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Labor calls for ‘grassroots mobilisation’ of religious Australians to tackle climate crisis

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 7:01pm

Care for creation unites every person in this room, Anthony Albanese tells faith summit

Anthony Albanese has called for the “grassroots mobilisation” of people of faith to tackle the climate crisis, appealing to a common “care for creation” across all religious groups.

Speaking to the Labor faith leaders’ climate summit at the University of Western Sydney on Thursday, the ALP leader urged support for the party’s “sensible” climate policy, arguing the need to “look after this precious Earth for our sake and the sake of our future generations”.

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Categories: Environment

Allegra Stratton resigns after No 10 Christmas party video

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 12:53pm

Boris Johnson ‘sorry to lose’ spokesperson for climate summit who was seen in footage joking about party during lockdown

Allegra Stratton has stepped down as the government’s spokesperson for the Cop26 climate summit after footage emerged of her joking about a party at Downing Street during the peak of lockdown rules in December last year.

Boris Johnson told a coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday that Stratton had been an “outstanding spokeswoman … I am very sorry to lose her”. But he added: “I take responsibility for everything that happens in this government and I have throughout the pandemic.”

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Categories: Environment

The Guardian view on green finance: doing business as if the planet mattered | Editorial

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 11:58am

Climate change is happening, and businesses know it. So why don’t company reports show it?

Last week, Shell walked away from 170 million barrels of oil off the coast of Shetland, declaring the “economic case for investment” too weak. As might be expected with such a politically sensitive venture, there has been much speculation about what other factors might have been at play, whether pressure from Nicola Sturgeon or from Whitehall. But let’s try another question: how did Shell ever decide that there was an economic case? After all, the energy giant does not deny that its entire business will have to change. It advertises its “target to become a net zero emissions” company by 2050, publishes a “sustainability report” and partners with environmental organisations around the world. Yet little of this environmental awareness shows up in the hard numbers.

The company’s latest accounts features this disclaimer: “Shell’s operating plans, outlooks, budgets and pricing assumptions do not reflect our net zero emissions target.” In other words: whatever the oil giant says is not what it thinks.

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Categories: Environment

Storm Barra: almost 30,000 homes in Ireland without power

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 10:37am

Outages hit Ireland and parts of UK after severe winds, rain and snow sweep in from Atlantic

Almost 30,000 homes in Ireland and 500 properties in Scotland have been left without power after Storm Barra swept in from the Atlantic bringing severe winds, rain and snow.

The latest outages came days after the final homes in Britain were reconnected after Storm Arwen, which caused “catastrophic damage” to electricity networks mainly in north-east Scotland, affecting 135,000 properties.

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Categories: Environment

UK tax breaks for oil and gas under scrutiny from climate activists

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 8:15am

High court hearing puts UK financial support for the fossil fuel industry in the spotlight

The UK government failed to account for the billions of pounds in financial support it provides to the fossil fuel industry when deciding how much oil and gas to extract from the North Sea, climate campaigners have argued.

A high court hearing that began on Wednesday has put the economics of the fossil fuel industry under the spotlight and raised questions about the compatibility of oil and gas production with a net zero goal.

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Categories: Environment

Eight wolves were found poisoned in Oregon. Police are asking for the public’s help

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 4:00am

Conservation groups call the deaths ‘shocking and heartbreaking’ and have offered a $43,000 reward for information

The dead wolves began turning up in Oregon in early February.

First, state fish and wildlife troopers found an entire pack of five wolves – known as the Catherine pack – killed by poison in Union county. Then, between March and July, authorities found three grey wolves, two females and a male, similarly poisoned to death within the same county about 275 miles east of Portland.

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Categories: Environment

Mud, glorious mud: restored ditches bring birds flocking back to Norfolk wetlands

Wed, 2021/12/08 - 12:00am

Jake Fiennes is putting wildlife back into the farmed landscape, showing how nature can be at the heart of post-Brexit reforms

From the driver’s seat of his pickup truck, Jake Fiennes points to the dark green strips of grass that betray the location of a dried-out saltwater creek system on the Holkham estate in Norfolk. If the early autumn rains allow, a rotary ditcher dragged by a tractor will soon score shallow channels in the sandy soil to excavate many of the old waterways. Fiennes, the estate’s conservation director, and his wardens, Andy and Paul, will then fill them with standing water from the site’s chalk aquifers, part of a plan to transform dozens of fields into grazing wetlands on the 10,000-hectare (25,000-acre) farm and nature reserve.

