Friday, July 27, 2018

Extra! Extra!

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I know, I know. I said the Sustainable Futures Report would be monthly from now on but there's just so much going on so this is Anthony Day with a third episode of the Sustainable Futures Report for July 2018. It’s Friday 27th.
On the energy front there are reports from the National Grid, from the National Infrastructure Commission and from the Climate Change Committee in the UK, and in Canada there is a report from the Federal Government
On the climate change front we have been enjoying an unprecedented heatwave here in the UK, although by the time you hear this it will probably be raining. As the grass turns yellow we need to take action so I've included an update from Cape Town, the city that was going to run out of water in April. At the other extreme of extreme weather torrential rain has caused floods in Nepal, Japan and China. Some 200 people have died as a result in Japan.
UK supermarket Morrisons have turned retail on its head with reverse vending machines. Remember I featured them a while ago? I'll remind you what they are later on. And finally, are you in the loop? That's the hyperloop, developed by Elon Musk and eagerly supported by Richard Branson of Virgin. More on that later as well.
Before all that I have a new patron. Welcome to Mark Rutherford and many thanks to all my other patrons who contribute a small amount to help me pay for the hosting of the Sustainable Futures Report. If you'd like to join their number just hop across to  where you'll find all the details.
Here’s a press release.
Britain has a “golden opportunity” to switch to greener ways of providing energy to homes and businesses without increasing bills – but only if Ministers act now to make the most of it.That’s a key finding from this month’s National Infrastructure Assessment – the first ever for the UK – published by the National Infrastructure Commission. 
The Commission was set up in 2015 as an executive agency of HM Treasury by George Osborne (remember him?)
The National Infrastructure Assessment looks at the United Kingdom’s future economic infrastructure needs up to 2050 and makes key recommendations for how to deliver new transport, low carbon energy and digital networks, how to recycle more and waste less, and how future infrastructure should be paid for. It aims to ensure the UK is fully prepared for the technological advances that could transform how the country operates.
According to the report, “The UK must take decisive action to have world-class infrastructure” 
I imagine a prerequisite for that would be a decisive government. ‘Nuff said.
The report’s core proposals include:
  • nationwide full fibre broadband by 2033
  • half of the UK’s power provided by renewables by 2030
  • three quarters of plastic packaging recycled by 2030
  • £43 billion of stable long term transport funding for regional cities
  • preparing for 100 per cent electric vehicle sales by 2030 (that’s at odds with the present policy of permitting petrol and diesel car sales right through until 2040)
  • ensuring resilience to extreme drought through additional supply and demand reduction
  • a national standard of flood resilience for all communities by 2050.
It also highlights the most important future challenges.
Heating must no longer be provided by natural gas, a fossil fuel. 
That’s very interesting because earlier this month I was at the Energy Efficiency Awards where I was strongly advised by people on my table to replace my gas boiler with an air source heat pump. They said I could power it from my solar panels or from energy stored in a battery. If there was no sun I could charge my battery overnight using the cheap rate Economy 7 tariff and use the power during the day when electricity direct from the grid is at its most expensive.

The UK must prepare for connected and autonomous vehicles. These need more time for evidence or technology to develop. The Assessment sets out the actions needed to enable robust decisions to be taken in future.

Is the government listening? At the moment, no, because it’s consumed with infighting over Brexit. There is a serious chance that it will have fallen by the end of the year and the national squabble will continue. Did someone say fiddling while Rome burns?
Future Energy Scenarios
In the UK the National Grid has just published its Future Energy Scenarios. These scenarios outline different credible pathways for the future of energy for the next 30 years and beyond. They consider how much energy we might need and where it could come from. They look at what the changes might mean for the industry, customers and consumers. 
It’s interesting that on the very front page it says that “gas will remain crucial for both heating and electricity generation in all scenarios for the coming decades.” It does talk about decarbonisation and it does talk about hydrogen - a clean gas, at least at the point of use - but many people believe that natural gas use must be minimised as soon as possible. Using it as a “bridge” fuel will prolong its use and inhibit the development of renewables. Admittedly, that’s my initial reaction to the executive summary. The scenarios cover a set of detailed documents and deserve closer reading.
Of the four scenarios described, two achieve the UK’s 2050 carbon reduction targets and two do not. Main points highlighted: 
  • We are entering a new world of energy. The expected growth of low carbon and decentralised generation means the electricity system will need to change. 
  • Electric vehicle growth goes hand in hand with electricity decarbonisation. Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid can actively support the decarbonisation of electricity. 
  • Action on heat is essential and needs to gather pace in the 2020s to meet carbon reduction targets. A mix of low carbon heating solutions and better thermal efficiency of buildings is needed. 
  • Gas will play a role in providing reliable, flexible energy supplies for the foreseeable future. New technologies and sources of low carbon gas can decarbonise the whole energy sector. 
The Executive Summary is designed as a 5-minute read. I recommend you have a look at it. Find the link on the blog.

