Tag Archives: UN


COP21_participants_-_30_Nov_2015_(23430273715)World leaders from 175 countries signed the historic Paris climate accord Friday, using Earth Day as a backdrop for the ceremonial inking of a long-fought deal that aims to slow the rise of harmful greenhouse gases. “We are in a race against time.” U.N. secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.” “The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” Ban added. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the document while holding his young granddaughter. She was one of 197 children at the event to represent the parties that adopted the agreement, Ban said.

OilThe oil industry’s knowledge of dangerous climate change stretches back to the 1960s, with newly unearthed documents showing that it was warned of “serious worldwide environmental changes” more than 45 years ago. The Stanford Research Institute presented a report to the American Petroleum Institute (API) in 1968 that warned the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels could carry an array of harmful consequences for the planet. The emergence of this stark advice follows a series of revelations that the fossil fuel industry was aware of climate change for decades, only to publicly deny its scientific basis. “Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000 and these could bring about climatic change,” the 1968 Stanford report, found and republished by the Center for International Environmental Law, states. “If the Earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans and an increase in photosynthesis. http://www.ciel.org/

The Guardian reports that  The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead. In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed. The measures “threaten to drive energy-intensive industries, such as refining and petrochemicals, to relocate outside the EU with a correspondingly detrimental impact on security of supply, jobs [and] growth,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Guardian under access to documents laws.

The sun provided British homes and businesses with more power than coal-fired power stations for 24 hours two weekends ago. While solar power has previously beaten coal for electricity generation over a few hours in the UK, that Saturday was the first time this happened for a full day. Analysts said the symbolic milestone showed how dramatic coal’s decline had been due to carbon taxes, as solar had “exploded” across the UK in recent years. National Grid data gathered by climate analysts Carbon Brief showed that 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power was generated on Saturday by solar, or 4% of national demand that day, versus 21GWh from coal-fired power stations. MORE HERE.

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest privately owned coal producer, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US following a collapse in commodity prices. The move was blamed by financial analysts partly on a mistimed and debt-fuelled expansion into Australia, but others saw it as a sign that the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel was threatened by tightening environmental regulation.

gbrFor the first time, Australians can see on a map how rising sea levels will affect their house just by typing their address into a website. And they’ll soon be able to get an estimate of how much climate change will affect their property prices and insurance premiums, too. the website Coastal Risk Australia takes Google Maps and combines it with detailed tide and elevation data, as well as future sea level rise projections, allowing users to see whether their house or suburb will be inundated. Coinciding with that is the launch of a beta version of Climate Valuation, a website that gives users an estimate of how much climate change will impact their property value and insurance premiums over the life of their mortgage. http://coastalrisk.com.au/.

The UK government has been accused of including a large loophole in its legal definition of fracking which could enable companies to bypass safety regulations, according to a leading geologist. In rules that came into force on 6 April, fracking is defined by the amount of high-pressure fluid used to fracture shale rocks and release gas or oil. However, the only well fracked in the UK so far, which caused small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011, would not qualify as fracking under the definition.Furthermore, according to Prof Stuart Haszeldine at the University of Edinburgh, analysis of more than 17,000 gas wells fracked in the US from 2000-10 shows 43% would not be defined as fracking under UK rules. More than 4,500 US wells were fracked to release oil in that time but 89% would not be covered by the UK definition. The safety regulations in the new rules, such as independent inspection of the integrity of the well and sealing it after use, only apply if the drilling activity is defined as fracking.

Scotts Miracle-Gro, a major global pesticide company, just announced it will end the use of 3 dangerous bee-killing chemicals by 2017, while phasing out neonics in eight of its garden products by 2021. It is the first major pesticide company to do this, and proof that our years of dedicated campaigning is paying off.  OneMiracle-Gro’s biggest competitors, Bayer, has not been so responsive. With its annual shareholder meeting weeks away, campaigners are going to take their message right to Bayer in Germany to make sure it follows suit and protects the bees. You can donate to SumofUs’s campaign here.

RoundUpThe European Commission is planning to relicense a controversial weedkiller that the World Health Organisation believes probably causes cancer in people, despite opposition from several countries and the European Parliament. In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer – WHO’s cancer agency – said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide made by agriculture company Monsanto and used widely with GM crops around the world, was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. It also said there was “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the time Monsanto said it could not understand the decision and that the scientific data did not support the conclusion.

Waitrose has come under fire for continuing to use a weedkiller on farmland despite banning it from its stores. The grocer delighted anti-pesticide campaigners last month after deciding to remove glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, from its shelves. At the time, Waitrose told customers the decision was part of its ‘commitment to protecting the bee population’.  However The Times  revealed that the supermarket is continuing to use glyphosate to kill weeds on its retail estate and at Leckford, its showcase farm in Hampshire.