Fiennes is certain that next spring will see yet more lapwings, avocets and other rare wetland birds thriving in the mud on the edges of the channels – known as field drains – in the habitat they share with a herd of about 800 cattle.

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Categories: Environment

Planned $4bn offshore windfarm could fully power Alcoa Portland aluminium smelter

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 11:45pm

The smelter, Victoria’s biggest electricity consumer, could slash emissions if Alinta’s proposed offshore windfarm goes ahead

Australian power company Alinta Energy hopes to build an offshore windfarm off the coast of Victoria to help Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter go green.

Though the project is in its earliest stages, a 500 sq km patch off the coast is being considered for the 1,000MW windfarm, dubbed Spinifex.

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Categories: Environment

SSE may not need to split now but it does need more clean energy expertise

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 11:49am

Activist investor Elliott Management is right – if SSE wants to be the UK renewables champion it needs green heavyweights on board

Elliott Management’s open letters are improving. When the US activist hedge fund tried to take a pop at GlaxoSmithKline in the summer, it produced 17 pages of waffle that could have been condensed to a few sentences of substance. Tuesday’s 10-page blast at energy group SSE was tighter, scored a couple of solid hits and should make the newish chairman, Sir John Manzoni, realise the Perth-based firm is in a scrap.

That is not to say Elliott is right on every score, or even on its main demand that SSE should be split in two. Indeed, one of the activist’s points was plainly exaggerated – the idea that an “unequivocal message” was sent by the 4% fall in SSE’s share price on the day last month when the company unveiled its energy transition strategy alongside a delayed dividend cut.

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Categories: Environment

Oil companies blame clean energy transition for market volatility

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 10:41am

Representatives at industry gathering in Houston launch attack on the speed of transition to clean energy

Leaders of the world’s biggest oil companies have used an industry gathering in Houston to launch an attack on the speed of transition to clean energy, claiming a badly managed process could lead to “insecurity, rampant inflation and social unrest”.

Executives from oil companies including Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, and US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron publicly described the shift towards clean energy alternatives as “deeply flawed”. They called for fossil fuels to remain part of the energy mix for years to come despite global efforts for an urgent response to the climate crisis.

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Categories: Environment

When we lose the power to report a power cut | Letter

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 10:33am

Perhaps Kwasi Kwarteng can explain how people will make calls in the future when telephone connections will rely on broadband, writes Geoff Thomas

Kwasi Kwarteng urged those still without electricity to call 105, the emergency power cut phone number (Report, 1 December). Perhaps he could explain how in the future, when BT has completed the conversion of the telephone network to an all-digital one, this will be possible when vast areas will be without mains power for days on end as now, and your telephone connection will depend on your broadband connection? Will BT still have battery or generator backup that keeps the current service working in power cuts? Will mobile phone stations have such emergency power backup on every facility? I have seen no answers to these questions.
Geoff Thomas
Merthyr Tudful

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Categories: Environment

A Christmas beetle: in Europe they’re called ‘cockchafers’ | Helen Sullivan

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 9:30am

In 1479 beetles were put on trial for ‘creeping secretly in the earth’

If you hold a Christmas beetle – small, brown, mechanical – in the palm of your hand, it moves as though under a spell. The spell commands it to keep walking, to burrow its surprisingly strong legs endlessly forwards, like the end of the year growing steadily nearer and just as steadily receding.

In Europe, Christmas beetles are called “cockchafers”. In the year 1478, they appeared in a French court to stand trial on the charge of having been sent by witches to destroy the laity’s crops (and jeopardise the church’s tithes).

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Categories: Environment

NSW police seek to auction off car of convicted anti-coal activist under Proceeds of Crime Act

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 9:30am

Blockade Australia says 26-year-old climate activist had been living in the car when she was arrested in Newcastle

New South Wales police have sought to confiscate and auction a station wagon belonging to a young climate activist after it was seized during her arrest last month.