And here’s another report. 
This one’s from the Committee on Climate Change.
“Apply the lessons of the past decade,” it says, “or risk a poor deal for the public in the next.”
It continues:
“Ten years after the Climate Change Act came into force, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says the Government must learn the lessons of the last decade if it is to meet legally-binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s and 2030s. Unless action is taken now, the public faces an unnecessarily expensive deal to make the shift to a low-carbon economy.
“Scientific evidence of a changing climate continues to mount. Recent observations have catalogued evolving changes to the climate in the UK and around the world, highlighting the urgent need for further measures to reduce harmful emissions.”

And meanwhile in Canada…
It’s all about energy this time. A brief follow-up to my report about the TransMountain pipeline in Canada. The federal government has just published its Generation Energy council report, which envisions a roadmap for Canada’s energy future. “For the first time ever,” says the press release, “Canada has aligned its energy vision with its commitment to tackle climate change, marking an important moment.” Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada's executive director and co-chair of the council, said “If we follow the pathways laid out in this report, Canada can succeed in ensuring that Canadians have access to affordable, reliable, clean energy, and that we can sell our solutions to the world."
In some places Dilbert is a cartoon character. In Canada dilbit is diluted bitumen. It’s what they plan to pump through the TransMountain pipeline, and it’s far from a joke. It’s the fossil fuel they’re planning to sell to the world. Some cognitive dissonance here, I think.
Find the links on the blog.
Feel the Heat!
With this very hot weather I can't help thinking about Cape Town in South Africa which was preparing to run out of water completely back in April. In May they were even talking about towing in an iceberg from the Antarctic. Actually the city didn’t run out of water, but very strict measures were imposed to make the best of what they had. Apparently about the time when they thought they would run out there was some rain, which made an immediate difference, but the main difference was made by people drastically cutting consumption. Consumers are currently allowed 50L of water per adult per day and nothing at all for children. If they run the water in the shower until it gets hot they collect the water in a bucket and they use it to flush the loo or to water the garden. In any case they are urged to limit showers to no more than 90 seconds. 
  • Get wet. 
  • Turn it off. 
  • Apply soap. 
  • Turn it on and rinse. 
Doesn’t everyone shower like that? No baths. Hotel guests are urged to re-use towels. Report leaking taps. Use a dishwasher because it uses less water than washing up in the sink, but only run it when it’s full. Same applies to clothes washers. Householders have installed storage tanks which they will presumably fill with rainwater and use for things like washing clothes and watering the garden if they must. Lessons for us all there. Even though water is short, in the present heatwave it’s always wise to drink plenty of it. Cape Town is holding its own but as climate change and global temperatures increase things can only, surely, get worse.
Still, according to the tourist board Cape Town is no longer at risk of running out of water this year or next.
Down the Tubes
Are you old enough to remember the Lamson pneumatic tube system in department stores? You took what you wanted to buy to an assistant and handed over your money. They filled out a bill and put it with the cash into a canister about the size of a tin of beans, opened a little door in the wall and dropped it in.  You could hear a loud sucking noise and it rattled away down the tube to some distant cash desk where change was calculated, the bill was receipted and the canister was sent back. After a few minutes it popped out of a little door in the tube which slammed shut behind it and it crashed into a basket behind the counter. I often wonder how they made sure that the right canister always went back to the right counter.
Anyway, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is much the same, except that it’s somewhat bigger and the pods are designed for carrying people or goods, not just cash and bills. Hyperloop is designed to link cities. While Hyperloop depends on creating a vacuum in front of the canister as with the Lamson system, that’s by no means the whole story. The tube is evacuated to thin the air and thereby minimise the drag on the pod. The idea is to create an atmosphere as thin as the air at 200,000 feet. The pod will actually be driven by magnets. It will be a maglev train suspended in a magnetic field within the tube, and with the rarified atmosphere it will travel at around 600mph. A Hyperloop pod will take passengers from London to Edinburgh (400 miles) in just 50 minutes. 
A recent article by the Institute of Directors lists 10 reasons why the UK should take Hyperloop seriously. You can read it via the link on the blog. I’m not convinced. We’re at the very early stages of constructing HS2, a high-speed conventional railway, and some people have serious doubts about that. Hyperloop would surely make HS2 obsolete. And what will Hyperloop cost, given that in a crowded country like the UK it will have to be almost totally in deep tunnels? What about the carbon footprint of the construction process? Where will we get enough magnets to create a 400-mile maglev line? (And that’s only for phase one.) How much electricity will it take to evacuate the tube and drive the 600mph pods? Will enough people want to go to Edinburgh in less than an hour and will they be able to pay enough to make the project viable? What about those people who don’t live in London or Edinburgh? And won’t the telephone, Skype and conference calling be very much cheaper alternatives in many cases? Read the IoD article and make up your own mind. But quite apart from all that, when people can take all day waiting for buses to take them to and from the hospital or down to the shops, when commuter trains are overcrowded by a factor of 150% or more (yes, that’s 150% on top of the design capacity), when new timetables have led to through train services on some routes being suspended indefinitely and when the privatised East Coast Main Line has collapsed into public ownership for the third time in 10 years haven’t we got more important issues to consider than superfast travel for the wealthy few?
That great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel built an atmospheric railway powered by vacuum in Victorian times. It worked with speeds of up to 70mph but it failed because of rats, but that’s a story for another time.
Giving Something Back
Yes, reverse vending machines. Morrison's have installed some in a couple of locations so there may well not be one in a store near you, for the moment at least. These machines are collection points for your bottles and cans. You insert them into the machine and they are automatically sorted into glass, plastic or metal. The plastic and metal bottles are crushed and guided into separate containers. The glass bottles go into a third container (without being crushed.) Now while it is a reverse vending machine you don't actually get your money back, but you will get a voucher to spend in-store or there may be an option to donate your refund to charity. Let's hope we see more of these machines soon.
More Talking
I’ve been on Talk Radio again. “A new report claims that the human population is adapting to climate change” Well, not exactly.

