Tag Archives: wind power

ANOTHER PLANET?

ten_indicators_of_global_warmingNasa has said that this year will almost certainly be the hottest yet recorded, after September narrowly turned out the warmest in modern temperature monitoring. Last month was 0.91C above the average temperature for that time of year from 1951 to 1980, the benchmark used for measuring rises. The new findings follow record-breaking monthly anomalies throughout this year, leading the agency to believe that because of the highs reported so far, 2016 will take the crown as warmest in the 136 years of modern data-keeping.

fridgeAt the UN conference in Rwanda, 197 nations have now agreed to drastically reduce their use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the  powerful greenhouse gas used in air conditioners, refrigerators, and foams – introduced to replace CFCs which were then destroying the ozone layer in the 1990s.  By cutting these pollutants, the world could avoid between 0.2°C and 0.44°C of warming by the end of the century, according to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. But its not all good news – developing economies have quite some time to phase out the gases. Developed countries like the United States will start cutting HFC use to phase out the greenhouse gases beginning in 2019. Countries like Brazil and India will have to cap their HFC use by 2024 — and they’ll receive aid to ease the transition. Ultimately, the deal could cut global HFC use up to 85 percent by 2047, the World Resources Institute estimates. Delegates meeting in Rwanda accepted the amendment to the Montreal and US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was a major victory for the Earth. “It’s a monumental step forward, that addresses the needs of individual nations but it will give us the opportunity to reduce the warming of the planet by an entire half a degree centigrade,” he told BBC News.

The number of plug-in electric cars on the world’s roads is set to pass the landmark of 2m vehicles by the end of 2016, with industry observers saying the electric car revolution is finally underway. A surging market in China is leading the way and Chinese-made models have pushed into the top five best-selling models. Europe is the second biggest market, followed by the US, but their traditional car manufacturers face a stern challenge from China and from Tesla, whose much-anticipated Model 3 is expected to go into production in 2017. In the United Kingdom, drivers of electric vehicles could be allowed to use bus lanes in five UK cities and even go first at traffic lights, to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, the government has suggested. Launching its consultation on clean air zones to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, the Environment Department said air pollution killed 50,000 people each year at an annual cost to society of £27.5bn.

Old growth forests in the Tarkine could be logged by private companies under plans being considered by the Tasmanian government to reverse a moratorium on harvesting 400,000 ha of high conservation value forests. The forests were part of 500,000 ha protected under the forest peace deal signed by the former Labor government in 2013, which would have seen them eventually gazetted into national parks. That deal was scrapped by the Hodgman Liberal government when it came to power in 2014, and the 400,000 ha of future forest reserves were rebadged as future potential timber production forests, to remain formally in reserves until 2020. More here.

Wind turbine near Kendal by Ben Challis

Wind turbine near Kendal by Ben Challis

Germany is taking steps to curb its booming windfarm sector in what it claims is a necessary move to stop the renewables revolution from undermining its own success. Critics, however, say the step will deal a blow to the country’s reputation as a leader in green energy. According to leaked plans from the German federal network agency, published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the government has had to halve its original target for expanding its windfarms in the windy northern flatlands because it cannot extend its power grid quickly enough to the energy-hungry south. On the UK, public support for onshore windfarms is far higher than widely believed, according to a new opinion poll, even in rural areas. Wind turbines are also far more popular than fracking or nuclear power, contrasting with the UK government’s decision to block onshore windfarms but back shale gas exploration and new nuclear power plants.  The ComRes poll, conducted for climate change charity 10:10, found that 73% of the British public supported onshore windfarms, with just 17% opposed, and the rest not sure. Strong support remained even when only considering the views of those from rural areas, who might live near windfarms: 65% support versus 25% against.

large-blueThe UK’s Big Butterfly Count has recorded its lowest number of common species since records began. Normally ubiquitous butterflies such as the gatekeeper, comma and small copper experienced their worst summers in the history of the count, which is run by Butterfly Conservation and began in 2010. Scientists said the low number of butterflies is “a shock and a mystery” because this summer was warmer than average and much drier in England than the previous worst year for butterflies, 2012, which was unusually cold and wet.

Many of the areas that have been recently marked as potential sites for fracking are rich in wildlife that perform crucial functions from pollination to decomposition, researchers have found. Scientists say that almost two-thirds of the areas that have been labelled as suitable for shale gas extraction have levels of biodiversity equal to or above the national average, according to a new analysis of records collected from across the country. “A lot of the areas that have opened up to shale gas licensing actually harbour much higher than average levels of biodiversity,” Tom Oliver, of University of Reading who is a senior author of the study in the Journal of Applied Ecology told the Guardian. “We only have one natural heritage and we have to protect it and so using these data to highlight those very valuable sites and to facilitate their protection is hopefully a useful thing to do.”

snow-leopard-mother-cub-580A report from Traffic says that hundreds of snow leopards are being killed every year across the mountains of central Asia, threatening the already endangered big cat, according to a new report. There are as few as 4,000 of the solitary and elusive cat remaining and numbers have fallen by a fifth in the last 16 years. But between 220 and 450 are killed each year, says Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, ahead of a meeting on the crisis at the UN in New York. The number could be much higher, the NGO warned, as killings in remote mountain areas often go undetected. An Ounce of Prevention: Snow Leopard Crime Revisited.  Combatting poaching and illegal trade of snow leopards is a key objective of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), which unites all 12 snow leopard range countries with intergovernmental and non-governmental organization partners.

