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“Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?” Ezekiel 34:18
“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.” Thomas Fuller
Thursday May 28th
Oxford City Council adds electric vehicles to fleet as part of net-zero journey Oxford Direct Services (ODS), which is owned by the city council, has added six EVs to its fleet, with an additional 27 low-emission vehicles set to be delivered and integrated over the next four months. ODS is aiming to electrify 25% of its 330-strong fleet by 2023 and future EVs will include passenger vehicles, street sweepers, vans and an excavator. The vehicles will be funded by a £41m ESO project that has been backed by £10m in Government funding from the Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge.
Friday May 29th
Plans to develop the world’s first zero-carbon industrial cluster in the Humber region have been boosted after leading energy companies joined an existing consortium of project partners in the same week that Government funding was secured for the project. Last year, Drax, Equinor and National Grid published a roadmap fleshing out their plans to create the world’s first zero-carbon industrial hub in the Humber region by 2040. The roadmap sets out proposals to build a demonstration hydrogen production facility in the region by 2025 and install carbon capture equipment on one of the four biomass units at Drax’s power station in Selby two years later. The project now consists of a consortium of 11 businesses that have signed a formal agreement to support the zero-carbon cluster.
Saturday May 30th
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has pushed back the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds set to come into force later this month to October 2020, to the dismay of campaigners. In May 2019, the UK Government formally confirmed the phase-out date for plastic straws and drink stirrers, and cotton buds with plastic stems, banning the items from being sold in England from April 2020. However, Defra has moved the ban date back to October 2020 in response to challenges imposed by the coronavirus outbreak. City to Sea’s chief executive Rebecca Burgess said: “We’re now looking to government to provide reassurance that this isn’t the start of slippery slope of watering down and delaying legislation to tackle the plastics crisis”.
Sunday May 31st
Father, you know that listening is hard for us. We are so action-oriented, so product-driven, that doing is easier for us than being. Help us to be still and to listen. We want to learn how to sink into the light of your presence until we can be comfortable in that light. Help us, dear Father, to try now.
Monday June 1st
New research from Queen’s University Belfast and Liverpool John Moores University reveals how the microplastic pollution crisis is threatening biodiversity. Currently up to 10% of global plastic production ends up in the sea – though the understanding of how this affects marine life is limited. The research, published in Biology Letters, focused on the impact of plastics on hermit crabs, which play an important role in balancing the marine ecosystem. Hermit crabs do not develop their own shells but instead take shells from snails to protect their soft abdomens. The researchers found that when hermit crabs were exposed to microplastics, they were less likely to later touch or enter high-quality shells.
Tuesday June 2nd
Conservationists in Kenya are studying the whiskers of lions in the first ever nationwide census of this majestic big cat. They’re photographing the cats’ whisker spot patterns, which are as unique as human fingerprints, in an attempt to record as many lions as possible in the country. As few as 20,000 wild lions are thought to be left in the world and rough estimates suggest only around 2,000 survive in Kenya. The new census, partly funded by WWF-UK, will give conservationists a better understanding of lion numbers and movements, allowing populations to be more accurately monitored and safeguarded in the future.
Wednesday June 3rd
The European Union’s proposed €750bn fund to help the bloc recover from the coronavirus crisis will have green strings attached, with 25% of all funding set aside for climate action, the European Commission has said. Earlier plans to reserve 25% of EU spending for climate-friendly expenditure “will apply throughout” the EU’s updated 1trillion euro budget proposal and recovery programme from the COVID-19 crisis, EU officials explained.
Thursday June 4th
A brighter future lies ahead for the critically-endangered Hainan gibbons of Hainan Island thanks to decades of steady conservation work. The small tropical island off the coast of China is the only place this charismatic primate is found, and their numbers have increased from just 10 individuals in 1970 to 30 in 2020. The progress has been slow due to limited quality habitat and a slow rate of birth inherent in the species, but things have improved dramatically from when the conservation project began in 2003, and just 13 wild gibbons were left on the island living in two family groups.
