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ANOTHER PLANET?

power station3It seems that the number of climate change sceptics in the UK is on the rise – the number as quadrupled since 2005 – and public support for wind and solar power has likewise dropped over the same period.  19% of the UK now don’t believe in climate change – up from 4% in 2005 – and the MORI poll of over 1,000 people shows that the ‘don’t knows’ has doubled to 9%. Concern about climate change has also dropped – just 60% are concerned now – down 14% on last year. And the nuclear disaster at Fukushima seems to have no negative effects on the UK – in fact 4% more of people, 32% – now support nuclear power.  In Japan just 17% are willing to accept further investment in nuclear power.

Labour leader Ed Miliband today outlined plans to freeze energy bills to 2017 and committed to decarbonising the UK power sector by 2030. Giving his keynote speech at the Labour party conference in Brighton, Miliband said: “If we win the election 2015 the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will not rise. It will benefit millions of families and millions of businesses”.  Miliband also pointed to those in Government who claim that protecting the environment during difficult economic times is not viable, picking out the Chancellor George Osborne.

But UKIP ….. ahhhhhh UKIP ….. The Government’s “obsessive reliance” on renewables is driving energy intensive businesses offshore, while pushing households and pensioners into fuel poverty, according to UKIP’s Roger Helmer. Speaking at the UKIP party conference in London , industry and energy spokesman Roger Helmer MEP said these issues will get worse if the UK continues to pursue “the ridiculous Brussels objective” of 20% renewables by 2020. Supporting oil, gas, coal and nuclear, Helmer said energy security was the first challenge for the UK and the second objective is affordable energy to ensure households “stay warm in the winter” and industry remains competitive.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has scaled back estimates on how much the earth might be heated by greenhouse gas emissions – but said the underlying science on climate change is more robust than ever. The IPCC says that Earth could warm by 4.8C by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising – down from a previous estimate of a maximum rise of 6.4C. The world is already 0.7C warmer due to human emissions and limiting climate change would require sustained reductions in CO2 emissions. There is an interesting article in the Sunday Times “Climate Change is real, but we have time” by Bjorn Lomborg (22.09.12) pointing out that ‘alarmist predictions that the sea will rise by a metre or more are common in sensationalist media. The IPCC will estimate the rise by the end of the century at 40-62cm’. More here  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/focus/article1317056.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2013_09_21 and Don’t Panic – Global warming has shrunk. The Arctic ice cap has grown. Scientists gathering this week face a struggle to persuade sceptics about the scale of climate change to come here http://www.thegwpf.org/sunday-times-panic/

Some of Europe’s largest private enterprises are calling on EU Energy Ministers to support an ambitious EU-wide binding energy savings target for 2030.  EU Energy Ministers gathered in Vilnius for an Informal Energy Council last week and a proposal for an EU energy and climate package for 2030 is due from the European Commission later this year, both prompting the call.  But Edie.net repotrs that the UN has said that business is not playing its part in forging a sustainable future and efforts may have “reached a plateau”. The latest UN Global Compact report, which surveyed more than 1,000 CEOs from 27 industries across 103 countries, found that although the corporate sustainability movement is broadening with a deeper awareness and commitment, many business leaders express doubts about the pace of change and the scale of their impact.  And Lord Nicholas Stern has said that Governments around the world are likely to increase their emissions reductions after reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In a speech at the Royal Society on ‘Growth, Innovation, International Understanding and Climate Policy in a Changing World’, chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) Professor Stern pointed out that the publication of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment should provide the impetus for countries to increase the urgency and scale of their emissions reductions.

short haired bumblebeeCampaigners at Buglife are planning a network if bee ‘motorways’ criss crossing the UK in an effort to reverse the decline in insects vital to pollinating food crops. The so called bee-line would be be a 3,000 mile network of grasslands rich in wild flowers  created out of fields volunteered by farmers who may receive grants – and would enable bees, moths, hoverflies and butterflies to migrate around the country. The number of honeybees has halved in the UK in the last 25 years. And Southern Railway has entered into a partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust to launch a biodiversity project which it hopes to expand across its entire rail network. The ‘Making a B-Line for Sussex’ initiative aims to restore and encourage natural eco-systems to areas where railway infrastructure has had a major impact in loss of wildlife.  While the building of tracks can often dissect the landscape, presenting barriers for species and limiting movement from one habitat to another, they can also provide a corridor for wildlife if managed effectively – the company also hopes to reduce light pollution and encourage planting projects designed to help bees, butterflies, birds and bats.

At least 33 people have been killed and cars blown off roads by Typhoon Usagi which has hit Southern China and the Philippines. It is the strongest storm of the season so far and hundreds of flights were cancelled.

Britain’s largest family owned cheese maker Wyke Farms has today become the UK’s first national cheddar brand to become 100% self-sufficient in green energy, following the launch of its biogas plant in Bruton, Somerset.

windturbines_300The number of people directly employed by the UK’s wind industry has increased by 74% from 10,579 in 2010 to the current 18,465, according to a new report. Across the industry, up to 30% of people work in construction and installation, 25% in planning and development, 18% in support services, 16% in operations and maintenance and 10% in manufacturing. And more on wind ….. American tycoon Donald Trump’s legal hearing against the development of an offshore wind turbine test facility off Aberdeenshire, Scotland, has been set for November 12th.

Consumers are demanding more renewable materials and environmental labelling on the products they buy, with many rating cartons as the most eco-friendly packaging type. The research from Tetra Pak found that consumers perceived the use of paper in cartons to be highly renewable, with more than 50% of them believing that bi-based plastics will further improve the environmental performance of carton packaging.  Likewise, food industry stakeholders – also surveyed within the study – ranked the use of bio-based materials as one of the most important environmental trends shaping the future of beverage packaging.

drought2Over 7% of the world’s population could be affected by water scarcity in the future as a result of climate change if global warming isn’t abated. The study from scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has published modelling showing that both freshwater availability and ecosystem properties are set to change significantly in the future.  Even if global warming is limited to 1.5-2° C above pre-industrial levels, 500 million people could be at risk – either due to aggravation of existing water scarcity, or from being newly exposed to it.

And finally, Edie.net reports that a project examining how stronger economic performance can be supported by good climate policy has launched by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Set up by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the project, called the New Climate Economy, aims to contribute to the global debate about economic policy, and to inform government, business and investment decisions.