Environment

Former PMs apologise to Pacific leaders for Australia’s apathy on climate crisis

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 12:00pm

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull lash out at Morrison government’s ‘cynical indifference’ and assure Pacific leaders ‘a majority’ of Australians ‘are in your corner’

Former Australian prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, and former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr, have accused the Morrison government of “cynical indifference” and “empty rhetoric” when it comes to climate action, saying the commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 was the “bare minimum” that needed to be done.

The broadside came in a letter to Pacific leaders, in which the Australian politicians said they shared the “alarm and disappointment” of Pacific heads of government at the suggestion Australia will not table a new and increased target for the reduction of emissions ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow next month.

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Categories: Environment

Cost of flights to rise as Rishi Sunak prepares to raise air passenger duty

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 11:05am

Exclusive: chancellor to boost green credentials by hitting environmentally damaging long-haul flights

Travellers to destinations including Australia, South Africa and Japan can expect to pay more to fly, as Rishi Sunak prepares to overhaul air passenger duty in next week’s budget to reflect the environmental damage wrought by long-haul flights.

The chancellor is keen to burnish his green credentials after a week in which he was accused of failing to back Boris Johnson’s net-zero pledges with sufficient resources.

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Categories: Environment

‘The cusp of a reuse revolution’: startups take the waste out of takeout

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 5:00am

More than 70% of Americans report ordering takeout or delivery one to three times a week – resulting in hundreds of billions of single-use products

The first question Lauren Sweeney set out to answer when she co-founded DeliverZero, a platform for ordering meals in reusable containers, was: do other people care about takeout packaging waste? “Is it just me standing in front of recycling bins with sushi containers knowing they’re not going to be recycled?” she asked herself at the time.

It wasn’t just her. In November 2019, she and two partners launched the DeliverZero website, where people could place takeout orders that would arrive in reusable boxes instead of the standard disposables. Despite offering food from only a few restaurants in one Brooklyn neighborhood and having a “very bad” user interface the app quickly took off.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 4:00am

The best of this week’s wildlife pictures, including a hungry jay, rescued turtles and a lone wolf

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Categories: Environment

U.S. coal production is up sharply after hitting a 50-year low last year

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 3:15am

As the Biden administration prepares to negotiate reductions in fossil fuel use at the Glasgow climate summit at the end of the month, U.S. coal production is actually up significantly this year.

(Image credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Climate advocates who backed Sinema exasperated by blocking of Biden bill

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 3:05am

Arizona senator – who once led the state Green party – has refused to specify which parts of the $3.5tn budget bill she objects to

Wildfires, deadly heat, drought and flooding show how climate change has “already arrived” in Arizona and action is desperately needed, according to climate and progressive advocates who helped elect Kyrsten Sinema to represent the state in the Senate.

Many of them are wondering why their senator seems to have “turned her back” on her background in environmental politics and is now blocking Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar legislation to address climate change.

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Categories: Environment

‘This stuff won’t go away’: PFAS chemicals contaminate Wisconsin’s waterways and soil

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 2:00am

Water sources used by millions of humans as well as wildlife poisoned with ‘forever chemicals’

Last year, residents in Campbell, Wisconsin, a four-square-mile island city in the Mississippi River, learned disturbing news: toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” used in firefighting foam at a neighboring airport had probably been contaminating their private wells for decades.

As state and local leaders search for a solution, residents now use bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth. Yet the situation represents more than an enormous inconvenience. Some strongly suspect that the seemingly high rate of cancer, Crohn’s disease and other serious ailments that have plagued the island’s residents stem from the dangerous chemicals.

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Categories: Environment

NSW environmental offsets failing to halt wildlife decline, inquiry told

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 1:18am

Professional and environment groups tell parliamentary hearing scheme needs reform to manage conflicts of interest

Environmental offset policies are failing to halt the decline of wildlife and certain habitats should now be off limits to development, a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has heard.

MPs have also been told the NSW government needs to reform a scheme that allows for the financial trade of environmental offset credits on private land so that there are clear rules for managing conflicts of interest and the potential for insider trading, after revelations in a Guardian Australia investigation.

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Categories: Environment

The climate crisis is global, but councils can offer local solutions | Stephen Smellie

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2021/10/22 - 12:00am

With government support, councils can lead the way in generating clean energy, insulating housing and reskilling staff

At Cop26 this year, we’ll hear about diplomats and heads of state negotiating over targets, but when a river bank bursts or a storm hits, it’s our local councils that are left to clear up the mess. When Storm Frank lashed the north-east of Scotland over the new year of 2016, it was council binmen, engineers, housing officers, social workers and home carers who worked day and night mobilising volunteers to evacuate homes and find temporary accommodation for some 300 households.

In the weeks and months afterwards, Aberdeenshire council had to deal with a mile stretch of destroyed road, three washed-away footbridges, and damage to several bridges. This is on top of the clean-up operation and returning families to their homes. Despite financial assistance from the Scottish government, the council was left with a bill of around £15m. This is the less glamorous, but very real work, that goes into responding to climate change.

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Categories: Environment

The heat is on: from the Arctic to Africa, wildlife is being hit hard by climate chaos

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 11:00pm

Global heating affects fertility, immunity and behaviour – often with lethal results – and the problems are getting worse

Sweating, headaches, fatigue, dehydration – the ways heat exhaustion affects the human body are well documented. As temperatures inch up year by year we need to change the way we live, creating cooler places that provide refuge from heat.

But what about wildlife? We know mass die-offs are becoming more common as heatwaves sweep terrestrial and marine ecosystems, but incremental increases in temperature, which are much harder to study, are harming almost all populations on our planet.

