Why nuclear not the answer - FoE, September 28 2005 Edit
Following the Prime Minister's announcement at the Labour Party Conference that nuclear power must be considered as a way of tackling climate change, Friends of the Earth spelt out why it is not the solution. Among FoE's arguments are
- Nuclear energy will not meet our short-term energy needs. Even if given the go-ahead, according to the nuclear industry, new nuclear power stations would not come on-line for an estimated 10-15 years
- Nuclear power has a poor safety record and is a potential target for terrorists.
- Nuclear power creates nuclear waste which poses a threat to public safety for generations to come because no solution has been found for its disposal.
Tony Juniper, FoE Executive Director: "Nuclear power is not a solution to climate change. It could only ever provide for a tiny proportion of our energy needs and this would be at great cost to the taxpayer, the environment and would pose a threat to the safety of the public. Clean technologies are available and they need the Government's support. Tony Blair must stop talking to the nuclear lobby and speed up investment low -carbon, renewable and efficient energy technologies." FoE press release / Climate change, Sustainable energy
1st meeting of Affordable Rural Housing Commission, September 22 2005 Edit
The terms of reference for the Commission are to consider the evidence and reach a consensus on the relevant issues around affordable housing needs in rural areas, in the context of sustainable rural communities, and to provide recommendations for practical solutions across private, government and voluntary sectors, taking account of existing good practice. The Commission will want to collect regional and local experience to inform its work and will be undertaking a number of regional visits. The Commission will cover England only, and is due to report in Spring next year. ARHC website, DEFRA news release / Rural issues
New index reveals democracy more unequal than income in Britain, September 22 2005 Edit
New research released today, by nef (the new economics foundation) shows that democratic power in Britain is more unevenly distributed than income, and the inefficiency of our electoral system means that less than three per cent of the British electorate have anything like a fair share of democratic power. Nef news / Community involvement
Drop in greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland, September 21 2005 Edit
Emissions in Scotland fell by two million tonnes from 19.6 MtC (million tonnes of carbon equivalent, measured against a 1995 baseline in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol) to 17.6 MtC in 2003. This reduction compares favourably with the majority of EU Member States.
Environment Minister Ross Finnie: "These figures demonstrate that Scotland is playing its full part in tackling climate change. The continued downward trend of greenhouse gas emissions is very welcome. We aim to continue this progress by strengthening our climate change response through our review of the Scottish Climate Change Programme. We are committed to developing specific climate change targets in Scotland." Scottish Executive news release / Climate change
Carbon dioxide cuts inadequate if aviation growth not curbed, says Tyndall Centre, September 21 2005 Edit
New research from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research shows that even if aviation’s current growth is halved from today’s level, the rest of the economy will require carbon dioxide cuts far beyond Government targets. The Government’s Aviation White Paper predicts that UK passenger numbers will more than double from 180 million to 475 million over the next 25 years. Aviation is especially polluting because planes burn vast amounts of kerosene fuel at high altitudes. Its rapid growth stems from falling ticket prices and increasing passenger demand.
These new findings are part of a five year comprehensive study by the Tyndall Centre that sets-out a far reaching agenda for cutting carbon dioxide emissions over the next 45 years by detailing the actions that need to be taken by Government and industry. The new report, called Decarbonising the UK, describes pathways for cutting carbon dioxide emissions from road transport, housing, industry and coal-fired power stations and the role of renewable energy, nuclear power and hydrogen fuel in providing low-carbon energy supply. The report also considers the potential of policy instruments to cut carbon dioxide, such as the newly proposed scheme of citizen’s carbon permits. The Government’s target of a 60% cut in carbon dioxide by 2050 is based upon the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists say is safe to avoid dangerous climate change. More recent research suggests that the global 60% target may have to be increased to 90%.
Decarbonising the UK is the first study to combine carbon dioxide emissions from the UK’s energy infrastructure, buildings and industry with those from air, sea and land transport. It is unique in incorporating the different perspectives of energy analysts, engineers, economists and social and environmental scientists into a wide understanding of how the UK Government can achieve its 60% carbon dioxide reduction. Their main conclusions include:
- Improvements in energy efficiency can dramatically decarbonise many sectors
- Policies for reducing energy demand are a more flexible tool than implementing low-carbon supplies
- Supplying low-carbon energy is both technically and economically viable
- A society with high energy demand will face future infrastructural challenges in providing secure energy
- A low-carbon society does not necessarily preclude increases in personal travel
- Government must implement and enforce minimum energy standards
- Allocating carbon fairly between the rich and poor needs innovative policies and mechanisms
- All sectors must be included in any carbon-reduction strategy
- International aviation and marine emissions must be included in carbon reduction targets, now!
