Why the UK could soon face recycling chaos

9941576975_eabcc2a873_kIn 2013, China sent shock waves through the recycling world in the west by launching Operation Green Fence, a campaign that rejected at least 800,000 tonnes of substandard recyclable waste imports and withdrew 247 import licenses. This focused minds in the UK, because we have grown dependent on exports of low quality recyclate, which our producer responsibility system accidentally encourages. Unfortunately, no lasting action was taken to fix the problem, and now things look set to get much worse. Read more

How to get the best possible outcome from Brexit on energy and climate

3138873270_ab77a9eacf_bThis post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

At 11am, on 14 July 2017, eight per cent of UK’s total electricity demand was generated by offshore wind, more than any other country in the world. Proactive policy and industrial innovation have crafted the UK’s success story on offshore wind but another significant part of the story has been the lending from the European Investment Bank (EIB) that has accelerated the sector’s growth. Roughly £2.6 billion has been invested in wind farms and transmission networks since 2012, part of an overall £8 billion investment in energy infrastructure in the UK. As we leave the EU, cheap EIB loans will not flow as easily, raising concerns about the future growth of our renewable energy industry. It is, therefore, critical that we negotiate to be a major shareholder and benefactor of the EIB and the other European investment bodies that support innovation and growth in low carbon technology. Read more

How smart is the government’s smart power strategy?

UK Solar Energy Panel on Sunny RoofThe government’s smart power strategy, Upgrading our energy system, unveiled yesterday, is the ultimate under the radar approach. It contains 29 deeply technocratic changes (such as “developing a Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) modification, P344”), which are combined seamlessly with the neutered language of “removing barriers” and “making markets work”. It looks boring. But don’t be fooled: if it works, this strategy will deliver radical change. But this is a big if. Read more

A green Brexit?

5469476825_0d0df886db_bThe fact that the summer of 2017 is turning out to be one of the hottest on record was not apparent in WWF’s Living Planet Centre today as Michael Gove set out his first public speech on the environment since becoming secretary of state. As one of the most energy efficient buildings in Europe, heat pumps are engaged to transport cooler air from underground whilst window features reflect sunlight in summer to prevent excess heat. A perfect atmosphere for delivering a much anticipated speech.

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A border won’t be enough to control fish – only co-operation can

6926612069_923fe1576c_bThis post is by Griffin Carpenter, senior researcher at the New Economics Foundation.

Michael Gove has purportedly shown us what ‘taking back control’ really means, by drawing a 12-mile line around the UK for exclusive fishing access for British vessels. Now he has his sights set on an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 miles (or the median line). On a map, this looks like a win for British influence in the world, reminiscent of times past and conquering new territory. But the nature of influence and the transboundary movements of those pesky fish mean that this drive to etch battle lines has the notion of control completely backwards. Real control requires co-operation and shared management. Unfortunately, the idea of control offered by the most buccaneering Brexiteers does not seem to involve much co-operation at all. Read more

Will the Withdrawal Bill work for the environment?

Early morning London:  Houses of Parliament, Westminster BridgeThough the triggering of Article 50 occurred just over 100 days ago, it has felt like the Great Repeal Bill has been coming for a lot longer. And this is the first big change we will have to make: the Great Repeal Bill is no more. As it passes through parliament it will now be known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. A title not quite as eye-catching but a lot more practical, and possibly an early indication of the government’s new approach. Read more

Will Brexit break down or expand the new approaches that have been improving our rivers?

4725930223_ff9367f2fa_b - CopyThis post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at WWT.

Every stretch of river has its own character. Here are a few of the personalities I’ve got to know over the years:

  • Beverley Brook – small, beautiful, prone to outbursts; a Richmond river with a film star name
  • Byron’s Pool – tranquil, romantic, deep and surrounded by wildlife (but no bears)
  • Thames at Lechlade – the first point where Old Father Thames gives a hint of his power
  • The Severn Estuary – the last point of the UK’s longest river; a famous bore

Each has its own charms and needs. It’s this diversity that can help to inspire communities to love and protect their rivers and it’s the reason why every portion of every river needs to be given its own care. The attention that will calm the bursting banks of Beverley Brook might be a drop in the ocean elsewhere.

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Island nations mustn’t pay the price for Trump’s stance on climate change

Tropical caribbean island in open oceanThis post is by Matthew Perks, CEO of New Energy Events LLC, the organisers of the annual Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF). which will take place in Miami from 18-20 October, 2017.

A little over a month ago, on 1 June 2017, the day that Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, the New York Times speculated that the impact of the withdrawal would be determined by the global response to the decision. Read more

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