Tuesday, 10 February 2009

NI Environment Minister Blocks Ad

The Northern Ireland Minister for the Environment Sammy Wilson has blocked proposals for an Act On CO2 advertising campaign in Northern Ireland which urges people to reduce their energy consumption and their CO2 emissions, citing them as "insidious propaganda campaign".

Mr Wilson said he had written to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to say that the advertising campaign Act on CO2 "was not welcome". He explained that he did not believe in its message that "man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change" and that the campaign was contrary to his personal views. A belief which he greater explains on his personal website. This is not the first time a DUP member has had their personal beliefs subject their position in office to being fit for purpose. Further more in objecting to the advertisements it is against government, party and public lines, and detracts from the ultimate objective in reducing not only carbon emissions, but emissions of other harmful toxic chemicals. Which surely his tenure should consider a positive benefit to the environment. In addition, by creating his own separate approach and campaign, it also creates a different attitude in different areas of the United Kingdom which does nothing to support the view "together we can make a difference".

He continued on, "I do not wish for climate change messages to be promoted by other Whitehall departments here". This seems unintuitive as the advertising message was not promoted as affecting climate change, it also detracts from a centralised message and does nothing to promote the national campaign identity, the Act On CO2 brand.

In December 2008, he told the Belfast Telegraph while people in the western world were facing spiralling fuel bills as a result of efforts to cut CO2. Which is simply not true, the price of fuel bills are set in accordance with the demand and supply for that fuel. Efforts to cut CO2 other than direct Carbon Credits and ROC on energy generators and suppliers, would not increase this cost. There is also the positive benefits in investing into these technologies such as improved enviornmental conditions, positive health benefits and the other one he does seemed to have grasped is the financial benefits.

"He is a climate change sceptic. We have got to take all measures we can to reduce our carbon footprint. Mr Wilson does not agree with that. This is totally incompatible with him being minister for the environment."
Brian Wilson, Green Party

I would call on the DECC, EST and Carbon Trust, acting under the Act On CO2 brand to overrule or catagorically ignore the request the postcode blackout insisted by Sammy Wilson and publish the adverts, as denying the right to promote their campagin and views is clearly an authoritarian dictator style stance which simple does not allow a free choice. I believe the adverts would be welcomed by the majority of people in Northern Ireland. We should not be subject to the views of one because they believe they are correct and because it is contrary to his personal views. Next week will we see the minister marching Noel WIlliams, Head of EST in Northern Ireland out of his office because the view of his organisation isn't in keeping with the his personal views.

Failing to do so, I would be willing to partly fund or fully fund a 48 sheet ad of said ad in central Belfast, to make a stance on this issue, simply because my ramblings aren't enough.

"It's bad enough that we have an environment minister who doesn't accept that human activity is driving climate change, but trying to block advice to people on how they can help tackle it is completely irresponsible. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe that our activities are causing global warming and that urgent action is needed to tackle it."
Friends of the Earth, Director for Northern Ireland, John Woods

DECC say their commitment to this campaign was guided by the "best science, the most up-to-date information and the evidence... the only way we can tackle it is by working together". Surely this is the reason that the DECC should simply publish. It's easier to get forgiveness than consent. Lord Stern of Brentford made headlines in 2006 with a report that said countries needed to spend 1% of their GDP to stop greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels, now increased to 2%. Failure to do this would lead to damage costing much more, the report warned - at least 5% and perhaps more than 20% of global GDP. Surely inaction which the minister seems to promote is a greater evil than the positive benefits of action.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Recycling Scheme Gets Recognition

Environment Minister Sammy Wilson this week paid tribute to a Lisburn recycling project which is helping people on low incomes.

During a visit to the Voluntary Service Lisburn’s (VSL) facilities, the Minister saw at first hand how electrical goods and furniture were being recycled for the benefit of the local community.

Voluntary Service Lisburn was established in 1981 to help meet the needs of the disadvantaged, disabled and elderly in the local community. In addition to its furniture refurbishment and white goods recycling, VSL operates a substantial volunteer system, and carries out environmental and community projects.

Financial backing from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s (NIEA) Community Waste Innovation Fund has enabled the project to provide an important service which is recycling goods which would otherwise have gone to landfill and which are sold on to people on low incomes at low costs.

NIEA’s Community Waste Innovation Fund is providing support to VSL until 2009, for its electrical (white) goods recycling project.

VSL Interiors is located in Haslems Lane in the city, just off the main shopping district Bow Street, and is part of the Lisburn Square shopping centre. They collect unwanted domestic white goods such as cookers, washing machines, dryers and small electrical items and repairs and refurbishes them for sale at low cost to those on low incomes.

This project to date has reduced the household appliances going to landfill by 132 tonnes to date, and any that cannot be reused and sold on is recycled in accordance with the latest environmental protection legislation.

Whilst I am impressed with such a service existing and this is a model example of recycle, reduce and reuse. But in the case of appliances, should we be putting old electrical appliances in homes which are less energy efficient than that of new ones.

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My Smart Meter

I recently wrote how Northern Ireland Electricity are carrying out a pilot scheme to install smart meters into customers homes in an effort to allow householders greater access to information which could reduce their energy consumption. Having now had my smart meter installed at the end of January I first accessed my account today, having allowed two weeks of energy use without the realisation of being watched, at least not by my family anyway.

The device installed automatically records the information on energy use and sends this daily via phone link to NIE each morning (ie Sunday's usage would be sent Monday at 03:00am). This information is then immediately available via a special website where you can view or export this information. You can view graphical charts, with monthly, daily or half hour readings, which can be viewed in kWh, kW, £ or CO2 emissions.

Other benefits include accurate bills taken from your bank account via direct debit each month on the specific energy used rather than estimated amounts. It allows you to see your attempts to reduced energy immediately rather than from your next quarterly bill; and of course paperless billing.

Canadian research over two-years suggests the overall reduction in consumption was 10%. Other studies have resulted in more conservative reductions of 7%. It will be interesting to see if we can achieve results on a similar scale, and if this will be increased through higher energy costs and economic uncertainty.

Other energy suppliers are also trialling smart meters and if you are interested in getting one installed you should contact your supplier to see if this is available, you can also purchase energy monitors with computer packages that can show you energy consumption real time such as the Wattson Energy Monitor.

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Greenish Undies

Leading mens underwear brand C-IN2 has been offering greenish undies for a while now, not just in the colour green, much to my surprise. Who would have thought that you could buy underwear with a conscience that looks and feels so great, but are they truly green? Hence my use of ish with green.

They offer two lines of "eco-undies" in their collection from made from Bamboo and Seacell.

Rayon derived from bamboo is produced from regenerated cellulosic fibers. The Bamboo is broken down, then treated and made into rayon derived from Bamboo. The fabric has natural anti-bacterial functions.

Seacell fibers are manufactured from natural materials only. It is said that the natural elements found in Seacell such as Vitamins and Amino acids are passed on to the body when worn. Cotton is combined with seaweed to make the Seacell fiber.

However in each line cotton is used as a major fabric in the construction of the underwear. Whilst this is from US producers they do not say if this is organic, hence it most likely is not (they have yet to prove me wrong). Which is a shame, considering they have gone to the hassle of calling them "eco-friendly" on their site, but maybe sometime in the future we could see organic cotton in the collection.

Calvin Klein Underwear currently offer their Naturals range which offer 100% organic cotton underwear.

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