Environment News – Greta Does It Again / Berkeley Leads the Way / Used Solar Panels
Some bite-sized pieces of news from the environment this week.
31 July, 2019
I’m probably showing my age here, but I remember the days when you bought a bottle (glass, of course!) of lemonade, and later, took it back to your local shop to get the deposit back. The system worked well. An extra amount is added to the price of the bottle, which is refunded when you return it. Waste it, and you waste your deposit. A new survey shows that almost three-quarters of Britons would support a nationwide deposit return system for plastic and glass drinks bottles and aluminium cans – which is good news (it’s already starting in Scotland). But what really interested me was the staggering amount of money this system could generate – £2 billion for the economy over 10 years – wow! The amount of waste sent to landfill is reduced, there are fewer littered drinks containers that need to be cleaned up, there’s less air and water pollution, and less carbon emissions from using raw materials to produce new drinks containers.
The Californian city of Berkeley has become the first in the US to pass a ban on natural gas piping in new buildings, including private homes, starting in January 2020. Natural gas MAY be cleaner than oil (depending on how it’s produced), but it’s still a fossil fuel and contributes to global warming.
The European Investment Bank, which is the European Union’s lending body, was a big supporter of fossil fuel projects. But now it plans to stop that, to meet climate targets. It hopes to cut support for fossil fuel (oi, gas, coal) projects by the end of next year, 2020. It should have done so already of course, but I suppose better late than never.
Greta Thunberg, whose solo protest last year sparked the Fridays for Future global school climate strike movement, will take a year off school for a sabbatical. She will join the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, and COP25 in Santiago, because, she says, they’re “pretty much where our future will be decided”. She refuses to fly because of the environmental impact, so how was she going to cross the Atlantic? Luckily, she was offered a ride on a 60ft racing boat – it will take 2 weeks.
Should you buy used solar panels? The answer is probably “yes”! New solar panels are relatively expensive (although decreasing every year), while used panels sell for less than half the new price. Solar panels panels lose 1 percent of their efficiency every year. So a panel would still operate at 86 percent after 30 years, for example. Homeowners who repair their roofs might ditch their current panels and buy new, more efficient ones. But then we have a waste problem. So re-using them for their lifespan makes a lot of sense.
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