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Cities Must be Given the Remit to Introduce Low Emission Zones

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London Air Pollution View from Hackney April 10 2015 005 by David Holt va Flickr

Today, the independent think thank for liberal conservatism, Bright Blue, has launched a campaign calling for all city council across England to be given the remit to draw up low emission zones in order to reduce air pollution.

London will soon introduce an ultra-low emission zone and the Government plans to introduce low emission zones (‘clean air zones’) in five UK cities (Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton) in 2020. Bright Blue is calling on the Government to now establish a network of low emission zones around England by enabling all city councils to introduce them where air pollution is occurring.

The campaign is one of the outputs from Bright Blue’s new Green conservatism project, which has an advisory board including Lord Michael Howard, Lord Greg Barker, Professor Roger Scruton and Zac Goldsmith MP.

Sam Hall, researcher of Bright Blue, said:

“Today is the 60th anniversary of the then Conservative Government’s introduction of the Clean Air Act, establishing smoke-free zones throughout our cities.

But air pollution still remains a problem today. Emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, produced mostly by transport, cause around 40,000 premature deaths every year in the UK.

The Government should enable all English city councils to introduce low emission zones where air pollution is occurring. The current plans to introduce an ultra-low emission zone for London and low emission zones in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton are not sufficient enough to protect public health.

The political, environmental and health imperative to tackle air pollution is strong. New measures to get to grips with the air pollution challenge would send a powerful signal of the Government’s continued commitment to environmental protections.”

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Select Committee, which last year called for all city councils to be given the power to introduce low emissions zones, said:

“Air quality is perhaps the biggest environmental issue of the decade. Too many towns and cities are still in breach of their air quality targets. Clean air should be a right, not a privilege.”
That’s why the EFRA Committee released a report on air quality in April, calling on the Government to do far more to incentivise low-emissions vehicles and improve air quality in the inner city hot spots. Poor quality is linked to up to 40,000 deaths every year in Britain – that’s unacceptable and we should be doing so much better.”

I’m proud it was a Conservative Government that introduced the first Clean Air Act 60 years ago. Now we have left the EU, it’s vital this Conservative Government doubles down on this issue to ensure our new clean air targets are at least as rigorous as the EU directives. Britain must lead on air quality and continue on track to sharply reduce air pollutants by the end of the decade.”

Ryan Shorthouse is Director of Bright Blue.

Further Information 

Bright Blue is an independent think tank and pressure group for liberal conservatism. Its research themes include: cities; conservatism; education and skills; employment; energy and the environment; families and social policy; human rights; immigration and integration; and poverty and welfare.

Bright Blue’s Board includes Matthew d’Ancona (Chair), Rachel Johnson, Diane Banks, Philip Clarke, Alexandra Jezeph and Ryan Shorthouse. Our advisory board includes the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (President), the Rt Hon Lord David Willetts, the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, George Freeman MP, Nick Boles MP, Lord Andrew Cooper, Ian Birrell and Matthew Parris.

The Green conservatism project follows Bright Blue’s report Green and responsible conservatism published last year by Associate Fellow, Ben Caldecott. Please visit the new Green conservative project microsite.

Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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