EDF's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station faces £18bn decision day

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 7:44pm

Energy giant to hold board meeting on Thursday at which it is expected to approve the much-delayed decision on the £18bn project

Energy giant EDF will make its long-awaited final investment decision on the planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, ending doubts over the £18bn project.

The French firm’s board meets in Paris on Thursday and is expected to give the go-ahead for the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK for a generation.

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Categories: Environment

Great Barrier Reef oil spill: foreign ship faces prosecution after 12-month hunt

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 7:38pm

Queensland authorities say they have identified the vessel that spilled up to 15 tonnes of oil off Cape Upstart in July 2015

An unnamed foreign ship faces prosecution over an oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef after a 12-month investigation by Queensland government agencies.

Maritime investigators claim they have identified the vessel that spilled up to 15 tonnes of oil in reef waters off Cape Upstart in July 2015, which washed up on mainland beaches and islands north of Townsville and triggered a response costing $1.5m.

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Categories: Environment

Australia can do much better than a rank of 20 on sustainable development goals

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 7:17pm

Many Australian companies are prioritising goals such as gender equality, but there is a particular lack of action on clean energy and environmental goals

Australian businesses will need to place a higher priority on the environment and reducing inequality if Australia is to lift its ranking on global sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Australia ranks 20th in the world, behind Canada and many European countries on a new index that compares different nations’ performance on the SDGs.

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Categories: Environment

Roundabout arguments can't disguise Sydney's cycling laws are taking the public for a ride

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 1:29pm

Massive increases in fines for riding without a helmet or running a red light are just the latest in the city’s ignoble history of deciding cyclists are a problem

It’s almost five months since fines for various cycling infractions, including riding without a helmet, cycling dangerously or jumping a red light were massively increased in New South Wales. Some fines went up from $71 to $425 (£40 to £240). At the same time, a new law spelled out minimum passing distances drivers should give riders when they overtake bikes. From March 2017 cyclists will also be obliged to carry ID.

Are cyclists feeling much safer? It’s fair to say the impact has been mixed. In May it turned out that while police had by then energetically handed out 1,500 of the new fines to cyclists, mainly over helmet use, just four motorists had felt the force of the law for close overtakes. There were also reports of overzealous enforcement of the rules, including a dangerous cycling citation for someone trackstanding at a red light.

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Categories: Environment

Why are Colorado businesses still testing for pot if it's legal?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 1:26pm

Last week’s THC scare in Hugo began when a company tested its employees for cannabis. While the drug is legal, employees can still be fired for using it

Laboratory tests conducted over the weekend showed that there was no THC – marijuana’s primary psychoactive ingredient – in the water supply in the town of Hugo, Colorado, after field tests at municipal wells earlier in the week came back positive for the chemical.

While attention focused on the drama of the investigation into the town’s water, the incident highlights a legal gray area for employers and workers in states where marijuana use is allowed. The THC was first found in a vial of tap water meant to show an absolute negative result for drugs after a local company reported inconsistencies in drug tests on its employees.

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Categories: Environment

Josh Frydenberg: Australia's use of coal is falling 'and that is not a bad thing'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 1:17pm

The new energy and environment minister tells Katharine Murphy the market can be trusted to cut emissions without more changes to Direct Action

Australia’s new environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, says coal will be a declining part of Australia’s energy mix because of inexorable market forces – but he insists the Coalition’s much criticised Direct Action policy is up to the mark, and will allow Australia to meet its international emissions reduction targets.

Frydenberg told Guardian Australia he accepts the science of climate change and his goal in the new portfolio is “to achieve affordable, reliable, and accessible energy supply as we transition to a lower emissions future” – including optimising new technologies and renewable energy sources, with gas as a significant back-up.

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Categories: Environment

Visitors To A Shrinking Alaskan Glacier Get A Lesson On Climate Change

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 1:08pm

On a busy day, thousands of tourists visit the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. The U.S. Forest Service wants those people to take in the dramatic views but also consider why the glacier is receding.

Categories: Environment

That won't fly: Venus flytrap thief snags prison sentence in North Carolina

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 12:00pm
  • Man who stole nearly 1,000 plants to get at least six months
  • State made law to protect the rare, carnivorous plant in 2014

A North Carolina man will spend at least six months in prison after he removed nearly 1,000 Venus flytrap plants from public game lands.

Media outlets reported that a jury found 23-year-old Paul Simmons Jr guilty. A judge sentenced him on Tuesday to six months to 17 months in prison.

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Categories: Environment

What's next for green chemistry? Join The Guardian for this one-day event

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 11:21am

The Guardian’s Green Chemistry Conference will bring together voices and ideas from science and industry to explore a toxin-free future. Join us for this special one-day event in New York City on 2 November 2016

In a year punctuated by toxic chemistry crises – including the Flint River scandal and large-scale water pollution in upstate New York – green chemistry offers an increasingly relevant route toward a healthier, more sustainable society. The Guardian Green Chemistry Conference will explore the green chemistry advances that are improving our world, and the innovative partnerships and funding tools that are making them possible.

Click here to buy your tickets.

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Categories: Environment

George McRobie obituary

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 10:02am

George McRobie, who has died aged 90, was the last surviving founding member of Practical Action, an international organisation harnessing technology to help developing countries. He was a close associate of the economist EF Schumacher (my late husband, known as Fritz, who was the author of the influential text Small Is Beautiful) and for many years they worked together, initially at the National Coal Board and then, in 1965, in setting up the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), now known as Practical Action.

