Tag Archives: Shell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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earth overshoot dayWe’ve Consumed More Than the Earth Can Produce This Year: Its 2015 and Thursday, August 13, is Earth Overshoot Day, when resource use is expected to outstrip the capacity for production—and it’s getting earlier every year.

A “Godzilla” El Niño may be on the way – with one of the strongest since record-keeping began in 1950. Above-normal, or very warm, temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are warmer than they were in August of 1997, when the strongest El Niño on record occurred. This is an indication that we could be rivalling the 1997-1998 record El Niño event that caused devastating flooding and mudslides across California. California is in the midst of a severe four-year record weather drought, with little relief in sight, but things may be changing in the coming months.  “This definitely has the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño,” Bill Patzert of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, California, said.

Scottish ministers are planning to formally ban genetically modified crops from being grown in Scotland, widening a policy divide with the Conservative government in London. Ministers in Edinburgh are to apply to use recent EU powers that allow devolved administrations to opt out of a more relaxed regime, which is expected to increase commercial use of GM crops around the EU. The move will reinforce a long-standing moratorium on planting GM crops in Scotland and allow the Scottish National party to further distance itself from the UK government.

Amber Rudd MP

Amber Rudd MP

So much for empowering local communities. Fine – as long as they don’t make decisions the UK government doesn’t want. I for one dnt want polluted water tables,the risk of earthquakes and massive environmental damage: Many many agree.  BT Shale gas (fracking) planning applications are to be fast-tracked under new government measures to crack down on councils that delay on making a decision. Councils will be told they must rule on applications within the current 16-week statutory timeframe. If they repeatedly delay, ministers might take over the power to decide all future applications in that local area.  The applications to frack in Lancashire by energy company Cuadrilla was massively opposed by local people. The proposal,  to drill and frack eight wells, were first submitted in May 2014, but Lancashire county council’s development control committee repeatedly delayed to consider more evidence. The committee finally rejected the bids in June, on the grounds of unacceptable visual impact and noise. Environmentalists say it makes a mockery of the government’s promise to give power to local people. The government says it will take local views into account, but that developing shale gas is a national priority that must not be held up. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We need more secure, home grown energy supplies – and shale gas must play a part in that” and “We can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years. We need a system that delivers timely planning decisions and works effectively for local people and developers.” More on the BBC here and the Guardian here.

Are you pro-fracking? Have a look at this article: “Shirley “Sug” McNall is leaning up against a fence staring at a natural gas well about 40 meters from a playground behind the primary school where her daughter used to teach in Aztec, New Mexico. She believes that the gas industry and the explosion of fracking in her state is responsible for serious impacts on local air quality which are affecting people’s health. Her fears were boosted last year when Nasa satellites identified a methane bubble over Aztec visible from space. The bubble suggests that during drilling and production the natural gas industry is not capturing all of the gas they unlock from deep in the ground and significant amounts of this methane and other chemicals are leaking into the sky. McNall believes that other more dangerous gasses are being released too.”  MORE HERE.

Namibian lionIn South Africa, the practice of ‘canned hunting’ has come to light after the recent killing of Cecil the Lion in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Some 1,000 lions are killed each year by mainly American recreational big-game hunter – but these are not wild lions – these are lions which have been raised on ‘farms’ – bred to be slaughtered. It seems that American tourists leaf through brochures to pick the lion they wish to ‘hunt’;. some 7.000 lions are kept in often very confined captivity (more than three times the number who live wild) – with an average price for a kill being £20,000 andf the industry is worth about £14 million each year to the South African economy. Most kills are stuffed and mounted although recently a number of airlines said they would no longer ship the kills home to the USA. Wild lions are protected by law.

food wasteThe UK is the worst-performing country in Europe when it comes to food waste, throwing away almost 6kg of food per household every week.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that Europe as a whole wastes 22m tonnes of food a year. But the UK was the worst offender, wasting the equivalent in weight of one can of beans per person, every single day. Romania was the most efficient country, but still threw out the equivalent of an apple per person per day. The study found that 16% of all food that reached consumers was thrown away, with the vast majority of this waste being avoidable.

Close to 1,000 health professionals from around the world have thrown their weight behind an open letter asking the multi-billion pound health charity, the Wellcome Trust, to move its money out of fossil fuels on ethical grounds. The letter invokes one of the foremost principles of medical ethics, asking the Trust to “do no harm” because of the current and future impacts of climate change on global public health. The 946 signatories to the letter span the health profession and include nurses, academics, therapists, doctors, students, retired practitioners and dentists. While hundreds come from the UK, the US and Australia, many other countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Malaysia are also represented. Some of the largest US Catholic organisations have millions of dollars invested in energy companies, from hydraulic fracturing firms to oil sands producers, according to their own disclosures, through many portfolios intended to fund church operations and pay clergy salaries. This discrepancy between the church’s leadership and its financial activities in the US has prompted at least one significant review of investments. The Archdiocese of Chicago, America’s third largest by Catholic population, told Reuters it will re-examine its more than $100m (£64m) worth of fossil fuel investments.

