Tuesday, 4 August 2009

S.Korea says to set 2020 emissions target

Reuters, Tuesday August 4 2009
SEOUL, Aug 4 (Reuters) - South Korea, Asia's fourth largest economy, has pledged to set one of three targets for carbon emissions by 2020, voluntarily joining Kyoto signatories in moving toward a firm commitment to roll back climate change.
The government said on Tuesday it would choose a 2020 gas emission target this year from three options: an 8 percent increase from 2005 levels by 2020, unchanged from 2005, or 4 percent below 2005 levels.
The government estimated each target to cost between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of GDP and will curb emissions by increased use of hybrid cars, renewable and nuclear energy consumption, energy efficiency with LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and smart grids. (Reporting by Cho Meeyoung; Editing by David Fogarty)

California must prepare for climate change, official report warns

Communities should rethink development, reinforce levees and conserve water, says the California Natural Resources Agency
Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 August 2009 11.18 BST

Even if the world is successful in cutting carbon emissions in the future, California needs to start preparing for rising sea levels, hotter weather and other effects of climate change, a new state report recommends.
It encourages local communities to rethink future development in low-lying coastal areas, reinforce levees that protect flood-prone areas and conserve already strapped water supplies in the most populous US state.
"We still have to adapt, no matter what we do, because of the nature of the greenhouse gases," said Tony Brunello, deputy secretary for climate change and energy at the California Natural Resources Agency, who helped prepare the report. "Those gases are still going to be in the atmosphere for the next 100 years."
The draft report to be released today by the agency provides the state's first comprehensive plan to work with local governments, universities and residents to deal with a changing climate. A final plan is expected to be released in the autumn.
The report was compiled after the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed agencies in November to devise a state climate strategy. It comes three years after the Republican governor signed California's landmark global warming law requiring the state to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Most countries have focused on cutting greenhouse gases in the future, but researchers say those efforts will take decades to have an effect while the planet continues to warm. States have only recently begun to consider what steps they must take to minimise the damage expected from sea level rise, storm surges, droughts and water shortages because of the climate changes.
Over the last century in California, the sea level has risen by 7 in, average temperatures have increased, spring snowmelt occurs earlier in the year, and there are hotter days and fewer cold nights.
The report warns that rising temperatures over the next few decades will lead to more heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and floods.
"We have to deal with those unavoidable impacts," said Suzanne Moser, a research associate at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "We can't pretend they are not going to happen and we have to prepare for that."
To minimise the potential damage from climate change, the report recommends that cities and counties offer incentives to encourage property owners in high-risk areas to relocate and limit future development in places that might be affected by flooding, coastal erosion and sea level rise. State agencies also should not plan, permit, develop or build any structure that might require protection in the future.
The report suggests the state partner with local governments and private landowners to create large reserves that protect wildlife threatened by warmer weather. Similarly, wetlands and fish corridors should be established to protect salmon and other fragile fish. Farmers should be encouraged to be more efficient when watering crops, and investments should be made to improve crop resistance to hotter temperatures, the report adds.
In June, the Obama administration published a major scientific report on the long-term impacts that climate change would have on the US, including temperatures so high they would cause withering in the vineyards of California.

