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greenpeacePresident Obama has  approved Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic, helping Shell get one step closer to drilling in the Alaskan waters this year. Greenpeace say “Right now, Shell are desperately trying to avoid media attention as they put profits before the planet and prepare for potentially devastating Arctic drilling. So six volunteers are pursuing a Shell oil rig across the Pacific, on route to the Arctic drill site. They hope to shine a spotlight on Shell and show that the world is watching. But they will need our help. Join the Arctic movement and follow the journey of the six volunteers at http://grnpc.org/IgDhX

The US will pledge to cut carbon pollution by up to 28%, doubling the pace of current emissions cuts, under a global agreement on climate change to be finalised in Paris at the end of the year.  The Obama administration is expected to unveil its plans on Tuesday, joining China, the European Union, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland in outlining their plans to fight climate change after 2020, when the current commitments expire. The commitments offered over the next few months are seen as the building blocks of an international agreement at Paris for global efforts to fight climate change in the years ahead. More here.

As many as 95% of environmental professionals want to see sustainability issues given more prominence in the National Curriculum and other learning frameworks. That is the headline finding of a new poll from the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), which had 400 respondents. As well as installing sustainability in the curriculum, 88% of respondents wanted it included in the Government-prioritised STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

London_Big_Ben_Phone_boxLondon has taken sixth spot in a new ranking of 23 European cities on air quality, but mayor Boris Johnson is “lucky” to have been rated so highly as he has no plans to comply with air pollution laws until after 2030, if ever.  The “Sootfree Cities” rating, compiled by Friends of the Earth Germany and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), evaluated air pollution levels from transport, concentrating on measures put in place in cities over the past five years and looked at air quality plans for the next five years to take into account changes that were already in the pipeline. London received a ‘C-‘ ranking – below Zurich, Copenhagen, Vienna, Stockholm, Berlin, who came in at 1st to 5th respectively. Johnson’s city was praised for “showing effort to tackle its high levels of air pollution over the last years, including by implementing a congestion charge”.

Cruelty is no laughing matter, but sometimes playful tactics are the best way to get a compassionate message across. You can watch how  PETA France supporters used an April Fool’s joke to draw attention to Air France’s continuing policy of shipping primates to laboratories at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. The video is here.

Caroline_Lucas_2010Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has labelled the Green Deal an “absolute disaster” which epitomises a so-called green Government that has failed to deliver on a raft of environmental policies. Speaking to edie.net  in the aftermath of a heated panel debate between the four main political parties earlier this week, Lucas said the coalition’s Green Deal, launched at the start of 2013, has caused “untold damage when it comes to insulating people’s homes”. “The Green Deal has been an absolute disaster because, as we predicted at the time, the interest rates were far too high to encourage people to take it up,” Lucas said. “Under this Government, there has been an 80% drop in insulation measures provided for the fuel-poor.”

Investment in small and medium-scale renewable energy through crowdfunding is particularly appealing to the older generation, analysis of lenders has shown.  Trillion Fund analysed more than 300 lenders that have participated in funding wind projects through the platform which revealed a third of them to be over 61. Almost half of all funds raised (49%) have come from this age group, with older lenders individually investing more than twice as much as younger lenders.

The vast majority of Scottish adults want the next UK Government to take forward policies that tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  A new YouGov poll, commissioned by Scottish Renewables, found that almost two-thirds supported such green policies, while just 14% disagreed. It also revealed that 79% of Scottish adults support the continued development of renewable energy. In comparison, just 26% of the survey’s respondents back fracking for shale gas, 45% support new nuclear power stations, and half are in favour of the building or extension of coal and gas-fired power stations.

allotmentsNEW PETITION: Councils across the UK are currently selling off allotment land to developers, and if we don’t act now we will see these special plots of land slip away from us. Many allotments are on land that has become valuable and the last few years has seen a disturbing trend where councils have increased requests to deregulate allotments in favour of property development that do not always best serve local needs. Tell Eric Pickles we need to protect allotments. The promote self reliance. They educate. The provide cheap and nutritious food – and they are great social melting pots. SIGN HERE.

The UK transport industry must embrace biofuels if it is to meet EU decarbonisation targets, a Government-backed report has claimed.  The Transport Energy Task Force concluded that there is a ‘clear role for biofuels’ in UK transport despite the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles. The report added that the UK should only support ‘sustainable’ biofuels – i.e. those with a “low risk of indirect impacts on other land based industries and activities”. Edie.net says that biofuels remain somewhat controversial, in part because of their potential impact on food crops. But a sustainable way to counteract this, according to the Report, is to use wastes as feedstocks rather than growing dedicated crops.

The Scottish and UK Governments have announced a £4.2m investment in industrial research and feasibility studies for a 570MW Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plant in Scotland.  The investment – £2.5m from the Scottish Government and £1.7m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – will allow US based Summit Power Group to undertake development work ahead of its ultimate goal of designing and building its proposed Caledonia Clean Energy Project in Grangemouth Scotland. The intended plant will combine coal gasification with CCS technologies in a single facility for the first time. The technology should capture 90% of CO2 emissions from generation which would then be pumped via existing on-shore and sub-sea pipelines for permanent storage 2km beneath the North Sea.

