Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fancy a change? Or.. a change.. fancy.

It was the title that caught my eye: Blears challenges councils to match Government on Devolution

Seemed quite combative for those tasked to work together to serve us.

But it is worth sharing as there are some green bits (well, one) in there:

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today unveiled a radical re-engineering of the relationship between the state and local councils and communities bringing Government much closer to local people.

The full-set of Whitehall performance indicators that will come into force for local councils next April are published today. They show the Government has slashed the number from 1200 to just 198 giving councils major new freedoms to direct their focus and resources at the issues local people care about from tackling anti-social behaviour, cracking down on gun culture, stepping up work to improve local education standards and tackling climate change.

In a speech to the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) in Cardiff, Ms Blears also delivered a direct challenge to local government - who have long called for greater freedom - saying they must use this "once in a generation" opportunity to deliver better services and make a positive difference in their local community.

Ms Blears also set out other major new freedoms for local Government including:

* Up to £5billion to be transferred out of ring-fenced budgets - this will allow local councils and communities to shift resources to local priorities such as tackling crime or worklessness.

* Business Rates Supplements - a powerful new tool enabling local authorities to work with business to invest in projects that could not otherwise proceed to promote the long-term economic growth and productivity of their areas.

* From next April there will be no new mandatory targets on councils (apart from the 17 statutory targets for educational attainment and early years). The Government will not prescribe any of the targets in Local Area Agreements (LAAs), but will aim to agree them with local partners as part of the negotiation, and councils will be required to involve local communities in the process.

The New Performance Framework for Local Authorities and Local Authority Partners: Single Set of National Indicators is published today

What do you reckon?

Going to waste

Sorry, I meant going into waste: Defra to get £4 billion a year by 2010

Preventing it, that is. Not meeting targets, hiring countless measuring monkeys or anything.

Because... all together now... 'we need to act now if we are to avoid dangerous climate change'.

My enviROI+ antennae are twitching!

As Oedipus would say, 'Everything is relative'

This from (DEFRA) - Tougher targets for packaging waste

Always a tad dubious about the suffix 'er', as that sets you off on the trail of 'in comparison to what'? But it's the right direction , I guess.

I'm still trying to figure out what, exactly, 'would be' might infer in the great can/could/might scheme of PR, though. Enjoy:

More packaging would be recovered and recycled under proposals set out in a consultation published by Environment Minister Joan Ruddock today.

New business targets would come into effect in January 2008 to help the UK meet its obligations under the EC Packaging Directive. Higher targets are proposed for 2009 and beyond to increase the level of recovery and recycling.

After 2008 it is at the discretion of Member States to set targets beyond the minimum required by the Packaging Directive and the UK has made clear that its aim is to continue to improve performance on packaging waste because of the environmental benefits this brings.

Joan Ruddock said:

"Since the introduction of the UK Packaging Regulations packaging recycling has improved significantly, from just 27% in 1997 to over 57% last year. But there is much more to be done. Further cuts in packaging waste are an essential part of reducing our reliance on landfill and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"The higher targets can also act as a driver to help design out unnecessary packaging in future."

The EU minimum recycling and recovery targets are 55% and 60% respectively. The Government's preferred option would increase the recycling target to 55.7% in 2008, 56.8% in 2009 and 58.4% in 2010, and the recovery target to 60.6%, 61.8% and 63.4% in the same years.

Recycling packaging reduces CO2 emissions because less energy is used to extract and process recycled materials than virgin ones, particularly materials like aluminium.

As well as the environmental benefits of cutting CO2 emissions and reducing reliance on landfill, the proposals have cost benefits of around £1.1m - the difference between the estimated costs to producers of £7.7m, and carbon savings estimated at £8.8m.

The proposals are consistent with the Government's 'polluter pays' principal, and the aims of the new Waste Strategy for England which was published in May.

The consultation is published here

The target system applies to businesses that handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year and with an annual turnover of over £2m. It encourages producers to reduce their packaging levels because this reduces the cost to them of recycling and recovering their waste.

Proposed targets (weeeee!) of the Government's preferred option:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Paper 67.5% 68.5% 69.5% 70.5% 71.5%
Glass 78.5% 80.0% 81.0% 82% 84%
Aluminium 38.0% 39.0% 40.0% 41% 42%
Steel 68.0% 68.5% 69.0% 70% 71%
Plastic 26.0% 27.0% 29.0% 31% 33%
Wood 20.5% 21.0% 22.0% 23% 24%
Recovery 69.0% 70.0% 71.0% 73% 75%

Laugh, I could have...

Fox's Glacier Mints 'carbon footprint'

Nice to see the funny side being aired. I'm sure Al Gore* would approve!

But the way things might be headed, Fox might just soon be able to walk up* there by pushing the sand all around into a ramp:)

*Peppy having drowned on his 60 mile swim.

It will ride up with wear

I noted this: Tesco measures carbon footprint of own products

Well, 30 of them, anyway. As a test. And being part of a project to assess and develop a carbon labelling standard. I guess it's a start. So long as it goes somewhere soon.

I didn't even know we had a Climate Change Minister, but I can see why she gets the big bucks.

To her stunning insights here I might add that having measured them, there is getting them across in a meaningful way to the poor consumer. Cue another initiative.

The project will provide information on how the standard, called the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2050, can be applied in a cost-effective, simple way.

I wonder when? I'm assuming that number at the end is not the date.

So, do YOU feel like doing what THEY say?

MPs question government 'savings'

We could always fine them, but then who pays the bill... oh.

