Renewable energy spike led to sharp drop in emissions in Australia, study shows

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 6:12pm

Surge in October last year helped greenhouse gas emissions fall by 3.57m tonnes in December quarter

A sharp drop in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions at the end of last year came courtesy of a spike in renewable energy generation in a single month, according to a new study.

Australia’s emissions fell by 3.57m tonnes in the three months to December, putting them back on track to meet quarterly commitments made in Paris after a blowout the previous quarter.

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Categories: Environment

Some Neanderthals Were Vegetarian — And They Likely Kissed Our Human Ancestors

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 5:11pm

A new study of the dental plaques of three Neanderthals reveals surprising facts about their lives, including what they ate, the diseases that ailed them and how they self-medicated (and smooched).

(Image credit: Courtesy of Abel Grau/Comunicación CSIC)

Categories: Environment

Wind Energy Takes Flight In The Heart Of Texas Oil Country

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 4:51pm

Texas leads the nation in wind energy, while wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing job in the U.S. The industry flourished under former Gov. Rick Perry, Trump's new energy secretary.

(Image credit: Ari Shapiro/NPR)

Categories: Environment

Energy shortages in 2018-19 without national reform, market operator warns

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 4:40pm

Australian Energy Market Operator predicts shortfalls in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia ‘if we do nothing’

The Australian Energy Market Operator has warned that Australia is facing energy shortages if governments do not carry out national planning as exports continue to dominate the country’s gas supply.

The Aemo report predicts New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia will be impacted from the summer of 2018-19 and warns that the tightening of the domestic gas market will have flow-on effects to the electricity sector unless there is an increase in gas supplies and development.

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Categories: Environment

'Clean' coal won't be commercially viable before 2030, energy analysis says

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 12:14pm

Renewables now the cheapest source of reliable power generation in Australia, RepuTex says

“Clean” coal technologies won’t be commercially viable before 2030 without government subsidy and are fundamentally out of sync with the move towards more flexible power generation, according to the energy market analysis firm RepuTex.

In a new analysis released on Thursday, RepuTex argues that the rising price of gas, coupled with the falling cost of energy storage, has now made renewable energy the cheapest source of reliable power generation in Australia.

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Categories: Environment

Climate Institute to shut down, citing lack of funds for independent research

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 12:08pm

Chairman says cost of inaction on climate change is clear and issue shouldn’t be used to fight ‘political and ideological battles’

The Climate Institute will shut its doors after 12 years of providing independent advocacy and research towards climate change solutions, citing lack of funding.

Australia’s first non-government organisation focused solely on climate change has a reputation for independence but its chairman, Mark Wootton, used its closure to take a parting shot at “some in government” who have used the environment as a proxy for ideological battles.

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Categories: Environment

At Least 6 People Have Died In Plains Wildfires

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 10:27am

Wildfires are still burning out of control in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Florida. The governor of Oklahoma has declared a state of emergency.

(Image credit: David Zalubowski/AP)

Categories: Environment

Police to visit UK zoos and wildlife parks after rhino killing in France

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 9:43am

Britain’s wildlife crime head says urgent security checks are needed to protect 111 rhinos in UK after attack near Paris

Police are visiting every zoo and wildlife park in the UK that houses rhinos to offer security advice after poachers shot dead a white rhinoceros and sawed off its horn at a zoo in France.

The head of Britain’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) said the French attack, the first of its kind in Europe, was a wake-up call, and urgent security checks needed to be made to protect the 111 rhinos in captivity in the UK.

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Categories: Environment

Farmers sue World Bank lending arm over alleged violence in Honduras

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 7:28am

Complaint lodged with US federal court claims World Bank’s private sector lending arm is ‘knowingly profiting from the financing of murder’

Peasants in Honduras have sued a branch of the World Bank over its financing of the corporation Dinant, which has vast palm oil plantations in Bajo Aguán valley in the country’s north. Lawyers for the farmers say they are seeking compensation for alleged attacks and killings, including actions by the company’s private security forces.

Attorneys for the NGO EarthRights International (ERI) filed the suit on the farmers’ behalf on Tuesday, at a US federal court in Washington DC, where the World Bank is headquartered.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change battles are increasingly being fought, and won, in court | Tessa Khan

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 7:05am

Around the world courts are stepping in when politicians fail to act, with South Africa’s government the latest to lose a groundbreaking climate lawsuit with judges ruling against its plans for a new coal-fired power station

The South African government has lost the country’s first climate change lawsuit after the hight court ruled against its plans for a coal-fired power station, the latest in a rising tide of international climate litigation.

Environmental NGO EarthLife Africa challenged the government’s approval of the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station on the grounds that it should have been preceded by an evaluation of its climate change impacts. The North Gauteng high court agreed and ordered the government to reconsider its approval, taking into account a full climate change impact assessment.

