Tag Archives: Environment

Low carbon UK: EU membership has put us in the driving seat of the electric vehicle industry

leaf4This post is by Bryn Kewley & Peter Clutton-Brock of E3G.

From an unassuming factory in Sunderland, the UK is leading the EU market in electric vehicles. It’s a market which is expected to grow quickly, with Norway already consulting on an outright ban on the sale of fossil fuel cars. Read more

Why the IN campaign is bringing out the big (green) guns

which way now? Two little owls on an old farm gateThe Prime Minister’s latest intervention in the EU referendum campaign illustrates how the environment is taking its place in the modern political canon. Speaking from the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes nature reserve, Cameron noted how our EU membership underpins crucial environmental protections, and talked about the importance of nurturing Britain’s countryside and wildlife. At the same time, his speech, if not his words, demonstrated that environmentalists are important too.

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Being in the EU gives us greater power over our environment

countryside.jpgThis is an edited version of an article that features in the latest issue of Green Alliance’s journal Inside Track which focuses on the environmental case for staying in the EU.

Lord Deben is chair of the Committee on Climate Change. He was secretary of state for the environment, 1993-97, and minister for agriculture, fisheries and food, 1989-93.

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One of the best things an environmentalist can do: get on a plane

Plane landing by sunriseThis post is by Brendan May, chairman of The Robertsbridge Group.

Some years ago, Prince Charles got into trouble for accepting an environment award overseas. ‘But he flew!’, they cried. Since then, from what I can tell, HRH has had to resort largely to pre-recorded video pieces or appearing as a hologram at non-British environmental summits. Mercifully, he adds as much sustainability work onto his official state visits as he can. Having seen first hand what his interventions can do to get a green cause moving (sustainable seafood, in my case) I was sufficiently irritated by the furore to write to one of the newspapers that covered the story. I argued that the Prince and others who spend most of their waking hours trying to stop business and government wrecking the planet should not just be entitled to travel the world but have an obligation to do so, building global traction for sustainability efforts. Read more

The coalition has lost its momentum as a reforming government seeking to be green

torylibdemcoalitionThis post also appears in the current edition of Utility Week.

I was having dinner with a former US colleague when I realised how far UK leadership on the environment had weakened. I used to feel pity for US environmentalists, and now I felt a twinge of envy. She described the meticulous preparation of the Obama’s team before its recent announcements on climate change, the rallying of movers and shakers to back up the White House push, and I was reminded of how effective political leadership could be in forging a new policy direction. It seemed impossible a year ago that the US would give up on its high carbon ways and now it seems normal that it is regulating against new coal power plants, the biggest point source of carbon. Read more

Reasons to be cheerful

virunga national parkUnlike most people working on environmental issues, I spend most of my time finding and telling good news stories. When not editing the Green Alliance blog, I work on earthrise, an environmental TV show on Al Jazeera English that features promising solutions to environmental problems.

While I think we need to be realistic about the scale of the challenge, evidence suggests that there’s no quicker way to turn off your audience (whether they’re sitting on a sofa or in parliament) than being a full time purveyor of bad news.

So to lighten up your Friday afternoon, I thought I’d give you three reasons to be cheerful, gleaned from my experiences on earthrise. Read more

The circular economy: big in Japan

12481442_sThis post is by Jonny Hazell, policy assistant on our Resource Stewardship theme.

When it comes to the ways in which stuff is made, consumed, and disposed of, there’s a lot the UK could learn from Japan.

Japanese recycling rates are extraordinary:  98 per cent for metals for example and, in 2007, just five per cent of Japan’s waste ended up in a hole in the ground, compared with 48 per cent for the UK in 2008. Japan’s appliance recycling laws ensure the great majority of electrical and electronic products are recycled, compared with 30-40 per cent here.  Of these appliances, 74-89 per cent of the materials they contain are recovered. Perhaps more significantly, many of these materials go back into the manufacture of the same type of products from which they were reclaimed . This is the ‘closed-loop’ holy grail of recycling essential for a truly circular economy.

So how has Japan managed it and can we do it too? Read more

Which raw materials pose the biggest business risk?

Oil Field in Desert, Oil ProductionI wrote about Chatham House’s report on resource futures last month, which provides a detailed and comprehensive look at how underlying environmental stress contributes to material insecurity.

Green Alliance’s contention is that addressing material insecurity means tackling the underlying environmental stresses causing it, through the development of a circular economy. But as I said last month, there isn’t yet a plan to encourage a circular economy. To develop one, we need to understand where circular systems make the most sense. Read more

Security tips, ministers ‘gagging for it’ and the end of a barren consensus

Alastair Harper is Green Alliance’s senior policy adviser on Political Leadership and  roving party conference diarist.

This is his final diary posting from the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, first published on Business Green.

Well, thank God that’s over with. Three lanyards now dangle from the side of my monitor like campaign medals. It’s lucky we’re largely a three party system. One more of these things and I’d have developed trench foot.

I’m home for good. Home for the last few days has been a hotel in an industrial part of Birmingham two miles from the secure zone. In the lift, there was an advert for an upcoming Roy Chubby Brown tribute night. This, it is fair to say, was not the prime minister’s hotel.

Anyway, with it all done, I thought I’d use this final diary to list some of the things I’ve learned from this party conference season – Read more

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