Investing in off-grid renewables in the developing world: what you need to know

Guardian Environment News - 4 hours 29 min ago

Renewables are getting cheaper but there’s still a huge investment gap. Here’s what our expert panel said in a recent debate on clean energy

At the Paris climate talks last December, governments agreed to work towards limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But the topic of financing developing countries to help them adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy became a sticking point during the negotiations.

We recently brought together a panel of experts to debate how developing countries can reach 100% renewables. Here’s what we learned:

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Categories: Environment

Investors controlling $13tn call on G20 leaders to ratify Paris climate agreement

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 8:34pm

Investors say countries that move first will attract investments and call for regulators to force disclosure of climate-related risks

A group of 130 institutions that control US$13tn of investments have called on G20 nations to ratify the Paris agreement this year and accelerate investment in clean energy and forced disclosure of climate-related financial risk.

Countries that ratified the Paris agreement early would benefit from better policy certainty and would attract investment in low-carbon technology, the signatories said in a letter before the G20 heads of government meeting in September.

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Categories: Environment

Fisherman hands in giant pearl he kept under the bed 10 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 8:05pm

Enormous pearl thought to have come from a giant clam could be the biggest in the world and, if authenticated, is estimated to be worth more than $100m

A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years.

The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m.

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Categories: Environment

Swimming with dolphins could end as 'self-gratifying selfies' pose threat

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 4:16pm

In Hawaii, large numbers of visitors disturb nocturnal spinner dolphins, which continue moving while they snooze

The federal government is proposing a ban on swimming with dolphins in Hawaii – a move that may crush the dreams of many tourists, but will allow the marine mammals to finally get a good day’s sleep.

The proposed rule would bar people from swimming or approaching within 50 yards of the Hawaiian spinner dolphin. The dolphins are an increasingly popular attraction for tourists, who pay for chartered tours of the bays the dolphins frequent.

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Categories: Environment

Microplastics should be banned in cosmetics to save oceans, MPs say

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 4:01pm

Environmental audit committee calls for ban after hearing that microbeads harm marine life and enter the food chain

Cosmetics companies must be banned from using plastic microbeads in scrubs, toothpaste and beauty products because of the marine pollution they are causing, say a group of MPs.

Members of the environmental audit committee have called for a ban within 18 months after hearing that trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain. About 86 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone, they were told.

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Categories: Environment

Storms devastate monarch butterflies' forest habitat in Mexico

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 1:51pm
  • Rain cold and high winds destroy 133 acres of trees west of Mexico City
  • March storms killed 7% of monarchs and added to habit loss by tree-felling

Storms earlier this year blew down more than a hundred acres of forests where migrating monarch butterflies spend the winter in central Mexico, killing more than 7% of the monarchs, according to conservationists.

Rain, cold and high winds from the storms caused the loss of 133 acres (54 hectares) of pine and fir trees in the forests west of Mexico City, more than four times the amount lost to illegal logging this year. It was the biggest storm-related loss since the winter of 2009-10, when unusually heavy rainstorms and mudslides caused the destruction of 262 acres (106 hectares) of trees.

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Categories: Environment

Persistent Drought Kills Millions Of Trees In California Forests

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 1:42pm

Years of drought have strained California's forests, killing millions of trees and fueling wildfires.

Categories: Environment

Flint's tainted water may have led to rashes and hair loss, investigation finds

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 12:14pm

Results come from water sampled during time when Flint’s supply was taken from source later deemed to be corroding pipes and leaching lead

A months-long government investigation bolsters claims of residents in Flint, Michigan, that the city’s lead-tainted water led to a breakout of rashes and hair loss for residents.

Though the investigation stopped short of definitively linking the symptoms to the water source, it found based on water tests and surveys of medical diagnoses that resident concerns were valid.

