Tag Archives: eu

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EU1The European Union will “vastly overshoot” its Paris climate pledges unless its coal emissions are completely phased out within 15 years, a stress test of the industry has found. Coal’s use is falling by about 1% a year in Europe but still generates a quarter of the continent’s power – and a fifth of its greenhouse gas emissions. If Europe’s 300 coal plants run to the end of their natural lifespans, the EU nations will exceed their carbon budget for coal by 85%, according to a report by the respected thinktank Climate Analytics. It says the EU would need to stop using coal for electricity generation by 2030. More here.   Renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels. But industry leaders said they were worried about the lack of political support beyond 2020, when binding EU renewable energy targets end.

The Guardian reports that oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. However, since then the company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and helped lobby against climate action, leading to accusations that Shell knew the grave risks of global warming but did not act accordingly. Shell’s 28-minute film, called Climate of Concern, was made for public viewing, particularly in schools and universities. It warned of extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world. The serious warning was “endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists in their report to the United Nations at the end of 1990”, the film noted.
The hamburger chain Burger King has been buying animal feed produced in soy plantations carved out by the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia, according to a new report. Jaguars, giant anteaters and sloths have all been affected by the disappearance of around 700,000 hectares (1,729,738 acres) of forest land between 2011 and 2015. The campaign group Mighty Earth says that evidence gathered from aerial drones, satellite imaging, supply-chain mapping and field research shows a systematic pattern of forest-burning.  Photo of a sloth by G Dallorto.

The UN’s climate chief has been unable to secure a meeting with the US state department as Donald Trump’s administration mulls whether to withdraw the US from the international climate effort. Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is currently in the US and has sought a meeting with Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, and other officials over the commitment of the new administration to global climate goals.

One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather on Monday to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere. “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican this week.

An EU review has revealed multiple failings by the UK in applying environmental law, on the same day that the commission escalated its action against Britain for breaching air pollution limits. Britain has been in breach of EU nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits since 2010, with London overshooting its annual air pollution limit for the whole of 2017 in just the first five days. The Guardian understands that a “reasoned opinion” will now be sent on 15 February to the UK and four other countries: Germany, France, Italy and Spain. If a satisfactory response is not received within two months, a case at the European court could follow.

The plight of the hedgehog in Britain appears to be worsening, with a new survey revealing a further decline in garden sightings. The spiky creature was once a common sight, with the population estimated at 30 million in the 1950s. But that has plummeted to fewer than one million today, with a third of this loss thought to have taken place in the past decade. The latest survey, conducted with more than 2,600 people by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, found that 51% of people did not see a hedgehog at all in 2016, up from 48% in 2015. Just 12% saw a hedgehog regularly.

Supplements of healthy fats could be an immediate way of cutting the harm caused to billions around the world by air pollution, according to emerging research. However, the research also shows air pollution particles can penetrate through the lungs of lab animals into many major organs, including the brain and testicles. This raises the possibility that the health damage caused by toxic air is even greater than currently known. The new research on mice showed that omega-3 fatty acids (OFAs), found in flax, hemp and fish oils, can both prevent and treat the inflammation and oxidative stress caused by air pollution, with the OFAs delivering a 30-50% reduction in harm.

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COP21_participants_-_30_Nov_2015_(23430273715)World leaders from 175 countries signed the historic Paris climate accord Friday, using Earth Day as a backdrop for the ceremonial inking of a long-fought deal that aims to slow the rise of harmful greenhouse gases. “We are in a race against time.” U.N. secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.” “The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” Ban added. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the document while holding his young granddaughter. She was one of 197 children at the event to represent the parties that adopted the agreement, Ban said.