Betty, a mature ash tree in Norfolk, is offering hope that ash dieback disease will not be as destructive as first feared after scientists identified her “strong tolerance” to the disease. Researchers from a government-backed consortium of universities and research centres have developed three genetic markers to enable them to predict whether a tree is likely to be tolerant to the disease, raising the possibility of using selective breeding to develop strains of disease-resistant trees.

tigerThe number of tigers in the wild has risen for the first time in more than a century, with some 3,890 counted in the latest global census, according to wildlife conservation groups. The tally marks a turnaround from the last worldwide estimate in 2010, when the number of tigers in the wild hit an all-time low of about 3,200, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum.

Leaving the EU would threaten the UK’s air and water quality, biodiversity and the countryside, a committee of MPs has warned. The UK has benefited from an EU-wide environmental cleanup in the past four decades, and giving up membership would lead to a damaging policy vacuum and an end to influence over green regulations, the commons environmental audit select committee has said in a report. Britain was once “the dirty man of Europe”, pouring out toxic pollutants that caused acid rain, industrial pollution, poor air quality, contaminated land and sewage-filled beaches. After taking on EU membership, successive governments had to mend their ways in line with rules on the environment developed over decades.



airpollutionThe Guardian tells us that pledges by most of the world’s countries on climate change are likely to lead to less than 3C of global warming over the century. The UN praised governments for coming forward with plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, to kick in from 2020 when current commitments expire. The plans from 146 countries that cover nearly 90% of global emissions, known as INDCs or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in the UN jargon, will form the centrepiece of the make-or-break Paris conference on climate change this December. However, while the plans represent a significant advance on current trends, which would result in as much as 5C of warming if left unchecked, they are not enough in themselves to limit global warming to the 2C threshold that countries are preparing to agree on. This is widely regarded scientifically as the limit of safety, beyond which many of the effects of climate change – floods, droughts, heatwaves, sea level rises and more intense storms – are likely to become much more dangerous. However Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela are among the 40 countries who have failed to make their pledges.

The World faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating. And since cold is still overwhelmingly produced by burning fossil fuels, emission targets agreed at next month’s international climate summit in Paris risk being blown away as governments and scientists struggle with a cruel climate-change irony: cooling makes the planet hotter.  How America Became Addicted to Air Conditioning.

food wasteFrance’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a measure requiring all supermarkets 400 square feet or larger to donate unsold food to charity, for animal feed, or for farming compost. All grocery stores are banned from purposefully ruining food. “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said Guillaume Garot, the Socialist deputy who sponsored the bill. In the UK supermarket chain Morrisons has become the first supermarket chain to donate all of its surplus edible food to local community groups. The chain will appoint a supermarket ‘champion’ at each store to liaise with local community groups. A trial in 112 stores showed up to four trolley loads of perfectly safe and edible food a week from each shop could be salvaged. Last year supermarkets threw away 180,000 tonnes of food – although up to 100,000 tonnes is turned into biogas.

Check out some shower gel, and it might have lots of little bits in it. Most of the time, these are tiny spheres of plastic called “microbeads.” Designed to scrub your body and remove dead skin, they’re not just found in shower gel – cleaning products, facial scrub, and even toothpaste often contains them too. They might seem harmless and insignificant, but collectively trillions are being washed into our sewers and polluting our rivers and oceans every day. And now scientists want them banned – as the world’s oceans are being filled with microplastic, which is any piece of polymer less than 5 millimeters in size. Normally, these result from the break down by UV light of larger pieces that are floating in the oceans, but microbeads are a separate, distinct issue. No bigger than a grain of sand at around 1 millimeter, microbeads are not something our water treatment plants were designed to filter out from waste water and trillions and trillions are getting into our sewage and water waste and polluting our seas and oceans. MORE HERE.

flickricelandDavid Cameron is poised to launch an ambitious project that could see Britain harnessing the power of Iceland’s volcanoes within the next 10 years.The plan would involve the construction of 750 miles of undersea cabling, allowing the UK to exploit Iceland’s long-term, renewable geothermal energy. Teeming with volcanic activity, Iceland reportedly meets around 95 per cent of its own electricity needs using geothermal sources – but its remote location has made exporting it almost impossible. British officials told the Press Association that the new “UK-Iceland Energy Task Force” had been set up to examine the feasiblity of the scheme and told to report back in six months.