Miliband delivers message to forest tribes deep in the Amazon

Energy minister to meet Brazil's environmentalists, policy makers and people on the frontline of deforestation
Tom Phillips in Pavuru, Xingu National Park
guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 August 2009 13.01 BST
Halting deforestation is essential to preventing dangerous global warming, the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has told indigenous tribesmen and women on a visit to the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
Cutting down trees causes 17% of global carbon emissions — more than global transport — and much of it happens in the Amazon. But mechanisms by which rich nations can persuade forested nations that the trees are worth more standing than felled have been problematic, with issues of land ownership, the role of indigenous people and corruption hindering progress.
"We can only get an agreement on climate change if it involves Brazil and it involves forestry," Miliband said during a boat trip on the Xingu river near the remote indigenous community of Pavuru.
The world's governments will gather in Copenhagen in December to agree a global treaty on fighting global warming, with deforestation very high on the agenda. "There is no solution to the question of climate change without forestry," he added.
During the five-day diplomatic offensive Miliband will meet environmentalists, policy makers and scientists as well as the people on the frontline of Brazil's battle against climate change – Brazil's indigenous communities, cattle ranchers and soy farmers.
Yesterday afternoon he touched down in the Xingu National Park — a sprawling indigenous reserve home to 5,000 Indians from 14 different ethnic groups — to discuss the perils of climate change and deforestation with those who inhabit the world's greatest tropical rainforest .
Addressing the Indians in a straw-roofed auditorium in Pavuru, Miliband said:
"We recognise the very important steps that you are taking to protect the environment against illegal activities and other threats against the forest and we are very grateful to you. But we know there is more that we can do to help you manage the forest in a sustainable way."
Tribesmen and women had travelled from across the 2.8m hectare Xingu National Park to reach this tiny village at the heart of the reserve. "They told us the minister wanted to talk to us about deforestation, about water," said Tom Aweti, 48, the leader of the Aweti people who had travelled several hours by boat to reach the meeting. "We will listen."
But the Indians also came to be heard; from the early hours of Sunday dozens of boats carrying tribal leaders and their families began mooring on Pavuru's small beach. Others came onboard a single motor aeroplane.
"The white man is invading our land," Chief Tinini, from the Xingu's Juruna village, told Miliband, holding a tribal spear in his right hand. "Many fish are dying," he added, blaming the construction of hydroelectric plants in the Xingu region. "Our children will starve."
Napiku Ikpeng, 33, from Pavuru's indigenous association, said he was concerned government infrastructure plans, involving roads and hydroelectric plants, would harm his peoples' way of life. "We aren't against economic growth… but this growth has to respect the Indians who live in this place," he said.
Speaking to the Guardian after the meeting Miliband said he had been shocked "seeing the actual logs piled up and the illegal roads that have been built" during a flight over the Amazon rainforest.
"The Amazon forest is such a beautiful place when it is untouched and then you see these scars on the landscape of the deforestation, bigger and bigger scars," he said.
"Brazil is up for a deal we just need proper ambition from developed countries, the right financial architecture in place," he added.

Scottish climate activists to target coal industry

Protesters accuse Salmond's Scottish National party government of hypocrisy for supporting new open-cast mines and coal-fired power station
Severin Carrell Scotland correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 August 2009 17.34 BST

Climate activists who today occupied a new open-cast coal mine in south-west Scotland are planning to target power stations, energy companies and mines across the country, in protest against the energy policies of the first minister, Alex Salmond.
The protesters accuse Salmond's Scottish National party government – which claims Scotland has the world's toughest climate change policies – of hypocrisy for supporting new open-cast mines and a new coal-fired power station planned for Hunterston in Ayrshire.
Several hundred protesters are expected to converge on a "climate camp" at Mainshill near the village of Douglas in South Lanarkshire, an area already dominated by large open-cast mines, despite a court order prohibiting their occupation.
Activists at the Mainshill solidarity camp – which was officially opened today – have erected more than a dozen "tree houses" and platforms, dug tunnels and built teepees in a large conifer forest, which is due to be cleared for the new mine.
Environment activists have been protesting at the site since it was approved in June and have already had confrontations with police and the landowner, the Earl of Home, son of the Conservative prime minister Alec Douglas-Home.
But today there was no sign of any police or security guards. Instead, the protesters were building compost toilets, showers, temporary offices and barricades, and preparing for the police to attempt an eviction.
Activists have also identified Longannet power station, further mines, Scottish Coal and Scottish Power's headquarters and coal terminals on the Clyde and Firth of Forth for future protests.
Scottish Coal, now the UK's largest open-cast coal mine operator, was given permission to extract 1.7m tonnes of coal at Mainshill over the next three and a half years. About 700 villagers in nearby Douglas and Glespin objected to the proposal, but their complaints were rejected by South Lanarkshire council.
Scottish Coal already operates three other mines in the immediate area, and has recently won permission to extend many of them.
At Glentaggart, the company is allowed to mine 200,000 tonnes a year: the site has one of the Europe's longest conveyor belts. At 6.5km long, Scottish Coal says it reduced lorry traffic by 30,000 journeys a year.
At a site known as Poniel/Long Plantation, it can mine 570,000 tonnes ,
and 4m tonnes from Broken Cross open-cast mine, several miles to the north-east.
The protesters say these mines undermine the Scottish government's targets to cut CO2 emissions by 42% by 2020 – a legally binding target that ministers claim is the strictest of any industrialised nation.
Scotland already has 32% of its domestic electricity needs met by wind power, and claims it will surpass 50% by 2020. Ministers have also matched the UK government's goal of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050.
However, Salmond, Scotland's first minister, also supports plans for a new coal-fired power station near to Hunterston nuclear power station and has supported reopening Longannet coal mine in Fife.
He insists that carbon capture and storage – where CO2 emissions from power stations are pumped under the North Sea – will absorb the extra greenhouse gas emissions. He has described coal as "a fuel of the future."
A Scottish government spokesman said: "We are working to develop clean coal and carbon capture technology and, alongside a massive increase in renewables, coal still has a place as part of a balanced energy policy for Scotland."
Rob Banks, a spokesman for Mainshill climate camp, said carbon capture is still an unproven, experimental technology and could take up to a decade to be installed in power stations. It could also be used to help extract North Sea oil and gas – negating its use in reducing CO2 emissions from power stations.
"We don't have any faith at all that that 42% climate change target will be maintained," he said. "Road expansion is continuing unabated, they're extending various airports and expanding open-cast mines. That doesn't indicate they're taking this seriously."
Many locals supported the protesters, said Harry Thompson, who chairs Douglas community council, and wanted the open-cast mines to be dramatically scaled back. Salmond's stance on open-cast mining "makes a complete mockery" of his climate policies and Scottish planning law.
"We realise the coal is there and we realise they're going to take it, but we want it done one at a time, in a manner that would be safer and healthier for the community," he said.
A Scottish Coal spokesman said coal was a significant resource, and essential for the UK's energy supplies. The firm also supported carbon capture and storage. "Scottish Coal remains committed to maximising the use of indigenous coal, to support Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy, and reduce the need to import coal from foreign sources, which carried greater environmental costs," he said.

