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Live Earth


A rare finch may be all that stands in the way of Australia mining a vast coal reserve.  Its a funny old world – Australia is undoubtedly suffering more than many other countries from the effects of climate change – but cant stop itself letting economics drive its choices – but the fact is when there is no air and no water – you can’t breathe or drink money. Hey ho. If approved the Carmichael mine would cover 280 sq km and would be the first of nine mines in the Galilee basin in Queensland- one of the worlds largest remaining reserves of coal – and according to 350.0rg, capable of being the 7th large of carbon on the planet if the 4 billion tonnes of fossil fuel are extracted. Environmentalists says that if Indian Multinational Adani Group are allowed to mine the region the last two breeding groups of the the Black-throated Finch would be wiped out.

Stanford University has developed a new fast-charging aluminium-ion battery that could be a legitimate option for grid-level storage of renewable energy. The key feature of the aluminium-ion battery is its durability, making it a potential solution to the problem of how to store renewable energy on electrical grids. The battery is able to be charged 7,500 times without losing capacity, compared to a typical lithium-ion battery which can be charged 1,000.

teslamodelSElectric carmaker Tesla sold 10,030 cars in the first quarter of 2015 – a 55% year-on-year increase. The figures – a new company record for a quarter – surpassed analyst expectations by at least 500 units and led to a 9% bump in in Tesla stock. The growth is driven by the Tesla Model S which accounted for 25% of all electric vehicles sold in the US in Q1 2015. It was recently named the best car in the world by the influential Consumer Reports magazine for the second year in a row.

Edie.net reports that innovation and improvements to grid connections could make onshore wind the most cost-effective new electricity source by 2020, according to the Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce.  Research carried out by the Taskforce, set up by RenewableUK, shows that these measures, along with ensuring the UK planning system is working and sharing best practise within industry, would be needed to drive down the price of onshore wind. It believes this would make onshore wind cheaper than its nearest price competitor, gas, by reducing the cost up to £21 per MWh. The costs are anticipated to be 22% less than today’s current prices for onshore wind.

Emissions from 10,000 of Europe’s most polluting power stations and factories have fallen by more than 4%, according to new figures. The number comes from verified data submitted by 87% of the 12,000 installations covered by the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). The 4.4% fall in emissions is thanks to the growth of renewables and a mild winter in 2014, according to data-provider Carbon Market Data. The drop also outpaced the annual shrinking of the overall ETS cap, which reduces by 1.74% each year between 2013 and 2020, targeting a 20% cut in total emissions compared with 2012.

Nearly three-quarters of the world’s biggest palm-oil users have improved their commitment to sustainable sourcing in the past year, but fast-food brands are evidently lagging behind.  The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has ranked the 10 largest palm-oil users in three sectors – fast-food, packaged food and personal care. Despite broadly positive results – 21 companies out of 30 increased their commitments – the fast-food sector was a clear loser. Dunkin’ Donuts has made a ‘strong’ commitment out of the sector and, Yum Brands – the parent-company of fast-food brands KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut – has committed to 100% sustainable palm oil for the first time following pressure from environmental activists.

California Governor Jerry Brown has ordered business and residents to cut water use by 25% last week as the drought continues, but tech-giants in Silicon Valley need to do even more, according to one expert.  A single data centre can consume up to 20,000 litres of water per hour – “as much water as a small city”, according to Peter Hopton, founder of liquid-cooling firm Iceotope. “The water use of data centres is insane, especially when viewed in a time of ‘historic drought’ in California, where many facilities are based,” said Hopton.

