Australia’s greenhouse pollution from coal higher per person than any other developed country, data shows

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 10:30am

Despite the growth of renewable energy, Australia’s per capita coal emissions of 4.04 tonnes a year is nearly four times the global average

Australia had the highest levels of greenhouse gas pollution from coal per person than any other developed country in 2021, according to new data.

But the data shows per capita greenhouse gas emissions from coal fell sharply last year, with a surge in solar and wind energy seeing per capita rates drop well below the average of the previous five years.

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Categories: Environment

Labor to set up independent environmental protection agency and restore ‘trust and confidence’

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 10:30am

Proposed EPA to collect data on the plight of the country’s wildlife as Labor commits to global biodiversity targets

Labor will establish an independent environment protection agency to enforce national conservation laws and collect data on the plight of the country’s wildlife if it wins the election.

An Albanese government would also promise to give an annual ministerial statement on Australia’s role in international negotiations on environmental issues, suggesting it would look to play a leadership role at global biodiversity talks and on issues such as whale protection.

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Categories: Environment

‘Carbon bomb’ makers are putting all our lives at risk | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 9:47am

Peter Muchlinksi, Robert Cooper and Andy Bradley respond to the Guardian’s exposé of big oil’s fossil fuel projects that are a colossal threat to the climate and human life

Your exposé on the dangers of fossil fuel “carbon bombs” (Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown, 11 May) gives us much to worry about. I would like to offer a small ray of hope. Last year, The Hague’s district court held that Royal Dutch Shell was obliged to reduce the group’s CO2 emissions by a net 45% by the end of 2030 relative to 2019. Shell was found to have a legal duty of care to do so, based on the relevant facts of the case, the best available science on climate change and how to manage it, and “the widespread international consensus that human rights offer protection against the impacts of dangerous climate change and that companies must respect human rights”.

This linkage between climate change and human rights is a major step towards acknowledging that fossil-fuel-based industries are a significant threat to human rights. It offers a basis for mass legal challenges against the purveyors of carbon bombs. Sadly, the UK and other governments don’t see it this way and continue to subsidise such projects. In this, they may well be complicit in mass violations of human rights. Uncontrolled fossil fuel investment should be seen as a direct threat to the human right to life, and the law should impose severe financial penalties on firms and governments that continue to invest in carbon bomb projects.

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Categories: Environment

Fishers hold River Tees protest over mass crab and lobster deaths

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 9:23am

Demonstrators rejecting algal bloom explanation for wash-ups on England’s north-east coast call for investigation to be reopened

About 25 fishing boats have sailed into the mouth of the River Tees while setting off flares and fireworks in a protest over mass marine deaths that are ruining livelihoods as well as being a “huge ecological disaster”.

More than 200 well-wishers, many representing conservation and environmental campaigns, cheered from the shore, chanted “Stop the sludge” and sang protest songs.

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Categories: Environment

Egg prices could rise for UK consumers as farmers cut flock numbers

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 8:51am

Fewer laying birds are being placed on farms as producers respond to poor retail profit margins

Consumers could be hit with higher egg prices as UK farmers reduce their flock numbers, in response to escalating costs and insufficient profit margins.

The numbers of chicks being placed by egg producers in April was down 15% year on year, according to the latest government figures.

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Categories: Environment

More than 3,000 potentially harmful chemicals found in food packaging

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 5:17am

International experts who analyzed more than 1,200 scientific studies warn chemicals are being consumed with unknown long-term impacts

Scientists have identified more than 3,000 potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in food packaging and other food-related materials, two-thirds of which were not previously known to be in contact with food.

An international group of scientists analyzed more than 1,200 scientific studies where chemicals had been measured in food packaging, processing equipment, tableware and reusable food containers.

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Categories: Environment

Suicides indicate wave of ‘doomerism’ over escalating climate crisis

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 5:00am

While alarm over wildfires, droughts, flooding and societal unrest is on the rise, not many of us talk about climate angst

  • This article contains a description of a suicide

It was a stunning, grisly act. A man, a climate activist and Buddhist, had set himself on fire on the steps of the US supreme court. He sat upright and didn’t immediately scream despite the agony. Police officers desperately plunged nearby orange traffic cones into the court’s marbled fountain and hurled water at him. It wasn’t enough to save him.

