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VW emissions scandal: 1.2m UK cars affected

German carmaker admits 1,189,906 British vehicles, including Audis, Seats and Škodas, were fitted with defeat devices

Volkswagen has revealed that almost 1.2m vehicles in the UK are involved in the diesel emissions scandal that has rocked the carmaker, meaning more than one in 10 of diesel cars on the country’s roads are affected.

VW said the diesel vehicles include 508,276 Volkswagen cars, 393,450 Audis, 76,773 Seats, 131,569 Škodas and 79,838 Volkswagen commercial vehicles. The total number of vehicles affected is 1,189,906.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Could Saltwater Batteries Provide Energy Storage Solution?

Storage has long been a primary question related to the transition from powering the global economy using fossil fuels to renewable energy. What are we supposed to do when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining? There are number of technological solutions to that problem, but one of the most promising recent innovations is a saltwater battery developed by Aquion Technology.

Licensed under CC - credit Flickr user: Michael Kappel
Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Michael Kappel

Besides the issue of having energy when it isn’t sunny, there’s also the incentive of capturing power that is generated but not used during periods of excess, both of which are common with wind and solar energy.

In a field, where good ideas are more prevalent than products themselves, Aquion’s saltwater batteries are already available commercially and are relatively easy and cheap to manufacture (they are also designed with end of use in mind). They are deliberately made from non-toxic materials including salt water, manganese oxide and carbon. They are self-moderating – most batteries need some sort of mechanism to ensure heating and cooling happens safely – and they are expected to be long-lasting.

Clearly it’s still early days, but it looks like Aquion’s batteries could be one of the early success stories in renewable energy storage, even more importantly, it’s clear that storing energy is gradually becoming less of a barrier to the transition to renewable energy.

Source: These Incredible Saltwater Batteries Are Designed To Store Renewable Energy

The post Could Saltwater Batteries Provide Energy Storage Solution? appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

Baltimore Plant Set to Overcome Plastics Recycling Barriers

There’s value in the materials, nutrients and products that are currently wasted by a linear global economy, there are numerous studies that provide evidence for that. However, there are still some significant barriers to overcome if that economic opportunity is to be taken advantage of.

Two of those challenges, capital investment and the ability to ‘sort’ materials, are set to be overcome in a new high-tech centre set to be opened in Baltimore next year. By this time next year, it is predicted that the plant could be sorting more than 50,000 tonnes of recycled plastic materials like milk cartons, soda bottles and cups.

The centre’s success is primarily down to two things. First, cutting edge laser technology that automates the sorting process to create different streams of plastics, maximising recycling and reuse value for different strands. Second, interest-free capital investment from the $100 million Closed Loop Fund, a new group that has amassed funding from 10 of the largest consumer goods companies in the U.S., including Walmart, Coca Cola and Unilever.

Cases like these might still be exceptional, but they do shed some light on the current state of play. Technology offers part of the solution for economic competitiveness, but the current positioning of the recycled materials market also means that large scale projects will almost always need significant initial financial investment.

Source: This new idea could change recycling in the U.S. forever

Lead image licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Claudia Zimmer

The post Baltimore Plant Set to Overcome Plastics Recycling Barriers appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

Will Boris Johnson’s Vision for Cycling deliver what it’s promised?

The London mayor’s ambitious cycling plans have many laudable aims but their delivery must be kept under proper scrutiny

When the outgoing London mayor Boris Johnson published his Vision for Cycling in 2013 it was greeted with a wave of adulation by the middle class press that has barely rolled back since. Media coverage of Johnson’s decidedly average eight years in power – often dipping below average on transport issues – has been obsequious in general, but on this phase of his uneven cycling odyssey, it has been positively grovelling.

The capital’s politicians have been no better. Though rightly eager to see conditions for cyclists improved, few have shown much appetite for subjecting Johnson’s approach to rigorous scrutiny. The London Assembly, which is supposed to hold the mayor to account, has instead offered a continuous cross-party round of applause, with even its more insightful members seemingly cowed into uncritical acceptance or else simply unable to see how the Vision might be flawed.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Bill de Blasio calls on New York pension funds to divest from coal companies

Mayor says investments must ‘catch up’ with the rest of the city in its effort to battle climate change and shift toward renewable energy

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the city’s five pension funds on Tuesday to end their investments in coal companies, demonstrating his commitment to taking on climate change.

The pension funds – whose assets total a collective $160bn – have $33m invested in coal, according to the mayor’s office.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Jeb Bush lays out energy plan with call to relax environmental rules

Republican candidate blames onerous regulations for holding back US from alternate drilling industries amid plummeting poll numbers

The embattled Jeb Bush campaign turned to an industry his family knows well on Tuesday with a stop at a shale gas producer in Pennsylvania and the launch of an energy policy focused heavily on deregulation.

Promising to create 1m manufacturing jobs and energy security for North America if elected president, Bush blamed onerous environmental rules for holding back the growth of alternative drilling industries.

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Source: Guardian Environment

XPrize’s $20m carbon recycling award aims to cut fossil fuel emissions

The idea of capturing carbon emissions and turning it into something valuable has long intrigued scientists, businesses, politicians and environmentalists alike. But it’s never proven economically viable. Could the XPrize change that?

Given the threat of climate change, what should the world do with its reserves of fossil fuels? Some say keep it in the ground. Others say fossil fuels are needed to in order to provide electricity to the poorest areas of the world.

With the announcement Tuesday of its new $20m Carbon XPrize, the non-profit XPrize Foundation is taking a middle ground – launching a competition to find new uses for carbon dioxide (CO2) , the greenhouse gas emitted by coal and natural gas plants. It’s intended to allow the continued burning of fossil fuels while reducing or eliminating their climate impact.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Carney warns of risks from climate change 'tragedy of the horizon'

Bank of England governor tells Lloyd’s insurers that ‘challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come’

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has warned that climate change will lead to financial crises and falling living standards unless the world’s leading countries do more to ensure that their companies come clean about their current and future carbon emissions.

In a speech to the insurance market Lloyd’s of London on Tuesday, Carney said insurers were heavily exposed to climate change risks and that time was running out to deal with global warming.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Alaska divided as Shell halts Arctic drilling: heartbreaking news or a miracle?

The company’s exit has ‘lifted a burden’ on villagers who depend on marine mammal meat, says one Alaska Native, but a state representative bemoans the decision after residents ‘stood on the cusp of another boom’

Like many villagers of Barrow, Alaska, Rosemary Ahtuangaruak woke up on Monday morning and prepared to set out for another day of whaling. Then she checked her phone. She had dozens of unread text messages.

The news was shocking: Shell was shutting down, friends from other time zones said. The company would cease offshore oil drilling operations in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.

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Source: Guardian Environment

BHP insists global climate deal will not harm future mining profits

World’s biggest mining company confident of doubling profits by 2030 even with the introduction of stringent emission controls

The world’s biggest mining company has spent £37m a year on climate change since 2007, and is confident of doubling its profits by 2030 despite the possibility of stringent new controls on greenhouse gas emissions.

BHP Billiton said on Tuesday that efforts to forge a new global agreement on climate change, at UN talks scheduled for Paris this December, would not harm its future profits, and anticipated continuing to mine for coal for decades to come.

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Source: Guardian Environment