On Sunday, over 40,000 runners will pound the streets of London in what will be one of the hottest marathons during the event’s 37 year history.

This means the 26.2 mile run will be even more of a thirst-quenching, endurance test than normal with a huge number of drinks bottles and cups distributed to exhausted participants.

Each year, the event goes through hundreds of thousands of bottles, which are liberally distributed to runners as they pass the many drinks stations along the route. The issue of waste and recycling couldn’t be more visible during this incredibly popular event, and organisers are trying to address the problem.

Sunday’s marathon will for the first time trial the use of 90,000 compostable cups along three drink stations as an alternative to using single-use plastic. This is along with 760,000 plastic bottles also available to runners, according to the BBC.

The organisers endeavour to recycle all plastic used, although as the run goes through various London boroughs it can be difficult to organise a unified clean-up operation. A spokesperson told BBC Radio 5 live that using recyclable plastic bottles remains “the best solution for the distribution of water and sports drinks to the more than 40,000 runners, given the very short window of road closures in one of the world's busiest capital cities."

Mike Childs, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, commented: "the compostable water cups being trialled have the potential to lessen the amount of plastic waste created by the marathon, but there are challenges when it comes to the correct collection and processing of these to ensure they have their full impact".

Photo Credit: Malcolm Murdoch

Read more: This year’s London Marathon will trial...

Earth Day 2018 is here and will celebrated on Sunday (22 April) around the world.

The event is almost 50 years old having first started in the US on 22 April 1970. At that time, millions of people protested against environmental damage caused by decades of industrial development.

Its pioneering work spawned an entire environmental movement and laws to safeguard nature. From its initial successes, the network has grown to unite 50,000 partners in 192 countries, and now engages an estimated one billion people around the world.

This landmark event has always turned its attention to some of the most pressing issues of the day, from climate change to deforestation. Earth Day 2016 was chosen as the date to sign the now historic Paris climate agreement.

This year, Earth Day is focusing on plastic pollution. Publicity around the problem has been growing in recent years, and public awareness has grown hugely.

It seems a day doesn’t go by without major corporations and governments making pledges to reduce and eradicate plastic waste.

Earth Day 2018 wants to encourage people to learn more about single-use plastics and make a pledge to reduce our usage.

The Earth Day Network has set up a plastic calculator where you can work out how much you use and how to make simple changes to prevent waste.

Some of the facts are mind-boggling, Greenpeace estimates 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans, an average of one truck load per minute. And this material will negatively impact wildlife for hundreds of years.

Kathleen Rogers, the Earth Day Network’s President has this to say about the issue: “From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival”.

Learn more about how you can get involved here.

#EarthDay2018 #EndPlasticPollution

Read more: Earth Day 2018 calls for an end to plastic...

A new report has shone a light on the strong economic progress wind energy is making in the United States.

The fast-growing clean sector now employs 105,500 men and women across all 50 states after a bumper year of 9 percent growth, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“American wind power reached new heights for energy generated and US jobs in 2017. And don’t be surprised when the industry continues to break records,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Wind is competitively priced, reliable, and clean – a winning combination that’s creating economic growth in all 50 states.”

The yearly data from the trade body highlights wind power’s strong contribution to the American economy, providing new skills and opportunities, especially in rural areas where 99 percent of US wind farms are located. Wind turbine technician is also the country’s second fastest growing occupation, behind solar PV installer, according to the US Department of Labor.

American manufacturing has particularly benefitted from the growth of wind energy with 500 factories now in operation up and down the country. These facilities support over 23,000 jobs, according to the report. Furthermore, ranchers and farmers were paid an estimated $267 million for the opportunity to host wind farms on their property. An important source of alternative income while still being able to raise livestock under turbines.

2017 saw 7,017 megawatts (MW) of capacity installed in the US, bringing the final total to just under 89,000MW; 54,000 turbines across the country are able to power around 27 million households. Globally, this figure puts the US comfortably in second place ahead of Germany which has built 56,100MW. China dominates worldwide installations on 188,200MW.

In total, US wind power helped generate a record 6.3 percent of US electricity in 2017, up from 5.5 percent on the year before. And four states went much further with over 30 percent of their electricity coming from wind: Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. 14 additional states generated more than 10 percent from turbines. All renewables combined provide 18 percent of US electricity.

