Business Minister Edwina Hart. Addressing the Marine Energy Pembrokeshire Industry Seminar in Pembroke Dock, Wales, Hart said: “Wales has a promising marine energy sector which is already beginning to thrive.

The number of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK outside of the water industry has nearly doubled since September 2011, exceeding the 100 mark for the first time.

spacescrapersCities are where almost all of us will live in the future. But did you know that currently 27% of city dwellers don’t have piped water? The availability of drinking water always limits a city’s ability to grow. There are 1.34 million deaths each year in cities from air pollution. Urban greening  will be a key area – the largest green roof in the world is the 47,192 M2 roof at the Dearborn Tuck Assembly Plant in Michigan, USA. Urban biodiversity and green infrastructure are essential elements of any city vision and tree cover, green roofs and green spaces all reduce water runoff – important when you l;earn that 33% of the world’s largest cities rely on neighbouring areas for water. The Rolls Royce plant in Chichester has a 33,000 M2 green roof. 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from cities – and in New York 45% of all energy use is in ‘big’ buildings. Improved energy efficiency in buildings is a real must. Key challenges for future cities will be reducing CO2 and the cost and security of energy supplies – and more sustainable energy – like Thames Water’s £250 million thermal hydrolysis Process (THP) which will allow Thames to improve its anaerobic digestion process which already provides 15% of its annual energy needs – and self generation of energy in cities using existing technologies such as solar and wind power – new technologies. And 20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from traffic and transport – but in the UK just 20% of commuters use public transport – even though the average speed of commuter’s cars is 23MPH and many have just a single occupant. Electric cars, safe cycling, car pooling, car clubs and better public transport – buses, trains, trams, the underground – are all important tools.  Climate change is a real challenge for cities – flooding, water shortages, pollution, food shortages, social unrest, infrastructure damage, energy security, disease and over crowding are real issues. Smart sustainable cities are the future -and need to be future proofed – but whether or not they will develop a sustainable future is neither simple or risk free – or even likely!