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The Tories’ huge new oilfield is a moral obscenity – but Rosebank can still be stopped | Caroline Lucas

Wed, 2023-09-27 22:33

Reliance on oil won’t slash our bills: this is a climate crime that will leave our economy more vulnerable

“This is just the start,” said Rishi Sunak last week in his climate-wrecking speech from Downing Street. It certainly was just the start, because today, the government has sanctioned drilling in Rosebank, the biggest undeveloped oilfield in the North Sea.

This just 14 months after the UK’s hottest day, in July 2022. In that same month, the high court ruled the government’s net zero strategy unlawful, and ministers were ordered to redo their homework.

Caroline Lucas is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion

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Plug-in hybrid drivers getting unfair deal in Victoria’s ‘dog’s breakfast’ EV tax

Wed, 2023-09-27 16:10

Victorian ombudsman says drivers have been hit with unfair charges as well as potentially unlawful penalties, which should now be repaid

Victorians who drive electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are being slugged with unfair charges under a tax scheme the Greens say has been a “dog’s breakfast” from the start.

The Victorian government in 2021 introduced the Australian-first zero and low emission vehicle charge.

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A bowerbird builds his bower a metre from Sydney suburbia – video

Wed, 2023-09-27 11:55

A rambunctious bowerbird youth has been constructing his bower a metre from where Guardian Australia data and interactive editor Nick Evershed's kids jump on the trampoline. The kids have been rapt, watching the bowerbird between the fence slats as he builds and practises dance moves, singing and occasionally bringing in a blue bottle cap or yellow flower. The Evershed family went full David Attenborough and set up a few cameras to record this randy bowerbird

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Artistry, romance and knavery in our garden: it’s the sublime satin bowerbird in #birdoftheyear | Nick Evershed

Wed, 2023-09-27 11:14

There’s a bowerbird building a bower in my backyard, so this year I’m on Team Bowerbird

It has been a warm start to spring, and my neighbourhood has been absolutely overrun by a mob of rowdy, horny, young satin bowerbirds. I’m assuming they’re mostly juvenile males from the behaviour (hanging out in parks, acting moody, vaping …) but I’m no ornithologist, so take my observations with a grain of salt.

One of these rambunctious bowerbird youths has been constructing his bower a metre from where my kids jump on the trampoline.

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Scientists use water fleas to filter pollutants out of wastewater

Wed, 2023-09-27 04:28

Tiny crustaceans described as ‘the bioequivalent of a Dyson vacuum cleaner for wastewater’

Tiny water fleas could play a big role in filtering out drugs, pesticides and industrial chemicals from wastewater to make it safe, according to scientists.

“We’ve developed our bioequivalent of a Dyson vacuum cleaner for wastewater, which is very, very exciting,” said study co-author Karl Dearn, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Birmingham.

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Hearing is believing in the power of the kookaburras’ raucous chorus

Wed, 2023-09-27 01:00

In the mythology of birds, some can bring luck, others rain. But when that famous laugh portends a snake in the grass, it’s hard to deny

Kookaburras don’t usually laugh in the daytime. Their calls ring out at dawn and dusk, a raucous chorus that can provoke homesickness in any Australian unfortunate enough to be stuck in country with less interesting birds.

But at midday on a clear day in January, a kookaburra’s laugh gives you pause. Enough to notice the brown snake moving quietly through the grass a few feet away, intent on business that does not concern you but might if you carried on unawares and accidentally trod on it.

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Give Britons the right to plant to green up public spaces, Gove adviser says

Tue, 2023-09-26 23:35

Thinktank Create Streets calls for people to be allowed to grow plants and trees in barren urban areas

A right to plant and grow trees and other greenery in public spaces should be given to people across Britain, an adviser to Michael Gove has said.

Nicholas Boys Smith, who heads the Office for Place in Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), also chairs the thinktank Create Streets, which has released a report calling for more greening of cities.

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UK electric car sales risk falling further behind after Sunak U-turn, analysts say

Tue, 2023-09-26 22:35

Country already trails well behind Europe and PM’s backtracking on climate policies could widen the gap

The UK has fallen well behind the rest of Europe in the growth of electric vehicle sales and risks falling further back after Rishi Sunak’s “screeching U-turn” on its climate policies, according to industry analysts.

UK sales of electric vehicles grew by 31% in the 12 months to July, one of the slowest rates of growth in Europe, according to data analysed by Cornwall Insight and the law firm Shoosmiths.

