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ANOTHER PLANET?

The UK’s first recyclable corporate clothing range, created entirely from biodegradable and sustainable sources, has been launched by the Midcounties Co-operative Funeral Group. The ceremonial clothing, for staff, Created by Lyn Oakes corporate tailors, is made using 100% wool sourced from natural, sustainable and renewable sources and the interlining of the garments are either derived from viscose or made using 100% recycled PET plastic bottles. The buttons are made from the Corozo nut. The company already runs an electric fleet of vehicle and offers banana leaf and cardboard coffins.

peral bordredThe deluge of rain in the United Kingdom in 2012 has been apocalyptic for the butterfly population, pushing some of Britain’s rarest species such as the high brown fritillary to the edge of extinction – and with populations of some common species such as the cabbage white and tortoise shell dropping by more than half. The black hairstreet lost 98% of its population.

Peru has declared an environmental emergency  in the Amazon saying that Pluspetrol, which took over Occidental Petroleum’s oil fields in the rain forest, has 90 days to clean up polluted areas and reduce the risk of contamination to the local population, with many having unacceptably high levels of lead and cadmium in their bodies.  Meanwhile and seemingly oblivious to Peru’s problems, Equador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazon rainforest to Chinese oil companies angering local people –  who say they have not consented to oil projects. More here  and here .

Oil giant British Petroleum is well-known for the Deepwater Oil Horizon disaster and its much-criticized handling of the clean up’s aftermath. Now the company’s interference with its environmental record, on Wikipedia has caused a stir: Angry Wikipedia editors estimate that BP has rewritten 44 percent of the page about itself, especially about its environmental performance.

Planning has been approved by the UK Government for construction of the first nuclear power station in the UK since 1995. The multi-billion pound project at Hinkley Point, Somerset will generate enough low carbon electricity to power the equivalent of five million households, making it one of the largest power stations in the UK. The Government has outlined a £1bn support package for the aerospace industry that will focus on increasing the energy and fuel efficiency of aircrafts.

The shutting down of Cockenzie power station in Scotland has been welcomed by environmental lobbyists. Dubbed one of Europe’s “most “power stations, ScottishPower’s coal-fired plant, in East Lothian, has shut down its four turbines for the last time today as the company plans to replace it with a gas-fired facility.

A shift to low carbon vehicles will reduce the total cost of running Europe’s auto fleet and lead to “mildly” positive economic impacts including indirect employment gains, according to a new report. Edie.net reports that the report, from consultancies Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA, compares two scenarios against a reference case where vehicle efficiency is frozen at the current level.  In the first scenario, named Current Policy Initiatives, cars and vans achieve the EU’s proposed 2020 CO2 target of 95g/km and 147g/km respectively but efficiency improvements moderate to a rate of less than 1% annually thereafter.  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Shift-to-low-carbon-fleet-will-boost-Europes-economy/24239/

Invicta Plastics, A British company has created the world’s first rigid, food-safe products from 100% recycled plastic bottles, lids and milk cartons.  Coca-Cola is among the first brands to test the new products, whilst Coca-Cola Enterprises, sustainable packaging firm Greenpac and retail giant Asda are also working with Invicta to explore the potential of the processes for point-of-sale products and merchandise

Growth in the biofuels industry is being ‘stifled’ by continued lobbying from the oil and gas sectors, according to the founder and director of Forum for the Future. Speaking at the 2013 World Biofuels Markets Exhibition and Congress, which incited debates on the role of biofuels in achieving global energy security, Forum for the Future’s Jonathon Porritt, said “the oil and gas industry is a problem for the biofuels industry”.  Porritt was backed by General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Co-chair of Growth Energy: “You’re up against massive lobbying from the oil industry. Both industries need to band together and stop fighting each other.”

The UK Government has revealed that just 1,800 assessments have been carried out in homes and businesses since the Green Deal scheme launched in January.   According to the first statistics on the Green Deal, £26.9m worth of contracts has been traded through the Green Deal’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) brokerage system since the launch of the scheme. The UK Government has said the figures are encouraging, while Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said they showed clear signs of a promising new market gathering momentum. Davey has also told reporters that climate change policies will keep DOWN energy prices. Energy security and sustainable energy would reduce the UK’s reliance on oil and gas brought on international markets – recently wholesale gas prices almost doubled as demand soared. Energy saving policies, better boilers, righter building regulations, the green deal scheme and smart meters could save the average household £166 each year – an 11% saving.  Current;y investment in wind power costs households £18 each.

Fly-tippers and other serious waste offenders could be slapped with larger fines underr new environmental sentencing proposals. The new draft sentencing guidelines from the Sentencing Council cover offences like fly-tipping and waste disposal that cause pollution or harm to health. With waste crimes causing significant environmental damage and impacting on communities and legitimate businesses, the proposals aim to ensure that the level of fines handed out to offenders matches the seriousness of the offences they have committed.  A wide variety of offences are covered that mostly come under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. http://www.edie.net/news/5/New-sentencing-proposals-crack-down-on-waste-criminals/24227/

Wales has the potential to be a world leader in marine energy technology and production, says Business Minister Edwina Hart. Addressing the Marine Energy Pembrokeshire Industry Seminar in Pembroke Dock, Wales, Hart said: “Wales has a promising marine energy sector which is already beginning to thrive.

The number of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK outside of the water industry has nearly doubled since September 2011, exceeding the 100 mark for the first time.

spacescrapersCities are where almost all of us will live in the future. But did you know that currently 27% of city dwellers don’t have piped water? The availability of drinking water always limits a city’s ability to grow. There are 1.34 million deaths each year in cities from air pollution. Urban greening  will be a key area – the largest green roof in the world is the 47,192 M2 roof at the Dearborn Tuck Assembly Plant in Michigan, USA. Urban biodiversity and green infrastructure are essential elements of any city vision and tree cover, green roofs and green spaces all reduce water runoff – important when you l;earn that 33% of the world’s largest cities rely on neighbouring areas for water. The Rolls Royce plant in Chichester has a 33,000 M2 green roof. 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from cities – and in New York 45% of all energy use is in ‘big’ buildings. Improved energy efficiency in buildings is a real must. Key challenges for future cities will be reducing CO2 and the cost and security of energy supplies – and more sustainable energy – like Thames Water’s £250 million thermal hydrolysis Process (THP) which will allow Thames to improve its anaerobic digestion process which already provides 15% of its annual energy needs – and self generation of energy in cities using existing technologies such as solar and wind power – new technologies. And 20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from traffic and transport – but in the UK just 20% of commuters use public transport – even though the average speed of commuter’s cars is 23MPH and many have just a single occupant. Electric cars, safe cycling, car pooling, car clubs and better public transport – buses, trains, trams, the underground – are all important tools.  Climate change is a real challenge for cities – flooding, water shortages, pollution, food shortages, social unrest, infrastructure damage, energy security, disease and over crowding are real issues. Smart sustainable cities are the future – and need to be future proofed – but whether or not they will develop a sustainable future is neither simple or risk free – or even likely!