Balcombe, the Sussex village that saw the UK’s biggest anti-fracking protests so far, is set to be powered largely by the sun, after residents won planning permission on Thursday to build a nearby solar farm. But campaigners said they are now racing government subsidy cuts to solar power to get the project underway. The 5 megawatt (MW) project in Sussex will see 18,500 panels installed, generating enough power to match Balcombe’s electricity needs and to power a nearby village. More here. And talks are underway to save the Eggborough power station in North Yorkshire, by converting it from burning coal to burning biomass. EU carbon taxes and emission regulations mean that otherwise the plant will close in March 2016 with the loss of 240 jobs. Eggbrough produces 4% of the UK’s electricity.
The leader of Canada’s biggest oil-producing province has declared she sees no long-term future in fossil fuels, predicting Alberta would wean itself off dirty energy within a century. In an early reveal of her forthcoming new energy policy, Alberta’s Rachel Notley said she would fight climate change by cleaning up the tar sands, shutting down coal-fired power plants, and converting to wind and solar power. Notley also forecast an eventual future beyond fossil fuels – a dramatic change for Alberta – and a track that has put her on a collision course with Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper.
TODAY A 5p CHARGE COME IN FOR SINGLE USE PLASTIC BAGS IN THE UK. HOOORAAAAAYYYYY!
China – the world’s largest polluter – has announced a series of bold new climate commitments, including the creation of an emissions trading scheme and a $3.1bn low-carbon funding plan. Chinese President Xi Jinping made the announcements in a joint press conference with President Obama during a state visit to the US. A key part of the new plan is the confirmed rollout of a nationwide emissions-trading system by the end of 2017, covering at least six core industrial sectors that make up the bulk of China’s emissions.
New Zealand will create one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, spanning an area of 620,000 sq km. The Kermadec ocean sanctuary will be one of the world’s most significant fully protected ecosystems, the prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, told the UN general assembly in New York. The sanctuary is in the South Pacific Ocean, about 1000km north-east of New Zealand, and expands a marine reserve that surrounds a clutch of small islands. The area is considered crucial in terms of biodiversity, featuring nearly 35 species of whales and dolphins, 150 types of fish and three of the world’s seven sea turtle species. It is also geologically significant, encompassing the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench, plunging to 10km underwater – deeper than Mount Everest is tall.
In the UK, Labour’s new Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy has pledged to ‘democratise’ the energy system by boosting community-owned renewables across the country. In her speech at the Labour Party annual conference , Nandy said that businesses and consumers were being ‘ripped off’ by the Conservative Party’s plans to support the Hinkley nuclear plant while cutting subsidies for the cheapest renewable technology, onshore wind. Nandy said: “We want to put people back in charge. But Jeremy
Edie.net reports that the UK Government has opened a consultation that aims to boost investment in energy efficiency by streamlining carbon reporting and tax requirements for businesses. Through the consultation, the Treasury is seeking responses from industry stakeholders on its proposals, which are underpinned by a move away from the current system of overlapping policies towards one where a business would face just one tax and one reporting scheme. For example, the Treasury suggests replacing the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) and the Climate Change Levy (CCL) with a new energy consumption tax, based on the CCL. It also proposed the creation of a single reporting framework, designed “through the prism of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)”. The Treasury is also asking for suggestions as to how it can incentivise energy efficiency and carbon reduction in a way that is simple for businesses to understand and comply with.
And the UK’s Green Belt is shrinking with land designated to be green spaces being sacrificed for new housing – despite Government commitments to protect the green belt. Almost 5,000 acres lost the protection last year – the biggest loss since records began in 1997, and eleven local authorities reduced the size of their green belts. 33 more local authorities are planning to reduce their green belts.
Half of the European Union’s 28 countries and three of its regions have opted out of a new GM crop scheme, in a blow to biotech industry hopes. Under new EU rules agreed in March, 15 countries have now told Brussels they will send territorial exclusion requests to the big agricultural multinationals including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and Pioneer. Applications from Latvia and Greece have already been accepted by the firms and if that pattern is extended, around two-thirds of of the EU’s population – and of its arable land – will be GM-free. Industry sources warned that Europe could soon become a “graveyard” for biotech products but environmentalists hailed the news.
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has warned that climate change will lead to financial crises and falling living standards unless the world’s leading countries do more to ensure that their companies come clean about their current and future carbon emissions. In a speech to the insurance market Lloyd’s of London on Tuesday, Carney said insurers were heavily exposed to climate change risks and that time was running out to deal with global warming. The Governor said that proposals would probably be put to the G20 meeting in Turkey in November urging the world’s leading developed and developing countries to bring in tougher corporate disclosure standards so that investors could better judge climate change risks.