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Categories: Environment

Puerto Rico officials struggle to translate Zika virus fears into action

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 8:18am

A quarter of the population may have the disease by the end of mosquito season, but efforts to control it have been thwarted by apathy and misinformation

Every time it rains in San Juan, Dr Brenda Rivera-García walks around her home emptying containers of standing water, probably wearing long sleeves, and almost certainly wearing mosquito repellent. Rivera-García is the state epidemiologist in Puerto Rico, a woman tasked with tracking every single Zika-infected pregnant woman in the US territory.

Less than two weeks after the US health and human services administration declared the spread of Zika on the island an epidemic, Rivera-García said it’s not frustration or anger that overtakes her when she adds a new woman’s name to a list of roughly 700 confirmed to be infected with the disease.

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Categories: Environment

President Obama Tours Flood Destruction In Louisiana

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 8:17am

Obama visited a neighborhood in East Baton Rouge Parish more than a week after flooding hit southeastern Louisiana, killing at least 13 people and damaging or destroying more than 60,000 homes.

Categories: Environment

How can companies cut their water footprint? – send us your questions

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 6:11am

Join us on this page on Tuesday 23 August, 1-2pm (BST), for a debate about how business can reduce the water in its supply chain

2.08pm BST

Eliza Roberts from Ceres has closed today’s water debate with an important point:

Water scarcity is not the only challenge. Water pollution is another huge contributor to the increasing pressures we are seeing. Each year, millions of tons of fertilizer run off into waterways, polluting rivers and groundwater and leading to dead zones like the Gulf of Mexico, an area the size of Connecticut that is literally devoid of life.

[...] Through careful evaluation of risks, establishing corporate policies and codes and sustainable sourcing goals, and providing educational and financial support on the ground to farmers, companies can play a huge role in helping to improve on-farm practices and protect freshwater for future generations.

2.06pm BST

As Galvin from CDP points out, water issues are closely connected to climate change:

As the entry into force of the Paris Agreement looks ever more likely to happen this year, companies will be expected to ramp up their decarbonization efforts. What more need to understand is that efforts to address water security can bring co-benefits in the form of GHG savings.

For example, Mars reports working with farmers in the Mississippi Delta to use alternate wetting and drying (AWD), an irrigation technique that reduces both water use and GHG emissions with little or no impact on yields. And Lockheed Martin told us that as a result of replacing a chiller, they cut US$77,000 in electrical costs, 800 metric tons of carbon emissions and 8% of its water usage annually in its site in Maryland.

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Categories: Environment

Sunrise to sunset: stunning timelapse video of America's national parks

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 5:00am

In honor of the National Park Service’s centennial this week, the Guardian has compiled scenes from around the country. President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service 100 years ago. From coast to coast, Hawaii to Maine, the beauty, nature and scope of US national parks are breathtaking

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Categories: Environment

The political crusades targeting national parks for drilling and exploitation

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 4:00am

Hailed as ‘America’s best idea’, the parks are hugely popular with the public but face political efforts to lift federal protection and allow private development

“It’s easy to feel besieged here,” said Wendy Ross, superintendent of the Theodore Roosevelt national park. Ross’s park, named after the “conservationist president” who helped to keep America’s natural treasures unspoiled, is surrounded by oil and gas drilling that has transformed the landscape.

Related: 100 years of America’s national parks – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

Share your encounters with elephants

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 2:51am

As part of a new series on elephant conservation we’d like to hear about your experiences with the world’s largest land mammal

Over the next year we’re going to be covering the plight of elephants around the world. The numbers of these beautiful animals – now our largest land mammal – have been in steep decline for a century and now face more serious challenges than ever, due to poaching, habitat destruction, and conflict with man.

Please help with our coverage by getting in touch and telling us your own stories, encounters and campaigns. Are you a wildlife campaigner in Asia? A grassroots activist in Africa? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you about your own encounters with elephants.

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Categories: Environment

Badger cull protesters change tactics in response to expansion

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 2:25am

Demonstrators focus on driving up policing costs as anti-bovine TB programme is expanded across south-west England

Protesters against the badger cull in England have said they plan to change tactics by undertaking direct action to drive up policing costs, after reports of an expansion of culling to new areas.

