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Tue, May

Environmentalists have accused the government of weakening regulation on the environment as we prepare to leave the EU.

Despite Theresa May’s pledge last year to create a “world-leading, independent, statutory body” to ensure Ministers stick to their climate change commitments, the UK watchdog will hold no power when it comes to climate change post Brexit.

The watchdog should regulate issues such as ensuring water and air quality remain high as well as protecting wildlife habitats.

Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s Brexit Spokesman, said: “Our EU Membership has been key to delivering and enforcing UK emission reductions. In choosing to exclude climate change from the remit of the environmental watchdog, ministers are deliberately weakening the tools we have to hold them to account. The Brexit process cannot be used as a cover to water down the UK’s leadership on climate change.”

Currently, 55 per cent of the UK’s planned carbon reductions are tied to regulations derived from the EU and would have been enforced by the European Union.

Greener UK, which represents the biggest environmental organisations including Greenpeace, the National Trust and Friends of the Earth, have reported their concern over the omission of climate policy from the watchdogs remit.

The government responded by reassuring that climate change is already covered by the 2008 Climate Change Act which created the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). However the CCC only have the power to give advice on the matter.

In July, Greenpeace UK provided a petition with 105,000 signatures to Defra, the Ministry for Environment, to demand that the government keep its promise to create a ‘word-leading watchdog’ after Brexit.

A poll in December 2016 found that 80 per cent of the British public think that the UK should have the same or stronger levels of environmental protection once we leave the EU.

Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus, The Wildlife Trusts, said: “As we prepare to leave the European Union, I believe there is more urgency than ever to make our environmental laws ambitious and meaningful.”

To read more about the work of Greener UK click here.

Read more: Brexit may weaken climate change regulation in...

The World Bank have launched a Sustainable Development Bond series to raise awareness of the importance of ocean resources.

The international financial institution has plans to raise $3 billion to protect oceans and marine life.

The World Bank have introduced the water bond, along with gender, health and nutrition bonds, to give investors opportunity to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set in 2015.

The focus for the new bond series is to support SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 15, Life below Water.

The bond series is framed by World Water Week, taking place just last week, and the “Our Ocean” conference in Bali set for October.

Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Chief Executive Officer, said: “Seventy per cent of the planet’s surface is water, yet degraded ocean resources and lack of access to safe water negatively affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people.”

The World Bank said they also “Work with countries to promote strong governance of marine and coastal resources to support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, make coastlines more resilient, establish coastal and marine protected areas, and reduce pollution.”

Currently, the oceans are being heavily polluted by land and sea-based activities. This has resulted in 100,000 marine mammals and turtles being killed by plastic litter each year globally.

Arunma Oteh, World Bank Vice President and Treasurer, said: “Following bonds issued earlier this year to raise awareness for gender and health and nutrition, we are pleased to launch this new initiative and engage with investors around another critical topic – clean water and healthy oceans, lifelines for people and economies the world over.”

Read more: World Bank announce first sustainable water bond

Neste are exploring the use of plastic waste as a raw material for fuel.

Neste are the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel and are now turning to the plastic pollution crisis to become more sustainable.

Matti Lehmus, Executive Vice President of Neste’s oil products business area, said: “We are already the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel from waste and residues. Our target is to also be a leader in low-carbon refining and support circular economy by developing innovative solutions based on waste plastic.”

Neste has teamed with ReNew, a UK recycling firm, and Licella, an Australian technology developer, to develop new industrial and commercial uses for mixed plastic waste including fuel, chemicals and new plastics. 

Len Humphry’s, CEO of Licella Holdings, said: “The collaboration with Neste and ReNew ELP will help to create markets for recycled carbon fuels and chemicals at a critical time as Europe pushes towards a circular economy.”

Richard Daley, Managing Director of ReNew ELP, said: “ReNew ELP is very pleased to join this collaboration with Neste. Neste’s reputation as a global leader in the production of sustainable, high quality, low-carbon products makes them an ideal development partner for us.”

Currently, 27 million tonnes per year of plastic waste is generated in Europe and only a third is collected for recycling.

Neste have already set a goal to process more than one million tonnes of plastic waste per year by 2030. In 2018, they were the 2nd most sustainable company on the global 100 list. The business has also teamed with IKEA to develop bio-plastics from raw materials such as waste fats and oils.

Read more: Plastic waste to be used for fuel

The South African Government has approved a draft to increase renewable energy generation.

Jacob Zuma, the former President, had proposed expanding the nuclear power sector by adding new nuclear capacity in excess of 9 gigawatt. However, this February, he faced a vote of no confidence and was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa.

Jeff Radebe, South Africa’s Energy Minister, announced this week to the press that the cabinet had approved the updated Integrated Resources Plan (IRP 2018) which will increase renewable energy capacity and add only a minimal amount of new coal.

Radebe said: “The electricity generation and distribution landscape in South Africa is changing at a rapid pace compared to the period before 2010. In keeping to our climate change commitments, the country has also introduced renewable energy through independent power producers.”

