24.11.2022
More than 20,000 excess deaths were recorded in Western Europe during the summer’s heatwaves

More than 20,000 excess deaths were recorded in France, Germany, Spain and the UK during this summer’s heatwaves, a new report has revealed.

Excess deaths are the number of deaths beyond what would have been expected under ‘normal’ conditions based on historical data, and from all causes.

This summer was Europe’s hottest in recorded history, as heatwaves and a long-running drought meant the previous high was exceeded by 0.7°F (0.4°C).

The UK also felt temperatures of over 104°F (40°C) for the first time, which was a large leap over the previous record of 101.7°F (38.7°C) set in 2019.

In England and Wales alone, 3,271 excess deaths were recorded between June 1 and September 7, according to the Office for National Statistics.

While these weren’t specifically heat-related deaths, this was 6.2 per cent higher than the five-year average, and more tended to be recorded on the hotter days,

Dr Eunice Lo, a climate researcher at the University of Bristol, said that about 2,000 extra deaths in England are related to heatwaves each year on average.

She said: ‘Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense as the globe warms up, so we can expect more and hotter heatwaves in future.

‘Scientists have linked many past heatwaves to human-induced climate change.

‘This means that observed heatwaves have been made more likely to occur or more intense because of human emissions of greenhouse gases.

‘Extreme heat can be dangerous to human health.’

On Monday, the French government health agency, Santé Publique France, revealed that 10,420 excess deaths were reported in the country in summer 2022.

One in every four of these deaths were recorded during one the of the three intense heatwaves, that went on for a total of 44 days over June, July and August.

These deaths were not necessarily heat-related, however numbers were 20 per cent higher in regions with red heatwave alerts.

In Spain there were 4,655 extra deaths due to extreme heat between June and August, and in Germany there were 4,500.

Dr Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, said: ‘Heatwaves are one of the biggest threats posed by climate change.

‘High temperatures are responsible for thousands of deaths across the world every year, many of which go under-reported.

‘Despite this overwhelming evidence, there is still little public awareness of the dangers that extreme temperatures present to human health.’

Last month, a study found that the droughts felt in the Northern Hemisphere this summer were made up to 20 times more likely by climate change.

Climate scientists with the World Weather Attribution group collected soil moisture level data in June, July and August 2022 across a large area of our hemisphere.

They detected a moisture deficit, and quantified it by analysing weather data and computer simulations to compare today’s climate with that of the 1800s.

Their findings revealed that drought can be expected in the Northern Hemisphere around once in 20 years in today’s climate, which has been warmed 1.2°C by emissions.

Plus, if humans had not warmed the planet, droughts would only have been expected around once in 400 years or less.

This year’s ‘State of the Climate in Europe’ report also said that temperatures in the continent have increased by more than twice the global average over the past 30 years.

This rise of about 1.3°F (0.5°C) per decade is the largest of any continent in the world, and has contributed to melting ice sheets and rising sea levels.

The report is produced with data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said: ‘Europe presents a live picture of a warming world and reminds us that even well prepared societies are not safe from impacts of extreme weather events.

‘This year, like 2021, large parts of Europe have been affected by extensive heatwaves and drought, fuelling wildfires.

‘In 2021, exceptional floods caused death and devastation.’

The UN has also warned that the world should expect heatwaves ‘beyond human limits’ within decades, and that we need to adapt to extreme heat in the long term.

Dr Lo said: ‘This includes designing homes, schools and hospitals that have good ventilation and prevent overheating, increasing green space and parks in cities, and making heat warnings accessible to all.’

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05.12.2022
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  • 13 часов, 57 минут назад 04.12.2022Science
    Tiny robots to revolutionise inspection and maintenance of water pipes and sewers

    In a world-first, UK researchers are developing tiny robots capable of scuttling around water and sewage pipes locating blockages, corrosion and leaks — so that they can be addressed early and in a less disruptive and cost-effective way. In the UK, there are around 310,000 miles’ worth of underground water pipes. While inspections can be undertaken with a variety of methods — from sound scans to cable-mounted cameras and even sniffer dogs trained to detect the chlorine traces in tap water — it is still only possible to manually inspect a tiny fraction of the system. For this reason, most leaks and blockages are tackled only when they are noticed and logged by members of the public, by which point they can be large, expensive and highly disruptive to rectify.

