bigduckFrom the hallowed information source that is the IPKat comes news of an outbreak of giant counterfeit rubber ducks. The original, by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, is 16.5 metres high; bright yellow and inflatable, it was an immediate hit in both Hong Kong and mainland China — where it is apparently breeding, unauthorised replicas having sprung up in Hangzhou, Wuhan and Tianjin.  The People’s Daily is said to have condemned the perpetrators of these imitations for betraying what it said was Hofman’s own message: the original duck was stated to be a symbol of “humanity’s shared culture and childhood memories, pure art and anti-commercialisation”.  However, while this organ of the ruling Communist Party has condemned this egregious copying, others have pounced on what is seen as a golden business opportunity.  KK Inflatable is selling inflatable ducks in various sizes on Taobao, China’s biggest shopping website with prices ranging from 2,800 yuan ($460) for a man-sized duck to 149,800 yuan for the 20-metre version. But what happens when the fad passes ………

The environmental movement has become politicised, urbanised and is ‘full of profound deep ignorance’ says UKIP leader Nigel Farage. In an exclusive interview with Farage says he has been a keen supporter of environmental issues since the late 1980’s but attacked those driving the movement today, claiming that it has turned into an ‘industry’ saying  “This industry has managed to bully weak minded politicians into making a series of decisions that actually aren’t good for biodiversity, sustainability or the environment”. Hmmmmm – I think the oil, coal and coal industries are a bit better at bullying – but anyway – it’s all here–Green–industry–has-bullied-weak-minded-politicians-says-UKIP-s-Nigel-Farage/

There again, UK MPs have voted not to include an amendment in the third reading of the energy bill that will commit the UK to a near-carbon free power sector by 2030. The anticipated defeat saw a narrow win by the Government with 290 MPs voting against the target and 267 voting for. UK MPs have also made moves to exclude agriculturally-produced biofuels from the UK’s existing biofuels support mechanism, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). Issued alongside the publication of its report on Global Food Security, the International Development Committee claimed that agriculturally-produced biofuels are having a major detrimental impact on global food security by driving higher and more volatile food prices.

Europe’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 3.3% in 2011, which led to the lowest level of emissions in reports going back to 1990. The European Union’s (EU) total greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 were 18.4% below 1990 levels, according to the EU greenhouse gas inventory. In less good news, evidence shows that air pollution shortens each EU citizen’s life expectancy by an average of eight and a half months – highlighted in a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA has a new boss as Belgian Hans Bruyninckx  replaces Jacqueline McGlade who held the position for 10 years.

The recent severe flooding in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria has led to authorities in the city of Halle in Eastern Germany to tell 30,000 residents to evacuate. And water poured into the village of Deggendorf in Bavaria after two levees broke along the Danube and Isar rivers. 16 people have died after rivers reached their highest ever recorded levels and in Dresden flood defences were being reinforced as the Elba rose above 8 metres – 6 metres higher than usual. Now Hungary is bracing itself for the ‘worst floods of all time’  after the dnube in Budapest was expected to surge to a record level of 8.6 metres on Monday 10th June as the crest of flood waters moved East. The mayor of Budapest said up to 55,000 people may need to be evacuated and prime Minister Viktor Orban declared a state of emergency.

Industry chiefs in the UK have warned the Government that heavy industry will be by the penalty-to-pollute levies that are being introduced. The CBI warned the Treasury that the so called ‘carbon tax’  has landed the steel, chemical and other energy intensive industries with spiralling energy costs, whilst carbon costs across the rest of Europe have plummeted in recent months. The CBI wants a new compensation package to protect up to 200,000 jobs. The carbon tax will nearly double next April to £9.55 per tonne, pushing energy prices up by an estimated 9% and meaning the tax is four times European equivalents.

wildflowersThe Prince of  Wales has unveiled plans for 60 ‘coronation meadows ‘ –  existing wild flower meadows which will be used to seed new meadows to mark the Queen’s 60th Anniversary. 97% of wild flower meadows have been lost since the 1930s.  The plan will chart meadows that still remain and use them as ‘springboards’  for the restoration of other sites. Image from

New powers to allow local communities to block on-shore wind farms have been announced by the UK Government. The plans also include a five fold increase in the financial inducement offered to communities that do agree to host turbines – worth an average of £400 per annum off energy bills.

The Scottish Government has launched its District Heating Action Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and energy bills while giving a boost to businesses and creating jobs . District heating is the supply of heat by hot water to a number of buildings through a heat network of underground pipes.

Unilever has pledged to do more to help cut food waste within the hospitality sector ahead of World Environment Day, which is highlighted the issue as its focus theme this year. Unilever’s food solutions division announced it would support key industry-led targets to reduce waste outside of its own value chain – most notably among restaurants, hotels, pubs, caterers and food manufacturers.  Working with WRAP through its voluntary hospitality and food service agreement, the company is seeking to help cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% and increase recycling to 70%.

Coffee farmers participating in a sustainability programme run by Nespresso enjoy better economic and social conditions, new research from an independent study, carried out by Colombian organisation CRECE, suggests. The report looked at a variety of social, environmental and economic conditions among 1,000 farmers growing coffee in the country under Nespresso’s AAA sustainable quality programme.  It found that in 2011, participating farmers received a net income more than 40% higher than those not on the scheme. This level of earning also led to greater productivity, as those on the plan were able to invest in more fertiliser and resilient coffee varieties.

The University of Cambridge has been fined £28,000 after slurry from a farm it owns twice polluted tributaries of the River Great Ouse. The University pleaded guilty to two counts of pollution offences at Cambridge Magistrates Court. Investigations from the Environment Agency revealed that in both cases, slurry had entered the tributaries via an unknown drainage pipe.

By |2016-11-01T15:04:35+00:00June 7th, 2013|AGF Blog|