Guardian Environment News

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RBS will change name to NatWest as Alison Rose begins overhaul

Fri, 2020/02/14 - 5:51am

New chief executive sets out strategy at bank bailed out by the government in 2008

Royal Bank of Scotland’s new chief executive is renaming the group NatWest in a corporate overhaul designed to put its 2008 government bailout, and the fallout from a a string of scandals, behind it.

The lender said it was ditching the 293-year-old RBS company name, saying it was the right time to make a change at the parent company and reflect that NatWest is its biggest brand. However, the existing RBS bank branches – most of which are in Scotland – will keep their name, as will Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland.

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Categories: Environment

Beware oil execs in environmentalists’ clothing – BP could derail real change | Alice Bell

Fri, 2020/02/14 - 3:43am
If a company that made its name in oil wants us to believe it can be part of the climate solution, it needs to stop drilling

BP’s got a new boss, Bernard Looney. He doesn’t wear a tie, he’s on Instagram and he’s going to shrink its carbon footprint to “net zero” by 2050. Is this for real?

It’s a sign the tide is turning. Maybe not enough to save us from catastrophic sea-level rises, but a turn nonetheless. The oil industry is incredibly savvy when it comes to public opinion, and can see the steady erosion of its “social licence to operate” (a company’s ability to go about its business without too much challenge). It has been struggling to recruit young people for years, well before the school climate strikes started.

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Categories: Environment

Canada: protests go mainstream as support for Wet'suwet'en pipeline fight widens

Fri, 2020/02/14 - 3:30am

Protesters have blocked railways and barricaded ports in wave of dissent – and the pressure on Justin Trudeau has increased

As armed Canadian police officers advanced through snow towards their camp, the group of Indigenous women was absorbed in a drumming ceremony to honour the spirits of missing and murdered Indigenous women across the country.

Rows of red dresses hung from a fishing line slung across the road, and from pine and spruce trees in the surrounding forest – each one a memorial to the thousands of Indigenous women killed or disappeared in recent years.

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Categories: Environment

Rajendra Pachauri, former IPCC head accused of sexual harassment, dies aged 79

Thu, 2020/02/13 - 9:29pm

Environmentalist was in charge when UN climate change panel shared 2007 Nobel peace prize but career was marred by harassment claims

The Indian environmentalist Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, under whose leadership a UN climate change panel shared the 2007 Nobel peace prize, has died after recent heart surgery. He was 79.

Pachauri’s death was announced late on Thursday by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a research group he headed until 2016 in New Delhi.

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Categories: Environment

Coalition likely to give $11m to Vales Point coal-fired power station for upgrade

Thu, 2020/02/13 - 7:39pm

Scott Morrison’s government has quietly told the station’s owners the money will likely be allocated in the 2020 budget

The Morrison government has made it known to the owners of the Vales Point coal-fired power plant that they are likely to get an $11m grant to upgrade the facility in the May budget.

Canberra buried the probable commitment to the coal project on page 12 of a 13-page $2bn agreement with the Berejiklian government to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.

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Categories: Environment

Rubbish mixtape: fan reunited with cassette 25 years after losing it

Thu, 2020/02/13 - 5:01pm

Stella Wedell astounded to spot tape in exhibition of art made out of plastic marine debris

A music fan has been reunited with a cassette tape she lost while on holiday 25 years ago after it washed up on a beach hundreds of miles away.

Stella Wedell was 12 when she took the tape on a Spanish holiday to listen to songs by the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Shaggy and Bob Marley on her Walkman.

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Categories: Environment

Hot on the trail of cold fusion as a solution to the climate crisis | Letter

Thu, 2020/02/13 - 11:36am
With well-funded research, cold fusion has the potential to provide us with a sustainable source of energy, writes Prof Brian Josephson

Tim Flannery (The age of the megafire is here, and it’s a call to action, Journal, 7 February) writes: “As far as swift climate action is concerned, all good choices have gone up in smoke”.

That may not be the case, however. There has been abundant support by now for the claim made by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in 1989 to have observed nuclear fusion at ordinary temperatures, but the hope that such a fossil-fuel-free process might contribute usefully to energy production has not been fulfilled because it is very unpredictable, and we do not as yet know the conditions needed to produce large amounts of energy. Suitably funded research on a large scale might lead to a resolution of this issue.
Prof Brian Josephson
Emeritus professor of physics, University of Cambridge

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Categories: Environment

Earth just had hottest January since records began, data shows

Thu, 2020/02/13 - 10:42am
  • Average global temperature 2.05F above 20th-century average
  • Antarctic has begun February with several temperature spikes

Last month was the hottest January on record over the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with average temperatures exceeding anything in the 141 years of data held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Related: Antarctic temperature rises above 20C for first time on record

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Categories: Environment

Deepwater Horizon disaster had much worse impact than believed, study finds

Thu, 2020/02/13 - 10:27am
  • Effects of 2010 BP oil spill were 30% larger than calculated
  • Satellite images unable to detect full extent of pollution in Gulf

The environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico a decade ago was much worse than previously believed, according to a new study.

Related: Deepwater Horizon disaster altered building blocks of ocean life

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Categories: Environment

New Zealand threatens to sue Rio Tinto after floods threatened toxic waste

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 4:40pm

Minister says he has ‘had enough’ of company’s failure to deal with waste dump that was almost breached by South Island floods

New Zealand’s environment minister has threatened the mining conglomerate Rio Tinto with legal action over what he says is an “outrageous” failure to deal with toxic waste from an aluminium plant.

