Environment

Survivors or intruders? Rats found on Lord Howe Island despite 22,000 traps and 40 tonnes of bait

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 4:28pm

About 100 rats have been discovered since a $17m eradication program on the world heritage-listed island but experts say all is not lost

Despite the deployment of 22,000 lockable traps and more than 40 tonnes of poison dropped via helicopters, nearly 100 rats have been discovered on Lord Howe Island since April – but experts are still hopeful the $17m eradication program has been a success.

The last rat seen on the island was supposed to have been flushed out by a detection dog in 2019 but the latest mop-up effort marks a significant test for the sometimes controversial program on the remote, world-heritage listed island 700km north-east of Sydney.

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Categories: Environment

Climate crisis: economists ‘grossly undervalue young lives’, warns Stern

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 4:01pm

Economists have failed to take account of ‘immense risks and potential loss of life’, says author of landmark review

Many economic assessments of the climate crisis “grossly undervalue the lives of young people and future generations”, Prof Nicholas Stern warned on Tuesday, before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Economists have failed to take account of the “immense risks and potential loss of life” that could occur as a result of the climate crisis, he said, as well as badly underestimating the speed at which the costs of clean technologies, such as solar and wind energy, have fallen.

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Categories: Environment

Rains in California are helping douse wildfires, but present new problems

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 1:17pm

Northern California is seeing record rainfall. All the water will help reduce wildfire risks and could help alleviate drought conditions, but it also means a risk for debris flows and evacuations.

Categories: Environment

Greenhouse gas levels reached record highs in 2020, even with pandemic lockdowns

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 6:55am

The U.N. meteorological agency says despite a decrease in emissions due to reduced economic activity during COVID-19, carbon dioxide and other warming gases continued to accumulate in the atmosphere.

(Image credit: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

The next chapter of Britain’s climate policy story will take place in the kitchen | Max Wakefield

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 4:00am

The transition to heat pumps will affect almost every household in the UK, but it won’t work without public support

The government has finally handed in its climate homework. Less than a fortnight before hosting the Cop26 climate summit – arguably the most important meeting in human history – the new net zero strategy is supposed to tell us how the UK will go from long-term hand-waving to now-term problem-solving.

There is both a lot in there, and not enough. Until the government’s official advisers give their assessment we won’t know for sure if the plan stands a good chance of achieving legal carbon targets through to 2037. If you want a simple headline for now, I’d offer this: we’re pointing in the right direction, but setting off at a jog. Physics demands we sprint.

Max Wakefield is the director of campaigns for the climate action group Possible

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Categories: Environment

Transforming care must be central to any bold vision of a greener future | Emily Kenway

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 2:00am

Care work – paid and unpaid – has huge knock-on effects for the climate that can no longer be ignored

It is no coincidence that both care and our climate are in crisis. Addressing each requires us to recognise that we are vulnerable and interdependent, as a species and individually. This will only become more apparent, because – as the world gets hotter and consequently more dangerous – we are going to need to care for each other more than ever before. As initiatives including Naomi Klein’s The Leap and the Feminist Green New Deal have explained, we need a care-centred approach to meet the demands of a future that looks very different to our past.

First, we must broaden our understanding of what constitutes a “green job”. Research by the Feminist Green New Deal has found that a majority of people identify solar panel installers as green workers, but far fewer consider care workers to be in the same camp. This shows us something important about our mindset. So far, we have thought in terms of greening highly polluting industries – turning from fossil fuels to renewables – rather than identifying what is simply green, ie what is low-carbon by nature. This is the difference between tweaking our current system and stepping into a new approach that makes different kinds of work central to our economy. From this perspective, care work becomes a core component of our future, as those calling for its inclusion in a green new deal have advocated.

Emily Kenway is a writer and author of The Truth About Modern Slavery

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Categories: Environment

The COP26 summit to fight climate change is about to start. Here's what to expect

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2021/10/25 - 2:00am

A major climate meeting is about to get underway in Glasgow, Scotland. It's a pivotal moment in the struggle against climate change. But it's taking place in the midst of political tensions.

(Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Shun fossil fuel firms by treating them like tobacco industry, EU urged

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 11:00pm

NGOs call on officials to stop meeting BP and other oil and gas producers to limit influence over climate policy

Oil and gas companies should be treated like the tobacco industry and denied routine meetings with EU officials, a group of NGOs have said, as they revealed that fossil fuel producers have enjoyed hundreds of meetings with Brussels decision makers since the Paris climate agreement.

Since 2015, six oil and gas giants, including BP and Norway’s Equinor, plus fossil fuel trade bodies have held 568 meetings with top officials at the European Commission, the body responsible for drafting EU climate and energy legislation, according to research by four environmental campaign groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Corporate Europe Observatory.

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Categories: Environment

Tories received £1.3m from fossil fuel interests and climate sceptics since 2019

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 10:00pm

Gifts and donations were from oil companies, airports, petrostates and climate-sceptic thinktanks

The Conservative party and its MPs have registered £1.3m in gifts and donations from climate sceptics and fossil fuel interests since the 2019 general election, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.

Oil companies, petrostates, airports and businesses linked with Russian energy tycoons are among this set of donors, who have either made money from fossil fuels or stand to lose economically or politically from cutting emissions.

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Categories: Environment

China to cut fossil fuel use to below 20% by 2060

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 5:03pm

Despite pushing ahead with dozens of new coal power plants, China has a new plan to increase wind and solar power in its march towards carbon neutrality

China is targeting a clean energy goal of reducing fossil fuel use to below 20% by 2060, according to an official plan published by state media.

