Friday, March 02, 2018

Beautiful World

Full audio on iTunes or here.
You didn't expect that song, did you? That song is Goodbye Beautiful World by Michael Anzilotti. I'll play it in full at the end of this episode. But yes, for the moment this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 2nd March with me Anthony Day. Thank you for waiting, as they say in all the best supermarket queues.
Converting the report from weekly to monthly means that so much more information builds up that it's difficult to make a choice. Anyway the first thing I must do is to welcome my latest patron: Per-Mattias Nordkvist from Stockholm in Sweden. Welcome!
This time
This time I'm going to talk about rubbish, about free solar panels and batteries and cars in space. About growing food in the desert, about Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, and agricultural standards after Brexit. About who’s getting pressure from Greenpeace and who’s giving pressure to Avaaz, another campaigning group. There are straws in the wind - plastic ones - more in some places than others. Then there’s books I’ve been reading, and you should too! Can we have a good life for all? The British government has lost a legal action for its lack of action on air quality - for the third time - and finally non-native species are not always what they seem.
There, I told you it was a lot. 
Messages from Sweden
Let’s go back to Patron Per-Mattias Nordkvist from Stockholm. He says, “One subject I'm interested in but that is hard to report on is "moonshot"-missions. Can we equip 1 million homes here in Sweden with solar panels over 10 years? Sort of what Norway is doing with electric cars. I'm interested in countries or organisations that are raising the stakes. Aiming higher.”
Well, my newspaper quotes Eurostat and Imperial College and reports that Sweden is way ahead of other European countries in exploiting energy from renewable sources. Figures show that in 2016 renewables delivered 53.8% of that nation’s energy compared with the U.K.'s 9.3%. It's interesting that the other countries up at the top of the table like Finland and Latvia with nearly 40% are by no means the sunniest countries in Europe, but maybe they get their energy from wind. Italy, Spain, France, and Greece were all well below 20%. Could do better! Incidentally it would be worth looking at the the original figures to check whether it is correct to say that we're talking about percentages of energy, and not percentages of electricity which is only part of the energy mix.
Climate Action reports that Sweden is on course to build Europe’s largest battery cell plant. They say:
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has recently approved a loan that will help a Swedish company build an innovative battery factory.
€52.5 million ($68 million) was approved by the bank this month to help get the project off the ground; construction is expected in the next few months in the city of Västerås in central Sweden.
The company behind the project, Northvolt, was only established in 2016 as the brainchild of former Tesla employee Peter Carlsson. Now the CEO, he sees a strong future for the technology: ‘Europe is moving rapidly towards electrification. Northvolt’s objective is to build the world’s greenest battery to enable the transition. With the support from the European Investment Bank and the European Union, we are now one step closer to establishing a competitive European battery manufacturing value chain’, he said.”

And talking of Tesla, my son has just sent me a news report from Australia. Elon Musk, he of Space-X and the Tesla electric car company, has announced that he will give free solar panels and Tesla Powerwalls (batteries) to 50,000 homeowners in South Australia. The deal is that he sells the electricity to the homeowners for about 30% less than they are currently paying, he links all the systems together to make a virtual power station and he sells the surplus electricity to recoup his costs.
Maybe Sweden should give him a call, although it sounds as though they are doing pretty well without him.
You’ve got to admire Elon Musk. Well I do, anyway. He’s a South African-born Canadian American inventor and entrepreneur. He made his money as one of the founders of PayPal, which was sold to eBay for $1.5bn. His Tesla electric car is sold all over the world, and you’ve probably seen that there’s now one out there in space. The Space-X company wanted to demonstrate the capabilities of its heavy rocket and used a Tesla car as part of the payload. Of course some people have said that sending up this vehicle complete with dummy astronaut in the driving seat is shameless grandstanding and polluting space. On the other hand, two out of the three boosters which lifted the rocket into space returned to earth and landed precisely where they were expected, ready to be used again. Full marks to Musk for recycling!
His ultimate objective is to colonise Mars so that the human race does not become extinct. At the same time he's doing everything he can to promote renewable energy to mitigate global warming and climate change.
This Next Bit’s Rubbish
We've been sending used plastic for recycling to China for years. About half a million tonnes per year from the UK alone which, given that plastic is pretty light, is an awful lot of plastic. There were signs back as far as 2008 that China might not continue to accept all this waste and from the beginning of this year they have imposed a ban. There is no capacity in the UK to recycle all this extra material so much of it will have to be burnt, as far as incinerators have the capacity and the rest will go to landfill. Costs of waste disposal paid by local councils will go up. It's ironic that in the past I have criticised councils for entering into contracts with incinerator companies which have obliged them to divert materials from recycling so that they can supply a waste stream of sufficient calorific value to these incinerators. It looks as though that problem will be solved, although it's far from an ideal solution. And there is the risk that we will see more and more fly tipping until domestic recycling capacity is increased. And that won't happen overnight!
What is the British government doing about this?
When asked recently, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, said: “I don’t know what impact it will have. It is ... something to which – I will be completely honest – I have not given it sufficient thought.” Of course Prime Minister Theresa May made that speech that I reported on last time, when she said the government was committed to working to a target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by end of 2042. And we always accuse governments of short-termism!

