Environment - Britain to Allow Big North Sea Oil Field, Despite Climate Concerns

Action must respond to extreme weather driving health crisis, says WHO


23-09-19 09:58

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that floods, wildfires, drought and extreme weather are driving a global health crisis. Speaking at a New York climate week event, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the climate crisis is a health crisis that is currently taking lives around the world. He added that while melting ice caps and rising sea levels are important, the immediate threats of climate change need to be addressed urgently. The WHO’s first special envoy for climate change and health, Dr Vanessa Kerry, said that climate change is responsible for more deaths each year than air pollution or Covid-19.

Man in England attacked by 11ft python that crept into his conservatory


23-09-19 09:54

A python measuring 11ft and native to South and Southeast Asia has been captured in a conservatory in Hampshire. The snake, known as a reticulated python, bit Rob Byrne, 61, in his garden sunroom and drew blood. The emergency services were called and the reptile is now being cared for at the National Centre for Reptile Welfare in Kent. Byrne has written to the UK government requesting tighter controls on the ownership of the animals. The NCRW reported that the number of calls it received about exotic reptiles spotted in the wild was four times higher this summer than last year.

Therese Coffey accused of complacency over clean waters plan


23-09-19 08:00

The UK government has been accused of complacency by a House of Lords Committee over its plans to tackle sewage pollution. The Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey, unveiled the Plan for Water in April, which included unlimited penalties for polluting companies. The plan also proposed a ban on plastic wet wipes, which are responsible for around 90% of the materials that cause sewer blockages. The Committee criticised Coffey over delays in introducing the ban and called for a single social tariff to reduce the financial burden on households.

Brazil to revise climate targets to cut emissions 53% by 2030 -sources


23-09-19 13:45

Brazil is expected to announce revised climate targets this week, with President Lula strengthening the country's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil will institute an annual cap of 1.32 gigatonnes of emissions by 2025, equivalent to a 50% reduction from 2005. The country intends to cap 2030 emissions at 1.20 gigatonnes, a reduction of 53% compared to 2005. The targets are more ambitious than those set by the United States. President Lula is expected to focus on climate change in a speech at the UN General Assembly.

Pacific islands nation Niue sells stakes in ocean to fund conservation


23-09-19 13:17

The Pacific Island nation of Niue is planning to raise $18m through the sale of sponsorship of its ocean as it seeks funds to mitigate the impact of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. Niue's premier, Dalton Tagelagi, will launch the Ocean Conservation Commitments (OCC) programme on Tuesday, pledging the government will buy up to 1,700 units, or one for each resident, at $148 each. Each unit represents the cost of protecting a square kilometre of Niue's ocean territory for 20 years. Several non-government organisations and private donors have already committed to buying OCCs, including cryptocurrency company founder Chris Larsen and his wife.

Climate Change made Libya's deadly rainfall up to 50 times more likely - study


23-09-19 13:08

Climate change made the heavy rainfall that caused deadly floods in Libya 50 times more likely, according to scientists. The storm on 10 September broke two dams, resulting in widespread flooding and thousands of deaths. While factors such as poor dam condition and building in flood plains contributed to the disaster, climate change caused up to 50% more rain during the period. The scientists warned against building homes in flood plains or using substandard materials in light of climate change and extreme weather events. Climate change also caused a 40% increase in rainfall across the Mediterranean in early September, leading to floods in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Global heating made Greece and Libya floods more likely, study says


23-09-19 13:00

Carbon pollution caused by climate change contributed to devastating floods in Greece and Libya last month, according to research by the World Weather Attribution, a network of scientists. The study found that rainfall levels that led to the floods were up to 50 times more likely in Libya and up to 10 times more likely in Greece because of global heating. However, the scientists also stated that human factors, such as building homes on floodplains and deforestation, turned the extreme weather into a humanitarian disaster.

India will receive heavy monsoon rains in September, says weather chief


23-09-19 12:15

The Indian Meteorological Department has said that it expects good monsoon rains in September, bringing relief to farmers. The monsoon is crucial for India's economy, as it delivers nearly 70% of the rain needed to water crops and recharge reservoirs. The monsoon has been patchy this year, with rainfall 8% below average since June 1st. However, September is expected to see above average rainfall, especially in rice areas. The monsoon is expected to be delayed this year, with the weather office saying there are no signs of it receding in the next few days.

Quebec City neighbourhood of Vieux-Limoilou still seeing excessive amounts of nickel in the air


23-09-19 17:56

New data shows that air quality in the Vieux-Limoilou neighborhood of Quebec City is still often above government health standards despite authorities announcing that air quality was improving. The level of air-borne nickel in the area has exceeded the provincial standard of 70 nanograms per cubic meter of air on multiple occasions. The government is being criticized for relaxing emission standards to appeal to the battery industry and prioritizing the economy over residents' health. The opposition parties are calling for better access to air quality data and increased enforcement of emission limits.

UK considers delaying ban on sale of new petrol, diesel cars -BBC


23-09-19 17:52

The UK government is reportedly considering delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars until 2035, five years later than currently planned. The proposed delay is expected to be announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a speech in the coming days. The government is not expected to change its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. There is concern that the government under Sunak has lost its appetite for implementing difficult climate policies ahead of an expected election next year. Sunak has defended his approach, stating that the UK's record on cutting carbon emissions is better than other major countries.

