Friday, February 15, 2019

Thinking Aloud

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Hi this is Anthony Day, it’s Friday 15th March, this is the Sustainable Futures Report and today I’m thinking aloud.

Listen up - it’s urgent - we’ve got to do something about the environment.

You’ve got a business to run or a job to go to or maybe you’re desperate to find a job and all this takes time. You’ve got a family to feed, a mortgage to pay and all those bills which seem to pop up every month but still take you by surprise. You haven’t got time and anyway what more can you do? You’re already recycling, refusing plastic bags, avoiding plastic bottles and have you really got to think about being a vegetarian or even a vegan? 
You may be a vegetarian, but I like meat. 
Anyway, whatever you do, you don’t get any thanks for it, and it doesn’t seem to have much effect - and shouldn’t the government be doing more? And then there are these Extinction Rebellion people blocking the traffic. Have you heard about them? They want to make the point that the environment is important. Yes, I know that. They are going to make me late and they won’t change my mind - I already want to save the planet. Is there anyone here who doesn’t want to save the planet? who doesn’t want their children to have a sustainable future? This is not helping.
That’s the climate message dilemma. 
Actually, a dilemma implies two choices. There are many more issues than just two. Or are there?
Could we be in danger of confusing a whole range of environmental issues and getting our priorities wrong?
We are bombarded with environmental messages from all directions. What's important? What should we do first?
Should we aim at reducing plastic pollution or should we stop eating products that contain palm oil and protect the rainforest - is it the rainforest? Should we try and do something about poor air quality? We could stop driving diesel cars. That doesn’t help if you’ve already got a diesel car and you’ve got dozens more monthly payments to make.
Or should we be doing something about climate change? Can we do anything about climate change?
What is climate change anyway, and why is it a problem?
I think it’s by far the most serious problem, but let’s step back first and define what it exactly is.
Do you remember global warming and the greenhouse effect? Anything to warm up the average English summer sounds a good idea, but it’s not as simple as that.
If you remember, what happens is that the sun shines down onto the Earth and quite a lot of heat is absorbed but most of it just bounces off and is reflected back into space. Unlike the moon, Earth has an atmosphere and up in the atmosphere is a layer of greenhouse gasses. They are called greenhouse gasses because that's exactly how they operate, just like the panes of glass in a greenhouse. As heat radiates out from the warmed Earth some of it is reflected back by the greenhouse gas layer. If we didn't have this layer all the heat would escape into space and the Earth would freeze. But, if the greenhouse gas layer gets too thick it traps too much heat and the earth becomes unbearably warm. The glaciers and the polar icecaps melt and sea level rises.
But don't think so much just about heat. 
Think about it as energy. It's that energy which drives the winds and the waves, the storms and the squalls, and as more energy is trapped the storms become more violent and the rains become heavier. We see floods and mudslides, crops spoiling in waterlogged fields, roads and railways washed away, houses uninhabitable. In some places people are finding that whatever was flushed down the toilet, rising flood waters bring it back up. Whole countries become waterlogged leading to disease and ironically to scarcity of drinking water. So far only small countries are affected - the Maldives, for example, with a population of less than 450,000 - but as the sea levels rise, and rise permanently, tens of millions of people will be driven from their lands and become refugees. The tide of climate refugees will dwarf the numbers currently on the move because of war. 
Refugees Welcome!
Well-meaning people put up notices in comfortable middle-class suburbia: “Refugees welcome here,” but they have no idea of the scale of the growing problem and no means of dealing with it. Governments need to work together to help these people. Governments need to plan together. Surely everyone has the right to life and the right to some help to recover from the loss of their homes and their livelihoods through no fault of their own. Some are already seeking legal compensation from those industrial nations whose pollution has caused the disaster.
Last year’s IPCC report suggested that if we do nothing now we’ll reach a tipping point and runaway climate change around 2030. You and I will almost certainly still be around then - it affects us both.
Why a tipping point? It’s to do with self-reinforcing feedback loops. The Arctic icecap is floating on the ocean. As the ice melts in summer the Earth’s albedo, or the way it absorbs heat, changes. Snow and ice reflect the sun’s rays, but as they disappear the dark seas beneath them absorb the heat. When winter comes it takes longer to form ice on the warmer ocean and the weaker ice melts more readily in the following spring. More heat is absorbed in summer. Less ice is formed next winter, and so it goes on. As oceans absorb the heat, warm water expands making sea levels rise. Sea levels are currently rising at 3.2mm per year according to Wikipedia and NASA and this rate is expected to accelerate. agrees and also demolishes several claims denying the evidence.
3.2mm doesn’t sound very much - it’s about the thickness of the cable you use to charge your smartphone - but that’s 3.2mm per year and at that rate sea levels have risen 32 centimetres or more than a foot in the last century. A new layer of water over the expanse of the ocean means millions of tonnes more water can be swept up in storm surges in an environment already charged with more energy.
Warmer air holds more water vapour than colder air, so there will be fewer clouds. Clouds are crucial to global warming because they both shade the earth and reflect the sun’s rays back into space. Fewer clouds, more warming. More warming, fewer clouds.
All this affects us both. We both need to do something.
What can we do?
School children are going on strike. 
Youth Strike for Climate
Today, 15th February, young people in 49 cities across the UK will walk out of school to protest about government inaction over climate change. The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old Swedish girl who launched a solitary protest outside the Swedish parliament in the run-up to their elections. She went on to address business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, telling them, “I want you to panic”
You may have seen much the same message from Sir David Attenborough, also at Davos. You can find it on Youtube. 
The UK movement is demanding the Government declares a climate emergency, reforms the national curriculum, and takes steps to communicate the severity of the crisis.
When the IPCC published that report on the threats from climate change at the end of last year it was widely reported as saying that we had only 12 years to take action. What it actually said was that if we don’t take immediate action we risk reaching a catastrophic tipping point in 2030. That was 12 years after the date of the report. It’s only 11 years now.
We need to do something. We need to do it now.
What can we do?
We need to get energy under control.
Energy to drive your car, Energy to heat your home Energy to run the lights and the computers and the television and the dishwasher and the washing machine and the cooker. And by the way supplying clean water to your home takes quite a lot of energy too.

