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Updated: 5 hours 47 min ago

Federal government must end its ‘climate wars’, NSW energy minister says

Tue, 2018/12/18 - 5:16pm

Don Harwin urges Coalition to ‘put science, economics and engineering ahead of ideology’

The New South Wales energy minister, Don Harwin, wants the federal government to end its “climate wars” and start reducing emissions, ahead of a meeting with his colleagues from across Australia.

But the Victorian energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the federal coalition was “beyond hope” on the issue and that NSW is calling them out too late.

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Categories: Environment

Blind creature that buries head in sand named after Donald Trump

Tue, 2018/12/18 - 11:16am

Amphibian’s behaviour compared to US president’s approach to global warming

A newly discovered blind and burrowing amphibian is to be officially named Dermophis donaldtrumpi, in recognition of the US president’s climate change denial.

The name was chosen by the boss of EnviroBuild, a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 (£19,800) at an auction for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming.

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Categories: Environment

Time to consider hydrogen, the new clean energy carrier on the block | Rose Amal

Tue, 2018/12/18 - 10:00am

The case for hydrogen as a fuel has been well made but there has been little investment to bring it to scale

If Australia wants fair dinkum power, there is a new energy carrier on the block to ensure the supply of reliable renewable electricity.

And if Australia gets its act together, it will lead a new global export industry for this clean energy carrier, be at the forefront of a new economy, and become a trailblazer in new technologies.

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Categories: Environment

Christmas shoppers warned to avoid plastic toys due to toxin levels

Tue, 2018/12/18 - 8:49am

Toys feature in more than half of EU alerts for products containing banned chemicals

Christmas shoppers are being warned to avoid plastic toys after they appeared in more than half of EU intergovernmental alerts for products containing banned chemicals this year.

In all, 290 of the 563 warnings sent out on the EU’s rapid alert system concerned toys with illegally high levels of toxins, most of which were plastic dolls, and all of which could be on sale on British high streets.

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Categories: Environment

Solar households expected to give away power to energy firms

Tue, 2018/12/18 - 6:51am

Government confirms anyone who adds solar from April 2019 will not be paid for excess electricity exported to grid

The government has said households that install solar panels in the future will be expected to give away unused clean power for free to energy firms earning multimillion-pound profits, provoking outrage from green campaigners.

The mayor of London, big energy firms and environmentalists had urged ministers not to end the “export tariff” for solar panels under the feed-in tariff scheme, which is closing next year.

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Categories: Environment

National Trust drops legal battle against gas surveys in beauty spot

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 5:28pm

But charity vows to ‘fight tooth and nail’ to protect Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire from fracking by Ineos

The National Trust has withdrawn its legal opposition to seismic surveying by Ineos at Clumber Park but has vowed to fight to protect the site from fracking.

The energy firm Ineos won the right this year to pursue a high court action to gain access to the Grade I-registered country park in Nottinghamshire for surveying, as part of efforts to assess the area for shale gas.

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Categories: Environment

Environment, Jaffa Cakes and Kylie Jenner star in statistics of the year

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 5:01pm

Top prize goes to 90.5%, the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled

The environment, Jaffa Cakes and the reality star Kylie Jenner all feature in 2018’s statistics of the year.

Among more serious statistics relating to poverty, gender equality and climate change, the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) highlighted the power of social media and McVitie’s slashing the number of Jaffa Cakes in its Christmas tube.

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Categories: Environment

Packaging producers to pay full recycling costs under waste scheme

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 5:01pm

Government strategy to make ‘polluter pay’, with penalties for difficult to recycle items

Retailers and producers of packaging will be forced to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling it under the government’s new waste strategy.

Supermarkets and other retailers could be charged penalties for putting difficult to recycle packaging – such as black plastic trays – on the market as part of the strategy, which aims to make the “polluter pay”. They would be charged lower fees for packaging that was easy to reuse or recycle.

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Categories: Environment

We say we love our national parks. The evidence suggests otherwise | Kelly O’Shanassy

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 10:00am

Australia leads the world in extinction rates and now our protected habitats are at risk. That’s neglect

Australia has the most extraordinary national parks, home to our unique wildlife, deserts, mountains, forests and sacred icons such as Uluru. We are rightly proud of them.

It’s hard to pick a favourite. But I do love Wilsons Promontory, where the wombats reign supreme, and getting one of these inquisitive fellows out of your tent after a late-night incursion is quite an adventure.

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Categories: Environment

Study finds 'alarming' levels of chemicals in Great Barrier Reef turtles

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 10:00am

Results of research into 2012 mass deaths offer insights into reef health and throw up further questions

Conservationists want major bays and estuaries along the Great Barrier Reef tested for contaminants after a five-year study found “alarming” levels of some chemicals in unhealthy turtles on the reef.

Scientists working on the research have also recommended expanded monitoring of turtle-population health on the Great Barrier Reef “as an indicator of the health of the reef itself”.

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Categories: Environment

Carol Vorderman and Liam Gallagher back campaign against trophy hunting

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 9:00am

Range of public figures from Jeremy Corbyn to Sue Perkins call for ban on imports

A group of public figures including Jeremy Corbyn, Zac Goldsmith, Sue Perkins and Carol Vorderman have joined forces to call for an urgent halt to imports from trophy hunters.

