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National Australia Bank stops all lending for new thermal coal projects

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 7:57pm

Move makes NAB the first major Australian bank to phase out support for industry but it will continue to finance projects already on its books

National Australia Bank says it will halt all lending for new thermal coal mining projects, becoming the first major Australian bank to phase out support of thermal coal mining.

While the bank will continue providing finance for coal projects already on its books, NAB said an orderly transition to a low-carbon Australia was critical for the economy and for continued access to secure and affordable energy.

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Categories: Environment

Court challenge to logging in Victorian highlands could have national impact

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 7:08pm

Green groups’ case against logging in central highlands mountain ash forests could have repercussions for NSW and WA

Green groups are challenging the validity of a Victorian forestry agreement in the federal court in a case that could have repercussions for the Australian logging industry as a whole.

Environmental Justice Australia, acting on behalf of Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum, has argued that the regional forest agreement covering Victoria’s central highlands region, which is home to the critically endangered possum, is invalid because the Victorian government failed to perform the requisite reviews.

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Categories: Environment

How to feed the world while curbing our appetite for destruction | Letters

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 12:15pm
There is enough food for everyone, says Chrissie Hynde – if everyone takes only their fair share and stops eating animals. Others suggest improving farming production methods, tackling population growth and taxing meat

Although I strongly agree with and appreciate George Monbiot’s efforts to shed light on the destructive nature of industrialised farming and its effects on animals and environment (We can’t go on eating like this, 11 December), I do not see the wisdom of tarring the entire farming community with the same brush.

Small family farms, where the profits are just enough to sustain the running of the farm, actually replenish the environment and provide for local communities. A non-slaughter farm is humane, realistic and beneficial all around. We need farmers. There is enough food for everyone if everyone takes only their fair share and stops killing and eating the animals.

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Categories: Environment

Global warming made Hurricane Harvey deadly rains three times more likely, research reveals

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 6:00am

The unprecedented downpour and severe flooding was also 15% more intense due to climate change, which is making weather more violent around the world

Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented deluge, which caused catastrophic flooding in Houston in August, was made three times more likely by climate change, new research has found.

Such a downpour was a very rare event, scientists said, but global warming meant it was 15% more intense. The storm left 80 people dead and 800,000 in need of assistance.

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Categories: Environment

Tesco faces legal threat over marketing its food with 'fake farm' names

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 4:41am

Charity accuses UK supermarkets of misleading customers with fake farm branding and claims Tesco is damaging the reputation of a real farm with the same name

Major UK supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Lidl are being urged to stop using controversial “fake farm” branding on own-brand meat products, with a food charity claiming they are misleading shoppers.

The Feedback charity is backing the owner of a genuine farm called Woodside Farm – a name Tesco has also used on its value pork range since 2016 – and is threatening legal proceedings if the retail giant does not drop the name Woodside Farms.

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Categories: Environment

Scottish fishermen say EU is taking 'hardline' quotas stance pre-Brexit

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 4:36am

As annual fisheries negotiations conclude, fishermen’s federation says ‘entrenched views’ in EU could affect future talks

Scottish fishermen have raised concerns that the EU is adopting a hardline stance over quotas as a prelude to Brexit negotiations.

Annual negotiations over fishing quotas – expected to be the penultimate talks the UK participates in before leaving the EU – were concluded in Brussels early on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

The US is penny wise and pound foolish on the climate | John Abraham

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 4:00am

As America is battered by climate-intensified weather disasters, Republican politicians are trying to slash climate research funding

The United States is great in many respects. But we certainly aren’t perfect; we’ve made some pretty silly choices. One of the dumb choices politicians in the United States want to make is to defund climate science so we wont be able to prepare for increased disasters in the future. We can see how shortsighted this in when compared alongside with the costs of disasters.

Just think about the respective magnitudes. Estimates put the costs of the three big 2017 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) at approximately $200 billion. It is somewhat challenging to estimate the actual cost because not only is there rebuilding that must occur, but there are also lingering damages from loss of power, dislocation of people, and other long-lasting factors. Some reports estimate that the damage may end up being as high as $300 billion – a staggering amount.

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Categories: Environment

English rivers polluted by powerful insecticides, first tests reveal

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 12:20am

Neonicotinoids, banned on flowering crops, were found in nearly all rivers tested, increasing concerns over their impact on fish and birds

Rivers in England are contaminated with powerful insecticides, new testing has revealed, increasing concerns over the impact of the toxic chemicals on fish and birds.

Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the European Union in 2013 due to the harm they cause to bees and other vital pollinators. Following even more evidence of harm, an EU vote to extend the ban to all outdoor uses is expected soon.

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Categories: Environment

'Last year I gave the kids briquettes and everyone yelled at me!' Christmas with Ian | First Dog on the Moon

Wed, 2017/12/13 - 12:14am

Ian the Climate Denialist Potato surprises his loved ones with a festive report on climate emissions. Or would they rather get an inflatable Greg Hunt doll?

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Categories: Environment

Northern Territory to decide about fracking ban only after inquiry's final report

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 7:54pm

Draft report from hydraulic fracking inquiry has found the practice can be safe if risks are better mitigated

The Northern Territory government will wait until next year to make a decision on lifting its moratorium on fracking, despite federal calls for it to “get on with the job” after a long-running inquiry found it could be safe if risks were better mitigated.

The inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the NT released its draft final report on Tuesday with 120 recommendations, which it said must be implemented in full to “reduce the risk to an acceptable level”.

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Categories: Environment

Shark nets create false sense of safety and should be phased out, inquiry finds

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 7:12pm

Upper house committee says nets damage other marine wildlife and recommends replacement of lethal drum lines

Shark nets in place across Australia to protect beachgoers should be phased out as they cause more harm than good, a Senate inquiry has found.

