Pesticides stop bumblebees from pollinating apple trees, research shows

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 11:00am

New findings on neonicotinoids have important implications as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce

The world’s most widely used insecticides harm the ability of bumblebees to pollinate apple trees, scientists have discovered. The finding has important implications for agriculture and the natural world, say the researchers, as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce.

There is good evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees but the new research, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show a negative impact on the vital pollination services bees provide.

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Categories: Environment

Canada ends 19-year ban on British beef imports

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 9:38am

Canada has opened its market to imports of British beef alongside 19 EU member states

Canada has formally reopened its market for imports of British beef for the first time since 1996 as part of a deal that includes 19 EU member states.

The environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss, said she welcomed the move as recognition of the world-class reputation of British beef and the UK’s welfare standards.

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Categories: Environment

UK climate and energy policy: hypocritical or incompetent? | Craig Bennett

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 9:23am

Renewable energy ‘must stand on its own two feet’ yet subsidies for nuclear and fossil fuels continue unabated, and energy efficiency policies are axed with no thought as to what might replace them

It’s difficult to decide which characteristic best describes the government’s approach to climate and energy policy since 8 May; hypocrisy or incompetence.

If that seems harsh on a day when the energy secretary has announced a phase-out of coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels, then let me explain.

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Categories: Environment

US and Cuba to sign agreement on marine conservation and research

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 9:04am

National sanctuaries in Florida and Texas will partner with Guanahacabibes national park and the Banco de San Antonio to preserve fragile ecosystems

The United States and Cuba are set to reach their first accord on environmental protection since announcing plans to re-establish diplomatic relations, linking up marine sanctuaries in both countries to cooperate on preservation and research.

US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration chief Kathryn Sullivan is in Havana to sign the agreement on Wednesday and continue talks on a host of environmental issues common to the two countries, separated by just 90 miles (140km) of water.

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Categories: Environment

Eden Project bids to power biomes and homes with geothermal power

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 8:55am

Hot rocks beneath the visitor attraction in Cornwall could generate enough clean energy to power the site and 4,000 homes, in one of the UK’s only geothermal plants

A tropical fish farm, medical facility and computer servers could be powered by “hot rocks” underneath the Eden project if plans to create one of the UK’s only geothermal plants get underway.

The visitor attraction is bidding for part of a £12m EU fund awarded to Cornwall, after it said the government had turned down requests to match fund the £37m project. The three-four megawatt (MW) plant’s backers at Eden said it would take three years to build but generate enough clean heat and electricity to power the site, as well as 4,000 homes via the national grid.

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Categories: Environment

The UK is harking back to the energy system of the last century

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 8:20am

While the Paris climate summit is set to launch the world towards renewable energy, UK energy secretary Amber Rudd is backing nuclear power and gas

The UK’s new energy policy, sketched out on Wednesday by Amber Rudd, will keep the lights on. That’s the good news. But it makes meeting the UK’s carbon emissions targets harder and will cost energy bill payers more.

This is the result of the many contradictions it contains. Energy bills must be “as low as possible”, Rudd says, but the government is turning its back on the cheapest clean options: energy efficiency, onshore wind and solar power. Coal must be phased out but only to be replaced by gas, another fossil fuel which itself must be largely phased out within 15 years. All energy technologies must compete in a market - unless it is nuclear power.

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Categories: Environment

Radical plan proposes power generators pay to close dirty coal competitors

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 6:01am

Exclusive: Academics suggest scheme that would slow sector’s emissions without expensive government subsidies or need for carbon price

Power generators would be forced to pay for the closure of a competitor’s dirty brown-coal fired plant under a radical plan that could help Australia slow the continued increase in electricity sector greenhouse emissions without a carbon price or expensive government subsidies.

The idea – from Australian National University academics Frank Jotzo and Salim Mazouz – offers the government hope of meeting the long-term emission reduction targets it will promise in Paris and provides the energy sector with a solution to the problem of oversupply that has forced the mothballing or under-use of less polluting types of generation.

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Categories: Environment

Thousands of social tenants will lose out if solar subsidies cuts go ahead

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 5:32am

Proposed cuts will halt solar panel schemes on up to 45,000 UK social homes, that could save households £200 a year on energy bills, say renewable energy firms

Plans to put solar panels on up to 45,000 social houses in the UK will be shelved if government subsidy cuts go ahead in January as promised, renewable energy companies have told the Guardian.

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Categories: Environment

OECD countries agree to restrict financing for overseas coal power plants

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 4:55am

Opposition from Japan overcome in compromise agreement hailed as ‘major step forward’ by US officials, although not all export financing for coal will be eliminated

A compromise struck by the United States, Japan and several other major nations will restrict export financing to build coal power plants overseas, but not eliminate it completely.

The agreement reached on Tuesday is an important step forward that sends a strong political message ahead of upcoming international climate change negotiations in Paris, an American official and environmentalists said. Japan and the United States were long at odds on this issue.

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Categories: Environment

UK to close all coal power plants in switch to gas and nuclear

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 4:34am

Amber Rudd vows to close coal-fired stations by 2025 but says balance has swung too far in favour of green policies

The UK will close all coal-fired power plants by 2025, the first major country to do so, but will fill the capacity gap largely with new gas and nuclear plants rather than cleaner alternatives.