UK Green-energy supplier Ecotricity has secured £70m through a refinancing deal with Aviva Investors, which it says will allow it to almost double its energy-generating capacity. The agreement – underpinned by Ecotricity’s existing 60MW estate – will help fund a 40MW growth over the next 18 months, according to founder Dale Vince. Vice said: “Harnessing our customers bills and turning them into windmills got Ecotricity to where it is today – that ‘bills into mills’ model has worked well for us over the last 20 years.

The UK Government could subsidise up to £1,500 of the cost of electric motorbikes and scooters as part of a plan to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream.  Up to £7.5m will be set aside in total to help bikers bridge the cost-gap between a zero emission electric motorcycle and conventional petrol versions.  And UK businesses will be permitted to install rooftop solar arrays of up to 1MW in size without the need for planning permission, under new Government changes confirmed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Indeed the UK is in the midst of a green investment revolution, according to the head of sustainable finance at the Green Investment Bank.  Speaking exclusively to edie.net , Gavin Templeton said that institutional investors at home and abroad are turning their attention to UK green infrastructure projects for the first time. “It’s not quite a tsunami, but the smart money which has never invested in the UK before, is coming now,” said Templeton. “I think it’s a sea change. Over the last 18 months institutional investors have started seeing sustainability as a good investment rather than something that is simply nice to have”.  Green Investment Bank fund manager Foresight has announced a £4m investment in a farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at Old Quarrington, Durham.  It is the first investment by the recently created GIB-backed £50m Recycling and Waste LP fund, unveiled by Business Minister Matthew Hancock in February.

Doctors and other health professionals have added their weight to the campaign for an immediate moratorium on fracking in the UK as a new report from health charity Medact warns that exploratory drilling for shale gas poses a serious risk to public health.  The report – Health & fracking: the impacts & opportunity costs – claims that a suspension of activity is needed to allow time for a full and comprehensive impact assessment to be completed, instead of simply going “all out for shale” as David Cameron has previously stated. “Climate change is the biggest long-term threat to global public health,” said report co-author Dr Patrick Saunders. “Suspending fracking now will also allow time for the independent UK Committee on Climate Change to complete its next assessment of the climate change risks.”

Shell_oil_croppedShell and its oil and gas peers are narcissistic, paranoid and psychopathic, and engaged in a cynical attempt to block action on global warming, according to the UK’s former climate change envoy.  In an open letter to Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden, John Ashton said the company’s promised transformation in response to climate change is in reality “a manifesto for the oil and gas status quo”. The companies justified their strategy, he said, with the unsupported claim that the economic and moral benefits of providing cheap energy to the world’s poor exceeds the risks to the same people from climate change. Ashton, an independent commentator and until 2012 the UK’s top climate diplomat, wrote the letter, published in the Guardian, in response to a speech by van Beurden in February. The Shell CEO said those calling for “fossil fuels out, renewables in” were naive and said provoking a sudden death of fossil fuels was not a plausible plan to tackle global warming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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eco-techBrighton Centre , Thursday 11th and Friday 12th June 2015.

www.ecotechnologyshow.co.uk

The European Commission  has given Britain the green light for a huge government subsidy that will open the way for the first atomic power stations to be built for nearly 20 years. A majority of commissioners agreed Britain was not breaking state aid rules, overcoming the last regulatory hurdle for EDF Energy and its plan to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset, south-west England. EDF believes the project will cost £16bn but the EC claimed construction costs alone by the time the plant is built in 2023 will be more than £24bn with a further possible £10bn of contingency payments.

Vodafone and Telefónica O2 have teamed up with UK sustainable development organisation Forum for the Future to create the Eco Rating 2.0 – an industry-wide ratings system that compares the green credentials of different mobile devices. 

LEGOSHELLLego has ended it’s partnership with shell following a Greenpeace campaign. The Toymaker will not renew current multimillion pound deal, that sees Shell-branded Lego sets sold at petrol stations. The split follows a viral video against Arctic drilling by the green group. Initially Lego had resisted Greenpeace, arguing that it ought to deal directly with Shell.  Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the toy maker’s chief -executive, said Lego would honour its existing deal with Shell, which began in 2011, but “as things currently stand we will not renew the contract with Shell when the present contract ends”.

sunken new yorkDozens of America’s east coast cities face routine tidal flooding under climate change researchers have said. Miami will deploy new pumps this week to hold back the waters of the King Tides, the highest annual high tides, which are projected to crest at 3.5 feet (1.07m). Other cities are going to have to undertake similar measures if they want to avoid soggy streets in the future, the researchers said The report, Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years, from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), found most of the towns on America’s east coast will see triple the number of flooding events by 2030. More on the Guardian website here.

The European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD) has published its six-year strategy for achieving a circular economy throughout Europe.  Driving the Circular Economy, launched in Brussels, outlines a variety of sustainability and waste-management improvements for European policy makers. The Strategy was welcomed by the EU’s outgoing Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, who said: “The role of the waste management sector is crucial in the transition towards a circular economy.”

Rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans adversely change the behaviour of fish through generations, raising the possibility that marine species may never fully adapt to their changed environment a new study, published in Nature Climate Change, has found.

powerstation3Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry. After 12 months of campaigning, led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court  voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.

FrackOffUK Ministers’ rewriting of the law to allow fracking to happen beneath people’s homes without their permission flouts basic democratic rights, according to the author and activist Naomi Klein. Klien argues that the UK government’s changes to trespass laws, to speed up the ability for shale gas companies to frack beneath landowners’ property, was energising resistance to fracking in Britain. she told audience at a Guardian event in London:  “What is animating the anti-fracking movement? Yes, it’s water. It’s also a defence of democracy. The fact the government is colluding with energy companies to force the right to frack underneath people’s homes without their permission flies in the face of the most common-sense definition of democracy and self-definition” .  Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has brought the UK political party’s conference season to a close by insisting that a sustainable environment “will remain at the heart of the Liberal Democrats’ vision for Britain’s future”.  In what proved to be the greenest speech compared with his Conservative and Labour counterparts, Clegg also told Lib Dem activists in Glasgow that his party would be launching a new commitment to ‘five green laws’ in its next manifesto, in an effort to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.  Liz Hutchins, senior political campaigner at Friends of the Earth said “Nick Clegg is right to pillory the PM over his environmental commitment. For people who’ve been flooded or choking on polluted air, for those threatened by fracking or shivering in heat-leaking homes, green is most definitely not crap.” adding “But the Liberal Democrats have themselves failed to hold the green line in the Coalition, capitulating on landmark issues such as a legally-binding target for cleaning up UK power generation. Liberal Democrat green credibility will ultimately be judged by what they do in office – not the promises they make for the future.”

The Government has sparked a furious backlash from renewable energy campaigners and trade groups by confirming controversial changes to solar farm subsidies.  The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced it would be removing large-scale solar farms from the existing Renewables Obligation (RO) initiative. It did, however, sweeten the deal somewhat by also announcing it would be adding almost £100m to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) budget.  The move to bar solar farms of more than 5MW from the RO process has prompted a sharp response from the industry, with edie hearing from the Solar Trade Association (STA), Renewable Energy Association (REA) and Friends of the Earth among others.

Edie.net reports that four out of five business leaders say energy affordability is important to their company, nearly twice the amount that prioritised a low-carbon economy.  The findings come from a YouGov survey of 600 senior business decision-makers, commissioned by npower. In a similar vein, 58% of respondents said their firms would be ‘unwilling’ or ‘unlikely to be willing’ to increase their energy bills to fund low-carbon government schemes.

mapco2An interactive map from the World Resources Institute tracks how carbon dioxide emissions are distributed globally and how they’ve changed over the past two centuries.

Yorkshire Water has opened its first self-powered sewage works. The plant will use advanced BioThelys technology to generate renewable biogas from 30,000 tonnes per year of sludge, producing enough heat and power for its entire 750 acre site. The project, which took two years to finish, is expected to reduce Yorkshire Water’s carbon footprint by 9000 tonnes per year, saving the company £1.3m per year in energy costs.

The Welsh Government has introduced the Food Manufacture, Service and Retail Sector Plan with a view to preventing waste, reducing waste production and increasing recycling across supply chains.  The new scheme supports Wales’ ongoing ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy and underlines the importance of:

– waste prevention, and more sustainable ways of consuming and producing
– very high levels of reuse and recycling of the waste that is produced, and make sure that it is the right type of recycling (i.e. closed loop); in particular, for reuse, food waste from the food manufacturing sector to be used as animal feed
– sending food waste to anaerobic digestion plants to generate valuable renewable energy and fertiliser. You can download the Report here.

They Took A Camera To A Remote Area In Greenland, And What They Recorded Is Simply Terrifying. Climate change not happening? Have a look yourself.

Students at the University of East Anglia are being encouraged to urinate in the shower – to save water. The initiative has been developed by students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson and they have called their campaign ‘getwiththeflow’.

A new satellite system will be able to track illegal fishing around the globe. Tony Long, a formal Royal Navy commander and a campaigner against illegal fishing said the system can even identify boats through their sailing patterns.

Owen Paterson, the UK’s former environment secretary, has called on the UK government to scrap the Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, saying that sticking to green targets will mean the light will go out in the UK and a reduction of 80% of CO2 emissions by 2050 risks the UK’s energy security. Paterson, giving a speech to the Global Warming Policy Forum was criticised by Energy Secretary Ed Davey who said that tearing up the Climate Change Act would be “one of the most stupid economic decisions imaginable” and that the majority  of EU member states were now prepared to adopt similar targets as the UK.  The Act makes it the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline, toward avoiding dangerous climate change. The Act aims to enable the United Kingdom to become a low-carbon economy and gives ministers powers to introduce the measures necessary to achieve a range of greenhouse gas reduction targets. An independent Committee on Climate Change has been created under the Act to provide advice to UK Government on these targets and related policies.