The IRP means that only 1 gigawatt worth of new coal capacity will be added by 2030 and there will be over 15 gigawatt of renewable energy used including hydropower, solar and wind.

South Africa is currently the largest carbon-emitting country in Africa. Radebe says that is important that “There is significant change in the energy mix post-2030 which is mainly driven by decommissioning of old coal power plant that reach their end of life.”

Yesterday, the UK announced plans to invest £56 million into South Africa to develop energy storage technology to help supply secure renewable power in the country.

The UK Government said: “This project, the first of its kind in the region, will use an innovative technology to transform the country’s energy system, supporting South Africa’s long-term commitment to decreasing carbon emissions by developing bold, new renewable technologies – bringing about a climate revolution whilst also enabling the creation of thousands of jobs for young South Africans.”

Read more: Renewable energy to replace nuclear power in...

The clothing brand has added to their vast eco-friendly clothing line with the launch of their new sustainable jeans.

The S.E.A Jeans, standing for Social and Environment Accountability, are made from organic cotton and are on sale for around £130, depending on the design.

The production of the cotton uses 90 per cent less water compared to regular cotton used for jeans.

Not only are they sustainable, but they have a ‘lifetime guarantee’ which means that if the jeans break or get damaged they will be fixed by Outerknown for free. If they are unrepairable than they will be replaced.

Kelly Slater, Co-founder of Outerknown, said: “S.E.A. Jeans is the greatest example of why we started Outerknown. Our team has pushed every boundary to make S.E.A Jeans the most sustainable they can be. It wasn’t enough just to use less water and organic cotton, we decided to put a lifetime guarantee on them.”

The brand has worked with many sustainable partners, including Saitex, the world’s cleanest denim factory, who recycle 98 per cent of water used in development.

John Moore, the other Co-founder of Outerknown, said: “Jeans are an integral part of our lifestyle, but we are adamant about producing denim only if the manufacturing process could meet our strict social and environmental standards.”

The textile industry is a big source of pollution, globally one rubbish truck of textiles are thrown away every second.

Outerknown are a clothing brand that have made sustainable waves for the past couple of years. They have a range of clothing items that are eco-friendly and fashionable.

Kelly said: “We created Outerknown to smash the formula. To lift the lid on the traditional supply chain and prove that you can actually produce great looking menswear in a sustainable way.”

Explore Outerknown's clothing line here.

Read more: Outerknown launch sustainable S.E.A. jeans

Indian airline, SpiceJet, has completed its first test flight running on a biojet fuel blend.

It became the first airline in the country to run on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with a blend of 75 per cent air turbine fuel and 25 per cent biojet fuel.

Currently, the aviation industry contributes to around 2 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Virgin Atlantic in 2008 were the first airline to run on a fuel blend, since then over 25 airlines have gradually introduced the use of SAF.

The global aviation industry has committed to being cleaner. By producing technologically advanced aircrafts fuel efficiency is being improved by 1.5 per cent a year. By 2050, the members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation have pledged to cut emissions to 50 per cent of 2005 levels.

The biofuel used on Monday was developed by, Dehradun-based, Indian Institute of Petroleum. It has met specifications standards of Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier for commercial application in aircraft.

The airline reported that the advantage of using biojet fuel compared to air turbine fuel is a reduction in carbon emissions as well as increased fuel efficiency.

G P Gupta, SpiceJet’s Chief Strategy Officer, said: “The results have been very positive. According to preliminary studies, the power from biofuel was even better than regular aviation turbine fuel.”

Ajay Singh, SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director, said: “It has the potential to reduce our dependence on traditional aviation fuel by up to 50 per cent on every flight and bring down fares.”

Global oil prices have been fluctuating for a while. Today, it was reported that some companies, including American Airlines, have suspended flights because fuel is too expensive.

Read more: India completes first biofuel test flight

The eco-friendly shoe brand has received investment from the Oscar-winning actor.

Allbirds, a San Francisco-based shoe company, use a number of sustainable materials to make their shoes. They have three different types of material:

  • The Wool shoes are sourced from sheep in New Zealand, this uses 60 per cent less energy than materials used in typical synthetic shoes.
  • The Tree shoes are sourced from South African farms that minimise fertiliser and rely on rainwater. This means that, compared to traditional cotton materials, manufacturing uses 95 per cent less water.
  • The Sugar shoes are sourced from Southern Brazil, the sugar cane is a renewable source that grows quickly, removing carbon from the atmosphere in the process. It is a self-sufficient material that is transformed into their SweetFoam shoe sole.

They use recycled plastic bottles for the shoelaces, castor bean oil for the soles and their packaging is made from 90 per cent recycled cardboard.

The shoes will set you back around $95, but they have a ‘confidence in comfort’ scheme where you can trial the shoes for 30 days and if you are not happy with the product you can return them and get your money back.

