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ANOTHER PLANET?

The CBI has called for the Government to provide certainty in the UK energy market to help investors boost growth and provide secure, low-carbon power.  CBI deputy director-general Dr Neil Bentley, implored the government to take swift action to promote investor confidence in a speech to business leaders.

A London furniture reuse charity has moved to bigger premises in response to growing demand from local authorities and major retailers for a diversion route for bulky items. West London based Furnish opened its new warehouse in Greenford today, quadrupling the floor space of its old premise in White City.

Manchester, once one of Europe’s dirtiest cities during the Industrial Revolution and a byword for filth, squalor and degradation, is aiming to become the world’s first ‘carbon literate’ city. The city is launching a training initiative that will offer anyone who lives, works or studies in the city a days tuition on carbon literacy. The scheme was launched by City Council leader Sir Richard Leese and the Vice Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, John Brooks.

A £125m government fund, which will be made available to homeowners and businesses investing in energy efficiency improvements has received a mixed reception from organisations. Under the Green Deal, to be implemented in January 2013, households who make improvements such as loft insulation, solid wall insulation and replacement windows could receive up to a £1,000 cash back.

According to a report from the BBC, biologists from California’s National Marine Mammal Foundation have found evidence that our ocean-going beluga whales may be capable of mimicking our language. After hearing an animal speaking in an uncannily human-like way at their facility in San Diego, researchers finally found the source: a captive beluga, or white whale, named NOC.

Local authority comingled collections of unwanted textiles for reuse and recycling is economically unviable, trials have found.  Comingled collections represents a disposal cost of £84 whereas the potential range in revenues obtained from segregated textiles ranges from £841 – £1,738 at textile banks to £676 – £1,481 at charity shops.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been issued with a damages claim from five solar installation and construction companies over the Government’s illegal cuts to feed-in tariffs last year.

Engineers and scientists at a small company in the U.K. claim to be able to produce gasoline and other liquid hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide and water vapor, which could be a huge boost in the production of renewable fuels. The team at Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) has created a system for using renewable energy to power the capture of CO2 and water, which is then transformed into liquid hydrocarbon fuels that can be used directly in gasoline engines. The water is first electrolyzed to produce hydrogen, and then the CO2 and hydrogen are combined in a fuel reactor to produce gas using the company’s process. http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/scientists-make-gas-air.html

Siemens has announced hat it was pulling out of the solar business and is currently holding talks with potential buyers. As part of a wider reorganisation programme, the German engineering company has reiterated its commitment to renewable energy sources, claiming it plans to strengthen its focus on wind and hydro power.

The world’s largest companies are not doing enough to assess water strategies or provide transparent water-related risk assessments to investors, despite a sharp rise in company reports of detrimental impacts from droughts and other water-related issues. According to an analysis of the largest listed companies by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), more than half have experienced negative impacts from water-related challenges

Edie.net reports that targeted financial support policies are crucial in cutting UK carbon emissions, and focusing on single solutions, like carbon pricing, has its limitations, according to a new report. The report finds that feed-in tariffs and the Renewables Obligation create certainty for renewable energy investors. However, if carbon pricing was the only driver, it claims it would rarely be set at the level necessary to attract investment in renewables and would instead, be more likely to drive investment from coal to gas.  The paper, ‘On picking winners: The need for targeted support for renewable energy’, was written by director of the Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology, Dr Rob Gross. He argues that “technology neutral” energy policy is a long way off and urges the government to make sure the Energy Bill targets support effectively at a range of renewable technologies.

Irish restaurants throw away €125m worth of food every year and as a sector is looking for assistance to reduce this cost, according to a report.  Unilever has launched a global insight report into the hospitality sector in an attempt to increase awareness and help restaurants and similar businesses reduce food waste.  The report has revealed that 83% of Irish consumers were concerned about the amount of food being thrown away every day, and 71% of Irish restaurants say they would welcome a food audit of their businesses.

Fixing leaks in supply pipes could reduce overall water leakage by 30%, according to the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).  CIWEM is calling for water companies to adopt customer-owned water supply pipes as this is where 30% of leakages arise from, because many customers are unaware of their responsibility to keep the supply pipe in good condition, it claims.

Edie.net reports that the UK is leading the EU in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA). EU overall emissions fell on average by 2.5% and almost all European countries are individually on track towards their commitments under the United Nations greenhouse gas obligations -the Kyoto protocol, the figures show.  The UK made the biggest emission cuts in absolute terms, with a reduction of 36m tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2 eq.) in 2011, or 6 %. This was followed by France (24 Mt CO2 eq., 5 %) and Germany (17 Mt CO2 eq., 2 %). Nine EU Member States increased emissions between 2010 and 2011. Bulgaria increased emissions by 11 %, while Lithuania increased by 3 % and Romania by 2 %. However, these countries have made some of the deepest cuts in emissions overall since 1990.

Black plastic trays that can be detected in mixed waste streams and separated by reprocessing machinery may soon be a reality, thanks to a Danish packaging firm. Færch Plast has developed a black CPET (crystalline polyethylene) material that can be picked out by near infrared (NIR) sensors in what it claims is a world first

Marks & Spencer has pledged to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain and products by 2020, following pressure from campaign group Greenpeace.   The retailer is the seventh brand to make such a commitment – fellow fashion leader H&M has also responded to Greenpeace’s Detox campaign, which was launched in 2011 to address the issue of toxic waste and water pollution that was arising from textile factories in China.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has developed a new standard for best practice energy auditing that will serve as a tool for energy, sustainability and environmental managers, auditors, consultants and senior management interested in targeting energy efficiency. BS EN 16247-1 is appropriate to all organisations regardless of size or industry sector and complements ISO 50001.

Last year was a record breaking year for wind power which saw capacity, investment and planning approvals skyrocket, according to the trade association RenewableUK. – but UK Energy Minister John Hayes has attacked the ongoing and unchecked development of onshore wind farms, calling them a “terrible intrusion”, and has ordered a new analysis of the case for wind farms and their effect on local communities.   Talking to the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, Hayes said that the UK is “peppered” by wind farms and that the country had “had enough”.  The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is currently running a consultation on wind farms, but Mr Hayes suggested there will be extra investigations into the impacts of turbines on communities and landscapes which will cheer anti-windfarm campaigners in rural areas, with Mr Hayes  saying “we can no longer have windfarms imposed on communities”.

The launch of a new building improvement project aims to ‘revolutionise’ the UK’s renewable energy industry by turning buildings into ‘power stations’ capable of generating, storing and releasing their own energy. The project, known as SPECIFIC (Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Coatings) and led by Swansea University, will involve incorporating specially coated steel and glass into buildings, so that the “fabric of a building itself is able to generate, store and release electricity”.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has backed the NFU and Women Farmers Union’s call for the government to look at sky lanterns, hoping to create guidelines that work for both the public and farmers,  saying that sky laterns which are “seemingly innocent” cause fire damage to crops and property and are a serious threat to animal welfare.