Conservation strategies

In this section of the course you have to look at an example of conservation, waste reduction, recycling and substitution. You need one detailed case study of an attempt to reduce consumption of one resource. For the recycling case study you are going to look at Lichfield, which is the city Mr Greenfield was born in and is also one of the UK's best recycling cities. For waste reduction, you are going to look at the attempts to reduce the production of carbon. Finally for an example of conservation, you are going to look at the attempts to preserve fish stocks. This will also been your detailed case study of trying to reserve a resource (fish). For an example of substitution you can use the Three Gorges Dam as an example of substituting fossil fuels for hydro-electric power (Changing patterns of energy consumption).

Recycling - Lichfield

Waste and Recycling

In the UK each household produces over 1 tonne of waste annually (31 million tonnes for the whole of the UK. Currently the majority of that waste goes into landfill (holes in the ground). The rest is incinerated (burnt) or recycled. Even though recycling targets are being met, still far too much is being incinerated or been put into landfill. Incineration can obviously release greenhouse gases while landfill can cause water and soil pollution as well as releasing methane into the atmosphere and looking ugly (visual pollution).

Recycling meeting UK targets - BBC article
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The Three R's

Recycling: The re-processing of industrial and household waste so that materials can be reused. Currently materials like paper, card, plastics, glass and some metals are recycled.
Reuse: This means using a product more than once. This might be returning it to a manufacturer e.g. coke bottles or selling/passing onto another consumer e.g. charity shops
Reduce: This refers to using less of a product e.g. less packaging, less energy.
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Fly-tipping: This is the process of individuals or companies illegally disposing of their waste. This problem is increasing because

  • Increased costs of landfill
  • Restrictions on disposal of electrical waste
  • Cost of meeting recycling targets

Fly-tipping - BBC article

Recycling - Lichfield

Lichfield is a small city of about 30,000 people situated in central England about 20km NE of Birmingham (England's second city). Lichfield is one of the countries best recycling cities, recycling about 50% of its waste. Lichfield has achieved these results in a number of ways. About ten years ago, all households were given four bins (two green, one brown and one black). The brown bin was for organic waste (garden and household). The two green bins were for paper, plastic, glass and metals. The black bin was for all other waste. To encourage recycling the green bins were collected every week. The black and brown bins were collected on alternate weeks. The two green bins are currently being replaced with one blue bin to make collection of recycled products quicker.

Paper, card, plastic, glass and metals either get crushed, melted or pulped and reused. Organic waste get used for compost. To find out more details watch the video to the right.

As well as household collections, all supermarkets were set up with recycling centres for paper, glass, plastics, metals and clothes. Also a central recycling centre was established for more dangerous recyclable waste; oil, rubble (construction material) and electrical goods.

To maximise recycling households and pupils were educated on the importance of recycling. Involving students hopefully creates lifelong recyclers, like the IGCA is trying to do here at ABC.

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Lichfield recycling three times above UK average - Guardian article

Lichfield recycling - customer information

Lichfield Local Government recycling information

Recycling - Behind the scenes from Lichfield on Vimeo.

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A lot of waste currently ends up overseas, more often than not China. In fact demand for recyclable products is currently higher than supply. There are obviously environmental and ethical issues of shipping waste overseas and later in the course we will look at the problem of e-waste in China (The effects of transnational manufacturing and services).
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Recycling waste shipped overseas

China's recycling saves forests - BBC article

The UK's new rubbish dump - China - Guardian article

How water bottles create cheap lighting in the Philippines - BBC article

Conservation - Fishing Quotas (EU)

Fish quotas were introduced in the EU because many of the fish stocks in EU waters were falling below unsustainable levels. Fishing quotas are simply a limit placed on the amount of fish that different countries are allowed to catch.

