Tag Archives: solar power

ANOTHER PLANET?

GAP_long_program_rgbSir David Attenborough, Unilever’s Paul Polman and former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey are among 27 leading scientists, business executives, academics and politicians that have signed a joint letter backing an Apollo-style research programme to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels. The letter, published today (16 September), argues that “a sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”. It urges the leading nations of the world to commit to the Global Apollo Program, which seeks to emulate the ‘space race’ of the 1960’s to encourage more spending on clean energy; in a bid to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within the next 10 years. More here.

Businesses must be willing to move from individual efforts to collective action in order to deliver long-term food security, WWF-UK has insisted.
A report published today (10 September) by the green group in partnership with the Food Ethics Council urges businesses to accelerate their contribution to addressing sustainable food security by understanding where food is sourced from and sold to, as well as exploring actions for the benefit of a wider society. Additionally, companies should only consider commercial benefits alongside social benefits of sustainable food security and encourage support of food security goals in the wider business environment, the report states.  WWF-UK expert on sustainable food security Duncan Williamson said: “It’s heartening to see that more companies are grappling with the issues of sustainable food systems, but if we’re all to reap the benefits, they need to act boldly, and quickly.”

An edible alternative to plastic water bottles made from seaweed has topped the UK round of an EU competition for new, more sustainable products. The new spherical form of packaging, called Ooho and described by its makers as “water you can eat”, is biodegradeable, hygenic and costs 1p per unit to make. It is made chiefly from calcium chloride and a seaweed derivative called sodium alginate. Ooho won the joint award with Alchemie Technologie, who have created a digital way of dispensing dye for the textile industry. Clothes are dyed selectively using a product similar to an industrial inkjet printer, replacing the full immersion process used currently, which consumes vast quantities of chemicals, water and heat. Both companies take home €20,000 of investment from the competition run by Climate KIC, created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with galvanising the transformation to a sustainable economy. They will go on to compete against entrepreneurs from across Europe. Other finalists presented a water purifier that captures energy from solar panels, an index that allows investors to track their financial exposure to carbon and a process that uses bio tanks to create paper from waste straw instead of trees. Entries were showcased at the Science Museum in London.  More here.

easterislandEaster Island –  home of the Rapa Nui – is often given as one of the best (or worst) examples of ‘ecocide’ – the Island’s inhabitants descended into cannibalism after the island was completely deforested – removing the basic raw material the islanders needed to survive.  The Island is still mostly treeless but islanders now say they care deeply about the environment and have fished its water using traditional methods – but fish stocks have been depleted by illegal industrial factor fishing boats. Now Chile has said that it will create a 300,000 square mile 200 mile wide reserve around Easter Island, which will be protected by satellite tracking system  to prevent factory ships fishing – using the technology to remotely monitor vessels. 3,000 people remain on Easter Island.

Hundreds more of England’s most important wildlife sites are now at risk from fracking after the UK government opened up 1,000 sq miles of land to the controversial technology, a new analysis has found. Among the 159 licences issued last month to explore for oil and gas onshore in the UK – likely to include fracking for shale oil or gas – are 293 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), the definition given to an area protecting rare species or habitats According to the RSPB, which compiled the list of SSSIs, the result could be significant damage to the UK’s remaining habitats for rare wildlife and plants. While the government has pledged to restrict fracking in national parks, in July it made a U-turn on a pre-election promise to protect the thousands of SSSIs in the UK. There are 4,000 such sites in England, more than 1,000 in Wales and 1,425 in Scotland. Fracking is the process of blasting dense shale rocks with high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals, in order to create tiny fissures that allow the microscopic bubbles of natural gas trapped within the rocks to escape, where they can be captured and piped to the surface. The technology is controversial, having caused minor earthquakes in the UK at the only site here to have been fracked in Lancashire, and is the subject of protests by environmental campaigners with fear of water table pollution and environmental damage. More on the Guardian here.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012The UK has fallen to eleventh place in a ranking of the most attractive renewable energy markets for investors by consultancy firm EY. EY’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) found that the Government’s renewable energy subsidy cuts were already having a tangible impact on renewable investment. It marks the first occasion in 45 issues of the RECAI that the UK has fallen out of the top-ten. This year alone, 23 large-scale projects representing around 2.7GW of energy have been publicly abandoned, putting a question mark over the long-term future for the UK’s renewable sector. The report also questions the Government’s opposition to the cheapest renewable technology – onshore wind – in light of its support for the more expensive and less popular nuclear and fracking options. More than half of the major sources of project finance for renewable energy developers say they will not lend to onshore wind projects in the UK until there is more clarity around subsidies. And the renewable energy industry was dealt yet another blow as the Conservative government rejected proposals for a £3.5bn windfarm off the south coast of England.
Energy Minister Lord Bourne has seemingly bowed to lobbying by local Tory MPs and refused planning permission for the 970MW Navitus Bay offshore wind farm in Dorset, over concerns about the projects’s visual impact.  A DECC Spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved.”

The UK Government should move away from out-dated green taxes which target businesses and instead offer green tax incentives to reduce carbon emissions, according to the manufacturers’ organisation EEF. In a new report titled ‘The Low Carbon Economy – From Stick to Carrot’, EEF reviews the carbon tax changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne in this year’s Budget Statement, ahead of the Government’s long-awaited autumn consultation into energy efficiency taxes. The report calls on the Government to ‘reduce the overall burden’ placed onto businesses through energy taxations and levies and replace the ‘confusing mix’ of regulatory programmes, noticeably the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

The newly elected Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has named his shadow secretaries for energy and environment as he looks to push forward his ambitious energy reform programme. Corbyn, who was elected Labour leader on Saturday 12th September, has appointed Lisa Nandy to head up the shadow Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Kerry McCarthy to lead the shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

hawksbill-turtle-thailandPopulations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, a report says. The study says some species people rely on for food are faring even worse, noting a 74% drop in the populations of tuna and mackerel. In addition to human activity such as overfishing, the report also says climate change is having an impact. The document was prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London. The report says that sea cucumbers – seen as a luxury food throughout Asia – have seen a significant fall in numbers, with a 98% in the Galapagos and 94% drop in the Red Sea over the past few years. The study notes the decline of habitats – such as seagrass areas and mangrove cover – which are important for food and act as a nursery for many species. Climate change has also played a role in the overall decline of marine populations.
The report says carbon dioxide is being absorbed into the oceans, making them more acidic, damaging a number of species. More in the BBC here.

