The 20 photographs of the week

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/04/23 - 1:24am

The death of Prince, the Ecuador earthquake, the continuing refugee crisis in Europe - the best photography in news, culture and sport from around the world this week

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Categories: Environment

Why it makes sense to burn ivory stockpiles

Guardian Environment News - Sat, 2016/04/23 - 12:06am

On 30 April Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will set fire to 105 tonnes of ivory in Nairobi National Park. Here are four reasons why it’s the right thing to do

By burning almost its entire ivory stockpile, Kenya is sending out the message that it will never benefit from illegal ivory captured from poachers or seized in transit. However, as the day of the burn approaches, commentators and experts have been lining up to condemn it. Some of the objections put forward are based on wrong assumptions; some deserve serious consideration.

Here I summarise four of the most frequent arguments being made against the burn and explain why, in my view, they are wrong.

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: nearly all new diesel cars exceed official pollution limits

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 11:00pm

Health experts lambast ‘deceitful’ carmakers as data suggests 97% of vehicles fail to meet NOx emissions standards in real-world conditions

Ninety-seven percent of all modern diesel cars emit more toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution on the road than the official limit, according to the most comprehensive set of data yet published, with a quarter producing at least six times more than the limit.

Related: Diesel cars' emissions far higher on road than in lab, tests show

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Categories: Environment

Gas goes green as suppliers opt for carbon neutral sources

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 11:00pm
Electricity has long led the green energy market, but now both utilities are coming under the eco umbrella

Many of us have signed up with energy companies that offer 100% renewable electricity, so why not switch to a gas tariff that also promises to be carbon neutral? Energy firm Good Energy is hoping to tempt green households to do exactly that. This week the Chippenham-based firm started offering a domestic gas tariff that will allow customers to claim their gas usage produces no overall net carbon.

Launched to coincide with the Paris climate change agreement signing yesterday, Good Energy’s “green gas” tariff will include 6% biomethane, produced in the UK from organic matter including manure and even sewage. The move makes it the latest supplier to offer green gas – produced from the 300 or so anaerobic digesters dotted around the UK, a small number of which directly feed the biogas they produce into the national grid.

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Categories: Environment

Ask Alys: I have small mysterious holes all over my lawn. What's causing them?

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 10:00pm

The population of long-tailed field mice can explode quickly, but they are an important source of food for barn owls

All over my lawn, I have holes that are 1-2 inches across but appear to lead into tunnels. What is making these holes? They are not big enough for rats or rabbits.
I went to see my mum and she took me through a lengthy tour of her field and all the holes it contains. Rabbit holes, mole holes, bee holes, mice holes – it was quite the tour, because every hole needed to be examined carefully. One of the holes was made by a long-tailed field mouse (aka wood mouse) and it sounds very similar to yours – it’s about an inch across and leads to a burrow.

Their population can explode quickly if they like the conditions, and my mum tells me they can appear all over the place. Then at some critical mass it all gets too much and they move off to find new territory – overnight they seem to disappear.

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Categories: Environment

The air is alive with harmless hirundines

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 9:30pm

Loch Flemington, Highlands The mute swan is asleep on her nest, while the swallows are wheeling and criss-crossing each other in flight

As I sat on the extreme western end of the loch, two scenes unfolded before me, one tranquil and the other hectic. In the former a female mute swan, the pen, was asleep on her huge nest, which was partially obscured by the remnants of last year’s reed bed. She would probably have been on her full clutch of eggs – five or six of them – and they are huge at 15mm x 74mm with very thick shells.

The male, the cob, was “in attendance” – her guardian – but asleep out on the open water. Then he was suddenly alert as something appeared out of a nearby sedge bed. A moorhen made its run across the water and took off with legs trailing. The swan went back to sleep.

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Categories: Environment

Climate deal won't stop Great Barrier Reef from getting 'cooked', say Greens

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 5:57pm

Australia’s lack of action on pollution reduction targets has made the country a laughing stock on the international stage, according to senator Larissa Waters

Australia’s lack of follow-through on climate change will leave the Great Barrier Reef “completely cooked” despite it signing the Paris climate deal, the Greens say.

The federal environmental minister, Greg Hunt, has joined leaders from 170 other countries in New York to sign the Paris Agreement to limit global warming by at least 2C.

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Categories: Environment

For Earth Day, Report Has News To Ease A Meat-Lover's Conscience

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 3:26pm

The World Resources Institute says you don't have to bid burgers bye-bye in order to reduce the environmental footprint of what you eat. Americans cutting back on beef could go a long way, it says.

Categories: Environment

EDF delays Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 3:04pm

Greenpeace brands project an ‘utter mess’ after French company admits it won’t make investment decision before summer

The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, at the heart of government energy plans, has been hit by fresh delays in another blow to confidence surrounding an already troubled project.

EDF, the French energy company promoting the £18bn reactor scheme, admitted there would be no final investment decision at least till the summer, leading the environmental group Greenpeace to claim the project is “coming to a grinding halt”.

