Lula’s pledge to save the Amazon rainforest and London’s new energy advice centre: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership. We are returning with this series after a break for the Christmas and new year period – welcome back!

Across the UK and the rest of Europe, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: New Energy Advice Centre opens in London

Image: LSBU

As 2022 came to a close, the UK Government finally launched a national communications campaign providing members of the public with advice on cutting their energy bills by improving energy efficiency. It had delayed introducing such a campaign under Liz Truss.

Building on this, London South Bank University has this week opened a new student-led advice and information service open to the general public. The Energy Advice Centre will offer information on what government subsidies and grants are available as one-offs this winter, plus how people can access funding for energy efficiency schemes. It will also answer common questions about saving energy at home.

The Centre will offer a website, email service and face-to-face meetings at the Clarence Centre for Enterprise & Innovation. Charity UPP Foundation is supporting the Centre’s operations.

Dr Henrique Lagoeiro, Research Fellow at the Centre for Heating and Cooling Researc at the University, said, “As a university we have an important role to play in supporting our community to thrive. The Energy Advice Centre is a student-led initiative with hands-on experience that is a great example of how the research and education we deliver can have a real impact on the lives of people in our local area and beyond.”

RESOURCES: Love Island ‘recouples’ with eBay for second year of second-hand fashion

Image: eBay

Fashion has a major waste problem. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that less than 2% of the clothes produced globally each year are properly recycled, while 73% end up in landfill on incineration. Choosing second-hand clothing can help to quell production and mitigate waste.

Online marketplace eBay, a long-term proponent of second-hand fashion, has confirmed that it will be the fashion partner for ITV’s Love Island again this year, with the broadcaster keen to promote pre-loved clothing instead of fast fashion.

Following seven years of work with online fast fashion giants I Saw It First and Boohoo, Love Island moved in 2022 to select Love Island as its exclusive fashion partner. Contestants were, for the first time in the show’s history, only allowed to access a shared wardrobe of pre-owned clothes for season eight.

Following positive reviews from viewers and contestants, Love Island will be taking the same approach for its ninth season this year. Read edie’s full story here.

eBay’s global general manager of fashion, Kirsty Keoghan, said: : “We’re so excited to be returning to the Love Island villa in this series to put pre-loved fashion centre-stage… [and] to continue this conversation and show the nation how good pre-loved really can look.”

MOBILITY: Innovative EVs capture the imagination at CES in Las Vegas

Image: Sony

While many of us are easing slowly into the new year, lots of tech buffs in the US are starting the year by attending the world’s largest consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas. CES, as always, has played host to all manner of innovations from the impactful (next-gen vertical farms, disability-accessible computers) to the superficial (self-sinking golf balls, robots created to give massages).

Several electric vehicle (EV) players have been at the show to unveil new concepts. Hyundai showcased a concept version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) machine, the SA-1, which could take to the skies this year. The electric helicopter, produced in partnership with Uber, has a range of up to 60 miles and a top speed of 180mph.

Elsewhere, BMMW announced plans for the ‘i Vision Dee’ – a pure electric saloon car equipped with an augmented reality windscreen, voice assistant and ‘e-ink’ technology. ‘e-ink’ would enable motorists to digitally repaint their vehicle at will, choosing from 32 colours. Also showcasing an EV with a next-generation information display was Chinese brand Byton.

Something more gimmicky is an autonomous EV themed around the ‘Avatar’ movie franchise. Sony has been working with Mercedez-Benz and director James Cameron to develop a concept WV covered in scales and fitted with somewhat spherical wheels. Its features are inspired by plants.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Zanzibar plans world’s tallest mass timber building

Some 11% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions are ‘embodied carbon’ from buildings, according to the World Green Building Council. The term refers to emissions generated across the life-cycle of materials used and those generated during the construction process.

Replacing materials such as steel and concrete with mass timber is proving to be a popular option for cutting these emissions. The world’s tallest mass timber tower (25 stories of 284 feet) opened in Milwaukee in Summer 2022. Now, a new development in Zanzibar is aiming to beat its record.

Zanzibar’s government is planning to build a 28-storey tower with a height of almost 315 feet. The Burj Zanzibar, planned for the seaside city of Fumba, will be the tallest residential building in a planned eco-neighborhood which will have a one-mile radius. The building will contain 266 apartments and is set to open in early 2026, after a three-year completion period was confirmed within the last week.

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: Lula sworn in as Brazilian President, promising stronger climate and forest programmes

If it was Barack Obama that stole the show at COP26, the spotlight at COP27 was firmly fixed on then-President-elect for Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – commonly known as Lula.

Lula ran on promises to end deforestation, tackle poverty, improve human rights for Indigenous communities and improve Brazil’s international climate and nature standing. He was sworn in this week and immediately issued six decrees revoking measures introduced by predecessor Jair Bolsonaro that have made deforestation easier.

One of the decrees annuls permission for mining in Indigenous lands and other protected areas, and another creates a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. Another decree reinstates the Amazon Fund – a finance pot provided to Brazil by wealthier nations to finance forest conservation, management and restoration. Norway swiftly confirmed plans to reinstate its contributions to the Fund.

“Our goal is to achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon and zero emission of greenhouse gases in the electricity matrix, in addition to stimulating the reuse of degraded pastureland. Brazil does not need to deforest in order to maintain and expand its strategic agricultural frontier,” said Lula.

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