Liberal MP says Australia's part in Paris climate pact may change if US quit

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 9:35pm

Zed Seselja says Turnbull government committed to climate change agreement, but if the US pulls out, it would put a question mark over the deal

A leading government conservative has put a question mark over Australia’s continued participation in the Paris climate agreement in the event Donald Trump decides the United States will pull out.

The assistant minister for social services and multicultural affairs, Zed Seselja, one of the government’s up-and-coming conservative figures, told Sky News on Monday that “as it stands” the Turnbull government was committed to Paris agreement, but if the US quit the pact, that would change the nature of the agreement.

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Categories: Environment

World Bank: let climate-threatened Pacific islanders migrate to Australia or NZ

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 9:04pm

World Bank argues structured migration program would prevent forced migration in future generations

Australia and New Zealand should allow open migration for citizens of Pacific nations threatened by climate change, to boost struggling island economies and prevent a later mass forced migration, a paper from the World Bank argues.

The policy paper, Pacific Possible, suggests as one climate change adaptation measure, open access migration from Tuvalu and Kiribati – for work and permanent settlement – to Australia and New Zealand.

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Categories: Environment

Higher, cheaper, sleeker: wind turbines of the future – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 9:00pm

With the UK government ending subsidies for onshore wind and the Trump administration pushing for a return to coal, you might think the wind power revolution had run out of puff. Far from it. The cost of energy from offshore wind in Britain has fallen by a third since 2012, and wind accounts for over 40% of new capacity in the US, representing an annual investment of $13bn. Now next-generation wind technologies promise to make wind energy safer and more affordable – if they can make the difficult jump from research prototypes to commercial products

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Categories: Environment

Feast leaves bees lethargic and sleepy: country diary 100 years ago

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 2:30pm

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 11 May 1917

The bees are exceedingly busy amongst the flowers, the stocks and flowering currants perhaps getting most attention in the garden, but the gooseberry bushes and other blossoms on the fruit trees also prove attractive. Enjoying their feast of honey, these insects bustle from flower to flower, poking in their tongues and dusting their hairy heads and bodies with pollen; they comb it off with their legs until their “thighs” are thickly loaded with yellow, brown, or white lumps. The earth bees, many of them ruddy-haired, are the smallest but most numerous; they but lately emerged from pupal sleep, but are now filling their newly-excavated burrows in grass plot, path, or sunny bank with pollen food for their infant grubs which will shortly emerge from the eggs. They have various parasitical enemies, and it is amusing to see them enter the burrow, see that all is well within, back out and back in again, remaining then looking out from their doorway, alert and on guard.

The round-bodied flower bees, many of them with long, hairy legs, are larger; they too, inhabit burrows which they excavate themselves. The biggest of all are the bumble-bees, some banded with brown and black, some with white, some with reddish tails, others warm brown all over, and the biggest and handsomest of all black, with big red tips to their ample abdomens. Often after a feast these bumble-bees are so lethargic that they halt to snooze on the flower heads, the stones, or, at the peril of their lives, on the public paths. If we touch them gently they raise an expostulating leg, one of the second pair, waving away the approaching finger. They do not sting readily; they are far too busy when really awake and too sleepy at other times to be troublesome, but it is well not to handle them roughly.

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Categories: Environment

Are low emission zones the route to cleaner air?

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 1:30pm

Clean air and low emission zones, one proposal in the government’s new air pollution plan, are already in place across Europe. Do they work?

Following a high court order the government have launched their new clean air plan. One proposal is for clean air or low emission zones in many UK towns and cities aiming to reduce traffic pollution by restricting vehicles with weaker exhaust controls.

There are over 200 zones across Europe, but do they work? Europe’s largest is in London. Before the scheme the capital had one of the oldest delivery fleets in the UK. This changed in the run-up to the implementation of the zone and exhaust particles decreased alongside busy roads in outer London.

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Categories: Environment

Worried world urges Trump not to pull out of Paris climate agreement

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 4:00am

Donald Trump’s scorched-earth approach to environmental protections has shocked current and former government officials overseas who are waiting nervously to see whether the US will destabilize the Paris climate agreement by pulling out of the deal.

