popefrancisPope Francis has called for further action on climate change saying that it was “a critical moment of history”, on the first day of his visit to the US. Speaking to a crowd of more than 11,000 people on the White House South Lawn, the pontiff said the problem could “no longer be left to a future generation”. President Barack Obama said the Pope reminded people “that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet”.

US President Barack Obama has announced his administration will invest more than $160m in innovative technology across a range of American cities in an attempt to help local communities tackle key sustainability challenges. The ‘smart cities’ program was announced in concurrence with a forum as part of Smart Cities Week and will encourage cities to stop looking for a ‘single silver bullet’ and instead cooperate with governments, NGOs and businesses to build thriving sustainable communities. Obama said: “Every community is different, with different needs and different approaches. But communities that are making the most progress on these issues have some things in common. They don’t look for a single silver bullet; instead they bring together local government and nonprofits and businesses and teachers and parents around a shared goal.”

Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged to divest his personal wealth and charitable foundation’s fund from fossil fuels, joining a group of investors worth more than $2.6trn, according to new figures. A report from Arabella Advisors has revealed that the divestment movement has grown 50-fold over the last year, now featuring 400 institutions and 2,000 individuals. DiCaprio, who announced his own divestment this week, said: “Climate change is severely impacting the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants, and we must transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, the main driver of this global problem.

Environmentalists have criticised a decision to appoint a former consultant to major oil and gas companies as UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s key adviser on energy and environment policy. Stephen Heidari-Robinson, a little-known consultant from oilfield services company Schlumberger, arrives in Downing Street just months before the prime minister is expected to attend the UN’s global climate change summit which begins in Paris in December. A Number 10 spokesman confirmed the appointment of Heidari-Robinson, who started in the job this week. It is understood he will serve as a lead energy and environment adviser to the prime minister, liaising with senior ministers and officials across Whitehall.

london smog2And former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore has has called on the British government to resume its former leadership on climate change, in order to forge a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions this December at a crunch conference in Paris. While saying he would not interfere in other countries’ politics, Gore said he was “puzzled” by the Conservative government’s measures to roll back support for renewable energy. Gore, who spoke at an event hosted by Green Alliance,  was followed by a speech from CBI director general John Cridland, who warned the government’s surprise decision to impose deep cuts on a host of renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes sent a “worrying signal” to investors and businesses.

Britain could get 85% of its energy – not just electricity – from renewables by 2030, a new Greenpeace-sponsored report has found.  The study, carried out by analysts at Demand Energy Equality, used 11 years of real weather data to model renewable output and how it can match up to expected demand. It found that renewables could meet the vast majority of the country’s energy needs if the UK Government chooses to support a major expansion of wind and solar farms and promotes a variety of new technologies such as ‘smart fridges’, electricity storage, energy efficiency, tidal power and electric cars.

A host of high-profile companies, including NIKE and Procter & Gamble, are the latest to join RE100 – an initiative whose members are committed to sourcing 100% renewable energy. Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya and Walmart have also signed up to the campaign, which has seen members rise from 12 to 36 just one year after launch. Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group which helped establish the initiative, said: “Research shows that the most ambitious companies have seen a 27% return on their low carbon investments – no wonder new names keep joining RE100.

The market for utility-scale battery storage is expected to increase 18-fold by 2024, according to analysis released today by market research firm Frost & Sullivan. Revenue from grid-connected utility-scale batteries totalled $0.46bn in 2014, but is expected to rise to $8.30bn in 2024, driven by “impressive technological breakthroughs and growth in manufacturing capabilities”. For example, Tesla’s forthcoming Gigafactory in Nevada, which will be producing 35GWh worth of batteries by 2020 – more capacity than was produced globally in 2013.

bpEdie.net reports that Chevron, BP and Shell are among 50 oil companies who face an investigation from the Phillipine courts, after accusations that they have fuelled ‘catastrophic climate change resulting in human rights violations’. A complaint has been submitted to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, demanding an investigation into the top 50 investor-owned companies which release the most CO2 emissions annually. The complaint calls for the investigation to launch this year as it will establish a ‘moral and legal precedent’ that big polluters can be held accountable for current ‘human rights infringements’. Between 2000 and 2008, weather-related disasters accounted for 78% of all disaster-based deaths in the Philippines. Over the last 10 years the country had to deal with damages of up to $24bn due to storms affecting 12.1 million people.