Will a warmer world make us sicker?

Scientists are piecing together how climate impacts disease, strange patterns are emerging: mosquito outbreaks can follow drought, shorter migrations can make butterflies sick, and more birds (not fewer) can ward off West Nile virus. From Conservation magazine, part of the Guardian Environment Network
3 August 2009 12.15 BST

The spread of malarial regions is a real threat because of climate change
In the late 1990s, a set of alarming maps created a stir in the scientific community. Based on predictions by a team of Dutch and Australian researchers and initially published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the maps charted how global warming could increase the risk of malaria in seemingly unlikely locales: northern countries such as Poland, the Netherlands, and Russia.
Over the next several years, versions of the maps continued to appear in journals and at scientific meetings as researchers raised the disquieting possibility that climate change could trigger an expansion of disease. An article in Scientific American reprinted one iteration of the maps and declared that "by the end of the 21st century, ongoing warming will have enlarged the zone of potential malaria transmission from an area containing 45 percent of the world's population to an area containing about 60 percent." Statements like these added to the popular perception that a warmer world will automatically be a sicker one.
But what if this isn't true, or is only partially true? Kevin Lafferty, an ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, is among a handful of scientists now raising these questions and rethinking conventional wisdom. Lafferty recently published a controversial article in the journal Ecology suggesting that, while climate change may shift the ranges of certain diseases, it won't necessarily increase the total amount of territory they affect. (1) And Sarah Randolph, a parasite ecologist at the University of Oxford, has reviewed recent disease outbreaks—some of which have been attributed to global warming—and concluded that human actions and other factors may have played a larger role than climate.
Lafferty's and Randolph's opinions have stirred intense debate. While there are credible arguments on both sides, the overriding point is that some scientists are beginning to see the ecology of disease as far too complicated to support simple declarations about the impact of global warming. It turns out that disease ecology is made up of a multitude of moving parts, ranging from precipitation patterns to animal migrations, that constantly shift and adjust in relation to each other. And when climate changes, the end result may be an increase in disease—or not.
Nature vs. Nurture
When tick-borne encephalitis spread throughout the Baltics, was the culprit climate change or the fall of the Soviet Union?
Sarah Randolph has spent more than 30 years studying vector-borne diseases (diseases transmitted to hosts by insects and other animals). She's also a maverick who has devoted the latest chapter in her career to digging beneath what she calls "seductive mindsets." As she wrote in a response to Lafferty's Ecology article, one of these mindsets is that recent disease outbreaks are caused by climate change, "adding fuel to the fire of predicted impending doom." (2)
Take tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), a nasty viral disease that can cause inflammation of the brain. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, a rise in temperature appeared to correspond with a TBE surge in several European countries, where thousands of people were stricken with headaches, fever, and other unpleasant symptoms. In Sweden, some scientists suggested that warming had triggered the rise in TBE cases and that future climate change would exacerbate the scourge.
Randolph decided to conduct her own investigation. In a 2007 study, her team examined county-level TBE trends in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; they found patterns that couldn't be explained solely by climate. While temperatures rose in 1989 across the Baltics, TBE cases in individual counties began spiking anytime between 1990 and 1998.
To investigate further, Randolph's team studied the region's social and economic history. After the Baltics broke from Soviet rule in the early 1990s, unemployment rates—and poverty—surged. Poorer people were less likely to be vaccinated, the researchers found, and more likely to forage for food in tick-filled forests. This suggested to Randolph that, contrary to popular assumptions, the disease surge probably had far more to do with human actions than planetary changes.
The TBE case isn't unique. "In the last two decades," Randolph argues, "there's practically no examples where a vector-borne disease can be pinned on climate change."
Of course, Randolph is only one player in a contentious debate, and other scientists say they have found links between climate and diseases such as malaria, dengue, and cholera. Just because disease is influenced by a myriad of factors doesn't mean we should ignore climate, warns Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "To me, that's kind of like saying because we know that obesity is also a risk factor for heart disease, we don't need to worry about smoking," he says.
Dry and High
Why did mosquito populations surge after drought dried up their habitat?
As researchers piece together the disease puzzle, some of the most complicated variables revolve around the mosquito. Notorious for transmitting malaria, West Nile virus, and other pathogens, mosquitos are expected to develop faster at higher temperatures, raising concerns that global warming could spur disease outbreaks. But as researchers like Jonathan Chase unravel how mosquitos respond to key climate conditions, they're reaching surprising new conclusions.
An ecologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Chase didn't set out to discover anything about mosquitos. He wanted to know how droughts affected biodiversity, so his team built artificial wetlands by filling outdoor tanks with dirt and water. To simulate different wetland drying patterns, they left some tanks full year-round, while others were drained annually. A third type of tank was drained only once in three years, mimicking wetlands that generally retain water but go dry during a drought.
You might think periodic droughts would diminish mosquito populations by drying up habitat. But the number of mosquitos in the third group of tanks skyrocketed to more than 20 times the amount in the other tanks.
Chase thought back to figure out what might have happened. He knew that, since those tanks usually held water, they housed mosquito predators and competitors that were poorly suited to dry conditions. When the "drought" killed many of them off, mosquitos likely seized the opportunity to multiply. With their fast breeding times, Chase reasoned, mosquitos could quickly recolonize the area before their predators rebounded, resulting in the population boom.
To see whether the idea held up in nature, Chase turned to data from a survey of Pennsylvania wetlands. Sure enough, ponds that dried out only during a drought showed a spike in mosquito larvae the following year. The results confirmed what Chase had suspected—the drought had opened a "giant habitat for a small window of time," he says, allowing mosquitos to flourish.
Chase's team took the research a step further to see how this might affect the spread of disease. They analyzed data on human West Nile virus cases in the United States between 2002 and 2004, comparing the trends to changes in precipitation. In the western United States, the number of cases increased after dry years, as expected. But in the eastern part of the country, the pattern was the opposite: outbreaks happened after rainy years.
The variation might arise from a difference in mosquito species, says Chase. Mosquitos that spread the virus in the western United States tend to dwell in wetlands and thus would benefit if a drought wiped out fellow inhabitants. But mosquito species on the other side of the country prefer to breed in puddles and water-filled containers, so they could take advantage of higher rainfall.
Chase's mosquito findings illustrate how much scientists still have to learn before they can accurately forecast the effects of climate change on disease. "You have these simple notions that one factor will work in one way," says Andrew Read, an infectious-disease researcher at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in Chase's work. "But in the context of community ecology and food chains, anything can happen."
Canceled Flights
Do long migrations keep butterflies healthy?
It has long been feared that climate change will enable disease to run rampant through animal populations. A warming world could alter the borders of suitable habitats, leading migratory species to new territory and exposing them to diseases they haven't encountered before. But scientists are only beginning to get their arms around the mechanisms that might allow disease to weaken some populations while others emerge unscathed.
Karen Oberhauser, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota, has been pursuing answers to questions about how climate change might affect the monarch butterfly. Today, eastern North American monarchs can log up to 5,200 kilometers on their annual trips to forests in Mexico.But in a 2003 study, Oberhauser found that global warming might make these forests too wet for monarchs. Instead of flying to Mexico, she says, the butterflies might take a shorter migration route to the Gulf Coast of the United States.
On the face of it, shorter migration flights might not seem alarming. But Sonia Altizer, a former student of Oberhauser's who is now at the University of Georgia, has been finding surprisingly strong links between the length of monarch migrations and the prevalence of disease.Altizer examined nearly 15,000 monarchs to determine which were infected with the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, which can cause wing deformities and shorten life spans. Among monarchs that travel long routes to Mexico, less than 8 percent of the butterflies were heavily infected. But for western North American monarchs that take shorter flights to California, the numbers went up to about one-third. And in a Florida population that didn't migrate at all, more than 70 percent were stricken.
Altizer's team speculated that migration might weed out infected butterflies, which wouldn't survive strenuous trips. To investigate, they attached monarchs to the end of a butterfly "treadmill"—a horizontal rod that could spin around a pivot—and let them fly in circles. The researchers found that infected butterflies stopped an average of 14 percent sooner and traveled 10 percent slower than uninfected butterflies. If monarchs start wintering in Texas instead of Mexico, the population might accumulate more diseased butterflies, says Altizer.
Shorter or stalled migrations might pose a threat to other migratory species as well. For instance, reindeer and fall armyworm moths may also shake off parasites through seasonal migrations, either by ridding themselves of sick individuals or leaving contaminated sites. Climate change could even create year-round habitat that encourages migratory species to stay put, Altizer says, strengthening the foothold of infectious diseases.
Parasites Lost and Found