[Apologies - some of the sound quality on this is not at all good.]
And that was Mike Graham on Talk Radio with The Independent Republic of Mike Graham.
That’s it!
That's it for another episode. I'm Anthony Day and thank you for listening to the Sustainable Futures Report. I hope you all have a great summer and do you know what? I'm going to take August off. Yes, this is the last episode before September, so look out for the next Sustainable Futures Report on Friday 7th September.
Once again a big thank-you to all my patrons old and new for helping to make the Sustainable Futures Report  possible.
I'm Anthony Day
That was the Sustainable Futures Report 

See you in September.

Friday, July 20, 2018

SDG Special

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Hello and welcome to a special episode of the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 20 July. I’m Anthony Day. Yes July, that's right. Actually today is Thursday 21st June, but if you are a patron you are getting this episode a whole month early. If you're not a patron and you’ve had to wait until 20th July to hear this and should like to be a patron, well just hop across to And while I’m talking about patrons let me welcome my latest patron, Shelagh Jones who has joined as a Gold Patron. Welcome Shelagh, your Sustainable Futures Report enamel badge is on its way and I’ll be in touch to set up the promised discussion groups very soon.

Goals. This special episode is mainly about goals. But not football. About the SDGs, the sustainable development goals from the United Nations and about how they relate to business. And as an extra extra, at the very end of this edition I've included the interview I did the other day with Julia Hartley Brewer on Talk Radio. She wanted to talk about carbon dioxide but it might not be what you think. 

First I'd like to mention a couple of books which I'm going to review later this year. I thought I'd tell you about them now to give you time to read them and see whether you agree with what I have to say. The first is a Circular Economy Handbook For Business and Supply Chains by Catherine Weetman. It has testimonials on the back cover from Ken Webster from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, from Mike Barry of Marks & Spencer and from Dr Juliana Powell a senior lecturer at Cranfield University. My review will appear in September’s episode of the Sustainable Futures Report. The other book I wanted to talk about and will be reviewing later this year is Designing The Purposeful World by Clive Wilson. It's particularly relevant to this next interview. Both these books are available from all good bookshops, including the ones that pay their taxes.