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his budget that he would "investigate how the tax system and charges on single-use plastic items can reduce waste”.
Three months on, the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, has called on Philip Hammond for answers. A HM Treasury spokesman said: "We're fully committed to reducing the use of harmful single-use plastics - and the damage they cause to the world's oceans and wildlife.
"Our call for evidence - launching shortly - will build on Britain's world-leading ban on microbeads and plastic bag charge, forming a major part of the Government's 25-year environment plan.”

Which means that so far, three months on, nothing has been done.
Royal Progress
Others are not so dilatory. It’s reported that Her Majesty the Queen is banning plastic drinking straws and plastic bottles from the Royal Estate. Worryingly, it’s also reported that purchases of plastic drinking straws by the caterers at the Houses of Parliament are higher then ever. Good news though, from London City Airport. They claim to be the first UK airport to be phasing out plastic straws. What next? Maybe they could cut CO2 pollution by phasing out aircraft!

A Red, White and Blue - and Green - Brexit
Speaking recently to farmers, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove reiterated his desire to "occupy the high ground" on green standards after Brexit. In the same week  Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has a very wide interpretation of his brief, insisted that any Brexit deal should provide the UK with the freedom to change environmental rules, energy efficiency standards, and energy taxes if it wanted to. 
Maybe he is anticipating ISDS, Investor-State Dispute Settlement. This is a system already incorporated in some 3,000 trade and investment agreements across the world and operated by the World Bank. It allows corporations to sue a government for compensation if the actions of that government have limited the corporation’s profits. For example, the Spanish government was sued by organisations ranging from the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund to German municipalities and a US brokerage firm for suspending renewable energy subsidies worth €6.5 billion in 2014. In other words corporations are able to penalise governments which bring in legislation for the protection of their citizens. If the UK concludes new trading deals with United States, a country very active in this area, who’s to say that ISDS won't be a condition of these deals, therefore giving the corporations the power to overturn the British government’s environmental regulations. And environmental regulations may only be the start of it.
[see The Corruption of Capitalism, Guy Standing, Biteback Publishing 2017]
Farming in the Desert
A while ago I reviewed the book called “Let there be Water” by Seth M Siegel. It was about how Israel manages its very scarce water resources and is able to support agriculture by the use of techniques including desalination, trickle irrigation and re-processed sewage. In Australia Sun Drop Farms go much further than that. This is what they say on their website:
“If you are a traditional farmer, you’ll need water and energy to grow your produce. And you’ll need lots of it.
The challenge is that they are finite resources that are becoming ever scarcer. Our solution? Not to use them!
We don’t extract groundwater from the planet at unsustainable rates. We don’t rely on fossil fuels. And we don’t use soil or valuable farmlands.
Instead we’ve developed technologies that integrate solar power, electricity generation, fresh water production and hydroponics. It produces an equivalent quantity of food to that grown using traditional methods, but the quality is significantly better.

“We use the sun’s energy to produce freshwater for irrigation. And we turn it into electricity to power our greenhouse to heat and cool our crops.
Our ventilation also uses seawater to help cool the greenhouses, and we re-use water again and again.”

Growing crops in greenhouses means that pests can be excluded and so there is no need for pesticides. Using hydroponics means there is nowhere for weeds to grow so there is no need for herbicides. This means that the food is not affected by unnecessary chemicals and the farmer saves the cost both of buying and applying such treatments.
There are many advantages to this sort of agriculture. It’s suitable for salads and for some types of fruit. It's not suitable for pulses and cereals which are still the main staple foods of the majority of the world’s population.