Major “shocks” to global food production will be three times more likely within 25 years because of an increase in extreme weather brought about by global warming, warns a new report. The likelihood of such a shock, where production of the world’s four major commodity crops – maize, soybean, wheat and rice – falls by 5-7%, is currently once-in-a-century. But such an event will occur every 30 years or more by 2040, according to the study by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience. Such a shortfall in production could leave people in developing countries in “an almost untenable position”, with the US and the UK “very much exposed” to the resulting instability and conflict, said co-author Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House. More on edie.net here.

china air pollutionAir pollution kills an average of 4,000 people every day in China, according to a new study by researchers at Berkeley Earth. The California-based climate-science group found air pollution resulted in up to 17% of all China’s deaths, with 38% of the country’s population of 1.3bn breathing air that would be considered ‘unhealthy’ by US standards. The results of Berkeley Earth’s report estimated around 1.6 million Chinese are killed each year as a result of air pollution, particularly from PM2.5 particulate matter which damages lungs, causes heart attacks, cancer and asthma. The researchers argue most of the air pollution comes from China’s coal consumption and say switching from dirty coal to nuclear power, natural gas and renewable energy could bring down emissions.

Leaked documents show the UK is pushing for watered-down EU air pollution laws to be weakened further, arguing they would cause pit closures leading to substantial job losses and the need to import coal. The EU rules could help curb toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, although campaigners criticised them following revelations that they were partly drafted by the same companies they were meant to regulate. But a confidential government submission to Brussels, seen by the Guardian, says that the UK would have to import coal from Russia, Colombia and South Africa to meet the new standards, because British coal has such a high sulphur content.

One of the UK’s largest banks, Standard Chartered, has announced it is pulling out of a major coal mining project in Australia. The announcement follows an extended campaign by environmental groups. Standard Chartered is the second financial institutional to walk away from the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland in the last few days. Last week the Commonwealth Bank of Australia also announced it was abandoning the venture after the federal court of Australia overturned the government approval for the mine.

Shell_oil_croppedShell is set to restart its controversial hunt for Arctic oil, three years after the company’s last ill-fated venture north. The Polar Pioneer rig began drilling on 30 July, but US safety standards have prevented the company from sinking a well deep enough to hit oil until a key safety vessel, an icebreaker called the Fennica, was in the Chukchi Sea. Shell said that the vessel was now in the area and it had informed the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that it was ready to go for oil. A spokeswoman for the company said: “Fennica is in the Chukchi Sea, drilling continues, and we have requested the permit to drill deeper in this exploration well.”  More here.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has called for the EU to drop import tariffs on Chinese solar modules, claiming the cheaper equipment could help the industry overcome subsidy cuts. Since December 2013, Chinese imports to Europe have been subject to anti-dumping tariffs, which enforce a minimum price of €0.56 per watt and annual import quota of 7GW. The rules are intended to protect European manufacturers who cannot produce important equipment at the same price as Chinese firms – who are supported by substantial Government subsidies. However the REA says the tariffs, known minimum import pricing (MIP), have prevented module costs from coming down in the UK over the past few years.

decc-figuresRenewable electricity generation outpaced natural gas this month to become the second largest source of electricity worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency. Globally, coal remained king with 9,613TWh of electricity produced, around 41% of global electricity production compared to 5,130TWh (22%) from renewable energy sources. In OECD economic zone countries, electricity production fell slightly by 0.8% from 2013-14, with massive decreases in coal electricity production offset by increases in non-hydro renewable energy production from wind and solar power. The report also found in OECD countries that solar power had overtaken solid biofuels, used in biomass plants, to become the second largest non-hydro renewable source after wind power.

A new contender for Britain’s greenest home has been unveiled in North Yorkshire. The four-bed house, known as Furrows, will have a unique renewable energy system, allowing it to generate more than 13,000 kWh of electricity and heat a year. Around 5,000 kWh will be used by Furrow’s homeowners with the remaining 8,000 kWh exported to the grid – enough electricity to run two further houses. Furrows features a combination of 64 solar PV and solar thermal panels, with all spare energy diverted to an on-site storage system for evening use outside of sunlight hours. More here.