Installation has started  on Europe’s largest floating solar power system which will generate 2.7GWh of renewable, zero carbon energy each year on a reservoir near Manchester. The 12,000-panel system is being developed by water giant United Utilities at the cost of £3.5m. The 45,500 sq.m project will float on the Godley reservoir in Hyde. Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at United Utilities, said: “We have a target to generate 35% of our power requirements by 2020 and this project will make a significant contribution to that aim.

Puffin and turtle dove numbers across the globe have plummeted so rapidly the birds now face the same extinction threat as the African elephant and lion, say conservationists. Atlantic puffins and European turtle doves have been added for the first time to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of species at risk of being wiped out. In total, four UK bird species have been added to the new list, doubling to eight the number of bird species commonly seen in Britain now given official “vulnerable” status. A further 14 UK species are considered “near threatened”.

Edie.net reports that business leaders have welcomed the recognition of carbon pricing within the latest draft text of the climate agreement, but concerns remain over the lack of progress on climate finance from richer nations. The final round of preliminary climate negotiations came to a close in Bonn ahead of the crucial Paris Summit in December. A 20-page negotiating document was expanded to 63 pages over the course of the five days. Green groups have commended the progress, considering that at same point before the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, 180 pages of negotiating text had been drawn up.

SOLAR POWERA plan to ‘save the solar industry’ by adding £1 on to UK consumer energy bills has received support from a cross-party coalition of 30 MPs. The plan, proposed by the Solar Trade Association, would significantly reduce the cuts suggested by the Government in its consultation on the Feed-in Tariff. The review seeks to reduce subsidies for small-scale solar to around £7m over the next three years.

The UK’s budget squeeze will mean safe cycle lanes will not be guaranteed by the UK Government, losing out to road building and the new UK rail links and upgrades over the next five years.

Working on an allotment once a week can help tackle band moods, dispel tension and encourage weight loss, a new study has suggested.  The Universities of Westminster and Essex say that allotments provide both physical and mental health benefits – boosting self esteem – and researchers say local authorities should provide more space for allotments.

A new initiative launched has been launched by WRAP to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of the textiles industries across 11 European countries. In partnership with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), WRAP’s European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) has received a €3.6m fund from the European Union’s environmental financial support instrument, EU Life. It aims to divert over 90,000 tonnes of clothing away from landfill each year in Europe by 2019. WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “Finding more sustainable ways to work with textiles is an area set to deliver huge benefits – both economic and environmental.

A controversial €100m (£71m) dam project in a Macedonian national park is expected to be scrapped after independent experts called for a halt to all funding and construction work because of risks to critically endangered species, including the Balkan lynx. A Bern Convention mission to the Mavrovo national park reported that the planned hydropower dam there was “not compatible” with protection of the park’s status, ecosystems or species. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has put up €65m in loans for the project but its environmental guidelines forbid the funding of projects prohibited by the Bern Convention, a legally-binding pact between 51 states. MORE HERE.

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) is calling on Britain’s fleet operators and local authorities to band together to create a new low-carbon market for heavy goods vehicles. The LowCVP has stated that independent testing of retrofit technology, a switch to natural gas and biomethane and supporting the transition to hybrid and pure EVs in urban environments are the three main opportunities the HGV market has to adopt a low carbon ethos. LowCVP managing director Andy Eastlake said: “In terms of road transport, most of the focus in recent years has been on cutting emissions from cars and buses.

Green energy provider Ecotricity has announced plans to build three new ‘hybrid’ renewable energy parks, combining wind and solar power generation in the same project. Hybrid renewable energy parks combine wind and solar power generation using the same grid connection to maximise efficiency and reduce initial costs.

The Gulf in the Middle East, the heartland of the global oil industry, will suffer heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival if climate change is unchecked, according to a new scientific study. The extreme heatwaves will affect Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran as well as posing a deadly threat to millions of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, when the religious festival falls in the summer. The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence. “Our results expose a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant [carbon cuts], is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future,” said Prof Jeremy Pal and Prof Elfatih Eltahir, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change.
chinaHMteasueryThe UK and Chinese governments have signed an agreement to share knowledge and encourage investment in clean energy technologies in both countries. The Clean Energy Partnership will enable UK companies share their expertise in low-carbon innovation and secure new business in the Chinese energy market, the largest in the world. It is also hoped that the deal will encourage more investment in clean technologies, helping reduce costs to consumers in both countries. The deal came as part of a state visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping in which a number of other collaboration agreements were also announced, including investment in UK nuclear power, the first ever Chinese investment in the UK offshore wind market, and the establishment of joint offshore wind industry advisory groups. It has been pointed out that investment by the UK in its own renewables might be a wiser option …….

