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Preview: Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk

Environment | The Guardian



Latest environmental news, opinion and analysis from the Guardian.



Published: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:08:46 GMT2017-01-22T23:08:46Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Outgoing EPA chief reveals fears Trump administration will halt climate action

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:00:01 GMT2017-01-19T12:00:01Z

EPA staff are ‘nervous’ after the president-elect promised to reduce the environment agency to ‘tidbits’ and named climate skeptic Scott Pruitt to lead it

There is “nervousness” among Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff that Donald Trump’s incoming administration will sideline science and reverse action on climate change, according to the agency’s outgoing administrator, Gina McCarthy.

McCarthy told the Guardian that the Trump administration would face resistance from multiple fronts if it ran counter to a widespread shift to renewable energy, as well as scientific opinion, by rejecting climate science and attempting to bolster the fossil fuel industry.

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Trump EPA pick: still 'some debate' over human role in climate change

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 20:15:17 GMT2017-01-18T20:15:17Z

At Senate confirmation hearing to lead Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt defends his relationship with fossil fuel industry

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency, has claimed there is still “some debate” over the role of human activity in climate change and has defended his relationship with the fossil fuel industry during a combative Senate confirmation hearing.

Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, has sued the agency he is now set to lead 14 times over the EPA’s smog, mercury and other pollution regulations. Several of these cases are still ongoing and Pruitt said he would recuse himself in dealing with these cases if instructed to do so by the EPA’s ethics board.

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Standing Rock activists clash with police – video

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:55:46 GMT2017-01-18T18:55:46Z

Amateur footage shot on Monday shows Standing Rock activists clashing with police and the National Guard, as demonstrations continue over the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Activists live streamed some of their encounters with police, which at times turned violent

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Scott Pruitt confirmation hearing for Environmental Protection Agency: the key points

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:00:08 GMT2017-01-18T13:00:08Z

A climate change skeptic who has sued the agency, Pruitt faces opposition from Democrats and environmentalists who say he’s too cozy with fossil fuel industry

Environmental Protection Agency administrator

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Trump interior secretary pick on climate change: 'I don’t believe it’s a hoax'

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:28:26 GMT2017-01-18T00:28:26Z

Ryan Zinke distanced himself from the president-elect in confirmation hearing: ‘The climate is changing. The debate is what is that influence and what can we do’

Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of interior, Ryan Zinke, distanced himself from the president-elect on Tuesday, saying “the climate is changing. The debate is what is that influence and what can we do”.

Zinke, a two-term congressman for Montana, had been asked by Bernie Sanders about Trump’s infamous 2012 tweet where the real estate developer described climate change as “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”.

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Protests escalate over Louisiana pipeline by company behind Dakota Access

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 12:00:15 GMT2017-01-15T12:00:15Z

Louisiana residents are starting to get involved in environmental issues and are making themselves heard about the disputed Bayou Bridge pipeline

Scott Eustis did not stop smiling for hours. The coastal wetland specialist with the Gulf Restoration Network was attending a public hearing in Baton Rouge. Its subject was a pipeline extension that would run directly through the Atchafalaya Basin, the world’s largest natural swamp. Eustis was surprised to be joined by more than 400 others.

“This is like 50 times the amount of people we have at most of these meetings,” said Eustis, adding that the proposed pipeline was “the biggest and baddest I’ve seen in my career”.

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Patagonia, Black Diamond take on Utah officials over public land rights

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 13:30:27 GMT2017-01-14T13:30:27Z

The outdoor industry is leading the fight to protect America’s public lands from being developed for gas and oil

Utah, a state rich in epic landscapes and national parks, is becoming ground zero for a fight between the $646bn outdoor industry and state lawmakers over public land management.

At a trade show for outdoor clothing and gear makers in Salt Lake City this week, two prominent figures from the industry called on their peers to move the semi-annual event out of the state unless Utah leaders stop supporting efforts by Republicans in Congress to transfer or sell federal land to states. Utah governor Gary Herbert was also called out for challenging a federal law that allowed President Obama to create the new, 1.4m-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah last month.

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Farmers helped elect Trump, but will their livelihoods actually improve?

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:02:56 GMT2017-01-12T18:02:56Z

Donald Trump’s trade and immigration policies will protect big agriculture but leave smaller businesses to fail

The most significant event in food and agriculture over the past year did not take place on our farms. Nor did it occur in our factories, in our restaurants or on our kitchen tables. It happened in the voting booth.

Rural voters turned out in overwhelming support of Donald Trump, throwing a Hail Mary pass against the growing economic hardship felt by these communities. Caught in a toxic cycle of depressed commodity prices, rising debt and plummeting income, it comes as no surprise that American farmers voted en masse for change and the hope of different leadership with new ideas.

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Fiat Chrysler used software to cheat diesel emissions testing, EPA alleges

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:16:43 GMT2017-01-12T17:16:43Z

The car company installed software in multiple models that ‘increases air pollution’ for three years, in violation of the Clean Air Act, EPA claims

The US Environmental Protection Agency has accused a second major car company, Fiat Chrysler, of cheating on its diesel emissions testing by using secret software applications in multiple models.

Related: Six Volkswagen executives charged with fraud over emissions cheating

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Rex Tillerson is big oil personified. The damage he can do is immense | Bill McKibben

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:00:18 GMT2017-01-11T12:00:18Z

Now a fossil fuel executive will run America’s foreign policy, right out in the open. Donald Trump gets credit for a kind of barbaric transparency

In one of the futile demonstrations that marked the run-up to the Iraq war, I saw a woman with a sign that read “How Did Our Oil End Up Under Their Sand?” In nine words she managed to sum up a great deal of American foreign policy, back at least as far as the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadegh in Iran and helped toss the Middle East into its still-boiling cauldron.

If the Senate approves Rex Tillerson after his testimony on Wednesday, they’ll be continuing in that inglorious tradition – in fact, they’ll be taking it to a new height, and cutting out the diplomats who have traditionally played the middleman role.

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Businesses and investors renew plea to Trump: don't ignore climate change

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:17:35 GMT2017-01-10T15:17:35Z

A letter released today contains signatures from 530 companies including Campbell Soup and Johnson & Johnson, urging the president-elect to take action

More than 600 businesses and investors signed and released a letter on Tuesday urging president-elect Donald Trump to fight climate change – a move that coincides with the start of the Senate hearings to confirm his cabinet nominees, who are poised to gut existing climate policies.

The letter contains signatures from roughly 200 more companies and investors than when it was initially submitted after the election in November, including Campbell Soup, Johnson & Johnson and the New York State Retirement Fund. The previous plea was signed by companies like Monsanto, eBay, Levi Strauss and Staples.

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Indian Point nuclear plant in New York will close after dozens of 'safety events'

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:02:44 GMT2017-01-09T21:02:44Z

New York City secured agreement with facility’s operator for shutdown in about four years, following radioactive leak that contaminated groundwater last year

The Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York, which last year leaked radioactive material into groundwater near New York City, will close by April 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

Related: New York investigates radioactive leak in groundwater near city

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VW executive charged with fraud in connection to emissions cheating

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:50:27 GMT2017-01-09T17:50:27Z

Oliver Schmidt, Volkswagen’s former US head of compliance, would have been in charge of the company’s adherence to emissions regulations during the scandal

A Volkswagen executive was charged on Monday with conspiracy to defraud the United States in the latest chapter of the long-running scandal over the company’s deliberate cheating on emissions tests.