The announcement came in a speech by the energy secretary, Amber Rudd, which she described as a “reset” of Britain’s energy policy on Wednesday.

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Categories: Environment

Can farms be good for nature without being organic?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 4:31am

The organic-or-not debate ignores a crucial further option. Setting aside tracts of land for wildlife habitat can benefit bees, butterflies and plants without harming crop yields

Non-organic farmers can do much more to foster wild plants, butterflies and bugs without giving up on pesticides, according to new research, but organic farms still bring the largest benefits for wildlife.

In the UK, 80 non-organic farms have signed up to the conservation grade (CG) scheme. This requires them to turn 10% of their land over to habitat specifically targeted at supporting their local ecology. In return, farmers brand their products with a “Fair to Nature” accreditation and can charge a premium for them.

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Categories: Environment

2015 shatters the temperature record as global warming speeds back up | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 4:00am

Thanks to human-caused global warming and an assist from El Niño, 2015 will easily be the hottest year in millennia

With just a month and a half left in 2015, it’s clear this year will be by far the hottest on record, easily beating the previous record set just last year. The temporary slowdown in the warming of global surface temperatures (also misnamed the “pause”) has ended, as each of the past four years has been hotter than the one before.

El Niño is one reason 2015 has been such an incredibly hot year. During El Niño events, hot water is transported from the deep ocean layers to the surface. Over the past 15 years, we’ve experienced more La Niñas than El Niños, which helped temporarily slow the warming of global surface temperatures.

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Categories: Environment

Calif. Drought Adds To The Perils Of Endangered Chinook Salmon

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 3:32am

For the second year, there's a diminishing count of juvenile salmon migrating downstream away from their spawning grounds in northern California. The drought isn't the only problem the salmon face.

Categories: Environment

How scientific miscalculations could crash the climate | Andrew Simms

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 2:32am

In the last month, experts have questioned the accuracy of current targets for both emissions reductions and the resources needed for climate action. So what does this mean for the planet?

Measurement can be simply a matter of getting things to fit– or a matter of life and death. By confusing different scales and units, a friend once nearly ordered a Venetian blind that would have been three metres wide and only three inches deep.

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Categories: Environment

Outraged by CEO salaries? It was your shares that approved them

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2015/11/18 - 12:00am

There is little recognition of the pressure that we, the citizen investors, can put on companies to act more socially responsibly

People often talk of capitalism, and of plans to reform or replace it. But we seldom ask who are the capitalists, on whose behalf the system is supposedly run.

If we did, the answer might surprise us. I would bet that most of the people reading this article who are over 30 also ultimately own shares in the giant transnational companies that sit at the heart of the capitalist system.

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Categories: Environment

Coalition unexpectedly pushes on with 'green lawfare' legislation plan

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/11/17 - 9:23pm

Labor says Turnbull government cancelled public hearings and brought forward a Senate committee report supporting laws proposed under Tony Abbott

The Turnbull government is pushing ahead with Tony Abbott’s controversial “lawfare’ changes to remove the legal standing of conservation groups to mount environmental court cases, with a Senate committee dominated by Coalition members recommending they proceed without holding any public hearings.

Related: Farm groups furious at Coalition move to restrict environmental challenges

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Categories: Environment

Australian court fines Japanese whaling company $1m for 'intentional' breaches

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/11/17 - 8:08pm

Kyodo Senpaku has been found guilty in a case brought by Humane Society International – the first verdict of contempt of the environment act

An Australian court has found a Japanese whaling company guilty of “wilful contempt” of court for breaching an order to stop killing whales, and has fined it $1m.

On Wednesday, the Australian federal court heard an application by Humane Society International (HSI) as part of a decade-long legal battle against the company Kyodo Senpaku to stop Japan killing whales within Australia’s Antarctic whale sanctuary.

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Categories: Environment

Paris Climate Conference Represents 'Best Chance' For World To Act

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2015/11/17 - 2:59pm

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, ahead of the Paris Climate Conference. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries will discuss how to slow climate change.

Categories: Environment

El Niño rains for dry California but scientists fear for coral reefs

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/11/17 - 1:54pm

Data suggests giant climatic event could be the strongest on record, meaning rains for drought-stricken California and a worsening of the coral die-off

The giant El Niño climatic event is set to bring rain to drought-stricken California by January, but is likely to exacerbate a widespread die-off of corals in the ocean, new data suggests.

The relentless warming trend highlighted by the new data also shows the world has just experienced its warmest October on record.

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Categories: Environment

Fossil-fuel divestment is not the only option for ethical investors | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/11/17 - 1:26pm

Thomas Piketty is right to draw attention to the importance of investors taking action on climate change (Piketty urges investors to divest stakes in fossil fuels, 14 November). My foundation has divested. But divest/invest are not the only options for investors, many of whom cannot quickly divest from all fossil fuels.

We need concerned investors to use their stakes in fossil-fuel companies, and also in companies at risk of diminishing value due to climate change, to change company behaviour. They can do this by requiring them to develop and share their plans for transition to a low-carbon economy. Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has given a lead on this and thoughtful companies will already be working on such plans. Investors can and must give the process the momentum it badly needs to ensure that companies across the board reduce their emissions in the five to 10 years we have left before irreversible climate change takes hold.
Carolyn Hayman
Chair, Preventable Surprises

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