“States are where the action is happening for wind,” added Kiernan. “Individual states’ policy choices and the strength of their infrastructure will play a big role in determining where wind power’s future growth is channeled.”  

                                   Wind generation hit 30 percent across four US states over the past year

Source: AWEA

Read more: US wind energy sector now employs 105,000 people

More than 170 religious leaders from all over the world have urged governments from the Commonwealth to “turn words into action” and stop dangerous climate change.

Archbishops, rabbis, and church moderators are among the leaders who have written an open letter, published in The Daily Telegraph this week ahead of a major Commonwealth meeting.

The group states that “not even the remotest corner of the Commonwealth remains unaffected or unthreatened by the impacts of climate change. Commonwealth citizens, especially the poorest, struggle to thrive amidst our changing climate.”

They urge the gathering prime ministers and presidents to be aware of the need for urgent action on the issue and to “pursue every effort to keep the increase in average global temperature below 1.5 degrees.”

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), brings together the 53 leaders from the organisation, and is currently taking place this week in London. The biannual meeting was originally scheduled to take place on the Pacific island of Vanuatu in late 2017, but a fiercely strong cyclone hit the country in 2015 and its infrastructure hasn’t fully recovered.

The letter highlights how climate change is impacting all continents, from African countries struggling to grow crops to rising sea levels in the Pacific and violent, destructive storms in the Caribbean. 

“At the scale of the Commonwealth we can see that the crisis of poverty and the crisis of ecology are one…As a common problem, this crisis requires a common solution. And it is needed now,” it continues.

The call comes at a time when the UK’s own climate change minister, Claire Perry, has asked for a review on strengthening its long-term targets so that they align with the Paris Agreement; a possible sign that increased pressure on government works.

Last month, 22 national science academies from around the Commonwealth released a similar statement ahead of CHOGM which urged for stronger action to prevent runaway global temperatures.

In a separate editorial in The Guardian newspaper, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, called on the Commonwealth to “kickstart a global offensive” on climate change. Ms Ardern, who recently banned new offshore oil and gas licenses in the country, reaffirmed her commitment to New Zealand achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Photo Credit: Department for International Development / Rafiqur Rahman Raqu

Read more: Religious leaders call on the Commonwealth to...

HSBC, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, has made new commitments to stop financing the most carbon intensive energy projects.

The bank released an updated energy policy statement this week that explicitly rules out funding new coal-fired power stations around the world, except for three countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In these countries, funding will be provided in exceptional cases, and only until 2023, “if no reasonable energy alternative can be found”.

The bank has already made a commitment, in force since 2011, to stop financing coal in the developed world, which has extended to 78 countries. This forms part of its overall plan to shift its resources towards sustainable investments for the long-term.

Daniel Klier, Global Head of Sustainable Finance at HSBC, said: “Our updated energy policy reflects HSBC’s ambition to help our customers make the transition to a low-carbon economy in a responsible and sustainable way.

“We recognise the need to reduce emissions rapidly to achieve the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius and our responsibility to support the communities in which we operate.”

The new policy also stops financing to new offshore oil and gas projects in the Arctic and restricts oil sands support to customers “which are diversified, with appropriate plans to transition to a low-carbon economy, and we will not support new greenfield projects”.

This has been taken by some environmentalists to mean a ban on funding the controversial Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the United States. The planned project, stretching 1,179 miles from the oil sands in Alberta to Nebraska could carry 830,000 barrels of oil each day.

Commenting on HSBC’s announcement, John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said: "This latest vote of no-confidence from a major financial institution shows that tar sands are becoming an increasingly toxic business proposition. It makes no sense to expand production of one of the most polluting fossil fuels if we are serious about dealing with climate change in a post-Paris world. HSBC has got the message.”

Photo Credit: Nick Garrod/Flickr

Read more: HSBC rules out financing new coal power and tar...

An international cricket ground has taken major steps towards making the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable future.

The Oval, a historic sporting venue in south London, and home to Surrey County Cricket Club, has announced plans to eliminate single-use plastics and run entirely on renewable energy.

