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The 'Big Ask' from Friends of the Earth in their 'Press for Change' Campaign.
"Is the Government doing enough about climate change?".

Climate Change
Floods in Mozambique. Forest fires in Indonesia. Hurricanes in Florida. Storms in the UK. Extreme weather events are predicted to become more frequent because of climate change. But what causes climate change?

Waste - Act Now to Stop More Incineration

The Government has published a draft England waste strategy for consultation. The strategy proposes an increase in recycling by 50% by 2020 but also a massive increase in incineration, with up to 25% of England's waste being burnt.

England currently recycles or composts 23% of its household waste, compared to:
53% in Germany
59% in the Netherlands
70% in Flanders, Belgium

Friends of the Earth wants to see ambitious new national recycling targets of at least 50% by 2010 and 75% by 2015. Some English local authorities - like St Edmundsbury in Suffolk - already recycle or compost around half their household waste.

England currently has 16 incinerators. These burn 9% of our municipal waste. The Government is planning to increase incineration to 25%. At least 22 new incinerators are proposed at present.

Incinerators are extremely:
Damaging for recycling, as they require long term contracts and a minimum of waste.
Contribute to climate change through wasting resources and energy that could be saved through recycling.
Hazardous by generating tiny, breathable ash.
Better alternatives to incineration.

"Incinerators are not a solution to Britain's waste problem, nor are they a solution to climate change. Green energy claims by the industry are a myth - recycling saves more energy than can be created by burning waste." Dr Michael Warhurst, waste campaigner - Friends of the Earth.

A Better Way
Friends of the Earth wants the councils to increase their recycling and composting to 50% by 2015 and provide smaller, more local facilities to deal with waste nearer to where it is collected.

We could reduce rubbish and set compulsory targets for companies such as supermarkets to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Adhere to higher recycling targets for household waste, aiming for 75% by 2015. Adopt variable charging, allowing councils to charge people for the amount of rubbish produced after recycling is taken out, rather than everyone paying the same through council tax.

A Recipe for Residual Waste
What should we do with the waste people don't recycle or compost (residual waste)? Any further recyclable waste should be removed for recycling. Compost or anaerobically digest the rest. Dispose of the remains via landfill. It's important to remember that amounts of residual waste will reduce over time - making large scale incineration facilities unnecessary. Finally, these processes should occur in small, localised treatment plants.

Action by Local Groups
Many local groups around the country are pushing their councils to provide better recycling and composting services. Some groups are also directly opposing plans for Incinerators which burn mixed waste and discourage recycling. For example, the Brighton and Hove, and the Lewes Friends of the Earth Groups, are working alongside local communities to oppose the building of an Incinerator in Newhaven, East Sussex and a Waste Transfer Station in Brighton.

Newhaven Today
Say NO to the Newhaven Incinerator

Waste company Onyx have applied to build an incinerator (or "Energy Recovery Facility") at North Quay in Newhaven, to burn waste from all over East Sussex and Brighton and Hove City.

Friends of the Earth is working alongside anti-incinerator group Defenders of the Ouse Valley (DOVE) to fight this application. Lewes District Council, along with Newhaven, Seaford, Telscombe and Lewes Town Councils, as well as Lewes MP Norman Baker, all oppose the proposal.

Image by Michael Jenkins
Democracy up in Flames?
The proposal would see over half of the waste in the area, much of it recyclable, dumped on Newhaven and burnt. The incinerator is at the heart of the Waste Local Plan, the blueprint for dealing with waste in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove. There have been tens of thousands of objections to this, mainly because people don't like burning waste. However, the local councils have ignored these objections and continued with adopting the Plan.

Say NO today
There is a public consultation about the incinerator application. The deadline was January 27th but we have been told the Council will still accept letters/emails, but write soon! We also need lots of people to send in an objection to the incinerator application. You don’t have to live near it to object. You can do it in a few minutes by clicking here on the Friends of the Earth Website

Other Related Websites
Friends of the Earth Waste Campaign
Mid-Sussex Friends of the Earth
Dump the Dump
Dove 2000

For further information contact Sheryl Parkinson in the Friends of the Earth South East office on 01273 766640.
An Unfair Share
Did you know the UK with 1% of the world's population, produces 2.3% of the world's C02. Rich countries, like the US and Australia don't want to take action to stop climate change. But the most vulnerable people are worse hit. Approximately 25,000 people died in the heat wave that hit Western Europe in 2003 - these were mostly the elderly, sick and very young. The World Health Organisation believes this is what we can expect from climate change. International action is needed now to prevent future tragedies like this. But will agreements like the Kyoto Protocol make the difference?

