Maitland Green: Our Weekly Update – 5 July 2018
A report by UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development, has called for the UN Sustainable Goals to be placed at the heart of the UK’s Brexit strategy by appointing Cabinet-level ministers to oversee approaches to key SDGs. The report has also argued government policy is performing inadequately across three-quarters of the targets listed under goals. Of the 143 targets considered relevant to the domestic delivery of the goals, the report notes that the UK is only performing well on 24%.
The fire on Saddleworth Moor now spans seven miles. Coming in the middle of many birds’ breeding seasons, the fire will have disrupted bird populations for years. Eye witnesses report birds frantically hovering over the fire calling for their young. Only recently a small population of rare mountain hares had also been introduced to the area, their ecosystem is now gone. Conservationists have also warned that the depth of the fire will likely have destroyed seeds, worms and voles. This week climate change scientists at Imperial College London and the University of York have warned Northern Europe should brace itself for more upland fires as extreme weather events become more common.
A poll by the Energy Institute has found 95 per cent of prospective science and engineering students between the ages of seven and 19 do not believe enough is being done by adults to tackle the damaging effects of climate change. This follows a YouGov survey in April which suggested global warming was a top concern among people between the ages of 18-24.
Energy, Emissions & Clean Tech
- Devices to capture tidal power could soon be employed to harness renewable energy derived from the moon. Among the serious contenders tapping rapid tidal flows are 12-metre-wide underwater kites, vertical turbines and an undulating membrane inspired by swimming fish.
- The NHS could save at least £130m every year by updating old energy systems with battery storage, onsite low-carbon generation and energy efficiency measures according to a report by Centrica Business Solutions.
- A nine year-old girl’s fatal asthma attack is the first death to be linked directly to air pollution as a government health advisor said there was a “striking association” between her death and spikes of nitrogen dioxide and PM10s.
- BP has bought the UK’s biggest electric car charger network for £130m. BP estimates the number of electric vehicles will hit 12m by 2040.
- The Advertising Standards Authority is considering whether to launch an investigation into Nissan after owners of the new Leaf electric cars complained charging the car can take three times longer than advertised.
- Make-up brand Shiseido have unveiled a billboard in Madrid that they claim removes CO2 and reduces pollution. The canvas generates photocatalysis, a similar process to the photosynthesis of natural plants.
- A study by Washington University suggests air pollution causes nearly 15,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes in the UK each year.
- The recent UK heatwave has seen solar briefly take succeed gas as the UK’s primary energy source.
In Westminster and the EU
- Campaigners are fighting to block a £400 m plan to build a solar energy farm the size of 600 football pitches on marshland that provides a habitat for rare birds. Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, will decide whether to approve the project as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
- The House of Lords’ EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, seeking an update on progress being made towards meeting air quality targets. ClientEarth and three local authorities gave evidence to the Sub-Committee last month where they highlighted their concerns with the standard of air quality monitoring, as well as support for the implementation of Clean Air Zones and other measures to address illegal levels of air pollution.
- London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has expanded a scheme, Solar Together London, that enables London residents and businesses to buy high-quality solar panels.
- Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, has criticised housebuilders for “cheating” buyers with energy-inefficient homes and described motor companies as holding back the rollout of clean cars.
- Think tank, IPPR, has warned that the government will miss its key fuel poverty target by more than half a century at the current rate homes are being insulated and upgraded.
- Plan B, an environmental activist group, are seeking permission from a judge to sue the UK government. They allege the government has not done enough to tackle climate change and that it is discriminating against the young by failing to cut emissions fast enough.
- Denmark plans to construct three new offshore wind farms by 2030. In 2017, 43 percent of Denmark’s total electricity consumption was supplied by wind turbines, one of the largest shares in the world.
- Brazil and China are at the centre of a push to make carbon credits generated under UN Climate Change mechanisms eligible for the aviation carbon offset scheme. If allowed, European analysts have warned thousands of dormant projects would flood the market with cheap credits without driving any new emissions reductions.
- Britain will need to build more mega-farms to keep it supplied with chicken, according to Richard Griffiths, CEO of the British Poultry Council.
- Research by climate scientists at the Universities of Melbourne and New South Wales have estimated 100 million Europeans will soon face record summer heat waves.
- The Netherlands has proposed cutting its emissions by 95% by 2050 in a draft climate law. The law is backed by seven political parties across the spectrum, and, if passed, it would see the Netherlands set one of the most ambitious carbon targets in the world.
- A NASA study has warned whales will be particularly vulnerable if shipping lanes open up in the Arctic.
