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Latest Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 2 hours 48 min ago

Global temperatures likely to hit at least 1C warming for next five years

6 hours 43 min ago

Experts say new climate data shows how close world already is to breaching 1.5C Paris agreement pledge

There is a one-in-five chance annual global temperatures will be at least 1.5C warmer than in pre-industrial times in the next five years, experts have said.

Annual global temperatures are likely to be at least 1C above the levels they were before the industrial era in each year between 2020 and 2024, a long-range forecast by experts led by the UK Met Office shows.

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Entire rare bird colony vanishes, baffling New Zealand scientists

7 hours 52 min ago

Experts believe endangered shore plovers – known for their pluck and friendliness – might have flown away or been eaten by predators

A specialist search and recovery team has been deployed to recapture the last remaining survivors of a flock of endangered birds that absconded from a predator-free island in New Zealand during coronavirus lockdown.

There are only 250 shore plover or tūturuatu left in the wild and they are the world’s rarest plover. Conservationists have been painstakingly reintroducing them to the mainland after they were almost wiped out by cats and rats by 1880.

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International aviation and shipping likely to be added to UK's net zero carbon target

12 hours 32 min ago

Sector excluded in transport emissions figures but policy change unlikely until 2023

International aviation and shipping emissions are likely to be included in the UK government’s net zero target, it has emerged – but not until after 2023.

The intention to review carbon accounting emerged after ministers and advisers, including climate activists, held the first meeting of the Department for Transport’s net zero board.

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'Not what a green recovery looks like': Rishi Sunak's plan gets mixed response

13 hours 49 min ago

Summer statement’s focus on energy efficiency welcomed but disappointment that no boost for renewables

There was no lack of advice for the chancellor on measures to green the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis from top economists and the government’s own climate advisers.

But the Rishi Sunak seems to have focused on just one – home insulation – to a mixed reception from green experts and industry figures.

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Rishi Sunak's green recovery plan is the only way to boost the British economy | Alexander Stafford

15 hours 8 min ago

We environmentally minded Conservatives know there’s no contradiction between being blue and green

As a green Conservative, I warmly welcome the environmental steps announced by the chancellor in his summer economic update on Wednesday. The government has made a decisive commitment to the green agenda which places the environment at the heart of policymaking for decades to come.

The launch of the “kickstart” jobs scheme and the unveiling of the new apprenticeships scheme provide incentives to our existing green companies to train up young people and, in doing so, greatly boost the UK’s green workforce. However, the chancellor recognises that we must greatly expand the green sector in order for it to become a mainstay of our economy and for us to reap the abundant environmental benefits.

That is exactly why I praise the £2bn green homes grant; the £1bn to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings; and the £50m million to pilot the decarbonisation of social housing. This very considerable £3bn package will support 140,000 green jobs, save households up to £300 a year on their bills, and make more than 650,000 homes more energy efficient. It will cut carbon emissions by more than half a megatonne per year, equivalent to taking 270,000 cars off the road.

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Spreading rock dust on fields could remove vast amounts of CO2 from air

15 hours 57 min ago

It may be best near-term way to remove CO2, say scientists, but cutting fossil fuel use remains critical

Spreading rock dust on farmland could suck billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed global analysis of the technique.

The chemical reactions that degrade the rock particles lock the greenhouse gas into carbonates within months, and some scientists say this approach may be the best near-term way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

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Protecting 30% of planet could bolster economy, study says

Wed, 2020-07-08 23:14

Scientists claim widespread conservation can bring rewards if right policies are followed

Nearly a third of the world’s oceans and land area could be placed under environmental protections without harming the global economy, and even produce bumper economic benefits if the right policies were followed, according to a global assessment.

Ecosystems around the world are collapsing or hovering on the brink of disaster, with a million species threatened with extinction. But if at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans were subject to conservation efforts, that mass extinction could be avoided and vital habitats restored, scientists estimate.

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US children who drink water from private wells at higher risk of lead exposure

Wed, 2020-07-08 20:00
  • Research shows lead exposure worse for poor and black children
  • Highlights risk from contaminants in unregulated private wells

American children whose homes rely on private wells for drinking water are 25% more likely to have high lead levels in their blood than those with access to regulated community water services, according to new research.

