China to cut fossil fuel use to below 20% by 2060

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 5:03pm

Despite pushing ahead with dozens of new coal power plants, China has a new plan to increase wind and solar power in its march towards carbon neutrality

China is targeting a clean energy goal of reducing fossil fuel use to below 20% by 2060, according to an official plan published by state media.

The cabinet document, released on Sunday, follows a pledge by President Xi Jinping to wean the world’s biggest polluter off coal, with a target of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality 30 years later.

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Categories: Environment

Cross-party MPs deride government’s ‘inconsistent’ green jobs policy

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 4:01pm

Net zero strategy should have defined what green jobs are so that progress can be measured, says committee

The government has come under fire from the environmental audit committee of MPs for its “inconsistent” policy on green jobs. The committee said that despite pledging millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, ministers are yet to define what a “green job” is.

“The workforce of the future is being undermined by a lack of evidence-based government policies on how jobs will be filled in green sectors,” said Philip Dunne, the committee chairman. “Encouraging announcements of investment in green sectors of the economy are very welcome but the government admits that claims about green jobs lack explanation and data on how the targets will be achieved.”

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Categories: Environment

Powerful storm brings heavy rain, flooding and mud flows to Northern California

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 3:19pm

Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area while the National Weather Service's Sacramento office warned of "potentially historic rain."

(Image credit: Noah Berger/AP)

Categories: Environment

Strategist calls for 'climate humanitarian visa,' as answer to Biden refugee report

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 2:08pm

NPR's David Folkenflik speaks with Ama Francis, who works on climate displacement with the International Refugee Assistance Project, about the growing threat of climate migration.

Categories: Environment

Poorest countries to gain from new climate funding plan to break Cop26 impasse

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 10:41am

Climate finance plan needed to gain backing of developing nations for any deal at Glasgow talks

The world’s poorest countries are set to benefit from a new climate funding plan to help them cope with the impacts of climate breakdown, in an effort to break the impasse between developed and developing countries at the UN Cop26 climate summit

The UK government, as Cop26 host, will unveil the proposals on Monday along with ministers from Germany and Canada, who have been charged with drawing up a plan for climate finance, needed to gain the backing of scores of developing countries for any deal at the talks, which open in Glasgow next Sunday.

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Categories: Environment

Heat pumps are practical and necessary | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 9:43am

Readers respond to letters from readers who were sceptical about the practicality of replacing gas boilers with heat pumps

Your correspondents are too gloomy about heat pumps for houses and flats (Letters, 20 October). Heat pumps may be unusual in Britain, but they are a major industry and very widespread in Europe and elsewhere. They are used in Canada, where outside temperatures drop very low. Individual units may not be suitable for high-rise blocks – although they might be installed on balconies. But high-rise buildings make up a small fraction of the housing stock, and blocks can have communal heating and cooling with large centralised heat pumps.

Older heat pumps were noisy, but new makes are on the market that are much quieter. It is not true, except in the worst cases, that installing heat pumps requires dwellings to be insulated first. The great majority of houses and flats in the UK are already reasonably insulated, and heat pumps can be run for longer and at lower temperatures than gas boilers. Better insulation of existing gas-heated houses and flats will by itself only produce modest cuts in carbon emissions. To meet climate goals, we have to stop using gas.

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Categories: Environment

Current approach to wildfires risks lives and wastes money, say experts

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 7:00am

Researchers call for new firefighting techniques that focus on managing landscapes, as global heating sees increase in blazes

A new approach is urgently needed to tackle global wildfires as current methods are no longer working, draining the public purse and placing lives at risk, according to experts.

This summer saw some of the worst wildfires in history and underscored the destructive impacts of global heating. As Cop26 approaches and is expected to shine a light on the importance of protecting ecosystems and building defences to avoid loss of homes and lives, experts say a lack of foresight and funding worldwide means harmful wildfires will continue to rage, putting communities and firefighters in danger.

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Categories: Environment

Lethal ‘forever chemicals’ taint our food, water and even blood. The EPA is stalling | David Bond

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 3:31am

There is no longer any population or place on earth untouched by PFAS contamination. We are living through a toxic experiment with no control group

This week the EPA announced a new roadmap to research, restrict, and remediate PFAS – a group of industrial “forever chemicals” that have been linked to cancer and are found in our food, water, and even our blood. President Biden is requesting $10bn in the infrastructure bill to address PFAS. But this new attention still falls short of what’s required to confront an unprecedented crisis that affects the health of the entire United States and countless people across the world.

Today, toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are everywhere we’ve thought to look for them. As engineered, these synthetic chemicals glide through air and water with ease, evade all natural processes of decay, and inflict debilitating injuries even at exceedingly low levels of exposure. The petrochemical industry has its fingerprints all over the ubiquity of PFAS, yet that very ubiquity is now being used as an excuse against doing anything about it. PFAS are becoming too toxic to fail.

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Categories: Environment

All hail the net zero strategy: a year late and lacking in both ambition and funding

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 11:00pm
The UK rushed out its climate plan just days before Cop26 – and it shows. The planet can’t afford further bluster and delay

In politics, timing is everything. Last week the government set out its strategy for meeting its net zero carbon targets: this came a year later than expected, and less than a fortnight before the UK finds itself front and centre on the global stage as host of the Cop26 UN climate talks in Glasgow.