Climate change is caused by an ever-denser greenhouse gas layer. The principal greenhouse gas is CO2. We put CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels in our cars and our power stations and burning gas and oil to heat our homes.
What can we do?
Transport and travel
We can use our cars less, although that really depends on government providing alternatives like reliable public transport. If you saw this week’s Channel 4 Dispatches you’ll know that that’s not a government priority at present. When you change your car buy a cleaner, more efficient one. You can still get the space and performance you need and save money on fuel as well. Consider an electric car - although if you listened last week you’ll know that they’re not yet right for everyone.
Avoid long-haul holidays. I say that with a heavy heart, a guilty conscience and a family in Australia. I expect to be paying very much more for that sort of travel before long.
Keeping Warm
What about heating your home, your workplace, your office?
Britain has some of the leakiest homes in Europe and 34% of the gas used in the UK is used for heating. New materials mean it’s now possible to insulate almost any property regardless of age. In some cases it’s possible to save as much as 90% of heating bills. Realistically, 50% is not unreasonable. Would you like to cut your bills in half? Saves you money and cuts the nation’s carbon footprint. I’m planning a Sustainable Futures Report about insulating existing homes for later in the year. Eventually there will be case studies and videos.
And of course cutting your energy bill in the workplace will save you money. If you’re responsible for a heat-intensive industrial process you should find ways of making use of the waste heat. Although, to be fair, if you’re in that sort of industry you’ve probably been managing your energy for years.
It’s a Gas
The second most common greenhouse gas is methane. There's less of it than CO2, but it traps about 20 times as much heat. Methane is produced naturally from decomposing vegetation and organic matter and from melting permafrost. Much methane is trapped beneath lakes and oceans in a crystalline form, but as they heat up, methane bubbles to the surface. Very significant amounts of methane are exhaled by livestock – cattle and sheep. As long as we farm animals for meat we are adding to greenhouse gas emissions. We may not all go totally vegetarian but if we eat meat less frequently we will go some way to reducing our impact on the planet.
Cheer Up! It’s only a Book
There's a new book out next Tuesday called The Uninhabitable Earth: a Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells. It may be a dystopian view, it maybe an exaggeration but some of the things that he's talking about are not out of line with climate change predictions. Those are the pessimistic predictions the media seems to ignore. For example, he talks about the consequences of sea level rise and how New York will build a barrier around Manhattan to keep the waters out and away from all those expensive properties. At the same time he says that the city is spending less on refurbishment and repairs of the infrastructure in areas like South Brooklyn and Queens because they already recognise that these areas will become flooded and uninhabitable in the not-too-distant future. 
Here’s what it says on the cover:
“It is worse, much worse, than you think.
The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn't happening at all, and if your anxiety about it is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.
Over the past decades, the term "Anthropocene" has climbed into the popular imagination - a name given to the geologic era we live in now, one defined by human intervention in the life of the planet. But however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us.
In the meantime, it will remake us, transforming every aspect of the way we live-the planet no longer nurturing a dream of abundance, but a living nightmare.”
Sounds like the sort of stuff which will just make people close their minds and go away.
I still think I ought to read it.

