Leaving the EU is a backward step for the UK’s economy and environment

Firstly, apologies I have been away for a couple of days at Glastonbury. I wouldn’t normally leave this kind of post but I would like to reitterate the huge amount of respect I have for those who tried to keep us in the European Union (EU).

Both economically and environmentally we will suffer thanks to exiting the EU. We will have to agree new trade agreements with the EU which takes time, several years some sources have suggested. The arguments based around us leaving the EU resulting in the United Kingdom bring able to trade freely with other emerging nations (like BRICS) is completely unrealistic. In some cases the economies of these emerging nations are unstable and volatile at best. We have simply failed to listen to top economists and well respected institutions. To illustrate this since we voted to leave, ratings agency Standard and Poor’s have already stripped the UK of its top credit rating.

In terms of the environmental dangers, a recent expert review by a range of academics on behalf of the group The UK in a Changing Europe detailed how the EU has affected UK environmental policy and also how the UK has shaped wider environmental policies. The report emphasised how membership of the EU has been largely beneficial on the UK’s natural environment. Moreover it underlined how leaving the EU could be risky and may place the Climate Change Act in jeopardy in the near future.

As for the case and arguments around immigration, we have been unsuccessful in capturing accurate statistics on who is entering and leaving the UK. In addition we have also been unable to implement the most appropriate methods and approaches for controlling sudden influxes of immigrants through our borders.

If the UK wants to remain a world leading nation we need to have impact and influence locally, nationally and at a European and international level. This vote to leave the EU hinders our ability to influence on a global scale, and makes the UK a less attractive investment proposition compared to EU member nations.

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Shambala – Leading sustainability light on the UK festival circuit

With the UK festival season now in full swing I wanted to delve deeper and reflect on what really makes a festival sustainable.

With the UK festival season now in full swing I wanted to delve deeper and reflect on what really makes a festival sustainable. Using the example of Shambala Festival (25-28 August) I’m going to identify some key areas that require attention for festivals, in order to greater understand how other festivals can lower their impacts or even become carbon neutral.

In 2014, I produced a guide to the top sustainable festivals in the UK and a number of festivals including Shambala Festival were featured throughout. What makes Shambala so different is that it is committed to being as environmentally sustainable as it can. These key achievements really do portray it as an exemplar in its field, and how festivals should be run with regards to their impact on the local community and environment:

  • In the last five years they have reduced the onsite carbon footprint of the festival by 81%;
  • First festival in the UK to send zero waste to landfill;
  • In 2014 it was 100% powered by renewable energy;
  • Pioneered projects like the Bring a Bottle campaign and Travel Carbon Fund;
  • Founder member of the Green Festival Alliance and the Powerful Thinking initiative;
  • Co-founded a festival industry initiative – Energy Revolution, in order to grapple with audience travel. Audience travel is the biggest contributor to the festival’s carbon footprint;
  • In 2015 donations to their carbon fund raised over £4,000;
  • Their Bring a Bottle campaign resulted in 10,000 less plastic bottles on site and raised £5,000 for Frank Water projects in India;
  • Food waste leftovers from traders and campers amounted to 1.6 tonnes of usable food. This was distributed to local food banks with the help of Eighth Plate;
  • The festival recently achieved 4 stars for its Creative Green certification;
  • In 2016 Shambala will be completely meat and fish free on site.

It has won many other accolades, the list goes on! However there are of course areas for improvement such as recycling and other waste, as only 35% of waste was recycled – their target was 65%. They also did not meet their aim to get 15% of festival goers travelling on coaches, narrowly missing out with 14%.

Nonetheless, there is a recognition that the festival is taking an inspiring stance and vision to the way it powers the festival, sources local food and suppliers, promotes zero waste and contributes positively to the overall impact of the festival. Many other festivals could learn an enormous amount from its model, and could even look to adopt some of the practices it places at the very core of its operations.