OilThe oil industry’s knowledge of dangerous climate change stretches back to the 1960s, with newly unearthed documents showing that it was warned of “serious worldwide environmental changes” more than 45 years ago. The Stanford Research Institute presented a report to the American Petroleum Institute (API) in 1968 that warned the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels could carry an array of harmful consequences for the planet. The emergence of this stark advice follows a series of revelations that the fossil fuel industry was aware of climate change for decades, only to publicly deny its scientific basis. “Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000 and these could bring about climatic change,” the 1968 Stanford report, found and republished by the Center for International Environmental Law, states. “If the Earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans and an increase in photosynthesis. http://www.ciel.org/

The Guardian reports that  The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead. In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed. The measures “threaten to drive energy-intensive industries, such as refining and petrochemicals, to relocate outside the EU with a correspondingly detrimental impact on security of supply, jobs [and] growth,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Guardian under access to documents laws.

The sun provided British homes and businesses with more power than coal-fired power stations for 24 hours two weekends ago. While solar power has previously beaten coal for electricity generation over a few hours in the UK, that Saturday was the first time this happened for a full day. Analysts said the symbolic milestone showed how dramatic coal’s decline had been due to carbon taxes, as solar had “exploded” across the UK in recent years. National Grid data gathered by climate analysts Carbon Brief showed that 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power was generated on Saturday by solar, or 4% of national demand that day, versus 21GWh from coal-fired power stations. MORE HERE.

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest privately owned coal producer, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US following a collapse in commodity prices. The move was blamed by financial analysts partly on a mistimed and debt-fuelled expansion into Australia, but others saw it as a sign that the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel was threatened by tightening environmental regulation.

gbrFor the first time, Australians can see on a map how rising sea levels will affect their house just by typing their address into a website. And they’ll soon be able to get an estimate of how much climate change will affect their property prices and insurance premiums, too. the website Coastal Risk Australia takes Google Maps and combines it with detailed tide and elevation data, as well as future sea level rise projections, allowing users to see whether their house or suburb will be inundated. Coinciding with that is the launch of a beta version of Climate Valuation, a website that gives users an estimate of how much climate change will impact their property value and insurance premiums over the life of their mortgage. http://coastalrisk.com.au/.

The UK government has been accused of including a large loophole in its legal definition of fracking which could enable companies to bypass safety regulations, according to a leading geologist. In rules that came into force on 6 April, fracking is defined by the amount of high-pressure fluid used to fracture shale rocks and release gas or oil. However, the only well fracked in the UK so far, which caused small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011, would not qualify as fracking under the definition.Furthermore, according to Prof Stuart Haszeldine at the University of Edinburgh, analysis of more than 17,000 gas wells fracked in the US from 2000-10 shows 43% would not be defined as fracking under UK rules. More than 4,500 US wells were fracked to release oil in that time but 89% would not be covered by the UK definition. The safety regulations in the new rules, such as independent inspection of the integrity of the well and sealing it after use, only apply if the drilling activity is defined as fracking.

Scotts Miracle-Gro, a major global pesticide company, just announced it will end the use of 3 dangerous bee-killing chemicals by 2017, while phasing out neonics in eight of its garden products by 2021. It is the first major pesticide company to do this, and proof that our years of dedicated campaigning is paying off.  OneMiracle-Gro’s biggest competitors, Bayer, has not been so responsive. With its annual shareholder meeting weeks away, campaigners are going to take their message right to Bayer in Germany to make sure it follows suit and protects the bees. You can donate to SumofUs’s campaign here.

RoundUpThe European Commission is planning to relicense a controversial weedkiller that the World Health Organisation believes probably causes cancer in people, despite opposition from several countries and the European Parliament. In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer – WHO’s cancer agency – said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide made by agriculture company Monsanto and used widely with GM crops around the world, was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. It also said there was “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the time Monsanto said it could not understand the decision and that the scientific data did not support the conclusion.

Waitrose has come under fire for continuing to use a weedkiller on farmland despite banning it from its stores. The grocer delighted anti-pesticide campaigners last month after deciding to remove glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, from its shelves. At the time, Waitrose told customers the decision was part of its ‘commitment to protecting the bee population’.  However The Times  revealed that the supermarket is continuing to use glyphosate to kill weeds on its retail estate and at Leckford, its showcase farm in Hampshire.

