Climate change challenge to Gina Rinehart’s Alpha mine dismissed by court

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 7:53pm

Queensland court of appeal finds ‘proposed mining would not detrimentally affect global greenhouse gas emissions’ because Asian power stations would buy coal elsewhere if Alpha blocked

Miners could run afoul of Queensland’s environmental protection laws if the burning of their export coal overseas were shown to negatively impact global carbon pollution, the state’s highest court has ruled.

But the court of appeal has dismissed a challenge to Gina Rinehart’s Alpha mine because of an earlier land court finding that it would “not detrimentally affect global greenhouse gas emissions” because Asian power stations would simply buy coal elsewhere if the mine were blocked.

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Categories: Environment

Tony Abbott at odds with Mike Baird over shark nets after teenager attacked

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 6:27pm

Former prime minister says commercial shark fishery should be considered for north coast of New South Wales

Tony Abbott has called for nets to be put in place to protect beachgoers in regional New South Wales, saying he is on the side of people rather than sharks, after a teenager was bitten while surfing.

The former prime minister has argued that it was unfair nets were in place off metropolitan beaches but not regional ones.

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Categories: Environment

Washing clothes releases water-polluting fibres, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 5:00pm

Tiny plastic particles released by synthetic fabrics can cause harm to marine life when they enter rivers and oceans

Each cycle of a washing machine could release more than 700,000 microscopic plastic fibres into the environment, according to a study.

Related: Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you've never heard of

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Categories: Environment

Climate chief: UK must not use Brexit to water down environment laws

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 4:01pm

Committee on Climate Change chair urges UK to bring in new laws to replace EU legislation and says Scotland must do more to prepare for global warming

The UK must not water down its environmental laws as it leaves the European Union, one of the government’s most senior advisers on climate change has warned.

Lord Krebs, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), told the Guardian: “It will be absolutely crucial that governments in the UK replace European legislation and don’t see this as an opportunity to say we can now have dirtier vehicles or less efficient household appliances.”

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Categories: Environment

West Virginia Attorney General, A Champion For Fossil Fuel Interests

NPR News - Environment - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 1:38pm

More than two dozen state attorneys general are challenging President Obama's proposed regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. West Virginia's Patrick Morissey is leading the fight.

Categories: Environment

Kea simply takes its share of nature’s bounty | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 11:24am
NZ parrots | iPhone 7 | Pictures of autumn | Eating dirt | Bootle accents | Welsh signage

From your report (22 September) on the endangered New Zealand parrot the kea: “its destructive habits such as … attacking stock and habitually stealing food”. A wild creature has no concept of harm or property, so both “attacking” and “habitually stealing” are demonising anthropomorphism. The kea, like any other predator species, is simply and instinctively taking its share of nature’s bounty, the only way it could have survived until now. By any rational criterion, a wild animal is beyond human conceits of blame and responsibility.
Alex Watson
North Nibley, Gloucestershire

• Samuel Gibbs fingers a poor battery as the iPhone 7’s big weakness (Technology review, 24 September). This after five hours’ music, three hours’ browsing, photos, emails, etc. Allowing for seven hours sleep where do, you know, people, fit in?
Bill Steedman

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Categories: Environment

Labour's pledge to ban fracking in the UK is 'madness', says GMB

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 9:45am

Party’s union donor says Britain would be forced to rely on ‘henchmen, hangmen and headchopper’ dictators for gas

Labour’s third biggest union donor has attacked the party’s decision to pledge a ban on fracking in the UK as “nonsense” and “madness”.

The GMB, which backed Owen Smith for the party leadership, criticised the move, saying it would force the UK to rely on foreign dictators – “henchman, hangmen and headchoppers” – for gas, as well as needlessly stop the creation of high-skilled jobs.

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Categories: Environment

South Africa: 'Saving endangered species is the responsibility of everyone'

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 8:39am

As the 17th world wildlife conference opens, South Africa’s environment minister Edna Bomo Molewa explains the country’s commitment to protecting wildlife

Over the next two weeks, South Africa will welcome an estimated 3,500 delegates to Cop17, the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

Related: Saving Africa's elephants: 'Can you imagine them no longer existing?'

