More than 50 people are still missing in Canada after the terrible train derailment in Lac-Megantic. The train, carrying 72 tanker wagons packed with 10,000 tonnes of crude oil, blew up and flattened large parts of the town. Thirteen deaths have been confirmed and fire crews fought the resulting blaze for 36 hours. It appears the train had been parked during a change in drivers when the locomotive engine and the tanker cars became separated. The train exploded in a series of fireballs after it careened eight miles down a sloping track and derailed about 1 am. The air brakes on the runaway oil train had seemingly been disabled by firefighters who were called to extinguish an earlier blaze aboard one of the locomotives 90 minutes before the disaster, the head of the railway said Monday. There is speculation the wagons may have been deliberately set loose.
More on oil: BP is now claiming that it should be protected from claims resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when their oil rig exploded and oil poured into the Gulf for 86 days. BP now think that a number of claims are fraudulent and the huge bills are out of sync with the facts. Louis Frenc, a former judge and now with the FBI is investigating allegations of misconduct at the office that administers compensation claims.
Almost 80% of European citizens are willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products, according to a survey from the European Commission. The survey shows that 77% of respondents will pay more if they are confident that products they purchase are ‘truly’ environmentally-friendly. However, the survey also reveals that only slightly more than half of EU citizens feel informed about the environmental impacts of the products they buy and use.
London is the greenest major city in Europe and the third greenest city of its size in the world, according to a report commissioned by the City of London Corporation. The capital contains 35,000 acres of public parks, woodlands and gardens, which means that 40% of its surface area is made up of publicly accessible green space. In comparison, Berlin, the next major city green space provider in Europe, has just 14.4% of green surface area. But the UK trails in tenth place behind the rest of Europe when it comes to recycling rates, according to new analysis. Research by bins retailer RecyclingBins.co.uk found that the UK’s national recycling rate of 39% for municipal solid waste (MSW) lags behind leading performer Austria, which has a 63% MSW recycling rate. Austria is followed closely by Germany (62%) with Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden in the top five with 50%, 50% and 49% respectively.
The UK is not yet fully embracing the opportunities associated with an expanding offshore wind industry, according to a new report. Published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the report claims that the UK is “pulling in two directions”, pursuing a short-term dash for renewables in the current decade followed by mixed signals in the 2020s and the prospect of a drop-off in renewable deployment, including offshore wind
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Current climate change is going too fast for evolution – or so suggests professor John Weins of the University of Arizona – and mammals, fish, insects and plants will OT have time to adapt to new environments as the world warms. A report on Professor Wein’s studies in Ecology Letters says that most land animals will not be able to adapt of the dramatically warmer climate expected by 2100 and many species face extinction. Species can adapt to 1C every million years – humans are living through a period of far far faster warming – so evolution would need to accelerate 10,000 fold to catch up.
An unattached rail joint may have been to blame for the rail disaster in France where six people died and over 200 injured. The packed train jumped the track at the Bretigny-Orge station crashing into the platform.
Farmers in England are facing increasing challenges to meet the demands of a growing population due to rising water scarcity fuelled by climate change, according to a report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The Government advisors warn that much of the cropland in England is located in areas where water resources are already over-stretched and if current trends continue, farmers could face a water shortfall of 115 billion litres a year, which is almost half of the 240 billion litres currently used for crop production in the country. In addition, the report warns that current farming practices may be depleting the productive capacity of some of the country’s richest soils, such as the East Anglian Fens, where recent estimates suggest fertile peat topsoil could largely disappear within a few decades.
WRAP has secured co-funding from the EU to show how businesses and their supply chains can implement resource-efficient business models (REBMs). The grant will increase WRAP’s capacity to work across four key markets – electrical and electronic products, clothing, furniture and construction products – and will enable the programme to deliver 10 REBM pilots with major organisations and 20 with SMEs in both the UK and the Netherland
Fly-tipping of commercial waste is reaching epidemic proportions in the UK as businesses resort to underhand methods to avoid disposal fees and landfill tax, according to an industry expert. Mark Hall who heads up commercial waste firm BusinessWaste.co.uk, said that fly-tippers tend not to be picky about where they leave waste, but most incidents occur in industrial estates, country roads and lay-bys and fields and woodland. Housing estate garage blocks and even household bins are also used to dump illegal waste, he added.
Six climbers – all women – have made a climb up the London Shard to highlight Greenpeace’s Save The Arctic campaign. Go girls go! A brilliant effort – but all six were arrested for aggravated trespass according to the Police. A spokeswoman for Greenpeace told Channel 4 News: “They are doing it because they are calling on Shell to stop drilling in the Arctic. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, we have three million people calling on Shell to stop drilling in the Arctic and so far they have ignored us. Image: greenpeace.co.uk by David Sandison.
The High Court today ruled against a judicial review into Eric Pickles’ decision not to proceed with his ‘consequential improvements’ proposal. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has been facing legal action from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) for ditching rules that would require household extensions to include energy efficiency improvements to the existing building. The judge ruled that a Government minister is entitled to make any policy decision he considers appropriate, provided he has “genuinely considered” representations made during the consultation.
The waste industry is at risk of “walking blindly” into a “resource wasting trap” by relying too much on incineration as a disposal option, a leading authority has warned. Speaking at the Resource Association conference in London, DS Smith Recycling’s european sales & purchasing director Jim Malone said that growing volumes of low quality recyclate and a lack of willingness to change collection processes are being used to justify the burning of more material. “If we, as an industry and as a nation, walk blindly towards accepting incineration as a solution for the volumes of badly sorted recyclate rather than challenge our existing collection and sorting models then I consider this a form of environmental vandalism,” he told delegates.
Scientists says that more time is needed to understand what is causing polar ice cap melt – man made global warming or short term natural events being the two options: In an article in Nature Geoscience, scientists say that predictions of future sea level rises are fraught with error – and that studies based on satellite pictures since 2002 may not be sufficient.
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And finally, Claire and Ben are just back from the latest GO Group meeting at the Exit Festival in Serbia where they took part in round table discussions on green events and there were presentations from festivals which included Stepan Suchochleb at Rock For People (CZ), Ben for the Glastonbury Festival (UK), Frusina Szep at the Sziget (Hungary) and Vladimir Vodalov from the Exit Festival (Serbia). Claire gave a presentation on A Greener Festival’s current activities, Jacob Bilabel from the Green Music Initiative (DE) introduced the group to ‘Groove to Save The World’ and Holger Jan Schmidt (Green Events Europe, DE) updated the Group on new developments in ‘Good Practice and Great Examples’ for sustainable events. Srawberry Energy’s Sara Oredic also gave a presentation on a great Serbian project that combines solar energy and mobile communication – the mobile phone charging tree already popular at festivals with its next outing at Das Fest in Germany, July 19 – 21! And a big ‘thank you’ to Exit for hosting the two days- and inviting us to their brilliant festival. Photo: Zoran Dejanovic.