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ANOTHER PLANET?

solarThe European Union needs to commit to developing a long-term strategy that enables renewable energy to become a “real competitor past 2020”, according to The Committee of Regions (CoR). Proposals set out by the Committee call for a support scheme for renewable energy and argue that only by taking a coordinated approach at EU-level, coupled with sound investment, can environmental targets be achieved.  Edie.net says that despite EU Member States being committed to ensuring that renewable energy constitutes 20% of the entire energy mix by 2020, the Committee has called for a full review of the EU’s strategy after 2020, raising concerns that current plans are short-sighted.

Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke has warned that water scarcity will be the cause of massive food shortages within the next 15 to 20 years unless decisive action is taken. Bulcke, who gave a keynote speech at the annual City Food Lecture in London last night, said that overuse of fresh water was not only posing a serious environmental hazard, but was now a major risk to political and social stability.

Cattle ranches are threatening the Amazon-  as a direct result of our love of luxury leather goods (and burgers). Brazil’s cattle population is 200 million animals – the first cow arrived in 1898, and now Brazil plans to double its share of global cattle products by 2018. A 2009 study by Greenpeace showed that ranchers were still illegally clearing rainforest – with one hectare of rainforest being lost ever 18 seconds – and leather from deforested areas was going straight into the supply chain for major brands. The report was a wake up call for some in the fashion industry – as well as for many in Brazil who discovered that state banks were funding the forest clearance. To be fair, in 2005 Nike, Addidas and Timberland founded the Leather Working Group (LWG) which rates products from  ‘fail’ to ‘gold’ depending on the sustainability of the supply chain (water and energy used, pollution produced) and membership now includes major brabds like UK high street retailer Marks & Spencer. A PETA campaign stopped the barbaric export of live cattle in India with brands such as H&M saying they will not buy leather from India, and indeed  last year H&M produced 500,000 pairs of shoes using only LWG certified leather: Now Gucci’s ‘Jackie’ bag (named after style icon Jackie Onassis) will use only leather from a deforestation free zone. The bag, which will be launched as part of London Fashion Week, will also carry the Green Carpet Challenge mark – which raises the profile of ethics in the global fashion industry.

Following a five month delay, the CRC PLT, published today by the Environment Agency, ranks almost 3,000 organisations on their energy efficiency performance for the year 2011/12.  In the rankings of today’s table, Premiership football team Manchester United fell 487 places from top of the table to 488th place, while the construction sector performed strongly with the top spot going to Bam Group, followed by Skanska in second and Carillion in seventh place. The final UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Performance League Table (PLT) has highlighted some of the legislations failings and raised concerns over data accuracy issues.

mark wood shareIntrepid explorer Mark Wood will be linking from his Mount Everest ascent expedition at this year’s Sustainability Live exhibition to raise awareness for international climate change issues. Sustainability Live (16-18 April) is the UK’s leading environmental exhibition, primarily focusing on the energy, water and energy-from-waste sectors

Investment in the European energy-from-waste (EfW) market is expected to reach $5bn by 2016 as landfill diversion strategies gather pace over the next three years.

An increasing number of struggling farmers are investing in renewable energy as an alternative source of income, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and RenewableUK. Recent analysis from NatWest and RBS revealed that in 2012, the average farm made between £12,000 and £50,000 from generating their own wind energy, which offers the highest rate or return, while more than 50% of farmers expressed interest in solar power.

A new alliance of civic, environmental and transport bodies have called for a radical new approach to the construction of large scale developments in the run up to the Government’s long-awaited prospectus for major new development. The alliance believes that the low-density, car orientated suburban schemes of the 1970s or 1980s, like Milton Keynes or Bradley Stoke in Bristol, need to be replaced if we are to reduce the UKs carbon footprint and deliver ‘smart growth’.  In the proposals, the alliance explains that a new development should “blend the well-designed family terraced housing with cutting edge practice from across the world”, such as recently developed ‘eco-suburbs’ in Freiburg, Germany and Stockholm.

Biffa has been fined £105,000 for failing to manage pollution from its Tyne and Wear landfill site in line with environmental legislation. The company appeared before Sunderland Magistrates nd admitted five charges of breaching its environmental permit during 2010 and 2011.  The breaches relate to the firm’s control of leachate, a liquid produced by the decomposition of organic waste. It contains toxic substances and is a common product of landfill sites. Operators are required to contain the substance to protect the surrounding environment. http://www.edie.net/news/5/Biffa-found-guilty-in-landfill-site-pollution-case-/

chicken magnificentChickens are big these days, showing up in urban backyards and rooftops and in the pages of TreeHugger. But when you get out of the city, they are really big, with thousands of breeders, shows, a Standard of Perfection that goes back to 1874 . Photographer Tamara Staples has been documenting them for years, producing The Fairest Fowl in 2001 and updating and expanding it in 2013 as The Magnificent Chicken, with a fascinating essay by This American Life’s Ira Glass.

Thailand has said it outlaw its domestic trade in ivory. The country’s prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra made the pledge during the opening day of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Thailand has just 2,500 Asian elephants left, but has 67 authorise ivory vendors, and perhaps 200 more illegal shops, selling African ivory. 25,000 elephants were killed illegally last year and since 1979 the African population has shrunk from 1.3 million to just 400,000 animals. Officially there is a global ban on ivory trading. Other species under the spotlight at CITES include the Sumatran Rhino and the stubfoot toad.

Neonicotinoids are back in the news – the pesticides that many scientists think are damaging the viability of insect colonies that are the guarantors of food security – pollinators. The manufacturers of neonicotinoids including Syngenta and Bayer say that a ban would do more harm than good and that other factors, in particular the varroa mite are more damaging to the bee population. Scientific evidence is slowly building against the continued use of  neonicotinoids but many fear that shirt term inaction may have long term implications. we need to save the buzz and give bees a chance.

The Liberal Democrats in the UK are look set to enter a battle with their Coalition partners, the Conservative party, by demanding that a decarbonisation target is set for the UK’s power industry. Lib Dem president Tim Farron has said he will back the move.

 

 

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