This is a selection from my 14 years of blogging which has developed into the Sustainable Futures Report, a weekly podcast on the climate crisis and measures to deal with it. Yes, I know that sounds ambitious. What I try to do each week is report on the consequences of the climate crisis and the technical, social and political actions towards getting it under control. I scan the press, the broadcast media and I use Google Alerts to find my stories. Listeners and patrons contact me with information and ideas. I interview experts and sometimes people interview me. I always try to get back to the original source of the story; maybe an academic paper, a new report or a press release, and I publish the links together with the full text of each episode on the website: www.sustainablefutures.report .
Here’s a selection from previous episodes. Most of them are relatively recent, although I started this podcast back in September 2007 - like this:
Tomorrow Saturday, the 27th of March at 8:30 is Earth Hour. More about that in a moment.
Let me welcome two new patrons: Mauro Pereira from Lisbon in Portugal and Takanobu Iwasaki from Tokyo in Japan. Welcome and thanks for your support. Thanks as always for the continuing loyal support of all my other patrons. It’s much appreciated.
Stories this week include riots in Bristol against restrictions on protests, time is running short to get a grip on the climate crisis - where have we heard that before? - and there are calls to speed up renewable energy growth. Health risks from oil - who knew? Apparently the oil companies did, but they weren’t telling. British government cuts electric car grants, puts climate change at the heart of its integrated strategy and announces an increase in its nuclear weapon stockpile. There are allegations of greenwash, and finally, Ecotricity is drilling - for heat.
Actually there is no bad news, just challenges or maybe new opportunities. I've had a number of interviews over the last few episodes, which means that a lot of stories have been backing up. Some, I'm afraid, will just slip away as I try to remain topical. But here's my latest selection.
First the Bad News
The latest sea level rise forecasts are alarming some scientists, while others warn that the Atlantic circulation is at its weakest in 1,000 years. The British government has announced£1billion to spend on reducing the carbon footprint of industry but the Labour opposition claims that the government approach is stuck in the past. The budget statement by the Chancellor earlier this month disappointed many, and other governments, notably India and Brazil are attracting criticism. The general secretary of the United Nations has a harsh warning for all countries, the OECD has a new climate-sceptic head, the tropics are becoming uninhabitable for humans and globally we waste nearly a billion tonnes of food each year.
On the other hand…
Food waste could perhaps be turned into aviation fuel, AI could come to the rescue of the planet, Drax power station has scrapped plans for the largest gas-powered plant in Europe, there’s growing pressure against the expansion of Leeds/Bradford Airport and against the UK’s new coal mine planned for West Cumbria and finally there’s a very rich man with a surprisingly altruistic outlook.
Over 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. The beaches, the boundary between the oceans and the other 30% of the surface where we live, are constantly battered by waves.
But before we get on to that, this week we have a new Patron. Many thanks to all the Patrons who donate to support the Sustainable Futures Report and a special welcome to newest Patron Philip Mellen. More details about how you too can show your support at the end of this episode.
Also this week I’ve had some feedback from new listener Adrian Bond with a detailed critique of some of my previous episodes. Well without feedback we can’t make things better, can we? I’m hoping to have an in-depth chat with Adrian before long.
And now to the main event. My guest on the Sustainable Futures Report this time is Kim McCoy, author of the third edition of the book, Waves and Beaches.
According to Bill Gates, heating and cooling account for 7% of global carbon emissions. Not a great deal perhaps, but given that we need to cut emissions to zero they must be dealt with.
In a moment we'll hear about a form of low carbon heating from Kathy Hannun of Dandelion Energy, of particular interest to listeners in North America. Before that it's my pleasure to welcome two new patrons of the Sustainable Futures Report, Silver Supporters David Emslie and Chris Musselle.Welcome to both and thanks indeed for your support. If you’d like to be a patron you’ll find out more at the end of this episode. I’m also going to talk about how Brexit has changed the whole approach of the British Government to environmental regulation.
That’s the opening message of my new A-Z of Sustainability, published letter by letter from next month and initially for patrons only.
I’m Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 26th February. In this episode I follow up on the Green Homes Grant Scheme and on developments in the coal industry. I look at hydrogen and heat pumps and pass on more wise words from Mark Carney. Bill Gates has published a new book and maybe his high profile will give a positive boost to the climate movement. In the UK the national newspapers seem to be pretending that they’ve been green all along, while in snowy Texas the media is blaming all the blackouts on wind turbines. Don’t worry. Listener Ian Jarvis has sent some positive news.
A is for Action says it all. You can recycle, cut your use of plastic and turn your heating down, but unless we get action from our government and all governments, nothing will solve the climate crisis. The big hope is COP26, the international climate conference hosted by the UK next November. A cynical friend of mine says that if the British government were really serious about this they wouldn’t have put former Trade Secretary Alok Sharma in charge.