And now to those goals, and to an interview.

Kristina Joss is Head of Salterbaxter North America, a leading sustainability agency working across the whole spectrum of strategy and communications for multinational businesses. Prior to Salterbaxter, she worked at Business in the Community in London. She has more than a decade of experience in strategy and communications having worked in the private and nonprofit sectors in the UK and the US.

Transcription of Podcast with Anthony Day on ‘Moving the Goal Posts’

A: Today we are going to talk about goals – we are going to talk about business goals, sustainable development goals from the UN and Salterbaxter’s recently published ‘Moving the Goal Posts’, which brings all these different goals together. Would you like to expand on that?

K: Leading up to 2030 goals Salterbaxter began by reflecting on -  what are companies looking at? The sustainable development goals had really gained momentum and support from the business community in a way that many people did not expect or predict. We discussed how can we support businesses, what really needs to be changing because there is so many external factors at play, the sustainability community is moving so quickly and there are huge trends that are really starting to emerge in a new way.

We decided companies are not doing enough for that transformational change that everyone is talking about and the need. We really felt that at the heart of all that, is approaching it from a goals perspective – where are they are putting their stake in the ground?

There were a few examples here and there, but systematically companies need to have stronger goals in order to reach their aspirations set out in the 2030 Sustainability Development Goals agenda and to address the challenges that we are facing on the day to day now. That was really the catalyst behind this piece and the core of our argument.

A: Businesses have been setting goals and KPIs forever, are they now fully aware of the SDGs, are they seeing them as an issue which is relevant to business?

K: I do [think so]. It’s hard to say categorically that every business is thinking about it in the same way but as I mentioned there is definitely a huge uptake on the SDGs in the private sector. In a way that nobody really predicted and that continues to evolve year on year. 

When the SDGs were first announced there were a lot of companies that jumped in from a communications perspective and putting their hand up and saying ‘we support them and this is what we are doing in these specific goals’.  

But in the last 18 months we have really started to see companies take a much more strategic perspective and those communications and actions are still ongoing, and there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. But I definitely think there is a movement towards more support of the SDGs as companies actually start to feel the impact of those challenges.

A: And are you talking about a specific industry or sector here, or are you seeing this right across the board?

K: We are seeing this right across the board, but there are absolutely certain sectors that are feeling the pressure – both from an operational standpoint e.g. food beverage and from a customer perspective e.g. consumer packaged goods, apparel and retail. But in general, I think all companies are starting to think about them.
A: What about the scale of the company? Are small companies in on this or are they leaving it to the major organisations to take the lead?

K: It’s a great question and I don’t think there is really one answer. There are definitely some smaller companies that are pushing social issues at the heart of their business – social enterprises are a great example and there are some really amazing and interesting things happening in that space. There are also smaller companies that are in the supply chain of really big companies and have either taken the lead for that business or have followed suit.

So, there is definitely a lot of activity on the social enterprise space but I would say yes there are more inconsistences and gaps in smaller companies and they just don’t have the same high pressures or resources to address it. But the supply chain is a great opportunity for those companies to get it on the opportunity.

A: You mentioned supply chain, but how important is it for a company to then engage its suppliers?

K: It is critical really because you know one single business no matter what size they are cannot do it on their own and that’s really what is behind systems thinking - which is an emerging narrative and piece of work that is happening in the sustainability space. You need that collaborative effort and a lot of the challenges in sustainability are happening further down the supply chain with Tier 2 suppliers and beyond. So in order for a company to have a thorough and strategic approach to sustainability, they absolutely need to be engaging their suppliers and there are some interesting things happening in reverse.

There was an article I read the other day which highlighted that supplierers might become more of the push behind bigger businesses. There is a big push and pull happening right now. 

A: I can think of some examples of supply chain both related to the electronic industry, one is criticisms of working conditions in electronic assembling factories in China, which affect big brands over in the ‘West’. The other area in electronics being conflict minerals right down the supply chain and where are materials coming from?

K: Absolutely, the Human Rights agenda has really elevated the need to look at supply chain and there are some amazing organisations in that space that have done an excellent job in really highlighting those issues and getting businesses engaged.

