Edie.net’s Sustainability Leaders Awards 2015 have broken the record for the highest amount of entries ever received in the awards’ 8 year history. Edie say they are all thrilled about the huge number of entries received – it is a sure reflection of how many of you are continuing to put the spotlight on sustainability And of course, it should also make for a great awards ceremony! With entry levels at an all time high, the 2015 awards promise to be something really special and Edie say “we cannot wait to get all leaders of sustainability under one roof to celebrate their achievements. More information here.
Twenty seven blocks of land across the UK have been formally offered to energy companies by the UK Government for the extraction of onshore oil and gas. The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which allocated the land, said that a further 132 blocks were still undergoing environmental assessments, with the results expected “later in the year”. The first 27 blocks, each around 10km2 , are located mainly in the North East, North West and East Midlands. The second tranche is also largely clustered in the North of England. UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said that onshore oil and gas – often recovered by fracking – would “play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come”.
And Shell has received final permission from the US Government to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012. Having been granted permission by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) yesterday (17 August), Shell can begin exploratory operations into potential oil bearing zones in the Chukchi Sea of the coast of Alaska.The move comes after the icebreaker ship Fennica, which carries emergency well-capping equipment, arrived at the site.
Scottish Power has announced that its coal-fired Longannet power station will be closing on 31 March 2016 after 46 years of service . The closure was first announced back in March 2015, reportedly thanks to high carbon taxes and the high cost of connecting to the grid. Neil Clitheroe, the CEO of retail and generation at ScottishPower, said it was a sad day for the company, but green groups hailed the closure as a ‘historic step’ in Scotland’s energy transition.
Renewable power billionaire Elon Musk has introduced to the world his sleek new Powerwall – a wall-mounted energy storage unit that can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, all for US$3,500. That translates into an electricity price (taking into account installation costs and inverters) of around US$500 per kWh – less than half current costs, as estimated by Deutsche Bank. Read more here.
Leading representatives of Islam have called for action to tackle climate change across the world, at a symposium in Istanbul. Islamic representatives from the United Nations, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and the UK set out a climate declaration for the world’s 1.6bn Muslims. The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change says: “God created the Earth in perfect equilibrium … the present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of this balance.” The declaration from the leaders calls on the nations meeting in Paris in December later this year at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) talks on climate change to set clear targets, stressing the part well-off nations and oil-producing states have to play to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The bee-harming pesticides we’ve been fighting for years are worse than we imagined. Research suggests that neonicotinoids aren’t just decimating bee colonies — they’re hurting birds too. Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations of neonicotinoids, bird populations declined every year. This means our worst fears are coming true — neonicotinoids may be moving up the food chain and killing our birds and our bees. For the sake of the birds, the bees, and the whole food chain, THESUMOFUS are challenging one of the biggest neonicotinoids producers of them all: Bayer. “In two weeks, we’re going straight to Bayer’s door with our massive petition — and we hope to have your name in our massive petition box.” It’s not just the bees anymore. Neonicotinoids are killing our birds too. It’s time to get Bayer to stop producing these chemicals.
A new app that can reportedly cut household energy use by 10% is being rolled out to 200,000 Swedish homes. The Energy Tree app analyses data from the smart power grid to discover households’ energy trends and encourages users to consume less energy through personalised feedback and guidance. “The Energy Tree combines behavioural science and gamification with data analytics to engage and motivate households,” said a statement from the app developers Greenely. “By entering their energy consumption data into the user-friendly and accessible app consumers can realise a potential 10% reduction in energy use.” More here.
Efficient recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) could be worth €3.7bn to the European economy by 2020, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Sheffield found that recycling electronic waste was already worth €2.15bn in 2014 and could rise to €3.67bn by 2020. On top of the significant revenue gain, more effective recovery of materials could be environmentally beneficial by reducing manufacturers’ reliance on natural resources. The paper, entitled ‘Recycling of WEEEs: an economic assessment of present and future e-waste streams’ was published by Professor Lenny Koh from the University of Sheffield and Federica Cucchiellaa, Idiano D’Adamoa and Paolo Rosac (University of L’Aquila, Italy). Professor Koh said: “This research has strong relevance to addressing global issues of materials availability and security, reducing reliance on unused non-renewable materials, especially precious, critical and rare earth materials in manufacturing for sustainability and for consideration for substitution.”