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Categories: Environment

#EarthDay: The High Cost Of Eco-Activism

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 1:33pm

Why the world's poorest people are some of the most effective — and vulnerable — environmental activists.

Categories: Environment

U.S. Proposes Removing Yellowstone Grizzly Bears From Endangered Species List

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 1:32pm

Grizzly bears in Yellowstone may soon lose protection from the federal government. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking the bears off the endangered species list, saying the population has recovered to a self-sustaining number. Opponents dispute that, in part because they say federal biologists aren't sufficiently accounting for climate change threatening their food sources.

Categories: Environment

World leaders sign Paris Agreement on climate change – video

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 11:29am

More than 170 countries sign the Paris Agreement at the UN on Friday as the landmark deal takes a key step toward entering into force years ahead of schedule. The signing ceremony is expected to set a record for international diplomacy; never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day.States that don’t sign Friday have a year to do so

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Categories: Environment

US claims success in efforts to save endangered species

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 11:20am

Obama administration puffs its chest out over apparent victories in removing animals from endangered species list at accelerated pace

The world may be hurtling to the worst extinction crisis since the dinosaurs were wiped out, but the US is claiming success in its own efforts to prevent species following the path of titanosaurs, dodos and passenger pigeons.

A total of 34 species have been removed from federal Endangered Species Act protections since 1978 due to them recovering, rather than becoming extinct. This pace has accelerated under Barack Obama’s presidency – 16 of the 34 recovered species have been delisted during the current administration.

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Categories: Environment

World governments vow to end fossil fuel era at UN climate signing ceremony

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 10:52am

Representatives of more than 170 countries endorse Paris agreement to cut carbon emissions, with France’s president saying: ‘There is no turning back’

More than 170 governments declared an end to the fossil fuel era on Friday, using the signing ceremony for the landmark Paris agreement as an occasion to renew their vows to fight climate change.

The outpouring of support – the largest ever single-day turn-out for a signing ceremony – underscored strong international commitment to deliver on the promises made in Paris last December to avoid a climate catastrophe, the leaders said.

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Categories: Environment

Mayoral candidates call for tighter controls on London traffic pollution

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 10:03am

Ban on diesel cars and extending ultra-low emission zone mooted after DfT study raises concerns over nitrogen oxide levels

Mayoral candidates in London, the city with the worst air quality in Britain, have seized on the Department for Transport’s study of vehicle emissions to call for tighter controls on traffic pollution – including a ban on diesel cars.

An ultra-low emission zone in central London from 2020 will levy charges on all but the cleanest vehicles. But the DfT vehicle tests show that some diesels with a Euro 6 engine – classed as “ultra-low emission” and free to drive under outgoing mayor Boris Johnson’s plan – were emitting 12 times the permitted level of nitrogen oxide.

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Categories: Environment

Huge coral reef discovered at Amazon river mouth

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 10:00am

Scientists astonished to find 600-mile long reef under the muddy water in a site already marked for oil exploration

A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.

The existence of the 600-mile long reef, which ranges from about 30-120m deep and stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was not suspected because many of the world’s great rivers produce major gaps in reef systems where no corals grow.

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Categories: Environment

Warwick University calls on BP to open up archive on 'renewables'

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 9:22am

Pressure increases to honour promise to allow access to what is believed to be decades of research into ‘green’ technologies

The University of Warwick has joined calls for BP to honour a promise made by its chairman to open up a company archive containing valuable research on renewable energy.

The pressure comes a week after the oil company faced a shareholder revolt over executive pay and days before it expected to report a first-quarter loss of $140m (£97m), compared with a $2.6bn profit in the same period of 2015.

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Categories: Environment

Brazil Amazon dam project suspended over concerns for indigenous people

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 9:21am

Licensing process for São Luiz do Tapajós dam stalled after Funai report demarcated Sawré Muybu land around river, where Munduruku people live

Plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon have been put on hold after Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, suspended the licensing process over concerns about its impact on the indigenous community in the region.

As one of the central elements of the government’s project to expand hydroelectric power generation across the Amazon, the 8,000-megawatt São Luiz do Tapajós dam is slated to be Brazil’s second largest, after the controversial Belo Monte power plant, which finally began operating this week.

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Categories: Environment

Volkswagen takes €16bn hit for diesel scandal as it makes €4bn loss

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 9:18am

Carmaker’s executives agree to pay cuts as VW doubles its provision for the diesel emissions scandal

Volkswagen has slumped to its first annual loss in more than 20 years after setting aside €16.2bn (£12.6bn) to cover the cost of its diesel emissions scandal.

The German carmaker plunged to a loss of €4.1bn for 2015, worse than analysts had expected and the company’s first annual loss since 1993. It follows a €12.7bn profit in 2014. The firm also revealed sizeable pay cuts for senior staff to reflect the impact of the scandal on its results, which it was due to report in early March but was forced to delay in light of the diesel affair.

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Categories: Environment

Earth Day Brings Celebrations, Signing Of Historic Climate Pact

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2016/04/22 - 9:14am

Earth Day brings everything from special Google Doodles and beautiful views of our planet to the historic signing of an international climate agreement.

Categories: Environment
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