In September 2015 the UK Government responded to the Natural Capital Committee’s third State of Natural Capital Report. The committee recommended that the government develop a 25 year plan to deliver on their aim to be “the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than it inherited”.
The day after George Osborne published the 2015 Autumn Statement, an announcement to the London Stock Exchange declared something unexpected: the £1bn ring-fenced capital budget for a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) competition would no longer be available. This funding was to demonstrate CCS technology commercially on a power plant in the UK. The deadline for bids was less than six weeks away when the announcement was made.
Science and the environmental movement
Despite it being their legal requirement, UK businesses are failing to undertake energy audits under the new ESOS scheme. Compliance will save them money and work towards fulfilling their corporate sustainability goals, so why are so few undertaking audits? And is the administrator of the scheme, the Environment Agency, culpable?
Remarkably, MPs received more letters about bees from their constituents in August this year than any other issue – evidence that long-held concerns from scientists about the importance of ecosystem services are gaining ground in the public consciousness. Ecosystem services are no longer the ‘next big thing’ but are of immediate concern and importance to society. Freshwater ecosystem services are highly relevant to many of society’s current challenges, such as flooding, security of water supply, and climate resilience.
August each year brings exam results for thousands of A-Level and GCSE students around the country. Our congratulations go out to all of those who have received their results, and with UCAS reporting record numbers of university places being accepted (since the cap on student numbers has been removed), including across the sciences, we hope that these successes will translate into thriving environmental science courses across the country.
Last month the IES published its annual membership survey. The majority of the questions were seeking quantitative responses and these were included in the report. However, the survey also includes a number of free text boxes for members to comment on services and to make general comments on the performance of the Institution.
Ricardo-AEA has recently completed the 2015 update of UK Government Conversion Factors for Company Reporting (greenhouse gas (GHG) conversion factors). The latest conversion factors are available via an online tool.
What are the changes?
A notable change to the factors this year is the reduction in the electricity factor.
At the start of the last parliament, David Cameron claimed that the coalition would be ‘the greenest government ever’. Over the course of the parliament, this claim was frequently tested by environmental campaigners and his political opposition, particularly concerning the Government’s attitude to fracking and ‘green taxes’, and the handling of the controversial forestry sell-off policy.
The use of drones has become one of the latest hot topics within the media, with reports covering everything from their sometimes controversial military applications, to their position at the forefront of the latest Christmas toy craze. Perhaps less frequently publicised is the potential of these small flying platforms for environmental applications. However, within both academic and commercial arenas things are evolving rapidly.