Starting with the new 2018 season, the club will work to ban all plastic straws, introduce compostable coffee cups and gradually phase-out the use of plastic bags. It is targeting 2020 to become entirely plastic free across its entire business.

At the same time, it has signed a deal with Fidelity Energy and French multinational ENGIE to supply the ground with 100 percent renewable power. The partnership, which has been in place since last year, will run until at least 2022 and save an estimated 6,252 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Surrey CCC Chief Executive, Richard Gould, said: “The club has always been very conscious of reducing its impact on the environment wherever possible and, after a great deal of thought, has decided to make this ambitious commitment.”

Since 2015, the ground has only served beer in recyclable glasses, and is working on extending this to soft drinks. It also has an ongoing partnership with Sky to promote reusable plastic, which has led to the construction of 20 permanent water fountains.

To achieve its new plastic-free goal, the club “will need to work with our Members, fans, partners and staff to analyse all areas of the business and work out where we need to introduce alternative products and ways of working,” concluded Gould.

Paul Havell, co-founder of Fidelity Energy, added: “We are delighted to have secured a 100 percent renewable green electricity contract for the Kia Oval and are thrilled to be able to help the club achieve their goal of reducing their carbon footprint. This move demonstrates their commitment to renewables and sustainability.”

Climate Action is hosting the 3rd Sustainable Innovation in Sport Forum on 2-3 May at the Amsterdam ArenA in the Netherlands. To find out more, visit the Sustainable Innovation in Sport website.

Read more: Oval cricket ground hits sustainability for six

The UK’s offshore wind industry had one of its most successful years on record in 2017, according to the company which leases the country’s seabed.

The Crown Estate, a remnant of the lands owned by the Royal Family, has just released its operational report covering the sector’s activities over the past year.

It details how offshore wind has made significant progress in cost reduction, investment, and clean energy generation.

6.2 percent of all the UK's electricity was supplied by turbines at 33 operational offshore wind farms, up from 5 percent the year before. This is enough power to supply 5.3 million homes in the country, or, put another way, the equivalent of supplying 91 percent of domestic homes in the UK’s top 10 cities, including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

This power also helped reduce carbon emissions by 8.6 million tonnes.

A further eight offshore wind farms currently being built will ensure the industry reaches its target of 10 percent electricity generation by 2020. Construction has continued apace in 2017 with an average of one turbine per day being installed in UK waters.

Low prices were also set during an auction for government contracts in September 2017; new projects coming forward are 47 percent cheaper than they were three years ago.

2017 also saw new investors entering the market, indicating offshore wind’s attractiveness among heavyweights within the financial sector. Legal and General, for example, issued its first debt financing; major Danish pension funds PKA and PFA also purchased a stake in a wind farm worth £2 billion.

Huub den Rooijen, Director of Energy, Minerals & Infrastructure at The Crown Estate said: “2017 has been a milestone year for the UK offshore wind sector, the busiest yet for construction, and delivering more electricity than ever before. This latest report showcases an increasingly mature sector, delivering large-scale, low-carbon power, with record low bid prices for future projects, making the most of the UK’s world-class seabed resources and creating jobs opportunities across the country.”

Source: The Crown Estate

Photo Credit: MHI Vestas Offshore Wind

Read more: 2017 was a ‘milestone year’ for the UK’s...

Coal-fired power plants were absent from Britain’s energy mix for more than two days straight this week, in a latest sign that the historical days of using coal are well and truly numbered.

Data from the National Grid, a private company, has shown that no coal was used in electricity generation in Great Britain between 10:25 pm on Monday until 5:10 am on Thursday.

This does not include Northern Ireland, whose energy usage is recorded within the island of Ireland.

By coincidence, it was late April in 2017 that Britain went a full 24 hours without using coal, the first time this had occurred since the Industrial Revolution. This was followed by another 40-hour period in October.

In total, coal’s contribution to Britain’s electricity mix has taken a short, sharp fall in recent years. According to data compiled by the Carbon Brief website, coal use has declined by 75 percent between 2014 and 2017, leading to a historical low of 5.3 percent of energy consumption last year.

The drop-off has been led by multiple aging plants coming offline and the UK’s carbon price, which makes the economic case for running coal much harder. Falling usage has been one of the primary drivers behind the UK’s declining carbon emissions, falling by 12 percent in 2017.