Climate change is the deadliest legacy we will leave the young

Managing the Message

Academic Susanne C Moser has identified the challenges that communicators face in trying to convey the climate change message: 
  • invisibility of causes, 
  • distant impacts, 
  • lack of immediacy and direct experience of the impacts, 
  • lack of gratification for taking mitigative actions, 
  • disbelief in human’s global influence, 
  • complexity and uncertainty, 
  • inadequate signals indicating the need for change, 
  • perceptual limits and 
  • self-interest
Certainly not simple.
I think one of the most serious problems in promoting the message is drawing the line between complacency, based on over-optimistic expectations, and exaggerated warnings which just make people close their minds and go away.
David Attenborough said that what we do now will have consequences for the planet for thousands of years to come. It’s a message that I want to share with everyone, along with the message that we can achieve most of the changes we need not by wearing sackcloth and living in a cave, but by doing things differently and preserving our standard of living. We won’t achieve it by doing nothing and waiting to see what happens.
I believe that a sustainable future is possible. 
That’s why I do this podcast. It doesn’t make me rich. It doesn’t make me famous. Mind you, I’d settle for famous if it helps get the message across.
I’m Anthony Day
This has been the Sustainable Futures Report.
The next one will be on the 1st March.
Spread the Word

Meantime spread the word. Let’s do all we can to make the future sustainable. For ourselves, for our children and for their children too.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Going South

Find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud or via www,

It's Friday 8th February
Yes it's the Sustainable Futures Report.
And I'm Anthony Day.
This week