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floodIt’s now officially the wettest January in the south of England since records began. From Kent to Devon – it’s been a wet one – and now military planners are carrying out a recce on the Somerset Levels, the Ministry of Defence has said, after the government ordered the army to help flood-stricken residents and businesses. Experts are spending the morning surveying the Levels and working out how they can help the emergency services, local authorities and other agencies. Once that assessment is complete they will sit down with county council chiefs and draw up a plan. The government has said marines and soldiers may help to deliver food and supplies, ferry around stranded villagers, and lay out more sandbags in preparation for the weekend, when more rain and a high tide could cause more flooding. The Red Cross have already provided a Unimog vehicle to drive through flooded areas and reach cut off settlements with heavy goods that cannot be carried by boats . Heavy rain and high winds were forecast for the first weekend in February. Glastonbury Festival boss Michael Eavis whose Worthy Farm is just a few miles from the Levels said that the problems was that money previously spent on dredging rivers had been diverted into conservation at the behest of organisations such as the RSPB (according to the Times). Eavis had previously campaigned to raise £4 million to dredge rivers – the Environment Agency has said it can only partially fund dredging. Wildlife groups have suggested that farmland should be abandoned and that dairy farming was not suitable for large parts of the Levels, with commentators saying that “people living slap in the middle of the flood plain’ should be paid to move” and that intensively farmed land should be reverted to flood resilient grasslands and nature reserves. Whilst the first official weather records began in 1910 – records from the Radcliffe Meteorological Station at Oxford University recorded more January rainfall since its own records began in 1767 – nearly 250 years ago.

prince charlesPrince Charles has called climate change sceptics the “headless chicken brigade” during an awards ceremony recognising a leading young green entrepreneur. Prince Charles, who has campaigned for years to reduce global warming, also spoke out against “the barrage of sheer intimidation” from powerful anti-climate change groups during the event held at Buckingham Palace last night where Gamal Albinsaid won the inaugural Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize. Mr Albinsaid is the founder of the Indonesian social enterprise Garbage Clinical Insurance, an innovative project which helps the poorest communities gain access to health services and education through the collection and recycling of rubbish.

Mutant bees that act like “a sort of a combination of zombies and aliens mixed together” and which first surfaced in the North East of the US are spreading along the West coast of North America. The bees are infected by fly called the Apocephalus borealis, which lays eggs in honeybees that hatch and then eat the host’s body from the inside out, causing havoc. The disease causes the bees to behave like zombies before it drives them out of their hives and kills them within a few hours.

The spectacular migration of millions of Monarch butterflies from the USA and Canada to mexico is facing a new problem – vast areas f GM crops that can be sprayed with weedkiller means that milkweed – a primary foodstuff for the beautiful butterflies’ larvae – is being eradicated. Monarchs are at their lowest levels since 1993.

Shell has suspended its $5 billion Alaskan exploration programme saying the group will withdraw from environmentally and politically sensitive  programmes including North American shale gas andoli sands  – but only because of a shock profits warning two weeks ago.

PenguinPenguins are suffering from climate change according to two new scientific studies – with heatwaves killing Magellanic penguin chicks in Argentina, and Adelie penguins in Antarctica are finding it harder to feed as melting sea ice fragments to form giant icebergs

Mohammed Hussein, a 38-year-old from The Drive in Peterborough, has been fined £500 with £525 court costs after he decided to dramatically prune a tree in his garden – that was subject to a preservation order – he had removed around half the branches from the 50ft horse chestnut in his front garden before a neighbour contacted the council, who took him to court. Preservation orders are applied to trees which are considered to be important to the character of the area. When a tree is covered by an order you cannot take it down or damage it – or indeed touch it in any way without the permission of the council.

In the USA an anti-fracking activist has been barred from 312.5 sq miles of Pennsylvania – the court injunction brought in by oil and gas company even makes supermarkets and restaurants off-limits for Vera Scroggins. Judge Kenneth Seamans barred her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennslvania natural gas company, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. Cabot said it holds leases on 200,000 acres of land, equivalent to 312.5 sq miles. That amounts to nearly 40% of the largely rural county in north-eastern Pennsylvania where Scroggins lives and where Cabot does most of its drilling. In the five years since fracking came to north-eastern Pennsylvania, Scroggins has been relentless in trying to exposing the risks associated with the industry and has organised bus tours of frack sites for anyone who is interested – including Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon and visiting Canadian elected officials.

In the UK energy Minister Greg Barker has said that true greens should embrace fracking. Barker says ideological convictions rather than sound science motivates anti-fracking campaigners saying “If you are really against climate change, then to be anti-fracking is incredibly dangerous,” he said. This was because coal-fired power generation could be replaced with gas, which burns with lower carbon dioxide emissions. “The knee-jerk reactions to fracking is [based on] ideology, it’s not science-based.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving said that it will allow the hunting of shark species known to attack man – including the Great White and the Tiger shark, Australia now said plans to cull saltwater crocodiles. Police and rangers are hunting a crocodile that snatched a 12-year-old boy from a northern Australian waterhole, with shoot-to-kill orders for any creature longer than two metres and fresh calls for a cull.  Saltwater crocodiles can grow up to seven metres long, weigh more than a tonne, and are a common feature of Australia’s tropical north. Their numbers have increased steadily since the introduction of protection laws in 1971, with government estimates putting the population at 75 000 to 100 000 as their habitat  has extended into proximity with humans – recently being seen at the popular resort of Broome.  Western Australia  decided to capture and kill sharks that come within a kilometre of the state’s coast and which are over 3M long . With the Federal Government’s approval, the scheme involves shooting sharks longer than 3m caught in strategically placed “drum lines”. The cull was introduced following seven fatal shark attacks in the state in the past three years – but now faces opposition with 15 protests planned and celebrities including Sir Richard Branson,  comedian Ricky Gervais and diver Tom Daley have added their voices to the anti-cull campaign. Great white sharks are so imperiled that they are on the World Wildlife Fund’s “10 Most Wanted” list. A poll undertaken by UMR Research showed that 82 per cent of Australians think the sharks should not be killed and that people use the ocean at their own risk.