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Categories: Environment

Pollutionwatch: the solvable problem of home wood burners

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 10:00pm

Wood burning is causing dirty air from the UK to Australia, but a study shows incentives to switch can work

In 2010, air pollution scientists from three of Europe’s biggest cities – Paris, Berlin and London – sat down together. Our data showed a new and consistent pattern. Air pollution from wood burning had returned to our cities. Biomass energy schemes were subsidising new wood burners in schools and offices and wood was being burned in power stations, too, but the additional air pollution in our cities was coming from homes. We wrote a paper warning that biomass subsidies to reduce climate emissions may be leading to increased acceptability and popularity of home wood burning in stoves and fireplaces too.

By 2016, home wood burning was the second-largest source of particle pollution emitted in London. By 2018, it was responsible for nearly half the emissions across Europe.

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Categories: Environment

Record levels of renewable energy drive down electricity prices across Australia

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 5:07pm

Power costs zero or negative for one-sixth of the September quarter, energy operator says

Record levels of renewable energy drove down electricity prices across Australia in the September quarter, with prices zero or negative for one-sixth of the time, the Australian Energy Market Operator has said in its latest report.

There was also little sign of the Morrison government’s much-touted “gas-led recovery”, with a supply disruption at Victoria’s Longford gas plant initially leading to record or near-record spot prices for the fossil fuel in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Gas’s share of the power mix also slumped one-fifth from a year earlier for the quarter as a whole.

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Categories: Environment

NS&I green saving bonds go on sale with fixed 0.65% interest rate

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 4:01pm

Treasury hails scheme ahead of Cop26 summit, but personal finance experts say better investments are available

A “world first” green savings bond from National Savings and Investments (NS&I) goes on sale today, giving people the chance to back the government’s environmental projects and join the fight against climate breakdown.

But at 0.65% fixed for three years, the interest rate prompted widespread disappointment, with the MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis labelling it “pants” and “paltry”.

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Categories: Environment

‘Cynical and grotesque’: NSW coalmine allowed to use future pit rehabilitation as offset for habitat destruction

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 3:34pm

Environment groups decry plan to use site regeneration years after operations end at Glencore’s Mangoola mine as offsets

Habitat destruction caused by a new coalmine development in the New South Wales Hunter region will be offset through rehabilitation of the coal pit more than a decade after endangered ecosystems are cleared.

Environment groups have labelled the plan to allow future rehabilitation of the mine site to be claimed as part of Glencore’s offsets for its Mangoola mine expansion near Muswellbrook as “cynical and grotesque”.

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Categories: Environment

US plastics to outstrip coal’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, study finds

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 2:47pm

American plastics industry, described by experts as ‘the new coal’, releasing at least 232m tons of gas annually

The plastics industry in the United States is on track to release more greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) than coal-powered electricity generating plants by the end of the decade, according to a new report released on Thursday.

The report, by Bennington College’s Beyond Plastics project, found that the American plastics industry is releasing at least 232m tons of GHG annually, the equivalent to 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants.

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Categories: Environment

Climate crisis likely to fuel conflicts over water and migration, US analyses say

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 2:18pm

The Biden administration has released three reports on security and humanitarian disasters that could strike as world heats up

The climate crisis is likely to intensify cross-border clashes, aggravate conflicts over water and migration and cause instability, especially in developing countries, in ways that could threaten global security, the Biden administration warned on Thursday.

A clutch of simultaneously released reports by the White House, the US intelligence community and the Department of Defense paint a grim picture of the raft of security and humanitarian disasters that could strike at once as climate disaster continues to set in.

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Categories: Environment

California proposes ban on new oil and gas drilling near schools, homes and hospitals

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 10:31am

State officials called one of the most aggressive steps in the US to protect public health and safety from the dangers of drilling

California’s oil and gas regulator on Thursday proposed that the state ban new oil drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes and hospitals to protect public health in what would be the nation’s largest buffer zone between oilwells and communities.

It’s the latest effort by Democratic governor Gavin Newsom’s administration to wind down oil production in California, aligning him with environmental advocates pushing to curb the effects of climate change and against the powerful oil industry in the nation’s seventh-largest oil producing state.

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Categories: Environment

Strong storms are heading toward drought-parched California

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 9:31am

Expected heavy rainfall could ease wildfire threats in some regions but could also cause mudslides in areas cleared by wildfire.

(Image credit: Jeff Chiu/AP)

Categories: Environment

Split over surge in energy prices overshadows EU climate strategy

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 8:58am

Viktor Orbán claims bloc’s approach is ‘utopian fantasy’ that will increase prices and ‘destroy the middle class’

European Union leaders have exposed their differences over how to tackle a surge in energy prices, as Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, dismissed some of the bloc’s plans to confront the climate emergency as “utopian fantasy”.

Ahead of crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow, EU leaders plan to issue a declaration saying it is “essential to keep the 1.5C global warming limit within reach” and calling on all countries “to come forward with, and implement, ambitious national targets and policies,” according to a leaked draft of the summit communiqué.

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Categories: Environment

No formal Cop26 role for big oil amid doubts over firms’ net zero plans

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/21 - 7:24am

Officials from fossil fuel firms may attend fringe events but campaigners hail lack of official role

Fossil fuel firms have been given no official role in the Cop26 climate summit, it can be revealed, against a background of growing concern among UK officials that big oil’s net zero plans do not stack up.

Private emails from civil servants in the Cop unit, seen by the Guardian, show doubts about one oil major’s net zero plans, with an official saying BP “[does] not currently fit our success criteria for Cop26” and another noting “it’s unclear whether [its net zero] commitments stack up yet”.

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Categories: Environment
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