A lawsuit has been filed against the Norwegian government over a decision to open up the Barents Sea for oil exploration which campaigners say violates the country’s constitution and threatens the Paris climate agreement. The case is being brought by an alliance including Greenpeace, indigenous activists, youth groups, and the former director of Nasa’s Goddard institute for space studies, James Hansen. And  Exxon Mobil Corp asked a US federal court to throw out a subpoena from New York state that would force the oil company to hand over decades of documents as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it misled investors about climate change risks. The filing means Exxon has now requested the US district court in Fort Worth, Texas for injunctions against two major climate subpoenas: one issued by New York and another from Massachusetts that the company challenged in June. Exxon, which for more than a decade has acknowledged the risks of climate change, has criticised the prosecutors’ inquiries as politically motivated.

Advertisements

ANOTHER PLANET?

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.

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN INDEFINITE GROWTH ON A PHYSICALLY FINITE PLANET IS EITHER MAD, OR AN ECONOMIST. David Attenborough, quoting Kenneth Boulding.

greatapesForest fires in Indonesia, mostly lit illegally to clear rainforest for palm oil plantations, have pushed Indonesia above the USA as one of the world’s dirtiest countries, releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere than the USA and India. It is estimated one billion tonnes of CO2 have been released from the fires this year alone, Some fires have spread to peat in which the forests grow, and this peat can burn for many years, releasing both CO2 and methane, a far more toxic greenhouse gas. Airports and schools in Indonesia have been forced to close because of the smoke and pollution. One wildlife refuge in Borneo is considering a mass evacuation of orang-utans from its local area as the fires and thick smoke threaten to wipe out the beautiful apes.  MORE HERE.

greatapes2

 

The European Union is on track to beat its target reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but any move to increase it from 20% to 30% will only be considered if matched by developed countries at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Hurricane Patricia, one of the most powerful storms on record, struck Mexico’s Pacific coast on Friday 23rd October with destructive winds that tore down trees, moved cars and forced thousands of people to flee homes and beachfront resorts. Hours after making landfall, the storm weakened but still packed winds of 130 miles per hour (210 km per hour). However, there were no reported casualties and officials said the damage might not be as catastrophic as feared.

Oh how we wish our Governments here in the UK had more vision and were not so in the thrall of the fossil fuel companies. Denmark, which has invested in windpower – is not about to export its surplus energy to the UK under plans unveiled by the National Grid who are planning  400 mile one billion Euro power line to link the two countries under the North Sea. The 1,400 megawatt cable could power up to one million homes and would be live in seven years. Whilst the cable could be used to export British energy to Denmark, it is expected that the flow will mostly be into the UK. A final decision in expected in 2018. The UK already imports electricity from France and Holland, and links to Norway and Belgium are planned.
The Guardian tells us that the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is used to big productions. On the edge of the Sahara desert and the centre of the north African country’s “Ouallywood” film industry it has played host to big-budget location shots in Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, The Living Daylights and even Game of Thrones. Now the trading city, nicknamed the “door of the desert”, is the centre for another blockbuster – a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020 with, it is hoped, some spare to export to Europe. The project is a key plank in Morocco’s ambitions to use its untapped deserts to become a global solar superpower. The potential for solar power from the desert has been known for decades. In the days after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 the German particle physicist Gerhard Knies, calculated that the world’s deserts receive enough energy in a few hours to provide for humanity’s power needs for a whole year. The challenge though, has been capturing that energy and transporting it to the population centres where it is required.

Up to 90% of community energy developers across the UK say that proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) would put their current projects at risk.
In a poll of 80 community energy companies, 67% thought their projects were ‘completely’ at risk, and 23% said they were ‘partially’ at risk due to the FIT review. More on Edie.net here.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed plans to remove ministerial powers over the Green Investment Bank (GIB) in a major step forward towards the bank’s controversial privatisation. Writing in a ministerial statement on the 15th October, Javid said he was planning to remove public sector controls that allowed ministers to veto changes to the articles of association of the bank.

windturbines_300And a new report has revealed that renewable energy in the form of wind and solar photovoltaics reduced the UK’s wholesale annual cost of electricity by £1.55bn. The report  by renewable energy company Good Energy, shows that the rise in renewable energy is currently lessening the impact that subsidies are having on bill payers. (Scroll down for full report).  Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport said: “What is not taken into account is the fact that renewable energy, such as wind and solar, has actually been bringing the cost of energy down for consumers. The bill payer money invested into supporting renewables yields significant benefits, let’s be very clear about that.” More here.