German energy company E.ON has started constructing the world’s first modular large-scale battery in the German town of Aachen. The modular aspect of the design means that various battery technologies can be ‘plugged in’ to the system – a world-first for a battery of this size. The system, known as M5BAT, will be housed in a former office building that is being converted specially for the installation. In total, the batteries and other components of the storage system will stretch over two floors and the roof, covering around 500 m² of floor space. M5BAT is backed by a €6.7 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of its “Energy Storage Funding Initiative”.
Football_iu_1996This year for the first time, fans across the entire football league are being encouraged to cut emissions by car-sharing their way to away games, while Premier League giants Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have all embraced ambitious sustainability strategies. As the football seasons kicks off, the greenest football club in the UK doesn’t feature in the Premier League. In fact, it plays in a division four tiers below the top flight. Forest Green Rovers have taken up the cause their name proclaims, aiming to become the most sustainable football club in Britain and “probably the world”. Chaired by Dale Vince, CEO of green energy company Ecotricity, who told reporters “The pitch is organic, we recycle all the water that lands on the pitch and reuse it, we’ve got solar panels on the roof of the stand, electric pumps to charge electric cars and we have a fully vegan from the start of this season.”  The club says it is aiming to irrigate the pitch using only collected rain water and runoff to make it independent from the mains. It has also received national and international coverage of its sustainability work, including for its meat free, fully Vegan menu – another first for UK football clubs.  The club is planning further sustainability developments with Ecotricity releasing concept designs last month for a new Eco Park, a 100-acre sports complex and green technology centre near Stroud.  In the top flight,  Chelsea have strong Green credentials. The club became the first football team to join the Green 500 Campaign, with pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 10%. Chelsea has also installed energy efficient lighting systems and recycles 100% of its waste, much of which is used for renewable energy generation.  Arsenal’s move to the Emirates Stadium saw a raft of new sustainability measures implemented which makes the ground one of the greenest in the country. As well as watching its spending following the multi-million pound move, the club has introduced a number of green initiatives, such as the use of voltage optimisation equipment and LED lights which have reduced power use by up to 20%. The stadium’s recycling policy sees waste minimisation across the club as well as the recycling of plastic and glass for fans on match days. The club says it recycles an average of 10 tonnes of cardboard and plastic and month as well as diverting 1.5 tonnes of glass per match from landfill. More here.

I am not

ANOTHER PLANET?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANOTHER PLANET?

hawksbill-turtle-thailandThe warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists have said. The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record. Global sea-level also reached a record high, with the expansion of those warming waters, keeping pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth over the past two decades, the report said.

Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger has said  global warming is a ‘battle in the real world’ that’s bigger than any movie, at the first summit of conscience for the climate in Paris. Schwarzenegger has been chosen by the French government to join Nobel prizewinners, philosophers, UN secretary generals, spiritual leaders and theologians to make the moral case for the world to act urgently on climate change. Talking at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate on Tuesday – ahead of the crucial UN climate change meeting in the city in December – the Terminator star and former California governor declared the science debate over, saying planetary catastrophe could only be avoided with ethical action saying “I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction, this is a battle in the real world, it is impacting us right now.”

warm houseBritain’s first low cost ‘energy positive’ house, which can generate more electricity than its occupants will use, opens on Thursday despite George Osborne axing plans to make housebuilders meet tough low carbon housing targets from next year. The modest three-bedroom house built in just 16 weeks on an industrial estate outside Bridgend in Wales cost just £125,000 to build and, said its Cardiff University designers, will let occupants use the sun to pay the rent. Using batteries to store the electricity which it generates from the solar panels that function as the roof, and having massive amounts of insulation to reduce energy use in winter months, it should be able to export electricity to the national grid for eight months of the year. For every £100 spent on electricity used, it should be able to generate £175 in electricity exports, said Professor Phil Jones, whose team from the Welsh School of Architecture designed the house specifically to meet the low carbon housing targets set by the Labour government in 2006. More on the Guardian here.

beesThe UK government has gagged its own pesticide advisers, after they refused to back an application by the National Farmers Union to lift a ban on bee-harming chemicals. The gag is intended to prevent campaigners lobbying ministers on the issue, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, were banned in the European Union in 2013. Substantial scientific evidence indicates that the nerve agents cause serious harm to bees, whose pollination is vital for many crops. The National Farmers Union says oil seed rape is becoming impossible to grow without the pesticides and applied for an emergency lifting of the ban on two neonicotinoids.

A best-selling herbicide that the World Health Organisation suspects causes cancer could get a new lease of life in Europe after being deemed safe by a key assessment based largely on classified industry reports. A decision on whether to extend the license for glyphosate’s use in Europe is pending, but earlier this year, it was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a preliminary report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The full report is due for release imminently. More here.

London_smog-_UKNearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution, more than twice as many as previously thought, according to new research. The premature deaths are due to two key pollutants, fine particulates known as PM2.5s and the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2), according to a study carried out by researchers at King’s College London.

