Environment

The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 11:00pm

Company wants to curry favour with conservatives to protect its ‘section 230’ legal immunity

When Eric Schmidt was asked on a radio show in 2014 why Google was supporting an ultra-conservative climate-denying pressure group in Washington, the then chairman of the internet giant offered an unequivocal response: it was wrong and Google was not going to do it again.

“The consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future,” Schmidt told NPR. People who opposed or questioned climate science were making the world “a much worse place”, he added, and Google “should not be aligned with such people”.

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Categories: Environment

Josh Frydenberg rejects IMF report that Australia will fail to meet Paris target

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 8:42pm

Treasurer says Australia will meet Paris target without carbon price, despite IMF analysis

Josh Frydenberg has rejected the International Monetary Fund’s warning that Australia will fail to meet its Paris agreement emissions reduction target even with a carbon price of US$75 a ton.

The IMF made the observation in a report on mitigating climate change which concluded that a carbon tax is still a more cost-effective solution than “feebate” models, which impose fees on activities with above-average emissions and subsidise those with below-average emissions.

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Categories: Environment

If the shoo fits: cows painted with zebra stripes keep flies in line

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 5:29pm

Insect bites can be significantly cut using a cunning disguise, researchers find

Painting a cow to look something like a zebra has been found to reduce fly bites by 50%.

Researchers believe painting stripes on to cattle is a world-first and could become an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides.

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Categories: Environment

Trump administration's new lead rules in water dismissed as 'window dressing'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 2:51pm

Critics say rules give water systems decades more time to replace dangerous pipes and fail to boost urgency for cleaning up lead

The Trump administration is proposing new rules for lead in drinking water, overhauling the regulations for the first time in three decades, following crises in Flint, Michigan, and other US communities, but critics say the changes appear to give water systems decades more time to replace pipes leaching dangerous amounts of toxic lead.

The Environmental Protection Agency would require water systems to notify customers if levels exceed 15 parts per billion. And it would require water testing at schools and daycares.

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Categories: Environment

US mayors seek to bypass Trump with direct role at UN climate talks

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 10:32am

‘If cities are invited to be at the table, I believe they will help accelerate the work that needs to be done’ said LA mayor Eric Garcetti

US mayors are seeking to go over President Trump’s head and negotiate directly at next month’s UN climate change conference in Santiago, they said as they met in Copenhagen for the C40 World Mayors Summit.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who rallied US mayors to commit to the Paris climate agreement after Trump announced his intention to withdraw the country in 2017, said he would ask the UN secretary general, António Guterres, on Thursday to give American cities a new role in UN climate talks.

“I’m going to bring it up with the UN secretary general,” Garcetti said. “If cities are invited to be at the table, I believe they will help accelerate the work that needs to be done. Hopefully, we can do it in concert with our national governments, but [we can do it] even where there is conflict.”

Garcetti, who was announced on Wednesday as the next chair of the C40 group of global cities, said he would use his position to seek “a more formal role in the deliberations” at the conference.

“The United Nations works directly with cities all the time ... so they shouldn’t feel feel scared about jumping down to that local level,” he said.

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Categories: Environment

Where the blame lies for the climate crisis | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 10:02am
Readers respond to the report revealing the 20 biggest polluters responsible for a third of all global carbon emissions

Your article (Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all global carbon emissions, 10 October) highlights the biggest polluters and contributors to the climate crisis over the last half-century – the “uncooperative crusties” of capitalism. It is these companies that are standing in the way of progress. But we shouldn’t just look at the carbon they have pumped into the atmosphere, but also the money – our money, in banks and pension funds – that they have invested and the power that huge amount of capital gives them. They can choose to either transform their businesses into something positive for the planet or to extend the shelf life of a carbon-based business model well past its best-before date.

This week, the Treasury select committee asked me, ShareAction and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association what investors can do about the oil and gas industry. My answer was that we need to use more than just persuasion. Our money can shape the strategies of these companies directly. Savvy investors should back those that respond to change, not the ones who deny the urgency.

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Categories: Environment

Energy bills will have to rise sharply to avoid climate crisis, says IMF

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 9:42am

Fund says governments could use money to help vulnerable people or invest in green energy

Avoiding dangerous global heating will require governments around the world to impose stringent taxes on fossil-fuel usage that will mean a 43% jump in household energy bills over the next decade, the International Monetary Fund has said.

The Washington-based Fund said the battle against climate change could only be won if the average carbon tax levied by its member states increased from $2 (£1.63) a ton (907kg) to $75 a ton.

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: top UK thinktank spent decades undermining climate science

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 8:00am

Institute of Economic Affairs has links to 14 members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet

The UK’s most influential conservative thinktank has published at least four books, as well as multiple articles and papers, over two decades suggesting manmade climate change may be uncertain or exaggerated.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has issued publications arguing climate change is either not significantly driven by human activity or will be positive. The group is one of the most politically influential thinktanks in the UK, and boasts that 14 members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet, including the home secretary, foreign secretary and chancellor, have been associated with the group’s past and current initiatives.

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Categories: Environment

How vested interests tried to turn the world against climate science

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 8:00am

For decades fossil fuel majors tried to fight the consensus – just as big tobacco once disputed that smoking kills

In 1998 a public relations consultant called Joe Walker wrote to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association representing major fossil fuel companies, with a proposed solution to a big problem.

In December the previous year, the UN had adopted the Kyoto protocol, an international treaty that committed signatory countries to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert catastrophic climate breakdown.