The lead exposure is worse for poor and black children due to historic discriminatory public policies.

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Halve UK pesticide use to save insects, say conservationists

Wed, 2020-07-08 16:00

Wildlife Trusts report also calls for expansion of projects such as flower-rich road verges and butterfly reintroductions

The use of pesticides in the UK must be at least halved to reverse steep losses in insect abundance and boost the natural world that depends on them, according to a report.

It warns that insects are the “canaries in the coal mine” of the natural world and that everyone, including the government, local authorities, community groups and individuals, needs to become insect champions.

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Bright feathers, bright brains: hummingbirds 'can order numerically'

Wed, 2020-07-08 09:01

Study claims tiny creatures can order things in sequence, but researchers say it does not confirm they can count

Hummingbirds are not only bright in appearance but also in brain, it would seem, with new research suggesting the tiny creatures are able to understand a numerical concept of order.

While hummingbirds have previously been found to visit flowers in particular sequences when foraging, researchers say the new study suggests this process could be based on the concept of “first”, “second” and so on, rather than features such as specific flower location or nearby landmarks.

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No business need at all now for a Chinese nuclear plant in the UK

Wed, 2020-07-08 04:37

Halting Huawei hurts 5G rollout and Sino-British ties, but stopping a Chinese nuclear power plant in Essex has virtually no fallout

Get ready for the “new Huawei” is the word from Westminster, meaning another flare-up in UK-China business and political relations, this time over Chinese involvement in the UK’s nuclear power programme.

Ditching state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) would indeed be a political development on a political par with a Huawei exclusion. The 2016 agreement, which imagined CGN’s “progressive entry” into the UK’s “resurgent” nuclear ambitions, was given maximum hype at the time by both Beijing and David Cameron’s government.

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The Guardian view on a post-Covid recovery: not much building back greener | Editorial

Wed, 2020-07-08 04:12

If Boris Johnson wants to permanently shift the UK on to a trajectory to meet its climate targets, he must deliver a new zero-carbon infrastructure. There’s no sign of that yet

Boris Johnson does not want a crisis to go to waste. The coronavirus-induced recession is widely accepted as an opportunity to reset and rebuild the economy to take the environmental challenge seriously. Radical green policies that once seemed impossible – such as shutting down airports and closing off roads – have been implemented overnight with public support. Now that the economy is reopening, Mr Johnson’s political goal is to produce policies that chime with the nation’s mood. He says he will “build back greener”. What Mr Johnson’s phrase means for the country will only become clear when his policies emerge.

His government’s first big announcement is a small step in the right direction. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will incentivise home insulation with a £2bn grant scheme so that homeowners can decrease the amount of heat lost through roofs, walls and floors. This will bring jobs back to local economies, with companies providing a labour-intensive service in a post-Covid-19 world suffering from extremely high levels of unemployment.

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Scientists put forward plan to create universal species list

Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Single classification system could end centuries of disagreement and improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss

A plan to create the first universally recognised list of species on Earth has prompted hopes of an end to centuries of disagreement and confusion over how to classify the world’s library of life.

The 10-point plan aims to finally bring order with an authoritative list of the world’s species and a governance mechanism responsible for its quality. Researchers hope a single recognised list would improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss, the trade in endangered wildlife, biosecurity and conservation.

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Legal action threatened over Boris Johnson's 'unlawful' green recovery plans

Wed, 2020-07-08 00:17

Exclusive: Campaigners say £3bn scheme fails to comply with Paris accord and is just ‘a fig-leaf for polluters’

Boris Johnson’s much-vaunted green recovery plans are inadequate and “clearly unlawful” as they do not match up to the government’s legal obligations under the Paris climate agreement and the UK’s own net zero emissions target, green campaigners have said.

On Tuesday, a letter threatening court action was sent to the prime minister and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, by the pressure group Plan B, which successfully took the government to the appeal court this year over its green light for the expansion of Heathrow airport.

