Drax looking at 'coal-free future' as it reveals £83m pre-tax loss

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/07/19 - 2:33am

Operator of UK’s largest power station says it is considering switching one of three remaining coal-fired units to gas

The operator of the UK’s largest power station has seen its share price slide after it posted a pre-tax loss of £83m in the first half of the year despite increasing earnings by 73%.

Drax Group, which runs a coal and biomass plant in North Yorkshire, boosted its earnings to £121m from £70m last year, due to its acquisition of the business energy supplier Opus Energy.

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Categories: Environment

Mercedes recalls 3m diesel cars over emissions concerns

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/07/19 - 2:12am

Daimler acts to reduce nitrogen oxide output as diesel emissions remain under scrutiny in wake of VW scandal

Almost every new Mercedes-Benz diesel car bought in the UK during the past six years is being recalled to improve their emissions performance.

Germany’s Daimler, which makes the vehicles, said the measure to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) output, which will cost the company about €220m (£195m), would involve no cost to owners.

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Categories: Environment

Warning of more UK floods after helicopter rescues in Cornwall

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/07/19 - 1:34am

Flooding in Cornish coastal village of Coverack described as horrendous, and further deluges possible further north

Much of England and Wales has been warned to prepare for more stormy weather and localised flooding after several people in Cornwall had to be rescued from flash floods overnight.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms caused “devastating” flooding in the coastal village of Coverack in Cornwall on Tuesday, with about 50 homes and businesses affected. Met Office forecasters put in place a yellow warning, the lowest of the three weather warnings, for most of the rest of Wednesday and said that as much as two-thirds of a month’s average rainfall could come down in a few hours.

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Brilliant display as giant Australian cuttlefish mass off South Australia – video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/07/19 - 1:33am

Every winter thousands of giant Australian cuttlefish gather to breed in a stretch of shallow, rocky water off Point Lowly in South Australia. The phenomenon, known as an aggregation, is the only known instance of cuttlefish gathering in such large numbers – it is estimated there can be more than 150,000 in a 10km stretch of water – and has become a tourist as well as scientific attraction. This video, taken by mpaynecreative.tv, captures male cuttlefish as they display their brightest pigments in a bid to attract females. It is not known why the giant Cuttlefish aggregate in this area particularly but it is believed they are likely attracted to the shallow rocky area along the coast as it provides optimal habitat to lay their eggs. Video courtesy of mpaynecreative.tv

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Categories: Environment

Homes evacuated as Cornwall hit by flash floods

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/07/19 - 12:37am

Emergency services tell people to avoid Coverack area and not to drive through flood waters after violent storms on Tuesday afternoon

Dozens of homes have been evacuated on the south coast of Cornwall as flash floods sweep through the county after violent thunderstorms on Tuesday afternoon.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue told people to avoid the Coverack area because of “major flooding”.

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Categories: Environment

Eager beavers experts at recreating wildlife-rich wetlands, study reveals

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 10:30pm

Four re-introduced beavers in Scotland engineered a network of dams, canals and ponds that left the landscape ‘unrecognisable’ from the original drained pasture

The extraordinary ability of eager beavers to engineer degraded land into wildlife-rich wetlands has been revealed by a new study in Scotland.

Scientists studied the work of a group of four re-introduced beavers over a decade and found their water engineering prowess created almost 200m of dams, 500m of canals and an acre of ponds. The result was a landscape “almost unrecognisable” from the original pasture that was drained over 200 years ago, with the number of plant species up by nearly 50% and richly varied habitats established across the 30 acre site.

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Categories: Environment

MH370 search maps shed light on remote depths of Indian Ocean

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 10:18pm

Australian team failed to find missing Malaysia Airlines plane but images show ocean floor’s mountains, rift valleys and shipwrecks in unprecedented detail

Detailed ocean-floor maps made during the unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, released by Australia on Wednesday, could help increase the knowledge of rich fisheries and the prehistoric movement of the earth’s southern continents.

Related: Why hasn't MH370 been found?

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Categories: Environment

Third-hottest June puts 2017 on track to make hat-trick of hottest years

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 10:12pm

June 2017 was beaten only by June in 2015 and 2016, leaving experts with little hope for limiting warming to 1.5C or even 2C

Last month was the third-hottest June on record globally, temperature data suggest, confirming 2017 will almost certainly make a hat-trick of annual climate records, with 2015, 2016 and 2017 being the three hottest years since records began.

The figures also cement estimations that warming is now at levels not seen for 115,000 years, and leave some experts with little hope for limiting warming to 1.5C or even 2C.

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Categories: Environment

Sustainable British cod on the menu after stocks recover

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 9:30pm

A recovery from near total collapse has led North Sea cod stocks to be labelled as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council for the first time in 20 years

Fish and chip lovers can now enjoy North Sea cod with a clear conscience, after the fishery was awarded sustainable status by the Marine Stewardship Council on Wednesday.

Stocks of cod in the North Sea were once one of the world’s great fisheries but plummeted by 84% between the early 1970s and 2006. They came perilously close to the total collapse seen in the Grand Banks fishery off Canada in the early 1990s, which has still not recovered.

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Categories: Environment

Australian local councils lead the way in tackling climate change as federal policy stalls

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 5:59pm

Thirty-five councils pledge to switch renewable energy, maximise public transport use and develop more climate-resilient communities

Local councils across Australia are taking climate action into their own hands as climate policy paralysis plagues the federal government.

Thirty-five have pledged to switch to renewable energy, build sustainable transport, and develop greener, efficient and more climate-resilient communities.

