Thursday, August 31, 2006

Drax Attack



Well, the Drax Protest kicked off today with high expectations of plunging much of Britain into darkness. The merry band marched to the Drax Power Station with the intention of storming the gates to close the place down. No surprise to hear that Blair had a few of his own merry men gathered at the gates with the full intention of keeping the station open.

For all the excitement see the Beeb video special on the following page link; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/5300560.stm . You'll find the video on the right under Video and Audio News.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy campers!


Photo: The Drax Climate Change protestors HQ.

Drax Protest update.


From the organisers;

'This is an amazing opportunity to actually start making the changes we need to make. No more hot air from politicians and "business solutions" but really doing it now.

LIMITED parking is available near the site but will be prioritised to those that need it. Other wise people will have to "drop and go" and park in Selby (ask on site for parking).'

OK. So, 'really doing it now'.....hang on a minute, did they say parking?! Do they mean cars!! But isn't this about a protest against climate change and don't cars contribute to this......... . Damn, those protesters have just shot themselves in the foot and just when I was thinking they might at least be adding a bit of spice to the energy debate. Oh well. :-(

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Drax Effect.

Photo: http://risingtide.org.uk/node/83


Drax Power Station is coal fired and said to supply approximately 7% of the UK's energy needs. The protesters want it closed down because it is a major contributor to climate change. This station was in administration 3 years ago but refinancing and listing on the London Stock Exchange has helped to turn the station around. More info from the company at; http://www.draxgroup.plc.uk/ .

Here's some information from the site 'Rising Tide' with a quote from one of the protest organisers;

The camp will be held from 26th August - 4th September. Powered by alternative energy, the camp will demonstrate practical solutions inaction. The camp will offer information, education and space for debate on the science and politics of tackling climate change. There will bepractical skills to learn, from ideas for sustainable living to strategiesfor taking action.
Activist Zoe Armstrong said: "Climate change casts a huge shadow over oursociety. Governments and corporations cannot solve this problem for us,it’s up to us to act now. The Camp for Climate Action will be a key momentin kick-starting the radical action that is needed to tackle climatechange."

These two parties are obviously poles apart. The Drax Power Station must adhere to stricter carbon emission criteria via EU legislation. This is not good enough for the protesters who want to see it completely closed down. The protestors believe the answer lies in less power consumption and 'greener' energy options. Interestingly the Drax Power Station has begun to feed biomass into one of its power units and plans to increase this part of their operation.

Once again we have two parties facing each other across a fence who come from completely different positions. One looks to educate on climate change by camping outside a carbon emitter and the other looks to turn around a major UK power station so that it continues to supply a major part of UK power needs, meets stricter environmental controls and provides a return for investors. The energy debate continues and one thing is for sure.......it won't go away.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CHINA


The main discourse about the 'environment' today is the increasing impact of the use of resources by human beings and the resulting degradation of the natural environment. We know that China is fast becoming a global economic superpower with an appetite for resources to match. What few of us realise is that China is also expanding its influence globally on the diplomatic front, whilst building an increasingly stronger military machine. No surprise here as all major powers have done this. What is interesting is the growing number of countries in Africa, Central Asia and South America who are taken in by Chinese diplomacy and offers of business. A number of such governments are impressed that the Chinese do not come with a long list (or any list!) of prerequisites, such as the American's demands for democratic institutions. This Chinese approach to diplomacy and doing business is called 'soft power'. It involves seducing other parties to 'want what you have'.

What does this mean for the environment? It means that all negotiations at the global level for conventions on environmental law must involve the Chinese. It means, as I say, negotiation rather than trying to tell China what's best, as this obviously will not work. It means helping China to start by looking at it's own back yard (as must all countries) and to look for solutions to their pollution problems/water shortages/housing needs (for example).

It is time that the World Bank stepped into trade policy, via its GEF (Global Environment Facility) organisation, (the WTO has proved ineffective). Trade policy needs environmental law linked into it and who better than the World Bank and the GEF to strengthen this process. As China will continue to expand it's global resource reach and its diplomatic approach implies that rules of democracy do not matter, therefore environmental law probably won't either, there is more urgency to try and bring environmental law into the centre of trade policy. After all, Sudan makes up 7% of China's oil imports but, it's a country with no democracy, extreme poverty and an environment that needs protecting for its agricultural food needs. We may not need regime change but, the world's environment surely needs protection and care as resource extraction speeds up.

Thursday, August 17, 2006



BP's Alternative Energy investments; $8 billion over next 10 years.


Environmentalists hate 'big business'. True or not? I don't know but, I do see a significant number of blogs ranting on about big business not being a part of the greener world vision. This they do as they tap away at their keyboard, made possible by a multitude of big business ventures. Hypocritical is a word that comes to mind. Yes of course we want businesses to have an ethical approach to their operations, personnel and communities. We also like businesses that are directly investing in systems and technologies that will better our interaction with our environment; such as more efficient use of resources and better ways of dealing with waste. Even better if a business puts some money into environment related projects (e.g. protecting an area of rain forest).

