Guardian Environment News

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Latest environmental news, opinion and analysis from the Guardian.
Updated: 15 hours 42 min ago

Galilee Basin mine next to Adani put on hold amid doubts over future of thermal coal

Wed, 2019/05/22 - 6:20pm

MacMines Austasia abandon plans, raising questions about basin’s viability as a source of Queensland employment

The backer of a massive coal proposal in the Galilee Basin, adjacent to Adani’s Carmichael mine site, has quietly abandoned its plans amid growing doubts about the long-term profitability of Australian thermal coal exports.

The ABC reported this morning that the proponents of the $7bn China Stone mine had withdrawn their application for a mining lease in March.

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Categories: Environment

China factories releasing thousands of tonnes of illegal CFC gases, study finds

Wed, 2019/05/22 - 5:47pm

Levels of ozone-depleting gas spiked when air from industrialised areas of China arrived, say researchers

Industries in north-eastern China have released large quantities of an ozone-depleting gas into the atmosphere in violation of an international treaty, scientists have said.

Since 2013, annual emissions of the banned chemical Chlorofluorocarbon-11 (CFC-11) from that region have increased by about 7,000 tonnes, according to a report in peer-reviewed journal Nature.

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Categories: Environment

Philippines threatens to dump rubbish back in Canadian waters as row deepens

Wed, 2019/05/22 - 5:09pm

Two nations have been at odds over 69 containers of waste sent to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the rubbish.

“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.

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Categories: Environment

Republicans give platform to climate science deniers at hearing on biodiversity

Wed, 2019/05/22 - 3:33pm

Conservative members of Congress called on climate change deniers at hearing on endangered species

The climate crisis has become a top issue among Democrats running for president. But many Republican lawmakers are still resistant to the science showing global heating is a serious, manmade problem.

When Democrats in control of the House scheduled a hearing for international scientists to explain their warnings that humans are critically wounding biodiversity on Wednesday, conservative members of Congress called on career climate science deniers to testify alongside them.

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Categories: Environment

Budj Bim Indigenous eel trap site on verge of world heritage listing

Wed, 2019/05/22 - 11:00am

Aquaculture network in Victoria, maintained over 6,600 years, faces final step in recognition process

A 6,600-year-old, highly sophisticated aquaculture system developed by the Gunditjmara people will be formally considered for a place on the Unesco world heritage list and, if successful, would become the first Australian site listed exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural value.

Known as the Budj Bim cultural landscape, the site in south-west Victoria is home to a long dormant volcano, which was the source of the Tyrendarra lava flow.

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Categories: Environment

Anger as Church of Scotland decides not to divest from fossil fuels

Wed, 2019/05/22 - 9:11am

Despite agreeing upon climate emergency, delegates vote to back oil and gas companies

More than 70 Church of Scotland delegates – including the outgoing moderator the Very Rev Susan Brown – have formally lodged their frustration at the decision of its general assembly not to divest from fossil fuels, with advocates describing Wednesday’s vote as “an embarrassing abdication of moral leadership”.

Although the general assembly voted to “recognise and affirm the declarations of the Scottish government, UK parliament and others that we are experiencing a climate and ecological emergency” on Wednesday morning, a counter-motion to disinvest from oil and gas companies by 2020 was narrowly defeated.

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Categories: Environment

BHP warns investors coal could be phased out 'sooner than expected'

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 11:45pm

Mining giant loses its appetite for thermal coal and will turn instead to oil, copper and nickel

BHP is looking to add more oil, copper and nickel resources to its portfolio, while souring on thermal coal because it thinks the fossil fuel will be phased out, “potentially sooner than expected”.

BHP’s chief financial officer, Peter Beaven, told investors and analysts in a strategy briefing on Wednesday that “the world will be a very different place in 10 to 20 years’ time” and the global miner must be thoughtful about the risks and opportunities.