Why do warmer Arctic summers give musk oxen nosebleeds?
As climate and animal movements are changing, so are the organisms that play a key role in disease ecology: parasites. Often carried by insects or other animals to their hosts, parasites are the infectious agents behind many human and wildlife diseases. And as climate change begins to alter the life cycles and biodiversity of these organisms, scientists say, it could have a powerful impact on disease patterns.
Susan Kutz, a wildlife parasitologist at the University of Calgary, began studying one Arctic parasitic worm in 1994. The worm penetrates the feet of slugs, using them as a growth chamber until the slugs are eaten by musk oxen. The worms then take up residence inside the musk oxen's lungs, causing nosebleeds, weakening the animals, and making them vulnerable to predators such as grizzly bears.
To investigate how climate change might affect the parasite's life cycle, Kutz spent two summers on the Arctic tundra, tracking the worm's growth. She calculated that a couple of decades ago, the tundra would have been too cold for the worm to develop in one summer. But around 1990, rising temperatures probably allowed the parasite to grow faster, shortening its development time from two years to one.
This finding suggests that small changes in temperature can trigger large jumps in parasite life cycles, says Kutz. Since the faster growth rate would have allowed more worms to survive to maturity and infect the musk oxen, she speculates, it might explain why musk oxen numbers declined in a 1994 survey—although there aren't enough data to say for sure.
The parasite equation is complicated by the fact that, in addition to allowing some parasites to develop faster, climate change could drive others to extinction. Those that can't handle warmer conditions might try to find new hosts to the north or let existing hosts carry them to cooler regions, Kutz suggests. Once they reach new habitat, they will face competition from other parasite species. If they can't win the struggle for animal hosts, she says, they may run out of places to go.
Parasites could also be in trouble if their hosts become endangered or extinct, the USGS's Kevin Lafferty says. Biodiversity is expected to decline with climate change, and the disappearance of one animal species could threaten multiple parasite species. "Listen, you don't want to be a parasite of a polar bear or a penguin," he says.
As outlined in a recent article in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, one possibility is that the disappearance of certain parasites could simply allow remaining parasites to spread. And parasites that lose mammal hosts to extinction might just switch to a different host species—possibly humans. (3)
But Lafferty cautions that it's far too early to leap into crisis mode. Instead of adding to the slew of doom-and-gloom climate predictions, he believes it's first necessary to withhold judgment and construct a more-complete portrait of disease ecology. It's a daunting task, but it's also within reach. Ecologists already have the tools to study intricate systems, Lafferty suggests, and that could allow them to disentangle the contributions of various factors, including climate, to disease. Until this happens, predictions of climate-driven disease spread are likely to be insufficient and incomplete. "The outcome is important enough," Lafferty says, "that we should get it right."
Strength in Numbers
Can biodiversity thwart the spread of disease?
Some scientists are starting to believe biodiversity could act as a powerful repellent to infectious disease. "Biodiversity gives insects a choice of what to bite," says Andy Dobson, an infectious disease ecologist at Princeton University. In other words: If there's a large number of species to choose from, a disease-carrying bug could miss its target and bite a species that isn't susceptible.
Some recent studies have affirmed this. A team led by Brian Allan at Washington University in St. Louis found that West Nile virus infection was more common in areas with low bird diversity, areas which also tend to harbor the species most likely to transmit the virus. In another study, researchers removed small mammals from plots in Panama and observed higher hantavirus infection rates among remaining host species.But the disease buffer could vary depending on which species are lost or gained. In some low-diversity communities, animals that transmit a particular disease may have already dropped out, says Peter Hudson, an ecologist at Pennsylvania State University. Alternatively, the presence of certain species could help spread the disease.
If some species are a particularly good disease buffer, it could be tempting to try to add more of them to ecosystems. But that's probably infeasible, says Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Opossums are known to reduce Lyme disease risk, he says, "but are we going to go out and air-drop opossums into suburban neighborhoods? I don't think so."
• Roberta Kwok is a freelance writer based in Foster City, California.
From Conservation magazine, part of the Guardian Environment Network
1. Lafferty, K.D. 2009. The ecology of climate change and infectious diseases. Ecology 90(4):888–900.
2. Randolph, S.E. 2009. Perspectives on climate change impacts on infectious diseases. Ecology 90(4):927–931.
3. Dunn, R.R. et al. 2009. The sixth mass coextinction: Are most endangered species parasites and mutualists? Proceedings of the Royal Society B DOI:10.1098/rspb.2009.0413.
Further Reading:Pascual, M. and M.J. Bouma. 2009. Do rising temperatures matter? Ecology 90(4):906–912.
Ostfeld, R.S. 2009. Climate change and the distribution and intensity of infectious diseases. Ecology 90(4):903–905.

