The UK government has quietly dropped rather sensible plans to ensure new homes are ‘zero carbon’ rated – well insulated and with heat pumps and solar panels to reduce homeowners reliance on fossil fuels. The change in direction also cancels plans to require builders to offset carbon dioxide emissions by paying for reductions elsewhere – eg with LED street lighting to reduce electricity use. The move will save an average of £2,500 per build but will, according to the UK Green Building Council, raise energy bills in new homes.
China has been hit by its worst typhoon in decades. Typhoon Chan-hom slammed ashore with winds of up to 160 kilometres (100 miles) per hour near Zhoushan, a city east of the port of Ningbo in Zhejiang province. It dumped more than 100 millimetres (4 inches) of rain — about a month’s average in less than 24 hours, China Central Television and the Xinhua News Agency reported. Strong winds and heavy rainfall submerged roads, felled trees and forced the evacuation of 1.1 million people.
Ricky Gervais is calling for a conservation officer who was suspended for refusing to kill two bear cubs to be reinstated. Bryce Casavant was suspended without pay after he refused to kill two young bears who were left orphaned when their mother was killed for raiding a freezer full of meat at a mobile home in British Columbia, Canada. Rather than kill the cubs, the conservation officer took them to a veterinary hospital and they are now at a wildlife recovery centre, CBC reports.
An “induced implosion” of the fossil fuel industry must take place for there to be any chance of avoiding dangerous global warming, according to one of the world’s most influential climate scientists. professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, an adviser to the German government and Pope Francis, said on Friday: “In the end it is a moral decision. Do you want to be part of the generation that screwed up the planet for the next 1,000 years? I don’t think we should make that decision.” Schellnhuber was speaking at a major science conference in Paris, taking place before a crunch UN summit in December, also in the city, at which nations must seal a deal on global warming. World leaders were sent a stark message in the communique issued by the conference, which warned that the opportunity to avoid disaster is rapidly diminishing. Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador, said the aim of the UN summit is to send a signal that the transition from coal, oil and gas to a low-carbon economy is inevitable. If the aim is achieved, Tubiana told the Guardian, “you will see a massive acceleration [to a greener economy], particularly on the investment side in the next five years”. More on the Guardian website here.
Oil drilling in the home of the last mountain gorillas could be put on hold after The Congo’s new minister for the environment, Bienbenu Liyota, said he was opposed to drilling in the Virunga National Park, a reversal of previous policy. Oil exploration is currently banned within the park but the Government had planned to re-draw its boundaries. The British company Soco International has a exploration permit for the Park but has been accused by Global Witness of attempting to intimidate, assault and torture opponents. The DRC Government will now investigate these claims. The Times says Soco hired its own lawyers, Clifford Chance, to investigate the claims, who said the claims were ‘substantially inaccurate’. Why should we care? Take a look at this film by Damian Aspinall when he reunites with the now 10 year old Kwibi and his family in Gabon.
The Guardian take a look at the rubbish left behind at the Glastonbury Festival: “Glastonbury’s rubbish: going against the green ethos ruins it for everyone” Despite the 40,000 bins, Worthy Farm after the festival is an apocalypse of scrap metal, plastic bottles and abandoned tents. It’s enough to stop me going back. More here http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/01/glastonburys-rubbish-green-ethos-ruin-festival-worthy-farm-tents?CMP=fb_gu and images here http://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewtucker/the-bleakest-photos-of-post-glastonbury-carnage#.byQ6R3n1L
Long-haul flights are getting longer due to stronger winds caused by global warming, according to a study.
Scientists linked a small increase in return-journey times of long-haul flights with an increase in the variation of the jet stream, the high altitude air that flows from west to east. Just one minute’s extra flight time would mean jets spend approximately 300,000 hours longer per year burning roughly a billion additional gallons of jet fuel, they said. Passenger jet fuel already accounts for 3.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions but changes in wind speeds could lead to more fuel being used, more carbon dioxide emissions and an increase in global warming.
According to the new UN report, major changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems, with a shift toward local small-scale farmers and food systems recommended. Diversity of farms, reducing the use of fertilizer and other changes are desperately needed according to the report, which was highlighted in this article from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. It also said that global trade rules should be reformed in order to work toward these ends, which is unfortunately the opposite of what mega-trade deals like the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the US-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are seeking to accomplish. The Institute noted that these pending deals are “primarily designed to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy…” rather than the reflect the urgent need for a shift in agriculture described in the new report. More here.
