Reusing shopping bands and recycling bottles won’t save the planet! Now I don’t want to put you off doing either, but what we all need to do is significantly reduce our carbon emissions – and whilst most people seem happy to do a bit of recycling and maybe even the odd offset, this is really not going to make much difference. And now new research shows that whilst 53% of people are willing to act on concerns about climate change by reusing bags, and 49% agree its important not to leave the television on all night, only 19% said they would fly less often, and just 25% support renewable energy such as wind and solar farms in their area. The environmental scientist has likened the focus on reducing plastic bag use to “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”.
The latest IPCC report, which collected evidence from 9,200 scientific publications and 1,089 expert reviewers, made it quite clear that it is human activity which is causing or significantly contributing towards global warming and climate change. Now the head of the IPCC has said that financial markets are humanity’s ‘best hope’ for climate change: Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC said that whilst the Report produced unequivocal evidence that since 1950 the atmosphere and oceans had warmed and that scientists are 95% sure that humans are the ‘dominant cause’, unless a price can be put ion carbon emissions that is high enough to convince power companies and manufacturers to reduce their fossil fuel use, there will be little chance of avoiding hugely damaging temperature increases. Dr Pachauri said the IPCC were working on ‘mechanisms’ to enable the market to be used to reduce carbon emissions.
And two of the UK’s top scientists have urged a switch to solar. Sir David King, the former government Chief Scientific Advisor, and economist Lord Richard Layard, have said that the UK should join a global ‘Sunpower’ Programme saying “the sun sends us 5,000 times our total energy needs. Its inconceivable we cannot collect it”. The Programme’s target would be the development of techniques that see solar electricity generate at least 10% of the world’s total energy supply by 2025, and 25% by 2030. King and Layard’s proposal has been put forward in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the likely impact of climate change, triggered by rising carbon emissions. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/29/sunpower-programme-climate-change
But don’t let me put you off recycling: In the UK we recycle 43% of waste, incinerate 21% (for energy mostly) and landfill – yes bury – an appalling 34%. More on sensible and effective recycling at http://www.realrecycling.org.uk/ who say that real recycling is about maximising the economic, environmental and social benefits of recycling for everyone, from the local council tax payer to the global re-processing industry.
We often blog about the appalling rate of decline in many species which are caused by humans – but here’s some good news – across Europe some species are actually making a come back! The European bison, white-tailed eagle, grey wolf and brown bear have all recovered from the brink of extinction.In the 1920s bison only existed in zoos – just 54 animals – but now there are some 3,000 wild animals in Eastern Europe and the common crane bred in 2013 in Britain for the time in 400 years – and the red-backed shrike sucessfully bred on Dartmoor. Jonathan Baillie, the ZSL director of conversation pointed to the importance of the ‘Rewilding Europe’ project which seeks to create 10 ‘wilderness areas’ covering 2.4 million acres by 2020.
Less good news: Ivory poachers in Zimbabwe have used cyanide to slaughter 81 elephants in the Hwange National Park whilst security forces were diverted with the recent election. Investigators believe the cyanide was deposited at salt licks where elephants congregate. Nine men have been arrested and 19 tusks were recovered along with cyanide.
Greenpeace is to appeal court rulings in Russia detaining 30 environmental activists accused of ‘piracy’when they protested at an Arctic drilling rig owned by Gazprom. A spokesman said “our peaceful activists are in prison for shining a light on Gazprom’s recklessness. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GreenpeaceInternational/posts
A driver who has now killed two cyclists has escaped a prison sentence. Gary McCourt was sentenced to 300 hours community service and banned from driving for 5 years after clipping the back wheel of Audrey Fyfe’s bike. In 1986 McCourt was jailed for two years for killing 22 year old cyclist George Dalgity by reckless driving.
Campaigners including the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Campaign for Better Transport say that a new UK £1.3 billion transport plan ignores the needs of walkers and cyclists – the new package planned from 2015 includes just six walking schemes and no cycling schemes. Some £710 million has been allocated to 210 local schemes for road widening and road building and a further £151 million to 29 schemes which include road widening, road maintenance, bus lanes and possible cycle ways. Campaigners says the new schemes could actually make traffic worse in some areas.
My Campus Ride Ltd. has developed a smartphone app exclusively for students that enables them to arrange carpools or carshares – and as they say – this promotes greener travel. Their website is: http://www.mycampusride.com
The UK Chancellor George Osborne has been urged to include a decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill by a group of investors. Writing to the Chancellor on the day of his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, the group, responsible for over a £1tn of investment worldwide, argue that the lack of a target inhibits investment decisions and negatively impacts the UK’s ability to attract the capital needed to update its “ageing infrastructure”. And a strong European leadership beyond 2020 can amplify the impact of the UK’s commitment to a low carbon economy, says Permanent Secretary for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Stephen Lovegrove. But Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says global warming could allow food to be grown further North. The cabinet minister responsible for fighting the effects of climate change claimed there would be advantages to an increase in temperature predicted by the United Nations including fewer people dying of cold in winter and the growth of certain crops further North. Paterson told a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference that predictions by scientists – that there could be major increases in temperature resulting in melting ice caps and worldwide flooding – should not be seen as entirely negative.
Changes to the Companies Act will mean that businesses now have a legal requirement to integrate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) with their financial reporting. Companies will also be required to consider environmental risks and opportunities in new Directors’ Strategic Reports, ensuring that environmental issues are factored into long-term business decision making.
Mining giant BHP Billiton’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have risen by 6.5 million tonnes (Mt) in 2013, largely due to increases across the company’s aluminium and onshore US operation. According to the company’s 2013 sustainability report, maintenance downtime due to torrential rain caused supply interruptions of hydropower to its Mozal aluminium smelter in Mozambique.
The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) has announced that it will invest £11m to purchase and upgrade an operational biomass plant in Port Talbot, Wales.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 has now replaced legislation governing the recycling of metals for the first time in nearly half a century. The scrap metal sector contributes £5.6bn to the UK economy but has been blighted in recent years by headlines about metal theft and the ease with which stolen materials can be sold. Metal theft cost the Church of England £10m as the number of incidents more than trebled in certain areas in 2011. The new Act, which will replace the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act, will provide tighter licensing for scrap metal dealers. All site-based and mobile scrap dealers, including motor salvage operators, must obtain a licence from their local authority in order to continue operating legally. In turn, the licensing authority will check the criminal records and suitability of applicants to operate as a scrap metal dealer. Cash deals remain prohibited – The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act made it an offence to buy scrap metal for cash or by any form of payment other than a crossed cheque or electronic money transfer.
Edie.net reports that Europe needs to redouble its efforts on water efficiency and price water to reflect purifying and transportation costs, according to a new report by the EEA. With water under stress in many parts of Europe, even in regions which usually experience a high level of rainfall, abstracting and cleaning water can have a high economic and environmental cost. The EEA says a barrier to improving water efficiency in the region is flat-fee water charges, which are still common in parts of Europe.
And finally, there has been another tragic cycling accident in London. Nursing assistant Maria Karsa, aged just 21, was killed after a collision with a truck in Aldgate. She is the eighth cyclist to die in London this year, just weeks after the death of popular Islington GP Dr Clive Richards who was killed after an accident with a lorry in Archway. London streets need to be safe for our cyclists. All eight of the dead riders were killed in accidents with HGVs – and if that means better regulation for lorries – or even banning them during working and commuting hours- it needs to be done – and soon.