In the UK Politicians and negotiators involved in the Paris Climate Summit (COP21)  “ought to feel the pressure from businesses” to achieve a global climate deal, the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said. Speaking at the Business for the Environment (B4E) Climate Summit in London, Lord Nick Bourne insisted “there is a feeling in the air” ahead of the crucial climate talks in December, but businesses must “keep the pressure up” to secure an internationally-binding agreement to keep global warming below two degrees. But Bourne’s speech was countered by business leaders at the event, who said the Conservative Government’s retrospective green policy changes are increasing the cost of capital and impacting investment in low-carbon technologies. More on edie.net here.

Global carbon emissions from the world’s aviation and maritime sectors could rise 250% by 2050 without tangible targets from governments to reduce carbon rates, a report has warned. The New Climate Economy has called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to lay out objectives to drastically reduce carbon rates, which are in danger of growing dramatically over the coming decades. The report, commissioned by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, has recommended initiatives for the ICAO and IMO to implement, in an attempt to stop combined global CO2 emissions reaching 32% by 2050.

Nine out of 10 new diesel cars break new EU pollution limits when tested on roads rather than test tracks, according to a new report. On average, the cars emit seven times the permitted level of NOx gasses, with the worst car producing 22 times the legal limit. Models from every major motor manufacturer breached the limit when they were evaluated in real-world conditions. From 1 September, new diesel cars in the EU have had to comply with emissions rules called “Euro 6”. However, carmakers can use a whole range of techniques to ensure that their cars perform far better under test conditions than when driven by ordinary drivers.

nissanleaf#In better news, Japanese carmaker Nissan has added a new 30Kwh battery to its flagship Leaf electric vehicle, improving its driving range by 25%. The Leaf, which previously ran on 24Kwh batteries, now has a driving range of 155 miles on a single charge thanks to the improved battery, which the company claims is the first of its kind for the market. The company claim the battery will only add 21kg of weight to the vehicle and will enhance vehicle performance by adding Carbon, Nitrogen and Magnesium to the electrodes. Sixty electric cars took part in a rally between Stirling and Glasgow over the weekend to celebrate the launch of a new electric vehicle (EV) subsidy. The sixty-mile round trip, led by Scrapheap Challenge presenter Robert Llewellyn in his Tesla, cost drivers around £1.50, compared to £9 for a petrol-powered journey. Taking place on Saturday, the convoy set off from George Square in Glasgow, and toured Stirling, before returning to Glasgow.

coffeenbeans2Fifteen thousand homes across London will be heated by waste coffee beans from local baristas under a new capital-wide scheme to get London to embrace the green economy. The scheme was developed by biofuel company Bio-bean which specialises in turning waste coffee into energy. It became a reality after the company won the Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award back in 2012. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The roaring success of previous winners like Bio-bean demonstrates the huge market for green technology ideas. They’ve done the hard grind and Londoners can now enjoy their daily coffee fix in the safe knowledge that as well as their own caffeine kick the energy levels of as many as 15,000 homes are being boosted.”

A new report has called on local authorities and manufacturers of ‘bulky waste’ – waste too big for normal disposal – to put a greater emphasis on the reuse of unwanted furniture. Rearranging the Furniture from the waste think-tank RSA and resources firm SUEZ, has revealed that 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste – 42% of which is furniture – is sent to landfill every year, despite over 50% of it being reusable. The report recommends that local authorities should become ‘resource returners’ rather than waste managers and that manufacturers should work closely with the authorities to implement a system that allows for collection of bulky products, to ensure they are sent back to the manufacturers for reuse.

The first ever worldwide waste report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says immediate action is required to shift from ‘take-make-use-waste’ to a circular economy. Global Waste Management Outlook – a report from UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – found that seven to 10 billion tonnes of urban waste is now produced each year, with three billion people across the globe still lacking access to efficient waste disposal facilities.  And volumes of waste are likely to double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, according to the report.

New research has revealed that 45% of the 100 world’s largest industrial companies are thwarting climate change legislation, while 95% are current members of trade associations accused of the same obstructionist behaviour. London-based non-profit organisation InfluenceMap teamed up with researchers from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists to conduct thorough forensic analysis on the companies’ transparency over issues such as global treaties, carbon reductions, climate policy and relationships with business associations, before ranking each of them with a score.  The research, which quantitatively ranks the corporations by region and sector as well as globally, concluded that corporate influence now extends much further than a PR-social media juggernaut by using trade associations and advocacy groups as influences to deter changes to climate policies. Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at the Union of concerned Scientists, said: “More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies. Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability. On Transparency, Phillips 66, Duke Energy, Reliance Industries and Koch Industries – all part of the energy sector and the US Chamber of Commerce – received the low ‘F’ rating.

cigbuttsWestminster in London has a major problem with discarded cigarette butts and thrown away chewing gum – but its now adopted some novel ideas to fight back against this blight – Edie.net reports that initiatives include a ‘Fumo’ music pole from Holland that rewards the public with audio and visual displays when cigarette butts are disposed of in the pole, a ‘voting ashtray’ that engages smokers with weekly sporting questions which are answered by putting the cigarette butt in the right compartment of the ashtray, the ‘Butts Out’ campaign where local pubs are stocking quirky portable ashtrays for smokers to use on the go and giant cigarettes that are installed in piles around the street to raise awareness of the City of London’s ‘No Small Problem’ campaign. Keep Britain Tidy will monitor the effects of the campaign.

elephantBetween 2010 and 2012, an elephant was slaughtered every 15 minutes. More than 100,000 elephants were killed to fuel the global illegal ivory trade.With national and international laws banning the ivory trade worldwide, where can buyers be sure to find it? On Craigslist. A recent investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society found that Craigslist users advertise 6,600 ivory and related wildlife products each year — worth over $15 million. And that study only examined a fraction of the sites — just 28 of the over 400 Craigslist sites in the U.S. Craigslist already prohibits the sale of animal parts, but this investigation proves it is little more than lip service. Feeling the heat, CEO Jim Buckmaster recently added ivory to the explicitly prohibited items, even though the company has done nothing to actually stop ivory sales on its website. Meanwhile, African elephants have been driven nearly to extinction. Tell Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster we want a Craigslist ivory policy with teeth, not tusks. Ban the sale of ivory on Craigslist.