Due to the “worsening and persistent haze situation”, Friendly Dog Entertainment, the organiser of Singapore music festival Spring Wave 2015, has announced  that the outdoor event planned for Fort Canning Green on Oct would will be cancelled.  The National Environment Agency said the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index for the festival date were expected to be in the low to mid sections of the very unhealthy range.

Processed meats, including sausages, bacon, ham and salami have been classified as a known cause of cancer by the World Health Organisation alongside carcinogens such as cigarettes, asbestos and diesel fumes. The WHO says the based on an analysis of almost 800 scientific studies, processed and red meats cause tens of thousands of deaths each year, many from bowel cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that 8,800 cases of cancer in Britain each year are caused by eating processed or red meat.

Environment Secretaries from both New Labour and the Conservative party knew about the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that has hit VW and other car manufacturers who installed ‘defeat devices’ to allow their diesel cars to evade strict emission controls in the EU and the USA – and allowed £1.7 billion in tax breaks to be given to the car industry to promote diesel car sales.  Consumers were also led to believe that diesel cars are a ‘clean’ alternative to petrol cars. Research commissioned by Defra in 2009 showed that diesel cars were producing significantly higher emissions than expected when they were driven on the road – the then Environment Secretary was Hilary Benn according to the Times. In 2011 in Caroline Spellman’s time as Environment Secretary Defra identified an “inadequate” testing regime for diesel cars. Car makers are still spending an estimated £18.5 million each year trying to get the UK Parliament and the EU to water down emissions targets. Diesel emissions are a known cause of lung cancer.

parigi-570x350Nike, McDonalds, Sony and Dell are among 81 corporations that have signed up to a new White House-sponsored pledge promising individual and collective action on climate change. The White House announced that 68 new companies had signed up to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, joining 13 original signatories. By signing the agreement, the companies are calling for a’ strong outcome’ from the Paris climate talks, but the firms are also required to make significant pledges of their own to reduce emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy, and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses. Apple pledged to bring an estimated 280 megawatts of clean power generation online by the end of 2016, Berkshire Hathaway pledged to double its investment in renewables to $30bn, while Ikea promised to produce as much renewable energy as it uses by 2020.

Aston University will become the first university to offer its undergraduate students training in how climate change impacts businesses and society, when it hosts Carbon Week 2015 at the start of November. The University will dedicate a week of teaching for all second year undergraduates on understanding the challenge of climate change and the requirements of a low-carbon economy.

The University of Cambridge has signed an agreement with Cambridge Water to support the UK’s largest water recycling system at the University’s North West Cambridge Development site. The agreement between University and the water company will see two water supplies installed on the 150-hectare site – one which recycles rain and surface water to use for flushing toilets, clothes washing and garden watering, and another supplying high quality treated water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Matt Ridley, a Tory peer,  climate change sceptic, serially misguided columnist in the Times newspaper and owner of the land that is home to England’s largest opencast coal mine has seen the mine targeted by protesters who are calling themselves Matt Ridley’s Conscience and who closed the mine for 8 hours by blockading the entrance and chaining themselves to railings. Nine people were arrested on the Blagdon Estate after the protest ended. Ridley recently helped edit the report that promoted the benefits of CO2 emissions.

Google has announced plans to buy a 12.5% stake in the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Northern Kenya – Africa’s largest wind farm. The 310MW project will feature 365 wind turbines and provide almost a fifth of Kenya’s installed capacity.  The 40,000 acre project marks Google’s 22nd investment in clean energy, representing $2bn and 2.5GW power. Google has not disclosed the value of the investment.

A unique group of international heads of state, city leaders and international development banks has joined forces to call for an international price on carbon. The alliance – known as the Carbon Pricing Panel – is convened by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, and includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and California Governor Jerry Brown. The group argues that a price on carbon is an effective way to decarbonize the global economy as it provides certainty and predictability to the private sector so they can make long-term investments in climate smart development.

CRNOEdrWoAALp6OZero Waste Scotland has launched an 8-week social media campaign to encourage Scots to ‘upcycle’ unwanted pieces of furniture. The #DesignDoc campaign will see three Scottish designers transform one of seven items of furniture and post the details on Twitter and Facebook. Users who follow the #DesignDoc hashtag can see pictures of the piece of furniture waiting to be upcycled. Three ideas will be suggested by the designers as to how they might transform the piece and users will be asked to vote for their favourite design. The winning idea will be used to create the final upcycled article, with an accompanying ‘how to’ guide uploaded online with pictures.