Photo: Amelia’s Magazine via www.ameliasmagazine.com

Energy Seminar – navigating barriers to energy cost control and storage

On 28 January, the EAUC with support from Clean Power Solutions held an energy seminar at the Chimneys Hotel and Conference Centre, Cheshire. This seminar looked to explore and share solutions and expertise from other institutions in areas, such as energy cost control and storage, key energy technologies and carbon management planning.

There was a short welcome and introduction from Wayne Talbot, EAUC, and our hosts Marc Stanton, Clean Power Solutions. Chair of Collectively’s editorial board Martin Wright opened with a keynote speech showing key highlights from some of Collectively’s #go100percent clean energy campaign. He spoke in great length and offered his insights from COP21. Grant Anderson, Environmental Manager at Nottingham Trent University delivered a really fascinating talk entitled “The Dark Art – Setting Carbon Targets”. Grant concisely summarised Nottingham Trent’s carbon management campaign called Carbon Elephant and even alluded to their new carbon neutral building, Pavilion. This presentation was followed by Joel Cardinal, Head of Energy & Sustainability at the University of Warwick who looked in depth at CHP, district heating and thermal storage.

After the short interval, Scott Brooks (Nottingham Trent University) went through the stages and processes required to get a CHP project efficiently, through the use of Salix’s Revolving Green Fund. University of Liverpool’s Peter Birch showed connections between all things energy related on campus from district heating, to their energy centres and CHP engine cells. In the session “Greening our fleet” Katie Stead, Sustainability and Energy Strategy Manager at Sheffield Hallam University offered an overview and key learning points from their hydrogen vehicle trial.

Throughout lunch and before the remaining presentations, delegates were invited to take the short trip to tour Clean Power Solutions energy facility. In the final three presentations Alistair Roberts from iPower Energy, Lars Weber (Neas Energy) and Simon Durrant, CEO of eSight Energy Group offered their solutions to energy monitoring and management. To reflect on the day, delegates were asked to provide their thoughts on barriers to COP21 and solutions for the future. Some of the issues faced at institutions included the continual expansion of their estates. This could be put increased pressure on their ability to cut carbon emissions whilst at the same time continuing to grow. Other issues included limited legal requirements and senior level leadership across the sector. Solutions were identified including looking at longer term thinking and incentivisation.

To find out more about what happened during the energy seminar and to download the presentations, please follow this link here.

To view the original article please click here.

ifs Financial Sustainability Symposium

On 1 October, I attended The London Institute of Banking & Finance (formerly ifs University College) Financial Sustainability Symposium in London. The day programme was packed with inspiring speakers from those working in financial sustainability and sustainable business.

There was a short welcome and introduction from Darran Messem, Managing Director, Carbon Trust Certification. He looked at how to embrace sustainability, which he said involves financial, compliance and reputation. He recognised the need for graduates in sustainability to have the awareness, understanding and belief in the ability to change.

Triodos Bank Managing Director Charles Middleton spoke in great length about balancing financial performance against environmental and social returns. Adam Elman, Head of Global Plan A Delivery at Marks and Spencer offered interesting insights on sustainability and a new business plan.

After lunch, Kathleen Britain gave her perspective on evolving corporate citizenship and Barclays Citizenship Plan. This was then followed by a Q and A panel debate session with the guest speakers Darran, Charles and Kathleen. They took questions from the floor on a range of issues relating to financial sustainability and a fierce debate on divestment.

We ended the day with a roundtable group discussion on embedding financial sustainability and whether attitudes have changed or is it business as usual? Discussions focused on threats and opportunities to sustainable development, and the tools needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Take a look at what happened and some of the discussions from the day using the hashtag #sustsym.

To view the original article please click here.

Lucideon’s Sustainability Workshop: Gaining a Competitive Edge

Last Friday Lucideon held a sustainability workshop at their Stoke headquarters. The aim of the workshop was to explore and capitalise on aspects of sustainability in order to gain a competitive edge.

There was a short welcome and introduction from Tony Kinsella, CEO, Lucideon. This was then followed by Andrew Smith, Head of Sustainability & Construction Materials at Lucideon, who delivered the first talk on the current policy landscape. He investigated various policy trends such as the post 2015 development agenda, resource efficiency driving the green economy and the UK interpretation of sustainable development.