Gaurdian - Sir John Bourn, guardian of the public purse. In three years he's run up bills of £365k on travel and £27k on meals. Then there's opera, grand prix, polo ...

He scratches their backs? They scratch...?

Maybe we will see some trees not for the wood

I need a good news fix: “Zero" Amazon Deforestation Possible by 2015, Brazilian NGOs say

Mind, there is that word... 'possible'.

Spinning yarns. Telling tales.

The e-blogosphere, from Newsnight to BBC is Biased, is humming a tad on this: Inconvenient verdict delivered on Gore's climate change film

As stated before, I can't for the life of me figure how it has come to this. The thing is pretty much ancient history anyway, and AG has a new version (with solutions) coming, and there are two others I am aware of (Leonardo di Caprio's and another whose name escapes me) which are also more proactive available.

Bearing in mind this is the Indy I find this rather telling: 'But, in a somewhat more damaging move, the judge forensically examined the documentary's "one-sided" case and found "nine scientific errors" in its content.'

But this is where I get annoyed, not with the 'deniers', but those who keep handing them easy ways to cast doubts: 'Yesterday's ruling will no doubt be greeted with glee among climate-change deniers.' I am seeing it in every post out there. And the other stuff, the actual worrying stuff, gets ignored in the noise.

And in the spirit of 'two wrongs..', I could give a stuff that ' opponents [how is it so clear cut as all pro vs all no/] have come under similar criticisms over their own claims on the hotly contested issue. '

I just want to know what we know, and no more and no less, and be guided as best I can to do what is best for my kids' futures. The only winners here are those who thrive under a cloud of controversy. And there are a lot of them on both 'sides'.

BBC - Gore climate film's 'nine errors'

'... this controversy could encourage the public to think there was scientific doubt about the facts of climate change.' Ya think?

Guardian - Gore's climate film has scientific errors - judge

Newsnight - Wednesday, 10 October, 2007

Having now watched this, I wish politicians of all hues (and a few media types, though JP was a noble exception in referring to 'us', I believe, as 'they', which I presume to be a separate breed of human to those who haunt studios) would resist from telling me what I think when I haven't been asked. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has the rest of the country in any meaningful way.

It makes it very hard to stay objective on what IS happening and gets DONE, and resist reacting and seeking the exact opposite just as payback for the presumption.

Which brings me to the world being consumed in a ball of fire by next Tuesday. Or... not.

The eco-blogosphere is humming a bit on this.

And I really can't for the life of me figure how it has come to this. The piece (as noted) is pretty much ancient history anyway, and AG has a new version (with solutions) coming, and there are two others I am aware of (Leonardo diCaprio's and another whose name escapes me) which are also more proactive available. So what the government was/is doing punting it out anyway escapes me.

Where I do get annoyed in this is with those who keep handing climate optimists easy ways to cast doubts. I am seeing it in every post out there. While the other stuff, the actual for real worrying stuff, gets ignored in the noise.

And in the spirit of 'two wrongs..', I could give a stuff that ' opponents [how is it so clear cut as all pro vs all no?] have come under similar criticisms over their own claims on the hotly contested issue', as I read by way of a comeback in the paper. It's always extremes.

So we get a guy up against JP, whose job it is to seek weaknesses in argument and tear them apart, and I am left with ' 'bits' of it were... um... wrong, but not wrong'? Do what? On this basis what else could get the green ('scuse pun) light to be aired at school, so long as it comes with a teacher's disclaimer training manual. I know how that is going to go down having run it by my own kids; 'Er, dad, what are you on about???'. I want them educated in more than box-ticking.

And, as an aside, I was not aware that 'we' 'know' that climate change IS man-made. I am passionately committed to practical (a lot in that), effective (even more there) reduction and/or mitigation on an urgent basis, but just on a slightly different one that I, personally, 'believe', which is 'man' and our activities sure may not be helping much.

And if the MMCC absolute does get disproved (which in some other ways I pray it does, though my business plan might need changing a tad once the party starts) or even just further chipped away, it sets back the entreaties of the less dogmatic advocates. Cry wolf, anyone?

Like greenwashing ads, why push the claim to the point that it is shown to be hyped, or worse false, and undo all the other good the brand has been building? I know it can seem so urgent to some (me inc.) that any means necessary can be tempting to take to get the message out, but not if this is the result.

I can only speak personally to say I just want to know what 'we' know now - no more and no less, with all caveats - and to be guided as best I can be to do what is best for my kids' futures.

The only winners here are those who thrive under a cloud of controversy. And there are a lot of them on both 'sides' feeding off this as we speak.

Green cannot be viewed just in black and white.


* 33.* Baz wrote:

Thank you for this. As one interested but who cannot face the prospect of wading through mammoth reports I can't complain so much if I rely on those who do if the information I get is 'selective'.

I have been convinced enough by what I have been served up to concede that there is the distinct possibility of Man-worsened Climate Change, and even if this ends up being proven in error there seems no great harm in a cautious approach to our race's activities from now on. In any case, moderation, cutting down/out pollution and prevention of waste are no bad things to practice simply in financial terms.

Semantically, do I read this as saying it's a given that climate change in human-induced? You obviously did. I could see it more as looking at 'whether', which seems valid.

That said, I have heard the BBC's main enviro spokespersons/experts (whose qualifications are?) refer to the 'fact' that climate change is caused by man. Is it?

Because then there is also such as this: "the risk is the public might misunderstand what campaigners are saying with what the scientists are actually finding out."