Vestas protesters glue themselves together outside Miliband's offices

Activists block entrance to energy department in fight to stop closure of wind turbine plant
Rachel Williams
guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 August 2009 16.32 BST
Protesters fighting the closure of the Vestas wind turbine plant glued themselves together this morning to block the entrance to the London offices of the energy secretary, Ed Miliband.
The group of seven activists spent two hours stuck together in a chain outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall, forcing workers to use a back door.
They were eventually removed by a paramedic and arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass, according to the group Workers' Climate Action, which is calling for the Vestas plant to be nationalised.
Miliband is currently in Brazil. "The DECC asked us why we were doing it when he wasn't in the country," Sophie Lewis, a spokeswoman, said. "Our response was that he should be in the country."
The action came a day before the Vestas management goes to court on the Isle of Wight seeking an injunction to evict workers who have been barricaded in offices at its Newport plant for over two weeks. It came amid further claims that the company is trying to "starve out" the men.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union made a formal complaint to the police at the weekend about the actions of private security guards employed by Vestas after taking legal advice about the treatment of the workers.
The union said it had reached a deal allowing it to send food in according to the requests of the men, but that after one such delivery, on Saturday, Vestas said the agreement had been a "goodwill gesture" only and the company would continue to supply food instead.
An RMT spokesman said the union was considering taking out an injunction against the company, the security firm or both.
Officials said they were concerned about the health implications of the lack of food.Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: "It's disgusting that Vestas are trying to starve the workers out, and we are calling on the police to take urgent action against their private security company to stop this outrageous affront to basic human rights.
"We will fight with every tool available to get food in to the workers on the inside whose only crime is to fight for their livelihoods and the future of green energy."
Vestas denied it was trying to starve the men out and said those inside had never complained to the company about the matter.
A company spokesman, Peter Kruse, said he did not know whether the claim about the RMT providing food was correct, but added: "The people are being catered for, and I guess that's what matters most."
The factory had been due to shut last Friday with the loss of hundreds of jobs, but the company delayed the closure after the occupation.
Climate change activists, trade unionists and workers have joined forces to camp outside the plant, and more campaigners are expected to travel to the island in preparation for tomorrow's court hearing.
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, urged the Danish owners of the factory to rethink the decision to close it.
"Business, unions and government must get around the table and make every effort to secure a future for wind turbine manufacturing in the UK," he said.
"Ed Miliband has proved himself to be a champion of the green agenda and the drive to create new jobs.
"Now we are asking him to go the extra mile for the 600 workers and the production facility – the only one of its size in Britain – which is vital to building our low-carbon future. Everything must be done to look for positive alternatives."

