Car emissions test body receives 70% of cash from motor industry

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 10:01pm
Vehicle Certification Agency accused of a conflict of interest after VW scandal

The body examining the practices of the car industry following the Volkswagen emissions scandal has been accused of a major conflict of interest after it emerged that nearly three quarters of its funding comes from the companies it is investigating.

According to its latest annual report, the Vehicle Certification Agency receives 69.91% of its income from car manufacturers, who pay it to certify that their vehicles are meeting emissions and safety standards.

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Categories: Environment

The eco guide to the ocean | Lucy Siegle

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 10:00pm

Over the past 40 years, we have killed off 50% of marine life through overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. But the international spotlight and a change in policy mean things are looking up

I do love to be beside the seaside, but I am finding it increasingly hard to look the ocean in the eye. Over the past four decades we have killed off 50% of marine life through overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. We shovel 250,000 tonnes of plastic into the ocean every year, and all Pacific tropical reefs could be lost by 2050. The blue planet gets short shrift; while we’ve protected 15.4% of terrestrial ecosystems, just 3.4% of the world’s oceans are marine protected areas.

Land lubbers need to make a splash as ocean conservationists to push these numbers up. We should take a cue from earlier campaigns. In the 60s, a stretch of Australian coastal shelf was slated to become a limestone quarry. If it hadn’t been for a few campaigning environmentalists, it would have been lost forever. Today the site is known as the Great Barrier Reef.

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Categories: Environment

The Observer view on climate change | Observer editorial

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 4:04pm
Mark Carney’s intervention on the subject is welcome. Now the government must act

Mark Carney calls it the Tragedy of the Horizon: the chronic inability of Britain’s leaders, whether in business or politics, to tackle challenges that extend more than a few years ahead. There are plenty of examples, from the shameful failure to build enough homes to the indecision about whether, and where, to add to airport capacity. But climate change is the ultimate example: it presents an existential threat to the status quo, yet it barely features in the day-to-day calculations of many business and policymakers. It’s too big, too scary and, most of all, too distant, to start planning for.

The governor of the Bank of England was castigated by some last week for offering doom-laden prognostications about global warming’s potential impact, straying into territory more commonly occupied by the Green party than financial technocrats. Some in the City believe the spirit of buccaneering free enterprise and the inexorable advance of innovation will eventually meet the challenges of climate change head on, as evidence mounts of its potential costs. Yet as Carney pointed out, threats often take financial markets by surprise, even when they should have been foreseeable. Volkswagen’s flagrant fiddling of vehicle emissions tests surely scotches the idea that big business will get to grips with the problem of its own accord.

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Categories: Environment

Air quality: governments woo the motor industry with dire results | the big issue

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 4:03pm

Ministers need to take responsibility for the effects of pollution on public health

The scandal over rigged tests by car manufacturers is entirely consistent with their past record (“Corporate cheating kills. It must be stopped”, leading article). In the 1980s, the battle to remove lead from petrol and to fit catalytic converters was vigorously opposed by the motor industry, which raised all sorts of technical problems that turned out to be groundless. Even so, both measures were passed by a Tory government under Margaret Thatcher. Nowadays, the Department for Transport emerges as a complicit partner in the rigging of tests, while Defra and the Department of Health seem to have abandoned completely their role as guardians of public health. Margaret Thatcher had a science degree from Oxford University. I’m not sure that this cabinet has a scientific qualification between them.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Former chair, Campaign for Lead-Free Air
Stoke Poges

Notwithstanding the efforts by British government ministers to block air pollution legislation and the recent revelations about VW’s trickery, surely the simplest answer is better public transport using electrical traction (“Revealed: documents show how British ministers tried to block European moves to clean up the air quality of our polluted cities”, News).

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Categories: Environment

Paris’s first attempt at car-free day brings big drop in air and noise pollution

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 12:16pm

Vehicle ban, applied to just 30% of French capital, showed encouraging results – but new report says nation has far to go

Paris’s “day without cars” last week led to such a dramatic drop in both air and noise pollution that the mayor’s office is now planning more vehicle-free days in the French capital.

Airparif, which measures city pollution levels, said levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40% in parts of the city on Sunday 27 September.

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Categories: Environment

For Environmentalists, Mines Near Wilderness Are Too Close For Comfort

NPR News - Environment - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 9:03am

A couple is spending 365 days in the nation's most visited wilderness area to raise awareness of a sulfide-ore mining plan they say will put the watershed ecosystem in danger. Some locals disagree.

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Categories: Environment

The 20 photographs of the week

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2015/10/03 - 2:38am

Watery flows on the surface of Mars, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin in New York, the Rugby World Cup, Rihanna at Paris fashion week – the best photography in news, culture and sport from around the world this week

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Categories: Environment

Threatened demise of a gorgeous, visionary bird

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 9:30pm

Cenarth, Carmarthenshire My glimpses of these spectacular, shy, tree-hole-nesting ducks have grown more frequent in recent years. May that hopeful trend continue

The woods along Afon Teifi were dappled with autumn’s palette. It was fascinating to match tint to tree, to look forward to fire-tones suggested before realised. Squirrels dipped and scurried for nuts among paling hazel foliage. Before the first frosts, a solitary leaf drifted downwards, presage of pattering quiet tumult through coming weeks.

From a riverside path, suddenly I glimpsed a flash of brilliant white, focused the glass in time to see a drake goosander arrowing upriver, low above the surface, its chuckling call carrying through still air, its large wing-patches startlingly white against cloud-reflecting water: “So arrogantly pure a child might think/ It could be murdered with a spot of ink” (as Yeats wrote of a swan).

