Queensland farmers suspected to have defied tree clearing controls in 'deforestation frenzy'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 8:13pm

Native vegetation was home to several threatened species and was in a Great Barrier Reef catchment

Queensland farmers are suspected of having defied rare federal government intervention and cleared a large swath of land without commonwealth approval, according to conservationists.

The native vegetation was in a reef catchment, meaning the clearing could worsen pollution on the Great Barrier Reef. Government-commissioned studies show it provided habitat to several threatened species.

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Categories: Environment

The government's white paper clings to the past as the rest of the world moves on | Tony Milne

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 5:19pm

Instead of imagining the kind of world we want to live in and the role Australia could play in it, the foreign policy paper paints a bleak picture for our future

There are moments in history that come to define the world changing. After years or even decades of doing things a certain way, suddenly, everything changes. We look back, often in bemusement, shame or anger, and wonder how people accepted a certain way of doing things.

Changes once fiercely resisted become archaic: corporal punishment in schools, slavery, women and Aboriginal people denied the right to vote, the death penalty, LGBTIQ people denied the right to marry, the institutionalisation of people with disabilities … the list goes on.

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Categories: Environment

Where have all our insects and birds gone? | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 11:53am
Rosemary Mason notices a decline in insects in south Wales; Kate Phillips says there is a major shift in insect and bird life in Buckinghamshire; and Eyke Shannon questions the role played by the Forestry Commission and the RSPB in Suffolk

With regard to David Marjot’s letter about lost insects in Surrey (18 November), we too have noticed a sharp decline in insects over the last 10 years in south Wales, but there are no neonicotinoids used in the area. In fact, as he noted in Surrey, spiders were the first to disappear. However, Dakar Pro, a commercial preparation of RoundUp, is sprayed on city pavements to eradicate weeds. Have any other readers had similar experiences?
Rosemary Mason

• I am in need of an answer. We have had the best crop of apples from our (very) old Cox’s Pomona tree in the nearly 50 years we have been here – reason, no insect damage. We have seen almost no wasps: every year we have at least one nest in the loft, garden store, ground, but not this year. We have practically no small birds coming to the bird table – the food I put out goes to the pigeons, the one robin and a few passing tits – where are they all? There have been few hoverflies, few houseflies and no bluebottles. Is it the pesticides, sprayed over the nearby agricultural land, is it the plethora of red kites happily soaring above, or the hornets seen for the first time a couple of years ago?

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Categories: Environment

Floods in north-west England prompt criticism over missing defences

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 10:23am

Cumbria MP says government is dragging its feet, as torrential rain causes flooding in area hit by Storm Desmond in 2015

Torrential rain has forced dozens of families from their homes and caused disruption across the north-west of England, prompting a local MP to accuse the government of dragging its feet over £25m of flood defences promised two years ago.

Lancaster and the nearby village of Galgate were the worst-affected areas, with 70 people rescued by firefighters and 27 people evacuated from their homes as rivers burst their banks and drains overflowed. Emergency services said they received 500 flood-related calls and attended 100 incidents in Lancashire overnight.

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Categories: Environment

Could octopus DNA reveal the secrets of west Antarctica’s ice sheet collapse?

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 10:00am

Understanding what happened to the ice sheet will be key to knowing what the future holds for global sea levels

There are a lot of scientific eyes on west Antarctica right now, for some pretty obvious reasons.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) holds a lot of water – enough to push up sea levels around the world by 3m or so.

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Categories: Environment

Farmland bird decline prompts renewed calls for agriculture overhaul

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 9:39am

Official figures show a 9% decline between 2010-15 in birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland

Birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland have seen numbers decline by almost a tenth in five years, official figures show.

Farmland bird populations have declined by 56% since 1970, largely due to agricultural changes including the loss of mixed farming, a switch to autumn sowing of crops, a reduction in hay meadows and the stripping out of hedgerows.

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Categories: Environment

London cannot bid for national clean air funding, mayor says

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 8:11am

Sadiq Khan says capital will not be included in the chancellor’s £220m clean air fund despite having 40% of the most polluting roads in England and Wales

London cannot bid for a £220m clean air fund announced in the budget – despite being home to 40% of the most polluting roads in England and Wales, Sadiq Khan revealed on Thursday.

Giving evidence to the Commons joint inquiry into air quality, the mayor of London revealed he was lobbying the government to support a £515m London-based two-year diesel scrappage scheme.

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Categories: Environment

No subsidies for green power projects before 2025, says UK Treasury

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 7:08am

Government accused of ‘turning their back on renewables’ after saying there will be no more money for new low-carbon levies

Companies hoping to build new windfarms, solar plants and tidal lagoons, have been dealt a blow after the government said there would be no new subsidies for clean power projects until 2025 at the earliest.

The Treasury said it had taken the decision to “protect” consumers, because households and businesses were facing an annual cost of about £9bn on their energy bills to pay for wind, solar and nuclear subsidies to which it had already committed.

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Categories: Environment

Fracking firm wins extension to 'draconian' protest injunction

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 6:39am

UK high court extends wide-ranging injunction sought by Ineos which prohibits campaigners from interfering unlawfully with their operations

A multinational firm has secured a long-term, sweeping injunction against anti-fracking protesters despite critics calling it “draconian and anti-democratic”.

On Thursday, a high court judge extended the wide-ranging injunction sought by petrochemicals giant Ineos, which covers all anti-fracking campaigners.

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Categories: Environment

Images from a Warming Planet - the UK in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 4:54am

The 2016 book by photojournalist Ashley Cooper documented the effects of climate change over 13 years and in more than 30 countries. Earlier this month, Cooper won the Green Apple award for environmental best practice at a ceremony at the UK House of Commons.

