Friday, June 28, 2019

It Won't Go Away!

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It Won’t Go Away!
It's Friday, it's 28th June, I'm Anthony Day and this is your latest Sustainable Futures Report. Welcome. In the week when Network Rail told its staff that if they needed to travel on business they should not take the train if it was cheaper to fly, I bring you yet more on plastic pollution– It's just won't go away.
Can we cut carbon dioxide by using direct air capture? Patron Tom de Simone provides some clues. We look at global heating, heatwaves and melting ice caps. Are the fashion industry and the rise of artificial intelligence working against us? Client Earth had a musical windfall this week, a peaceful protester was manhandled from London’s Mansion House, they do things differently in Scotland and it could be OK to eat meat again - as long as it’s not made from animals.
Patrons Only
Now here’s a special announcement exclusively for patrons. I think it’s time we got together on line to share ideas and discuss pressing climate issues. I’m going to set something up and I’ll publish details to all patrons via the Patreon site very shortly. If you’d like to become a patron and support the Sustainable Futures Report with as little as $1 per month please go across to for all the details.

Plastic Pollution
Have you been watching the BBC’s War on Plastic? The last episode was this week and you should be able to pick it up on BBC iPlayer if you’re in the UK. In case you don't have
time to catch up on iPlayer here are some points that I picked out of the last two episodes. 
First they looked at wet wipes and surprised many people by revealing that most of these products are 85% plastic. They visited a sewage farm in Bristol where 16 tons of wet wipes had been extracted from the drains over a 3 1/2 day period. Apparently this is normal. 11 billion wipes are sold each year in the UK. The programme contacted the principal manufacturers of wipes: Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Kimberly-Clark. The first two did not respond while Kimberly-Clark offered to arrange an interview but then changed its mind. 
Abandoned not Recycled
In a previous episode we mentioned the vast amounts of abandoned recycling discovered in Malaysia. Local authority recycling bags made it quite clear that this rubbish had come from United Kingdom. The programme took the bags back to the local authority in question who were quite unable to respond and terminated the interview.
We've heard about micro-plastics and the programme looked at polyester and acrylic clothing and how these fabrics shed fibres every time they are washed. A single wash could release 700,000 fibres and while most of these will make their way into the oceans they discovered that there are more particles in the atmosphere than in any fish you may eat. There are plastic fibres in rainwater which are shed from clothing. These particles are found everywhere and are the type of particles that are capable of deep lung penetration. The long term health effects of this pollution are not yet known.
In the latest episode the programme visited the INEOS plastics production factory at Grangemouth. There they produce between 60 and 70 billion plastic pellets, or nurdles, each day. They have a special fleet of ships which bring fracked gas from the United States as the raw material for production. Apart from the gas, the energy requirement for the plant was equivalent to the electricity consumption of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen combined. It's unsurprising then, that the plastics industry accounts for 15% of global carbon emissions. Plastic production is expected to increase by anything between four and six times by 2050. The reaction of the plant director to the problem of plastic pollution was that it could be curbed by recycling. In his view chemical recycling would be practical within two or three years, allowing scrapped plastic to become raw material in the circular manufacturing process.
Toys no Joke
We learnt that plastic toys, particularly those given away by restaurant chains like Burger King and McDonald's, cause recycling problems. It says on the pack that they can be recycled but a spokesman from the Recycling Association said that in practice they are often made from different plastics bonded together and while each could be recycled it is simply not cost-effective to break down these toys and separate the materials. These toys have to be manually separated from the waste stream, otherwise they contaminate it. We were told that McDonald's is the largest distributor of toys in the world and a straw poll of parents and children reveals that toys given away with a meal are likely to be thrown away very quickly. Two schoolgirls raised 160,000 signatures on a petition asking for these toys to be stopped. Having no reply to letters, the programme team took them to McDonald’s HQ to deliver the petition. They asked for the sustainability director and were told someone was coming down. 
Turned Off Site
He proved to be the security manager, who escorted them off site. Nice one, McDonald’s, to do that on prime time nationwide tv. They did eventually invite the girls back in to leave the petition at reception, but that was hardly a PR triumph.
The Minister Responds
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall visited Environment Secretary Michael Gove twice during the series and made him aware of the plastic pollution problem and its international dimension. At present producers pay 10% of disposal costs and local authorities pick up the rest. Gove agreed that producers should bear 100% and provided for that in his Waste and Recycling Strategy. That is not yet legislation. We need to be sure that the legislation goes through.
#take it back.