    In fact, according to mechanical engineer Professor Kirill Horoshenkov of the University of Sheffield and his colleagues, the cost of utility street works to the UK stands at an eye-watering £7billion each year — not to mention the disruption to residents and local businesses affected by these efforts.

    The researchers, however, may have an alternative — so-called “pipebots”. These robots, the prototypes of which are small enough to hold in your hand, are being designed to systematically scuttle around pipe systems looking for problems before they get out of hand.

    The current versions are armed with front-facing cameras and other sensors, and move around on six propeller-like rotating legs. In their concept video, however, the designs are more advanced — and resemble an adorable cross between a crab and a shrimp, the latter inspiring a tail that would allow them to swim as well as walk.

    The final versions of the inspection robots, the researchers explained, will be equipped with a variety of sensor modalities to analyse pipe systems — from using sound waves to scan ahead at distances tens to hundreds of metres, ultrasonics for the centimetre scale, visual images and potential even laser profiles.

    Key to the pipebot concept is how the little machines will work collaboratively, in teams. This will offers a number of benefits, Prof. Horoshenkov noted, the first of which is that it will enable them to inspect a larger network and without accidentally doubling up their work.

    The team envisage a gang of robots being housed in a garage-like hub, which could be lowered down a manhole or similar access point to deliver them into the pipe system — or, in a more permanent case, attached to the underside of a manhole cover.

    Beyond getting the robots to where they are needed, this “garage” could also serve as a cleaning station. As one might imagine, the bots are likely to get filthy traversing sewage pipes — which contain all manner of waste, toilet paper, etc.

    However, water pipes also can acquire a coating known as a “biofilm”, which is made up of a mixture of bacteria, fungi and protozoa. While these are not generally considered a risk to human health, the robots will need to be designed to minimise disturbance to the films, as even a small disturbance can have a noticeable impact on the appearance of the water.

    Another advantage of having the robots work in gangs is that each will be able to act as a signal relay, allowing some of the robots to travel further away from the hub, while still transmitting back data — much in the same way, for example, that Wi-Fi repeaters can be used to extend the range of a home router.

    Prof. Horoshenkov explained that it might also be beneficial to have the robots operate in pairs as they scan the subterranean infrastructure: “For example, one robot sends the signal, the other robot picks up the signal to make a judgement about the condition of the pipe.”

    Furthermore, the researchers are envisaging that — once a fault in the pipe system is detected — specialist robots might be dispatched to address the problem in question. For example, Prof. Horoshenkov explained, one might design one “like a Dyson vacuum cleaner” capable of going into the pipes and preemptively cleaning to prevent future blockages.

    In a similar fashion, other robots could be constructed to fill cracks in the pipes as they manifest — preventing leaks from being generated in the first place.

    According to Prof. Horoshenkov, the team is already in touch with utility companies across Europe, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia who are interested in making use of pipebots in the future.

    Here in the UK, the researchers are hoping to see their robots trialled by water utility companies beginning in around 2026 — with full-scale adoption of the service early next decade.

    In the meantime, the researchers are already working with a firm operating in Yorkshire to model how the robots would operate in a real-world pipe system — one some 18 miles long in total — based on known flow data.

    More information on the project can be found on the pipebots website.

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  • 13 часов, 57 минут назад 04.12.2022Science
    Putin’s terrifying warning to West as Russia vows to send energy prices soaring again

    Moscow has vowed to respond to the West after it floated slapping a price cap on Russian oil, sparking fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin will slash more exports to Europe and send prices soaring further. Amid the war in Ukraine, Europe has been scrambling to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels in a bid to slash the Kremlin’s revenue and hamstring its war efforts. But the EU still relies on Russian gas, while several landlocked countries within the bloc are still in need of large volumes of Russian oil sent via pipelines.

    Russia’s stranglehold on European energy supplies has already proved to be a problem globally, with his invasion of Ukraine triggering supply chain constraints, and in combination with his gas cuts to Europe, the Russian President has energy prices soaring, triggering a global crisis.

    Now, the West is seeking to cut off more cash from Putin by implementing a price cap on his oil exports. This has sparked fury in Moscow, which has dubbed the measure a “dangerous” move that it is figuring out how to respond to.

    Russian state news agency TASS reported on that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had already prepared Friday’s price cap announcement by the G-7, the EU and Australia.

