Cambridge is right to join the flight from fossil fuels. But divestment is just a start

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/10/02 - 3:12am

The financial system is what’s driving the climate emergency. It needs a complete structural overhaul

It’s been a year of considerable blows to the fossil fuel industry. Thursday’s announcement that the University of Cambridge will divest its endowment fund from fossil fuel corporations is another considerable win for campaigners, who have spent many years doggedly demanding change from an institution that – despite being a global leader in scientific research and education – has been obstinate about severing its many ties to the fossil fuel industry, including significant research funding from Shell and BP.

Of course, serious questions will doubtless be raised about why a full decade is needed to shift money out of direct fossil fuel investments, and until 2038 to arrive at a “net-zero portfolio”. And the absence of a commitment on cutting the university’s close research ties with fossil fuel companies is also sure to draw some ire.

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Categories: Environment

A second Trump term would be 'game over' for the climate, says one of the world's top climate scientists

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/10/02 - 3:00am

Michael Mann, one of the world’s most eminent climate experts, says Earth’s future ‘is in the hands of American citizens’

This article is published as part of Covering Climate Now, a collaboration of 400-plus news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. The Guardian is the lead partner of CCN.

Michael Mann, one of the most eminent climate scientists in the world, believes averting climate catastrophe on a global scale would be “essentially impossible” if Donald Trump is re-elected.

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Categories: Environment

Humpback whales seize chance to sing in Alaska's cruise-free Covid summer

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/10/02 - 2:00am

The cruise ships that normally throng south-eastern waters are absent, giving researchers a unique opportunity to eavesdrop

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Categories: Environment

40,000 trees face felling by National Trust after surge in ash dieback

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 10:00pm

Woods that inspired Beatrix Potter and John Constable in danger after hot, dry spring speeds up disease

Woods that inspired Beatrix Potter and John Constable could be lost because of a surge in a disease affecting ash, the National Trust has warned.

The conservation charity said it faced its worst year on record for felling trees owing to ash dieback, in part due to one of the warmest and driest springs on record. Increased prolonged hot and dry conditions driven by the climate crisis were putting trees under stress and making them more susceptible to disease, dramatically speeding up the impact of ash dieback, the trust said.

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Categories: Environment

NSW Labor asks for probe into alleged developer donations to Nationals

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 7:12pm

Labor MP for Port Stephens alleges NSW Nationals accepted nearly $20,000 despite ban on developers donating to political parties

The NSW Labor party has written to the state’s electoral commission asking it to investigate allegations the NSW National party accepted nearly $20,000 in breach of the ban on donations by property developers.

In a letter submitted on Tuesday, the local MP for Port Stephens, Kate Washington, alleged the NSW branch of the Nationals accepted $19,350 between 2013 and 2018 from David Maurice (Maurie) Stack, the chairman of Stacks Law Firm on the mid-north coast, and Paul Stack, who runs Stacks Finance.

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Categories: Environment

Oregon Governor On Confronting Reality Of Longer And Hotter Fire Seasons

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 1:09pm

NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown about the impact of the devastating fires and how they might become the state's new normal due to climate change.

Categories: Environment

Nationals MP hails Narrabri gas project as win for community despite vocal opposition

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 10:30am

Mark Coulton says the Santos project will benefit the entire country as the PM obfuscates on the cost of the ‘gas-led recovery’

The Nationals frontbencher Mark Coulton has declared the controversial Narrabri gas project is a winner for his community, despite continuing opposition from landholders, environmentalists and Indigenous traditional owners.

With coal seam gas development a divisive issue in regional Australia, the National Farmers Federation last week warned the Morrison government to tread carefully with its much-vaunted “gas-led recovery” after the coronavirus pandemic. NFF affiliate NSW Farmers has voiced its opposition to the Narrabri gas project.

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Categories: Environment

Brazil's Amazon rainforest suffers worst fires in a decade

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 8:48am
  • Satellites record 61% rise in hotspots over September 2019
  • Scientist warns: ‘It could get worse if the drought continues’

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon increased 13% in the first nine months of the year compared with a year ago, as the rainforest region experiences its worst rash of blazes in a decade, data from space research agency Inpe has shown.

Satellites in September recorded 32,017 hotspots in the world’s largest rainforest, a 61% rise from the same month in 2019.

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Categories: Environment

UK held private talks with fossil fuel firms about Glasgow Cop26

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 4:03am

Documents show BP, Shell and Equinor had several meetings with government officials

Fossil fuel firms have held a series of private meetings with UK government officials in an attempt to be part of next year’s crucial global climate talks, which are to be held in Scotland.

Documents show that some of the world’s biggest polluting corporations have been lobbying the government, offering money in return for exposure at Cop26 and in one case saying they could act as an intermediary between UK officials and other governments around the world.

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Categories: Environment

New ‘forever chemicals' contaminating the environment, regulators say

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 3:00am

Efforts in the US to oversee one PFAS compound from chemical company Solvay illustrate challenges officials face

  • This story is co-published with Consumer Reports

Earlier this year, federal and state researchers reported finding a new, potentially dangerous chemical in soil samples from multiple locations in New Jersey. The compound was a form of PFAS, a group of more than 5,000 chemicals that have raised concerns in recent years because of their potential link to learning delays in children and cancer, as well as their tendency to last in the environment for a long time.

But the new revelations, reported in the June issue of Science magazine, stoked concerns among water-quality researchers and advocacy groups for other reasons, too. It underscored how easy it is for manufacturers to phase out their use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) once the substances have been regulated, and replace them with newer, related compounds that researchers know even less about. And it showed how difficult it is for regulators to track and oversee these new compounds.

