Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation as he picked up his first Oscar for his performance in the Revenant, after five acting nominations and one nomination as producer of best picture nominee Wolf of Wall Street. He thanked his director and co-star Tom Hardy for his “fierce talent on screen” and “friendship off screen” before campaigning for action to combat climate change, saying making The Revenant was “about man’s relationship to the natural world”. “Climate change is real – it is happening right now,” said DiCaprio. “It is the most urgent threat facing our species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” He asked the audience to “support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who’ll be affected by this”. He added: “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”
Conservationists are hopeful that an end to commercial whaling in Iceland has moved one step closer following media reports that no fin whales will be hunted there this summer. Kristjan Loftsson, the director of Iceland’s largest whaling company, told daily newspaper Morgunbladid on Wednesday that Hvalur HF would not be sending out vessels to slaughter the endangered whales this season because of difficulties exporting the meat to the Japanese market.
This winter will be the warmest ever for England since records began in 1659. The central England temperature figure has seen an average temperature of 7C – beating the previous high of 6.8C in 1868-69. It will also be the second wettest winter on record according to preliminary figures from the Met Office – and the wettest ever in Wales and Scotland.
Australia’s big four banks are continuing to finance fossil fuel projects despite embracing a 2C or better global warming target, according to figures from financial activists Market Forces. The Guardian says the Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and National Australia Bank signed off on loans totalling $5.5bn to coal, oil, gas and liquefied natural gas projects in 2015, a figure that is higher than three of the preceding eight years. Among the deals were eight loans for coal projects signed in Australia in 2015, with a total value of $4bn, including for struggling Whitehaven Coal, operator of the controversial Maules Creek mine. All of the projects had some financing from the big four banks, with their contributions totalling $995m.
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Some of the world’s largest consumer companies are clueless as to whether palm oil they buy from Indonesia is linked to rainforest destruction, new analysis from Greenpeace shows. The environmental group surveyed 14 companies including multinationals such as PepsiCo, Mars and Unilever, and found that none could confidently claim that no Indonesian rainforest was destroyed in the making of their products. According to the report, titled Cutting Deforestation Out Of The Palm Oil Supply Chain, most companies could not say how much came from suppliers that comply with their own environmental standards. And only one company, Ferrero, could trace nearly 100% of its palm oil back to the land where it was grown.
The Guardian reports that the Nevada regulator imposed costly new rules for residential solar customers. The decision to replace economic incentives with new higher fees pulled the carpet out from under an industry that provided 8,700 jobs in the state last year, according to the Solar Foundation, and stranded some 17,000 homeowners who have already gone solar with a financial liability on their rooftops. Three companies, including SolarCity, announced they were quitting the state, laying off about 1,000 workers.
The bank set up by the government to to fund green infrastructure and cited frequently by David Cameron as evidence of the UK’s leadership on climate change will no longer be required by law to invest in green schemes, under moves put forward by ministers. Campaigners said that changes proposed on Tuesday by small business minister Anna Soubry effectively delete the clause enshrined in legislation that gives the green investment bank its green purpose. But ministers insist the bank’s green mission will still be protected through a ‘special share’. The £3.8bn bank was established in 2012 to “accelerate the UK’s transition to a greener, stronger economy” by investing in renewable energy and other “green” schemes.
The European commission plans to give a new 15-year lease to a controversial weedkiller that was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A draft implementing law seen by the Guardian says the commission has decided it is appropriate to renew the licence for glyphosate after a lengthy review, which sparked a scientific storm. Glyphosate is a key ingredient in bestselling herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup brand and is so widely used that traces of its residues are routinely found in British breads. More on the Guardian here.
The third global coral bleaching event to be recorded is snaking its way around a warming globe, devastating reefs and now threatening the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. It was announced the bleaching event, which began in 2014, is already the longest in history and could extend well into 2017. “We may be looking at a two- to two-and-a-half-year-long event. Some areas have already seen bleaching two years in a row,” says Mark Eakin, coordinator of the Coral Reef Watch program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Corals around Hawaii have been hit twice by the event already, with Fiji last week smacked by a gust of warm water that devastated coral and killed tonnes of fish, just before Cyclone Winston tore through the island nation. Fiji had already been hit by the same extended bleaching event last year.
Air pollution both inside and outside the home causes at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to new report, which estimates the cost of the damage at £20bn. The major health impact of outdoor air pollution is relatively well known but the report, from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also highlights the less understood impact of indoor pollution, as well as the growing evidence of harm to children’s health and intelligence. Indoor air pollution is estimated to have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths across Europe in 2012, the report states. The UK government must take steps to tackle air pollution within days or face further legal action, it has been warned. The Sureme Court had already said the Givernment needed to take action and the UK is now in breach of EU air pollution rules. Environmental law firm ClientEarth has sent a final warning letter to environment secretary, Liz Truss, giving her 10 days to act or face action in the High Court. As many as 40,000 people die each year in the UK from air pollution. And in Germany, new research has shown that increasing air pollution has had a detrimental effect on Bundesliga football. Researchers at the IZA Economics Institute in Bonn will persent research later this month showing air pollution has a significant effect on professional footballer’s performance. Their research covers the 1999-2011 seasons in Gemany’s top league. The European Environment Agency puts the cost of air pollution in Europe at E200 billlion.
And climate change could kill more than 500,000 people a year globally by 2050 by making their diets less healthy, according to new research published in the Lancet. The research is the first to assess how the impacts of global warming could affect the quality of the diets available to people and found fewer fruit and vegetables would be available as a result of climatic changes. These are vital in curbing heart disease, strokes and diet-related cancers, leading the study to conclude that the health risks of climate change are far greater than thought. Climate change is already judged by doctors as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century, due to floods, droughts and increased infectious diseases, with the potential to roll back 50 years of progress.
More African elephants are being killed for ivory than are being born, despite poaching levels falling for the fourth year in a row in 2015. The new data, released on UN world wildlife day on Thursday, shows about 60% of elephant deaths are at the hands of poachers, meaning the overall population is most likely to be falling. “African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival, especially in central and west Africa where high levels of poaching are still evident,” said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which collects the data. At least 20,000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2015. But Scanlon said there were some encouraging signs, including in parts of eastern Africa, such as in Kenya, where the poaching trend has declined.
Environmentalists in Florida are celebrating the failure of an oil industry-backed bill they say would have opened a pathway to fracking in the ecologically sensitive Everglades wetlands. State lawmakers unexpectedly dropped the measure in a hearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday, just as they were about to begin debate on the controversial, high-pressure drilling practice, bowing instead to a groundswell of public opinion.
Electricity use is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions globally and in the UK, and now Julie’s Bicycle are hosting a new WEBINAR – Getting to Grips with Clean Energy to update the creative industries on green energy : Care should be taken when choosing a green electricity tariff here in the UK, as some suppliers make unverified claims about where their electricity comes from and the environmental benefits. If you are feeling tested by tariffs, Julie’s Bicycle is on hand to help you navigate and make sense of your energy options. JB will be discussing clean energy sourcing with Good Energy, the UK’s first dedicated 100% renewable electricity supplier, and ensuring you are getting a genuinely clean and green tariff. JB will be covering related topics like joint procurement, funding and investing, community energy and roof leasing, with a healthy dose of intelligence and case studies from the sector and beyond. Book your free spot by clicking the booking link here.
Julies Bicycle also let us know that applications are now open for the first International Summer Course on Sustainable Cultural Management, in partnership with mitos21 and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. This takes place between the 6th – 10th June 2016 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Sustainable Cultural Management will share knowledge and experience from cultural organisations and practitioners across Europe and North America who are pioneering “green” practice. Participants will develop new knowledge, skills and perspectives. You will come away with an understanding of sustainability from creative, governance and operational perspectives, and the tools and resources to put your learning into action. The course will cover everything from managing buildings, to creating and touring productions, creating sustainable partnerships and meaningful collaborations, and engaging audiences. There is a deadline: 15th March 2016. So Apply NOW! More information here.
And finally from JB – Doing Nothing Is Not An Option is a major Tipping Point event in partnership with Warwick Arts Centre who along with Julies Bicycle will ve exploring the role of the performing arts in leading change and shaping new stories about the present and the future. Over three days #DNNO2016 will being together 200 participants to work, play and eat together. Writers, directors, producers and others, together with climate specialists of all types – will come together to shape new ideas and develop a platform for new creative responses. We’ll also enjoy a public festival of climate related performance work. Delegates will share knowledge, experience and understanding of climate change and will leave feeling affirmed, informed and energised; their horizons broadened, their imaginations enriched and their practice developed. #DNNO2016 will also launch a round of commissions in partnership with producing organisations from across the country. 17th June 2016 (10.00 – 17.00) Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick. More information here.