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Categories: Environment

Two-thirds of bird species in North America could vanish in climate crisis

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 7:01am

Continent could lose 389 of 604 species studied to threats from rising temperatures, higher seas, heavy rains and urbanization

Two-thirds of bird species in North America are at risk of extinction because of the climate crisis, according to a new report from researchers at the Audubon Society, a leading US conservation group.

Related: Record numbers of Australia's wildlife species face 'imminent extinction'

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Categories: Environment

Fires, explosions and toxic releases: Front Range residents fight fracking boom

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 5:27am

How oil and gas production is devastating Colorado communities and endangering the climate

For Barb Binder, the bad news arrived with a knock on the door. That’s when she learned from a local activist that a patch of open public space across from her “forever home” in Broomfield County, the Denver suburb where she and her husband planned to retire, was about to become an industrial site.

Initially, she was comforted by the thought that state officials would not possibly allow residential hydraulic fracturing – or fracking, as it is known – to begin if it was not safe.

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Categories: Environment

Oil firms to pour extra 7m barrels per day into markets, data shows

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 4:00am

Projected production surge in next 12 years to be led by Shell despite climate crisis

The world’s 50 biggest oil companies are poised to flood markets with an additional 7m barrels per day over the next decade, despite warnings from scientists that this will push global heating towards catastrophic levels.

New research commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil will be among the leaders with a projected production increase of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 – a sharper rise than over the previous 12 years.

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Categories: Environment

Fossil fuel firms' social media fightback against climate action

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 4:00am

Industry funds ‘grassroots’ resistance to tougher rules while touting green credentials

Oil and gas companies are spending millions of dollars on campaigns to fight climate regulations at the same time as touting their dedication to a low-carbon future, according to a joint analysis by the Guardian and InfluenceMap.

Their global PR campaigns on social media promote a commitment to a green, low-carbon future, but across the US in particular, specific local campaigns are obstructing tighter regulations on fossil fuel extraction.

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Categories: Environment

Climate emergency: what the oil, coal and gas giants say

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 3:40am

Fossil fuel companies respond to data revealing their responsibility for global emissions

“We agree that action is needed now on climate change, so we fully support the Paris agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. We have already invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, from biofuels, hydrogen and wind power, to electric vehicle charging and smart energy storage solutions. Addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach. We’re committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs.”

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Categories: Environment

Corbyn and Sanders vow to crack down on fossil fuel firms

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2019/10/10 - 2:00am

UK and US politicians pledge to rein in big oil in light of Guardian climate crisis investigation

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have pledged to crack down on fossil fuel companies in light of the Guardian’s investigation revealing that the world’s leading fossil fuel giants are linked to more than a third of carbon emissions in the modern era.

Bernie Sanders, leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and the UK Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said they would take measures to rein in big oil corporations to protect the public and prevent the worst impacts of climate breakdown.

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Categories: Environment

Minerals Council says it will release a 'climate action plan' next year

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2019/10/09 - 8:50pm

‘A leopard doesn’t change its spots,’ says activist investor group, dismissing plan as effort to play for time

The Minerals Council has announced it will develop a “climate action plan” amid increasing pressure on its biggest members, BHP and Rio Tinto, to quit the industry body over its position on global heating.

In a statement posted on the Minerals Council website this week, the chief executive, Tania Constable, said the plan would be released next year and would “support strong and innovative action by Australia’s world-leading minerals sector to address human-induced climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Extinction Rebellion: Labor members say 'chilling' mass arrests have echoes of Bjelke-Petersen era

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2019/10/09 - 7:55pm

Exclusive: Queensland Labor left figures say party built on the right to protest or strike

Labor members from inner-Brisbane have unanimously passed a resolution condemning the mass arrests of climate activists and describing the Queensland government’s proposed crackdown as “eerily reminiscent” of the state’s authoritarian Bjelke-Petersen era.

The Labor premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, this week announced plans to rush consultation on new laws that target climate change protesters, expanding police search powers and banning “locking” devices.

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Categories: Environment

California Bans Popular Pesticide Linked To Brain Damage In Children

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2019/10/09 - 7:47pm

State environmental regulators call chlorpyrifos "a toxic air contaminant" that is a health threat when inhaled or exposed to skin.

(Image credit: Eric Risberg/AP)

Categories: Environment

NSW government may open two new coal fields for exploration to boost economic growth

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2019/10/09 - 7:06pm

Exclusive: Berejiklian government urged to develop Hawkins-Rumker area and Wollar field near Bylong

The New South Wales government is considering opening two large coal fields to exploration as it seeks to make the state the “number one mining investment destination”, Guardian Australia has learned.

The Advisory Body for Strategic Release, which controls the state’s minerals reserves, has written to the deputy premier, John Barilaro, who is also the minister for regional affairs, recommending the Berejiklian government approve the development of the Hawkins-Rumker area in the central tablelands and the Wollar field near Bylong.

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Categories: Environment

Extinction Rebellion: Scott Ludlam has 'absurd' bail conditions dismissed by judge

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2019/10/09 - 4:50pm

Magistrate says bail conditions preventing the former senator from attending Extinction Rebellion events were not necessary

Former Greens senator Scott Ludlam has had bail conditions – that banned him from associating with Extinction Rebellion climate change protests – dismissed by a judge following his arrest at a protest earlier this week.

The strict conditions had been labelled “absurd” by civil liberties campaigners and prevented Ludlam from appearing in court on Thursday, due to restrictions on coming to the Sydney CBD.

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