Ofgem plans 'smart grid cities' as it gears up to go green

Regulator cites plans to provide infrastructure for renewable micro-generation
Tim Webb
guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 August 2009 20.31 BST

Britain will create up to four "smart grid cities" after the energy regulator set aside £500m from customers' utility bills to start rewiring the nation's electricity system.
Ofgem wants companies to choose several towns or cities where it will pay for households to have smart energy technologies installed to monitor how it works on a large scale.
The idea is to start an overhaul of the ageing electricity grid, which is centralised and depends on large fossil fuel powered plants, and make it more localised using more renewable forms of generation.
Mini "smart grids" will be built that will be able to handle more unpredictable large volumes of power from intermittent wind farms. The grids will also make it easier for households that have their own micro-generation – such as solar panels on their roofs – to supply electricity back to the grid. Smart meters will be fitted in homes, which are better able to manage demand unpredictable supply peaks from renewable forms of generation, such as wind and solar power.
Steve Smith, Ofgem's managing director of markets, told the Guardian that the model would be the US town of Boulder, Colorado, dubbed the world's first "smart grid city".
Companies could combine with other government schemes, such as those trialling electric cars, he said. Electric cars are helping to drive the roll-out of smart grids as they are generally charged at night. This means electric car batteries act as storage for otherwise unused renewable generation because wind farms continue to generate at night, when most other forms of demand is low.
Philip Wolfe, director general of the Renewable Energy Association, welcomed the £500m scheme. "This is encouraging news. The electricity network has been designed for a centralised energy approach for a few large scale power stations dotted around the country feeding out towards users somewhere down the line in a dumb grid.
"It will be a substantial task to rewire it. With the new feed-in tariffs coming in next year, it will dynamite the market for microgeneration. But it's important to have the infrastructure for it."
The £500m funding for the UK scheme will be spread over five years. Power companies also welcomed the cash.
Ofgem announced the plan as part of its five year review of distribution charges that electricity suppliers must pay to use the network. Ofgem said annual bills would go up by £4 each to pay for the £6.5bn in total it says companies need to invest.
Ofgem now has a remit to protect consumers, no longer just by keeping bills down, but also by cutting carbon emissions.

Clipper Windpower

Clipper Windpower rose 24p to 107½p after the wind turbine manufacturer said that, while the US market remained depressed because of project financing difficulties, it was beginning to see interest for its products increase as funding became available. The group said it could benefit from green energy programmes initiated by the US Government.

Eco gadgets for the home

Sarah Lonsdale tests some of the latest energy-saving gadgets for the home.

By Sarah LonsdalePublished: 8:01AM BST 03 Aug 2009
Last month's announcement by the Government, that households will need to install a range of green energy measures if they are to avoid a sharp rises in fuel bills, has got us all looking at new ways of saving energy. Loft insulation and cavity wall insulation will help, but we'll also need to look at further efficiency savings. Recent advances and inventions mean that even small changes – such as switching shower heads or changing the toaster – can net significant savings in emissions and your fuel bill.