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Categories: Environment

Want To Slow Global Warming? Researchers Look To Family Planning

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 1:17pm

A recent study shows that the biggest way to reduce climate change is to have fewer children, but, says one of its authors, the report isn't meant to tell people how to plan their futures.

(Image credit: NASA)

Categories: Environment

Ecuador risks Opec split by increasing oil output

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 10:25am

Move represents a tiny proportion of world production, but could embolden others to rethink their commitment to cuts

Ecuador has become the first country to publicly admit it will not meet Opec’s production curbs, saying it needs to pump more oil to address its fiscal deficit.

The South American country’s promised cut of 26,000 barrels of oil a day is a tiny drop in the 1.8m b/d that the cartel recently agreed to curb until early 2018, but the decision is still the first crack in the deal’s unity.

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Categories: Environment

Illegal trade in rhino horn thriving in China, NGO investigation reveals

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 9:46am

Elephant Action League’s sting operation shows how horns are trafficked from Africa and enter into China via Vietnam, alleging official complicity

Rhinoceros horn can be easily bought in China despite it being illegal since 1993. The rhino horn products in antiques shop are far from antique. They are new and most likely been illegally trafficked from Africa to Vietnam and then into China.

A new report from Elephant Action League (EAL), Grinding Rhino: An Undercover Investigation on Rhino Horn Trafficking in China and Vietnam, shows how rhino horn makes its way into shops in China, the largest illegal market for rhino horn in the world. EAL’s 11-month investigation, called Operation Red Cloud, targeted the supply chain, exposing the players, the networks, and the means by which rhino horn is trafficked into China.

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Categories: Environment

California lawmakers extend program to cut emissions in bipartisan vote

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 9:26am

Cap-and-trade system, which aims to help state cut greenhouse gases 40% by 2030, stands against Trump policies: ‘That’s what good government looks like’

California legislators have voted to extend a centerpiece program to cut greenhouse gas emissions, burnishing the state’s reputation as a bulwark against Donald Trump’s demolition of climate change measures.

Related: 'Grow food on Mars': LA startups tackle climate change with inventive solutions

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Categories: Environment

Rise of mega farms: how the US model of intensive farming is invading the world

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 8:06am

Demand for cheaper food and lower production costs is turning green fields into industrial sheds to process vast amounts of meat and poultry

Since the days of the wild west frontier, the popular image of American farming has been of cowboys rounding up steers on wide open ranches, to whoops, whips and hollers. Today, the cowboys on their ranches under wide open skies have been replaced by vast sheds, hulking over the plains, housing tens of thousands of animals each, with the noises and smells spreading far beyond their fences.

The US has led the world in large-scale farming, pioneering the use of intensive livestock rearing in hog farms, cattle sheds and sheep pens. There are now more than 50,000 facilities in the US classified as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), with another quarter of a million industrial-scale facilities below that threshold.

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Categories: Environment

State hackers 'probably compromised' energy sector, says leaked GCHQ memo

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 6:20am

UK’s National Cybersecurity Centre warned of connections ‘from multiple UK IP addresses to state-sponsored threats’, according to reports

The UK energy sector is likely to have been targeted and probably compromised by nation-state hackers, according to a memo from Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre.

The NCSC, a subsidiary of GCHQ, warned that it had spotted connections “from multiple UK IP addresses to infrastructure associated with advanced state-sponsored hostile threat actors, who are known to target the energy and manufacturing sectors,” according to Motherboard, which obtained a copy of the document.

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Categories: Environment

'Grow food on Mars': LA startups tackle climate change with inventive solutions

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 4:00am

Dozens of startups are inventing ways to keep LA cool with products and services that aim to avert environmental disaster – and yield profits

Drought, floods, wildfires and heat waves – climate change and extreme weather events are wreaking havoc in California, especially in Los Angeles. The city has recently baked in record temperatures with a long, hot summer still stretching ahead.

It is the new normal: climate models predict the number of extreme heat days, defined as more than 95F, will triple by the middle of the century.

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Categories: Environment

Let buyers borrow more on greener homes, urges report

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/07/18 - 3:59am

Making energy ratings a factor in mortgage offers could let people borrow up to £11,500 more, says Lenders group

Homebuyers could take out bigger mortgages if the energy ratings of properties were factored into the lending criteria of banks and building societies, government-funded research has found.

Although estate agents are legally bound to display energy performance certificates (EPCs) in property listings, few buying decisions hinge on energy bill costs and the efficiency of a home is not considered in affordability calculations by lenders.

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Categories: Environment

Barnaby Joyce calls for energy compromise but says Labor must shift on coal

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 11:46pm

Deputy prime minister says Australia has a ‘moral responsibility’ to provide the world with energy from exported fossil fuels

Barnaby Joyce has told a clean energy summit that coal is crucial to Australia’s energy policy, saying the government has “a moral responsibility” to provide the world with the energy from exported fossil fuels.

Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, the Nationals leader met Bill Shorten’s offer of bipartisanship around a clean energy target with his own call for compromise.

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Categories: Environment

M&S slashes plastic use in food packaging to cut waste

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2017/07/17 - 10:01pm

More than 140 products including crisps and popcorn put in smaller, redesigned packets with reduced air pocket, but same amount of food

A major UK supermarket has slashed the amount of packaging used for its popular snacks such as crisps and popcorn by reducing the pocket of air at the top of the bag.

As a result of so-called ‘Project Thin Air’, more than 140 of Marks & Spencer’s best-selling products have been redesigned and repackaged in smaller, less bulky packets containing the same amount of food as before.

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