  • Learning to live with an electric car
  • UK carbon emissions fall
  • Fast food companies under pressure to reduce emissions
  • Fashion retailers ignoring environmental impact
  • BP and global climate goals
  • The warmest century
  • Factfulness - why you should read the book.
But first of all, can you get away from it all with good conscience down south?
Sailing away
Shipping line Hurtigruten is bringing a new vessel named Roald Amundsen into service this year for cruises including exploration of the Antarctic. A 20-day holiday will set you back at least £8,000 per person, but that's without flights to the tip of South America and any shore excursions or other extras. As you would expect at that price, the ship looks amazingly luxurious. 
It has two restaurants as well as a shop, photo centre, library, internet facility, science centre, lecture halls, pharmacy, hospital, compass service centre, and outdoor walking and explorer decks. No foodbanks as far as I can see. How can all this possibly be environmentally responsible? Well, according to the website, 
“The MS Roald Amundsen explorer cruise ship will be powered by an innovative hybrid solution including four Rolls Royce Bergen B33:45 engines and batteries. The engines will be equipped with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system to meet the IMO Tier III nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emission limits. 
“The fully electric propulsion will integrate two Azipull azimuth thrusters driven by permanent magnet (PM) motor and two tunnel thrusters. The PM motor will deliver high efficiency across different speeds and will minimise the space needed in the thruster room.”
The bottom line is that the ship will use 20% less fuel, create fewer emissions and passengers will be able to experience silent progress as they cruise among the icebergs under electric power alone. 
I can’t help thinking that it would be even more environmentally friendly if they didn’t go at all.
Not the Greenest?
MV Roald Amundsen may in any case not be the greenest ship in the world for much longer. 
The design of the Ecoship, a cruise vessel that will carry out humanitarian and environmental missions for Japan-based NGO Peace Boat from 2020, has been finalised. The ship, which will incorporate ten solar-powered sails, retractable wind generators and hybrid engines, has been touted as the greenest cruise vessel in the world.
Peace Boat itself is an interesting organisation. It was established 35 years ago and takes passengers to visit ports and countries around the world. The majority of people on board are Japanese, but English and Spanish-speakers also join them. The cruise is designed to be a cultural learning experience, with expert presenters, performers and the opportunity to learn Japanese. On the website they say:
“Our voyages feature hands-on experiences both onboard the ship and ashore at our ports of call. Each activity is designed to enrich passengers’ lives, promote sustainability, and build long-lasting friendships across borders. Each cruise brings together more than 1,000 adventurers of diverse ages and nationalities, who become a tight-knit community as they travel the world together.”
“Peace Boat is a committed campaigner for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. Also known as the “Global Calls”, the SDGs are a call to action to protect the planet and end poverty. We sail with the SDG logo on our ship, and our programs onboard and in port engage people to take action for the goals.”
I must find out more.