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ANOTHER PLANET?

parigi-570x350The Guardian view on Paris 2015 back in January – still worth a read: COP21 – the world’s last best chance to reach an agreement on cutting carbon emissions: The Pope, President Obama and President Xi are all on the same side. But it doesn’t guarantee victory:

This time last year the water was lapping at front doors from Godalming in Surrey and Tonbridge in Kent, they were still clearing up after a tidal surge along the east coast in early December, the Scottish lowlands were on full flood alert and there were ominous signs of the catastrophe looming for the Somerset levels. No single weather event is evidence of climate change, but the freak weather of those months left no one in any doubt of what an extreme weather event would look like. There was nothing more for the climate change scientists to add.

This time next year, the Paris summit that holds out the best hope for a broad, UN-brokered agreement on cutting carbon emissions will be over. It is of universal importance that a deal is struck that is ambitious and achievable. There are several reasons why that looks more possible now than it has done for years. President Barack Obama clearly hopes that he can make climate change part of his legacy. He is reportedly ready to use his powers to override Congressional opposition to his proposal for a cut in carbon emissions, by 2025, of between 26% and 28% over the 2005 level. The US readiness to make a commitment was matched by China’s president Xi Jinping, for the first time, offering a date for “peak” carbon emissions of 2030. The agreement, announced in November after the two leaders met in China, was welcomed by the UN’s climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, who said it would make a real contribution to the success of the Paris conference. And the EU has agreed to a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990, as well as to new targets for the generation of renewable energy.  READ THE WHOLE EDITORIAL HERE.

The UN climate talks in Bonn have been “painstakingly slow” according to some observers, but the final day generated some optimism, particularly with regards to funding for poor countries dealing with extreme weather. Negotiators gathered in Bonn over the past four days to work on the text of a climate deal that can be presented to heads of state in Paris in December. The negotiators’ role is to simplify and streamline the text into a document that can be easily debated and hopefully agreed upon

SOLAR POWERThe cost of generating electricity from renewable resources such as solar and wind has more than halved in the last five years according to the International Energy Association. The group’s new report, entitled ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition’, suggested that the median cost of producing baseload power from solar power, fell from around $500/Mwh to $200/Mwh over five years. Likewise, the cost of onshore wind fell to around $100/Mwh. And onshore wind could be cost-competitive with new gas generation by 2020 but needs continued Government support to get there, a new report from centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange has found. The report, Powering Up: The future of onshore wind in the UK, claims that onshore wind is the cheapest form of low carbon energy and “should logically continue to play a role in cutting carbon emissions”. In June, the Government announced plans to end the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy for onshore wind from March next year. It also mooted the possibility of banning onshore wind from the RO’s replacement subsidy scheme – the Contracts for Difference auction. As many as 73% of manufacturers want to see legislative reform of the UK’s current environmental and climate change policies, according to a new survey by the manufacturers organisation EEF. Respondents claimed that existing regulations are harming their international competitiveness.
There are at least 10 pieces of legislation affecting manufacturers on waste alone, with another five key pieces of legislation that relate to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. More on Edie.net here.

badgersBadger culls in Dorset, Somerset and Gloucestershire have got under way, the UK government has confirmed. The  UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has not said exactly when the culls began in the three counties. Dorset is a new area for the pilot cull, but it is the third year for Somerset and Gloucestershire. It is thought 2,000 badgers will be killed and ministers and farmers insist culling is necessary to tackle the spread of bovine TB, which results in thousands of cattle being slaughtered every year. The Badger Trust has said that figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request from Defra showed that the last cull cost the British Public £6,100 for each badger killed. Wendy Higgins, from Humane Society International, said: “The point of the culls was to find out if the culls were feasible, safe and humane to shoot a specific number of badgers over a particular period of time. The culls of year one and year two have shown a spectacular failure… We don’t need to carry on pointlessly shooting badgers in order to prove what we have already seen which is that culling badgers is a pointless failure.”

Gibraltar, don’t let go on National Day on September 10th. The mass release of balloons will kill more than your good reputation – it will kill far too many sea birds.

India’s Ministry of Power has announced it will replace all conventional lightbulbs in streetlights and the domestic sector with LED bulbs by 2017. The programme will reduce power load by 5 GW, saving 10.5bn kWh every year, translating to savings of £581m. Twenty million bulbs will be replaced by LEDs at an estimated cost of £250m. The plan was first mooted back in January, but the Minister of Power Piyush Goyal announced on Friday that it would be completed in the next two years. And Japanese solar firm Kyocera has completed the installation of 4,300 solar streetlights along Brazils new motoring artery, the Arco Metropolitano do Rio de Janeiro. More than half of the newly-built 145-km road, which connects the five main highways crossing Rio de Janeiro, will be lit by solar lights. The entire project will produce around 2.8GWh of solar energy per year, equivalent to the amount of power used by 1,500 average homes and equal to the carbon dioxide emissions that 1,583 acres of forest would offset. Rio de Janeiro has become the first city to reach full compliance with the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of city leaders dedicated to making their cities more resilient to climate change.

Researchers in Brazil have finished constructing a 325-metre high tower that will analyse the Amazon rainforest’s gas emissions, to help understand climate change. The €8.4m Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) is taller than the Eiffel Tower and will start collecting data on heat, water, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns over the rainforest later this year. It will link up with two smaller towers to collect data for 20 to 30 years.

