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A round-up of the latest EIA research, including a review of the past 15 years, lifecycle assessment and shale gas projects.
EIA in the UK since 1999
A review of EIA in the UK over the past 15 years by academics at the Environmental Assessment and Management Research Centre, at Liverpool University’s School of Environmental Sciences has found the internal strengths and weaknesses of the system have remained largely unchanged. Urmila Jha-Thakur and Thomas Fischer followed the approach used by a study in 1999 looking at the first ten years of EIA in the UK. They complemented this with a SWOT analysis, which involved: data from a 2011 survey of EIA in the UK; a workshop on the EU EIA Directive; and a literature review of publications since 1999. Their paper is published in Environmental Impact Assessment Review.
New approach to LCA
The requirement for expert knowledge in environmental science and the resources needed to collect data often make it difficult to carry out lifecycle assessment (LCA) to quantify a product’s environmental impact. To overcome this, a researcher at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has developed an evidential reasoning-based approach to help non-LCA experts perform design alternative evaluations. In a paper in Environmental Impact Assessment Review, CY Ng says the proposed approach would enable decision makers to quantitatively assess the lifecycle phases and design alternatives by comparing potential environmental impacts.
Assessing shale gas projects
A paper in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal argues that effectively managing the social and environmental risks of unconventional shale gas development requires a new generation of impact assessment. It says assessment should unite the ideals of strategic environmental assessment and cumulative effects assessment with deliberative and inclusive processes of community engagement towards collective risk management.
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted Southern Water for thousands of illegal raw sewage discharges that polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, resulting in a record £90m fine.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, despite the carbon intensity of production declining. That is according to a new report from the UN food agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which forecasts that 80% of the increase will come from livestock.
Half of consumers worldwide now consider the sustainability of food and drink itself, not just its packaging, when buying, a survey of 14,000 shoppers across 18 countries has discovered. This suggests that their understanding of sustainability is evolving to include wellbeing and nutrition, with sustainable packaging now considered standard.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.