Commitments on the Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Electricity Market Reform (EMR) were both included in the UK governments new legislative programme in the Queen’s Speech, along with the promise of a draft bill dealing with the reform of the water industry. The commitment to introduce legislation to ‘establish’ the GIB is in line with business secretary Vince Cable’s announcement in March this year that the new bank will be headquartered in Edinburgh and that it will be “in a position to be fully operational this Autumn”. he timetable for the GIB to achieve full borrowing status, however, is scheduled to take until April 2015, a date which, even then, is subject to public sector net debt falling as a percentage of GDP. The EMR commitment upholds a previous Government pledge that it would legislate for the key elements of this package in the second session of this Parliament, starting in May 2012. The intention is to ensure that such legislation reaches the statute book by spring 2013, allowing the first low-carbon projects to be supported under its provisions ‘around 2014’ – and would promote growth in nuclear power and reduce coal fired power stations. Energy minister Greg Barker is set to lead a green trade mission to the US in a bid to strengthen trading relations and showcase UK businesses which have benefited from the green economy.
Sainsbury’s is shrinking the volume of its own-brand toilet rolls – a packaging move which it claims will take 500 lorries off the road each year. The retailer is the first company reduce the diameter of the inner cardboard tube on every roll by 12mm, cutting the number of delivery lorries required by the equivalent of 140,000kg of CO2. However it was quick to allay fears that consumers might be short-changed by the move. On-pack information will reassure customers that each roll contains the same number of sheets and the same quality. And Nike has revealed plans to lightweight its shoebox packaging in a bid to cut the weight of the cardboard by 10% and generate cost savings through less material use.
More on retail – Puma has launched an in-store footwear and clothing takeback scheme across all of its stores and outlets in Germany. Its Bring Me Back programme – which will be rolled out globally next year – follows on the heels of Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping scheme launched last week by Joanna Lumley. Under the initiative customers will be able to drop off any style or brand of clothing, shoes and accessories for reuse, upcycling, or remanufacture.
The UK Government has pledged to develop a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) dealing with climate change impacts on the marine environment. The announcement, made by Marine Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, followed the release of data from the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) which focuses on how climate change is affecting fish and shellfish in British seas. MCCIP’s report identified both opportunities and threats in the marine environment, linked to climate change. It also highlighted potential social and economic consequences of the changes which are taking place. “Climate change is having a big impact on the distribution of fish stocks and this is going to present some significant challenges for policy-makers, fisheries managers and for the fishing industry itself,” said Richard Benyon, adding that the new NAP would address key marine environment concerns.
England’s municipal recycling rate now stands at 42.5%, showing a slight improvement over the past 12 months, according to latest figures released by Defra.
Harpenden in Hertfordshire is the new frontline in the ongoing battle over GM crops with activists threatening to target the wheat being grown at the Rothampstead research station. The wheat is described as a ‘eco-friendly’ GM crop and produces chemicals which ‘frighten off’ aphids and attract aphid predators such as ladybirds and wasps. Opponents say the wheat proses a real risk to British farming and could pollute other crops. a day of action is planned for May 27th.
More on bees – the Telegraph (indeed that right wing bastion of sense and reason to its readers) reports on the risk from neonicotinoids “the nerve poison harming our bees’. Neonicotinoids are used as a pesticide – often used to coat seeds – and are the fastest growing insecticide in the world – with sales over 1.5 euros in 2008 – and used both in farming and in gardens and Thiacloprid is an active ingredient in Bayer Provado. But the chemicals et into the pollen and nectar and whilst they may not immediately kill the bee they give it a massive ‘hangover’ – often meaning the bee gets lost (and dies) or reduces its effectiveness so bee colonies don’t produce enough food in the long term and starve. Research from the University of Exeter showed honey bee’s performance went down by 6% to 16% when exposed to the sort of neonicotinoid dose they would get when foraging in oilseed rape. Research from the University of Strling shows that bumble bee colonies grow more slowly when exposed to neonicotinoids and produce fewer queens – and make the bees lethargic and reluctant to forage. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/9257431/The-nerve-poison-harming-our-bees.html
In Peru, coffee farmers are facing real problems from climate change with newly unpredictable weather and wildly differing rainfalls. And the problem is made worse by deforestation. Now Cafédirect is using the global carbon market to encourage farmers to plant more trees above the coffee plantations where they have been removed – and the trees will capture carbon – which in the future can be traded as a carbon credit, for the benefit of the community. If Cafédirect’s project succeeds it could provide a blueprint for indigenous communities all over the world. Peru’s vice president, Marisol Espinoza, said: “Climate change is a huge worry for us in Peru and we hope this initiative in Sierra Piura can be rolled out to other regions too. It is so important because Peruvian coffee is special. It protects biodiversity, and it’s about development of whole communities. It also has an amazing aroma and taste. That’s the taste of social justice.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/13/peru-coffee-climate-change-carbon-trading
A drive by businesses in Ireland to improve energy management has seen them save more than €150m in energy costs, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
Consent has been given for what’s claimed will become the ‘highest generating capacity’ onshore wind farm anywhere in England and Wales. Consisting of 76 turbines and scheduled to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of up to 206,000 homes a year, the newly approved farm is the Pen Y Cymoedd 299MW development, located between Neath and Aberdare in South Wales.
Edie.net reports that a new UK approach to Emissions Trading has gone out to consultation with the promise of cutting ‘red tape’ and saving businesses both time and money. The new plan centres on the creation of a single regulation for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), replacing the 13-part process which is currently in use. It’s also suggested that small emitters and hospitals will be given the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of EU ETS altogether from 2013, moving instead into a lighter touch alternative scheme.
The UK legal sector has reduced its carbon emissions by nearly 35,000 tonnes in 2011, according to a new report from the Legal Sector Alliance (LSA) which shows emissions have declined steadily over the last three years, with the period showing an average reduction of 18%, compared with 12% over the previous three-year reporting period. Launched in 2007, the LSA aims to take action on climate change by following seven principles including; reducing the carbon footprint of their operations, integrating awareness of climate change across business and engaging in public debate on climate change.
EU member states need to stop “watering down” their energy efficiency proposals and recognise the potential for job growth, according to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
A Leicestershire pig farm has taken advantage of a Government planning exemption on small-scale renewables schemes on farms by installing solar panels to run its pig feeding facilities. Lodge Farm has installed a 39.6kWp solar photovoltaic system. This is expected to generate more than 34,153 units of green energy per year for use on the 320 acre site and provide £11,236 in tax-free income from the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme.