Climate Newsprint

Waltham Forest ‘mini-Holland’ row: politics, protests and house prices

Guardian Environment - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 07:21

Boris Johnson’s east London suburban cycling scheme is meeting strong opposition, though estate agents seem very keen on it

It was a lively scene outside Walthamstow Town Hall: hundreds of people, young and old, female and male of many faiths and ethnicities united in advance of a full council meeting against what they see as the heedless imposition of one of Boris Johnson’s “mini-Holland” cycling infrastructure schemes. “Let’s have justice not a dictatorship,” read one placard. “We are not the silent minority, we are the vocal majority,” a banner cried.

This is not how things were meant to be. When the Labour-run borough secured “full mini-Holland status” and £30m from Conservative-run City Hall in March 2014, Johnson declared himself “incredibly impressed” by the “thirst” of all the leading borough funding bidders “to transform themselves into better places for people.” Clearly, a lot of people who live in Waltham Forest aren’t seeing the changes in their streets in quite that way.

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Don’t miss out on free energy-efficiency measures

Guardian Environment - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 07:00
Some households are eligible for grants and free insulation – or even new boilers

Thousands of householders – particularly those on low incomes – are missing out on free energy efficiency measures, including new boilers, because they may not be aware that help is available. Since 2013, energy firms have been ordered by the government to reduce energy consumption and support people at greater risk of fuel poverty through what is known as the energy company obligation (ECO) scheme.

So far around 1.5m energy-saving measures have been installed in households across Britain, at a rate of around 25,000 a month. However, with winter weather just around the corner, householders who live in older properties that may not have such measures in place are being encouraged to see if they are entitled to a free or low-cost upgrade.

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Halcyon mood shattered by a single shot

Guardian Environment - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 05:30

Poppit Sands, Pembrokeshire Greenland whitefronts come from the cold north to overwinter here, and run the gauntlet of “sportsmen”, their blued barrels loaded with deadly ejaculate

Along the dune-path, sloes and haws hung from thorn thickets, late flowers grew in profusion: bladder campion, herb robert, guelder rose, colonies of evening primrose, michaelmas daisies, clotted blooms of faded meadowsweet, rustling dry spikes of ladies’ tresses. By stepping stones marking the change of spring-fed stream to saltwater rhyne, a kingfisher burst from the reeds, whirred low above the water, its flash of orange and azure in brilliant contrast to mud banks between which a little egret, infinitely graceful of form, stalked on yellow feet and stabbed down with dark dagger beak. Skeins of geese calling plangently wheeled high overhead before gliding down to net-pools upriver of perilous Cardigan Bar: Canada geese and Greenland whitefronts come from the cold north to overwinter here, and run the gauntlet of “sportsmen”, their blued barrels loaded with deadly ejaculate, against whom the Welsh government affords this declining and lovely waterfowl scant protection.

Related: Country diary: Talsarnau, Gwynedd: Alarm call from the plover, as the wildfowling season approaches

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Walking in a Welsh rainforest

Guardian Environment - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 04:00

You don’t have to go to Brazil to trek through a rainforest – Snowdonia has its very own wet woodland just waiting to be explored

Does the phrase “save the rainforest” conjure up visions of: a) Brazil, b) Borneo, or c) north Wales? You may not know it but Britain is home to 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) of rainforest, in areas including western Scotland, Cumbria, south-west England and, yes, north Wales. And these temperate forests are just as precious – and under just as much threat – as their tropical counterparts.

I travelled to Maentwrog, a tiny village in Snowdonia, to visit two neighbouring woodlands, Llennyrch and Coed Felinrhyd (also known as Melenrhyd). The woods date back an astonishing 10,000 years to the last ice age. These ancient places, found above the Vale of Ffestiniog, are two of Europe’s best remaining examples of Atlantic oak woodland, otherwise known as temperate rainforest. They are wet and wild: crisscrossed with streams and gullies, bordered by the Ceunant Llennyrch gorge, drenched with river spray and more than 200 days of rain a year. On the autumn afternoon that I visited, it was unseasonably hot and humid, making it feel as though we were stepping into the jungle – I half-expected to glimpse a tiger through the ferns.

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Dozens missing in BHP-Vale mine disaster in Brazil as rescue continues

Guardian Environment - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 01:56

Rescuers continue search for survivors after flooding from two collapsed dams used by mines owned by BHP Billiton and Vale swept through six villages

Rescue teams searched through mud and debris on Friday for dozens of people missing after a pair of dams collapsed at a Brazilian mine owned by two of the world’s biggest iron ore producers.

Walls of water filled with mining waste cascaded downhill when the dams burst on Thursday, engulfing a nearby village in a sea of mud and flooding others far removed from the open-pit Samarco mine jointly owned by BHP Billiton and Vale.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Climate summit held by business and green groups to end six-year policy war

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 21:31

Exclusive: mirroring the Turnbull government’s tax debate with all options ‘on the table’, six different climate policies are canvassed at closed-door summit

Leaders from business, welfare, the conservation movement, the electricity sector and the union movement have moved to try to fill Australia’s climate policy vacuum by starting a new slogan-free debate to help political parties find workable greenhouse policies.

Mirroring the Turnbull government’s tax debate, in which all policy options are back “on the table”, the groups commissioned major consultancies to present on six climate policy options at a special closed-door summit this week. They intend to publish the results in a back-to-the-drawing-board policy “primer” to be released next year.

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The Keystone XL pipeline defeat is one goal in a game, and we're way behind | Bill McKibben

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 20:52

We’ve shown that people aren’t going to just give up and go away when the government ignores climate change, if we can show them how to have an effect

In the first two weeks of the Keystone fight, we couldn’t get any press to pay attention to our work to defeat the environmental disaster we knew it would be if it were approved – none at all. Because back then in the summer of 2011 everyone knew that we couldn’t win. No one ever beats big oil.

Now I’m sitting here fielding dozens and dozens of phone calls and emails from reporters, because we did: Barack Obama announced on Friday that he had denied TransCanada’s proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

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SeaWorld fights to restore its image as shares sink in the wake of Blackfish

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 20:42

Documentary has made opposition to orca practices ‘the mainstream view’, says expert as company grapples with $10m blow to profits

Sina Schmocker asks for a minute to think before responding. “I have really enjoyed seeing the whales and the other animals,” she said. “But I am really shocked by how little space they have.

“I knew it would be quite small, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this small,” Schmocker said of the 5.8m gallons (the equivalent of just under nine Olympic swimming pools) of tanks behind her that are home to the 11 orca whales of SeaWorld San Diego.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Public art projects that double as renewable energy sources

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 20:14

Two Pittsburgh artists are encouraging cities around the world to install public art structures designed to generate power while educating viewers about renewable energy

What happens when renewable energy meets public art? The Land Art Generator Initiative, or Lagi, founded by Pittsburgh-based artists Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry, is trying to find the answer with several proposed public art structures designed to generate power while inspiring and educating their viewers.

The initiative has collected hundreds of designs from competitions held in Abu Dhabi, New York City and Copenhagen. At the 2016 competition, which will be held in Santa Monica, California, entrants will design structures that harvest clean energy or generate clean drinking water.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

VW says it will cover extra CO2 and fuel usage taxes paid by EU drivers

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 20:04

Chief executive Matthias Müller asks ministers to charge carmaker for taxes incurred after admitting understatement affecting 800,000 vehicles

Volkswagen has said it will foot the bill for extra taxes incurred by drivers after it admitted understating the carbon dioxide emissions of about 800,000 cars in Europe.

In a letter to European Union finance ministers on Friday, seen by Reuters, Matthias Müller, the VW chief executive, asked member states to charge the carmaker rather than motorists for any additional taxes relating to fuel usage or CO2 emissions.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline and hails US as leader on climate change

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 19:06

President ends years of political drama and hands environmentalists a big victory with decision to turn down proposal to build 1,700-mile pipeline through US

Barack Obama ended seven years of high-wire political drama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, saying the decision reflected America’s determination to be a global leader in the fight against climate change.

The move, less than four weeks before more than 190 countries gather in Paris to try to reach a global deal to reduce carbon pollution, reinforces Obama’s commitment to making climate change the domestic and international legacy of his second term in the White House – even in the face of Republican hostility.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Obama turns down Keystone XL pipeline: 'Today the US is leading on climate change' – video

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 19:00

Barack Obama announces at the White House on Friday that he is rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline because he does not believe it serves the national interest. Keystone XL, which has divided petroleum interests and environmentalists, was designed to pump crude oil from the Alberta tar sands for 1,700 miles to the Gulf coast

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

UN climate fund releases $183m to tackle global warming

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 18:23

Green Climate Fund announces eight projects to be funded in Asia, Africa and Latin America ahead of Paris summit

The head of the UN’s climate fund has hailed a “paradigm shift” as poor countries began receiving money to help them tackle global warming, weeks before climate talks take place in Paris.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is intended to be the major conduit for funding to flow from wealthy economies built on fossil fuels to those that will suffer most from climate change they did not cause.

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Letter: Michael Meacher captivated his audience with zeal and determination

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 17:46

I recall vividly the first meeting of the parliamentary environment group after Labour’s election win in 1997. Michael Meacher arrived, breathless and late, into a packed and hot committee room in parliament. He proceeded to give a sharp and detailed analysis of environmental challenges, without notes, for 40 minutes, leaving the roomful of NGOs and industry lobbyists captivated by his zeal and determination. His speech set the tone for his term as environment minister.

Short of being in the cabinet, which Tony Blair had denied him, he was determined to make the most of the job he had been given. He did just that, and can be credited with a vital role in Kyoto negotiations, as well as the delivery of a waste strategy that created thousands of jobs in the recycling industries as well as a fourfold increase in recycling rates over a decade. Best of all, he delivered into law the right to roam. That was a strong green legacy that deserves to be fully acknowledged.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

British cucumbers on brink of extinction, say growers

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 17:38

Production plummets to 100-year low as supermarket price war forces farmers to switch to more lucrative crops

The British cucumber is facing extinction, the latest victim of a supermarket price war that has knocked retail prices down from up to 90p to less than 30p in some stores.

According to the Cucumber Growers Association, production has plummeted to less than 100 hectares for the first time in nearly 100 years as farmers switch to more lucrative crops.

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Björk calls for action to prevent destruction of Iceland's highlands

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:45

The artist joined writer-environmentalist Andri Snær Magnason at a press conference in Reykjavík to promote an online petition against plans for a high-voltage power line

Two of Iceland’s best-loved artists are trying to draw the world’s attention to the plight of the country’s landscape.

Björk and writer-environmentalist Andri Snær Magnason have called for urgent action to protect Iceland’s highlands at a press conference in Reykjavík today.

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Bhopal exhibition commemorates 30th anniversary of disaster

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:39

Photographer Francesca Moore’s show in London features images of wall surrounding site and families affected by disaster

It was just past midnight on 3 December 1984 when a pesticide plant at the heart of Bhopal, India, exploded. It was the worst industrial disaster in history, killing at least 3,000 people in the days following the incident and about 15,000 subsequently, and exposing tens of thousands to poisonous gas.

More than 30 years later, the site stands almost untouched. The factory, once owned by Union Carbide, is still filled with debris and broken bottles from the explosion, piles of industrial waste degrading in the open and even the tank which caused the disaster discarded on the factory floor.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Detroit woman accidentally sets fire to building trying to eradicate bedbugs

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:29

Sherry Young apologizes for fire that tore through 48-unit apartment complex after she doused herself with rubbing alcohol that was ignited by a stove

A Detroit woman has apologized for a massive fire that she and authorities said was accidentally started by her efforts to eradicate bedbugs from her apartment.

Tuesday’s fire tore through Ramblewood Apartments, destroying the 48-unit complex. Sherry Young was injured along with four others, including three firefighters, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Solar farm in Balcombe 'fracking village' shelved due to Tory policies

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 15:30

Sussex village gives up plans for community-run project that would have enabled it to run largely on clean energy

A project to generate renewable energy in the village at the centre of the UK’s first fracking protests has become the latest casualty of the shake-up of the government’s green policies.

REPOWERBalcombe, a group of local residents who raised money to install green electricity generation, has cancelled its plans to set up a range of solar panels in the nearby area, citing a series of changes to government policy as the reason.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Illegally planted palm oil already growing on burnt land in Indonesia

Guardian Environment - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 15:01

Saplings growing on slash and burn land in central Kalimantan in an area public maps suggest has no palm oil concession, say Greenpeace

Freshly burned land in Indonesia has already been illegally planted with oil palm, new evidence suggests, following the loss of two million hectares of forest and peatland since July to fires.

Planted in charred earth, the oil palm saplings were identified near the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary in central Kalimantan, by Greenpeace Indonesia.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint
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