NSW plan to offer emissions offsets with car registration sends wrong message, critics say

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/01/26 - 7:16pm

Government told to focus on boosting uptake of electric vehicles, public transport, cycling and walking rather than offset ‘gimmick’

Drivers in New South Wales will be offered the chance to buy carbon offsets when they renew their car registration in a step critics have described as a “gimmick” that could undermine efforts to cut transport emissions.

The NSW treasurer and energy minister, Matt Kean, announced the scheme on Friday saying it would give people “looking for practical ways to take action on climate change” more ways to cut their emissions.

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Categories: Environment

Birdsong boosts mental wellbeing for 90% of people, UK poll finds

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/01/26 - 5:01pm

RSPB shares results as Britons encouraged to spend an hour counting birds in annual Big Garden Birdwatch

Watching birds and hearing birdsong have a positive impact on wellbeing for more than nine in 10 people, according to a survey to mark the largest garden wildlife count in the world.

People are being urged to boost their mental health and help scientists by spending an hour this weekend counting the birds in their garden or local park for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

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Categories: Environment

Some hope the EPA will veto Pebble Mine, a project that has long divided SW Alaska

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2023/01/26 - 3:39pm

The EPA is expected to make a final decision this month on the controversial Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska. Many residents fear the proposed giant copper and gold mine would harm wild salmon runs.

Categories: Environment

Human activity and drought ‘degrading more than a third of Amazon rainforest’

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2023/01/26 - 12:24pm

Fires, land conversion, logging and water shortages have weakened resilience of 2.5m sq km of forest, says study

Human activity and drought may have degraded more than a third of the Amazon rainforest, double the previous estimate, according to a study that heightens concerns that the globally important ecosystem is slipping towards a point of no return.

Fires, land conversion, logging and water shortages, have weakened the resilience of up to 2.5m sq km of the forest, an area 10 times the size of the UK. This area is now drier, more flammable and more vulnerable than before, prompting the authors to warn of “megafires” in the future.

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Categories: Environment

Post-Brexit farm subsidies in England revealed

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 5:14pm

Farmers will be eligible for funding for up to 280 actions that protect environment under new system

Farmers in England will be able to receive government funding for up to 280 different actions that protect the environment, from conserving hedgerows to maintaining peatlands, under a comprehensive overhaul of farming subsidies.

The long-awaited announcement on Thursday shows farmers what will be expected of them if they apply for government incentives called environmental land management schemes (ELMs), worth £2.4bn a year for this parliament.

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Categories: Environment

The U.S. reinstates road and logging restrictions on the largest national forest

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 3:56pm

A federal agency said it is reinstating restrictions on road-building and logging on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. USDA's move repeals a Trump administration-era decision.

(Image credit: Hall Anderson/Ketchikan Daily News via AP, File)

Categories: Environment

£1m paid to Octopus Energy customers as part of power saving scheme

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 3:36pm

Supplier says 400,000 customers took part, reducing their electricity use for a designated 90-minute period

More than £1m was paid to energy customers with Octopus Energy on Tuesday as part of a power saving scheme.

The energy supplier said more than 400,000 customers took part by reducing their electricity use between 4.30pm and 6pm.

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Categories: Environment

Pollution may make birch pollen more irritating to hay fever sufferers – study

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 12:00pm

Pollen from trees growing in heavily polluted urban areas has higher levels of Bet v1 allergen, experts find

Hay fever may sound like a pastoral malady, but city-dwellers can also be hit hard by pollen allergies. Now researchers have revealed a possible factor, finding that birch trees growing in heavily polluted urban areas have higher levels of a key allergen in their pollen.

Birch tree pollen is one of the most potent allergens. About 25% of people with hay fever affected by allergy to it, according to Allergy UK.

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Categories: Environment

15 wishes for 2023: Trailblazers tell how they'd make life on Earth a bit better

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 9:35am

We asked for a wish from expert wishers around the globe — from Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai to MacArthur "genius" grantee Gregg Gonsalves to Melva Acostaa, who runs a soup kitchen in Peru.

(Image credit: Dola Sun for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Inuit warn ‘rock concert-like’ noise from ships affecting Arctic wildlife

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 4:56am

Calls for mandatory measures to reduce underwater noise pollution as melting ice opens up shipping routes

For centuries, narwhals and ringed seals have provided food for Inuit communities on the ice floes of Mittimatalik, or Pond Inlet, on northern Canada’s Baffin Island. But now, the Inuit – who have hunted, trapped and fished in the region since long before the Hudson Bay Company opened its first Arctic trading camp here in 1921 – say they no longer find the narwhals where they should be. They say shipping noise is to blame.

Researchers have likened the passing of a single ice-breaker, increasingly present in the Arctic, to an underwater rock concert. Ship noise can be caused by everything from propellers to hull form to onboard machinery. It can disrupt activities that marine mammals need to survive, by shrinking their communication space, causing stress and displacing them from important habitats.

