Tag Archives: whaling

ANOTHER PLANET?

Leonardo_DiCaprio_2014Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation as he picked up his first Oscar for his performance in the Revenant, after five acting nominations and one nomination as producer of best picture nominee Wolf of Wall Street. He thanked his director and co-star Tom Hardy for his “fierce talent on screen” and “friendship off screen” before campaigning for action to combat climate change, saying making The Revenant was “about man’s relationship to the natural world”. “Climate change is real – it is happening right now,” said DiCaprio. “It is the most urgent threat facing our species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” He asked the audience to “support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who’ll be affected by this”. He added: “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

Bryde´s_whaleConservationists are hopeful that an end to commercial whaling in Iceland has moved one step closer following media reports that no fin whales will be hunted there this summer. Kristjan Loftsson, the director of Iceland’s largest whaling company, told daily newspaper Morgunbladid on Wednesday that Hvalur HF would not be sending out vessels to slaughter the endangered whales this season because of difficulties exporting the meat to the Japanese market.

This winter will be the warmest ever for England since records began in 1659. The central England temperature figure has seen an average temperature of 7C – beating the previous high of 6.8C in 1868-69. It will also be the second wettest winter on record according to preliminary figures from the Met Office – and the wettest ever in Wales and Scotland.

Australia’s big four banks are continuing to finance fossil fuel projects despite embracing a 2C or better global warming target, according to figures from financial activists Market Forces. The Guardian says the Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and National Australia Bank signed off on loans totalling $5.5bn to coal, oil, gas and liquefied natural gas projects in 2015, a figure that is higher than three of the preceding eight years. Among the deals were eight loans for coal projects signed in Australia in 2015, with a total value of $4bn, including for struggling Whitehaven Coal, operator of the controversial Maules Creek mine. All of the projects had some financing from the big four banks, with their contributions totalling $995m.

PLEASE HELP US

PLEASE HELP US

Some of the world’s largest consumer companies are clueless as to whether palm oil they buy from Indonesia is linked to rainforest destruction, new analysis from Greenpeace shows. The environmental group surveyed 14 companies including multinationals such as PepsiCo, Mars and Unilever, and found that none could confidently claim that no Indonesian rainforest was destroyed in the making of their products. According to the report, titled Cutting Deforestation Out Of The Palm Oil Supply Chain, most companies could not say how much came from suppliers that comply with their own environmental standards. And only one company, Ferrero, could trace nearly 100% of its palm oil back to the land where it was grown.

The Guardian reports that the Nevada regulator imposed costly new rules for residential solar customers. The decision to replace economic incentives with new higher fees pulled the carpet out from under an industry that provided 8,700 jobs in the state last year, according to the Solar Foundation, and stranded some 17,000 homeowners who have already gone solar with a financial liability on their rooftops. Three companies, including SolarCity, announced they were quitting the state, laying off about 1,000 workers.

The bank set up by the government to to fund green infrastructure and cited frequently by David Cameron as evidence of the UK’s leadership on climate change will no longer be required by law to invest in green schemes, under moves put forward by ministers. Campaigners said that changes proposed on Tuesday by small business minister Anna Soubry effectively delete the clause enshrined in legislation that gives the green investment bank its green purpose. But ministers insist the bank’s green mission will still be protected through a ‘special share’. The £3.8bn bank was established in 2012 to “accelerate the UK’s transition to a greener, stronger economy” by investing in renewable energy and other “green” schemes.

The European commission plans to give a new 15-year lease to a controversial weedkiller that was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A draft implementing law seen by the Guardian says the commission has decided it is appropriate to renew the licence for glyphosate after a lengthy review, which sparked a scientific storm. Glyphosate is a key ingredient in bestselling herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup brand and is so widely used that traces of its residues are routinely found in British breads. More on the Guardian here.

