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The rise of the forest city

Here’s a nice update on a previous building of the week – Bosco Verticale, the residential tower blocks in Milan that were designed to create a ‘vertical forest’. After the success of that project, architect Stefano Boeri has had a lot of interest in the idea and a number of other projects have been suggested. Unsurprising, […]

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How mobile phones reduce carbon emissions

Most of us in Britain have a smartphone these days, and that’s increasingly true internationally. There are 2.6 billion mobile subscriptions in the world, and while not everyone owns one, an estimated 6 billion people have access to a phone. As the UN noted a couple of years ago, more people have access to a […]

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Five options for low carbon shipping

This year I’m looking at transport a bit, and I’ve been focusing on road transport as that’s a large and obstinate source of emissions. I’ll talk about rail and aviation too along the way, and today I wanted to draw a ‘transport innovation of the week‘ from the world of shipping. In terms of carbon, […]

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How China is putting the brakes on coal

Last week I wrote about China and the shift in its energy policy. I mentioned that China is over-investing in coal power, and that the number of power stations being built wasn’t necessarily an indicator of coal use to come. This week we saw confirmation of that problem, as the government instructed 11 different regions […]

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How soil is lost

‘Common as dirt’ is, so I am told, an expression that has many international equivalents. What could be more easily obtainable than earth? And for most of us, it is indeed common. After all, soil is one of the reasons why humanity is where it is. You want to build towns and cities in places […]

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Three pioneers of alternative meat

One of the things I’ve been keeping an eye on over the few years is the development of alternatives to traditional farmed meat. To remind ourselves why this matters, meat production is a significant source of greenhouse gases. It drives deforestation, and is an inefficient use of land and water in a world with 7 […]

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The Living Planet Report 2016 is out

The Living Planet Report is produced every two years by WWF and the Global Footprint Network, and the 2016 edition was released yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I will, as it’s one of the most useful summaries of our global sustainability predicament. If you’ve ever seen me give a […]

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How Islabikes are embracing the circular economy

Islabikes is a British company that specialises in children’s bikes. Their USP is that they go the extra mile in designing bikes for the particular needs of smaller riders. Their bikes are notably lighter than their competitors, and every part has been appropriately scaled down – no regular sized brake levers or chains used to […]

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A one-planet Switzerland by 2050?

As you may know, Switzerland has an unusual tradition of direct democracy, with citizens able to propose laws and policies and put them to a referendum. It can be abused, and bad ideas turn up as well as good ones, so it would be wrong to idealise the system. But one thing we can say […]

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prickly pear

The restorative power of the cactus

There are all sorts of innovative technologies and companies in Chris Goodall’s book The Switch, but there’s one in particular that I caught my attention: Tropical Power. They’ve developed an intriguing energy system that is based on cacti. It’s being tested in Kenya at the moment, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be applicable […]

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