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Categories: Environment

Is modern life poisoning me? I took the tests to find out

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 11:00pm

We are exposed to synthetic chemicals in plastics, cosmetics and food every day. Could it be making us toxic? Our environment reporter was tested for over 1,530 chemicals to find out

• Help us reach our $150,000 goal to fund this series. Make a contribution

Sitting on a plastic chair in a small office, I’m wearing medical scrubs rolled up to my knees and I have an X-ray machine strapped to my shin.

The machine is scanning my bones for lead as an expert monitors readings streaming on to a screen.

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Categories: Environment

Explained: the toxic threat in everyday products, from toys to plastic

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 11:00pm

Thousands of potentially harmful chemicals are in products ranging from electronics to medical equipment and carpets in the US

• Help us reach our $150,000 goal to fund this series. Make a contribution

Synthetic chemicals are in nearly everything we touch and consume. But some chemicals can be potentially harmful and a number of experts are anxious about possible long-term health effects of our everyday exposure. They say US regulations could be stronger.

One of those who is concerned is Leo Trasande of NYU Langone Health, an expert in children’s environmental health and author of Sicker Fatter Poorer, which is about the threat of hormone-disrupting chemicals.

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Categories: Environment

Climate crisis more politically polarizing than abortion for US voters, study finds

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 10:00pm

Democrats ranked global heating as the third most important issue on their list, while Republican voters ranked it last in a Yale poll

Surging concern among Americans about an overheating planet has done little to shift a political polarization that has now reached a stunning extreme: climate breakdown divides Democrats and Republicans even more than abortion does.

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Categories: Environment

'Fed up': Queensland premier calls for Adani coalmine approvals timeline this week

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 7:59pm

Annastacia Palaszczuk says state ‘needs some certainty’ about timing of outstanding approvals

Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, says she is “fed up” with the state’s process for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine and has called an emergency meeting to set a deadline for the outstanding approvals.

Labor’s vote was hit hard on Saturday in central Queensland seats including Dawson, Herbert and Capricornia, which some commentary has attributed to anger over environmental campaigns against the mine and federal Labor’s failure to articulate a clear position on the development.

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Categories: Environment

Environment minister Melissa Price's allies say she was gagged for 'tactical' reasons in election

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 7:50pm

Minister facing calls for demotion from cabinet despite Scott Morrison’s repeated praise

Supporters of the environment minister, Melissa Price, say she was deliberately gagged during the election campaign, as the embattled MP faces calls for her demotion from cabinet.

As Coalition MPs jostle for promotion in Scott Morrison’s new frontbench, Price is understood to have told colleagues it was a tactical decision made by the prime minister and Coalition headquarters to keep her out of the limelight during the campaign. Price was supportive of the move, which ensured Morrison kept the focus on the economy and Labor’s tax agenda.

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Categories: Environment

Pacific leaders urge Scott Morrison to act on climate emergency following election win

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 6:56pm

Samoan and Fijian leaders say Australia must take leading role in climate battle

Pacific leaders have congratulated Scott Morrison on his surprise election victory but have urged him to do more to fight the climate crisis, which poses an existential threat to the region.

“[Australia] has been lagging behind,” said Tuilaepa Sailele, the prime minister of Samoa, about Australia’s action on the climate emergency.

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Categories: Environment

Garden feeders are supporting rising numbers of urban birds

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 8:00am

More than half of British homeowners feed birds, maintaining 133 species

The increasingly appetising buffet provided for garden birds, from sunflower hearts to suet cakes, is supporting a rising number and greater diversity of species in Britain’s urban areas, according to research.

In the 1970s, half of all birds using garden feeders belonged to just two species, the sparrow and starling, but by the 2010s the number of species making up the same proportion had tripled, with goldfinches, woodpigeons and long-tailed tits soaring in number because of the food on offer.

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: 1.6m Americans live near the most polluting incinerators in the US

Tue, 2019/05/21 - 6:59am

Lower-income and minority communities are exposed to majority of the pollution coming from waste-burning plants, report finds

A total of 1.6 million Americans live next to the most polluting incinerators in the country, with lower-income and minority communities exposed to the vast majority of pollution coming from these waste-burning plants.