Herbicides Again!
Talking of herbicides, one of the world’s most successful products is Monsanto’s glyphosate, also branded as Roundup. 

This week I had a message from Avaaz, an international campaigning group. This is what it says:

“We've just been hit with a 168-page court subpoena from Monsanto.
We have only days to respond, and it "commands" us to hand over every private email, note, or record we have regarding Monsanto, including the names and email addresses of Avaazers who have signed Monsanto campaigns!!
This is big. They're a $50 billion mega-corporation, infamous for legal strong-arm tactics like this. They have unlimited resources. If they get their hands on all our private information, there's no telling what they'll use it for. 
So we're going to fight this. Because Monsanto may have unlimited resources to intimidate, but Avaaz has unlimited people power, and our members just aren't afraid.
Our deadline to respond to the subpoena is just days away -- donate to help defend our movement, and let's send Monsanto a message -- every time they come at us, they'll only make us stronger.”
Avaaz has successfully campaigned against Monsanto and the renewal of approval of glyphosate in some countries. The product has advantages. The main one is that it eradicates weeds so crops can be planted that will grow without competition from weeds. Because it kills the whole plant down to the roots it is not necessary to plough the land, preserving soil structure and avoiding the use of agricultural machinery which uses fossil fuel and emits CO2.
On the other side, the destruction of all plant life apart from the crop destroys the habitat of many insects, invertebrates, animals and birds. There are suggestions that the product is carcinogenic. Read Monsanto’s website and read and make up your own mind.
Some years ago Monsanto got a very bloody nose over GM foods. The way they approached their introduction to Europe led to angry reactions and the ban on GM foods in the EU. Clearly that had financial consequences and they want to avoid a similar episode with glyphosate. The way they are approaching Avaaz sounds sinister, however. As the message says, why do they want everybody's details? Are they planning a class action against anyone who has ever taken issue with them or their products? I am very concerned that a campaigning organisation such as Avaaz could be forced to give up its mailing list. Certainly this seems to fly in the face of data protection laws which appear to be becoming more onerous by the day. Watch this space. It is an example of corporate power. Like ISDS.    
Clean Air
In other activist news, Greenpeace contacted me the other day to complain that the UK's air pollution limit for the whole year had now been reached. They went on, “It's now the 8th straight year this has happened in the very first month – and scientists say diesel is the reason why. To end this cycle, we're taking on a car giant with the power to move the entire industry away from diesel for good. And to win it's going to take every single one of us.” 
They are urging VW to abandon diesel and concentrate on electric cars.
If you want to support their campaign  is the place to go. It’s not very obvious on their website, but there’s a specific link on my blog at
Legal Atmosphere
I’ve reported several times on the actions of Client Earth, a group of environmental lawyers who have repeatedly challenged the British government in the courts over its failure to take adequate action to deal with atmospheric pollution. This week they won their third case.  
ClientEarth made legal history after a High Court judge ruled that the court should have effective oversight of the UK government’s next air pollution plans.
It means, for the first time ever, that ClientEarth can immediately bring the government back to court if it prepares a plan which is unlawful.
This move, which means the environmental lawyers will not need to apply for permission to bring judicial review, was described by the judge as “wholly exceptional”.
The government has subsequently said that it will not appeal against the judgement. We must hope that it will follow it.
Clean Air Parents’ Network
Meanwhile ClientEarth and the British Lung Foundation are launching a new Clean Air Parents’ Network, set up for concerned parents across the country who want to help solve the UK’s air pollution crisis.
 Dealing the US Out (or In)
The EU has announced that it will only make trade deals with nations that ratify the Paris climate agreement. An obvious conclusion is that the United States would be excluded.
Of course that won’t worry the UK as we’re leaving the EU. When I say leaving, we’re leaving the customs union according to the government, which gives us freedom to make our own deals. But as of this week we’re not leaving the customs union according to the opposition and not according to a large number of members of the governing Conservative Party. If we do leave we will be able to make our own trade deals with whoever we like whether they are in the Paris Agreement or not. At least we’ll be able to do that after the end of the transition period, which may last two years, or may last 20 months or longer, or not at all. Unless the opposition and dissident Conservatives gang up on the government. There’s every chance that that will happen before the next edition of the Sustainable Futures Report. Watch this space.
The UK thrives on positive leadership. I really wish we had some.

