Optimism, government 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 7th February 2017

The news was once again full of environment and climate change stories last week. So, what did the headlines tell us?

It was a good week for optimism as a new report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative found that electric cars and cheap solar 'could halt fossil fuel growth by 2020'. Technological improvements and falling costs coupled with the risks posed by climate change “could result in a global explosion of low carbon technology deployment in the coming decades”.

Don't say we never give you any good news!

It was a bad week for the UK Government as they were accused of dragging their feet and delaying the publication of their Emissions Reduction Plan. The report needs to set out how the UK will deliver on it's plans to dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels to meet Paris Climate Change Agreement commitments. Legal activists at Client Earth have threatened to take the government to court if the March deadline is missed.

Further delays would give industry and investors even less time to act on the changes required. Delays are said to be because of the challenge to get the policies right and because of the amount of time civil servants are dedicating to Brexit. 

More column inches for air pollution...

Barely a week goes by when we don't feel the need to bring up the distressing subject of air pollution – and this week is no exception! The subject grabbed many headlines again last week and we have gathered together the most interesting/worrying/extreme!

A UN human rights expert, appointed to report on hazardous substances and waste, has called for urgent action as he believes that air pollution 'plagues' the UK. This news comes in the same week that we were told that air pollution raises the risk of dementia. Londoners face the biggest crisis with many areas still on high alert. It was reported last week that “2 in 3 Londoners would quit the capital over air pollution”. Many measures are now being proposed to try to tackle the issue. Westminster Council announced last week that, from April, they will charge people extra to park diesel cars. Other pollution curbing measures include supplying face masks for school pupils, moving playgrounds and school entrances and improving green infrastructure. More extreme measures include building airtight houses and, in Cornwall, they are discussing plans to relocate residents in pollution hot spots.

Heathrow expansion plans came under fire last week as a government study showed that children will be particularly vulnerable to more toxic air generated by the expansion. 

Anyone worried about pollution levels can now track toxic air in London using free pollution app, Airview.  

In other news

The EU is on track to meet it's 20% renewable energy goal by 2020. However, the UK is lagging behind other states and is ranked 24th out of 28 for renewable energy.

It has been reported that companies have paid out more than £1.5million for breaking environment laws. This includes polluting rivers, breaching permit conditions or avoiding recycling. The Environment Agency has said that the money will go to projects which help wildlife and the environment.

In a big boost for the divestment movement, Deutsche Bank - Germany's biggest bank - has announced plans to stop investing in coal projects and to gradually reduce existing exposure. 

Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are facing extinction as they are massacred for bushmeat by militia groups and miners who are digging for colton, an ore used in mobile phones and games consoles.

Some light relief

A new world record for wind power has been set by a single wind turbine which produced 216,000 kWh in a single 24 hour period.

It seems companies are starting to take the issue of plastic pollution seriously. Unilver has pledged to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Meanwhile M&S says it plans to develop one recyclable, plastic polymer for use across all its plastic packaging. Small steps perhaps but they signal that change is possible and that there is motivation to make it.

Our photo of the week this week goes to this graceful grey owl as it finds balance.

What actions can you take?

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

Think about taking part in the Labour Behind the Label 6 items challenge

Select six items of clothing from your wardrobe and pledge to wear only these every day for six weeks. Don’t panic – you can have unlimited access to underwear, accessories and footwear.  You’re even allowed to use your sportswear or performance gear if you need to maintain a fitness regime.  But your main items of clothing – dresses, trousers, tops, skirts, jumpers, shirts or cardigans – must remain the same throughout.

This year's challenge takes place between 1st March and 24th April (during Lent). Are you brave enough to give it a go?

If you want more info on the issues check out this article in last week's Huffington Post. It includes a useful guide to sustainable fashion.

Help the environment 

Check out this great list of '40 Unexpected Ways You Can Help the Environment Right Now'. How many are you already doing and how many can you put into practice? 

Do gardens increase well-being?

Take part in new research being conducted by researchers at Sheffield University. They are compiling evidence on the therapeutic effects of gardens

Thanks for reading and remember to come back again next week for the next round-up of green and ethical news.

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