The third global coral bleaching event to be recorded is snaking its way around a warming globe, devastating reefs and now threatening the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. It  was announced the bleaching event, which began in 2014, is already the longest in history and could extend well into 2017. “We may be looking at a two- to two-and-a-half-year-long event. Some areas have already seen bleaching two years in a row,” says Mark Eakin, coordinator of the Coral Reef Watch program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Corals around Hawaii have been hit twice by the event already, with Fiji last week smacked by a gust of warm water that devastated coral and killed tonnes of fish, just before Cyclone Winston tore through the island nation. Fiji had already been hit by the same extended bleaching event last year.

air pollutionAir pollution both inside and outside the home causes at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to new report, which estimates the cost of the damage at £20bn. The major health impact of outdoor air pollution is relatively well known but the report, from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also highlights the less understood impact of indoor pollution, as well as the growing evidence of harm to children’s health and intelligence. Indoor air pollution is estimated to have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths across Europe in 2012, the report states. The UK government must take steps to tackle air pollution within days or face further legal action, it has been warned. The Sureme Court had already said the Givernment needed to take action and the UK is now in breach of EU air pollution rules. Environmental law firm ClientEarth has sent a final warning letter to environment secretary, Liz Truss, giving her 10 days to act or face action in the High Court. As many as 40,000 people die each year in the UK from air pollution. And in Germany, new research has shown that increasing air pollution has had a detrimental effect on Bundesliga football. Researchers at the IZA Economics Institute in Bonn will persent research later this month showing air pollution has a significant effect on professional footballer’s performance. Their research covers the 1999-2011 seasons in Gemany’s top league. The European Environment Agency puts the cost of air pollution in Europe at E200 billlion.

And climate change could kill more than 500,000 people a year globally by 2050 by making their diets less healthy, according to new research published in the Lancet. The research is the first to assess how the impacts of global warming could affect the quality of the diets available to people and found fewer fruit and vegetables would be available as a result of climatic changes. These are vital in curbing heart disease, strokes and diet-related cancers, leading the study to conclude that the health risks of climate change are far greater than thought. Climate change is already judged by doctors as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century, due to floods, droughts and increased infectious diseases, with the potential to roll back 50 years of progress.

african-elephant2More African elephants are being killed for ivory than are being born, despite poaching levels falling for the fourth year in a row in 2015. The new data, released on UN world wildlife day on Thursday, shows about 60% of elephant deaths are at the hands of poachers, meaning the overall population is most likely to be falling. “African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival, especially in central and west Africa where high levels of poaching are still evident,” said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which collects the data. At least 20,000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2015. But Scanlon said there were some encouraging signs, including in parts of eastern Africa, such as in Kenya, where the poaching trend has declined.

Environmentalists in Florida are celebrating the failure of an oil industry-backed bill they say would have opened a pathway to fracking in the ecologically sensitive Everglades wetlands. State lawmakers unexpectedly dropped the measure in a hearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday, just as they were about to begin debate on the controversial, high-pressure drilling practice, bowing instead to a groundswell of public opinion.

ceElectricity use is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions globally and in the UK, and now Julie’s Bicycle are hosting a new WEBINAR – Getting to Grips with Clean Energy to update the creative industries on green energy : Care should be taken when choosing a green electricity tariff here in the UK, as some suppliers make unverified claims about where their electricity comes from and the environmental benefits. If you are feeling tested by tariffs, Julie’s Bicycle is on hand to help you navigate and make sense of your energy options. JB will be discussing clean energy sourcing with Good Energy, the UK’s first dedicated 100% renewable electricity supplier, and ensuring you are getting a genuinely clean and green tariff.  JB will be covering related topics like joint procurement, funding and investing, community energy and roof leasing, with a healthy dose of intelligence and case studies from the sector and beyond. Book your free spot by clicking the booking link here.

sscJulies Bicycle also let us know that applications are now open for the first International Summer Course on Sustainable Cultural Management, in partnership with mitos21 and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.   This takes place between the 6th – 10th June 2016 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Sustainable Cultural Management will share knowledge and experience from cultural organisations and practitioners across Europe and North America who are pioneering “green” practice. Participants will develop new knowledge, skills and perspectives. You will come away with an understanding of sustainability from creative, governance and operational perspectives, and the tools and resources to put your learning into action. The course will cover everything from managing buildings, to creating and touring productions, creating sustainable partnerships and meaningful collaborations, and engaging audiences. There is a deadline: 15th March 2016. So Apply NOW! More information here

