Offsets for emissions breaches prove Australia has a carbon market, Labor says

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 2:00pm

Industrial sites have spent millions on carbon credits under Direct Action’s ‘safeguard mechanism’

Sixteen Australian industrial sites have breached government-imposed greenhouse gas emissions limits and had to buy millions of dollars in carbon credits.

The breaches came despite big emitters being granted generous carbon limits, in many cases above their highest previous pollution levels.

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Categories: Environment

Global energy giants forced to adapt to rise of renewables

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 10:26am

Companies face world where falling cost of solar and wind power pushes down prices

Seven years after an earthquake off Japan’s eastern coast led to three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the aftershocks are still being felt across the world. The latest came last Saturday when E.ON and RWE announced a huge shakeup of the German energy industry, following meetings that ran into the early hours.

Under a complex asset and shares swap, E.ON will be reshaped to focus on supplying energy to customers and managing energy grids. The company will leave renewables. RWE will focus on power generation and energy trading, complementing its existing coal and gas power stations with a new portfolio of windfarms that will make it Europe’s third-biggest renewable energy producer.

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Categories: Environment

Shutting down EU ivory trade is a ‘personal priority’ for Boris Johnson

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 8:48am

• An estimated 20-30,000 elephants are killed by poachers each year

• UK was world’s largest legal ivory exporter between 2010 and 2015

A government minister has promised that the UK will lead a fight to shut down the ivory trade in the EU, describing the issue as “a personal priority” for the foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Speaking at a conservation summit in Botswana, the Africa minister, Harriet Baldwin, said: “The UK will lead by example. We will be shutting down our ivory trade. We will be working with the EU to do the same. That is something we can do irrespective of whether we are in the European Union or not.”

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Categories: Environment

Plan to cut Glasgow air pollution is a failure, say campaigners

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 7:05am

Friends of the Earth criticises ‘unambitious’ blueprint for first Scottish low emissions zone

Campaigners have criticised plans for Scotland’s first low emissions zone to combat illegal levels of air pollution in Glasgow city centre.

Last October, World Health Organisation testing found that Glasgow was one of the most polluted areas in the UK, with poorer air quality than London, Manchester and Cardiff. Public Health England estimates the equivalent of 300 lives are lost in the city every year due to air pollution.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 7:00am

Gentoo penguins, an albatross chick and spring crocuses are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Is Fukushima doomed to become a dumping ground for toxic waste?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 6:12am

Despite promises of revitalisation from Japan’s government, seven years on from the nuclear disaster the area is still desolate

This month, seven years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns and explosions that blanketed hundreds of square kilometres of northeastern Japan with radioactive debris, government officials and politicians spoke in hopeful terms about Fukushima’s prosperous future. Nevertheless, perhaps the single most important element of Fukushima’s future remains unspoken: the exclusion zone seems destined to host a repository for Japan’s most hazardous nuclear waste.

No Japanese government official will admit this, at least not publicly. A secure repository for nuclear waste has remained a long-elusive goal on the archipelago. But, given that Japan possesses approximately 17,000 tonnes of spent fuel from nuclear power operations, such a development is vital. Most spent fuel rods are still stored precariously above ground, in pools, in a highly earthquake-prone nation.

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Categories: Environment

Ryan Zinke to look into unpopular Montana land exchange proposal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 4:00am

Zinke met Dan and Farris Wilks last September regarding the 5,000-acre proposal, which was twice rejected under the Obama administration

The US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has promised to look into a Montana land exchange proposal from Texas oil and gas billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks that was twice rejected under the Obama administration, the Guardian can reveal.

The Wilkses and their lobbyist met Zinke, a Montana native, last September.

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Categories: Environment

The quest for bike-friendly children's books in a world where cars rule

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 3:25am

From cute cars to smiley emergency vehicles, kids’ culture is awash with rosy images of driving, so a new Mr Men book about cycling is a welcome read. What are your favourite cycling-friendly children’s books?

“Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” is a maxim usually attributed to the Jesuits, but it’s not only religious institutions that use early years training to hook people for life. There’s a mainstream indoctrination that is considered perfectly normal: the promotion of motoring to children.

Car companies don’t have to pay for this brainwashing; we do it automatically. We sit toddlers on our laps and let them pretend-steer our cars while stationary. We buy babies’ bibs festooned with anthropomorphic trucks and nee-nah emergency vehicles. Pixar’s Cars movie is so popular because the fetishisation of driving is deeply embedded in our society. Motor vehicles are spoon-fed to children as benign, cuddly, and desirable. Passing your driving test remains the preeminent rite of passage into adulthood.

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Categories: Environment

Which items can't be recycled?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 2:47am

Many people think items such as plastic bags and coffee cups can be recycled when they can’t. Here are the do’s and don’ts

British consumers are increasingly willing to recycle their household waste but are failing to grasp the basics, according to the latest research by the British Science Association. Failure to get it right means that a lot of recyclable waste is going to landfill, the BSA says.

The issue is further complicated by inconsistency among councils, which make their own rules and funding decisions on recycling collections.