The UK government has also made a commitment to phase-out all unabated coal plants by 2025, which has sent a clear signal for investors to get out of this market. On current trends this target could achieved well before the 2020s though.

“The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity and our energy mix continues to change,” Fintan Slye, the National Grid’s director of UK systems operations, told The Independent newspaper.

“However, it’s important to remember coal is still an important source of energy as we transition to a low carbon system”. Thermal plants, such as coal, are now being used just for peak periods of energy demand, such as the winter months.

                  National Grid tweeted out the record-breaking news on Thursday morning

Read more: Great Britain went a record 55 hours without...

One of England’s leading football clubs has become the latest high-profile name to announce plans to fight plastic pollution.

Tottenham Hotspur is pledging to eliminate all plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery from the opening day of its new £850 million stadium in north London.

None of these items will be stocked in future nor will alternatives come in disposable plastic packaging.

All new supplier contracts will also contain a requirement to reduce single-use plastics and the club will replace its current 5p carrier bags with ones which are biodegradable.

Chairman Daniel Levy said: “I am delighted that we shall be bringing our values to the new stadium to both play our part in the reduction of single-use plastics and raise awareness of the importance of doing so.”

Its ban on single-use plastics will extend to all parts of the club, including premium areas within the stadium, and its One Hotspur membership scheme. Members will now receive a Bag for Life when the next season starts.

The new 62,000 seated venue is a replacement to the now demolished White Hart Lane site, its traditional home for over 100 years. The stadium is planned for completion in 2018 having been under construction for the past three years.

“As a club we have always taken our responsibility to care for our environment seriously. We have demonstrated this with the environmentally sensitive development of our Training Centre, where we have preserved historic hedgerows and planted for the future and which will see us adding an Environmental Centre and Nature Reserve there too. Another first by the club,” Levy added.

Football clubs in the English Premier League have slowly started to incorporate more sustainable practices within their operations, often prompted by new building schemes. Manchester City’s training academy, for example, was built to the highest environmental standards, including sustainable water and waste initiatives.

[embedded content]

              Tottenham's new stadium should be ready for the new 2018/2019 season

Read more: Tottenham Hotspur will eliminate single-use...

One of Europe’s busiest airports, located in The Netherlands, is on course to become fully sustainable in the near future.

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam handles 63 million passengers a year, making it the third-highest in the continent. To handle this volume in the right way, it has designs to become one of the most sustainable airports in the world.

Jos Nijhuis, the airport’s President and CEO has previously stated that “one thing is certain: aviation can and must be made more sustainable.”

As part of this plan, and to align itself with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Royal Schiphol Group has just opened a new wind farm.

The Autena project, built by Dutch developer Eneco, consists of three turbines, two of which will be used to supply the airport with 10 percent of its power needs, equivalent to the annual consumption of around 17,000 households.

The move forms part of a deal struck with Eneco last year to source all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.  The energy firm is developing more wind farms to meet this goal, which will see it provide 200 gigawatt hours of clean power to all of Holland’s major airports, including Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, and Lelystad.

Nijhuis added the agreement “will allow our airports to increase their sustainability and offer economic benefits.”

Along with renewable power, Schiphol recently unveiled 100 new electric buses at the airport, which will be used 24 hours a day in and around the terminals. It has installed fast-charging infrastructure which allows batteries to be refuelled in 2-4 minutes.

Miriam Hoekstra-van der Deen, Director of Airport Operations at Schiphol commented that “It is fantastic that from today, thousands of passengers, commuters and employees will be taking green buses from and to Schiphol.”

“Schiphol Airport has helped drive this project forward with great enthusiasm and we are very happy that we have been able to contribute to it. Ultimately, we want Schiphol to be climate-neutral by 2040,” she added.

[embedded content]

Read more: Amsterdam Airport is running on wind farms and...

Fresh analysis of the electric vehicle market has shown China and Norway dominating in terms of sales and market share.

The data was compiled by the Centre of Automotive Management (CAM) in Germany.

China dominates in terms of the number of new sales with 142,445 electric vehicles purchased in the first quarter of 2018, a 154 percent increase on the first three months of 2017.