The number of plastic carrier bags handed out in Scottish shops has reduced by at least 650 million in the first year of the nation’s 5p charge. New figures released this week – exactly a year after the levy was introduced – reveal that carrier bag usage has fallen by around 80%. The charge for single-use carrier bags has also raised around £6.7m for good causes in the past 12 months.

Edie.net reports that Britain’s forests, soil and rivers are worth at least £1.6tn and should be quantified in the same way as the country’s man-made infrastructure, environment secretary Liz Truss has said In a move which embraces the natural capital agenda, Truss said that trees and bees should be valued as “national assets” in the same way as structures such as the Forth rail bridge in Scotland. The environment secretary cited the example of Britain’s trees, which she says are more valuable in their natural form than as timber in the enjoyment they provide for people and their ecological role.

ANOTHER PLANET?

Indur Goklany, a scientist and former US delegate to the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) is to publish controversial claims that increased in CO2 in the atmosphere have boost crop yields and has little impact on global temperatures. His ‘Good News’ report on CO2 will be published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation an will say that rising CO2 levels boost crop yields by 10-15% and that the Earth is greener as a result of CO2 rising.

wowFood and grocery businesses across the UK are helping their employees to reduce their household food waste through a month-long campaign co-ordinated by WRAP and food research firm IGD. October marks the return of Working on Waste (WOW) month which uses the collective scale of the industry to talk directly to employees as consumers, driving behaviour change and engagement to take learnings about food waste beyond the workplace into households. Last year’s campaign reached over 650,000 employees from the food industry across 77 companies. Already this year, more than 100 companies from retailers to SMEs have signed up for the month-long initiative.

Tesla battery packs will be used to part-power 24 office buildings in California. The Irvine Company, a real-estate firm with properties throughout California, will install Tesla battery systems the size of five parking spaces, that will reduce peak grid energy consumption across the company’s entire portfolio by 25%. The storage system, the first of which will be installed later this year, will aim to reduce electricity costs and lower the reliance on power plants by charging the batteries during nonpeak hours. The stored energy will then be used when needed, or during power grid outages. The batteries can last between 4-6 hours without grid support.

orcaSeaWorld has been banned from bringing wild killer whales to its water park in San Diego, America. It has also been told to stop breeding orcas in captivity in a ruling from the California Coastal Commission. They gave the Park permission to double to the size of its orca enclosures on the condition that breeding and bringing in new whales stopped. It comes after criticism of the way the whales are treated there, something SeaWorld has always rejected.  Seaworldofhurt say orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years—their estimated maximum lifespan is 60 to 70 years for males and 80 to over 100 for females. The average age of death for orcas who have died at SeaWorld is 13 years old.  The commission’s decision to take the unprecedented step came after weeks of behind-the-scenes wrangling between Coastal Commission staff and SeaWorld attorneys over whether, in effect, the 1966 federal Animal Welfare Act gives the commission authority over the care and management of captive orcas, also known as killer whales. If, as the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper is urging, SeaWorld takes the Coastal Commission to court seeking to overturn the anti-breeding condition, the dispute over that 1966 law, and other legal arcana about the relative authority of state vs. federal agencies over marine mammals, will be central. The commission’s ruling has been applauded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other activist groups. including the Animal Legal Defense Fund. PETA has long asserted that the orcas are suffering in tanks that are too small and have been turned into circus performers. In 2012, PETA asked a federal judge in San Diego to rule that the orcas deserved protection under the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that banned slavery; the judge ruled that the amendment does not cover animals. More here.

UK Businesses that fail to meet the December deadline to comply with the Government’s new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) may be granted a reprieve until at least the end of January, the Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed. The EA said that specified that ESOS-affected companies that have demonstrated a plan to comply with the policy and are making progress as of the 5 December 2015 audit deadline will be given an extension until 29 January 2016 to become fully ESOS-compliant.

sea_ice_polar_bearA crucial meeting of the Arctic Council, in Anchorage, comes amid evidence that the polar region is warming faster than any other place on Earth and that sea ice coverage there has shrunk by nearly a third since 1979. Researchers now fear that new threats to climate stability are about to be unleashed in the Arctic. Warming in high latitudes is causing permafrost in Siberia and northern Canada to thaw and release plumes of methane stored there, they say. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and these releases threaten to trigger secondary rises in global temperatures. The US is to host summit of polar nations as fears grow that factory andfam emissions mean that the Earth’s frozen wastes are losing their ability to deflect harmful rays and scientists in Alaska will raise the vexed issue of methane and “black carbon” pollution as they discuss tipping-point dangers posed by global warming in the Arctic. The Arctic Council is made up of representatives of the main north polar nations – Canada, Denmark (through its dependencies of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. In recent years, its work has come into sharp focus as the Arctic has warmed up and its sea ice cover has shrunk, exposing once inaccessible oilfields and sea routes.More on the Guardian here http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/17/arctic-alaska-global-warming-threatens-ice-cap .

