Tag Archives: subsidy

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.





OBurning wood in power stations might actually be good for trees – so says Professor Robert Malmsheimer at the State University of New York. A number of environmentalists and scientists have argued that burning wood in power stations harms forests, produces pollution and once the carbon cost of transport is added in is hardly a ‘green’ or sustainable solution. But Professor  Malmsheimer says such arguments  misunderstand the forestry industry and the type of wood used in biomass  – and that an increase in and for wood would increase forest area and productivity as land owners respond to economic stimuli.

It seems billions of pounds of UK taxpayers money will be given to ‘dirty’ coal burning power stations in the UK – to guarantee that the lights stay on in the UK when power from sustainable power – in particular wind power – fluctuate and cannot meet peak demand. Coal, gas and nuclear plants are all entitled to bid for the funding. Even the energy companies know the scheme is bonkers – back in October Sam Laidlaw the boss of Centrica said there was something wrong with government policies that tax coal plants for carbon emissions with one hand and subsidise them with another and that the paradox means that old dirty coal plants “will be paid extra to stay online for longer”.  Greenpeace – agreeing with Centrica (!) called the policy ‘counter productive’ and ‘bizarre’ and that it would be consumers who met the cost.

windturbines_300And the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that the public was “fed up” with onshore windfarms and said the country did not need any more subsidised turbines on land now that the energy source was capable of providing 10% of UK energy.  He said: “Let’s get rid of the subsidy, put them into the planning system. If they can make their case, they will make their case. I suspect they won’t and we’ll have a reasonable amount of onshore wind, we’ll have safer electricity supplies as a result but enough is enough and I’m very clear about that. Cameron’s remarks to the liaison committee of MPs are at odds with polling conducted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change that suggests onshore wind is popular and his own Climate Secretary Ed Davey. And Secretary of State Eric Pickles has been sharply criticised by the renewable energy industry for delaying the approval of many onshore wind energy developments in which he has intervened.  The criticism comes in the wake of a new report from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee, which warns that Pickles’ recent actions risk reducing investment in the clean energy sector. However on a more positive note the UK Government has tannounced details of the National College of Wind Energy based in the Humber area.  Set to open its doors in late 2016, the college will offer students post-A-level professional qualifications; equipping young people with the engineering and technical skills required in the wind industry – particularly offshore, where ‘a large growth in skills is needed’.

Lord Stern has made broadly positive remarks about the results fron the UN Cop summit in Lima. Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change said  “This is an important step towards a new agreement at the climate change summit in Paris in December 2015, but it still leaves a number of important issues to be worked out between countries over the next 12 months” adding”It is vital that countries put forward before the Paris summit intended nationally determined contributions that are both ambitious and credible. However, it is already clear that the scale of action to control and reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases will collectively not be consistent with a pathway that will mean a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous global warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial level.”

Invitación Física versión editableAlso at the Lima climate summit, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) restated the importance of biofuels, such as ethanol, in reducing GHG emissions in the transport sector.  Biofuels are presently one of the most commercially viable fuel alternatives to crude oil in the medium term, proven to reduce GHGs from 40% to 90% compared with fossil fuels. GRFA spokesperson Bliss Baker said: “Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector, those GHGs need to be a priority if we are going to make a significant contribution to combating climate change. Biofuels must be an integral part of that fight.”

Many Alpine ski resorts are facing their worst season for 150 years with snowfall way below the annual norm. The glacier resort of Tignes has only 13 of its 79 lifts operating and some guests in Chamonix are being bussed to other resorts. The snowfall on Flaine’s upper pistes – just 20cm in 2014 – is less than 10% of 2012’s 240cm snowfall.

President Obama has taken  action to protect one of Alaska’s most powerful economic engines and one of America’s greatest national treasures: Bristol Bay. He signed a Presidential Memorandum that withdraws these beautiful and pristine waters from all future oil and gas drilling. “These waters are too special and too valuable to auction off to the highest bidder,” the President said.

Millions of dicarded plastics bags pollute our oceans

Millions of dicarded plastics bags pollute our oceans

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.  Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25tn plastic particles in the oceans, most of them “micro plastics” measuring less than 5mm. The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world’s oceans.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says global governments must ‘radically accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technology’ as a new report reveals demand for coal will break the nine-billion-tonne level by 2019.   The organisation’s annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report concludes that the fate of the global coal market will be determined by China, which will continue to account for three-fifths of demand growth during the five-year outlook period.

