Maitland Green: Our Weekly Update – 9 August 2018
Lawyers at the Bar Council have criticised plans for a new environmental watchdog following Brexit. The law reform committee believe the body will lack “teeth” if it is unable to take the government to court. DEFRA has hit back at the suggestion, arguing the new environmental body would be given adequate legal powers to take the government to court with draft legislation expected to be published in late autumn.
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has alleged the Earth could be locked into unavoidable global warming even if all countries managed to cut their emissions. The study set out a scenario that saw the climate eventually stabilise at a global average of 4-5C warmer, creating millions of climate refugees and making the world unrecognisable.
Denying the Facts
YouTube has confirmed it is in the process of designing algorithms that will automatically add fact checks to videos that question climate change. The video hosting site now attaches scientific explainers under videos that question climate change.
Energy, Emissions & Clean Tech
- Advertising revenue spent on promoting electric vehicles is falling, according to the transport campaign group, Transport & Environment.
- The French government has approved bids for 103 solar power projects with a total capacity of 720 megawatts. It is estimated the projects could provide power for around 100,000 homes annually.
- Sono Motors, a German electric solar vehicle start-up, has used the heatwave dominating Europe to test the final development of its new charging system. The car has 330 solar cells attached to the vehicle’s roof, bonnet and sides and its battery system will offer a range of around 250 km before it needs recharging.
- Apple has announced a collaboration with a Akamai, Swiss Re and Etsy to develop two new wind and solar farms that will enable the companies to increase access to renewable energy in the eastern US.
In Westminster and the EU
- The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association and Federation of Small Businesses have jointly urged the government to postpone tax breaks for low emission vans until more models are commercially av available. The industry bodies argue the tax breaks will currently “unfairly impact small businesses” because there is currently a lack of low emission vans available at a similar cost to their diesel equivalents.
- Landlords have renewed their calls for the government to support energy efficiency improvements with targeted tax breaks.
- Oxford City Council and Lambeth Council have appealed to Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to provide greater funding to councils to address air pollution and to tighten air quality standards after Brexit.
- Research led by the University of Exeter supports claims that planting more trees, alongside preserving existing forests, acts as one of the most effective ways to capture carbon.
- Friends of the Earth have launched a legal claim against plans for a third runway at Heathrow. The environmental group alleges the plans are unlawful because they fail to adequately address environmental issues.
- A study published in Nature suggests solar geoengineering, using reflective aerosols, could harm crop yields by reducing the amount of direct sunlight reaching plants.
- Research led by the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster has provided new insight into the ways drought alters the microbes in soil.
- EarthSense, an air quality and data company, has announced it will put its Zephyr air quality monitor into mass production. The portable solar-powered unit can be mounted onto a wall or lamp-post and offers readings on a range of pollutants.
- The European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Processors has said the prolonged extreme drought has caused the most severe problems for 40 years for the EU’s vegetable sector.
In Westminster and the EU
- The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has published a new code for laying hens and pullets that it claims will enhance animal welfare.
- A breeder of rare Indian Grey Jungle Fowl has accused the Environment Agency of letting mink kill his birds. Ron Taylor alleges the agency had inadvertently driven mink onto his land by while rescuing fish from the River Teme.
- The “unprecedented” summer heatwave has pushed the NHS into a summer crisis. Records for June show large numbers of people falling ill with heatstroke, dehydration, exhaustion and breathing problems, as well as experiencing falls.
- Dubai Tourism has released a guide to help its hotels become more environmentally friendly. The ’12 Steps Towards Sustainability User Guide’ aims to help hotels rein in costs, energy use, and waste “to forge a more sustainable economy that helps, not hurts, the environment.”
- Sardinia has been forced to crack down on tourists stealing shells, pebbles and sand for souvenirs. Last year five tonnes of sand were intercepted after being pilfered by tourists.
- The BBC profiles Wilderness Safaris, a company that has used luxury environmental tourism to restore and protect vulnerable ecosystems.
Waste & Resources
- Following analysis of recycling by local councils by the Local Government Association, Town hall chiefs have urged manufacturers to scrap the “smorgasbord” of plastics to help cut waste and increase recycling.
- Landsec has announced it has signed up more than 90 brands, including Costa and McDonald’s, to offer consumers free water refills across its major shopping destinations.
- Veolia has set a target to collect 120 million coffee cups for recycling in 2019. Veolia has also piloted a partnership with Westminster City Council to improve “on-the-go recycling”.
- 38 Degrees has launched a petition criticising Walkers for producing 7000 non-recyclable crisp packets every minute. The company has pledged to make its crisp packets fully recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.
- Real Madrid has announced the team’s new kit will be made from upcycled plastic waste.
- Dominica has announced plans to become the world’s first climate resilient nation. By January 2019, Dominica plans to ban all common plastic and styrofoam single-use food containers.
In Westminster and the EU
- The Commons Environmental Audit Committee will travel to the Arctic Circle during the summer recess to investigate how micro-plastic contamination is harming marine life.
Green Finance & Responsible Investing
- The Nordic Bank SEB have suggested uncertainty over Brexit, alongside tensions over international trade, could cause a short-term reduction in green bond issuances.
- BlackRock has launched four open-ended ESG-focused emerging market debt funds.
- The Bank of Palestine has secured a €12.5mn credit line from the French development agency, AFD. It will be used to finance renewable energy projects in the West Bank and Gaza.
- Forbes profiles MIT’s social impact incubator, SOLVE, which aims to attract a diverse group of ideas to help the world.
- The Guardian’s obituary of Tessa Tennant credits her with being at the forefront of a movement to encourage fund managers to invest money in a more socially and environmentally responsible fashion. Tennant co-founded the UK’s first green investment fund, Merlin (now Jupiter) Ecology Fund, in 1988, later co-founding the UK Social Investment Forum and Carbon Disclosure Project.
In Westminster and the EU
- The United Nations’ climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, has called on the Green Climate Fund to operate more efficiently, with greater political attention devoted to its activities. In July the fund’s executive director resigned and the board failed to reach key decisions.
Comment of the Week
Philip Johnston, a political correspondent at the Daily Telegraph, reflects on his time covering Margaret Thatcher’s calls to fight climate change and argues capitalism has “sound solutions”: “instead of pointlessly arguing about whether climate change is happening, we should embrace technologies that will make a low‑carbon future a reality…we should see reducing carbon emissions as an invitation to innovate, boost economic growth and leave a cleaner planet to those who will inhabit it long after we have gone.”
Picture(s) of the Week
The Daily Mail has published photos of the rubbish strewn across Mount Everest. The rubbish is dumped into landfills then burned or buried, however locals have complained they are struggling to cope with more than 100,000 visitors each year.
While the Sun highlights the wildfires that can currently been seen from space.