popefrancisThe most anticipated papal letter for decades will be published in five languages on Thursday. It will call for an end to the ‘tyrannical’ exploitation of nature by mankind and Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality. Could it lead to a step-change in the battle against global warming? But leading figures in the US on the American right are launching a series of pre-emptive attacks on the Pope before this week’s encyclical, hoping to prevent a mass conversion of the climate change deniers who have powered the corps of the conservative movement for more than a decade with the likes of James Inhofe, the “granddaddy of climate change deniers in the US” and chairman of the Senate environment and public works committee telling the Pope to stick to his job as a religious leader and Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic and a long-shot contender for the Republican nomination, saying “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.” More on the Guardian website here and here .

FrackOffFracking should be allowed at one of two sites on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, a report has recommended. Lancashire County Council’s most senior planning officer was responding to an application by energy firm Cuadrilla to extract shale gas at Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood. The application for Little Plumpton has been recommended for approval. Roseacre Wood has been recommended for refusal. The final decisions will be taken by councillors next week. Planning officers had previously said the site at Preston New Road should be turned down because of concerns over the impact of noise. But now they have recommended its approval if a number of conditions are met, including controlling time limits, hours of working and highway matters. Fears remain about water table pollution, environmental damage and the risk of earthquakes. You can see the work of the recently (peacefully) arrested Paul Mobbs on the links between the UK Government and the UK fracking industry here http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/archive/fracktured_accountability/frackogram_2015-A3.pdf . Paul was arrested under the Terrorism Act (Highways section) for blocking the entrance to Downing Street in his attempt to make a citizens arrest of four key members in the government. He has acted in this way as he believes that members in government are guilty of Misconduct In Public Office in reference to fracking. The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has dismissed claims that it intends to “fast-track fracking without public consent”.The Government has come under fire due to an open consultation being held by the Environment Agency, which could remove some of the red-tape around testing for oil and gas reserves at potential fracking sites. Currently, the Environment Agency is required to visit each potential fracking site, and carry out an environmental audit before activities can start. The proposed changes would instead create a one-size-fits-all set of regulations for companys looking to test oil and gas wells.However, the move has been described by green campaigners as “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

An international coalition of clean energy groups have launched a new campaign asking for the nuclear power industry to be barred from the UN climate talks in Paris. The Don’t Nuke The Climate campaign is being led by the Netherland’s World Information Service on Energy (WISE), and supported by green groups from Germany, Russia, France, Austria and the US. WISE director Peer de Rijk explained: “We are calling on 1,000 civil society organisations to join us for a campaign to block the nuclear industry’s lobby activities at COP21 and instead ensure the world chooses clean energy. It is the only real climate solution.”

A £200m tidal energy project in Lancashire is going ahead after the developers obtained rights to use the land. Natural Energy Wyre Limited will now take their project forward to the funding and planning application stage, after obtaining the rights from the Duchy of Lancaster. The project, dubbed the Wyre Tidal Barrage, is said to be UK’s first tidal energy power station, boasting an installed capacity of 90MW/hr. Essentially, a dam will be built across the 600m mouth of the Wyre estuary, and six turbines will capture the energy of the river as the tide moves in and out. The predictable nature of the tides reportedly offers a consistent reliable source of energy. The project has a lifespan of over 120 years, and will provide electricity for up to 50,000 homes in the UK.

legoThe world’s largest toymaker is to build a new Sustainable Materials Centre in its search for more environmentally-friendly materials to be used in its products and packaging. Lego will invest a billion Danish Krone (around £100m) into the research and development of new raw materials for its trademark Lego blocks.

A record 9,000 new ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were registered in the UK in the first quarter of 2015. The figures, published by the Department of Transport, represent a 366% year-on-year surge. The department said the increase was driven by more vehicles being eligible for grants, which subsidise up to 35% of the cost of a plug-in car and 20% of the cost of a plug-in van. The models accounting for the most registrations in the latest quarter were the Mitsubishi Outlander with 4,596 and the Nissan Leaf with 1,705. Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “I am delighted to see such a huge rise in the number of people buying ultra low emission vehicles.

ben ainslieFour time Olympic gold winner Sir Ben Ainslie has called on the UK’s sporting organisations to raise the profile of sustainability, as the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team’s new energy efficient headquarters in Portsmouth reaches its final stages of construction. BAR team principal Ainslie called for sports teams to use their position in society to draw attention to environmental issues and help inform the public about the importance of sustainability. “As societal role models, sports teams are in a privileged position,” Ainslie said. “They have the power to drive positive change through setting an example and drawing attention to the issues that matter, such as sustainability.” “As a team we are striving to become a truly sustainable business, however our ambitions extend far beyond this. We want to lead the way be educating and inspiring younger generations to drive sustainability forward.”

Britain, France, Netherlands, Malta and Luxembourg are projected to miss binding goal of getting 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 The UK, France and Netherlands are set to miss a key EU renewable energy target and should review their policies to get back on track, the European Commission has said. A progress report for all 28 member states said that those three countries plus Malta and Luxembourg should “assess whether their policies and tools are sufficient and effective” to meet the target. Adopted in 2009, the binding target requires the EU to source 20% of energy from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass by 2020. An EU source said: “There are still five years to go [to meet the target], there is still time. We are not saying they [those countries lagging now] are going to fail. We are saying look into your policies and adjust them.” The UK Government recently announced that it was withdrawing subsidies for onshore wind farms a year early – making the UK even less likely to hit 2020 renewable energy targets with an estimated 1,000 new windfarms now at risk. Speaking to business leaders in London, Energy and Climate Secretary Amber Rudd said it was time to shift subsidies from onshore wind to other technologies that needed them more. But she did not say what those technologies would be, and the government has not announced compensatory subsidies for other forms of energy.

The-InterceptorThe BBC’s new primetime police drama The Interceptor has achieved top ratings for sustainability standards in TV production thanks to a raft of green initiatives. The cast and crew of the eight-part BBC One series worked to reduce carbon emissions and waste materials across the set, with The Interceptor receiving a maximum three-star rating from industry sustainability certification scheme Albert+. During production, actors and crew used electric vehicles behind the scenes to save eight tonnes of CO2 emissions – enough to drive 50,000 miles. The sustainability measures also enabled reduced production costs and using the environmentally-friendly vehicles saved the BBC an estimated £10,000 in fuel and London’s congestion charge. During the filming, the construction team ensured materials for props, paints and timber were sustainably sourced and used low-level lighting in the studio. Other measures included sourcing sustainable food and reducing the team’s carbon footprint by using reusable bottles rather than plastic ones. The crew also ensured scripts were not printed to cut paper costs and reported that 92% of waste was recycled. The Albert+ certification programme is run by Bafta and aims to help production teams reduce their impact on the environment using a three star rating system. More on Edie.net here.