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From driverless cars to jetpacks: meet the tech innovators reshaping transit

A look at the tinkerers, designers and big thinkers pushing the boundaries of transportation

New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company’s flagship product is an unconventional flying machine: a jetpack that might seem like a prop from a sci-fi movie, were it not for the fact that it’s well on the road to commercialization.

In October, New Zealand’s civil aviation authority cleared the company’s Prototype 12 model jetpack for manned flights. The fan-propelled jetpack, when shown in June at the Paris Air Show, could soar almost 1,000 meters and fly up to half an hour. The company’s jetpacks are expected to become commercially available sometime in the second half of 2016.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Flood warnings issued as north England and Wales brace for heavy rain

Month’s rainfall forecast to fall in 24 hours in some areas, with special pumps dispatched to Cumbria where flood risk is greatest

People in northern England and Wales have been warned to brace themselves for possible flooding as another band of heavy rain sweeps across the UK.

The Met Office has issued amber warnings of severe weather for north-west Wales and parts of north-west England, with the Environment Agency saying Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, and North and West Yorkshire are at risk from significant river and localised flooding on Saturday evening and into Sunday.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Green Roofs: Sow, Grow, Repeat

Green roofs are sprouting up all over the place, but what’s the point of putting plants on top of buildings?

Green roofs are sprouting up all over the place but what’s the point of putting plants on top of buildings?

On the show, Jane Perrone talks to green roof guru Dusty Gedge about high-rise wildlife habitats and how to build a green roof on a budget, and visits David Matzdorf’s exotic green roof in London. Plus she gives us a tour of her very own green roof and plants some new additions

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Source: Guardian Environment

From Rotterdam to Tokyo: the world's most hi-tech cycle parks

Businesses and cities are installing state of the art parking facilities for the swelling ranks of cyclists, but will they pay to park?

For all those cyclists who leave their bike at the station only to spend the rest of the day worrying it will be stolen or vandalised, there may be hope in the form of a German-designed tower.

“When you get to a train station these days, you see 150 metres of bikes. We need much more compact solutions,” says Nick Child, managing director of Cardok, which will distribute the Radhaus tower in Britain. (Radhaus is a pun on the German word Rad, which means bicycle, and Rathaus, which means city hall.) “We need much more compact solutions.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

The sun is setting on solar, but there’s still time to scoop the feed-in tariffs

Householders are rushing to take advantage of generous Fits before they are cut in January – and you can too

Around 655,000 homes – less than 3% of the UK’s housing stock – have solar panels, but if government plans to slash the industry subsidy go ahead, further installations could be halted, campaigners are warning.

The solar industry, backed by at least 35 MPs, is proposing an alternative plan to encourage further installations while adding just £1 to the average electricity bill. But amid fears their plea will fall on deaf ears, householders are rushing to take advantage of feed-in tariffs (Fits) while they last.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Ask Alys: how do I care for my banana plants in winter?

‘Cover it with something to keep the rain off. Some people use upturned dustbins’

In the spring I bought two small banana plants. They have grown well on my south-west-facing patio, but I’m not sure how to care for them now winter is approaching. Should I bring them inside, fleece them or maybe even cut foliage off?

You need to keep the worst of the winter rain off; this is the main enemy, rotting the crown of the plant. The foliage will blacken after the first hard frost and start to rot, so you will need to remove this. You can, if you like, cut the banana back before it is frosted: leave a stump a foot or so high. Mulch around the base of the plant with very well-rotted garden compost or bark mulch, wrap the crown up with fleece, then cover it with something to keep the rain off. Some people use upturned dustbins (depending on the size of the plant); perhaps you could use a cloche, which would look more attractive.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Thomas Piketty calls for investors to divest from fossil fuels ahead of climate talks

Economist says Paris summit offers a decisive moment in history for investors to move out of the dirty fuels that put the ‘public’s wellbeing at risk’

Thomas Piketty has called for investors to move their money out of fossil fuels ahead of landmark UN climate change talks.

The French economist, along with ‘ecological economist’ Tim Jackson, authors of the respective bestselling books Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Prosperity Without Growth: economics for a finite planet, said that investors should divest from a sector with a business model “at odds with physical realities”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Thomas Piketty and Tim Jackson: responsible investors must divest from fossils fuels now | Letters

Science, ethics and economics are intersecting to form a clear market signal: in the lead-up to the COP21 climate talks, responsible investors should divest from fossil fuels (Report, 13 November). At a time when the fossil fuel industry should be shifting its businesses to focus on renewable energy, it is doing the opposite, doubling down on coal, oil and gas. Capital continues to flow into the exploration and future extraction of dirty energy. Long-term investment decisions must take into account the externalities of a business model at odds with physical realities. In the lead-up to the COP21 climate talks, the financial community has a vital role to play in the transition to a new energy economy – one where fossil fuels must be left in the ground. From a fiduciary perspective, there are a number of indicators that fossil fuel investments contain significant levels of risk. The energy sector steadily shifted from high-return, low-cost conventional projects, to high-cost, capital-intensive, complex projects. Meanwhile, clean, carbon-free energy is rapidly becoming cost-competitive with dirty energy.

Within the investor community, the early adopters have already begun a substantial movement to divest from fossil fuels, a movement representing $2.6tn in assets under management. The world’s largest institutional investors, including the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth and Rockefeller Brothers funds, have all expressed their concern for carbon-related investment risk and are adjusting their portfolios accordingly by moving out of fossil fuel holdings. Divestment also models the kind of commitments we are expecting to be taken from governments. We call on national governments to take effective commitments to end all form of subsidies to fossil fuels at the forthcoming G20.
Thomas Piketty
Paris School of Economics
Tim Jackson
University of Surrey

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Source: Guardian Environment

Heavy rain warning for northern Britain in wake of storm Abigail

Met Office issues amber warnings, the second highest, and Environment Agency says parts of northern England face significant river flooding

Areas of north-west England, Yorkshire and north Wales, as well as all of Northern Ireland, have been warned to be prepare for heavy rain on Saturday after storm Abigail left thousands without power and closed schools.

The Met Office put in place a series of amber warnings, the second highest, while the Environment Agency warned that communities in northern England faced the risk of significant river flooding over the weekend.

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Source: Guardian Environment