Guardian Environment News

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Updated: 2 hours 41 min ago

Why Finland leads the field when it comes to winter cycling

Sat, 2020/02/08 - 1:00am

Progressive policies help get people on their bike, even in below-freezing conditions

In London, where I live, the idea of winter cycling generally involves little more than remembering some gloves and making sure your bike lights are charged. In Joensuu, the compact city in eastern Finland, where I am now, it’s arguably a more serious business.

When I got off the train from Helsinki the temperature was -16C (3F), and hasn’t yet risen higher than -6C. Every roadway, pavement and cycle route is covered in a layer of compacted snow.

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Categories: Environment

Stars urged to ditch the red carpet sequins to save the oceans

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 2:24pm

Although shiny on the red carpet they ‘hide serious socio-environmental impacts’

Fashion insiders are warning the great and the good of Hollywood not to wear sequins on the Academy Awards red carpet because of their terrible environmental impact.

Last Sunday at the Baftas, despite guests being urged to opt for more planet-friendly fashion choices, Scarlett Johansson wore a sequinned pink Versace dress, Rebel Wilson was wrapped in a red sequin custom-made Prabal Gurung gown and Naomie Harris shone in silver sequinned Michael Kors. At the Grammys and Golden Globes last month, the red carpets were similarly awash with sequins.

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Categories: Environment

Big polluters again allowed to lift emissions without penalty

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 12:00pm

The ‘safeguard mechanism’ promised to limit industry’s carbon pollution, but in two years has approved more than 7m tonnes of extra emissions

Mining and heavy industry companies, including BHP and Alcoa, have again been allowed to lift their greenhouse gas emissions without penalty under a climate change policy that the Australian government promised would prevent national pollution increasing.

Under changes posted online on Thursday, BHP coal and iron ore mines in Western Australia and Queensland, Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria and a Boggabri coalmine in New South Wales were each given the green light to emit more under the scheme known as the “safeguard mechanism”.

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:56am

The pick of the world’s best flora and fauna photos, including a baboon with a lion cub and Devon beavers

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Categories: Environment

Man found guilty of smuggling £50m worth of live eels out of UK

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:47am

Gilbert Khoo transported endangered ‘glass eels’ to Hong Kong hidden beneath other fish

A seafood salesman has been found guilty of smuggling more than £53m worth of endangered live eels out of the UK.

Gilbert Khoo, 66, transported the rare elvers from London to Hong Kong hidden underneath other fish between 2015 and 2017.

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Categories: Environment

Cherokee Nation to preserve culturally important seeds in Arctic vault

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:27am

Varieties of corn, beans and squash seen as central to Cherokee identity will be deposited in Norway’s Svalbard seed bank

The Cherokee Nation will bank corn, bean and squash seeds in the Arctic “doomsday vault”, becoming the first US-based tribe to safeguard culturally emblematic crops for future generations.

The Svalbard seed vault, the world’s most sheltered storage facility, currently holds 992,039 crop seeds from across the world.

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Categories: Environment

Armed ecoguards funded by WWF 'beat up Congo tribespeople'

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 10:27am

Exclusive: Inquiry into $21.4m conservation project reports ‘credible’ evidence of abuse

Armed ecoguards partly funded by the conservation group WWF to protect wildlife in the Republic of the Congo beat up and intimidated hundreds of Baka pygmies living deep in the rainforests, an investigation into a landmark global conservation project has heard.

A team of investigators sent to northern Congo by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to assess allegations of human rights abuses gathered “credible” evidence from different sources that hunter-gatherer Baka tribespeople living close to a proposed national park had been subjected to violence and physical abuse from the guards over years, according to a leaked draft of the report.

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Categories: Environment

Can Boris Johnson be trusted to act on the climate crisis?