Oliver Schmidt, who was general manager in charge of VW’s environmental and engineering office in Michigan, did not enter a plea at an initial appearance in US district court in Miami on Monday and was ordered held pending a hearing on Thursday.

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Obama puts pressure on Trump to adhere to US climate change strategy

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:31:25 GMT2017-01-09T17:31:25Z

The US president has been writing for academic journals to pre-empt arguments Trump or Republicans are likely to use to roll back his key accomplishments

Barack Obama called the adoption of clean energy in the US “irreversible” on Monday, putting pressure on his successor, Donald Trump, not to back away from a core strategy to fight climate change.

Obama, penning an opinion article in the journal Science, sought to frame the argument in a way that might appeal to the president-elect: in economic terms. He said the fact that the cost and polluting power of energy had dropped at the same time proved that fighting climate change and spurring economic growth were not mutually exclusive.

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Native Americans fight Texas pipeline using 'same model as Standing Rock'

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 11:00:15 GMT2017-01-09T11:00:15Z

The Two Rivers camp, protesting the Trans-Pecos pipeline, is the latest sign that the Standing Rock movement is inspiring indigenous-led activism across the US

Indigenous activists have set up camps in the Texas desert to fight a pipeline project there, the latest sign that the Standing Rock “water protector” movement is inspiring Native American-led environmental protests across the US.

The Two Rivers camp, located south of Marfa near the border, has attracted dozens of demonstrators in its first week to protest the Trans-Pecos pipeline, a 148-mile project on track to transport fracked natural gas through the Big Bend region to Mexico.

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Will new FDA rules curb the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs?

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 13:30:19 GMT2017-01-08T13:30:19Z

The meat industry is facing mounting pressure to phase out antibiotic use. Here, we trace how a widespread use of those drugs can be bad for public health

New federal rules went into effect last week that ban the use of antibiotics to help livestock gain weight, a practice that leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose health threats to humans. Meat producers will also need a veterinary prescription to use these drugs for other purposes such as treating or preventing disease.

The new rules by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) represent a broad attempt to limit antibiotic use in farm animals, not just banning a class of antibiotic for a type of livestock. Historically, antibiotics are given regularly to chicken, cattle, pigs and other animals not only to treat diseases but also to prevent them and to make the animals grow faster and bigger. But most of the antibiotics given to them are also used to treat humans and referred to as “medically important”.

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The biggest environmental battles facing the Trump administration

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 13:00:06 GMT2017-01-05T13:00:06Z

Some flashpoints for environmental activists relating to climate change that are likely to erupt in the first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency

Donald Trump is likely to face unprecedented opposition from environmental groups during his presidency as activists prepare to battle the new administration on a number of fronts across the US.

While environmentalists clashed with Barack Obama over the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines, these fights could pale in comparison to the array of grievances Trump will face over water security, fracking and climate change.

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The five innovations that shaped sustainability in 2016

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 23:00:08 GMT2017-01-01T23:00:08Z

From edible cutlery to drone vaccines, we celebrate the technologies and innovations that promise to advance sustainability efforts in the years ahead

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. In the world of sustainability alone, we saw the landmark Paris climate change agreement come into force; learned how rising temperatures in the Arctic are negatively impacting local residents; and watched as the world’s top conservationists mourned the declining state of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

And then, a bombshell: a certain “short-fingered vulgarian” won the US presidential race and called into question everything from America’s basic environmental protection to Nasa’s ongoing climate change research. Corporate America took evasive action, signing a letter telling Donald Trump it is serious about sustainability, while others began unpacking Trump’s emphasis on “clean coal” and what it really means for the future of energy in the US.

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Whale spotted in New York's East river thought to be a humpback

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 19:49:20 GMT2016-12-31T19:49:20Z

  • NYPD posts photo of whale swimming near mayor’s mansion
  • Another humpback took up residence in Hudson river last month

A large whale, believed to be a humpback, was spotted in the East river in New York City on Saturday.

Related: New York's whales to be studied for the first time

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Obama leaves 'phenomenal legacy' of protecting historic and natural land

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 13:30:29 GMT2016-12-31T13:30:29Z

The president designated large landscapes as well as places significant to landmark social movements, highlighting ‘under-told parts of American history’

This week, Barack Obama added two more regions to the US’s collection of national monuments, in a final push to protect the country’s historic and natural landscapes before he leaves office. Obama has used the law more than any previous president since the Antiquities Act was enacted in 1906.

Related: Barack Obama designates two national monuments in west despite opposition

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Green news quiz: how well do you know 2016's biggest sustainability stories?

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 17:58:48 GMT2016-12-29T17:58:48Z

How closely have you been following enviro and green business headlines this year? Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the biggest sustainability storiesIn February, a consortium of businesses and environmental groups, including Kimberly Clark and Canada’s Globe and Mail, won a 16-year fight to restrict logging in which rainforest?Great Bear, British ColumbiaTongass National Forest, AlaskaHoh Rainforest, WashingtonMount Hood, OregonAccording to a report from the US Department of Agriculture, nearly 30% of which type of pollinator died last winter in the US because of pesticide use and habitat loss? Bumble beesButterfliesHoney beesBeetlesWhich company debuted a meat-free burger in New York and California restaurants this year that bleeds like beef but is made entirely from plants? Modern MeadowMemphis MeatsBeyond MeatImpossible FoodsWhich type of renewable energy project has been a target of Trump’s hate tweets because of its proximity to one of his golf courses?Solar HydropowerOffshore windNuclearThis summer, Tesla finalized a $2.6bn deal to buy a power company that produces solar "shingles" – photovoltaic material that can be fashioned into the shape of a roof. What is the name of that company?First SolarSolarCitySun PowerTrump SolarIn September, which US state became the first to introduce overtime for its farm workers?CaliforniaIowaTexasIllinois Which fast food chain received an "A" from the National Resources Defence Council for its efforts phase out antibiotics in its meat products?McDonald’s Chick-Fil-ABurger KingChipotleA tech giant issued $1.5bn in green bonds this year to fund renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation efforts. Who was it?FacebookAppleGoogleMicrosoftAccording to a study by four environmental groups, how much in annual subsidies does the Canadian government offer to its oil and gas companies?Nothing$5m$3.3bn$1.3bnIn November, nearly 400 companies and nonprofits signed a letter to Donald Trump to express support for the Paris climate agreement. Which of these companies didn't sign?MonsantoTiffany & CoStaplesCisco2 and above.Oops! Better read more Guardian Sustainable Business in 2017 if you want to impress your friends.1 and above.Oops! Better read more Guardian Sustainable Business in 2017 if you want to impress your friends.3 and above.Not bad! Still, could be better..4 and above.Not bad! Still, could be better..5 and above.Good job! We can tell you're the smart one at dinner parties.8 and above.Good job! We can tell you're the smart one at dinner parties.7 and above.Good job! We can tell you're the smart one at dinner parties.6 and above.Good job! We can tell you're the smart one at dinner parties.10 and above.Aced it!9 and above.Aced it!0 and above.Oops! Better read more Guardian Sustainable Business in 2017 if you want to impress your friends. Continue reading...[...]


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Businesses no longer have an excuse not to disclose their climate risks

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 13:00:04 GMT2016-12-29T13:00:04Z

New recommendations will help companies to predict the impact of climate change on their finances – and give us more firepower to demand disclosure

It is vitally important for investors to understand the risks that climate change may pose to the businesses they have invested in – and the opportunities in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. It’s not an easy task. Climate change may be one of the world’s best-modeled processes in physics, but in finance, the information is scarce. The projections are opaque. There is no consensus on which data matters or how to interpret it.

Related: Why is corporate America picking wind power over solar?

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Standing Rock activists eye pipeline finances to cement Dakota Access win

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 11:00:02 GMT2016-12-29T11:00:02Z

Operator has suggested that shippers had a right to terminate their contracts with the project if the pipeline was not operating by a 1 January deadline

Indigenous activists are focussing on the Dakota Access pipeline’s finances before Donald Trump takes office in an effort to further strain the oil corporation and cause continuing delays that they hope could be disastrous for the project.

After the Obama administration denied the company a key permit to finish construction, Native American activists warned that the win was only temporary and that Trump, an investor in the pipeline corporation, would seek to quickly advance the project next year.

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Barack Obama designates two national monuments in west despite opposition

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 23:32:14 GMT2016-12-28T23:32:14Z

Designation of Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada mark last moves to protect environmentally sensitive areas in administration’s final weeks

President Barack Obama designated two national monuments at sites in Utah and Nevada that have become key flashpoints over use of public land in the west, marking the administration’s latest move to protect environmentally sensitive areas in its final weeks.

The Bears Ears national monument in Utah will cover 1.35m acres in the Four Corners region, the White House said. In a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists, the designation protects land that is considered sacred and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

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A toxic leak left Corpus Christi with no water for days. A taste of things to come? | Sarah McClung

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 16:44:17 GMT2016-12-21T16:44:17Z

Trump has installed people in key environmental protection positions who seem to care more for profits than people. Now we fear for our safety

Corpus Christi, Texas, calls itself the “sparkling city by the sea”. But lately it doesn’t feel very sparkling. The city imposed a four-day ban on consuming any tap water last Wednesday. No one could drink the water, shower, bathe, do dishes, wash laundry, hands, faces or children with it. There were fears that a corrosive asphalt emulsifier Indulin AA86 had snuck all the way from the city’s industrial district into our homes due to a “back-flow incident”. There was water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

On 1 December, the Corpus Christi city hall received the first report of dirty water from Refinery Row. On 7 December the city hall received their second, on 12 December their third. By then the water was shimmery, sudsy – just the kind of sheen we would soon fear creeping into our commodes.

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Barnaby Joyce won't rule out dumping Renewable Energy Target

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 21:54:28 GMT2017-01-22T21:54:28Z

Deputy prime minister criticises ‘romantic’ targets set by states as some Coalition MPs call to ditch RET if US pulls out of Paris climate deal

Barnaby Joyce has refused to commit the government to maintain the Renewable Energy Target, after a report that conservative Coalition MPs want to ditch it if the United States pulls out of the Paris climate agreement.

The deputy prime minister ruled out pulling out of the Paris agreement, but criticised “romantic” renewable targets set by states and said MPs were free to think and say what they like about the RET.

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Not even the tennis can distract us from how badly this government is doing | Greg Jericho

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:00:11 GMT2017-01-21T21:00:11Z

Most political garbage gets taken out just before Christmas but new reports slipped through the net – and they deserve notice

When the news is bad, governments love distractions, and this week the Australian Open has been excellent for diverting voters’ attention from more examples of how badly this government is at governing.

To be fair to Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic, it’s not all their doing. This government – like many others before – has purposefully used the summer holidays to avoid scrutiny.

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Batteries included: Yorkshire village seeks to solve riddle of too much sun

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 08:00:30 GMT2017-01-21T08:00:30Z

Moixa trial at Oxspring to see if UK-made home batteries can store and use local solar power for longer, bypass National Grid and cut energy bills

The bungalows of Oxspring may look an unlikely testing ground for a new technology billed as a way to help renewable power, stymie energy price rises and aid the local power grid.

But later this month, dozens of homes in this South Yorkshire village will have a home battery installed as part of a £250,000 trial to see if they can make solar power more valuable to homeowners and less painful for grid managers.

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Acland coalmine: Josh Frydenberg gives approval to $900m expansion

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 06:36:01 GMT2017-01-20T06:36:01Z

New Hope project is still waiting on state permits and the outcome of a legal challenge in land court

A controversial $900m expansion of Queensland’s Acland open-cut coalmine has received federal government approval.

The environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, made the announcement on Friday, but the New Hope project is still waiting on state permits and the outcome of a legal challenge in the land court.

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Australia’s conservative government fiddles on climate policy while the country burns | Lenore Taylor

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 05:09:03 GMT2017-01-20T05:09:03Z

When Malcolm Turnbull deposed Tony Abbott as prime minister, serious action on global warming was hoped for – but almost nothing has changed

Australia’s January news has been full of official reports of record-breaking extreme weather devastating our ecosystems on land and in the sea and government ministers suggesting we build new coal-fired power stations, provide billion-dollar subsidised loans to rail lines for new coal mega-mines, increase coal exports to reduce temperature rises and reduce our ambitions for renewable power.

The disconnect is glaring but perhaps dimmed in the eyes of some readers because Australian politicians have been dissembling on climate change for decades, pretending it will be possible to do what we must without any impact on our position as the world’s largest coal exporter or our domestic reliance on brown coal-fired power, or without incurring any costs.

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Carbon capture scheme collapsed 'over government department disagreements'

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:01:16 GMT2017-01-20T00:01:16Z

Publicly funded competition had already cost £100m when it was cancelled by the Treasury amid concerns over cost to consumers

A publicly funded scheme to reduce carbon emissions collapsed, after running up costs of £100m, following a disagreement between government departments, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has concluded.

Ministers launched a competition for developing technology to capture carbon emissions before Treasury officials cancelled the project, a report by the National Audit Office has found.

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Alcoa's Portland smelter rescued by federal and state government bailout

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 23:07:28 GMT2017-01-19T23:07:28Z

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announces four-year deal to keep aluminium plant open and federal government will also contribute

The federal and Victorian governments have announced a rescue package for the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Portland, including $30m in federal funds in return for a guarantee it will stay open until at least 2021.

Malcolm Turnbull announced the package with premier Daniel Andrews in Portland, Victoria on Friday. It comes as Alcoa finalised a new four-year power supply agreement with AGL Energy.

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More voters blame energy price rises on privatisation than renewables – polling

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:16:46 GMT2017-01-19T22:16:46Z

Only 17.7% of respondents in polling commissioned by GetUp believe renewable energy is the primary culprit

Australian voters have not been swayed by a campaign attempting to blame rising power prices on renewable energy, according to new polling commissioned by GetUp.

Conservative media, as well as the federal government, have been attacking renewable energy, blaming it for rising power bills as well as blackouts that were caused by extreme weather.

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Protectionism and the fight against climate change | Letters

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:24:19 GMT2017-01-19T19:24:19Z

You rather spoiled your commendable editorial (19 January) on making America great again by going green, when you dismissed the idea of protectionist carbon tariffs on those US exports made artificially cheap by being produced using subsidised fossil fuels. This could be an important transitional step to shifting a world economy already falling out of love with globalisation towards one shaped by green “progressive protectionism”. At its heart would be an emphasis on protecting and rebuilding sustainable local economies. This would offer a far more secure future for the majority than the socially and environmentally destructive form of global economic warfare inherent in international competitiveness and export-led growth.