Edie.net reports that the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published its initial recommendations for the UK’s fifth carbon budget, suggesting a 54% cut in emissions by 2030 from a 1990 baseline. The Climate Change Act, which established a target for the UK to reduce its emissions by at least 80% by 2050, also called for five-yearly carbon budgets en route to that final target. The level of these budgets is recommended by the CCC and then voted on in Parliament. The CCC will publish its official recommendation for the fifth carbon budget – covering 2028-2032 – in November, with the Report marking its preliminary context assessment. The CCC wrote: “Our findings in this report suggest that a fifth carbon budget reflecting current international circumstances and EU commitments requires, on a best estimate, a reduction in UK emissions by 2030 of around 54% on 1990 levels.” The UK has broken records for national low-carbon growth and the country now tops PwC’s G20 Low Carbon Economy Index, but energy experts warn the results are largely due to “circumstance rather than policy”. According to analysis from PwC, the UK has seen 10.9% year-on-year declines in emissions from energy use – the highest reduction ever reported by PwC analysts in the past seven years. The main reason for the fall was a reduction in coal consumption of around 20%, due in part to the closure of a number pf coal-fired power stations. Strong economic growth and a warmer winter were among the other factors.

Rupert Murdoch, who never seems convinced by the overwhelming reality behind the science of climate change, has just bought National Geographic. Nort our words next but one opinion from TheSumofUs is this: “You read that right: one of the world’s most notorious climate change deniers, whose Fox media empire spreads misinformation on a massive scale, just got control of National Geographic. The National Geographic Society does incredibly important work on climate change — from publishing ground breaking stories to giving grants to scientists. But the new deal hands 73% ownership of its media operations to Fox.” Fox have been quite appalling in allowing platforms to climate change sceptics – so yes, a worry. More Fox nonsense here and on the Huffington Post here.

Sustainability is a strategic priority at just one quarter of UK further education institutions, a new survey from the Environmental Association for Universities & Colleges (EAUC) has revealed. The poll of 548 staff involved in sustainability in universities and colleges, also revealed that two fifths think their institutions are unlikely or very unlikely to meet emissions reductions targets. EAUC chief executive Iain Patton said, “Already this pioneering collaborative survey is flagging warnings that colleges in particular are struggling with sustainability adding “We won’t be waiting for next year’s survey to act and we will be supporting our Members across the UK to ensure sustainability is a critical agenda item at senior level.” A lack of financial and staff resources was identified as the biggest barrier to sustainability with support from the highest levels seen as the most important way of overcoming these barriers. A third of college sustainability staff and a fifth of university sustainability staff said they were expecting a decrease in budget. More on Edie.net here.

Sheringham_Shoal_Wind_Farm_2012Last week ago, Denmark made the absolute most out of a particularly windy 24 hours by harnessing its power and producing not only all of its own electricity needs for the day, but enough extra to spread between three neighboring countries. To be exact, the sustainable wind-power technologies harnessed and collected 144% of one days electricity needs. Denmark had previously developed its wind-power plants but on that particularly windy day, it reached 116% of its domestic electricity demands through wind farms and then exceeded even that impressive surplus, reaching 140%, causing Denmark to export excess power to Norway, Germany, and Sweden. 80% of the excess energy surplus was given in equal parts to Norway and Germany and Sweden received the remaining 20%. Germany and Norway possess hydropower systems with storage capabilities and were thus able to store the extra away for later use. And last month’s unseasonably warm weather proved a boon for clean energy output in Scotland, with enough sunshine to provide more than 70% of the electricity and hot water needs of homes fitted with solar panels. Stronger winds throughout the month led to an 80% leap in wind energy output across the country – enough power to supply the average electrical needs of 64% of Scottish households.

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) has raised £355m in the second tranche of investment for its Offshore Wind Fund, bringing the total value to more than £818m.

A planned power plant in Wales may look like the Guggenheim Museum but its benefits far outweigh the beauty: it will use the rise and fall of ocean tides to generate enough renewable electricity to power 155,000 homes for 120 years.
When completed, the structure will produce electricity enough to displace more than a quarter million barrels of oil each year— while leaving virtually no carbon footprint.

Waitrose has given the humble egg box a green makeover with the launch of a revolutionary new packaging material made from ryegrass and paper. The supermarket’s Duchy Organic Range, which was founded by Prince Charles, will now be nestled in green-coloured boxes made from equal amounts of ryegrass and recycled paper – a UK first, according to Waitrose.

dolphin-203875_1280Scientists from the UK, the USA and Australia have suggested that noise free zones should be set up in the world’s oceans to minimise the impact of human activity in the oceans. Noise from fishing, shipping, water sports can affect marine animals acoustic signalling and Dr Christopher Clark from Cornell University said “Marine animals, especially whales, depend on a natrally quiet ocean for survival but humans are polluting major portions of the ocean with noise”.