A: There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals so businesses are concentrating all of them or are some more important than the others, or I suppose it really depends on the nature of the business.

K: It’s a great question and we get asked this a lot.  The beauty of the SDGs is that they are all interconnected, so if you are looking at one then, in theory, you are really looking at all of them.  But I would really recommend from a deeper strategic perspective and a communications perspective that companies just focus on a few (3-4).  To really drill down and get focused to have the big impact.  It doesn’t mean that they can’t be looking at the other SDGs, even in a strategic way, there are certainly ways to connect all of them, from the way you work with your employees on a day to day basis and the opportunities you provide to them, all the way through how you are engaging your supply chain and your consumers on sustainable lifestyles. 

But from a deeper strategic communications perspective I think focus is really what goes a long way, as this helps you to allocate resources, it helps your stakeholders really understand what you are trying to do, and it gets the business more focused to have an impact.

A: Do you find that this is a strategic issue at board level or do you find that the companies you work with actually make employees at all levels aware of their involvement in the SDGS.

K: I have seen both, but the board level seems to be a little bit harder. It doesn’t mean that board members aren’t aware of the SDGs, but that topic is not always escalated as frequently as us in the sustainability field would like. But employees definitely represent a great opportunity and everything a business is doing in CSR or sustainability really needs to be resonating with employees, it needs to be implemented and activated by employees and it is a great way to engage them and make them feel pride for the company they are working for and incentivized by what they are doing within the business. But the board level is really the area that needs to be unlocked further.

A: I am surprised to hear you say that because I thought it was the other way round and if corporates were engaging with the SDGs from the top-down, but you are saying that they aren’t necessarily. It’s like a lot of sustainability down at the shop floor with people who are really into sustainability but have to try and persuade those people further up the line. Is it being taken seriously, or is this another example of greenwashing?

K: Also another great question and I would say again that there are examples of both. I definitely see some great examples of companies taking it seriously, but there is also an opportunity for companies to be a bit disingenuous. But I’m increasingly having conversations with companies who are saying ‘you know we haven’t done that much in the SDGs...’- but they see the value in applying it and they don’t want to be disingenuous in the way that we position them. I think this is a healthy perspective and it doesn’t make sense for all companies to change their strategies around the SDGs, but this is a tool that can be applied in different ways across the business. I think it is great that companies are using them but also understanding the need to be authentic, but absolutely greenwashing is not something that we have completely overcome, but we are all definitely getting smarter about identifying it.

A: You mention that there is value in developing a suite of sustainability goals to support a larger strategy, which links back to what you were saying earlier, don’t go for all 17 but one or two. Is that the approach that you would recommend?

K: Absolutely, this is something that we cover in the thought leadership piece Moving the Goal Posts and this idea that we are creating a suite or a family of goals. In the piece we talk about the need for companies to create more transformative and strategic goals for sustainability that are akin to business strategy goals – you will get more return, you will get more interest, uptake and ultimately greater value. 

But the idea behind the suite of goals is that not everything needs to be transformative and goals can serve different purpose. There is absolute value in having more performance driven goals and investors are absolutely looking for that, in order to benchmark and assess the sustainability of a business and the long-term viability of that business. That is a growing trend that we absolutely need to be considering, so there are operational driven goals which definitely play a part. But there is a need and an opportunity for businesses to think far more strategically about their sustainability goals to develop ones that are inherently unique to that business and provide an opportunity to benchmark and showcase performance from an industry perspective and serve a wide range of needs.

A: I am going to put a link to the SDGs on our webpage relating to this podcast and a link to ‘moving the goal posts’ because your document is freely available, so people can read and download for themselves. If people listening to this know that they are not doing anything on SDGs and feel like they might want to, what would you suggest that they start doing tomorrow morning?

K: Well they could call us! But I think the first part is to get familiar with the 17 goals. Absolutely check the UN website, they have done a really great communications job. Start to understand the goals and the targets within them, each of the goals have a high-level statement for example. There is a lot of really interesting content that sits below this so you can get familiar with the goals and then start to align with what you are doing as business and try to find those synergies where you think you can have the biggest impact. That is a really great start, so do that mapping exercise, find what you are doing and what you are not doing.