A survey has shown that 30% of people in the UK believe that more should be done to educate school children about recycling. Conducted by Direct365, the research highlighted that more needs to be done to inform future generations on how to minimise waste and promote eco-friendliness. As part of their Green365 campaign, which aims to help industries reduce their environmental impact, Direct365 asked 750 people a range of questions as to what measures schools can take to improve waste management. The survey showed that almost 30% want to see schools teach kids how to prevent food waste, while 25% stated that energy-saving lessons should be on the National Curriculum. 11% felt that children need more guidance on saving water.
The horrific mass slaughter of whales in the Faroe Islands has sparked a reacttion from two cruise lines, who announced they will no longer send their ships there. The latest move against the annual bloody massacre announcing means that Hapag-Lloyd and AIDA cruise lines are looking at alternative destinations for their vessels. Both AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd were contacted by Netherlands-based charity Sea Shepherd to immediately postpone cruises to the Faroe Islands in the face of the on-going slaughters. Dr Monika Griefahn, a director at AIDA, confirmed the re-routing of the company’s ships in a letter to the charity. She said: “In the interest of our crew and our guests as well as for reasons for species protection AIDA Cruises has decided to stop making port calls to the Faroe Islands until further notice.”
In Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, many people know the devastating consequences these weapons can contribute to. That’s where creative activist Pedro Reyes comes in. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. he has melted down 1,527 guns and turns them into shovels for planting trees. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. With this unique perception, he transforms things people see as broken and models them in a new way. He encouraged local residents to swap their guns for household and electronics goods vouchers before re-making the metal into shovels. Read More: http://www.trueactivist.com/artist-melts-1527-guns-and-turns-them-into-shovels-for-planting-trees/. Let’s be honest – of we diverted all the vast amount of money spent on wars and weapons into food, medicine, education, culture and housing we would ALL be well fed, healthy and well educated.
Indigenous communities in Brazil are using a new project called Tribal Voice to publicise how their homes and lands are being destroyed by loggers, ranchers and miners. The peoples, from some of the remote areas of the world, use Tribal Voice to air their voices o the internet. In Brazil the powerful farming lobby is trying to persuade the Brazillian government to clear;ly map out tribal lands – something the agribusinesses want to control themselves. They are lobbying the Brazilian government to turn over control of the mapping from a independent agency to Congress itself – something tribespeople say would be a disaster. Tribal Voice (not to be confused with the UK based sustainable tourism consultancy or the clothing company both of the same name) say “Ever wondered what life’s like in a remote tribal community? What tribal people have to say about the world? Tribal Voice, a project by Survival International, brings the thoughts and experiences of some of the most diverse societies on earth direct to your screen in real time. We’re kicking off the project with two tribes in Brazil. The Guarani, whose land has been stolen and destroyed by plantations and ranches, are now sending regular updates about their lives, and their struggle to survive. It’s time to listen.”
The Guardian reports that the world governing body of sailing is threatening to move events for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics out of the city’s polluted Guanabara Bay unless “a whole lot more is done very quickly” to clear the venue of floating debris and sewage. Alastair Fox, head of competitions for the governing body, ISAF, said: “We’ve got quite frustrated with it all,” adding that Brazilian “politicians and the government must get going”. Fox suggested two sailing courses located just outside the bay in the open Atlantic – and a third being planned there – could be used for all races. Three other courses have been planned inside the bay but may not be used. The enclosed bay is heavily polluted and has been described as an “open sewer” by Olympic sailors. The Rio state government promised to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay by 80% but has since admitted that goal is unlikely to be met.
A giant mass of floating plastic rubbish in the Pacific Ocean is believed to be far larger than previously feared — even though it was first estimated to be twice the size of Texas. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is much more than patch now – its a vast toxic ‘ocean fill’ of rubbish dumped from ships and washed out from the West Coast of North America. Julia Reisser, the main oceanographer on the “mega expedition” made up of 30 ships that surveyed the Patch, said that they had found much more plastic than expected, “perhaps an order of magnitude more”. The Ocean Star, the 171ft mother ship of the expedition, docked in San Francisco carrying huge white bags and freezers filled with plastic samples taken from 80 separate locations in the patch. “The trawls we did found little marine life, but lots and lots of plastic,” Dr Reisser said. “I would say that we had hundreds of times more plastic than organisms on our catch.” The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered by Charles Moore, a sailor and oceanographer, in 1997 as he returned home from the Transpacific Yacht Race, which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu. More here and more on Plastic Soup News here.