Anthesis Director Ann Durrant spoke in great length about how to engage employees with your sustainability plan. Using case studies from a variety of sectors including recycling at Keele University, Northern Rail style Dragon’s Den and SABMiller, Ann offered many simple but effective methods on how to motivate and create an enlightened and sustainability conscious workforce. Making action simple and meaningful was message to take away from this presentation. On better, smarter procurement David Dowson (Environmental Advisor at Skanska UK) provided an overview on how to procure services with a minimised environmental impact. He alluded to some examples including the supply chains school project and solar power bins.

After lunch, Tracy Clewlow from Staffordshire University gave an academics perspective into what is driving sustainability forward in marketing and procurement. Tracy presented key findings from research showing how marketing is important to help ‘normalise’ green behaviours, products and services. Using academic research she concluded that companies who implement sustainability now are more likely to prosper and succeed in the future.

The last guest speaker of the day was David Tovey, UK Environment & Risk Prevention Manager at Michelin Tyre PLC. He discussed the Michelin Performance and Responsibility (PRM), their sustainable governance programme. In addition to briefly highlighting third-party analysis by external companies and information disclosure.

In his final presentation, using case studies Andrew Smith demonstrated the benefits of operating an inclusive approach to enable key sustainability and resource efficiency objectives to be met. The event ended with a panel Q&A session with all of the guest speakers. They took questions from the floor on a range of issues such as incorporating sustainability into design, ethical breaches and corruption and sustainability and social impact.

To sum up, this workshop offered up some very interesting insights on future trends in sustainability, ways to learn from others and navigating the most effective course of action for business.

Read more about the event and resource efficiency on their website. Also take a look at what happened during the day using the hashtag #sustainwshop2015

To view the original article please click here.

2015 guide to the top international sustainable and green festivals

With the summer festival season now upon us, I have been looking in-depth at ten of the most sustainable or eco-friendly events taking place outside of the UK in 2015. Here is a rundown and mini-guide to the most sustainable festivals in the world you should explore or even visit this year, glancing briefly at their sustainability and green commitments.

This piece follows on from last year’s article on the UK’s top sustainable and green festivals: https://sethkirby.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/2014-guide-to-the-uks-top-sustainable-and-green-festivals/

Lightning in a Bottle Festival, USA  

Set in the San Antonio area of California and running for over a decade the festival celebrates art, music and sustainability.

When: May 21-25

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £175-185

Website: www.lightninginabottle.org

Sustainability: The ethos of the festival is focused around water, energy and education. Since 2006 the festival has been giving away free water; an environmental impact assessment is undertaken to ensure their activities do not negatively impact Lake San Antonio. Biodiesel, solar and wind are some of the key renewable energy technologies used to power the festival. This includes a solar and wind generator, LED lighting and solar lights. A contribution is made to local projects for any carbon emissions that cannot be offset. There are a range of environmental workshops and educational initiatives which bring together the community to discuss and share new ideas and solutions. It has been awarded outstanding for the last five years of A Greener Festival Awards, making it one of the most green and environmentally friendly festivals in the world.

We Love Green Festival, France      

A pioneering music festival committed to respecting the environment and a desire to promote sustainability.

When: May 30-31

Tickets: An adult two day pass is £37 (approx)

Website: www.welovegreen.fr

Sustainability: The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of sustainability and it is run by renewable energy sources, solar and wind power – the main stage is powered by solar energy. It is committed to “zero impact” and provides free drinkable water fountains, selects local service providers and uses disposable and reclaimed furniture and signage. Waste and recycling is managed and sorted on site, with food waste distributed to farms around the festival. We Love Green was rated outstanding by A Greener Festival in 2011, 2012 and 2014, in addition to being awarded the Green Operations European Festival Awards in 2012.

Roskilde Festival, Denmark               

One of the largest music and culture festivals in Northern European, running since 1971.

