Not on your Nelly..

London has been invaded by more than 250 multicoloured elephants. The model elephants are part of a public art exhibition to raise awareness of the plight of elephants around the world. Each model, the size of an adolescent elephant, has been decorated by an artist/celebrity before they take part in a big Elephant Parade. I spotted several Nellys on my walks around the big smoke at the weekend. They are due to be auctioned off to the highest bid at Sotheby’s to raise funds for the Elephant Family charity.


Future Climate

The EU has set bold new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. According to an article in The Times, the plan to cut emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 would cost an extra £33 billion a year. Carbon taxes on petrol, heating and other emissions are likely to be introduced, with the revenue reinvested in renewable energy schemes.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of European Socialists (PES), has called for the policy to be implemented in a way that is fair. Rasmussen fears that higher energy prices and the pressures of economic restructuring will disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged people in Europe. The PES President added:

Coal-mine workers must receive training to qualify for new jobs, new green jobs need to be created, energy prices for the poorest must be reduced, regions affected by climate change need to be supported and green economic growth needs to contribute to more social justice, not to less.

Update: George Monbiot claims that The Times’ report on a bold new EU emissions targets is “gibberish”.

Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Climate Sock asks how we can keep climate change high on the social and political agenda.  

At Progress, Andrew Pakes of SERA (the Labour Party Environment Campaign) asks a similar question. He concludes that there are three big challenges ahead:

1. We need to think about how we communicate about climate change and engage the public more. Despite our best efforts climate scepticism has taken root, not least on the new Conservative parliamentary benches. Unless we can communicate better and mainstream our arguments there is a potential toxic mix between public distrust of authority and a rightwing-inspired movement of denial. We ignore this case at our peril.

2. Tackling climate change has to be more about the effective state than the Big Society. The driving force of this new coalition is an assault on the state as we know it and a critique on government intervention. Tackling climate change and making the transition to a low carbon economy, however, requires government action and intervention perhaps more than any other issue at the present time. But we need to make that case effectively.

3. Think global, act local. Sometimes the old slogans are still the best. The international action required to shape global opinion requires a government committed to a proactive approach in Europe and fairness between developed and developing nations. But global ideas were not our problem. Our failure was that too often we became distant from local action and trapped in the prism of government. Moving forward we need to invest in our local roots and work better with other progressive groups and movements.

Green Five

Caroline Lucas – gives an alternative Queen’s speech. Make sure to click the tinyurl at the bottom to see more of the Green MP on the Channel Four website.

Business Green – on India’s plans to to introduce a renewable energy certificate (REC) scheme to encourage investment in low-carbon projects.

George W. Bush – at the American Wind Energy Association’s conference talks about the US energy transition.

The Economist – on the biggest conservation deal in history.

And finally the Guardian’s Adam Vaughan warns that despite the success in halting a third runway at Heathrow, the regional airports have plans to expand.

Laws to "Cut With Care"

More than £240m of cuts will be made to the two environmental departments in Whitehall – the Department for Environment and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

David Laws, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced that there will also be cuts of around £3m to the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC).

Recycling Bins

Right-wing blogger Dizzy Thinks tells us about a conversation his wife had with the local council regarding getting a bigger recycling bin. It starts with:

Mrs Dizzy: Hi, is that the Refuse Department?
Council: Yes
Mrs D: Look, you collect my recycling every other week and my ordinary black bin rubbish every other week, right?
Council: Yes
Mrs D: Well the thing is, I fill the recycling wheelie bin up within a week and then have to take the rest to tip because you don’t take extra bags. The tip guys just tell me, because it’s mixed recycling, to chuck it in the “Cannot be recycled” bin. So I was wondering, can I get a larger wheelie bin for my recycling?
Council: You can but you need to prove you’re recycling more than will fit in the bin.
Mrs D: Errrr OK.
Council: If I can take your number, I will get one of our recycling officers to call you and visit your house the day before your bins are collected to confirm you need a bigger bin.
Mrs D: But that means I will be keeping lots of bags loose for a week and they’ll get ripped open by foxes.
Council: I’m afraid this is the process for getting a larger bin, we have to inspect you to check that you really need it.
Mrs D: So you mean I have to take a day off work and wait for your inspector to come round and check inside my bin and decide whether it is overflowing enough?

You can see the outcome of Mrs Dizzy versus the local council Refuse Department here. Yes, it’s been a slow news day!

Oil: A N00bs Guide

The vast majority of people who have been tracking the BP oil disaster by watching television news or reading online/newspaper commentaries will admit that it has been a tricky story to follow. It has now been four weeks since the pipe burst in the Gulf of Mexico. And yet only now is the truth starting to emerge. It is still very much a “live” story.

To their credit, the people over at The Oil Drum have recognised the need to put together some sort of  “beginners guide” feature on the Oil Spill. They have also given a background on related issues including the supply and demand of oil during turbulent financial times, peak oil theories and energy alternatives to the “black stuff”. Well worth a read.