Posts Tagged 'Co2 emissions'

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

 

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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: AN ALTERNATIVE TO NUCLEAR PLANTS


Environmental organisation, Greenpeace, believes it has come up with an excellent solution that could help to meet Britain’s energy needs and reduce C02 emissions.

It has commissioned research into CHP (combined heat and power) which it says shows that industrial sites around the country offer a great opportunity for bulk electricity generation.

According to Greenpeace, power stations in the UK currently waste almost two thirds of the energy they generate – and a massive 20 per cent of our total CO2 emissions come from the fuel which is burned to create this “wasted” heat.

Greenpeace says  the government has so far focused mainly on electricity generation but this accounts for only 17 per cent of our total energy demands whereas almost half of our energy needs are in the form of heat.

It says the government has no heat strategy for the UK and is concentrating on nuclear power which can provide only electricity whereas CHP has the  potential to generate enough power for the annual needs of two thirds of UK households.

The research carried out for Greenpeace by leading energy experts Poyry, claims that this potential could be harnessed by siting combined heat and power plants at existing industrial sites.

And it has identified nine sites around the country where CHP plants could be installed to meet the heat and power needs of local industry and supply electricity back to the national grid.

The proposal also offers substantial cost benefits since an industrial CHP plant is much quicker and cheaper to build than a nuclear power station. (Greenpeace cites the example of a CHP development at Immingham which supplies two refineries in Humberside with heat, steam and power. It is being expanded at the moment and is eventually expected to have the same generating capacity of  Sizewell B power station!)

You can read a summary of the report here

If the statistics stand up, it sounds like the obvious way forward but if it really is that simple then it begs the question – why hasn’t anyone thought about this before now ????

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: BRING BACK FREE RANGE KIDS!

People all over Britain are being invited to take part in Change Your World week which happens at the end of this month.

And the organisers, Sustrans, are stressing that if we all take just one small step, we can play a part in making a BIG difference.

They reckon that if all of us cut out just one car journey per week, we could reduce overall traffic by an amazing 10 per cent.

And they are asking people to commit to doing just that during Change Your World week which takes place from June 30 until July 5. So, all you have to do is cancel ONE car journey that week and either car share, use public transport, walk or cycle to your destination instead!

Change Your World is asking adults if they remember being free-range when they were kids. Back then, children regularly played outside and got around under their own steam rather than being chauffered everywhere by parents. The organisers says kids today are missing out on all that fun – and fresh air – and they believe the high levels of traffic on our streets is partly to blame.

Sustrans are asking people to sign up to the campaign online and the website has posters and wallpapers that you can download to support the campaign. You can also send e-cards to friends and family asking them to support the event.

You can find out more here

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: SHUT THAT DOOR!

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That’s the advice being given to shops in a bid to reduce energy waste and C02 emissions.

But it’s not the government or any energy saving organisation that is making the call to retailers – it’s a group of worried shoppers who believe businesses could do more to help the environment.

The Close That Door Campaign has been set up in Cambridge and is so far proving a huge success. Dozens of retailers – including national chains – have pledged their support and if shoppers all over the country took similar action, it could make a huge difference.

The campaign, originally launched by three friends, has the backing of Cambridge City Council which has given funding towards the cost of printing leaflets and stickers.

The campaigners say that businesses in the UK spend about £1.6 billion on energy each year and around 20% of this is wasted. Keeping their doors closed will cut down on energy wastage and show customers that an organisation cares about the environment.

The campaign website includes answers to some of the common reasons that retailers give for keeping their door open – such as the fear that a closed door will discourage customers or that they have no choice because their company has an open door policy.

It also gives retailers advice on further measures which can be taken – such as turning down the heat in stores where staff work in shirt sleeves in winter. It says it makes more sense to turn down the thermostat and get staff to wear a jumper or jacket.

As well as saving energy and cutting costs, it means the temperature will be more comfortable for shoppers who are inevitably dressed in warm clothing when they go shopping in winter.

The campaign, which has flyers and window stickers for retailers joining the scheme, already has well known names such as MacDonalds, Marks and Spencer, Dollond and Aitchison and Halfords on board.

And top retailer, Jaeger, was so impressed with the scheme that it has introduced a closed-door policy across its entire store estate.

Jaeger retail director, Mike Thompson, said: “Our policy has been made in direct response to concerns from our customers and the Cambridge Close the Door campaign which reflects our desire to reduce our energy consumption and therefore reduce our carbon footprint.
“Jaeger is taking its environmental impact very seriously and it makes sense not only to provide our customers with a comfortable environment in which to shop but also stop the needless waste of energy by keeping doors open.”