Friday June 5th
In 2020, the theme for World Environment Day is biodiversity–a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa–and now, a global disease pandemic–demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life in which they exist. Nature is sending us a message.
Saturday June 6th
A commission of cross-party MPs has added to the calls for the UK to prioritise and deliver a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that £30bn should be spent on a climate-focused recovery that also establishes a £5bn national Just Transition Fund. The IPPR Environmental Justice Commission published recommendations [in May], calling on the UK Government to “go faster, further and fairer” to deliver a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The Commission has been set up to explore the net-zero transition in the UK. Notably, it is focused on how the transition could improve societal and environmental issues, such as the protection of nature and improving wellbeing for citizens. The co-chairs of the commission are Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys, a former Conservative MP.
Sunday June 7th
Father, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scale and complication of the environmental problems we face. Help us to see how we may respond in our daily lives to the challenges we face, and help us to understand that where we lead others will surely follow.
Monday June 8th
Today is World Oceans Day. For 2020 World Oceans Day is growing the global movement to call on world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030. This critical need is called 30×30. By safeguarding at least 30% of our ocean through a network of highly protected areas we can help ensure a healthy home for all.
Tuesday June 9th
As they photosynthesise and grow, tropical forests remove enormous amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, reducing global warming. However, forests are also themselves affected by this warming. If it gets too hot or too dry, trees will grow less and may start to die faster, decomposing and releasing that carbon back into the atmosphere. This is why scientists … are concerned that climate change will mean death outweighs growth, and tropical forests will eventually switch to releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than they take out. [Some] new research, published in the journal Science, shows that tropical forests can resist small increases in temperature – but only up to a point.
Wednesday June 10th
The UK could source 76% of its power demand from renewables by 2050, according to a new report from RenewableUK which claims that the nation’s net-zero target will spur rapid demand for green hydrogen while attracting more than £50bn to an already world-leading offshore wind sector. The report notes that the UK’s offshore wind sector, which has accounted for almost 50% of the £80bn spent on the technology across Europe since 2010, can attract a further £54bn in private investment. This, RenewableUK states, would help quadruple offshore wind capacity in the UK to 40(GW) by 2030 to provide more than one-third of the nation’s electricity. By 2050, capacity could grow to 90GW.
Thursday June 11th
A new garlic-based dietary supplement given to cows has been shown in two different studies to reduce the methane content in cow belches by 30%–38%, which could help reduce the 2.6% of American greenhouse gas volume produced from cattle ranching. Mootral, the Switzerland-based company, are set to be the first company on earth to be awarded carbon credits for methane reduction in cows. Both studies of the supplement have shown no adverse effects, both in the health of the animal and the flavour of the milk and meat.
Friday June 12th
Reports … emerged [in late May] that the UK Government has put forward the first two weeks of November 2021 as new proposed dates for the crucial COP26 climate conference [in Glasgow], citing concerns over the state of international travel safety due to the coronavirus. According to the UN, the world is “way off-track” to deliver the aims of the Paris Agreement. Preliminary data for 2019 suggests that greenhouse gas emissions increased globally in 2019 and carbon emissions from fossil fuels grew by more than 0.5% last year. COP26 is viewed as a vital summit to negotiate for more ambitious and accelerated decarbonisation efforts.
Saturday June 13th
The delay in holding COP26 is notable for a few reasons. Firstly, the US elections are scheduled for later this year and hosting the COP26 conference one year on from the results would either enable Donald Trump to complete his withdrawal process from the Paris Agreement, or enable a democratic president to renegotiate the US’s involvement in the global climate accord. Also, despite being the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions, the UK government is yet to unveil a clear and succinct roadmap on how to deliver the rapid emissions reductions required. The UK still also needs to submit an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). The UK’s current emissions reductions submission as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement was submitted as part of the European Union (EU). Having since exited the Union, the UK will need to submit an individual target.
