Monday, 7 December 2009
Surely one of the easiest ways to reduce our energy consumption, and thereby our CO2 emissions, would be to avoid unneccessary electrification. And the next logical step from there is to look at the devices that are already electrified and work out whether they can be powered another way - kinetic energy, maybe, for small personal devices - or even clockwork.
In our consumer society most of us have pretty much everything we need, so the constant re-invention of goods is necessary to part us from our cash. But a recent survey by Moneysavingexpert.com found that three quarters of us want to limit gift-giving at Christmas. Whether or not you're a christian, Christmas represents a time to cherish our friends and family - yet many of us neglect them for the previous weeks while we pound the pavements searching for gifts they almost certainly don't need. Time for a re-think?
Friday, 6 November 2009
Even Oxfam now considers food aid to be counter-productive, and cites examples in Kenya and Ethiopia where wars were funded by the money saved by not investing in self-sufficiency – something that was only possible because Western countries sent so much food aid. And these wars tear apart the very land that should be used for agriculture and kill the able-bodied men who would work the land, so the cycle continues.
Of course, Africa has other serious issues to contend with, like disease and lack of access to clean water and education – but the famine appeals get all the headlines. I remember learning as a child “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime”. In our desire for quick fixes, we’ve forgotten that a sustainable population needs to be able to feed itself. The best service we can perform is to provide people with the tools and expertise to create their own brighter future, not make them dependent on handouts.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
As with so many sustainability issues, moderation is the key. I'm sure that the right to eat meat would be fiercely defended if it came under threat, but many would accept the idea that consumption should be reduced. The Meat-free Monday campaign takes exactly this approach. Far better to ask people to consider dropping meat one day a week, or at lunchtime, or eating smaller portions - the impact per person might be relatively modest, but the take-up exponentially larger, almost certainly resulting in a better net reduction.
And, let's face it, we're all fed up with politicians interfering in our lives - especially when their own actions are so often at odds with their advice.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
The government estate is only half way to its target of reducing carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2010, so perhaps it saw the 10% target as unachievable. Actually, it's not that hard. The Carbon Trust estimates that office machines account for 15% of the energy consumption of the average organisation, and that this can be reduced by 70% just by turning machines off outside office hours - that alone could deliver the required 10% saving. The business I work for reduced its carbon emissions by 9% last year, and has already signed up for 10:10 to help keep us focused on the next 10%. Year on year, our gas consumption is down 76%, electricity use is down 14% and we're using 37% less paper.
It's undoubtedly true that it's easier to get a small workforce mobilised, but that's why the public sector needs something like 10:10, to break the big, long-term targets into manageable chunks and make it personal. The campaign has already achieved a lot of traction in government. Most of the front bench has signed up, and all three main political parties have pledged their support. My prediction is that a second motion will be passed before the start of 2010. If you want to lend your weight to the campaign, sign up.
Monday, 19 October 2009
In December, the United Nations summit in Copenhagen will aim to establish a deal to replace the 1997 Kyoto treaty. This is necessary because its targets for reducing emissions only apply to a small number of countries and expire in 2012. It's generally accepted that once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can undo that choice. However, Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been reported as saying "the prospects that states will actually agree to anything in Copenhagen are starting to look worse and worse" and in recent days there have been a number of warnings that progress is stalling.
Speaking at the Major Economies Forum in London, which brings together 17 of the world's biggest greenhouse gas-emitting countries, Mr Brown warned that negotiators were not reaching agreement quickly enough. He went on to say that the Copenhagen summit was a "profound moment" for the world involving "momentous choice" and that (in the words of M&S, this time) there was "no plan B". But can we rely on Flash Gordon to save the World, when he doesn't appear to be able to save himself?
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
The Energy Saving E-Day initiative wasn't helped by rainy and misty weather, which caused all flights off the islands to be grounded, swelling the population somewhat. And the children had an ill-timed cookery class in the morning - baking scones pushed Five Islands School's consumption up by 30% although by midnight this had been converted to an 8.3% reduction in the previous day's electricity use.
This was the first experiment of its kind to provide live measurements of a whole community’s collective effort to cut their electricity use. For a 24-hour period residents were asked switch off electrical items which do not need to be on in their homes, schools and workplaces, and the reduction in electricity use was monitored in real-time across the Internet and compared with the rest of the UK.
