The Guardian view on Paris 2015 back in January – still worth a read: COP21 – the world’s last best chance to reach an agreement on cutting carbon emissions: The Pope, President Obama and President Xi are all on the same side. But it doesn’t guarantee victory:
This time last year the water was lapping at front doors from Godalming in Surrey and Tonbridge in Kent, they were still clearing up after a tidal surge along the east coast in early December, the Scottish lowlands were on full flood alert and there were ominous signs of the catastrophe looming for the Somerset levels. No single weather event is evidence of climate change, but the freak weather of those months left no one in any doubt of what an extreme weather event would look like. There was nothing more for the climate change scientists to add.
This time next year, the Paris summit that holds out the best hope for a broad, UN-brokered agreement on cutting carbon emissions will be over. It is of universal importance that a deal is struck that is ambitious and achievable. There are several reasons why that looks more possible now than it has done for years. President Barack Obama clearly hopes that he can make climate change part of his legacy. He is reportedly ready to use his powers to override Congressional opposition to his proposal for a cut in carbon emissions, by 2025, of between 26% and 28% over the 2005 level. The US readiness to make a commitment was matched by China’s president Xi Jinping, for the first time, offering a date for “peak” carbon emissions of 2030. The agreement, announced in November after the two leaders met in China, was welcomed by the UN’s climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, who said it would make a real contribution to the success of the Paris conference. And the EU has agreed to a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990, as well as to new targets for the generation of renewable energy. READ THE WHOLE EDITORIAL HERE.
The UN climate talks in Bonn have been “painstakingly slow” according to some observers, but the final day generated some optimism, particularly with regards to funding for poor countries dealing with extreme weather. Negotiators gathered in Bonn over the past four days to work on the text of a climate deal that can be presented to heads of state in Paris in December. The negotiators’ role is to simplify and streamline the text into a document that can be easily debated and hopefully agreed upon
The cost of generating electricity from renewable resources such as solar and wind has more than halved in the last five years according to the International Energy Association. The group’s new report, entitled ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition’, suggested that the median cost of producing baseload power from solar power, fell from around $500/Mwh to $200/Mwh over five years. Likewise, the cost of onshore wind fell to around $100/Mwh. And onshore wind could be cost-competitive with new gas generation by 2020 but needs continued Government support to get there, a new report from centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange has found. The report, Powering Up: The future of onshore wind in the UK, claims that onshore wind is the cheapest form of low carbon energy and “should logically continue to play a role in cutting carbon emissions”. In June, the Government announced plans to end the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy for onshore wind from March next year. It also mooted the possibility of banning onshore wind from the RO’s replacement subsidy scheme – the Contracts for Difference auction. As many as 73% of manufacturers want to see legislative reform of the UK’s current environmental and climate change policies, according to a new survey by the manufacturers organisation EEF. Respondents claimed that existing regulations are harming their international competitiveness.
There are at least 10 pieces of legislation affecting manufacturers on waste alone, with another five key pieces of legislation that relate to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. More on Edie.net here.
Badger culls in Dorset, Somerset and Gloucestershire have got under way, the UK government has confirmed. The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has not said exactly when the culls began in the three counties. Dorset is a new area for the pilot cull, but it is the third year for Somerset and Gloucestershire. It is thought 2,000 badgers will be killed and ministers and farmers insist culling is necessary to tackle the spread of bovine TB, which results in thousands of cattle being slaughtered every year. The Badger Trust has said that figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request from Defra showed that the last cull cost the British Public £6,100 for each badger killed. Wendy Higgins, from Humane Society International, said: “The point of the culls was to find out if the culls were feasible, safe and humane to shoot a specific number of badgers over a particular period of time. The culls of year one and year two have shown a spectacular failure… We don’t need to carry on pointlessly shooting badgers in order to prove what we have already seen which is that culling badgers is a pointless failure.”
Gibraltar, don’t let go on National Day on September 10th. The mass release of balloons will kill more than your good reputation – it will kill far too many sea birds.
India’s Ministry of Power has announced it will replace all conventional lightbulbs in streetlights and the domestic sector with LED bulbs by 2017. The programme will reduce power load by 5 GW, saving 10.5bn kWh every year, translating to savings of £581m. Twenty million bulbs will be replaced by LEDs at an estimated cost of £250m. The plan was first mooted back in January, but the Minister of Power Piyush Goyal announced on Friday that it would be completed in the next two years. And Japanese solar firm Kyocera has completed the installation of 4,300 solar streetlights along Brazils new motoring artery, the Arco Metropolitano do Rio de Janeiro. More than half of the newly-built 145-km road, which connects the five main highways crossing Rio de Janeiro, will be lit by solar lights. The entire project will produce around 2.8GWh of solar energy per year, equivalent to the amount of power used by 1,500 average homes and equal to the carbon dioxide emissions that 1,583 acres of forest would offset. Rio de Janeiro has become the first city to reach full compliance with the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of city leaders dedicated to making their cities more resilient to climate change.