The quotas are calculated each December by the EU Council of Fisheries sets the total allowable catches (quotas). The TACs are based on historical fishing catches, so that each country sees a proportional decline in their fishing quotas. Each country within the EU then has the responsibility to monitor the catches an ensure that the quotas are being met

Fish Quotas aim to halt decline - BBC article

EU fishing reforms face weakening - BBC article

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  • They help protect critically endangered species like North Sea cod. This ensures the continued biodiversity of our oceans.
  • Ensures that food webs and chains remain intact so that other species don't become endangered.
  • Quotas ensure the long term protection of the fishing industry. It should mean that the tradition of fishing and the related jobs can continue indefinitely.
  • The EU paid compensation to fishermen who lost their boats and their jobs. Compensation was paid to fishermen who were seeing declining catches and incomes.
  • Species caught as a result of overfishing should also be reduced as fishing becomes more targeted and regulated.
  • Because of fishing quotas many boats are decommissioned. This not only mean fishermen lose their jobs, but also people that repair the boats, sell the fuel and buy and trade the catch.
  • Because boats have to meet quotas, many fish (dead and alive) are thrown over board.
  • Many coastal settlements lose their principal function, If they lose their function the resulting unemployment will often lead to outward migration, resulting in depopulation and a spiral of decline.
  • The government has to pay to monitor the quotas and they also lose out on revenue, from previously higher catches.
  • Fishing quotas can create an illegal trade (black market) in fish. It can also mean that unregulated oceans become overfished.
  • Fish inflation. Because the amount of fish, especially wild fish being caught is reducing, it means that the price of many fish is increasing.

Grimsby fishing industry still nets healthy profit - Guardian article

EU faces battle over fish quotas - BBC article

Fish discards could end under EU proposals - BBC article

Other Problems causing declines in global fish stock

  • Pollution: Any form of pollution, whether it be oil spills, plastic bags, sewage or industrial waste can kill and harm sea life.
  • Dynamite and Cyanide fishing: Both practices kill un-targeted fish as well as the sea bed and coral reefs.
  • Drift nets: Drift nets can damage the sea beds, but also catch un-targeted animals e.g. turtles and dolphins.
  • Deforestation: Deforestation increases the surface run-ff of soil. Soil entering the sea can cause sedimentation but also reduce visibility killing coral reefs.
  • Tourism: Tourist developments create pollution and disturb nesting turtles. Tourists also buy products from the sea like shells and coral. Divers can also damage reefs and disturb animals.
  • Global warming: Rising sea levels are killing coral reefs and changing ecosystems.
  • Local delicacies: Delicacies like turtle eggs, shark gin soup, blue fin tuna and whale meat are driving many animals close to extinction. Read shark fin soup articles below.
  • Aquaculture: Aquaculture is farming sea animals. Unfortunately many farmed animals are actually fed on wild fish. Some fish are also genetically modified and could possibly escape and breed with wild fish. Finally large concentrations of farm animals create a lot of waste which can kill the sea floor.
Shark fin - A multi-billion dollar trade - Al Jazeera article

Once feared predator now endangered - Al Jazeera article

Blue fin tuna ban gets EU backing - BBC article

Euro MPs back large-scale fishing reform to save stocks - BBC article

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As well as fishing quotas there are other ways to protect fish stocks:
  • Create marine parks
  • Harvest taxes (increasing the price of fish)
  • Fishing periods. Only allowing fishing at certain times of year e.g. not during spawning
  • Community management schemes.
  • Banning of drift nets
  • Better regulation of illegal fishing (poaching dynamite and cyanide fishing).
  • Increasing fishing net mesh size to stop small fish being caught.
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Reduction in Resource Consumption (Carbon - fossil fuels)

The release of carbon into the atmosphere can enhance the greenhouse effect, causing global warming along with associated side effects e.g. rising sea levels, climate refugees, increased frequency and magnitude of tropical storms and desertification (see Atmosphere and change for more details).

The creation of electricity using fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) releases the most carbon, but industry and transport are also significant releases of carbon. Domestically we can influence the release of carbon by our demand for electricity i.e. if we use more electricity more carbon will be released.