The death of Wynn Bruce, a 50-year-old photographer who lived in Boulder, Colorado, was a shock to those who knew him. “It was so upsetting,” said April Lyons, a psychotherapist who knew Bruce from a therapeutic dance class they both took. “He was a solid person, a compassionate, kind person. We had no idea he’d do this.”

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Categories: Environment

The case of the disappearing deer – and how a new corridor could save it

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 3:00am

Only 1,500 huemul remain in the world, but a parks corridor is being created to save the deer that features on Chile’s coat of arms

It is twilight in Las Horquetas valley in Patagonia’s northern Aysén region. Several cars have pulled over beneath sandy cliffs on a wide paved road. Just metres away, three deer graze unperturbed in the glow of the car lights.

The Patagonian huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus), or South Andean deer, is the most endangered hoofed animal in South America. It has deep inset eyes, furry antlers and is no bigger than a toddler. Fewer than 1,500 survive today – two-thirds are found in Chile and the remainder in Argentina, where the huemul’s principal habitat is lenga forest and scrubland. They exist in severely fragmented groups of 101 known sub-populations, with 60% of these comprising only 10-20 individuals, making them susceptible to freak weather events. They also suffer from poor genetic diversity.

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Categories: Environment

Australia’s oil and gas regulator criticised after chief hands out environmental ‘excellence’ awards at industry dinner

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2022/05/19 - 1:44am

Regulator says outgoing boss Stuart Smith had no role in selecting winners and was invited to acknowledge his work over eight years

The outgoing head of Australia’s offshore oil and gas regulator has helped hand out awards to fossil fuel companies, including Santos, Inpex and Beach Energy, prompting criticism the body could be seen as “too close” to industry.

Stuart Smith, chief executive of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema), attended an industry conference dinner in Brisbane on Wednesday and assisted in handing out environmental and safety awards.

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Categories: Environment

UK has approved several fossil fuel projects since Cop26, analysis finds

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 11:00pm

About 50 schemes are thought to be in pipeline between now and 2025 despite climate pledges

Several major UK fossil fuel projects have been approved since Cop26 concluded, an analysis has found, while about 50 schemes are thought to be in the pipeline between now and 2025.

Three separate schemes have received some form of approval from government bodies during the six-month period since Boris Johnson’s administration hosted the UN climate summit in Glasgow.

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Categories: Environment

The destruction of Gran Chaco, forgotten sister of the Amazon rainforest – podcast

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 9:00pm

From deep inside Gran Chaco, a dry tropical forest in Argentina one and a half times the size of California, comes a wake-up call for the world’s forests. We’ve lost more than a fifth of this incredibly biodiverse region since 1985. And it’s just one of many precious carbon-trapping ecosystems being lost to unrelenting deforestation.

Six months ago in Glasgow, world leaders at Cop26 pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. While destruction continues apace in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, other countries such as Indonesia offer glimmers of hope.

Madeleine Finlay speaks to biodiversity reporter Patrick Greenfield about what his trip to Gran Chaco showed him, what’s at stake around the world, and what’s needed to turn things around

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Categories: Environment

Gas industry and Coalition reach for a get-out-of-catastrophe-free card in climate crisis Monopoly | Temperature Check

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 5:26pm

Carbon capture and storage isn’t working close to a scale that would significantly lower emissions – despite billions in taxpayers’ cash thrown at it

Scott Morrison’s loving embrace and financial backing of the gas industry has been a defining feature of his prime ministership.

Hit with a historical pandemic, Morrison chose gas – not renewables – to fire an economic recovery.

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Categories: Environment

Australia’s climate data to UN questioned as study finds land clearing in Queensland underreported

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 10:30am

If national emissions data is incorrect then Australia less likely to be on track to meet Coalition’s target of a 26-28% cut by 2030

Queensland forests are being cleared at almost twice the rate reflected in national greenhouse gas emissions, new analysis suggests, prompting questions about the climate data that Australia reports to the United Nations.