A Good Life for all within the planet’s means
A study led by the School of Earth & Environment has found that no country currently meets its citizens’ basic needs at a globally sustainable level of resource use. The research, published in Nature Sustainability, is the first to quantify the sustainability of national resource use associated with meeting basic human needs for 151 countries. Each country’s resource use and well-being achievements have been made available as a website built by the academics involved in the study.
Lead author, Dr Daniel O’Neill, from the Sustainability Research Institute at Leeds, said: “Almost everything we do, from having dinner to surfing the Internet, uses resources in some way, but the connections between resource use and human well-being are not always visible to us.
“We examined international relationships between the sustainability of resource use and the achievement of social goals, and found that basic needs, such as nutrition, sanitation, and the elimination of extreme poverty, could most likely be achieved in all countries without exceeding global environmental limits.
“Unfortunately, the same is not true for other social goals that go beyond basic subsistence such as secondary education and high life satisfaction. Meeting these goals could require a level of resource use that is two to six times the sustainable level.”
You can read more via the link on the blog at .

And finally…
As the climate changes plants, animals and fish are moving to areas where they were not previously found. Examples of this in the UK are Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam, both of which choke waterways and suppress native plants and are extremely difficult to eradicate. As an beekeeper I love Himalayan Balsam because it makes very nice honey, but I am very concerned about the Asian hornet. This insect eats honey bees and a swarm of Asian Hornets can rapidly wipe out a whole hive. 
It was reported last week that a farmer near Aberdeen in Scotland was concerned that a non-native mammal had invaded his land. He called the police and told them that he thought that he’d seen a tiger. The  police asked all the local zoos to check whether they had lost a tiger and they sent an armed response unit. They cornered the suspect in a barn and discovered it was a very large cuddly toy. 
Hey Ho, better safe than sorry.
And that's it 
for a another episode of Sustainable Futures Report. Thanks for listening, and if you are, thanks for being a patron and if you're not: have a look at The next episode will be on Friday 6 April, a very important day for all UK taxpayers. I haven’t covered those books I’ve been reading and this episode is already significantly longer than normal. Watch out next time.
We’re making good progress on setting up The Smart Sustainable Cities Convention. It will be held in Leeds and we’re inviting speakers and delegates from all over Europe. We will have a very special deal for local government officers, councillors and city officials when registration opens later this year. For the moment, put 21st March 2019 in your diary and hop across to and sign up for further information.  
I'm Anthony Day and before I go I promised to let you hear that song, Goodbye Beautiful World. I'm going to play it in full in a moment. That's my normal jingle in the background because I didn't want to talk across the song.
Goodbye Beautiful World was written by Songwriter - Michael Anzilotti, with
Vocals - Colleen Heauser 
Piano - Jaime Morante
Guitar - Michael Anzilotti
Background Vocals - Matt Pacini, Michael Anzilotti…
…and the Dobro & Pedal Steel Guitar is played by Pete Grant - “Pete is the only one of us with any real fame”, says Michael, “he recorded a lot with the Grateful Dead (while not an official member he was playing with them before they were actually the Grateful Dead, very close friend with Jerry Garcia, etc) as well as recording and playing with lots of other well known artists like Crosby, Stills and Nash, etc. 
Michael is looking for someone to work on a video of this song with him, so if that could be you, mail him at That address is on the blog at

So here we are - Goodbye Beautiful World. All I’ll say is it doesn’t have to be goodbye. We haven’t all given up yet.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Manifesto 2018

