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ANOTHER PLANET

To protect what’s left of the world’s marine environment, a number of pacific island nations are taking steps to create a large marine reserve – with one zone already established around the Cook Islands the size of Egypt. The UK had already established a zone the size of France around the Chagos Islands totalling 640,000 square kilometres  and now New Caledonia has promised to protect 540,000 square miles of the Coral Sea – that’s two Texases. These zones will hopefully merge to form one giant reserve where fish stocks can be managed sustainably for the future.

The Canadian Government will give Shell, Chevron and Marathon Oil  C$865 million in subsidies to build a plant that will capture and store carbon emissions from a controversial tar sands project. The oil companies will invest a  further $435 million. The carbon capture and storage (CCS) the project will  make it more carbon efficient than traditional oil extraction although over the projects lifetime this will not be the case as the building of the plant and the massive water use in CCS will have a carbon cost.

When Ernest Shakleton’s boat Endurance was crushed by sea ice, he and five others sailed nearly 800 nautical miles in a 6.9 metre boat to get help. In 2013, the centenary of Shakleton’s amazing feat, Tim Jarvis and five others will repeat the eipc journey to raise awareness about climate change. Jarvis said “Shakleton was trying to save his men from the Antarctic. We are trying to save the Antarctic from men”.

President Obama has focussed on climate change in his  during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.  promising once again to combat global warming he made the comments while detailing his energy agenda. “My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet,” Obama said, “because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.” He delivered the remarks as a pointed rebuke to Mitt Romney, who made global warming into a joke at  last weeks Republican National Convention. http://www.treehugger.com/energy-policy/barack-obama-climate-change-not-hoax.html and http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/romneys-tone-deaf-climate-comment-hints-coming-war-science.html

Natalie Bennett has been elected as the leader of the Green Party for England and Wales. The Australian-born, former journalist had beaten three other candidates to the post it was announced yesterday.  Mrs Bennett, who said she was “deeply honoured” to be elected, will replace Caroline Lucas MP as leader of the party.

The European Union’s (EU) greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.5% in 2011 despite higher coal consumption, according to new estimates from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Marks and Spencer’s recently opened Cheshire Oaks store will use 30% less mains water through sustainable practices, compared with a conventional same sized store, says the company. The water reduction will come from harvested rainwater that will supply the toilets and irrigate the store’s ‘living green wall’, which displays plants and encourages wildlife.

Frozen food is less carbon intensive than chilled food, contrary to common belief, a scientific report has shown. The report, written by the Institute of Refrigeration fellow Judith Evans, assessed carbon emissions from post-harvest or post-slaughter to consumer consumption and found that a frozen meal for a family of four produced 5% less CO2 than a chilled equivalent.

Landscape architect Sam Martin has proposed Skycycle, a separated, elevated system of bike lanes for London. According to the Daily Mail, he gave up cycling in London because he found it too dangerous. The cycle super highway looks like a great idea to us!

The UK’s new Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has previously urged Parliament to end subsidies for green energies such such as wind and solar power, and fast-track shale gas exploitation. He also urged more aviation capacity. As MP for North Shropshire, Paterson has spoken against wind farms and the new pylons needed to carry their power to the national grid. Described in the Times as a climate change sceptic it seems his brother in law is the climate change sceptic writer Matt Ridley. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/sep/04/environment-owen-paterson-spelman-reshuffle?newsfeed=true. He is also endorsed by Lord Lawson, once as Nigel Lawson the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer who is now someone who I really haven’t the slightest regard for – quite an appalling person. Mr Paterson replaces Caroline Spelman who presided over the mad plan to sell of the UK’s publicly owned forests. Also worrying is that the fact that new Energy minister is John Hayes, who also seems distinctly un-green. Former head of the green party as of yesterday, Caroline Lucas tweeted – “OMG New Env sec suggested ending all energy subsidies & fast-tracking shale gas back in May.”  The economic future of the UK is not best served burning fossil fuels, building over our countryside, polluting our rivers and over fishing our seas. It’s about building a green economy and energy security. It’s getting warmer, dangerously warmer, sea ice is melting, and however much the oil companies pay climate change deniers to shout out wildly,  its not going to change. Honestly!

And even f0rmer Tory minister John Selwyn Gummer  has warned that economic growth would be impossible without more renewable energy, telling Prime Minister David Cameron and and Chancellor George Osbourne not to water down green policies, and Gummer, now Lord Deben, pointed out that whilst the UK had been a World leader with the Climate Change Act, other countries are now over-taking the UK in developing their green economies – China in particular has developed a burgeoning green manufacturing base – to the extent the EU is now investigating its export of solar panels into Europe and the US is looking at restricting imports.

From Saturday September 1 2012, shops will no longer be allowed to order new stocks of incandescent lightbulbs of 40w or lower. This latest stage in an EU directive to phase out inefficient lightbulbs follows earlier moves to ban higher wattage elements.

Edie.net reports that in the past year Wales has increased its renewable energy production, recycled more household waste and managed water more efficiently according to the latest government figures.  The Welsh government published its 44 sustainable development indicators this week ranging from areas such as health, housing, and education to the environment.  Of them, 19 showed a clear improvement, 21 showed little or no change, one was substandard and three did not have enough data to analyse.

David Cameron yesterday reassured opponents to a third runway at Heathrow that he would honour his manifesto not to expand it before the end of the current parliament. However, amid increasing speculation that the Government is preparing for a controversial U-turn, it has emerged that a cross-party commission will be launched next week to discuss the possible expansion of airport capacity in the South East.

Finally, farewell to Terry Nutkins, naturalist and inspiring presenter of wildlife programmes including Animal Magic and The Really Wild Show. Terry was only 66, and leaves his wife Jackie and eight children.