Russian protesters kick up a stink about landfill – but not against Putin

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 4:31pm

President seen as potential saviour as people direct rage over toxic dumps towards local officials

The stench from the Yadrovo landfill is bearable only when it is downwind. When the breeze shifts, the fumes become overpowering, a mix of petrol fumes and a noxious sulphur smell that powers its way into your nose and down your throat.

For decades, it was a local dump viewed as a minor nuisance. But six months ago, dozens of trucks each day began hauling in garbage from Moscow. Levels of hydrogen sulfide and chlorine in the air rocketed, children began suffering skin rashes and respiratory ailments, and the town of Volokolamsk, 60 miles north-west of Moscow, became an unlikely centre of an ecological protest.

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Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: petrol, not diesel, is less polluting in the short term

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 1:30pm

A decline in the number of diesel cars would not jeopardise CO2 targets – in fact it would make them cheaper to achieve

The UK Society of Motor Manufacturers blamed February’s rise in the average new-car CO2 emissions on an “anti-diesel agenda [that] has set back progress on climate change”. Petrol v diesel cars is often presented as a trade-off between health-harming air pollution and climate-harmful CO2. Diesel cars do more miles to the litre than petrol, but this exaggerates the difference in CO2 emissions since one litre of diesel contains more energy and more carbon than one litre of petrol. If fuel were taxed on energy and carbon, rather than volume, then the tax on diesel would be 10 to 14% greater than that on petrol.

The International Council on Clean Transportation points out that petrol engines and petrol-hybrids have improved faster than diesel and will continue to do so. They conclude that a decline in diesel cars from around 56% to 15% would not jeopardise EU CO2 targets. Instead, it would make the targets cheaper to achieve since petrol engines cost less to make and have simpler exhaust clean-up. The future might be electric cars (or better yet for public health: cycling, walking and public transport), but in the short term new petrol cars, instead of diesel, might help both climate change and air pollution.

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Categories: Environment

U.S. Utilities Look To Electric Cars As Their Savior Amid Decline In Demand

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 1:14pm

After years of rising demand, utility companies are staring down a projected decline in the demand for electricity. They say the budding electric car industry could save them.

(Image credit: Johannes Eisele /AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

EPA accused of urging staff to downplay climate change after memo leaks

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 10:03am

Scientists say an internal Environmental Protection Agency document encourages the use of misleading statements about scientific certainty

Scientists have accused the US Environmental Protection Agency of distributing misleading statements about climate change, following the leaking of an internal email advising agency staff to downplay the certainty of the science.

The email, issued by the EPA’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and sent out to communications directors and regional public affairs directors, was forwarded to others and shared throughout the agency. The email acknowledges that communities face “challenges” in dealing with the consequences of climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Alarmed conservationists call for urgent action to fix 'America's wildlife crisis'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 8:00am

One-third of species are vulnerable to extinction, a crisis ravaging swaths of creatures, conservationists say in call to fund recovery plans

An extinction crisis is rippling though America’s wildlife, with scores of species at risk of being wiped out unless recovery plans start to receive sufficient funding, conservationists have warned.

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Categories: Environment

Wind and solar make more electricity than nuclear for first time in UK

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 7:36am

In 2017 Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions also fell 3% as coal use dropped and renewables climbed

Windfarms and solar panels produced more electricity than the UK’s eight nuclear power stations for the first time at the end of last year, official figures show.

Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions also continued to fall, dropping 3% in 2017, as coal use fell and the use of renewables climbed.

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Categories: Environment

Is It Time To Tap The Brakes On Self-Driving Cars?

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 7:20am

A fatal accident involving an autonomous vehicle has raised new concerns about their safety and could put a stop to a rapidly developing field of the tech industry.

(Image credit: ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

David Cameron laments 'painfully slow' fracking progress in UK

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 5:53am

He blames green campaigners for delays, but believes industry will eventually take off in UK

David Cameron has told US oil executives of his frustration that the UK has failed to embrace fracking despite his best efforts, and hit out at green groups for being “absolutely obsessed” with blocking new fossil fuel extraction.

His bullish pro-fracking comments at a US oil industry event this week came almost 12 years since Britain’s former prime minister hugged a husky to burnish his green credentials.

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Categories: Environment

Climate scientists debate a flaw in the Paris climate agreement | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 3:00am

Ultimately the only thing that matters: we need to cut carbon pollution as much as possible, as fast as possible

In September 2017, a team led by the University of Exeter’s Richard Millar published a paper in Nature Geoscience, which was widely reported as suggesting that the Paris climate agreement’s aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures is still technically within our reach. Many other climate scientists were skeptical of this result, and the journal recently published a critique from a team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Andrew Schurer.

The debate lies in exactly how the Paris climate target is defined and measured, which has not been precisely established. Millar’s team used the UK Met Office and Hadley Centre global surface temperature dataset called HadCRUT4, which begins in 1850 and estimates global surface temperatures have warmed about 0.9°C since that time. The team thus calculated the remaining carbon budget that will lead to an additional 0.6°C warming.

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Categories: Environment

Why is the UK government so infatuated with nuclear power?

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/03/29 - 12:00am

As the nuclear option looks less and less sensible, it becomes harder to explain Whitehall’s enthusiasm. Might it be to do with the military?

Against a worldwide background of declining fortunes for nuclear power, UK policy enthusiasm continues to intensify. Already pursuing one of the most ambitious nuclear new-build agendas in the world, Britain is seeking to buck 50 years of experience to develop an entirely new and untested design of small modular reactors (SMRs). In 2016, then energy and climate secretary, Amber Rudd, summed up the government’s position: “Investing in nuclear is what this government is all about for the next 20 years.”

Despite unique levels of long-term policy support, this nuclear new-build programme is severely delayed, with no chance of operations beginning as intended “significantly before 2025”, Costs have mushroomed, with even government figures showing renewables like offshore wind to already be far more affordable. With renewable costs still plummeting, global investments in these alternatives are now already greater than for all conventional generating technologies put together. With worldwide momentum so clear, the scale of UK nuclear ambitions are an international anomaly.

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Categories: Environment
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