airpollutionThe Guardian tells us that pledges by most of the world’s countries on climate change are likely to lead to less than 3C of global warming over the century. The UN praised governments for coming forward with plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, to kick in from 2020 when current commitments expire. The plans from 146 countries that cover nearly 90% of global emissions, known as INDCs or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in the UN jargon, will form the centrepiece of the make-or-break Paris conference on climate change this December. However, while the plans represent a significant advance on current trends, which would result in as much as 5C of warming if left unchecked, they are not enough in themselves to limit global warming to the 2C threshold that countries are preparing to agree on. This is widely regarded scientifically as the limit of safety, beyond which many of the effects of climate change – floods, droughts, heatwaves, sea level rises and more intense storms – are likely to become much more dangerous. However Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela are among the 40 countries who have failed to make their pledges.

The World faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating. And since cold is still overwhelmingly produced by burning fossil fuels, emission targets agreed at next month’s international climate summit in Paris risk being blown away as governments and scientists struggle with a cruel climate-change irony: cooling makes the planet hotter.  How America Became Addicted to Air Conditioning.

food wasteFrance’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a measure requiring all supermarkets 400 square feet or larger to donate unsold food to charity, for animal feed, or for farming compost. All grocery stores are banned from purposefully ruining food. “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said Guillaume Garot, the Socialist deputy who sponsored the bill. In the UK supermarket chain Morrisons has become the first supermarket chain to donate all of its surplus edible food to local community groups. The chain will appoint a supermarket ‘champion’ at each store to liaise with local community groups. A trial in 112 stores showed up to four trolley loads of perfectly safe and edible food a week from each shop could be salvaged. Last year supermarkets threw away 180,000 tonnes of food – although up to 100,000 tonnes is turned into biogas.

Check out some shower gel, and it might have lots of little bits in it. Most of the time, these are tiny spheres of plastic called “microbeads.” Designed to scrub your body and remove dead skin, they’re not just found in shower gel – cleaning products, facial scrub, and even toothpaste often contains them too. They might seem harmless and insignificant, but collectively trillions are being washed into our sewers and polluting our rivers and oceans every day. And now scientists want them banned – as the world’s oceans are being filled with microplastic, which is any piece of polymer less than 5 millimeters in size. Normally, these result from the break down by UV light of larger pieces that are floating in the oceans, but microbeads are a separate, distinct issue. No bigger than a grain of sand at around 1 millimeter, microbeads are not something our water treatment plants were designed to filter out from waste water and trillions and trillions are getting into our sewage and water waste and polluting our seas and oceans. MORE HERE.

flickricelandDavid Cameron is poised to launch an ambitious project that could see Britain harnessing the power of Iceland’s volcanoes within the next 10 years.The plan would involve the construction of 750 miles of undersea cabling, allowing the UK to exploit Iceland’s long-term, renewable geothermal energy. Teeming with volcanic activity, Iceland reportedly meets around 95 per cent of its own electricity needs using geothermal sources – but its remote location has made exporting it almost impossible. British officials told the Press Association that the new “UK-Iceland Energy Task Force” had been set up to examine the feasiblity of the scheme and told to report back in six months.

Installation has started  on Europe’s largest floating solar power system which will generate 2.7GWh of renewable, zero carbon energy each year on a reservoir near Manchester. The 12,000-panel system is being developed by water giant United Utilities at the cost of £3.5m. The 45,500 sq.m project will float on the Godley reservoir in Hyde. Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at United Utilities, said: “We have a target to generate 35% of our power requirements by 2020 and this project will make a significant contribution to that aim.

Puffin and turtle dove numbers across the globe have plummeted so rapidly the birds now face the same extinction threat as the African elephant and lion, say conservationists. Atlantic puffins and European turtle doves have been added for the first time to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of species at risk of being wiped out. In total, four UK bird species have been added to the new list, doubling to eight the number of bird species commonly seen in Britain now given official “vulnerable” status. A further 14 UK species are considered “near threatened”. reports that business leaders have welcomed the recognition of carbon pricing within the latest draft text of the climate agreement, but concerns remain over the lack of progress on climate finance from richer nations. The final round of preliminary climate negotiations came to a close in Bonn ahead of the crucial Paris Summit in December. A 20-page negotiating document was expanded to 63 pages over the course of the five days. Green groups have commended the progress, considering that at same point before the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, 180 pages of negotiating text had been drawn up.