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 9:47am

He has a history of ‘not getting’ global heating but his desire for Britain to be a world leader could be the planet’s hope

Will Boris Johnson please listen to his own father, rather than Jeremy Corbyn’s climate sceptic brother, on the subject of climate change? It may go against the prime minister’s instincts, but it is the best hope for Britain to live up to its responsibilities in a crucial year for our species.

Johnson cannot do this on his own. That much was clear this week during the shambolic London launch of the COP 26 UN climate summit, which will take place in Glasgow in November. This will be the most important international conference in five years and as host the UK will play a leading role in deciding whether it ends in success or failure.

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Categories: Environment

The EU’s green deal is a colossal exercise in greenwashing | Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler

Fri, 2020/02/07 - 5:19am

Ursula von der Leyen’s signature proposal co-opts the slogans of climate activism, but has none of the substance

Emergencies tend to reveal our true priorities. When our house is burning down or the storm waters are flooding in, we hold on to what we value most, and leave the rest behind.

A decade ago, the leaders of the European Union found themselves facing such a moment. With the French and German banks falling into a black hole, they did whatever it took to save them. Between 2009 and 2013, European governments channelled €1.6tn (£1.36tn) to Europe’s bankers, while imposing stringent austerity upon the European citizens they pledged to serve. When in 2015 they realised that more support was necessary, the European Central Bank printed €2.6tn over just four years.

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Categories: Environment

This is the age of the megafire – and it’s being fuelled by our leaders | Tim Flannery

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 7:00pm

In the face of the climate disaster it helped create, the Australian government has given us only lies and denial

Unprecedented wildfires have recently devastated California, the Amazon, southern Europe, Siberia and Australia. It’s safe to say that we’ve entered the era of the climate-fuelled megafire. But because fire conditions depend on local vegetation, topography and climate, each of these great conflagrations is different.

Australia’s bushfires of the last four months have been true megafires, creating their own weather and becoming so vast in their impact that more than half of all Australians have been directly affected by them. As I write, fires continue to burn around Canberra, and though rain has begun to fall in northern New South Wales, 17 are “yet to be contained” according to the fire service. Meanwhile, what is traditionally the worst part of the fire season for Victoria and South Australia is just commencing. Conditions have been so severe that firefighters have often been unable to stop fires joining up, generating massive dry thunderstorms that spread fire with thousands of lightning strikes.

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Categories: Environment

Trump finalizes plans to open Utah monuments for mining and drilling

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 3:10pm

Lawsuits are pending from groups who have challenged the constitutionality of shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante

Plans finalized on Thursday for two national monuments in Utah downsized by Donald Trump would ensure that lands previously off-limits to energy development will be open to mining and drilling.

The move comes despite pending lawsuits from conservation, tribal and paleontology groups, who have challenged the constitutionality of the president’s action. The Trump administration slashed the size of Bears Ears national monument by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument by nearly half in December 2017, in what represented the largest elimination of public lands protections in US history.

Conservation groups criticized the Trump administration on Thursday for spending time on management plans they believe will become moot when the court sides with their assertion that Trump misused the Antiquities Act to reverse decisions by previous presidents.

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Categories: Environment

Canadian police arrest activists at Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline camp

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 2:15pm

Royal Canadian Mounted officers arrested at least six people at a roadblock erected by Indigenous people to block construction

Canadian police have made a series of arrests in northern British Columbia as they enforced a court injunction to remove activists who have been blocking the construction of a controversial natural gas pipeline on Indigenous territory.

Before dawn on Thursday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers backed by tactical teams and dogs arrested at least six people at a roadblock erected by the Wet’suwet’en people to stop construction of the C$6bn (US$4.5bn) Coastal GasLink pipeline (CGL).

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Categories: Environment

Largest maker of pesticide linked to brain damage in kids to stop producing chemical

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 2:11pm

Announcement comes after Trump administration reversed plans to ban chlorpyrifos and rejected scientific conclusions of experts

The world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide linked to brain damage in children, has announced that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of the year.

