Brexit, migration and climate pressures mean our ‘too big to fail’ global food chain could unravel
The UK’s clock has been set to Permanent Global Summer Time once more after a temporary blip. Courgettes, spinach and iceberg lettuce are back on the shelves, and the panic over the lack of imported fruit and vegetables has been contained. “As you were, everyone,” appears to be the message.
But why would supermarkets – which are said to have lost sales worth as much as £8m in January thanks to record-breaking, crop-wrecking snow and rainfall in the usually mild winter regions of Spain and Italy – be so keen to fly in substitutes from the US at exorbitant cost?
Why would they sell at a loss rather than let us go without, or put up prices to reflect the changing market? Why indeed would anyone air-freight watery lettuce across the whole of the American continent and the Atlantic when it takes 127 calories of fuel energy to fly just 1 food calorie of that lettuce to the UK from California?
The answer is that, in the past 40 years, a whole supermarket system has been built on the seductive illusion of this Permanent Global Summer Time. As a result, a cornucopia of perpetual harvest is one of the key selling points that big stores have over rival retailers. If the enticing fresh produce section placed near the front of each store to draw you in starts looking a bit empty, we might not bother to shop there at all.
But when you take into account climate change, the shortages of early 2017 look more like a taste of things to come than just a blip, and that is almost impossible for supermarkets to admit.
Add the impact of this winter’s weather on Mediterranean production, the inflationary pressures from a post-Brexit fall in the value of sterling against the euro, and the threat of tariffs as we exit the single market, and suddenly the model begins to look extraordinarily vulnerable.
Selfridges boosts it’s green credentials with free all-electric BMW i3 chauffeur service
BMW has loaned a fleet of all-electric BMW i3s to Selfridges in Manchester for the next three months as part of the department store’s Material World initiative to encourage consumers to think more sustainably when shopping. Customers can choose to be chauffeured with their shopping free of charge by a BMWi Genius or get behind the wheel themselves.
The store is also celebrating the permanent installation of charging points within their car park as London looks to improve the charging infrastructure in high footfall locations plagued by poor air quality across the city.
As air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate around the world and cities like Paris, Milan and Rome impose driving bans during the worst periods, Manchester is now also being urged by officials to implement similar rules with the possibility of introducing a congestion charge.
Big brands are now taking steps for change including the likes of leaders in sustainable innovation, BMWi and Selfridges. In recent months BMW’s all-electric i range has been used in a range of initiatives across the city to encourage sustainable driving solutions with the likes of DriveNow – the brand’s car sharing service, London’s police force and now as part of a complementary chauffeur service to Selfridges in London and Manchester.
Vattenfall is one of the largest utility companies in Europe, with operations in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swedish government. Not surprisingly, it has a lot of vehicles in its fleet, including 3,500 cars and light trucks. The company has just announced it plans to switch all of those vehicles to electric cars and trucks within the next 5 years.
Vattenall has been a leader in renewable energy and sustainable mobility solutions since 2009. It operates nearly 6,000 EV Level 2 and DC fast charging charging points in Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. Those facilities supplied enough electricity in 2016 to circumnavigate the world almost 1,000 times. It is also a front runner in developing wireless and smart charging technology as well as systems for charging public transit vehicles.
“We already help our customers drive electric by supplying charging points. With the decision to switch our own fleet we do not only contribute to reducing CO2-emissions in Europe, but we also want to set an example for other companies,”
says Martijn Hagens, head of E-mobility for Vattenfall.
OK, I know we are past the month of December but with the current cold snap I am elated to finally have the answer to my winter woes. Don’t get me wrong I love my Renault ZOE 22kWh, but one thing I’ve always struggled with is heating her up. I’m not talking about the great pre-heat function; this is for those times when you either forget the pre-heat or you are out and about and want to get in your car knowing you can easily pop on some heat.
I have been driving my ZOE for two winters and have always been cold. I had just assumed it was a limit of the car, but having experimented, I realised there is just a bit of a knack to getting the heating to work right. I now don’t have to wear full hat, gloves and scarf in the car!
After reading a few posts and trying out a few carefully selected combinations it would seem I have my solution ,these are the steps I follow and try to stick to in this order.
Set your heat to 24 degrees, not full whack
Select fan speed 3
Make sure Air Con is Off
Turn on Air Circulation
Leave on windscreen fan for the first minute or so
Change the fan direction and speed to your preference after a few minutes