The series ended with a call to #take it back. To take back plastic to the supermarkets with your message written on it about what supermarkets should be doing about plastics. The closing shots of the programme showed celebrities including Sir David Attenborough writing out their messages.
Industry Response
While researching this piece I came across a statement from the Recycling Association called DON'T DISMISS RECYCLING EXPORTS ON THE BASIS OF A FEW BAD APPLES. 
“The export of recycled materials has a place in part of a global economy, but these need to be high-quality materials.
“After launching its Quality First campaign more than three years ago, our membership has committed to producing a high-quality secondary commodity and wants the rest of the supply chain to work to the same goals. This means that manufacturers, retailers and local authorities all need to commit to producing a high-quality product for use by both UK and export recyclers. News that Malaysia is returning containers of materials back to the UK and other countries shows the need for joined-up thinking to achieve this.
“Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: "We are entering very difficult waters. From the photos I have seen of the material being sent back to countries around the world, it looks like the mixed supermarket films that are collected from the kerbside collection schemes by local authorities.
“These particular materials are so variable and difficult to separate and recycle that we have a stark choice now of whether to stop collecting them altogether or move the material down the waste hierarchy and incinerate them while recovering the energy. The longer-term solution of course is for the producers not to produce them in the first place – a trip around any supermarket fruit and vegetable aisle has me shaking my head in disbelief at the plethora of unnecessary plastics ‘protecting’ the produce.
“The Recycling Association is against illegal exports of general waste rubbish and poor quality materials to other nations. That is why we launched our Quality First campaign three years ago to push for materials to meet the legal specifications of the importing country. Our members want to trade quality secondary commodities to these nations.”
Fashion Footprint
It was claimed this week that the fashion industry creates a bigger carbon footprint than the whole of the aviation industry. Sounds like a shocking statistic and makes a good headline, but is it true? It appears to come from a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which says,
“… total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production, at 1.2 billion tonnes annually, are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.”
Incidentally, it goes on,
“Hazardous substances affect the health of both textile workers and wearers of clothes, and they escape into the environment. When washed, some garments release plastic microfibres, of which around half a million tonnes every year contribute to ocean pollution – 16 times more than plastic microbeads from cosmetics. Trends point to these negative impacts rising inexorably, with the potential for catastrophic outcomes in future.” 
Environmental Audit Committee
This was picked up by the Environmental Audit Committee in its report “Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability”, which includes 18 recommendations. There’s a link to the document which include the government’s response to each point. A wide range of issues is covered. Here’s Recommendation 15:
The Government must end the era of throwaway fashion. It should make fashion retailers take responsibility for the waste they create by introducing an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for textiles and reward companies that take positive action to reduce waste. A charge of one penny per garment on producers could raise £35 million for investment in better clothing collection and sorting in the UK. This could create new ‘green’ jobs in the sorting sector, particularly in areas where textile recycling is already a specialist industry such as Huddersfield, Batley, Dewsbury and Wakefield in West Yorkshire. The Government’s recent pledge to review and consult on how to deal with textile waste by 2025 is too little too late. We need action before the end of this parliament (2022)
The government declined to impose the 1p levy, and generally rejected all the committee’s recommendations on the grounds that existing measures were adequate. Mary Creagh MP, committee chair, said: 
“The Government has rejected our call, demonstrating that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment and exploit workers despite having just committed to net zero emission targets. Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the earth.”
Another source of carbon footprints that you might not immediately think of is AI. Yes, artificial intelligence. According to the MIT Technological Review training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes. How can this be?
The story is based on a paper published by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The paper specifically examines the model training process for natural-language processing (NLP, no, not that NLP), the subfield of AI that focuses on teaching machines to handle human language. In the last two years, the NLP community has reached several noteworthy performance milestones in machine translation, sentence completion, and other standard benchmarking tasks. OpenAI’s infamous GPT-2 model, as one example, excelled at writing convincing fake news articles.
But such advances have required training ever larger models on sprawling data sets of sentences scraped from the internet. The approach is computationally expensive—and highly energy intensive. Hence the conclusion that training an AI model could release as much CO2 as the lifetime emissions of five American cars, including the emissions from their manufacture.
Do we need an AI model that can write fake news? How about one that can write podcasts? And one that can listen to them.