Turning to a different mode of transport…
Learning to live with an electric car

We've now had our electric car for more than three weeks and we're beginning to expand our knowledge. The main issue is about charging it, particularly when away from home. So far we’ve been charging it at home, plugging it into an ordinary domestic 13 amp socket. This is a very slow method of charging, but perfectly adequate for restoring the battery overnight. Our car came with two cables; one for connecting to chargers and one with a special interface built into it which allows us to plug it into the domestic socket. Buyer beware message here for anyone thinking of buying an electric car. I have heard of that if you buy an electric Renault you don't get the cable for the domestic point as standard. New owners have found that they have to buy it as an extra at around £500. Something to check before you sign the order for your new car.
The dealer who sold us our car gave us very little information about charging. The attitude was that the way we chose to fuel the vehicle was really nothing to do with them. 
Finding the networks
Our car comes with an app which allows us to programme the charging time so that we can take advantage of off-peak electricity. It also shows local public charging points. However I’ve have discovered that there are several different networks and the one that's related to our car - - has only one charging point in the local area. Fortunately the other networks are better represented, and in principle we can use them. I say in principle, because the networks all have their own access protocols. Some, although I have yet to find them, apparently let you charge on demand using a credit card. Most networks require you to set up an account and you activate the charging point either by using an app on your phone or with an RFID smart card. This sets the unit charging and deducts the cost by direct debit from your bank account. Some charging units are free to use. Hotels sometimes have them for their guests.
How fast?
Apart from the range of different networks, there are different types of charger, differing in two main ways. First of all there are rapid, fast and slow chargers, although Ecotricity, who have a near monopoly on chargers on English motorways,  - they call rapid “fast” and they call fast “medium” and they don’t mention slow.
At present in the UK a rapid charger delivers up to 50 kW. A fast charger delivers between 7kw and 22 kW while a slow charger is basically equivalent to a domestic socket and runs at about 2kW. 
Plugging in
Secondly, there are at least three different types of plug: Chademo, CCS and Type 2. Tesla appears to have its own as well. These plugs are associated with different rates and different methods of charging, and your car will determine which one you can use and how fast it will charge. Every electric car has an on-board charger, although it would be more accurate to call it a charging interface. The electric smart model which preceded ours had a 7kW interface. You could plug it in to any charger with a Type 2 plug, but regardless of the power of the charger, the car would only take 7kW. Our car has a 22kW interface, so with the right charger it will charge up three times as quickly.
The Hyundai Experience
On the blog I’ve put a link to a video which recounts one motorist’s experience with the Hyundai Ionic Electric on long journeys. This car has a CCS rapid charger socket but he finds that the number of CCS-equipped charging stations on motorways is small. There seemed to be far more Chademo units. He's also quite critical of the Ecotricity app which sometimes shows chargers as available when they are actually in use or out of order. He clearly likes his car, but has found the charging process to be quite frustrating. Take note that this video dates from February 2018, so things may have changed by now.
Buy Secondhand?
The prices of secondhand electric cars are currently low and late model low mileage vehicles can be had at substantial discounts to the new price. The technology is advancing rapidly, so if you are tempted to buy one check how it differs from the current model. What is its range? Expect to get no more than 70% of the quoted figure - more than that in summer but significantly less in a cold winter. Is the battery as big as the one on the current model? What charging rate will it support and does it have rapid-charge capability? If you are going to charge at home, does it come with the correct cable?
If you are going to charge at home it is better to have a socket on a dedicated spur because you will be using a high current for an extended period. Better still to install a domestic charger. There are government grants to cover part of the cost of these and if you switch your electricity and gas to Ecotricity they will give you a special deal on a charger.
Superfast Future
What of the future? A consortium of major European motor manufacturers is developing IONITY, a network of 350kW chargers which are really fast. Already they have units in operation across Europe and Scandinavia, although probably less than 100 locations in total. Many more are under construction, including two in the UK and one in Ireland. They are standardising on the CCS plug.
Charging at this rate gets close to the time need for filling a conventional car with petrol. Maybe we will see charging stations combining with or taking over from filling stations. Of course you can only get the benefit if your car is designed to take charge at this rate.
Finding the Power
One question that is always raised is where will we get all the electricity from? It’s a key question, if we’re going to switch the nation’s transport fleet from oil to electricity. One thing to remember though, is that a petrol or diesel car is about 35% efficient. An electric car is about 80% efficient, so we’ll need less than half the energy to power the fleet. It’s been suggested that if we all drive electric cars and we all get home at the same time and put them on charge it will overload the electricity grid. However, as ranges increase and public chargers become faster it will no longer be necessary to charge every day . Also, if people charge at home most domestic chargers are very much smaller than the public rapid chargers - 7kW rather than 50kW. And if people charge at home they will often charge overnight when it’s cheaper.
I’m still driving my 13-year-old hybrid. Lovely car, but after 147,000 miles repairs are starting to get expensive. I think my next car will be electric.

I told you that I had been reading books and the one I want to talk to you about today is Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It was actually published a year ago so you may already have seen it, but if not I recommend you track it down.
It starts with a quiz, a multiple-choice questionnaire on the state of the world. Here is a spoiler alert. Before I examine it in detail you can try it out for yourself by going to . See if you are one of the 13% who get it right.
What do you know?
Okay, I'm going to go on now and tell you all about it. As I said, it's a multiple-choice questionnaire, and asks things like: 
  • In all low income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school? 20%, 40% or 60%.?
  • Where does the majority of the world’s population live? In low income countries, in middle income countries or in high income countries?
  • There are 2 billion children in the world today, aged 0 to 15 years old. How many children will there be in the year 2100 according to the UN? 4 billion, 3 billion, or 2 billion?
  • How many people in the world have some access to electricity? 20%, 50% or 80%?
Only 13% of the people that Rosling surveyed got the answers right. He questioned people in all walks of life including business leaders at the world economic forum and politicians and government ministers, as well as students and people from all types of education, occupation and background. They all thought that things were far worse than they really are. This is particularly worrying if politicians and people who are governing the countries of the world are basing their actions on a worldview which is 30 years out of date.
The right answers to these questions are that 60% of girls finish primary school in low-income countries, the majority of the world’s population lives in middle income countries, the United Nations estimates that there will still be no more than 2 billion children in the year 2100 and 80% of people in the world today have some access to electricity. How did you do?
One of the most interesting facts to me was the explanation of why population is likely to reach 11 billion by 2075, and then to peak at that point and stabilise at that level. The reasoning is based on the fact that the birth rate has collapsed over the last 50 years to just about replacement level. In 1965 the global average number of births per woman was five. By 2017 it was 2.5. The current population contains a large proportion of young people who will reach childbearing age and replace themselves. This will increase the population but as those generations get older each following generation will be of the same size and will only replace itself. Some population increase will occur because people are living longer, but that cannot increase indefinitely, so that, combined with a fixed number of women giving birth at replacement level each year, means that population will stabilise. See Chapter 3 of the book for more detail, charts and graphs.
Factfulness analyses each of its questions in detail and explains how misunderstandings arise and how misinformation may be promoted. It is a useful review of the issues which affect sustainability and a valuable guide to avoid taking headlines and statistics at face value, but rather to analyse, question and understand.
I recommend you get hold of it and dip into it to enjoy insights like “The negativity instinct”, “The straight line instinct”, “the blame instinct”, “the size instinct” and “let’s beat up grandma.”
Factfulness by Hans Rosling is available from all good bookshops and no doubt from disreputable ones as well.

