Environment

Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 3:43pm

The law that requires America to turn some of its soybeans into diesel fuel for trucks has created a new industry. But it's costing American consumers about $5 billion each year.

(Image credit: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Natural gas has role in UK energy mix | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 10:15am
40% of UK primary energy was derived from natural gas in 2016, a 50% increase from 1990, writes Ken Cronin

Your editorial (Fracking’s day may have passed, 10 January) was keen to downplay the role of onshore gas in the UK’s future energy mix, and was deeply concerning. Natural gas has a role to play for many decades, and this is backed up by the National Grid, the government and other forecasters. 40% of UK primary energy was derived from natural gas in 2016, a 50% increase from 1990. In the UK, a projected annual gas demand of 68bcm in 2030, which is 90% of 2015 economy-wide consumption, is in keeping with the Committee on Climate Change’s fifth carbon budget. Natural gas is the largest energy source for UK homes and businesses, providing us with heat, power and vital feedstocks needed for our industries.

The site at Balcombe is not a site that will use hydraulic fracturing as there is not a need to – that was made clear by the company. You also refer to Ineos wanting to access gas in sensitive areas – this is despite the company confirming they have no plans to access site of special scientific interest (SSSI) areas for the purposes of the survey being carried out in the East Midlands, and this being confirmed by the governing authority, the local council.

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Categories: Environment

Qantas worst airline operating across Pacific for CO2 emissions, analysis reveals

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 10:00am

Qantas used the two most fuel-intensive aircraft and carried the most empty seats of any transpacific airline

Qantas emits more carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometre than any other airline operating across the Pacific, according to an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation, the group that exposed the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2014.

For each kilometre Qantas transports a passenger across the Pacific, it uses 64% more fuel than the two most fuel-efficient airlines operating across the Pacific: Hainan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA).

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Categories: Environment

European parliament votes to end electric pulse fishing

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 9:37am

Campaigners hail movement towards prohibiting the controversial practice but warn other measures will leave European waters in a worse state

The European Union’s parliament has voted to prohibit the controversial practice of electrical pulse fishing within EU waters, to the approval of some groups of small-scale fishermen and green campaigners.

However, a series of other measures designed to prevent overfishing and preserve the marine environment were voted down. Campaigners say the rejection will have a damaging effect on Europe’s fisheries for many years.

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Categories: Environment

BP's Deepwater Horizon bill tops $65bn

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 9:16am

Firm’s financial pain offset by rising oil prices as it winds down payouts from 2010 disaster

BP is nearing the end of the $65bn (£47bn) Deepwater Horizon compensation process, it said as it announced an unexpectedly high payout of $1.7bn among the final few hundred outstanding claims.

The British oil firm said on Tuesday it would pay the $1.7bn charge in the last quarter of 2017 for court-ordered payments resulting from the worst oil spill in US history. It means BP will have paed out $3bn in compensation for 2017, compared with the $2bn anticipated.

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Categories: Environment

EU declares war on plastic waste

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 8:50am

Brussels targets single-use plastics in an urgent clean-up plan that aims to make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030

The EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, Brussels on Tuesday launched a plastics strategy designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (£310m) in research.

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Categories: Environment

UK green energy investment halves after policy changes

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 6:35am

Investment in green energy fell 56% in UK in 2017 – biggest fall of any country – after ‘stop-start’ support from government

Investment in clean energy plunged further in Britain than in any other country last year because of government policy changes, new figures show.

The amount companies spent on green energy in the UK rose during the years of the coalition government (2010-2015) but has now fallen for two years in a row under the Conservatives, according to analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

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Categories: Environment

Could biodiversity destruction lead to a global tipping point?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 1:43am

We are destroying the world’s biodiversity. Yet debate has erupted over just what this means for the planet – and us.


Just over 250 million years ago, the planet suffered what may be described as its greatest holocaust: ninety-six percent of marine genera (plural of genus) and seventy percent of land vertebrate vanished for good. Even insects suffered a mass extinction – the only time before or since. Entire classes of animals – like trilobites – went out like a match in the wind.

But what’s arguably most fascinating about this event – known as the Permian-Triassic extinction or more poetically, the Great Dying – is the fact that anything survived at all. Life, it seems, is so ridiculously adaptable that not only did thousands of species make it through whatever killed off nearly everything (no one knows for certain though theories abound) but, somehow, after millions of years life even recovered and went on to write new tales.

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Categories: Environment

'The feeling of freedom': empowering Berlin's refugee women through cycling

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/01/16 - 1:30am

When NGO Bikeygees set out to teach female refugees how to ride a bike they were shocked by the demand. Now hundreds have benefitted from the scheme

Emily is a 21-year-old Afghan refugee living in Berlin, and her best experience in Germany so far has been, without a doubt, learning to ride a bike.

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Categories: Environment

Iceland vows to eliminate plastic on all own-branded products

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 4:49pm

Supermarket outlines five-year aim to replace all plastic packaging with trays made of paper and pulp

Iceland has become the first major retailer to commit to eliminate plastic packaging for all its own-brand products.

