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Latest Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 55 min 41 sec ago

We can’t address the climate crisis unless we also take on global inequality | Lucas Chancel

1 hour 38 min ago

This is not simply a rich versus poor countries divide: there are huge emitters in poor countries, and low emitters in rich countries

Let’s face it: our chances of staying under a 2C increase in global temperature are not looking good. If we continue business as usual, the world is on track to heat up by 3C at least by the end of this century. At current global emissions rates, the carbon budget that we have left if we are to stay under 1.5C will be depleted in six years. The paradox is that, globally, popular support for climate action has never been so strong. According to a recent United Nations poll, the vast majority of people around the world sees climate change as a global emergency. So, what have we got wrong so far?

There is a fundamental problem in contemporary discussion of climate policy: it rarely acknowledges inequality. Poorer households, which are low CO2 emitters, rightly anticipate that climate policies will limit their purchasing power. In return, policymakers fear a political backlash should they demand faster climate action. The problem with this vicious circle is that it has lost us a lot of time. The good news is that we can end it.

Lucas Chancel is co-director of the World Inequality Lab, an affiliate professor at Sciences Po, and the author of Unsustainable Inequalities: Social Justice and the Environment

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Defra may approve ‘devastating’ bee-killing pesticide, campaigners fear

2 hours 23 min ago

Department sources say emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid Cruiser SB likely to be announced

The UK government may be about to approve the use of a controversial bee-killing pesticide, wildlife groups fear.

Sources inside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) say that, after pressure from the sugar beet industry, an emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid Cruiser SB is likely to be announced in the coming weeks.

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‘Vague and weak’ policies mean Scotland could miss emission targets

6 hours 7 min ago

Climate Change Committee says Holyrood administration cannot show how it will cut CO2 by 75%

There is an “acute risk” that Scotland will miss its targets to heavily cut carbon emissions because government policies are too vague and weak, an influential advisory body has warned.

The Climate Change Committee, which advises all the UK’s governments on climate policies, said the Scottish government was currently unable to prove how it would hit its ambitious promise to cut CO2 emissions by 75% by the end of the decade.

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Boris Johnson urged to set up net-zero initiative across government

7 hours 8 min ago

Businesses, unions and green groups say ministers must ensure all policies are compatible with climate targets

Boris Johnson should set up a new cross-government initiative on reaching net-zero emissions, and subject all government policies to tests to ensure they are compatible with the climate target, businesses, unions and green campaigners have said.

Ministers should review current policies in the next few months and use the result to present a new national plan on the climate crisis before the next UN climate meeting in November 2022, the leaders urged. The UK retains the presidency of the UN climate talks until then, having hosted the Cop26 climate summit last month.

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Peter Cundall urged environmental activists to ‘never, ever give up’. His spirit will live on | Christine Milne

9 hours 53 min ago

I will always be grateful to have benefited from his sage advice and example of standing up for what you believe in

Peter Cundall is known to most Australians as a lovable gardening guru but to those of us who have fought for decades for the protection of Tasmania’s environment, he was so much more. He had a deep love of nature and was not only a champion of Tasmania’s wilderness, magnificent native forests, rivers and farmlands, he was also an outspoken champion of local people fighting for the places they love against what he saw as the state’s endemic crony capitalism.

I first heard him speak at the Crotty Road protest in 1983 during the campaign against the Franklin Dam, and again at the protests against the logging of the Lemonthyme. He was a great communicator: passionate, direct, warm, funny and fierce – leaving people inspired and ready to take action. Unlike many in the public eye, he had the courage of his convictions and was prepared to use his TV celebrity status to boost environmental campaigns.

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All coral reefs in western Indian Ocean ‘at high risk of collapse in next 50 years’

21 hours 9 min ago

Reefs from Seychelles to South Africa may become functionally extinct due to global heating and overfishing, study finds

All coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean are at high risk of collapse in the next 50 years due to global heating and overfishing, according to a new assessment.

From Seychelles to the Delagoa region off the coast of Mozambique and South Africa, the reef systems are at risk of becoming functionally extinct by the 2070s, with a huge loss of biodiversity, and threatening the livelihoods and food sources for hundreds of thousands of people.

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Old UK oilwells could be turned into CO2 burial test sites

Mon, 2021-12-06 22:00

Exclusive: Consortium of energy firms and universities says underground storage of hydrogen can also be investigated

Exhausted oil and gas wells would be turned into the UK’s first deep test sites for burying carbon dioxide next year, under plans from a consortium of universities and energy companies.

There are hundreds of active onshore oil and gas wells in the UK. But as they come to the end of their lives, some need to be redeployed for trials of pumping CO2 underground and monitoring it to ensure it does not escape, the group says. The test wells could also be used to assess how hydrogen can be stored underground.

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Free tree for every Welsh household in climate initiative

Mon, 2021-12-06 16:00

Tree-planting project aims to directly involve people in the fight against the climate crisis

Some will plant a modest fruit tree in their small back garden while those with more space might plump for a sapling that will, hopefully, grow into a mighty oak.

Over the next year or so every household in Wales is to be offered a free tree to plant as part of a Welsh government call to arms in the fight against the climate emergency.

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ACT launches interest-free loans for electric cars to boost uptake

Mon, 2021-12-06 15:30

Territory minister says policy sends ‘strong signal’ to global automakers to make more EVs available

Drivers in the Australian Capital Territory can now apply for zero-interest loans designed to boost the uptake of electric vehicles, as industry groups call for similar programs to be adopted across the country.

The loans will be available under the ACT government’s sustainable household scheme, which offers interest-free loans for solar panels, battery storage technology and other sustainable equipment. Electric vehicles were added to the program on Monday.

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'Budgie mayhem': desert in central Australia turned green and gold by budgerigar murmuration – video

Mon, 2021-12-06 13:50

After a bumper wet season, huge flocks of budgerigars are on the move in the desert.  A massive murmuration – the phenomenon of thousands of birds flocking together – has swarmed the Northern Territory. Photographer Steve Pearce has captured the natural phenomenon, saying 'The photos are always only pointing in one direction. There could have been 100,000 of them.'

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NSW plan for Kosciuszko feral horses a threat to endangered freshwater fish

Mon, 2021-12-06 02:30

Horse numbers will be reduced overall but retained in area around Tantangara Creek, the only known habitat for the stocky galaxias

A New South Wales government plan to control feral horses in Kosciuszko national park will allow horses to remain in the only known habitat of one of Australia’s most imperilled freshwater fishes and risks pushing the species closer to extinction.

Conservationists say allowing horses to continue to roam around some sections of the park will put vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems at risk.

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Hot news from two billion years ago: plankton actually moved mountains

Sun, 2021-12-05 18:30

Our planet’s geology shaped life on Earth. But now scientists reveal it worked the other way around too

The mighty forces that created our planet’s mountains in ancient days got some unexpected help, scientists have discovered. Their research shows some of Earth’s greatest ranges got a boost from primitive lifeforms whose remains lubricated movements of rock slabs and allowed them to pile up to form mountains.

If it had not been for life on Earth, the surface of our planet would have been flatter and a lot more boring, say scientists at Aberdeen and Glasgow universities where the research was carried out.

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‘Just sitting there dead’: study finds mass tree losses in NSW after severe drought

Sun, 2021-12-05 05:00

Even species ‘superbly adapted’ for Australia’s harsh conditions suffered, with up to 60% of trees dying in some areas

The drought and heatwaves that seared eastern Australia in the lead-up to the 2019-20 black summer bushfires killed as much as 60% of the trees in some areas that escaped the fires, according to new research.

While Australian species are typically hardened to extreme conditions, the record heat and dryness of 2019 pushed some common tree varieties beyond their thresholds, potentially threatening whole ecosystems if they don’t grow back.

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Environmental activists challenge ‘unlawful’ UK fossil fuel plan in high court

Sat, 2021-12-04 23:01

Climate campaigners claim the government is giving billions of pounds in subsidies to oil and gas producers

Environmental campaigners will this week ask the high court to rule that the government’s fossil fuel strategy is unlawful, in a case that could undermine the UK’s claim to be leading the fight against climate change.

The campaigners will argue that the government is effectively subsidising oil and gas production with billions of pounds in handouts, which conflicts with its legal duty to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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Hen harriers’ friend: gamekeeping turns conservation in Yorkshire

Sat, 2021-12-04 21:00

Grouse moors are not known for being friendly places for birds of prey – but the Swinton estate has a fresh attitude

In the trees beside the heather-clad, snow-smattered moorland is an elusive creature that to some conservationists is as mythical as a unicorn: a gamekeeper looking after endangered birds of prey.

“Two hen harriers coming in now,” said Gary Taylor, head keeper on the Swinton estate in North Yorkshire. Taylor is sitting in a hide he built himself overlooking one of the country’s best hen harrier roosting sites – in the middle of his boss’s grouse moor.

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Woodland walks save UK £185m a year in mental health costs, report finds

Sat, 2021-12-04 18:00

Researchers say conservative estimate shows importance of wooded areas to wellbeing, with street trees also beneficial

Walks taken by people in UK woodlands save £185m a year in mental health costs, according to a report.

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental health, but the report by Forest Research is the first to estimate the amount that woodlands save the NHS through fewer GP visits and prescriptions, reduced hospital and social service care, and the costs of lost days of work. The research also calculated that street trees in towns and cities cut an additional £16m a year from antidepressant costs.

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‘Mesmerising’: a massive murmuration of budgies is turning central Australia green and gold

Sat, 2021-12-04 05:00

After a bumper wet season, huge flocks of budgerigars are on the move in the deserts of the Northern Territory

The humble budgerigar has transformed the red centre into a sea of green and gold.

A massive murmuration – the phenomenon of thousands of birds flocking together – has swarmed the Northern Territory.

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Chalk paint and police raids: why climate activists are under fire

Sat, 2021-12-04 05:00

Heavy police tactics, punitive bail conditions, private lawsuits and anti-protest laws are being used to silence dissent, human rights advocates say

As protesters obstructed coal trains bound for the Port of Newcastle for days, the local environment centre kept its distance.

But after two weeks of disruptions caused by Blockade Australia, police officers arrived at the Hunter Valley Environment Centre on a Friday afternoon last month with a warrant to search the premises and a nearby sharehouse.

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The Guardian view on North Sea oil: keep it in the ground | Editorial

Sat, 2021-12-04 04:27

Britain won’t convince anyone else to ditch fossil fuels when it won’t do so itself

Does the decision by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to pull out of the Cambo oilfield mark the end of oil and gas investment in the North Sea? For the planet’s sake, one would hope so. However, it may be more realistic to see Shell’s act as a first victory in a longer war to keep hydrocarbons in the ground. Campaigners say that there are dozens more offshore oil and gas fields coming up for approval in the next three years. To keep the climate safe and limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, none ought to go ahead. Oil majors have lost the battle for public opinion in Scotland and this has dramatically altered the calculations for the ruling Scottish National party, which for decades ran on oil. Without supportive politics, and with the science against them, oil majors – this time – bowed out.

Despite that, and despite brandishing its credentials as a climate champion at Cop26 in Glasgow last month, the UK government still wants extractive industries to suck the seabed dry. Rather than joining an alliance of nations – led by Denmark and Costa Rica, and including France and Ireland – which have set an end date for oil and gas production and exploration, Boris Johnson will allow companies to keep exploring the North Sea for new reserves.

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