The first conclusive sighting of a pine marten in England in over 100 years suggests that the elusive domestic cat-sized member of the stoat and weasel family may have been living in the Shropshire hills for years. Amateur wildlife recorder Dave Pearce took two photographs of the dark brown creature thought to be extinct, in a wood in south west Shropshire last week. The photographic evidence has now been verified by Stuart Edmunds, chair of the Shropshire mammal group.

Britain should drop its focus on nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) and refocus spending on optimising renewables and energy efficiency, a leading academic has urged. Catherine Mitchell – a professor of energy policy at Exeter University a lead author on the IPCC’s Fifth Synthesis report – said: “I think the current energy policy in place is simply not credible.” Speaking at an event in Westminster, titled ‘Renewable energy: How far can Britain go?’, Mitchell said: “We may have one or two new nuclear plants, we may not. Even if we do, it doesn’t actually matter, because it does very little for carbon reductions. There may also be CCS being talked about – but even if CCS comes out, there’s really no space to put the carbon. “The only thing in town is renewable energy and energy efficiency. And it’s because those are the only things in town that we need to take stock as a country, and make sure that things are in place to be the building blocks of the future.”

Developers of a new biomass plant in Sheffield have secured £30m funding from the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) and fund managers Equitix. The funding will see the construction of a 6.5MW capacity combined heat and power (CHP) facility in the Holbrook area of Sheffield, with the potential to heat more than 6,700 local properties. The scheme received £14.6m from the fund Energy Savings Investments, in which GIB is an investor, and £15m private capital from the Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund.

sea_ice_polar_bearThe former US vice-president and climate champion Al Gore has made a rare criticism of Barack Obama as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, denouncing the venture as “insane” and calling for a ban on all oil and gas activity in the polar region. With Shell planning to begin drilling in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea within days, Gore said in an interview with the Guardian that Obama was wrong to ever allow drilling in the Arctic. It was the only real point of criticism from Gore of Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, at home and through a global deal to be negotiated in Paris at the end of the year. “I think Arctic drilling is insane. I think that countries around the world would be very well advised to put restrictions on drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean,” Gore told the Guardian in Toronto, where he was passing on his techniques for talking about the climate crisis to 500 new recruits from his Climate Reality Project.

Andy Gotts has photographed almost 60 celebrities wearing the Save the Arctic T-shirt designed by fashion icon and activist Dame VivienneWestwood, in a project that has taken 18 months.

arctichurt

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

XX-Powerful-Street-Art-Pieces-That-Tell-The-Uncomfortable-Thruth26__880This from the Guardian: The world’s least-developed countries have accused richer nations of failing to provide financial backing for a strong new global climate treaty. With little negotiating time left ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris later this year, diplomats from nearly 200 countries meeting in Bonn have reportedly made little progress, raising the possibility of a last-minute diplomatic fiasco, as happened in Copenhagen in 2009. The mistrust between countries that built up in Copenhagen now threatens the Paris talks, said Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is chairman of the 48-strong least-developed countries group. “The [UN] process is flawed by a complete lack of trust and confidence between rich and poor countries,” he said. “We need time. Because of this lack of trust we have no other way of proceeding. We have to go ahead with baby steps. We are not making much progress, but we are going in the right direction. There are so many issues. It’s a process of attrition. “Every year there is a watering down of the commitments. It feels every year that we are losing out. Twenty countries contribute 80% of emissions, the rest 20%. Yet we in Africa are being asked to cut emissions. OK, we say, but help us. Give us finance, technology.” With only around 10 days’ worth of negotiations remaining after the Bonn talks close next week, no discussion has started on three vital issues: whether rich countries should compensate poor ones for the loss and damage done by extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change; how deep the overall emission cuts should be; and how countries should fairly share the burden of cuts.

food wasteGovernments across the world should make reducing food waste an urgent priority in order to save as much as £194bn annually by 2030, according to a report. Cutting food waste leads to greater efficiency, more productivity and higher economic growth, it said, but achieving such an aspiration would involve consumers cutting their own food and drink waste by as much as half. One third of all food produced in the world ends up as waste, with food wasted by consumers globally valued at more than £259bn per year. But that cost could soar to £388bn as the global middle class expands over the course of the next fifteen years, according to new figures from the UK government’s waste advisory body Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.  Their new report, ’Strategies to achieve economic and environmental gains by reducing food waste’, also identifies significant opportunities to improve economic performance and tackle climate change by reducing the amount of food that is wasted at various stages in the supply chain – in agriculture, transport, storage and consumption. It highlights how practical changes, such as lowering the average temperatures of refrigerators or designing better packaging, can make a big difference in preventing spoilage. Approximately 25% of food waste in the developing world could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment. More here. You can access the Report here.

