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Latest Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 27 min 42 sec ago

Fake hake: species frauds deterred by sustainability standards, study finds

1 hour 45 min ago

Less than 1% of products certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council were mislabelled

DNA barcoding of more than 1,400 seafood products certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has revealed that less than 1% were mislabelled, compared with an average of 30% across the sector as a whole.

The MSC is the international NGO that sets the standard for sustainable fishing around the world and its blue label – on products in store, on fresh fish counters and on restaurant menus – indicates that seafood has been sustainably caught and traced back to its source. More than 300 fisheries in over 34 countries are certified to the MSC’s standard and more than 35,000 seafood products worldwide carry the label.

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#Superbloom or #poppynightmare? Selfie chaos forces canyon closure

2 hours 52 min ago

California town bars access to site as stunning flowers draw at least 50,000 visitors

This weekend thousands of tourists frolicked through fields of poppies in southern California, posting photos tagged #superbloom. But for the town of Lake Elsinore, the influx of visitors quickly became a #poppynightmare.

Related: Super bloom: can this tiny California town avoid another 'flowergeddon'?

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England could run short of water within 25 years

5 hours 44 min ago

Exclusive: Environment Agency chief calls for use to be cut by a third

England is set to run short of water within 25 years, the chief executive of the Environment Agency has warned.

The country is facing the ‘‘jaws of death”, Sir James Bevan said, at the point where water demand from the country’s rising population surpasses the falling supply resulting from climate change.

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Offshore windfarm development: bigger, better, cheaper

6 hours 15 min ago

Cost of offshore wind has fallen as turbines have improved, along with energy storage schemes

It is hard to keep up with how quickly offshore wind technology is developing. Turbines standing in shallow seas will soon cover hundreds of square miles of the UK’s coasts, providing one-third of Britain’s electricity.

Next it will be the turn of floating turbines. Admittedly, it took 15 years for Statoil to develop the first floating windfarm off Aberdeen, but its output has exceeded expectations. The Norwegian state oil company, renamed Equinor to make its image greener, has said more than half of the North Sea is suitable for deploying floating wind power. Electricity produced from these turbines anchored in deep water could provide all the EU’s electricity four times over.

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'Too much time talking': calls for NSW waste levy to fund recycling reform

10 hours 45 min ago

A year into the crisis, industry and campaigners are frustrated. What’s happened to the circular economy and container deposit schemes?

Ahead of the New South Wales election, the national Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association has called for more of the state’s waste levy to go towards funding a reboot of Australia’s recycling industry to help to end the year-long crisis.

Speaking at a waste summit earlier this month, organised by the peak body of NSW’s local councils, WMRR’s chief executive, Gayle Sloan, said 50% of the state’s waste levy should go back into funding recycling. The president of the Local Government Association of NSW, Linda Scott, said it should be 100%. Currently around 20% of the levy is reinvested into waste management nationally.

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Flood warnings issued for England after heavy rain

Mon, 2019-03-18 21:47

Environment Agency says flooding expected early this week for rivers Dee and Severn

Flood warnings remain in place across parts of England after torrential rain over the weekend.

There were 20 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, and 28 flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible, in force on Monday morning, mostly in Yorkshire and the Midlands. None of the warnings are in the most severe category.

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US and Saudi Arabia blocking regulation of geoengineering, sources say

Mon, 2019-03-18 16:00

Delegates at UN environment assembly say the oil producers are protecting their industries

The United States and Saudi Arabia have hamstrung global efforts to scrutinise climate geoengineering in order to benefit their fossil fuel industries, according to multiple sources at the United Nations environment assembly, taking place this week in Nairobi.

The world’s two biggest oil producers reportedly led opposition against plans to examine the risks of climate-manipulating technology such as sucking carbon out of the air, reflective mirrors in space, seeding the oceans and injecting particulates into the atmosphere.

