Eco News Round Up – Winter 2020/2021

New wooden “glass”

The US Department of Agriculture have developed a new material “transparent wood” which could be a saviour for construction. This new glass-like material is a transparent, stronger, safer, and cheaper than glass, and is made almost entirely out of trees.

This material is a huge innovation, as the process from turning the fast-growing balsa tree into the end product is far greener than the heating process required to produce glass. Their research also shows that this new “glass” is 5 times more thermally efficient than glass which means that it has the potential to make homes and buildings far less reliant on heating and fuel sources.

UK Fossil Fuel Policy Update

In early December UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an end to UK support for overseas fossil fuels projects as part of the Climate Ambition Summit. This means that UK taxpayer money will no longer be given to fund overseas extraction of crude oil, natural gas, or thermal coal projects. This money will be shifted to supporting the implementation of renewable energy within the UK and driving growth in a greener industry.

Positive News for the Ozone Layer

Amazing news about the ozone layer. The ozone layer is a protective layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs a lot of the sun’s radiation, making UV rays harder to get to the Earth’s surface. Without it, UV rays will be harsher, causing damage to humans and other living things, such as DNA damage and skin cancer. CFCs which are a type of carbon found in products such as fridges, air-conditioning and aerosol are harmful to the ozone layer and cause it to break down. They were banned from commercial use in 1987. Resulting from this the ozone layer managed to heal gradually. However, in 2018 scientists found that there was a large increase in CFC production in eastern Asia due to illegal CFC production. The good news now is that since 2018, this production has subsided, and the ozone layer repair is “back on track” according to scientists from the University of Bristol.

Denmark’s Energy Island

Denmark is making waves in renewable energy. Danish politicians have decided to go ahead with creating an “energy island” which will be the first of its kind in the world. The island will be located about 50 miles off the Danish coast and will measure about 120,000m². The island will be the hub for 200 offshore wind turbines.

This is the latest move in Denmark’s 70% greenhouse reduction by 2030 plan, which has already seen the country end oil and gas exploration. The island will eventually produce 10 gigawatts of energy, which is huge considering that currently all offshore wind energy produced in the EU is 25 gigawatts. Electricity produced will be used to power Denmark and other EU countries.

Isle of Man’s Forest Initiative

A great tree growing initiative is being discussed on the Isle of Man at the moment, as part of government plans to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The proposal if it goes ahead will offer grants of up to £3,300 per hectare of woodlands planted up to 10 hectares. This grant will include an initial payment for planting and annual funds for upkeep, and protection from animals, such as fencing. Proposals will be discussed until March when decisions will begin to be made.