ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN INDEFINITE GROWTH ON A PHYSICALLY FINITE PLANET IS EITHER MAD, OR AN ECONOMIST. David Attenborough, quoting Kenneth Boulding.
Forest fires in Indonesia, mostly lit illegally to clear rainforest for palm oil plantations, have pushed Indonesia above the USA as one of the world’s dirtiest countries, releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere than the USA and India. It is estimated one billion tonnes of CO2 have been released from the fires this year alone, Some fires have spread to peat in which the forests grow, and this peat can burn for many years, releasing both CO2 and methane, a far more toxic greenhouse gas. Airports and schools in Indonesia have been forced to close because of the smoke and pollution. One wildlife refuge in Borneo is considering a mass evacuation of orang-utans from its local area as the fires and thick smoke threaten to wipe out the beautiful apes. MORE HERE.
The European Union is on track to beat its target reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but any move to increase it from 20% to 30% will only be considered if matched by developed countries at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Hurricane Patricia, one of the most powerful storms on record, struck Mexico’s Pacific coast on Friday 23rd October with destructive winds that tore down trees, moved cars and forced thousands of people to flee homes and beachfront resorts. Hours after making landfall, the storm weakened but still packed winds of 130 miles per hour (210 km per hour). However, there were no reported casualties and officials said the damage might not be as catastrophic as feared.
Oh how we wish our Governments here in the UK had more vision and were not so in the thrall of the fossil fuel companies. Denmark, which has invested in windpower – is not about to export its surplus energy to the UK under plans unveiled by the National Grid who are planning 400 mile one billion Euro power line to link the two countries under the North Sea. The 1,400 megawatt cable could power up to one million homes and would be live in seven years. Whilst the cable could be used to export British energy to Denmark, it is expected that the flow will mostly be into the UK. A final decision in expected in 2018. The UK already imports electricity from France and Holland, and links to Norway and Belgium are planned.
The Guardian tells us that the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is used to big productions. On the edge of the Sahara desert and the centre of the north African country’s “Ouallywood” film industry it has played host to big-budget location shots in Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, The Living Daylights and even Game of Thrones. Now the trading city, nicknamed the “door of the desert”, is the centre for another blockbuster – a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020 with, it is hoped, some spare to export to Europe. The project is a key plank in Morocco’s ambitions to use its untapped deserts to become a global solar superpower. The potential for solar power from the desert has been known for decades. In the days after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 the German particle physicist Gerhard Knies, calculated that the world’s deserts receive enough energy in a few hours to provide for humanity’s power needs for a whole year. The challenge though, has been capturing that energy and transporting it to the population centres where it is required.
Up to 90% of community energy developers across the UK say that proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) would put their current projects at risk.
In a poll of 80 community energy companies, 67% thought their projects were ‘completely’ at risk, and 23% said they were ‘partially’ at risk due to the FIT review. More on Edie.net here.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed plans to remove ministerial powers over the Green Investment Bank (GIB) in a major step forward towards the bank’s controversial privatisation. Writing in a ministerial statement on the 15th October, Javid said he was planning to remove public sector controls that allowed ministers to veto changes to the articles of association of the bank.
And a new report has revealed that renewable energy in the form of wind and solar photovoltaics reduced the UK’s wholesale annual cost of electricity by £1.55bn. The report by renewable energy company Good Energy, shows that the rise in renewable energy is currently lessening the impact that subsidies are having on bill payers. (Scroll down for full report). Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport said: “What is not taken into account is the fact that renewable energy, such as wind and solar, has actually been bringing the cost of energy down for consumers. The bill payer money invested into supporting renewables yields significant benefits, let’s be very clear about that.” More here.
Due to the “worsening and persistent haze situation”, Friendly Dog Entertainment, the organiser of Singapore music festival Spring Wave 2015, has announced that the outdoor event planned for Fort Canning Green on Oct would will be cancelled. The National Environment Agency said the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index for the festival date were expected to be in the low to mid sections of the very unhealthy range.
Processed meats, including sausages, bacon, ham and salami have been classified as a known cause of cancer by the World Health Organisation alongside carcinogens such as cigarettes, asbestos and diesel fumes. The WHO says the based on an analysis of almost 800 scientific studies, processed and red meats cause tens of thousands of deaths each year, many from bowel cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that 8,800 cases of cancer in Britain each year are caused by eating processed or red meat.