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Categories: Environment

Effects Of Global Warming On Display In Antarctica

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 3:05am

James McClintock, a marine biologist, talks with David Greene about how warming temperatures have had a dramatic impact on the glacier near the U.S. Palmer Station in Antarctica.

Categories: Environment

Stop stalling on bike plans, Sadiq. Political timidity gets you nowhere

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 1:15am

Cycle schemes have stagnated for 10 months, writes the former cycling commissioner. Will new cycling delegate Will Norman get London up to speed?

Under its first two mayors, London became important for the whole country as a leader in cycling. But Will Norman, Sadiq Khan’s new walking and cycling commissioner, starts work with the capital’s cyclists in a gloomy mood. Not just because of the deaths of three cyclists – and two pedestrians – in a single week last month, but because of the last 10 months’ stagnation in what was previously Britain’s most active programme to promote the bike.

I ran that programme for Khan’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, so perhaps I’m biased. But the figures aren’t biased. Over eight years, cycling increased by 53%. Not bad: but on the new central London segregated superhighways, which we opened in May, we saw the same percentage rise in six months.

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Categories: Environment

Finance sector could face climate-risk testing, says Australian watchdog

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 12:39am

Regulator says it may add climate change to the list of scenarios it asks institutions to run to check economic resilience

Australia’s financial institutions could be required to test climate-risk scenarios as international regulators continue to warn of the economic dangers posed by climate change.

Geoff Summerhayes, executive board member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Apra), told a Senate committee that climate scenario testing could be added to the other common scenarios Apra requires financial institutions to face to ensure their systems are robust.

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Categories: Environment

Climate change impacts are already hitting us, say Europeans

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 12:20am

New polling study also shows support for financial penalties for nations that refuse to be part of Paris climate deal, as Donald Trump has threatened

The citizens of four major European countries think the impacts of climate change such as severe floods and storms are already affecting them, according to a major new polling study.

The research dispels the idea that global warming is widely seen as a future problem, and also shows strong support for action to tackle global warming, including subsidies for clean energy and big financial penalties for nations that refuse to be part of the international climate deal signed in Paris in 2015 – as US president Donald Trump has threatened. There was also strong support for giving financial aid to developing nations to cope with the impacts of climate change.

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Categories: Environment

Sainsbury's drops bid to halve household food waste

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2017/03/08 - 12:01am

Exclusive: Supermarket scales back ambition as official statistics show average family throws away £700 of food each year

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has scaled back an ambitious target to get consumers to halve their household food waste after finding it was more difficult than expected to achieve behavioural change.

Sainsbury’s launched its “Waste Less, Save More” programme in 2016 – a £10m five-year plan to help customers save money by reducing their food waste. Using official statistics showing that the average UK family throws away £700 of food each year, the supermarket set a target of getting households to slash this by 50%.

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Categories: Environment

E.ON price rise branded 'monstrous' as users face £97 a year extra

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/07 - 11:59pm

Electricity and gas supplier blames increase, which affects 2.5 million people, on rising cost of government policies

About 2.5 million E.ON customers will pay an extra £97 a year on energy bills in what consumer groups have branded a “monstrous” and “crippling” blow for householders.

The company’s 8.8% price rise for customers on a dual-fuel standard tariff from the end of next month is the second highest increase among several announced recently by rivals, including a 9.8% rise by npower, 7.8% by Scottish Power and 1.2% by EDF.

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Categories: Environment

Joking apart, the great tit is a born survivor

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/07 - 10:30pm

Wenlock Edge Since the 1960s the great tit population has doubled. These dapper but tough birds are becoming a global power

Great tits will take over the world. You see my problem already – it’s the name. Unless you can disassociate from the Carry On innuendo of “tit”, this bird is always going to be a joke. It supposedly gets its name from titmouse: in Old English, tit means small and “mouse” is a corruption of māse, a bird name of Germanic origins.

There is a theatrical prettiness about great tits: the shiny black head with flashing white cheeks, flamboyantly dapper, green-backed, yellow-breasted, with black tie and cleavage stripe. Their twin-syllabic song sounds like a drunk pushing a rusty wheelbarrow. But the music hall stage persona ends there.

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Categories: Environment

Texas City Leads The Way On Renewable Energy

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/03/07 - 2:44pm

Georgetown, Texas, an exurb of Austin, is one of the first cities in the country to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy.

Categories: Environment

Dakota Access Pipeline Court Challenge Denied, Oil Could Flow As Soon As Next Week

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2017/03/07 - 2:37pm

A federal judge denied a request from the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River tribes to halt construction on the final piece of the pipeline in North Dakota.

(Image credit: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Environment

Dakota Access pipeline could open next week after activists face final court loss

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2017/03/07 - 12:47pm

Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux lose argument to prevent pipe from being laid under a stretch of the Missouri river, the last piece of construction

A federal judge declined Tuesday to temporarily stop construction of the final section of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline, clearing the way for oil to flow as soon as next week.

Related: Private investor divests $34.8m from firms tied to Dakota Access pipeline

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