    On Saturday, the Kremlin said a price cap was the “wrong move”. Mr Peskov was quoted by RIA saying that “we will not accept this cap” and he warned that Moscow would complete a rapid analysis of the agreement before working out how to respond.

    Mikhail Ulyanov, Moscow’s ambassador to international organisations in Vienna, said Europe can forget about receiving anymore oil from Russia, despite EU sanctions exempting the most reliant EU nations like Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic from the bloc’s Russian oil ban.

    Mr Ulyanov tweeted: “Starting from this year Europe will live without Russian oil. Moscow has already made it clear that it will NOT supply oil to those countries who support anti-market price cap. Very soon the EU will blame Russia for using oil as a weapon.”

    The proposed G7 price cap is set to let non-EU countries to keep on importing seaborne Russian crude oil. Howeer, it will ban shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude globally, unless it is sold for under $60 (£48).

    There are fears that this could complicate the shipment of Russian crude that is more expensive than the determined cap, and possibly to countries that are not part of the agreement.

    Russia’s embassy in the US has said the cap is a “dangerous” move by the West and won’t stop Moscow from finding buyers for its oil.

    In comments published on Telegram, the embassy wrote: “Steps like these will inevitably result in increasing uncertainty and imposing higher costs for raw materials’ consumers.

    “Regardless of the current flirtations with the dangerous and illegitimate instrument, we are confident that Russian oil will continue to be in demand.”

    However, the EU has already been coping with far fewer Russian oil supplies amid the invasion of Ukraine. Before the war, in 2021, more than half of Russia’s oil exports were sent to Europe, according to the International Energy Association. In the bloc, Germany was the main importer, with the Netherlands second and Poland third.

    But following the February 2022 invasion, the EU has been scrambling to slash its dependence and has even included a Russian oil embargo in one of its sanction packages. The US has also stopped purchasing Russian crude, while the UK also has plans to phase out the energy source.

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  • 15 часов, 57 минут назад 04.12.2022Science
    UK’s main gas supplier Norway makes huge ‘war profits’ as Putin’s grip on Europe weakens

    Norway, which supplies around 60 percent of Britain’s gas, has raked in astonishing profits amid the energy crisis due to the skyrocketing cost of wholesale gas, sparked largely by actions committed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. But while Norway reaps the benefits of Putin’s war, scuppering Putin’s grip on Europe, households in the UK are also footing the bill. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Oslo received about £24billion in oil and gas revenues annually. But following the onset of the war, its profits are expected to hit £100billion for the whole of 2022 and will even surge to £119billion in 2023.

    That amounts to nearly £32,000 each for the country’s 5.4 million citizens over two years. Already forking out double compared the amount they were paying before the war on average, Britons are now expected to pay even more for their energy when the price cap goes from £2,500 to £3,000 in April.

    But despite being more costly due to the international market, Norway’s supplies are still appreciated as countries scramble to replace plummeting volumes of Russian gas.

    Not only is the EU (which got 40 percent of its gas from Russia before the war) determined to cut Russian fossil fuel imports to deprive the Kremlin of revenue, but Putin has also slashed delivered to the bloc and has threatened to “freeze” Europe this winter.

    Putin has also stopped sending gas through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, the Baltic Sea system which was targeted in a blast that caused gas to leak out into Swedish and Danish waters back in August.

    Norway has responded by boosting gas and oil production where possible, resulting in the amount of gas it sends to Europe soaring from 20 percent of the continent’s total pre-crisis to to 25 percent.

    Norway’s state-owned pipeline operator says the amount of gas delivered to Europe will hit 117 billion cubic metres, a new record and an increase from the 113 billion sent last large year.

    But Nathan Piper, an oil and gas analyst at Investec, told the Telegraph that this is nowhere near enough to immediately replace the full 150 billion cubic metres previously received from Russia.

    He said: “Even if you have an oil and gas discovery, you won’t get new production from that for at least three to five, if not 10 years, so you cannot just turn these things on and off. If you have an existing facility, you can incrementally increase output, and that’s what Norway has done.”

    “But if Russia restricts gas volumes to Europe for the next two to three to four years, then you would see more investment.”

    However, while Oslo is scuppering Putin’s energy grip on Europe, households in Britain and across Europe still face eye-watering bill rises that have pushed millions of homes into fuel poverty, with many now forced to choose between heating or eating as temperatures begin to drop.