In the run-up E-Day the Isles of Scilly hosted a mini 2-day Earth Summit, bringing together islanders from across the world, including speakers from Galapagos and Papua New Guinea's Carteret Islands, the first refugees of climate change.
The E-Day website includes really interesting and useful content, including a real-time estimate of the national electricity bill for the UK, and the CO2 emissions caused by electricity production. It also provides ways for people across the country to get involved, to get advice on how to cut their own energy use.
E-Day is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and is the work of a team led by Dr Matt Prescott, whose successful worldwide ‘Ban The Bulb’ campaign now has 30 countries phasing out domestic incandescent light bulbs in an effort to reduce electricity use and save CO2 emissions.
Saturday, 3 October 2009
My son, who's 9, thinks this is the coolest thing - and wants to know whether they can also make one that's a see-saw. I think he has a point.
Friday, 25 September 2009
Ecological Debt Day is a useful way of demonstrating our failure to achieve "one planet living". However, it doesn't take a account of the massive differences in consumption levels from country to country. According to the Third UK Interdependence Day Report, published today, it took only until 7pm on January 4th to consume the same amount of resources that Tanzania would use in the entire year. The UK entered ecological debt on 12th April 2009, meaning we would need more than 3 planets if the whole World consumed in the same manner as the UK.
In 1995, World Ecological Debt Day fell on November 25, so in just under 15 years we've brought Ecological Debt Day forward by two full months. If global financial meltdown only buys us a day, then what will it take to recover those two months?
Monday, 21 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
Booking a return flight to Amsterdam with KLM recently, I was struck by the low cost of offsetting - just 97 Euro cents. To offset the same flight with BA costs £1.80. Both airlines claim to be supporting certified carbon offsetting projects. However, KLM states categorically that only the actual cost of offsetting is claimed from the customer and KLM receives none of the revenue. I couldn't find a similar claim on BA's site.
Taking this further, I used the flight offset calculators on the carbon offset sites certified by Defra and got figures ranging from £1.22 to £2.51. The variation in price was less worrying than the variation in carbon emissions. Carbon Passport considered the emissions would be 0.08 tonnes of CO2 costing £1.22. Pure reckoned the distance was 458 miles, emitting 0.15 tonnes of CO2 costing £2.51 (without Gift Aid - Pure is a charity) and Carbon Retirement makes it 0.13 tonnes costing £2.18.
As for how much CO2 my presence on the flight actually contributes, I looked for clarifiation from Defra. The latest conversion factor is 98.3g per passenger kilometre. That works out to 0.73 tonnes, to which BA adds 9% to account for indirect routing and delays - so Carbon Passport is closest at 0.8 tonnes. So what does all this prove? Well, it certainly doesn't make me feel any more positive about carbon offsetting, that's for sure.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
The Award Lectures are prestigious prizes for talented communicators with an interesting story to tell about their research. Dr Kirwan was selected for his skills in communicating to non-specialist audiences about the racing car which is largely made from plants. He says "it includes a race specification steering wheel derived from carrots and other root vegetables, a flax fibre and soybean oil foam racing seat, a woven flax fibre bib, plant oil based lubricants and a biodiesel engine configured to run on fuel derived from waste chocolate and vegetable oil. It also incorporates a radiator coated in a ground-breaking emission destroying catalyst. “
It is the first Formula 3 racing car to be designed and made from sustainable and renewable materials that could meet Formula 3 racing standards. The snag is that it is configured to run on fuel derived from waste chocolate and vegetable oil. Formula 3 cars are currently not permitted to use biodiesel, but the team is hoping to make its competitive debut later this year.
Friday, 28 August 2009
According to its website, Mondonation is committed to inspiring positive, global change through the development of sustainable, charitable strategies. The first of these are "believe" T-shirts . The theory is that if we all share our beliefs on a daily basis, they will grow in strength. Visitors to the site are encouraged to write their own belief statement, that is printed onto the back of an ethically-made T-shirt. Included in the price is a charitable donation to a charity of their choice.
Mondonation seeks to create a new business model, which combines a for-profit approach with with substantial charitable contributions. In a moving video on the site, Ward Bingham explains how he has been searching for meaning in his life since the Marchionness disaster and how his role as the creative force behind Mondonation is the embodiment of his desire to make a difference.
Inspired by Ward and the Mondonation vision, I ordered my own T-shirt, pink and long-sleeved, bearing the legend "I believe every one of us can be a force for good". So if you spot me wearing it, say hi.
