Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 3 hours 34 min ago

NSW's largest windfarm highlights power of community investment | Simon Holmes à Court

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 2:53pm

The Sapphire Wind Farm in northern NSW has invited the locals to invest in it – the first such co-investment project in Australia

In the early days of windfarming, carpetbaggers almost ruined it for everyone.

Opportunists scoured regional Australia looking for prospective project sites. Farmers were pressured to sign up to leases and planning applications were rushed through. As soon as the permit was in hand, the developer would flip the project and start again.

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Categories: Environment

Pope Francis says Amazon indigenous people under greater threat than ever

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 2:38pm
  • Pontiff addresses representatives of 400 indigenous groups in Peru
  • Amazon is ‘cultural reserve’ threatened by new types of colonialism

Pope Francis has warned that the Amazon’s indigenous people have “never been so threatened in their territories as they are now” and demanded an end to the relentless exploitation of the region’s timber, gas and gold.

Addressing an indigenous audience in Peru’s jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, the pope expanded on the environmental message of his 2015 encyclical, taking aim at the multiple threats faced by the Amazon rainforest and telling its indigenous inhabitants they were a “call to conscience for a way of life which could not measure its own costs”.

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Categories: Environment

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching has started early, biologist says

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 2:00pm

Photographs show only localised bleaching but there is concern it has come so early in the season

Warm water has already begun bleaching coral on the Great Barrier Reef, weeks ahead of the period with highest forecast risk. Satellite data suggest widespread bleaching is possible by March.

Selina Ward, a coral reef biologist from the University of Queensland, has photographed the bleaching, which she said appeared to be very localised so far, but was concerning because of how early in the season it was.

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Categories: Environment

Trump is 'obsessed' and 'terrified' of sharks – but his fears are excessive

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 1:36pm

You are more likely to die from a bicycle accident, lightning strike, or mauling by alligator or bear than from a shark attack

The president of the United States does not like sharks.

Related: Stormy Daniels on Trump: pajamas, unprotected sex and … scary sharks

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Categories: Environment

1m more smart meters which hinder switching could be rolled out

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 8:29am

Government extends deadline for installation of older model despite interoperability issues

More than 1m extra first generation smart meters will be fitted in homes because the government has extended a deadline for their installation, despite the devices being criticised because they can “go dumb” when customers switch energy suppliers.

Related: Energy firms say price cap on bills could hit UK roll-out of smart meters

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 7:00am

Icelandic horses, an endangered hawksbill sea turtle and snow leopards are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Hundreds of MPs call on supermarkets to scrap plastic packaging

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 6:48am

MPs write to major supermarkets, as pressure grows over the huge amounts of plastic waste they generate

Two hundred cross-party MPs are calling on heads of the major supermarkets to eliminate plastic packaging from their products by 2023.

The MPs, who are from seven political parties, have written to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Budgens and Marks & Spencer urging them to scrap plastic packaging.

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Categories: Environment

Regent's Park cycle route plans at risk of being cut back

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 4:38am

Last-minute opposition by Westminster city council to park gate closures could leave the new superhighway ‘dead’, says former London cycling commissioner

Plans to close the outer circle of Regent’s Park to rat-running motor traffic are being “significantly watered down” to shutting just two gates – down from four – and to shorter periods, in only the morning and evening peak, it has been revealed.

Although still in discussion, plans for the road, which will form part of cycle superhighway 11 (CS11), have reportedly been under pressure from Westminster city council since they gained 60% approval in a public consultation in August 2016. Those close to discussions say weakened changes are now being blocked by the body that runs the park’s roads on the grounds they could be more dangerous than the status quo.

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Categories: Environment

'A rabbit always has to run': Spanish rangers fear for lives after double murder

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 2:30am

The killing of two rangers in Catalonia a year ago this week, marked a chilling turning point for colleagues facing up to increasing violence towards Europe’s wildlife defenders

On a hill above the olive trees and dun scrublands of western Catalonia, two rusty iron silhouettes maintain a still and silent vigil. One peers out over the land through a pair of binoculars; the other kneels and holds a bird forever on the cusp of release.

At their feet is a simple plaque: “In memory and recognition of Xavier Ribes Villas and David Iglesias Díez, wildlife rangers whose lives were taken in the line of duty on 21 January 2017.”

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Categories: Environment

Kenya forest death: activists blame EU for ignoring human rights warnings

Fri, 2018/01/19 - 12:00am

EU criticised for its ‘poor response’ after an indigenous herder is killed during a forced eviction for a water conservation project it funds

The European Union has been accused of a fatally slow response to human rights warnings after the killing of an indigenous man at one of the projects it funds in Kenya.

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Categories: Environment

I’m 73 and a grandmother. Fracking has turned me into an activist | Gillian Kelly

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 11:00pm
Until last year I’d never been in a protest. Now I’m due in court for trying to stop this destructive industry ruining our landscape

I am a 73-year-old grandmother. On a sunny day in the middle of July I found myself sitting in the central reservation of the A583 outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool, one arm locked into a steel tube within a brightly coloured wooden box and surrounded by police. I was not alone. Locked into a neighbouring box was my partner, Paul, and my granddaughter, Megan. A few feet away my son, Sebastian, was also locked on, along with two other female friends.