The BBC has reported that the cull will be extended to five new areas in south-west England – south Devon, north Devon, north Cornwall, west Dorset and south Herefordshire – where badger shooting will begin in early September as part of government efforts to eradicate bovine TB.

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Categories: Environment

Australia will need to remove CO2 from air to keep warming below 2C, climate body says

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 1:56am

Climate Institute report says negative-emissions technology is imperative because risks of global temperature reaching 2C are ‘unmanageable’

Australia will blow its carbon budget with either the Coalition’s emissions reduction targets, or those suggested by the Labor opposition, highlighting the urgent need for negative-emissions technology, analysis commissioned by the Climate Institute shows.

“Everyone is just now beginning to work out the implications of the 1.5C goal, and how hard it is to get to it,” said John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute.

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Categories: Environment

Sea Shepherd will keep harassing Japanese whaling boats despite US court ruling

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 1:04am

Conservation group says it is committed to upholding Australian federal court ruling banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian sanctuary

A United States court ruling preventing conservationists from attacking Japanese whaling boats will not stop the annual protection campaign in the Southern Ocean.

The Japanese Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that a settlement declaring the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was “permanently enjoined from physically attacking the [Japanese] research vessels and crew and from navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger their safe navigation”.

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Categories: Environment

The deaths on the British coastline are a reminder of the sea’s awful power | Philip Hoare

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2016/08/23 - 12:00am

Fear of the water is ingrained in many, but our connection with nature also appears to be ebbing away

As the summer slips towards its close with the triumph of our aquatic athletes in Rio, there is a terrible contrast in the fate of six lost souls around the British coast this past weekend. On the one hand, absolute control and exultation in what a human body can achieve in the water; on the other, the appalling tragedy that can result when we lose control – all the more awful because it can happen so quickly – in the act of having fun.

I never learned to swim until I was in my late 20s. Despite being born and brought up in a city by the sea, I feared it, and its power. I know many people share that trauma: pretending you’ve got a cold when everyone else goes to the swimming baths. Yet even Adam Peaty, who proved himself to be one of the fastest swimmers on earth when he won his gold medal, was scared witless of the water as a boy. That tension stays with us, in our relationship to the water.

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Categories: Environment

Timing of NT government's secret deal with Tri-Star coal company queried

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 11:00pm

One day before Northern Territory government went into caretaker mode for Saturday’s election it arranged for Texas company to potentially extend its explorations licence

A day before the Northern Territory government went into caretaker mode, it secretly arranged for a Texas-based coal company to potentially extend its explorations licence over 15,000 sq km in central Australia.

The arrangement, under a rarely used mechanism which allows legislative requirements including public submissions to be bypassed, was the result of more than 18 months’ work, the Australian reported.

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Categories: Environment

Inside Shanghai Tower: China's tallest skyscraper claims to be world's greenest

Guardian Environment News - Mon, 2016/08/22 - 10:00pm

The Shanghai Tower is another in a long list of ambitious skyscrapers competing fiercely for sustainability credentials as well as height. But how ‘green’ are these buildings – and is environmentalism really the motivation?

Twisting high above Shanghai’s financial district, China’s tallest tower – and the second tallest in the world – is preparing to officially open its substantial doors to the public next month. The Shanghai Tower, reaching 632 metres, is the third “supertall” tower on the city’s iconic skyline. Looking out from the 119th floor, the city lies below like a toy model, a densely packed mass of streets and high-rise buildings.

China loves a world record, and its new building boasts plenty, including the world’s fastest elevators, highest hotel and restaurant, and tallest viewing platform. Reassuringly, it also required the largest ever cement pouring for the foundations. But most importantly, the 128-storey tower also claims to be the world’s greenest skyscraper. Awarded the top green rating, LEED Platinum, the government is hailing the tower as a sign of China’s growing green credentials.

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