Researchers in Brazil have finished constructing a 325-metre high tower that will analyse the Amazon rainforest’s gas emissions, to help understand climate change. The €8.4m Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) is taller than the Eiffel Tower and will start collecting data on heat, water, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns over the rainforest later this year. It will link up with two smaller towers to collect data for 20 to 30 years.
The Times reports that Soma Oil & Gas, the oil company chaired by Lord Howard, the former Conservative leader, did not tell the Somali government that it was paying a Canadian lawyer who was allegedly advising the Somali oil ministry. The company is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK.
Edie.net reports that countries from the Middle East will likely be be exposed to ‘extreme water stress’ by 2040, threatening national security, the World Resources Institute has found. WRI scored future water stress—a measure of population and surface water depletion—in 167 countries using their Aqueduct analysis. The report suggested that 33 countries would be at risk from water-stress, 14 of them from the Middle East. Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon all scored 5.00 out of 5.00 in analysis highlighting countries at continuous risk from water scarcity in the next 25 years. The deterioration of the Middle East, home to over 350m people, will threaten economic growth and national security, according to the report. It will likely see more people move to increasingly overcrowded cities, and some of the effects are already being seen with the ‘death’ of the Dead Sea.
The Showman’s Show have said that numerous exhibitors at the outdoor events exhibition event on the 21st and 22nd October will be showcasing their environmentally friendly credentials. From fuel-saving power solutions, re-useable plastic cups and lithium LED towerlights to collapsible toilets and fully recyclable carpet there are a host of innovative products on display for visitors to browse. The Showman’s Show have also introduced a new category to the Show’s stand awards – the Green Supplier and Innovation Award. It will recognise and reward the exhibitor who best demonstrates that they are making a special effort toward environmentally sustainable practices, products and services. The submissions will be judged by event sustainability champion, Chris Johnson of Powerful Thinking, who has also set the criteria. More here.
Kambe Events have announced a master class for event professionals has been announced in Bristol on 19 November 2015. Bristol is the European Green capital in 2015. The day will include presentations by waste experts, behaviour change experts and festival directors, followed by a practical workshop to create your own action plan for 2016. Kambe Events, the company behind the award-winning Shambala Festival, will be joined by leading experts for an all day practical workshop on how to improve your audience experience, change behaviours, manage costs and minimise your environmental impact by approaching waste management in a holistic way. In a statement Kambe said: “Imagine: A festival site where all you can see is grass rather than litter; an audience which recycles without thinking; being clear about the best options for managing your waste, and knowing what happens to your waste when it leaves site. It’s possible, but why learn the hard way when you can gain insights from leading industry experts with over a decade of specialist experience”. The event will cost £195 + VAT per participant (Earlybird, AIF and AFO member discounts available). Earlybird Discount: 25 per cent until 30 September 2015. More here.
edie have nnounces the Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 finalists – and you can find them all here !
More than three quarters of UK households would support renewable energy projects such as wind turbines and solar farms if the profits generated benefitted the local community, a poll has found. Co-operative Energy polled 2000 UK adults in order to reveal public attitudes on community projects in the wake of the Government’s decision to consult on subsidy withdrawals for community energy generation investment. Co-operative Energy general manager Ramsay Dunning said: “The overwhelming picture from our poll is that the British public support renewable, and most importantly, community energy generation. Therefore the Government’s decision to withdraw its support from the renewable sector is extremely disappointing and at odds with popular opinion.
Ed Davey, the former energy and climate change secretary, has accused George Osborne of putting tens of billions of pounds’ worth of private sector investment at risk with an assault on the green agenda he pioneered. The Liberal Democrat said the chancellor was pursuing “bonkers economics” and an ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy that risked leaving the UK hopelessly dependent in the longer term on fossil fuels such as gas. Phasing out aid for zero-carbon homes, onshore windfarms and solar arrays are among a raft of measures introduced by the Tories which represented “disastrous” economics, said Davey in his first interview since losing his seat in parliament.
In better news, whisky, forestry and household by-products will be turned into biofuels thanks to new funding awarded today by the Department for Transport. Three UK companies will share a £25 million fund to help them turn waste products into green fuel. And the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a £775,000 fund to help local authorities improve the collection, re-use and recycling of electrical goods. Councils are being urged to bid for a portion of the funding, with £40,000 available for individual local authorities, and up to £100,000 available for consortia bids. also in the enws, the Environment Agency will use €640,000 in funds from the European Union to develop a network aimed at stopping the illegal international shipping of waste. The fund, which comes from the European Union’s ‘LIFE’ programme, will help develop the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE).
