Posts Tagged 'Climate change'

SERIOUS MONDAY: NEW GREEN CODE FOR DATE CENTRES

 

datacentre

As more and more people begin to use computers and the internet, the amount of energy needed to power them all is growing on a daily basis.

So it’s good to hear that the UK government is supporting a new European code of conduct for Data Centres.

Many organisations now have data centres – rooms or building where their computer servers are based – and they are used for everything from websites to financial transactions or online gaming. 

Currently, data centres account for almost three per cent of total electricity used in the UK – and this figure is expected to double within the next few years.

Ministers are urging data centre operators to adopt the code and Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, says: “If we are to tackle dangerous climate change, we need to reduce emissions and the decision businesses make plays a key role in meeting this challenge. 

By signing up to the code, companies can save energy and save money too, which goes to show that what’s good for the environment is good for business.”

The code was developed in collaboration with industry bodies including the British Computer Society (BCS). 

Those signing up to it will have to implement best practice for energy efficiency, put minimum purchasing standards into place and report their energy use each year.  It is likely to lead to actions like the decommissioning of older servers, reducing air conditioning and maximising server use by running  multiple applications.

It is hoped the code will help to save almost five million tonnes of C02 over the next six years –  equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road.

Already, a number of major organisations have hinted that they plan to adopt the code – including BT, Microsoft and Quest Software.

More information on the new code is available from Defra here.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: AMERICA’S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT PROMISES A GREEN FUTURE

 

barack-obama-5-14-08

There’s probably little left to be said about the historic American presidential election – after all, it has dominated the news over the past few days.

However, environmentalists all over the world are waiting with bated breath to see if Barack Obama comes through on his green promises.

Obama claims to be committed to fighting climate change – and if this turns out to be the case then the USA could make a MASSIVE difference to the planetary effort.

There’s certainly reason for excitement – if he stands by his word, Obama could make the UK’s contribution to the fight against global warming look like peanuts.

At the moment, our annual emissions stand at an estimated 500 million tonnes of CO2 – while the USA is currently held responsible for over 5,000 million – almost a quarter of all global emissions!

(Taken as a whole,  the countries of the EU account for 3171 million metric tons of C02 per year –  still almost 2000 million less than America.)

And it is looking hopeful at this stage.  An organisation called Environmentalists for Obama claims that his dedication to the environment has already been well-established during his time as a senator. 

And while the Republicans were talking of offshore drilling and nuclear power as the answer to energy independence, Obama was instead talking of plans to encourage energy efficiency and support for renewal energy.

Experts say that climate change did not play a big part in voting – except amongst the youngest voters – but the Worldwatch Institute says Americans did broadly support candidates who were advocating greater action on climate change.

And US environmental group, LCV, says with Obama at the helm, it is hoping for “significant global warming and clean energy legislation in the next year.” 

Meanwhile, the Worldwatch Institute believes that with a Democrat in the White House, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, energy-efficient building codes and an extension of renewable energy tax credits are all on the cards. 

Already, the election result has affected the alternative energy market with stock market increases in share prices for a number of “green” corporations such as the Renewable Energy Corporation.   

And on his campaign website, Obama has already promised to:

Create five million new jobs by investing $15 billion per year over the next decade “to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future”

To save more oil in the next 10 years than the USA currently imports from the Middle East and Venezuela 

Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars on the road by 2015

Ensure that 10 percent of America’s  electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 (only four years away!) 

And, wait for it – reduce the USA’s greenhouse gas emissions by an incredible 80 per cent by 2050 – although of course he won’t be in office to take responsibility if that doesn’t happen 

In fact, he has promised to  “make the US a leader on climate change” … so, watch this space as they say.

You can listen to his Blueprint for Energy Change here:

Susan

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: AT LAST – A DEPARTMENT FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Environmentalists across the UK have welcomed the creation of a new government department for climate change and energy.

MP, Ed Milliband will head up the new department which brings together for the first time energy and climate responsibilities. Previously they were split between two different departments.

The move has been welcomed by those keen to see the government do more about climate change and energy use – and it has been described as “fantastic news” by Greenpeace.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: JUST HOW GREEN IS YOUR “GREEN” ELECTRICITY?

New rules are being introduced to make it easier for consumers to choose “green” electricity tariffs that deliver extra benefits.

According to the government, some suppliers don’t offer many benefits other than satisfying their legal obligation to use renewable energy sources – whereas others also make a contribution to environmental projects or the fight against climate change.

So it is planning a new ratings system that will distinguish between the potential benefits of different green tariffs. That way, you’ll know whether you are paying more just because it’s renewable energy or whether the cost includes extra environmental actions by your supplier such as planting trees.

Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, says: “I want to make sure that the green tariff market is clear for consumers.” 

He has now written to energy companies asking them to provide “the clearest possible information” about the environmental benefits of their green power and has asked energy regulator, Ofgem, to help collect information for the proposed ratings system.  