Betty, a mature ash tree in Norfolk, is offering hope that ash dieback disease will not be as destructive as first feared after scientists identified her “strong tolerance” to the disease. Researchers from a government-backed consortium of universities and research centres have developed three genetic markers to enable them to predict whether a tree is likely to be tolerant to the disease, raising the possibility of using selective breeding to develop strains of disease-resistant trees.

tigerThe number of tigers in the wild has risen for the first time in more than a century, with some 3,890 counted in the latest global census, according to wildlife conservation groups. The tally marks a turnaround from the last worldwide estimate in 2010, when the number of tigers in the wild hit an all-time low of about 3,200, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum.

Leaving the EU would threaten the UK’s air and water quality, biodiversity and the countryside, a committee of MPs has warned. The UK has benefited from an EU-wide environmental cleanup in the past four decades, and giving up membership would lead to a damaging policy vacuum and an end to influence over green regulations, the commons environmental audit select committee has said in a report. Britain was once “the dirty man of Europe”, pouring out toxic pollutants that caused acid rain, industrial pollution, poor air quality, contaminated land and sewage-filled beaches. After taking on EU membership, successive governments had to mend their ways in line with rules on the environment developed over decades.

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ilva-steel-italy-The growing risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report. Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said. Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, the mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year; “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report declared. More on the New York Times here.

New research has revealed what’s causing sea level to rise. The study by scientists Sarah Purkey, Gregory Johnson and Don Chambers shows that sea level rise is half due to melting ice and half due to ocean warming, including 13% from the deepest oceans, a new paper has found. The researchers recognised that changes to sea levels are mainly caused by thermal expansion of ocean waters as they heat, changes to the saltiness of water, and an increase in ocean waters as ice melts and flows into the sea. More here.

Flytipping is on the up in the UK. The number of mattresses in hedgerows, old sofas on road corners and other illegally-dumped rubbish rose by a fifth in England last year, marking the first increase in flytipping in years. Government figures show that there are now more than three quarter of a million incidents in England, taking the amount of rubbish dumped on roadsides, in back alleys and on private land back above 2010 levels, in what campaigners said was a worrying increase.

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The state owned Swedish energy company Vattenfall is planning a sale of German coal operations. The sale of coal mines and power plants would enable the state-owned energy company to meet its emissions targets without reducing pollution at all.  Ahh targets, ill thought out rules and economics. Not a sensible way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenpeace said the sale of the coal mines and power plants, which includes the fourth largest CO2 emitting power station in Europe, would be an abdication of responsibility and would simply allow Vattenfall to meet its emissions targets without actually reducing pollution.

A new regreening programme hopes to restore one-sixth of Ethiopia’s land. Tbe ongoing tree and shrub-planting program has transformed degraded and deforested land across Africa, with Ethiopia planning to restore a further 15m hectares by 2030. Some regions are unrecognisable and an environmental catastrophe has been averted following the planting of many millions of tree and bush seedlings. Wells that were dry have been recharged, the soil is in better shape, fruit trees grow in the valleys and the hillsides are green again. More on the Guardian here.

bluefin-tunaIllegal fishing in the Meditteranean claims up to two tons of swordfish per boat per day according to an internal report by EU fishery inspectors. Inadequate controls and monitoring off Italian coast could lead to collapse of swordfish population in next three years, warn conservationists. Ilaria Vielmini, a marine scientist for Oceana, said that unless the EU introduced catch limits or quotas to protect the swordfish, the next scheduled stock assessment in 2017 could come too late to prevent a disaster.

pumpkins2It was the warmest ever Halloween in the United Kingdom with spooks and ghouls out ‘trick and treating’ in near summer temperatures.  The highest temperature of 23.6C (74.5F) was at Kew Gardens in London and easily broke the previous 1966 high of 20C (68F). London was warmer than Athens and Barcelona – and even Edingburgh topped 19C at the end of an unseasonally warm week right accross the UK. The good news for the National Grid and energy suppliers was that demand for energy was down, as households failed to turn on their heating.

lionsThe African lion faces extinction by 2050 if it continues to decline at its current rate. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has said that the lion is under threat and will seek to impose new rules to stop hunters returning to the USA with lion ‘trophies’. Hunting is still legal on special reservations in South Africa where lion, leopard, elephant and rhino populations are relativel stable. In Kenya hunting of all four species is illegal. A growing human population and a shrinkage of land available to lion has added to the decline.

