GP01Z9K%282%29daniel%2022222222.jpg

Sunrise over a cleared peatland forest near Teluk Meranti in Kampar Peninsula.

The good news first: the prototype of a solar-powered plane has had its first full test flight – and it went well. The plane, which has the same wingspan as a super jumbo jet, but weighs little more than a small car, took off from an airfield in Switzerland and did a round powered by engines that take their energy entirely from solar cells on its wings.

You can see a video on the BBC website.

Palm oil: Don’t go back Unilever

Others are going in the wrong direction. As Reuters reports, Unilever, the biggest single buyer of palm oil in the world, has announced it wants to resume buying palm oil from Indonesia’s Pt Smart, which is part of Sinar Mas, if independent auditors clear the firm over alleged forest destruction.

*UPDATE April 9*: Following the Reuters report above, Unilever has made it clear that the company's only commitment at this stage is to consider reviewing its position on Pt Smart once the palm oil producer provides a complete response to the allegations made against them. “I have seen little evidence to suggest that Sinar Mas are really willing to embark on the fundamental change necessary to give me the confidence to resume trading relationships," Marc Engel, Unilever’s Chief Procurement Officer, said.

In other words: as long as Pt Smart isn't providing serious evidence that it has changed its ways, Unilever isn't going back.

The pressure is still on for those companies that are cutting down the lungs of the planet at a time when we need those rainforests more than ever and contribute massively to making Indonesia the third largest carbon emitter after the United States and China. Not to mention the habitat of the orang-utan, which is being trashed along the way.

The climate: it’s also about security

As the United States are preparing a meeting of the world’s major economies to discuss climate change later this month (should we get our hopes up?), a report that is being prepared for the Congress has highlighted the “potential emerging security issue” created by climate change in the Arctic (as the Ottawa Citizen reports).

As the ice melts, borders get blurred and – while the region is under the auspices of the UN – there’s plenty of potential for unpleasant arguments. As Ronald O'Rourke, a Congress researcher, told the Ottawa Citizen: "In varying degrees, the Arctic coastal states have indicated a willingness to establish and maintain a military presence in the high north.”

Nuclear weapons: some go forward, others back

Speaking of the military. In Prague, everything is set for US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to sign a nuclear arms treaty that commits the former Cold War enemies to each reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 - 30% lower than the previous ceiling (as the BBC reports).

It’s landmark stuff and a big step in international non-proliferation efforts.

Someone should stick that to the UK government, which, in a terrible waste of public money, is about to spend £97 billion on renewing its Tridet nuclear system. In fact, YOU can do just that: visit Greenpeace UK’s new Trident website now, and add your voice. What would you spend £97 billion on?

(Picture credit: © Will Rose / Greenpeace)