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Updated 2017-12-16 18:31
Country diary: walking in a woodland wonderland
South Oakley Inclosure, New Forest Others come here for exercise, we head off the track into a silence broken only by the scolding of blackbirdsThere’s a stillness in the air, though we share this Inclosure’s gravelled track near Burley with others. A runner passes us on his way out. We’ve not gone far before we have to stand aside to allow two riders to pass on ambling ponies.A cyclist speeds by, head down, and later we greet a family group enjoying a walk. Like so many of the people who come into the New Forest, their purpose is primarily exercise. Continue reading...
How investing in solar energy can create a brighter future for Africa
A new scheme aims to lighten the lives of millions who live without electricity, with the promise of a possible 6% returnHow would you like to earn a return of up to 6% on your cash while at the same time providing families in countries such as Kenya with “life-changing” access to clean, affordable solar energy?Energise Africa is a new ethical investment scheme which aims to raise £20m to provide a brighter future for more than 110,000 families and small businesses in sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years. Continue reading...
US fashion brand Michael Kors to stop using animal fur
Move to adopt synthetic fibres comes six months after protesters heckle designer at New York speech
Lost species of bee-mimicking moth rediscovered after 130 years
The rare oriental blue clearwing, that disguises itself as a bee, was spotted in the Malaysian rainforestA moth that disguises itself as a bee and was previously only identified by a single damaged specimen collected in 1887 has been rediscovered in the Malaysian rainforest by a lepidopterist from Poland.The oriental blue clearwing (Heterosphecia tawonoides) was seen “mud-puddling” – collecting salts and minerals from damp areas with its tongue-like proboscis – on the banks of a river in Malaysia’s lowland rainforest, one of the most wildlife-rich – and threatened – regions on Earth. Continue reading...
BP returns to solar power with $200m stake in Lightsource
Tie-up with Europe’s biggest solar developer will focus on alternative energy projects in US, India and Middle EastBP has paid $200m (£149m) for a 43% stake in Europe’s biggest solar developer, marking its return to the sector from which it withdrew six years ago.The investment in the London-based Lightsource marks a turnaround for the British oil firm, which rebranded as Beyond Petroleum in 2000 but shut its alternative energy headquarters nine years later. Continue reading...
The week in wildlife – in pictures
A great grey owl, a robin in the snow and a festive reindeer are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world Continue reading...
China waste clampdown could create UK cardboard recycling chaos, say industry experts
New Chinese restrictions on imported waste could see millions of tonnes of cardboard being sent back, as the UK struggles to prepare for rapid rule changesImminent restrictions by the Chinese on importing cardboard from the rest of the world are likely to cause chaos in the UK in the coming weeks, according to a leading recycling expert.From 1 January, China will impose much stricter quality restrictions on imported cardboard as well as banning the importation of all plastic waste and mixed paper rubbish from all over the world. The move is part of president Xi Jinping’s drive to create a “beautiful China” with a clean environment. Continue reading...
I wrote about farmers' suicides – and the reaction has been overwhelming
After the Guardian and EHRP published a piece about the record number of farmers who are killing themselves, there were hundreds of responses
Boris Johnson swigs can of peach juice from Fukushima
Foreign secretary drinks down gift from Japan’s foreign minister in attempt to show food and drink from region is safe after triple nuclear meltdown“Yum.” That was foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s verdict on a can of peach juice from Fukushima – a gift from his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono – during their meeting in London this week.
Country diary: Silence, a mine with a vein of secrets and rowdy tales
Great Hucklow, Derbyshire At the derelict mine all is not quiet as the sound of birds cuts through the muffling snow and the ruins speak of a riotous noisy pastThe broad track down to Silence Mine was muffled with snow, the more slender boughs of its modest avenue bowed under inches of it, sporadic puffs of wind pushing drifts into the air. Perched halfway up Hucklow Edge, among the ruined mine structures, I could look across the broad, walled pastures above Foolow, dazzling in the bright sunshine, the sky a milky blue, a creamy knot of sheep standing to attention in a distant field.Sunlight pierced a thick stand of hawthorn just behind me, the haws blood-red against the brilliant white. Just below, the choked pit shaft, as so often in Derbyshire, had been plugged with an ash, the snow around it dotted with rabbit prints. Continue reading...
'Explore lightly': Palau makes all visitors sign pledge to respect environment
International arrivals must sign promise to children of Pacific nation that they will ‘tread lightly, act kindly’ during their stayThe tiny Pacific island nation of Palau has introduced a new law requiring visitors to sign a pledge not to harm the environment before entering the country.The pledge will be stamped into the passports of international arrivals from this month. Continue reading...