An American solar firm has launched a new liquid technology that turns regular windows into solar panels which could be up to 50 times more productive than regular roof-based photovoltaics. The solar windows, designed for skyscrapers, are created by applying ultra-thin layers of liquid coatings on to glass and flexible plastics. These liquid coatings produce ultra-small solar cells and form groups called ‘arrays’. Solar Window Technologies revealed its innovation via a webinar, with a video demonstrating the windows collecting electricity, which was then used to charge a monitor.
Starbucks has become the latest major brand to come under fire from campaign groups for its palm oil policy, with a new video urging consumers to boycott the coffee shop chain. The video is part of an ongoing campaign from the SumOfUs group, which has almost reached its petition goal of 200,000 signatures calling on Starbucks to cut conflict palm oil from its supply chain. The video highlights that, while 99% of Starbucks coffee is ethically sourced and sustainably produced, the company is still implementing “environment-wrecking” palm oil in its other commodities, such as baked goods
The private sector could cut more than five hundred megatons of greenhouse gas emissions in the next five years, simply by scaling up existing green initiatives, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and energy consultancy Ecofys, analysed five current initiatives, such as the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 and En.lighten. The report found that expanding these schemes could save emissions equivalent to one years’ worth activity from 130 coal power stations. The report focuses in particular on so-called ‘cooperative initiatives’ between businesses, Governments and NGO’s. One of the programmes looked at is WWF’s Climate Savers, which aims to help companies develop zero-carbon business models.
In the USA President Obama has unveiled a package of programmes to help America switch to cleaner energy, including $1bn in loan guarantees to boost ‘innovative’ technologies, like smart grids and solar rooftops. The funding will also go towards installing solar panels on military housing and helping low-income families become more energy-efficient The initiatives aim to boost innovation, ensure grid reliability and ‘help the country towards a low carbon future’.
Edie.net reports that Rebuilding Scotland’s energy sector around green technology could generate 44,000 additional jobs compared to the current oil-and-gas status quo. That’ s according to a new report – Jobs in Scotland’s new economy – published by the Scottish Greens. The report states that 200,000 new jobs could be created by adopting more renewable energy, compared to the 156,000 people currently employed in the country’s fossil fuel industry.
Audi has unveiled concept designs for its first all-electric SUV, with a full reveal expected at the International Motor Show 2015 in Frankfurt next month. The concept car – the Audi e-tron Quattro – would have a battery range of more than 310 miles. Audi says the E-tron Quattro would come somewhere between Audi’s current Q5 and Q7 models in terms of size, and a production model for the SUV could be expected from 2018. The German carmaker said the electric model was constructed using Audi’s experience of its electric Audi R8 e-tron sports car, which entered a highly limited, on-demand production run this year.
And a French start-up claims to have developed the world’s first Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for road freight vehicles. Popularised in Formula 1, a KERS system recovers the kinetic energy usually lost under braking, and uses it to power a small electric motor. French firm Adgero, working with German company Skeleton Technologies, claims to have developed a KERS system that can be used with trucks and lorries, reducing associated emissions by up to 25%.
And finally back to Brazil again: Germany has pledged €550m to help Brazil’s deforestation and energy efficiency programmes as part of a new climate change agreement between the two countries. Following Angela Merkel’s state visit to Brasilia on Thursday, the two countries issued a joint statement calling for an ambitious agreement at the Paris climate talks in December. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff promised to end deforestation by 2030, while Germany also donated €23m to help Brazil establish a rural land registry aimed at increasing monitoring of the Amazon. “Brazil is the key to all goals related to the climate,” said Merkel. She added that the biodiversity of the rainforest was as important as its carbon absorption. “What gets destroyed here cannot be replaced,” she said. More on Edie.net here. Image: Greenpeace.