News this week that UK carbon emissions are down.
Carbon Brief reports that UK carbon emissions have fallen by 38% since 1990. This, they say, is faster than any other major developed country. According to their analysis, the most significant factors include a cleaner electricity mix based on gas and renewables instead of coal, as well as falling demand for energy across homes, businesses and industry. 
A cleaner electricity generation mix accounts for more than one third of the improvement, as gas and renewables displace coal. 
The report says:
“UK and international emissions accounting practice counts bioenergy as zero-carbon at the point of use, a convention followed in this article. Upstream emissions due to harvesting, drying, storing and transporting imported bioenergy, as well as from associated changes in land use and forest carbon stocks are, in theory, accounted for in the country of origin.
"These emissions can be large and in some scenarios could offset or even outweigh the climate benefit of replacing coal with biomass-fired power. Note, however, that only around a quarter of the bioenergy used in the UK is imported.”
Bioenergy is a significant proportion of the new generation mix and a significant proportion of bioenergy use is accounted for by Drax power station, the UK’s largest. It has now converted four of its six boilers to burn wood pellets instead of coal. The theory is that the CO2 produced by burning this wood is offset by the growth of new trees. In the case of Drax, the pellets are mainly imported from forests in the United States. Note the phrase in the report, “…accounting practice counts bioenergy as zero-carbon at the point of use…” That’s the accounting practice, but the reality is that Drax releases tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every day, probably as much as if it were burning coal, and will continue to do so indefinitely or at least until someone makes Carbon Capture and Storage work.
News from the Arctic
The Climate Action website informs us that research, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveals that the Arctic is experiencing its warmest century for 115,000 years.
Simon Pendleton, lead author and a doctoral researcher in CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), said: “The Arctic is currently warming two to three times faster than the rest of the globe, so naturally, glaciers and ice caps are going to react faster.”
He added: “You’d normally expect to see different plant ages in different topographical conditions. A high elevation location might hold onto its ice longer, for example. But the magnitude of warming is so high that everything is melting everywhere now. We haven’t seen anything as pronounced as this before.”
Time to urgently reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases, I think.
Drax again
I have great admiration for Drax. It’s the UK’s biggest power station, it’s based on 1960’s technology and nearly 60 years on has developed to be one of the most efficient in the country. It aims to be clean by converting to biomass, but arguably that’s not really the case. If the wood that it burns were left to rot it would in time release CO2, but that could be over a very long period. Wood built into houses or made into furniture may not release its carbon for centuries. Drax burns wood in a flash and there’s CO2 emissions from the supply chain as well - the forestry equipment, the pelleting plants, the docks, the ships and the purpose-built freight trains.
It’s glib to say it’s time to shut it all down. Drax supplies around 5% of the UK’s electricity and that cannot replaced at short notice. It must be replaced though, and if we cannot develop alternative clean generation in time then we must accelerate the efficiency of energy use and the reduction of electricity demand. Of course that would be politically impossible in many countries. Sadly, although the canary collapsed in the coal mine long ago, the majority of our politicians fail to understand the seriousness of our position; still less are prepared to do anything about it. 
We need a leader to get things done. Anybody seen one?