warwickAnd finally from JB – Doing Nothing Is Not An Option is a major Tipping Point event in partnership with Warwick Arts Centre who along with Julies Bicycle will ve exploring the role of the performing arts in leading change and shaping new stories about the present and the future.  Over three days #DNNO2016 will being together 200 participants to work, play and eat together. Writers, directors, producers and others, together with climate specialists of all types – will come together to shape new ideas and develop a platform for new creative responses. We’ll also enjoy a public festival of climate related performance work. Delegates will share knowledge, experience and understanding of climate change and will leave feeling affirmed, informed and energised; their horizons broadened, their imaginations enriched and their practice developed. #DNNO2016 will also launch a round of commissions in partnership with producing organisations from across the country.  17th June 2016 (10.00 – 17.00) Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick. More information here.

Advertisements

ANOTHER PLANET?

canberraA march expected to attract 200,000 people onto the streets of Paris ahead of crunch UN climate change talks was cancelled by the French government  in light of last Friday’s terror attacks and ongoing security concerns.  But organisers have said it is now even more important for people around the world to come out onto the streets for “the biggest global climate march in history” to protest “on behalf of those who can’t”. There were 2,173 events organised in more than 150 countries around the world on 28 and 29 November. The world’s largest solar-powered boat is en route to Paris for the COP21 climate conference, where it will be moored up as an ‘ambassador vessel’ to draw attention to the key issues of ocean plastic waste and maritime emissions.

The Brazilian government is fining the mining giants Vale and BHP Billiton for a dam burst at their jointly owned mine. The companies face preliminary fines of 250m Brazilian reais (£43.6m; $66.3m). President Dilma Rousseff said the country was “committed in the first place to blame those who are responsible.” On 5 November two dams at the Samarco iron ore mine in southern Brazil ruptured setting off a deadly mudslide. Authorities have confirmed that eight people died and 19 people are still missing. The mud is also being tested for potential toxins from the mine. The companies could face even higher fines from environmental regulators for water pollution and damage to local areas. State prosecutors are also considering whether to pursue criminal charges. Contaminated waste from so-called tailing ponds, mineral waste that was stored in reservoirs contained by the dams, was flowing through two states, interrupting the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people and raising questions about the potential impact of the waste on residents’ health, agriculture and the ecology of the region.  Teams of biologists are rushing to rescue fish from the river that was contaminated by the collapse: Mining company Samarco said in a statement that it was providing logistical support to the so-called Operation Noah’s Ark effort aimed at saving aquatic life from the now-turbid waters of the Doce river. Experts have warned that the ecological harm caused by the 5th November breaches could last a generation. water supplies for over a quarter of million people have been contaminated.

airpollutionThe UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations will be shut by 2025 with their use restricted by 2023, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has proposed. Ms Rudd wants more gas-fired stations to be built since relying on “polluting” coal is “perverse”. Only if gas-fuelled power can fill the void created by closing coal-powered stations would coal plants be shut, she said. Environmentalists are concerned little is being done to promote renewables.

Sir David Attenborough is attending the UN climate conference in Paris. He is working with the Global Apollo Programme, a campaign group which supports renewable energy. Attenborough told BBC Breakfast that solar energy needs to “undercut the price of energy obtained from oil and coal.”

UK retail giant Tesco has announced it is donating a further 700,000 meals from its 10 distribution centres to charities in an attempt to reduce the amount of surplus food the company is producing.  Tesco already supplies to redistribution charity FairShare with surplus food from its ambient fresh distribution centres; and the charity will receive a one-off donation of one million meals from Tesco, on top of the original 700,000 meals. FairShare’s CEO Lindsay Boswell said: “Over the last 12 months FareShare redistributed over 2,660 tonnes of food from Tesco – including food donated from the twice yearly Neighbourhood Food Collections – to over 2,100 charities across the UK. Our rewarding and longstanding partnership with Tesco means this latest donation will help us reach – and feed – even more vulnerable people.”