Prioritising the domestic would allow massive funding for a long-term, climate-healing “jobs in every community” approach of making all buildings and transport systems energy efficient and powered by decentralised renewables. It would also see off rightwing populists by providing long-term employment for those parts of the “left behind” that can’t be reached by any other form of economic activity. The threat of carbon tariffs on relevant US exports could well be a useful tool towards pushing Trump to shift his promised increase in infrastructure investment into one that would be a nationwide, decentralised job generator that also helped tackle climate change.
Colin Hines
(Author, Progressive Protectionism) London

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Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue and millions of jobs

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:39:10 GMT2017-01-19T14:39:10Z

Though recreation on public lands creates $646bn in economic stimulus and 6.1m jobs, Republicans are setting in motion a giveaway of Americans’ birthright

In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens.

At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn each year in economic stimulus from recreation on public lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

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60mph speed limit for M1 under consideration to combat air pollution

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 13:22:10 GMT2017-01-22T13:22:10Z

Highways England plans to introduce Britain’s first pollution-linked speed limits to help reduce smog over Sheffield

A proposal to impose Britain’s first pollution-linked speed limits in order to help ease smog over Sheffield is being considered by Highways England.

A 60mph speed limit at rush-hour when vehicle numbers are highest where the M1 runs close to schools and homes in the city could help address air quality concerns, a report commissioned by the agency found.

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UK scientists bid to solve mystery deaths of hundreds of baby southern right whales

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 00:03:14 GMT2017-01-22T00:03:14Z

Two-year project aims to learn why carcasses have washed up on Argentina’s coast

Researchers are to launch an investigation into the unexplained deaths of hundreds of young southern right whales, one of the planet’s most vulnerable marine species.

The £740,000 project – jointly funded by Defra, the UK environment department, and the EU – will involve researchers tagging whales and calves, tracking them by satellite and identifying individuals by taking DNA samples. The aim is find out why the carcasses of almost 500 young southern right whales have washed up on Argentina’s Valdés Peninsula, one of the species’ key calving areas, over the past decade.

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Jarvis Cocker fronts campaign to save Sheffield trees

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:25:54 GMT2017-01-20T16:25:54Z

Pop star enters dispute over felling of roadside trees as it emerges council leader has not seen full version of Amey contract

He may be one of Sheffield’s best-known pop stars but Jarvis Cocker has become the unlikely frontman of a bid to secure the future of the city’s trees amid a long-running battle with council bosses.

The former Pulp singer is fronting a competition to find the city’s greatest tree, as part of a campaign to save hundreds of roadside trees from being felled by council contractors.

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Parks at risk: green campaigners launch crowdsourcing study

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:34:55 GMT2017-01-20T10:34:55Z

MPs and council leaders to face questions about their plans for local parks and green spaces amid concern about cuts

Thousands of people are expected to take part in a crowdsourced investigation to find out how many of England’s parks and green spaces are at risk.

The campaign group 38 degrees is asking its members to contact local council leaders to ask about their plans for parks, and will help them send follow-up questions in freedom of information requests.

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Man killed by crocodile at Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu national park

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:33:43 GMT2017-01-19T21:33:43Z

A 47-year-old man was taken after trying to wade across the East Alligator river, Northern Territory police say

A man has been killed by a crocodile at Cahill’s Crossing in Kakadu national park.

Northern Territory police said the 47-year-old man was attempting to wade across the East Alligator river with two women about 4pm on Thursday when he was taken by a 3.5-metre saltwater crocodile. The two women, who made it across the river, did not witness the attack but raised the alarm when they saw he was gone.

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Sea levels could rise by six to nine metres over time, new study warns

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:00:10 GMT2017-01-19T19:00:10Z

Evidence that continental ice sheets are sensitive to slight increases in ocean temperature suggests ocean levels will continue to rise for centuries

Sea surface temperatures today are strikingly similar to those during the last interglacial period, when sea levels were six to nine metres above their present height, according to research.

The findings provide compelling evidence that Greenland and Antarctica’s continental ice sheets are highly sensitive to slight increases in ocean temperatures, and raise the prospect of sea levels continuing to rise for many centuries.

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How you can help the planet as 2016 declared hottest year yet | The daily briefing

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:46:17 GMT2017-01-19T13:46:17Z

Guardian highlights climate change on eve of Trump presidency; Anti-inauguration party celebrates popular vote win; Obama defends Manning release

In the lead-up to Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, the Guardian is running 24 hours of live uninterrupted digital coverage focused on climate change, and what you can do to help the planet. Trump, who is openly skeptical that climate change is caused by humans and has appointed many climate change deniers and sceptics to cabinet positions, comes into office as 2016 was declared the hottest year on record. The Guardian spoke with more than a dozen leading global voices on climate change, who urged the incoming president to make America great again by embracing the trillion-dollar green tech industry. We’ve partnered with Univision who are running a parallel blog in Spanish.

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Top climate experts give their advice to Donald Trump

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:25:59 GMT2017-01-20T11:25:59Z

We asked the world’s climate leaders for their messages to Trump ahead of his inauguration as the 45th US president

To fulfil his campaign slogan of “make America great again”, Donald Trump must back the boom in green technology – that was the message from the leading climate figures ahead of his inauguration as president on Friday.

Unleashing US innovation on the trillion-dollar clean technology market will create good US jobs, stimulate its economy, maintain the US’s political leadership around the globe and, not least, make the world a safer place by tackling climate change, the experts told the Guardian.

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From Asia to outback Australia, farmers are challenged by climate change | Anika Molesworth

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 02:30:32 GMT2017-01-20T02:30:32Z

Not a day goes by that I don’t stand in awe at under-resourced and vulnerable farmers committed to moving mountains despite the odds against them

For those standing on the precipice of life the impacts of climate change are an ever present reality. The rural poor in Southeast Asia are some of the most vulnerable to climate extremes and seasonal vagaries. For these farmers, many who live at subsistence level and survive on less that $1US a day, life is a high-wire act with no safety net.

One stroke of bad luck – a drought, flood or pest outbreak – and they tumble further into hardship. Yet, here in Cambodia I work at an agricultural research centre with the most humbling and inspiring people. Not a day goes by that I don’t stand in awe at an under-resourced team committed to moving mountains despite the odds lined up against them.

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Writing about climate change: my professional detachment has finally turned to panic | Michael Slezak

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 23:40:57 GMT2017-01-19T23:40:57Z

I’ve maintained a wall between my job and my emotional response to it, but this month I’ve felt dread rising about looming disaster, and it’s an awakening

Until recently, like a sociopath might have little feelings when witnessing violence, I’ve managed to have relatively mild emotional responses to climate change.

For five years I’ve been covering climate change – the science that underpins it, the things that are driving it, the devastation it is wreaking, and the desperate measures we need to urgently put in place to mitigate it. (Not to mention the reporting I’ve done on the pathetic politics surrounding it.)

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As Thatcher understood, true Tories cannot be climate change deniers | John Gummer

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:04:33 GMT2017-01-19T12:04:33Z

With climate sceptics moving to the White House, it’s crucial the US right recognises free markets are uncomfortable for incumbents but essential

Conservatives cannot properly be climate deniers. At the heart of their political stance is a desire to hand on something better to the future than they have received from the past. Now that climate science is so clear, a recognition of the duty to act to protect the next generation follows naturally. Of course, Conservatives have been somewhat cautious. Constitutionally, they don’t chase after novelty and it’s in their character to question fashionable theories.