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Categories: Environment

Cambridge University to divest from fossil fuels by 2030

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 3:00am

Future research funding will also be scrutinised in response to climate crisis

Cambridge University is to divest its multibillion-pound endowment fund from fossil fuel corporations after a five-year campaign by students, academics and politicians.

The vice-chancellor, Prof Stephen Toope, said that the university would divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030 and cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2038.

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Categories: Environment

‘We want our island back’: the group taking on cruise ships in Florida Keys

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 2:00am

When Covid-19 hit, the islands were locked down, giving the environment time to recover and residents a chance to think

Will Benson stands on the platform of a mint green fishing boat, under a white-hot sun, and whipsaws a fly fishing rig over azure waters as glassy as an aquarium. The water is no more than 10 feet deep. Dreadlock Holiday plays on the radio. His son Luke, six, watches.

He lets the lure fly – wheeeeeeeeesh. It sails over the silhouettes of two nurse sharks, one lemon shark and to the immediate left of an elusive school of permit, sparking some interest but no bites. They roll over, silvery fins glancing at the surface.

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Categories: Environment

Fat bear week: America's most body positive contest nears climax

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/10/01 - 1:00am

Big is beautiful in the public vote for the brown bear piling on the most pounds before hibernation in Alaska’s Katmai national park

Deep into a tumultuous and often harrowing year, it will be a relief to many that America has now finally arrived at a cherished annual highlight: fat bear week.

Related: US government issues bear advice: friends don't let friends get eaten

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Categories: Environment

Morrison rebukes NSW environment minister for calling Narrabri gas project a 'gamble'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 6:14pm

PM says Matt Kean is ‘out of step with his own government’, adding ‘if you are not for gas, you are not for manufacturing jobs’

Scott Morrison has rebuked the New South Wales energy and environment minister Matt Kean for describing the controversial Narrabri coal seam gas development as a “gamble”, declaring Kean is out of step with the premier and the state’s own policy.

The prime minister on Thursday used an interview on the Sydney radio station 2GB to tell Kean, the NSW Liberal frontbencher and a vocal advocate for renewable energy, to pull his head in, declaring “if you are not for gas, you are not for manufacturing jobs”.

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Categories: Environment

Fukushima nuclear disaster preventable, court rules, with more damages claims likely

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 5:18pm

Government and company Tepco ordered to pay some damages for 2011 event, but ruling could spur further claims

A Japanese court has found the government and Tepco, the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, negligent for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 nuclear disaster, and ordered them to pay 1bn yen ($9.5m) in damages to thousands of residents for their lost livelihoods.

The ruling on Wednesday by Sendai high court could open up the government to further damage claims because thousands of other residents evacuated as reactors at the coastal power station overheated and released a radioactive cloud, following the devastating tsunami. While some people have returned home, areas close to the plant are still off limits.

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Categories: Environment

Global heating warming up 'nights faster than days'

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 4:01pm

Effect seen across much of world will have profound consequences, warn scientists

The climate crisis is heating up nights faster than days in many parts of the world, according to the first worldwide assessment of how global heating is differently affecting days and nights.

The findings have “profound consequences” for wildlife and their ability to adapt to the climate emergency, the researchers said, and for the ability of people to cool off at night during dangerous heatwaves.

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Categories: Environment

Jair Bolsonaro attacks 'international greed' over Amazon – as it happened

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 2:46pm

Brazilian leader vows to continue to exploit country’s natural resources in combative comments at UN biodiversity summit

10.46pm BST

We are going to close the live blog now. Statements from world leaders have ended, according to our schedule. Thank you for following along. Here is the summary of today’s proceedings in New York at the first-of-its-kind UN summit on biodiversity.

"Every few years, governments gather to make solemn promises about the action they will take to defend the living world, then break them before the ink is dry."
Must read to understand the laughable, cynical empty promises and "pledges" still taking place.https://t.co/fY40fNmKCZ

10.41pm BST

“We are the parasites,” Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said when describing humanity’s relationship with the planet. “We can go back to a relationship of symbiosis,” he added, saying the delay of the Kunming meeting is an opportunity to scale up ambitions.

Sanchez is focusing on three areas:

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Categories: Environment

World Leaders Address Collapse Of The Natural World At The U.N. Biodiversity Summit

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 1:10pm

At Wednesday's digital gathering, nations are making new pledges to protect vast areas of land from development, but the U.S. is not taking part.

Categories: Environment

What does the first climate question at a US debate in 20 years reveal?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 11:02am

The question framed the existence of a human-made climate crisis as something that is for some Americans still debatable

The long-awaited climate question in last night’s presidential debate broke a 20-year silent streak from moderators on the crisis – thrusting it into prime time but also revealing just how stuck in the past much of the US is on the issue.

After more than an hour of chaos as the candidates talked over each other, the Fox News anchor Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump: “What do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?”

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Categories: Environment

Narrabri gas project: former judge questions independence of NSW planning commission

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2020/09/30 - 10:30am

Paul Stein QC is ‘deeply concerned’ the IPC has been diminished by recent changes introduced by the government

A former New South Wales judge has called for “independent” to be dropped from the name of the state’s planning commission after it approved the controversial Narrabri coal seam gas development, arguing the body is effectively controlled by the government.

The commission on Wednesday gave what it described as “phased approval” of the $3.6bn project in the state’s north. The decision, which included 134 conditions, was welcomed by the proponent, oil and gas company Santos, and the federal and state governments, but criticised by local farmers, conservationists and Indigenous traditional owners.

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