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ANOTHER PLANET?

goldentoadThe golden toad was a small, shiny, bright true toad that was once abundant in a small region of high-altitude cloud-covered tropical forests, about 10 square kilometres in area, north of the city of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Now its gone – but don’t be alarmed if your local bank has a visit from the endearing but extinct creatures. 25 years after the last golden toad disappeared, 15 US actors, lead by the ‘Reverend Billy’,  are visiting banks in the USA – and now in the UK – to explain how decades of irresponsible lending have damaged the environment – promoted climate change – caused the death of nature and lead to social disintegration. The satirical choir come in peace – hand out small trees and pictures of other endangered species to banking staff.

Scientists have said that what looks like a pause in global warming in the last decade is not actually the case – more heat has been absorbed by deep oceans meaning that the heat is being stored up and could fuel rapid temperature rises in the future. The average rise in temperatures between 1970 to 1998 was 0.17C each decade – buy this slowed to 0.04C per decade between 1998 and 2012. The Met Office now say this ‘hiatus’can be explained by natural variations on the solar cycle, low volcanic activity and more heat being absorbed by the deep oceans – below 300M – which has been ‘hidden from view’ – all of which masked climate change. A dangerous  rise above 2C is still predicted by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue on the same trajectory.

Glyndebourne Opera House has been accredited for its long-term commitment to reducing its environmental impact and improving its sustainable use of energy, waste, water and travel. Awarded the Julies Bicycle Industry Green Mark certification, Glyndebourne is one of only six organisations in the UK from across the creative industries to have been presented with three stars under the standard – the highest possible rating.  In achieving this, the opera house implemented several measures through its environmental strategy, including embedding environmental criteria into its procurement procedures, engaging audience members with sustainable travel initiatives and reducing its emissions through energy efficiency – it has its own wind turbine generating 89% of the organisations energy needs.

saracensSaracens’ new artificial waterless pitch has brought interest from sports clubs across the country as well as the green community, says club community director Gordon Banks. Installed last year, the pitch is part of the rugby clubs initiative to own the most sustainable sports stadium in the UK. The stadium, Allianz Park, boasts a range of measures that have been backed up by certifications and standards including meeting the requirements of the Building Regulations 2010 Part L policy.

euflagThe European Commission has agreed on a new LIFE funding programme to finance projects involved in climate action and the environment over the next seven years. The Commission will provide €3.45bn (£2.97bn) from 2014 to 2020, with €2.59bn dedicated to the environment and €864m specifically for climate action.  Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: “I am happy to see that the new LIFE programme will triple the amount spent on climate action. From 2014 to 2020, the new LIFE foresees over €860m dedicated to climate action.

A former US defence attache, Colonel David McNevin, has been caught smuggling thousands of dollars worth of ivory out of Kenya bound for Holland, just hours after President Obama pledged to fight illegal wildlife trafficking. The Kenyan authorities say they viewed McNevin as a “common criminal”.

The UK’s heatwave has had a sticky end as thunderstorms spread accross the country. The summer heatwave, the hottest since 1976, produced 25,000 lightening bolts from Monday 22nd to Tuesday 23rd July.

Water laden rivers of air will cause more flooding in the UK as our climate changes. Scientists at the University of Reading predict that Atmospheric Rivers will become stronger and more frequent by the end of the century based on forecasts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Projects from a rainwater collecting canopy to bee-friendly neighbourhoods were amongst the winners of the 2013 RSA Student Design Awards.  Charles Anderson from Kingston University won an internship with the Environment Agency for his ‘Dump In Polystyrene’ project, Meredith Thompson and Nicole Shadbolt from Plymouth University won a prize for ‘The Hive’ – a bee focussed community plan, and Christopher Kelly from London Metropolitan University won £1000 for his portable urban rainwater collecting and filtering canopy.

UK food waste recycling company PDM has announced investment of more than £90m before the end of 2014, including two new large-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities in Widnes and Dagenham

green dealThe woeful take up of the UK’s Green Deal continues –although it has marginally improved . The Green Deal scheme had signed 36 customers at the end of June, up from the four households recorded the previous month.  DECC’s figures show there were 306 Green Deal Plans in the system for individual properties at the end of June, compared to 100 at the end of May. Of these, 270 were ‘new’ Green Deal Plans and 36 were ‘pending’, which is when a Green Deal Plan has been signed by the customer, progress is being made to install measures and the Plan is being finalised so that charging can start.

WRAP says that progress om reducing the use of single use plastic carrier bags in the UK has stalled – in fact last year saw an increase in use.

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is backing a £1.2m investment to install a biomass boiler at whisky distillery Tomatin near Inverness. The GIB’s first investment project in Scotland will see £576,733 come from the Equitix managed fund, Energy Saving Investments (ESI), in which the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is a major investor

UK company Lush Cosmetics has begun an anti-fracking campaign as the Government announces tax breaks to companies involved in the UK’s shale gas industry Lush has provided its 105 UK and Irish shops – including windows, staff and online channels – for ten days to activist group Frack Off for their Don’t Frack our Future’ campaign.

A new energy innovation centre which will deliver significant carbon and cost savings for Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) has received planning permission from the Council. The energy innovation centre, which is expected to be one of the largest projects of its type in the UK, will provide low carbon heating, hot water and electricity for Addenbrooke’s and Rosie hospitals. Work will begin on the centre next spring and is set to save CUH £30m in energy costs and cut carbon emissions by 47% over the 25 year contract term.