The build-up of ‘circular’ supply chains that increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remanufacture could generate more than $1trn (£600bn) a year for the global economy by 2025, according to a new report. The report, by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and released in Davos, calls for companies to understand the opportunities available through a circular business model.  The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has alsp announced plans to develop a metric tool that can measure how effective a product or company is in making a transitional shift towards a circular economy – it should be ready by 2015.

Philips global president and CEO Frans van Houten has emphasised the increasing value of electronic waste, arguing that it could provide a richer source of gold than mining if recovery efforts were stepped up.

Wembley Stadium has become one of the first national stadiums to be certified to ISO 14001, the international standard for the implementation of Environmental Management Systems. Since the new Stadium opened in 2007, the management team has been working on implementing changes in the operation of the stadium and infrastructure to improve environmental performance.

Busineses in Scotland have been told to ensure their operations take into account environmental risk, following an incident where thousands of litres of whisky polluted the River Ayr. The message from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) comes after Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd was fined £12,000 at Ayr Sheriff Court last week for failing to prevent the spillage of 6,600 litres of whisky spirit, of which approximately 5,000 litres of 67% strength entered the River Ayr.

Edie.net reports that the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to slash 80,000 pages of environmental guidance by March 2015, in an effort to save businesses around £100m per year. In a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses, Cameron said more than 3,000 rules will be cut or amended, saving more than £850m a year.  Rules that fall under the Prime Minster’s plan include 380 pages of waste management rules, 640 pages of cattle movement guidance and 286 pages of hedgerow regulations.

great barrierAnd finally – and again from Australia – ahhh the folly of man: Having suffered some of the planet’s most extreme weather over the last few years – extreme heat, long term drought and severe flooding – you might have thought Australian politicians should have started to take note of the environment – and climate change. Well think again: In Northern Queensland there are plans to dump vast amounts of sediment inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – as part of plans to expand the Abbot Point coal port. Whilst Greg Hunt, the Environment Minister said that measures would be in place to protect the sensitive ecology of the Reef, campaigners are alarmed that damage will be done to the World Heritage site  – not helped by Queensland’s premier, Campbell Newman, reportedly saying “we are in the coal business – if you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat – you have to understand that”.

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The Green Music Initiative and the Green Tec Awards in Germany have announced the winner of their Green Music Award 2013 which goes to  Rea Garvey.  Singer and songwriter Rea is  the frontman of Reamonn and coach of the TV show ” The Voice of Germany ” and has been involved for many years with the environment. He is a founding member of the “Clearwater Project” , the  organization that is raises awareness  of the dreadful pollution caused by oil drilling in Ecuador and helps to provide the affected population with clean water and helps to clean up the country. The Special Prize goes to representatives of the music and entertainment industry who are involved in environmental protection and who raise awareness with fans and the public. In 2008, the prize went to Clark Datchler ( frontman Johnny Hates Jazz ) and in 2012 to Morten Harket ( The A-ha frontman).

Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich has taken a 3% stake in Clean Air Power, after a £5 million fundraising by the AIM listed company which has developed dual fuel engines for the truck market.  The investment adds to Ambramovich’s growing portfolio green technology which includes plasma-to-gas group Alter NRG, rubbish-to-power group Waste2Rricity and Oxford Catalysts which produces synthetic oils.  Clean Air power has its European HQ in Leyland in Lancashire.

NASA SPS-AlphaA giant solar-powered satellite that could provide energy to a third of the world is being developed by US space agency NASA. In the shape of a tulip, the large-scale system, known as Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array (SPS-ALPHA), will include thousands of curved mirrors that would bounce light from the sun onto photovoltaic panels.  The sunlight would then be converted into microwaves, which are then transferred to Earth and used as a conventional power supply.

A pilot plant to be built in Australia will transform CO2 emissions, captured through carbon capture technology, into carbonate rock ‘bricks’ for use in the construction industry, researchers have claimed. The new method for storing carbon emissions generated from fossil fuels and other industrial processes will be trialled at the mineral carbonation research pilot plant to be built at the University of Newcastle.  Expected to be operational by 2017, the AUS $9m project’s ultimate goal is to deal with both carbon storage needs and to introduce new green building materials.