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Dead whale washed up in Philippines had 40kg of plastic bags in its stomach

Mon, 2019-03-18 15:27

Marine biologists horrified to find 16 rice sacks and multiple shopping bags inside curvier beaked whale

A young whale that washed up in the Philippines died from “gastric shock” after ingesting 40kg of plastic bags.

Marine biologists and volunteers from the D’Bone Collector Museum in Davao City, in the Philippine island of Mindanao, were shocked to discover the brutal cause of death for the young curvier beaked whale, which washed ashore on Saturday.

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Energy analysts forecast 'the end of coal' in Asia as Japanese investors back renewables

Mon, 2019-03-18 10:19

Australia’s largest export customer for thermal coal is scrapping plans to build power plants

Major Japanese investors, including those most indebted to coal, are seeking to back large-scale renewables projects across Asia, marking a “monumental” shift that energy market analysts say is “the start of the end for thermal coal”.

At the same time, Japanese banks and trading houses are walking away from coal investments, selling out of Australian mines and scrapping plans to build coal-fired power.

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Questions raised over how $1bn of emissions funding have been allocated

Mon, 2019-03-18 03:00

As the government announces fund top-up, changes to rules point to problems with how emissions calculated

Scott Morrison recently announced the Coalition would inject another $2bn into the emissions reduction fund – the Tony Abbott-era “direct action” policy that pays farmers and businesses from the budget to reduce greenhouse gas – but serious questions have emerged about $1bn already allocated.

Amendments to the fund rules, released for public consultation, indicate there have been problems with how emissions cuts from projects that involve managed regrowth of native forests and vegetation have been calculated.

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How diet became the latest front in the culture wars

Sun, 2019-03-17 22:00

The latest study warning us to eat less meat has brought angry sceptics out in droves. But who should we believe?

Sometimes, particularly when looking at the weekend newspapers, it can seem that our obsession with food and health has reached a pitch of pure hysteria. “Eat!” screams one headline. “Diet!” shouts another. Cut out carbohydrates, suggests one report. Carbs are good for you, says a different one. Lower your fat intake. No, fat’s healthy, sugar’s the problem. Coffee raises the risk of heart disease. But it lowers the risk of diabetes. And so on, until you just want to ditch the papers and watch The Great British Bake Off or MasterChef.

Food, how to cook it, what it does to you and what growing or rearing it does to the planet are issues that crowd the media. And yet, as the clamour grows, clarity recedes. An estimated 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A third of all people were vitamin-deficient. Two billion were classified as overweight and 600 million as obese. It’s also estimated that 1bn tonnes of food are wasted every year – a third of the total produced. A plethora of academic reports concerning food consumption and production have been published in recent years. The latest and arguably the most far-reaching is Food in the Anthropocene: the Eat-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, which was conducted over three years by 37 senior scientists from around the world and published earlier this year.

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Deadly air in our cities: the invisible killer

Sun, 2019-03-17 16:00
Traffic pollution is putting our children at risk. We meet campaigners – many of them concerned mothers – fighting back

In the winter you can taste and smell the pollution,” says Kylie ap Garth, drinking coffee in a cafe in Hackney, east London. “My eldest is eight and he has asthma. Being outside, he would have a tight chest and cough. I just assumed it was the cold weather. I didn’t realise there was a link to the cars.”

She is not exaggerating. The main road from Bethnal Green tube station is clogged with traffic, the smell of diesel fumes mixing with smoke from barbecue grill restaurants and construction dust. Anyone trying to escape from the roadside to the canal towpath finds only that the fumes are swapped with coal smoke from the canal boats.

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Have we hit ‘peak beef’?

Sun, 2019-03-17 00:00

Meat production is central to the debate on climate change and ethical food. But how much is too much – for people and the planet?