In Westminster and the EU
- DEFRA has published its blueprint for a sustainable and profitable fishing industry that will regenerate coastal communities. The Fisheries White Paper – ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’ – sets out how the UK could manage fisheries after Brexit.
- Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a new £4.5 mn fund to fight the illegal wildlife trade. He also announced the appointment of Zac Goldsmith MP as the government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference champion. He will play a key role in preparations for an international wildlife trade conference in October.
- A survey by the European Environmental Agency has concluded the vast majority of Europe’s rivers, lakes and estuaries fail to meet minimum ecological standards. Scotland dramatically outperformed England in the survey.
- The UN’s environment chief, Erik Solheim, has warned a global trade war would damage efforts to combat climate change, protect the environment and fight poverty.
Waste & Resources
- Iceland has become the latest supermarket to trial paper carrier bags. It will also trial bags made from recycled plastic.
- Ecotricity has launched the world’s first ‘vegan electricity’ tariff, in a bid to highlight the energy sector’s reliance on power that is generated from meat and dairy industry by-products.
- Asos has partnered with the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion, to offer a sustainable design course for the online retailer’s designers.
- A 12 year old girl has invented a remotely operated robot that detects and captures micro plastics in the ocean. She hopes to use the device to map where micro plastics accumulate.
- Men’s skincare brand, Bulldog, is to launch a new eco-friendly razor with a bamboo handle this summer.
- Vets have released pictures of the 80 plastic bags and other plastic detritus, that were found in the stomach of a pilot whale. The whale, found struggling in a canal in Thailand, spat out five plastic bags during a five-day effort to save it.
In Westminster and the EU
- The government are considering the environmental and economic impact of banning plastic cutlery and plates. The latest annual beach clean-up by the Marine Conservation Society found that single-use plastic items involved in the on-the-go food and drink market now make up one in every five pieces of litter.
Green Finance & Responsible Investing
- The council of Cambridge University has made a landmark commitment to addressing climate change in its £3bn (€3.4bn) endowment fund following months of pressure from students and staff. It also reportedly plans to hire an SG officer and consider joining industry groups such as the Institutional Investors’ Group on Climate Change.
- Nuveen’s “Third Annual Responsible Investing Survey” found that interest in socially responsible investing is rising among investors yet only 22 percent of financial advisors said they were offering responsible investing options. 76 percent of investors surveyed said they would “rather visit the dentist than invest in a company that pollutes the environment.”
- The “red hot” electric vehicle market has triggered a war between oil and utilities companies as both compete to dominate the sector.
- Catherine Howarth, CEO of ShareAction UK, a charity that promotes responsible investment, has praised corporations who are starting to perform on climate issues. During a Climate Action webinar she cited recent successes with Rio Tinto, a mining company that faced a shareholder revolt over its participation in coal lobbying efforts in Australia, and Royal Dutch Shell, where shareholders pressed the company to establish, publish and meet emissions targets that align the company with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Research by Imperial College Business School and SOAS suggest countries that are vulnerable to climate change are paying significantly more to borrow from financial markets. The most affected include Ghana, Kenya and Bangladesh.
- BlackRock will fund a planned 197.4 megawatt wind farm in western Norway. The wind farm will have an ability to produce enough electricity to power more than 40,000 houses.
In Westminster and the EU
- Ireland is reportedly tipped to jump join a growing number of sovereign nations raising finance from the sale of “green bonds”.
- The US has cut its contribution to the Global Environment Facility, raising concerns about access to finance for environmental protection in the developing world.
- The World Bank has warned climate change will impact almost half of South Asia in the coming decades, dramatically reducing economic growth in one of the world’s poorest regions.
Analysis of the Week
Comment of the Week
George Monbiot asks “who will save Britain’s wildlife” after the state is dismantled. Monbiot has been concerned Brexit and crippling cuts have left wildlife dangerously exposed. His greatest concern and anger is reserved for Natural England, which he describes as “reduced to a nodding dog in the government’s rear window.” He alleges staff with specialist knowledge have been prevented from making decisions leading to absurd outcomes – such as neglecting to factor in that birds fly or allowing roads to be built across protected areas. He comments: “A correspondent from within Natural England tells me its staff are so demoralised that it has almost ceased to function. “Enforcement, for example, is close to non-existent … Gove seems to have somehow both raised the profile of environmental issues whilst simultaneously stripping the resources … it has never been as bad as this”…If this is happening before we leave the European Union, I can only imagine where we will stand without the protection of European law. The environmental watchdog that, according to Gove, will fill the role now played by the European commission, will know, like Natural England, that its budget is provided by the government and can be cut at the government’s discretion. What is to prevent it from being nobbled as other agencies have been?”