The UK Government has announced plans to take away subsidies currently available to biomass operators if they are unable to demonstrate that their fuel is from sustainable sources.  Coming into force in April 2015, the new criteria aims to ensure electricity generated from biomass produces over 70% greenhouse gas savings compared to fossil fuel alternatives, while safeguarding the sustainability of wood-fuel used to create energy.  Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, said: “The Coalition is committed to delivering clean, affordable and secure energy for consumers. This includes an important role for biomass power as part of the UK’s energy mix.

A wildfire in Stanislaus National Forest in the US has continued to expand , growing to 164 sq miles (424 sq km) by last Friday morning, California fire officials said, reaching the borders of the Yosemite National Park and forcing thousands of visitors and tourists to flee. The Governor of California has declared a state of emergency. More than 2,000 firefighters have been tackling the blaze, known as the Rim Fire. In Idaho a wildfire known as the Beast has forced hundreds of tourists to flee Sun Valley and the Forest |service said it was running out of money to fight the fires having spent nearly $967 million fighting 32,000 blazes this year.

But in China its all floods – a six metre hight tidal wave swept down the Qiantang River in Eastern China, injuring more than 30 people  who had gathered to watch the powerful tides.  Giant waves have been triggered by Typhoon Trami  which has caused gales and severe rainfall in the region.

windturbines_300The amount of unused electricity from wind farms has almost doubled over the last year as the UK’s National Grid could not cope with spikes in production and drops in demand – in all the National Grid asked that 215 gigawatt hours were NOT produced – paying £19 million for this. Thats enough electricity to power 50,000 homes  and the equivalent of three 30 MW wind farms standing unused.

A Greenpeace icebreaker that entered Russia’s Arctic without permission to protest offshore energy exploration is leaving after being threatened with gunfire by that country’s coast guard. “It was repeated several times in open conversation that they were threatening that if we didn’t leave the Northern Sea Route that they would fire on our ship,” Christy Ferguson, a Canadian crew member on the Arctic Sunrise steaming back to Norwegian waters, said. And Greenpeace activists protesting against Arctic oil drilling infiltrated the Formula One race in Belgium on Sunday: Two paragliders from the environmental group  flew over the circuit at Spa-Francorchamps, displaying a banner criticizing the operations of Belgian Grand Prix sponsor Shell. A second group of men managed to climb the main grandstand overlooking the starting grid and hung down a banner emblazoned “Arctic oil? Shell no!” Greenpeace posted a series of messages Sunday asking followers to demand that Shell backs down in its plans to drill in the Arctic, which it says will increase melting of the ice sheet and destabilize the global climate.

A new generation of solar powered vehicles  is making extraordinary journeys around the world and pushing the boundaries of technical knowledge – a really interesting article on this on the Guardian website – Journeys across sky, sea and and …. via the sun including the solar powered Solar Impulse plane, the World circumnavigating 31-metre, space-age motorboat –  the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, and Resolution, the solar-powered car developed by Cambridge University Eco Racing, which is due to compete with 20 other vehicles in a 3,000 km race across the Australian outback in October.

Via a Tweet from Matthew Rimmer @DrRimmer comes a great idea: why not name hurricanes and cyclones after notable climate change deniers!

AIM is has announced the return of the Labelled With Love Festival – a 4-day run of gigs curated by independent labels, taking place from 24-27th September at London’s 229 venue. Supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme, and with media partner XFM, the gigs promise to showcase a selection of the talent that makes the UK’s independent sector the strongest in the World. Promoted by indie stalwarts Club Fandango, the festival will see established independent acts including Frankie and the Heartstrings share bills with up and coming independent talent including Fists, Menace Beach and These Monsters.

Construction has begun on a new anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Suffolk that will save up to 21,000 tonnes of carbon and produce enough energy to power 7,000 local homes. The Ellough project, in Beccles, Suffolk, will deliver the equivalent of 12MWh of energy to the natural gas grid. The feedstock will come from locally-produced energy crops, producing both energy and a high quality natural fertiliser as a by-product, which will be used by local farmers in place of chemical fertilisers.

The European Commission has clarified when the EU’s ban on ozone-depleting substances (ODS) applies to intermodal containers used in international transport. Conflicting with the EU’s ODS ban is the international trade conventions requirement that the free movement of containers is not restricted. However, the EU’s 2009 Ozone Regulation prohibits the import or export of equipment relying on ODS’.

Hot on the heels of research from BusinessWaste.co.uk that found that restaurants, bars and night clubs are the “worst in the industrial and service sectors” for recycling their waste, More than 300 restaurants and hotels across Manchester have signed up to a local food waste scheme, in a bid to make Manchester’s hospitality sector the greenest in the UK. Attracting some of the biggest names from the sector, restaurants such as San Carlo, Rosso and The Mark Addy, have signed up to the food waste collection service, provided by the Green Chef. As the ninth largest city in the UK, Manchester plays a significant part in the generation of seven million tonnes of food waste per annum in the UK.

Cumbrian Waste Management has started work on a new £1m materials recovery facility (MRF), which will allow waste materials generated in the county to be recycled locally. The new MRF at Hespin Wood near Carlisle will also divert 40,000 tonnes of waste material from landfill and will initially employ 12 staff. Part of an integrated waste management solution on the Hespin Wood site, the new MRF will largely recycle commercial waste collected by Trotters, a skip hire company that is part of Cumbria Waste Group.