Construction of a £1.5bn windfarm off the Suffolk coast is to go ahead in November with the creation of nearly 800 jobs, after three new partners were found to back the project. The future of the Galloper windfarm was left in doubt last year when energy company SSE pulled out of the project, blaming the cost, and the subsidy regime. The remaining partner, RWE Innogy, halted work. But RWE Innogy announced on Friday that Siemens Financial Services and the investment and financial services group Macquarie Capital, along with the UK government’s Green Investment Bank, had become joint 25% equity partners. Offshore wind is one of the few parts of the UK renewable energy sector to have emerged unscathed after a round of cuts to onshore wind and solar power subsidies since the majority Conservative government  took power in May.



droughteastafricaThe World is on course for the hottest year ever in 2014, the United Nations weather agency said on Wednesday, heightening the sense of urgency around climate change negotiations underway in Lima. Preliminary estimates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) found global average land and sea surface temperatures for the first 10 months of 2014 had soared higher than ever recorded. The findings – broadly in line with those of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and other scientific agencies – indicate that by year-end 2014 will break all previous high temperature records. The steady escalation of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, have seen a succession of record-breaking years for temperature since the dawning of the 21st century and 2014 promises to be no exception, the WMO said. More here.

The Guardian reports that  UN climate negotiations opening in Lima on Monday have the best chance in a generation of striking a deal on global warming, diplomats say. After a 20-year standoff, diplomats and longtime observers of the talks say there is rising optimism that negotiators will be able to secure a deal that will commit all countries to take action against climate change. The two weeks of talks in Peru are intended to deliver a draft text to be adopted in Paris next year that will commit countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions without compromising the economic development of poor countries. Diplomats and observers of the UN climate negotiations said recent actions by the US and China had injected much-needed momentum.

cowsCurbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to a new report titled Livestock, Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector. But governments and green campaigners are doing nothing to tackle the issue due to fears of a consumer backlash, warns the analysis from the thinktank Chatham House. The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming. “Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” said Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”

volcano1A new study has found that when particulates from small volcanic eruptions are properly accounted for, volcanoes may be responsible for much of the slowdown in global surface warming over the past 15 years. Sulfur aerosol particulates pumped into the atmosphere from volcanic eruptions cause short-term cooling by blocking sunlight. Until recently, climate scientists thought that only large volcanic eruptions had a significant impact on global temperatures. There haven’t been any big eruptions since Mount Pinatubo in 1991. However, studies published over the past few years have found that even moderate volcanic eruptions can pump significant amounts of aerosol particulates into the atmosphere.

Edie.net reports that energy supplier E.ON has announced that it wants to focus more heavily on renewable energy and transfer fossil fuel power generation to a new independent company – the New Company.  Through its publicly-listed company – the majority of which will be spun off to E.ON SE shareholders – E.ON will combine conventional power generation, global energy trading and exploration and production businesses. E.ON itself will further develop each of its three core businesses: renewables, distribution networks and customer solutions, to respond to ‘dramatically altered global energy markets, technical innovation, and more diverse customer expectations.’

The time has come: The 2degrees New Generation initiative, has reached its climax. Here are the top 25 under 25s currently working in sustainable business. More here http://25under25.2degreesnetwork.com/

“The French city of Grenoble is banning billboard advertising. It will instead open community spaces and plant trees. City authorities say they have decided not to renew its contract with one of the world’s top outdoor advertising companies, JC Decaux. From January Grenoble will remove more than 300 ad locations. Fifty trees will take their place in time for spring. The city’s deputy mayor Lucile Lheureux explained: “The business model of street advertising is down. Advertisers want to upgrade to digital screens. We don’t want to make that move. We don’t want our city’s children bombarded with animated advertising on TV screens in the street.”

In recent years there has been a sea change in the general public’s opinions when it comes to stupid corporates pretending they are ‘green’. Here’s 4 examples of greenwashing FROM 38 DEGREES you won’t want to imitate including a  look at the ludicrous ‘Red Tractor’ mark and the assertions made by American meat manufacturer Tyson  that its poultry products were  “100% Free from Antibiotics” . Greenwashing at its worst.

cyclistssolsticeThe UK Government will introduce a package of measures totalling £214m in a bid to help double the number of bicycle journeys made by 2020.  The largest single investment in cycling was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a cycling summit.

The amount of biomethane injected to the UK grid has doubled every year since 2011 and is set to more-than quadruple in 2014.  That’s according to data collected by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) from the UK’s four Gas Distribution Networks following a meeting at the Energy Institute. The figures show that there are now 10 biomethane-to-grid plants generating nearly 1TWh compared with just 0.16TWh last year.