The Times reports that Soma Oil & Gas, the oil company chaired by Lord Howard, the former Conservative leader, did not tell the Somali government that it was paying a Canadian lawyer who was allegedly advising the Somali oil ministry. The company is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK.

droughtEdie.net reports that countries from the Middle East will likely be be exposed to ‘extreme water stress’ by 2040, threatening national security, the World Resources Institute has found. WRI scored future water stress—a measure of population and surface water depletion—in 167 countries using their Aqueduct analysis. The report suggested that 33 countries would be at risk from water-stress, 14 of them from the Middle East. Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon all scored 5.00 out of 5.00 in analysis highlighting countries at continuous risk from water scarcity in the next 25 years. The deterioration of the Middle East, home to over 350m people, will threaten economic growth and national security, according to the report. It will likely see more people move to increasingly overcrowded cities, and some of the effects are already being seen with the ‘death’ of the Dead Sea.

smansshpwThe Showman’s Show have said that numerous exhibitors  at the outdoor events exhibition event on the 21st and 22nd October will be showcasing their environmentally friendly credentials.  From fuel-saving power solutions, re-useable plastic cups and lithium LED towerlights to collapsible toilets and fully recyclable carpet there are a host of innovative products on display for visitors to browse. The Showman’s Show have also introduced a new category to the Show’s stand awards – the Green Supplier and Innovation Award. It will recognise and reward the exhibitor who best demonstrates that they are making a special effort toward environmentally sustainable practices, products and services. The submissions will be judged by event sustainability champion, Chris Johnson of Powerful Thinking, who has also set the criteria. More here.

Screen-shot-2015-09-07-at-15.29.01Kambe Events have announced a master class for event professionals has been announced in Bristol on 19 November 2015. Bristol is the European Green capital in 2015. The day will include presentations by waste experts, behaviour change experts and festival directors, followed by a practical workshop to create your own action plan for 2016. Kambe Events, the company behind the award-winning Shambala Festival, will be joined by leading experts for an all day practical workshop on how to improve your audience experience, change behaviours, manage costs and minimise your environmental impact by approaching waste management in a holistic way. In a statement Kambe said: “Imagine: A festival site where all you can see is grass rather than litter; an audience which recycles without thinking; being clear about the best options for managing your waste, and knowing what happens to your waste when it leaves site. It’s possible, but why learn the hard way when you can gain insights from leading industry experts with over a decade of specialist experience”. The event will cost £195 + VAT per participant (Earlybird, AIF and AFO member discounts available). Earlybird Discount: 25 per cent until 30 September 2015. More here.

sla-logoedie have nnounces the Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 finalists – and you can find them all here !

More than three quarters of UK households would support renewable energy projects such as wind turbines and solar farms if the profits generated benefitted the local community, a poll has found. Co-operative Energy polled 2000 UK adults in order to reveal public attitudes on community projects in the wake of the Government’s decision to consult on subsidy withdrawals for community energy generation investment. Co-operative Energy general manager Ramsay Dunning said: “The overwhelming picture from our poll is that the British public support renewable, and most importantly, community energy generation. Therefore the Government’s decision to withdraw its support from the renewable sector is extremely disappointing and at odds with popular opinion.

Ed Davey, the former energy and climate change secretary, has accused George Osborne of putting tens of billions of pounds’ worth of private sector investment at risk with an assault on the green agenda he pioneered. The Liberal Democrat said the chancellor was pursuing “bonkers economics” and an ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy that risked leaving the UK hopelessly dependent in the longer term on fossil fuels such as gas. Phasing out aid for zero-carbon homes, onshore windfarms and solar arrays are among a raft of measures introduced by the Tories which represented “disastrous” economics, said Davey in his first interview since losing his seat in parliament.

In better news, whisky, forestry and household by-products will be turned into biofuels thanks to new funding awarded today by the Department for Transport. Three UK companies will share a £25 million fund to help them turn waste products into green fuel. And the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a £775,000 fund to help local authorities improve the collection, re-use and recycling of electrical goods. Councils are being urged to bid for a portion of the funding, with £40,000 available for individual local authorities, and up to £100,000 available for consortia bids.  also in the enws, the Environment Agency will use €640,000 in funds from the European Union to develop a network aimed at stopping the illegal international shipping of waste. The fund, which comes from the European Union’s ‘LIFE’ programme, will help develop the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE).

windturbines_300Still in the UK, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has rejected four planned onshore wind farms in mid-Wales with a potential capacity of more than 350 MW. The reasons behind the refusals included adverse visual effects, local wildlife damage and a negative impact on tourism. A DECC spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to each application, and the planning and energy issues involved.” A fifth windfarm was granted consent, but denied permission to build an overhead power line, putting its feasbility in doubt. However, plans to expand Scout Moor onshore wind farm in Lancashire have been given the green light by the local council. Developers Peel Energy and United Utilities want to add a further 16 turbines to the 25 existing turbines; effectively bringing the total capacity of Scout Moor to 101.8MW – making it England’s largest wind farm, ahead of SSE’s 68MW Keadby project in Lincolnshire which has 34 turbines supplying 2MW each. The UK’s largest is Whitlee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow in Scotland, with 140 turbines and an installed capacity of 322MW. More on edie.net here.

Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management – could save as much as $22tn and avoid the equivalent in carbon pollution of India’s entire annual output of greenhouse gasses, according to leading economists. The Global Commission on Climate and Economy, an independent initiative by former finance ministers and leading research institutions from Britain and six other countries, found climate-smart cities would spur economic growth and a better quality of life – at the same time as cutting carbon pollution. If national governments back those efforts, the savings on transport, buildings, and waste disposal could reach up to $22tn ($14tn) by 2050, the researchers found. By 2030, those efforts would avoid the equivalent of 3.7 gigatonnes a year – more than India’s current greenhouse gas emissions, the report found. The finding upends the notion that it is too expensive to do anything about climate change – or that such efforts would make little real difference. Not true, said the researchers.

Amazon burningInternational governments could be unwittingly driving deforestation through misguided agricultural subsidies, a new UN report has found. The report examines the forest-food nexus, which is becoming evermore strained by the need to increase food production by up to 70% by 2050. However, current subsidy support systems are ineffective for increasing crop yields and harmful for forests, the report claims. “The negative impact of subsidies on forest cover is often caused by outdated and incoherent policies,” explained United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner. And the first ever worldwide waste report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says immediate action is required to shift from ‘take-make-use-waste’ to a circular economy. Global Waste Management Outlook – a report from UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – found that seven to 10 billion tonnes of urban waste is now produced each year, with three billion people across the globe still lacking access to efficient waste disposal facilities.  And volumes of waste are likely to double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, according to the report.