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windturbines_300Prince Charles has said that the prospect of his first grandchild, William and Kate’s expected first child, has increased his fears for the plane saying “I’ve gone on for years about the importance of thinking about the long term in relation to environmental damage, climate change and everything else telling ITV’s Breakfast show that in a “sensible world” we wouldn’t hand on “an increasingly dysfunctional world to our grandchildren, to leave them with a real problem …. a poisoned chalice”.

Interesting article in Diva magazine by Lily Pritchard  – Isn’t it time you went Vegan – asking “could this be the year you follow Ellen (DeGeneris)  and Portia’s (de Rossi) lead and give up animal products”  – and posing the question “We can now get 100% of the nutrients and minerals we need without consuming any animal products at all. Hooray! So why are you still doing it, I ask?” Well, more on Diva here.

Satellite pictures have been released showing the extent of the shrinkage of Arctic sea ice. Sea ice is at its lowest level since satellite records began in 1979 and the ice cover reduced annually since 2000 and the loss has been accelerating since 2007. As the dark blue sea absorbs heat – replacing the white ice which reflects the sun, a ‘feedback loop’ is set in motion, increasing the rate of ice loss and global warming.

In Australia burned out cars and homes were searched by Police and fire fighters in Tasmania as authorities struggled to find over 100 missing people after the widespread wildfires. Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard said that 40 blazes continued to burn. And feeding off drought conditions and high winds, wildfires are raging across some of Australia’s most populous regions. Meteorologists have said it is the country’s hottest ever spring and summer since records began. In New South Wales, as roads melt, 1,300 square kilometres of farmland and forest has been consumed by fires. Over 141 fires were reported with 31 ‘out of control’ the state’s Rural Fire Service said.  At the beginning of the week the average temperature across the country was 40C hitting nearly 50C in some interior areas.

Global wind turbine manufacturers have breathed a sigh of relief after the US Government extended a crucial tax credit, although some criticised the damage already done by the late announcement of the credit.

The UK Community Secretary Eric Pickles  is to introduce legislation to end “unreasonable” fines on people who place bins out on the wrong day. Pickles also said a neighbourhood test would be introduced to end “ludicrous” fines on people who put rubbish in the wrong bin.

The US Interior Department has opened an urgent review of Arctic offshore drilling operations after a string of blunders and accidents involving Shell Oil’s drill ships and support equipment, culminating in the grounding of a drill vessel last week off the coast of Alaska.

Henning Töegel, managing director and founder of the German concert agency, Moderne Welt, has died. He suffered a heart attack on January 9th at the age of just 58.

claude nobsAnd Claude Nobs, founder  of the Montreux Jazz Festival, has died after sustaining injuries in a skiing accident at Christmas. He was 76. Born in Montreux, Nobs (pictured right) grew the festival year-on-year to become an important fixture in the jazz world’s calendar and, as the music policy of the programme expanded somewhat, in the wider European festival circuit. And the event continues to enjoy much success today, attracting an eclectic mix of artists, and gaining particular attention for its annual awards.

OOne of the interesting issues raised at the Go Group panels at the EuroSonic conference in Groningen (January 9th – 12th) was the variety of schemes and colouring used in different countries – and at different festivals – to signify waste and recyclables – with many different schemes for labelling waste – waste only, compostable food, metals, glass, plastics and card/paper with the suggestion that perhaps organisations like the GO Group, Yourope and A Greener Festival could work towards a standardised labelling scheme so festival goers have similar . In the UK, Long-running battles over kerbside collection methods are damaging efforts to increase recycling rates in the UK, according to a leading industry commentator, Don Robins who heads up Cheltenham-based Printwaste Recycling & Shredding.

A green economy will be so integrated into business practice that the term will no longer be relevant, according to progressive Conservatives who have laid out their vision of the country in 2020.   Known as the 2020 Group, the MPs yesterday published a pamphlet, 2020 Vision – An Agenda for Transformation, which includes forecasts and recommendations on the nature of a sustainable economic future. That said, Green groups expressed anger after the Coalition Government’s mid-term review document offered no new policies on climate change.

Tens of millions of sharks are mutilated and thrown back in the oceans and left to die slowly each year – so that some affluent people in Asia can eat shark fin soup. Despite education and reform the practice is (clearly) widespread – and surely this has to stop. More here on TreeHugger (with some very upsetting photos) http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/ocean-conservation/shocking-thousands-mutilated-shark-fins-drying-hong-kong-rooftops/

The UK has pledged to invest up to £10m in a European scheme aimed at developing innovative bioenergy projects. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced today that the UK will partner up with seven other EU countries as part of the ERA-NET Plus BESTF scheme worth approximately €47m (£38.3) in public money.