So we shouldn’t be surprised at the genesis of Margaret Thatcher’s commitment to fighting climate change. As a Conservative she wasn’t a pushover, but as a scientist, she rigorously tested the science and was convinced. Once convinced she saw the imperative to act, and that made her the first leader of a major economy to commit to the Rio Earth Summit. In turn, it was her influence that brought George Bush to the table.

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Parts of United States are heating faster than globe as a whole | John Abraham

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:00:01 GMT2017-01-17T11:00:01Z

A new study shows the Northeast USA will reach the dangerous 2°C warming threshold faster than most of the rest of the planet

Global warming obviously refers to temperature increases across the entire globe. We know the Earth is warming, we know it is human-caused, we have a pretty good idea about how much the warming will be in the future and what some of the consequences are. In fact, when it comes to the Earth’s average climate, scientists have a pretty good understanding.

On the other hand, no one lives in the average climate. We live spread out north, west, east, and south. On islands, large continents, inland or in coastal regions. Many of us want to know what’s going to happen to the climate where we live. How will my life be affected in the future?

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We need a Ladybird book of climate change deniers | Patrick Barkham

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:28:45 GMT2017-01-16T18:28:45Z

Prince Charles has been signed up by the publishers to write an expert’s book. But maybe readers nowadays prefer spoofs

My twins are “studying” Jack and the Beanstalk, and I’ve just packed them off to school with my battered copy of Ladybird’s Well-Loved Tales.

I’ve collected a few old Ladybirds from car boot sales because they are beautiful and nostalgic, hailing from a time when truths were simpler and there was faith in the future. My favourite is The Story of Newspapers, a Ladybird Achievements Book that is testimony to the speed of terrifying technical obsolescence – and welcome progress. A drawing of a newsroom where all 14 journalists are men shows the past wasn’t always lovely.

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New studies show Rex Tillerson is wrong about climate risks | Dana Nuccitelli

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:00:22 GMT2017-01-16T11:00:22Z

The remaining climate change uncertainties point toward higher risks and greater urgency for action

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State – and until recently the CEO of ExxonMobil – Rex Tillerson was given a confirmation hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. In his testimony, Tillerson accepted the reality of human-caused global warming and that “The risk of climate change does exist and the consequences of it could be serious enough that action should be taken.”

While he accepted the problem exists, Tillerson nevertheless proceeded to downplay its risks, saying:

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UK Police defend choice to warn thousands to evacuate as storm falters

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 20:30:04 GMT2017-01-14T20:30:04Z

East coast residents have derided the severe storm warnings as ‘a load of rubbish’

Police and Environment Agency officials today defended their decision to warn tens of thousands of people living near the east coast of England to leave their homes because they were at risk of flooding.

Thousands were evacuated on Friday after the Environment Agency issued 17 severe weather warnings – which warn of danger to life – with people living in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex told they were most at risk.

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Is the justice system failing British cyclists? Help us find out

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 07:00:21 GMT2017-01-12T07:00:21Z

The co-chair of parliament’s all-party cycling committee introduces its inquiry into how cyclists are treated by the police and courts

What stops more people from cycling? The answer is clear: too many people feel unsafe using Britain’s roads.

Almost two-thirds of people agree with the statement, “It is too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads.” Yet roads are too often all that people have available to them.

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If you were an elephant …

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 05:00:28 GMT2017-01-19T05:00:28Z

… the world would be a brighter, smellier, noisier place – and you would be a better, wiser, kinder person. The author of Being a Beast explains all

If you were an elephant living wild in a western city, you’d be confused and disgusted.

You’d have one two-fingered hand swinging from your face – a hand as sensitive as tumescent genitals, but which could smash a wall or pick a cherry. With that hand you’d explore your best friends’ mouths, just for the sake of friendship. With that hand you’d smell water miles away and the flowers at your feet. You’d sift it all, triaging. Category 1: immediate danger. Category 2: potential threat. Category 3: food and water. Category 4: weather forecasts – short and long range. Category 5: pleasure.

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Water relief for 8,000 thirsty elephants neglected by Zimbabwe

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:07:43 GMT2017-01-11T13:07:43Z

Boreholes set up by local conservationists are saving drought-stricken elephants in Hwange national park

As a drought-inducing El Niño settled over southern Africa in 2016, the animals of Hwange national park in Zimbabwe faced desperate water shortages.

During a heatwave in October, conservation worker Prince Sansole spotted an elephant partially submerged in a muddy pool. His movements initially looked no different from the water games routinely played by the giant creatures. Only a closer look revealed that the young bull was in trouble, struggling to get up. His limp trunk kept dropping back into the water, unable to catch a fresh breath.

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Alone, China's ban on ivory could make life worse for elephants

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 21:00:00 GMT2017-01-06T21:00:00Z

China has ordered all its legal ivory carvers and traders to get of the business by the end of the year. But it will have to do more if it really wants to stop poaching

China’s ban on ivory trading and processing has been hailed as a monumental step on the path to saving elephants from extinction. But if China does not simultaneously tackle its much larger illegal trade in ivory, the ban could perversely make it more lucrative for the poaching gangs who massacre Africa’s elephants and ship their tusks to Asia.

Related: 'Elephants are not the only victims': the lament of China's ivory lovers

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'Elephants are not the only victims': the lament of China's ivory lovers

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 21:00:00 GMT2017-01-06T21:00:00Z

For years China’s ivory carvers and collectors have been blamed for elephant poaching. Now their government is banning the ivory trade. How do they see their future?

In a tiny workshop at his home in the Tai Po district of Hong Kong, 84-year-old Au Yue-Shung shows me an ivory carving he has been working on for months. Measuring just 5x10 inches, Nine Sages in Mount Xiang depicts the 9th-century poet Bai Juyi and eight of his peers in full creative flow in Henan province, far from the imperial court that Bai once served. The point of the story is that the sages tried to maintain their integrity by staying close to nature and art, and away from the ugly politics of the time. This is a piece that Au created for himself rather than a client. It is his statement about life after going through many ups and downs.

Born during the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, Au joined Guangzhou’s Daxin ivory carving factory at the age of 13 as an apprentice. With only one year’s formal education and with no one caring to teach him, he taught himself drawing and carving in his spare time. Unable to afford drawing paper, he drew on toilet paper. His gift was soon recognised and by the late 1960s he had become a key carving artist at Daxin. Later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, he decided that he had had enough of the political and artistic repression.

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World's smallest elephants killed for ivory in Borneo

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 11:42:48 GMT2017-01-03T11:42:48Z

Asian elephants have faced less poaching than their African cousins but the latest grisly finds have led conservationists to worry for their survival

Even the planet’s smallest elephants, tucked away on the island of Borneo, are no longer immune to the global poaching crisis for ivory.

On New Year’s Eve, wildlife officials in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, found the bones of a beloved male elephant, nicknamed Sabre for his unusual tusks that slanted downwards like the extinct sabre-toothed tiger’s canines.

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Zimbabwe ships live elephants to wildlife parks in China

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 19:43:41 GMT2016-12-23T19:43:41Z

Wildlife advocates said the animals, which were being readied for shipment on Friday night, were unsuitable for live export

More than 30 wild elephants were being readied on Friday evening for an airlift from Zimbabwe to captivity in China, according to wildlife advocates.

The founder of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, Johnny Rodrigues, said on Friday that their plane was still at Victoria Falls airport because officials could not find scales big enough to weigh the animals, which were confined inside heavy crates.

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'There's an elephant in the flowerbed again!'

