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Australia’s biggest industry group calls on Morrison government to halve emissions by 2030

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 12:00pm

Exclusive: The Australian Industry Group’s Innes Willox says the case for strong climate action has strengthened rapidly and the cost has turned out to be lower than expected

Australia’s biggest industry association has called on the Morrison government to set a target of cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 to join the global “mainstream” on the climate crisis.

Innes Willox, the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, said the case for strong climate action had strengthened rapidly while the cost of cutting emissions had turned out to be lower than expected. The risks of climate change were becoming increasingly clear and serious, he said.

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Categories: Environment

UK poised to confirm funding for mini nuclear reactors for carbon-free energy

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 8:23am

Rolls-Royce-led consortium already has £210m in private backing for plans to build 16 reactors across the country

The government is poised to approve funding for a fleet of Rolls-Royce mini nuclear reactors that the prime minister hopes will help the UK reach his target of zero-carbon electricity by 2035.

A consortium led by the British engineering firm had already secured £210m in backing from private investors for the small modular reactor (SMR) project, a sum that the government is expected to match or better. Confirmation is expected before the spending review on 27 October, according to well-placed sources.

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Categories: Environment

Royals weigh in on green issues ahead of Cop26 climate conference

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 8:10am

Queen ‘irritated’ by lack of action, Prince William targets space race and Prince Charles appeals to businesses

As the UN Cop26 climate conference approaches, members of the royal family have increasingly been weighing in on green issues.

The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William have all made comments in support of taking more urgent action on the climate crisis in the past few days.

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Climate crisis poses ‘serious risks’ to US economy, Biden administration warns

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 7:10am

White House issues 40-page report and sets out steps for action as ‘climate impacts already affecting’ jobs, homes and businesses

Joe Biden’s administration on Friday issued a 40-page report warning that the climate crisis “poses serious and systemic risks to the US economy and financial system” and setting out steps for action as “climate impacts are already affecting American jobs, homes, families’ hard-earned savings, and businesses”.

Under the new plan, the federal government will weigh up climate risks for employee benefit and retirement plan investments, incorporate climate disasters into lending and budgeting decisions and revise building standards for homes at risk of flooding. Government-backed mortgages for public housing will factor in the risk of calamitous floods, wildfires and other climate impacts.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 4:00am

The best of this week’s wildlife pictures, including a rutting deer, a Javan langur and some cunning foxes

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Categories: Environment

UK to push plan to ‘halt and reverse global deforestation by 2030’ at Cop26

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 3:42am

Government will call for producers and consumers of commodities such as soya and cocoa to commit to stopping land clearances

The UK government is pushing for an ambitious agreement among world leaders at Cop26 to halt and reverse forest loss and degradation, the Guardian can reveal.

Big producers and consumers of deforestation-linked commodities such as soya, cocoa, coffee and palm oil have been asked to commit to halting land clearances, the second largest source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. A coalition of world leaders is expected to announce the initiative on the second day of the climate summit in Glasgow alongside new funding to protect forests.

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Categories: Environment

Students’ solar-powered camper van turns heads on 1,800-mile road trip

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 3:28am

Dutch team designed and built two-person van with kitchen, bed, shower, loo and range of up to 450 miles a day

A team of students from the Netherlands are due to complete an 1,800-mile (3,000km) road trip across western Europe in a solar-powered camper van that they designed and built themselves.

The Stella Vita is designed for two passengers and has a kitchen, sitting area, bed, shower and toilet. Using solar energy alone, the vehicle can cover up to 450 miles on a sunny day, reaching a top speed of 75mph, as well as powering all the inside amenities, a TV and a laptop.

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Categories: Environment

Indigenous tribes tried to block a car battery mine. But the courts stood in the way

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 3:00am

Legal setbacks in efforts to block a new lithium mine in Nevada’s Thacker Pass highlight how federal courts routinely fail to protect sacred lands

Growing up on the Duck Valley Reservation, Gary McKinney said he remembers hearing the stories of his ancestors’ brutal murders at Thacker Pass in northern Nevada.

Tribal oral history depicts US soldiers killing dozens of Indigenous people in the late 1800s, including women and children, and leaving behind a burial ground with deep spiritual significance. The generations that followed have honored the expansive site with ceremonies while continuing to hunt and forage for traditional foods and medicines.

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Categories: Environment

After fighting for clean drinking water since 2018, a Michigan city will finally get lead-free lines

Fri, 2021/10/15 - 2:00am

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has promised an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to replace the lines within 18 months

Residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, a predominantly Black city that has dealt with elevated lead levels in its water for at least three years, have welcomed an announcement by the governor that all lead lines in the city would be replaced over the next 18 months.

The governor, Gretchen Whitmer, promised an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to addressing the water crisis that has been plaguing this impoverished city since at least 2018.

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Koala chlamydia vaccine trialled by Australian researchers in bid to improve species’ survival

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 6:52pm

Single-dose jab to be trialled in around 400 koalas at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital

A chlamydia vaccine to treat koalas is being rolled out by Australian researchers in a trial they say could play a significant role in the long-term survival of the species.

From Friday, the chlamydia vaccine will be trialled in around 400 koalas at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland.

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Categories: Environment

National Trust election candidate ‘not consulted’ about ‘anti-woke’ backing

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 12:03pm

Michael Goodhart shocked to see name backed by Restore Trust because he does not support its aims

A retired conservationist who was named by an ‘anti-woke’ insurgent group as a candidate it was backing for the coming National Trust elections says he was never consulted by the campaigners and is at odds with them.

Michael Goodhart, 67, told the Guardian he was shocked to see his name topping a list of six candidates backed by Restore Trust because he did not support its aims ahead of what is tipped to be a turbulent National Trust AGM.

