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ANOTHER PLANET

Very bad news: Global warming is leading to such extreme storms, droughts and heatwaves that nations should prepare for an onslaught of deadly weather disasters according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – particularly in highly populated developing regions.

Bad news: The South East of England is now suffering its worst drought for 90 years – 1921 when T S Eliot wrote ‘Wasteland’ amid the most arid conditions on modern Britain.  March in 2012 has been 3C above normal on average , the third warmest March since records began in 1659 and drought conditions now extend to Yorkshire and Wales. The Environment Agency say that a prolonged downpour of twice the average for the next for the next for months is needed to replenish the water table

Bad news – it seems the third runway Heathrow is back on the UK Government’s agenda as the ‘greenest Government’ turns out to be anything but green. Its clear now that the Tories obsession with short term economic growth trumps all – planning, sustainable transport and even common sense. It seems ministers desire to explore  options ‘with the exception  of a third runway at Heathrow’ might not now hold true and we may be seeing a less than desirable U-turn. Ho hum!

Bad news – Europe’s largest eco-labelled fisheries look likely to lose their Marine Stewardship Council ‘blue swoosh’ mark after Iceland and the Faroes decided to breach limits on fishing mackerel putting stocks at risk through over fishing.  All North sea and Atlantic mackerel caught will lose the right to use the sustainable fishing mark. Iceland and the Faroes say that increased numbers of mackerel spawning  and feeding means they can increase their quotas.  Richard Lochhead, the Scottish fisheries minister said that stocks may fall below safe limits by 2014 and that “ensuring the stock is sustainable” is in “everyone’s interests”.

Bad news: Edie.net reports that UK businesses have slammed the Government’s lack of decision in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mandatory reporting as “unacceptable” and “deplorable”. This follows the announcement by government that it has not reached a decision on whether or not it intends to introduce carbon reporting, which was planned to come into force on April 6th  2012.  Despite growing support from UK businesses, green NGOs and politicians for the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting the Government has declined to make a decision and has now broken for Easter recess until April 16.

Better news – the UK government’s final policy framework for planning actually seemed to get everyone on board with Government minister Greg Clark cutting red tape, more local input AND listening to conservationists – with enhanced protection for the environment.

Good news: The Danish Government has unveiled an ambitious low carbon strategy which aims to make greater use of renewables and reduce carbon emissions by more than 34% by 2020.

Mixed news: Energy secretary Ed Davey has claimed that new proposals to simplify the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and cut red tape will save businesses millions – as he tries to save the unpopular scheme. Launching a 12-week consultation Mr Davey said “we have listened to businesses’ concerns about the CRC and have set out proposals to radically cut down on ‘red tape’ to save businesses money”. The Government has set the 2014-15 carbon price support rate at £9.55 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is a sharp increase on the £4.94 C02e for 2013, set one year ago.

Better news: Higher packaging targets for plastic, aluminium, steel and glass will come into force as a result of the UK’s new budget: Legislation will be passed later this year to increase statutory targets annually over a five-year period from 2013-2017 by 5% for plastic, 3% for aluminium and 1% for steel. Glass recycling targets will be split by end use.

Better news: the long-standing feed-in tariff (FIT) saga has at last reached a conclusion – with the Supreme Court throwing out the Government’s appeal against a ruling that its actions on the subsidies were “unlawful”. As a result, the UK’s solar industry has heralded the Supreme Court ruling, which concluded that the Government should not have prematurely cut solar FITs before the end of the consultation period, a victory.

Bad news: Grrrrrr – those Olympics wallahs SHOULD have done a lot better and the games should have been a lot greener. London 2012 organisers have missed a significant reuse opportunity according to sustainability experts involved in the Olympic Park construction programme. A lack of specific reuse targets meant that contractors were not incentivised to reclaim certain materials such as brick and steel from the demolition process, which could have been reused in site construction works.

Mixed news – Britain’s flagging efforts to clean up its energy generation have received a boost after Samsung said it was investing   in a experimental project in the Din valley in South Yorkshire – which will generate power from coal and oil (not good) but use  CCS carbon capture and storage technology at power stations to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. The gas would be stored under  the North Sea in depleted oilfields.

Good news! The UK’s Department for Transport has unveiled plans to increase the number of low carbon buses across England – thanks to a new £101m package of improvements.

Bad news: From dolphins with lung and liver disease to  dying coral, studies are revealing the ongoing impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster on the Gulf of Mexico’s marine environment when 200  million gallons of crude oil flowed from the well.

Good news: Glyndebourne Festival in Sussex has confirmed plans to become the world’s first opera festival powered by renewable energy.   Despite some opposition to a new 67m high wind turbine, it is anticipated that the turbine will generate contribute 90% of the power necessary to stage Glyndebourne’s operas – meaning festival goers to the 78th Glyndebourne Festival will be listening to productions of Janáček, Mozart and Ravel through the power of wind.

Bad news: the Arctic is under increasing threat because of global warming – as the retreat of the ice cap opens up new shipping lanes in the North and new areas for oil, gas and other mineral deposits. The biggest risk of ecological damage comes from the USA – who conveniently ‘forgot’ to sign up to the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

Good news: West London Composting is closing the loop on one waste stream by producing quality compost from local authority organic waste. Since opening its doors for business in 2004, the site has been receiving a mixture of garden waste, kitchen and canteen leftovers, and cardboard and paper, processing the material through in-vessel composting to produce a PAS 100 compliant compost for agriculture, landscape gardeners and the general public.

And finally, some top links from Treehugger

Is eating meat ethical? Have your say at http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/eating-meat-ethical-survey.html?campaign=weekly_nl

10 Great gardening websites http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/10-great-gardening-websites.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Poo-Powered Tuk Tuk hits Denver Zoo http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/poo-powered-tuk-tuk-denver-zoo.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Annual sales of electric bikes to top 47 million by 2018 http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/poo-powered-tuk-tuk-denver-zoo.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Swimming robot jellyfish makes its own hydrogen fuel from water http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/swimming-robot-jellyfish-makes-its-own-hydrogen-fuel-power.html?campaign=weekly_nl

Award-Winning German development aims to be ‘the World’s most sustainable neighborhood’ http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/award-winning-german-development-aims-worlds-most-sustainable-neighborhood.html?campaign=weekly_nl