Saturday, 15 August 2009
For me, the beauty of this book is that after exploring the professional achievements of the subjects, it delves into the personal experiences that influenced them. I found these intimite insights into the personal history and home life of remarkable people fascinating. Their backgrounds have little in common, and not all of them can identify a"moment of truth" when their future path became clear and inevitable - but they all share a deeply held belief that drives them, a strong intellect and an inquiring mind. Fundamentally, though, they are just like you and me.
The genius of this book is that it presents leading edge thinking on sustainability and social responsibility, but counterpoints it with personal insights that ultimately make the wisdom more accessible. As we consider the challenges of climate change, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and feel that our own efforts can't make a difference. This book reminds us that all the positive action that has been taken, and is being taken, is driven by people just like us - with familes and jobs, mortgages and bills, doubts and fears. And that's really empowering.
Monday, 3 August 2009
Not surprisingly, the new charter has been bitterly opposed by Bolivia's traditional elite. Many Bolivians of European or mixed-race descent in the fertile eastern lowlands, which hold rich gas deposits and are home to extensive farms. The reforms in the new constitution include a limit of 5,000 hectares on new land ownership and state sovereignty over gas fields.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Activists also painted the words "Hazardous Products" in (non-toxic finger) paint on the roof of HP's HQ.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
I really like The Big Lunch website - it has a comfortable style and offers guidance without being preachy. You can search for Big Lunches in you own area, and join in online. There are even great recipes from chefs like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
We found out about it by visiting the Eden Project - and I'm not sure it has had time to gather enough momentum yet so suspect that this year it will be quite a small affair. But I'm already thinking about organising one next year, and I'm sure it has the potential to gather space year by year. And anything that brings communities together and reminds us of what we share, rather than what divides us, can only be a good thing.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
The Recycle Now website is bright and visually appealing, with engaging graphics and all the usual social media connections. On the practical side, there are tips for recycling at home, in the garden and at school, and a separate section for home composting. There's also a useful guide to what can be recycled and how, and a search for recycling activities in your postcode area. So no excuses for not getting involved!
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Elsewhere, thirty-somethings disenchanted with a world where technology has overtaken everything are attending tea dances and retro evenings where the entertainment is provided by swing bands and burlesque. Advocates claim this return to the simpler pleasures is meditative and calming, a view that's supported by Dr Colin Gill of the British Psychological Society who considers the over-worked and under-appreciated are seeking solace in tradition.
Unplugged activity is a great way to reduce energy consumption, and in my house the board game is undergoing something of a renaissance. This one one trend I'm happy to follow.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
World Environment Day (WED) - June 5th - was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. It's one of the UN's key activities to promote worldwide awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and action. It has four key aims:
- Give a human face to environmental issues;
- Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
- Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;
- Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
This year's theme is 'Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change', to reflect the urgency for nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen this December.
The World Environment Day site has some lovely features: There's a daily "Do something" tip on the front page - and a link to a list of other useful actions - and a Twitter for Trees campaign where UNEP will plant one tree for every follower it has by 5th June. Plus there's an inspiring profile of Climate Heroes which should encourage us all.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
It has a Green CEO league table and a scorecard showing the progress of the twelve chosen organisations towards three key objectives:
- Providing IT solutions and accurately measuring the impacts these solutions provide for the rest of the economy (in areas such as grid transmission, transport and building efficiency);
- Lobbying for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen that would stimulate an increase in demand for IT-driven climate solutions by the rest of the economy; and
- Reducing their own emissions and increasing their use of renewable energy.
Visitors to the site are encouraged to join up, choose 5 CEOs to follow, invite their friends and follow the campaign via Twitter and blogs. Greenpeace says it will update the campaign regularly in the run-up to Copenhagen.
It's an interesting idea, and it's good that Greenpeace are trying to extend their reach into the maintream, but the idea seems a little simplistic and the rating system relies too heavily on what companies say, rather than what they do. there's a danger here that it's the greenwashers that emerge the heroes, and that won't benefit either Greenpeace's credibility or the climate change debate.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
The results are similar to the findings of Kyocera in a survey last year, which found that only 56% of respondents recycled end-of-life IT equipment. By industry sector, retail/media/leisure were worst at 50% and manufacturing/construction/utilities best at 61%.