And now for a change of Air
DAC - Direct Air Capture
Patron Tom de Simone draws my attention to Climeworks, a direct air capture company. This is geo-engineering or negative emissions technology, a process which takes CO2 from the air and either stores it or sells it for commercial use. In common with Carbon Engineering of British Columbia and Global Thermostat which is very coy about its location but is probably in the US, this organisation emphasises the fact that the IPCC has said that cutting carbon emissions on its own will not be enough to avoid the 1.5°C warming threshold and that carbon extraction from the atmosphere will be needed as well. CO2 is used in carbonated drinks and you may remember that there was a shortage last year. It's also used in fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fuels and horticulture. With the possible exception of plastics, all these uses release the CO2 back into the atmosphere. The capture may have reduced the production of new CO2 from other sources but it surely cannot have any significant overall effect. The commercial reality is that it takes energy and therefore incurs cost, to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and contain it. 
What makes Climeworks different appears to be that some of the CO2 which they extract is permanently stored. They inject it into underground rocks where it reacts to become an inert mineral, locked up effectively for ever. Is this the elusive carbon capture and storage?
There are still costs involved in this process, of course, but Climeworks’ main capture and storage facility is in Iceland where they can use geothermal energy to power the whole process. Climeworks are offering an offset scheme to travellers. For €7 per month you can offset 15% of a global average travel footprint, but 100% costs a monthly €49.
Making Comparison
The Climeworks website has an interesting comparison between storing CO2 by growing more trees, by using biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), with enhanced weathering and with their direct air capture and storage system. (Enhanced weathering involves spreading crushed silicate rocks on the land to absorb and bind CO2 chemically.)  
They found that growing trees and using BECCS both require very significant amounts of water and large areas of land while enhanced weathering also occupies land and could change the chemistry of watercourses and be a threat to wildlife. Unsurprisingly they find that the Climeworks system has none of these drawbacks. Patron Tom saw a post on Twitter endorsing the benefits of the Climeworks system and posed what I thought were some very pertinent questions:
1. Will it scale?
2. Where's the energy coming from to power it?
3. How carbon-intensive is it to manufacture the chemicals?
4. Can we justify other DAC outputs (fizzy drinks, synthetic fuels etc), given the massive CO2 reductions needed right now?
To which the enigmatic response came: Fret less. Do more. 
The correspondent seems to have worked for Exxon in the past, but beyond that we know nothing.
An offset that works?
We spoke last week about offsets involving trees and how the plantations have been cut down in some cases long before they have achieved their objective. A tree needs to live for 100 years to offset the persistence of co2 in the atmosphere. Carbon capture by combining co2 into rock must be attractive, because unlike a tree it never needs any maintenance or attention. Tom’s question is key: will it scale? I’m sure Drax power station would love to know. In Iceland the right sort of rocks for the sequestration are underneath the capture stations, next to the geothermal sources which power the process. Other regions, like the Vale of York where Drax is located, may not be suitable.
We need systems like these but they must be regulated, inspected and controlled. We need to verify that operators have extracted what they said they would extract. We need to know that no sequestered CO2 is ever sold more than once to different people. And we surely can’t rely on conscience-stricken travellers to fund the technology that’s going to save the rest of us. If it works and if it scales then governments should be taking it over and operating it as part of our armoury against the climate crisis.
Let’s hope it scales, because Climeworks has vowed to extract 1% of global CO₂ emissions from the air.
Meat-free Meat
Have you gone vegetarian yet, like all responsible environmentalists? No neither have I.
Consultants A T Kearny have written a paper in which they suggest that a number of meat alternatives are evolving, each with the potential to disrupt the multibillion-dollar global meat industry. They report that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), nearly half of the worldwide harvest is required to feed the livestock population, which consists of about 1.4 billion bovines, 1 billion pigs, 20 billion poultry, and 1.9 billion sheep, lamb, and goats (see figure 1). Agricultural production directly for human consumption accounts for just 37 percent, representing the second largest harvest consumption block (ahead of biofuel, industrial production, and others). Thus, most of the harvest is fed to animals to produce meat, which finally is consumed by humans. Clearly this is not an efficient way to feed the global population, which is expected to grow from the current 7.7 billion to some 10 billion by 2050. The authors calculate that we could feed around twice as many humans with today’s global harvest if we did not feed livestock but rather consumed the yield ourselves. They also suggest that solutions for Increasing the Efficiency of Conventional Meat Production Have Been Almost Exhausted.
Vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes have been around for many years and high-protein insects are a significant element of the diet in many parts of the world. Now wholly plant-based products are available which look like, taste like and have the texture of meat. Impossible Foods meat-like products are available in over 6,000 restaurants in the US. A company called JUST offers scrambled eggs, and a whole range of egg dishes, without eggs.  Beyond Meat claims its sausages, patties and mince can be found in over 33,000 GROCERY STORES, RESTAURANTS, HOTELS, UNIVERSITIES.
Clearly it will take time to scale up production to a level which will significantly replace farmed meat and I’ve not been able to find information about the relative costs of these products. Nevertheless, the revolution has started and Kearney concludes that by 2040 the market for conventionally produced meat will have fallen by over 33%.
Ruffian at Large
I’m sure there were no veggie burgers on the menu at the Mansion House banquet in the City of London the other night. There was a band of Greenpeace protesters, ladies in long dresses, who invaded the event shouting down the speaker and handing out leaflets about the climate crisis. Government minister Mark Field pushed his chair in front of one of the ladies, shoved her against a pillar, grasped her firmly by the neck and manhandled her out of the building and into the street.
To their shame, some diners applauded his action. To her credit, as soon as she heard about the incident Prime Minister May suspended Field from his post. Whether Mark Field was angry at having his meal disturbed, angry because the speech by Chancellor Philip Hammond was interrupted or cross because he did not want to face up to people warning of climate catastrophe, we shall probably never know. When Philip Hammond resumed his speech he remarked that it was ironic that such a protest should take place in the week when the prime minister had committed to a 100% reduction in emissions by 2050 (something which he himself opposed, by the way.) Let’s just look at that legislation again. Here’s the full text:

