obeseLast Sunday Jay Rayner wrote a four page spread in the Observer newspaper looking at food, society and the environment – food waste, human greed – and the fact that if we all ate like North Americans we would need four planets! The article focussed on Pizza Hut’s 2,880-calorie  monster pizza with a cheeseburger crust – 2,880 calories in that one meal alone – more than enough for a reasonably active adult male – its “a taste of a burgeoning global food crisis”. Jay wrote “We throw away 1.3bn tonnes of food a year, and eat more than is good for us. Now this new kind of waste – greed – is creating a food security crisis that is endangering billions”. Waste food adds 3.3bn tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere and uses 1.4bn hectares of land – 28% of the globe’s agriculture area. In the past year, however, a second debate has come to the fore, and this one is all about the demand side. It’s not just about how we produce the food we eat; it’s about how much of that food we’re consuming – or not actually consuming:  In November 2013 a report by the British government’s waste advisory body, the Waste Resources Action Programme stated that Britons were still throwing away the equivalent of 24 meals a month, or 4.2m tonnes of food a year. Every day UK homes were chucking away 24m slices of bread, 5.8m potatoes and 1.1m eggs. But there is another kind of waste, summed up by the Pizza Hut cheeseburger crust pizza, and that’s overconsumption – and related health issues: Obesity is a huge problem in China. In 1980 less than 1% of the Chinese population was diabetic. Now 11.6% of the Chinese population is diabetic with 50% showing signs of being pre-diabetic.  In the Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have the same problem – and burgeoning healthcare bills (in just a few years China could be facing a bill of around £300bn a year). As Jay says “Even the USA, that stadium for all things lardy and obese, the outright winner of the biggest-arses-in the-world contest, can only manage a diabetes rate of 8.3%”. Much more here:

The frequency of severe flooding in Europe will double by 2050 and there will be a near fivefold increase in resulting economic loss according to new research from Dr Brendan Jongman at the VU University in Amsterdam. Dr Jongman predicts the cost of flooding will reach E23.5 billion annually by 2050.

EE-Music-logoMusic-focussed environmental organisations from across 27 European countries have united to launch a pan-continental initiative with the aim of providing music events with the tools to cut carbon emissions and improve he efficiency of energy use. EE Music brings together industry-leading bodies including Julie’s Bicycle from the UK, Germany’s Green Music Initiative, British organisation Powerful Thinking, with renewable energy consultancy WIP and leading energy firms from across the continent. At the launch of the organisation in London on March 5th in London during Climate Week,  Julie’s Bicycle Chief Executive Alison Tickell said: “The aim of the initiative is to show the music industry is able and prepared to act in the application of environmental sustainability on a nuts and bolts basis.” Co-funded by the European Union’s Intelligent Energy programme, EE Music will organise training workshops and conventions, provide Industry Green tools to enable promoters to understand their carbon emissions, and provide a multilingual web portal, including a carbon calculator, training material and detailed case studies.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that man-made climate change is one of the greatest threats to the UK and the rest of the world. Mr Cameron was responding to a question made by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at Prime Minister’s Question Time when Miliband asked the Prime Minister to set out his views on man-made climate change.  Cameron replied: “I believe man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats that this country and this world faces. That is why we have the world’s first green investment bank here in Britain.

UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres has urged UK business leaders to lobby Government to take urgent action to tackle climate change. According to a news report on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, science correspondent Tom Feilden said that Figueres has flown into London for one day to address business leaders on the topic of climate change during Climate Week. reports that a new way of measuring how much light a plant can tolerate could be a breakthrough in growing crops resilient to a changing climate, according to scientists from Queen Mary College at the University of London.   “This is the first time we have been able to quantify a plant’s ability to protect itself against high light intensity,” said professor Alexander Ruban, co-author of the study and head of the cell and molecular biology division at Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Science adding: “A changing climate will lead to fluctuations in temperature, humidity, drought and light. Knowing the limits of how much sunlight a crop can happily tolerate could be valuable information for farmers or people who breed new plants.”

Dyson is exploring the feasibility of using biopolymers in its products to improve environmental performance, potentially through the adoption of a closed loop engineering process. The British manufacturer is working with the University of Cambridge and the Centre for Process Innovation on a circular economy led project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board. The work will assess the life impact of biopolymers and their suitability for use in Dyson products.

The World Green Building Council is launching a major global project which aims to help define the health and productivity benefits of green office buildings. According to the WorldGBC, organisations are beginning to understand the business benefits of greener, healthier buildings and with 85% of a company’s costs spent on salaries and benefits, it says that even modest improvements to staff health and productivity can have a dramatic impact on organisational profitability.  Citing recent GBC studies, the Council found that up to 11% gains could be made in productivity from improved ventilation, while up to 23% gains could be achieved in productivity from improved lighting design.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced three ‘mini Hollands’: London boroughs, Kingston, Enfield and Waltham Forest will each receive up to £30 million each to make them more cycle friendly. In Kingston a major cycle hub will be created and the plaza outside Kingston station will be transformed and new cycle routes will be introduced including a riverside route. In Enfield the town centre will be redesigned and alongside Waltham Forest, new segregated superhighways fr bikes will be introduced. Waltham Forest will also have cycle friendly low traffic neighbourhoods. Five other boroughs will receive smaller sums to enhance cycling.


Climate Change deniers: The Thames Barrier was closed just four times in total in the whole of the 1980s:  has been closed fifty times this year already. More at

Businesses face bigger fines for breaking environmental laws due to new sentencing guidelines for courts in England and Wales. New guidelines from the Sentencing Council cover a variety of offences related to the disposal of waste and rubbish mostly covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.  Environmental offences such as fly-tipping will be punished with larger fines. In addition, the new guidelines deal with nuisance offenders such as those who cause noise, smoke, dust or smells, or run premises which pose a health or pollution risk.  Magistrates are encouraged to make more use of the highest levels of fines for some of the more serious offences that come before the courts, the Sentencing Council said.

Cornwall will become home to one of the UK’s first biomass gas plants – converting waste food and cow dung into energy. A new plant in Fraddon, near Newquay will buy 30,000 tonnes of waste food and farm waste locally  to produce enough energy to heat 2,500 homes.

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Valpak, an environmental compliance scheme, have announced that they are set to work together on two new projects that will review existing estimates of market flows and recycling levels for plastic and metal packaging in the UK. The ‘MetalFlow 2014’ project will review estimates of metal packaging (steel and aluminium) placed on the market in the UK, with separate assessments of the amount of recycling and reprocessing. In contrast, the ‘Plastic Market Flow 2014‘ project will review estimates of the amount of plastic packaging placed on the market.

festival2Watch this free webinarthe future of festivals, organised by Festival Awards and Eventbrite, in association with and Virtual Festivals. The event covered: Findings from the Festival Awards Market Report 2013: What festival goers really want, and how are their needs and expectations are evolving; Findings from the Eventbrite Social Commerce Report: How social media is changing the way festival organiser are selling tickets; The key trends that are shaping the festival scene: from the ‘hybridisation’ of festivals, to sustainability, mobile technology and more.

By |2016-11-01T15:04:16+00:00March 13th, 2014|AGF Blog|