Parisian leaders have wheeled out the first of the city’s blue, bubble-shaped cars in what aims to be one of the largest self-service electric car schemes. The Guardian reports that anyone with a driving licence will be able to pick up one of the four-seater electric “Bluecars” for short journeys around Paris, dropping it off at any battery point. The Autolib service follows the French capital’s success with Velib, the self-service bike scheme. The €235m (£202m) project is the brainchild of the city’s Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, to deal with traffic, pollution and the nightmare of parking. He hopes it will cement the city’s reputation for innovative new green transport. More than half of Parisians do not own a car.
UK Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) have been too successful and future reviews will be ‘crucial’ to its future success. That is the conclusion of the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) technical director Stuart Pocock, speaking at the Energy Solutions exhibition London Olympia. In his speech, Mr Pocock outlined the role of FITs in the promotion of sustainable energy in the UK, while also comparing the UK’s progression in renewable energy with the rest of Europe. However the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned that the multi-million pound domestic solar panel business could be the next big consumer misselling scandal. With over 150,000 homes installing panels each year, OFT is concerned by rogue traders and cowboy installers who are using hard sell tactics and misleading information about the benefits of Feed In Tariffs with vulnerable consumers.
An attempt to disrupt the first flight by a UK airline to be powered by biofuels ended with three naked protesters being arrested. The Thomson Airway’s flight was hailed by the industry and government as a huge leap forward for sustainable aviation. But a string of environmental groups, including Plane Stupid who were behind the stunt, have attacked the scheme’s green credentials. Three activists from the group mingled with passengers before the launch at Birmingham airport, before stripping off their clothes to reveal slogans criticising the trial.
Npower has launched what it claims is Britain’s first energy tariff, designed to support the uptake of electric vehicles (EV) by offering owners cheaper charging rates. The ‘juice-e’ is a certified green energy tariff will provide electric car owners with off-peak electricity charges when charging their EV overnight and will be available across Britain to anyone who has a charging point at home. In addition, for every unit of electricity used by a juice-e customer npower has said it will put back an equivalent amount into the grid from renewable energy sources.
Eco-manufacturer Remarkable has extended its retail contract with the Eden Project by stocking a larger range of products in-store featuring its re-launched packaging range, made from recycled drinks bottles and card. Remarkable has been stocking its recycled products in the gift shop since the attraction first opened. Items include pencils made from recycled CD cases, pencil cases and mouse mats made from recycled tyres, and geometry sets made from biodegradable corn starch. Eden Project Gift Shop buyer, Tammy Barclay said that sourcing attractive products that are recycled or made from natural and sustainable products are high on her agenda, and described the Remarkable brand as “a perfect fit” for the Eden Project.
A pioneering £1.2m green skills training initiative has launched in an effort to tackle critical knowledge gaps in the renewables industry and boost the UK’s low carbon economy. Set up by energy trade association RenewableUK in partnership with the Government, the Renewables Training Network (RTN) aims to provide training in the UK’s renewable energy industry, helping to create more than 77,5000 new jobs in the wind, wave and tidal industries and supply chain within the next ten years. Funding for the scheme has been provided by businesses in the renewables sector, with £600,000 being collectively provided in support of the project.
New research allows scientists to predict how much future pollution can be removed from the atmosphere by trees. The work, by scientists at the University of Southampton, claims to show for the first time how much pollution could be removed from energy intensive industries in the future. Focusing particularly on London’s trees the work, which is due to be published in next month’s Landscape and Urban Planning journal, also shows how trees improve air quality by filtering out pollution particulates, which can be damaging to human health. According to the research urban trees in the Greater London Authority (GLA) area take out somewhere between 850 and 2000 tonnes of particulate pollution (PM10) from the air every year. The research found that the targeting of tree planting in the most polluted areas of the GLA area and particularly the use of a mixture of trees, including evergreens such as pines and evergreen oak, would have the greatest benefit to future air quality in terms of PM10 removal.
High-density housing is not an insurmountable barrier to Londoners recycling more of their waste, according to a report released by the London Assembly. The Waste not, want not study says that while high-density housing does affect recycling performance, it does not prevent a borough from being able to recycle more. Rather, it points to lack of storage space and difficulty in transporting materials to collection points as being the main problems. Although the capital has improved recycling performance in recent years, most boroughs fail to meet the average rates achieved across the UK. Recycling rates also vary widely across London with some boroughs achieving rates of more than 40% while others fall below the 2007 target of 20%. And a new report from the Green Alliance says that the UK must place greater emphasis on recovering and recycling materials, and also improve resource efficiency and the durability of consumer products. The long-awaited Report Reinventing the Wheel: a circular economy for resource security examines the advantages and disadvantages of using pricing to improve the circulation of three crucial major resources – metals, phosphorous and water. The Green Alliance is calling for a more circular use of these resources in the economy, which it argues would avoid some of the damaging, environmental impacts of extracting them as well as avoid the negative impacts of generating waste.
Famous Grouse scotch whisky is set to be sold in lighter packaging weighing only 340g – a 14% weight reduction previously not thought possible in the production of premium spirit bottles. The prototype, developed by Edrington, hails a technical first for the bottling industry and will be tested in a selection of Scottish supermarkets this autumn. Edrington’s director of technical services, Mike Rose, said: “We set out to prove that it was possible to produce a glass bottle under 400g which still supports premium features like engraving and embossing and can cope with the speed of our production line, which runs at up to 600 bottles per minute. However, Edie.net reports that Highland Distillers, which produces The Famous Grouse and The Macallan whiskies, has been fined £15,000 after pleading guilty to failing to comply with the conditions of its water use licence following a diesel spill into a nearby watercourse. The spill, which resulted in the discharge of 4,000 litres of diesel fuel from the Highland Park Distillery in Kirkwall into an unnamed tributary of the Crantit Canal, was found to breach conditions in the licence and cause environmental damage.
Electrical retailers and distributors can save hundreds of pounds a year by taking advantage of a new free WEEE collection scheme, set up by kitchen appliance manufacturer Amica. Amica is offering electrical retailers and distributors a free collection and disposal service for electrical products, and will also collect any associated packaging for recycling. Under the arrangement, retailers will no longer be required to be members of The Distributors Take Back Service or pay fees to the organisation, which can represent a saving of around £500 a year.
Edie.net reports that the Environment Agency (EA) has developed a new water quality testing service in a bid to improve the standard and efficiency of water monitoring in England and Wales. The National Water Quality Instrumentation Service (NWQIS) is expected to help the EA meet its water quality monitoring requirements for groundwater and surface waters under the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). A wide range of instrumentation is currently used by EA officers, however the upgraded system will allow it to centralise its equipment and reduce the variety of instruments used, providing greater uniformity of monitors and measurement units.
Picture: Europe after a 100M water rise from global warming