Amendment of the target for 2050
2.—(1) Section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008 is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), for “80%” substitute “100%”. 

Bit short on detail, don’t you think?

In Other News
In Bihar, one of the poorest areas of India, 49 people died on Saturday of heatstroke in just 24 hours.
With temperatures in Bihar hovering consistently at around 45C (113F), hospitals were inundated with people suffering from heatstroke. The death toll has since risen to at least 60 and, with many heatstroke victims still in hospital, is expected to rise further.
Melting Icefields
The Guardian and other papers published a picture of scientists riding their dog sleds out across the ice sheet in Northern Greenland. The dogs are wading through ankle-deep meltwater.
European Dissent
Meanwhile, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have refused to sign up to an EU document setting out a net-zero carbon emissions target for 2050. 
Ethical Investing
On the other hand, an ethical investment operation by the UK’s largest asset manager, Legal and General Investment Management, has dumped shares in a string of US companies it has deemed climate crisis laggards, including oil giant ExxonMobil and insurer Metlife.
Citizens’ assembly
Six House of Commons select committees have announced that a citizens’ assembly on the climate crisis will be set up later in the year. It is the second of the three demands made by the Extinction Rebellion. Mrs May has already addressed their first demand for a zero-carbon Britain, although she did not go as far as their third demand, which was that this should be achieved by 2025.
Last week I spoke about New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget. Richard Lane tells me that Scotland has a National Performance Framework setting out a range of non-economic measures of its worth as a country and charting its progress to improve them. There’s a link on the blog.