food wasteTesco is to become the first British supermarket to launch a bold new scheme to donate leftover food to charity, as their CEO admitted they were “not comfortable” about throwing away thousands of tonnes of food every year which could have been eaten by people in need. Company chief Dave Lewis told The Huffington Post UK: “A number of years ago we identified that food waste was an issue for our business. ” Despite taking some measures to prevent food waste, Lewis said the company “didn’t feel good about” the fact that the fluctuating demand for different food in supermarkets meant “you’re left with food that passes its sell-by date but is still perfectly good for human consumption.” “This was something we didn’t feel comfortable about.”

the-food-waste-project-partnershipAnd  EighthPlate have teamed up with Formulate Media to make a short film about their ‎foodwaste‬ crusade, to be shown at the end of their year – collecting waste food from festivals in the United Kingdom and delivering it to those who need it. The team at A Greener Festival are proud to be part of  8th Plate: The Food Waste Project. 8th Plate is a project which aims to salvage 60 tonnes of festival food waste this summer, to make 143,000 ready meals for vulnerable people in society.

Thrifty habits of our forefathers key to reducing waste “Make do and mend” – it was a way of life for generations gone by. But while the consumer age gives us more choice than ever, the downside is we are creating more waste than the Scotland can handle.

Last month the Saudi oil minister said that he recognised that eventually the world won’t need fossil fuels pointing to 2040 or 2050 as a cut off date. It not that the oil will run out – nor fears of climate change – its just that solar and wind power are becoming increasingly cheap to produce. Renewable technologies have risen from 13% of global power to 22% in the last decade – and the cost of generating solar power has fallen 80% in six years and wind power is 40% cheaper.  Last year $150 billion was invested in solar power and $100 billion in wind – with Elon Musk’s moves to develop batteries to store sustainable power until it is needed seen as a key move forwards. Daimler in Germany are also developing new batteries alongside Tesla’s moves.  Cheap, clean energy. what’s not to like? Unless you are an oil, gas or coal company …….. and the former chairman of Shell has said that investors moving their money out of fossil fuel companies is a rational response to the industry’s “distressing” lack of progress on climate change. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, who spent almost four decades at Shell and rose to be its chairman, also said the big oil and gas companies had been calling for a price to be put on CO2 emissions for 15 years but had done little to make it happen.

The value of Europe’s five biggest energy utilities dropped €100bn (£73bn) between 2008 and 2013 in part because of a dogged preference for coal over clean power investments, a new report says. The five firms – E.ON, RWE, GDF Suez, EDF and Enel – collectively lost 37% of their share value in the period, in part because of their increasing dependence on loss-making new coal generating capacity, according to the study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. As the recession on the continent dampened power demand and the EU enacted new clean energy laws, Europe’s coal use fell by around 5%. At the same time, the ‘big five’ firms increased their reliance on coal by 9%. More here.

SLAemailHeaderEntry to the edie Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 is now open with 13 categories to choose from. Long standing, distinguished categories such as the all-important Sustainability Leader Award are joined by some brand new categories, such as the Sustainable Business Models and the Sustainability Professional Awards, with all categories focusing on specific aspects of sustainability and the environmental and business improvements they drive. More here.

Norway’s parliament has formally endorsed the move to sell off coal investments from its $900bn sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest. It is the largest fossil fuel divestment yet, affecting 122 companies across the world, and marking a new success for the fast-growing and UN-backed climate change campaign. A new analysis said the fund would sell off over $8bn (£5bn) of coal-related investments as a result. The biggest single sell-off from Norway’s fund will be the UK utility SSE, in which the fund holds $956m of shares. The fund is also set to sell its $49m stake in Drax, which runs the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station. And the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has announced that it will divest about £1.2m (A$2.3m) of fossil fuel interests from its £45m (A$90m) endowment. The RACP is Australasia’s largest specialist medical college.

Shell_oil_croppedShell tried to influence the presentation of a climate change programme it was sponsoring at the Science Museum in London, internal documents seen by the Guardian show. The Anglo-Dutch oil group raised concerns with the museum that one part of the project “creates an opportunity for NGOs to talk about some of the issues that concern them around Shell’s operations”. The company also wanted to know whether a particular symposium at the museum was “invite only” – as that would ensure “we do not proactively open up a debate on the topic [of Shell’s operations]”.

Britain will be home to the world’s first ever tidal lagoon energy project as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has granted planning permission for a giant tidal power plant off the coast of Wales. In what has been hailed as a “exciting step” towards harnessing untapped tidal energy sources, the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed that the £850m Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project will be developed by British firm Tidal Lagoon Power. When fully operational, by the year 2023, the 320MW scheme could provide up to 8% of the UK’s electricity, adding up to £27bn to GDP by 2027.