    According to the Department for International Trade, last year, the UK’s gas imports from Norway soared by 57percent to £22.6billion in the year to June. Meanwhile, oil imports rose 32 percent to £13billion.

    Critics have slammed Norway for making “war profits” from its oil and gas.

    Back in September, Norwegian opposition party lawmaker Rasmus Hansson lashed out at his Government for raking in huge sums of cash amid Putin’s brutal invasion and Europe’s energy crisis, calling it “morally wrong”.

    He told Politico: “We think Norway is being short-sighted and too selfish. We are getting a windfall profit which is very big, but the question is does that money belong to us as long as the most obvious reason for that price increase and that extra income is the disaster that has befallen the Ukrainian people?.

    Mr Hansson added that instead of charging European allies astronomical prices, his country should instead have experts set what they believe to be a “normal” gas price, arguing that everything above that should be viewed as war profits and be redistributed.

    Steiner Juel, an economist from the Oslo-based think-tank Civita, said that in Norway, “many people feel embarrassed to get this income because of this disaster we have in Europe”, the Telegraph reports.

    Now, discussions are reportedly being held as the country mulls over setting up a fund to funnel more of the money to Ukraine and developing countries affected by the food shortages resulting from the war. But Norway has still not come to a decision about where to take its oil and gas industry.

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  • 15 часов, 57 минут назад 04.12.2022Science
    Risk-taking key to meeting Net Zero target by 2050, Siemens Energy boss says

    The UK needs to develop its energy supply chains at pace, to scale, and with “a little bit more risk taking” if it wants to meet its Net Zero 2050 target, Siemens Energy Vice President Steve Scrimshaw told Express.co.uk. According to the energy firm, the move away from fossil fuels could see demand for electricity — along with its supply and storage — easily double in the next decade. While the UK could easily meet such demand, more investment is needed in the supply chain, Mr Scrimshaw said, to ensure that investment in renewable energy production can be translated into the reliable delivery of power to consumers — and help protect against energy crises in the future.

    Mr Scrimshaw explains: “It is vital we talk now about how the supply chain can support the net zero challenge. It is clear the energy industry is in crisis and we see challenges across the energy trilemma.

    “Affordability is now hitting the pockets of consumers, reliability is no longer a given across Europe with geo-political turmoil, and from a sustainability perspective we must decarbonise.

    “We urgently need to pick up the pace to meet ambitious targets […] it needs to be a national endeavour. A net power system will not only help give Britain energy security — it will also reduce prices and help mitigate climate change.”

    “As the world’s energy systems are changing, Siemens Energy is helping customers navigate the energy transition.

    “We provide products, solutions, and services across the full energy value chain — including power generation, transmission and industrial applications — so understand the challenges faced across the industry.”

    One project that Siemens Energy has been working on to help facilitate net-zero is a prototype cracker that can break down ammonia into green hydrogen — which could be used, for example, to power hydrogen buses or portable electric generators.

    (In fact, Mr Scrimshaw explained, Siemens Energy and GeoPura have already been providing hydrogen generators to television productions crews at the BBC and Netflix for on location film work, as well as construction projects like the High Speed Two (HS2) railway.)

    In future, however, the same concept could be scaled up for other applications, such as use by industry, for heating, and in grid-scale power generation systems.

    The £3.5million trial, which is being undertaken in Newcastle in tandem with Fortescue Future Industries and GeoPura, will be capable of delivering 440 lbs of hydrogen on a daily basis. This, Siemens Energy explains, is enough to power the electric fuel cells of around 5–10 hydrogen-powered buses.

    The ammonia needed for inputting into the cracker, Mr Scrimshaw explained, might be source from Australia — where, in fact, the “Metal Membrane Technology” purification process the system uses was developed — where ammonia is cheaper to produce using the country’s abundant solar power resources.

    Mr Scrimshaw — who also sits on the Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Council — said: “We have just 13 years to deliver a net-zero electricity grid for the UK. Time is running out and we can’t do this alone.

    “This innovative green ammonia cracker could be a game-changer for scaling up the green hydrogen industry — an important step to drive the energy transition.”

    In fact, the Government has estimated that hydrogen could potentially make up around a third of the UK’s energy mix by the year 2050.

    The advantage of storing hydrogen locked up in ammonia, Mr Scrimshaw explained, is that the latter can contain ten times the hydrogen by volume. Their ammonia cracking process, Siemens Energy notes, does not result in carbon dioxide emissions.