Still in the UK, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has rejected four planned onshore wind farms in mid-Wales with a potential capacity of more than 350 MW. The reasons behind the refusals included adverse visual effects, local wildlife damage and a negative impact on tourism. A DECC spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to each application, and the planning and energy issues involved.” A fifth windfarm was granted consent, but denied permission to build an overhead power line, putting its feasbility in doubt. However, plans to expand Scout Moor onshore wind farm in Lancashire have been given the green light by the local council. Developers Peel Energy and United Utilities want to add a further 16 turbines to the 25 existing turbines; effectively bringing the total capacity of Scout Moor to 101.8MW – making it England’s largest wind farm, ahead of SSE’s 68MW Keadby project in Lincolnshire which has 34 turbines supplying 2MW each. The UK’s largest is Whitlee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow in Scotland, with 140 turbines and an installed capacity of 322MW. More on edie.net here.
Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management – could save as much as $22tn and avoid the equivalent in carbon pollution of India’s entire annual output of greenhouse gasses, according to leading economists. The Global Commission on Climate and Economy, an independent initiative by former finance ministers and leading research institutions from Britain and six other countries, found climate-smart cities would spur economic growth and a better quality of life – at the same time as cutting carbon pollution. If national governments back those efforts, the savings on transport, buildings, and waste disposal could reach up to $22tn ($14tn) by 2050, the researchers found. By 2030, those efforts would avoid the equivalent of 3.7 gigatonnes a year – more than India’s current greenhouse gas emissions, the report found. The finding upends the notion that it is too expensive to do anything about climate change – or that such efforts would make little real difference. Not true, said the researchers.
International governments could be unwittingly driving deforestation through misguided agricultural subsidies, a new UN report has found. The report examines the forest-food nexus, which is becoming evermore strained by the need to increase food production by up to 70% by 2050. However, current subsidy support systems are ineffective for increasing crop yields and harmful for forests, the report claims. “The negative impact of subsidies on forest cover is often caused by outdated and incoherent policies,” explained United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner. And the first ever worldwide waste report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says immediate action is required to shift from ‘take-make-use-waste’ to a circular economy. Global Waste Management Outlook – a report from UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – found that seven to 10 billion tonnes of urban waste is now produced each year, with three billion people across the globe still lacking access to efficient waste disposal facilities. And volumes of waste are likely to double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, fuelled by population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, according to the report.
A European transition to the circular economy could create three million extra jobs by 2030 and reduce unemployment by 520,000, a new WRAP study has claimed. The report, Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies builds on previous WRAP studies of the employment potential of closing the loop and extrapolates the findings across all 28 EU member states. The report found that there are already 3.4 million people employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste & recycling and rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. On the current development path, the circular economy is expected to create an extra 1.2 million jobs; and reduce structural unemployment by around 250,000. However WRAP claims both of these figures could be more than doubled by an ambitious development plan. In the charity’s own response to the EU’s public consultation on the circular economy, WRAP called for a specific food waste policy, greater encouragement of resource efficient business models, and the creation of a ‘target vision’ of what the ideal EU circular economy would look like.
The number of single-use carrier bags (SUCBs) has fallen by over 70% in Wales since a 5p charge was introduced, a new report has found, just weeks before the scheme is launched in England.
Some of the world’s largest food, beverage and tobacco brands are missing out on significant financial and production quality gains by failing to mitigate climate risks and reduce carbon emissions, a new report has warned. The report from CDP, titled ‘The forgotten 10%: Climate mitigation in agricultural supply chains’, collected data from 97 global companies on behalf of 822 investors that represent over a third of the world’s invested capital. It looked specifically at the agricultural production portion of producer’s supply chains, which is now responsible for 10-14% of global emissions. CDP concluded that food and beverage companies must widen their focus beyond their own operations to realise ‘significant opportunities’ from working with suppliers to cut emissions. “Collaboration with stakeholders holds the key for brands seeking to unlock opportunities to become resilient to climate change,” explained CDP’s co-chief operating officer Frances Way. “Our data shows that companies who engage with one or more of their stakeholders are more than twice as likely to see returns from emissions reduction investments as companies that don’t.” More here.
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, a South African ranger group consisting mostly of women, has been named as one of the winners of the top United Nations environmental prize. By bestowing its Champions of the Earth award to the Black Mambas, in the Inspiration and Action category, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is recognizing the “rapid and impressive impact” the unit has made in combatting poaching and the courage required to accomplish this task, the agency said in a news release.