When Fritz died suddenly in 1977, George stepped in to become chairman of the organisation, and worked tirelessly to maintain the momentum they had generated. His contribution to both the green movement and the appropriate technology movement as a whole was immense. In 1981 George completed Small Is Possible, the last of Fritz’s trilogy of books, which laid out how the ideas and theories on sustainability in the first two books, Small Is Beautiful and A Guide for the Perplexed, could be applied to everyday life.

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Categories: Environment

Mexican village uses fireflies to halt deforestation by local logging industry

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 9:59am

Camp spaces in Piedra Canteada park, a rural cooperative near Nanacamilpa, sold out weeks in advance to see thousands of the fireflies light up the night

In the village of Nanacamilpa, tiny fireflies are helping save the towering pine and fir trees on the outskirts of the megalopolis of Mexico City.

Thousands of them light up a magical spectacle at dusk in the old-growth forests on reserves such as the Piedra Canteada park, about 45 miles (75km) east of Mexico’s sprawling capital city.

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Categories: Environment

World's largest carbon producers face landmark human rights case

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 8:11am

Filipino government body gives 47 ‘carbon majors’ 45 days to respond to allegations of human rights violations resulting from climate change

The world’s largest oil, coal, cement and mining companies have been given 45 days to respond to a complaint that their greenhouse gas emissions have violated the human rights of millions of people living in the Phillippines.

In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination”.

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Categories: Environment

Flamanville: France's beleaguered forerunner to Hinkley Point C

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 6:58am

Over-budget and behind schedule, the €10.5bn nuclear reactor has faced problems that some say could be repeated in the UK

On granite cliffs overlooking the Channel is France’s most famous building site. If all goes to plan, by the end of the decade this rocky outcrop will house the biggest and most powerful nuclear reactor in the world.

The technology behind the European pressurised reactor (EPR) is meant to be safer than anything that has gone before. But the project is more than three times over budget and years behind schedule, and France’s nuclear safety authority has found weaknesses in the reactor’s steel.

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Categories: Environment

European offshore wind investment hits €14bn in 2016

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 6:27am

BusinessGreen: Record six-month period sees UK secure €10.4bn (£8.7bn) of investment in offshore wind projects, but installation rate slows

The European offshore wind industry has enjoyed a record six months of investment, according to new figures released today by trade body WindEurope.

In the first six months of this year Europe’s offshore wind projects attracted €14bn of investment, split across seven projects and financing a total of 3.7GW of new clean energy capacity.

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Categories: Environment

Flooding in India affects 1.6m people and submerges national park

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 5:50am

Outlook grim for state of Assam, with heavy rain that has buried hundreds of villages and displaced wildlife set to continue for two days

Heavy rains and floods in India have affected more than 1.6 million people in the tea-growing north-eastern state of Assam, with officials scrambling to shift hundreds of thousands of people into 300 makeshift relief camps.

The death toll in Assam rose to at least 12 on Wednesday, according to police and rescue workers. Heavy monsoon rains are forecast for at least another 48 hours.

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Categories: Environment

US environmentalists take aim at second TransCanada pipeline

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 3:27am

Campaigners say company behind Keystone XL plans to send hundreds of supertankers of crude oil down the Atlantic coast with fears for potential spills

Environmentalists are again taking aim at the company that proposed the Keystone XL pipeline this time for another of its projects they fear would send hundreds of supertankers laden with crude oil down the Atlantic coast to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

TransCanada is behind the Energy East pipeline project, a 4,600km pipeline, or nearly 3,000 miles, that would carry crude oil from tar sands in Western Canada to the East Coast, where it would then be shipped to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. When completed, the project would carry 1.1m barrels of crude oil every day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada.

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Categories: Environment

Eyewitness: Solar Impulse 2

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 3:23am

Photographs from the Eyewitness series

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Categories: Environment

Climate models are accurately predicting ocean and global warming | John Abraham

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 3:00am

A new study from my colleagues and I vindicates climate models, which are accurately predicting the rate of ocean heat accumulation

For those of us who are concerned about global warming, two of the most critical questions we ask are, “how fast is the Earth warming?” and “how much will it warm in the future?”.

The first question can be answered in a number of ways. For instance, we can actually measure the rate of energy increase in the Earth’s system (primarily through measuring changing ocean temperatures). Alternatively, we can measure changes in the net inflow of heat at the top of the atmosphere using satellites. We can also measure the rate of sea-level rise to get an estimate of the warming rate.

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Categories: Environment

Is there any tuna that it’s OK to eat?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 2:50am
Tesco is removing several lines of John West tuna from its shelves. So what varieties are sustainable, how should they be caught and from where?

For those who want to shop responsibly, fish is the PhD. Ideally, we would rely on retailers to make the judgment. Just this week, Tesco decided to remove “a number of core John West lines” from its shelves after concluding that the company’s tuna does not meet its standards.

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Categories: Environment

Abbot Point coal terminal ownership still missing from Adani Ports' annual report

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2016/07/27 - 1:57am

Adani Ports disowns $2bn port for third year in a row despite it being registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission

Mystery still surrounds the control of one of Australia’s largest coal ports, which remains off the books of the Indian-based company that is listed as its owner with the Australian corporate regulator.

The Mumbai-listed Adani Ports is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission as the ultimate holding company of the Adani Abbot Point coal terminal, known as T1, in north Queensland.

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