Hinkley Point: new UK chancellor determined to start building

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/07/14 - 1:50am

Philip Hammond says nuclear power project must go ahead but admits elements of uncertainty over spiralling cost and ministerial reshuffle

The new chancellor of the exchequer has expressed his determination to see construction begin on the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, amid mounting concerns over the cost of the project.

“We have to make sure the project goes ahead,” Philip Hammond told BBC’s Today programme. However, he admitted there was “obviously an atmosphere of uncertainty” around the £18bn scheme due to the change of ministers following the referendum.

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Categories: Environment

Brexit will force EU countries 'to make deeper, costlier carbon cuts'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/07/14 - 1:00am

Bloc will have to draw up new plan with higher cuts for remaining 27 states in order to meet its carbon reduction target, which could cost billions of euros

Brexit will force the European Union’s remaining 27 countries to spend billions of euros on cutting carbon emissions more deeply to compensate for the UK leaving, according to experts.

The UK will be included in a Brussels communique on 20 July, setting out individual targets for EU signatory states to meet a bloc goal of a 40% emissions cut by 2030, as pledged in Paris last year.

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Categories: Environment

London's Oxford Street to be pedestrianised by 2020

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/07/14 - 12:39am

Mayor of London announces plan to ban vehicles from major shopping street as part of his commitment to tackle air pollution

Oxford Street will be pedestrianised by 2020, the mayor of London’s office has announced.

The central London shopping hub is one of the busiest in the capital and is visited by more than 4 million people each week.

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Categories: Environment

Pacific ​​islands nations consider world's first treaty to ban fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/07/14 - 12:03am

Treaty under consideration by 14 countries would ban new coalmines and embraces 1.5C target set at Paris climate talks

The world’s first international treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels is being considered by leaders of developing Pacific islands nations after a summit in the Solomon Islands this week.

The leaders of 14 countries agreed to consider a proposed Pacific climate treaty, which would bind signatories to targets for renewable energy and ban new or the expansion of coalmines, at the annual leaders’ summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

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Categories: Environment

From field to fork: the six stages of wasting food

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 11:00pm

Americans chuck out two tonnes of food a second – be it at the farm for being ‘ugly’ or at the table because we’re too finicky

Every second, an amount of food equal to the weight of a sedan car is thrown away in the US – about 60m tonnes a year. It starts at the farm. The potato that grew to the size of a brick. The watermelon with the brown slasher marks on the rind. The cauliflower stained yellow in the sun. The peach that lost its blush before harvest. Any of those minor imperfections - none of which affect taste or quality or shelf life - can doom a crop right there. If the grower decides the supermarkets - or ultimately the consumer - will reject it, those fruits and vegetables never make it off the farm.

Then there are the packing warehouses, where a specific count must be maintained for each plastic clamshell or box - and any strawberry or plum that does not make it is junked, if it can’t immediately be sold for juice or jam.

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Categories: Environment

Post-Brexit farming subsidies must protect nature, 84 groups say

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 10:01pm

Protection for birds, wildlife and waterways should come top of the list when any new payments for farmers are considered, NGOs tell new government

New subsidies paid to farmers under a post-Brexit government must be linked closely to environmental responsibilities, a large group of political and civil society organisations has urged.

Protection for birds, wildlife, waterways and other natural goods should come top of the list when any new payments are considered, wrote 84 food, farming and conservation specialists in a letter to Oliver Letwin and Theresa May on Thursday.

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Categories: Environment

GPS tags reveal the secret life of urban seagulls

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 10:01pm

Pioneering study of four herring gulls nesting in St Ives, Cornwall, found they spent most of their time foraging for food outside of town

The summer holidays are nigh and with them, no doubt, will come stories of seagulls on the rampage, stealing ice cream and chips and launching attacks on people and pets.

But a ground-breaking study that tracked the movement of herring gulls nesting in the Cornish resort of St Ives suggested they spent little time scavenging for goodies or scraps on the streets.