In overall terms, China releases the most carbon, closely followed by the US. If you look at a per capita level, then some of the Gulf States (Qatar, UAE and Kuwait) are the worse.

The graph to the right shows the world's top carbon producers in overall terms, the table below (left) shows the top carbon producers per capita and the table below (right) shows the contributors to carbon production in Singapore.

China now world's top carbon polluter - BBC article
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Key Carbon and Climate Change Terms, Meetings and Organisations

Carbon Footprint: This is the total amount of greenhouse gases released by a person, company, country, event or product.

Carbon Neutral: This refers to have a zero carbon footprint. Your footprint can be zero if the amount of greenhouse gases you release is equal or below the amount you offset or sequester.

Carbon Trade and Carbon Permits: When countries or companies are given a limit on the amount of carbon that they can release. The limit is given in the form of permits. Companies or countries that produce less than there permitted level can then sell their surpluses (trade). The idea is that the size of the permits will be reduced each year. It is hoped that by increasing the value of releasing carbon, companies and countries will choose to release less.

EU carbon permits stolen - BBC article

Carbon sink: This is a natural or artificial reservoir (store) that accumulates and holds carbon indefinitely e.g. tropical rainforest.

Carbon Tax: This is simply a levy (tax) placed on the amount of carbon you release. This is hard to do individually, so products that contain carbon can be taxed e.g. petrol.

Carbon Offset: This is the reduction in the release of greenhouse gases to offset greenhouse gases you are releasing. Offsetting is normally done by investing in renewable energy schemes or reforestation schemes.

Carbon Sequestration: This is the process of capturing and storing carbon. Captured carbon can be then stored in a carbon sink.

IPCC: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental tasked with reviewing and assessing the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It provides the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, notably the risk of climate change caused by human activity. The panel was first established in 1988 by the World Meterological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that acknowledges the possibility of harmful climate change. (

Agenda 21: Agenda 21 is an action plan of the UN related to sustainable development and was an outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, in 1992. It is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment. Within Agenda 21 the slogan ''Think Global Act Local'' was launched. It encouraged all citizens to do things that would add up to a global benefit e.g. everyone turning off unneeded lights.
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Tipping Point: This is the point that climate changes from one stable state to another stable state. It is believed that once the tipping has been reached it is impossible to stop it. Some scientists believe we have already reached the tipping point with climate change and that it doesn't matter what we do, climate change will happen.

Rio Earth Summit (1992): In 1992, more than 100 heads of state met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the first international Earth Summit convened to address urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic development. The assembled leaders signed the Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. It also adopted Agenda 21, a 300 page plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century.

Stern Review: The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a 700-page report released for the British government on October 30, 2006 by economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute On Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and also chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) at Leeds University and LSE. The report discusses the effect of global warming on the world economy. Although not the first economic report on climate change, it is significant as the largest and most widely known and discussed report of its kind.

At-a-glance: The Stern Review - BBC Article

Local Scale

Part of Agenda 21 to come out of the Rio Earth Summit asked citizens to think global but act locally. There are plenty of ways that individuals, households and communities can make a difference. For example:

  • Turn of the lights and TV when you are not in the room.
  • Do not leave your computer on permanently
  • Install half flush and full flush toilets
  • Cycle or walk instead of driving
  • Turn off taps when brushing teeth
  • Only water gardens after sunset
  • Use public transport
  • Install proper insulation (keep heat or cold in/out)
  • Install wind turbine or solar panels
  • Recycle grey water (bath and shower water)
  • Take showers and not baths
  • Reuse plastic bags
  • Recycle paper, card, plastic glass and metals
  • Plant vegetation

All these are relatively simple things that individuals and households can do. On a larger scale Masdar aims to become the first carbon neutral city (Sustainability and the environment).

Masdar - Abu Dhabi's carbon neutral City - BBC article

Climate Change needs People Power - BBC article

London Congestion Charge Zone Doubles in Size - BBC article

London Saddles up for new Bike Hire Scheme - BBC article

International Scale

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), aimed at fighting global warming. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving "stabilization of greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human) interference with the climate system."