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 06:00:12 GMT2016-12-19T06:00:12Z

What’s it like to live among elephants, to know that at any moment you might find yourself face to face with something so awe-inspiring – and so dangerous?

My family and I have lived on the edge of the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary in the Nilgiri mountains, south India, for over three decades now. The children grew up here. Yet the thrill of knowing there’s an elephant in the garden is a feeling we all still savour. We cherish our elephant memories and can’t ever seem to become blasé about them.

Our elephant adventures began in 1984 when, with our one-year-old daughter, my husband and I crossed the jungle in a dilapidated jeep, sticking behind a lorry for comfort and company. The herds of elephants standing like sentinels on either side of the Bandipur-Mudumalai forest highway had us frantically praying for our safety. Mostly, one elephant, the matriarch, would trumpet loudly, warning us off, especially if there were young calves with the herd. Then she would angrily paw the ground as a prelude to charging. We would race away before she could carry out her threat.

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[标题] 保护大象:叫停合法象牙贸易远远不够

Sat, 17 Dec 2016 14:28:33 GMT2016-12-17T14:28:33Z

关闭全球合法象牙交易市场对拯救大象具有重要意义,但要彻底根除偷猎大象和非法象牙消费,我们必须对非法象牙贸易宣战。 (翻译:金艳/chinadialogue)

目前看来,一个不可避免的趋势是几乎所有合法象牙交易市场最终都将关闭。这是一个由多家动物权利及福利组织共同提出的大象保护首选方案,其目的就是阻止大象偷猎行为。这些组织认为,象牙合法贸易会为非法交易提供掩护,并刺激象牙需求。

支持该计划的人认为,废除合法贸易,需求就会下降。禁止一切象牙销售有两大益处,一是方便执法,二是可以避免消费者买到非法产品。现在,认同这一观点的人越来越多。今年9月,世界自然保护联盟通过一项提议,建议全球所有国家关闭自己的国内象牙市场。几星期后的10月,《濒危野生动植物物种国际贸易公约》第17届缔约方会议召开,会上也通过了类似的提案。

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Virunga ranger killed by Mai Mai rebels while protecting gorillas

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 12:35:24 GMT2016-12-16T12:35:24Z

Patrick Muhayirwa was trapped in an ambush while patrolling to protect gorillas in Africa’s oldest national park

A 26-year-old wildlife ranger has been gunned down by militia operating in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

According to park authorities, Patrick Prince Muhayirwa was part of a group of rangers and DRC army personnel patrolling the huge park to prevent poaching.

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China to set date to close ivory factories

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 12:35:15 GMT2016-12-13T12:35:15Z

Preparation is under way in China to bring in a ban on their domestic ivory trade, following a promise made with the US earlier this year

China is set to announce when it will close its legal ivory carving factories, 18 months after pledging to act.

Last year, the world’s largest market for both legal and illegal ivory said it would shut down commercial sales within the country. But did not set a timeline.

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Morning Routines – the making of long-distance runner Scott Jurek – video

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 17:11:15 GMT2016-12-13T17:11:15Z

What ingredients are required to make an ultramarathon runner? In Boulder, Colorado, Scott Jurek has concocted quite the recipe that has kept him going the distance for the past two decades. He runs anywhere between 50 miles to over 150 miles, and in his lifetime has won over 20 ultramarathons, smashing records along the way. His passion for running kickstarted his morning regimen in 1997, when he cut out meat completely. In 1999, he transitioned to a plant-based diet, which has since fueled his long-distance running career. On an average day, Scott runs about 10 miles, and this is typically before the sun rises over the beautiful Boulder Flatirons.

What we do when we wake up in the morning sets the tone for our days and ultimately shapes our lives. In this new series, we take a look at how the hyper-successful among us have leveraged rituals to create the trajectories they want.

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The beauty industry now has its own green 'seal of approval'

Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:00:15 GMT2015-11-30T14:00:15Z

Environmental Working Group has launched EWG Verified, a label that will help consumers spot products that meet stringent ingredient and transparency requirements

It may soon be easier for shoppers to find beauty products without toxic chemicals. The Environmental Working Group nonprofit launched a new label this month called EWG Verified, which certifies personal care products as free from chemicals of concern.

The program is an extension of the group’s work with the Skin Deep database, which for more than a decade now has given tens of millions of visitors information on the chemical contents and relative safety of their favorite cosmetics and shampoos.

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Buried at sea: the companies cashing in on abandoned cables

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 17:01:43 GMT2016-12-14T17:01:43Z

Companies are starting to realise the value of defunct communications cables on the sea bed. But some say they’re better left untouched

From the telegraph wires laid across the Atlantic in the 1860s to the fibre optic wires carrying digital data today, our oceans are criss-crossed with lines used for 98% of our communication (pdf). But when technology is superseded or a company ceases to trade, what happens to the cables and their copper, aluminium, steel and plastic?

Some companies upgrade the cable to make it fit for purpose, others can reuse it (and its accompanying repeater devices, which help transmit signals). It can also be recycled into raw material for industry.

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Amid California’s historic drought, ancient sequoias show signs of stress

Sat, 05 Sep 2015 12:00:00 GMT2015-09-05T12:00:00Z

California’s giant trees are showing unprecedented die-back, and land managers who are already battling drought, warming and fire are racing to save them

Last September, US Geological Survey ecologist Nate Stephenson hiked into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest to look for dying seedlings. California was suffering through its third year of severe drought, and trees were dying in the park in greater numbers than usual. The roadside leading up to Giant Forest was pincushioned with trees faded brown – dead oaks, sugar pine, fir, incense cedar. But the forest’s namesake trees, which are among the world’s oldest and largest, were faring better. They’re tough – they have to be to live for thousands of years – and tend to grow in the wettest parts of the landscape.

Related: World view: free climbing a giant redwood, Eureka, northern California, US

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Apps and maps: 6 ways companies can cut their water footprints

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:17:32 GMT2016-09-22T12:17:32Z

Our expert panel highlights six ways to ensure companies put water at the heart of their operations

Food, clothing, electrical goods, energy – everything we consume has a hidden water footprint. So how can businesses cut water consumption and reduce the footprints of their products?

We brought together six experts to debate the question. Here’s what we learned.

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How a student's death highlighted our reliance on companies for health advice

Sun, 12 Jun 2016 07:00:17 GMT2016-06-12T07:00:17Z

The death of Wei Zei, a student seeking cancer cures online, raises questions about the responsibility of tech companies for the health data they provide

China’s equivalent of Google is under fire. Search engine Baidu has been criticised following the death of 21-year-old student Wei Zai, who used the search engine to research esoteric treatments for his cancer.

After Wei Zai’s death, the state-run People’s Daily attacked Baidu, claiming it was ranking search results in exchange for money. “There have been hospitals making profits at the cost of killing patients who were directed by false advertisements paid at a higher rank in search results,” the article claimed, adding, “profit considerations shall not be placed over social responsibility”.

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Topshop owner worth £4.3bn; store cleaners say wages don’t cover rent and food

Thu, 24 Mar 2016 12:45:27 GMT2016-03-24T12:45:27Z

As contracted cleaners demand fairer pay, fashion chain removes document supporting living wage from website after Guardian inquiry

For the past six and a half years, Susana has cleaned Topshop’s flagship store for a living. For the past hour, the Ecuadorian single mother of three has been pouring out stories of low pay, bullying and excessive workloads in breathless Spanish. The words flow effortlessly until she starts to talk about the seven months she had to take off work for stress and anxiety. At that point her pace slows and her voice breaks as she tries to hold back tears.