Sunday June 14th
God the Holy Spirit
Come as the wind and cleanse us;
Come as the fire and burn;
Come as the dew and refresh; Convict, convert and concentrate many hearts and lives to your greater glory and our greater good.
This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday June 15th
New research shows the UK uses a land area overseas nearly as big as the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to satisfy our annual demand for products such as palm oil, timber, soy and cocoa – increasing the threat of extinction of some 2,800 species. Emerging findings from ‘Riskier Business – The UK’s Overseas Land Footprint’, co-produced by WWF and RSPB, also reveal a 15% growth in the UK’s land footprint overseas, in comparison with [the] previous study of 2011-15, linked to the imports of seven key agricultural and forest commodities.
Tuesday June 16th
Donald Trump’s decision to step back from international climate action pushes any prospect of hitting global emissions targets to “near zero”, according to new analysis. Modelling suggests there are only very limited circumstances where the Paris Agreement’s warming limit of 2°C is met – and a US departure from the landmark 2015 deal restricts those options further for every term Trump is in office. While the immediate effects will be felt at home, ultimately, the knock-on impacts of “the Trump effect” will be “even more detrimental” for international efforts, the study published in Environmental Science and Policy finds.
Wednesday June 17th
Today is Desertification and Drought Day, a United Nations observance day held on 17 June each year. This year it will focus on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption. As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change. Today, more than two billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. By 2030, the fashion industry is predicted to use 35 per cent more land – over 115 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Colombia.
Thursday June 18th
A victory in a decades-long court battle provided relief for a special part of the Amazon rainforest and for the Ashaninka indigenous people who live there, as their 1990s lawsuit against illegal logging interests finally ended with a public statement of apology and a $3 million award for compensation. Forestry companies and their legal teams acknowledged the “enormous importance of the Ashaninka people as guardians of the forest, zealous in the preservation of the environment,” in their official apology which claimed regret “for all the ills caused.”
Friday June 19th
Last August, a San Francisco–based tech startup called Stripe made a bold climate promise. The company, which makes software that enables online payments and is valued at $36 billion, was already investing in energy-efficiency projects to reduce its carbon footprint. It was also paying for carbon offsets for the emissions that it couldn’t avoid, from things like business flights and the natural gas burned to heat its offices. But Stripe wanted to go even further to take action on climate change. The company announced it would spend an additional $1 million annually on emerging carbon removal technologies, bringing its carbon balance sheet into the black.
Saturday June 20th
It has been said that the Australian government has officially given up on climate action. The old approach to climate fudging was to agree to targets, but mess them up so badly they became meaningless, according to the Australian RenewEconomy website. Today, RenewEconomy says,the plan has changed. Instead of going to COP26 with an adjusted but blatantly weak target, Australia plans to go with no new target. The ‘tech roadmap’ that will be proffered instead is explicitly something that features no empirical baseline to test against. It is not the wrecking or manipulation of a target – it is anti-target.
Sunday June 21st
Loving God, open our hearts that we may feel the breath and play of your Spirit.
Unclench our hands that we may reach out to one another and touch and be healed.
Open our lips, that we may drink in the delight and wonder of life.
Unclog our ears, to hear your agony in our inhumanity.
Open our eyes, that we may see Christ in friend and stranger.
Breathe your Spirit into us and touch our lives with the life of Christ.
(A prayer from New Zealand)
Monday June 22nd
This week is National Insect Week. There are over 24,000 species of insect in the UK, and around 1.5 million species globally, but scientist think there may be a lot more. Many types of insects are in decline. For example, 62 species of moth went extinct in the UK in the 20th century, and numbers of many more of the 2,500 species have reduced.