The Protocol was initially adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of July 2010, 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol (green countries have signed, grey are undecided and red are not going to sign). Unfortunately, the US which is one of the world's biggest polluters, decided not to ratify the treaty.

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Under the Protocol, 37 countries commit themselves to a reduction of four greenhouse gases (GHG) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexaflouride) and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons) produced by them, and all member countries give general commitments. The 37 countries also agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% from the 1990 level.

Sarkozy backs call to keep Kyoto - BBC article

2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit, was held in Copenhagen, Denmark between 7 December and 18 December.

The Copenhagen Accord was drafted by the US, India, China, Brazil and South Africa on December 18, and judged a "meaningful agreement" by the United States government. It was "taken note of", but not "adopted", in a debate of all the participating countries the next day, and it was not passed unanimously. The document recognised that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the present day and that actions should be taken to keep any temperature increases to below 2°C. The document is not legally binding and does not contain any legally binding commitments for reducing CO2 emissions.

What did Copenhagen achieve? - BBC article

Climate change agreements have proved difficult to achieve because MEDC and LEDC can not find agreement on cuts. MEDCs are the biggest polluters so should reduce emissions. However, LEDCs say they should be give the right to develop (and pollute) just like MEDCs have in the past. MEDCs argue that this unfair and will give LEDCs a competitive advantage and that everyone should make cuts.

EU half way to 2020 emissions targets - BBC article

UK's carbon targets too weak to stop dangerous climate change scientists say - Guardian article

Prince Charles attacks climate skeptics - BBC article

Barriers to Sustainable Development

Poverty: Renewable and sustainable technology e.g. hybrid cars, solar panels and energy saving light bulbs can be very expensive. When people are poor, there priority is feeding, clothing and housing their family, not worrying about saving energy.

Renewable Technology and Technology: Many renewable technologies are sill in their infancy. In many cases the technology is still inefficient e.g. wave and tidal power. Unlike fossil fuels it is very hard to adjust the supply of renewable energy to meet changes in demand e.g. it is not possible to make the wind blow harder or the sun shine harder when demand is highest. Also technology to store surplus energy is still very inefficient.

Population Growth: The world's population is currently at about 7 billion and rising rapidly. Predictions vary, but most people believe it will reach at least 9 billion which is obviously going to put an increase in pressure on energy and resources.

Tipping Point: Some scientists believe that we have already reached a tipping point on climate change. They believe whatever we do now won't make a difference.

Development: There are still millions of people living in poverty. As they develop they will want to have many of the luxuries we have e.g. washing machines, private toilets, cars, etc. You cannot deny anyone the luxuries we have, so it will be necessary to look at how we can make them more sustainable.

Education: If you are going to develop sustainably, you need to know what it means and how its achieved. You also need people who can develop, operate and maintain sustainable technology. If you have a largely illiterate population, this might not be possible.

Enforcement: Even if you have laws to reduce pollution and use more renewable energy, it can be very hard to police this. Countries may not have the manpower, time or technology to monitor and enforce the law.

International Consensus: With over 200 countries in the world, it is extremely hard to get everyone to agree that climate change is happening, let alone agree on how to solve it. Famously the US did not sign the Kyoto protocol. However, they are not the only country reluctant to make cuts in greenhouse gases that may impact development. Both India and China who have growing economies and growing populations would argue that the have the right to develop in a similar manner to how current MEDCs developed.

UN in fresh bid to salvage international deal on climate change - Guardian article

Habit: Once habits have been formed, it is very hard to break them. If you are used to using a dishwasher, air-con, televisions and driving to work, it is very hard to give them up. It is therefore important to teach young people how to save energy and be sustainable so that they get into good habits. For everyone else you have to try and make bad habits more sustainable e.g. hybrid cars or energy saving light bulbs.

It is possible to calculate your own carbon footprint by using the calculator below (