SOLAR POWERA plan to ‘save the solar industry’ by adding £1 on to UK consumer energy bills has received support from a cross-party coalition of 30 MPs. The plan, proposed by the Solar Trade Association, would significantly reduce the cuts suggested by the Government in its consultation on the Feed-in Tariff. The review seeks to reduce subsidies for small-scale solar to around £7m over the next three years.

The UK’s budget squeeze will mean safe cycle lanes will not be guaranteed by the UK Government, losing out to road building and the new UK rail links and upgrades over the next five years.

Working on an allotment once a week can help tackle band moods, dispel tension and encourage weight loss, a new study has suggested.  The Universities of Westminster and Essex say that allotments provide both physical and mental health benefits – boosting self esteem – and researchers say local authorities should provide more space for allotments.

A new initiative launched has been launched by WRAP to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of the textiles industries across 11 European countries. In partnership with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), WRAP’s European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) has received a €3.6m fund from the European Union’s environmental financial support instrument, EU Life. It aims to divert over 90,000 tonnes of clothing away from landfill each year in Europe by 2019. WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “Finding more sustainable ways to work with textiles is an area set to deliver huge benefits – both economic and environmental.

A controversial €100m (£71m) dam project in a Macedonian national park is expected to be scrapped after independent experts called for a halt to all funding and construction work because of risks to critically endangered species, including the Balkan lynx. A Bern Convention mission to the Mavrovo national park reported that the planned hydropower dam there was “not compatible” with protection of the park’s status, ecosystems or species. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has put up €65m in loans for the project but its environmental guidelines forbid the funding of projects prohibited by the Bern Convention, a legally-binding pact between 51 states. MORE HERE.

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) is calling on Britain’s fleet operators and local authorities to band together to create a new low-carbon market for heavy goods vehicles. The LowCVP has stated that independent testing of retrofit technology, a switch to natural gas and biomethane and supporting the transition to hybrid and pure EVs in urban environments are the three main opportunities the HGV market has to adopt a low carbon ethos. LowCVP managing director Andy Eastlake said: “In terms of road transport, most of the focus in recent years has been on cutting emissions from cars and buses.

Green energy provider Ecotricity has announced plans to build three new ‘hybrid’ renewable energy parks, combining wind and solar power generation in the same project. Hybrid renewable energy parks combine wind and solar power generation using the same grid connection to maximise efficiency and reduce initial costs.

The Gulf in the Middle East, the heartland of the global oil industry, will suffer heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival if climate change is unchecked, according to a new scientific study. The extreme heatwaves will affect Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran as well as posing a deadly threat to millions of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, when the religious festival falls in the summer. The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence. “Our results expose a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant [carbon cuts], is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future,” said Prof Jeremy Pal and Prof Elfatih Eltahir, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change.
chinaHMteasueryThe UK and Chinese governments have signed an agreement to share knowledge and encourage investment in clean energy technologies in both countries. The Clean Energy Partnership will enable UK companies share their expertise in low-carbon innovation and secure new business in the Chinese energy market, the largest in the world. It is also hoped that the deal will encourage more investment in clean technologies, helping reduce costs to consumers in both countries. The deal came as part of a state visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping in which a number of other collaboration agreements were also announced, including investment in UK nuclear power, the first ever Chinese investment in the UK offshore wind market, and the establishment of joint offshore wind industry advisory groups. It has been pointed out that investment by the UK in its own renewables might be a wiser option …….

Construction of a £1.5bn windfarm off the Suffolk coast is to go ahead in November with the creation of nearly 800 jobs, after three new partners were found to back the project. The future of the Galloper windfarm was left in doubt last year when energy company SSE pulled out of the project, blaming the cost, and the subsidy regime. The remaining partner, RWE Innogy, halted work. But RWE Innogy announced on Friday that Siemens Financial Services and the investment and financial services group Macquarie Capital, along with the UK government’s Green Investment Bank, had become joint 25% equity partners. Offshore wind is one of the few parts of the UK renewable energy sector to have emerged unscathed after a round of cuts to onshore wind and solar power subsidies since the majority Conservative government  took power in May.