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EU fracking ‘Recommendation’ fails to protect citizens

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EU guidelines on how member states carry out shale gas exploration and production are failing to protect the environment and the health of citizens, a new report has found.

Jointly developed by Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe, the report ‘Fracking business (as usual)’ says the European Commission’s Recommendation lacks the ability to force member states to even make minimal changes to their shale gas regulations. It also relies too heavily on self-monitoring by the oil and gas industry to control the worst impacts of fracking.

As a result, the report says member states are exploiting the weaknesses of the Recommendation and are failing to take adequate precautionary steps against the potential risks of shale gas, including publishing the chemicals used, safely disposing of fracking waste water, and liability for abandoned oil and gas wells.

Based on the report’s findings, Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe have warned that the weaknesses of the Recommendation are increasing the likelihood of serious threats to communities such as ground water contamination, toxic air pollution, damage to landscapes, and health risks including cancer and birth defects.

Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “The European Commission and EU Member States lack the political will and ability to strictly regulate the fracking industry. With mounting evidence about the negative impacts of fracking in the US and growing recognition of the long-term risks, we believe that the precautionary principle should be front and centre in decision-making on fracking in Europe. Relying on industry monitoring its own impact is like putting the the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Geert de Cock, Director EU Affairs for Food & Water Europe, said: “In the year of the critical Paris climate summit and with the impact of climate change becoming more severe by the year, the European Union must send a strong signal to the world that it is committed to keeping fossil fuels in the ground, starting with its own unconventional oil and gas resources.”

Introduced by the European Commission in 2014, the Recommendation asked member states to implement its minimum principles within six months of publication and committed to carry out a review of member states’ actions after 18 months.

In advance of the release of this review, which is due by the end of this year, and based on evidence from EU member states (in particular Poland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Romania and Republic of Ireland), the Fracking business (as usual)’ report has highlighted a number of deep inadequacies in the Recommendation:

Weak and non-binding: The principles outlined in the Recommendation are non-binding, poorly defined, and create legal uncertainty about the relevance of existing EU regulations.  They rely primarily on self-regulation by the shale gas industry, allowing operators to decide how best to prevent environmental and health impacts, how best to monitor the installation, and how best to protect the public.

The EU’s scoreboard: Evidence presented in the Commission’s own survey of member state responses (the “scoreboard”) reveals that only four states – Poland, the UK, Lithuania and Germany – have taken legislative or other steps following the introduction of the Recommendation, and that these measures do not fulfil the principles set out in the Recommendation.

Industry defines risks: While member states are encouraged to ensure that potential shale gas sites are fully assessed to identify potential risks, these risks are not clearly identified. Instead, the Recommendation suggests that these will be determined by dialogue between member states and industry.

Inadequate implementation: Risk assessments, monitoring and enforcement are recommended as essential in minimising risk and preventing environmental damage, but evidence suggests that member states often choose to ignore this process. The principles they do introduce are often very industry-friendly, undermining the transparency and legitimacy of the industry.

Regulatory cost: The non-binding nature of the Recommendation and the reluctance of member states to regulate shale gas exploration and extraction appear, in part, to be due to industry lobbying about the costs of complying with regulation. But analysis by the International Energy Agency suggests that compliance with key environmental mitigation measures would add just 7% to the overall cost of drilling and completing a shale gas well. This appears minor compared to the costs of extraction in Europe, which can be 300% times higher than in the US.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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