Sir 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.
Easter 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.
The 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).
Populations 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.
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.
Fifteen 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.
Westminster 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.
And finally – this from the SumofUs:
Between 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.