And Edie.net reports that China is set to tackle its heavily-polluted water supplies by enforcing polluting industries to treat discharged water.  The country is expected to launch an action plan later this month following approval by the cabinet to give it legal powers to hold polluters and local authorities responsible. The plan will require industries such as paper mills and dye and chemical plants to treat discharged water, setting high penalties for those that do not comply with the new regulations. Water will be prevented from being classed worse than level five – so polluted it is toxic for human skin – by 2017.

jamie UK chef Jamie Oliver has launched a campaign to fight global obesity epidemic. With 42 million children under the age of five either overweight or obese across the world, the bottom line is the next generation will live shorter lives than their parents if nothing is done to rectify these alarming stats. That’s why Jamie’s taking his Food Revolution, started in the UK, around the world. And he needs your help. he’sasking that you do two simple things – first, please sign a petition to show your support for compulsory practical food education in schools across the world, then, most importantly, share it via your social networks. It’s essential that we arm future generations with the life skills they urgently need in order to lead healthier, happier, more productive lives. I passionately believe this is every child’s human right and I hope you agree. If you can help me get millions of people to sign this petition, we can create a movement powerful enough to force all G20 governments to take action.  Food education will make a difference to the lives of the next generations, so please help. Jamie can’t do it without you. SIGN UP AND SHARE HERE.

hawksbill-turtle-thailandWhy we should all love turtles – have a look at this amazing video with a link through to a commentary from diver Darren C. Turtle populations have declined by 80 percent worldwide during the last century.

Nobel prize winners in the US and Australia have joined calls for the world’s two largest health charities to sell their stocks in leading fossil fuel companies. The eminent medical researchers argue that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust should end their investments in major coal, oil and gas firms because they conflict with the charities’ aims of improving public health. “It is clear that while some coal producers may be in denial, the large oil companies understand exactly what is happening with anthropogenic climate change. It is also clear that the rush to find more oil and dig more coal continues unabated,” said Professor Peter Doherty, a scientist at the University of Melbourne who won the Nobel prize for his work on the immune system. “Is it likely that anything other than placing a real price on carbon and withdrawing investment will influence either industry?” he said. More on the Guardian website here.

Vancouver has become the latest city to commit to running on 100% renewable energy. The city of 600,000 on Canada’s west coast aims to use only green energy sources for electricity, and also for heating and cooling and transportation. Cities and urban areas are responsible for 70-75% of global CO2 emissions and that’s where “real action on climate will happen” said Park Won-Soon, Mayor of Seoul, South Korea at the ICLEI World Congress 2015, the triennial sustainability summit of local governments where Vancouver made the announcement.  “We are the green tide coming together to save the world from climate change,” Park said to nearly 15,000 members of local government including more than 100 mayors. Andrea Reimer, Vancouver’s deputy mayor told the Guardian: “There’s a compelling moral imperative but also a fantastic economic case to be a green city.” The 100% goal is likely to be set for a target year of 2030 or 2035.

A major spike in air pollution across much of England poses a risk to those suffering from respiratory diseases, older people and children, health charities have warned today (10th April). Unseasonably dry, warm and still weather, pollution from the continent and dust from the Sahara have added to exiting UK pollution to create  am major problem in some areas and children and people with asthma and other respiratory problems are being warned to be careful. The government pushed its smog alert levels to “very high” – its most extreme pollution warning – for some parts of south east England.  Northern Europe, especially France, will be cloaked in a thick shroud of smog for much of Friday. In Paris and northern cities the government has reduced all traffic speed limits by 20km/hr. Residential parking has been made free in Paris to encourage people to leave their cars at home. Keith Taylor is the Greens MEP for the south east, the area most heavily affected by Friday’s event, said the problem should be a national priority. “Whoever forms the next government, one of the first things they must do is to urgently address this public health crisis that currently only seems to be getting worse.”

And Barack Obama has highlighted the impact of climate change on public health, hours after the White House unveiled an initiative targeting adverse health effects caused by extreme weather and greenhouse gas emissions. “There are a whole host of public health impacts that are going to hit home,” Obama said at a roundtable discussion with health professionals at Howard University in Washington DC, citing rising asthma rates and the prospects of nontraditional insect-borne diseases soon moving to North America. “Ultimately … all of our families are going to be vulnerable. You can’t cordon yourself off from air or from climate.”