There’s a population crisis all right. But probably not the one you think. While all eyes are on human numbers, it’s the rise in farm animals that is laying the planet waste: Human numbers are rising at roughly 1.2% a year, while livestock numbers are rising at around 2.4% a year. By 2050 the world’s living systems will have to support about 120m tonnes of extra humans, and 400m tonnes of extra farm animals – More from George Monbiot on the Guardian here.

FrackOffAfter nearly 5 years Cuadrilla have abandoned their proposed fracking site at Becconsall near Banks, Lancashire. This is the same site that was occupied by protesters on the same day that Cuadrilla admitted causing seismic activity back in 2011. Residents and members of the UK’s very first anti-fracking community group Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) said: “REAF would like to thank all those who have supported us as we continue our work with other communities faced with the dangers of fracking.” Cuadrilla are still trying to press ahead with two new sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre, in Lancashire. They are trying to overturn Lancashire Councillors refusal by taking an appeal to the planning inspectorate” and “It comes as no surprise to members of REAF that exploratory drilling company Cuadrilla are to abandon the Becconsall site and remove over 150 monitoring stations in the local area. Their failure to comply with time frames and mitigation measures imposed on them by Lancashire County Council has shown their disregard for the planning process and has left locals with many unanswered questions.” Read more…

The world’s most widely used insecticides harm the ability of bumblebees to pollinate apple trees, scientists have discovered. The finding has important implications for agriculture and the natural world, say the researchers, as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce. There is good evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees but the new research, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show a negative impact on the vital pollination services bees provide. However new research has also shown that organic pesticides also increase the risk to bumble bees. Nematode worms, meant o infect and kill pests such as slugs and caterpillars, were found to wipe out up to 90% of bees within four days by scientists at Liverpool John Moores University who led the research.

Our Claire on the London Climate March

Our Claire on the London Climate March

Conservationists are calling for an end to a government cull of tens of thousands of fruit bats in Mauritius that they say is putting the survival of the threatened species at risk. Authorities began shooting 18,000 Mauritius fruit bats (Pteropus niger) on 7 November, despite protests and even though the species is protected on the Indian Ocean island and listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, the world’s conservation union. The government claims the cull is necessary because the number of bats has soared to almost 100,000 and is causing significant economic damage to the country’s lucrative fruit crops of banana, pineapple, lychee and mango.

The EU has dropped a plan to pressure countries into cutting food waste and marine litter by nearly a third, documents seen by the Guardian show. The law would have obliged countries to reduce food waste 30% by 2025 with national strategies for their retail, distribution, manufacturing and hospitality and household sectors. By 2030, under an aspirational target, countries would also have had to cut common pieces of rubbish found on their beaches by 30%, as well as fishing gear found at sea. But in the new draft of the EU ‘circular economy’ legislative proposal, which could change, references to marine litter have been removed and countries are merely asked to take unspecified “measures” to curb food waste, with no time frames or targets. More on the Guardian here.

Namibian lionFrance has banned the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies, nearly four months after the killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion by an American trophy hunter sparked international outrage. In a letter to the actor and animals rights activist Brigitte Bardot, France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal, said that she had instructed officials to stop issuing permits for lion trophies and was considering stricter controls on trophies from other species.

Stephanie Choate, a champion angler and a board member of marine conservation body Wild Oceans has been filmed riding on the back of a bluefin tuna holding a bottle of champagne. The fish had been hauled beside a boat.  Choate said ‘its hard to explain the love I have for these fish’ on an Instagram posting. The bluefin population in Nova Scotia has halve din the last 45 years.

The UK could get more than a third of its electricity demand from offshore wind by 2030 while also supporting 50,000 skilled jobs, a new Offshore Wind Vision document has found.  The document outlines a trajectory for offshore wind that will provide the UK with the “best opportunity for cost-effective decarbonisation”. Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council said: “It is only 15 years since the first UK offshore wind farm – just two 2 megawatt turbines – began operating. Since then the technology has matured rapidly to the point where the UK leads the world in deployment and could readily build 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2030.”