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GreenEventsLogo2013Don’t forget our Green Events & Innovations conference.  Alan Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life, the partner of Festival Wood, has been confirmed as the keynote speaker for our Green Events and Innovations Conference which will be held on March 6th 2014 in London. There is an a special early bird ticket availability until 31st December  gei2014.eventbrite.com . Now in it’s sixth year, GEI has become THE gathering to come to to explore sustainability and events. As the live sector’s response to environmental management matures, GEI will demonstrate the latest solutions and technologies for practical and sustainable event management. There is a crucial aspect of consideration in order for any practical solutions to be truly effective – and that is audience behaviour. This year the conference sessions will give greater focus to the psychology and sociology that explain audience behaviour, challenging current business models to seek more effective and sustainable collective action.

Basking sharks, big waves and high costs have conspired to put a halt to the planned offshore Argyll Array wind farm planned by Scottish Power off the island of Tiree on the West Coast of Scotland. It’s the third big UK wind project to have been axed in recent weeks.

Who would have thought it? Those pesky neonicotinoids pesticides which have been blamed for the sudden and rapid decline in bee populations might also cause harm to unborn babies.  The European Food Safety Authority wants restrictions placed on maximum levels of exposure to acetamiprid and imidacloprid which may well affect the development of memory and learning in the womb. The chemicals are used in the UK on crops such as apples, hops and sugar beet and attack the nervous systems of insects.

GOTS2People should wear organic clothes rather than high street labels which give wearers a ‘toxic second skin’ according  to Diana Carney, wife of the Governor of the Bank of England on the blog http://ecoproductsthatwork.com/ where she says the public should demand sustainable products pointing out “Certainly we can never compensate those who lose their lives at work, as in the case of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. But we can – or should be able to – pay the true cost of water to ensure that this vital resource is rationally allocated. More than 70% of global cotton production is irrigated, much of it unsustainably and in areas where drinking water is short.”.

Deadly road junctions in London and elsewhere which prove such a huge risk to cyclists will be mad safe with new improvements including eye level traffic lights, and tests to see of improvements allowing cyclists to turn right at junctions without having to cross several lanes of traffic would help. The Department for Transport is also considering whether to give local authorities more powers to introduce mandatory cycle lanes. Local authorities in London are meeting this week to see if they can improve HGV cycle safety for HGVs in London – by fitting side guards and extra mirrors – and also banning lorries in peak commuting hours.

It seems that many of the electric charging points for electric cars which have been installed in London – and subsidised – just never get used. Just 349 out of a total of 1,392 charging points installed in London were used at all – prompting commentators to say the subsidies would have been better used to promote public transport cycling, walking or even more efficient petrol engines.  The Government has spent £16 million on electric car infrastructure with another £12 million planned by 2015.  Only 5,702 drivers have used the £5,000 grant towards buying an electric car.

The battle is on to save the UK’s barn owl after the cold winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 and the wet summer – particularly June 2012 – have reduced the breeding population to just 1000 pairs which is  undermining the future of one of nation’s favourite birds – which is also under threat from HS2.  With March 2013  being the second coldest in record …. its not getting any better for Barny.

The West produces an amazing amount of electronic waste – from out of date computers to replaced freezers and old VHS players – and in a vast waste site at  Agbogbloshie in Ghana  young people scavenge for scrap metal amid the smoke from plastics fires. The health risks are obvious – but the money is too good to ignore with the scavengers saying ‘This is not a good place to live” as they collect scrap copper and aluminium  adding that”electric waste comes here from all over the world – but especially from Europe”. More here http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/14/ghana-dump-electronic-waste-not-good-place-live.