Here we are back again - finally.
Yes it's Friday. It's 2nd February and here is the first episode of the Sustainable Futures Report  for 2018.
I'm Anthony Day. 
Welcome to my podcast, welcome to my patrons, and a special welcome to Catherine Weetman of Rethink Solutions, my latest patron. Thanks for your support, Catherine.
As promised, this episode will be my manifesto for the coming year. I've been away and we've had a bit of a family crisis since I got back–largely now resolved–hence the delay in getting back into the routine.
While I've been away I've been reading. I've read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything followed by her latest: No Is Not Enough. I've read George Monbiot’s Out of the Wreckage and I picked up Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury to read on the plane. Plenty of food for thought.
In the News - Climate Change
First, let's look at some of the news stories which have come up since I last spoke to you. Last week I was asked to do a interview for Talk radio. They wanted to know about the new report which indicated that the effect of man-made climate change would not be as bad as expected. I tracked it down to a report in the journal Nature by a team from Exeter University. What they had actually said was that they thought that apocalyptic climate change which might occur as a result of 6°C warning had a less than 1% chance of actually happening. In fact anything over 4.5 degrees was extremely unlikely. They concluded that there was a 66% chance of warming falling in the range of 2.2° to 3.4°, with the most likely outcome of 2.8°. While they said that the ultimate worst-case scenario was extremely unlikely they reminded us that the Paris Agreement target was 2°, and anything above 1.5° was considered dangerous. So their work certainly didn't mean that we could slow down our efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Drought in Cape Town
When we got to the interview, which was with Eamon Holmes on his Drivetime show, he wanted to talk about the difference between apocalyptic and dangerous climate change and then moved on to ask me about the drought in Cape Town, South Africa. As it happened I had not heard about the drought at that stage, so could not offer any detailed insights beyond suggesting that they should use solar power to run desalination plants, tell everyone to use as little water as possible and ultimately distribute water only from tankers or standpipes in the street. I've since done my research and the situation in Cape Town looks pretty desperate. Apparently they have had two years of drought and the reservoirs are down to less than 30% of capacity. The city authorities first said that the taps would run dry on 21st April but they are now saying that this will happen on 12th April. They have lowered water pressure and cut off water altogether at certain times. People have been told to use not more than 87 litres of water per day, shortly to be reduced to 50 L. They have been asked to spend not more than two minutes in the shower. Not many people are taking any notice. Desalination plants are under construction. I'm told they will take two months to complete but that sounds extremely quick to me. People are stockpiling fresh water. Warehouses full of plastic water carriers are selling out daily. They are preparing for a black market in water as things get worse. It will be interesting to see if the authorities can deliver the remaining water fairly across all areas of the city, and avoid unrest and violence. 
It’s currently high summer in Cape Town and the average rainfall in February is 20mm or less than an inch, climbing to 100mm, about 4 inches, in July. That gives an annual total of 780mm or 31 inches. Compare that with Sydney, Australia, another coastal city on the same latitude as Cape Town. There they expect an average of 126mm in February, with a peak of 140mm or 5.5 inches in June, but the average total for the year is 1300mm, 51 inches, nearly twice as much. Strangely Manchester in the UK - famous for rain - only gets 34 inches (870mm) while London gets just 22 inches, (560mm) , which is less than Cape Town gets. Maybe it’s the fact that temperatures are so much lower and evaporation is less that makes droughts less frequent and less severe in the UK.
That’s the vagaries of climate, but we’re now witnessing the vagaries of climate change. Cape Town is the first major city in the world to face catastrophic drought. The fear is that it will not be the last.
And meanwhile Paris in France faces floods.
Plastic Planet
Blue Planet ll, David Attenborough's latest documentary, was the most watched programme of 2017 in the UK. In particular, the final episode which showed how discarded plastic was causing havoc to marine life has caught the public imagination. There are calls for an end to plastic packaging or even to ban the sale of water in plastic bottles. The UK bottled water market, including glass bottles, is worth £2.4 billion.
A new initiative was announced last week by the Water Council - a network of shops of all types where you can refill your water bottle free of charge. Actually it’s not new at all - regular listeners to the Sustainable Futures Report will remember that I reported on this in July. There’s an app which shows where your nearest refill point can be found. Just search for Refill. I understand that Starbucks, Costa and Premier Inns have agreed to be part of the network, although their locations don’t yet appear on the app. They should have a sticker in the window, though.