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I’m a Tory MP, but I know Rishi Sunak’s claims about the cost of net zero are false | Chris Skidmore

Tue, 2023-09-26 21:40

The economy will thrive under the energy transition, not suffer. So why is the government rowing back on its green pledges?

  • Chris Skidmore is a former energy minister

Last week’s announcement that the government would delay key net-zero targets came as a surprise to anyone who has followed the policy. The existing targets were fair and well considered, and enjoyed wide political support. It’s strange to cite our world-leading progress in reducing emissions and developing low-carbon technologies, then decide that is a reason for slowing down, especially when doing so risks surrendering that position and those investment opportunities to other countries.

Make no mistake, the government cannot stop our collective progress towards net zero. But it can, all too easily, slow progress at a critical time when we should be accelerating our efforts. Businesses and innovators are in a global race to create and deploy the technologies that will help us get there, and with a lack of clear political commitment Britain is lagging in some areas. Up until recently, Britain was the global leader in offshore wind power. It is now China.

Chris Skidmore is Conservative MP for Kingswood, the former energy minister who signed net zero into law, and chair of the Mission Zero independent review of net zero

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‘Staggering’ green growth gives hope for 1.5C, says global energy head

Tue, 2023-09-26 15:00

IEA’s Fatih Birol says uptake of solar power and EVs is in line with net zero goal but rich countries must hasten their broader plans

The prospects of the world staying within the 1.5C limit on global heating have brightened owing to the “staggering” growth of renewable energy and green investment in the past two years, the chief of the world’s energy watchdog has said.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, and the world’s foremost energy economist, said much more needed to be done but that the rapid uptake of solar power and electric vehicles were encouraging.

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The next UK net zero battleground is electricity pylons | Nils Pratley

Tue, 2023-09-26 15:00

Plans involve doubling use of such energy but not everybody wants to live near power lines

There are two big tensions in how, and how quickly, the UK gets to net zero. One was the main focus of Rishi Sunak’s speech last week in which the phasing out of sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles was delayed and gas boilers got a semi-reprieve. But the other aspect, only briefly referenced, deserves more attention: it is the reform of planning rules to allow the UK to build new electricity infrastructure, including hated pylons, at twice the pace we usually manage.

For a prime minister who says “consent” is “the only realistic path to net zero”, there is potential for more trouble. Net zero involves doubling the UK’s use of electricity, which plainly requires more kit, but not everybody wants to live near a new high-voltage transmission line suspended on 50-metre stilts. It is hard to see how the government’s target of decarbonising the power network by 2035 (a target that survived last week’s bonfire of deadlines) can be met without upsetting a few local interests.

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Greens must shed ‘moral superiority’ image, says German vice-chancellor

Tue, 2023-09-26 14:00

Robert Habeck said supporters of climate action must have the most compelling arguments

Germany’s vice-chancellor has called on supporters of environmental reforms to shed their reputation for “moral superiority” and focus on having “the better arguments” amid a backlash against climate policies across Europe.

Robert Habeck, the minister for economic affairs and climate action and a leading Green politician, said environmental parties had to push back against their instincts if they wanted their climate agenda to succeed in the long run.

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Australian households on track to add near-record rooftop solar capacity to electricity grid

Tue, 2023-09-26 12:23

Clean Energy Regulator says consumers looking to save money on energy but investment in large-scale wind and solar all but stalled

Households are on track to add three gigawatts of rooftop solar capacity to the electricity grid this year but investment in large-scale wind and solar remains all but stalled, according to the Clean Energy Regulator.

The regulator said 1.4GW of capacity, from almost 160,000 rooftop systems, was added to the grid in the first half of 2023, which chief executive and chair David Parker said showed consumers were looking to save money on their energy usage while reducing their carbon footprint.

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‘Whatever it takes’: students at 50 US high schools launch climate initiative

Tue, 2023-09-26 03:00

Green New Deal for Schools demands districts teach climate justice, update buildings and plan for extreme weather

Students at more than 50 high schools across the US are proposing a Green New Deal for Schools, demanding that their districts teach climate justice, create pathways to green jobs after graduation and plan for climate disasters, among other policies.

The campaign, coordinated by the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate justice collective, is a reaction to rightwing efforts to ban or suppress climate education and activism at schools. The national effort could include teach-ins and walkouts, as well as targeted petitions to school boards and districts in the coming weeks, organizers with Sunrise told the Guardian, ahead of the Monday launch.