Meanwhile, Norway’s share of registered electric vehicles rose to an astonishing 48 percent, up from 35 percent on last year. In total, 16,181 were purchased between January and March.

Sales of electric vehicles in China, Germany and the UK all represented a 2 percent share of the overall total in each respective country. However, Germany saw a 70 percent increase in new electric vehicles over the past year, up to 17,549. The UK’s figure of 14,084 was a healthy 11 percent increase on 2017.

Provisional figures from last month also showed that diesel sales in both Germany and the UK had fallen off a cliff compared with the same time last year. Diesel has made significant declines in all three months of 2018 in Germany, reaching a high of 25 percent in March. UK sales dropped by 37 percent.

Stefan Bratzel at CAM commented: “China and Norway are exceptional in e-mobility. The lead market remains China, where substantial industrial policy motives are driving battery-electric vehicle technology forward.

“In Norway, where now almost half of new vehicle registrations are e-vehicles, it becomes clear how quickly a change in drive technologies can take place. Generally, e-mobility is also gaining momentum.”

It is expected that electric vehicles will dominate the automobile market in years to come as concerns about air pollution and climate change become more prominent. In addition, steep reductions in the cost of lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power the vehicles, have helped stoke the market.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has predicted that by 2040 sales will account for one third of the world’s auto fleet, a total of 530 million vehicles.

Read more: China and Norway surging ahead on electric...

The UK Government is planning to ban plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-tipped cotton buds in a further acceleration of its war on the waste material. The ban will initially only apply to England.

Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement today at the start of a major Commonwealth meeting in London. Earlier this week, Climate Action reported that the UK was also pledging £61 million to fund initiatives to tackle plastic waste in Commonwealth nations.

The move also forms part of the government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan launched earlier this year which aims to remove all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

In a statement, Mrs May said plastic waste is “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world.”

“The UK government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.”

It’s estimated that 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK, many of which make their way into rivers, seas, and oceans. A consultation on the ban will be launched by the Environment Secretary Michael Gove later this year. The government signalled its intention to work with industry to develop alternatives and ensure a minimum of disruption to businesses. The ban will also not apply for medical reasons.

Mr Gove commented: “Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife so it is vital we act now.”

“We’ve already seen a number of retailers, bars and restaurants stepping up to the plate and cutting plastic use, however it’s only through government, businesses and the public working together that we will protect our environment for the next generation – we all have a role to play in turning the tide on plastic.”

Read more: England ban on plastic straws and cotton buds...

Popular UK chain, Costa Coffee, has announced it will recycle the equivalent of its entire yearly sales of coffee cups by 2020.

The company revealed the seismic change in a statement today, which will guarantee the cups are recycled by paying paper mills to do so instead of sending them to landfill.

Costa will pay a £70 to waste collectors for every tonne of cups they collect, which it states will greatly increase the commercial value and attractiveness of recycling.

At present, coffee cups can be recycled but only if they are properly collected and sent to one of three paper mills in the country which have sufficient infrastructure to do so. Costa’s decision will mean these factories will increase the number of coffee cups they recycle from 14 million to 100 million this year.

Dominic Paul, Managing Director for Costa, said the company is “putting its money where its mouth is to find an immediate solution to increasing the volume of takeaway coffee cups being recycled in the UK…If the nation’s other coffee chains sign up, there is no reason why all takeaway cups could not be recycled by as early as 2020.”

“We have set our own target to recycle the same volume of takeaway cups we use every year and call on other cup retailers to join and help to build a dynamic market for takeaway coffee cup recycling,” he added.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey, said: “Congratulations Costa on taking this significant step to help coffee lovers do the right thing and increase recycling. We all have a responsibility to our environment and this is a significant step by a British business which should dramatically increase the number of disposable coffee cups we recycle in this country.

“We want to help companies become plastic free and through our 25 Year Environment Plan we are putting in place the ambitions to encourage all of us to play our part in ending the scourge of plastic waste in our natural environment.”

Costa, along with Pret a Manger offers a discount to all customers that use a reusable cup. It has also previously announced it will remove all plastic straws from its stores.

Read more: Costa Coffee will now recycle 500 million cups a...

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