Clean energy financier invests $150m in infrastructure fund to lower emissions

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/11 - 11:00am

Move by CEFC designed to drive emissions reductions across Australia’s airports, ports and electricity infrastructure assets

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is investing $150m in Australia’s largest infrastructure fund to drive emissions reduction across some of Australia’s biggest airports, ports and electricity infrastructure assets.

It is the first time the CEFC has invested in an infrastructure fund, and it is using the investment to target emissions reduction at Melbourne and Brisbane airports, Sydney’s Port Botany, the Port of Brisbane and Ausgrid.

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Categories: Environment

Green-haired turtle that breathes through its genitals added to endangered list

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/11 - 11:00am

With its punky green mohican the striking Mary river turtle joins a new ZSL list of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles

It sports a green mohican, fleshy finger-like growths under its chin and can breathe through its genitals.

The Mary river turtle is one of the most striking creatures on the planet, and it is also one of the most endangered.

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Categories: Environment

Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/11 - 10:00am

Warm current that has historically caused dramatic changes in climate is experiencing an unprecedented slowdown and may be less stable than thought - with potentially severe consequences

The warm Atlantic current linked to severe and abrupt changes in the climate in the past is now at its weakest in at least 1,600 years, new research shows. The findings, based on multiple lines of scientific evidence, throw into question previous predictions that a catastrophic collapse of the Gulf Stream would take centuries to occur.

Such a collapse would see western Europe suffer far more extreme winters, sea levels rise fast on the eastern seaboard of the US and would disrupt vital tropical rains. The new research shows the current is now 15% weaker than around 400AD, an exceptionally large deviation, and that human-caused global warming is responsible for at least a significant part of the weakening.

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Categories: Environment

'Day zero' water crises: Spain, Morocco, India and Iraq at risk as reservoirs shrink

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2018/04/11 - 5:00am

A new early warning satellite system reveals countries where shrinking reservoirs could lead to the taps completely drying up

Shrinking reservoirs in Morocco, India, Iraq and Spain could spark the next “day zero” water crisis, according to the developers of a satellite early warning system for the world’s 500,000 dams.

Cape Town recently grabbed global headlines by launching a countdown to the day when taps would be cut off to millions of residents as a result of a three-year drought. Drastic conservation measures have forestalled that moment in South Africa, but dozens of other countries face similar risks from rising demand, mismanagement and climate change, say the World Resources Institute (WRI).

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Categories: Environment

Sydney waste incinerator should be binned, department says

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 8:56pm

Dial A Dump’s waste-to-energy generation project likely to be put on hold until after NSW election due to pollution fears

A planned major waste incinerator and energy plant for western Sydney – the largest in the southern hemisphere – is likely to be put on ice until after the New South Wales election next March after the Department of Planning recommended against the project.

The director-general of the department is about to issue a negative assessment, saying that on the advice of Environmental Protection Authority, NSW Health and independent experts, the department had concluded it was inconsistent with the NSW EPA’s energy from waste policy statement (2015), and the air quality impacts and risk to human health were unknown.

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Categories: Environment

Drug waste clogs rivers around the world, scientists say

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 5:27pm

Large numbers of pharmaceuticals found at levels dangerous for wildlife and the environment

River systems around the world are coursing with over-the-counter and prescription drugs waste which harms the environment, researchers have found.

If trends persist, the amount of pharmaceutical effluence leaching into waterways could increase by two-thirds before 2050, scientists told the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna on Tuesday.

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Categories: Environment

No credible deaths threats against EPA chief Scott Pruitt, Senate Democrats say

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 3:11pm
  • Democrats urge investigation into Pruitt’s security precautions
  • Pruitt’s spokesman claims ‘unprecedented’ number of death threats

Confidential security assessments in the Environmental Protection Agency show no evidence of specific, credible, physical threats against administrator Scott Pruitt, despite claims that an “unprecedented” number of death threats justify his outsized security spending, according to a review by Senate Democrats.

Democrats on the Senate environment and public works committee wrote in a letter on Tuesday that they have reviewed security assessments describing 16 purported threats against Pruitt. They include public protests, criticism of Pruitt’s policies and other activities protected by the first amendment.

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Categories: Environment

Greater glider hotspot logged against Victorian government's own advice

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 3:00pm

Exclusive: State government-commissioned survey shows Strathbogie forest has very high densities of threatened species

A nationally significant hotspot for the greater glider, a federally listed threatened species, is being logged by the Victorian forest agency, VicForests.

The logging started at Barjarg Flat in the Strathbogie forest in north-east Victoria in February. This was two months after a preliminary update of a government fauna survey conducted by the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) documented what are claimed to be the highest-ever densities of greater gliders in the state in that area.

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Categories: Environment

Birdwatch: the chiffchaff, an early sign of spring, is 20 days late this year

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 1:30pm

Chiffchaffs usually arrive in March, ahead of many other migrants, but this year’s rotten spring has delayed them

Many birds are called after the sound they make, but few sing their name quite so persistently as the chiffchaff. From mid-March onwards, I hear them at the bottom of my garden; and occasionally catch a glimpse of a tiny, olive-coloured bird flitting among the foliage, pumping its tail up and down as it sings.

Related: Country diary: Wenlock Edge: A search for meaning in this chiffchaff pair raising their chicks in my garden

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Categories: Environment

The Menindee Lakes project: who loses and who really wins?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 11:00am

The Murray-Darling authority questions the plan to shrink Menindee Lakes and its impact on communities, the environment and those downstream

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has delivered a scathing assessment of a project New South Wales is relying on to find water savings for the environment: a plan to reduce the size of the Menindee Lakes.