The glaciers of western Canada, one of the world’s most picturesque mountain regions, are likely to largely melt away over just three generations, scientists have warned. By 2100, the glaciers of Alberta and British Columbia are set to shrink by 75% in area compared to 2005 levels, and by 70% in volume, according to their predictions.




cyclesuperhighwayFull proposals for the world’s longest segregated urban cycle route  have been unveiled as Mayor Boris Johnson increases his efforts to improve rider safety in the capital. The 18-mile east-west superhighway will stretch from Barking to Acton and give protection to cyclists along some of central London’s busiest roads.Riders will have a dedicated, two-way kerb-segregated track on major thoroughfares including the Victoria Embankment, Parliament Square and the Westway flyover. Extra space will be made for cyclists by removing road lanes, parking and loading bays. “Island” strips along the Embankment and other routes will separate cyclists from vehicles and double as drop-off points for taxis, buses and coaches. TfL also plan to rip-up dangerous junctions at Tower Hill, Blackfriars, Parliament Square and Lancaster Gate, as well improving the number of ‘Quietways’, quieter routes along back streets, to link up with the Superhighways in the City and West End. Work on the Tower Hill to Paddington section will start early next year and the superhighway is due to be completed shortly before the mayor leaves office in spring 2016. A new north-south route from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross will be completed at the same time, forming a crossroads with the east-west route at Blackfriars. Ashok Sinha, London Cycling Campaign chief executive, said he congratulated Mr Johnson on ‘finally taking such a big step towards delivering’ on his promise to follow the Dutch model of cycle infrastructure. More in the London Evening Standard. Picture: Greater London Authority.

The Mayor of London has also announced a further investment of £12m to expand his programme to retrofit buildings across the capital, making them more energy efficient and reducing carbon emissions. The new funds will extend London’s existing retrofit work, which has improved the sustainability credentials of more than 400,000 homes and 350 public buildings, to more buildings across the capital.

windturbines_300The British summer may be over but it has ended on a high for the renewables sector, with new records set and wind generation levels exceeding both nuclear and coal. According to official National Grid statistics, wind overtook coal-fired power plants for generation on five separate occasions in August – the first time this has ever happened.  And global wind, solar and hydro energy grew at its fastest ever pace last year, equating to almost 22% of global power generation, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Paris-based organisation’s third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report estimates that global renewable energy generation will rise by another 45% to make up nearly 26% of global electricity generation by 2020. But it also warns that annual growth in renewable power will begin to slow after 2014, as policy and market risks threaten to slow deployment.

In the USA a ban on single-use plastic bags in California is expected to be signed into law after the states senate passed a bill barring single-use plastic bags from retailers from next July. The California Senate recently voted 22-15 to ban single-use plastic bags, making it the first state in the US to approve such a measure.

Coffeehouse giant Costa has announced that it has joined a paper cup recycling scheme called Simply Cups. By participating in the scheme, Costa hopes that it will be able to address the burgeoning issue of how to recycle paper cups within its concession outlets located at corporate offices, universities and transport hubs.

Edie.net reports that UK venture capital firm Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) has announced it has raised £135m for a new infrastructure fund to invest in a diversified portfolio of UK-based clean energy projects. The Environmental Capital Fund (ECF) will be used to support small-scale hydro power, energy efficiency, heat pump and district heating projects in a bid to meet an increased demand for capital from the UK’s rapidly growing clean energy market. And the World’s largest private bank UBS is urging investors to join the renewables revolution: UBS predicts that large-scale power stations will soon make way for electric cars and new solar technologies.   Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed say analysts.

Lib DemsIn the UK, the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include plans for five new laws to protect the environment and improve air and water quality, reduce waste, end to polluting coal power stations and an ambitious decarbonisation target for the electricity sector. The five green laws proposed by the Lib Dems are:

·A Nature Bill: key measures include legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, extending the ‘Right to Roam’ and establishing new marine and coastal reserves.

·A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill:

·A Zero Waste Britain Bill with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end biodegradable landfill.