The cabinet document, released on Sunday, follows a pledge by President Xi Jinping to wean the world’s biggest polluter off coal, with a target of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality 30 years later.

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Categories: Environment

Cross-party MPs deride government’s ‘inconsistent’ green jobs policy

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 4:01pm

Net zero strategy should have defined what green jobs are so that progress can be measured, says committee

The government has come under fire from the environmental audit committee of MPs for its “inconsistent” policy on green jobs. The committee said that despite pledging millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, ministers are yet to define what a “green job” is.

“The workforce of the future is being undermined by a lack of evidence-based government policies on how jobs will be filled in green sectors,” said Philip Dunne, the committee chairman. “Encouraging announcements of investment in green sectors of the economy are very welcome but the government admits that claims about green jobs lack explanation and data on how the targets will be achieved.”

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Categories: Environment

A historic storm brings heavy rain, flooding and mud flows to Northern California

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 3:19pm

Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area while the National Weather Service's Sacramento office warned of "potentially historic rain."

(Image credit: Noah Berger/AP)

Categories: Environment

Strategist calls for 'climate humanitarian visa,' as answer to Biden refugee report

NPR News - Environment - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 2:08pm

NPR's David Folkenflik speaks with Ama Francis, who works on climate displacement with the International Refugee Assistance Project, about the growing threat of climate migration.

Categories: Environment

Poorest countries to gain from new climate funding plan to break Cop26 impasse

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 10:41am

Climate finance plan needed to gain backing of developing nations for any deal at Glasgow talks

The world’s poorest countries are set to benefit from a new climate funding plan to help them cope with the impacts of climate breakdown, in an effort to break the impasse between developed and developing countries at the UN Cop26 climate summit

The UK government, as Cop26 host, will unveil the proposals on Monday along with ministers from Germany and Canada, who have been charged with drawing up a plan for climate finance, needed to gain the backing of scores of developing countries for any deal at the talks, which open in Glasgow next Sunday.

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Categories: Environment

Heat pumps are practical and necessary | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 9:43am

Readers respond to letters from readers who were sceptical about the practicality of replacing gas boilers with heat pumps

Your correspondents are too gloomy about heat pumps for houses and flats (Letters, 20 October). Heat pumps may be unusual in Britain, but they are a major industry and very widespread in Europe and elsewhere. They are used in Canada, where outside temperatures drop very low. Individual units may not be suitable for high-rise blocks – although they might be installed on balconies. But high-rise buildings make up a small fraction of the housing stock, and blocks can have communal heating and cooling with large centralised heat pumps.

Older heat pumps were noisy, but new makes are on the market that are much quieter. It is not true, except in the worst cases, that installing heat pumps requires dwellings to be insulated first. The great majority of houses and flats in the UK are already reasonably insulated, and heat pumps can be run for longer and at lower temperatures than gas boilers. Better insulation of existing gas-heated houses and flats will by itself only produce modest cuts in carbon emissions. To meet climate goals, we have to stop using gas.

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Categories: Environment

Current approach to wildfires risks lives and wastes money, say experts

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 7:00am

Researchers call for new firefighting techniques that focus on managing landscapes, as global heating sees increase in blazes

A new approach is urgently needed to tackle global wildfires as current methods are no longer working, draining the public purse and placing lives at risk, according to experts.

This summer saw some of the worst wildfires in history and underscored the destructive impacts of global heating. As Cop26 approaches and is expected to shine a light on the importance of protecting ecosystems and building defences to avoid loss of homes and lives, experts say a lack of foresight and funding worldwide means harmful wildfires will continue to rage, putting communities and firefighters in danger.

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Categories: Environment

Lethal ‘forever chemicals’ taint our food, water and even blood. The EPA is stalling | David Bond

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2021/10/24 - 3:31am

There is no longer any population or place on earth untouched by PFAS contamination. We are living through a toxic experiment with no control group

This week the EPA announced a new roadmap to research, restrict, and remediate PFAS – a group of industrial “forever chemicals” that have been linked to cancer and are found in our food, water, and even our blood. President Biden is requesting $10bn in the infrastructure bill to address PFAS. But this new attention still falls short of what’s required to confront an unprecedented crisis that affects the health of the entire United States and countless people across the world.

Today, toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are everywhere we’ve thought to look for them. As engineered, these synthetic chemicals glide through air and water with ease, evade all natural processes of decay, and inflict debilitating injuries even at exceedingly low levels of exposure. The petrochemical industry has its fingerprints all over the ubiquity of PFAS, yet that very ubiquity is now being used as an excuse against doing anything about it. PFAS are becoming too toxic to fail.

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Categories: Environment

All hail the net zero strategy: a year late and lacking in both ambition and funding

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2021/10/23 - 11:00pm
The UK rushed out its climate plan just days before Cop26 – and it shows. The planet can’t afford further bluster and delay

In politics, timing is everything. Last week the government set out its strategy for meeting its net zero carbon targets: this came a year later than expected, and less than a fortnight before the UK finds itself front and centre on the global stage as host of the Cop26 UN climate talks in Glasgow.

The long-awaited climate blueprint covered wide-ranging “net zero” ambitions from renewable energy and electric vehicles to carbon capture and electric heat pumps – and yet still offered too little, if not entirely too late.

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