£37,000 is a lot of money – and here’s a tale of why public money isn’t always best spent by the arts and culture communities. Having been given funding by the European Union to record the sounds of beech nuts falling from a 100 year old tree (yes, really) as part of the laudable Bristol Green 2015 celebrations, Local chamber orchestra the Bristol Ensemble then discovered that the tree they had selected would not have any nuts as they produce nuts only every second year. The money will be spent on recording other sounds from the tree such as falling branches and leaves rustling in the wind. The sounds will be turned into a 15 minute orchestral work.
The Guardian reports that some of England’s most beautiful landscapes are threatened by inappropriate development because planning rules are not being followed properly, the National Trust has claimed. Local planners are not always applying the law correctly when considering applications for development in the country’s 34 areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), the organisation said in a report published on Thursday. Drawn up with the help of independent consultants, the report flags up concerns about developments ranging from housing on the edge of the Georgian city of Bath to chicken farms in Shropshire and solar arrays in Dorset, the landscape immortalised by Thomas Hardy. The National Trust accepts the need to build more houses and says it supports development in line with locally-agreed plans. It adds: “AONBs are living and working landscapes” but insists that “local needs” can be met through “high quality development in appropriate locations.”
At least 10 million of the world’s poorest people are set to go hungry this year because of failing crops caused by one of the strongest El Niño climatic events on record, Oxfam has warned. The charity said several countries were already facing a “major emergency”, such as Ethiopia, where 4.5 million are in need of food aid because of a prolonged scarcity of rain this year. Floods, followed by drought, have slashed Malawi’s maize production by more than a quarter, farmers in central America have suffered from two years of drought and El Niño conditions have already reduced the Asian monsoon over India, potentially triggering a wider drought across the east of the continent. The UK Government has announced a boost of almost £6bn to its International Climate Fund which helps the world’s most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. The new funds, which amount to £5.8bn – a more than 50% increase on existing budgets – will go towards building climate-resilient communities through the likes of flood-resilient crop distribution and improvements to early-warning systems. More here.
Industry body Scottish Renewables has taken steps to complement and improve the country’s growing renewables sector by launching a new Storage Network. The Network aims to revolutionise the way that energy is stored through the use of storage technologies and developments such as batteries, electric vehicles, flywheels, supercapacitors, hydrogen and hydro. Joss Blamire, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “It is of vital importance to our energy system that we have a strong energy storage sector to complement Scotland’s growing renewable electricity and heat sectors and to increase our energy security. In other news, German electronics group Bosch has announced it will have a solid-state battery market ready by 2020 that will half the costs of current batteries while doubling the mileage range. Bosch believe that its new batteries, which switch out graphite anodes for more practical lithium anodes without the need for any liquid electrolytes, will need no cooling time and be significantly lighter and cheaper to manufacture.
The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG), which represents EU business leaders from the likes of Aviva, Kingfisher and Unilever, has thrown its weight behind calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. The organisation, based at the University of Cambridge, is supporting the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Communiqué, which calls on countries to realise the economic and environmental benefits of removing financial support for fossil-fuel power generation across the globe. CLG director Sandrine Dixson-Declève told Edie.net: “Our members, leading businesses from across the world, are being loud and clear: end perverse fossil fuel subsidies now for the benefit of sustainable and low carbon economic development.
An energy watchdog has blasted the International Energy Agency (IEA) for “holding back the global energy transition”, concluding that its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) reports were published with misleading projections. According to a new study from the Energy Watch Group and Lappeenranta University of Technology, the WEO reports – which are approved by OECD governments – have assumed no annual growth of solar photovoltaics and wind energy installations, leading to a “lack of willing investors” in the sector. Energy Watch Group president and former German MP Hans-Josef Fell said: “The IEA has been holding back the global energy transition for years. The false WEO predictions lead to high investments in fossil and nuclear sector, hinder global development of renewable energy and undermine the global fight against climate change.” The WEO report has previously predicted that, by 2030, renewable energy is expected to provide only 14% of global electricity supply. However, the Energy Watch Group claims that, due to the average growth rates of the past 20 years, the projection would be closer to 60%.
Interesting opinion piece in the Times “Climate Change is Driving The Nation Apart“which explains that “The parties vying to take the White House are increasingly indulging in a dialogue of the deaf” with Justin Webb begging by saying “Lord, it was hot in the western US this summer. Deathly hot: after an all-day drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona, we opened the doors of our heavily air-conditioned car and were beaten back by the heat: still well over 100F even late at night” but despite clear scientific evidence about cliamte change and ever obvious examples of extreme weather, Republicans from the far right such as Jim Inhofe and Rush Limburgh are set on marginalising any talk about climate change, or labelling global warming as some sort of ‘left wing’ agenda. And another good article: Put the Environment at the Center of the Global Economy: An Argument for the Eco-Currency – its over on the Huffinton Post