The second step would be to find really great partners, there are organisations working across all these issues.  Find out what you should be doing and could be doing.

A: I am happy to put your contact details on the blog and when companies have gone through the first two stages they can ring you if it is appropriate. You are operating in the US though and not in the UK though?

K: I am based in the US, but Salterbaxter have their Headquarters in London and an office in New York, so we have teams on both continents and are happy to support either way.

A: Is there anything you would like to add before we close?

K: I would like to thank you so much for this opportunity and I am really excited to speak to you. I am really excited that the SDGs have had such an uptake and I think there is so much more that can be done in this space and it is interesting to see how companies are being really innovative and creative. The UN consistently asks for support in just communicating the SDGs and we really want to get the news out to anyone and everyone, because that’s really where the impact starts to happen. So if you can play a role in that it would be great. 

Plenty to think about there. If you’d like to contact Kristina her details are 

Losing the Fizz
And now for something completely different. I'm talking to Julia Hartley Brewer on Talk Radio about carbon dioxide.

[There’s a CO2 shortage in the UK. We discussed why this happened and how it will affect carbonated drinks, including lager, food production and chicken farmers.]

If you're listening to this in July I hope you got a drink and I hope your team won. If you’re a patron and you're listening to this in June you've got everything to look forward to.

And finally…
I'm Anthony Day and that's all for this special edition of the Sustainable Futures Report. If you're listening to this in July the next edition will be out on Friday 3rd August, but if you're a patron and listening to this in June the next edition will be out on Friday, 6 July. Either way, I’ll be back very soon.
I'm Anthony Day
That was the Sustainable Futures Report and I’m off to research the next one.

Bye for now.

Friday, July 06, 2018

The Elephant in the Room

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Hello and  welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 6 July.
And a special welcome to my latest patrons Shelagh Jones and Mark Rutherford.
I'm Anthony Day and I’ve called this episode The elephant in the room. Why the elephant in the room? Because it's very big, it's a serious problem and nobody wants to talk about it. Quite a lot of people refuse to admit that it's there. Listener Eric de Kemp has told me about a big and important problem in the Canadian oil industry, and we’ll learn about that in a minute. First I want to talk about a big and important problem closer to home - my home in the UK that is. It’s an elephant called Brexit. For those of you not listening in the UK let me remind you that the British government is leading the United Kingdom to leave the European Union after some 40 years of close integration. Not everybody thinks it's a good idea, which is probably why the governing party is totally split on the issue and so is the official opposition. Business leaders warn that it’s likely to cost jobs, the value of the £ sterling has declined and 100,000 people marched on Parliament last month to protest against it.
Environmental Regulation after Brexit
During our time as members of the EU we have become involved in some 40 regulatory agencies covering everything from health and safety, radio isotopes, medicine and drugs to air travel, food security and consumer rights.. As a consequence of Brexit, instead of sharing the costs of these institutions with the other 27 member states the United Kingdom is going to set up regulatory agencies of its own. As it does so, the relevant bodies of European legislation will be transformed into UK laws. Of course, as this transfer takes place the government can tweak and tailor as it sees fit and there is a lot of controversy about how this will be done, involving both Henry VIII and the Scots. (Don’t ask) 
Today I'm going to look specifically at how this will affect environmental regulation. The Institute of environmental management and assessment (IEMA) has published its Briefing and Initial Position on the DEFRA Environmental Principles and Governance Consultation. DEFRA is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs. This consultation is to help the government formulate its environmental policies after Brexit. I’ve been able to talk to Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA, about this.

Unfortunately IEMA were unable to provide a transcript of the interview. You can hear it on the podcast via iTunes or

