Missed the news last week? Not to worry – here, we will recap and link to the most topical stories over the past seven days.
“Brussels has moved to make the city’s public transport and bike share system free on the smoggiest days in a bid to drive down pollution levels and meet EU air quality directives. After two consecutive days of high particulate matter (PM) levels – defined as surpassing an average of 51-70 micrograms per cubic metre of air – buses, trams and metros would have to open their doors completely free, under new city council rules. Speed limits for cars would be also cut by about a third and wood burning for stoves would be banned under the law, which was forwarded for judicial review last week. Officials say they expect it to enter into force by the summer. Pascal Smet, Brussels’ mobility minister said the measures would redress tax and planning benefits that had benefited the city’s 350,000 daily car commuters over many decades. “We need to create quality public space,” he told the Guardian. “Research shows that the more space you give to cars, the more cars you attract. Indeed, the most car-friendly cities are also the most congested. By giving back space to pedestrians and cyclists, cities can create places where people meet and connect…”” via The Guardian.
“UK officials are in intensive talks with their Welsh counterparts to kick-start a tidal power plan by copying the controversial contract awarded to Electricite de France for its Hinkley Point nuclear power project. Tidal Lagoon Power’s Swansea Bay project would tap the ebb and flow of the tides to generate electricity. It’s been in limbo for 15 months since a government-commissioned review recommended giving it the go-ahead. The delay reflects a reluctance by ministers to accept costs for consumers that were once estimated at double the power price EDF will get. Amid pressure from more than 100 backbench lawmakers who want the tidal plant to move ahead, ministers are grappling with how to make it palatable. The developer had proposed an initial power price a third higher than Hinkley’s. But an offer of assistance from the Welsh government has changed the game. Officials are now debating a deal on the same terms as Hinkley, according to Richard Graham, a Conservative MP who chairs Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy…” via The Independent.
“Softbank Group has announced a $200bn (£141bn) investment to create the world’s biggest solar power project in Saudi Arabia through its Vision Fund private equity arm. The Japanese conglomerate’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, told reporters on Tuesday that the planned project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) of energy by 2030. According to Reuters, that would add to around 400GW of globally installed solar power capacity and is comparable to the world’s total nuclear power capacity of around 390GW as of the end of 2016. The deal will also fit into Saudi Arabia’s broader goal of diversifying economically and reducing its reliance on the often volatile oil industry – a programme it has dubbed Vision 2030. The kingdom is one of the sunniest countries in the world but it is also the world’s biggest oil exporter. By tapping into the market for alternative sources of energy it will be able to increase its overseas shipments of oil…” via The Independent.
“Windfarms and solar panels produced more electricity than the UK’s eight nuclear power stations for the first time at the end of last year, official figures show. Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions also continued to fall, dropping 3% in 2017, as coal use fell and the use of renewables climbed. Energy experienced the biggest drop in emissions of any UK sector, of 8%, while pollution from transport and businesses stayed flat. Energy industry chiefs said the figures showed that the government should rethink its ban on onshore wind subsidies, a move that ministers have hinted could happen soon. Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the big six lobby group Energy UK, said: “We need to keep up the pace … by ensuring that the lowest cost renewables are no longer excluded from the market…”” via The Guardian.
“The carbon footprint of beef, including the emissions from growing feed for cows, along with cow belches, energy use, and deforestation of land for grazing, is so massive that some researchers have made the case for a tax on the meat as a way to meet climate goals. So when McDonald’s–one of the world’s largest purchasers of beef–announced today that it plans to begin reducing its greenhouse gas emissions at the rate that climate science says is necessary to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic global warming, it wasn’t a minor goal. By 2030, the company plans to work with suppliers and franchisees to cut emissions 36% compared to 2015, even as the chain grows. The “emissions intensity,” or the emissions per ton of packaging or food, will also drop 31%. The change is expected to avoid 150 million metric tons of emissions over the next 12 years, roughly equivalent to taking 32 million cars off the road for a year…” via Fast Company.
“This week, we present a selection of 11 of the best images of rooftop spaces. These spaces, usually terraces conceived for the enjoyment of views and fresh air, can often be the most important element of a design. Some of these rooftops surprise us with wonderful gardens, others with impressive pools, and others even with fun games for children. Below is a selection of images from prominent photographers such as Nico Arellano, Hiroyuki Oki, and Amit Geron…” via ArchDaily.