Activist group Blockade Australia says the car is the property of 26-year-old Sasha, who was arrested in the vehicle on 17 November. She was on a public road near the Port of Newcastle.

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Categories: Environment

40 endangered sea turtles injured when water off Massachusetts cooled quickly

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 7:23am

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the most endangered of six species found in US waters, were flown to Mississippi

Forty endangered sea turtles injured when the water off Massachusetts cooled down so quickly that they couldn’t swim away are being nursed back to health at the Mississippi Aquarium, having been flown there by a volunteer pilot group, Turtles Fly Too.

All were Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the world’s smallest sea turtles and the most endangered of six species found in US waters, the aquarium said.

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Categories: Environment

‘Disastrous’ plastic use in farming threatens food safety – UN

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 6:00am

Food and Agriculture Organization says most plastics are burned, buried or lost after use

The “disastrous” way in which plastic is used in farming across the world is threatening food safety and potentially human health, according to a report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

It says soils contain more microplastic pollution than the oceans and that there is “irrefutable” evidence of the need for better management of the millions of tonnes of plastics used in the food and farming system each year.

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Categories: Environment

Indigenous leaders urge London’s Science Museum to cut ties with Adani

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 5:15am

Leaders say Adani Group, a major operator of coal mines, is responsible for land destruction

Indigenous leaders on the frontline of the climate crisis are calling on the Science Museum to cancel its sponsorship deal with a company they say is responsible for widespread destruction in their homelands.

Leaders from communities in Australia, India and Indonesia warned that the museum’s new agreement with Adani Green Energy, whose parent company Adani Group is a major operator of coal mines and coal-fired power stations, is legitimising its “destructive coal expansion activities”.

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Categories: Environment

Defra may approve ‘devastating’ bee-killing pesticide, campaigners fear

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 3:45am

Department sources say emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid Cruiser SB likely to be announced

The UK government may be about to approve the use of a controversial bee-killing pesticide, wildlife groups fear.

Sources inside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) say that, after pressure from the sugar beet industry, an emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid Cruiser SB is likely to be announced in the coming weeks.

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Categories: Environment

‘Your generation got us in this mess’: children of big oil employees discuss the climate crisis with their parents

Tue, 2021/12/07 - 1:00am

Two generations of energy workers discuss how their family has responded to the climate emergency

Are you a fossil fuel industry insider? We want to hear from you

What do you do when your family has deep ties to the oil and gas industry, yet all agree that burning fossil fuels is accelerating the climate crisis?

For one family, the fossil fuel industry’s role in stoking the climate emergency is more than just a dinner table debate. It’s their legacy. Andy and Wendy met in the 70s while working as engineers for Exxon. They spent decades working in oil and gas while raising their children.

Andy, 65, retired engineer,

Wendy, 62, retired engineer

Liz, 33, environmental safety manager

Dara, 35, Liz’s husband and engineer

James, 31, IT consultant

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Categories: Environment

Australia’s bumper crop: record agricultural production forecast to total $78bn

Mon, 2021/12/06 - 7:06pm

Prediction for 2021-22 comes despite flooding and rain damage in the country’s east

Agricultural production will be the largest total volume of commodities Australia has ever produced, with a historic gross production value of $78bn, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences is predicting.

Despite flood and rain damage in the eastern states, the estimation in the Abares Agricultural Commodities report for the December quarter in 2021-22 is an upward revision of $5.4bn from the outlook issued in September, which was already considered record-breaking for surpassing $70bn.

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Categories: Environment

California officials determine cause of city’s ‘stench of death’

Mon, 2021/12/06 - 5:20pm

Fire at warehouse storing beauty products caused large quantities of chemicals to enter canal, killing plants

Since early October, residents of Carson, California, have been sickened by a noxious smell coming from the Dominguez Channel that has been likened to “a rotten egg” or “the stench of death”. Now, officials have pinpointed a cause: a fire at a warehouse that stored beauty and wellness products.

South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency tasked with investigating the foul stench, said on Friday that the large warehouse fire, which began on 30 September and took several days to extinguish, caused vast amounts of chemicals to flow into the 15-mile canal. That spurred a die-off of plants living in the waterway, which in turn produced huge amounts of hydrogen sulfide, a flammable and colorless gas that can be harmful to human health.

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Categories: Environment