Britain will enter the Paris climate change talks this week with its credentials as a responsible, low-emission power generator in tatters. That is the stark conclusion of one of the country’s leading energy experts, Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University. Haszeldine believes George Osborne’s last-minute decision to axe the government’s £1bn support for a scheme to capture and bury carbon dioxide emissions from power stations was a final act that utterly undermined British negotiators’ status in Paris. More here.

imagesJapan is set to resume whaling early next year, after a break of more than 12 months, in defiance of an international court of justice ruling that it cease the practice. The Japanese government says it has taken into account the court ruling and its “scientific” whaling programme will catch only a third of the minke whales it caught under its previous programme – 333 instead of 1,000 – which it halted in March last year. Japan’s international whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, said in a letter that his government had “sincerely taken into account” recommendations of the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee. He said Japan’s new programme “does not require any substantial changes” and confirmed whaling would resume.

Shifting disease patterns, extreme weather events and degraded air and food quality are examples of how climate change is already killing tens of thousands of people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned . The UN agency said the upcoming global climate change conference in the French capital, Paris is an “important opportunity” to protect the health of current and future generations. Climate change is “the defining issue for the 21st century,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN agency estimates that seven million people died from diseases related to air pollution in 2012, making it the world’s largest single environmental health risk. It also predicts that between 2030 and 2050, an additional 250,000 people will die from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and under-nutrition. WHO will be in Paris for the global climate change conference, known as COP21, which kicks off at the end of the month.

We Remember

Nick Alexander, the Eagles of Death Metal’s Merchandising Manager.

Nathalie Jardin, who ran the house lighting at Le Bataclan and known by her nickname “Natalight”

Thomas Ayad, 34. International Product Manager for Mercury Records France

Guillaume B. Decherf, 43. Journalist for celebrated French music and culture magazine, Les Inrockuptibles

Marie Mosser, 24. Digital Marketing executive at Mercury Records France

Manu Perez. Music industry marketing executive who worked at Universal Music France for over a decade

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

whales killed

Environmental Investigation Agency

treehuggerEnvironmental photographer of the year shows climate change issues across the world – some marvellous photos can be found here  http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/culture/environmental-photographer-year/#slide-top. Photo credit  Kevin McElvaney & Adam Latif, 2013

Sir David Attenborough, perhaps the most respected of all our wildlife broadcasters and a veteran campaigner, has warned that climate change is real and dangerous and that politicians, and others in authority and power, find it easier to deliberately ignore the compelling evidence of global warming. Sir David told Sky News “its a very major serious problem facing humanity” adding that the penalty for not taking notice is “huge”. That said, a group of leading economists have warned that the UN’s target to limit global temperature rises to 2C is too ‘costly’ and should be abandoned as the (economic) cost of limiting change was far outweighed by the economic damage,  with economist Dr Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and director of the Copenhagen Consensis Centre saying that the UN target should be raised to 3C because the cost of limiting warming to 2C – estimated to be $100 trillion to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy – vastly outweighed the benefits – as adapting to climate change (droughts, storms, floods, environmental damage) would be much cheaper. World leaders meet in Paris next December to try and agree a deal to limit global temperature increases.

fossil-fuel-graphicVast underground reserves of oil, gas and coal should be classified as off limits if the world stands any chance of averting dangerous climate change, a major study of global fossil-fuel deposits has found. Scientists calculated that a third of global oil reserves, half of gas reserves and more than 80 per cent of coal reserves should remain in the ground as “unburnable” to avoid exceeding the 2C “safe” threshold for global warming. The Independent reports that the scale of the problem facing the climate negotiations in Paris later this year is writ large in the study by Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins of University College London who have identified the critical fossils fuels and their locations that need to remain untouched and unexploited. China, Russia and the United States will have to leave their huge deposits of coal – the dirtiest of the three main fossil fuels – underground, while the Middle East will need to agree to keep much of its wealth-creating oil and gas reserves where they are. Similarly, Canada will have to relinquish its ambitions of producing oil from tar sands and the Arctic nations, mainly Russia, will have to agree that exploiting oil and gas in this environmentally sensitive region would be incompatible with a global climate agreement.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012New data from the National Grid has revealed that UK wind power generation rose by 15% in 2014, while separate figures from WWF Scotland round-up a record-breaking year for renewables north of the border. National Grid statistics show a rise from 24.5TWh to 28.1TWh electricity generated from renewables in the UK in 2014 – enough to power approximately a quarter of UK homes all year round. Wind farms feeding into the grid and single turbines connected to local networks together provided 9.3% of the UK’s total electricity supply in 2014, up from 7.8% in 2013. The UK’s wind sector success is being echoed across Europe as recent figures show Denmark and Germany also broke wind power output records last year. Danish local media has stated figures from Energinet.dk which reveal that 39% of all electricity used in Denmark in 2014 was generated by wind power. Production varied between nearly 62% in January and 23% in June. Meanwhile, reports from Germany reveal the country saw a record amount of electricity produced from wind energy in December, with renewable energy research institute IWR citing a record 8.9TWh of electricity generated by wind during the month. IWR director Norbert Allnoch said: “The main reason for the record-breaking wind power production is the current cyclonic weather with lots of low pressure areas.” IWR believes the record will be overtaken in 2015 as more offshore wind projects come online.