The burning of household and commercial waste can give off a stew of pollutants, including mercury, lead and small particles of soot. This pollution isn’t evenly distributed, however. Of the 73 incinerators across the US, 79% are located within three miles of low-income and minority neighbourhoods, according to research by the Tishman Environment and Design Center at New York City’s New School.

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Categories: Environment

Eden Project plans $150m ecotourism site for Victorian coalmine

Mon, 2019/05/20 - 11:10pm

Joint venture aims to turn Alcoa’s open-cut mine site into Anglesea project near Great Ocean Road

A UK charity that redeveloped a china clay quarry in Cornwall into a major ecotourism project has its eyes on Alcoa’s former coalmine in Anglesea, Victoria.

The Eden Project and Alcoa announced a plan to turn a portion of the site into a $150m ecotourism attraction based around Anglesea’s coastal location. They say they will seek input from the community.

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Categories: Environment

World’s biggest investor accused of dragging feet on climate crisis

Mon, 2019/05/20 - 10:00pm

BlackRock, which controls $6.5tn in assets, urged to use its influence on planet’s biggest polluters

When a letter from BlackRock’s founder and chief executive, Larry Fink, landed in inboxes in January saying that the world’s biggest investor would no longer invest in companies that are not compliant with the Paris climate agreement, people took notice. The media jumped on the announcement, which appeared to herald a new era of finance facing up to the perils of the climate emergency.

The letter was a hoax, carried out by the Yes Men, a group of pranksters with a history of embarrassing big companies. But while the message was fake, the concern behind it was not: environmental campaigners see BlackRock as a key obstacle to progress on meeting climate crisis goals.

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Categories: Environment

Labor's entire policy agenda is up for review, Jim Chalmers tells Q&A

Mon, 2019/05/20 - 1:33pm

‘Our job now is not to engage in some year-long pity party,’ leadership aspirant says

The Labor leadership aspirant Jim Chalmers says the party’s entire policy agenda, including its ambitious 45% emissions reduction target, could be upended in the wake of Saturday’s shock election loss.

“Everything is up for grabs,” Chalmers told the ABC TV’s Q&A program when asked whether Labor would review its climate policy.

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Categories: Environment

A vision of 2040: everything we need for a sustainable world already exists

Mon, 2019/05/20 - 11:00am

There are real obstacles to environmental progress, but we must focus on what we are for, not just what we are against

When my daughter was two years old, I found myself struggling to finish any article relating to the dire state of our environment. I would get halfway through the piece, then disengage and move on to something else. I assumed I wasn’t the only parent to feel this way.

Curious to understand why I seemed incapable of persisting, I reached out to the environmental psychologist Renee Lertzman. She explained that when we receive information charged with fear, dread or anxiety, the limbic system in our brain can be activated, which can override the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with creative thinking and problem solving. These days our news feeds are filled with images and stories of a bleak future. This is what we bombard our consciousness with, the images we expose our children to and they may also be why many of us feel paralysed when it comes to taking action on solutions to save our planet.

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Categories: Environment

Seagull wars: councils spending scarce resources in effort to banish birds

Mon, 2019/05/20 - 10:50am

Plastic owls, birds of prey and swapping eggs for dummy eggs among methods being used

It’s not just your chips that are threatened by seagulls at the British seaside: increasingly, the gull menace is hitting taxpayers in their pockets too, as research shows local councils are spending hundreds of thousands trying to control the birds.

Waste management practices are partly to blame, as less frequent collection of bins gives the scavengers plenty of access to free meals, in turn encouraging them into urban areas. The problem has escalated in the last 15 years, according to Sarah Trotter, an assistant professor of law at the London School of Economics, who has written two papers on the subject. The birds have been blamed for attacking pets and people in towns all around the UK’s coastline, and sometimes even inland.

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Categories: Environment