It happened in 2011, after she says her manager at Britannia Services Group – the company contracted to clean Topshop’s Oxford Street branch – kicked a bucket at her in the store. Speaking to the Guardian through a translator, she says: “That was the final straw. I was depressed and humiliated.” She was admitted to hospital for stress.

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Behind the label: can we trust certification to give us fairer products?

Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:00:09 GMT2016-03-10T06:00:09Z

It began with Fairtrade. Almost 30 years later, with hundreds of different certifications is it time to question what they all do and who benefits?

In 1988, the first Fairtrade label, Max Havelaar, was applied to packs of Mexican coffee sold in Dutch supermarkets. At the time, using a product label to say something about standards in a supply chain was revolutionary, but today it is routine. The Ecolabel Index currently lists 463 certifications in 199 countries.

On the face of it, certifications on everything from fish to timber can be seen as progress, promising higher standards and transparency in the pursuit of sustainability. But what purpose are the certification labels actually serving? Can we assume that they are beneficial to producers? Do consumers understand what’s behind a certification label, and does it even matter if they do? These were some of the questions asked at a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the Guardian and supported by Mondelēz International.

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Greener pastures: the dairy farmers committed to sustainability

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 23:41:20 GMT2016-09-22T23:41:20Z

Biological farming, conservation planning and water recycling are part of a concerted push to make the milk industry more ‘carbon confident’

It was a soil bacteria course in New Zealand that convinced Reggie Davis to change his farming methods.

The fourth-generation Victorian dairy farmer had become increasingly concerned by the costs, chemicals and time involved in the use of nitrate fertilisers to maintain – what was considered to be – high-quality pasture for his dairy herd.

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Have we reached the tipping point for investing in renewable energy?

Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:00:07 GMT2016-02-13T15:00:07Z

As oil prices bottom out and fossil fuels no longer offer strong returns, investment dollars are starting to move to renewable energy

Divestment – the decision to voluntarily reduce one’s fossil fuel investments – has been a hot button topic of discussion since 2011, when university students began calling on their institutions to remove fossil fuels from their portfolios. Divestment arguments have often focused on the morality of investments, but the economic value of divestment has recently become hard to ignore.

In January, portfolio planner Advisor Partners reported that, between 2014 and 2015, New York City’s biggest pension fund lost $135m because of its fossil fuel holdings. And, earlier this month, Market Forces, an activist group that works in environmental finance, reported that fossil fuel investments cost 15 of Australia’s top funds an estimated $5.6bn. On average, this cost each member of these funds $1,109.

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Can solar cookstoves help reduce greenhouse emissions in developing countries?

Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:58:08 GMT2015-10-30T17:58:08Z

An Ohio startup is disrupting the clean cookstove industry with the introduction of a solar powered cookstove - but not everyone is convinced

Since Hillary Clinton announced the creation of a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in 2010, the public-private partnership has helped raise more than $400m for cleaner stoves and cooking fuels, enlisted more than 1,300 partners and, by its own accounting, helped drive about 28m cookstoves into the world’s poorest countries.

The vast majority of those cleaner cooking devices are powered by biomass – wood, charcoal, dung and agricultural waste. Millions more are powered by cleaner fuels like liquid propane gas (LPG), ethanol and electricity. At most, the alliance reported, 2% of the stoves distributed in 2013 relied on solar power, the cleanest fuel of all.

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The long-tailed tit – successful, adaptable, sociable, and oh so cute

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 21:30:15 GMT2017-01-22T21:30:15Z

This tiny ball of fluff with an impossibly long tail, has almost doubled in numbers since the 1980s

A brief, high-pitched “see-see-see” sound, followed by the appearance of half-a-dozen tiny balls of fluff, each attached to what looks like a protruding stick. Then, more calls, as these flying lollipops flit from one tree to the next, pause, grab an invisible insect, and then move rapidly on.

Encountering a flock of long-tailed tits on a frosty January day is always a delight. Few other birds so immediately provoke a smile, for few other birds are quite so… well, adorable is the word that most readily to mind. When you discover that – as my friend and fellow nature writer Dominic Couzens puts it – the long-tailed tit is the only small bird that spends Christmas with its family, then their status in the pantheon of cuteness is confirmed.

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Hypothermia: why most deaths are preventable

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 21:30:15 GMT2017-01-22T21:30:15Z

New research into the cold weather killer suggests health authorities need to start taking action much earlier in the season

Earlier this month the cold snap across Europe claimed more than 60 lives. In Poland temperatures fell to below -30°C in some regions and 10 people died of the cold on 8 January alone. Meanwhile in Greece and Turkey refugees and homeless people suffered greatly in the unseasonably heavy snow. The sad thing is that almost all of these deaths were preventable.

Every winter hypothermia extends its icy grip, causing 25,000 extra deaths per year in England for example. A decrease in air temperature of 1°C causes a 1.35% increase in mortality across Europe, and added up over the years, cold weather has caused far more deaths than any single heatwave event.

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China builds world's biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower #GlobalWarning

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:00:01 GMT2017-01-19T12:00:01Z

Vast plant in Qinghai province is part of China’s determination to transform itself from climate change villain to a green energy colossus

High on the Tibetan plateau, a giant poster of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, guards the entrance to one of the greatest monuments to Beijing’s quest to become a clean energy colossus.

To Xi’s right, on the road leading to what is reputedly the biggest solar farm on earth, a billboard greets visitors with the slogan: “Promote green development! Develop clean energy!”

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UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 17:09:35 GMT2010-06-02T17:09:35Z

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

Continue reading...An cattle ranch in Mato Grosso, Brazil. The UN says agriculture is on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth. Photograph: Daniel Beltra/GreenpeaceAn cattle ranch in Mato Grosso, Brazil. The UN says agriculture is on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth. Photograph: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace


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Diver mauled by shark near Great Barrier Reef

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:18:31 GMT2017-01-21T22:18:31Z

55-year-old in stable condition after suffering significant abdominal injuries in attack east of Murray Island in the Torres Strait

A Cairns man endured a three-hour boat ride to a medical facility after being mauled by a bull shark while free-diving near the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland’s far north.

The 55-year-old man from Cairns was free-diving with a friend on a charter tour east of Murray Island in the Torres Strait on Saturday. Emergency services were notified of the attack around 12.40pm AEST.

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A place in the country: meet the new woodlanders

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 08:00:30 GMT2017-01-21T08:00:30Z

If you go down to the woods today... you might find a school, a photographer’s studio, or a carpenter’s workshop. Britain’s forests are getting a new lease of life

In the stillness of autumn, the only sound on the old Saxon road is the gentle tapping of beech nuts falling on a carpet of terracotta-coloured leaves. “You must meet Robert Cunningham – he’s tremendous,” says Kathy Harris, pausing to touch the huge trunk of a venerable beech tree. Harris knows all the ancient trees in this 25-acre wood as individuals. There is also a decaying ash called Cecelia and a beech with two trunks: one has thrown out a limb to fuse with the other, like twins holding hands. There are badgers, rare bats, otters and water rails. A bonfire crackles with burning holly and, as dusk falls, a tawny owl hoots.