1) Wattson power monitor
Claims: ''Without any hassle you will reduce your electricity bill and cut back wastage.''
Was it easy to use? Very. Just clip the small meter to your electricity input cable and it sends energy use information to the Wattson unit. Watch as background use surges from £120 a year (fridge, freezer, digital clock radio and one laptop) to £8,700 a year as the electric shower is switched on.
Does it work? It certainly makes you more aware of energy use, and will alert you to any extra lights left on that push background use up. As it gives usage in Watts and pounds (based on average electricity prices of 13p per kW/h), it is helpful in comparing costs of gadgets.
Any downsides? After a while, it is easy to ignore.
Cost: £99.95; www.ecosensations.co.uk
2) Eco Toaster
Claims: ''Uses 34 per cent less energy so you can enjoy your breakfast without eating up valuable resources.''
Was it easy to use? Just plug in the socket. A smooth downward action is accompanied by a top closing device: this is the key to its energy saving as it retains heat.
Does it work? Although it uses the same amount of electricity to cook toast as my beaten up old Dualit I've had for 20 years, the toasting time is considerably shorter, thanks to the heat-saving lid mechanism. On average, the old toaster took 3½ minutes to cook my toast; the new one just 90 seconds. On average the new toaster saves us about 70-80 minutes of toasting time a week, which over the year saves us about 60 hours. Our Wattson tells us if the toaster was on permanently all year round it would cost us £1,400; this device saves us nearly £10 a year.
Any downsides? It doesn't have a spring-up mechanism for stuck slices, so burned fingers are more common, however its wide slots reduce the risk of toast getting caught in the first place.
Cost: £34.99; www.nigelsecostore.com
3) Roberts Solar-powered digital radio
Claims: ''This stylish and compact portable radio has a solar panel integrated into the top of the unit which absorbs direct sunlight in order to power the radio.''
Was it easy to use? Simply charge it up on a sunny windowsill and listen to Test Match Special powered by the sun's energy.
Does it work? Absolutely. No need to be tied to a plug; I can even take it anywhere. Because we are radio junkies in our household, we have the radio on at least 12 hours a day. We save the £25 a year it would cost to run a digital radio for this amount of time.
Any downsides? During the dark days of January, it gives us significantly less listening time and has to be backed up by our old wind-up radio.
Cost: £79.99; www.robertsradio.co.uk
4) Siemens fridge freezer
Claims: ''One of the most energy-efficient fridge freezers in the world.''
Was it easy to use? It slotted into our old fridge's place without us having to even change a plug.
Does it work? Some ultra-efficient fridges these days cost as little as £14 a year to run, compared to our old fridge, which cost about £55 a year. The most efficient models however are the Smeg retro range, which are out of our budget (£950–£1,450). Our new Siemens is cheaper to buy, but more expensive to run than the ultra-efficient models, coming in at £25 a year. This still, however, represents a £30 annual saving from our old fridge, plus, no more need for a separate chest freezer, saving a further £15 a year.
Any downsides? The white, functional Siemens is not as attractive as the pastel-coloured, retro Smeg, but we couldn't justify an extra £250–£500 for a fridge.
Cost: £749; www.johnlewis.com
5) EcoCamel shower head
Claims: ''A household can save £140 off their annual energy bill… if metered, will save £250 off the annual water bill. Over a year, the ecocamel showerhead can save a family of four the cost of heating nearly 30,000 litres.''
Was it easy to use? Even a DIY-phobe can unscrew an existing showerhead and fit the ecocamel. The water jet is not as pummelling a flow; more like gentle summer rain.
Does it work? It takes 10 seconds to fill a litre bag of water whereas our conventional showerhead takes six seconds. That means a five-minute shower using the ecocamel will use 30 litres of water compared to our conventional showerhead, which uses 50. Power showers use 80-100 litres in five minutes. With two showers a day, seven days a week, that's a saving of 14,560 litres a year, so £70 of fuel savings.
Any downsides? If you're a fan of power showers, you'll find the flow pusillanimous, but you can't argue with the savings.
Cost: £24.95; www.ecocamel.co.uk
6) Bye Bye Standby
Claims: ''Independent research shows Bye Bye Standby would save the average UK household £38 a year in wasted standby energy.''
Was it easy to use? Initial scuffling behind bookshelves to connect remote radio sensor to Sky box and DVD player/television plugs
Does it work? Easy to use, and according to the Wattson, saves us £38 a year; an incredible amount for just two pieces of equipment.
Any downsides? None. – With annual savings, it pays for itself in less than a year.
Cost: £24.99; www.currys.co.uk
7) Integrated digital TV with LCD screen
Claims: ''TVs with integrated digital receivers can save you £20 a year in electricity bills.'' (Energy Saving Trust)
Was it easy to use? Replace old TV, plug in and off you go.
Does it work? Our Wattson predicted annual savings of £11 from not using the Freeview box; the new Grundig also has an integrated DVD player so we save on not running a separate one.
Any downsides? None.
Cost: Grundig integrated digital TV/DVD player £469; www.grundig.co.uk