Major Political Parties
All the major political parties say climate change is the biggest threat that we face. They all have ambitious targets for cutting the main cause of it - carbon dioxide gas (20% by 2010, 60% by 2050). Yet emissions of carbon dioxide keep on rising. We need a different way. A new law is needed to make the Government cut carbon dioxide every year by 3% from now on.

Friends of the Earth are asking people to respond to a national consultation on the Government’s Waste Strategy. "We want people to give a strong message of “Yes” to Recycling and “No” to Incineration", says Brenda Pollack of the South Eastern Campaigns Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth.

Friends of the Earth today warned that the Government's Climate Change Programme Review, due to be published on Tuesday 28th March, is the acid test of its credibility on climate change. The Group urged Ministers not to ignore solutions to global warming which - if implemented - would slash UK carbon dioxide emissions.

Friends of the Earths Executive Director, Tony Juniper said: "This is Tony Blair's chance to show he is listening to over half of the UK's MPs and to the tens of thousands of people across the country who support The Big Ask, Friends of the Earth's demand for a climate change law. The solutions are there - whether or not the Government chooses to use them is a key test of its credibility on climate change and on whether it can be trusted to deliver on its manifesto commitments. "

Greenhouse Effect
Climate change, or global warming, is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide (C02) and other polluting gases in our atmosphere. Heat from the Sun (a) is trapped by the gases in our atmosphere (b). The gases trap heat by forming a blanket around the Earth - like the glass of a greenhouse. Once released the greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for many years. As they build up, the planet's temperature rises. Greenhouse gases are released by burning fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - and by cutting down forests.

Forest Fire
The Climate Change Programme review and a plan of action for how the Government will tackle climate change over the next five to ten years was launched by Margaret Becket in December 2004 when it became clear that the Government's original programme, launched in 2000, would not deliver target cuts. The Review was originally due for publication in summer 2005 however delays have pushed back its release.

In its General Election manifestos of 1997, 2001 and 2005 the Labour Party pledged to reduce UK emissions of carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas - by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2010. Tony Blair also put climate change top of the world agenda during the Presidency of the G8 and the EU in 2005.

Friends of the Earth's climate campaign, The Big Ask, is calling on the Government to introduce a climate law that would set a legally binding target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 3 per cent every year, monitored through an annual carbon budget.

Energy efficiency. Better building standards and insulation could make significant cuts in greenhouse gases. The Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University has suggested that emissions from the UK's housing stock could be reduced by 60 per cent by 2050, while according to the Carbon Trust, UK business waste £1 billion a year in lost energy.

If industry used efficient motors ones that only used the exact amount of power needed - this would save the equivalent of three nuclear plants - and that's just in the UK.

Put a stop to standby. Across the richest economies the energy we waste by leaving equipment such as DVDs and computers on standby is equivalent to 20 nuclear or coal-fired power stations.

Transport. Using hybrid technology in cars, increasing investment in public transport, cycling, and walking, and reducing the need to travel could reduce emissions from transport by 60 per cent by 2030 according to a report to the Department for Transport.

Renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuels. The UK mainland has the best wind resource in Europe and research has shown that it's windy at the times we need the most energy - during peak daytime periods and in the winter. This means wind turbines could easily be our most dependable energy resources. Offshore winds are even stronger and more uniform than on land, meaning the output could be 25 per cent greater. Already hundreds of turbines are being built or planned off our coasts.

Tidal currents and waves could be harnessed to produce electricity on a commercial scale within the next two years. This type of power could produce a further 3.5 per cent of total UK electricity by 2025.

Burning plant and animal matter (biomass) could produce enough electricity to do away with more than four nuclear plants.

Peer-reviewed research published by Friends of the Earth showed that the UK can produce all the electricity it needs and reduce gas use at the same time as cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 48 to 71 per cent, through the use of more efficient power plants and more renewable power.

Micro generation technologies many industrial scale technologies are being adapted to fit homes and business. These micro-generation technologies include mini wind turbines, solar panels which can be fitted to roofs, domestic boilers which use waste heat to produce electricity and devices which capture the heat stored in the Earth. They could provide 20-30 per cent of electricity according to the Energy Savings Trust.

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