The renewable energy sector is in a state of dismay following the new Government’s decision to remove the exemption for renewables under the Climate Change Levy (CCL) in the new UK Budget. The Summer Budget saw Chancellor George Osborne drop the CCL renewable energy exemption bomb: a move branded a ‘punitive measure’ which will leave renewable electricity generation eligible for the Levy. The CCL – which has been in place since 2001 – allowed businesses and public sector bodies to source renewable energy under the exemption, valued at £5.50 per MWh. But when these changes come into effect on 1 August, this exemption will disappear, leaving many new schemes hanging in the balance. Edie.net comments that oil and gas will continue to receive tax relief – at a cost to the Government of £10m in 2020/21 – with the Tories set to expand North Sea investment.
Climate change should be treated with the same gravity as the threat of nuclear war, a major new report from the UK Foreign Office has warned.
The report, Climate change: A risk assessment, warns policy-makers of the catastrophic effects of the worst-case scenarios of climate change, urging them to prepare for the worst. Writing in the report foreword, the minister of state for the Commonwealth and Foreign Office, Baroness Joyce Anelay, said: “In the past, when assessing the risk of climate change, we have tended to take an approach that is, perhaps, too narrow – or incomplete. “In public debate, we have sometimes treated it as an issue of prediction, as if it were a long-term weather forecast. Or as purely a question of economics – as if the whole of the threat could be accurately quantified by putting numbers into a calculator. Often, too, we have not fully assessed the indirect or systemic risks, such as those affecting international security.” Baroness Anelay added that a holistic approach was needed, adding: “It is an approach that applies as much to climate change as to, for example, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.”
A new report from the London Assembly Environment Committee has warned Boris Johnson that he needs to accelerate his air quality programs to comply with EU and UK laws. The report claims that diesel vehicles are to blame for much of London’s air pollution problems and must be banned from the centre of the capital as soon as 2020. Official estimates suggest that over 3,000 deaths each year in London are attributable to air pollution, while the UK Supreme Court recently ordered the Government to tackle the dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) found in the UK. Diesel exhaust fumes account for around 40% of London’s emissions of nitrogen oxides.
Amazon is to construct a 208MW wind farm which will become the first utility-scale wind farm in the US state of North Carolina. The new wind farm for Amazon Web Services will be constructed with energy company Iberdrola Renewables and will generate around 670,000 MWh of wind energy per year, starting in December 2016. On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%. Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power.
The Church of England has adopted a new climate change policy which will see it divest from coal mining and oil from tar sands. The Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted overwhelmingly to support the new policy yesterday which will set new guidelines for the Church’s investing bodies. The Church plans to divest from companies deriving more than 10% of their revenue from the extraction of thermal coal and tar sands oil.
Global governments must work together to cut short-lived climate pollutants as well as tackling long-lived CO2 emissions, according to a report published in the journal Nature Climate Change published today. Short-lived pollutants – which include black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane – are having a dramatic, short-term effect on global temperatures and air pollution, the report claims. It argues that prioritising cuts to short-lived pollutants is necessary to limit climate change in the short-term to less than 2OC.
The European Parliament has endorsed plans to reform the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The Parliament voted 495 to 198 in favour of measures intended to reduce the surplus of carbon credits available to ensure the correct price of carbon – bringing the move forward to 2019, two years earlier than originally planned. MEPs argued a glut of around two billion excess carbon allowances had accrued, undermining the EU’s emissions trading system. MEPs have also passed a European circular economy report calling for a 30% increase in resource productivity by 2030, which could add nearly two million green jobs. The resolution supported a report from the European Parliament’s environment commission which called on the European Commission to produce binding waste reduction targets by the end of 2015. But the UK has rubbished the idea of Europe setting new targets for recycling, despite warnings from the EU’s environment commissioner that such measures should be non-negotiable. Goals for recycling household waste are expected to give teeth to an upcoming EU ‘circular economy’ package, but a paper on the UK’s position, seen by the Guardian, argues that any new targets should be put on ice.
The insurance industry must be utilized to protect citizens at risk from climate change, a new report from the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has claimed. The report, titled Insurance regulation for sustainable development, analysed the role of the insurance industry in protecting societies against climate risk. It found that, as well as providing financial protection, insurers could encourage people to better protect themselves from climate risks through incentives in insurance contracts. The industry also has a unique expertise in identifying and mitigating risk, argued the report, while the global nature of insurance markets would help to spread the financial impact of climate disasters, especially for poor regions.
David Cameron has postponed plans to water down the foxhunting ban after the SNP vowed to vote against the changes. The vote on the changes, which would have lifted the two-hound limit on hunting foxes for vermin control purposes, was due to take place on Wednesday 15th July. Despite the changes only affecting hunting in England and Wales, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon today confirmed her party’s MPs would vote against the amendment. The 56 SNP MPs, together with Labour and a sizeable number of Tories opposed to foxhunting, would likely have led to the measure being defeated. Chris Pitt, Deputy Director of Campaigns at The League Against Cruel Sports, told The Huffington Post UK: “In one sense this is good news because we’ve got a temporary reprieve for the foxes as the Government realise they weren’t going to win.