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Categories: Environment

UK to allow temporary visas for butchers in latest post-Brexit U-turn

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 12:01pm

Move comes weeks after farmers began culling healthy pigs owing to lack of abattoir staff

The government has stepped in to counter a spiralling crisis on pig farms by allowing butchers to enter the UK on temporary visas, in the latest reversal of post-Brexit immigration policy.

Butchers in abattoirs and meat processing plants dealing with pigs will be allowed to come to work in Britain for six months, the environment secretary, George Eustice, announced on Thursday evening. He said 800 butchers were needed to meet staffing shortages and get the situation under control.

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Categories: Environment

US heating bills will jump as much as 54% this winter, says government

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 7:06am

Nearly half the homes in the US use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, 30% more than a year ago

Get ready to pay sharply higher bills for heating this winter, along with seemingly everything else.

With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the US government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared with last winter.

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Categories: Environment

Energy crisis reignites demand for oil, threatening climate targets, says IEA

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 6:18am

International Energy Agency warns shortage of gas and coal could trigger oil market rebound

The worldwide energy crisis has reignited demand for oil, posing a threat to the world’s climate ambitions and the global economic recovery from Covid-19, according to the International Energy Agency.

The global energy watchdog said the shortage of gas and coal across the biggest economies, which has caused energy markets to rocket, could trigger a faster-than-expected rebound in the oil market and drive demand to above pre-pandemic levels as soon as next year.

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Categories: Environment

The five biggest threats to our natural world … and how we can stop them

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 5:00am

From destructive land use to invasive species, scientists have identified the main drivers of biodiversity loss – so that countries can collectively act to tackle them

The world’s wildlife populations have plummeted by more than two-thirds since 1970 – and there are no signs that this downward trend is slowing. The first phase of Cop15 talks in Kunming this week will lay the groundwork for governments to draw up a global agreement next year to halt the loss of nature. If they are to succeed, they will need to tackle what the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) has identified as the five key drivers of biodiversity loss: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of natural resources; climate change; pollution; and invasion of alien species.

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Categories: Environment

The UK’s reliance on gas imports leaves us open to unpredictable prices | Michael Bradshaw

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 4:40am

This autumn’s struggles with soaring gas prices shows ministers the market alone can’t deliver both security and affordability

Each autumn, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the energy regulator Ofgem present a statutory security of supply report to parliament. Last December, the department concluded that the “gas system has delivered securely to date and is expected to continue to function well”. As has become BEIS’s mantra, the report noted that the UK benefits from “a diverse range of supply sources and sufficient delivery capacity to more than meet demand”, which is right when it comes to physical security of supply. Around half the gas we consume comes from the North Sea and we get the rest directly via pipeline from Norway – via two interconnectors from continental Europe – and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the global market.

It is the case that the UK has enough pipes and terminals to deliver all the gas that we may need and more. However, the National Grid’s recent gas winter outlook 2021-22 makes clear the cause of the current crisis, explaining that: “the underlying market arrangements in the UK are predicated on the basis that the market will provide and that the market will balance itself”. This speaks to “price security”, the price UK consumers need to pay in order to attract sufficient gas to meet national demand.

Michael Bradshaw is professor of global energy at Warwick Business School and a co-director at the UK Energy Research Centre

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Categories: Environment

English councils issue only 19 fines for wood smoke despite 18,000 complaints

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 4:08am

Mums for Lungs writes to health secretary calling for toxic wood-burning stoves to be banned by 2027

Only seven councils in England have issued fines for toxic wood smoke, a total of 19 penalties in the past six years, despite more than 18,000 complaints.

The campaign group Mums for Lungs, which gathered the data, has written to the health secretary calling for wood stoves to be phased out by 2027 because of the deceptively high levels of air pollution they emit.

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Categories: Environment

Big tobacco got caught in a lie by Congress. Now it’s the oil industry’s turn | Mark Hertsgaard

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 3:00am

The CEOs of Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron face a Capitol Hill hearing on their climate crisis lies – will it mirror the downfall of big tobacco?

Two weeks from today, Darren Woods will face a potential doomsday moment before the US Congress.

As the CEO of ExxonMobil, Woods was paid $15.6m last year to run the richest, most powerful private oil company in history. But his earnings and influence will be on the line when he appears before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on 28 October. His testimony could mark the beginning of the end of big oil escaping legal and financial responsibility for the climate crisis.

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Categories: Environment

The climate disaster is here – this is what the future looks like

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 2:00am

Earth is already becoming unlivable. Will governments act to stop this disaster from getting worse?

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Categories: Environment

Forget net zero – let’s have a ‘fossil freedom day’ | Mark Lynas

Thu, 2021/10/14 - 1:00am

Imagine if we knew that sometime in 2047 we would definitively move on from the industrial revolution

The important thing about any agenda isn’t so much what’s on it, but what is missing. And so it is with the 21st UN climate change conference (Cop26), in Glasgow. There are some crucial issues up for discussion and negotiation: the $100bn finance promise, the 1.5C target and how to raise global mitigation ambition to meet it. But I have a proposal for something that is still firmly off the agenda, even though it would arguably do more than anything else to address the climate emergency.

The problem with Cops – and I’ve been to a few – is that activity tends to substitute for action. The atmosphere is frenetic: people rush to and fro, from meeting to meeting, negotiation to negotiation, clutching bundles of paper, phones, laptops, and (if they are lucky) a hastily grabbed, limp sandwich. Some negotiators trundle everywhere with wheeled suitcases, stuffed with printed materials from every previous Cop – so they never have to miss an opportunity to refer directly to the Bali declaration or the Berlin mandate.

Mark Lynas is a freelance writer working full-time on climate change

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Categories: Environment