A hollow ring to Theresa May’s pledge on plastics | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/01/12 - 11:25am
Theresa May’s new green strategy lacks regulatory bite, says Ray Georgeson, and, according to Maureen Evershed, is short on humility. Stephen Sibbald reckons an important problem has been ignored, while Peter Hames and Ros Cayton suggest ways to stamp out non-biodegradable coffee cups

Ian Paul (Letters, 12 January), referring to plastics recycling, asks: “Surely we should urge government and private industry to build and develop plants to deal with the problem now, before we are knee-deep in bottles?” He is right, but we had started on this more than a decade ago, with world-leading recycling technology investment in plastic bottle recycling at Closed Loop in Dagenham, part funded by the government’s Wrap (Waste and Resources Action Programme) organisation, which produced the material to include recycled content in plastic milk bottles.

This was a world first, establishing the use of recycled material in food-grade packaging. It foundered when the voluntary agreement between the dairies, brands, retailers and bottle-makers to use recycled content collapsed when the oil price fell and virgin material became much cheaper. Government failed to intervene to save the plant and the investment, for the sake of a price differential representing 0.1p on the cost of a two-litre milk bottle. All those responsible blamed each other, and the nation lost significant recycling capacity.

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Categories: Environment

Vicar unchained from tree after protest against HS2 work at Euston

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/01/12 - 8:44am

Dozen of planes near central London station to be felled in preparation for high-speed rail link development

A protesting priest has been voluntarily unchained from one of 200 trees around Euston that HS2 is felling in preparation for the high-speed rail line.

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Categories: Environment

Tim Kruger: How Do We Slow Climate Change Before It's Too Late?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2018/01/12 - 7:27am

To tackle climate change, geoengineer Tim Kruger is developing technology that could remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere. But he says it takes unprecedented cooperation to make it work.

(Image credit: Bret Hartman/TED)

Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/01/12 - 7:00am

Rockhopper penguins, bleeding heart baboons and a flying fox are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Norway backs EU fishing policies remaining during Brexit transition

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/01/12 - 6:38am

North Sea curbs to last at least 21 months despite Michael Gove’s suggestion Britain would take back control of its waters

The EU’s insistence that quotas under the common fisheries policy for the seas around the UK will remain in force during a Brexit transition period has been backed up by the Norwegian government, dealing a fresh blow for Downing Street.

Pers Sandberg, the Norwegian fisheries minister, said he expected talks between the EU, UK and Norway over fishing rights to be complex and likely to conclude at the end of a transition period.

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Categories: Environment

Armed raid on nuclear workers' housing raises fears over Brazil's two reactors

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2018/01/12 - 12:15am

Brazil is one of three Latin American countries with nuclear power. It also suffers from violent crime. Now a heavily armed gang has brought the two together

Fears over the security of Brazil’s two nuclear power plants have been raised after a heavily armed gang raided a secure workers’ condominium just a kilometre away and blew up two cash machines.

About 10 men held security guards hostage at around 3am on Monday, robbed guests at a party in a private club then escaped in a waiting speedboat from the Praia Brava condominium for workers at the Angra 1 and 2 nuclear reactors, run by state company Eletronuclear.

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Australia and New Zealand at loggerheads over manuka honey trademark

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 9:43pm

Australian beekeepers have challenged a UK ruling giving their trans-Tasman rivals sole rights to use the coveted term

A trans-Tasman fight has erupted over which country has the right to claim lucrative manuka honey as its own.

Manuka honey is produced from bees feeding on the pollen of the Leptospermum scoparium plant; known as “manuka” in New Zealand, and “tea tree” in Australia.

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Categories: Environment

Conservationists decry NSW shark net trial after protected species caught and killed

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 7:13pm

One bull shark caught during November and December period along with marine turtles and rays

New South Wales shark nets caught just one targeted shark but continued to kill protected species this summer, a result environmentalists have described as “unfathomable”.

Figures released this week from a trial of shark nets on northern NSW’s beaches show they have caught a single bull shark in November and December.

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Categories: Environment

Brown snake bite kills man who tried to defend dog

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 5:23pm

Despite administration of antivenom, 24-year-old died within an hour of being bitten on the finger in NSW backyard

A man is dead after he was bitten by a brown snake while trying to help his dog in the north-west of New South Wales.

The 24-year-old was rushed to hospital by a family member but died within an hour of being bitten on the finger in a backyard in Tamworth on Wednesday night.

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Categories: Environment

How Firewood Is Faring In Vermont After Severe Cold Spell

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 2:16pm

When New England experiences severe cold weather, rural homes quickly burn through a precious wintertime commodity: firewood. After the latest cold spell, NPR looks at how Vermonters' woodpiles are faring, and what the rest of the the winter will hold.

Categories: Environment

Search Continues In California For Missing People After Mudslides

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 2:16pm

NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with Capt. Sara Rathbun of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's search and rescue team about the mudslides in Santa Barbara, Calif. The mudslides have killed at least 17 people.