The announcement on Thursday by Corteva, the corporation formed from a Dow Chemical and DuPont merger, comes after the Trump administration reversed regulatory plans to ban the pesticide and rejected the scientific conclusions of US government experts.

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Categories: Environment

Terror police's Extinction Rebellion 'risk report' sent out a year ago

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 1:18pm

Police say Rising Up report was commissioned as group had a ‘large following’ and concluded XR was not a threat

Counter-terrorism chiefs ordered a formal assessment of whether Extinction Rebellion was a national security threat one year ago and then sent a secret report about the group to police forces, the Guardian has learned.

The revelation shows that counter-terrorism police’s interest in the non-violent climate emergency group began earlier and was more extensive than previously thought.

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Categories: Environment

Bumblebees' decline points to mass extinction – study

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 12:00pm

Populations disappearing in areas where temperatures are getting hotter, scientists say

Bumblebees are in drastic decline across Europe and North America owing to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, scientists say.

A study suggests the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30% in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction”.

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Categories: Environment

Humanity under threat from perfect storm of crises – study

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 11:32am

Climate, extreme weather, biodiversity, food and water crises could lead to ‘systemic collapse’

The world is facing a series of interlinked emergencies that are threatening the existence of humans, because the sum of the effects of the crises is much greater than their individual impacts, according to a new global study.

Climate breakdown and extreme weather, species loss, water scarcity and a food production crisis are all serious in themselves, but the combination of all five together is amplifying the risks of each, creating a perfect storm that threatens to engulf humanity unless swift action is taken.

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Categories: Environment

Witnesses fight back tears at NSW inquiry into 'anti-climate' scope 3 emissions law

Thu, 2020/02/06 - 9:30am

Speakers get emotional about the impact of the bill at a time Australians are living with the reality of the climate crisis

Community group members and public health professionals have fought back tears while calling on the New South Wales government to drop “anti-climate” legislation that would limit planning authorities’ ability to block fossil fuel developments.

Several witnesses became emotional while giving evidence to a parliamentary hearing into the proposed laws, which are designed to stop planning authorities from rejecting or imposing conditions on projects based on their impacts overseas, including overseas emissions.

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Categories: Environment

10 US oil refineries exceeding limits for cancer-causing benzene, report finds

Wed, 2020/02/05 - 10:01pm

Studies have shown that populations living around refineries, often people of color and low-income, have worse asthma

At least 10 US oil refineries have been emitting cancer-causing benzene above the federal government’s limits, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project.

The group reviewed a year of air monitoring data recorded at the fence lines of 114 refineries, as reported to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Categories: Environment

'No tigers here': why Goa is in denial about its big cat population

Wed, 2020/02/05 - 10:00pm

Officials claim there are no tigers in Goa. But the poisoning of a mother and three cubs has forced the issue into the open

As a child living in the Vagheri hills at the foot of the Western Ghats, Rajendra Kerkar would often hear the majestic roar of tigers echo across the mountains. It was never greeted with fear by the villagers in this remote corner of northern Goa; the name Vagheri translates as “home of the tigers” and coexistence with India’s national animal was part of their way of life.

Yet according to state authorities, these tigers do not exist; or if they do, they are just passing through. Unlike other states in India, where the presence of tigers has been celebrated, embraced and in many cases exploited for tourism, Goa’s tigers have instead been subjected to a strange charade, whereby their existence has repeatedly been denied or covered up by those in government.

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Categories: Environment

Perth festival: artists step up protests against sponsorship by fossil fuel companies

Wed, 2020/02/05 - 8:26pm

Coalition of activists say they will continue action as Perth festival kicks off

Artists and activists who oppose arts sponsorship from fossil fuel companies have said they intend to continue protesting as Western Australia’s leading international arts festival, Perth festival, prepares to open this week.

Artists have been staging protests around Perth’s annual fringe festival, Fringe World, calling for the organisation to end its eight-year sponsorship arrangement with oil and gas giant Woodside in light of the intensifying climate crisis.

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Categories: Environment