He said electricity is like any other product – people want to know what they are paying for – and this applies especially to a green tariff because it often costs more than traditional electricity.

The Carbon Trust says it supports the move because the green tariffs market is unclear and some tariffs deliver minimal extra carbon savings.

It says the sector suffers from significant double counting problems – and it’s essential that the benefits of renewables can be accurately reported by businesses towards their carbon reduction targets.

• The government has also just  announced a new round of biomass grants for  farmers and producers.

Grants of up to £200,000 will be available to support the biomass industry in England which ministers say has the potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions.

The grants will apply to a range of crops  including willow, poplar, alder, ash, hazel, lime, grass and straw.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: WHAT’S IN A NUMBER ? MORE THAN YOU’D EXPECT…

Almost every day we hear about a new project or initiative that has been set up to fight climate change or protect the environment.

Mostly, they are great campaigns or programmes that have our planet’s best interests at heart –  but with so many of them springing up, it’s getting harder and harder to become excited about another new kid on the block.

But today, I’m EXCITED !

And hopefully, you will be too – once you find out more about 350.  Yes, it’s a short title – and some critics complain that its name is meaningless and doesn’t tell us anything about its aims.

Okay, I’ll concede that at the moment, the name probably doesn’t mean a lot to most people. But it’s short and simple and as its founders point out, numbers are one of the few things that are universal to many countries of the world.

The name, 350, represents the number that top scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere –measured in parts per million (ppm)

And that’s what the new organisation is all about.  It is looking to build worldwide support for its campaign to get us back to 350ppm. (At the moment, we’re standing at around 387 ppm)

And if its launch video is anything to go by, it stands an excellent chance of reaching the masses – in many different countries.  This video is definitely one to watch.

It sums up the climate change challenge in just 90 seconds (without even using any words until the closing screen) so it will mean something to most people, whatever language they happen to speak.

I reckon the video is a definite award-winner – but see it for yourself and make up your own mind

So, what’s so exciting about 350.org ?  Lots of things actually, but for me, the main two are:

•     it boils down the technical mumbo-jumbo surrounding climate change to a level that an eight-year-old can understand (my daughter is proof of that) and it uses some great analogies to explain the challenges we face and what actions we can take

•    It hasn’t been set up by any government or official agency. It uses mainly volunteers – and its mission is to build “a global grassroots” climate movement

Those involved  – including environmentalist Bill McKibben who wrote one of the first books on global warming for the general public – recognise that many people in many places are already doing their bit to save our planet.

They say their hope is “we can shine a spotlight on the work of existing organisations, highlighting everyone’s incredible work and knitting these many efforts together for a powerful and unified call to action–a call that is global, scientific, and specific.

“By providing a common platform with the 350 target, we can help to stitch together a whole that is truly greater than the sum of its parts, a diverse movement that speaks with one collective voice.”

And so say all of us !!

The 350  launch website is excellent – certainly the best climate site I’ve seen in a LONG while and for those who want a simple history of the subject, there’s an excellent article about it.

Sign up to 350 now….. and take every chance you can to spread the word 

You can find out all you need to know about 350 and how you can get involved here

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: ARE COUNCILS DOING THEIR BIT IN THE CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHT?

More than half of all voters think their local council should be forcing people to take action on climate change, according to a new survey.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, says its research found that 56% of people believe this would help in the fight against climate change.

More than 60% of people who took part in the survey also felt that local councils should offer financial incentives to encourage people to be “greener” – while 53% felt  councils should have penalty schemes for residents who do not do their bit for the environment.

An overwhelming number of people also felt that climate change should be    one of the top five priorities for their local council.

A spokesman for LGA said: “Families understandably wonder why they should stop flying abroad for their summer holiday when they see other people driving everywhere in a gas guzzler. People would doubtless be inclined to recycle more if they were confident all their neighbours were making the same effort.”

Last month, the LGA launched a climate change campaign – Small Change, Big Difference – which encourages the local government sector to do more and calls for greater powers for councils.

Sadly, at the same time as the LGA released its findings, a survey by car hire firm, Enterprise, apparently found that more than half of all public bodies in the UK  – which includes local councils  – don’t yet have an employee whose primary role is to address sustainability issues.

And an astonishing 87% of public sector purchase managers admitted that cost is still the most important consideration when deciding their transport policy.

Convenience was also seen as very important, pushing the environmental impact of travel into third place.

An Enterprise spokesman said: “It’s not surprising that cost ranks high on the list of factors when choosing methods of transport – after all, it’s important to get the best value from money that comes out of the public purse.  The worry is that environmental concerns came in such a distant third place.

“Environmental managers need to be given a louder voice within the public sector – and they need to be given the authority to make a real difference and ensure that cost concerns don’t completely overshadow environmental considerations.”

Not surprisingly, the Enterprise findings have led many people to suggest that local councils should practice what they preach – before they talk about bringing in rules or penalties for individuals who are not helping in the fight against global warming.

Susan