Environment Forum

from The Human Impact:

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday?

 

Before you pack the bags for this year's holidays, it's worth considering how you're going to get there - and how much of a problem that might create for the world's climate. Turns out there's some unconventional wisdom from scientists - and if you can stand a little company, a road trip might be greener than you think....

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday this year?

Turns out the answer is much the same whether you live in London, Los Angeles or Lagos – and it doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your car at home.

New research by the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway and the Austria-basedInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis tracked the climate impacts of various ways of taking trips of 500 to 1,000 kilometres (300 to 600 miles).

Turns out that car trips aren’t too bad – as long as you share the car with two or three other people and opt for a small vehicle rather than a big one.

“Traveling alone in a large car can be as bad for the climate as flying, but driving with three in a small car could have an equally low impact as a train ride,” said Jens Borken-Kleefeld, one of the study’s lead researchers from the Austrian institute.

from Reuters Investigates:

Solar energy vs wildlife

Sarah McBride reports on brewing battles between environmentalists in her special report: "With solar power, it's Green vs. Green."

It turns out the perfect place to build a big solar plant is often also the perfect place for a tortoise or a fox to live. This means developers of large-scale solar plants are running into legal challenges from people who one would expect to be natural allies of alternative energy providers.

Here's a map of some of the more contentious projects.

One local resident of the Panoche Valley, Sallie Calhoun, had this to say:

"I am passionate about preserving open space," she says, adding she believes the solar plant achieves that goal. "The idea that we're going to protect every lizard, every drainage, seems counterproductive."

Making REDD work for illegal loggers

Hendri, 27, an illegal logger cuts down a tree in a peat swamp forest in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Illegal logging remains a project for forest conservation projects because timber represents quick income for villagers needing work or to feed families. Credit: Yusuf Ahmad

Hendri, 27, an illegal logger cuts down a tree in a peat swamp forest in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Illegal logging remains a problem for forest conservation projects because timber represents quick income for villagers needing work or to feed families. Credit: Yusuf Ahmad

It took just 30 seconds to fell the tree. Hendri, 27, a skinny Indonesian from Central Kalimantan on Borneo island, skilfully wielded the chainsaw more than half his height. The result is a thunderous crash and a tree that is quickly cut into planks on the forest floor near by.

And the reward for this effort? About 125,000 rupiah, or roughly $12 per tree measuring 30 cm or more in diameter. Hendri and the three other members of this local gang of illegal loggers make about $45 a day (not including expenses and bribes) cutting down between 4 and 5 trees and slicing them into planks with a chainsaw, using no protective gear. They work for about 10 days at a stretch.

from The Great Debate UK:

Heather Rogers on fixing “Green Gone Wrong”

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How can human production be transformed and harnessed to save the planet? Can the market economy really help solve the environmental crisis?

Author Heather Rogers argues in a new book that current efforts to green the planet need to be reconsidered.

The growth-based economy can't help but add to the problems the planet faces, Rogers writes in "Green Gone Wrong" published by Verso.

Oil sands and ethical investing at a price

A greenpeace activists protests outside the BP Canadian offices in downtown Calgary, April 15, 2010. The Greenpeace activists were "greenwashing" a tar sands sign outside in protest while similar protests were happening in London.At BP’s AGM on Thursday, ethical investors including the Co-Op and Calpers failed in their effort to convince BP to review its biggest planned investment in Canada’s oil sands.

Nonetheless, 9 percent of investors voted in favour of a review — a much bigger venting of shareholder angst about a single project than oil companies are used to hearing.

Was this a vote for the environment or a vote for ethical fund managers’ own businesses?

from UK News:

Are you losing faith in climate science?

climatechangeWhile attending a meeting of prominent climate sceptics during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (an anti-COP15, if you will), I listened to each of the speakers put forward their theory on why conventional evidence on the primary causes of climate change should be dismissed as, for lack of a better phrase, complete hokum.

Among their denunciations of widely-accepted truths regarding global warming, greenhouse gases, melting glaciers and rising sea levels was the assertion that a change in attitude was afoot; the public may have been duped into believing the mainstream scientific assessment of climate change, but not for long.

There was something in the air, the sceptics said, and soon people would begin to question their trust in the majority view.

Walmart accused of hypocrisy in green initiatives

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Just last month, Walmart announced that it would be moving to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags from stores across the United States to reduce their collection in landfills. While they’ve demonstrated positive green initiatives, this week there’s been accusations of hypocrisy because they’ve been passing off a harmful, manufactured textile as sustainable.

Environmental advocates had been applauding Walmart for their plastic bag reduction goals and the installation of more energy-efficient systems. For example, coolers that only light up when a shopper’s presence is detected. So this new accusation from the Federal Trade Commission comes at a bad time.

Walmart, along with many other big box and chain stores across the United States, has been selling products as bamboo that are actually rayon. It is a textile shrouded in debate, because it contains cellulose that is naturally occurring. However, it does require an extensive manufacturing process to produce.

Are the Copenhagen climate talks failing?

COP15picIn the last few days it has seemed like the only thing everyone can agree on in Copenhagen is that time is running out.

The heads of state start arriving today and descend in full force on Thursday.

Negotiators say they don’t want their leaders arguing over the placement of a comma or a set of brackets, and so everything needs to be tied up by Friday morning.

That leaves just over two days, and more than 190 countries gathered in the conference hall can’t even settle on a draft text to argue over.

Youth groups bending the ear of business at COP15

There are numerous youth groups at the Copenhagen Climate Conference (they are known as ‘Youngos’, short for young non-governmental organisations) and they have all come here to make sure their collective voice is heard as delegates negotiate an agreement on how to tackle climate change.

Youngos represent a significant portion of the 34,000 people who have registered to attend the conference, and some have even managed to gain access to politicans and business leaders to put pressure on them on ethical business strategies.

One of these unfailingly vocal groups is the United Kingdom Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC), which has travelled to Copenhagen to lobby businesses, investors and world leaders to adopt practices which would safeguard the environment for future generations.

from Commentaries:

Stella Artois becomes real hedge fund investor

HEDGEHOGSIt seems like a gutsy time to be advertising a hedge fund in newspapers and across billboards in London.

Until you realise at second glance that the adverts are a spoof by InBev-owned lager brand Stella Artois which is trying to boost its green and recycling credentials with some whacky marketing.

With slogans such as "An Investor measures the growth of his hedge fund" and "Once upon a time a hedge fund was just that", the ads initially catch the eye of those of us interested in financial services.

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