UK supermarket giant Tesco has developed a new circular economy solution allowing it to turn its own back-of store-plastic waste, such as pallet and multi-pack wrapping, into plastic bags. The waste-plastic material is collected and sorted by recycling firm Eurokey then processed and turned into bags by plastics-recycling expert Papier-Mettler.

A new EU-funded project aims to explore the commercial opportunities for harvesting critical raw materials and precious metals from unwanted electronic products. The €2.1m project, called Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery (‘CRM Recovery’), is a four-country collaboration, with the UK, Germany, Italy and Turkey all participating. WRAP research has shown that nearly 40% of electrical products go to landfill when they are disposed, while the United Nations University claims that this annual mountain of e-waste contains 16,500 kilotons of iron, 1,900 kilotons of copper, and 300 tonnes of gold.

airpollutionCarbon pricing can significantly reduce emissions without harming the global economy, a new report from the influential New Climate Economy (NCE) think-tank has asserted. The NCE’s latest paper analyses existing carbon pricing schemes which cover around 12% of global emissions, and considers the impact of a global rollout. It found that the nine states in the United States’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) performed better than other US states economically, growing 0.4% more from 2009-2013, while reducing their emissions significantly. Likewise, the report claims Ireland’s carbon tax, introduced in 2010, raised much-needed revenues and avoided even harsher fiscal tightening measures during the global financial crisis. British Columbia’s carbon tax helped reduce emissions by 10% in five years with better economic growth than the rest of Canada.

The Scottish Government has brought its campaign on the future of renewable energy to Westminster as it renewed calls for the Conservative Party to rethink its recent subsidy cuts. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing hosted a Renewables Roundtable event yesterday morning (12 October) to discuss the impact of recent UK Government decisions on renewables which Ewing says are “anti-business, anti-environment and anti-energy security”. “The impacts are spreading right across Scotland and the UK,” said Ewing. “It’s not just the renewables industry that is affected but also the wider supply chain, including ports and harbours, transmission and distribution, consultancy, communities and the civil engineering sector.” The Mark Group blamed recent government policy announcements for scuppering its turnaround plan. Almost 1,000 jobs were lost as one of the UK’s leading solar- panel installers went into administration.

Non-binding EU guidelines on shale gas exploration are “weak” and fail to protect the environment and health of citizens, a new report has claimed .
Jointly developed by Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe, the report – ‘Fracking business (as usual)’ – claims the EU’s current recommendations rely too heavily on self-monitoring by the oil industry to be able to implement any regulation changes. Friends of the Earth’s shale gas campaigner Antoine Simon said: “The European Commission and EU Member States lack the political will and ability to strictly regulate the fracking industry.

A new £700m waste processing facility is expected to help five Scottish councils divert up to 90% of their waste from landfill. Viridor had been selected to design, construct, finance and operate the Clyde Valley Residual Waste Partnership project, with a contract worth up to £700m over 25 years. North Lanarkshire is the lead authority for the contract, and is joined in the project by East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire. The facility will process approximately 190,000 tonnes of residual waste per year, helping Scotland towards national targets for recycling 70% and diverting 95% from landfill by 2025.

V20Finance ministers representing over 700 million people have announced a series of financial mechanisms to invest in climate resiliency and lower emissions for 20 of the world’s most vulnerable countries. Representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam form the Vulnerable Twenty (V20). The V20 held its inaugural meeting on the 8th October in Lima, Peru, where the nations together committed to “foster a significant increase” of public and private finance for climate action from wide-ranging sources.

 

Image

So true ….

wind power

ANOTHER PLANET?

parigi-570x350The United Nations (UN) has released a streamlined version of the negotiating text that will be used at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in December. The new document, drawn up by two co-chairs for the talks – Algerian diplomat Ahmed Djoghlaf and US counterpart Dan Reifsnyder – has been cut down from 89 to 20 pages, in a bid to provide a more succinct starting point for final round of pre-Summit talks in Bonn, Germany, later this month. The text clarifies which elements of the Paris climate talks would be legally binding agreements and which elements will be given a more flexible approach with decisions that can evolve over time. Legally-binding elements include long-term global goals for halting and reducing global GHG emissions to a near-zero phase, which will be implemented by countries submitting carbon reduction plans every five years intensifying their efforts in the process. Crucially, the draft has removed any mention of the shipping and aviation sectors, despite ample warnings that emissions in these sectors could skyrocket by up to 250% by 2050 without tangible targets from governments. The draft also mentions climate finance, offering up the potential for any country to increase their pledge to provide $100bn a year after 2020. However, the emerging ideology of a carbon market has been largely ignored.