·A Zero Carbon Britain Bill: key measures include introducing a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, expanding the powers of the Green Investment Bank and banning electricity generated from coal.

·A Green Transport Bill: key measures include establishing a full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

henryJames Dyson has suggested that Britain should leave the EU, over a dispute about vacuum cleaner energy efficiency regulations. A new law banning vacuum cleaners rated above 1,600 watts came into effect on September 1, as part of the European Commission’s plans to meet targets on energy efficiency – to much criticism in the UK press and reported panic buying or more powerful models. Dyson was not affected by the changes, as none of its vacuum cleaners are rated above 1,400 watts. However, the company’s founder claims the legislation is too crude and does not go far enough. The Mail Online thinks that banning vacuum cleaners isn’t about saving the planet – it’s about Brussels grabbing even more power. More on the Telegraph’s website here and the Guardian here who say despite what the tabloid papers think, it’s actually about getting designers to come up with energy-efficient appliances

How to Shop for Sustainable Sites and Vendors – by Kirsti Sanders on the CVent Event Planning website is well worth a read! Thanks to our environmental assessor Penny Mellor for spotting this and its a useful checklist for event planners.

world water weekWorld Water Week: Top 10 tips to reduce your consumption. Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource and there has never been a better time for businesses to help raise the profile of today’s most pressing water challenges and take extra steps to tackle the issues of water security and quality. ‘Quick fixes’ such as fitting aerated showerheads in staff showers, using low-flow taps in sinks and adding controls on urinals often have a payback of less than three months. Reducing water costs reduces your energy costs – and also your production costs. Water is five times more difficult to heat than granite, so hot water is very expensive, likewise water is heavy to pump around. Saving water will make a big dent in your energy bill, and optimising your water use will also optimise your other operations and lead to savings in production or improved performance. 

Britons should brace themselves for more extreme winters as weather conditions become more volatile, scientists have warned. A study of seasonal records dating back to 1899 found that while most seasons have not changed dramatically, winter has become much more unpredictable. The results suggest the idea of a typical British winter is increasingly becoming a myth, with wide swings from mild but stormy conditions like those which hit the UK this year to extremely cold temperatures and snow in another year becoming more common. Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Sheffield and the Met Office found that seven out of the 10 most extreme winter conditions over the last 115 years have occurred in the last decade. Professor Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, said: “This indicates that British winters have become increasingly unsettled. If this trend continues, we can expect more volatile UK winter weather in decades to come.” More on the Huffington Post here.

Brazil is the most dangerous place in the world to be an environmentalist. It accounts for about half of all recorded killings of environmental advocates. That incredibly dangerous environment makes what photographer Lunae Parracho documented even more incredible. Parracho  followed the Ka’apor tribe, an indigenous community in Brazil, as they fought back against illegal loggers. some amazing photos here http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/13-incredible-photos-of-amazon-tribe-fighting-back-against-illegal-loggers/

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide which experts think the planet may struggle to deal with according to the World Meteorological Organisations’ (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin which called for “concentrated international action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change.”  The report also said that C02 levels increased at the quickest rate since 1984, suggesting the while emissions are rising; the earth’s ability to absorb the gas may also be declining.

UK Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey has insisted that economic growth and carbon reduction can go hand in hand as the has set out the UK Government’s vision for a legally binding global climate deal in Paris next year. ‘Paris 2015: Securing Our Prosperity Through a Global Climate Change Agreement’ is a new document which argues that action on climate change is needed ‘on a coordinated global scale from every country in the world’. And Prime Minister David Cameron is being urged to push for a global countdown to zero emissions ahead of his expected attendance at the New York climate summit later this month. A coalition of five leading environmental groups – Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Green Alliance, RSPB and WWF – have set out their hopes and expectations for a successful climate package to be delivered by the end of next year, with other global leaders including Barack Obama confirmed to attend the major international climate talks on 23 September.