Edie.net reports that nuclear energy is an essential resource for replacing fossil fuels and environmental activists must drop their opposition to it, leading scientists have warned. A group of 75 biologists, including professors from Oxford and Cambridge, co-signed an open letter arguing that nuclear power must be deployed to replace the burning of fossil fuels, “if we are to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change”. But the statement has reignited the debate over UK nuclear power, as Greenpeace hit back, reiterating that cheap, clean nuclear reactors are currently an unrealistic proposition.

UKIP_logoThe Ukip energy spokesman Roger Helmer has claimed that climate change is still ‘open to question’ and says that the party would repeal legally binding targets to reduce emissions, if elected. Speaking to The Independent, Helmer said: “The relationship between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels is hugely open to question, especially as there hasn’t been any global warming for the last 18 years according to satellite data.” As a result Helmer said a Ukip government would immediately repeal the Climate Change Act – which enforces an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, compared to 1990. Helmer went on to criticise the latest IPCC report, in which hundreds of scientist concluded that climate change is real and undeniably caused by human activity – MEP Helmer says the projections are ‘grossly exaggerated.’ Elsewhere in politics, the Green Party has proposed a 10% cut in rail and bus fares “to relieve the national reliance on carbon-intensive forms of transport”. The scheme, projected to cost around £9bn over the course of the next Parliament, will be paid for by scrapping the majority of the current Government’s £15bn road building programme. And the current UK coalition government  has provided well over a billion pounds in loans to fossil fuel projects around the world despite a pledge to withdraw financial support from such schemes, an analysis of loans made by the UK’s export credit agency has revealed. Gazprom in Russia, Brazil’s state-owned oil company and petrochemical companies in Saudi Arabia are among the companies benefiting from around £1.7bn in government funding over the course of the parliament, Greenpeace found. The UK Export Finance (UKEF) deals appear to fly in the face of the 2010 coalition agreement, where the Conservatives and Lib Dems pledged to clamp down on funding for fossil fuel operations abroad.

New York City has banned single-use styrofoam packaging! This is great news for our planet. “By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, [this] is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City,” says Mayor Bill de Blasio.

energylabelNew energy efficiency measures have been brought in by the European Union (EU) with the aim of helping reduce energy consumption in 2015 The rules, which were agreed by all EU Governments, aim to reduce member states’ household energy bills by more than £30 a year as well as greatly benefitting the environment. According to EU figures, by 2020 consumers using energy efficient products in their homes could save more than £300 a year.

Edie also reports that Asda is collaborating with TV chef Jamie Oliver to reduce food waste by selling a new range of misshapen fruit and vegetables at reduced prices. The initiative, called ‘Beautiful on the Inside’, will be trialled at five Asda stores, starting on 26 January. The idea was reportedly born when farmers told Oliver on his Friday Night Feast TV show that a significant amount of fruit and veg isn’t being sold as ‘fresh’ because it’s ‘wonky’ or ‘ugly’.

rainforestwikiSome good news: Tropical rainforests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. That’s according to the ‘Effect of increasing CO2 on the terrestrial carbon cycle,’ a NASA-led study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, which estimates that tropical rainforests absorb 1.4 billion metric tonnes of CO2 out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion, more than boreal (coniferous) forests in the northern hemisphere.

Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) – the Americas Cup sailing team led by the four-time Olympic gold medallist – has announced that its groundbreaking new headquarters will be powered completely by renewable energy The team base, currently under construction on the Camber in Portsmouth, will be powered specifically by high efficiency solar PV technology. The initial target is to supply 90% of the team’s electricity power needs, with this improving to 100% once energy monitoring is implemented. The headquarters, scheduled for completion in May 2015, will also be accorded BREEAM ‘Excellent’ status.

Sainsbury’s has confirmed that it is now sourcing 95% of its palm oil from certified sustainable suppliers. In total more than 1,100 Sainsbury’s own-brand products now use certified sustainable palm oil.

The food and drink industry must curtail the amount of water used in production to avoid two thirds of the world’s population living in ‘water-scarce’ areas by 2050. That’s according to the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) which has produced a new policy report calling for co-ordinated action to reduce the amount of hidden water used in food and drink production – estimated to be 2,000-5,000 litres per person per day. In the report, IChemE proposes government-enforced targets of a 20% reduction in water use in global food production.

ANOTHER PLANET?

6769_dolphins_1_460x230In Peru,  fishermen are slaughtering up to 15,000 dolphins every year — for bait to catch endangered sharks.  Now Avaaz is fighting to end this nightmare. Dolphin hunting is already illegal and punishable with several years in prison, but authorities in Peruare turning a blind eye — allowing thousands of dolphins and sharks to be butchered. That said, the government in Peru cares a lot about Peru’s international reputation, especially for tourism, and if we can make them feel embarrassed with a massive global campaign, we are sure they’ll start taking action to end the massacre.  Avaaaz are looking to deliver a million signatures from all over the world to the government of Peru: Avaaz will place ads in tourism magazines in countries where most of  tourists to Peru come from – and the government won’t be able to ignore us! Help stop the brutal slaughter by signing now:  http://www.avaaz.org/en/dolphin_hunt_peru/?bWaAcdb&v=33685.

Sea Shepherd has accused a Japanese whaling fleet of killing four minke whales in protected waters – an internationally designated whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean. The hunt was confirmed by New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully. The Japanese fleet whales in the name of scientific research – although whale meat ends up on commercial markets. It caught 103 whales last year, down from 267 in 2012 and 681 in 2009 according to the Japan Fisheries Agency. It had an annual target in 2013 of 1,000 whales.

China has destroyed more than six tonnes of ivory ornaments worth over £7 million in an unexpected stand against poachers and smugglers. The move took place in Dongguan, a notorious ivory trading hub.

In Japan, Sushi restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura has paid 7.36 million yen (£43,000) for a 230Kg blue fin tuna at the first auction of the year. Last year he bid £900,000 for a similar sized fish. Worldwide consumption of blue fin is leading to its rapid decline and over 90% are caught before they can reproduce.  Japan eats about 80% of the catch. 1,729 fish were sold at the auction.

windturbines_300UK Ministers will have to cut subsidies to the UK wind farm sector under pressure from the European Commission – the Commission has also told the UK to cut support for solar energy by the end of the decade. Government subsidies means that the UK pays four times as much for energy generated by wind (£95 MWh) compared to Brazil which has an open market. The Duke of Gloucester is brining a landmark case to allow him to erect for giant wind turbines on his own land. Barnwell Manor Wind Energy wants to build four 400ft-high turbines – opposed by English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council who won a High Court decision blocking the move in March 2013 claiming the development would blight unspoilt Elizabethan countryside and overshadow Lyvden new Bield, a Grade 1 listed lodge. The Court of Appeal will now decide the matter.

As the USA shivered in temperatures of up to -50C, the UK has had the wettest December for two decades, the worst storms seen in a lifetime and extensive flooding: Sir David King, the government’s special envoy on climate change has warned that the UK needs to spend much more on flood defences – potentially doubling spending to £1 billion a year by 2020 to meet the challenges of climate change with storms and flooding far more likely to happen than 100 years ago. The storms on the UK have claimed three lives so far in 2014.The only good news is that Britain’s wind farms are expected to generate a record amount of energy – up to 6.4GW during each half hour during the storms – enough to power 6 million homes.

