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ANOTHER PLANET

David Kennedy, the UK’s chief climate change advisor, has warned that Prime Minister David Cameron may have to take direct action to protect his government’s green credentials as the cabinet meets to discuss proposals from the Climate Change Committee. At least two government departments, Transport. and Business, Innovations and Skills,  are against approving a plan to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2020. Friends of the Earth described the likelihood of the Government living up to its environmental promise as ‘vanishingly remote’ with campaigner Jonathon Porritt saying that the coalition is going to break its claim of being the ‘greenest Government ever’ after he evaluated 77 of its policies finding ‘little or no’ progress in more than three quarters of them. In the face of the liklihood of the UK Government rejecting recommendations on cutting carbon emissions from the Committee on Climate Change,  Tory Tim Yeo, chair of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee said the Government should abide by the watchdog’s “objective and balanced advice” which include tightening of the 2020 carbon reduction target.

More criticism for the Government’s green credentials comes from a survey from those accountancy and consultancy types, KPMG, which says that uncertainty over the Government’s energy policies risks creating an “investment hiatus” that will stall the UK’s renewable energy sector.  Three quarters of the companies surveyed said they would have invested more in green energy if the Government’s regulatory approach has been more consistent and clearer. The changes to feed in tariffs for large solar energy producers, a planned overhaul of the British energy market and a pending review of subsidies for renewable technologies have all had a negative effect on business confidence for investing in green energies and green technologies. A new survey by Environmental Data Services has found that the UK green employment sector is seeing job losses and opportunities in the green sector are expected to shrink in 2011. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the panel established to enforce the United Nations work against climate change believes 80% of our energy needs could be met by renewables by the middle of this century.  However, IPCC says this would only be possible if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report.

The Guardian had a good editorial on Monday 9th May championing biodiversity and the importance of a successful pan-European effort to tackle the destruction of habitats. The European Commission has introduced a new 202 biodiversity strategy and the notion of a ‘green infrastructure’ from the Orkneys to the Black Sea which focuses on the economic value of forest, grassland, heath, wetlands, river, lake and farmland ecosystems – and the direct and indirect importance they have in keeping us all alive and healthy. But all is not well ….  25% of all birds disappeared between 1990 and 2007 and 40 out of Europe’s 435 butterfly species are near extinction and the EC has admitted that it has failed to stop species loss. Attention now turns to the 82% of land in Europe that is not protected , and how to maintain Biodiversity …. and us http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/09/biodiversity-its-the-ecology-stupid

Edie.net reports that the Carbon Trust claims that the UK could capture a quarter of the global marine energy market, adding £76 billion to the UK economy and generating over 68,000 jobs.  The Trust has released new analysis that estimates that total marine energy capacity could be 27.5GW in the UK by 2050.  This would be capable of supplying over a fifth of current UK electricity demand to the grid.

Edie also report that England’s household recycling rate now stands at 40.3% according to Defra’s latest quarterly figures. The figure, which takes into account the proportion of household waste sent for recycling, composting or reuse between October 2009 and September 2010, shows a slight increase up from 39.7% in the previous financial year, April 2009 to March 2010. But the UK is behind five other countries in Europe when it comes to recycling waste electrical and electronic items, according to a new survey.  The UK ranks sixth out of 11 countries for WEEE recycling, at 7.5kg per head of population. Norway leads the way with an average of 19kg per head, followed by Denmark, Ireland, Austria and Germany. Lowest performer is Poland at 3.7kg.

Haha – a royal wedding story!  Energy use during the Royal Wedding was greater than predicted according to figures released by the National Grid. The National Grid said a surge in TV viewing meant it was the fourth highest energy sapping event in UK television history. Electricity use peaked at 2,400MW as television coverage followed the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge back to Buckingham Palace following their wedding in Westminster Cathedral at around 12.40pm. The record of 2800MW set at the end of the tense penalty shoot-out after England’s World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990.

Timberland has opened a new store in San Francisco, claiming it to be one of the most eco-conscious to date. The building uses sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood and has reused industrial machinery as table bases and te floors are made of recycled stoneware tiles and the interior has been painted using low volatile organic compound paints.  The store is lit with reduced wattage LED lighting and equipment and appliances are Energy Star-eligible.

A new  survey says that in the future firms that ignore the environment will loose business. Consultancy BearingPoint Ireland has released a report which says two thirds of companies surveyed in Europe believe that a green supply chain are a strategic priority with BearingPoint’s Claudia Carr saying “The environmental impact of goods is becoming an increasing important decision when it comes to purchasing” adding “Over two thirds of companies surveyed indicated that they have implemented, or are implementing, a sustainable purchasing policy. Understanding and managing your carbon footprint is going to become key and Irish companies need to be prepared for this shift.”

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is unlikely to substantially  delay the UK’s plans to increase its nuclear capacity. Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has commissioned a safety review which is expected to say that new designs for UK reactors will not face significantly increased costs and will not need to be radically changed. The Office of Nuclear Regulation is expected to have completed its full review by the end of the year.