    The firm already has a proven track record in ammonia innovation — having led a successful £1.5 million proof-of-concept energy storage system at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire — with the cracker prototype serving to fill a gap in this energy technology supply chain.

    Fortescue Future Industries CEO Mark Hutchinson added: “The research and development of technology like this is key to the success of green hydrogen globally.

    “There is an overwhelming demand for supply of green hydrogen, particularly in Europe, and transport is central to ensuring that supply.

    “We know that green hydrogen can be transported long distances as green ammonia, and — if successful — ammonia cracking coupled with Metal Membrane Technology means that you can convert it as you need to, at the point of use.

    “The work being done as part of this partnership stands to help make green ammonia a globally traded hydrogen carrier and fuel not just for the future but for today.”

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  • 15 часов, 57 минут назад 04.12.2022Science
    Farmers urge Britons not to buy frozen Christmas turkeys as bird flu sparks major shortage

    Britons are increasingly turning to frozen turkeys ahead of the festive period after farmers warned that the UK’s worst-ever bird flu outbreak is threatening a “big, big shortage” this Christmas, but this has left some farmers with lots of leftover birds to sell as buyers opt for the frozen option. Around 600,000 of Britain’s 1.2 million free-range turkeys produced annually have died in the worst outbreak of bird flu that the UK has ever experienced.

    An estimated 1.6 million birds have also been culled amid the outbreak, with free-range farms especially vulnerable as their turkeys roam around in the open, meaning they can more easily catch the disease from wild birds.

    Last week, Paul Kelly, a poultry farmer, told MPs that this will result in a “big, big shortage of free-range British turkeys this year”.

    But the warnings have clearly sparked buyer panic as sales of frozen turkeys have skyrocketed. In October, sales of frozen turkeys reportedly doubled.

    Paul White, a turkey farmer near Colne in Lancashire, has said the warnings have put Britons off buying turkeys from small-scale producers. He said his business now has “lots of turkeys left” as people are opting for the frozen option, the Guardian reports.

    The farmer wrote on Facebook: “It’s scared the public, and frozen turkey sales have risen dramatically because people want to make sure they’ve got a turkey in their freezer for Christmas. It being British-reared, or its welfare, has mattered less.

    “That means that people like us have lots of turkeys left. The main impact of the free-range shortage is to supermarkets and large-scale suppliers, and people just want to make sure they’ve got a bird in their freezer. We’re starting to really worry. There is no shortage here.”

    But since October, there have been 136 confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in Britain, with the large bulk of cases being reported in England. More than a third of poultry farms have had to roll out control measures in a bid to limit the spread of bird flu, regardless them being directly affected by the disease or not.

    While Mr White may not be suffering from a turkey shortage himself, Mr Kelly said the outbreak has been “devastating” for others.

    He said: “The challenge for a lot of the smaller seasonal producers that produce Christmas poultry is they have their Christmas flock on their farm and when the turkeys are infected they all die within four days.

    “To give you an example, we had one farmer with 9,500 (birds). The first infection was on Thursday evening, 20 mortality, and by Monday lunchtime they were all dead.”

    Mr Kelly himself said that he has lost a staggering £1.2million this year, sparking concerns that he may not be able to rear poultry for Christmas in the future.

    He said: “Can we take the risk to grow Christmas poultry based on what we’ve seen this year? We couldn’t. And had I known what I know now we would not have grown the turkeys we did. Looking to next year, I don’t want to put the farm at risk.

    James Chamings, a farmer based in Exeter, told the Guardian that the situation is pretty worrying as he fears for the safety of his 600 turkeys. However, he did note that his business was seeing increased sales as butchers whose usual suppliers have been affected have been putting in more orders.

    The NFU poultry board chair, James Mottershead, said: “The British poultry sector has experienced an unprecedented year with record levels of avian influenza. Turkey producers are doing all they can to protect the health and welfare of their birds at this difficult time, especially as we approach Christmas.

    As avian influenza persists, vigilance is key, and maintaining stringent biosecurity measures is vital for all bird-keepers, whether a professional poultry farmer or someone who keeps a small number of hens in their garden.”

    A spokesperson for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said last week: “We have taken decisive action to tackle this disease and have worked closely with farmers to put infection control measures in place to limit the risk of it spreading further. Outbreak numbers have levelled-off in recent weeks suggesting that the recent housing orders are starting to have an impact.