Some consumers have written to the media to say how they are unwrapping their purchases at the supermarket and leaving the wrapping behind for the supermarket to deal with. Yes, something must be done, but like with most sustainability issues the solution isn't that simple. Plastic packaging is attractive to manufacturers and distributors because it is cheap, it is light, it can be transparent, it is waterproof, hygienic and reduces waste by protecting the product from damage in transit. It’s possible to print on plastic, so there’s no need for an additional paper label to show the product description or instructions for use. Some people claim that paper should be used instead, but it’s not as versatile as plastic. It’s not transparent, it collapses when wet and can be less hygienic. And while paper can be recycled, both the production and the recycling processes involve large amounts of water and harsh chemicals. At least much more paper than plastic is recycled. In the UK plastic recycling varies from town to town, and much plastic that could be recycled goes to landfill or incineration. 
A Cunning Plan
We’ve recently seen the publication of the DEFRA 25-year plan, which has been promised for at least the last two years. That’s the UK’s Department for  the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 
It’s a very wide-ranging document with lots of good ideas for clean air, clean water, protecting plants and wildlife, dealing with climate change and reducing pollution and waste. There’s a plan to plant a new Northern Forest across the width of England. We'd prefer an upgraded railway, but that's another story. Yet another story is the high-speed rail link HS2, which will apparently destroy some 30 ancient woodlands along its route, but that’s for another day.
Commentators were quick to point out that no legislation to make all the good things in the DEFRA plan happen was announced. Launching the report, the prime minister said the government was committed to working to a target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by end of 2042. Avoidable is a bit of a weasel word. She said that the 5p surcharge for plastic bags would be extended to all shops, not just the large ones, and the government would work with supermarkets to introduce a plastic-free aisle. Frozen food supermarket Iceland said it would eliminate plastic packaging from its own-brand product range by 2023. 
Small not necessarily Beautiful
The public is most aware of the plastic which litters the beaches and the ropes and nets and bottles which ensnare the fish and the turtles and the dolphins and the seals, and the plastic drinking straws which impale them. Plastic is an unseen killer as well. It can exist as micro-particles from detergents and cosmetics or it can break down into micro-particles from larger plastic fragments. These particles are absorbed by fish and sea creatures, displacing their food and poisoning them. Particles can float on the surface of the sea, absorbing other pollutants, and then they can sink down into the ocean carrying poisons to levels where they never normally penetrate. Even if we stop plastic pollution now, as we must, this pollution will remain for decades to come. 
Dirty Wheels
One source of pollution that we hardly ever think about is tyres. Tyres wear over time and it’s estimated that some 600,000 tonnes of tyre dust are shed by motor vehicles in the US alone. That dust is washed into the gutters, into streams and eventually into the oceans. What’s the solution? Well there are other materials that could be used, but they are, unsurprisingly, more expensive. And a tyre is a highly complex product. It needs to provide grip for braking and steering in all weathers, its design will directly affect fuel consumption and its design will also affect noise levels. In these days of ultra-quiet engines, most vehicle noise comes from the tyres. It’s a tall order for a material to meet all these requirements, be affordable and be environmentally friendly as well. Another difficult problem, but one we must solve.
VW Shoots Other Foot
Of course cars in general are a major source of CO2 and other pollution. However Volkswagen have attempted to rebuild their reputation by carrying out tests which involved exposing monkeys in sealed cages to diesel fumes. BMW and Daimler were involved as well. That went down well in the press.
Don’t Cook!
But don’t worry about cars. An academic paper now claims that microwave ovens could be just as bad. The study, carried out at Manchester University, used life cycle assessment (LCA) to estimate the impacts of microwaves, taking into account their manufacture, use and end-of-life waste management. Altogether, the research team investigated 12 different environmental factors, including climate change, depletion of natural resources and ecological toxicity. They found, for example, that the microwaves used across the EU emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. This is equivalent to the annual emission of 6.8 million cars. This will be linked partly to the electricity used by the ovens and partly to the energy consumed in the manufacturing and distribution process. Another important factor was that microwave ovens are frequently discarded long before the end of their useful lives. Consumers may just want a new one to match a new kitchen, or one with more functions.
Researchers are now planning to extend their work to examine other white goods like fridges and washing machines.
Don’t eat!
But there’s more! Apparently sandwiches are a serious source of pollution. Yes, it’s those people at Manchester University again. Professor Adisa Azapagic, from the university’s School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences, said: ‘Consuming 11.5 billion sandwiches annually in the UK generates, on average, 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 eq, equivalent to the annual use of 8.6 million cars.’ Writing in the journal Sustainable Production and Consumption, the team said: ‘The estimated impact from ready-made sandwiches ranges from 739g CO2 eq for egg & cress to 1,441g CO2 eq for the bacon, sausage & egg option.’ Ready-made all-day breakfast sandwiches are the worst offenders. Sandwiches loaded with eggs, bacon and sausages have the highest carbon footprint of the meal deal world – generating 1,441 grams of CO2 eq. That’s the same amount of pollution that would be produced by driving a small car for 12 miles.