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Categories: Environment

From nightfall to dawn, the garden is the snail's domain

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 9:30pm

Sandy, Bedfordshire What language did its tentacles speak? They appeared to be directionless conductors, randomly sampling the air

At nightfall, garden snails began to come out of the woodpile. I found one spiralling up a twig, stretching out its wet elephant skin. Another swung its body to the side, as if it was having a touch of slug envy, and was trying to dislodge its bulky encumbrance of a shell. One was sliding up the patio window and I went indoors to view it from beneath.

Pressed smooth against the glass, the muscles of its body (technically, its foot) rippled as waves might lap over a shallow, sandy beach, each wave a pulse of movement. Any slight change in direction caused the twisting part of the foot to crease, creating a filmy cellophane effect. What language did its tentacles speak? They appeared to be directionless conductors, randomly sampling the air, out of synch with each other, having no bearing on the animal’s purposeful course.

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Categories: Environment

Euro 2016 moths take wing from Paris and head to Britain

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 3:55pm

Thousands of Silver Y moths, like those that pestered Ronaldo during the Euro 2016 final, headed for UK shores

Last seen swarming the Stade de France in Paris, the moths that flapped around the injured Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2016 final are on their way to Britain.

Thousands of the Silver Y moths – Autographa gamma – are winging their way from the continent to Britain, and while they will not match the many millions that swarmed as far north as Shetland in 1996, experts are predicting a strong year. “It’s looking like it’s going to be an above average year, providing the conditions are right and there’s a southerly wind,” said Zoe Randle, a surveys officer at the charity Butterfly Conservation.

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Categories: Environment

Something to really miss about David Cameron | Brief letters

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 11:01am
Oil beneath South China Sea | A Bristolian and EU passport | Urinals on planes | Names for recessions | Mrs Cameron’s diary

The background issue that makes the dispute over the South China Sea so hot (Report, 13 July) is that the various countries are squabbling over the oil underneath it. Since we need to keep 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, how about proposing an agreement to leave all that oil unextracted no matter which country gets it? The various countries might agree to that, not knowing which one the sacrifice will fall on. With that agreement in place, they might be much less concerned over which country gets to be the nominal owner of the oil that won’t be extracted.
Richard Stallman
Cambridge, Massachusetts

• Nick Markovits’s faith in Nicola Sturgeon is touching (Letters, 12 July), but why come all the way to Scotland? Instead, just call for an immediate referendum over the issue of independence for south-west England, ignore the cool response of the EU itself, fudge currency issues and other essential matters and head off into the bright future with your new Bristolian and EU passport. Alternatively, just be glad you’re not having to brace yourself for a third referendum in three years and even greater isolation.
Jean McGowan

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Categories: Environment

Theresa May must step up efforts to green the UK's energy supply, says UN

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 7:39am

Generating more electricity from renewable sources will benefit the poor and boost jobs and the economy at a time of uncertainty, says UN’s top energy official

Theresa May’s government must increase its commitment to greening the country’s energy supply, despite the “distraction and disruption” caused by the referendum, the top energy official of the United Nations has urged.

Rachel Kyte, chief executive of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and special representative of the UN secretary-general, said generating more energy from cleaner sources would boost jobs and the economy at a time of uncertainty, and help poorer people the most.

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Categories: Environment

Humpback whales feast on fish in San Francisco Bay – video

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 6:48am

A kayaker spotted humpback whales feeding in San Francisco’s waters on Sunday. Lyrinda Snyderman was out in the bay with three other kayakers when they saw the whales. The humpbacks breached the surface over the course of half an hour to dine on fish. They are likely migrating north

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Categories: Environment

As climate change worsens wildfires, smokejumpers fight blazes from the sky

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 4:00am

Drier winters, warmer springs and hotter summers make wildfires even wilder. These elite firefighters extinguish small fires before they grow into monsters

The alarm sounded and in a blink the base thrummed with activity. Smokejumpers grabbed helmets, donned kevlar suits, tested radios and strapped on parachutes. A speaker blasted Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.

“Final checks, OK, let’s go,” boomed a command. Within minutes eight smokejumpers were airborne in a Twin Otter, climbing into a blue Idaho sky. The plane soon returned, empty, to pick up another eight jumpers.