    “Sadly approximately 1.4 million turkeys, some of which are free range, have been culled, but around 11 million turkeys are produced in the UK every year, meaning that there will still be a good supply of Christmas turkeys.”

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  • 17 часов, 58 минут назад 04.12.2022Science
    Sunak bombarded as furious scientists lash out over ‘devastating’ UK energy source

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been bombarded with complaints from over 600 furious scientists who have raised the alarm over the UK’s “disturbing” energy source which is reportedly having “devastating” environmental impacts. Experts are incredibly concerned over the UK’s use of biomass, which involves chopping down trees and burning them to generate electricity. Scientific experts have written a letter to Mr Sunak urging him to ditch the controversial energy source, which tends to divide scientific opinion.

    The Biomass UK Renewable Energy Association argues that it is a green energy source because plants and trees are continually grown for a variety of purposes. While these these processes often create residues that aren’t needed, such residues “can be used as a low-carbon, renewable alternative to displace fossil fuels. We can also use purpose-grown crops”.

    But hundreds of experts have warned that the controversial energy sources is destroying the “lungs of the earth” and is hamstringing the fight against climate change.

    Its opponents have also warned that bioenergy is a “growing threat to biodiversity” because of the amount of trees and habitats that get destroyed in the process of producing the energy.

    Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Kew Gardens’ director of science and one of the leading authors of the letter, told Sky News: “It is simply not environmentally sustainable.

    “Sustainability means you can do something forever… and because we are losing forests that have been growing for many decades, if not centuries, we are not allowing nature to recover to the level it needs to recover the biodiversity.”

    He added that forests contain important features like mosses, which can slow flooding, and pollinating insects and birds and can absorb more carbon dioxide.

    The signatories are calling for the Prime Minister to abandon the energy source altogether, and are desperate for the other major economies like the US and China to do the same.

    This comes just a week in advance of COP15 in Montreal, in which negotiators will meet to discuss how to put an end to the loss of nature that provides food, medicine, income and pollination across the globe.

    But the group of 600 scientists are concerned that the talks may fall flat unless businesses stop destroying forests for bioenergy. It comes after the industry received a major boost in recent years as the UK scrambles to replace coal, the most polluting fossil fuel.

    This also comes after the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which advises the Government on climate, called for bioenergy to have a limited role in Britain. Last year, the energy source accounted for nearly 13 percent of the country’s electricity.

    In the CCC’s report to Parliament in July 2021, it said that Britain needed to deliver a Biomass Strategy that is “aligned to the UK’s path to Net Zero, and which reflects recommendations on governance, monitoring and best-use from the Committee’s 2018 Biomass report and 2020 Land Use report.”

    The 2018 report said that while the UK should aim to increase the volume of carbon stored in our forests and land, biomass should still be used but only in the most effective way. It also warned that rules governing the supply of sustainable sources of biomass for energy must be improved.

    Prof Antonelli said: “We have to do everything we can to reverse the loss of biodiversity worldwide…The climate and biodiversity crises are strongly intertwined, and we need to find solutions for both of them.”

    He also noted that while the green transition is a huge challenge, “we don’t think burning down forests… is the right solution.” Prof Antonelli added: “The signatories want governments to replace it with wind or solar power instead.”

    But this is not the first time that the alarm has been raised over the so-called green energy source. Last December, a group of 50 MPs said that burning wood for energy was a complete “scandal”.

    Organised by Sir Peter Bottomley MP, the letter calls for a meeting with the then Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to discuss ending subsidies to the Drax power plant in Yorkshire. The plant supplies around 12 percent of the UK’s renewable electricity, making it Europe’s largest wood-burning power station.

    The letter read: “The sacrifices constituents are being asked to make to reach net zero are huge. Neither they nor we can understand why it was decided to give Drax £4billion of subsidies from electricity bills to create even more carbon dioxide. This scandal demands an immediate response.”

    A Government spokesperson said Britain “only supports biomass which complies with our strict sustainability criteria”. They added: “Many biomass feedstocks are likely to be combusted or decomposed anyway, so it is more efficient to use that material as an energy source and displace expensive, volatile fossil fuels in the process.”

    Neither they nor we can understand why it was decided to give Drax £4 billion of subsidies from electricity bills to create even more carbon dioxide. This scandal demands an immediate response

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Science More than 20,000 excess deaths were recorded in Western Europe during the summer's heatwaves