Virgin_atlanticEdie.net reports that twenty-eight chief executives and aviation association leaders have penned an open letter to global governments urging them to commit to a joint approach to help deliver emissions reductions across the sector. The letter, coordinated by the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), has been signed by executives of companies representing over 90% of the world’s air traffic with a combined revenue of nearly a trillion dollars. It calls on governments to work with aviation companies to introduce a meaningful market-based measure – which considers ‘fair and equitable solutions’ for all countries under a range of circumstances – to reduce aviation emissions.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron effectively ignored energy and climate change at the Conservative Party Conference, despite the crucial Paris climate talks being just a few weeks away. Giving his closing speech at the Conference in Manchester , Cameron reiterated that tackling climate change is “at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission” – his only ‘green’ mention. Instead, affordable homes, social mobility and an outspoken attack on Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn took up the majority of Cameron’s hour-long speech. Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed plans to establish a new independent body to fast-track the building of new energy and transport infrastructure across the UK. The new National Infrastructure Commission will be led by Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis, Osborne said at the  Conference.

windturbines_300Onshore windpower is now the cheapest form of energy in Britain – but the Government continues to resist onshore turbines. New figures show they not only produce cheaper energy than coal, oil or gas power stations, but also remain far cheaper than offshore turbines. Onshore wind farms currently produce about 60 per cent of the UK’s wind power output. Although they are set to remain the predominant form of renewable energy in the next few years despite opposition in Westminster – which has stopped subsidies and given the final say on whether a project should go ahead to local residents – supporters of green energy say the country is missing a chance to maximise their potential. The cost of onshore wind power has fallen from $108 (£70.20) per megawatt hour (mWh) a year ago to $85 today, as they become more efficient and cheaper to build. Over the same period, coal-fired power stations have seen their costs rocket from nearly $98 mWh to $115 and gas from $100 to $114, after the EU agreed new rules that will greatly increase the amount they must pay for their carbon emissions. Offshore wind costs $175 mWh, according to the research, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. More on the Independent here. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has given her full backing for the cutting of subsidies for onshore wind and solar, insisting that “renewable energy can stand on its own two feet”. speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester Rudd said: “As we have already shown, we will be tough on subsidies. There is no magic money tree” adding “We said in our manifesto that we would halt the spread of subsidised onshore wind farms, and that’s exactly what we have done – this would have been impossible in the coalition” and “I support cutting subsidies – not because I am an anti-green Conservative, but because I am a proud green Conservative on the side of the consumer. We must be tough on subsidies. Only then can we deliver the change we need.” Ecotricity boss Dale Vince has accused the government of rigging the electricity market, by showering fossil fuels and nuclear power with huge subsidies, while taxing renewables and insisting they must ‘stand on their own two feet’. One of the pioneers of the United Kingdom’s renewable energy industry says the British government is distorting the market in an attempt to support fossil fuels and nuclear power. As news broke that two major UK solar companies, Climate Eneregy who installed solar panels, insulation and energy efficient boilers, and solar panel installer Mark Group, had gone out of business with over 1,000 jobs lost, the government subsequently confirmed it would delay the deadline for ending the wind subsidy. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has denied that subsidy cuts were responsible for the collapse of two solar panel installers in as many days, blaming the company failures on “commercial decisions”.   http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2985752/uk_rigging_power_market_against_clean_energy.html

Wind energy drove £1.25bn of investment into Britain’s economy last year, with the industry now employing 30,500 people, according to a new report from RenewableUK. The ‘Wind Energy in the UK’ report reveals that wind power has grown to generate 10% of the UK’s electricity needs, as more than 2GW of capacity was installed in 2014/15 – a growth of 18%, bringing total UK capacity to over 13GW. The study breaks down the expenditure in the industry, with £840m spent on offshore technology and a further £402m spent on onshore. Together, the two sectors provide 15,500 direct and 15,078 indirect jobs.
Africa could generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 if they were to follow guidelines laid out in a new report from the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA). The Africa 2030 report is part of IRENA’s global REmap 2030, which outlines methods to double the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix by 2030. More here.

The BBC has apologised for airing a half-hour radio show earlier this year in which a series of high-profile climate sceptics lined up to disparage the science behind global warming. What’s the point of the Met Office, aired in August, did not make clear sceptics are a “minority voice, out of step with scientific consensus,” the corporation said in an email to climate scientist Andy Smedley. “This was an unfortunate lapse for which we apologise and we would like to assure you we remain committed to covering all aspects of the subject in the most accurate and responsible way possible.” Presented by Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts, the show featured Peter Lilley MP, Graham Stringer MP, forecaster Piers Corbyn and Andy Silvester from the TaxPayers’ Alliance. All had previously questioned the veracity of climate science. They took the opportunity to mock the Met Office over its weather forecasting and climate modelling work.