Green Investors
Global investors have called on six fast food giants to act urgently on the climate and water risks in their supply chain. They have sent letters to companies such as Dominoes, KFC and McDonalds.
A new investor briefing from FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return) highlighted the environmental impact of the meat and dairy producers that supply the fast food chains. Agricultural emissions, including those from meat and dairy, are on track to contribute to more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
A Green Lent?
This comes in a week when the Pope has been challenged to go vegan for Lent. Campaigners have promised to donate $1 million to a charity of his choice if he does so.
Green Clothing
The rag trade is also in the firing line. The Environmental Audit Committee has found that six UK fashion retailers are significantly failing to reduce their environmental impact. While some retailers are fully engaged, others have failed to sign up to the SCAP targets to reduce their carbon, waste and water footprint. SCAP, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, sets targets for 2020 by which time signatories pledge to have achieved
  • 15% reduction in carbon footprint;
  • 15% reduction in water footprint;
  • 15% reduction in waste to landfill; and
  • 3.5% reduction in waste arising over the whole product life-cycle,
by comparison with 2012 levels.
This week the launch was announced of My Wardrobe HQ, an on-line clothing supplier which will rent rather than sell its products. To rent items, shoppers and brands will agree a set price to be paid alongside a deposit. The deposit will be released to the renter once the goods have been safely returned.
Green Furniture
At the same time furniture store IKEA announced plans to lease rather than sell its furniture. There will be a pilot study in Switzerland, initially for the office furniture market. If all goes well this service could be extended to the retail consumer.
Both these initiatives are in line with the spirit of the circular economy. It goes way beyond reduce, reuse and recycle. It will incorporate refurbish, repair and remanufacture, to maximise the value gained not only from the materials, but from the energy and labour which were used in the original manufacture. 

More pressure from investors.
Oil and gas giant BP has announced its pledge to disclose how its strategy will align with the Paris climate goals. This follows a move from investors proposing a resolution to be put to shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in May 2019. The resolution will also require BP to set out how the company evaluates the consistency of each new material capital investment with the goals of the Paris Agreement
Stephanie Pfeifer, a member of the global Climate Action 100+ steering committee and CEO of the IIGCC (Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change), explains: 
“Investors are helping ensure climate change is firmly on the boardroom agenda, which is especially important for the oil and gas sector. It’s encouraging to see major companies such as BP moving in the right direction. Global carbon emissions need to be reduced urgently and investors expect other companies in the sector to follow suit.”
Separately, BP also announced that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions have now been included as a factor in the reward of 36,000 employees across the Group and around the world, including executive directors.
It is interesting that BP now owns Chargemaster, a major charging network for electric vehicles. And Shell is partnering with IONITY, the group rolling out a network of 350kW chargers across Europe.

And finally…
Do you have a dog? Is your dog one of the millions in the UK that chomp through a meaty diet? Eating meat causes climate change, some would claim, and there’s more than a grain of truth in that. So, if you’re going vegan, now your pet can too. Yora Pet Foods announce their dog food based on insects. Oh, OK, it’s probably not vegan but at least it doesn’t require the slaughter of large animals.

And finally, finally…
I just had to slip this news item in. You’ll remember the Juliana case, which involves a number of young people in the US suing the government for damaging their life chances by allowing the oil and gas industries to operate in a way which can damage the planet. The administration has spent years trying to get the case struck out before it goes to trial. Here’s a quote from a report on the latest hearing:
“The Trump administration attorneys also argue …that United States citizens have no constitutional right to a “liveable climate.””
Well that’s good to know.

And finally, that really is it for this week. Apologies to Patrons who are getting this only half a day earlier than the rest of the world. Sorry, but life seems to get in the way of these weekly words.  
Warm thanks to my Patrons who support my efforts with a monthly contribution to cover the costs of hosting. It’s much appreciated. Your ideas are valuable too.
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I’m Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.

And I’m off to think about next week’s episode.