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There Could Be Dirty Air For Decades Due To UK Government’s Faulty Projections

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There Could Be Dirty Air For Decades Due To UK Government's Faulty Projections

The UK government based its projections are based on delusional data and now its predicted compliance date for clean air laws could be years off the actual date.

ClientEarth has challenged the UK government to come clean on whether it has rerun its projections for air pollution in light of its own findings that the newest diesel cars are pumping out on average six times more dangerous pollutants when tested on the road rather than in the lab.

On the day ClientEarth submitted its response to the government’s legal arguments for its upcoming court case on illegal air pollution across the UK, the environmental law organisation also sent an Environmental Information Request to Defra, asking it to come clean over the methods used to calculate how long people in the UK would have to breathe illegal levels of fumes.

The government predicts most areas of the country will be compliant with legal air pollution limits by 2020 (2025 in London) but it is unclear whether they have factored in the woeful emissions performance of most diesel cars, laid bare in tests by the DfT this year. Diesel cars are a key contributor to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in towns and cities across the country.

ClientEarth lawyer, Alan Andrews, said: “The latest evidence confirms what we knew all along – the newest diesel cars are emitting on average six times the legal limit when driving on Britain’s roads.

 

This leaves Defra’s plan for tackling air quality in tatters.

 

“We think that far more towns and cities will still be breaching air pollution limits in 2020 than the six in the Government’s rose-tinted projections. This is ten years after the deadline. Every year that goes by, thousands more people will needlessly suffer sickness and early death from breathing illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.

“That’s why we have submitted an information request to see if the Government have had a reality check and rerun their projections. If they have, this will show the need for a much more ambitious and comprehensive plan to tackle air pollution across the country, not just in a handful of cities.

“We want the new Government to immediately commit to introducing a national network of “clean air zones” which phase out the use of diesel in our most polluted towns and cities. This needs to be backed by a range of measures to make sure the government and industry support the phase out financially and the ordinary motorist isn’t left with a huge bill.”

ClientEarth won its case for clean air against the government in April last year when the Supreme Court ordered ministers to come up with plans to bring air pollution to within legal limits as soon as possible.

The government’s plans, released in December 2015, were completely inadequate and so ClientEarth is taking Defra back to court on 18 and 19 October this year. ClientEarth has launched an appeal to help fund the case.

ClientEarth is also launching a series of clean air cases across Europe in the autumn. In a recent clean air case in Germany, a Munich court warned the authorities that drastic measures were needed to tackle illegal air pollution. This would include measures like restricting access for diesel vehicles to town and city centres.

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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