Space debris could be recycled and made into radiation shields for spacecraft exploration if research from NASA scientists bears fruit. More at http://www.edie.net/news/5/NASA-lifts-off-with-closed-loop-project-for-space-waste/23776/nl

The global cost of meeting climate change targets is set to soar unless urgent action is taken, new research has warned. According to an in-depth study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), climate target levels will become much more difficult to achieve, and more expensive, if the problem isn’t tackled soon.  In the UK, pressure is mounting on society to ‘accept and adapt’ following news this week from the Met Office that UK businesses are at an increased risk of flooding due to extreme rainfall. After a year of unpredictable weather in which hosepipe bans were swiftly replaced with periods of tumultuous flooding, some industry observers see the extreme conditions as an inevitable consequence of climate change and are arguing for adaptation rather than prevention as a response. And in the USA, government scientists say that global warming is already having a major impact on life in America. The draft version of the US National Climate Assessment reveals that increasing storm surges, floods, melting glaciers and permafrost, and droughts are having a profound effect on the lives of Americans, saying that extreme weather such as Hurricane Sandy and radical changes in local climates will become more normal. The authors say that global warming is primarily  caused by human activity, predominantly from burning fossil fuels. See the Observer (13.01.13) US scientists warn in fresh alert over effects of global warming and see here and much more on the Guardian website and in Climate change set to make America hotter, drier and more disaster-prone

Channel 4’s Jon Snow has hit back at media mogul Rupert Murdoch for stating on his twitter account that the world should switch from “useless renewable energy investments to real job creating infrastructure projects”.  Replying to Murdoch’s tweet, news anchor Snow referred to Murdoch’s mother, a staunch advocate of the dangers of climate change and suggested that the media mogul would not have to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Edie.net reports that Greater supply chain collaboration to design out waste will dominate retailer efforts around sustainability this year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).  The BRC confirmed  that waste prevention would be one of the key priority areas for its members in the coming 12 months, as the next phase of the Courtauld Commitment prepares to get underway.  According to figures from WRAP released last October, food retailers still aren’t reaping the full benefits of waste prevention despite making good progress in reducing waste across their supply chains.

Time to stand up to food waste (and walk more): The planet faces the prospect of having to feed 10 billion people by 2050. We need to stop throwing good food in the bin

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“Green jobs at risk from ‘Tea Party’ Tories” – OK, sounds like the thread of our blog “The excellent economics of green” which basically took a swipe at the muddled right wing approach that seems to suggest green investment isn’t good for the economy – and the ongoing frustration that we have that too many right wing politicians may talk about ‘common sense’ or business sense, but actually have precious little knowledge or experience of either. But it’s not from us – it’s from  Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey  who criticised a ‘Tea Party’ tendency amongst Conservative MPs who question climate change and green investment – unsettling an industry that could do much to lift the UK out of the economic doldrums.  More here – in the Observer .

Shell is facing mounting criticism over its failure to clear up two large oil spills in the Ongoniland area in the Niger Delta. The UN, Amnesty International and the Nigerian Government have all voiced their concerns but lawyers acting for 11,000 affected villagers say that “a comprehensive clean up is yet to get under way and and the creeks remain extremely polluted”.  More here .

Over 2,000 people had to be evacuated as forest fires sweep through areas of Valencia in Eastern Spain with a 10km front of fire. 6 municipalities were affected and 600 fire fighters were involved. In the UK persistent heavy downpours have swamped much of the country with some areas experiencing a whole month’s rainfall in just 24 hours. With a number of flood alerts in place, almost four inches, of rain fell in some areas the Met Office said in the worst September storms for 30 years. And then the rain moved to Spain – areas of southern Spain previously crippled by drought faced massive storms and record rainfall – some areas being deluged by 20cm + in 24 hours resulting in flooding and widespread damage.

One million Irish buildings need to undergo energy upgrades by 2020 in order to meet EU legal requirements, according to a survey. The survey was carried out by the Sustainable Energy for the Rural Village Environment (SERVE), an EU funded project based in Tipperary. Findings also indicated that the economic crisis means fewer people feel that the environment is a priority.

The introduction of wirelessly charged electric buses in Milton Keynes could cut 500 tonnes of tailpipe CO2 emissions and reduce bus running costs by £12-15k a year.

Less than one-third of textiles thrown away each year in the UK are recovered for reuse or recycling, according to latest research.  New studies released by WRAP suggest that if just 10% of ‘black bag’ textiles waste was recovered, it could unlock £23.8m in revenue.

A Scottish whisky distillery is set to become the first in the world to have its waste by-products converted into biofuel in a pilot demonstration project. Tullibardine, an independent malt whisky producer in Perthshire, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Celtic Renewables which has developed the technology to produce biobutanol from the process.

High-speed rail networks have the potential to deliver massive carbon benefits but only if backed by bold Government policy initiatives and the right development choices, concludes a report commissioned by three UK environmental bodies. Edie.net report that carbon emissions from making a trip by high-speed rail 2 (HS2), if it was already built, would be 73% lower than making the equivalent journey by car and 76% lower than flying. Those are the headline figures in a report on HS2 carried out for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), RSPB and the Campaign for Better Transport.

Innovative ideas around the circular economy will be rewarded under government plans to accelerate progress in this area. The Government has announced it will invest up to £1.25m to improve the resource efficiency of UK companies in working towards a low-carbon economy. Tied with this, the Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will run a national competition and offer funding for feasibility studies into the re-design of products, components and systems to retain material within the economy over several cycles of use. More at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=23230