And finally,
David Gilmour of Pink Floyd has just sold 120 of his guitars and decided to donate the proceeds to a good cause. This means that Client Earth receives £17m. I’ve mentioned Client Earth several times previously and its actions against the British government for not acting to clean up illegal levels of air pollution.
James Thornton, ClientEarth CEO said: “I’d like to express my deep and heartfelt gratitude to David Gilmour for this utterly remarkable gift. David has a long history of supporting charities and I am honoured that he has chosen ClientEarth to benefit from this landmark auction.
“ClientEarth is working across the world, using the law to fight climate change and protect nature, and this gift will do an enormous amount to support our efforts to ensure a sustainable and hospitable planet for future generations” 

And On That Note…
…I leave you for another week. 
I'm Anthony Day
That was the Sustainable Futures Report and, as promised, there will be another episode next week and it will be about rare earth.
Until then….Sources
Recycling exports

Most 'meat' in 2040 will not come from dead animals, says report
Mansion House Fracas

India heatwave: rain brings respite for some but death toll rises

Photograph lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice

Central European countries block EU moves towards 2050 zero carbon goal

Major global investor drops US firms deemed climate crisis laggards

UK citizens’ assembly on climate emergency announced

Scotland has a National Performance Framework setting out a range of non-economic measures of its worth as a country and charting its progress to improve them:

Sweet Music for Client Earth

Friday, June 21, 2019

Zero in 2050

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ZERO in 2050
We're on our way to zero in 2050 but maybe via 1984. Hello and welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 21 June.
I'm Anthony Day with your weekly helping of sustainability news. This is the week when Extinction Rebellion promised to blockade Heathrow airport but didn't, the week when Heathrow airport opened consultation on its plans for a new third runway, when outgoing prime minister Theresa May pledged to reduce the U.K.'s carbon emissions by not 80%, but by a full 100% by 2050. She's obviously leaving that for somebody else to achieve and we’ll examine how feasible that really is.
Is there more to life than GDP and growth? And how should we talk about all these sustainability issues? And 1984? Have you read it? This year is the 70th anniversary of its publication. It's the story of a totalitarian surveillance society. That certainly didn't happen in 1984, but you can make up your own mind about what's happening now.
First of all, a big hello and welcome to all of you across the world listening to the Sustainable Futures Report podcast. If it's your first, fifth or 50th time you're very welcome. And a special thank-you to my patrons who each contribute a small amount each month which helps to cover the costs of hosting and preparing this podcast. Find out more about that at All opinions are my own, the illustrations on the blog generally come from Pixabay, but otherwise I'll purchase from Shutterstock or similar. The music is licensed as well. I rely on a wide range of newspapers, TV and radio programmes and websites for content  and I credit my sources wherever possible. You'll find all the links on the blog, which contains the full text of each episode and it's at
Extinction Rebellion announced plans to blockade Heathrow Airport on 18th June in protest at the proposed third runway, but admitted the day before that it would not do so, nor would it disrupt the airport in July. Extinction Rebellion supporters have been prepared to be arrested at previous demonstrations, but maybe it was the threat of penalties including life imprisonment that led them to back down. Or perhaps it was a publicity stunt and they intended to back down all along.
Net Zero
As Theresa May leaves office she has announced that the UK will reduce its GHG emissions by 2050 as I said, not by 80% but by a full 100%. Zero net emissions by 2050. Is this a response to Extinction Rebellion’s Easter demands for the government to tell the truth, admit that there’s a climate crisis and announce plans to deal with it? Or perhaps Mrs May intended to do this all along.
What has she actually done? Last month Parliament debated the issue and came to a conclusion - without a vote - that there was indeed a climate crisis. This is now a matter of record, but the debate has no executive consequences and did not bind the government or instruct it do to anything at all. Mrs May says we will end the UK contribution to climate change by 2050 and claims that the legislation puts the UK on the path to become the first major economy to set net zero emissions target in law. What she has done is to amend the 2008 Climate Change Act to say that the UK’s net emissions will be reduced by 100% of 1990 levels, instead of the previous 80%, taking into account technological advances since the Act was first passed. Interestingly, the explanatory note to the amendment states “A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument.” 
Youth Steering Group
At the same time the prime minister announced the creation of the Youth Steering Group. The Group, set up by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and led by the British Youth Council, will advise Government on priorities for environmental action and give a view on progress to date against existing commitments on climate, waste and recycling, and biodiversity loss. They will start their review in July.
The main advice on how to achieve the 2050 target comes from the recent report of the Committee on Climate Change. As reported last month, the Committee set out the following steps: 
  • Quadrupling the supply of low-carbon electricity by 2050,
  • Improving the efficiency of the whole of the UK’s building stock and introducing low-carbon heating 
  • Introducing electric vehicles, which should be the only option from 2035 or earlier, (the present target for the UK government is 2040, although many other countries have chosen earlier dates.)
  • Developing carbon capture and storage technology and low-carbon hydrogen.  The committee says these are a necessity not an option, but such development has not so far been successful on a commercial scale,
  • Stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, 
  • Phasing-out potent fluorinated gases, (presumably used in refrigerators and air conditioning) 
  • Increasing tree planting
  • Introducing measures to reduce emissions on farms. 

