Archive for Business

Rules that need be neither bent nor broken

Photo (c) Darren Hester

The UK Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July this year, makes the case for the creation of 10,000 hectares of new woodland a year for the next fifteen years. And that’s just for England: Scotland already has a similar target. If achieved, the English contribution alone could draw an estimated 50 million tonnes out of the atmosphere by 2050.

Only it’s not really a target. It’s an aspiration, an altogether different thing. Read the rest of this entry »


Pup friction

puppiesForget, for a moment at least, whether there is a tiger in your tank. Instead think about whether there’s an ancient tree in your puppy. Well, sort of.

piece in the New York Times yesterday drew attention to the increasing love affair that Americans have for soft toilet tissue and the threat that poses for old growth forests.

Toilet paper can be made from recycled material with ease — it uses less water to convert paper into fibre than it does to mash up wood pulp. But to get the soft, fluffy whiteness that many of us currently prefer requires the use of virgin wood pulp — the fibres are, well, softer, stronger and longer.

A spokesperson from Kimberley Clark — seemingly one of the worst culprits — said that “only” 14 percent of the wood pulp used by the company comes from the Canadian boreal forest.

This isn’t a new issue. Both Greenpeace and the WWF have been campaigning for years against the destruction of forests for the production of toilet paper. What’s changed is the current global economic slump. People have a raised awareness for the benefits of recycling and re-use: now is the time to switch to 100% recycled toilet paper. It might not be quite so luxurious an experience, but it’s a very easy way to prevent destruction of carbon storing old growth forests.

Out of thin air

carbon emissions from aviation are rising faster than any other sector

Up, up and away: GHG emissions from aviation are rising faster than any other sector

There’s a piece in the Guardian today highlighting the pitfalls of the carbon debate. It centres on a new web service, the oxymoronically monikered Carbon Friendly Flight Search. The site, put together by The Carbon Consultancy, Global Travel Market and, lulls users into the notion that there really is a carbon friendly way to fly.

It works in pretty much the same way as all the other flight comparison websites, except that it tags each flight with a score (1-10, 1 being “best”) to indicate the relative amount of emissions that might result. The idea is that, in addition to the price of a flight, customers have its dirtiness to consider when choosing between options. Only they don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m afraid I can’t let you do that…


Naughty computer!

You can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs, as the saying goes. And that’s exactly why the idea of the carbon footprint of the Met Office’s new supercomputer being an “embarrassment” is nonsense.

According to an article in today’s TimesOnline (we don’t read the emissions intensive paper version) the new number cruncher will spit out not just weather forecasts, but 14000 tonnes of CO2 a year. By any standard that’s a lot. Read the rest of this entry »

The no-coal goal

Hopefully a thing of the past

Hopefully a thing of the past

In some parts of the world, tradition has it that naughty children find only a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings. They might not have presents to play with at Christmas, but at least the home fires will keep burning.

At Hogmanay, part of the Scottish tradition of first-footing (the first person to cross the threshold bringing luck, or ill-luck, to the household for the coming year) includes the presentation of a piece of coal to symbolize warmth.

And coal has hit the headlines this New Year. In an open letter to incoming US President Obama, Jim Hansen, head of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and wife Anniek stress both the urgency for action on climate change and the ineffectiveness of current policies. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock, paper, scissors

One of the least energy efficient buildings in Britain

One of the least energy efficient buildings in Britain

It’s been an interesting week. The All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group met at the House of Commons to discuss Reducing Emissons from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). His Excellency Laleshwar Singh, High Commissioner for Guyana in the UK, was there to reiterate his country’s offer to protect their pristine rainforest from illegal logging and clearance in exchange for millions of pounds of UK and international assistance. The money, he said, would go towards increased security, development of research opportunities, ecotourism and “sustainable forestry”. Improving education, health and employment prospects for local people would also figure in the plan.

It sounded great (apart from that sustainable forestry bit, thrown in with an alarmingly casual wave of the arm), but then came the catch. Read the rest of this entry »