The researchers strongly emphasise the truly urgent need for coherent and crosscutting climate policy spanning key Government departments including DEFRA, DfT, DTI, HM Treasury and ODPM. Tyndall Centre, the Sustainable Development Commision is currently running an online forum to discuss 'Carbon Trading for Individuals?' / Climate change, Reduced dependence on cars
Climate change threatens eradication of poverty, September 16 2005 Edit
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative event in New York, Secretary of State Margaret Beckett said: "Future climate change threatens to undermine our efforts to tackle Africa's poverty and sustainable development. Climate variability and climate change put some $10-20bn of net overseas development assistance in developing countries at risk each year." Mrs Beckett also highlighted the need for partnership between governments and business to combat climate change, with Government having an important role to play in setting clear and long-term policies to guide investment and foster innovation. "Climate Change - The Business Forecast", which takes place on October 5-6 in London, will produce a series of "business insights" which can be used to inform other meetings, such as the UN climate change negotiations taking place in Montreal at the end of the year.
There will also be a Dialogue on climate change, clean energy and sustainable development - as a follow-up to Gleneagles - which will be held in London on November 1. It will bring together major economies with large energy needs to focus on the challenges of transforming energy systems to create a secure and sustainable energy future.
Mrs Beckett said the recent EU / China Summit had agreed to launch a major new Partnership on Climate Change with the aim of strengthening cooperation on low carbon technology development. The UK is leading an initiative for the demonstration of near Zero Emissions Coal technology in China using carbon capture and storage.
"All these activities are complementary to the UN negotiations on climate change and will contribute towards positive discussions later this year in Montreal. I am looking forward to start the discussions on further commitments for developed countries for the period after 2012," she added. Defra news release, wikinews:Blair_recognizes_Kyoto_treaty_stopped_by_its_restrictions / Climate change, Global connections
People not planners make public space, September 12 2005 Edit
Car boot sales, arts centre and municipal allotments are among Britain’s most-loved public spaces according to think tank Demos. People Make Places: Growing the public life of cities, research funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is the first of a series of projects from its major new research programme on the use of public space.
"Public space is what you make it", say the report’s authors Melissa Mean and Charlie Tims of Demos. "People create shared spaces and experiences in some of the most unexpected places. Car boot sales, allotments, arts centres and supermarket cafes are some of the places where people feel most at home. They are also the kinds of places in which people from different walks of life are most likely to meet one another."
"The current focus of both urban designers and city planners on creating grand plazas and iconic architecture ignores the role of the people who are meant to use them. A new town square can be carefully, expensively designed, but there’s no guarantee that people will come and use it. Architects and planners need to start with people; they must understand public space from the perspective of those who live and work in towns and cities."
Typical places found in British cities regarded by people as most welcoming include:
- The car boot sale - Where people feel comfortable passing the time of day with strangers, but are also likely to bump into people they know. There is also a sense of novelty and surprise in the possibility of ‘discovering’ a bargain.
- Allotments - Bringing together people of different generations and ethnic backgrounds, allotment regulars report a strong sense of companionship, coupled with the pleasure of learning, often done through trading gardening tips and produce.
- The arts centre - Users appreciate the high degree of diversity, and the tolerance of people who are often not tolerated elsewhere. At the same time, cutting edge film and art helps confer a sense of status and esteem. Demos press release / Urban & village design, Comment
The future of the English countryside, your vision, September 9 2005 Edit
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) are running a competition asking people to describe their vision for the future of the English countryside, in no more than 200 words.There are two categories of entrants: under 18 and 18 and over. CPRE will award prizes to the winning entries. Find out more about the competition.
CPRE have recently published 'Your countryside, your choice' which opens with a portrait of England in 2035 in which the countryside as we understand it today has all but disappeared from much of England. It identifies a number of threats to the future of the countryside but argues that these threats are not inevitable. CPRE press release / Rural issues
Public sector urged to support small firms, September 8 2005 Edit
Small businesses can deliver value for money and innovative solutions for local and central government a new study has found. The report, published today showed they can also play a significant role in improving social enterprise and the employment opportunities of disadvantaged communities. Copies of the report, including details of all the case studies are available from the Small Business Service. The new National Opportunities Portal website, to be launched later this year, will provide business with access to information on low value public procurement opportunities across central and local government. (This will ensure contract opportunities below £100,000 from local and central government are accessible in one place). (see www.supplyinggovernment.gov.uk) DTI press release / Local needs met locally
Mayor of London promises "most sustainable ever" Olympics, September 8 2005 Edit
The Mayor of London has welcomed the draft procurement principles that the new Olympic Delivery Authority will use to ensure the London 2012 Games deliver the greatest lasting benefits.