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Categories: Environment

Coal India accused of bulldozing human rights amid production boom

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 3:29am

People evicted without compensation as India expands mining operations, says Amnesty International report

The bulldozer came to Barkuta village at 10am one February morning. Nirupabai was working in the fields when her neighbours called, telling her to rush home. By the time she reached her house it had been reduced to rubble. “I cried, I screamed, trying to save it,” she says, recalling the eviction now two years on. “All my things, my son’s school books, a year’s worth of rice, everything was scattered, everything in ruins.”

Barkuta is one of seven villages that neighbour the Kusmunda opencast coalmine in the state of Chhattisgarh. In 2005, the government drew up an emergency coal production plan to curb the effects of huge, impending energy shortages in the rapidly industrialising country. Kusmunda was one of 16 mines identified for expansion. In 2014, the bulldozers came, and Nirupabai had no home.

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Categories: Environment

TTIP proposal casts doubt on G20 climate pledge, leaked EU draft shows

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 3:23am

Draft proposal reveals new loopholes on a pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade

Trade negotiators in Brussels are proposing new loopholes on a G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, in the latest leaked TTIP proposals seen by the Guardian.

The EU’s draft text for a trade and sustainable development chapter also appears to draw an equivalence between the need to prevent trade distortions and the fight against climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Global warming implicated in dinosaur extinction | Howard Lee

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 3:00am

New technique for measuring ancient temperatures finds two pulses of climate warming at the end of the Cretaceous

In a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Florida show that there were big jumps in climate warming when the dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. This brings the end-Cretaceous mass extinction in line with the other mass extinction events, which occurred at times of abrupt and sometimes extreme climate change (including the end-Permian, the end-Triassic, the Toarcian, and others).

By employing a relatively new ancient-temperature-measuring technique called “carbonate clumped isotope paleothermometry,” scientists have uncovered an 8ºC jump in seawater temperatures that unfolded rapidly, at the same time as massive CO2 emissions from the Indian Deccan Traps eruptions (“rapidly” here means anything less than about 30,000 years, possibly centuries; such are the limits of time resolution). They also found a second, smaller spike in warming about 150,000 years later, at around the same time as the asteroid impact at Chicxulub in Mexico.

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Categories: Environment

Solar Impulse 2 lands in Egypt in penultimate stop of its world tour

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 2:13am

Solar-powered plane will next make a final flight to Abu Dhabi where its round-the-world journey will end

The Solar Impulse 2 landed in Cairo on Wednesday for its penultimate stop as the solar-powered plane nears the end of its marathon tour around the world.

After the two-day flight from Spain, just one final leg lies between it and its final destination, Abu Dhabi, where it started its odyssey in March last year.

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Categories: Environment

India to meet climate goals earlier than promised, says outgoing climate chief

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 1:49am

Prakash Javadekar says India is now a world leader in tackling climate change and other countries need to follow its example, reports Climate Home

India could meet its carbon reduction goals earlier than expected, the country’s outgoing climate minister told a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.

By 2030, the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter plans to cut the carbon intensity of GDP up to 35% on 2005 levels and boost the share of clean power in the energy mix to 40%.

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Categories: Environment

WWF buys shark fishing licence on Great Barrier Reef to scrap it

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 1:05am

Conservation group seeks help to pay for the $100,000 licence which lets owner drag 1.2km nets along length of the reef

A conservation group has taken the unusual step of buying a commercial shark fishing licence on the Great Barrier Reef, and will retire it, saving the sharks that it would otherwise be used to catch.

WWF said it was now seeking funds to cover the cost of the $100,000 licence, which gives the owner the right to drag a 1.2km net anywhere along the length of the Great Barrier Reef, targeting sharks. It can also be used for fishing with lines to target other species.

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Categories: Environment

Badger cull expansion 'flies in face of scientific evidence'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/13 - 12:55am

Experts call on new prime minister Theresa May to halt ‘failed’ policy, calling it ‘risky, costly, and inhumane’

The imminent expansion of England’s controversial badger cull “flies in the face of scientific evidence”, according to the nation’s foremost experts, who have called on new prime minister, Theresa May, to halt the “failed” policy.

The scientists say the badger cull, intended to curb tuberculosis in cattle, is a “risky, costly, and inhumane” distraction and may actually increase TB infections.

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