The G7 summit of economic powers has thrown its weight behind a goal to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2100 in what has been hailed as an unequivocal sign on climate action. At the G7 Summit this week, the leaders of the US, UK, Japan, France, Canada, Italy and host nation Germany unanimously agreed to a full “decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century”.  Climate change topped the agenda for a series of session of the Summit, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel – once dubbed the ‘Climate Chancellor’ – making the official announcement on specific emissions goals: “We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050 and invite all countries to join us in this endeavor,” reads the official statement. “To this end we also commit to develop long term national low-carbon strategies.”

Approximately 425GW of energy storage will be needed to support the planet’s transition to 45% renewable energy by 2030, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The Abu Dhabi-based have published a roadmap to building 325GW of pumped-storage hydroelec­tricity, and 150GW of battery storage. Currently pumped hydro – pumping water uphill into large reservoirs when power is abundant and then letting it flow down again to generate power when needed – accounts for 99% of the world’s 142GW storage capacity.

The Guardian reports that developing countries have the opportunity to leapfrog the west in economic development, if they go straight to clean technology while rich countries struggle to wean themselves off fossil fuels, president Francois Hollande of France said on Wednesday. “They are going to be skipping the stage where industrialised countries were stopped fro a long time, for many decades,” he said. “We were dependent on fossil fuel, which means we now have to concentrate on the transition in the medium to long term of abandoning fossil fuels. But they have the chance to move immediately to the new technologies.” He said clean technologies such as renewable energy were “dropping in price and will continue to drop”, while industrialised countries faced costs in having to scrap old infrastructure and rebuild it anew in a low-carbon fashion. Developing countries, many of which are constructing scores of new cities to house their burgeoning populations, would be able to build them in a low-carbon way, with better energy efficiency, he told the annual meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in Paris.

Global warming has not undergone a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’, according to US government research that undermines one of the key arguments used by sceptics to question climate science. The new study reassessed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (Noaa) temperature record to account for changing methods of measuring the global surface temperature over the past century. The adjustments to the data were slight, but removed a flattening of the graph this century that has led climate sceptics to claim the rise in global temperatures had stopped. “There is no slowdown in warming, there is no hiatus,” said lead author Dr Tom Karl, who is the director of Noaa’s National Climatic Data Centre.

SOLAR POWERThe UK solar sector has seemingly become a victim of its own success, with big developers and investors now claiming they will not be making use of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme for large projects over the next year. According to a new survey conducted by PwC in conjunction with the Solar Trade Association (STA), the majority of developers who were responsible for adding more than 1GW to the grid in the past six months have said they will be focusing on smaller projects in the short-term, due to the recent closure of the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) support mechanism for large-scale solar farms. As of April this year, solar schemes larger than 5MW in size are no longer eligible for ROCs, which oblige electricity companies to buy a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. The changes led to an industry ‘gold rush’, whereby developers hurried to connect large systems to the grid in time to qualify for certificates.

Eighty of the UK’s largest businesses have sent an open letter to David Cameron urging him to tackle climate change and support a low-carbon UK economy. Signed by firms including BT, John Lewis, Coke, Mars, IKEA and Marks & Spencer, the letter calls for the Prime Minister do three specific things: Seek a strong global climate deal in Paris in December which limits temperature rises to below 2°C. Set an ambitious 5th carbon budget to drive forward UK emissions reductions and Establish a long-term framework for investment in the low-carbon economy. “We are some of the businesses that will help create the UK’s future economy,” said the letter, published in the Financial Times.

Corporate fleet managers across Europe could cut millions of tonnes of CO2 and save £20bn a year by taking advantage of available green technologies and efficiency techniques. That’s the conclusion of a Greenpeace-commissioned report by sustainability consultants CE Delft. As well as simply switching to electric and hybrid vehicles, the report covers a wide variety of approaches to reducing fuel consumption. For example, drivers can be trained to drive more efficiently, cutting fuel costs and emissions by 20%, the report estimates. Retro-fitting vehicles with aerodynamic features, new tyres and weight reductions could also cut fuel consumption by up to 45%.

airpollutionEdie.net reports that investments in the coal and oil sectors will see annual losses up to 2% over the next 10 years, if the world’s governments commit to limiting global warming to 2C at Paris later this year. By contrast, returns from the renewables sector would be expected to double in the next ten years from 5.3% to 10.4%. Those stats are from a new report released this week by consultancy firm Mercer. The report warns that investors should consider moving away from fossil fuel sectors, which could see their profitability wiped out by concerted global action against climate change. Under a 2C pathway, Mercer predicts coal stocks to provide average returns of -2.0% a year for the next 10 years, and oil stocks to return -0.7% a year. Utilities’ returns are also expected to fall from 5.1% a year, to 1.2%. And that’s why the coal, gas and oil sectors lobyy and lobby and lobby.

