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ANOTHER PLANET

The Royal Navy could be barred from using sonar in certain circumstances  because of planned clarifications in the international laws on protected species. Sonar has been blamed for mass strandings of whales and dolphins and the the potentially disorientation of deep diving mammals, amongst other things. EU rules prohibit the the deliberate disturbance of protected species. Experts say that naval commanders already voluntarily turn of sonar if they know cetaceans are in the area. The new guidance could also effect gas and oil exploration where high intensity sound is used to search for fossil fuels.

Rick Santorum, who is currently 2nd in the Republican’s presidential candidate race, having gathered a 21% share, is a man prone to speaking his mind. And what a mind it is: Contraception for example is “not okay” as it is “a licence to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be”. The (allegedly) deeply religious Santorum also thinks that Europeans “are  people who are not reproducing at any rate to sustain a population” and on climate change “drill everywhere … there’s no such thing as global warming”.  I pity his kids.

Businesses in Scotland have called for the country to seize the opportunity to make 2012 the year of wind power it was announced. Top companies in the country have also backed a new label promoting products and services made using wind power – called WINDMADE – which is also supported by the WWF in Scotland. And one of the UK’s ‘big six’ energy companies has seen the result of building large onshore wind farms – it has topped the 1GW mark for the first time. The company said that ‘good progress’ at its sites in Clyde, Griffin and Gordonbush in Scotland as well as Slieve Kirk in Northern Ireland meant more than 300MW of onshore capacity has been commissioned by SSE in the first nine months of this financial year.

Measures to improve air quality in the capital have come into force. The New initiatives, stemming from the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy and controlled by Transport for London (TfL), are aimed at deterring some of the oldest and most polluting vehicles from driving into London through changes to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and reforms to taxi licensing standards.  According to TfL leading health organisations including Asthma UK, the British Lung Foundation and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have voiced their support for the changes.

UK Government figures have revealed billions of pounds and thousands of jobs have been created by the business of renewable energy. The figures don’t address possible job losses from cuts to renewable power, such as with the Feed-In Tariff (FITs) changes, and were published as an update on progress to source 15% of the UK power from renewables. Energy |Secretary Chris Huhne, said the latest research from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows that so far this financial year, companies have announced plans for almost £2.5billion worth of investment in renewable energy projects in the UK, with the potential to create almost 12,000 jobs across the country.

The airline and aviation industry has joined the European Carbon Trading Scheme (ETS) meaning that all carriers using EU airspace must pay for the carbon the emit. And many airlines including Lufthansa, BA and Emirates have said that they will pass the new cost on to customers with Lufthansa saying the ETS will cost them $108 annually. Under trading scheme rules, airlines will be given permits for up to 85% of their emissions but must buy permits to cover the rest. If an airline could reduce fuel use below the permits it was originally allocated it could sell any surplus to less efficient airlines. For each tonne emitted without a matching permit airlines will be fined E100. Whilst this gives a financial incentive to promote furl efficiency, airline bosses say the high cost of fuel was already a big driver! A challenge to the law by US airlines failed before the European Court of Justice who said the ETS scheme did not violate international law. China has also objected and is putting financial pressure on the EU by blocking orders for new aircraft for China from Europe and said it would not pay for permits. Virgin, Easyjet and Ryanair have all objected to the rising cost of environmental taxes.

Search engine giant Google has put $94m into four solar photovoltaic (PV) projects currently under construction in California near Sacramento. The new projects bring Google’s investment in renewables up to more than $915m.

The Genuine Solutions Group says it has diverted 600 tonnes of waste from landfill in the last year, recovering and reprocessing more than 7 million mobile accessories. Last year the company won the Queen’s Award for International Trade and is busy supplying used and recondition mobiles to customers in more than 30 countries, many in the third world.

Nike, Adidas, Puma and other global brands have joined forces to develop a roadmap to completely eliminate the release of toxic chemicals from their supply chains by 2020. As part of the plan, the group – which also includes C&A, H&M and Li Ning – will conduct pilot projects between 2011 and 2013 to better understand scope of use and discharge of hazardous chemicals.  The roadmap also sets out a number of specific commitments and timelines to reach the 2020 goal. These include initiating an inventory of all chemicals used in clothing and shoe manufacturing by the end of 2012, disclosing the results of all pilots and studies undertaken, and reporting publicly on progress achieved.

Thousands of tonnes of ‘extra’ waste electrical and electronic equipment, WEEE , is finding its way back into the recycling market in the UK according to the latest modelling research The study, compiled by WRAP, indicates that over 50% of WEE is being reprocessed or reused – as opposed to the 37% officially recorded through approved authorised treatment facilities. However, this figure could increase significantly if more items were channelled through the right routes to start with.

Edie.net’s environmental ‘ROUND UP OF 2011’ is a good read – you can find it here http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=21567