In a letter to the Guardian, the group, which also includes Piers Morgan, Liam Gallagher, Ed Sheeran and Joanna Lumley, condemns trophy hunting as “cruel, immoral, archaic and unjustifiable”.

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Categories: Environment

Back to the land: are young farmers the new starving artists?

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 4:00am

A small but growing movement of millennials are seeking out a more agrarian life but the reality of life on the land is not always as simple as they hoped

Eight years ago, Liz Whitehurst, then 25, was working in digital communications at a policy organization in Washington DC and dreaming of life outside a cubicle. She started exploring a different kind of existence by volunteering on local farms. When the farmer who provided the locally sourced vegetable box she signed up for invited her to work the fields one day, she was starstruck. “You’re my hero,” she recalls telling the farmer. “I want your life.”

Today, she has it. Whitehurst grows a wide array of produce on Owl’s Nest Farm, set on a few acres in Upper Marlboro, Maryland (she bought it from that same farmer). Whitehurst grows sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash – everything is handpicked. She also provides greens to a local pizza kitchen which was recently named one of the best new restaurants in the country.

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Categories: Environment

London's new official plan for cycling is bold but has a major flaw

Mon, 2018/12/17 - 2:51am

With no new infrastructure or funding, questions remain on how to genuinely democratise cycling in a big city

London has a new official plan for cycling. It’s full of bold statements of intent and has some interesting ideas. That’s the good news. Here’s the drawback: within the 59 glossy pages I could detect no new plans for cycling infrastructure.

This all might seem a bit niche, not to say London-centric. But there is a wider lesson here: if cities are to truly move ahead in making cycling everyday and for everyone, good intentions aren’t enough. It involves political boldness, and taking risks.

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Categories: Environment

Blackcurrant crops hit by milder winters, study shows

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 5:01pm

Researchers warn rising temperatures will cause plants to flower later and die sooner

Milder winters driven by climate change will hit blackcurrant crops, with plants producing fewer and lower quality fruit, according to a new study.

Like many other fruit and woody plants, blackcurrants need a period of chilling before they start to grow in spring. This reduces the risk of frost damage to new buds and makes sure they burst rapidly in the spring and flower together when there are plenty of pollinators such as bees around.

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Categories: Environment

At last, divestment is hitting the fossil fuel industry where it hurts | Bill McKibben

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 10:37am
Trillions of dollars of investments are being taken out of carbon-intensive companies. Governments must now take notice

I remember well the first institution to announce it was divesting from fossil fuel. It was 2012 and I was on the second week of a gruelling tour across the US trying to spark a movement. Our roadshow had been playing to packed houses down the west coast, and we’d crossed the continent to Portland, Maine. As a raucous crowd jammed the biggest theatre in town, a physicist named Stephen Mulkey took the mic. He was at the time president of the tiny Unity College in the state’s rural interior, and he announced that over the weekend its trustees had voted to sell their shares in coal, oil and gas companies. “The time is long overdue for all investors to take a hard look at the consequences of supporting an industry that persists in destructive practices,” he said.

Related: The Guardian view on global warming: time is running out | Editorial

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Categories: Environment

Make climate crisis top editorial priority, XR campaign urges BBC

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 10:17am

Extinction Rebellion group call on BBC to tell ‘full truth about ecological emergency’

Climate campaigners are calling on the BBC to declare a climate emergency and make the issue its top editorial priority.

In a letter published in the Guardian, the new civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion (XR) says the BBC, “as a respected media voice in the UK, needs to play a key role in enabling the transformative change needed”.

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Categories: Environment

UN climate accord 'inadequate' and lacks urgency, experts warn

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 8:25am

Agreement will fail to halt devastating rise in global temperature, say scientists

The world has been put on notice that its best efforts so far will fail to halt the devastation of climate change, as countries came to a partial agreement at UN talks that failed to match up to the challenges faced.

Leading figures in climate science and economics said much more must be done, and quickly, to stave off the prospect of dangerous levels of global warming.

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Categories: Environment

UK fracking policy faces court challenges

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 7:54am

Friends of the Earth granted judicial review it hopes will help alter planning rules

Ministers face a pair of legal challenges to their planning rules on fracking this week, from a national environmental group and the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

The government used its revamped planning rulebook to tell local authorities in July that they should recognise the benefits of shale gas and facilitate its extraction.

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Categories: Environment

Former fossil fuels lobbyist to head interior department as Zinke exits

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 5:52am

David Bernhardt’s new job means top two US environmental agencies will be helmed by people once paid by industry

Ryan Zinke’s exit as interior secretary elevates a former lobbyist to the job, meaning the top two US environmental agencies will now be run by people previously paid by industry.

The deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, will take over at least temporarily when Zinke steps down at the end of the year. He also could be in the running to head the department permanently. And at the Environmental Protection Agency, the acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, who was a coal lobbyist, will be nominated to keep the post.

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Categories: Environment

What was agreed at COP24 in Poland and why did it take so long?

Sun, 2018/12/16 - 5:04am

Fractious UN climate change talks ended with a deal on putting the Paris agreement into practice – but much else left unresolved

Countries settled on most of the tricky elements of the “rulebook” for putting the 2015 Paris agreement into practice. This includes how governments will measure, report on and verify their emissions-cutting efforts, a key element because it ensures all countries are held to proper standards and will find it harder to wriggle out of their commitments.

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Categories: Environment