The study of data from Queensland’s statewide landcover and tree study (Slats) shows 455,756 hectares of forests were cleared across the state in 2018-19.

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Categories: Environment

Australia’s tropical rainforests have been dying faster for decades in ‘clear and stark climate warning’

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 10:30am

Scientists compare findings of tree study to mass coral bleaching in Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s tropical rainforest trees have being dying at double the previous rate since the 1980s, seemingly because of global heating, according to new research that raises concerns tropical forests could start to release more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found the average life of tropical trees in north Queensland had been reduced by about half over the past 35 years . The finding was consistent across different species and rainforests.

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Categories: Environment

Foresters hope 'assisted migration' will preserve landscapes as the climate changes

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 9:01am

Foresters responding to climate change are experimenting with planting trees in Vermont that typically are found further south. They hope the trees will survive hotter and drier conditions to come.

(Image credit: Emma Jacobs for NPR)

Categories: Environment

Drought and soaring food prices from Ukraine war leave millions in Africa starving

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 8:52am

A report finds 23 million people are experiencing extreme hunger in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, which face their worst drought in 40 years. Food prices hit record highs after Russia attacked Ukraine.

(Image credit: Brian Inganga/AP)

Categories: Environment

EU plans ‘massive’ increase in green energy to help end reliance on Russia

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 6:24am

European Commission says extra €210bn needed over next five years to pay for phasing out of Russian fossil fuels

The EU plans a “massive” increase in solar and wind power, and a short-term boost for coal, to end its reliance on Russian oil and gas as fast as possible.

In a plan outlined on Wednesday, the European Commission said the EU needed to find an extra €210bn (£178bn) over the next five years to pay for phasing out Russian fossil fuels and speeding up the switch to green energy.

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Categories: Environment

Green spaces are not accessible for 2.8m people in UK, finds study

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 6:00am

Fields in Trust charity finds about one in 24 people in Britain live 10 minutes walk from nearest park

Nearly 2.8 million people in the UK live more than 10 minutes walk from a public park, garden or playing field, according to research.

Fields in Trust, which protects and campaigns for public green spaces, found just four out of the 11 regions in Great Britain met its “six-acre standard” for green space provision.

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Categories: Environment

Extinction obituary: the sudden, sad disappearance of the Christmas Island forest skink

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 2:00am

Gump was the last lizard of her kind when she died in 2014, and her demise should be ‘a scar on our conscience’

The last Christmas Island forest skink was named Gump. She lived in a spacious cage filled with rocks, soil, logs and a ready supply of fresh invertebrate food in the island’s national park. She wasn’t particularly active, but then again it’s impossible to know what goes on in the mind of a skink. Her namesake was Forrest Gump – they were both solitary individuals who, despite being mild and unassuming, experienced momentous events while remaining quite unaware of the exceptional courses their lives had taken.

The Christmas island forest skink (or whiptail skink) used to thrive on its island home, an Australian territory off the coast of Indonesia. In 1979, researchers documented that they were its most abundant skink. These lizards were, visually, fairly nondescript. Not too small, but by no means large, they averaged about 20cm (8in) in length, with a slim body covered in brown-yellow scales. They were practically the default image that comes to mind when you think “lizard”.

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Categories: Environment

Carbon bombs: Inside the 20 May Guardian Weekly

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2022/05/18 - 1:00am

Uncovering the oil and gas mega-projects. Also: anger in Buffalo
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At last year’s Cop26 conference, when nations grappled with closing the gap between emissions and targets to limit global heating to 1.5C, one key variable was unclear. Major oil and gas firms had numerous large-scale extraction projects planned or under way, but measurable data on the problem was not available. So, with several other journalists, the Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, set about finding it.

A “carbon bomb” is an oil or gas project that will result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime. “Getting hold of solid information about them is an absolute nightmare,” says Damian. “We’re talking about future projects, and that means you’re dealing with uncertainty. And the big oil and gas companies are … not all that open about it.”

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Categories: Environment
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