The man who tried to become the world’s first climate refugee is set to be deported from New Zealand in the next week. Ioane Teitiota overstayed his visa in New Zealand in 2011 and faced deportation. However, he launched a legal appeal, claiming that his homeland – the Pacific island nation of Kiribati – was threatened by rising sea-levels. Kiribati’s land averages little more than six feet above sea level and is one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to rising sea levels, driven by climate change. Sea levels are expected to rise between 2.5-6.5 feet by the end of the century, putting much of Kiribati underwater. However, Teitiota’s appeals have been rejected throughout the New Zealand judicial system, with the Supreme Court ruling against him in July. Earlier courts called Teitiota’s argument ‘novel but unconvincing’, adding that millions in low-lying countries faced a similar plight.

Plans to build a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence in Pembrokeshire have been unveiled in Wales, in a bid to make the area an international standard-bearing for green energy.

Edie also reports that Sainsbury’s has launched a five-year, £10m innovation project to try and tackle the problem of household food waste in the UK. The supermarket is searching for a town in the UK that will become a ‘test bed for innovation’; to find which initiatives are most effective in reducing food waste. Findings and recommendations from year one of the ‘Waste Less, Save More’ initiative will be developed into a blueprint and made public so that communities across the country can benefit from the results.
Sainsbury’s says it will then focus on “making a long-term difference” and measuring the impact of the activity, with the final phases of the project exploring opportunities to reduce other forms of waste.

Disposable nappies, incontinent pads and feminine hygiene products will have a new life as plastic bins and pet litter thanks to a new recycling facility planned for West London. Development plans for the UK’s largest Absorbent Hygiene Product (AHP) recycling site in Hayes have been submitted by Knowaste – an American recycling firm which aims to build seven such facilities across the UK within the next five years. The £14m ‘Hayes 180’ site, which is planned to launch in early 2017, will charge local authorities and commercial hygiene companies a set fee to use the facility, replacing the existing mandatory landfill or incineration costs associated with AHPs.

babyorangThe SumOfUs tells us that ” At last! After more than a year of campaigning, Doritos and its parent company PepsiCo just came out with a new palm oil policy. Thanks to you, the policy contains stronger language around human rights and carbon emissions. And PepsiCo is the first company that’s agreed to publish an action plan within 3 months of releasing this new policy But, there’s a problem. The new policy still contains massive loopholes.  Under the policy, the rainforest will still be destroyed, endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and orangutan will still suffer, and workers (many of them children) will still be exploited. How? The policy does not cover PepsiCo’s business partner in Indonesia, Indofood, which produces all of PepsiCo’s products in Southeast Asia. But PepsiCo has caved to our pressure before — and we can get them to cave again”. MORE HERE – and please SHARE!

At the end of November, world leaders will meet at the UN climate talks in Paris. It’s a crucial moment, as negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out. Inspired by their faith, pilgrims from across the UK will come together to call on world leaders to agree a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal in Paris. The Church of England, Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund have come together to organise a Pilgrimage2Paris ahead of the UN talks. The pilgrimage will start in London on 13 November and arrive in Paris on 27 November.

african-elephant2 Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and the president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama made ​​history today by announcing rapid measures from their two countries to protect elephants from poaching crisis they are facing. In a joint statement, the presidents pledged to enact “nearly complete bans on imports and exports of ivory, including significant and immediate restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies.” They also promised “take meaningful and timely action to end the ivory trade in their domestic market.” In addition, the two leaders pledged to intensify their cooperation to curb the increase in wildlife trafficking that endangers countless species around the world. The United States government had already committed to a “near total ban” of the ivory trade. This represents a big step forward from their Chinese counterpart. More (in French) on the IFAW here.

Shell has abandoned its controversial drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic in the face of mounting opposition in what jubilant environmentalists described as “an unmitigated defeat” for big oil. The Anglo-Dutch company had repeatedly stressed the enormous hydrocarbon potential of the far north region in public, but in private began to admit it had been surprised by the popular opposition it faced.Shell said  it had made a marginal discovery of oil and gas with its summer exploration in the Chukchi Sea but not enough to continue to the search for the “foreseeable” future. Or see the Daily Mash here.