More on Tar Sands
As I mentioned at the beginning, listener Eric De Kemp got in touch about issues in the Canadian oil industry. He sent me links to radio broadcasts including one where the prime minister of British Columbia explained how he had been contacted very early that morning by Justin Trudeau the Canadian Premier to say that the government had purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline. (I’ve put the links below ) There is an existing trans-Mountain pipeline but Trudeau was talking about the new pipeline designed to triple capacity. Although they take different routes, both pipelines go from Edmonton in Alberta to Vancouver on the West Coast of British Columbia. The purpose of the pipeline is to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to the port at Vancouver for onward shipment to markets in Asia. For many years the majority of Canadian oil has been sold into the United States, but at much lower prices than are available from Asia. Hence the desire to ship the oil out to new markets. Of course, there is continuing controversy about the whole tar sands oil extraction process. It requires significant inputs of energy to soften the material and separate the tar from the sand. It typically uses steam which means there are vast ponds of contaminated water as a by-product. Oil is a fossil fuel; burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases and it is well-known that we can burn only so much of the world’s fossil fuel reserves before we make the planet uninhabitable. On the other side, oil production creates jobs and delivers wealth. Presumably the Canadians of Alberta believe that other producers should restrict their output in order to save the planet while they keep pumping the tar.
Crossing Borders
The pipeline from Edmonton travels west from the province of Alberta across the province of British Columbia. There has been much controversy about the route of the new pipeline, particularly about the plan to drive it through the tribal lands of indigenous peoples. Quite apart from the disruption caused by constructing the pipeline, there are concerns about the risks of pipeline failure and oil spillage which could contaminate the water table and pollute the lands for ever. There has been an ongoing dispute between British Columbia and Alberta, becoming increasingly acrimonious. Kinder Morgan, American owners of the original pipeline and developers of the new one, lost patience and threatened to pull out of the project altogether. This led the Canadian government to step in and purchase the pipeline for a reported figure which varies between $3 billion and $4 billion. Justin Trudeau's credibility as protector of the environment has taken a severe knock, and no wonder that the premiere of British Columbia sounds shocked on that radio broadcast which was recorded just after he'd been woken up to be told that the pipeline would go ahead regardless of what the government of British Columbia decided.
CBC Business commentator 

Pilot’s-eye View
I strongly recommend that you go to the blog at and follow the Globe and Mail link. 
 This is one of the best visual presentations that I’ve seen, and not only shows how the pipeline will reach the coast but highlights the risks involved in shipping the oil out.
The Port of Vancouver is approached along a narrow seaway around Vancouver Island and through an archipelago of many smaller islands. Environmentalists claim that since this is one of the busiest and most tortuous shipping routes in the world, the risk of a collision or a grounding and a catastrophic oil spill are enormous. For the moment though, the project seems to be going ahead.
The Guardian quotes Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema: “Trudeau is gambling billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars on an oil project that will never be built – a project that Kinder Morgan itself has indicated is ‘untenable’ and that faces more than a dozen lawsuits, crumbling economics, and a growing resistance movement that is spreading around the world.” 

A Word from the Wise
In the past I have drawn your attention to Jeremy Leggett and his website at Here’s a link to one of his latest blogs
He calls it The Week of the White Elephants. There’s a theme here somewhere! He’s picked up the story of how the Canadian government is bailing out the trans-Mountain pipeline with public money and he also highlights other governments investing in projects which he sees as white elephants. Apparently the US Energy Department has plans to force utilities to purchase electricity from failing coal and nuclear plants. In the UK, after decades of insisting that there should be no more nuclear and that power generation should be in the hands of private sector, the British government has announced a public investment in a new nuclear plant in Wales. Leggett also includes a chart which shows how renewables, particularly onshore wind and solar, now generate electricity more cheaply the nuclear, coal or gas. But of course as far as the British government is concerned, we've had enough of experts and government decision-making amply demonstrates that. That’s why onshore wind, the most cost-effective source of renewable energy, is effectively banned in the UK while there are proposals to exempt fracking from local planning regulations. More on that in a future episode.

And Finally…
Well, that's all from this episode but it's not all for this month. I have said that the Sustainable Futures Report would only be monthly from now on but I've got an interview on the Sustainable Development Goals and that will be available on Friday, 20th July. If you’re a patron you already have access to it. The next episode after that is scheduled for Friday, 4th August, but there is so much going on that I may slip in yet another bonus episode.

Yes, this is Anthony Day, that was the Sustainable Futures Report and thank you for listening and thank you for your ideas. I'm particularly grateful this month to Eric De Kemp and of course to Martin Baxter of IEMA. Thanks for the info on the carbon tax, Eric. Not enough time this time I’m afraid!
Please continue to let me have your ideas and let me take this opportunity to thank you for being a patron if you are, and if you’re not you might like to be one for as little as $1 per month. Just hop across to .
And that really is it for this month. Don't forget 20th July for the next episode.
I'm Anthony Day.
Bye for now