The committee also said that these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.
Emissions Rising
This comes at a time when BP’s latest Statistical Review of World Energy reveals that carbon emissions from the global energy industry rose last year at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels.
Investors on the March
Also this week, 88 investors with nearly US$10 trillion assets are targeting companies that are not transparent enough about their environmental impact, and pushing them to disclose this information through CDP, the non-profit global environmental disclosure platform.
The investors are targeting 707 companies with US$15.3 trillion market capitalisation across 46 counties for not reporting their climate change, water security and deforestation data.
This includes Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Amazon, Volvo, Alibaba, Qantas Airways as well as palm oil company Genting Plantations Bhd.
These companies have been selected because of their high environmental impact and lack of transparency on these issues to date. 
546 companies are being targeted to disclose on climate change, 166 on water security and 115 on deforestation.
Counting the Cost
But according to The Independent, Chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused of trying to block Mrs May’s landmark bid to wipe out UK contributions to global warming by 2050, by claiming the bill will be more than £1 trillion.
Campaigners and opposition politicians protested that the chancellor’s warning – revealed in a leaked letter – ignored the massive cost of failing to act on runaway climate change. Nevertheless, as of this week Hammond was still reported as contemplating resignation, in protest at the cost of this and other projects which the prime minister has announced. He was strongly critical of measures which he believed would tie the hands of the next prime minister.
Financing the Debate
Open Democracy reports that two of the candidates hoping to be the next prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have both received campaign contributions from Tory donor and climate change denier Terence Mordaunt. Mordaunt is a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the advocacy arm of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation. The group has been accused of “giving a platform to fringe climate science deniers” and getting “credibility within the political world through its high-profile Westminster connections.” Boris Johnson has himself described concerns about climate change as a “primitive fear” that is “without foundation”, although he has since said that Extinction Rebellion were “right to sound the alarm about all manner of man-made pollution, including CO2”. But he suggested they should criticise China rather than the UK.
Ultimate Price of the Truth
A worrying report from the Guardian reveals that journalists investigating environmental crimes are considered to be as much at risk as they would be in a war zone. An increasing number of journalists are being murdered, with many more threatened and intimidated. Some people will go to extreme lengths to hold on to what everyone should share. Others find that the law will do their work for them.
Leave it to the Lawyers
In another article Open Democracy claims that legal action will prevent any prime minister from achieving Theresa May’s targets. The Conservative Party continues to support Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), mechanisms in trade agreements which are used by investors to sue government for changes in policy which harms their profits. The UK has ISDS agreements with 106 countries around the world, and is likely to sign more such agreements after Brexit. ISDS has been used by dozens of multinational companies, many of them headquartered in Britain, to challenge environmental legislation. 
In 2009, Swedish energy firm Vattenfall sued Germany for introducing policies designed to curb water pollution and carbon emissions - both of which, unsurprisingly, affected the profitability of their coal power station. The case resulted in a settlement where the local authority repealed the environmental legislation despite the fact that this led to Germany being found in breach of the EU habitats directive.
More recently, in 2012, US energy firm Lone Pine sued Canada over a ban on fracking in Quebec, under Canada’s free trade agreement with the US (NAFTA, since replaced by USMCA). The case went ahead despite local opposition to fracking, and evidence of the risks of fracking to the environment and human health. Although the outcome of the case is still pending, the precedent is likely to discourage other local and national authorities from regulating fracking. And it will make it very difficult for the UK to achieve its 2050 target. 
Heavy Breathing
Too many people seem to follow the Chancellor and to prize short-term convenience or economic growth over long-term risk. For example, Madrid’s new rightwing council has just suspended low-emissions zones. There are delays reported to introducing such zones in Birmingham and Leeds and there’s a petition calling for the new ULEZ in London to be scrapped, despite the capital’s appalling air quality.