The meat on Richard Vines’s Wild Beef stall at Borough Market in London is purple. Puce, really; a cartoonish shade that old men sometimes go when they are really angry. Meat that is an unexpected hue would typically raise an eyebrow, but for Wild Beef’s devoted customers it’s the reason they come here. “The colour comes from the protein that’s been in the ground, the deep-rooted grasses, it gives that flavour of sweetness and that bit of fat taste as well,” explains Vines, who has 40 acres of wild pasture in Devon, on which he keeps Devon cattle and Welsh Blacks. “Dartmoor is mineral-rich country, God-given for cattle farming. Washed by the Gulf Stream, grass grows most of the year and there’s a lot of freedom for the cattle once they are up on the moor.”

For the carnivore, the chilled cabinet at Wild Beef is the promised land. There are all the familiar cuts (steaks, ribs), alongside parts of the cow you don’t see so often (cheeks and a giant, lolling tongue that is practically black). And, if you get there early and ask nicely, Vines will slip you a bag of bones from under the counter. “One thing that’s changed: people don’t sit down for Sunday lunch any more,” he says. “Just doesn’t happen, we don’t sell many joints. But I’m working out ways of making steaks all the time. Last year we did flat iron steaks; I didn’t know what they were but they sell. And 20 years ago, we used to waste buckets of liver and such like, which nobody wanted. Now the offal all goes before the meat.”

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‘Boycott Iowa’: latest twist in legal tussle between animal campaigners and US farmers

Sat, 2019-03-16 18:00

Twenty-five states have attempted to introduce legislation to chill animal rights activism, and six have succeeded, as a string of ‘ag-gag’ laws are overturned in courts

A US governor has signed off legislation to prop up controversial “ag-gag” laws in Iowa, just months after a federal court declared them unconstitutional.

In retaliation, animal rights activists are calling on their supporters to boycott the state as a vacation destination.

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Students around the world go on climate strike – video

Sat, 2019-03-16 04:45

School and university students in more than 100 countries have gone on strike to demand that politicians take urgent action on climate change. The coordinated protests were organised on social media under the 'Fridays For Future' banner and inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who is in her 30th week of striking on Fridays.

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US accused of blocking ambitious global action against plastic pollution

Sat, 2019-03-16 04:29

Commitments agreed at UN conference in Kenya do not go far enough, say green groups

Environmental groups involved in talks at a United Nations conference in Kenya have accused the US of blocking an ambitious global response to plastic pollution.

Representatives of countries at the UN environment conference in Nairobi this week agreed to significantly reduce single-use plastics over the next decade but the voluntary pledges fell far short of what was required, according to green groups.

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Wildlife campaigners take legal action against 'pest' bird killings

Sat, 2019-03-16 03:30

Chris Packham among those challenging Natural England over licence to slaughter certain wild birds

The killing of thousands of “pest” birds each year including crows, rooks, jackdaws, magpies and woodpigeons is to be challenged in court by wildlife campaigners including Chris Packham.

Wild Justice, a group newly created by Packham and fellow conservationists Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay, is launching legal action against Natural England, the government’s conservation watchdog, for issuing a general licence that allows the unlimited slaughter of certain wild birds all year round.

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'There is no planet B': best placards from the global climate strike

Sat, 2019-03-16 03:29

Young people, inspired by Greta Thunberg, have stepped out of lessons to press politicians to act on climate change

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Week in wildlife – in pictures

Sat, 2019-03-16 02:19

A starry dwarf frog, blooming poppy fields and a black-winged kite

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Peter Rutter obituary

Sat, 2019-03-16 00:16

Peter Rutter’s greatest gift was a profound faith in the goodness of life, which led him to trust others as he expected to be trusted. I knew Peter, who has died aged 95, as a friend and as a Friend (a Quaker) for 25 years and never heard him disparage anyone.

The son of Hester and Farley Rutter, Peter was born in Shaftesbury, Dorset, to a lineage of Quaker lawyers, and was to become a partner in the family firm, Rutter & Rutter where his father was also employed. But at 18 his legal studies were interrupted by the second world war.

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