Guardian Environment News

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Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century

Fri, 2019/12/06 - 6:53pm

One of southern Africa’s biggest tourist attractions has seen an unprecedented decline this dry season, fuelling climate change fears

For decades Victoria Falls, where southern Africa’s Zambezi river cascades down 100 metres into a gash in the earth, have drawn millions of holidaymakers to Zimbabwe and Zambia for their stunning views.

But the worst drought in a century has slowed the waterfalls to a trickle, fuelling fears that climate change could kill one of the region’s biggest tourist attractions.

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Categories: Environment

Trump says people flush the toilet 10 times and seeks solution

Fri, 2019/12/06 - 6:52pm

The president announced he had issued an order to review water-saving regulations for bathroom facilities

Americans are in the midst of a toilet-flushing epidemic, according to the president.

Speaking to the press on Friday, with the hammer of impeachment poised to fall and countless domestic and international crises to consider, Donald Trump took on a pressing enemy: poor water pressure caused by conservation laws.

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Categories: Environment

Coalition claims it will meet 2030 emissions target – but only by using accounting loophole

Fri, 2019/12/06 - 5:21pm

Emissions expected to be 13% lower than 2005 by 2030 but government plans to use ‘carryover credits’ from Kyoto protocol

The federal government has released new data that suggests the Morrison government is on track to meet the emissions reduction target it set at the Paris climate conference, but only by including an accounting loophole.

The emissions projections report suggests Australia will better its 2030 emissions target, a 26%-28% cut below 2005 levels, by 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

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Categories: Environment

Labour vows to electrify England's entire bus fleet by 2030

Fri, 2019/12/06 - 3:30pm

Jeremy Corbyn says Tories have left people ‘isolated and stuck at home’

The Labour party has pledged to electrify England’s entire bus fleet by 2030, promising to bring services “into the future”.

Jeremy Corbyn said “the Westminster bubble” didn’t care about buses, despite the fact that so many people rely on them. He said the Conservatives had overseen the cancellation or reduction of 3,000 routes across the country leaving people “isolated and stuck at home”.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2019/12/06 - 9:43am

The pick of the best flora and fauna photos from around the world, including a howling coyote and a baby alligator

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Categories: Environment

California woman punched mountain lion in effort to save her dog

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 6:02pm

Miniature schnauzer was killed and its owner suffered a minor cut in attack in Simi Valley

A southern California woman punched a mountain lion and tried to pry its jaws open to save her dog from an attack in her backyard, but the pet was killed, officials said.

The woman suffered a minor cut after the mountain lion attacked her miniature schnauzer on Thursday in the city of Simi Valley, the police Sgt Keith Eisenhour told KNBC-TV.

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Categories: Environment

Flooding hits New Zealand tourist hubs of Wanaka and Queenstown

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 6:00pm

Heavy rain has led to rivers bursting their banks, forcing the closure of shops and restaurants

Streets in the South Island tourist towns of Wanaka and Queenstown were slowly going under water on Friday, after Lake Wanaka and Lake Wakatipu burst their banks earlier in the week, flooding businesses and sewerage systems.

Water and large debris closed the main street of Wanaka, a popular spot with Instagrammers thanks to its famous tree that appears to have grown out of the lake. On Friday businesses were sandbagging as heavy rain continued to fall.

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Categories: Environment

BP boosts stake in solar firm amid clean energy plan for its offices

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 11:12am

Oil and gas firm will buy new shares from startup Lighthouse BP for undisclosed price

BP has increased its stake in the British solar venture Lightsource BP as it prepares to strike a deal to power its offices with renewable energy from next year.

The companies announced plans to set up a 50:50 joint venture almost two years after BP made its return to the solar market by snapping up a 43% stake in Lightsource for £200m.

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Categories: Environment

Outdoor lessons and pocket parks proposed in 'new deal for nature'

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 10:40am

Report also recommends protections for front gardens and rewilding hospital grounds

An hour a day of outdoor learning for primary school children and tighter restrictions on paving over front gardens are two of 80 nature policies proposed in a report commissioned by the Green party.

The recommendations set out in A New Deal for Nature are designed to protect wildlife and put biodiversity at the centre of government policy. Other suggestions include turning 20% of Britain into national parks and helping farmers devote 15% of their land to nature.

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Categories: Environment

Climate crisis is 'challenge of civilisation', says pope

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 9:01am

Pontiff calls on COP 25 leaders to show political will to safeguard healthy planet

The climate emergency is a “challenge of civilisation” requiring sweeping changes to economic systems, but political leaders have not done enough, the pope has said in a message to governments meeting at the annual climate summit in Madrid.

“We must seriously ask ourselves if there is the political will to allocate with honesty, responsibility and courage, more human, financial and technological resources [to the climate crisis],” he said, in the pontifical message, which was welcomed by activists.

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Categories: Environment

Opec considering huge oil production cuts to avoid market slump

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 8:18am

Cartel may cut up to 800,000 barrels a day from market as global economy falters

The Opec oil cartel is considering deeper cuts to production next year to avert a price slump in the market as the global economy falters.

