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Latest Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 16 min 30 sec ago

Purple reign: the irresistible allure of Australia's jacarandas – in pictures

51 min 33 sec ago

Jacaranda trees add vibrant dashes of purple to cities across Australia each November, bursting into bloom then casting off petals to create a colourful carpet below.

Jacarandas were first grown in Sydney in the 1850s, but by the 1930s the trees were so common many confused the Brazilian native for a local plant. It grows so easily from fallen seeds that it is considered a pest in bushland areas, but try telling that to those who flock to the annual Jacaranda festival in Grafton on the NSW north coast, or McDougall Street in North Sydney, where tourists arrive by the busload each November to capture a colourful photograph.

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Court fines Weetabix £140,000 for polluting river near factory

3 hours 29 min ago

Cereal maker prosecuted after diesel escaped from tanks into River Ise and put wildlife at risk

Weetabix has been fined £140,000 for polluting a river with thousands of litres of diesel fuel and putting at risk fish and plant life.

The Environment Agency brought a prosecution against the cereal maker for polluting the River Ise, which is close to the company’s plant in the small town of Burton Latimer near Kettering, Northamptonshire. The clean-up operation cost Weetabix £500,000.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

3 hours 33 min ago

The pick of the best flora and fauna photos from around the world, including foraging sparrows and a swimming beaver

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Greta Thunberg, time traveller? Girl in photo from 1898 resembles activist

3 hours 38 min ago

Girl in viral image looks similar to activist in both the intensity of her stare and braided hair, prompting Twitter jokes

Could Greta Thunberg be a time traveller sent from the future to save humanity from the unfolding climate crisis? A cadre Twitter users seem to think so, after the photograph of a young Klondike gold miner bearing a striking resemblance to the Swedish activist was discovered this week.

The now viral 1898 image of three children operating a gold mine in Canada’s Yukon territory is part of a sprawling collection by the documentary photographer Eric Hegg. Near the end of the 19th century, the Swedish American captured some of the most iconic images of people hoping to make their fortunes in the rugged north.

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Light pollution is key 'bringer of insect apocalypse'

Fri, 2019-11-22 19:13

Exclusive: scientists say bug deaths can be cut by switching off unnecessary lights

Light pollution is a significant but overlooked driver of the rapid decline of insect populations, according to the most comprehensive review of the scientific evidence to date.

Artificial light at night can affect every aspect of insects’ lives, the researchers said, from luring moths to their deaths around bulbs, to spotlighting insect prey for rats and toads, to obscuring the mating signals of fireflies.

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Australian hydrogen export projections found to be exaggerated by factor of up to 11

Fri, 2019-11-22 10:47

Australia Institute says projections for Japanese and South Korean imports based on ‘highly inflated’ figures

As state and federal energy ministers gather for the first time in a year, a report has found that Australia has overhyped the potential demand for hydrogen exports by a factor of up to 11.

The Australia Institute thinktank published the paper as ministers prepared to discuss a national hydrogen strategy and other pressing energy issues in Perth on Friday.

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Climate crisis topping UK election agenda is 'unprecedented' change

Fri, 2019-11-22 05:08

Environmentalists say such political focus on green issues ‘unthinkable’ just five years ago

The climate emergency has risen to the top of the UK’s election agenda in a way that would have been “unthinkable” even five years ago, leading environmentalists have said, predicting that it augurs a permanent change in British politics.

On Wednesday, Labour took the unprecedented move of putting green issues as the top section of its manifesto, the first time one of the UK’s two major parties has done so. Jeremy Corbyn led the appeal to voters with policies including an £11bn windfall tax on oil and gas companies, a million new jobs in a “green industrial revolution” and commitments on moving to a net-zero carbon economy.

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Calls for man who killed 420 wedge-tailed eagles to face charges under wildlife act

Fri, 2019-11-22 03:00

Scale of killings so great that long-term-impact on eagle population is unknown, conservation groups say

Conservation groups have called for a Victorian landowner to face charges under the Wildlife Act, after he admitted to his part in killing 420 wedge-tailed eagles over an 18-month period in the Bairnsdale magistrates court last week.

John Auer pleaded guilty to charges brought by the state Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions of misusing agricultural chemicals. He was fined $25,000 and received a 12-month good behaviour bond. He was also given a 12-month community corrections order.

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Conservatives hope to turn animal welfare sentiment into votes

Thu, 2019-11-21 16:00

Campaigner says Conservatives might ban live exports and give more funding for fighting wildlife crime

Wildlife campaigner Dominic Dyer received a call last week from former Conservative environment minister Zac Goldsmith with an unexpected request: could Dyer advise on the foxhunting ban, and how might the Tories strengthen it in their manifesto?

The 2019 election may go down in history as another Brexit vote but the apparently marginal issue of animal rights could – once again – prove surprisingly influential.

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Massive Mildura dust storm leaves Victorian town 'unliveable' amid 40C heat

Thu, 2019-11-21 15:38

Residents say such storms now occur on a weekly basis, as topsoil from drought-ravaged farms is blown through the town

Follow latest updates on Victoria, NSW and South Australia bushfires

As Victoria issued a code red bushfire alert and Melbourne sweltered through a record-equalling November temperature, the residents of Mildura walked out of their homes at midday on Thursday to see a dust storm rolling in.