If you’ve got money to save you’re investing it, but do you know what you’re investing it in? Whether it’s in the bank, in a unit trust or in your pension fund it’s supporting a range of companies, but do you know whether they are environmentally responsible or are they making a quick return while making the climate crisis worse?
I mentioned the Reith Lectures a while ago - an annual series of lectures produced by the BBC. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000qkms The speaker in the 2020 series was Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England. In the final episode he addressed the climate crisis. He explained how there were immense investment opportunities in rebuilding the global economy to be sustainable. He emphasised that we as savers and investors can influence corporations to do the right thing by choosing to invest our money only in responsible organisations. But how easy is it to know how responsible the underlying investments in our savings portfolios really are?
I recently spoke to a man who’s been concerned with this problem since 2004.
This week the Sustainable Futures Report looks at coal, the wonder fuel that drove the Industrial Revolution and now is shown to be threatening our very survival.
Globally we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050,
a seriously challenging target. The consequences of failing to do this will be devastating and irreversible, yet investment continues to develop new coal mines, to produce more coal and create more emissions. Many countries of the world are upholding court decisions to prevent new coal mines, but some are still going ahead, notably in Australia and in the United Kingdom.
In this episode I'm going to catch up on a number of stories which I've not been able to deal with in the last few weeks, and I’ll also report on growing demands for the protection of biodiversity and for recognition of the true worth of Nature.
First of all, an update on the Green Homes Grant scheme. Two days after my special report the issue was featured in The Guardian newspaper. Probably a coincidence. Pressure is building and I understand that questions are being asked of the minister and questions will be asked in parliament, probably on the 9th February.
Do you like fish? I’ve just been reading a book which made me think very hard about whether I wanted to eat any fish ever again. And I'm certainly no vegetarian and have no plans to become one. The book I read is called What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe. I decided to put the whole thing in context so I’ve studied the topic from Greenpeace, Oceana, WWF, Global Fishing Watch and Fishcount to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, academic articles, press reports and the latest book by Sir David Attenborough.
Hello and welcome to a special and extra edition of the Sustainable Futures Report datelined Monday 25th January 2021. I’m Anthony Day.
You may remember that back in October I reported on the government’s Green Home Grants scheme which gives homeowners a financial contribution towards improving the energy efficiency of their homes. There’s up to £5,000, or in special circumstances £10,000, for insulating floor, walls or roof, installing a low-carbon heating system like a heat pump or a biomass boiler, or putting in double glazing or a draught-proof door. I also spoke to Simon Ayers at that time. He’s CEO of TrustMark, the accreditation body which certifies the traders who carry out the work.
Recently there’s been feedback from the industry that things are not going well.
We’re planning to reach Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050. How do we get there from here?
Hello, I’m Anthony Day with a special edition of the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 22nd of January. I've put this question to a panel of experts. You'll find a full transcription of our discussion on the sustainable futures report website. I've also added links to a number of articles on the topic. I'm sure the debate will run and run.
Hello, welcome and a Happy New Year. I’m Anthony Day and this is a special edition of the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 8th January to start off 2021.
If we are to develop a sustainable world we need to know that the products we buy and the services we use are based on sustainable sources. We need to be able to track things back along the supply chain and gather information at every stage. How do we do that? Well I recently spoke to Tyler Chaffo, at Avery Dennison.
Welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, the 18th of December. In this last episode of the Sustainable Futures Report before Christmas I'm going to concentrate on actions.
Actions promised by governments and others to meet the climate challenge. Recommended actions. Actions criticised either because they are not seen as sufficiently far-reaching or simply because they're not being implemented. And actions that some are still taking to deny that there really is a climate crisis. And as always, there’s other news.
First let me welcome a new patron to the Sustainable Futures Report, Adrien Nihon, who is based in Japan. Welcome Adrien - thanks for your support.
Energy White Paper 2020
Starting this week with energy, there is a new Energy White Paper.
Coming on the heels of the Sixth Carbon Budget from the Climate Change Committee, BEIS, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, launches its Energy White Paper 2020, “setting out how the UK will clean up its energy system and reach net zero emissions by 2050.” It runs to 170 pages and neatly takes care of your wondering what to read over Christmas.
...but there's encouraging news from the Climate Change Committee.
Hello and welcome to the penultimate episode of the Sustainable Futures Report before Christmas. I’m Anthony Day and it’s Friday 11th December.
This week I'm talking to Harald Overholm, CEO of Alight Energy of Stockholm, about coupling renewable energy with power purchase agreements.
The UK government has published its NDC, its revised commitment under the Paris Agreement, and there’s more news of extreme weather following a report from the Met Office. We’ve mentioned air pollution as a worrying and increasing cause of death several times on the Sustainable Futures Report. This week sad and concerning news brings that threat very close to home.