The Mayor of Krakow has told the Guardian he will introduce a ban on coal use in households, offices, government buildings and restaurants after an amended Environmental Protection Act was signed by the country’s president, Andrzej Duda. Poland’s second largest city is as famed for the filthy smog that cakes its buildings and streets, as for its beautiful historic buildings. The European Environmental Agency has ranked it the third most polluted city in Europe and its particulate matter (PM) pollution can reach six times the safe levels.

Wildlife is abundant around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, despite the presence of radiation released by the world’s most catastrophic nuclear explosion nearly three decades ago, researchers have found. The number of elk, deer and wild boar within the Belarusian half of the Chernobyl exclusion zone today are around the same as those in four nearby uncontaminated nature reserves. Wolves, which are commonly hunted in the region because of their impact on livestock, were seven times as abundant with the zone, according to a new study.

Scotland’s renewable energy sector displaced 12.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year – a 120% increase since 2010, new data has revealed.
The figures were published in response to a recent Parliamentary Question tabled by Callum McCaig and answered by UK Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. They confirm that renewable energy projects – including wind, hydro and solar schemes – prevented the release of more than a million tonnes of CO2 per month in 2014. Twenty six million tonnes of carbon was displaced by the renewables industry in England, along with 2.2 million tonnes in Wales. More on edie.net here.

Last week, Poland became the fourteenth country in Europe to ban GMOs. One week later, the list of countries against genetically engineered crops has grown, with an estimated 17 EU nations in favor of boycotting GM maize and Monsanto altogether. Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, announced that the country of Wales will take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing Eu-authorized GM crops. She says that the nation plans to ban GM corn as well as 7 other GM crops authorized by the EU. In a press release shared by Greenpeace, it is relayed that at least 17 EU countries and four regions (in two other countries) are in the process of banning the cultivation of GM crops on their territories. The cut-off for nations to join the opt-out was October 3 of this year. By October 5, thirteen EU countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland) and four regional administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK, and Wallonia in Belgium) had formally notified the Commission of their intention to ban GM crop cultivation. Read More HERE.

african-elephant2A Chinese woman dubbed the “ivory queen” for her alleged leadership of one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings has been captured and charged. Yang Feng Glan is accused of smuggling 706 elephant tusks worth £1.62m from Tanzania to the far east. The Elephant Action League, a US-based campaign group, described her as “the most important ivory trafficker ever arrested in the country”. The 66-year-old is said to have been a crucial link between east African poaching syndicates and buyers in China, where ivory is prized for ornamental use, for over 14 years. Tanzania’s national and transnational serious crimes investigation unit had been tracking Glan for more than a year, according to the Elephant Action League.

The development of modular water sanitation infrastructure; an iron-deficiency educational programme and a water-saving shower have been announced as the three winning ideas from Unilever’s global innovation crowdsourcing campaign. The Unilever Foundry campaign, launched in June this year, encouraged peer-to-peer collaboration to create solutions to sustainability issues in the areas of sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. One hundred and fifty ideas were submitted across the three categories. “The Unilever Foundry ideas platform enables the general public to share ideas and develop solutions which help to make sustainable living commonplace,” explained Unilever’s senior vice president of sustainable business development and communications Sue Garrard. “Good ideas can come from anywhere, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the initial response to the three launch challenges. In addition to recognising and celebrating these ideas, we’re now looking at how we can support these innovators to bring these ideas to life.” The winner of Improving Access to Sanitation category was Saurabh Saraf’s, whose ‘Waterhubs’ idea involves the development of a modular water and sanitation infrastructure that will provide resource recovery, water treatment and shower and laundry services for urban slums. in the Imaging the Shower of the Future category, Yehuda Goldfisher’s winning idea involved a shower solution which incorporates two buttons: the first button wets the body before soaping, while the second button introduces a longer burst of water to wash the soap off while restricting water consumption.
Work on building the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has been delayed to spring 2017 because the government is taking “longer than expected” to finalise a contract for difference (CfD), Tidal Lagoon Power has said. A spokesperson for the firm said it would be ready to build once the remaining permissions have been secured and financial close with investors is achieved.

great barrierThe Guardian reports that cientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. For coral scientists such as Dr Mark Eakin, the coordinator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch programme, this is the cataclysm that has been feared since the first global bleaching occurred in 1998.

babyorangFires raging across the forests and peatlands of Indonesia are on track to pump out more carbon emissions than the UK’s entire annual output, Greenpeace has warned. As well as fuelling global warming, the thick smoke choking cities in the region is likely to cause the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in the region and is also destroying vital habitats for endangered orangutans and clouded leopards with the drifting smoke also provoking protests from neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The fires are mostly started deliberately and illegally to clear forest for paper and palm oil production, benefitting from recent droughts.

ANOTHER PLANET?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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