Posts Tagged 'Carbon emissions'

SERIOUS MONDAY: UK’S ANCIENT WOODLANDS UNDER THREAT

 

As regular readers will know, I’m a tree person 🙂

And although I must admit that I rarely hug them, a forest walk is a great delight.  I’m lucky to live in an area with lots of trees – and they provide an ever-changing picture from virtually every window in our house.

(Sadly of course that does mean non-stop collection of fallen leaves at this time of year but I’m bagging them this time and saving them to use in the garden).

Trees play a huge part in the life of our planet  – from offsetting carbon emissions and helping in the fight against climate change, to providing shelter for birds and animals and producing fruit, medicines and food.

And in the words of Archie Miles (author of The Trees that Made Britain), trees provided the foundation of our nation’s heritage.

So I was really concerned to read the results of a survey carried out by the Woodland Trust which shows that over the past decade, we’ve lost 100 square miles of ancient woodland in the UK.

That’s the equivalent of an area around the size of Birmingham – and represents 5 per cent of the remaining ancient woodland we have left.

Following 12 months of research, the trust has discovered that half of the ancient woodland we had in the 1930s has already been destroyed or degraded. HALF of our traditional woodlands – gone!

Ed Pomfret from the Woodland Trust says the UK’s ancient woodland is our equivalent of the rainforest – and irreplaceable. 

Some woodlands have been around since the Ice Age and woolands are the most valuable space for wildlife – and home to more threatened species than any other habitat.

And although in theory, ancient woodlands are protected, there are loopholdes in the system that allow them to be destroyed if a developer can prove “economic need.”  That would never happen with a building of architectural importance – and preserving our trees is just as important. (Many woodlands were around long before any of the buildings that we now describe as ancient.)

The trust’s research shows that the biggest threat is from new roads, followed by utilities and power lines but airport expansion and leisure facilities also pose a threat.

And it says we need to protect our woodlands from further damage because we can’t rely on official bodies to do it for us. So it has set up a campaign called WoodWatch which uses the eyes and ears of the public to stop the destruction.

WoodWatch provides people with information and resources to help save threatened woodland in their area. You can find out more here. You can also locate and update the trust on threats to trees through its interactive map and you can find out about wood under treat NOW in your area by following this link. 

At the moment, the Woodland Trust is involved in over 400 cases of trees under threat in Britain.

Do what you can – trees are SO important 🙂

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: THE GOOD, THE BAD – AND THE PLAIN UGLY

 

We’re following an age-old tradition today by giving you first the good news….

Scientists believe that tropical cyclones and coastal erosion may be a small help in the fight against global warming because they wash vegetation and soil containing greenhouse gases into the sea.

Research in Taiwan has revealed that floods caused by a typhoon four years ago swept a small amount of carbon from leaves, roots and soil into the Pacific Ocean where it sank to the seabed.

However, experts say the amount of carbon being “dumped” by these natural events is (if you’ll pardon the pun) just a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of carbon that mankind is creating through the burning of fossil fuels.

And now the REALLY bad news …. 

The “hole” in the Ozone Layer is bigger this year than it was in 2007, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Latest figures show the size of the thinned ozone layer over the South Pole is now around 27 million sq kms – a size almost equal to that of the North American continent.

Image description: darker areas show the ozone “hole” which is actually a “thinning” of the Ozone Layer rather than an actual hole.

And scientists now believe that global warming will affect the rate at which the Ozone Layer recovers because hotter temperatures on earth mean lower temperatures in the stratosphere (higher atmosphere) and this will speed up ozone depletion.  

There are also other factors that could prevent the Ozone Layer from repairing itself by around 2070 as had been originally estimated – including proposals for a new type of supersonic transport.

Back in the 1980s an international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol was signed to outlaw certain man-made chemicals (often used in aerosols) which were damaging the Ozone Layer.

It has been extremely successful but many experts say that when scientists gave their prediction of the year 2070 for repair of the “hole” in the Ozone Layer, they didn’t take account of future actions by mankind that could jeopardise this.

If you’d like to find out more about what causes “holes” in the Ozone Layer, check out this video from NASA

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: NO U-TURN ON CARBON REPORTING !

Campaigners are calling for the public to back the fight to make UK companies come clean about their carbon emissions.

Earlier this year, protestors were celebrating after the government agreed to include mandatory carbon reporting for large companies.

But ministers are now trying to do a U-turn and remove compulsory reporting from the UK Climate Change Bill which is currently making its way through parliament.

Christian Aid is now urging everyone to email Environment Minister, Hilary Benn, demanding that the hard-won amendment is not dropped from the final bill.

The charity argues that although the UK’s “official” carbon emissions account for just 2 per cent of the global total, this jumps to 12-15 per cent when you include the international activities of UK firms.

It says this makes the compulsory reporting rule vital in the fight against climate change.

Former Environment Minister, Elliot Morley, is now proposing a new clause to the bill which would reinstate the reporting rules for companies. If you’d like to support him in this, you need to email your own MP asking for their support.

You can do this through the Christian Aid website here

There’s also a pre-written letter to Hilary Benn about the Climate Change Bill which you can send via the Christian Aid site.  To find out more, log onto here

Once there, you can also back a separate campaign which is calling on the government to set a target of cutting our emissions by 80 per cent, rather than 60 per cent over the next 50 years.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: CARBON CREDITS FOR EVERYONE

Many MPs are in favour of giving us all our own carbon credits to help Britain to meet its emission targets.