Delhi high court takes up lawsuit into Adani Group fraud allegations
Indian government ordered to respond to claims energy firms conspired to siphon money from state and defraud consumersDelhi’s high court has taken up a lawsuit calling for an investigation into allegations that Adani Group and other energy companies engaged in fraud that raised power prices for Indian consumers.The court has ordered the Indian government and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to respond before 7 February to the lawsuit, which claims that several mining groups inflated coal and equipment prices to siphon money from India. Continue reading...
The 2017 comedy wildlife photography awards
Out of 3,500 entries from across the world, this year’s funny winners include a laughing dormouse, a shocked seal, and bears caught in the act Continue reading...
Plans for major nuclear power station in Wales win green light
Office for Nuclear Regulation approves design for new reactor at Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, AngleseyPlans for a major new nuclear power station in Wales have taken a crucial step forward as UK regulators approved the project.The Office for Nuclear Regulation and two other government bodies gave the green light on Thursday for the Japanese reactor design for Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, marking the end of a five-year regulatory process. Continue reading...
EU must not burn the world's forests for 'renewable' energy
A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qualify as renewable energy when in fact this would accelerate climate change and devastate forestsThe European Union is moving to enact a directive to double Europe’s current renewable energy by 2030. This is admirable, but a critical flaw in the present version would accelerate climate change, allowing countries, power plants and factories to claim that cutting down trees and burning them for energy fully qualifies as renewable energy.Even a small part of Europe’s energy requires a large quantity of trees and to avoid profound harm to the climate and forests worldwide the European council and parliament must fix this flaw. Continue reading...
Living alongside elephants: a study of human and animal habitats
A new book commissioned by David Attenborough’s charity, The World Land Trust, documents life on the small and important elephant corridor which allows the animals to cross safely between ranges in Kerala, India
Research shows that certain facts can still change conservatives’ minds | Dana Nuccitelli
But it’s political corruption, not public opinion that’s blocking American climate policyThere’s a debate between social scientists about whether climate change facts can change peoples’ minds or just polarize them further. For example, conservatives who are more scientifically literate are less worried about global warming. In essence, education arms them with the tools to more easily reject evidence and information that conflicts with their ideological beliefs. This has been called the “smart idiot” effect and it isn’t limited to climate change; it’s also something we’re seeing with the Republican tax plan.However, other research has shown that conservatives with higher climate-specific knowledge are more likely to accept climate change – a result that holds in many different countries. For example, when people understand how the greenhouse effect works, across the political spectrum they’re more likely to accept human-caused global warming. Continue reading...
Sheffield council votes to fell trees planted in memory of war dead
Campaigners condemn move to chop down tribute to local soldiers in long-running row over £2bn renovationCouncillors in Sheffield have voted to fell dozens of trees planted 98 years ago in honour of fallen soldiers in a move attacked by critics as “the first publicly sanctioned desecrations of a war memorial”.Campaigners have fought a long battle with Sheffield city council over the fate of the trees, planted in 1919 as a “living memorial” to soldiers killed in the first world war. Continue reading...
After years of toxic oil spills, indigenous Peruvians use tech to fight back
Fidel Sandi’s Achuar community has been plagued with oil contamination for decades – but he is now able to collect and gather evidence for his claimsArmed with territorial knowledge, rubber boots, smartphones and drones, indigenous Amazonians in Peru are doing what state and private oil companies have long failed to do: report oil spills that have been polluting their corner of the rainforest for decades.Fidel Sandi, 33, a leader in the indigenous Achuar community of San Cristobal, plunges a stick into the spongy soil of a palm swamp and watches as sticky crude bubbles to the surface leaving an oily sheen on the water. Continue reading...
Fueling dissent: how the oil industry set out to undercut clean air
After casting doubt on climate change for decades, skeptic consultants have turned their attention to air pollution
Country diary: mistletoe decorates a lime with its pearly berries
Sandy, Bedfordshire Up in the crown of the tree, a mistle thrush gave a rattling call, as if exerting its planter’s rightsUnder the unkind umbrella of a spreading oak, a stunted horse chestnut tree had received a white feather. Dropped from a dove, it had landed on a big brown bud as sticky as a toffee apple. The winter elements had then set to work, soaking and battering the kiss-curl of down into limpness, laying it out in the bud’s protective goo and soiling it with dust, seeds and shards of leaves. But still the feather refused to dim its light.This tree had caught not one falling star but two. I spotted another white feather at waist height, glued fast to another terminal bud. The chances of one feather snagging must have been small. The chances of two… Continue reading...
National Australia Bank stops all lending for new thermal coal projects
Move makes NAB the first major Australian bank to phase out support for industry but it will continue to finance projects already on its booksNational Australia Bank says it will halt all lending for new thermal coal mining projects, becoming the first major Australian bank to phase out support of thermal coal mining.While the bank will continue providing finance for coal projects already on its books, NAB said an orderly transition to a low-carbon Australia was critical for the economy and for continued access to secure and affordable energy.
Court challenge to logging in Victorian highlands could have national impact
Green groups’ case against logging in central highlands mountain ash forests could have repercussions for NSW and WAGreen groups are challenging the validity of a Victorian forestry agreement in the federal court in a case that could have repercussions for the Australian logging industry as a whole.Environmental Justice Australia, acting on behalf of Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum, has argued that the regional forest agreement covering Victoria’s central highlands region, which is home to the critically endangered possum, is invalid because the Victorian government failed to perform the requisite reviews. Continue reading...
How to feed the world while curbing our appetite for destruction | Letters
There is enough food for everyone, says Chrissie Hynde – if everyone takes only their fair share and stops eating animals. Others suggest improving farming production methods, tackling population growth and taxing meatAlthough I strongly agree with and appreciate George Monbiot’s efforts to shed light on the destructive nature of industrialised farming and its effects on animals and environment (We can’t go on eating like this, 11 December), I do not see the wisdom of tarring the entire farming community with the same brush.Small family farms, where the profits are just enough to sustain the running of the farm, actually replenish the environment and provide for local communities. A non-slaughter farm is humane, realistic and beneficial all around. We need farmers. There is enough food for everyone if everyone takes only their fair share and stops killing and eating the animals. Continue reading...
Tesco faces legal threat over marketing its food with 'fake farm' names
Charity accuses UK supermarkets of misleading customers with fake farm branding and claims Tesco is damaging the reputation of a real farm with the same nameMajor UK supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Lidl are being urged to stop using controversial “fake farm” branding on own-brand meat products, with a food charity claiming they are misleading shoppers.The Feedback charity is backing the owner of a genuine farm called Woodside Farm – a name Tesco has also used on its value pork range since 2016 – and is threatening legal proceedings if the retail giant does not drop the name Woodside Farms.
Scottish fishermen say EU is taking 'hardline' quotas stance pre-Brexit
As annual fisheries negotiations conclude, fishermen’s federation says ‘entrenched views’ in EU could affect future talksScottish fishermen have raised concerns that the EU is adopting a hardline stance over quotas as a prelude to Brexit negotiations.Annual negotiations over fishing quotas – expected to be the penultimate talks the UK participates in before leaving the EU – were concluded in Brussels early on Wednesday. Continue reading...
The US is penny wise and pound foolish on the climate | John Abraham
As America is battered by climate-intensified weather disasters, Republican politicians are trying to slash climate research funding
'Last year I gave the kids briquettes and everyone yelled at me!' Christmas with Ian | First Dog on the Moon
Ian the Climate Denialist Potato surprises his loved ones with a festive report on climate emissions. Or would they rather get an inflatable Greg Hunt doll?
Quarter of Christmas jumpers were worn once and discarded last year
Charity urges people to rewear last year’s jumper to reduce the waste impact of the throwaway festive fashionOne in four Christmas jumpers bought last year was thrown away or is unlikely to be worn again, according to new research which reveals that most novelty sweaters will only ever be worn once.Emblazoned with flashing lights or more tasteful alpine motifs, the festive apparel is so popular that about £220m will be spent on them in the run up to Christmas this year. Continue reading...
Country diary: snow changes everything the other side of the doorstep
Wenlock Edge, Shropshire Suddenly the familiar had been enchanted, even the bull and the blackbird in the blizzardBlack-white-black-white: the bull watches the bird through the snow. This is the first flurry for years, long enough to have forgotten how snow changes everything the other side of the doorstep. It began with the supermoon, a silver florin in a halo of limelight. Then came Storm Caroline – “good times never seemed so good,” sang Neil Diamond – and although not such good times elsewhere, it was easy going here.Weather presenters spread long fingers over maps and warned that the departing storm would pull down Arctic air, leading to snow at low levels. No one warned the dogs, they felt the excitement of a world changed around them, a duty to redraw their scent maps, a camaraderie with humans daft enough to roam abroad in a blizzard. Continue reading...
Northern Territory to decide about fracking ban only after inquiry's final report
Draft report from hydraulic fracking inquiry has found the practice can be safe if risks are better mitigatedThe Northern Territory government will wait until next year to make a decision on lifting its moratorium on fracking, despite federal calls for it to “get on with the job” after a long-running inquiry found it could be safe if risks were better mitigated.The inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the NT released its draft final report on Tuesday with 120 recommendations, which it said must be implemented in full to “reduce the risk to an acceptable level”. Continue reading...
Shark nets create false sense of safety and should be phased out, inquiry finds
Upper house committee says nets damage other marine wildlife and recommends replacement of lethal drum linesShark nets in place across Australia to protect beachgoers should be phased out as they cause more harm than good, a Senate inquiry has found.An upper house committee examined shark mitigation and deterrent measures in Australia, and specifically the use of mesh nets in New South Wales and Queensland. Continue reading...
Court upholds Obama-era ban on new Grand Canyon uranium mines
Celebration of the ruling by environmentalist has been tempered by expectations that the Trump administration will side with mining interests to end the banA powerful court ruled on Tuesday that an Obama-era ban on new uranium mines around the Grand Canyon should stay in place, though celebration on the environment side was tempered by expectations the government itself will now side with mining interests to end the ban. A separate, but linked, ruling on an older mine was a defeat for a Native American tribe.
World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas exploration
Bank announces in Paris it ‘will no longer finance upstream oil and gas’ after 2019 in response to threat posed by climate changeThe World Bank will end its financial support for oil and gas exploration within the next two years in response to the growing threat posed by climate change.In a statement that delighted campaigners opposed to fossil fuels, the Bank used a conference in Paris to announce that it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas” after 2019. Continue reading...
Weatherwatch: the 'halcyon days' of December hark back to the kingfisher
This shy little bird is linked to many bizarre beliefs about the weatherThe ancients called them the “halcyon days” – a period of fine, settled weather, lasting roughly seven days, which began sometime in the first half of December. During this time, it was said that the kingfisher (also known as the halcyon) would lay its eggs on the surface of the sea.The phrase, and the concept behind it, originated in ancient Greece, but during the Renaissance was popularised by several writers, including the poet Michael Drayton, who wrote of “the halcyon, whom the sea obeys…” and Shakespeare, where the halcyon features in a speech by Henry VI. Continue reading...
Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever, US climate study finds
EU announces €9bn in funding for climate action
EU funds will be focused on clean energy, and sustainable cities and agriculture, with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also pledging $300m towards climate adaptationThe European commission has announced funding of €9bn (£8bn) for action on climate change, one of a flurry of measures from governments, businesses and investors aimed at achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.The EU funds will form part of the bloc’s External Investment Plan, and will be focused on sustainable cities, clean energy and sustainable agriculture. The announcement was made at the One Planet Summit in Paris on Tuesday, held to mark the second anniversary of the landmark 2015 pact. Continue reading...
Golden eagles released in Scotland with hope they will fly south
Conservationists launch project to restore bird numbers with view to reintroducing them in northern England and Lake DistrictConservationists hope golden eagles will start reappearing over northern England and the Lake District as part of a project to release up to 10 eagles in southern Scotland.The birds will start to be released at a secret location south of Edinburgh from next year in a £1.5m programme by conservationists and landowners to restore golden eagle numbers in the southern uplands, where they have struggled to survive. Continue reading...
The Tories’ rebranding won’t wash: being green is about more than fluffy bunnies | Molly Scott Cato
It’s all very well for Michael Gove to act as if the Tories love animals but they need to see the bigger picture on fracking, renewables and ecologyUp to their necks in Brexit chaos and with Corbyn’s Labour snapping at their heels, the Tories are trying again with a somewhat tired strategy to escape the label of the “nasty party”. They are having another go at acting like environmentalists, this time combining it with being nice to animals. At the helm of this more caring narrative is environment secretary, Michael Gove, tasked with resurrecting the idea that blue is the new green.Related: Tories briefed on new policies after fears about 'compassionless' image Continue reading...
