Falling emissions, the Spring Budget and air pollution - our environment and climate change news round up

Green and Ethical News: Ecojam's Weekly Round-Up of the Headlines

Date published: Tuesday 14th March 2017

Last week as we were warned that Venice would vanish underwater within a century if climate change is not tackled, what else did the headlines tell us?

It was a good week for falling emissions as new data showed that UK carbon emissions have dropped to their lowest level since the 19th century. This is largely due to the continued drop in coal use which has fallen by 74% in a decade.

However, energy news was not all good last week... 

It was a bad week for environmentalists as the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, delivered the Spring Budget which was “light on content relevant to energy and climate change”.

The energy sector barely received a mention in the speech, except for a promise to help the oil and gas industry to 'maximise exploitation' of remaining North Sea reserves.

Campaigners had hoped that the chancellor would put a stop to a planned tax hike for rooftop solar schemes. But this did not happen.

There was also no mention of climate change, the environment or air pollution. For a full breakdown of what was and wasn't said (with regards to climate change, energy and the environment) check out this Carbon Brief summary. Or read this article in the Independent.

In other news

The new chief of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. (No major surprise but shocking all the same!) 

There was more news from the US this week about the “groundbreaking lawsuit” in which 21 young people aged between 9 and 20 are claiming that the US government has violated their constitutional right to a healthy climate system.

Worrying new research was released last week showing that with just 15 more years of current emissions, over half of the world’s ocean will be exposed to more than one source of stress, affecting everything from the tiniest plants to the mightiest whales. 

A new polling study which included citizens from UK, France, Germany and Norway, shows that people feel that the impacts of climate change are already affecting us. The poll also showed that renewables were viewed very positively as were renewable subsidies.

The City of Barcelona will ban old cars from roads during the week in a bid to tackle air pollution. There are also plans to offer free public transport to those who give up their vehicles.

Air pollution

The papers were so full of air pollution headlines again last week that we just couldn't write this blog without giving it a special section (again!).

We were shocked by headlines such as “Nearly two million children die every year because of pollution and unhealthy environment”, “Pollution is now a greater threat than Ebola and HIV, the World Health Organisation warns” and “Air pollution 'urgent public health crisis' warning”. Yikes!

So is it as bad as it sounds? Here's what the papers say...

The Telegraph ran this article comparing UK air pollution to other places around the world. And this article from the BBC asks “How bad is air pollution in the UK?

There were also articles outlining some potential solutions. This article in the Guardian looks at how entrepreneurs are approaching the issue. Solutions include smartphone sensors so that you can identify (and try to avoid) the worst areas, house ventilation systems and face masks. Meanwhile, this BBC article looks at ideas from around the world. These include diesel bans, moving people out of their homes and deploying jet engines to disperse bad air!

Some light relief

It was a good week for solar power as it was confirmed that the amount of solar power added worldwide increased by 50% last year. This was mainly due to growth in China and the US. The industry believe that solar power is a crucial way for the world to meet it's Paris Climate Agreement commitments. But in the UK subsidy cuts have led to a drop in installations.  

New York's three state-owned ski resorts are pledging to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. This comes as part of a wider state plan to increase the use of renewables.

For inspiration on how cities are embracing green technologies, read this article about Stockholm, Sweden's capital. The city is a leading example of a new, smart city which has utilised a number of green initiatives as part of a plan to become fossil-fuel free by 2040.

And this week's photo of the week is this beautiful batwing slug as it flies through the sea.

What actions can you take?

Here are our top tips on actions you can take this week.

One small thing you can do about plastic pollution
A campaign by the Marine Conservation Society wants you to report any #wildbottlesightings on social media. Read more here.

Top tips on food waste
Check out this article in the Guardian which discusses food waste and ends with some useful tips on cutting down your waste.

Making positive lifestyle changes to increase wellbeing and become more environmentally friendly
Hannah Price, a loyal Ecojammer from North Somerset (who has followed us since nearly the beginning) has challenged herself to commit to making regular positive lifestyle changes throughout 2017. Read her new blog as she explains what motivated her to take action and what changes she has made during the last month.

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