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Categories: Environment

'Keep It In The Ground' Activists Optimistic Despite Oil Boom

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/03/16 - 2:00am

The U.S. is producing more oil than ever, even as calls to leave all fossil fuels in the ground grow louder. Now the "keep it in the ground" movement is taking its fight to the heart of oil country.

(Image credit: Travis Lux/WWNO)

Categories: Environment

Dirty kitchen roll among things Britons wrongly think they can recycle

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 11:01pm

Others include plastic soap dispenser tops and wrapping paper, study shows

British consumers are in the dark about exactly what household waste they can recycle, a new poll has revealed, with plastic soap dispenser tops, dirty kitchen roll and wrapping paper topping the list of things they wrongly consider recyclable.

Research shows that Britons are more aware than ever of how recycling can help the environment. However, the majority are putting out contaminated recycling due to common misunderstandings, thereby doing more harm than good.

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Categories: Environment

FEMA Drops 'Climate Change' From Its Strategic Plan

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 8:49pm

The agency's strategic planning document does not mention the potential impact of a changing climate on the rising risk of natural hazards.

(Image credit: Cliff Owen/AP)

Categories: Environment

No longer 'alternative', mainstream renewables are pushing prices down | Simon Holmes à Court

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 7:40pm

While the government insists that renewables have made our grid unreliable, lights have stayed on and prices are dropping

On the first day of autumn tens of thousands of Victorians received a welcome surprise from their power company — their electricity bills were going down. Prices were cut 5% because the retailer increased their investment in renewable energy.

This will likely come as a surprise to many. Since the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, decided that bashing renewables would play well for them — perhaps more so in the party room than in the electorate — hardly a day goes by without claims that renewables have made our grid unreliable and have pushed prices sky high.

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Categories: Environment

Energy sector must use new tech to ensure the vulnerable aren't left behind

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 6:45pm

With the arrival of energy optimisation technologies, governments and industry must find a way to deliver efficient energy to everyone

A Choice survey revealed last year that electricity bills have become the biggest worry for Australian households. According to the report, more than 80% of Australians are concerned with rising costs, with South Australians and West Australians most concerned about the price of their energy.

The report followed the March 2017 announcement of an ACCC inquiry into retail electricity pricing, as directed by treasurer Scott Morrison. The report is due out in June 2018.

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Categories: Environment

Endangered sharks, dolphins and rays killed by shark net trial

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:48pm

Only one target shark caught in NSW nets in two months, while 55 other marine creatures killed or trapped

Shark nets on the New South Wales north coast have caught just a single target shark in the past two months, while continuing to trap or kill dolphins, turtles, and protected marine life.

A single bull shark was caught in the nets around Ballina in January and February, while 55 other animals were either killed or trapped.

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Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: Cold snap worsens particle load of air

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 2:30pm

Particle pollution increases as the wind slows down and chilly weather prompts the lighting of more wood fires

The last days of the “beast from the east” cold spell caused air pollution problems across large parts of the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Within the UK particle pollution reached between five and 10 on the UK government’s 10-point scale over parts of south Wales and areas of England south of a Merseyside to Tyneside line, except the far south-west.

Pollution from industry, traffic and home wood and coal burning can stay in the air for a week or up to 10 days. This means that pollution emitted in one part of Europe can cause problems hundreds of miles away. If the wind slows down then particle pollution can build up over a whole region.

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Categories: Environment

Scientists Are Amazed By Stone Age Tools They Dug Up In Kenya

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 12:12pm

The discovery suggests an earlier start to the Middle Stone Age in Africa than previously documented. It also offers clues to early social networks and symbolic art by human ancestors.

(Image credit: Jay Reed/NPR )

Categories: Environment

Awkward questions about biodiversity | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 9:41am
Academics and environmental campaigners from the Beyond Extinction Economics (BEE) network say challenging questions about confronting the risk to global biodiversity were left unanswered by a recent Guardian briefing article

Damian Carrington are to be congratulated on a wide-ranging and informative article on the urgency and scale of the current global threat to biodiversity and the Guardian (What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?, theguardian.com, 12 March). However, we of the Beyond Extinction Economics (BEE) network have reservations about the article’s diagnosis of its causes, and proposals for addressing the crisis.

First, to say “we” or “human activity” is responsible for biodiversity loss sidesteps the more serious challenge of identifying the specific socio-cultural, and, more centrally, economic drivers of destruction. Second, to slip easily from population rises to industrial development, housing and farming as the causes of the destruction of wild areas evades critical questions about what sort of industry, producing what sort of consumer goods and what kind of farming and food distribution system – let alone questions as to who has the power to decide and who gets to consume and who doesn’t.

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Categories: Environment

New oil threat looms over England's national park land, campaigners warn

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 9:21am

More than 71,000 hectares of protected countryside in the south-east face risk of drilling

More than 71,000 hectares (177,000 acres) of protected countryside, including national park land, in the south-east of England are at risk from a new wave of oil drilling, environmental campaigners have warned.

Under threat are areas of outstanding natural beauty in the Weald, which runs between the north and south downs, and the South Downs national park, Greenpeace said.

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Categories: Environment

It's 50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out | Richard Wiles

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/15 - 7:47am

Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable

Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

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Categories: Environment
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