On a day of catastrophic fire danger and 40C heat, high winds swept the dry topsoil into the air and across the state. In Mildura, in far north-western Victoria, dramatic footage and pictures showed the sky turn an angry red.

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Iceland accused of putting mackerel stocks at risk by increasing its catch

Thu, 2019-11-21 15:00

Leaked document says fishing surge in international waters poses long-term risks

Iceland has been accused of threatening the long-term sustainability of vital mackerel stocks after unilaterally increasing its catches in the international waters of the north-east Atlantic.

In a damning leaked document agreed at a meeting in London in October, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands lambasted Reykjavik’s decision to significantly raise its quota without consultation. Russia and Greenland were also criticised.

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Oxford Dictionaries declares 'climate emergency' the word of 2019

Thu, 2019-11-21 10:31

Usage of the term increased 100-fold in the space of 12 months, dictionary says

Oxford Dictionaries has declared “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a “greater immediacy” in the way we talk about the climate.

Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”, Oxford said the words soared from “relative obscurity” to “one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019.”

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One-third of tropical African plant species at risk of extinction – study

Thu, 2019-11-21 05:00

Experts say new approach to classify plants’ conservation status suggests 7,000 species at risk

A third of plant species in tropical Africa are threatened with extinction, a new study suggests. Plants are crucial to many ecosystems and life in general, providing food and oxygen, as well as being the source of myriad materials and medicines. However, human activities including logging, mining and agriculture pose a major threat.

While the extinction risk of animals around the world has been well studied, the risk facing many plants remains unclear: 86% of mammal species have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its Red List, compared with only 8% of plant species. Now experts say they have come up with a rapid approach to give a preliminary classification.

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Diplomacy the solution to impasse over Australia's use of carryover credits, officials say

Thu, 2019-11-21 03:00

Foreign affairs staff say despite opposition from some countries, Australia will continue to use them

Australian officials have told major business groups there will have to be a diplomatic solution to a stand-off between the Morrison government and other nations about whether the government can use carryover credits from the Kyoto period to meet its Paris target.

Guardian Australia understands diplomats from the British high commission signalled their objection to Australia using carryover credits during a recent meeting of the Australian Greenhouse Industry Network, which includes major emitters such as BHP and Woodside, and industry associations.

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Extinction Rebellion founder’s Holocaust remarks spark fury

Thu, 2019-11-21 02:22

German politicians accuse Roger Hallam of downplaying significance of genocide

Roger Hallam, the co-founder of the environmental campaign movement Extinction Rebellion, has sparked anger in Germany after referring to the Holocaust as “just another fuckery in human history”.

Hallam has been accused of downplaying the Nazis’ genocide of 6 million Jews – a crime in Germany – by arguing in an interview that the significance of the Holocaust had been overplayed.

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US air pollution rules could be insufficient in preventing deaths – study

Thu, 2019-11-21 02:00

Researchers linked nine causes of death with a certain type pollution when reviewing medical records of deceased veterans

US air pollution rules could be hugely insufficient in preventing deaths, experts are concluding from a new study of the likely causes of death of 4.5 million veterans.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Jama, the research finds that 99% of deaths from illnesses linked to a certain type of air pollution occur in people who are exposed to lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently deems acceptable.

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Extinction Rebellion protest: Met accused of 521 abuses of power

Wed, 2019-11-20 23:50

Network for Police Monitoring collated reports by XR protesters who took part in ‘autumn rebellion’

Police carried out widespread abuses of power during Extinction Rebellion’s two weeks of protests in October, according to investigators who have collated dozens of reports from protesters.

The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) says it counted 521 reports by XR protesters of abuses of police power, including 200 accusations of rough handling and physical harm and 99 of intimidation or inappropriate behaviour.

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UK flood victims criticise government for 'belated response'

Wed, 2019-11-20 22:56

Critics say announcement of extra funding serves as ‘reminder of government’s delayed reaction’

People affected by flooding in Midlands and north of England have accused the government of a “belated response” after Boris Johnson announced a series of measures designed to prevent a repeat of this month’s disaster.

The prime minister announced that £5,000 grants would be made available through local authorities from the end of November, in the wake of severe flooding in parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands.

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To eat or not to eat: 10 of the world's most controversial foods

Wed, 2019-11-20 22:36

From beef to cod to avocados to soya, many of our best-loved foods raise big ethical and environmental questions. What do the experts say?

Deforestation. Child labour. Pollution. Water shortages. The more we learn about the side-effects of food production, the more the act of feeding ourselves becomes fraught with anxiety. How can we be sure that certain foods are “good” or “bad” for society and the planet? As Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University of London and the co-author of Sustainable Diets, puts it: “When you come to ‘judge’ food, you end up with an enormous list of variables, from taste to health outcomes to biodiversity.” Here are some of today’s most controversial products – and some thoughts that may help you when shopping.

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Woman rescues koala from bushfire in New South Wales – video

Wed, 2019-11-20 18:40

A woman rescued a badly burnt and wailing koala from an Australian bushfire. The marsupial was spotted crossing a road among the flames near Long Flat in New South Wales.  The local woman, who told Australia's Nine News her name was Toni, rushed to the koala's aid, wrapping the animal in her shirt and a blanket and pouring water over it. She took  the injured animal to the nearby Port Macquarie koala hospital. The country's koala populations have been a major victim of the bushfires, with more than 350 of the animals feared killed

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