A European transition to the circular economy could create three million extra jobs by 2030 and reduce unemployment by 520,000, a new WRAP study has claimed. The report, Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies builds on previous WRAP studies of the employment potential of closing the loop and extrapolates the findings across all 28 EU member states. The report found that there are already 3.4 million people employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste & recycling and rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. On the current development path, the circular economy is expected to create an extra 1.2 million jobs; and reduce structural unemployment by around 250,000. However WRAP claims both of these figures could be more than doubled by an ambitious development plan. In the charity’s own response to the EU’s public consultation on the circular economy, WRAP called for a specific food waste policy, greater encouragement of resource efficient business models, and the creation of a ‘target vision’ of what the ideal EU circular economy would look like.

The number of single-use carrier bags (SUCBs) has fallen by over 70% in Wales since a 5p charge was introduced, a new report has found, just weeks before the scheme is launched in England.

Some of the world’s largest food, beverage and tobacco brands are missing out on significant financial and production quality gains by failing to mitigate climate risks and reduce carbon emissions, a new report has warned. The report from CDP, titled ‘The forgotten 10%: Climate mitigation in agricultural supply chains’, collected data from 97 global companies on behalf of 822 investors that represent over a third of the world’s invested capital. It looked specifically at the agricultural production portion of producer’s supply chains, which is now responsible for 10-14% of global emissions. CDP concluded that food and beverage companies must widen their focus beyond their own operations to realise ‘significant opportunities’ from working with suppliers to cut emissions. “Collaboration with stakeholders holds the key for brands seeking to unlock opportunities to become resilient to climate change,” explained CDP’s co-chief operating officer Frances Way. “Our data shows that companies who engage with one or more of their stakeholders are more than twice as likely to see returns from emissions reduction investments as companies that don’t.” More here.

Namibian lionThe Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, a South African ranger group consisting mostly of women, has been named as one of the winners of the top United Nations environmental prize. By bestowing its Champions of the Earth award to the Black Mambas, in the Inspiration and Action category, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is recognizing the “rapid and impressive impact” the unit has made in combatting poaching and the courage required to accomplish this task, the agency said in a news release.

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.

scotlanbdthebrave

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

princeofewalesThe Prince of Wales has called for us all to treat our planet like a sick patient. In a keynote speech, he also urged health practitioners to be bolder about highlighting the links between the effects of climate change on clean air, water and our wellbeing. Prince Charles — who for decades has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future — told the Royal Society in London: “Protect the health of the planet, protect our health. Actions which are good for the planet are also good for human health.  Taking a more active approach to transport by walking and cycling and adopting healthy diets reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also reduce rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and more — saving lives and money. “Reductions in air pollution also result, with separate and additional benefits to human health. A healthy planet and healthy people are two sides of the same coin.” The future King’s strong intervention, at a joint event involving his International Sustainability Unit and the World Health Organisation, came after he and the Duchess of Cornwall made a historic visit to the London Evening Standard newsroom today. The Royal Society event brought together health ministers, senior civil servants, health professionals and civil society organisations to discuss climate change, health and the forthcoming negotiations involving the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21. More on the Evening Standard here.

The European Commission has released details of its ‘Energy Union’ vision to reboot Europe’s energy policy and proposals for the crucial UN climate change talks in December.  The Energy Union Package, announced today by Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, includes a binding emissions reduction target of at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, along with a host of commitments for the EU to become ‘the world leader in renewable energy’. The 21-page document contains a dizzying list of measures – spanning renewables and energy-efficiency, gas supplies, legislation, finance, market design, a 10% power-interconnection target, R&D, and climate policy. More on edie.net here.  And The world’s states should commit to a legally binding emissions cut of 60% by 2050, with five-yearly reviews, in a Paris Protocol to replace the moribund Kyoto agreement at a climate summit later this year, according to a leaked EU document.  But environmentalists have questioned the integrity of the headline 60% figure, and a strategy which is seen as overly-tilted towards the US. “Major economies, in particular the EU, China and the US, should show political leadership by joining the Protocol as early as possible,” says the EU’s ‘Road to Paris 2015’ communication, which the Guardian has seen. “It should enter into force as soon as countries with a share of 80% of current global emissions have ratified it.

Rush_hour_cyclists_in_the_City_of_London,_August_2013The most dangerous junctions for cyclists in London have been revealed as transport chiefs came under attack for under-spending their road safety budget by more than £50 million this year. Elephant and Castle was named as the location of 80 crashes involving cyclists and motorists between 2009 and 2013 that were serious enough to be reported to police. Trafalgar Square was second with 46, followed by Waterloo Road (45) and Lambeth Bridge/Millbank roundabout (38), insurance firm Aviva found. Elephant and Castle was the scene of a fatal crash last May when Oxo Tower porter Abdelkhalak Lahyani, 47, was killed by a HGV as he cycled to work. Cyclist Meryem Ozekman, a 27-year-old fitness instructor, was crushed to death by a lorry on the same roundabout in April 2009.  Brian Holt was killed in blackspot Mile End Road after being in collision with an HGV in 2013. The Aviva survey, based on 23,000 cyclist crashes reported to police within the M25 over five years, included 80 fatalities — 67 of them within Greater London.  Upper Tooting Road/Lessingham Avenue, Ansell Road/ Derinton Road had 34 crashes (5th), Grove Road/Mile End Road 32 (6th), Vauxhall Bridge/ Wandsworth Road 31 (7th), Monument Tube station junction 29 (8th), Camberwell New Road/Brixton Road 28 (9th) and Camberwell New Road/Kennington Road/Harleyford Street 28 (10th).