The ODA will be set up once Parliament approves the London Olympics Bill, expected to be in the first half of 2006. It will have responsibility for the completion of stadiums, infrastructure and transport for the 2012 Games. The procurement principles, approved by key Olympic stakeholders, will set the framework within which the Delivery Authority will operate, to make sure that:
- Sustainability lies at the heart of the delivery of the London Games - Facilities meet the highest standards of design quality and are of lasting use - Local people are given every opportunity to benefit from the new jobs before and after the Games - The Games are the most environmentally friendly ever - The Olympic projects bring lasting economic, social and environmental benefits to London through regeneration and the creation of a lasting legacy.
The procurement framework includes practical measures to realise its objectives. To ensure design excellence for example, the main facilities within the Olympic Park will be procured by major design competitions, such that already used to select the designers for the Aquatics Centre. To ensure the greatest possible opportunities for local people, a programme of skills training based in East London will be developed.
The framework states: ‘A key assessment criterion in the selection of contractors should be their commitment to working with the LDA/ODA and others to underpin delivery of a programme of local community involvement and benefits including: employee representation; fair and ethical employment; London living wage; supplier diversity; local and ethical sourcing; local labour; community benefit; training and supply chain initiatives.’
Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone: ‘The London Games in 2012 will be far more than just a four week festival of sport. They will be quite simply the most sustainable ever - leaving a lasting legacy of jobs, homes and environmental improvements for East London, London and Britain. GLA News Release / Towards a sustainable Olympics 2012
Greenpeace tells fuel protestors: "Stop whinging and face facts", September 7 2005 Edit
Fuel protestors should stop moaning about the price of petrol and face the fact that we have to rely less on fossil fuels, Greenpeace said today.
As protestors threaten once again to picket refineries, Greenpeace campaigner Mark Strutt said: "Oil causes climate change and we import much of it from unstable regions. It's an inevitable fact of life that the price is going to rise. This price rise is a good thing because it will help reduce consumption, something we have to do as a matter of urgency. We can see the devastating results of climate change all around us as extreme weather events start to increase, just as scientists have been predicting."
Greenpeace urges the government to remain firm and not give in to the self-centred actions of the fuel protestors. Driving is now cheaper than it was in the 1970s in real terms, and motorists can save money by driving more fuel efficient cars and driving less. Hauliers should start looking at alternative fuels such as bio-diesel.
"The fact that sales of gas guzzlers like 4x4's are going through the roof means that fuel can't be that expensive. In the face of climate change you can't drive something that does less than 30 miles to the gallon and moan about the price of fuel," added Mark Strutt.
Greenpeace supports measures that:
- Impose the full environmental cost of driving on the polluter
- Encourage alternative fuels and more efficient technologies
- Encourage the government to invest in a fully integrated public transport system
Greenpeace proposals include increasing road tax, increasing fuel duty and introducing congestion charging based on climate pollution impacts of vehicles throughout the UK. Greenpeace / Climate change
Government announces new Respect Task Force, September 2 2005 Edit
The Respect Task Force, based in the Home Office, formally came into existence today. It will be headed by the former National Director of the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, Louise Casey, who will be the Government's Co-ordinator for Respect.
The Task Force will be responsible for co-ordinating production of a national action plan on Respect and its delivery. Its objectives include: " Working together on the neighbourhood renewal and anti-social behaviour agendas, highlighting respect for others and respect for the community," and "Helping communities to set and own standards of behaviour in their neighbourhoods." Home Office Press Release / Community safety
Huge Coalition to combat climate change, September 1 2005 Edit
Eighteen campaign groups, with millions of supporters have today united to demand action on climate change.
STOP CLIMATE CHAOS will mobilise its millions of members and supporters to put pressure on the government, whose plans to tackle climate change fall far short of what's needed. The new coalition wants the government to slash the UK's global warming gas emissions and make fighting climate change a key part of its plans to deal with global poverty.
STOP CLIMATE CHAOS is campaigning for:
- The UK government to deliver substantial annual reductions in UK greenhouse gas emissions, meet its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 and to commit to an EU-wide greenhouse gas reduction target of 30% by 2020.
- The UK government to make climate change a top international priority so that global warming is capped at a temperature rise of less than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. This will require global emissions to have peaked and be irreversibly declining by 2015.
- The UK government to ensure that its policies on combating global poverty include investing in low carbon technologies and clean energy and providing significantly more assistance to the developing world to adapt to climate change.
The new movement believes politicians have so far failed to take anything like sufficient action to tackle the threat. The choices made in the next 5 or 10 years will determine the extent of the devastation faced by future generations.
The members of STOP CLIMATE CHAOS are Airport Watch, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Medact, National Federation of Women's Institutes, Network for Social Change, Operation Noah, Oxfam, People & Planet, Practical Action, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Sustrans, Tearfund, Woodland Trust and WWF-UK.