A British cleantech company has started a crowdfunding campaign to help launch a product which it claims can provide one billion people with water using only the power of the sun.The ‘Desolenator’ transforms seawater into pure distilled water without any other inputs, and lasts for up to 20 years. A crowdfunding campaign was launched for the Desolenator on 30 November at Indiegogo, looking for $150k to “accelerate the product development process and help us move from our current prototype to a finished product ready for mass production.”

tree-cathedral-cattedrale-vegetale-giuliano-mauri-1Bored Panda tells us – quite rightly – that a building doesn’t have to be a dry and dead thing. Italian artist Giuliano Mauri’s epic Cattedrale Vegetale (or Tree Cathedral) is the perfect example of architecture that, instead of competing with or complementing nature, is quite literally a part of it. The late artist’s two groves of trees are destined to grow into a pair of magnificent basilicas. The framework columns seen in these photos will eventually rot away and decay, to be replaced by the hornbeam trees planted in the centre of each frame. As these grow, their canopies will mesh together to form the vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral. Mauri, who died in 2009, laid the groundwork for his first visionary cathedral in Valsugana, Italy in 2002. The framework of the cathedral at the foot of Mount Arera in the northern Italian region of Lombardy was completed in 2010. More here http://www.boredpanda.com/tree-cathedral-cattedrale-vegetale-giuliano-mauri/?source=fb&subsource=20141204Generalfb02&utm_source=gpeace&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=20141204Generalfb02 and more images here http://www.giulianomauri.com/test/


climate march1They were massive! The Climate Change marches on Sunday 21st September in New York City, London, Berlin, Bogota, Paris, Delhi, and Melbourne were a timely reminder to those in power around the globe that we simply do not have another planet – and time is fast running out – if it hasn’t run out already  – to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take action against global warming and climate change. World leaders are  gathering for the UN climate summit today. President Barack Obama will address a group of world leaders at the U.N. Climate Summit today, a one-day meeting hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and open to leaders of all 193 U.N. member states. The leaders of China and India will not attend. More from Avaaz here  and CNN here .

Japan will defy the latest IWC ruling on ‘scientific whaling after Tokyo announced a new round of culls in the Southern Ocean despite a majority ‘no’ vote at International Whaling Commission. The 65th meeting of the world’s whale conservation body voted by 35 to 20 with five abstentions in favour of a resolution by New Zealand, requiring members to put future scientific whaling programmes to the IWC’s scientific committee and the biennial commission itself for guidance. More on the Guardian here.

Barack Obama has welcomed a new report saying fighting climate change can be low cost and that the World can cut greenhouse gas emissions, grow economy and improve lives. The report is for the UN climate summit in New York from a group including of the globe’s biggest institutions, including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and co-authored by Lord Stern, one of the world’s most influential voices on climate economics.

A collection of 160 of the world’s top environmentalists have taken a full page advert in the New York Times to call on philanthropists and charities to use their funds to tackle global warming ahead of next week’s UN Climate Summit in New York.  Known as the Environmental Laureates, the group warns of a 4C-6C rise in global temperatures, and says it is ‘terrified that we will lose our ability to feed ourselves, run out of potable water, increase the scope for war, and cause the very fabric of civilization to crash’. However, the group believes the collective wealth and influence of the world’s philanthropic foundations can ‘trigger a survival reflex in society, thus greatly helping those negotiating the climate treaty’.

More and more British farmers are combining their sheep, chickens and other poultry with rows of solar panels and producing a double output of food and home-grown energy, according to a new report. The BRE National Solar Centre, in partnership with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Solar Trade Association (STA), has today (12 September) produced new guidance which explains how conventional agriculture and ground-mounted solar electricity generation can be coupled for the mutual benefit of both. It explains that solar farms are often used for the grazing of sheep and can be particularly suited to the fattening of young, hill-bred lambs.

sea_ice_polar_bearThe extent of sea ice in Antarctica is set to reach a record high, scientists said on Tuesday, as they announced that Arctic sea ice appeared to have shrunk to its sixth lowest level ever. The NSIDC said that satellite data was expected to shortly confirm whether the maximum extent of sea ice at the opposite pole, in Antarctica, had set a new record. Jan Lieser, of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), told Australia’s ABC News that: “This is an area covered by sea ice which we’ve never seen from space before.”