Ministers from some of the world’s biggest “petro-nations” are expected to cut an extra 400,000 barrels of oil a day from the global market and may consider even deeper cuts of up to 800,000 barrels, according to reports.

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Categories: Environment

Biodiversity in 2020: the biggest threats and opportunities

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 7:40am

Scientists and conservation professionals predict mosquito-killing fungi and a kelp crisis could be among the trends affecting living things next year

What are the biggest emerging opportunities and threats the coming year holds for efforts to conserve biodiversity? Nearly two dozen scientists, conservation professionals and future scanners recently came together to answer that question as part of an annual “horizon scan” led by Cambridge University conservation biologist William Sutherland.

The group narrowed a list of 89 issues to 15 emerging or anticipated trends that have a strong potential to benefit or harm living things but are not yet on the radar for most conservationists. Here are their top picks, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

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Categories: Environment

Texas: city residents urged to evacuate after chemical plant explosions

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 7:21am

Port Neches issued voluntary order after elevated levels of chemical butadiene were detected following pair of blasts

Authorities in the Texas city of Port Neches have issued an order encouraging its 50,000 residents to evacuate due to concerns over air quality after a pair of chemical plant explosions occurred last week.

Port Neches issued the voluntary evacuation order late on Wednesday after elevated levels of the chemical butadiene were detected. Jefferson county emergency management officials said the elevated levels did not pose a serious health risk, but could cause dizziness, nausea, headaches or irritation to the eyes and throat.

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Categories: Environment

Nestlé cannot claim bottled water is 'essential public service', court rules

Thu, 2019/12/05 - 2:00am

Michigan’s second-highest court rules in favor of township in case that could damage company’s effort to privatize water

Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply.

The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country.

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Categories: Environment

NSW endures longest spell of air pollution on record as bushfires flare near Sydney

Wed, 2019/12/04 - 9:01pm

Emergency warning issued for fire north-west of Sydney, while many parts of NSW and Queensland remain blanketed in smoke

Five emergency warnings have been issued for fires in New South Wales on Thursday, including the 230,000-hectare Gospers Mountain blaze on Sydney’s north-western outskirts.

Queensland fire crews are also still battling a large bushfire on the Darling Downs with fears some properties have been lost, as Sydney and large parts of New South Wales continue to struggle with “the longest and the most widespread” period on record of poor air quality and hazardous levels of pollution.

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Categories: Environment

Australian businesses, unions and farmers say Paris agreement requires zero emissions plan

Wed, 2019/12/04 - 7:43pm

Australia Climate Roundtable says climate goals require ‘deep global emissions reductions’

Groups representing business, unions, farmers, investors, the environment and social policy advocates say Australia should adopt climate change policies that can put it on a stable path to net zero national greenhouse gas emissions if it is to play its part in the Paris agreement.

Launched to coincide with UN climate talks in Madrid, a joint statement by 10 groups under the Australian Climate Roundtable banner warns that unconstrained climate change would have serious economic, environmental and social impacts in Australia, and avoiding it would bring benefits and opportunities.

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Categories: Environment

Plastic pollution kills half a million hermit crabs on remote islands

Wed, 2019/12/04 - 5:01pm

Experts fear species decline after huge number of deaths on Henderson and Cocos

More than half a million hermit crabs have been killed after becoming trapped in plastic debris on two remote island groups, prompting concern that the deaths could be part of a global species decline.

The pioneering study found that 508,000 crabs died on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands archipelago in the Indian Ocean, along with 61,000 on Henderson Island in the South Pacific. Previous studies have found high levels of plastic pollution at both sites.

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Categories: Environment

Scottish Power plans to build solar panels beside windfarms

Wed, 2019/12/04 - 10:08am

Firm ‘squeezing maximum potential’ from clean energy sources to help UK hit net zero

Scottish Power plans to squeeze more renewable electricity from its onshore windfarms by covering the ground beside the turbines with photovoltaic panels and batteries.

The wind power firm has applied for permission to build its first solar power projects beneath the blades of its existing windfarms in Cornwall, Lancashire and Coldham.

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Categories: Environment

Flashy fish: electric eel powers Tennessee aquarium’s Christmas tree

Wed, 2019/12/04 - 6:11am

Special system connected to Miguel’s tank enables his naturally occurring shocks to power strands of lights on a nearby tree

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Visitors to the Tennessee aquarium may be shocked to learn that the Christmas tree is being powered by an unusual renewable energy source – an electric eel.

The flashy fish goes by the name of Miguel Wattson and has his own Twitter account, @EelectricMiguel.

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Categories: Environment

Radiation hotspots 'found near Fukushima Olympic site'

Wed, 2019/12/04 - 5:47am

Greenpeace calls for fresh monitoring of region where nuclear disaster occurred

Greenpeace has said it detected radiation hotspots near the starting point of the upcoming Olympic torch relay in Fukushima.

Japan’s environment ministry said the area was generally safe but it was in talks with local communities to survey the region before the 2020 Games, which open on 24 July.

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Categories: Environment