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted to limit the amount of food crops used in the production of biofuels, but environmental groups say the new laws don’t go far enough.  Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee agreed  to limit the amount of food-based biofuels in the EU’s transport energy mix to 6%. The bloc has a target to source 10% of transport energy from all biofuels by 2020. MEPs also approved proposals to account for the added emissions of indirect land use change, i.e. where trees are chopped down to grow crops for biofuels. Finally, they agreed a new target for so called ‘advanced biofuels’ – which are sourced from seaweed or certain types of waste – which must now account for at least 1.25% of energy consumption in transport by 2020.

SOLAR POWERSolar is set to become the cheapest form of electricity production in many regions of the world following massive cost reductions. That’s according to a new study published by Agora Energiewende, a leading German think-tank dedicated to the German energy transition. The report – Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics – projects the costs of solar photovoltaic on a global scale from now to the year 2050. According to the report, the cost of producing solar power in the UK will have declined to between 4.2 and 10.3p/kWh by 2025, and by 2050 to as low as 2.0 to 7.4p/kWh. However, these reductions are highly reliant on financial and regulatory frameworks due to the high capital intensity of photovoltaic installations. Poor regulation could affect interest rates and raise the cost of solar plants by up to 50%, the report concludes.

International wind turbine manufacturers saw a record-breaking year for global installations in 2014, but this is “disguising underlying challenges facing the industry”, according global business advisory firm FTI consulting. According to Global Wind Market Update: Demand and Supply 2014, global wind capacity bounced back with more than 50GW in 2014, over 40% growth on 2013, mainly driven by a record-breaking growth in China, Germany and Brazil. All 10 of the top global wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) reported individual record years for installation. Vesta retained its top spot with a significant margin over its competitors, while Siemens moved up two places in the rankings due to a record breaking year in its onshore wind business.

The UK Government is putting £10m towards innovation in battery design to fund the development of a new high-voltage battery pack for the next generation of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).  Innovate UK will run the competition, which will award the money to a “consortium of organisations”, expected to include a research organisation and at least one vehicle manufacturer as well as experts in battery controls, electronics and software.

comicreliefUnilever UK is seeking to promote green behaviour beyond its own operations in the form of a new recycling incentivisation partnership.  The consumer goods giant is teaming up with Greenredeem – a UK-based firm which offers people reward points for everyday green actions such as recycling. These points can now be exchanged for Unilever products – such as Lynx, PG Tips and Ben & Jerry’s – under the new partnership. (Scroll down for more information on how Greenredeem works). Unilever Project Sunlight marketing manager Anna Owen said: “We’re so excited to work with Greenredeem to drive recycling rates in the UK. It’s shocking how far the UK lags behind other nations and we see incentivising positive action as a key mechanic to move rates forward, to meet and hopefully smash 2020 target levels. As their launch campaign, Unilever and Greenredeem are inviting Greenredeem members to donate points earned through recycling efforts to Comic Relief. Headlining the campaign will be Unilever brands Persil and PG tips which are already working closely with Comic Relief with special money-raising packs in store and are now looking to drive recycling rates at the same time.

waterdropThe energy and agricultural sectors “must be held accountable” for their vast water consumption and take steps to lower it, says a new UN report.  The two industries – which account for 70% and 15% of global water use respectively – are “guzzling water” while 2.9bn people could face shortages by 2025. Water dependent companies – in these two industries in particular – will “have a key role to play in financing and implementing sound strategies” to tackle this impending water crisis, said the report. Within 10 years, researchers predict 48 countries – 25% of all nations on Earth with an expected combined population of 2.9 billion – will be classified “water-scarce” or “water-stressed”.

BARBen Ainslie Racing (BAR) has been awarded ISO 20121 certification for sustainability across all its operations this week, the first such certification for a sports team in the UK.Springwatch To achieve the goal of ISO 20121, BAR worked with a range of sustainability experts involved in Green Blue – the joint environment programme created by the Royal Yachting Association and the British Marine Federation in 2005 to promote sustainability across the UK recreational boating sector. The BAR team, which was launched by four time Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie in 2014 with the long-term aim of winning the Americas Cup, has also partnered with 11th Hour Racing to achieve its sustainability goals.

sea_ice_polar_bearPeople who continue to deny that human activity is directly impacting climate change have a new challenge to over come: Scientists have, for the first time,  provided direct observational evidence that carbon dioxide is trapping heat in the atmosphere. In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used eleven years of measurements from specialized instruments at sites in Alaska and Oklahoma to analyze the source of energy fluctuations, confirming that it’s carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels that’s causing warming — and not water vapor, changes in the sun or someone tampering with the data to make it look like global warming is worse than it is, as some have claimed. “We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,” lead author Daniel Feldman explained in a statement. “Numerous studies show rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but our study provides the critical link between those concentrations and the addition of energy to the system, or the greenhouse effect.” More on Salon here.

Britain’s railways are ‘a scrapheap’ says the man who runs Network rail. Mark Carne said that the railways are littered with old sleepers, rails and much is covered by graffiti.

And Britain has been told it should appoint an ambassador for the Arctic. The House of Lords have suggested that the need to safeguard the environment – as well as participate in its future. With 30% of the world’s remaining recoverable gas reserves and over 13% of remaining oil reserves the Arctic is a prime target for exploitation – not least as global warming (caused by the burning of oil and gas amongst other things) melts sea ice and makes the region more accessible for extracting fossils fuels and (over) fishing. However is does seem fears about polar bears dying out as sea ice melts may not be true as bear numbers have almost doubled since the 60s when hunting left many bear populations close to collapse.

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March 5th 2015

ANOTHER PLANET?

sunken new yorkClimate change has advanced so rapidly that the time has come to look at options for a planetary-scale intervention, the National Academy of Science  have said. The scientists were categorical that geoengineering should not be deployed now, and was too risky to ever be considered an alternative to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. But it was better to start research on such unproven technologies now – to learn more about their risks – than to be stampeded into climate-shifting experiments in an emergency, the scientists said.