downloadJapanese electronics and ceramics manufacturer Kyocera has announced that it is beginning work on what will be the world’s largest floating solar installation. The 2.9MW project comprises two separate floating arrays in the Nishira and Higashihira reservoirs in Kato City. The electricity generated will provide the equivalent power for roughly 920 typical households and will be sold to the local utility through Japan’s feed-in-tariff system. And the UK is leading the way when it comes to offshore wind power, with a 52% share of the international market last year, according to new figures.  GlobalData has released a new report which reveals that the UK’s cumulative offshore wind power installed capacity increased from 0.3GW in 2006 to 3.7GW in 2013 – a 42.9% increase. The research firm puts this increase down to aggressive renewable targets, policy backing and a shift towards a greener climate,

Our friends at eco-clothing brand Rapanui have come up with a novel solution to the problem of ‘throwaway fashion’ by offering store credit to customers who return last season’s clothes. Customers’ old clothes will be recycled properly, with Rapanui building on a reputation of sustainability; making it’s t-shirts, tops and sweats from 100% certified organic cotton in a wind-powered factory.  “Our customers look forward to each new season but it seems a shame that our products end up unused in the wardrobe after six months,” said designer Martin Drake-Knight.”It means there’s a conflict between fashion and the environment. We want to heal that and find a way for people to enjoy shopping, and fashion, without creating mountains of waste.”

Edie.net reports that the USA’s first commercial-scale biofuel plant is now open and will eventually produce more than 110 million litres of fuel a year from corn waste. The £167m plant, named ‘Project Liberty’, is situated in Emmetsburg, Iowa and converts baled corn cobs, leaves and stalks into renewable fuel. Its development was supported by more than £60m in grants from the US Department of Energy and Agriculture (DOE).  America’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes the Project Liberty opening is proof that the country is ready for advanced renewable energy production.

Energy efficiency has become the world’s ‘hidden fuel’ and has the potential to stimulate massive economic growth, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Entitled ‘Capturing the multiple benefits of efficient energy’, the report ramps up the pressure on the European Council of Ministers, which will decide upon its 2030 energy saving target in the next few weeks.

Big brands such as Coca-Cola Enterprises, Nestlé and retailer Marks & Spencer have partnered up to launch a new plastics recycling campaign called Pledge 4 Plastics. The new Government-backed cross industry partnership is led by plastics recycling body Recoup. It aims to increase the collection of plastic packaging for recycling. The initiative has been formulated in response to challenging packaging recycling targets set by the Government for the period 2013-17. Plastic packaging recycling levels need to double over this five year period.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012The renewable energy industry has united to launch a series of ‘key tests’ for the UK political parties ahead of the next General Election. Leading renewable energy trade bodies including the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), the British Hydropower Association (BHA), the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA), RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables and the Solar Trade Association (STA), have launched a renewables manifesto statement and campaign hosted on the Action for Renewables website. The six key tests laid out by the grouping are:
1. Support the Climate Change Act to keep us on course to meet our carbon commitments and back global efforts to tackle climate change.
2. Set a new renewables target for 2030 of 30% of UK energy.
3. Back the Independent Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to set a binding target for low carbon electricity by 2030.
4. Fund the Renewable Heat Incentive for new applications after 2016.
5. Boost the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation to reach the 10% renewable energy target for transport by 2020.
6. Reform the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure the market takes account of all sectors’ polluting cost of carbon emissions.


whale hunt


Wind turbines spin again

You spin re right round baby right round ...

You spin re right round baby right round ...

The UK Government’s decision to boost subsidies for offshore wind generation seems to have had the desired effect with new announcements of commercial investment breathing life back into what was a moribund industry.  Danish energy giant DONG Energy has said it will go ahead with a £1.2 billion wind farm of Cumbria and it is thought that DONG, along with Eon, will invest £2.5 billion in the London Array – the scheme to locate 175 turbines in the Thames Estuary -producing enough energy for 750,000 homes. Analysts also believe that Centrica, owner of British Gas, is now reconsidering three projects in the North Sea and added to this is the news that Scottish Power have said they aim to become global leaders in carbon capture technology after the Government announced up to four new demonstration projects that would produce energy from coal, capturing and burying harmful carbon dioxide emissions.