To find out more, log onto http://www.closethedoor.org.uk/ . With any luck, it might  inspire people to launch a version of the campaign in their own city 

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY : VIRGIN ATLANTIC FIRST BIOFUEL POWERED PLANE FLIGHT CRITICISED

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Virgin Atlantic has come under fire for an ‘environmental con-trick’over its first flight involving a plane powered partly by biofuel.

Greenpeace says production of the biofuel it used (babassu nut and coconut oil) could be responsible for massive greenhouse gas emissions. And it says Virgin’s support for a third runway at Heathrow Airport  betrays the company’s real attitude towards climate change.

Greenpeace chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Despite what Virgin want us to believe, today’s flight is nothing short of high altitude greenwash. This is a company hell-bent on unrestrained airport expansion, starting with a third runway at Heathrow which would almost double the number of flights from one of the world’s biggest airports.

“Biofuels can often cause more damage to the environment than fossil fuels, and Virgin is using this flight to divert attention from an irresponsible, business- as-usual attitude to climate change.”

Experts say that first generation biofuels – those based on existing food crops – have been discredited as a solution to transport emissions and could seriously damage the climate.
Dr Parr says the scientific evidence is now clear  – using the finite amount of land we have to grow biofuels is bad for the world’s poor, bad for biodiversity and bad for the climate.

The Greenpeace protest will come as a blow to Virgin which likes to think of itself as an environmental leader.  It has introduced a range of green policies across its operations and has committed to spending $3 billion on renewable energy over the next decade.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: DRIVERS OF ‘CHELSEA TRACTORS’ TO PAY THE PRICE

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Just two weeks after new anti-pollution rules were outlined for central London, Mayor Ken Livingstone has declared war on 4x4s and high powered sports cars.

He has announced that from October 27, high polluting vehicles will face a daily congestion charge fee of £25 to drive in the capital – compared with the £8 fee for other vehicles.

Critics, however, say the charge is unlikely to have much effect since people who can afford high powered cars are unlikely to be bothered by the higher congestion charge.

Peer pressure however may be a much bigger factor in reducing the 4x4s in London. (Check out this video from Greenpeace which follows the owner of a gas guzzler on a typical day at the office )

Transport for London says the primary aim of Congestion Charging is still to encourage drivers to shift from private vehicles to public transport, walking and cycling.
It says around 80 per cent of cars will not be affected by the changes and some low emission cars will not pay the charge at all since a discount of 100 per cent will be given to cars producing less than 120g/km C02 if they either meet the Euro 4 standard for emissions or appear on the PowerShift register.

he new £25 fee applies to cars registered before March 2001 with an engine size over 3000 cc and cars registered after that date which produce more than 225g/km of C02. (If you’d like to check your own vehicle, the engine size for older vehicles and the emission level of newer cars can be found on your vehicle registration document (log book.)
And, if you are thinking of buying a new car, you can check out its emissions here http://www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/
For full details of the Congestion Charge Zone and the charging hours, log onto the Transport for London website

Mayor, Ken Livingstone says he hopes the new rules will have an impact worldwide with other cities following London’s lead.

He said: “Nobody needs to drive a gas-guzzling Chelsea tractor (the fashionable term for 4x4s) in central London. The CO2 emissions from the most high-powered 4x4s and sports cars can be up to four times as great as the least polluting cars.”

He says the charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or use public transport. Those who don’t will pay for the environmental damage they cause.

“This is the ’polluter pays’ principle. At the same time, the 100 per cent discount for the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles will give drivers an incentive to use the least polluting cars available.”

However, he has been criticised for the 100 per cent discount for greener vehicles. Campaigners say that even if their emissions are low, they still contribute to congestion in London and their presence means high polluting vehicles come to a standstill in traffic more often.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE WINS NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD

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Congratulations to ….

Suffolk Fire and Rescue service which has won a coveted national award after opting for a new type of emergency vehicle which is better for the environment.

The new vehicle, a combined aerial rescue pump (CARP) combines a traditional fire engine with a turntable ladder appliance on a single chassis.

Suffolk will be the first brigade in England to introduce the new dual purpose vehicle, which is made from aluminium rather than steel to reduce its weight. 

The brigade has been crowned National Energy Efficiency Winner in the annual energy awards organised by UK CEED  (the Centre for Economic and Environmental Development).

Its new vehicle, which offers fuel savings of between 30-40 per cent as well as reduced C02 emissions, has led to great interest from other fire services around the country.

Other finalists in the national energy awards included electrical retailer, Comet, for a variety of measures to reduce the environmental impact of its nationwide delivery fleet and Walkit.com, a new web-based route planner dedicated to walkers.
(www.walkit.com))

Walkit maps already cover London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Newcastle and it hopes to roll out to other cities soon.

You can get details of all the winners and finalists here ((http://energyawards.org.uk/ ))

Susan