A second major car-rental company has lined up with car-share enthusiasts to create a car-club scheme aimed at cutting congestion on city streets. Like the Edinburgh car club (see GF, Issue 16, p37), the Avis CARvenience scheme in Oxford is backed by the city council. Members pay an annual fee, and receive an electronically encrypted key fob, giving them access to a pool of vehicles and billing them automatically for usage at modest hourly and mileage-related rates. Enthusiastic about the possibility of replicating the Oxford scheme in other UK cities, Avis extols its benefits in terms of responsible car usage and a reduced need for second car ownership.
Close your eyes and think of English Heritage. What do you see? A deer park rolling away from the cream stucco frontage of something elegant and Georgian...the weathered grey stumps of an ancient stone circle, looming romantically through the mist...the teeming streets of inner-city Birmingham, alive with saris and bhangra rhythms...No, hang on. Inner city? Heritage? Shurely shome mishtake? Not in the eyes of Neil Cossons. The incoming chairman of English Heritage talks to Martin Wright.
A technology first used to help army tanks elude heat-seeking missiles has been adapted to make homes more energy efficient.
Radiant-barrier paint, containing microscopic reflective particles, can make a building warmer in winter and cooler in summer, according to the inauspiciously named ChemRex company, based in Minnesota. It likens its Radiance paints to low-e glass in windows. There is a version for attic decking, and a version in a range of light colours for interior walls and ceilings. The manufacturer claims that in winter a coating of latex-based Radiance can reduce heat loss through the walls by reflecting 40% of the radiant heat back into the rooms. Conversely, when summer sunshine beats down on the exterior walls and the roof, the Radiance barrier stops a proportion of the radiant energy entering the rooms and attic space, thereby helping to keep the building cooler. The company’s website provides an online calculator to encourage you to work out the potential fuel savings.
Maximising the use of industrial incinerators could dampen the need for new ones. Graham Sprigg turns up the heat on behalf of RMC Group.
As the government considers sustainable ways of tackling the national waste mountain, the focus of attention is shifting from landfill, which is over burdened, to other methods of disposal.
High on the list is incineration. Indeed, if the country is to achieve the targets set in the government’s Waste Strategy 2000, new incinerators will have to be built to cope with waste which cannot be recycled. Some estimates put this number as high as 94 new incinerators, each of which will need to handle, on average, 250,000 tonnes of waste per annum. Any undertaking of this scale will not be without considerable social and environmental impacts. However, an alternative to straight incineration does already exist, in the form of energy from waste. In this scenario, energy is recovered from materials used as a secondary fuel source.
High frequency (HF) lighting is to get a boost in the market from the Lightswitch programme, promoted by the Energy Saving Trust. Under Lightswitch, small and medium-sized companies can now get rebates when they install HF lighting and controls. The rebate system should help the penetration of HF in the market, raising its share from the current 21% towards the EST’s target of 30% in 2002. HF gives better-quality light than traditional fluorescent tubes, without noise or flicker, while also helping to save on electricity, carbon costs and money.
With 300 years of business behind it, Royal and Sun Alliance knows a bit about weathering storms. Chief Executive Bob Mendelsohn sets out his strategy for managing climate change and more, in an interview with Martin Wright.
As claims for storm damage mount, say environ-mentalists, the world’s great insurance companies are in for a hammering from climate change. It’s a statement trotted out with increasing frequency. And it’s one with which Bob Mendelsohn, chief executive of Royal and Sun Alliance (R&SA), takes exception.
“Climate change is not a life or death business issue for us. Just think about what insurance is. It is about risk transfer -people who cannot afford to take a risk will pay a premium to someone who can. From an insurer’s viewpoint, climate change simply means there’s more risk in the world, and so there is more risk cover. If climate change creates a tremendous upsurge in risk, then as night follows day, an increase in premium rates will follow the incidence of claims.”
Of course, you want that EU pollution data. Of course, there’s a public right to know. Three years’ time OK for you?
The USA already has its toxic release inventory, but late 2003 is the likely earliest publication date for the first harmonised European pollutant emission register (EPER). It will cover greenhouse gases and some 50 other air and water pollutants spewed out at some 20,000 industrial sites across Europe.
As required by the 1996 Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC), EU member countries will have to give the Commission their annual data for the register. The first (2003) version of EPER will be based mainly on stats for the year 2001 (although some countries will report on 2002, and some only on 2000). In the fullness of time - by 2008 - we might start expecting annual reporting, with data only one year old, if that isn’t too much to ask.
If you want people to understand sustainability, show it to them in practice, writes the Earth Centre’s Joanna Yarrow.
How do you get 20 senior managers from a multi-national company talking about their belief in sustainability and their vision for the future of the world?
One way is to immerse them in a multi-media show portraying the earth in the balance, and then bombard them with facts. Show them concrete examples of sustainability in practice. Then, after an organic lunch, make them cycle round a 400-acre ecology park. Finally, sit them around a table and ask them to consider difficult issues before tea.
Such was the first ‘earth inspiration day’ with a group from AirBP, who visited Earth Centre for inspiration before tackling The Natural Step with Forum for the Future. According to Duncan Eggar, AirBP’s environmental leader, the day was a success. “We left fired with enthusiasm to pursue sustainable development for our business,” he said. “We will return to be refreshed when the going gets tough.”
Judging by the government’s new plan for investment in the transport infrastructure in England (see p18), and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown’s latest three-year expenditure review, the arguments over environmental spending should be more about priorities than about an overall shortage of funds. The 10-year transport plan is costed at £180 billion, while in the spending review transport has been assigned a 20% real annual increase over the next three years, and the environment a 10% annual increase.
Oh no, not another e-commerce project? ‘Fraid so - but Hilary J. Thompson of Royal Bank of Scotland hopes Digital Futures will reveal the wider impact of working in cyberspace.
There is no escaping the ‘dot.com revolution’. New internet companies are launched - and crash - daily, and the millionaires who run them are constantly in the headlines. But the hype has focused on the internet’s economic impact rather than how it will affect our environment and social relationships.
The Digital Futures project, launched earlier this year, aims to change this, exploring the impact of e-commerce on sustainable development, the environment and social relationships. Launched by Patricia Hewitt, the e-minister, it is run by Forum for the Future. At NatWest, we are part of a consortium incorporating the departments of trade and industry and environment, transport and regions, the cabinet office, corporate partners and research organisations.
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