Don’t DrinkTea!
And somebody’s just discovered that there’s plastic in teabags!
The trouble with these scary headlines is that they just make people want to switch off. Should I stop driving? Stop making my healthy porridge in the microwave? Stop eating shop-bought sandwiches? Stop drinking tea? It’s all too hard. 
It’s more than tempting for the average consumer to say, “Let’s just assume that the scientists have got it wrong and carry on as normal. After all, my one sandwich can’t make a difference, can it? And I don’t drive an awful lot.” And look at the Australians. (I was there last month.) They put plastic straws in every drink, their supermarkets put your shopping in plastic bags without a thought or a surcharge and with petrol at the equivalent of 85p per litre they all drive really big cars. Having said that, I did visit an open-air food market in Fremantle, which had the stated objective of avoiding all plastic. My meal came on a cardboard tray with wooden cutlery and my coffee in a recyclable cup. Have a look at 
Maybe the responsible approach is to start from the opposite direction. Instead of cutting out cars, microwaves, teabags and sandwiches, analyse your carbon footprint. How is your personal carbon footprint built up? How can you modify your lifestyle to reduce it? Of course there are multiple ways of measuring carbon footprints. It’s time for an international standard. Should you consider carbon offsets? Patron Catherine Weetman draws my attention to Cool Effect Carbon Credits. There’s a link on the blog. On that page there’s a number of articles, including a justification for carbon offsets. Personally I’m not convinced. What do you think?
Catherine has sent me a lot more links for carbon footprinting. I’ll report on them in a future episode.
Winning the Carbon War
I heard from Jeremy Leggett last week. He says: ‘In a report entitled "Climate Change and The Insurance Industry", Lloyd's of London was advised as follows in February 1993: “It would behove the industry to look very closely at where all capital is invested. Fossil-fuel-related operations should be eschewed, and solar energy and energy-efficiency projects favoured.” ‘I remember that well,’ says Jeremy, ‘I wrote the report, and presented it at Lloyd's, before a large audience of worried-looking reinsurers.’
That was 1993.
On 21st January 2018 Lloyd's finally decided to divest from coal, the most dangerous fossil fuel in terms of climate change.
‘An issue arises here,’ says Jeremy, ‘By delaying a quarter of a century enacting what is surely such an obvious self-protection measure, how much damage has Lloyd's done to investors who have placed their trust in them, in the interim, when it comes to weather-related disasters?’ 
More on Solar
If you’re interested in solar energy there’s a TED Talk you should see. Search for Amar Inamdar, or find the full link here:
Where I go from Here
I promised you my manifesto. As I said to start with, I’ve read a number of important books over the last few weeks and they have influenced my thinking. No time to review them in detail here: I'll aim to do that next time. The overall message is that climate change is increasingly urgent and therefore it is urgent that we find ways of influencing our governments, our leaders and global corporations. I make no apology if future episodes of the Sustainable Futures Report have a more overt political tone. 
I’m just about to start researching for a Phd at Leeds Beckett University. It will take me 4 or 5 years. The actual topic of the thesis will be refined over the initial six months or so, but my objective is to examine why the denialists with their fantasies get much more attention from governments and policy-makers and the public than do scientists with their peer-reviewed research. I hope I shall be able to find a way of doing something about that and I hope I shall be able to do it before it's too late.
The other thing which is taking much of my time at the moment is the Smart Sustainable Cities Convention, which will take place in Leeds, UK, on 21st March 2019. I'm the director, so my initial task is to recruit sponsors–going well so far–and then to invite speakers and facilitators. Then I need to attract the delegates. I shall be marketing the event across the whole of Europe. Don't worry, we won't be leaving the EU until the week after the convention. The intention is that this event will be held annually in different cities across Europe, but for the moment I'm concentrating on this first event in Leeds. You can find more information on the website which is at
With all these things going on I'm having to take hard decisions about the Sustainable Futures Report. Initially at least I will be reducing the frequency to one episode per month. So the next edition will be on Friday, 2nd March. In between the monthly episodes I may have items from other speakers, so if you have a message to share please send me a 100 word summary of what you'd like to talk about and we'll discuss it. If we agree, you can then either send me an audio file that I can publish, or a script which I can read and record. Give it some thought. My aim is to please my listeners. After all if I don’t, everyone will stop listening.
Bye for Now
And this is where I stop this episode. Thank you for listening (reading) and if you are, thank you for being a patron. And if you're not you can join this exclusive band by going to and signing up to contribute anything from $1 per month towards my expenses in publishing and hosting the Sustainable Futures Report, like Catherine and all the others did. (Sorry it’s not in £ sterling, but it’s an American site)
That’s it.
I’m Anthony Day.
I'll be back on 2nd March. Maybe before. 
Have a great February

Bye for now.