Environment Secretaries from both New Labour and the Conservative party knew about the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that has hit VW and other car manufacturers who installed ‘defeat devices’ to allow their diesel cars to evade strict emission controls in the EU and the USA – and allowed £1.7 billion in tax breaks to be given to the car industry to promote diesel car sales. Consumers were also led to believe that diesel cars are a ‘clean’ alternative to petrol cars. Research commissioned by Defra in 2009 showed that diesel cars were producing significantly higher emissions than expected when they were driven on the road – the then Environment Secretary was Hilary Benn according to the Times. In 2011 in Caroline Spellman’s time as Environment Secretary Defra identified an “inadequate” testing regime for diesel cars. Car makers are still spending an estimated £18.5 million each year trying to get the UK Parliament and the EU to water down emissions targets. Diesel emissions are a known cause of lung cancer.
Nike, McDonalds, Sony and Dell are among 81 corporations that have signed up to a new White House-sponsored pledge promising individual and collective action on climate change. The White House announced that 68 new companies had signed up to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, joining 13 original signatories. By signing the agreement, the companies are calling for a’ strong outcome’ from the Paris climate talks, but the firms are also required to make significant pledges of their own to reduce emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy, and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses. Apple pledged to bring an estimated 280 megawatts of clean power generation online by the end of 2016, Berkshire Hathaway pledged to double its investment in renewables to $30bn, while Ikea promised to produce as much renewable energy as it uses by 2020.
Aston University will become the first university to offer its undergraduate students training in how climate change impacts businesses and society, when it hosts Carbon Week 2015 at the start of November. The University will dedicate a week of teaching for all second year undergraduates on understanding the challenge of climate change and the requirements of a low-carbon economy.
The University of Cambridge has signed an agreement with Cambridge Water to support the UK’s largest water recycling system at the University’s North West Cambridge Development site. The agreement between University and the water company will see two water supplies installed on the 150-hectare site – one which recycles rain and surface water to use for flushing toilets, clothes washing and garden watering, and another supplying high quality treated water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
Matt Ridley, a Tory peer, climate change sceptic, serially misguided columnist in the Times newspaper and owner of the land that is home to England’s largest opencast coal mine has seen the mine targeted by protesters who are calling themselves Matt Ridley’s Conscience and who closed the mine for 8 hours by blockading the entrance and chaining themselves to railings. Nine people were arrested on the Blagdon Estate after the protest ended. Ridley recently helped edit the report that promoted the benefits of CO2 emissions.
Google has announced plans to buy a 12.5% stake in the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Northern Kenya – Africa’s largest wind farm. The 310MW project will feature 365 wind turbines and provide almost a fifth of Kenya’s installed capacity. The 40,000 acre project marks Google’s 22nd investment in clean energy, representing $2bn and 2.5GW power. Google has not disclosed the value of the investment.
A unique group of international heads of state, city leaders and international development banks has joined forces to call for an international price on carbon. The alliance – known as the Carbon Pricing Panel – is convened by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, and includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and California Governor Jerry Brown. The group argues that a price on carbon is an effective way to decarbonize the global economy as it provides certainty and predictability to the private sector so they can make long-term investments in climate smart development.
Zero Waste Scotland has launched an 8-week social media campaign to encourage Scots to ‘upcycle’ unwanted pieces of furniture. The #DesignDoc campaign will see three Scottish designers transform one of seven items of furniture and post the details on Twitter and Facebook. Users who follow the #DesignDoc hashtag can see pictures of the piece of furniture waiting to be upcycled. Three ideas will be suggested by the designers as to how they might transform the piece and users will be asked to vote for their favourite design. The winning idea will be used to create the final upcycled article, with an accompanying ‘how to’ guide uploaded online with pictures.
The number of plastic carrier bags handed out in Scottish shops has reduced by at least 650 million in the first year of the nation’s 5p charge. New figures released this week – exactly a year after the levy was introduced – reveal that carrier bag usage has fallen by around 80%. The charge for single-use carrier bags has also raised around £6.7m for good causes in the past 12 months.
Edie.net reports that Britain’s forests, soil and rivers are worth at least £1.6tn and should be quantified in the same way as the country’s man-made infrastructure, environment secretary Liz Truss has said In a move which embraces the natural capital agenda, Truss said that trees and bees should be valued as “national assets” in the same way as structures such as the Forth rail bridge in Scotland. The environment secretary cited the example of Britain’s trees, which she says are more valuable in their natural form than as timber in the enjoyment they provide for people and their ecological role.