The Guardian has spoken to a number of officials from key countries before Trump makes a decision on the Paris agreement this month. Trump’s announcement might come as early as this week.

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Categories: Environment

Air pollution: the battle to save Britain from suffocation

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 1:30am
As environmentalists turn to the courts to make the government clean up its act, we survey a week of victories for ClientEarth and its founder, James Thornton

It has been a richly satisfying week for James Thornton, founder and chief executive of the environmental law group ClientEarth. On Tuesday the government admitted defeat in its lengthy battle with the firm over atmospheric pollution and pledged that it would publish its strategy to improve air quality in Britain – which it did on Friday.

Ministers have, for the past decade, resolutely refused to acknowledge their obligations in dealing with a problem that is believed to be shortening the lives of thousands of people in the UK. Their change of mind, enforced by Thornton and his team of young lawyers, was a major, humiliating climbdown for our leaders and a significant victory for ClientEarth.

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Categories: Environment

Shark sighting forces Western Australian triathlon swimmers out of water

Guardian Environment News - Sun, 2017/05/07 - 12:27am

Busselton Ironman 70.3 reduced to a duathlon after about 100 swimmers brought to shore

Dozens of swimmers at a triathlon in Western Australia’s south had to be removed from the water after a shark was spotted.

Most of the individual competitors in the Ironman 70.3 in Busselton on Sunday had already completed their 1.9km swim when the shark was seen, but those who remained in the water were removed by Surf Life Saving WA and the beach was closed.

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Categories: Environment

Apple can’t just make iPhones for ever. What’s next?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 11:00pm
When Apple missed expectations last week, it was another hint the smartphone boom may be running out of steam. But the company has $250bn to spend …

As the biggest company in the world, Apple operates to different rules from other businesses. That was apparent against last week when Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, partly blamed weaker-than-expected iPhone sales on leaks about future products.

Cook said that there had been a “pause in purchases” due to “earlier and much more frequent reports about future iPhones”.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to laundry

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 10:00pm

Microfibres in synthetic clothing are one of the biggest menaces when washing your clothes, says Lucy Siegle. A mesh laundry bag is the best solution

I almost yearn for the days when 80% of a garment’s ecological impact was down to the phosphates and optical brighteners in detergent. Oh, and climate emissions from the energy used to heat the water.

Cleaning up all that was straightforward: turn the machine down to 30C and use an eco detergent.

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Categories: Environment

Theresa May urged to persuade Trump not to quit Paris climate accord

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 12:36pm
US president prepares to undermine historic deal on climate change

Theresa May is facing calls from Britain’s leading environment and development groups to use her influence to persuade Donald Trump that the US must remain committed to the Paris climate change agreement.

In a strongly worded letter, the heads of Oxfam, the RSPB, Greenpeace, WWF, Christian Aid, Cafod and other groups have called on the prime minister to “pick up the phone” to the US president to warn him of the consequences of leaving the Paris accord, something Trump pledged to do within 100 days of coming to power, a timeline that passed last week.

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Categories: Environment

Government set to be taken back to court over air pollution plans

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 12:28pm
Ministers’ latest proposals, published on Friday after high court intervention, criticised by climate groups calling for stronger action on illegal pollution levels

Environment lawyers are expected to take the government back to court over its controversial plans to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis. They say the proposals are so weak they flout ministers’ obligation to protect public health.

The government published its plans to cut levels of diesel fumes, nitrogen oxides and particulates in the atmosphere on Friday – after being forced by judges to act on the crisis. Medical experts say toxic air is responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths every year.

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Categories: Environment

Nearly 400 birds killed after flying into Texas skyscraper in storm

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 11:46am

Nashville and Blackburnian warblers among birds of more than 20 species that hit American National Building, possibly after mistaking lights for moon or sun

Nearly 400 migratory birds of brilliant plumage were killed when they smashed into an office tower in Texas while flying in a storm, officials said on Friday.

Related: Twitterstorm: why British birdsong is vital to music

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Categories: Environment

Sidmouth wages war on scavenger seagulls with £80 feeding fines

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 11:29am

Feeding the gulls in this part of East Devon can now bring a hefty financial penalty. Will it stop the problem?

