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Food in the sky? Highrise farming idea gains ground

Imagine stepping out of your highrise apartment into a sunny, plant-lined corridor, biting into an apple grown in the orchard on the fourth floor as you bid "good morning" to the farmer off to milk his cows on the fifth. You take the lift to your office, passing the rice paddy and one of the many gardens housed in the glass edifice that not only heats and cools itself, but also captures rainwater and recirculates domestic waste as plant food. No, this is not the setting for a futuristic movie about humans colonising a new planet.

Europe's 'greenest city' tests limits of sustainable living

Pine cones, moss and rotten food are fuelling a Swedish city's quest to be sustainable, but people's attachment to their cars may put the brakes on its carbon-neutral ambition. Nestled among glittering lakes and thick pine forests in southern Sweden, Vaexjoe has gone further than most in renewable energy, clean transport and energy conservation, promoting itself as "Europe's Greenest City". "We started very early," Henrik Johansson at Vaexjoe local council told AFP.

Sub-Saharan Africa increasingly attractive for investors

Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming increasingly attractive for foreign investors, even if a lack of infrastructure and other factors are holding back growth in the region, a Commerzbank study found Thursday. "Persistently low global economic growth has not affected Sub-Saharan Africa much so far," the German bank wrote in the study.

Explosions, fire reduce Mississippi biodiesel plant to rubble

By Sabina Zawadzki and Robert Gibbons NEW YORK (Reuters) - Explosions and an intense blaze at a biodiesel complex in northern Mississippi reduced it to smoldering rubble on Wednesday, but the two workers at the plant managed to escape unharmed, the plant's manager said. The first explosion rocked the JNS Biodiesel LCC plant, some three to four miles (five to six km) north of New Albany around 5:30 a.m. CST (1630 ET), authorities said.

Biofuel from desert plants grown with seawater

Aerospace giant Boeing and its research partners in the Middle East said Wednesday they would start field trials after recording progress in making biofuel from desert plants fed with seawater. The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, will plant two hectares (five hectares) of the saltwater-tolerant plants called halophytes in the region's sandy soil and the plants will be fed with waste water from a fish and shrimp farm.

Biofuel from desert plants grown with seawater

Aerospace giant Boeing and its research partners in the Middle East said Wednesday they would start field trials after recording progress in making biofuel from desert plants fed with seawater. The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, will plant two hectares (five hectares) of the saltwater-tolerant plants called halophytes in the region's sandy soil and the plants will be fed with waste water from a fish and shrimp farm.

Germany eyes swift cuts in renewable energy subsidies

Germany's new energy minister has outlined cuts in subsidies to producers of renewable energy as the country wrestles with soaring costs from its nuclear power exit, according to a document obtained by AFP Sunday. Opposition MPs and the solar energy sector have already criticised the reforms due to be discussed by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's new "grand coalition" cabinet with the Social Democrats next week.

U.S. Senators introduce bill to eliminate corn ethanol mandate

By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of 10 U.S. Senators introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, arguing that current law raises the cost of food and animal feed and damages the environment.

Xinhua Insight: Chinese cities sort out trash

GUANGZHOU, Dec.12 (Xinhua) -- Besieged by piles of garbage, big cities in China are trying to sort out the long-running saga of waste sorting. Southern city Guangzhou plans to calculate garbage disposal fees differently next year, and started a trial in six residential communities on Dec 1. Waste disposal fees will be worked out on the basis of four kinds of trash: "Kitchen waste" and "other waste" will be paid for; "recyclable waste" and "hazardous waste", will be picked up for free.

Renewable fuel backers try to change EPA's mind at hearing

By Cezary Podkul WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supporters of the renewable fuels industry turned out en masse on Thursday, desperate for the U.S. government to change course after last month announcing a plan to lower the amount of biofuels that must be added to the fuel supply in 2014. About 300 people attended a public meeting held by the Environmental Protection Agency on the Renewable Fuel Standard, proposed changes which have become one of the most divisive policy issues of the year.
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