The long-awaited climate blueprint covered wide-ranging “net zero” ambitions from renewable energy and electric vehicles to carbon capture and electric heat pumps – and yet still offered too little, if not entirely too late.

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Categories: Environment

NSW treasurer Matt Kean says federal Nationals ‘can resign from the ministry’ if they don’t back net zero

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 5:43pm

Kean also took a swipe at MPs supporting nuclear power, saying they are ‘chasing a unicorn’

The New South Wales treasurer, Matt Kean, says the Nationals will need to decide if they want to resign and “support a Labor government” if they don’t back a federal commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The comments come ahead of a critical Nationals party room meeting in Canberra on Sunday afternoon, which will consider the party’s position after it sent a list of demands to the prime minister, Scott Morrison, on Thursday.

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Categories: Environment

US west coast braces for ‘atmospheric river’ as huge storm brews

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 2:45pm

Northern California faces flash flood risk and threat of mudslides, especially in fire-charred areas

A huge Pacific storm is poised to unleash conditions known as an “atmospheric river”, with torrential rains and strong winds putting about 10 million people at risk of flash floods in parts of northern California this weekend.

The incoming tempest has raised fears of mudslides, especially in areas charred during record-setting wildfires this summer.

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Categories: Environment

Reaping the wind turbines: the little town in the Great Dividing Range split by green energy plan

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 12:00pm

Those born in the small NSW town of Nundle are generally in favour of a new windfarm, while many tree changers object

In the small town of Nundle, a story of rural change is playing out. The picturesque little New England town of 289 people, nestled in the Great Dividing Range, has traditionally relied on farming and increasingly tourism to keep it ticking over.

The Hills of Gold Wind Farm has reversed the usual expected lines of division. A section of those born and working in the district are generally in favour of the green energy project and the income it may bring, while tree changers or retirees are opposed.

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Categories: Environment

Poor EV take-up to cost Australia’s health system $1tn by 2050, modelling shows

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 12:00pm

Converting every vehicle to electric by 2035 would halve costs, Australian Conservation Foundation report finds

Australia may be left with almost a $1tn health bill by 2050 if it doesn’t boost the take-up of electric vehicles, according to a new report released on Sunday.

But this could be slashed in half by setting an ambitious target to convert every car in the country to electric by 2035.

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Categories: Environment

Turning over a new leaf: the humble hedge stages a remarkable comeback

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 7:00am

Agriculture turns full-circle as the trend for ripping out hedges is reversed… and farmers hail the ecological benefits

The emerald-green five-year-old hawthorn hedge glistens in autumnal sunshine. In the cider apple orchard and grass pastures below, younger hedges shoot off towards a fast-flowing trout stream.

History has come full circle in Blackmore Farm, which nestles in the foothills of the Quantocks in Somerset. The owner, Ian Dyer, remembers helping his father, who arrived as a tenant farmer in the 1950s, grub out old hedges in the 1960s and 1970s. But – like increasing numbers of landowners – he has hired a hedgelayer to bring back his hedges to provide habitats for wildlife, capture carbon and slow water pouring off fields into rivers.

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Categories: Environment

Saudi Arabia pledges net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 6:17am

Although the kingdom will aim to reduce emissions within its own borders, there is no indication it will slow down investments in oil and gas or move away from the production of fossil fuels.

(Image credit: Amr Nabil/AP)

Categories: Environment

Nick Offerman on why he finds solace in the outdoors

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 5:02am

The actor and author has a new book, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play. He talks with NPR's Scott Simon about why walking in the woods makes him feel better and how to experience nature in a city.

(Image credit: Jon Maret)

Categories: Environment

Anxiety from climate change isn't going away. Here's how you can manage it

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 4:00am

Feeling anxious about the climate crisis is a totally normal response, says ecotherapist Phoenix Smith. Here's how you can manage those feelings for the decades to come.

(Image credit: Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Britain’s oil and gas workers want a green transition – but the industry doesn’t | Erik Dalhuijsen

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 1:00am

I’ve worked in oil for decades, and seen what happens when jobs dry up with no plan B. Now industry leaders must face reality too

Moving to a green energy system and a zero-emissions society without leaving people behind is an enormous challenge. Many oil and gas workers are actually ready for the change, but the oil and gas industry itself is slowing the process, holding back real progress.

Having worked in the oil industry in Aberdeen and abroad for decades, what I have seen feels like the industry applying all of its power to self-preservation, in the face of the immutable truths that fossil fuels will one day run out and that we must keep what of them remains in the ground.

Erik Dalhuijsen is a consultant petroleum and sustainability engineer and a climate change activist living in Aberdeen

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Categories: Environment

Air source heat pumps: how the costs and savings stack up

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 12:00am

The lowdown as householders are being urged to replace their old boilers with greener alternatives

Householders are being encouraged to ditch their old gas and oil-fired boilers and replace them with new clean, green heat pumps.

In the run-up to the Cop26 climate summit, the UK government has set out plans to offer grants to help households install air source heat pumps and other low-carbon heating systems over the next three years.

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