The descendants of John D Rockefeller, the USA’s first oil baron who set up Standard Oil, have decided to divest all investments in fossil fuel and companies tied to global warming. The $900 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund join a growing movement moving out of polluting and damaging fuel sources and will instead look at investments in wind, total and solar energy with Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great-great-granddaughter ad trustee saying ‘there is a moral imperative ro preserve a healthy planet’.

Ecologists have launched an app to help people identify common house spiders. The app from the Society of Biology lists descriptions and photographs of 12 of the most common spiders found in homes from the approximately 660 species in the UK, including the European garden spider (Arraneus didaematus), the large hairy spiders Tegenaria genus and the Pholcidae family which are often mistaken for Daddy longlegs (which are actually a species of fly).

Our friends at the Exit Festival sent us this photo of the devastating floods

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank. The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.

Are beef cattle and dairy cows the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, water depletion, deforestation and environmental degradation? I thinkk this films says they are and no one is talking about it. But even the  film is vague. Weird but watchable. Could be a spoof.  http://cowspiracy.com/

UnverpacktThe Berlin duo OF Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovskiof have launched a supermarket with no packaging. Shrink-wrapped shallots and polystyrene-packed peppers are a thing of the past at Original Unverpackt, a German concept store selling groceries without the packaging. It works like this. You bring your own containers and have those weighed. Berlin-based supermarket Original Unverpackt labels your containers. You shop. When you get to the till, the weight of your containers is subtracted and you pay for the net weight of your groceries. The label is designed to survive a few washings so you can come back and skip the weighing process for a while. More here.

New York City, 21.09.14 More from Avaaz here


New UN report cites ‘unprecedented climate extremes’ over past decade

UNhornifafricadroughtThe World experienced “unprecedented high-impact climate extremes” between 2001 and 2010 and more national temperature records were broken during that period than in any other decade, according to a United Nations report .

The report, The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Extremes, says the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest for both hemispheres and for both land and ocean temperatures since measurements began in 1850. High temperatures were accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice, and an accelerating loss of the ice sheets of the world’s glaciers.

“Rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat,” said Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which produced the report.

RExtreme Floods, droughts and tropical cyclones were all experienced across the world throughout the decade, and more than 370,000 people died as a result of these, representing a 20 per cent increase in casualties from the previous decade.

Floods were the most frequently experienced extreme events over the course of the decade. Eastern Europe, India, Africa, and Australia were particularly affected, as well as Pakistan, where 2,000 people died and 20 million were affected by floods in 2010.

Droughts however, affected more people than any other kind of natural disaster due to their large scale and long-lasting nature. Some of the highest-impact and long-term droughts struck Australia, East Africa, and the Amazon Basin, with negative environmental impacts.

Tropical cyclones were also prominent throughout the decade, with more than 500 cyclone-related disaster events killing nearly 170,000 people, affecting over 250 million, and caused estimated damages of $380 billion.

The report incorporates findings from a survey of 139 national meteorological and hydrological services and socio-economic data and analysis from several UN agencies and partners.

In addition to analyzing global and regional temperatures, it also charted the rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, finding that global concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose by 39 per cent since the start of the industrial era in 1750, nitrous oxide concentrations rose by 20 per cent and methane concentrations more than tripled.

The release of the report coincides with the first session of the Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services, which oversees the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services – an international initiative to improve and expand scientifically-based climate information to help society cope with the climate and human induced climate change.

The session,in Geneva and will run through Friday, 5 July, will focus on how to provide operational climate services to help countries and communities cope with long-term climate change and associated extreme weather events.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change and so we need to take action through the use of scientifically-based climate services to cushion the impact on our environment, our economies and our societies,” said Mr. Jarraud.

“Decisions on flood defences and dams, for instance, are often based on past experience and not on the likely future. But the past climate is no longer a sufficient guide to the future. We need to anticipate the climate we shall have in the next 50 to 100 years,” he said. “It’s a huge challenge but it’s not a hopeless challenge if we all work together.”



imagine12The sound of gunshots has been transformed into the sound of music in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, where artist Pedro Reyes has turned 6,700 confiscated weapons into a complete orchestra of fully playable musical instruments. Reyes, who is based in Mexico City, worked with a group of six musicians to turn revolvers, shotguns, and machine guns into 50 wind, percussion, and string instruments, in a project he calls “Imagine”.