Meanwhile, XR says 2050 is far too late and we need to aim for 100% reduction by 2025. Norway and Finland are committed to 100% reductions by 2030 and 2035 respectively, so the UK is not quite the leader that Mrs May would like to suggest.
Measuring Happiness
Philip Hammond is concerned that going for a low carbon future will damage the economy, but should GDP and economic growth be our targets? They don’t think so in New Zealand where the Treasury has just published its first wellbeing budget. 
Introducing the document, Prime Minister JACINDA ARDERN says,
“… while economic growth is important – and something we will continue to pursue – it alone does not guarantee improvements to our living standards.
“Nor does it measure the quality of economic activity or take into account who benefits and who is left out or left behind.
“Growth alone does not lead to a great country. So it’s time to focus on those things that do.
“Our five Wellbeing Budget priorities show how we have broadened our definition of success for our country to one that incorporates not just the health of our finances, but also of our natural resources, people and communities.”
Those priorities include: 
  • supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders.
  • reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing
  • lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, 
  • supporting a thriving nation in the digital age
• creating opportunities to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy.
Hash Total
She’s quite right that GDP does not take into account the quality of economic activity. Floods, fires and droughts can all cause immense damage to an economy with enormous costs to repair and put things right. All those costs are added to GDP, and increased GDP in such circumstances is certainly no indication of a better quality of life. As we do things differently to protect ourselves from the climate crisis we should look much more at wellbeing than cold hard cash.
Mind your Language
Is it what you say or how you say it? (And let’s not get into the Milgram controversy here again.) [actually that should be the Mehrabian controversy]
A leaked document on the EU’s priorities has been criticised as offering little more than “a collection of buzzwords” to tackle the climate crisis and accelerating the destruction of the natural world.
“European leaders are feeling the pressure to talk big on climate, but their strategic agenda is more of a collection of buzzwords than an emergency response to humanity’s greatest threat,” Greenpeace’s EU director, Jorgo Riss, said. “This list of contradictory proposals suggests European leaders will prioritise economic growth in much the same way as before, driving social inequalities and fuelling the climate and ecological crisis even further.”
Style Guide
There is no doubt that the words we use are important.
In common with other newspapers and magazines, The Guardian has a style guide and has just announced some revisions. For example:
  • Use climate emergency, crisis or breakdown instead of climate change
  • Use global heating instead of global warming
  • Use wildlife instead of biodiversity 
  • Use fish populations instead of fish stocks
  • Use climate science denier or climate denier instead of climate sceptic
Readers took issue with some suggestions: “Wildlife” is insufficient to describe “biodiversity” - “Carbon emissions” should be “carbon dioxide emissions” - Consider “climate instability” instead of “climate heating” and talk not of heating, but of overheating.
The point of these changes was to stress the urgency of the issues. The author of the style guide responded that these were indeed guidelines and if the previous terms appeared to be more relevant to the context there was no reason why they should not still be used.
Hold your tongue!
Contrast this with news from United States.
CNN reports that according to the Washington Post, policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told by others in the Trump administration that the use of seven specific words and phrases would be prohibited. On the list are the words "vulnerable," "diversity," "entitlement," "transgender," "foetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based." The decision has not only been deemed as reckless and dangerous, but an offence to the scientific community. 
It reminds me of 1984, the novel by George Orwell published 70 years ago. You should read it. I read it at school long before 1984 and waited to see whether it would actually come true. It's the story of a totalitarian surveillance society and no, that didn't happen in 1984 but some aspects of the story seem scarily familiar, particularly what’s going on in China. In the novel the government also changes the way that people communicate by insisting on the use of a modified and simplified language called Newspeak. Newspeak was to be be spoken in staccato rhythm, using short-syllable words that are easy to pronounce, which generates speech that is physically automatic and intellectually unconscious, thereby diminishing the possibility of critical thought occurring to the speaker. There are no irregular verbs, so in Newspeak he runned, not he ran. There are no opposites, just ungood, unwarm, unyoung and so on. Eliminating words with shades of meaning debases communication. What could the Trump administration be thinking of?

