Displaying items by tag: Environment
Investment into expanding sewage treatment works by Thames Water falls far short of what is needed to stop raw sewage discharges into rivers, according to a campaign group who analysed 106 treatment works from the Chilterns into the Cotswolds. A treatment works is where wastewater is stored and treated, before being released to the environment. The research suggested three-quarters of the works examined did not have enough capacity to cope with the amount of wastewater from the population, and therefore increases the likelihood of raw sewage being released to the environment. Investment plans for 2020 to 2025 by Thames Water involved only 15 of 83 works in the area which needed their capacity increased now, or in two years. The expansion of a sixteenth treatment works in the area has been cancelled. Pray for an end to appalling stewardship of assets that were privatised a third of a century ago.
Farmers in England will be paid more public money for protecting the environment and producing food more sustainably, the Government has said. It is hoped the increase in payment rates will encourage more farmers to sign up to new environmental land management schemes that are designed to replace the EU's common agricultural policy. The Farmers' Union welcomed the rise but warned it could be ‘too little, too late’ in the current economic climate. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the new system would put money into farmers' pockets while enhancing nature and driving innovation in agriculture. The announcement comes amid rises in the cost of food production, with farmers hit particularly hard by increases in the cost of animal feed, fertilisers, and fuel. The increased rates under ELMS will come from existing money, reallocated from the previous direct payment subsidies given to farmers under the EU scheme.
Ailish Campbell, Canada's ambassador to the EU,said its proposed rules to curb deforestation add ‘burdensome’ requirements and will hurt trade between Canada and the EU. The rules aim to limit the trade of products linked to deforestation worldwide. Climate campaigners have called Canada's resistance to the rules shocking. In a letter to the EU, Ms Campbell says Canada supports the objectives of the proposed deforestation regulation, but is greatly concerned that some elements will cause trade barriers for Canadian exporters. She asks for several revisions to the regulation, including providing a delay and a clearer definition for what falls under forest ‘degradation’ - a practice that climate advocates say is widely seen in Canada. In March, over 90 scientists penned an open letter to prime minister Trudeau outlining concerns about the rate of industrial logging in old-growth forests, which they said had ‘unique and irreplaceable ecological values’.
Christian climate activists have been protesting at Church House, Westminster, to highlight the Church of England's strategy of continuing to invest in fossil fuels. They also left handprints of fake blood and oil on the walls of offices of BAE Systems, Britain's arms manufacturer, to protest against their policy of supplying weaponry to conflicts; this increases the vulnerability of people living on the front lines of climate change. These actions follow the conclusion of COP27, which is being widely criticised for the presence of representatives from oil and gas companies. The activists believe the Church should show moral leadership in rejecting profits from investments in companies that continue to fuel climate suffering. Also, behind government decisions to double down on fossil fuel development (sign off new oil exploration licences and allow big energy companies to rake in record profits) lies a network of companies and organisations which are profiting from this destructive path.
Luke-warm applause met a historic moment when a ‘loss and damage fund’ was agreed in the early hours of 20 November 20 after a confusing and often chaotic 48 hours left delegates exhausted. This fund will see developed nations paying poorer countries for damage and economic losses caused by climate change, ending almost thirty years of waiting by poorer nations experiencing huge climate impacts. But there was disappointment over the lack of progress on cutting fossil fuels. ‘A clear commitment to phase-out all fossil fuels? Not in this text,’ said the UK's president of the Glasgow COP26 summit. The final overarching deal did not include commitments to ‘phase down’ or reduce use of fossil fuels. It also included ambiguous new languages about ‘low emissions energy’ - which experts say could open the door to some fossil fuels being considered part of a green energy future.
A prolonged dry spell and record-breaking temperatures have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs, and dried-out soils. Environment secretary George Eustice has urged more firms to take action to mitigate the effects of the prolonged dry weather. But each water company has different thresholds and demands, so we might not see a UK-wide ban. Sir Robert Goodwill, chairman of the environment, food and rural affairs select committee said, ‘It costs water companies money to impose a hosepipe ban and I suspect they have held off longer than they would have done twenty years ago when most people were unmetered and just paid their water rate.’ His comments come as the UK prepares to declare a drought. Water UK say that climate change and an increasing population mean there could be water shortages by 2050. On 10 August Thames Water sent water tankers to residents in the first place in Britain to run dry when Stokenchurch reservoir was found to contain E.coli.
Last week's wildfires across London showed lessons learned tackling rural blazes must urgently be applied to built-up areas after grass fires spread to forty houses and shops nearby. Prolonged dry weather parching gardens, verges and green spaces followed by temperatures of 40C sparked blazes normally seen in the countryside. 500 wildfires have been reported so far this year, compared with 237 last year. The group commander for Hereford and Worcester Fire Service said, ‘Everything is bone-dry and services need to recognise the risk they've now got. If they don't, then they're naïve. There are very urban services that think wildfires are low down on the risk list. I understand their need to prioritise resources, but there must be a review.’ A 2021 risk assessment report for the government found that two out of eight fire services made no reference to wildfires in their risk management plans.
It is not too late to avert the climate crisis from becoming even more deadly – but the window is closing. Across western Europe high temperature records are being obliterated; some had been set during the heatwave in 2003 that left tens of thousands dead. Raging wildfires are displacing thousands of people, one of the many compounding impacts of the climate crisis. This heatwave is another reminder that we have already reached unsafe levels of global heating. As our planet warms, heatwaves will become more frequent and more intense. In fact, we may look back on these years as some of the coolest, compared with what will come if we do not act now. Human life will encounter life-threatening impacts with increasing frequency and mounting consequences. Countless scientific reports have been conveying this reality for decades.
Hunger is stalking the world. In 2017 the UN vowed to eradicate it by 2030. Yet the number of people affected globally reached 828 million last year, and an unprecedented 345 million are currently experiencing acute food insecurity. Since May 2020 there has been a 55% increase in the food price index. The head of the World Food Programme said, ‘We thought it could not get any worse’ - but the Ukraine war has worsened freight and fertiliser costs due to rising fuel prices, and has blocked ports. Ukraine and Russia previously accounted for almost one-third of global wheat exports. Many middle-income countries have spent large parts of their reserves due to the pandemic. Even in wealthier countries, more parents are going hungry to feed their children. In low-income countries rising prices are deadly. Around 2.3 billion people face moderate or severe difficulty obtaining enough to eat, which could result in social unrest and political violence.
From the romantic poets to Sir David Attenborough’s research, Britain has a reputation for being a nation of nature lovers. But citizens of this green and pleasant land are ranked bottom of fourteen European nations measured for their ‘nature connectedness’, according to a new study. This is a psychological concept which measures the closeness of an individual’s relationship with other species and the wild world. Studies have found that people with a high level of nature connectedness enjoy better mental health and are more likely to act in environmentally friendly ways. Britain. which has lost more wildlife than any other G7 country, has been shown to be one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet. Professor Miles Richardson, the lead author of the study, is asking the UN to adopt the concept of nature connectedness as a sustainable target, with 17 sustainable development goals focused on issues for people or for nature.