The Observer has highlighted the problem of the use of tiny fragments of plastic which are used in cosmetics – in products such as exfoliators – and ‘zillions’ of the microplastic particles have ended up reaching our oceans and seas as pollutants, driving eco systems to the edge. Research from the Wageningen University showed that nanoplasticcs have an adverse effect on organisms such as mussels – whilst at the other side of the picture, cosmetic companies are also harvesting ingredients such as seeweed and sea fennel for their products.  Check out the ‘Beat The Micro Bead‘ app to avoid destructive products.

dohaThe UN Doha climate change talks have been labelled a failure by green campaigners, despite the UK Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey calling the negotiations “a modest step forward”.  The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) condemned a small number of Western countries for reneging on their commitments, claiming that negotiators in Doha had “failed to deliver even the minimum expectations for the UN climate negotiations”  saying that  it was only a handful of countries – including Poland, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan – who held the negotiations to ransom.  Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said:  “Rarely has so little been achieved by so many powerful people gathered together in one place – the failure to agree any meaningful international action to slash emissions leaves the world teetering on the edge of catastrophic climate change.

Investment in Scotland’s renewable energy industry has topped £900m in the first six months of 2012, putting it on track to reach £1bn for the first time in its history

The UK Government could see half its energy portfolio, worth £750m, powered by renewables after launching a trial which will offer clean energy operators long-term contracts. The Government Procurement Service (GPS), which is the country’s largest energy consumer, spending £1.5bn a year on gas and electricity, has today announced that it will offer green energy companies contracts worth £25m a year to diversify 2% of its total demand.  It will be the first time contracts will be offered direct to renewable generators for a set proportion of their capacity on a long-term basis.

Royal Bank of Scotland has launched a new £200m Carbon Reduction Fund to help UK businesses reduce energy costs. The new fund will finance a range of sustainable energy projects for businesses from retro-fitting buildings with more energy efficient heating and lighting to on-site wind power and ground source heat pumps.

Bioenergy has an important role to play in delivering low-carbon, cost-effective, and flexible power and could benefit woodlands, according to a report by the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC).  The report, written by Dr Matthew Aylott, states that bringing neglected woodland back into management, and actively managing forests to produce both useful products and biomass for heat and power production, can increase carbon stocks and make forests more economically productive.

Blur1The Arctic Monkeys are the latest act to confirm for the 2013 Open’er festival on Poland, joining Blur, Kings of Leon and Queens of The Stone Age, who will all take to the stage in Gdynia on the north coast of Poland in July. Blur have also been confirmed as headliners at the Sziget Festival in Hungary and at the Oya Festival in Norway.

Recycled aggregates nearly account for 20% of the total aggregates market in the UK despite demand for sand, gravel, stone, clays and ballast falling during the recession. In its latest survey on the building industry, BDS Marketing Research has identified around 530 static sites in the country with an aggregates recycling plant. Together, these plants produced around 37 million tonnes in 2011.

Edie.net reports that Water footprinting will become a greater priority for the food and drink industry as it looks to develop services that limit production costs while tapping into the economic benefits of water conservation and reuse. Edie highlights new analysis from Frost & Sullivan pointing to a growing focus on smart and green production from water and wastewater treatment companies operating in this field, many of whom are looking to standardise water and energy footprint reductions. These firms are also reacting to moves from large global corporations that are setting targets to improve water use ratios and wastewater discharge levels, not only in their own operations but through their supply chains.


sustainability leadersThe winners of the Sustainability Leaders Awards 2012 have been crowned at a glittering gala ceremony in central London compered by Great British Bake-off presenter Sue Perkins who also handed out the accolades to our 15 category winners.  The awards, are hosted by edie and Sustainable Business magazine in association with Ovivo and Accent.

And the winners are:

Carbon Management
Co-operative Group

Energy Efficiency

Sustainability Reporting
Coca Cola Enterprises

Stakeholder Engagement
Sony Europe

Waste & Resource Management

Waste Management: Food & Drink

Sustainable Building
P+HS Architects

Renewable Energy
Northumbrian Water

Water Management
ABP Food Group

Sustainable Transport
London 2012

Sustainability Communications
Co-operative Group

Best Environmental Consultancy

IEMA Graduate Award
Lorna Pilbin

Sustainability Practitioner
Kirsten Henson, KLH Sustainability

Sustainability Leader
Dale Vince, Ecotricity

David Aaranovitch writes about smog in the Times and reminds us that the arguments of climate change sceptics are eerily reminiscent of those made by the opponents of the Clean Air Act which was passed as recently as 1956. In fact London’s last smog wasn’t in Victorian times – it was in 1962 and you wouldn’t have been able to see the hand at the end of your arm outside or breathe properly. The problem with CO2 is you can see it, cant smell it and it doesn’t make you immediately ill. It’s just killing the planet.  We can see clearly on smog. So why not on CO2? The Times December 6th 2012.

newcastleNewcastle United football club has gone beyond zero emissions by off-setting more carbon than the operation emits, becoming the world’s first football club to be ‘carbon positive’. The club achieved this by reducing energy consumption without affecting operational requirements, and by offsetting the club’s residual carbon footprint.  Further initiatives include boiler optimisation, burner management, lighting upgrades, bore holes, energy monitoring and behavioural changes within the operational staff.