When: June 27-July 4

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £190 (approx); one day tickets are £95 (approx)

Website: www.roskilde-festival.dk

Sustainability: According to the festival’s food strategy their ambition is for 90% of the festival food to be organic by 2017. In 2013, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and Roskilde Festival developed an organic food label, Det Økologiske Spisemærke. At the 2014 festival they joined forces with the Stop Wasting Food Denmark and produced a total of 27.5 tons of excess food. This food waste was given to a number of homeless shelters. It was awarded the Green Operations European Festival Awards in 2014.

Ilosaarirock Festival, Finland             

Ilosaarirock Festival is an outdoor lakeside festival founded in 1971 and set in Joensuu.

When: July 17-19

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £75 (approx); one day tickets are £50 (approx)

Website: www.ilosaarirock.fi

Sustainability: 70% of the electricity used at Ilosaarirock is produced from water, wind or wood and each of the stages use LED lighting. Festival items are made from ethically and ecologically sourced cotton, decorations for the festival site are made primarily of recycled materials and fair trade coffee and tea is sold on site. In 2014, nearly 70% of the festival’s rubbish ended up in recycling. It has the aim of recycling 70% of waste in 2015 and houses recycling facilities for biodegradable waste, glass and cardboard. One of their campaigns “disposability is a four-letter word” looks to get attendees to think about disposable goods and their purchases. Festival partners have to show a commitment to environmental values and action. For example they work with a print house called PunaMusta which has received a Nordic Ecolabel for its practices. A Greener Festival rated it outstanding in 2014.

Splendour in the Grass Festival, Australia     

An Australian music festival that has been held annually since 2001 and takes place near the beautiful Byron Bay.

When: July 24-26

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are priced at £185, alongside a camping pass of £50 (approx)

Website: www.splendourinthegrass.com

Sustainability: Splendour’s sustainability strategy demonstrates how they have undertaken significant steps to enhance their environmental management and stewardship and community engagement. Their strategy is broken down into three categories – environment, social welfare and market supply and demand. The festival looks to respect the local community and environment. It seeks to engage with industry services to help place greater importance on sustainability through a track record of ethical practice. They possess an environmental procurement policy which underpins their sustainability ambitions. It was higher commended by A Greener Festival in 2014.

Øya Festival, Norway         

One of Norway’s biggest annual music festivals set in Oslo since 1999.

When: August 11-15

Tickets: Adult week passes are £235 (5 days); one day tickets are £79 (approx)

Website: www.oyafestivalen.no

Sustainability: The festival aims to be one of the greenest festivals in the world and has a significant focus on the environment. It is powered by a hydro-electric dam and is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly festivals in Norway. In 2014, recycling cut their Co2 emissions approximately amounting to 13,000 cars a year. In addition, 72% of waste has been recycled and transformed into new products and 95% of all food was certified organic. It was the first palm oil free festival in Norway in 2014. With a procurement plan and other environmental criteria, including waste management and sustainable food plans, they aim to reduce and reuse as much as the festival produces. It achieved outstanding by A Greener Festival in 2014.

Way Out West Festival, Sweden     

An annual music festival founded in 2007 and held in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden.

When: August 13-15

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £180 and teenage tickets are £130 (approx)

Website: www.wayoutwest.se

Sustainability: It serves only vegetarian meals and organic food at the festival. This has enabled them to decrease their Co2 emissions by around 80%. In 2010, it became one of the first festivals in Sweden to be Krav-certified (a food eco-label that promotes agricultural sustainability). Sustainability, environment and social responsibility are important aspects of the festival since its inception. In 2013, it was the world’s first major music festival to be certified with ISO20121; it was also rated outstanding by A Greener Festival and received the Green Operations European Festival Award for that year.

Le Cabaret Vert Festival, France     

A French medium-sized music festival that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014 and features a range of genres.