Calls for greater fossil fuel divestment at anniversary of Paris climate deal
Campaigners call for an end to fossil fuel finance and subsidies to avoid dangerous global warming at a meeting to mark two years since the signing of the landmark agreementThe Paris agreement on climate change, ratified by world governments a year ago, has failed to ensure major investors are moving away from fossil fuels with the urgency required to safeguard the planet, civil society groups have said.Large companies, investors and national and local governments met in Paris on Tuesday to celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the landmark 2015 agreement, which bound nearly all developed and developing countries for the first time to keep global temperatures below 2C, the threshold scientists regard as the limit of safety. Continue reading...
'No shame': how the Trump administration granted big oil's wishlist
The EPA has fulfilled almost all major demands made by the American Petroleum Institute within its first year under Trump
Wildcats, butterflies, tortoises: all are endangered by Trump's border wall
In the Rio Grande Valley, close to the border with Mexico, the president’s proposed barrier spells danger for the region’s plentiful wildlifeDeep in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, where half the US’s species of butterflies reside in a protected swath of green, Donald Trump’s wall may soon rise from an earthen levee.The wall is designed to be a barricade to anyone who has crossed the nearby Rio Grande river from Mexico, with a concrete base topped by steel bollards rising 18 feet in the air as well as a 150ft-wide enforcement zone stripped of all vegetation. Continue reading...
How big oil is tightening its grip on Donald Trump's White House
The oil industry has stalled action on climate change from the inside and sold America on fossil fuels – and its influence goes back further than people realizeWhen Rick Perry was interrupted by climate-change protesters during his address to the National Petroleum Council in late September, the energy secretary was ready with a retort.“You want to talk about something that saves lives? It’s the access to energy around the globe,” Perry said, countering a woman worried about deadly hurricanes and a man whose hometown is being submerged by the rising Philippine Sea. “I am proud to be a part of this industry. I am proud to be an American.” Continue reading...
UK to bring back beavers in first government flood reduction scheme of its kind
Beaver family will be released in the Forest of Dean to stop a village from flooding, with potential for further such schemes to followA valley in the Forest of Dean will echo to the sound of herbivorous munching next spring when a family of beavers are released into a fenced enclosure to stop a village from flooding, in the first ever such scheme funded by the government.The plan for the village of Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, may soon be joined by other schemes. The environment secretary, Michael Gove, has indicated that the government may support other schemes to restore the beaver four centuries after it was driven to extinction in England and Wales. Continue reading...
Inside the secret world of the corporate spies who infiltrate protests
Major firms hiring people from corporate security firms to monitor and infiltrate political groups that object to their commercial activities
Insurance giant Axa dumps investments in tar sands pipelines
Axa will also stop insuring US oil pipelines for business and ethical reasons, taking fossil fuel divestment to new levelOne of the world’s biggest financial services companies is both dumping investments and ending insurance for controversial US oil pipelines, taking fossil fuel divestment to a new level.
It's not asking the earth for independent watchdog to fill EU gap
Michael Gove must deliver on his promise to give ‘the environment a voice’ to ensure short-term politics do not interfere with the natural worldMichael Gove has raised the stakes for those of us determined to see a world-class environment for the UK. The environment secretary has vowed that the government will establish a “new, world-leading body to give the environment a voice and hold the powerful to account, independent of government and able to speak its mind freely”.MPs will debate this new institution during the next stages of the withdrawal bill in parliament on Tuesday and must ensure Gove’s promises are turned into legally binding commitments. Continue reading...
Wet wipes make up 93% of matter causing UK sewer blockages
City to Sea campaign says we must rethink bad habits and only flush ‘three Ps: pee, paper and poo’ as study finds blockages cost UK £100m a yearBaby wipes are causing hundreds of thousands of blockages in the UK sewer system and costing the country £100m every year, according to a new report.The study from Water UK, the trade body representing all of the main water and sewerage companies in the country, found that wipes made up about 93% of the material causing the sewer blockages. Continue reading...
Green Investment Bank sold too cheaply, watchdog says
National Audit Office report puts Macquarie deal at low end of valuation with extra tens of millions lost from rejection of phased sale optionMinisters missed out on tens of millions extra on the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) in August, according to the spending watchdog.The National Audit Office said the £1.6bn paid in cash by the Australian bank Macquarie came in at the low end of the government’s valuation. Macquarie agreed to spend a further £500m to cover the bank’s existing commitments. Continue reading...
Overfishing and climate change push seabirds to extinction
Kittiwakes and gannets are among seabirds that have joined endangered species on IUCN red list as food stocks dwindle, says studyOverfishing and climate change are pushing some of the world’s most iconic seabirds to the brink of extinction, according to a new report.
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