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Categories: Environment

US emissions set to miss 2025 target in Paris climate change deal, research finds

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 8:00am

Even if US implements emissions-cutting proposals it could still overshoot target by nearly 1bn tonnes of greenhouse gases, according to scientific study

The US is on course to miss its emissions reduction target agreed in the Paris climate accord nine months ago, with new research finding that the world’s largest historical emitter doesn’t currently have the policies in place to meet its pledge.

Even if the US implements a range of emissions-slashing proposals that have yet to be introduced, the nation could still overshoot its 2025 target by nearly 1bn tonnes of greenhouse gases. This failure would have profound consequences for the US’s position as a climate leader, as well for the global effort to stave off the dangerous heatwaves, sea level rise and extreme weather associated with climate change.

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Paris mayor heralds ‘reconquest of Seine’ as riverbank traffic banned

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 7:31am

Leftwing parties vote unanimously in favour of closing right bank of river to vehicles from Tuileries to Bastille

Paris city council has approved the banning of all vehicles from the major road running along the right bank of the river Seine in a bitterly contested vote.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed what she called a historic decision that meant the “end of the urban motorway in Paris and the reconquest of the Seine”.

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Categories: Environment

Animal trafficking: the $23bn criminal industry policed by a toothless regulator

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 6:52am

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species finds itself confronting powerful networks, but has no detectives, police powers or firearms

The illegal trade in wildlife is a most attractive crime. But it is highly destructive, and its scale is threatening the extinction of some of the world’s most iconic species.

It is also grotesquely cruel: poachers slice off the faces of live rhinos to steal their horns; militia groups use helicopters to shoot down elephants for their tusks; factory farmers breed captive tigers to marinate their bones for medicinal wine and fry their flesh for the dinner plate; bears are kept for a lifetime in tiny cages to have their gall bladders regularly drained for liver tonic. But for any criminal who wants maximum money for minimum risk, it is most attractive.

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Categories: Environment

The crime family at the centre of Asia's animal trafficking network

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 5:14am

Bach brothers based in Vietnam and Thailand are responsible for smuggling thousands of tonnes of elephant ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species

There is a simple reason why there is always trouble in Nakhon Phanom. It is the reason why the US air force came here during the Vietnam war, and the reason why this dull and dusty town in north-east Thailand now serves as a primary gateway on the global animal trafficking highway. It is all to do with geography.

Nakhon Phanom, population 30,000, sits on the western bank of the Mekong river and is directly opposite the shortest route across Laos, on the other side of the river, and into Vietnam.

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: the criminals making millions from illegal wildlife trafficking

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 5:14am

Exclusive: Investigation uncovers the ringleaders profiting from $23bn annual trade in illicit animals after more than a decade of undercover surveillance

A major investigation into global wildlife crime today names for the first time key traffickers and links their illegal trade to corrupt officials at the highest levels of one Asian country.

The investigation, published by the Guardian, exposes the central role of international organised crime groups in mutilating and killing tens of thousands of animals and threatening to eliminate endangered species including tigers, elephants and rhinos.

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Categories: Environment

Africa's portable solar revolution is thwarting thieves

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 3:35am

More secure supplies of electricity are helping to spawn new industries in rural Africa by enabling reliable refrigeration and irrigation

When South Africa’s government started giving laptops to off-grid schools, James van der Walt spotted an opportunity for a solar business. But his market research revealed a problem: of 12 schools he visited, 11 had previously lost solar panels to thieves. So he decided to pack his system into a reinforced shipping container, creating a secure, mobile power station that could be shut away at the end of each day.

The prototype Solar Turtle has survived its first year powering a school in the Eastern Cape, despite civil unrest that forced the school to close for three months. Save for some scratches where someone tried to break in, the unit came through intact. “Nothing got broken, nothing got damaged,” says van der Walt. “It was like, ‘Yes, it’s actually working’.”