And in Other News..
Scottish Power is reinforcing its green credentials by installing battery storage. The company will connect an industrial-scale battery, the size of half a football pitch, to the Whitelee onshore windfarm early next year to capture more power from its 215 turbines. They claim that the 50MWh unit marks a big step towards continuous renewable power for UK.
While Scottish Power is optimising its renewables and Norway is dropping fossil fuel investments from its sovereign wealth fund, coal is still in demand - increasing demand - for generating electricity. Witness the new coal mine operated by an Indian company in Queensland, Australia. The British government has also give approval for the opening of a deep coal mine near Whitehaven in Cumbria. That coal may not be for electricity, rather for metallurgical use, but once burnt for whatever purpose, coal leaves emissions.
Extreme Weather
I was talking to audiences earlier this month about extreme weather and how a month’s rain in an afternoon was becoming increasingly common. Last week parts of Lincolnshire received two months’ rain in two days and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes. As I write this the Met Office has issued a yellow warning of further rain, hail and thunderstorms in the area. Climate change? It’s just weather, isn’t it Mr Trump?
They’ve got some in France, too. France declared a state of natural disaster after rain and hail storms lashed a swathe of the south-east on Saturday 15th June, devastating crops.
The flash storms, which brought hailstones as big as pingpong balls to some areas, killed two people in France and Switzerland, and injured at least 10 others.
The worst-hit area, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region, is at the heart of France’s food production and known as the “orchard of France”.  The storms lasted for as little as 10 minutes, but still wiped out 80% - 100% of crops.
Getting Control
We need to stop this. The problem is that the climate crisis is like stopping an oil tanker. You can put an awful lot of energy into slowing it down, but you have to wait - and wait - before you actually see any effect. Meanwhile people are urging us to keep going because we haven’t hit anything yet. True, but when we do, the collision will be catastrophic.
And on that note…
And on that happy and uplifting note I leave you for another week. I'm Anthony Day and that was the Sustainable Futures Report. Thank you for listening and thank you for your support. I'm always keen to get your feedback either online or is sent to me directly via 
More to come
I've got a number of topics lined up for future episodes, at least in my mind. Next week’s episode will again be about plastic pollution - there’s so much more to report. I'll also look at direct air capture of carbon dioxide, about synthetic meat and about global heating, heat waves and ice melt. (And you can guess how the voice recognition software spelt that.)
Rare Earths
The topic for the following episode will be rare earths. I touched on them briefly last time: but I now know much more on their use, on their extraction and their recycling. I'll include an interview with Dr Alice Courvoisier on the subject. The week after that I hope to be able to look at the catastrophists;  people who believe in near-term human extinction and social breakdown. Why do they believe in this? What do they believe we should do?
Any hope?
People have asked me whether there is any hope and whether we are wasting time bothering about the future. My response is that if I didn’t believe in a future or at least in my ability to do something however small about it, I wouldn’t bother getting up in the morning.
I do. And so should you.
Let the future be what we make it, not what happens by default.
I’m Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.
I’ll be back next week.
I hope you will.

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Minding our language
EU climate goals 'just a collection of buzzwords', say critics
The urgency of climate crisis needed robust new language to describe it

Newspeak - see Wikipedia

France to declare natural disaster after storms rip through crops
Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia