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Latest Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 48 min 17 sec ago

Critics seek to stop Great Lakes pipeline run by company with poor safety habits

3 hours 7 min ago

Environmental groups say Line 5 poses a major threat and is run by Canada’s Enbridge which has a long record of mismanagement

A coalition of environmental groups and newly elected Democrats in Michigan are seeking to shut a controversial pipeline through the Great Lakes they say represents a major environmental threat and is being run by a company with a long record of mismanagement, poor safety habits and deception.

Canadian oil giant Enbridge wants to replace an ageing pipeline called Line 5 that cuts through the Great Lakes, which hold more than 90% of the nation’s freshwater. It transports about 540,000 gallons of oil and liquid natural gas daily in 4.4 miles of pipelines that are exposed on the lake floor in the Mackinac Straits.

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UK's big energy firms accused of failing to tackle climate crisis

3 hours 7 min ago

Shell, BP and Centrica have talked of backing EU emissions target but withheld support

The UK’s largest energy companies have withheld support for a legally binding target to reduce the EU’s emissions to net zero by 2050, even while publicly backing the plans.

Royal Dutch Shell, BP and British Gas’s owner, Centrica, have all publicly thrown their weight behind more ambitious EU emissions cuts, but none supported the Brussels proposals for a tougher target in an official consultation.

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Song of one of rarest whales on planet recorded for first time

3 hours 59 min ago

There are only about 30 north Pacific right whales left after hunters nearly wiped out the slow-moving animals

Marine biologists for the first time have recorded singing by one of the rarest whales on the planet, the north Pacific right whale.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used moored acoustic recorders to capture repeated patterns of calls made by male north Pacific right whales.

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Sadiq Khan announces car-free day in London to tackle air pollution

4 hours 7 min ago

Event will take place on 22 September across 18 boroughs, with road closures and events

Sadiq Khan has announced plans to implement London’s biggest car-free day to date, closing 12.3 miles (20km) of roads in the centre of the capital in September.

Roads will be closed for the event around London Bridge, Tower Bridge and much of the City of London to help tackle the capital’s air pollution crisis, which kills thousands of people each year and leaves two million – including 400,000 children – living in areas with illegally dirty air.

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Seawalls to protect US against rising oceans could cost $416bn by 2040

5 hours 6 min ago

Seawalls could cost as much as the initial investment in the interstate highway system, with Florida facing $76bn, report finds

Defending against rising seas could cost US communities $416bn in the next 20 years, according to a new report.

Spending on seawalls alone could total almost as much as the initial investment in the interstate highway system, the authors said. And the billions involved will represent just a fraction of adaptation efforts governments in coastal states will have to fund if they do not want to simply retreat.

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Two whales flown from Shanghai aquarium to sanctuary in Iceland

9 hours 46 min ago

Female 12-year-old beluga whales Little Grey and Little White arrive at Klettsvik Bay

Two beluga whales from a Shanghai aquarium have arrived in Iceland to live out their days in a unique marine sanctuary that conservationists hope will become a model for rehoming 3,000 of the creatures currently in captivity.

Little Grey and Little White, two 12-year-old female belugas, left behind their previous lives entertaining visitors at the Changfeng Ocean World and were flown across the globe in specially tailored containers.

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Twitter storm: noise pollution creates havoc for birds, study shows

10 hours 6 min ago

Human activities could be affecting reproduction and even normal social behaviour

Birds are even more disrupted by their noisy neighbours than had been thought previously, researchers have found. And human activities could be preventing birds from reproducing and even developing normal social behaviour and keeping the peace.

A study by Queen’s University Belfast found that when European robins were subjected to human produced noises their behaviour changed. Background noise appeared to mask the communication of crucial information between birds.

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Himalayan glacier melting doubled since 2000, spy satellites show

15 hours 7 min ago

Ice losses indicate ‘devastating’ future for region and 1 billion people who depend on it for water

The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water.

The scientists combined declassified US spy satellite images from the mid-1970s with modern satellite data to create the first detailed, four-decade record of ice along the 2,000km (1,200-mile) mountain chain.

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US beekeepers lost 40% of honeybee colonies over past year, survey finds

15 hours 7 min ago

Study marks worst winter on record for beekeepers, despite intensive push to stem losses

Beekeepers across the US lost four in 10 of their honeybee colonies over the past year, as the worst winter on record for tracked bee populations raised fresh concerns over the plight of the crucial pollinators.

Over the past winter, 37% of honeybee colonies were lost to beekeepers, the worst winter decline recorded in the 13-year history of a nationwide survey aimed at charting bees’ fortunes. Overall, 40% of colonies died off over the entire year to April, which is above the 38% average since the survey began.

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Toxic school run: how polluted is the air that children breathe? - video

15 hours 50 min ago

Most of Britain's cities have had illegally polluted air for nearly a decade and the effect of air pollution is particularly bad on children. Ahead of Clean Air Day, we conducted an experiment to assess the air quality on a school run in central London, using new state-of-the art monitors that can measure air pollution in real time. 

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Asbaby the swan: terrorising Cambridge punters, just like his granddad

16 hours 21 min ago

Students and tourists are being attacked by a swan on the River Cam where the legendary Mr Asbo – reportedly his forebear – once wreaked havoc

Name: Asbaby.

Age: Unknown, though he has been cropping up in reports of violence since 2015.

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Trump ditches sole climate rule that aimed to reduce coal plant pollution

16 hours 32 min ago
  • Administration to roll back Obama-era Clean Power Plan
  • Trump’s EPA chief says he’s ‘leveling the playing field’

Donald Trump’s administration is finalizing plans to roll back the US government’s only direct efforts to curb coal-fired power plant pollution that is heating the planet.

Related: Trump rolls back key Obama climate rule that targeted coal pollution – live

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The Guatemalans who pay the price for the west’s need for nickel

17 hours 7 min ago

A vast European-owned mine is operating near Mayan villages, sparking a battle for survival

The road to Guatemala’s biggest nickel mine is barely visible through a cloud of red dust, churned up by the 25-tonne trucks that thunder past loaded with ore.

From the choking haze a cyclist emerges, weaving between the lorries. On his back he carries a bundle of firewood. Goggles protect his eyes, a bandana covers his nose and mouth.

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How witnessing a police shooting put a Guatemalan journalist in danger

17 hours 7 min ago

Carlos Choc had to go on the run after seeing the violent repression of a protest at the Fenix mine

It was when police arrested his colleague in October 2017 that Carlos Choc realised it was becoming too dangerous for him to keep reporting.

From the town of El Estor, and a member of the Maya Q’eqchi’ community, Choc, 36, has made his living documenting the lives of indigenous citizens.

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European-owned mine paid Guatemala just £1.4m in compulsory royalty taxes

17 hours 7 min ago

Swiss-based Solway group that runs Fenix nickel mine paid 1% on revenues from unrefined ore

Guatemala’s largest nickel mine paid just £1.4m in compulsory royalty taxes during its first four years of production, according to its latest filings.

The opencast Fenix mine belongs to the Bronstein family and is run by their Swiss-based Solway group. Solway benefits from Guatemala’s low nickel royalty rate, which is calculated at just 1% of all the revenues made from selling the unrefined ore it digs out of the ground. Recent proposals to increase rates to 15% were not implemented.

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Meltdown: the climate crisis – in pictures

Wed, 2019-06-19 22:33

The Natural History Museum of Vienna is premiering MELTDOWN – A Visualization of Climate Change, an exhibition created by the climate crisis charity Project Pressure, which uses art to inspire action and behavioural change. The artworks in Meltdown relate to vanishing glaciers. Unlike wildfires, flooding and other weather events, glacier mass losses even out variations and can be attributed to global heating. To incite action, Project Pressure has created a carbon footprint calculator in collaboration with ClimateHero to learn how carbon-intense the users’ lifestyle is.

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Two-thirds of Britons want faster action on climate, poll finds

Wed, 2019-06-19 15:01

Research suggests support for urgent measures to tackle crisis is becoming mainstream

Nearly 70% of British people want urgent political action to tackle climate change and protect the natural environment, according to research by a coalition of green charities.

Theresa May, in one of her last acts as prime minister, has enshrined in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first large economy to do so.

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What oil companies knew: the great climate cover-up - podcast

Wed, 2019-06-19 12:00

Oil firms are said to have known for decades of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate breakdown. Author Bill McKibben describes how industry lobbying created a 30-year barrier to tackling the crisis. Plus: John Stewart on his campaign to stop the third runway at Heathrow

Before 1988, climate change was a subject confined to the realm of academic journals. That all changed when the scientist James Hansen told Congress that global heating was caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels.

That moment caught the imagination of the journalist Bill McKibben, who has written and campaigned on climate breakdown ever since. And it has been reported that fossil fuel companies, such as ExxonMobil, were making links between the burning of oil and rising sea levels as early as the 1970s. But instead of making their findings public, the industry colluded to cast doubt over the science.

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Man caught smuggling dozens of live finches into New York inside hair rollers

Wed, 2019-06-19 11:50

Francis Gurahoo planned to sell the birds for $3,000 each for use in singing competitions, officials say

A 39-year-old man has been caught allegedly trying to smuggle nearly three dozen live finches through John F Kennedy Airport in New York in order to sell them for singing competitions.

Francis Gurahoo was arrested on Sunday after arriving on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana. Prosecutors said customs officials found 34 live birds in his carry-on luggage hidden inside individual plastic hair curlers.

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Britain to host critical UN climate crisis summit at end of 2020

Wed, 2019-06-19 03:55

Gathering aimed at keeping global heating close to 1.5C will be most significant since Paris

The UK is to host a critical global summit on the climate crisis at the end of 2020, at which the world’s 190 nations must commit to deep cuts in emissions.

It will be the most significant UN climate summit since the Paris deal was struck in 2015, when countries made pledges to curb emissions. But these pledges would only keep global heating to a 3C rise, which would bring devastating heatwaves and extreme weather.

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