Harris is one of a growing number of small woodland owners in Britain – a market for resellers, who buy big forests and subdivide them into “affordable” four- or five-acre plots. One, woodlands.co.uk, has sold more than 625 plots in the past four years. Prices range from £39,000 for six acres in Wales to £95,000 for a similar plot in Hampshire. The reasons for becoming a woodlander are varied and often idealistic, but the Mark Twain quote “Buy land – they’re not making it any more” usually lurks somewhere in the background. Large forests may be the preserve of tax-dodging multimillionaires (if a wood is managed commercially, harvesting timber, it is exempt from inheritance tax), but most woodlanders are a long way from being able to run a commercial operation.

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Global Warning: 24 hours on the climate change frontline as Trump becomes president – as it happened

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:09:51 GMT2017-01-20T07:09:51Z

With climate change deniers moving into the White House, the Guardian is spending 24 hours focusing climate change happening now. After reporting from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, we’re now focusing on how warming temperatures will affect the Asia-Pacific region
• Our partner, Univision News, is hosting a parallel event in Spanish today. Follow it here
• The Tumblr community is joining us with personal posts about climate change. See them here

We’re just a few hours from Donald Trump being inaugurated as the president of the United States, and we’re signing off from our 24-hour Global Warning live blog: a marathon effort from our Guardian offices in London, New York and Sydney, as well as our correspondents dotted around the globe.

“For those standing on the precipice of life the impacts of climate change are an ever present reality,” writes Anika Molesworth, a young Australian working at at an agricultural research centre in Cambodia.

Related: From Asia to outback Australia, farmers are challenged by climate change | Anika Molesworth

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:00:08 GMT2017-01-20T14:00:08Z

Hugging deer, feeding green turtles and a Konik foal are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Do you understand global warming? Try our climate change quiz

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 06:48:33 GMT2017-01-19T06:48:33Z

What is the impact of livestock on greenhouse gas emissions? And how much does Arctic sea ice loss affect the rise in ocean levels?

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How to reduce your carbon footprint #GlobalWarning

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:47:44 GMT2017-01-19T11:47:44Z

From cutting down on meat to contacting your local representatives and investing in clean energy, here are 15 ways to help reduce global carbon emissions

1 Air travel is usually the largest component of the carbon footprint of frequent flyers. A single return flight from London to New York – including the complicated effects on the high atmosphere – contributes to almost a quarter of the average person’s annual emissions. The easiest way to make a big difference is to go by train or not take as many flights.

2 The second most important lifestyle change is to eat less meat, with particular emphasis on meals containing beef and lamb. Cows and sheep emit large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas. A vegan diet might make as much as a 20% difference to your overall carbon impact but simply cutting out beef will deliver a significant benefit on its own.

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Bringing a breath of fresh air to the UK’s polluted cities

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 07:00:23 GMT2017-01-22T07:00:23Z

A weekend of creative events in central London aims to raise awareness of poor urban air quality

Featuring a sturdy leather head-strap and mask, two large tubes and a transparent backpack containing a small potted plant, designer Chih Chiu’s response to crowded, polluted cities is stark.

“My initial idea was to separate an individual from the public space,” he says.

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Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits

Tue, 10 May 2016 13:02:01 GMT2016-05-10T13:02:01Z

Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed

Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

Related: Sea levels set to 'rise far more rapidly than expected'

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Diesel cars emit 10 times more toxic pollution than trucks and buses, data shows

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 06:01:10 GMT2017-01-06T06:01:10Z

Stricter EU emissions testing for large vehicles means modern diesel cars produce 10 times more NOx per litre of fuel

Modern diesel cars produce 10 times more toxic air pollution than heavy trucks and buses, new European data has revealed.

The stark difference in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) is due to the much stricter testing applied to large vehicles in the EU, according to the researchers behind a new report. They say the same strict measures must be applied to cars.

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Winter reigns over the land: Country diary 100 years ago

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 22:30:16 GMT2017-01-22T22:30:16Z

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 30 January 1917

The biting east wind played on the swaying wires beside the road, striking notes now melancholy moans, now high-pitched screams; it swept across the mere, lashing white foam from the wavelets; it drove floating ice fragments into the rushes and reeds, scrunching and churning them against the ice-discs which clung to each stalwart stem. The western shore was caked with ice, each grass stem which had caught the splashing waters deep within a transparent icicle; a dead mallard was coated in an icy blanket, driving the hungry rats from the meal they had begun. To the south-east broad shafts, like beams from a searchlight, crossed the sullen clouds which hid the wintry sun, and, beyond, the snow-clad hills of the Derbyshire border faded into the misty horizon. The coots, weary of tossing, chilly waters, fed in a mob on the grass, where they were joined by fifty clonking Canada geese. The hungry redwings searched the frozen fields so unsuccessfully that one bird, separated from its companions, had only energy for an occasional flutter. One felt indeed that

Winter reigneth o’er the land,
Freezing with its icy breath.

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The eco guide to saving the whale

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 06:00:22 GMT2017-01-22T06:00:22Z

The whale plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of the oceans, which means that these days it’s more a matter of the giant creatures saving us

When the whalers of the mid-19th century harpooned the planet’s biggest marine mammals into near-oblivion, at least they took copious notes. These are now being used to better understand ocean science: if you enjoy a bit of historical ecology, you’ll find them at whaling.oldweather.org.

I wish whaling was all historical, but right now the Japanese whaler Nisshin Maru is likely to be in hot pursuit of the Southern Ocean’s remaining whales. At least they face opposition from direct action charity Sea Shepherd, which recently launched Ocean Warrior, a new anti-whaling vessel.

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New life radiates from a fallen oak

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 05:30:26 GMT2017-01-21T05:30:26Z

Blashford Lakes, Hampshire Dead trees don’t get much of a press. For each one remembered, a million will be forgotten

On a dry, dull-grey day, we have come to this popular local nature reserve for a gentle recuperative ramble and some birdwatching. The info board states that we may see bittern, water rail, great egret, and widgeon aplenty. It says nothing about the host of visitors like us who have congested the Blashford Lakes car park, and with whom we exchange pleasantries as our paths cross.

We stop beside a group studying the top of a high tree. We can’t see the bird either, and move on. A chance to sit down in Ivy South Hide and watch from there would be a welcome break, but all the benches are occupied, and others are waiting. We press on across the boardwalk, and find ourselves on a path devoid of people.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:19 GMT2017-01-13T14:00:19Z

Fighting meerkats, a posing leopard and rescued turtles are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 14:00:20 GMT2017-01-06T14:00:20Z

A swimming baby elephant, diving penguins and jumping impalas are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 14:00:18 GMT2016-12-23T14:00:18Z

Fruit bats, a nosy kangaroo and the last male northern white rhino are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 14:00:02 GMT2016-12-16T14:00:02Z

Feeding Bryde’s whales, fighting seals and a Harry Potter spider are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:00:30 GMT2016-12-09T14:00:30Z

A grey crane, bright red autumnal leaves and Tibetan gazelles are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:00:17 GMT2016-12-02T14:00:17Z

A baby slow loris, a ‘walking shark’ and caribou in Alaska are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife - in pictures

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 14:01:34 GMT2016-11-25T14:01:34Z

A newborn Sitatunga calf and an orange-bellied parrot are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 14:00:19 GMT2016-11-18T14:00:19Z

A pheasant that sports Donald Trump’s hairdo, a line of baboons and a ‘teddy bear’ bee and among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 14:00:21 GMT2016-11-11T14:00:21Z

Italy’s hedgehog hospital, starlings in flight and a comical fox are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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