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Categories: Environment

Volkswagen halts sales of some models in Australia after emissions scandal

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 6:11pm

Company announces that it will halt sales of some diesel cars following meeting with federal government over the emissions scandal

Volkswagen has suspended the sale of some diesel cars in Australia while it addresses its emissions-cheating scam.

Following a meeting with government authorities, the company has decided to immediately halt the sale of affected vehicles fitted with 1.6 or 2.0-litre EA189 diesel engines.

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Categories: Environment

India Says It Will Lower Rate Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 1:42pm

India released its pledges ahead of December's global climate change summit in Paris. "We want to walk [a] cleaner energy path," says the country's environment minister.

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Categories: Environment

Volcano's collapse caused mega-tsunami 240 metres high – study

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 1:14pm

Scientists warn that similar event to collapse of volcano on Cape Verdean island of Fogo 73,000 years ago poses major threat to nearby islands

The sudden collapse of a volcano caused a tsunami that created waves up to 240 metres (800ft) high 73,000 years ago, scientists have discovered.

The mega-tsunami took place near the Cape Verde islands off west Africa when the slopes of the volcano gave way – a process known as a “flank collapse” – and some experts fear a similar collapse could present a real threat today, especially around volcanic islands.

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Categories: Environment

Major corporations taking climate change threat more seriously – survey

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 11:36am

Survey of 440 sustainability workers around the world finds companies are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints

More companies are making climate change one of their top sustainability priorities, according to a survey released this week by nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility, which counts big brands like consumer goods giant Unilever and food and beverage maker Coca-Cola among its members.

The annual survey, which polled 440 sustainability workers from nearly 200 companies around the world, aims to provide a snapshot of what environmental and social issues are important to businesses over the coming year.

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Categories: Environment

Carmakers urge EU to delay new emissions limits by a year

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 10:09am

Head of Acea manufacturers’ group calls plan to cap nitrogen oxide emissions for new cars by September 2018 unrealistic in letter seen by the Guardian

European carmakers have lobbied behind the scenes in Brussels for a one-year delay to the introduction of planned EU limits on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, despite public uproar at the VW rigging scandal.

NOx pollution, particularly from nitrogen dioxide, is responsible for 23,500 premature deaths in the UK every year and the EU wants to introduce an 80mg per km emissions limit for all new cars and vans from 1 September 2018.

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Categories: Environment

What's At The Edge Of A Cloud?

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 10:09am

Scientists soared through clouds with a new instrument that takes 3-D pictures of the edge. What they learned about the size and density of droplets surprised them and might lead to better forecasts.

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Categories: Environment

VW drivers in UK to escape higher emissions tax, government vows

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 9:56am

Transport secretary calms fears that owners of cars caught cheating emissions tests might be forced to pay higher vehicle excise duty linked to pollution

Volkswagen drivers in Britain whose vehicle was fitted with a device to cheat emissions tests will not have to pay higher taxes to reflect the extra pollution their car causes, the government has pledged.

VW has recalled almost 1.2m diesel cars in the UK and halted the sale of 4,000 vehicles because they possess an illegal defeat device which lowers nitrogen oxide emissions in test conditions but allows high emissions on the open road.

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Categories: Environment

South American bird rhea found in front garden in Hampshire

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 9:28am

Police, fire crews and a specialist animal management team rescue the bird but are clueless as to how it ended up in North Boarhunt

A rhea has been rescued by police, fire crews and a specialist animal management team after a householder in Hampshire found the large bird in his garden.

Police were called at 12.30pm on Thursday when the man found the rhea in the front garden of his home in North Boarhunt.

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Categories: Environment

Green news roundup: Arctic oil, diesel emissions and Samsung TVs

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 8:46am

The week’s top environment news stories and green events. If you are not already receiving this roundup, sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox

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Categories: Environment

The Times did not misrepresent Arctic expert in assassination story, IPSO rules

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 8:07am

Newspaper did not breach press code in report about Prof Peter Wadhams’s claims that British Arctic scientists had been assassinated, regulator says

The Times did not misrepresent one of the world’s leading Arctic experts in a report on his claim that three British scientists investigating ice thickness may have been assassinated two years ago, the UK’s press regulator has ruled.

Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the university of Cambridge, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) that he had been inaccurately quoted in an article by the paper’s environment editor, Ben Webster. He said the piece had damaged his scientific reputation.

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Categories: Environment

Signs of drought in Los Angeles

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 7:04am

When more water is being found on Mars than in California, you know the drought is bad. Comedian Jason Saenz created and posted his own signs about the drought around Los Angeles

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Categories: Environment

India's pledge clears a significant hurdle towards a climate deal in Paris

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2015/10/02 - 6:53am

India’s announcement means all the world’s biggest economies are now publicly in favour of a deal, but there are still challenges ahead

With India’s plan for curbing carbon emissions now in, most of the major developing economies have responded to the UN’s requests for the commitments on climate change that will form the keystone of an agreement to be signed in Paris this December.

Those commitments – to make absolute cuts in future emissions levels, in the case of developed countries; to curb future emissions growth, in the case of less industrialised nations – will not add up to the cuts that scientists say are needed to avoid more than 2C of warming above pre-industrial levels. This is significant, because the 2C threshold is regarded as the limit of safety, beyond which the changes in the climate are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

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Categories: Environment
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