Categories: Environment

'A really big deal': New York City's fossil fuel divestment could spur global shift

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 12:58pm

Economists say city’s status as financial and cultural giant means move to sever ties with fossil fuel will catalyze others in US and around the world to follow

New York City’s decision to sever ties with its fossil fuel investments is set to prove a catalyst to other cities in the face of the Trump administration’s staunch support for coal, oil and gas interests, according to several leading economists.

On Wednesday, city officials announced that New York was to divest its pension funds of about $5bn in fossil fuel-linked money over the next five years. New York’s total pension fund for its teachers, firefighters and other city workers is worth about $189bn.

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Categories: Environment

UK’s wasted chances to recycle and renew | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 12:15pm
Britain should follow China’s example on renewables, writes Feargal Dalton, and Ian Paul urges the UK to step up to the recycling challenge. Neil Sinclair wants a fossil fuel-free February, while Grace Hewson wants a plastic-free newspaper

In view of the appalling revelations that the UK has been shipping vast quantities of plastic to China for many years (Editorial, 8 January), would it not be a good idea to have the UK lead once more in something and have genuine recycling plants set up here in the country? I mean genuine plants to process plastic from the UK and the rest of Europe, not just depots for onward reselling as seems to have been the case. 

There are initiatives to use such waste plastic in innovative ways. For example there is a small startup company in Scotland, MacRebur, developing ways to reduce the amount of toxic bitumen in asphalt by substituting a proportion of waste plastic into the mix. Surely we should urge government and private industry to build and develop plants to deal with the problem now, before we are knee-deep in bottles?
Ian Paul

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Categories: Environment

May’s plastic plan is big on gimmicks, but it won’t cut waste | George Monbiot

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 10:56am
The strategy ignores a critical issue: the more our economy grows, the more we’ll inevitably consume

It’s as if it were written with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. In terms of rhetoric, Theresa May’s 25-year environment plan is in some ways the best government document I’ve ever read. In terms of policy, it ranges from the pallid to the pathetic.

Those who wrote it are aware of the multiple crises we face. But, having laid out the depth and breadth of our predicaments, they propose to do almost nothing about them. I can almost hear the internal dialogue: “Yes, let’s change the world! Hang on a minute, what about our commitment to slashing regulations? What about maximising economic growth? What would the Conservatives’ major funders have to say about it? Oh all right, let’s wave our hands around instead.”

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Priest to chain herself to tree at Euston in protest against HS2 felling plans

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 10:54am

Residents say they have been pushed into taking direct action to save the 200 trees around train station in central London

A priest is to chain herself to a tree outside Euston station in central London in a protest against the felling of more than 200 trees around the station to make way for the HS2 rail line.

Dozens of giant London plane trees in Euston Square Gardens are among those earmarked to be cut down to provide temporary sites for construction vehicles and a taxi rank displaced by work at the station.

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Categories: Environment

Government Scientists Say A Controversial Pesticide Is Killing Endangered Salmon

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 10:52am

The insecticide chlorpyrifos, already under attack for its risk to small children, may be killing salmon as well. The National Marine Fisheries Service is recommending restrictions on its use.

(Image credit: Thomas Kline/Getty Images/First Light)

Categories: Environment

Government indecision leaves £1.3bn Swansea tidal lagoon project in limbo

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 10:19am

Fresh offer of ‘substantial investment’ from Welsh first minister raises hope for clean energy plan getting a green light from Westminster

Plans for a £1.3bn tidal power lagoon in Swansea could still be backed by ministers despite government indecision on whether to support it, according to the author of an independent review on the project.

Charles Hendry, a Conservative politician and former energy minister, enthusiastically supported the scheme a year ago as a source of clean power and UK jobs.

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Categories: Environment

Environmentalists Warn Of Mediterranean Pollution From Lebanon Land Reclamation

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 8:04am

A land reclamation project that uses vast amounts of garbage extends hundreds of feet into the sea. "We are fishing plastic," says a fisherman. The country has long struggled to manage its waste.

(Image credit: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Montana Barley Fields Become Front Line For Climate Change And Beer

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 6:00am

Barley, the "king of malt," needs a precise recipe of water and sunshine to thrive — too much of either will cause it to wither and die. And amid a changing climate, that's exactly what's happening.

(Image credit: Tony Bynum/Food & Environment Reporting Network)

Categories: Environment

Theresa May defends green plan as critics say it is too slow and vague

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2018/01/11 - 5:56am

Environmental groups welcome ambition but say 25-year promises must be backed by force of law, money and new watchdog

Theresa May has said her government is serious about improving the environment after pressure groups gave a lukewarm response to a 25-year green plan, praising its ambition but warning that it lacked sufficient proposals for immediate action.

May’s proposals were also criticised by Jeremy Corbyn, who said her pledge to stop all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 was “far too long” to take action.

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