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Categories: Environment

Homeless at Starbucks: why the coffee chain is bringing in social workers

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 4:00am

Unhoused people use the cafe locations to warm up and rest – and now outreach workers can find them there and offer services

On a chilly recent morning, customers inside a Starbucks in New York City’s midtown were doing what you’d expect: buying coffee, warming up, chatting. But one person was moving through the store with a different purpose: she first approached a woman standing near the door, and then another man seated with a cup of coffee, saying hello, asking how they were and offering them gloves, hats and handwarmers.

This was an outreach worker named Thashana Jacobs, and this store was her first stop of the day. The organization she works for, a homeless outreach and housing non-profit, has been contracted by Starbucks to deal with an issue that the company feels it cannot ignore: the number of unhoused people who come into the store looking for a place to sit, rest and use the restroom.

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Categories: Environment

How ancient seeds from the Fertile Crescent could help save us from climate change

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 3:01am

Some of the tens of thousands of seeds stored at a facility in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley may hold keys to helping the planet's food supply adapt to climate change. Many seeds were saved from Syria's war.

(Image credit: Dalia Khamissy for NPR)

Categories: Environment

The FDA proposes new targets to limit lead in baby food

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2023/01/25 - 2:01am

Toxic metal can be harmful to developing brains. New lead targets are part of a broad FDA imitative to reduce children's exposure to the lowest levels possible.

(Image credit: Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty)

Categories: Environment

Celebrities call on UK banks to stop financing new oil, gas and coalfields

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 11:01pm

Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Mark Rylance add their voices to Richard Curtis’s Make My Money Matter campaign

Famous names including Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Mark Rylance have joined activists and businesses in calling on the UK’s big five banks to stop financing new oil, gas and coal expansion.

Make My Money Matter, a campaign set up by Richard Curtis, the screenwriter, director and Comic Relief co-founder, has written to the chief executives of HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds to urge these banks to “stop financing fossil fuel expansion”.

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Categories: Environment

Bid by Australian startup Recharge could revive UK battery company Britishvolt

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 10:02pm

Recharge Industries, which also plans a factory in Geelong, says nonbinding offer is in the company’s interests, as well as that of ‘our friends in the UK’

An Australian-based startup, Recharge Industries, has made a nonbinding offer for the collapsed UK battery company Britishvolt that could revive plans to construct a large plant in northern England.

The bid was lodged in the UK late on Tuesday, shortly after a cash crunch at Britishvolt sent the company into administration. The collapse has severely dented the country’s attempts to modernise its automotive industry and supply the next generation of UK-built electric vehicles.

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Categories: Environment

Oregon plan to ban sale of kangaroo products is ‘emotive misinformation’, industry says

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 12:30pm

Proposed bill takes aim at ‘unconscionable’ trade mainly in football boots but Australian producers say culling is necessary

A bill that would ban the sale of kangaroo parts has been introduced in the US state of Oregon, taking aim at sports apparel manufacturers that use the animal’s leather to make their products.

But Australian industry and conservation experts say the bill is “driven by emotive misinformation,” and is “backed by people who are not qualified to comment”.

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Categories: Environment

Bill Gates backs new startup aiming to reduce emissions from cow burps

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 10:49am

Microsoft co-founder leads $12m investment Rumin8, which is developing supplements for cows to cut methane output

Bill Gates has led a new $12m investment in an Australian company that is aiming to feed seaweed to cows in order to reduce the planet-heating emissions that come from their burps.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which the Microsoft co-founder created in 2015, has spearheaded the funding of the Perth-based startup, which is called Rumin8. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma are also backers of the Breakthrough fund.

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Categories: Environment

‘The kids loved it’: readers on taking part in National Grid energy-saving trial

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 10:22am

More than 1m households and businesses have signed up to get paid to cut back on power usage

Households were paid to cut back on their electricity use for an hour on Monday evening in the first test of a National Grid scheme aiming to cut energy consumption in Great Britain. The second trial was taking place on Tuesday, between 4.30pm and 6pm.

More than 1m households and businesses have signed up to the live -demand flexibility service.

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Categories: Environment

Record levels of renewable energy push demand for electricity from the grid to all-time low for December quarter

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 7:00am

Increased output from renewables, with a near-zero fuel cost, also nudged more coal and gas out of the generation market

Milder temperatures and record levels of renewable energy drove electricity demand to its lowest levels for any December quarter, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Wholesale power prices also retreated during the period, particularly after the Albanese government imposed price caps on black coal and gas that are used to generate power, AEMO said in its quarterly report released on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

Endangered shark sold as flake in South Australia fish and chip shops, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2023/01/24 - 7:00am

Calls for better food labelling as investigation claims that only around one-third of fish is flake, with served species including rare narrownose smooth-hound

Fish and chip shop customers in South Australia are eating threatened and imported shark species labelled as “flake” with less than a third of servings meeting seafood labelling standards, according to an investigation by the University of Adelaide.

The Australian Fish Names Standard says only two types of shark – gummy shark and New Zealand rig – should be sold as flake in Australia.

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