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Reaction: Paris Climate Change Agreement Will Come Into Force




Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury and former Environment Minister, has welcomed the Paris climate change agreement now that it will come into force next month [1], and said it will enhance opportunities for British industry:

“The speedy ratification of the Paris climate agreement is fantastic news. The Prime Minister and her Cabinet are to be congratulated for signaling unequivocally Britain’s backing, which of course continues the long history of Conservative leadership on tackling climate change stretching back to Margaret Thatcher,” he said.

“Britain now has a real chance to cement the opportunities presented by the low-carbon transition into the heart of a new industrial strategy, as Greg Clark highlighted in his Conference speech yesterday.

“The reality is that Britain is engaged on a transition to clean energy – today’s news that solar power generated more electricity that coal-fired power stations over the last six months is the latest indication that new, clean technologies are supplanting the dirty ones of the last century – and we’re excellently placed to shine as this new industrial revolution gathers pace.” [2]

Guy Smith, National Farmers Union (NFU) Vice President, also welcomed the news:

“Following the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, its ratification this year by a majority of world Governments opens the door to a wealth of opportunities for farmers, at home and worldwide, to deliver clean energy alongside other beneficial environmental outcomes,” he said.

“NFU members are on the front line of climate change, and among the first to see the impacts of extreme weather events such as flooding and drought. Tackling both the causes and effects of climate change will be vital to make our food supply more resilient.

“Farmers need to be investing in better buildings, better drainage, and better irrigation in the face of increasingly volatile weather – and they need profitable business income from both food and non-food production to enable those investments.”

Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of Public Affairs Committee, National Federation of Women’s Institutes said that globally, women are often most vulnerable to climate change:

“The WI has campaigned on environmental issues for many years, and we’re proud that so many of our members have joined calls for action to tackle the threat posed by climate change. It poses risks to so many things, like the British countryside that we love and want to preserve for future generations, and to women worldwide, who are often most vulnerable to the changing climate,” she said.

The approval of the Paris Agreement is fantastic news, but it does not mean that the problem is solved.

“We will keep working with our members to make sure that climate change remains a priority with our leaders in the coming months and years, and one of the top priorities must be to keep building clean, sustainable energy for everyone in Britain.”

Lord Michael Howard of Lympne commented:

“Politics has thrown up many surprises in recent months, but in many ways the Paris Agreement is the most remarkable. For such a deal to be brought into force less than a year after its agreement is almost unprecedented in the history of the United Nations, and signals unequivocally the desire of all nations to move forward together and find a solution to the problem of climate change.

“For Britain, the agreement presents clear opportunities for our businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that the global transition to a low-carbon economy presents. This is true now more than ever as we look to forge new global partnerships, where British expertise in sectors like offshore wind, low-emission vehicles and clean finance are already in demand.

“The Prime Minister and her new Cabinet are to be congratulated for signaling their support for the Paris Agreement, and ensuring that Britain retains its place at the heart of this profoundly important global treaty.”



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.

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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.

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