Zero Waste Scotland has launched its first recycling superstore in the Scottsih Highlands. The Blythswood Care’s store – opened on June 5 – is the first of Zero Waste Scotland’s re-use ‘hubs’, which it hopes will popularise the concept of a circular economy. The shop in Dingwall will sell a variety of second-hand items ranging from furniture and kitchen appliances, to carpets, toys and clothes. The store also features a Repair Club, with staff demonstrating sewing skills and furniture repairs to customers.

World Environment Day: 10 things we should ALL be thinking about

Another Planet?

Caroline_Lucas_2010Recently re-elected Brighton Pavillion MP Caroline Lucas of the Green Party will be returning to the Eco Technology Show in Brighton this year to chair the important discussion titled “The Future of Energy Efficiency”. She will be joined by a panel of energy efficiency experts including Matthew Farrow, Executive Director of the Environmental Industries Commission, Christoph Harwood, Director of Marksman Consulting, Mike Walker, Sustainable Energy Using Products Team at DECC and Alex Hunt, Partner of The Green Building Partnership. Held on Friday 12th June 2:50pm – 3:50pm, this is just one of over 70 free keynotes, panels and talks spread across the three seminar areas throughout the show. You can see the full talk schedule here. Its free to register.

fde1Up to 90% of the global electronic waste produced each year – worth nearly $19bn – is illegally traded or dumped, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). And the “mountain” of illegal e-waste is exhausting valuable resources and contains hazardous elements which pose a “growing threat” to the environment and human health.
UNEP’s ‘Waste Crimes‘ report found that the electronics market generates around 41 million tonnes of e-waste a year, of which 60-90% is illegally traded or dumped. Interpol estimates that one tonne of e-waste can be sold at around $500 on the black market, thanks to harvestable precious metals . UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said: “We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of electronic waste rolling out over the world.

The world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies are receiving huge and rising subsidies from US taxpayers, a practice slammed as absurd by a presidential candidate given the threat of climate change. A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidises were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

airpollutionEnvironmentalists are demanding that the EU close a research fund which they claim offers coal companies tens of millions of pounds of public money in grants. The European commission’s Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) has awarded €144m (£107m) to companies such as E.On UK, RWE Npower and UK Coal Production Ltd, according to research by Greenpeace Energydesk. Most of the the money is spent on mining infrastructure, management and unconventional use of deposits, and on coal preparation and upgrading. Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s chief scientist, said that the fund made little environmental, economic or scientific sense.

Amber Rudd will replace Ed Davey as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s reshuffle of the new Tory Government. The Hastings and Rye MP, who held onto her seat in Parliament in last week’s General Election, has been promoted from her previous position as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The European Green Capital of the year, Bristol, has opened its first-ever community-owned solar farm. The 1.8MW Moorhouse Solar Farm will deliver 1,780 MWh of renewable electricity into the grid each year – enough to power around 430 homes each year – and save 850 tonnes of CO2 a year. The 1.8MW installation park was built by local company Solarsense and funded by Low Carbon Gordano, a co-operative whose purpose is to help the local community to reduce energy costs and become more sustainable.

One in three European birds is endangered, according to a leaked version of the most comprehensive study of Europe’s wildlife and natural habitats ever produced. The EU State of Nature report, seen by the Guardian, paints a picture of dramatic decline among once common avian species such as the skylark and turtle dove mainly as a result of agricultural pressures, and also warns that ecosystems are struggling to cope with the impact of human activity.

Norway’s biggest oil producer is establishing a new business encompassing renewable energy and other low-carbon energy solutions. Statoil, which is the world’s eleventh largest oil and gas company, announced today (12 May) that it is to set up New Energy Solutions (NES); to compliment its existing business and “drive profitable growth” in the green energy market.

Edie.net reports that the renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland has received a welcome boost this week with the launch of a new fully-funded solar solution which could save businesses up to £320m. Kingspan ESB – a joint venture between building technology firm Kingspan and Ireland’s largest energy company ESB will make photovoltaic (PV) energy available to businesses without the investment normally required in the capital outlay, installation or maintenance of a PV system. The funding solution unlocks cost savings of more than £320m over the next 25 years – £5.6m each year – along with significantly improved sustainability and environmental credentials for local businesses.

teaser313_bayer_bees_bundMore than two out of five American honeybee colonies died in the past year, and surprisingly, the worst die-off was in the summer, according to a federal survey. Since April 2014, beekeepers lost 42.1% of their colonies, the second-highest rate in nine years, according to an annual survey conducted by a bee partnership that includes the US Department of Agriculture. “What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” said study co-author Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

