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ANOTHER PLANET?

Boris-BikesThe Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London has admitted that he would not cycle in London. Speaking on BBC London, Sir Bernard London made the statement after it was confirmed that a sixth cyclist had died in London in a period of two weeks: The cyclist, in his early 60s, died after a collision with a lorry in London. Police were called to Camberwell Road in South London by London Ambulance Service following reports of a collision involving a lorry and a cyclist.

Big consumer brands such as Nike, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Coca-Cola and the conservation group WWF have launched the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA), which will promote the development of plant-based plastics.

DRAX POWERThe USA, Japan and China have refused to set deadlines for setting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it now seems likely that a planned climate change agreement will not be reached by 2015. The oil, gas and coal companies will be delighted! Negotiations at the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change almost reached a compromise on the issue of the impact of rising sea levels and storm damage from climate change but now the Warsaw conference will be the first in 20 years to close with lower commitments to reduce climate change than when it started.

The UK’s hospitality and food service sector throws away 920,000 tonnes of food waste each year, which is the equivalent to 1.3bn meals, according to new research from Wrap. The report, ‘Overview of waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service (HaFS) Sector’ also revealed that the cost of food being wasted from the sector is estimated at £2.5bn per year, which could rise to £3bn per year by 2016 unless steps are taken to prevent food being wasted.

The Pig Idea – the campaign to reduce food waste by using perfectly good wasted food as pig feed – has come up against opposition from the farming community who say the move might increase the spread of diseases in pigs. Spearheaded by by environmentalist Tristram Hunt and Masterchef winner  and restaurateur Thomasina Miers and with support from celebrity chefs like Michel Roux and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The Pig Idea  pointed out that soaring feed costs (much of it soya, grown in land reclaimed from the Amazon rainforest) had put many pig farmers out of business – but farmers say that reintroducing waste food swill would be a ‘real risk’ to their animals. and that contaminated feed in Russia had led to swine fever and that whilst the campaign was an  ‘superficially attractive concept promoted by well meaning people’ it was deeply flawed.

windturbines_300Floating windfarms raise hopes for a greener future: A green light from the Crown Estate for new floating platforms off the Scottish coast should help lower the cost of a low-carbon economy in the UK. The Buchan Deep project will see five turbines with a combined power of 30 megawatts installed by the Norwegian oil company Statoil off the coast of Aberdeenshire in 100 metres of water. Den Rooijen, a former Shell oil executive, tells the Guardian that costs can be cut and that the sector will continue to grow, but admits that the UK is likely to see a retrenchment from the estimated 40,000MW (40 gigawatts) of projects that some originally believed could be possible. Last month, offshore wind provided 5% of the UK’s national electricity consumption from around 24 farms producing 3.6GW. There is now, in total, more than 5GW – enough to power 4 milllion homes – in operation or under construction, at an estimated cost close to £15bn.

However,  South West developer RWE Innogy has pulled the plug on plans for a 240 wind turbines in the Bristol Channel, nine miles off the North Devon coast. It is understood that RWE, the German firm which has offices in Swindon, Wiltshire, no longer thinks the project is financially viable. The BBC reported that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed the firm has shelved its plans. The scheme, which had not yet received the go-ahead, had attracted criticism, with environmentalists worried about its impact on marine wildlife in the Bristol Channel.

Brits could pocket £12.4bn in savings by embracing a ‘pay-as-you-live’ economy and shunning traditional ownership of good and services. The finding has come out of new research undertaken by Zipcar into the benefits of a sharing economy. The study reveals that nearly half of the population (47%) now rents and/or shares goods and services, generating an average saving of £531.10 per person – with the money commonly put aside to help offset food and energy bills.  Car usage tops the pay-as-you-live ‘league table’ – with new models of car sharing providing a cost-effective alternative to car ownership. The most popular reasons cited for using the pay-as-you-live economy are convenience; ability to save money; increased flexibility to upgrade models/change product styles; and to gain access to luxury goods.

Veolia Environnement has launched a vision for the management of household waste in bin-less homes of the future which includes nanoscopic robots sorting materials, self-cleaning surfaces and water purification systems based on plants and bacteria. The environmental services company published its report entitled ‘Imagine 2050’ in partnership with the London School of Economics and is part of its strategy to promote the circular economy.  The report describes one future city in which system-level planning has created a dense, resource-efficient society characterised by collaborative consumption, shared ownership and local self-reliance.

Michael Buck, a 59-year-old smallholder from Oxfordshire, built a ‘cob house’ at the bottom of his garden at a cost of just £150 . He told the Daily Mail he had achieved this incredible feat through a combination of an ancient building technique, and by only using natural materials – or ones that had been thrown away by other people. The ancient building method uses earth, clay, dung and straw as the fabric of the building. It produces a single-roomed, single-story building, and Buck then added a thatched roof. Among the items Buck re-used were the floorboards salvaged from a skip and an old lorry windscreen for a number of the windows. The cottage has no electricity, but draws water from a nearby spring, and is heated with a wood-burning stove. There is also an outhouse, complete with a composting toilet.