There is growing concern that the EU is falling behind in its ambitions to address future threats around resource security. Talking at the House of Lords, the European Commission DG Environment deputy director-general Dr Alan Seatter, painted a picture of an EU with an unsustainable pattern of consumption.  “The amount of raw materials that we need to keep our economy going in Europe every year comes to 16 tonnes of per person per year.  “Of that six tonnes goes to waste every year and of that waste three tonnes is going to landfill – that is clearly something that is quite an unsustainable pattern of production in the economy,” he said.

The UN climate Change talks in Doha were brightened by the UK announcing that it had pledged £1.8 billion to finance climate change adaptations in the developing world, but the 17.000 odd delegates from 194 countries  missed a series of deadlines to try and and replace the Kyoto protocols on greenhouse gas emission reduction, despite Arctic sea ice reaching its lowest ever recorded levels and CO2 it’s maximum concentration in the atmosphere. Former UKIP climate spokesman and climate change sceptic Lord Monckton was on hand to cause a fuss by dressing up in full arabic dress in some sort of daft publicity stunt in Doha. He later pretended to be a member of the Burmese delegation and before being ejected told conference delegates “In the 16 years we have been coming to these conferences, there has been no global warming at all”. Bonkers.

Technology capable of turning human excrement into biofuel and stem cell researchers attempts to cure paralysis will be boosted by a £600 million investment to promote British science. £35 million will go towards a  new medicine manufacturing plant, and £50 million will be invested into ‘synthetic biology’ – “to feed us, heal us and fuel us” according to David Willets, the Science Minister. Another £20 million will go into cell therapies.

Campaigners have welcomed a move to create the world’s biggest shark sanctuary in the seas of French Polynesia.  The mako shark is the latest species to be protected in the waters and joins the lost of fish banned from capture in the South Pacific.

Conservationists believe they may be able to bring the old redwood forests by using clones of ancient trees – a kind of arboreal Jurassic Park. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has spent years collecting samples from some of america’s oldest and largest coastal redwoods and giant sequoias.

A cluster of transformational engineering projects are set to advance material optimisation through lightweighting, durability and recyclability in the drive for greater resource efficiency. Led by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the four initiatives will target R&D in new lightweight materials, while also seeking to build better durability and recyclability into product design.  Sophisticated techniques to clean up contaminated land will also be explored under the research programme to investigate the potential for reclaiming valuable metals.
Senior energy industry executives have urged governments to establish coherent and joined-up policies to help achieve sustainable energy systems, according to a report published by the World Energy Council (WEC).

Smart water networks could save utilities up to $12.5bn (£7.75bn) a year worldwide, according to research commissioned by utility infrastructure company Sensus.

The future of family homes with resource efficiency principles built into them during the construction phase is set to be unveiled in Scotland. The modular designed house is expected to exceed 2016 Scottish Building Standards Gold performance requirements, offering an affordable and scalable model for the house-building industry to follow. The modularity means there can be enhanced control over cost, waste arising and supply chain accreditation as the development isn’t subject to certain site difficulties.  Tigh Grian has been appointed to construct the house on a development plot funded by Zero Waste Scotland at the BRE Innovation Park in Ravenscraig, North Lanarkshire.

€6bn (£4.86) will be allocated to renewables, energy efficiency, smart grids and storage after a vote by the European Parliament’s Energy and Research Committee (ITRE).This amounts to three-quarters of the next energy research budget including the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, an EU programme designed to help organisations improve energy sustainability.  It is part of an overall €80bn fund for R&D under Horizon 2020 – a financial program that is a key component of Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative meant to increase Europe’s global competitiveness.

Used clothing is an increasingly valuable commodity, but this message needs to be drilled home to businesses and consumers, resource minister Lord de Mauley has warned. Talking to edie.net Mauley said: “Perhaps in these increasingly hard times people will begin to realise that there is value for them in what they had perhaps previously regarded as waste. At the same time of course its good for the environment that we are not sending it to landfill.”

A senior member of the European Parliament has warned that the EU will move to regulate fracking. Jo Lienen MEP says that the UK cannot be sure of what it is doing in its ‘dash for gas’. Fracking involves pumping pressurised water, sand  and chemicals into rocks to release shale gas. Testing in the Morecambe Bay area in Lancashire was suspended after two minor earthquakes.