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Categories: Environment

The Madhouse Effect of climate denial | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 3:00am

A new book by Mann and Toles explores climate science and denial with clarity and humor

A new book by Michael Mann and Tom Toles takes a fresh look on the effects humans are having on our climate and the additional impacts on our politics. While there have been countless books about climate change over the past two decades, this one – entitled The Madhouse Effect - distinguishes itself by its clear and straightforward science mixed with clever and sometimes comedic presentation.

In approximately 150 pages, this books deals with the basic science and the denial industry, which has lost the battle in the scientific arena and is working feverishly to confuse the public. The authors also cover potential solutions to halt or slow our changing climate. Perhaps most importantly, this book gives individual guidance – what can we do, as individuals, to help the Earth heal from the real and present harm of climate change?

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Categories: Environment

Planes need to stop existing in a parallel universe when it comes to the climate fight

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/09/26 - 1:11am

Curbing flight emissions is essential to meeting the Paris pact, but planes are completely absent from the text, face no legal fuel efficiency requirements or limits on CO2 emissions. But all that is about to change

In the coming weeks, the Paris climate agreement could be about to enter into force. Action to meet the deal’s targets of holding global warming to 2C is most clearly visible in the energy sector - where a low-carbon transition is underway. There is, however, one sector where, until now, action has been invisible owing to its exemption from contributing to the fight to limit carbon pollution: international aviation.

Aviation is one of the top-10 global carbon polluters. The industry emits more CO2 each year than the 129 countries with the lowest annual emissions. Worryingly, those emissions are expected to balloon by 300% if no concerted action is taken sooner rather than later. In 2010, 2.4 billion passengers travelled by plane, but by 2050 that number is expected to rise to 16 billion.
The global agreement reached in Paris last December committed the world’s governments to fighting climate change. Curbing aviation emissions is absolutely essential to fulfilling those commitments. However, aviation was conspicuous by its absence from the text.

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Categories: Environment

Labour government would ban fracking in UK

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/25 - 10:00pm

Barry Gardiner strengthens party’s opposition to fracking as industry and campaigners await key decision by ministers on Lancashire applications

The Labour party has strengthened its opposition to fracking, saying it would ban the controversial technique for extracting shale gas if it came to power.

Speaking at the Labour conference in Liverpool, shadow energy and climate secretary Barry Gardiner is to announce the party will be going further than its previous policy of a moratorium until environment conditions are met.

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Categories: Environment

Maralinga nuclear tests, 60 years on: a reminder not to put security before safety | Liz Tynan

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/25 - 9:51pm

Australia stood by while Britain’s military elite trashed tracts of its landscape then left. Menzies had said yes without even consulting his cabinet

It is 27 September 1956. At a dusty site called One Tree, in the northern reaches of the 3,200 sq km Maralinga atomic weapons test range in outback South Australia, the winds have finally died down and the countdown begins.

The site has been on alert for more than two weeks but the weather has constantly interfered with the plans. Finally, Prof Sir William Penney, head of the UK Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, can wait no longer. He gives the final, definitive go-ahead.

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Categories: Environment

Teenage surfer attacked by shark at Ballina's Lighthouse beach

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/25 - 7:07pm

All beaches in northern New South Wales shire closed after teenage surfer bitten on thigh by a shark

A teenage surfer has suffered lacerations to his right thigh after being attacked by a shark at east Ballina’s Lighthouse beach on the New South Wales north coast.

Lifesavers treated the surfer, named by News Corp as 17-year-old Ballina resident Cooper Allen, at the scene at 9am on Monday before he was rushed to Lismore base hospital, a NSW ambulance spokeswoman said.

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Categories: Environment

African elephant numbers plummet during 'worst decline in 25 years’

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2016/09/25 - 6:58pm

African elephant population has contracted by around 111,000 in the past decade as a result of poaching, study finds

The number of African elephants dropped by about 111,000 in the past decade as a result of poaching, a report released at the Johannesburg conference on the wildlife trade has found.

News of the worst drop in elephant numbers in 25 years came amid disagreement on the second day of the global meeting over the best way to improve the plight of the animals, which are targeted for their tusks.

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