Recent South Island floods – in which the waste’s storage facility was nearly inundated, bringing ecological and human tragedy – have infuriated locals in Mataura, where 10,000 tonnes of “ouvea premix” resides.

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Categories: Environment

Mass melting of Antarctic ice sheet led to three metre sea level rise 120,000 years ago

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 4:30pm

Cause of rise was ocean warming of less than 2C, which has major implications for future, researchers warn

Mass melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet, driven by warmer ocean temperatures, was a major cause of extreme sea level rise more than 100,000 years ago, according to new research.

A research team, led by scientists at the University of New South Wales, examined the cause of high sea levels during a period known as the last interglacial, which occurred 129,000-116,000 years ago.

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Categories: Environment

Residents of Cancer Town urge tougher measures to monitor toxins

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 2:21pm

The town at the center of a Guardian series, where the cancer risk is 50 times the national average, is critical of a planned monitoring system

Environmental Protection Agency officials on Tuesday pleaded with community members in Reserve, Louisiana, to back a new air monitoring system being installed by the agency, which they claim will better measure pollutants from a nearby chemical plant emitting the likely human carcinogen chloroprene.

Reserve, the subject of a year-long Guardian series, Cancer Town, is home to the highest risk of cancer due to airborne toxins, according to EPA data, which found that a census tract next door to the plant has a cancer risk 50 times the national average.

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Categories: Environment

Car ‘splatometer’ tests reveal huge decline in number of insects

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 1:00pm

Research shows abundance at sites in Europe has plunged by up to 80% in two decades

Two scientific studies of the number of insects splattered by cars have revealed a huge decline in abundance at European sites in two decades.

The research adds to growing evidence of what some scientists have called an “insect apocalypse”, which is threatening a collapse in the natural world that sustains humans and all life on Earth. A third study shows plummeting numbers of aquatic insects in streams.

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Categories: Environment

Influential shareholder adds to pressure on Barclays over fossil fuel loans

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 11:31am

Europe’s biggest asset manager backs vote calling for bank to end services to energy firms

Europe’s largest asset manager is backing a shareholder vote urging Barclays to stop offering loans to fossil fuel companies.

Amundi, an influential investor with more than €1.65tn (£1.4tn) in assets under management, is the latest shareholder to throw its weight behind a resolution calling on Barclays to phase out services to energy companies that fail to align with Paris climate goals.

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Categories: Environment

EU accused of climate crisis hypocrisy after backing 32 gas projects

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 9:34am

MEPs support €29bn schemes, ‘locking Europe into burning fossil fuels for generations’

The EU has given its formal backing to 32 major gas infrastructure projects in a move critics say will lock Europe into burning fossil fuels for generations.

MEPs voted to support the European commission’s proposal by 443 votes to 169 on Wednesday, with 36 abstentions, provoking environmental groups to lament Brussels’ “hypocrisy” over the climate emergency.

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Categories: Environment

BP's statement on reaching net zero by 2050 – what it says and what it means

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 8:39am

Jonathan Watts breaks down the oil company’s statements on its plans to cut carbon emissions in the coming decades

BP’s new chief executive, Bernard Looney, has announced plans to make it a net zero company by 2050, and outlined its strategy in a document. The Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, examines what it says – and what it means:

BP today set a new ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world get to net zero.

The ambition is supported by 10 aims.

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Categories: Environment

BP sets net zero carbon target for 2050

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 8:08am

New CEO Bernard Looney reveals plan to invest more in low-carbon businesses

BP’s new chief executive has set an ambitious target to shrink the oil firm’s carbon footprint to net zero by 2050 by cutting more greenhouse gas emissions every year than produced by the whole of the UK.

Bernard Looney, who replaced Bob Dudley as chief executive this month, said it was clear that BP needed to change. He said BP would aim to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner by tackling “all the carbon we get out of the ground as well as all the greenhouse gases we emit from our operations”.

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Categories: Environment

Revealed: big oil's profits since 1990 total nearly $2tn

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 5:17am

BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon accused of making huge profits while ‘passing the buck’ on climate change

BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades as their exploitation of oil, gas and coal reserves has driven the planet to the brink of climate breakdown, according to analysis for the Guardian.

The scale of their profits is revealed as experts say the fossil fuel boom is coming to an end, with big oil entering a “death knell” phase, according to one prominent Wall St commentator.

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Categories: Environment

Trump ‘turns back the clock’ by luring drilling companies to pristine lands

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 12:00am

Energy companies have leased 9.9m acres from the administration – and the fossil fuels extracted could equal half a year of emissions from China

The Trump administration has offered oil companies a chunk of the American west and the Gulf of Mexico that’s four times the size of California – an expansive drilling plan that threatens to entrench the industry at the expense of other outdoor jobs, while locking in enough emissions to undermine global climate policy.

Energy companies have leased 9.9m acres from the unprecedented 461m acres put up for rent by the Trump administration, according to a new analysis from the Wilderness Society.

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Categories: Environment

Investing in cycling pays off, but ministers are ignoring the evidence

Wed, 2020/02/12 - 12:00am

A report shows that when bike lanes are built, people cycle more and drive less

If you took a time machine back to John Dobson Street in central Newcastle in 2013, you’d be struck by its transformation in the years since.

An inhospitable dual carriageway has been replaced by a single carriageway with wider pavements and a 400m bike lane. The result: a fourfold increase in people cycling along the route.

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Categories: Environment