It is thought the UK creates enough electrical waste each year to fill Wembley Stadium six times over. Under WEEE legislation, suppliers of electrical and electronic equipment have a legal obligation to take back end of life equipment when a new item is purchased, and dispose of it in an environmentally responsible manner.
Friday, 15 May 2009
The Paper Cinema combines live animation with live music to create an experience which is almost like watching a film being made in your living room. The elements are simple - black ink line drawings, cut out and mounted onto recycled card to create sets and characters, which are animated live via an antiquated video camera and projected onto a screen. The tiny original drawings are enlarged on the screen, but still retain a compelling intimacy. The action is accompanied by a musical score played primarily on guitar and violin by a single musician. And that's all. The entire show fits in three small cases, making it portable enough to play at music festivals and other makeshift venues. A large part of its charm is the fact that the animation takes place in plain view so that you can see how the illusion is created, and the performance we attended was preceded by a workshop where we could try the techniques for ourselves.
The current repertoire includes two pieces. King Pest, based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, is a dark tale of pestilence and plague, scary enough to see off some of the more timid children in the audience. Night Flyer is an original story of a young man's quest to find and rescue a flying girl, still rather dark and gothic but with a touch of romance.
It's not entirely unplugged, but The Paper Cinema is still sufficiently low-fi to qualify as low-carbon entertainment. And with no technological barrier between the audience and the artists, the result is a show that is as authentic as it is entertaining. You can find out more at www.thepapercinema.com.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Tom proposed to Lara on a container ship in the middle of the Pacific, and she said yes. I wonder what sort of honeymoon they'll have?
Friday, 1 May 2009
He acknowledged that the current economic situation makes life much harder for business leaders, whose plate must seem very full already without having to consider climate change as well. But the network's name was chosen with care - mayday (m'aider) being the most urgent international distress call. Despite the efforts of the network and others, this call has gone largely unanswered.
Expert opinion - including Lord Stern and the Pottsdam institute - concur that a 4 to 5 degree rise in global temperatures is now looking more likely unless urgent action is taken. This will mean war, famine, flood and hurricane plus the displacement of billions of people. Two months ago it was calculated that we had just 100 months to take the necessary action to prevent this outcome. The doomsday clock, symbolised by the network's dandelion logo, is ticking.
According to His Royal Highness, if we strain every sinew we could still arrest the worst effects of climate change. But only by acting across sectors and ever increasing numbers will we make it clear to the World leaders that urgent action must be taken at the Copenhagen sumnmit. It is crucial that they enter into the Copenhagen negotiations with the demands of business leaders ringing in their ears, because the effects of climate change are more wide ranging and long lasting than the current economic crisis.
More optimistically, Prince Charles acknowledged some of the successes of the May Day Network. For example, the launch of the May Day Journey, a website that provides a first port of call for any business, large or small, that wants to act on climate change. The initial step is to measure, report and work to reduce carbon emissions, and the creation of sector initiatives is accelerating this vital work. In addition, the Marketing Society Alliance is seeking to establish a common language for the communication of climate change issues.
Finally, His Royal Highness stated that collaboration and leadership are at the heart of the May Day Network, and it's vital that we grow the network, especially to include small businesses and non-profit organisations. He exorted us all to recruit 10 more members each, at least, encouraging others to sign up and get started on their own May Day journey. With a marketplace of over 50 businesses, round tables and even a theatrical production, the event provided plenty of inspiration to do just that.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Earth Day was devised by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda. " - at a time when environmental legislation was almost non-existent and air pollution was almost considered a measure of prosperity. The first Earth Day is credited with provoking the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. For his role as Earth Day founder, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honour in the United States.
Earth Day is gearing up to celebrate its 40th anniversary with programme of domestic and global activities; perhaps in the Obama era Nelson's objective will finally be realised in the country where it all began.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Exhibitors will be showcasing hundreds of products and services ranging from cars to computers, from fashion to food and from travel to advice services. An extensive range of free and interactive expert speaker panels will enlighten, engage and inspire visitors.
Additional features include a clothes swapping party, the Green Screen Cinema and a Chillout lounge. You can get the code for a free ticket from BeMoreEco.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
The decision will further provoke environmental groups who are already concerned over Shell's investments in energy- and water-intensive oil sands projects. The company is featured unfavourably in the new climate change movie, The Age of Stupid, which premiered last week. While Shell's advertising focuses on its involvement in renewable energy, only around 1 percent of its investments actually go to these energy sources.