First of all, here's my interview with Harald Overholm.
What’s the truth? Is the planet hurtling towards disaster, as reported by the BBC this week, or are the UN climate goals now within reach, as reported by the BBC this week? No wonder the general public generally finds the climate crisis far too complex to engage with. I’m Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 4th December. Yes, just three weeks to Christmas.
Let's be positive. Let's be realistic. Yes, we are faced with extreme challenges and challenges which our international leaders do not seem to be taking sufficiently seriously. I know they have other things on their minds at the moment, but the future survival of the human race does deserve attention. I don't want the Sustainable Futures Report to be constantly depressing so let's look at the issues and look for pragmatic solutions. I’ll try to find something more lighthearted, although not trivial, to end each episode.
Stories this week about the State of the Planet, the climate clock, Energy, Protests and finally a story of recycling what was once seen as scrap to be part of a prestige product.
This is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday the 27th November and I’m Anthony Day.You can listen to me on this podcast as always, but this week you can also hear me being interviewed on Mama Earth Talk with Mariska Nell. Like all good podcasts, including the Sustainable Futures Report, you can find it on Apple podcasts and all your favourite podcast hosts. There's even a link at the end of this article.
I decided to call this episode “It's all politics”. There are certainly lots of politics around in the UK at the moment, but my meaning is that we need to rely on politicians in both opposition and government to make real changes to protect us against the climate challenge. Politicians have the power, so far as we empower them, although there’s a world of difference between letting them do something and making them do something! Only governments really have the power to make significant change. The question in the media is whether Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan, published last week, will make that needed difference, so that’s where I’ll start.
There’s a lot of other news as well. There’s US politics, Chinese politics and Australian politics. There’s more on Hurricane Iota and other extreme weather. And we round off with EVs, CCS and whether sustainability is sexy - well, fashionable.
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,” said poet Robert Burns, “Gang aft agley.” Which I think means they often go wrong.
Hello. I'm Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, the 20th of November.
This week it's all about scheming and plans. As I told you last time, this is the week when the Prime Minister Boris Johnson will unveil his 10 point plan for a greener Britain. There is no shortage of advice. Business Green says he should take the opportunity to cull white elephants. The Climate Coalition issues its own 10 point plan and last week we spoke at length about the 10 points planned by the IPPR. At the time of writing the Boris plan was yet to appear but it did squeak in just before the Sustainable Futures Report publication deadline. In the meantime, let's look at some other sustainability news.
In Other News
There’s news from the National Audit Office, from the Treasury and from the Committee for Climate Change. The Climate and Ecology Emergency Bill makes its way through Parliament hoping that it will not be killed off by procedure and the Dalai Llama, spiritual leader of Tibet, assures us that Buddha would be green. There’s energy news, well there’s always energy news, and as Hurricane Iota hits Nicaragua there’s more evidence of extreme weather.
Could your dog be killing birds? Totally unintentionally and without even realising it, but recent research reveals concerning evidence. Bees are at risk, too.
It's Friday, the 13th. Unlucky for some, but not for you because you've got a new edition of the Sustainable Futures Report to listen to.
There’s a new US president-elect. We’ll look at what he can do on the climate front and what he might find rather more difficult to do. We’ll look, too, at what Prime Minister Johnson might do on the climate in the UK. The IPPR has a 10-point plan. What’s the attitude of business and the opposition party?
There is energy news as well, about UK windfarms, Russian gas, UK nuclear, a new green fuel - and could this be a tipping point for green technology?
In the US, stormy weather continues, and I’m not talking about Trump’s refusal to concede the election.
Despite lockdown, international climate protests continue. Some at quite high levels. And we look at sustainable futures for food and public transport, and what will be the impact of AI on the climate crisis?
Shell in Nigeria
But first, let’s pause for thought. Zoe Cohen, who appeared on the Sustainable Futures Report some months ago, reminds us that 25 years ago this week 9 Ogoni activists were killed for protesting Shell's actions in the #NigerDelta. Their families have been seeking #justice for more than 20 years. Despite court orders, #Shell have not cleaned up the oil spilled in #Ogoniland nearly 3 decades ago.
Hello and welcome to what I predict is a turbulent world. I’m Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 6th November 2020. I have to prepare the Sustainable Futures Report in advance of Friday’s publication date, but it’s already clear that even if I leave it right up to the last moment - as I have - the result of the US election will still be in doubt. Something for next week’s episode. Friday 13th sounds really auspicious.
Apart from the election, there is environmental news this week ranging from the Arctic to Australia and pollution problems from plastic waste to artificial light and used cars. There is another Carbon offset scheme. This one’s for investors. How does block chain relate to the climate and how can you make money for charity by making an internet search? Finally, I’ll share a concerning article I found on human attitudes, and follow it up with wise words from James Dyke.