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‘In total shock’: birdwatchers amazed as ‘uber-rare’ American birds land in UK

Tue, 2023-09-26 02:00

Birders have flocked in their hundreds to see the songbirds, blown across the Atlantic by Hurricane Lee

A record-breaking number of “uber-rare” North American songbirds have arrived in the UK this week, blown over the Atlantic in the aftermath of Hurricane Lee.

More than a dozen species of small songbirds – one of which has never been seen in the UK before – were sent veering off their usual migration routes by the high winds.

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Indigenous women are showing us how to fight for environmental and human rights | V (formerly known as Eve Ensler)

Mon, 2023-09-25 23:51

During a recent trip to Brazil, I saw how Indigenous women activists there have completely changed the political landscape

I was invited to the third Indigenous Women’s March in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, earlier this month. The last occupation of Brazil’s legislature was in January 2022, when a group of rightwing thugs, imitating the January 6 riot in the US, attempted to kill Brazilian democracy. This was the exact opposite.

Five hundred Indigenous women from across Brazil occupied the Congress – not with guns or knives or anger, but with the strength and truth of their words, the intensity of their knowing, with their headdresses, feathers and beaded primordial designs calling us to the earth, to know the earth, to protect and respect the biomes and honor Indigenous women’s rights to their lands.

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Labour to stand firm on net zero policies and attack cost of Tory retreat

Mon, 2023-09-25 16:00

Party will argue green growth is route to lower bills and says Rishi Sunak will leave UK stuck in economic ‘doom loop’

Labour will “double down” on making the case that tackling the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis can only be done in tandem, despite an intensifying Conservative attack on net zero policies, the Guardian has learned.

Labour will argue that seeking green growth is the way to bring down household bills and secure the future of the UK economy.

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Petrostate windfall tax would help poor countries in climate crisis, says Brown

Mon, 2023-09-25 15:00

Former British PM calls for 3% levy on oil and gas export revenues of biggest producers to generate $25bn a year for global south

Petrostates should pay a small percentage of their soaring oil and gas revenues to help poor countries cope with the climate crisis, the former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has urged.

Countries with large oil and gas deposits have enjoyed a record bonanza in the last two years, amounting to about $4tn (£3.3tn) last year for the industry globally. Levying a 3% windfall tax on the oil and gas export revenues of the biggest-producing countries would yield about $25bn a year.

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How do we raise trillions of dollars to fight the climate crisis? The answer is staring us in the face | Gordon Brown

Mon, 2023-09-25 15:00

Petrostates like Saudi Arabia and Norway have made staggering oil and gas profits. A simple levy could funnel money to the countries that need it

After a summer of ever-more deadly floods, droughts and firestorms, two autumn summits – the G20 and the UN general assembly – have come and gone. Both failed to deliver the long-promised global plan to finance climate mitigation and adaptation. But as political leaders issue toothless and easily forgettable communiques, a potential breakthrough is staring the world in the face. It could finally end the cycle of broken promises to the global south and rescue the next summit, Cop28 in November and December.

Last year, the oil and gas industry across the world banked about $4tn, according to the head of the International Energy Agency. This represents one of the biggest redistributions of wealth from the world’s poor to the richest petrostates. The record energy prices that have produced these unearned gains have not only caused dramatically rising poverty and debt in the global south, but have also stymied decades of progress in extending power into homes, villages and towns that were previously without electricity.

Gordon Brown was UK prime minister from 2007 to 2010. His new book, Permacrisis: A Plan to Fix a Fractured World, co-authored with Mohammed el-Erian and Michael Spence, is out on 28 September.

Gordon Brown joins the Guardian live and online on Tuesday 26 September, 7pm–8.30pm BST. Buy tickets here

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Carmakers call on EU to delay 10% tariff on electric vehicle exports

Mon, 2023-09-25 08:00

Manufacturers expect levy agreed in Brexit deal to hand chunk of market to global firms, including China

Car giants including Renault, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have called on EU leaders to “act now” and delay plans for a 10% tariff on electric car exports from Europe.

Renault’s chief, Luca de Meo, led the calls, saying that if the EU did not take action then policymakers would simply be “handing a chunk of the market to global manufacturers” including Chinese companies, which are making significant inroads.

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