Problems at the pump as new biofuel law draws closer

Posted by jamie — 24 March 2008 at 10:00am - Comments

A car speeding along a road

In a few weeks' time on Tuesday 15 April, every fuel company in the UK will be obliged to include a certain amount of biofuel in their petrol and diesel supplies. This is because, to comply with EU policies, the government has decreed we will all be using biofuels whether we want to or not but as you're probably aware, a lot of people have severe concerns about this.

Radio activism

Posted by jamie — 6 March 2008 at 7:09pm - Comments

Following last week's direct action maelstrom at Heathrow and the Houses of Parliament, the media has been courting the people involved with features popping up all over the place about the so-called new generation of eco-activists.

A particularly interesting piece went out last night on Radio 4: Graham Thompson (described by the Evening Standard as the "daddy" of the parliament protest group) appeared on The Moral Maze to argue the case that civil disobedience is an acceptable part of protest in the democratic process. Listen again for the inevitable seven days.

Meanwhile on the Guardian's Environment Weekly podcast, our own climate campaigner Joss Garman was in the studio to talk about the 'new breed' of activist. Listen again for... well, forever probably.

But if I come across one more reference to Swampy...

Last edited 1 January 1970 at 1:00am

Virgin's biofuel flight is all spin and greenwash

Posted by jamie — 25 February 2008 at 2:28pm - Comments

With all the excitement happening today at Terminal One, it's worth remembering that yesterday was another eventful one in Heathrow's calendar as a Virgin Atlantic plane steered away from its usual transatlantic route to fly between Heathrow and Amsterdam. No, the guidance systems weren't malfunctioning: it was a test flight to demonstrate that biofuels can be used in aircraft. But what's that dripping from the undercarriage? Could it be a tonne of greenwash?

Virgin announced its plans to test biofuels some time ago but has been reluctant to say exactly what kind of biofuel they would be using. To quell concerns about the impact on the cost of food, a press release assured us that it wouldn't "compete with food and fresh water resources". The rumour was that it would be made from algae, but in the end it turned out to be a mixture of coconut and babassu oil. These aren't food crops as such, but if the aviation industry leaps on them as an apparently easy way to reduce emissions, that's going to have a huge environmental impact.

Porsche sulks over London congestion charge, starts a petition

Posted by jamie — 22 February 2008 at 5:11pm - Comments

Porsche logoLondon mayor Ken Livingstone was never going to get an easy ride over his planned changes to the congestion charge, and Porsche's threat of a legal challenge is perhaps no big surprise. Famed for its fast, sleek, inefficient cars, it claims the new £25-a-day charge on gas guzzlers is "unfair and disproportionate".

As well as the promised judicial review, the company has started a petition for the Jeremy Clarksons of this world to voice their opposition to Ken's plan. "We know that huge numbers of people in London and across the rest of the country support our case," they claim. "They agree with us that it would be bad for London - that it is unfair and sends the wrong message about what sort of a city London is whilst having no meaningful benefit on the environment."

Ken keeps up the pressure against Heathrow expansion

Posted by jossc — 18 February 2008 at 1:27pm - Comments

With just over a week to go until the consultation process ends, London mayor Ken Livingstone is keeping up the pressure on the government to abandon plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport. During a visit to Sipson, one of three villages threatened by the bulldozers if the plans go ahead, Ken said: "It is vital that all airport expansion in London and the South East, including Heathrow, is halted now as it is completely contrary to the growing evidence on the role of aviation in contributing towards catastrophic climate change.

New congestion charge kicks out gas guzzlers

Posted by jamie — 13 February 2008 at 6:48pm - Comments

Traffic jam As reported in yesterday's news, London's congestion charge is being modified again to improve the capital's green credentials. From October, vehicles emitting the highest amounts of CO2 will have to pay £25 a day which gets a big thumbs-up, while the most efficient cars will get into central London free of charge.

Some commentators have pointed out that this effectively changes the purpose of the charge from reducing congestion to reducing pollution, and that's no bad thing. According to the World Resources Institute, road transport spews out around 10 per cent of global emissions (pdf), so providing incentives to move to more efficient models is going to do a lot to cut those exhaust fumes.

Greenpeace response to London gas-guzzler congestion charge rise

Last edited 12 February 2008 at 1:00am
12 February, 2008

Responding to Ken Livingstone's announcement today that gas-guzzling vehicles will have to pay £25 a day to enter London's congestion charge zone, Greenpeace Chief Scientist Dr Doug Parr said:

"Gas guzzlers have no place in a modern city like London, so it's great news that the congestion charge will give people a big incentive to pollute less.

Make cars greener says ex-Shell boss

Posted by jamie — 6 February 2008 at 11:48am - Comments

As one fossil fuel giant sidelines its alternative energy projects and invests in even more damaging technologies such as tar sands, the former head of another multinational has made some startling demands vis a vis car efficiency. To all intents and purposes, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart- ex-chairmen of Shell - wants to see all gas guzzlers banned.

Expanding on a column he wrote for the BBC website, Sir Mark said that the EU should bring in a minimum standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg). "Nobody needs a car that does 10-15mpg," he said. "We need very tough regulation saying that you can't drive or build something less than a certain standard. You would be allowed to drive an Aston Martin - but only if it did 50-60mpg."

Clean grafitti hits London streets

Posted by jossc — 4 February 2008 at 4:07pm - Comments

Stop Heathrow: clean graffitti on Defra's doorstep

Anti-Heathrow expansion activists were out and about at the weekend keeping up the pressure on the government to think again about plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. This time they took to the streets - literally - to get the message across, using a new method called 'clean grafitti'.

Taking a cue from the "wash me" messages scrawled on the back of delivery trucks, clean (or reverse) graffiti uses high-pressure steam to imprint images on dirty walls and pavements.

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