Top Stories

January 28, 2015

Future Trends

We can live well and cut emissions, says government calculator – but only if billions stay poor

The world can enjoy higher standards of living and more travel, while drastically cutting emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the key findings of the Global Calculator, an online software tool developed by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), with partners. However, this is only achievable if sweeping changes are made to our infrastructure, the natural world and agriculture. The UK government analysis also assumes that billions of people will remain in dire poverty at mid-century, despite efforts to lift them to greater prosperity, as the population rises to an estimated nine billion people. Decc officials were unable to tell the Guardian what the emissions outcomes were likely to be if campaigners succeeded in “making poverty history”. The cost of meeting the 2°C scenario was likely to be about 2% to 3% of global GDP annually, on average, between now and 2050, the officials said. (The Guardian)


Cities face five year crunch without ‘major investment’ in greener infrastructure

Cities will face a crunch point within the next five years unless they ramp up investments in vital transport, energy, water, and waste management infrastructure, new research has warned. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) paper, sponsored by Spanish infrastructure and environmental services group FCC, outlines the views of more than 400 policymakers and business executives. The report says cities that fail to maintain their infrastructure adequately are putting at risk jobs, growth, and prestige: 75 per cent of respondents said the availability and quality of city infrastructure will affect where multinational companies choose to invest. It also argues that to date many cities have been in “reaction mode”, repairing water mains, power grids and roads as problems occur. To position themselves for the future, city leaders need to think more strategically, the report argues.  (BusinessGreen)

Circular Economy

Project MainStream launches three programmes to help scale circular economy

Project MainStream, part of the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy initiative, has launched three new programmes focused on developing ways of scaling the circular economy through materials management, information technology and business model innovation, among others. Focusing on plastic packaging, paper and paperboard and asset tracking, Project MainStream aims to advance collaboration across major supply chains in 2015 to address current bottlenecks and leakages. The three new programs usher in the first stage of MainStream’s implementation, which involves over thirty global companies working together to help redesign materials flows across the economy. The project is driven by a steering board comprising the CEOs of Brambles, Brightstar, BT, Desso, Royal DSM, Ecolab, Indorama Ventures, Kingfisher, Royal Philips, Suez Environnement and Veolia. MainStream says it is also seeking to work with global Foundations and NGOs in this next phase of the project. (Sustainable Brands)


UK food and drink manufacturers slash CO2 emissions by 35%

Food and drink manufacturers have achieved their target for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions by 35%, way ahead of the 2020 deadline set by the UK Food and Drink Federation‘s ‘Five-fold Environmental Ambition’. Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss said: “This report showcases that economic growth and success need not be at the expense of environmental ambitions. For FDF members, producing more with less isn’t a series of buzz words, it’s an opportunity to increase efficiency and competitiveness.” The industry has also reduced water use by 15.6%, saving 6.1 million cubic metres of water, and reduced the carbon impact of packaging by 4.5%, well ahead of the 2015 zero-increase target of the WRAP Courtauld Commitment. In addition, food and packaging waste sent to landfill has been reduced to just 3%, and members are focusing on achieving a zero waste to landfill target by the end of 2015. (Edie)


Report: Decline of England’s natural environment ‘hits economy’

England’s natural environment is in decline and its deterioration is harming the economy, an independent advisory group has told the government. The Natural Capital Committee says pressures will rise with population growth and has called for a 25-year investment plan.  Its report says measures like investing in improved air quality and greener cities would bring economic benefits. Creating hundreds of thousands of hectares of woodland and wetlands would lead to multi-million pound benefits, the report says, including avoiding flooding and improving health. The document has been welcomed by some environmental groups. “Nature is priceless,” said Martin Harper from the RSPB. “But you can’t make good economic decisions without taking nature into account.” (BBC)


Image source: Keswick Panorama – Oct 2009 by David Iliff / CC BY-SA 3.0