Connect with us


Andy Murray Signs WWF Petition To End Vietnam’s Illegal Wildlife Trade



Andy Murray, Olympics 2012 by Marianne Bevis via flickr

After being named world number one, tennis star Andy Murray signs petition calling for Vietnam to crack down on its illegal wildlife trade – his first move as a WWF ambassador.

This signing comes at a critical moment, less than one week before the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, taking place in Vietnam on the 17th and 18th November.

HRH the Duke of Cambridge will be attending the conference along with governments from around the world. The petition launched by WWF will be presented to the Vietnamese government next week. Andy Murray, one of the greatest sportsmen in the world signed the petition last friend, further building on over 155 000 signatures worldwide to date.

Last year poachers killed 1,338 rhinos and around 20,000 elephants across Africa to feed the relentless and illegal trade in horns and ivory. Vietnam has the largest illicit market in the world for rhino horn and also plays a key role in the trafficking and consumption of large amounts of other illegal wildlife products including ivory, pangolin scales and tiger skins; yet little action has been taken to address this. To date Vietnam has not made a single recorded prosecution of a rhino horn or ivory trafficker.

Tennis champion Andy Murray, comments:

“I have just signed the WWF petition to urge Vietnam to end its illegal trade in wildlife products. Some of the world’s most beautiful species are threatened by this horrendous crime – from tigers to pangolins to elephants to rhinos. It’s up to each one of us to do our part and take a stand against it, so I encourage everyone to sign this petition.”

The Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade follows on from the London Conference in 2014 and the Kasane Conference in Botswana in 2015. Vietnam, along with other governments will provide a report on progress made in implementing the commitments from the previous conferences. This will not be the first time Vietnam faces tough scrutiny for its role in the illegal wildlife trade. Last month at CITES CoP17* – the world’s largest wildlife trade conference – Vietnam was given one year to make significant progress in tackling illicit rhino horn trade or face tough trade sanctions.

Glyn Davies Acting CEO at WWF-UK, comments:

“The London Conference marked a historic moment in the battle against the illegal wildlife trade. It sent a strong message to the world that governments are committed to tackling this crime. Yet two years on and we’re still in the midst of a poaching epidemic. On average more than two elephants are poached every hour and a pangolin is taken from the wild every five minutes. In Hanoi we need to see governments pledge to time bound solutions which are implemented without delay.”

London’s conference saw the EU and 41 countries pledge commitment to the 25-point London Declaration. This included action to eradicate demand markets, strengthen law enforcement efforts, implement effective legal frameworks and promote sustainable livelihoods and economic development through engaging with local communities.

Last year at the Kasane Conference the EU and 32 countries built on promises made at the London Conference with the 15-point Kasane Statement. The Kasane Statement holds countries accountable for specific commitments on issues such as private sector partnerships, the role of transport and local community actions.

At Hanoi the conference outcome will include time-bound deliverables that countries need to implement in order to meet the London Declaration and Kasane Statement commitments. In particular WWF is calling for the timely closure of tiger farms across Asia and domestic ivory markets worldwide.


Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations



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.

Continue Reading


How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions



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.


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.

Continue Reading