The Campaign Against Climate Change says Britons now have to ‘pay to protest’ after London’s Metropolitan Police refused to close roads along route for a planned  Time to Act march – which is supported by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the Stop the War Coalition, Global Justice Now, Avaaz and Friends of the Earth.  A similar march last September, which was the largest of its kind in history, attended by 40,000 people as part of a global day of action, was policed by the Met. “In previous years, the MPS (Met) may have undertaken this role but following a review of what services we provide, we have stopped doing this,” a Met spokeswoman confirmed to the Guardian. The Met spokeswoman said the police’s core responsibilities were “preventing and detecting crime, maintenance of the Queen’s Peace and protecting life and property”. She said that because the proposed demonstration, on 7 March, was expected to be crime-free there was little requirement for it to provide a policing operation. The Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) says it is facing costs to hire private security after discussios with the Police, Westminster Council and the Greater London Authority – effectively being made to “pay to protest”.  Festival and sporting event orgainsers will be familiar with  the actions taken by some police frces in demanding fees for policing: Both Festival Republic, organisers of the Leeds and Reading Festivals and Leeds United Football Club have won court cases over policing costs.

The taps will soon run dry in San Paulo – the seventh biggest city in the world. A perfect storm of mismanagement, localised climate change, global warming, a recent drought and a population boom have meant that local authorities will beginning rationing water to the 20 million inhabitants when the dry season starts – with taps off for up to five days each week. Brazil’s South East is suffering a prolonged dry spell, and some experts are blaming the massive deforestation of the Amazon for a lack of water vapour (needed for rain). The city itself, almost devoid of any greenery, heats up quickly and this causes storms and flash floods which do little to replenish reservoirs: the City’s main Cantareira reservoir is at just 5% capacity and local temperatures have risen 2C since the 1950s.

droughtThe US South-West and the Great Plains will face decade-long droughts far worse than any experienced over the last 1,000 years because of climate change, researchers have said. The coming drought age – caused by higher temperatures under climate change – will make it nearly impossible to carry on with current life-as-normal conditions across a vast swathe of the country. The droughts will be far worse than the one in California – or those seen in ancient times, such as the calamity that led to the decline of the Anasazi civilizations in the 13th century, the researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said. As many as 64 million people were affected by those droughts, according to Nasa projections. Those conditions have produced lasting consequences. In California, now undergoing its fourth year of drought – and the worst dry spell in 1,200 years, farmers have sold off herds, growers have abandoned fields and cities have imposed water rationing.  Futire droughts could be more extreme. The report can be found in Science Advances here.

America’s biggest state pension funds came under rising pressure  to dump coal companies from their combined $500bn portfolio, in a major escalation of the fossil fuel divestment campaign. The California senate leader, Kevin de Leon, said he was introducing a bill calling on the two state funds – CalPERS, the public employees’ pension fund, and CalSTRS, the teachers’ pension funds, drop all coal holdings. The bill is part of a larger package of climate measures – endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown – aimed at gearing up California’s efforts to fight climate change.

solarThe world’s largest solar farm capable of powering 160,000 homes has opened  in the Southern Californian desert.  The Desert Sunlight solar project is technically the same size as the existing Topaz solar project, also in California, at 550-megawatts but as the sunlight is more consistent where the Desert Sunlight project is situated it will actually generate more power. The project is the last of five large-scale solar projects funded by a loan from the Department of Energy to come online. The guarantee scheme has been criticised for wasting billions of taxpayer dollars, including losing $535m when a solar panel manufacturer went bankrupt in 2011. However the department of energy has described the $1.5bn funded Desert Sunlight project as a mark of the scheme’s success and has reported it expects to make profits of $5bn to $6bn from the programme. More here.

And Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced the tech giant is committing $848m to clean energy in the form of a 280MW solar farm in California.  The 2,900-acre California Flats Solar Project is being developed by First Solar and will include a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) which will see Apple receive 130MW of the generated electricity to power the corporation’s new ‘spaceship’ headquarters in the Californian city of Cupertino.

Pulse trawling – that’s fishing by electrocuting fish & shellfish is classed as illegal by the European commission. But there are currently 80+ licences for a so-called ‘trial’ in the North Sea – in current UK MPAs!! So ‘Special Areas of Conservation’ are effectively meaningless. no one knows the impacts this fishing has on long term health of sandy habitats & species. It’s known to break the backs of fish, & probably kills the food of commercial fish – do you think worms & sandeels are adapted to electric shocks? No, nor do we or most uk scientists and fishermen. 80+ licences is no ‘trial’. It is a commercial activity. Read this article in today’s Guardian http://bit.ly/1vd5hBO

Orangutan3-226x300Right now, diggers are obliterating Indonesia’s rainforests, pushing orangutans, tigers and sun bears to the edge of extinction. Santander has ploughed tens of millions of pounds into Indonesia’s number one rainforest destroyer. Tell Santander to stop financing extinction. Over the last few years, Santander has loaned millions to a pulp and paper company called APRIL that is chopping down Indonesia’s rainforests at an alarming rate. If Santander want to be a responsible company, it needs to end these loans now. Ending these loans hits APRIL where it hurts most – in the pocket. Sign the Greenpeace petition NOW.

Zombie-Bee_2Final petition ……, but an important one. Its for the BEEs.  SumOfUs say this: Bayer and Co. are suing the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban — and we can’t sit back and let Big Pesticide overturn it while the bees vanish. Last summer, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. The dangerous chemicals Bayer and Co. make are neonicotinoids, or neonics. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer, BASF and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics — so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits.  And unless we act now, the bees will keep dying. We have to show Bayer now that we won’t tolerate it putting its profits ahead of our planet’s health. Sign the petition to tell Bayer, BASF and Syngenta to drop their bee-killing lawsuits now.

The Manu National Park in Peru was international news early last year after scientists found it is “top of the [world’s] list of natural protected areas in terms of amphibian and reptile diversity”, beating off stiff competition from the Yasuni national park in neighbouring Ecuador. What these news reports didn’t acknowledge, not surprisingly, are the immense threats facing Manu – a Unesco biosphere reserve in the south-east Peruvian Amazon where Unesco states the biodiversity “exceeds that of any other place on earth”. The first such threat, to the park itself, is from oil and gas exploration and exploitation. For years Manu has been believed to hold significant oil and gas reserves and  fossil fuel industry maps depict “undrilled prospects”, “seeps” and a “spring” lying under the park. According to Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, five distinct “geological structures” in Manu could hold more than 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Another, arguably more serious threat to the park is the extension of the southern branch, dubbed “PE-5S”, of the national “jungle highway” network, parts of which were first built in the 1960s. According to Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC), the total projected length of the “PE-5S” is just over 1,000 kms, with only 109 kms paved to date, 74 kms unpaved, and 890 kms “en proyecto”. More on the Guardian blog here.