The supermarket chain, which specialises in frozen food, said it would go plastic-free within five years to help end the “scourge” of plastic pollution.

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Categories: Environment

Why Three Towns Are Fighting To Be The 'Ice Box Of The Nation'

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 2:19pm

January is one of the coldest months out West. Three towns in Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming have historically claimed the title of "Ice Box of the Nation." But, there can only be one. International Falls, Minn., did legally secure the title in 2008, but the other two towns still unofficially claim it.

Categories: Environment

In California, Santa Barbara Community Holds Vigil For Mudslide Victims

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 2:19pm

A vigil was held Sunday night in Santa Barbara, Calif., for the 20 victims who were killed in devastating mudslides last week.

Categories: Environment

London ‘put to shame’ by New York fossil fuel divestment

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 9:41am

Campaigners say London mayor has fudged a similar manifesto promise to divest the city’s remaining pension funds from fossil fuels

London has been put to shame by New York’s decision to divest city pension funds from fossil fuel companies, according to climate campaigners who accuse the mayor, Sadiq Khan, of fudging a similar promise he made during his election campaign.

Global efforts to drive investment away from oil, gas and coal were given a major boost last week when the biggest city in the US announced plans to sell off its $5bn holdings in fossil fuel assets and sue the world’s most powerful oil companies over their contribution to dangerous global warming.

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Categories: Environment

March of the Penguins heralds Antarctic protection campaign - in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 8:30am

Model penguins have appeared in cities around the world as part of a new Greenpeace campaign that is aiming to turn a huge tract of the Antarctic Ocean into the world’s biggest wildlife reserve, protecting marine life and helping to fight climate change

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Categories: Environment

British supermarket chickens show record levels of antibiotic-resistant superbugs

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 6:51am

Food Standards Agency reports ‘significant increase’ of harmful pathogen campylobacter in British-farmed chickens

Chickens for sale in Britain’s supermarkets are showing record levels of superbugs resistant to some of the strongest antibiotics, new research from the government has found.

The results are concerning because resistance to antibiotics among livestock can easily affect resistance among humans, rendering vital medicines ineffective against serious diseases.

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Categories: Environment

European parliament to decide future of pulse fishing

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 5:51am

Vote on controversial method will be closely watched in the UK, which will decide on the issue as part of national fishing policy after Brexit

Europe’s parliament will vote on Tuesday on the controversial issue of electric pulse fishing, in a debate that could decide the future of the fishing method.

The debate is crucial for the UK, despite Brexit, because the UK’s fleets have yet to decide whether to lobby the government post-Brexit for an expansion in pulse fishing. Tuesday’s debate and vote will give an indication of both current scientific advice on the issue, and the strength of public opinion.

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Categories: Environment

Study finds that global warming exacerbates refugee crises | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/01/15 - 4:00am

Higher temperatures increase the number of people seeking asylum in the EU

The refugee crisis – particularly in the Mediterranean area – has received large amounts of new attention in the past few years, with people fleeing from Syria and entering the European Union emblematic of the problem. There has been some research connecting this refugee problem with changes to the climate. In particular, the years preceding the Syrian refugee crisis were characterized by a severe drought that reduced farm output and led to economic and social strife there.

Separating out the influences of climate change from general social instability may be impossible, because they are intimately linked. But we do know that climate change can cause social and economic instability. We also know that these instabilities can boil over into larger problems that lead to mass exodus. The problem isn’t knowing the connection between climate and refugees exists – rather the problem is quantifying it.

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Categories: Environment

Scotland's historic sites at high risk from climate change, report says

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/01/14 - 11:30pm

Exclusive: Many of the country’s most famous ancient sites, from Holyrood Park to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, need urgent protection, say experts

Dozens of Scotland’s most famous historic sites are at very high risk of being badly damaged by climate change and need urgent protection, an expert survey has found.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the agency which oversees nearly 340 of the country’s most important castles, abbeys, Neolithic sites and ruins, has for the first time issued red warnings for nearly a fifth of its sites and put amber, high risk warnings against another 70%.

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Categories: Environment

Victoria may extend Yallourn coal licence despite zero-emissions pledge

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/01/14 - 10:52pm

Environment Victoria says extending Australia’s most polluting power station would pose an ‘unacceptable risk’ to the climate

The Victorian government is considering whether to extend the coalmining licence for Australia’s most polluting power station, Yallourn, in the state’s Latrobe Valley.

A spokesman for the resources minister, Tim Pallas, said the government’s mining industry regulator, Earth Resources Regulation, was assessing the mine licence extension application and was expected to provide advice to the minister shortly.

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Categories: Environment

Ford to invest $11bn and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles by 2022

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2018/01/14 - 10:27pm

The planned investment is significantly higher than the previously announced target of $4.5bn by 2020

Ford Motor Co will significantly increase its planned investments in electric vehicles to $11bn by 2022 and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model line-up, the company’s chairman, Bill Ford, said on Sunday at the Detroit auto show.

The investment figure is sharply higher than a previously announced target of $4.5bn by 2020, Ford executives said, and includes the costs of developing dedicated electric vehicle architectures.

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Categories: Environment
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