Australian researchers have set a new world record by converting more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity. The record was achieved by scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, and verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the United States.”This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor Martin Green said. “The new results are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia.”

Anaerobic digestion (AD) enjoyed a bumper year in the UK according to the latest sector survey published today (11 November) by WRAP, but Scotland did not contribute to the growth.  The number of AD sites in the UK has increased from 87 to 117, while capacity increased by 55% to 3.20mt. This operational growth has led to a boost to employment in the sector – up 36% to 482 full-time jobs.

schnipeldiscoThe “Schnippeldisko” (chopping disco), which is organised by Slow Food Youth,  raises awareness of the industrialisation of farming in Germany. On the 16th of January 2014 many helping hands come together at Zirkus Cabuwazi in Berlin Friedrichshain to chop about a ton of vegetables as ingredients for a “protest soup” that will warm the hearts and bellies of the thousands of “Wir haben es satt!”  participants the following day. And even better – all vegetables used for the protest soup are from the region of Brandenburg and are usually rejected by retailers as they don´t fit into the German trade standard – too big, too small or have an unusual shape, but there is literally nothing wrong with them – of course! To make cutting of all those vegetables more fun and to create a real ´disco´ feeling the organisers have invited DJs Florinn & Decent, who will pump out the best music around!

LIB1And finally from Jarno in the USA who reports that the International Music Festival conference, IMFcon, took place in Austin from the 7th until the 9th of December. An interesting conference where topics such as big data at festivals, fan loyalty, marketing & sponsorship, and the global success of EDM were discussed. One of the discussions was dedicated to sustainability with panelist such as Karen Cohen from Symbiosis Events, Melissa mcClary from Klean Kanteen and Nick Algee. Jarno says in his opinion “more time could, and should, have been dedicated to this particular subject. Sustainability is a vast area that can not possibly be discussed and explained in 45 minutes”. But its a start! And Lightning in a Bottle, awarded the Outstanding Award from A Greener Festival this year, were at IMFcon and this presented the perfect opportunity for Jarno to present Dede and Jesse Flemming, from The Do Lab, their award.  As Jarno says – Two very humble men who are passionate about their festival and about sustainability.  Congratulations!

New subsidy for green cars out of gear?

I like driving in my car, it's not quite a Jaguar

I like driving in my car, it's not quite a Jaguar

The UK government is set to (probably!) announce plans for a £2000 per vehicle subsidy for consumers who choose environmentally friendly cars like the G-Wiz which currently sells for about £8000. The subsidy will be used to promote a ‘green car’ culture to replace petrol guzzling cars – hopefully in particular the 4×4 chelsea tractors which seem to be (badly) driven by middle aged men and women all over the UK blocking up town centres and rural areas alike.  Is it just me or do 4×4 drivers (of the shiny never been to a farm type) lack all basic skills, common sense, intelligence and manners? Whenever I see a blocked lane on a motorway the long frustrated tailback it is invariably fronted by a numpty in a 4×4 child killing heap of metal blissfully unaware of what’s behind them (or if they are aware, to ignorant to care).  Hey ho,  rant over, and for once I have to applaud this this scheme which will underpin Gordon Brown’s aim to make the UK a world centre for the use and production of electric cars with several cities planning to offer re-charge points in a similar way to Westminster.  The UK’s car culture is not going to disappear over night and without a viable public transport network we have to look at improving our cars, even if 9% of the UK population use mobile internet services like Twitter when driving, 45% send texts and 37% say they cannot ignore phone alerts when driving – one Twit posted “I am driving with my knees peeling and orange – probably not the safest thing to be done”. Ho hum, I feel another rant coming on ……  but with greenhouse gas emissions from cars producing a substantial percentage of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions its something we have to tackle, and the message is tackled quickly with viable and socially acceptable solutions.



UPDATE: what a surprise – it seems all is not quite what it seems with this new announcement and that current eco-friendly cars wili be ineligible for grants – and in fact the first grants (up to £5000) wull not be available until new models come onto the maker – the earliest (the Vauxhall Ampera and possibly the E Smart) will be in 2011 – 2012. The Department of Transport is still debating the minimum standards for electric cars to qualify and ministers want cars with mass market appeal in terms of range and speed.  The DfT says that £230 million would be available for electric car grants and a further £20 million for electric charging points but critics pointed out that the limited sums for recharging points would not be sufficient and the grants, even when they are available, would cover only 50,000 cars (well short of the tens of millions currently available to UK drivers).

See the Times  £5,000 bung for electric car you can’t buy  17/05/09