UK energy regulator Ofgem has said ‘it can’t find out the truth on energy prices’ and how and if energy companies are ripping off customers because energy markets lack transparency. Labour had accused the energy companies of artificially inflating wholesale energy prices. The energy companies will have to pay customers in Southern England who lost electricity supplies over Christmas due to the severe weather £75 in compensation. Scottish & Southern Energy said it would pay customers £54 for homes that lost power for up to 48 hours  and then £54 for each further full 12 hour period – with a payment of £75 for Christmas Day.

The classic light bulb is getting a make over – the new Philips SlimStyle a new flat design that makes it more sturdy, easier to fit and it lasts for over 20 years. The LED bulb gives out light equivalent to a 60W traditional bulb and does not flicker, uses less energy and does not shatter.

Only one in ten drivers involved in accidents that kill cyclists ever go to prison. Between 2010 and 2012 40 cyclists were killed on the roads in London but only four of those convicted for the deaths went to prison.  24 cases never even made it to court. British Cycling and the Green party are asking for a review of the justice system.

OThe UK’s Environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has said that Developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodlands if they agree to plant ‘offset’ woodland  to replace the trees which would be felled to provide land for new housing. The ‘biodiversity offsetting’ might mean 100 new trees are planted for every tree felled – but groups such as the Woodland Trust have warned that the move would sweep away cherished woodlands and that it would be impossible to recreate mature woodlands in anyone’s lifetime. The Government abandoned plans to sell 250,000 hectares of publicly owned woodland in 2011 after more than half a million people signed a petition opposing the sale.

London Marine, a British mineral company, is trying to attract Chinese and other international investment to build a £1.5 billion iron ore mine just outside the Arctic Circle in Greenland according to the Times.

Edie.net reports that the United Nations (UN) has been urged to be “bold, courageous and provocative” when mapping out its vision for a sustainable future for humanity. The UN is currently planning a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will include action to tackle poverty, disease, environmental degradation and promote sustainable economic growth between now and 2030. Calling for a long-term “master plan”, May East, the chief executive of Edinburgh based UN sustainability agency CIFAL Scotland, told members of the UN Trusteeship Council in New York that a radical new approach was needed to manage the effects of urbanisation.

UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is investing in a new £250m energy recovery centre to be built in Teesside. GIB will invest £20m in the facility, which will convert more than 420,000 tonnes of residual waste into energy each year, and will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 60,000 homes each year.  It will also save more than 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, equivalent to the annual emissions of 780,000 cars.

Nissan has confirmed that its 100% electric taxi – the e-NV200 – will hit the streets of London in 2015 speeding up efforts to help the city meet 2020 pollution targets. Introducing the new taxi next year, the vehicle will be years ahead of the Mayor’s 2020 target for the development of a zero-emissions taxi and will complement the low greenhouse gas emitting NV200, launching this year.

scotlandNew rules on recycling waste have come into force for Scottish businesses. The Waste (Scotland) Regulations require waste to be separated into paper, card, plastic, metals and glass for collection.  All food businesses producing more than 50kg of food waste each week must present it for separate collection, unless they are in a rural area. Those failing to comply with the new laws from 1 January risk a maximum fine of £10,000.  The Scottish government, with its agency Zero Waste Scotland, recommends businesses should audit waste to see where most of it comes from, and contact their waste contractors about how best to arrange separate collections.

prototype shower system has been developed that claims to offer massive water and energy savings by recycling water while you wash. The OrbSys Shower – the brainchild of Swedish designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi – operates on a closed loop system by purifying hot wastewater from the tap once it hits the drains and recycling it back into water of a drinking quality standard, before pumping it back up to the showerhead.  As the process is quick, the water remains hot and only needs to be reheated very slightly. According to Mahdjoubi, there is no compromise in water pressure while in operation and the system can save more than 90% water and 80% energy while you wash.

And finally – new climate models taking greater account of cloud changes indicates heating will be at higher end of expectations. Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study led by Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia who said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world’s governments deem dangerous.