The next morning in the Guardian there was a large photograph of me with a caption describing me as an activist. I almost laughed out loud. I thought I must be the unlikeliest person ever to be described as an activist. Unlikely because of my age and because I am definitely not given to defiance; I do feel deeply about inhumanity, greed, the wrecking of the planet, but thus far I had confined myself to petition-signing, infrequent letter-writing and furious, but powerless, indignation in the company of like-minded friends.

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Categories: Environment

Coral reefs 'at make or break point', UN environment head says

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 10:59pm

Erik Solheim cites ‘huge decline’ in world’s reefs but says shift from coal and new awareness of plastic pollution are good news

The battle to save the world’s coral reefs is at “make or break point”, and countries that host them have a special responsibility to take a leadership role by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, plastic pollution and impacts from agriculture, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) has said.

Speaking to the Guardian after the launch of International Coral Reef Initiative’s international year of the reef, Erik Solheim said he expected governments to take their efforts on reef protection in 2018 beyond symbolic designation.

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Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: exhaust emissions double below 20C – by design

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 2:30pm

Modern cars can start in the cold, so why are manufacturers failing to make exhaust controls more efficient below 20C?

Twenty-five years ago, starting a car in winter required careful balancing of choke and accelerator and sometimes sprays of WD40 or a bump start. Now, modern vehicles simply work in the cold. However, a European parliament inquiry following the Volkswagen scandal found that the nitrogen oxides abatement systems on many diesel cars shut down below the official test temperature of 20C. Manufacturers say that this prevents engine damage and is therefore legal. Real-world driving measurements on 9,000 cars in Gothenburg, Sweden, have shown this shutdown in action. Average emissions at 10C were almost twice those at 25C.

Related: What is behind the diesel cars emissions scandal?

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Categories: Environment

2017 was the hottest year on record without El Niño boost

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 8:30am

Data shows the year was also one of the hottest three ever recorded, with scientists warning that the ‘climate tide is rising fast’

2017 was the hottest year since global records began that was not given an additional boost by the natural climate cycle El Niño, according to new data. Even without an El Niño, the year was still exceptionally hot, being one of the top three ever recorded.

The three main global temperature records show the global surface temperature in 2017 was 1C above levels seen in pre-industrial times, with scientists certain that humanity’s fossil fuel-burning is to blame.

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Categories: Environment

Supermarkets under pressure to reveal amount of plastic they create

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 6:12am

Leading UK retailers say information is too ‘commercially sensitive’ to reveal, following Guardian report they make almost 1m tonnes a year

Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.

Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

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Categories: Environment

Donald Trump is hampering fight against climate change, WEF warns

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 5:11am

World Economic Forum outlines huge increase in all five eco risks since the US president assumed office

The World Economic Forum delivered a strong warning about Donald Trump’s go-it-alone approach to tackling climate change as it highlighted the growing threat of environmental collapse in its annual assessment of the risks facing the international community.

In the run-up to the US president’s speech to its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week, the WEF avoided mentioning Trump by name but said “nation-state unilateralism” would make it harder to tackle global warming and ecological damage.

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Categories: Environment

China oil spill: warning over seafood contamination

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 3:07am

Scientists say consumers should be wary of buying any seafood that may have passed through the area until the toxic impact of the spill has been assessed

Consumers in Japan, China and South Korea should be wary of buying seafood until governments in the region have monitored and released details about the toxic impact of the Sanchi oil spill, scientists have warned.

The worst oil ship disaster in decades has so far produced two visible plumes covering almost 100 square kilometres on the surface of the East China Sea, but maritime disaster experts say this is just the tip of the iceberg and millions of fish are likely to have been contaminated by carcinogens.

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Categories: Environment

Europe's microwave ovens emit nearly as much CO2 as 7m cars

Thu, 2018/01/18 - 2:06am

The biggest impact comes from electricity used to power the microwaves, but study also highlights rising environmental cost of our throwaway culture

Popping frozen peas into the microwave for a couple of minutes may seem utterly harmless, but Europe’s stock of these quick-cook ovens emit as much carbon as nearly 7m cars, a new study has found.

And the problem is growing: with costs falling and kitchen appliances becoming “status” items, owners are throwing away microwaves after an average of eight years, pushing rising sales.

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Categories: Environment

Stuart Wenham: scientists pay tribute to 'Einstein of solar world'

Wed, 2018/01/17 - 11:12pm

University of New South Wales colleagues pay tribute to pioneer with ‘Crocodile Dundee persona’ who died age 60 from malignant melanoma

Australia’s scientific community has paid tribute to Prof Stuart Wenham, a solar energy pioneer described as the “Einstein of the solar industry”, whose research increased the efficiency of solar cells a hundredfold.

Wenham passed away on 23 December, age 60, after suffering from malignant melanoma. He was the director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Photovoltaics and Photonics at the University of New South Wales.

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Categories: Environment

Queensland accused of breaking ‘no public funds for Adani’ promise

Wed, 2018/01/17 - 9:21pm

Activists target Aurizon after Palaszczuk refuses to rule out vetoing freight company’s application for Naif funding to build rail line

The former Queensland state-owned freight rail business Aurizon is the latest target of anti-Adani activists, after the Palaszczuk Labor government refused to rule out vetoing the company’s taxpayer-funded loan to build the Galilee basin rail line.

Opponents of the mine have accused the state government of attempting to break its promise of “no public funds for Adani’ through a “backdoor” by continuing to consider Aurizon’s application for federal government funds to build the central Queensland rail line.

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Categories: Environment