When: August 20-23

Tickets: Adult four day passes are £65 (approx); one day tickets are £25 (approx)

Website: www.cabaretvert.com

Sustainability: Although it has grown in stature over the years from its small roots, Le Cabaret Vert still shares an ambition of being a responsible cultural event leading on environmental, economic and social practices. It has four main action areas – waste management, energy consumption, water and transportation. Recyclables are separated for waste collection, water is preserved and controlled, in addition to encouraging more sustainable forms of transports to the site, including bus, train or car-sharing. The festival also follows a responsible purchasing policy. It was highly commended by A Greener Festival in 2013.

Rocking the Daisies, South Africa

An annual music festival which takes place near Cape Town, South Africa.

When: October 1-4

Tickets: Adult weekend passes are priced between R650-750 (approx)

Website: www.rockingthedaisies.com

Sustainability: An integral part of the festival are its green and eco-friendly goals and it continues to follow the motto “Play Hard, Tread Lightly”. It carries out a comprehensive environmental audit and impact assessment each year. The audit covers and monitors areas such as procurement, water, transport, waste and energy. The events aims to be as carbon neutral as possible by reducing and off-setting any carbon directly from running the festival. A Greener Festival highly commended the event in 2014.

Island Vibe Festival, Australia

An annual celebration of world music, performing arts and island culture set in the stunning backdrop of Minjerribah, Stradbroke Island.

When: October 30-November 1

Tickets: Adult season tickets are £100 (approx)

Website: www.islandvibe.com.au

Sustainability: Island Vibe Festival takes a long term view and commitment towards sustainability and the environment. It produces a range of environmental policies, from transport to waste and recycling. Within its environmental policy it outlines its approach to a number of themes. These include areas like conservation, education, community engagement and leading by example. The festival understands its responsibility to the environment and stewardship of the planet. A Greener Festival rated it outstanding in 2014.

About the awards

A Greener Festival are a global awards scheme set up in 2007 that recognises festivals that deliver environmental best practice. www.agreenerfestival.com

The European Festival Awards, established in 2009, are an annual European awards ceremony, covering a variety of festival categories including the green operations award, best indoor festival, best small festival and much more. eu.festivalawards.com

Photo: Thomas Rousing via Flickr

Cowes Week 2014: sustainability unwrapped at world famous sailing regatta

A spectacular highlight of Britain’s sporting calendar, the annual racing regatta of Cowes Week is set to open with a ‘Green Blue Day’ on Saturday, which will encourage acts of sustainability, and provide a platform to raise awareness of the impact of boating on the environment.

Cowes Week has a glorious history and tradition as it is one of the oldest sailing regattas in the world. The yacht club, Royal Yacht Squadron, were the first to organise the prestigious race in 1826, which later grew into the event it is today. They also helped to formulate the early rules and regulations of sailing.

This long standing spectacle will attract around 100,000 spectators to the shores of the Isle of Wight, and 7,000 competitors will compete in 1,000 yachts across 40 classes.

As part of the week, the organisers have joined forces with The Green Blue and Sunsail to support green and environmental programmes at the regatta.

The Green Blue, created by the British Marine Federation and the Royal Yachting Association, is an environmental initiative to help boats reduce their impact on the environment.

Sailing holiday company, Sunsail, has been an instrumental player behind some of the recommendations for green initiatives, and continues to show its support for sustainable boating at Cowes Week. It has also made major advancements in environment management to the fleet in Port Solent.

Many of the green offerings, advice and incentives being promoted in 2014 include simple actions like bringing a reusable water bottle to the event, which can refilled for free during the week, and a range of free environmental products.

Jane Swan, The Green Blue project manager, said “The Solent [Isle of Wight] is a unique backdrop to this amazing event and the perfect platform to raise awareness of how easy sustainable boating can be and how important it is to keep the sailing waters around us in great shape.”

For sailing to continue to expand and thrive organisers of this and other events like the America’s Cup should look to recognise prominent environmental issues associated with the races and embrace landmark steps in sustainability, in order to continue to attract enthusiastic boaters and sailors and create a new era of responsible boating.

Photo: Christian Beasley via Flickr

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