The brand was founded by native New Zealander, Tim Brown. After years of research he was joined by Joey Zwillinger, an engineer and renewables expert. They have three stores located in San Francisco, New York and Toronto.

Brown voiced his concern on the impact of shoe production on the environment, he said: “Outside of the fossil fuel industry, the fashion industry is the largest contributor of carbon emissions into the environment.”

Earlier this month, Leonardo took to Twitter to provide an official statement on his investment with the brand.

Proud to be an investor in @Allbirds, a company dedicated to creating a more sustainable future by developing new materials and serving as a model for the footwear industry. Learn more: https://t.co/hmAn6cqdg5.

— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) August 1, 2018

If you want to find out more about Allbirds shoes then click here.

Read more: Leonardo DiCaprio invests in sustainable...

The new sustainable tech accessory company, Nimble, has launched this week.

The online company sell a range of wireless and portable charges starting at around $50, with more stock due to be added imminently.

The products are made from low-impact materials including fully recycled aluminium and plant-based plastics which, unlike regular tech products, have no chemical adhesives. Their fabric blends are made from 100 per cent organic hemp and recycled plastic bottles.

Their packaging is plastic-free, made out of 100 per cent recycled paper and to minimise energy usage they use a clean moulded pulp manufacturing process.

Ross Howe, Co-founder of Nimble, said: “Every day we all use technology to make our lives better, it’s in our hands, it’s on our wrists, it’s all around us but we don’t really think about the impact that has on the world. Nimble’s mission is really to demonstrate a better way forward for the tech industry.”

To ensure their products are ‘one of a kind’ they use the natural mineral crystal, mica, which creates a design where no pattern is the same.

Jon, Co-founder of Nimble, said: “We want to make sure that when our products do reach the end of their life they have a way to be recycled, re-used, repurposed versus just having it end up in a landfill.”

With every purchase you receive a pre-paid return envelope so that you can send old electronics to Nimble’s e-waste recycling partner to ensure that the product is safely recycled at no extra cost.

Kevin, Co-founder of Nimble, added: “Nimble has committed to being e-waste neutral by 2022.”

If you want to find out more about Nimble’s products click here.

Read more: New sustainable tech line launches

Tesco has re-surfaced a car park in Scotland by using plastic waste.

The supermarket chain has worked in partnership with MacRebur, a plastic road company, to re-surface the car park at the Tesco Extra at Cuckoo Bridge, Dumfries.

This saved over 900 kilograms of plastic from going to landfill. By using the waste plastic, the equivalent weight in fossil fuels has been saved from extraction. The carbon footprint has also been reduced by over a tonne.

Tony McCartney, MacRebur Plastic Road Company, said: “We’re able to take the waste plastics that are otherwise destined for landfill and add them into an asphalt mix to create a stronger, longer lasting, pothole free road surface.”

Kene Umeasiegbu, Head of Environment at Tesco, said: “We are working hard to reduce plastics and reuse and recycle wherever possible. Re-using waste plastics in this way is another example of how Tesco are innovating in the war against waste.”

Tesco have said that they will test the road surface through the winter and if successful will aim to work with MacRebur on future projects to help re-use plastic waste.

Tesco have previously led the charge in sustainable measures and were the first major retailer to remove 5p bags from its stores, resulting in the amount of single use bags sold by Tesco in the last year reducing by more than half. They also have made a pledge for all packaging to be fully recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Read more: Tesco transform recycled plastic into a car park

The swimmer has completed his gruelling 348 mile stretch across the English Channel for a sustainable cause.  

His campaign, called the Long Swim, aims to raise awareness of the threat to UK coastal waters from pollution. He has proposed a target of protecting 10 per cent of the 750,000 square kilometres of British coastal waters by 2020. His second, more ambitious, target is to fully protect 30 per cent of all oceans by 2030.

Lewis, a British-South African swimmer and a former event speaker at Climate Action’s 8th Sustainable Forum, said: “I’m undertaking my toughest swim yet, so that I can call on the British Government, and all of the governments of the world, to strengthen our ocean protection. Because doing the right thing has to start at home.”

He began the challenge on the 12th July and he finished the swim today, saying he was “relieved and exhilarated” to be finished.

Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, called Lewis a “brilliant champion for marine conservation zones.”

Mr Pugh has completed several tasks to raise awareness of clean oceans. He said: “I began swimming in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to the impact of our actions on the oceans. I saw enormous chunks of ice slide off Arctic glaciers. I swam over bleached coral killed by rising sea temperatures, and over the bones of whales hunted to the edge of extinction.”

Each year billions of tonnes of litter end up in our oceans and it is considerably more than the 250 million tonnes of rubbish generated.

Lewis took to Twitter after the swim was complete, he said: “I’ve just touched Dover harbour wall. That’s the end. 530kms in 49 days. I’ve done my bit, now it’s time for Government to do theirs. #TheLongSwim.”

To find out more about Lewis’ story click here.

Read more: Lewis Pugh completes English Channel swim to...
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