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Fast fashion creates misery, and that's a bad look | Bidisha

Wed, 2020-07-08 00:12

Cheap, throwaway clothing was past its sell-by date even before the Leicester garment factory reports. Brands like Boohoo need to change their act – and so do consumers

During lockdown, everyone’s id has been allowed to float untethered. Obsessions, manias, strange desires and perverse fantasies have risen to the surface as the conventions of normal life melted into a free-floating miasma of Netflix and pasta bakes.

Judging by the spike in sales of fast fashion, many people across the nation are buying outfits for an alternative fantasy life rather than their homebound realities. In their imagined Sliding Doors timeline they’re having brunch cocktails on a hotel balcony in Ibiza or dancing the night away in “the club”. And so they logged on to cheap clothing sites and bought a polyester playsuit, some bold separates and a nylon dress in a snappy print that will fall apart after three wears.

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Over 5,600 fossil fuel companies have taken at least $3bn in US Covid-19 aid

Tue, 2020-07-07 20:00

Businesses include oil and gas drillers and coal mine operators, an analysis by Documented and the Guardian finds

More than 5,600 companies in the fossil fuel industry have taken a minimum of $3bn in coronavirus aid from the US federal government, according to an analysis by Documented and the Guardian of newly released data.

The businesses include oil and gas drillers and coal mine operators, as well as refiners, pipeline companies and firms that provide services to the industry.

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‘Hold on brother’: final days of doomed crew on Chinese shark finning boat

Tue, 2020-07-07 16:00

Accounts from Indonesian crew on illegal fishing operation reveal ‘inhumane’ conditions including bodies dumped at sea

When Sepri and Ari boarded a Chinese tuna fishing vessel in February 2019, the 24-year-old best friends were excited at the prospect of working together and having adventures at sea. Lured by the promise of high wages after being jobless back in their village in Indonesia, they told their families they would bring home “a lot of money” and make them proud.

Neither of them saw their families again. Both men died at sea after weeks of agony: working 18-hour days without adequate food or water and under the threat of violence, according to survivors who gave harrowing accounts of the deaths to the Guardian – including their bodies being thrown overboard. 

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Treasury's 'green recovery' not enough, say campaigners

Tue, 2020-07-07 16:00

Proposed £3bn environmental funding for UK contrasts with Germany’s £36bn investment

Environmental groups have reacted with disappointment to details of the government’s Covid-19 economic rescue package released by the Treasury.

On Monday night the government announced some details of the announcement expected on Wednesday, including a £1bn energy efficiency upgrade for public buildings and insulation for some social tenants, who could save up to £200 a year on their energy bills as a result. A Green Jobs Challenge fund will provide £40m for green charities working on improving England’s landscapes, with the money to be spent on projects such as tree-planting and cleaning up rivers. A further £50m will go to innovative approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from social housing.

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Trump wants to put a rightwing zealot in charge of public land. Here's why it matters | Cas Mudde

Mon, 2020-07-06 18:30

William Perry Pendley, Trump’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management, has ties to anti-environment and anti-government forces

On 26 June, Donald Trump announced that he plans to nominate William Perry Pendley to lead the Bureau of Land Management. That may not sound like big news, but it is. First of all, the office manages one-tenth of the United States’ land mass and, therefore, massive amounts of fossil fuels. Second, Pendley is linked to two little-known but very dangerous political movements: the so-called Wise Use movement and the anti-government extremists sometimes called constitutionalists or sovereign citizens.

The appointment should not come as a total surprise. Wise Use advocates, who are fiercely opposed to almost any environmental protection laws, have long had exceptional access to the Trump administration. In 2017, Lars Larson, a “journalist” from the alternative rightwing media sphere, crystallized the attitude of the Wise Use movement with a comment he made to then press secretary Sean Spicer:

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Coalition announces $190m plan to divert 10m tonnes of waste from landfill

Mon, 2020-07-06 03:30

Government hopes to generate $600m in investment and states and territories must match federal contribution to receive funding

The federal government will devote $190m towards new recycling infrastructure, as it looks to divert more than 10m tonnes of plastic, paper and glass waste away from landfill.

The funding, which will be contingent on state and territory governments and industry groups matching the federal contribution, is part of a newly launched Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) that the Morrison government hopes will generate $600m in investment.

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