Cooper is planning to set up a website, I Commit, which aims to get citizens of the world to lower their carbon footprint and upload their own images of climate impacts. Here are his images of how extreme weather has affected the UK in recent years

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Categories: Environment

Labor states push for further investigation of Turnbull energy guarantee

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 1:21am

Jay Weatherill says South Australia opposed to policy in current form and ACT ‘very concerned’ before energy meeting

Labor states appear likely to back further investigation of the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee when energy ministers meet on Friday.

But they could seek a direct comparison between the current policy and alternatives, like an emissions intensity trading scheme for the electricity sector.

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Categories: Environment

Global firms accused of importing timber linked to Amazon massacre

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2017/11/23 - 12:40am

Greenpeace alleges 12 companies continued to trade with Madeireira Cedroarana after its founder was accused of ordering torture and murder

More than a dozen US and European companies have been importing timber from a Brazilian logging firm whose owner is implicated in one of the most brutal Amazonian massacres in recent memory, according to a Greenpeace Brazil investigation.

The first-world buyers allegedly continued trading with Madeireira Cedroarana after police accused its founder, Valdelir João de Souza, of ordering the torture and murder of nine people in Colniza, Mato Grosso, on 19 April, claims the report by the NGO.

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Categories: Environment

Adani won't get any taxpayers' money, Annastacia Palaszczuk says

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 8:41pm

Coalmine controversy continues to haunt Labor in Queensland as One Nation creates potential post-election headache for LNP

Almost three weeks after the decision to veto the Adani rail line loan overtook Labor’s election campaign, Annastacia Palaszczuk hesitantly agreed not to fund any infrastructure for the mine on Wednesday.

Labor is seeking to strike a balance between opposition to the mine from voters in the state’s south-east and support for it in regional Queensland, which sees it as a much-needed economic boost.

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Categories: Environment

Australia facing climate disaster on its doorstep, government's white paper warns

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 7:44pm

Foreign policy paper says climate-related conflict and migration could put Australia’s economic interests under pressure

Climate change is creating a disaster on Australia’s doorstep, with environmental degradation and the demand for sustainable sources of food undermining stability in some countries, especially “fragile states”, according to the Australian government’s first foreign policy white paper in more than a decade.

The new white paper, released on Thursday, contains warnings over the disruptive effects of climate change in Australia’s immediate region, noting that many small island states will be “severely affected in the long term”, and the coming decade will see increased need for disaster relief.

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Categories: Environment

Why the nights are getting brighter – but not in a good way

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 7:16pm

Spread of light pollution is bad for the environment, animal life and humans, five-year study concludes

The world’s nights are getting alarmingly brighter – bad news for all sorts of creatures, humans included – as light pollution encroaches on darkness almost everywhere.

Satellite observations made by researchers during five consecutive Octobers show Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2% a year from 2012 to 2016. So did nighttime brightness.

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Categories: Environment

Treasury backs electric cars but makes limited moves on diesel

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 10:30am

Funds set aside for national charging network and tech research, but lack of scrappage scheme disappoints

Electric cars have received a funding boost with the government earmarking £340m for a national charging network and subsidies for vehicle purchases.

However, further budget backing for greener vehicles was limited to a small rise in vehicle excise duty for new diesel cars that fail to meet rigorous emissions standards – disappointing campaigners who had hoped for a rise in fuel duty or a diesel scrappage scheme.

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Categories: Environment

Melbourne consortium underwrites windfarm in Australian-first deal

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 10:00am

Some of Melbourne’s most recognisable sights will be powered by a new 39-turbine windfarm after 14 organisations agree to buy half its power output

Three Melbourne councils, two universities, Zoos Victoria, and half a dozen corporations have banded together to underwrite a windfarm in western Victoria that will power some of the city’s most recognisable buildings.

The group of 14 organisations, led by the City of Melbourne, has agreed to purchase half the power produced by a new 39-turbine, 80MW windfarm near Ararat, about 200km west of Melbourne.

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Categories: Environment

Record numbers of rare migrant dragonflies spotted in the UK

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 9:36am

Conservationists believe global warming could be partly responsible for the influx of species such as the scarlet darter that have been seen this year

Record numbers of rare migrant dragonflies have been spotted in the UK this year, according to an analysis by volunteers from the Migrant Dragonfly Project.

The study recorded the first confirmed UK sighting of the scarlet darter for 13 years, at Longham Lakes in Dorset. It is only the eighth time this species has been spotted in Britain.

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Categories: Environment

'Looting' spree threatens wildlife and forests across eastern Europe

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 9:00am

UN report warns crimes such as logging and poaching are putting ‘high pressure’ on ecosystems in 15 countries in the Danube-Carpathian region

An environmental “looting” spree is threatening biodiversity and pristine forests across 15 countries in central and eastern Europe, the UN has warned.

Environmental crimes such as illegal logging, fishing, poaching and the caviar black market are putting “high pressure” on ecosystems in the Danube-Carpathian region, according to a report by the UN Environmental Programme (Unep) and WWF.

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Categories: Environment

New nuclear power cannot rival windfarms on price, energy boss says

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/11/22 - 8:37am

Innogy Renewables chief claims future reactors will not be competitive as offshore windfarms become even cheaper

New nuclear power stations in the UK can no longer compete with windfarms on price, according to the boss of a German energy company’s green power arm.

Hans Bunting, the chief operating officer of renewables at Innogy SE, part of the company that owns the UK energy supplier npower, said offshore windfarms had become mainstream and were destined to become even cheaper because of new, bigger turbines.

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Categories: Environment
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