An upper house committee examined shark mitigation and deterrent measures in Australia, and specifically the use of mesh nets in New South Wales and Queensland.

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Categories: Environment

Court upholds Obama-era ban on new Grand Canyon uranium mines

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 3:23pm

Celebration of the ruling by environmentalist has been tempered by expectations that the Trump administration will side with mining interests to end the ban

A powerful court ruled on Tuesday that an Obama-era ban on new uranium mines around the Grand Canyon should stay in place, though celebration on the environment side was tempered by expectations the government itself will now side with mining interests to end the ban. A separate, but linked, ruling on an older mine was a defeat for a Native American tribe.

The mining industry and a coalition of Republicans in Arizona and Utah had hoped for court support to tear down an order from the Obama administration in 2012 that protected a million acres of land around the Grand Canyon from mining development for 20 years. But they lost in the ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco on Tuesday.

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Categories: Environment

World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas exploration

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 3:19pm

Bank announces in Paris it ‘will no longer finance upstream oil and gas’ after 2019 in response to threat posed by climate change

The World Bank will end its financial support for oil and gas exploration within the next two years in response to the growing threat posed by climate change.

In a statement that delighted campaigners opposed to fossil fuels, the Bank used a conference in Paris to announce that it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas” after 2019.

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Categories: Environment

Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever, US climate study finds

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 12:04pm
  • Sea ice also melting at fastest pace in 1,500 years, US government scientists find
  • ‘The Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago’ – author

Permafrost in the Arctic is thawing faster than ever, according to a new US government report that also found Arctic seawater is warming and sea ice is melting at the fastest pace in 1,500 years.

The annual report released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed slightly less warming in many measurements than a record hot 2016. But scientists remain concerned because the far northern region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe and has reached a level of warming that’s unprecedented in modern times.

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Categories: Environment

EU announces €9bn in funding for climate action

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 10:57am

EU funds will be focused on clean energy, and sustainable cities and agriculture, with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also pledging $300m towards climate adaptation

The European commission has announced funding of €9bn (£8bn) for action on climate change, one of a flurry of measures from governments, businesses and investors aimed at achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.

The EU funds will form part of the bloc’s External Investment Plan, and will be focused on sustainable cities, clean energy and sustainable agriculture. The announcement was made at the One Planet Summit in Paris on Tuesday, held to mark the second anniversary of the landmark 2015 pact.

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Categories: Environment

Golden eagles released in Scotland with hope they will fly south

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 6:42am

Conservationists launch project to restore bird numbers with view to reintroducing them in northern England and Lake District

Conservationists hope golden eagles will start reappearing over northern England and the Lake District as part of a project to release up to 10 eagles in southern Scotland.

The birds will start to be released at a secret location south of Edinburgh from next year in a £1.5m programme by conservationists and landowners to restore golden eagle numbers in the southern uplands, where they have struggled to survive.

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Categories: Environment

The Tories’ rebranding won’t wash: being green is about more than fluffy bunnies | Molly Scott Cato

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 5:28am
It’s all very well for Michael Gove to act as if the Tories love animals but they need to see the bigger picture on fracking, renewables and ecology

Up to their necks in Brexit chaos and with Corbyn’s Labour snapping at their heels, the Tories are trying again with a somewhat tired strategy to escape the label of the “nasty party”. They are having another go at acting like environmentalists, this time combining it with being nice to animals. At the helm of this more caring narrative is environment secretary, Michael Gove, tasked with resurrecting the idea that blue is the new green.

Related: Tories briefed on new policies after fears about 'compassionless' image

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Categories: Environment

Can a GM banana solve Uganda's hunger crisis? | Alon Mwesigwa

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 5:20am

A law paving the way for GM crops is aimed at tackling the acute food shortages faced by almost 11 million Ugandans, despite experts’ fears over the technology

After an afternoon drizzle, Ephraim Muhereza carefully scouts his three-acre banana plantation in Gayaza, Wakiso district, plucking male buds from trees. This will stop his plants from catching the notorious banana bacterial wilt, which has destroyed many farms in Uganda.

“We have been told that to reduce the spread of the wilt. We have to cut them so that bees that visit them don’t spread the disease,” he says.

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Categories: Environment

Calls for greater fossil fuel divestment at anniversary of Paris climate deal

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 4:04am

Campaigners call for an end to fossil fuel finance and subsidies to avoid dangerous global warming at a meeting to mark two years since the signing of the landmark agreement

The Paris agreement on climate change, ratified by world governments a year ago, has failed to ensure major investors are moving away from fossil fuels with the urgency required to safeguard the planet, civil society groups have said.

Large companies, investors and national and local governments met in Paris on Tuesday to celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the landmark 2015 agreement, which bound nearly all developed and developing countries for the first time to keep global temperatures below 2C, the threshold scientists regard as the limit of safety.

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Categories: Environment

Wildcats, butterflies, tortoises: all are endangered by Trump's border wall

Tue, 2017/12/12 - 4:00am

In the Rio Grande Valley, close to the border with Mexico, the president’s proposed barrier spells danger for the region’s plentiful wildlife

Deep in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, where half the US’s species of butterflies reside in a protected swath of green, Donald Trump’s wall may soon rise from an earthen levee.

The wall is designed to be a barricade to anyone who has crossed the nearby Rio Grande river from Mexico, with a concrete base topped by steel bollards rising 18 feet in the air as well as a 150ft-wide enforcement zone stripped of all vegetation.

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Categories: Environment