The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee believes the proposal would be more successful in cutting carbon emissions than the introduction of “green” taxes.

The idea is that we would all receive an annual limit for fuel and energy use and if we exceed our “credits” we could buy more from people who are using less.

The committee has criticised ministers for putting the proposal on the back burner following an early study. It admits that the carbon credits plan is unlikely to be popular with the public but says the government needs to show courage in tackling carbon emissions.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, says “green” taxes, such as a petrol tax, are unfair to poorer people because everyone – from billionaires to those on the breadline – are charged the same amount.

“Under the personal carbon trading, someone who doesn’t have an enormous house or swimming pool or someone who doesn’t take several holidays in the Caribbean every year, will actually get a cash benefit if they keep a low carbon footprint.”

He said the scheme could be run on the same lines as supermarket loyalty schemes with everyone given a plastic card.

You can get a better idea of how it would work here

But critics say the proposal is ahead of its time, could cost up to £2 billion to set up and has real practical problems – such as deciding how to set the rate according to a person’s age, location or health.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: SOLAR PANEL BREAKTHROUGH

New rules have been introduced to make it easier for households in the UK to reduce their carbon footprint.

The government is keen to encourage people to use alternative technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines in a bid to lower our carbon emissions – but in the past, local councils have often refused permission for the installations.

Now the government has stepped in and changed the rules – which means that from this month, you won’t need planning permission for microgeneration equipment like solar panels.

The government estimates that the energy used to run our homes accounts for more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions so it’s obviously keen to see new technologies being used to reduce that figure.

So, if you have been considering solar panels, you can now go ahead without the complications of town hall red tape or planning fees.

If you’d like to find out more, check out this video about a family who invested in solar panels.

The government is hoping  to extend the new legislation to cover small wind turbines on detached properties but is waiting for the European Commission to sanction this.

Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, said: “The fight against climate change is not just about multi-million pound  renewable energy projects. Solar panels, biomass and heat pumps also have a vital role to play.”

It may  be possible to get a grant towards the cost of installing the equipment. Various schemes are available including the government’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: POSSIBLE SITES FOR ECO-TOWNS UNVEILED

Potential sites have been announced by the UK government which wants to create 10 new eco-towns in England over the next few years.

The government says building in existing towns and cities alone will not create enough new homes to satisfy demand and the creation of eco-towns to help fill the gap will also help in cutting carbon emissions from housing.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint has just announced 15 potential locations which will go forward to the next stage. Another 40 proposals have been rejected because the government believes they are unworkable or not ambitious enough.

Those chosen to go through to the next round make use of brownfield (previously developed) sites such as military land, former mining areas and industrial sites.

There will now be consultation with local councils and the public in the 15 areas chosen. Those that finally go ahead will have to achieve zero carbon standards by using green technologies while providing affordable housing served by public transport, schools and health facilities. Developments will also have to protect local wildlife.

The government wants to build five eco-towns by 2016 and up to 10 by 2020 as part of its plan to create three million new homes.

The 15 shortlisted sites are at:
Pennbury, Leicestershire
Manby and Strubby, Lincolnshire
Curborough, Staffordshire
Middle Quinton, Warwickshire:
Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire:
Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire
Ford, West Sussex:
Imerys China Clay Community, Cornwall
Rossington, South Yorkshire
Coltishall, Norfolk
Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire
Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire
Elsenham, Essex
Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire – site yet to be chosen
Leeds City Region, Yorkshire – site yet to be chosen

Susan hunt

SERIOUS MONDAY: INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARK FOR BUILDINGS’ ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

A new environmental code is being launched this week to help British businesses play a part in combating climate change.

The initiative, backed by the employers organisation, the CBI, as well as major companies like Barclays and BP will be unveiled in London on Tuesday.

It will provide a single international benchmark that will allow organisations to assess the environmental impact of their buildings.

Experts say that corporate property is responsible for around a fifth of global CO2 emissions, mainly via energy use (but also through waste and water production) and around half of companies’ CO2 emissions are thought to be down to their real estate.
Richard Lambert of the CBI says research has shown that buildings represent one of the largest areas of potential in cutting UK carbon emissions.

The environment code aims to go further than just addressing energy efficiency, by providing an internationally recognised system for organisations to use in offices all over the world.

The code has been formulated by the Investment Property Databank, which provides the benchmark for valuations in the industry.

IPD spokesman, Christopher Hedley, says: “If companies don’t know how they are performing, they don’t know how they can improve. Things like DECs [display energy certificates] and energy performance certificates are so complicated they are a turnoff.
“We want to create a measurement framework simple enough that companies can take it to the management and say, ‘This is how we need to improve’.”

Companies can sign up to the code voluntarily and Hedley said the Treasury division that co-ordinates the government’s estate, has expressed an interest in signing up to the code. The office oversees 160 million sq ft of space across the country.

He said there has also been strong interest from universities and colleges  which occupy another 430m sq ft across the UK, and from private companies occupying 270m sq ft.
The  code will provide a relatively simple template for the collection, measurement and analysis of environmental information from real estate. It is designed to work alongside local building regulations, but because it can be applied anywhere in the world corporate occupiers can assess their global environmental impact.

And Mr Hedley predicts that those adopting the code will benefit from higher value buildings in the future.  “We already have quite a few corporate clients who only go into certain buildings that are environmentally responsible,” said Mr Hedley.

Susan