Orangutan3-226x300Orangutans continue to fight for survival as the West;s  thirst for palm oil devastates rainforests which are being rapidly cleared for new plantations.  in Tripa, part of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the world’s most ecologically important rainforests and once home to its densest population of Sumatran orangutans,  the population of 2,000 orangutans has dwindled to just 200. As recently as 1990, there were 60,000 hectares of swamp forest in Tripa: now just 10,000 remain, the rest grubbed up to make way for palm oil plantations servicing the needs of some of the world’s biggest brands.  The battle to save the orangutans is not helped by the readiness of multinational corporations to use palm oil from unverified sources. Hundreds of products on UK supermarket shelves are made with palm oil or its derivatives sourced from plantations on land that was once home to Sumatran orangutans. In October, the Rainforest Foundation UK singled out Superdrug and Procter and Gamble (particularly its Head and Shoulders, Pantene and Herbal Essences hair products) for criticism over the use of unsustainable palm oil. A traffic light system produced using the companies’ responses to questions from the Ethical Consumer group also placed Imperial Leather, Original Source and Estée Lauder hair products in the red-light category.

Simple solar lamps are transforming communities in Kenya. Instead of having to pay out for expensive paraffin and kerosene, a £5 light which is recharged from the sun can help children study and families can improve their lives. UK charity Solar Aid is working to spread the technology to remote areas through their  subsidiary Sunny Money, who produce range of durable and affordable solar lamps. The charity is the Guardian’s Christmas Appeal and The UK Department for International Development has promised to help fund the project. More on Solar Aid here – their goal is to eradicate the kerosene lamp by 2020.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has told the EU that new regulations could kill of investment in fracking in the UK at ‘a critical and early stage’. In a letter to the President of the European Commission says that new legislation will cause long delays and uncertainty and says the Uk could regulate fracking in a “safe and sustainable manner”. A number of EU countries including France and Bulgaria oppose fracking because of dangers of water contamination, increased seismic activity  and environmental damage. The UK government argue that shale oil and gas will produce upwards of 30,000 jobs, reduce fuel bills, provide energy security for the UK  and reduce CO2 emissions – and points to the huge economic benefits already derived in the USA.

Perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), a greenhouse gas 7,100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat, has been indicated as new major player in global warming by scientists in Canada. PFTBA is an artificial chemical byproduct of the electrical industry, which has been used since the mid-20th century. It had not been investigated as a long-lived greenhouse gas, but scientists found that it can stay in the atmosphere for up to 500 years before dissolving. According to the study by researchers in Toronto, PFTBA is 7,100 times more powerful at trapping heat and warming the planet compared to carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period. More on blue & green here.

esec440x250_1_And The European Sustainable Events Conference takes place between January 28th to 30th, 2014 in Copenhagen, bringing together the leading thinkers, innovators and adopters in event sustainability.

“The conference will INSPIRE and re-energize you on your personal journey of sustainability. You will be able to SHARE your accomplishments, celebrate your failures and LEARN new tools, techniques and practices from others. You will expand your NETWORK of experts and peers, and create new friendships with people who share your commitment to sustainability. In summary, the conference is designed to help you to reach your business goals.”

http://www.gmicglobal.org/

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tn_IMG_7303Well worth a read: Music Festivals: A Stage for Environmentalism by Christopher Davis begins “Recent years have witnessed a growing convergence between the expanding music festival scene and environmental activism surrounding the issues these festivals can give rise to. This development has followed from the realization that music festivals can be, on the one hand, grossly unsustainable and excessively consumptive, while, on the other hand, a great medium through which to spread the message of environmentalism”. More here – including interviews with our very own Claire O’Neill, Kate Jackman from Bestival , Joanna Watson, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth and Andy Hope from the Croissant Neuf Summer Party. http://www.theinternational.org/articles/409-music-festivals-a-stage-for-environmenta