The assessment contained in documents revealed today by Guardian Australia suggest the controversial Menindee Lakes project could do more harm than good.

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Categories: Environment

EU will seek 'non-regression' clause to tie UK to environmental standards

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 9:03am

Michel Barnier says any trade deal will not rely on the UK’s pledges, but should include a clause to uphold the bloc’s high standards

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that Brussels will not rely on Michael Gove’s pledges over the environment but instead insist on a “non-regression” clause in any future deal after Brexit to tie the UK to the bloc’s high standards.

Barnier said he welcomed a 25-year plan published in January by the environment secretary, a fervent Brexiter during the referendum campaign, under which the UK vowed to be a “global champion” of greener policies after 29 March 2019.

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Categories: Environment

EDF warns of delays at Flamanville nuclear power station in France

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 6:50am

Experts fear UK’s planned Hinkley plant will face similar budget and deadline problems

EDF Energy has warned that a flagship nuclear power station it is building in France could run further behind schedule and over budget, after it detected faults at the €10.5bn ( £9.2bn) plant.

The French state-owned firm said inspections last month had uncovered problems with welding on pipes at the Flamanville plant in north-west France.

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Categories: Environment

Farming groups take steps to stop slaughter of male dairy calves

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 4:51am

Industry bodies and NGOs are planning to generate profitable new markets in British rosé veal to prevent rising numbers of bull calves being killed at birth

New initiatives to help end the practice of killing young male dairy calves in the UK are being planned by farming groups and NGOs.

A recent Guardian investigation found a rise in the numbers being disposed of at birth – 95,000 a year according to the most recent figures – due to the lack of viable markets for bull calves and public apathy towards consuming young beef and British rosé veal.

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Categories: Environment

Six Virunga park rangers killed in DRC wildlife sanctuary

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 3:40am

Latest ambush worst attack to date at home to world’s largest population of mountain gorillas

Five rangers and a driver have been killed in an ambush in Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A sixth ranger was injured in the attack on Monday that took place in the central section of the vast reserve, known globally for its population of rare mountain gorillas.

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Categories: Environment

EPA’s war with California proves America needs a carbon tax | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 3:00am

Artificially low fuel prices are the root of the problem

Last week, Trump’s EPA announced that it will repeal the vehicle fuel efficiency standards set under the Obama administration and replace them with weaker requirements. EPA also threatened to revoke California’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose its own greenhouse gas standards. If they do so, California’s attorney general will sue the EPA.

The Trump Administration’s assault on clean car standards risks our ability to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money. We’re ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards: https://t.co/AqwDR9Js18 https://t.co/qBalA25Z2l

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Categories: Environment

Government Ethics Officials Raise Red Flags On EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 2:00am

With a president keeping a Cabinet-level official on the job despite a raft of scandals, ethics officials are spelling out why that might be a problem.

(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Great Barrier Reef: conservationists campaign for net-free zone to protect dugongs

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2018/04/10 - 12:19am

WWF-Australia wants to buy 600m net, which would effectively end gillnetting in area

Conservationists plan to establish a commercial fishing net-free zone in the northern Great Barrier Reef by buying and retiring the area’s last remaining licence.

WWF-Australia will launch a crowdfunding campaign to buy the 600m net operating out of Princess Charlotte Bay in the far north, which would effectively end gillnetting in an area spanning 700km from Cooktown to the Torres Strait.

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Categories: Environment

Waitrose to remove all disposable coffee cups from shops this year

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/09 - 10:01pm

Supermarket’s customers will still be able to claim free drink if they bring a reusable cup

Waitrose plans to remove all disposable coffee cups from its shops by this autumn as part of efforts to reduce plastic and packaging waste and stop millions going into landfill.

Customers who belong to the myWaitrose loyalty scheme will still be able to get free tea or coffee from the stores’ self-service machines but will be instead be asked to use a refillable cup, the company said.

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Categories: Environment

Raja Ampat survey reveals new species and key manta ray data

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/09 - 10:00pm

Raja Ampat is the global epicentre of marine biodiversity – and the species count is still rising, thanks in large part to two scientists ...

I’m at five metres, clutching a rock outcrop on the seabed when the manta ray fixes me with its gaze. I’m free diving so there are no distracting bubbles - just the undulation of wings – four metres from tip to tip – as it passes close enough to touch, with a look that feels…nuanced. We stare at each other for a couple of moments before it wheels round, showing me a white belly scattered with dark spots and a couple of remora fish hitching a ride. Being that close to a manta is thrilling – but it’s the look that stays with me.

An archipelago of 1500 odd islands scattered over 40,000 square kilometres off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, Raja Ampat is a great place to see manta rays – and indeed sea creatures in general. For one, these waters are home to more marine species than anywhere else on the planet: there are single reefs in Raja Ampat that contain more species than the entire Caribbean. And then there’s the fact that the entire region was declared a sanctuary for sharks and rays back in 2010 – a move that four years later led to the whole of Indonesia becoming a manta ray sanctuary – easily the world’s largest.

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Categories: Environment

Iceland to be first UK supermarket to cut palm oil from own-brand products

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2018/04/09 - 9:01pm

Frozen food specialist will reformulate own-label range to be free of controversial ingredient which drives deforestation by the end of 2018

Iceland is to become the first major UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods, in a bid to halt the ongoing destruction of tropical rainforests in south-east Asia.

The frozen food specialist will reveal on Tuesday that the controversial ingredient has already been taken out half of its own-label range, with the rest being reformulated by the end of 2018.

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Categories: Environment
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