Tuesday June 23rd
In the most recent meeting of the Royal Geographical Society of London, the Earthwatch Institute declared bees the most important living species on this planet. This declaration is concerning because, according to wildlife scientists and experts, bees are on the endangered species list. Recent studies show a dramatic 90% decline in the bee population in the last few years. The main reasons for their extinction include deforestation, the use of pesticides, or lack of flowers. Bees are titled the most important being on earth because 70% of the world’s agriculture depends exclusively on bees. Without the hard work of bees’ pollinating, those plants would not be able to reproduce.
Wednesday June 24th
When you settle down for bed, after the birds and bees have hushed, moths are just starting their work. You might only see them bobbing around street lights at night, but they actually spend most of their time visiting flowers, pollinating them in the same way butterflies do during the day, while drinking nectar with their long tongues. In fact, new research found that moths visit a surprisingly diverse range of plants at night. The work these nocturnal pollinators do is bigger and more complex than many people realised, and because it happens under the cover of darkness, it’s often largely invisible to human eyes.
Thursday June 25th
Although most of us are familiar with the chirping of a field cricket, they are so rare in the UK many people will have learnt what they sound like from films and have never heard them in the wild. Government restrictions meant this year conservation charity RSPB had to abandon plans to translocate field crickets to newly restored habitat on two RSPB reserves; part of the National Lottery funded Back from the Brink programme (due to end in 2020) to protect some of the UK’s most threatened species from extinction. But when wardens carrying out fire and livestock checks at RSPB Pulborough Brooks and Farnham Health reserves this month heard field crickets singing at the release sites, RSPBs ecologists realised it was the first proof of successful breeding. With an annual life-cycle, any crickets heard calling this year must be the offspring of ones released in previous years. It is only because the charity couldn’t translocate more field crickets this year scientists could confirm the previous translocations are working.
Friday June 26th
In a significant appointment, WWF-UK has announced that Tesco CEO Dave Lewis will join the charity as Chair of the Board of Trustees. With environmental issues increasingly important to people in the UK, and a series of crucial milestones on the climate and nature emergency over the next year, businesses and politicians must make the environment central to their decisions, especially as we come out of the pandemic and make choices about economic recovery. Mr Lewis’s long experience in business will be a strong asset to WWF-UK as it increases its influence to ensure that decisions made now will stand the test of time.
Saturday June 27th
Food and drink ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle has published a new set of environmental targets, pledging to reduce operational emissions by 30% by 2030 and a 15% reduction in value chain emissions. A 15% reduction in water use will also be targeted by 2030 and 100% of the waste that Tate & Lyle generates will be reused ‘beneficially’, with a 75% target set for 2025.
Sunday June 28th
Lord, we pray for the scientists engaged in research into ways of reducing our carbon footprint and for politicians who are responsible for converting their ideas into legislation. Grant them honesty, integrity and a deep perception of the long-term effects of their actions, so that short-term economics are not allowed to weigh their decisions when so much hangs on policies which will affect generations to come.
Monday June 29th
Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, the public utility for the capital of the United Arab Emirates, announced in May it had accepted a bid to build what will be both the cheapest and largest solar plant on the planet. The utility is planning to build the Al Dhafra Solar PV project by mid-2022. And it’s planning to work with a group of bidders that include a pair of French and Chinese companies to do it at a record low cost of 1.35 cents per kilowatt-hour. Through this project, the country will be able to power roughly 160,000 households with clean and affordable energy.
Tuesday June 30th
Climate-friendly almond farmers coax life from drying Spanish soil. By leaving grassy plants to wither in the fields, fertiliser is formed that protects the soil and combats the impact of climate change. In one of the driest corners of Europe, Manuel Barnes has watched the soil become healthier since he started growing almonds using techniques aimed at bringing new life to the land. Barnes and his neighbours in southern Spain are turning to pre-industrial methods they hope will avert the risk of their land turning into desert to grow crops that command higher prices from increasingly environmentally-aware consumers.
Text and links compiled by Emma King. Links accessed May 27th 2020.
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