Climate change campaigners reacted with disappointment as Edinburgh University announced on Tuesday that it would not fully divest from fossil fuels. Students lay down in protest on the steps of the building where senior vice principal Professor Charlie Jeffery set out the unanimous decision by the university’s court. Insisting that the university was committed to a change of investment policy, Jeffery said: “Our commitment is to engage before divestment, but the expectation is that we will bring about change by engagement.”  Boris Johnson has rejected a motion by the London assembly calling on City Hall’s pension fund to divest from fossil fuels, arguing the UK needs to press ahead with fracking to avoid being reliant on the Middle East and Russia for gas.  The Mayor of London said that a more realistic approach was needed than divestment, which he called a “sudden cliff edge”.

worldbankCountries could reduce the cost of decarbonisation by a third by enacting green policies immediately, according to a new report from the World Bank. The Decarbonising Development report lays out three steps for countries to follow in order for the planet to produce zero net emission by 2100. The steps include establishing a carbon price, providing support for those most affected by climate change, and setting defined targets.  The solutions exist, and they are affordable – if governments take action today, the report says. It warns, however, that costs will rise for the next generation the longer action is delayed. Data from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report suggests that waiting just 15 more years and taking no action until 2030 would increase costs by an average of 50 percent through 2050 to keep temperatures from rising less than 2°C. “Choices made today can lock in emissions trajectories for years to come and leave communities vulnerable to climate impacts,” said World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte. “To reach zero net emissions before the end of this century, the global economy needs to be overhauled. We at the World Bank Group are increasing our focus on the policy options.”

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and BRE’s training body, the BRE Academy, have formed a new partnership to develop sustainability training courses with a focus on the built environment. The agreement will see industry-relevant training courses embedded into Higher and Further Education programmes, as the effects of global warming are felt on buildings and infrastructures worldwide. IEMA chief executive Tim Balcon said: “Training and education provision is a key service which we provide for our 15,000-strong global membership, who are focussed on driving more sustainable practices and standards across all sectors. “This collaboration with the BRE Academy will enable us to offer new skills programmes with a focus on the built environment which plays such an integral part of every business and industry as well as the economy.

ecocideEcocide: The Psychology of Environmental Destruction:  Recent scientific reports about climate change make grim reading. A paper published in The Economic Journal by the respected UK economist Lord Stern states that the models previously used to calculate the economic effects of climate change have been ‘woefully inadequate.’ They have severely underestimated the scale of the threat, which will “cost the world far more than estimated.” What makes the situation even more serious is that climate change is just one of the environment-related problems we face. Others include the destruction and pollution of ecosystems, the disappearance of other species (both animal and plant), water shortage, over-population, and the rapacious consumption of resources. Now in his book Back to Sanity, Dr Steve Taylor suggests that human beings may be collectively suffering from a psychological disorder (‘humania’), and our reckless abuse of the environment is one of the best pieces of evidence for this. Would a sane species abuse their own habitat so recklessly? And would they allow such dangerous trends to intensify without taking any serious measures against them? More here.

Nearly two thirds of online shoppers now consider ‘green packaging’ when deciding where to shop according to a new poll. The survey of more than 500 internet shoppers, conducted by logistics firm Dotcom Distribution, found widespread support for environmentally-friendly packaging and green supply chain practices. Around 61% of respondents considered green packaging in their shopping choices with 57% saying it is important to them.

The plantable coffee cup

The plantable coffee cup

A new project called Reduce Reuse Grow is hoping to turn a major source of pollution into a positive solution that plants seeds! The project hopes to build a plantable coffee cup that has seeds built into the actual design. Alex Henige, a senior at California Polytechnic State University is the founder of the project, has created a kickstarter page to fund the new idea. Read More HERE. 569 backers have already pledged $21,077 to help bring this project to life – – “A coffee cup that has native seeds embedded within the material to be used for reforestation in your local communities.”

Shell_oil_croppedThe last intact section of one of Antarctica’s mammoth ice shelves is weakening fast and will likely disintegrate completely in the next few years, contributing further to rising sea levels, according to a Nasa study. The research focused on a remnant of the so-called Larsen B Ice Shelf, which has existed for at least 10,000 years but partially collapsed in 2002. What is left covers about 625 sq miles (1,600 sq km), about half the size of Rhode Island. Antarctica has dozens of ice shelves – massive, glacier-fed floating platforms of ice that hang over the sea at the edge of the continent’s coast line. The largest is roughly the size of France. Larsen B is located in the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends toward the southern tip of South America and is one of two principal areas of the continent where scientists have documented the thinning of such ice formations.

Environmental groups and experts hit out at the US government on Tuesday following its announcement that the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell would be allowed to resume offshore exploration and drilling in the Arctic’s American waters. Unforgiving conditions in the Arctic’s icy waters not only make the chances of a spill likely, the complete lack of infrastructure in place to deal with a potential disaster means the consequences of the move could be calamitous, environmental activists and experts say.

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