It is extremely important that a large company such as BP has set up their Alternative Energy Investments vehicle because, it lifts these technologies and businesses into the 'big(ger) time' and presents them as more serious players within the energy sector. BP continues to invest, with a recent purchase of Greenlight Energy, a US wind power generation company. To check out what BP Alternative Energy is up to go to; http://www.bpalternativenergy.com/liveassets/bp_internet/alternativenergy/index.html .

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Our 'T-shirt' TOP 10 ways to Save The World.


1. Walk, cycle, use public transport & lastly, carpool

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle

3. Reduce useage of lights, heating & gadgets

4. Buy Fairtrade & Organic

5. Buy energy efficient products

6. Protect woodlands & green spaces

7. Reduce useage of fossil fuels

8. Conserve water

9. Use more renewables

10. Buy local, reducing product miles

Our blog started off a debate recently in another posting that looked at condensing ways individuals could lessen their impact upon our environment down to a 'TOP 10'. Little did we know that this idea and it's ensuing debate would spread around the world! Some have felt that our TOP 10 was too top heavy on consumer related points. Unfortunately that's what humans do most of the time; consume goods and services. This is therefore the impact(s) that need urgent attention and to ignore this fact is simply pulling the wool over ones eyes and hoping for the best. We have kept the wording in our TOP 10 brief as eventually it will make its way onto T-shirts so as to spread the good word (as the pilgrims used to say!!).

Thursday, August 10, 2006


'New nuclear clean-up centre opens'


Photo:
BBC online.






With up to 20 nuclear power stations to decommission in the UK over the next 20 years it seems a good idea to look at how this will be done. With this in mind a new centre has just opened to allow research into methods of disposal. Hmmm, can't help thinking that they should already have a good idea how this will and should be carried out. Do we get the feeling the government and the nuclear industry are playing catchup here?! More info; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/4777367.stm .

I seem to recall Mr Blair is keen to build even more nuclear power stations. If only I had confidence in all concerned to run the industry without mishap. Right now, ..... I don't.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Environmental

Consequences of

War.



The latest war raging across the Lebanese/Israeli border is no exception to environmental disasters that come with conflict. Of main concern is an oil slick stretching up to 80km up the coast of Lebanon (near Beirut) and into Syria. This spill happened as a result of an Israeli air strike on a power station 30km south of Beruit on the 14th & 15th July. The oil tanks feeding the station were targeted in the attack. The UNEP is hoping to support the Lebanese in dealing with the crisis, although this is obviously not easy while the country is under air attack. More on this at; http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,,19959467-5001028,00.html .

There are less obvious environmental concerns such as the hugh amount of reconstruction that will have to go on once this conflict dies down. Somewhere will have to be found to dump the twisted steel and concrete resulting from the bombed out apartments and bridges. Then millions of tonnes of new concrete and steel have to be produced to rebuild homes and amenities. All of this, along with the tragedy of lives lost and families pulled apart, need never have happened. The costs of the destruction, the tragedy and the environmental disasters should be borne by the arms industry. Of course ideally their businesses should be closed down. Yeah I know, fat chance....... all those jobs.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Energy Review
Each summer BP publishes a ‘Facts and figures’ document covering global trends in energy production, consumption and reserves. It is considered by some in the industry to be the best and most easily accessible overview of the state of our energy resources. Here are some quotes from the ‘BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2006’:










Oil:
‘Global oil consumption grew by 1.3% in 2005, below the 10-year average and a marked slowdown from the strong growth (+3.6%) seen in 2004.’
Despite this reduced increase in consumption and an increase in proved reserves as new oil fields came online the ratio of reserves to consumption declined for the second year running, from 40.7 years in 2004, to 40.6 years in 2005. The ratio has been essentially flat over the past 20 years at around the 41 year level.

Natural Gas:
“World natural gas consumption grew by 2.3% in 2005, more slowly than in 2004 but close to the 10-year average. North America was the only region to see consumption decline
For natural gas the ratio of reserves to consumption in 2005 was 65.1 years, down from around 70years in 2001.


Coal:
“Coal was again the world’s fastest-growing fuel, with global consumption rising by 5% or twice the 10-year average’.
Consumption in China, the world’s largest consumer, rose by 11%. China accounted for 80% of global growth. Consumption growth in the USA was also above average, while growth in the rest of the world was close to the 10-year average. The ratio of reserves to consumption in 2005 was 155 years.

Other:
‘Nuclear power consumption stagnated in 2005, rising by 0.6%, below the 10-year average of 1.8%. Output remains near capacity and few new plants have come on line. Global hydroelectric generation rose by 4.2%, the second consecutive above-average year. Growth was boosted by new capacity in China, where output rose by 13.7%. Elsewhere, growth in northern Europe, Brazil and Canada offset declines owing to low rainfall across southern Europe and parts of the USA’.

Overall:
‘World primary energy consumption increased by 2.7% in 2005, below the previous year’s strong growth of 4.4% but still above the 10-yearaverage. Growth slowed from 2004 in every region and for every fuel. The strongest increase was again in the Asia Pacific region, which rose by 5.8%, while North America once more recorded the weakest growth, at 0.3%. US consumption fell slightly, while China accounted for more than half of global energy consumption growth.’