The exercise showed the largest slice of the drinks' carbon footprint comes from packaging: anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent, depending on the container.
The precise figures may vary from one manufacturer to another, depending on how much recycled content is in its packaging material, how the product is shipped, etc., but as a rule of thumb it's reasonable to assume that an aluminium can is more sustainable than a glass bottle. This report doesn't mention plastic bottles, though.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Friday, 13 March 2009
Originally it was stated that only 5,000 or so organisations would be impacted, but this has now been revised to 20,000 – so many who considered themselves to be exempt could now fall into the programme when it begins in April 2010.Under the scheme, companies must purchase allowances depending on how much carbon they intend to emit – initially at a fixed price predicted to be £12 per tonne. Eventually the total number of allowances available to purchase will be capped, to provide a mechanism to drive down energy consumption, and the carbon price will float. Savings of £1bn in energy costs by 2020 are projected for the participants, but those who don’t curb their emissions will be hit by penalties including monetary fines and a poor ranking in the scheme’s league table. Those who top the league tables will receive financial incentives.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment will be phased in between 2010 and 2013 and although capping will not apply until allowance auctioning starts in 2013 it is widely accepted that adapting early to the legislation offers both financial and reputation benefits. You can opt-in to updates from Defra here.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
According to the official synopsis, The Age Of Stupid is a documentary-drama-animation hybrid from Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out) and Oscar-winning Producer John Battsek (One Day In September, Live Forever, In the Shadow of the Moon). Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off, The Usual Suspects) stars as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055 who watches 'archive' footage from 2008 and asks: Why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?
The movie focuses on six human stories:
- Alvin DuVernay, is a paleontogolist helping Shell find more oil off the coast of New Orleans. He also rescued more than 100 people after Hurricane Katrina, which, by 2055, is well known as one of the first “major climate change events”.
- Jeh Wadia in Mumbai aims to start-up a new low-cost airline and gets a million Indians flying.
- Layefa Malemi lives in absolute poverty in a small village in Nigeria from which Shell extracts tens of millions of dollars worth of oil every week. She dreams of becoming a doctor, but must fish in the oil-infested waters for four years to raise the funds.
- Jamila Bayyoud, aged 8, is an Iraqi refugee living on the streets of Jordan after her home was destroyed - and father killed - during the US-led invasion of 2003. She’s trying to help her elder brother make it across the border to safety.
- Piers Guy is a windfarm developer from Cornwall fighting the NIMBYs of Middle England.
- Fernand Pareau, an 82-year-old French mountain guide, has witnessed his beloved Alpine glaciers melt by 150 metres.
The climax of the evening will be the official launch of the Not Stupid campaign, when Pete Postlethwaite will start a giant countdown to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December. Copenhagen is being called “the most important meeting in human history”, where the successor to the Kyoto Treaty must be finalised. Not Stupid is an epic mission to turn 250 million viewers into climate activists, all focused on making sure the deal agreed at Copenhagen is both just and truly as strong as the science demands. More information on taking part from the official website.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Don't be put off by the first impression of their website, which focuses primarily on bridal jewellery and accessories - most of their pieces would look equally at home worn with a little black dress for a formal occasion or with a white linen shirt for a casual event. The bespoke pieces aren't cheap, but they are totally unique and Magpie Vintage will even rework your own cherished pieces to give them a new lease of life.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Thursday, 19 February 2009
The scheme was announced with week by Rob Conway of the GSM Association. He didn’t say when the certified compatible charger will appear but the GSMA has set a target to ship 50 per cent of phones with this charger by 2012.
Some commentators are concerned that applications like high definition video will need a better connector than micro USB. But even if a second connector is needed for these, any kind of standardisation is a step forward.
Thursday, 12 February 2009
The PAS2020 standard applies to all forms of direct mail, not just direct marketing, although clearly "junk mail" is an easy target. DMA members can obtain the specification free of charge; it costs £80 to non-members via the BSI website. There's also an online campaign management calculator, to test planned campaigns for environmental impact.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
In most animal populations, a group which grows beyond the capacity of its habitat to sustain it tends to fall prey to a drastic reductions in numbers, as competition for food and water weeds out those who are less robust. Sometimes the response is more dramatic, like the mass suicide of lemmings. And indeed, some are preducting that food and energy wars will be the inevitable outcome of the unbridled expansion of the human race.
Darwin, whilst a devoted husband and father, never forgot that he and his family were just mammals, and that their behaviour followed the same immutable laws that apply in the rest of nature. Something we would all do well to remember as we respond to the twin challenges of population growth and climate change.
Sunday, 1 February 2009
We're used to beauty queens professing their desire for World peace and harmony, but these ladies are expected to prove they are "strong and effective advocates for Mother Nature". Some of them undoubtedly have a deep and abiding interest in ecological issues but others seem to think that wearing last season's River Island dress counts as recycling. In the end, though, Caroline Duffy who was crowned Miss Earth England proved to be a member of Friends of the Earth who volunteers in allotments.
Actually, I feel that a "more stilettos than sandals" approach is required to make environmental issues more appealing and that somehow we need to glam-up green. Maybe pageants like this can help. But I couldn't help a wry smile when I read that the essential piece of kit for contestants is a tub of good old petroleum jelly to make your legs shine and stop your lips sticking to your teeth when you smile. Now there's one product that needs a sustainable alternative if green beauty queens are really going to strut their stuff with sincerity.
Friday, 30 January 2009
Obama's administration is performing a policy U turn that will impact the UK. The USA will drive a new business agenda based on cleantech and if we don't respond in a radical and ambitious way we will be stuck in recession. We need greater partnership between the private and public sectors. The government needs to remove the risk and provide seedcorn to create a new paradigm in energy; an "electricity internet". The aim is to remove the burdens that prevent innovation, invest in incubators that will leverage intellectual property and shift taxation to favour low-carbon innovation. The movement will be led by entrepreneurs but the government must enable it.
It's essential not to focus on carbon alone, because a collapse in oil prices will mean we cannot achieve a realistic carbon price. In fact, we need a sophisticated range of instruments offering a choice of levers. The Conservatives are recommending feed-in tariffs, £6.5k to improve the energy efficiency of every single house and a low carbon heat tariff.
In Greg Barker's view, energy efficiency will become an indicator of global competitiveness in the same way as productivity was during the 70s. And cleantech could be the catalyst that will re-energise economies and build nations.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
David North argued that there is little incentive for business to focus on low carbon technology when energy prices are falling and there are no tax incentives for making green investments. Customers say that their values don't change in a recession but their ability to exercise them does. They need financial incentives advice and encouragement. For example, when Tesco offered 4 energy efficient lightbulbs for £1, they sold 2.36m.
In order to meet the 2020 target of 15% of energy from renewables, community generation will need to be developed. This requires feed-in tariffs and an overhaul of the planning laws. Tesco is keen to incorporate renewable energy generation into its new stores, and to become a net contributor to the national grid, but the current planning legislation is a barrier.
And the Co-op is banning eight pesticides from its farms and donating £150k for research to try and halt the decline in bee populations. This follows last week's Government announcement of an extra £4.3m for the protection of bees. Colonies have declined significantly over the past two years.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Friday, 16 January 2009
These jelly-like creatures, about the size of a finger, eat great quantities of phytoplankton and excrete carbon-rich pellets which sink to the ocean floor. They are effectively a natural carbon capture and sequestration agent, and research indicates that their numbers have increased more than ten-fold in the last 70 years in the coast off south east Australia - perhaps a sign that our planet is addressing the greenhouse gas problem itself. Treehugger has an interesting article here.
Thursday, 8 January 2009
The biofuel used was a blend of two different types of alternative oils - algae and jatropha.
Jatropha is a plant that grows successfully in poor soils and marginal land and yields four times more fuel per hectare than soybean. However, algae is viewed by many as a key fuel for the future because it is fast growing, does not compete with food crops for arable land, and yields up to 30 times more fuel than standard energy crops.
Saturday, 3 January 2009
Whether this move is enough to kick-start Japan's ailing solar industry remains to be seen - with the price of panels predicted to fall by up to 50% in the next 3-5 years while energy to power ratios rise, people may be reluctant to invest now in a technology that still carries a lengthy pay back period.
Friday, 2 January 2009
Dr Glenn De'ath and colleagues investigated over 300 colonies of massive Porites corals - which are several hundred years old - and found that calcification has declined by 13.3% since 1990. They conclude that this is is likely to reduce the diversity of species the reef supports.