France to seek minimum price for flights in Europe


23-09-19 16:54

France is seeking support from other European Union (EU) countries for a minimum price on flights within Europe in an effort to reduce the aviation sector's contribution to climate change. The move could impact airlines that offer super-cheap fares, but it may face resistance from EU countries that rely on air transport and have tourism sectors supported by low-cost flights. France aims to open a debate on the fair social and environmental price of a flight ticket, without drastically increasing prices. Some countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium support the idea, but broader support may be challenging to achieve. The proposal could disrupt the business model of carriers like Ryanair, which offers low-cost fares on European routes. Talks on taxing polluting aviation fuel have also stalled among EU countries.

Quebec’s Anticosti Island recognized as UNESCO world heritage site

The Globe and Mail

23-09-19 15:53

Quebec's Anticosti Island has been added to UNESCO's list of world heritage sites. The island is recognised for its outstanding universal value to humanity, as it contains the most complete and best-preserved paleontological record of the first mass extinction of animal life. The island will provide an opportunity for scientists to study the best-preserved fossil record of marine life, covering 10 million years of Earth history. The mayor of Anticosti Island has described the designation as the beginning of a new era for the island, but noted that infrastructure will need to be improved to accommodate an influx of visitors. The Quebec government ended oil and gas exploration on the island in 2017 to protect its natural character.

Dutch firms get up to $49 bln annually in fossil fuel subsidies -report


23-09-19 15:51

Industrial companies in the Netherlands receive between €39bn and €46bn ($42bn-$49bn) in tax breaks and subsidies annually for using fossil fuels, according to a report by the Dutch government. The subsidies include exemptions on fuel taxes and low energy tax rates for gas-consuming industries. The report was released in order to provoke an international debate on fossil fuel subsidies. The findings come amid ongoing protests by climate activists calling for an end to all fossil fuel subsidies. Outgoing climate minister Rob Jetten said that while the demand went too far, many tax breaks were the result of international agreements.

Top carbon offset projects may not cut planet-heating emissions


23-09-19 21:17

An analysis by Corporate Accountability and The Guardian has found that the majority of environmental projects used to offset greenhouse gas emissions are ineffective at cutting planet-heating emissions. The analysis examined the top 50 emission offset projects, which have sold the most carbon credits in the global market, and found that 78% of them were likely to be worthless due to fundamental failings. Another 16% were classified as problematic and potentially junk. The projects analysed included forestry schemes, hydroelectric dams, solar and wind farms, waste disposal and greener household appliances schemes. The investigation suggests that many offset schemes exaggerate climate benefits and underestimate potential harms. Overall, $1.16bn of carbon credits have been traded from projects classified as likely junk or worthless.

The findings come on the eve of the UN climate ambition summit in New York, where world leaders are expected to make further climate pledges. The investigation raises concerns that these pledges may rely on flawed market-driven solutions rather than a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. The voluntary carbon trading industry, which is worth around $2bn, has been embraced by governments and corporations as a way to claim reductions in their greenhouse gas footprint. However, the analysis suggests that the industry is exacerbating the climate emergency rather than alleviating it.


William warns against 'doom and gloom' on climate


23-09-19 19:27

Prince William, the Prince of Wales, has urged against focusing solely on the negative aspects of climate change and instead called for a sense of hope and optimism. Speaking at the announcement of the finalists for his Earthshot Prize, a global environmental initiative, the Prince stressed the importance of providing solutions and making people believe in the possibility of change. He expressed impatience for a faster scaling up of efforts to reduce environmental harm. The Earthshot Prize aims to find innovative solutions to promote sustainability and combat climate change, with five winners receiving £1m each.

Extreme plankton bloom creates marine 'dead zone' off eastern Thailand


23-09-20 01:06

An unusually dense plankton bloom in the Gulf of Thailand is creating a "dead zone" and threatening the livelihoods of local fishermen. Marine scientists have found that some areas in the gulf have over 10 times the normal amount of plankton, which is killing off marine life and turning the water a bright green. Plankton blooms typically occur one or two times a year and last for a few days, but this particular bloom is more severe than usual. Scientists believe pollution and the intense heat caused by climate change are to blame.

Strong winds fan bushfires as Australia battles spring heatwave


23-09-20 00:39

Strong winds and a rare, intense heatwave have caused dozens of bushfires across Australia's southeast, leading to extreme fire danger warnings for the greater Sydney region. Over 600 firefighters and emergency personnel are working to control 68 fires in New South Wales, with 17 still uncontained. Total fire bans are in place, and temperatures are well above average for September. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has declared an El Nino weather pattern, typically associated with wildfires and droughts, is underway. Fire crews are conducting hazard-reduction burns in preparation for the upcoming bushfire season, which could be the worst since the 2019-2020 "Black Summer" fires.

UN chief puts spotlight on 'movers,' excludes US, China at climate summit


23-09-20 00:38

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is convening a Climate Ambition Summit to build momentum ahead of the COP28 climate summit. Notable absentees from the list of 34 speakers are China, the US and the United Arab Emirates. The summit will feature speeches from leaders who are responding to Guterres' call to "accelerate" global climate action. Non-member states and international financial institutions that will get speaking slots include Allianz, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the city of London and the state of California.

Peru president proposes international pact to combat El Nino effects


23-09-20 00:02

Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has called for an international pact to address the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Boluarte emphasized the need for collaboration to mitigate the impact of El Nino, which poses risks to Peru's economy and inflation.

New Zealand hit by magnitude 6.0 quake, no serious damage reported


23-09-19 23:27

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Geraldine in New Zealand's South Island on Wednesday. The earthquake, the largest in the country this year, caused no injuries or significant damage. Over 14,000 people reported feeling the quake, some as far north as Auckland. The earthquake struck near the same area as a magnitude 6.3 quake in 2011, which killed 185 people and caused major damage in Christchurch.