UK climate policy pants says the CBI

The management speaks

The management speaks

Business leaders have delivered a surprise attack on the UK Government’s environmental policy with the CBI saying that ministers are not doing enough to tackle global warming or ensure that the UK does not run out of power. Sir Nicholas Stern had already made the very wise point that it will be far far cheaper to tackle the causes of climate change now rather than wait until its too late and then try and rectify global warming, and the distinguished sociologist Anthony Giddens has pointed out in his new book on global warming that there is a dreadful paradox attached to climate change: however dangerous the perils of global warming are, because they are not immediately visible in daily life people will not have the will to tackle them – and will only be motivated to take action when it’s too late. But surely even putting aside the environmental factors of pollution and global warming, it’s hard not to see the economic, political and frankly military reasons for investing in sustainable power now – the UK is hugely reliant on imported oil and gas to produce electricity (which is responsible for 40% of our CO2 emissions) – and let’s be quite frank, sometimes those imports are put at risk by factors beyond our control – and let’s remember that with shades of Mad Max in Beyond the Thunderdome, Russia recently turned off the Ukraine’s gas supplies in the middle of a bitter winter. The CBI says that billions of pounds of necessary investment will go to the USA or China unless the government takes “urgent action” to improve both the politics and policies to improve the investment climate for the green energy sector saying planning delays, a lack of connections to the National Grid, reduced funding for technology and uncertainty over log term carbon ‘prices’ were all delaying growth of sustainable energy in the UK and the CBI‘s warning comes after a number of announcements by major companies including Centrica, BP and Shell that they would not be investing in the UK (see earlier posts on this blog). The CBI’s intervention was supported by results from a survey of green energy companies that showed three quarters were facing financial difficulties as the ongoing credit crunch reduced the availability of loans and inward investment in the UK. As BP goes back to petroleum and you really can NOT be sure of Shell any more, we need a government that leads and doesn’t just react. Coal is NOT the future, green energy is – the sun, the wind, waves and tides provide a sustainable future for the UK.  The US seems to get it, South Korea gets it, Spain gets it, why can’t Gordon, Alistair and the motley crew of expense obsessed cabinet ministers get it?

See previous posts for stories on sustainable energy and the economy:




CBI see http://www.cbi.org.uk/ndbs/staticpages.nsf/StaticPages/home.html/?OpenDocument

Can we promote sustainability over growth / UK wind programme blown of course / Shell pulls out of renewable energy / Spain powers up green economy / Is a credit crunch good for the economy? / Renewable energy suffers from a lack of investment

UK wind power programme blown off course

Is it all sunny in the renewable energy world?

Is it all sunny in the renewable energy world?

Its seems that the UK government’s plans to meet renewable energy targets are ‘Gone With the Wind’ after news that Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish company that is the world biggest investor in wind energy plans to reduce investment in UK renewable electricity by 40% from a high of E700 million to a reduced E400 million. Iberdrola blames the drop on the world’s economic crisis and said it was committed to the UK sustainable energy market but tellingly their chairman also said that planning delays and complications as well as problems connecting to the national grid were also factors. Doug Parr, the chief scientist of Greenpeace, said the UK renewables industry was moving “at a snail’s pace” and called for urgent action by the Government to accelerate its plans for a green energy revolution. “It really is a case of getting off their backsides and doing what they said they were going to do,” Dr Parr said. But Energy Minister Mike O’Brien hit back at claims that the Government was failing to deliver on an ambitious plan to foster a green energy revolution by building thousands of onshore and offshore wind turbines telling a meeting of renewable-energy chiefs that he was determined that Britain would meet its goal of generating as much as 35 per cent of all UK electricity from wind, wave and solar power by 2020, up from less than 5 per cent at present. It is estimated that £100 billion in investment is needed to meet these targets.

See: Ministers pore over incentives to save growth in green energy http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article5983602.ece