Millions of dicarded plastics bags pollute our oceans

Millions of dicarded plastics bags pollute our oceans

Coastal populations put about 8m tonnes of plastic rubbish into the oceans in 2010, an annual figure that could double over the next decade without major improvements in waste management efforts, scientists warn. The mountain of plastic litter, including bags, food packaging and toys, was equivalent to five full shopping bags of debris for every foot of coastline bordering nearly 200 countries the team studied. Though researchers have known about plastic waste in the oceans for 40 years, the latest report, published in the journal Science, is the first to attempt a detailed estimate of how much plastic made on the planet finds its way into the oceans. More here.

The UK government has broken a key pledge to support green energy abroad over “dirty” energy projects by spending more than three hundred times as much backing fossil fuel energy compared with clean energy projects via the government’s export credit agency. In the coalition agreement, the Tories and Lib Dems promised in 2010 that UK Export Finance (UKEF), a small government department, would “become champions for British companies that develop and export innovative green technologies around the world, instead of supporting investment in dirty fossil fuel energy production”. But over the course of the parliament, the department has given financial support worth just £3.6m to green energy projects around the world, data released to the Guardian under freedom of information rules shows. By comparison, UKEF allocated £1.13bn to help fossil fuel energy operations in the same period, 314 times more. The support was in the form of loans, loan guarantees and other export credit support.

TOWER-BRIDGE (1) TonyCollins www.thedesignhouse.org.ukIn better UK news,  London ranks as the world’s second most sustainable city, with Manchester and Birmingham also cracking the top 20 of the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index Report.  According to the report, Frankfurt is the only city in the world with greener credentials than the UK capital. Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Rotterdam round out the top five, with not a single US city in the top 10. The research examines 50 cities from 31 countries ranking them across three broad subcategories – People, Planet and Profit – to estimate the sustainability of each city. Copehagen comes third and Amsterdam fourth, with rotterdam fifth and Berlin sixth.

Straw panels have been used to build seven eco-homes in Bristol in a first for a low-cost and fuel efficient building material which promises to reduce heating bills by 90% over that of brick-built housing.  The new Modcell factory-built straw panels, going on sale this week, have been developed with the University of Bath’s department of architecture and civil engineering. University of Bath professor Pete Walker said: “The construction sector must reduce its energy consumption by 50% and its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, so radical changes are needed to the way we approach house building” adding “As a construction material straw is a low-cost and widely available food co-product that offers real potential for ultra-low carbon housing throughout the UK. Building with straw could be a critical point in our trajectory towards a low-carbon future.” Bristol in the European Green Capital in 2015.

Edie.net reports that energy consumption by European Union members has fallen to its lowest level since the early 1990s, but the EU is still heavily reliant on imported energy to meet its needs, the latest research shows.  The report by Eurostat; the statistical office of the European Union, shows energy consumption by the EU in 2013 was 1,666 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), down 9.1% from the amount consumed in 1990. The drop reflects efforts taken by member states and businesses to cut energy use and improve energy efficiency in order to hit the 20% energy savings objective the EU committed to by 2020. The UK is the third greatest consumer of energy at 201.1 Mtoe, behind Germany at 324.3 Mtoe and France at 259.3 Mtoe. However the UK’s consumption has dropped by almost 5% compared with 1990. Last month the Association for Decentralised Energy reported that the UK had avoided building 14 new power stations by improving energy efficiency.

Governments and businesses should commit to zero-net emissions by 2050 according to the ‘B Team’ – a group of 16 renowned CEO’s and policymakers headed up by mogul Richard Branson.  Members of the B Team – including Arianna Huffington, Paul Polman and Ratan Tata – authored an open letter to UN climate chief Christina Figueres calling for ‘bold action’ ahead of the Paris 2015 climate talks. “Setting a net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050 will drive innovation, grow jobs, build prosperity and secure a better world for what will soon be nine billion people,” said Branson. “Why would we wait any longer to do that?”

rainforestwikiOne of the world’s largest paper companies, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), has made ‘moderate progress’ on its forest conservation efforts, according to an independent investigation by the Rainforest Alliance.  The Alliance was tasked with evaluating APP’s Forest Conservation Program (FCP) – created two years ago after the paper company was targeted by Greenpeace for its destructive impact on the forests of Southeast Asia. The report concluded that APP had achieved ‘varying’ levels of success on its four main conservation targets, with ‘moderate success’ overall.  “The Rainforest Alliance evaluation found that many building blocks essential for change – policies and standard operating procedures, training and outreach, for example – are in place,” said Alliance senior vice president Richard Donovan. “There is still work to be done in implementing some of those policies and procedures in the field. This is a gap APP must address as it continues to implement its Forest Conservation Policy.”

And finally back to the UK:  The Government should expand its popular Green Deal support scheme to include water efficiency, according to a new report from environmental think-tank Green Alliance.  The report – Cutting the cost of water: The case for improving water efficiency in the UK – finds that UK water prices are set to rise thanks a growing population, more one-person households and increasingly common extreme weather events. The Alliance, which works with influential leaders from the NGO, business, and political communities, says the best way to mitigate this growing water stress is to utilise the existing infrastructure of the Green Deal to address water efficiency in homes, where the UK gets through 150 litres per person per day – 50% more than some of our Northern European neighbours.  And Scotland has launched a new 10-step guide advising how public bodies can save water and help to save £2bn for the Scottish economy. The Government-funded Resource Efficient Scotland programme released A Guide to Improving Water Efficiency which provides simple, free or low-cost solutions to improve water efficiency in the NHS, local authorities, emergency services, colleges, universities, and government agencies, giving advice on areas ranging from toilet flushing and hand washing through to measuring and monitoring.

ANOTHER PLANET?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOOD NEWS !

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