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ANOTHER PLANET?

After Hurricane Sandy left  millions of New Yorkers without power and with at least 64 deaths in the USA, the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg,  came out in support of President Obama, citing man made climate change as a major concern, saying “the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the North East – in lost lives, lost homes and lost businesses – brought the stakes of next Tuesdays presidential election into sharp relief” adding “Our climate  is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be a result of it, the risk that it may be  … should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action” saying “one candidate sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific  and risk management above electoral politics”. If you missed it (!) Obama indeed scraped home to a victory.

According to Swedish officials, Sweden will begin to import waste from their neighbour Norway — about 800,000 tons of it annually, to fulfil their waste to energy incinerator programme needs. Perhaps the best part of all is that, in solving their problem, Swedes actually stand to profit from this endeavour; the Norwegians are going to pay them to take their waste, proving quite succinctly that one nation’s trash can truly be another’s treasure trove.

After the revelation that ash dieback was now in the UK and threatening the UK’s 90 million ash trees, the next UK tree identified at risk is the Scots pine  which is thought to be particularly vulnerable because two major pests that attack the tree are already established in western Europe – the pine wood nematode, a worm which causes wilt anda fungus that causes the disease pitch canker.

Some of China’s senior party officials are reading a US best seller by Jeremy Rifkin which advocates a shift from fossil fuels to green energy. The Third Industrial Revolution has been recommended by Wang Yang, party secretary in the industrialised Guangdong province, not least to avoid a future reliant on importing gas from Russia and increases in the price of crude oil.

The split in the coalition government over a future based on George Osbourne’s plans for a massive increase in the extraction and use of gas to generate power, and other ministers and MP’s views that renewable energies should be prioritised,  continues to grow with new figures showing Osbourne’s plans are advancing with a real risk of the UK breaking greenhouse gas emission targets as a result. In the US there is a similar split between republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney who wants the US to be self sufficient in energy by 2012 from the aggressive exploitation of oil, gas and coal and is sceptical about green power and climate change, and Barack Obama who  wants to promote energy efficiency,  boost green and nuclear power and create green jobs.

Campaigners have woken up to new plans to relax planning rules in National Parks and areas of outstanding beauty to allow overhead power cables and new mobile phone masts. The Lake District is thought to be particularly at risk from the plans to prioritise the expansion of broadband and 4G in to stimulate growth in rural areas. See ‘Forests, phone masts, roads – how our leaders scorn the countryside” by Henry Porter in the Observer.

Shale gas from fracking should not be encouraged in the UK until there is evidence that operations can be delivered safely and robust regulatory controls are implemented, according to the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

The required improvement in global carbon intensity to meet a 2°C warming target, has risen to 5.1% a year, from 2012 to 2050, says PwC. PwC’s annual Low Carbon Economy Index, which covers the rate of change of global carbon intensity, says even doubling the current rate of decarbonisation will still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century.  “To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2 degrees will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation”.

A landmark decision from the Environment Agency and Defra could mean that almost 800,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material from cars will now be recovered as energy every year. The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has welcomed the news, which will see waste from vehicles being diverted from landfill and converted into high quality plastics and electricity. More at edie http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=23501  – currently 85% of end-of-life vehicles can be recovered and recycled in the UK. However, a deposit left at the end of the shredder process once all the recyclable material has been extracted, known as auto shredder residue (ASR), cannot be recycled.

Dutch designers have developed sustainable roads that illuminate during the night and recharge during the day – the signs are set to hit Europe’s highways in 2013.

The UK’s goal of reducing transport CO2 emissions received a boost after the Government made £16.5m worth of funding available for new research and development.  The Government is also offering funding of up to £10m to innovative projects that aim to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy.

British businesses could save £500m a year in fuel costs if they fitted more fuel efficient tyres on their company vehicles, according to new research by the Energy Saving trust (EST). The research coincides with new EU legislation that comes into force today, compelling tyre manufacturers to label their car and light commercial tyres.