A clearer EU policy is needed to unlock investment in secure, affordable and low carbon energy, according to a report by the House of Lords.   The EU Sub-Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy has called for stronger EU leadership, a revised EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and a 2030 decarbonisation target. In better news,the European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted to introduce stricter new targets for van fuel economy and CO2 emissions in 2025. MEPs approved a draft law setting out rules to reduce the CO2 emissions of new light commercial vehicles sold in the EU to 147g CO2/km by 2020, from the current 203g. The European Parliament has also reaffirmed its goal towards safer and more environmentally friendly shipping today as it continues discussions on reducing CO2 emissions throughout the region. And the European Commission is encouraging the use of green infrastructure by adopting a new strategy which also ensures that the enhancement of natural processes becomes a systematic part of spatial planning. The Commission says that green infrastructure is a tried and tested tool that uses nature to provide ecological, economic and social benefits

power station3Finally in EU news, energy and environment ministers from nine European member states have outlined their support for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) backloading proposals, as it emerged that a second vote on the proposals would take place next month. Last month in a 334-315 split, the European Parliament voted against EU ETS carbon back-loading proposal. The ministers who said they were disappointed by the first vote (and there were 60 abstentions)  also called for a resolution of the proposals by July and urged the European Commission to bring forward proposals to perform an overall structural reform of the EU ETS by the end of the year.

“Greenwrapping” is an interesting concept – covering up power plants and other buildings with trees, vines and other plants to make the more ‘green’ and there is an interesting article on Treehugger. The designers of one greens scheme, AZPA, publicly stated that vines on the roof of a power plant would “absorb a substantial part of the carbon emissions of the plant”: Treehugger rather sardonically reply ” Right, the creepers will just soak up that CO2 and grow like mad. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Why get rid of coal plants when you can just plant vines? Or put every power station in a park?”. More here http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/greenwash-watch-good-design-or-egregious-greenwrapping.html

Whilst the EU will now implement bans on the “bee killer” neonicotinoid pesticides, some bee keepers are worried that farmers will now revert back to older and more indiscriminate pesticides – which actually will kill more bees.

Edie.net reports that the DECC is in ‘crisis’ after Ravi Gurumurthy stepped down from his role as head of strategy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, according to an unconfirmed report.The resignation follows that of Jonathan Brearley last week, who was head of energy markets and networks at DECC.

ALLOTMENTS4My Cool Allotment: An Inspirational Guide to Stylish Allotments and Community Gardens by Lia Leendertz and Mark Diacono, is a tour of 31 different allotment gardens in the USA, the UK and Europe.  And Treehugger highlight  Another fantastic design from the Instructables Green Design Contest! This one is a vertical garden planter from angelitali.

Recycled polymers could stimulate a return to plastic manufacturing in the UK as changing attitudes towards sustainability and rising costs for Far Eastern producers present new market opportunities for Britain. According to reprocessor expert Keith Freegard who heads up Axion Polymers, tapping into the UK’s plastics recycling infrastructure, could herald a bright future for firms that have traditionally struggled to compete against the manufacturing might of Asian producers.  He highlights examples of certain product types returning to the UK as importers review the balance of benefits versus cost in the face of high real-estate prices, rising labour and electricity costs and onerous custom transfers in China. More here http://www.edie.net/news/5/Closing-loop-on-waste-plastics-could-spark-renaissance-in-British-manufacturing-/

Scottish Water has installed 10 small-scale wind turbines at its wastewater treatment works in Stornoway to help reduce energy costs. The turbines, which make up the utility’s first project of its kind in Scotland, are capable of generating 500KW of electricity per day.

