Environmental News - Summer 2013

Imported goods push UK’s carbon footprint up 10%

The UK’s carbon footprint has grown by at least 10% over the past 20 years, as rising levels of imports have seen embodied CO2 emissions far outstrip domestic savings, according to the committee on climate change (CCC).
In its latest report, the committee reveals that, although greenhouse gas emissions produced in the UK have fallen by 19% since 1993, those generated overseas from making goods and services have increased by 40%.
With the UK ranked as one of the biggest net importers of carbon in the world, the CCC concludes that international action to curb global emissions is ‘essential’ if the government is to successfully meet its overall carbon ambitions.
“Clearly we need to reduce imported emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive at the CCC. “This report highlights the fundamental need to reduce global emissions in order to achieve climate objectives, and to do this we need a new global deal.”
One proposal is taxes linked to products’ embodied carbon and setting legally binding standards for the carbon-intensity of goods to help drive down global emissions.
Dr Alan Knight, sustainability director at Business in the Community (BITC), said the report illustrates the need to revolutionise business models.
“Businesses need to move away from incremental changes – such as cutting their carbon footprint by 4% - to asking if they have done enough in their business model to make it possible that by 2050 nine billion people on the planet will be enjoying high-quality lives,” he said.
According to Knight, business will need to increasingly focus on consumption trends. “A thriving one-planet economy needs new products and services, but also consumers’ lifestyles will need to change,” he said. “One of the conversations businesses should be having with their customers is to help ensure their products are truly sustainable. A firm can sell certified sustainable fish, but if consumers buy three fish and throw away two, that’s still an unsustainable habit.”
BITC is working with Marks and Spencer, IBM and others to promote sustainable lifestyles.


New regulations that should be considered for inclusion in the Register of Regulations:


New regulations that should be considered for inclusion in the Register of Regulations:
1 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Amendment) (England) Order 2013
2 The Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (England)

(Amendment) Regulations 2013


Bee Ban Blast

The UK’s refusal to back an EU ban on insecticides linked to declining bee numbers has been slammed by the parliamentary environmental audit committee (EAC).
In a report examining DEFRA’s approach to protecting pollinating insects, the EAC concludes that the department has allowed economic considerations to influence its decision not to support a European ban of three neonicotinoid pesticides on crops attractive to bees.
The committee warns that DEFRA’s interpretation of the precautionary principle has caused economic factors – such as the impact of the ban on the agriculture sector – to become “entangled with environmental decisions making.”
After the report was published, the European Commission confirmed that a two-year moratorium on the pesticides would come into effect from December 1st 2013, despite the UK and 11 other member states resisting the ban.


Extracts from ‘The Environmentalist’- May 2013


Bhutan plans to become the world’s first country to turn its agriculture completely organic. It will ban the sale of pesticides and fertilisers, relying instead on the healthy ecosystems of its farms and on farm waste. Contrary to World Bank estimations, Bhutan aims to increase its agricultural output, exporting high-quality niche foods to India and China.

Bhutan is already the world’s best example of sustainable development : 95% of the population has clean water and electricity, 80% of the country is forested, and it is both carbon neutral and food secure.

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