Perry King takes a break from cleaning windows in the seaside resort of Sidmouth. “Some of the seagulls do look fat,” he muses. “You look at them and think, that’s a chip bird.”

In this part of East Devon, however, the days of seagulls surviving on a diet of chips, doughnuts, ice-cream and pasties may be coming to an end. Last week the district council became the first in the country to attempt to control the birds’ fondness for junk food through financial sanction. Anyone found deliberately feeding the seagulls in five Devon seaside towns can now be fined £80 under a public spaces protection order.

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Categories: Environment

Brexit and energy: does ‘taking back control’ mean losing power?

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 7:59am
The prospect of departure from the EU has thrown several key power projects – from emissions trading and undersea cables to nuclear research – into question

The Brexit spotlight swung last week away from the familiar cast of bankers quitting the City and coffee-shop chains worried about recruiting staff to the fate of the energy industry tasked with powering the economy when the UK leaves the EU.

The loudest warnings came from MPs, peers, engineers and the industry itself over the impact that blocks to trade or freedom of movement would have on the nuclear and oil sectors.

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Categories: Environment

As Coal Jobs Decline, Solar Sector Shines

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 3:44am

The loss of jobs has stung as the coal industry has declined. Renewable power — especially solar — is now where the jobs are. Solar jobs outnumber those in coal, but coal jobs pay more.

(Image credit: Reid Frazier/The Allegheny Front)

Categories: Environment

The end of wild elephants? Why we must not let Africa become one giant food farm | Erik Solheim

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2017/05/06 - 12:00am

The world’s rapid population rise risks turning Africa into one giant farm with no room for wildlife. We need to think again, says the head of UN Environment

Elephants are in big trouble. Even if we beat poaching and illegal trade, their potential doom has been sealed in projections for population growth, and has already been priced into the commonly accepted solutions to how we humans plan to feed ourselves well into the century – by looking to Africa to be our next big breadbasket.

Africa is home to 1.2 billion people, but by 2050 that number is likely to double, and may well double again by the end of the century to reach well over 4 billion. Globally, we may exceed 11 billion souls. This is of course a cause for celebration and a testament to the huge strides we’ve made in public health. We’ve all but beaten polio and yellow fever, mother and child mortality has plummeted, and we’re making headway in the fight against malaria.

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Categories: Environment

Fun and games among the gulls

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/05 - 9:30pm

River Teifi, Cardigan They plunged into the water to emerge with twigs, which they threw in the air and caught like children

Above Pont y Cleifion, tidal reaches of the river Teifi run wide between banks of feathery, blond phragmites. White mist clung to the water as I walked along the southern bank, the sky an unsullied blue. Upriver the sun rose through thinning vapours. Gilded streamers followed the draining tide as it swirled through whirlpools under the bridge. The morning world glistened.

A school of gulls occupied mud-banks opposite Rosehill marsh. Some people like warblers; others finches; there are raptor enthusiasts. My preferences are for Laridae and Corvidae – gulls and crows, both of which get a bad press. I find them endlessly fascinating.

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Categories: Environment

Meatonomics author says government working with meat and dairy industry to boost consumption

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2017/05/05 - 3:36pm

David Robinson Simon says ‘aggressive messaging strategy’ deprives consumers of ability to make ‘independent decisions’ on food

The Australian government has a vested interest in ensuring the country’s consumption of meat remains the highest in the world, even to the detriment of the population, a US lawyer has said.

David Robinson Simon, a Californian attorney and author, has argued that meat and dairy producers in the US and, increasingly, Australia, are teaming with governments to encourage people to consume more animal products than they otherwise would.

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Categories: Environment

With National Monuments Under Review, Bears Ears Is Focus Of Fierce Debate

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2017/05/05 - 12:58pm

Bears Ears in Utah is on land considered sacred to Native Americans. But some local residents say the 1.35-million-acre national monument is being pushed by extreme out-of-state environmentalists.

(Image credit: Kirk Siegler/NPR)

Categories: Environment
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