Finally, the mystery of LED ‘droop’ has been solved: Droop is where the increase in the electrical current sent to a LED would, past a certain point, reduce the amount of light produced.  Now the riddle has been solved by a group of researchers from the engineering department of UC Santa Barbara and from CNRS-École Polytechnique in France. They have “conclusively identified Auger recombination as the mechanism that causes light emitting diodes (LEDs) to be less efficient at high drive currents.” And now have a solution. More here http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/cause-led-droop-identified-could-lead-more-efficient-led-lights.html

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Forest fires are threatening tourist resorts in Greece and around the Mediterranean. On the Greek island of Chios residents of the village of Lithi were forced to seek safety on the beach as fires engulfed the surrounding hillsides. And on the Canary island of Gomera a ten day old blaze has destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation and 5000 people have been evacuated. . The worst hit country is Spain – 140,000 acres of woodland have been destroyed in Catalonia in the Cabaneros and Donana National Parks. Firefighters have also fought large blazes in Portugal, Italy, Sardinia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come out in support of the Severn barrage, the £30 billion project to generate energy fro tidal flows with a 13 mile tidal barrage which would produce 5% of the electricity needed for British homes. The plan has split the environmental movement – yes, green power – but the scheme, even in a newly revised  form, would have significant impact on legally protected habitats and special areas of conservation for bird life including Shelducks, Beswick Swans, Redshanks and European White Fronted Geese.  Tbe project would create 20,000 jobs and would not need taxpayer funding as it would be a commercial scheme.

The Guardian reports that the growing row over biofuels is ready to flare up again with German researchers claiming to have found evidence that European-produced biodiesel does not meet the sustainability targets claimed by Brussels. Two experts at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena say eight out of their 10 tests on locally produced rapeseed biodiesel failed to show the 35% greenhouse gas savings promised. In most cases it was under 30%. The use of biofuels would be further undermined when the EU emissions target increases, as planned, to 50% in five years’ time. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/19/biofuel-fails-eu-sustainabilty-test?CMP=twt_fd .

The UK’s 115 universities could save up to £13.8m if they adopted the British Standards Institution’s (BSI) new energy management standard according to – ah – the BSI!  Sheffield Hallam University, one of the largest in the UK and where our good friend Hannah Ross Morris works, implemented the new standard called ISO 50001 in between January and May this year and have saved £50,000 so far.

The kittiwake, one of the World’s most abundant seabirds, is struggling to survive in Britain because of a lack of food caused by climate change. The RSPB says that numbers have halved since the mid 80s with ever steeper declines in the Shetlands Isles and Orkney .

A £23m demonstration programme to encourage UK transport operators to buy and use low carbon commercial vehicles is set to receive over £11m in Government support to promote  alternative and dual-fuel heavy-goods vehicles. Thirteen major companies, including Tesco, the John Lewis partnership, Robert Wiseman Dairies and the BOC Group are leading trials in the programme, with more than 300 low-carbon commercial vehicles involved.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is calling for the public to comment on sustainability reporting guidance geared towards improving the way companies report on greenhouse gas emissions. GRI produces a sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world and is now working on the next generation of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, called G4. More here https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/latest-guidelines/g4-developments/Pages/G4-Public-Comment-Periods.aspx .

Edie.net reports that The Government must take urgent action on the UK’s pending raw material crunch and set up a rapid response unit to co-ordinate Whitehall activity on potential resource threats to the economy. The warning comes from a consortium of business and environmental organisations.

Ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville has decided not to install a wind turbine at his ‘eco-home’ after local residents in Bolton contested the plans. That said, Gary’s home will include a ground source heat pump, sustainable rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells to generate energy.

More on turbines: Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) may have its plans to install Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm dismissed because of its potential impact on the areas marine life.  Mars Petcare has decided not to progress with a planning application to build a wind turbine in Birstall, Yorkshire, says the company following “mixed views amongst the local community and the council during the planning process, as well as wider business considerations”.

The fabric wrap that surrounds the London 2012 Olympic stadium will be reused as sheltering for vulnerable children in Rio de Janeiro and Uganda.

The UK Government has been called upon to kick-start individual producer responsibility  in the UK by incentivising manufacturers to design electrical and electronic goods that are easier to reuse or recycle including a weighting mechanism for eco-design.

