World leaders from 175 countries signed the historic Paris climate accord Friday, using Earth Day as a backdrop for the ceremonial inking of a long-fought deal that aims to slow the rise of harmful greenhouse gases. “We are in a race against time.” U.N. secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.” “The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” Ban added. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the document while holding his young granddaughter. She was one of 197 children at the event to represent the parties that adopted the agreement, Ban said.
The oil industry’s knowledge of dangerous climate change stretches back to the 1960s, with newly unearthed documents showing that it was warned of “serious worldwide environmental changes” more than 45 years ago. The Stanford Research Institute presented a report to the American Petroleum Institute (API) in 1968 that warned the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels could carry an array of harmful consequences for the planet. The emergence of this stark advice follows a series of revelations that the fossil fuel industry was aware of climate change for decades, only to publicly deny its scientific basis. “Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000 and these could bring about climatic change,” the 1968 Stanford report, found and republished by the Center for International Environmental Law, states. “If the Earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans and an increase in photosynthesis. http://www.ciel.org/
The Guardian reports that The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead. In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed. The measures “threaten to drive energy-intensive industries, such as refining and petrochemicals, to relocate outside the EU with a correspondingly detrimental impact on security of supply, jobs [and] growth,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Guardian under access to documents laws.
The sun provided British homes and businesses with more power than coal-fired power stations for 24 hours two weekends ago. While solar power has previously beaten coal for electricity generation over a few hours in the UK, that Saturday was the first time this happened for a full day. Analysts said the symbolic milestone showed how dramatic coal’s decline had been due to carbon taxes, as solar had “exploded” across the UK in recent years. National Grid data gathered by climate analysts Carbon Brief showed that 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power was generated on Saturday by solar, or 4% of national demand that day, versus 21GWh from coal-fired power stations. MORE HERE.
Peabody Energy, the world’s largest privately owned coal producer, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US following a collapse in commodity prices. The move was blamed by financial analysts partly on a mistimed and debt-fuelled expansion into Australia, but others saw it as a sign that the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel was threatened by tightening environmental regulation.
For the first time, Australians can see on a map how rising sea levels will affect their house just by typing their address into a website. And they’ll soon be able to get an estimate of how much climate change will affect their property prices and insurance premiums, too. the website Coastal Risk Australia takes Google Maps and combines it with detailed tide and elevation data, as well as future sea level rise projections, allowing users to see whether their house or suburb will be inundated. Coinciding with that is the launch of a beta version of Climate Valuation, a website that gives users an estimate of how much climate change will impact their property value and insurance premiums over the life of their mortgage. http://coastalrisk.com.au/.
The UK government has been accused of including a large loophole in its legal definition of fracking which could enable companies to bypass safety regulations, according to a leading geologist. In rules that came into force on 6 April, fracking is defined by the amount of high-pressure fluid used to fracture shale rocks and release gas or oil. However, the only well fracked in the UK so far, which caused small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011, would not qualify as fracking under the definition.Furthermore, according to Prof Stuart Haszeldine at the University of Edinburgh, analysis of more than 17,000 gas wells fracked in the US from 2000-10 shows 43% would not be defined as fracking under UK rules. More than 4,500 US wells were fracked to release oil in that time but 89% would not be covered by the UK definition. The safety regulations in the new rules, such as independent inspection of the integrity of the well and sealing it after use, only apply if the drilling activity is defined as fracking.
Scotts Miracle-Gro, a major global pesticide company, just announced it will end the use of 3 dangerous bee-killing chemicals by 2017, while phasing out neonics in eight of its garden products by 2021. It is the first major pesticide company to do this, and proof that our years of dedicated campaigning is paying off. OneMiracle-Gro’s biggest competitors, Bayer, has not been so responsive. With its annual shareholder meeting weeks away, campaigners are going to take their message right to Bayer in Germany to make sure it follows suit and protects the bees. You can donate to SumofUs’s campaign here.
The European Commission is planning to relicense a controversial weedkiller that the World Health Organisation believes probably causes cancer in people, despite opposition from several countries and the European Parliament. In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer – WHO’s cancer agency – said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide made by agriculture company Monsanto and used widely with GM crops around the world, was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. It also said there was “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the time Monsanto said it could not understand the decision and that the scientific data did not support the conclusion.
Waitrose has come under fire for continuing to use a weedkiller on farmland despite banning it from its stores. The grocer delighted anti-pesticide campaigners last month after deciding to remove glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, from its shelves. At the time, Waitrose told customers the decision was part of its ‘commitment to protecting the bee population’. However The Times revealed that the supermarket is continuing to use glyphosate to kill weeds on its retail estate and at Leckford, its showcase farm in Hampshire.
Betty, a mature ash tree in Norfolk, is offering hope that ash dieback disease will not be as destructive as first feared after scientists identified her “strong tolerance” to the disease. Researchers from a government-backed consortium of universities and research centres have developed three genetic markers to enable them to predict whether a tree is likely to be tolerant to the disease, raising the possibility of using selective breeding to develop strains of disease-resistant trees.
The number of tigers in the wild has risen for the first time in more than a century, with some 3,890 counted in the latest global census, according to wildlife conservation groups. The tally marks a turnaround from the last worldwide estimate in 2010, when the number of tigers in the wild hit an all-time low of about 3,200, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum.
Leaving the EU would threaten the UK’s air and water quality, biodiversity and the countryside, a committee of MPs has warned. The UK has benefited from an EU-wide environmental cleanup in the past four decades, and giving up membership would lead to a damaging policy vacuum and an end to influence over green regulations, the commons environmental audit select committee has said in a report. Britain was once “the dirty man of Europe”, pouring out toxic pollutants that caused acid rain, industrial pollution, poor air quality, contaminated land and sewage-filled beaches. After taking on EU membership, successive governments had to mend their ways in line with rules on the environment developed over decades.