EU heads for climate and trade talks with China

The European Commission’s biggest-ever delegation to China heads for Beijing this week, hoping to progress from words to action on China’s soaring greenhouse gas emissions and its tense trade ties with Europe.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will have to tread a careful line because he also intends to raise the handling of pro-independence unrest in Tibet and human rights in general in China in the meetings with the country’s leadership. “We want to get into more concrete action with China,” a European Union official said ahead of the April 24-25 visit by Barroso and nine commissioners which Brussels hopes will prove the start of a new, more fruitful phase in EU-China ties.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – New York Times

“It’s not unusual for people to say they don’t want it,” said Mr. Simpson, the “it” referring to whatever tree the city has resolved to plant in a swatch of sidewalk or other public space. Mr. Simpson is privy to some of those objections because he works for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, one of 40 or so foresters helping to execute Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s million-tree initiative, a plan the mayor announced (one year ago this week) to blitz the city’s five boroughs with a million trees by the year 2017.

Sometimes the residents or homeowners are worried about their allergies (though the trees are intended to help alleviate asthma and allergy rates citywide); sometimes they’re worried that a branch will fall on their car (a call to 311 will procure a free pruning). Sometimes they’re worried about the extensive construction required to plant a tree in a patch of concrete.

Read more at the SOURCE: New York Times – For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – .

Urban forest grows in Soweto

The target is to plant 200 000 trees in dry and dusty Soweto by the end of the year. Already well on the way, City Parks has a number of tree-planting projects on the go.

WITH thousands more trees being planted in the dusty, denuded areas of Soweto, this area may reach its urban forest status sooner than expected.

The next big tree planting event planned by Johannesburg City Parks is on 22 April, when the world celebrates International Earth Day. Some 15 000 trees will be planted by the utility in Bram Fischerville and Meadowlands as part of the City’s drive to green Soweto and other marginalised areas.

City Parks has a target of planting 200 000 trees by the end of this year, says Jenny Moodley, its marketing and communications manager. With the Earth Day project and the 24-hour extreme park make-over planned in May for Diepkloof, the tally of trees planted since 2006 will grow to over 78 000.

Source: city of johannesburg – Urban forest grows in Soweto.

CABE – Designing streets for people – not traffic

Most streets in this country are failing pedestrians, and need to become destinations again, and not simply ways of getting traffic from A to B.

Radical new thinking in urban street design may point the way forward. Civilised streets, a new report from CABE, sets out the opportunities and challenges of new design approaches. It argues that the car still dominates and our streets will only become more civilised places if the needs of pedestrians are prioritised over cars.

CABE argues that streets which are designed to give all users more freedom of movement are ultimately slower, safer and more social places. These civilised streets are places where people of all ages can walk, cycle, play, talk and shop more easily. Civilised streets explores the contentious concept of shared space, which advocates removing signs and guard rails, obliging drivers and pedestrians to become more alert to each other, which in turn leads to more responsible driving.

Shared space is one way of rescuing our streets from the car. Director of CABE Space, Sarah Gaventa, highlights New Road in Brighton as one example of how redesigning a street can reinvent it. If the country is to get more streets of such quality, local authorities, highway engineers and planners must both understand and consider shared spaces as a means of delivering more civilised streets.

Go to CABE.org.uk now to download the series of publications

Source: CABE – Designing streets for people – not traffic | News | .

BWTC spins turbines for the first time

The Atkins designed Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC) made history last week as the turbines on this pioneering project turned together for the first time.

The three 29m-diameter turbine blades on Bahrain’s iconic landmark are the first in the world to be integrated on such a scale into a commercial development and are forecast to provide the equivalent of 11-15% of the power for the two towers when fully operational.

The successful rotation of the blades involved collaboration between Atkins architects and engineers and turbine specialists Norwin, who were in Bahrain for the milestone event.

“Having all three turbines spinning simultaneously represents an historic achievement for this landmark project and Atkins is excited to have been a major player in turning the original idea into reality” says Simha LytheRao Senior Project Manager for Atkins in Bahrain.

Source: Atkins Press Release  

You can watch a video of the turbines here

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