Businesses will be able to manage water sustainably with the help of a new guide called Water For Business published online by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and SustainAbility. http://www.wbcsd.org/waterforbusiness3.aspx

United Utilities gave been accused of polluting and contaminating large streches of the UK’s coastline with the Environment agency saying that in the North West alone, 34 beaches have poor seawater quality and high levels of bacteria meaning they are hazardous for swimmers.  Surfers against Sewage put the blame on a lack of investment to deal with sewage and run-off from farmland after heavy rain (and we get lots of that now!) although United Utilities will not release overflow data – and highlighted problems with beaches at Blackpool, St Annes and Morecombe amongts others which would fail European standards for cleanliness which will be introduced in 2015.  United Utilities made a profit of £594.1 million before tax last year and said it was backing a scheme to get people working on the project, and that it was committed to looking at how we can make overflow data available to the public”.

Another Planet

Air pollution during the London 2012 Olympic Games is set to be monitored using pioneering 3D technology developed by the University of Leicester (UoL).  The technology, developed by a team of researchers from UoL gathers scattered sunlight to scan whole cities and takes readings of air quality to help assess the impact of increased traffic levels on pollution.

A smartphone wheelie bin application to notify householders of changes in waste collection services will be launched by two of England’s top performing recycling councils this summer. The Binfo app, which will go live in time for the Jubilee weekend on 2-5 June, will be available for Android and iPhone users and has been designed to alert residents to new recycling services as well as service changes.

The UK’s Green Party says that the UK’s drought status and hosepipe ban during a period of torrential rain is the result of mismanagement by water companies who said that the current water restrictions demonstrate an urgent need for better water management by companies, as well as for climate change issues to be addressed. The Green Party also called for water companies to tackle leaks, which it says will save water, reduce costs and provide thousands of jobs. .And Lib Dem MEP George Lyon says that Europe’s need to increase food production is being blocked by energy and water constraints saying the last time the ERU needed to improve food production “In the 1950s and 60s unused land was put into production, poor land was improved, lots of water was used for irrigation and energy, which was dirt cheap at the time, was thrown at the problem,” adding “The challenge today is to achieve the same output boost while trying to reduce the amount of energy and water used in production and doing so without any new land being available.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come under fire from leading environmental figures after what was heralded as a keynote green economic speech was downgraded. Reacting to the speech made by the Prime Minister at the Clean Energy Ministerial in London, a number of green NGOs, businesses and politicians have disputed claims that new policies and reforms enacted by the Coalition have been responsible for driving the UK’s green economy.  Labour shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint MP criticised the PM for failing to deliver a “proper” speech, saying it demonstrated the Government’s real lack of support for the green economy.  Energy secretary Ed Davey launched the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) by pledging that the UK would develop a policy framework with ministers worldwide that supports clean tech innovation.

Sustainability may be past the toddler stage but it’s not much more grown up than that, according to Forum for the Future deputy chief executive Dr. Sally Uren. Speaking at the ‘Sustainable Business in Practice’ conference Dr Uren said that while “sustainability language” had hit the mainstream that she wasn’t sure it was fully embedded in business as “if it was we would be much closer to a sustainable economy”. Rather, she said that sustainability is in its “teenage years as it has had a growth spurt and got us to where we are now.” It has also left the toddler stage where people didn’t really understand it”, she added saying it is “coming of age”.  And in the wake of the Clean Energy Ministerial in London, Lib Dem peer Lord Redesale who is chair of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, said that while the coalition has set out an ambitious goal to be the ‘greenest Government ever’ and made some positive steps that progress towards renewables remains “painfully slow”.  NHS hospitals have been told that they could make significant savings in the future by tapping into the waste they produce to power their sites as part of a decentralised energy strategy.  This is according to MITIE, a leading outsourcing firm, which is working with a number of NHS trusts to improve their sustainability ratings.

Edie.net reports that twelve EU regions are to join forces to develop a common framework in a bid to improve the consistency of recycling and recovery rates across Europe.  The partnership project ‘Regions 4 Recycling’ (R4R) will run over three years and will formulate a methodology for waste data observation, selective collection and recycling rates that will enable participating regions to share best practice to improve their recycling performance. Countries involved include France, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Romania, Estonia and Ireland. So far, there is no UK involvement.