Bird watching for peace in Colombia

by Hervé BAR Agence France-Presse PLANADAS, Colombia (AFP) – As a bird perches on a telegraph pole, two young girls are deep in consultation — is it “Tiranus melancholicus,” or perhaps “Pyrocephalus rubinus?” The answer is “rubinus,” a sparrow with a bright red breast. In the center of Colombia, among the leafy mountains of Planadas, this ornithological debate by indigenous children might seem surprising. With their eyes scanning the mountain, around 30 people, adults and […]

Sumatran baby elephant dies after trunk snared in poacher trap

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) – A critically endangered Sumatran baby elephant has died after losing half of its trunk in a poacher’s trap, Indonesian conservation officials said. The one-year-old calf succumbed to a severe infection, two days after it was found by villagers in Aceh Jaya and despite subsequent efforts to save its life by amputating the rest of its injured trunk. “We couldn’t save it because the injury was severe and infected,” Agus Arianto, head […]

‘Find a solution,’ say residents as smog blankets Pakistan’s Lahore

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) — The Pakistani city of Lahore was declared the most polluted city in the world by an air quality monitor on Wednesday, as residents choking in acrid smog pleaded with officials to take action. Lahore had an air quality ranking of 348, well over the hazardous level of 300, according to IQAir, the Swiss technology company that operates the AirVisual monitoring platform. “Children are experiencing breathing diseases… for God’s sake, find a […]

Delhi schools shut indefinitely as smog worsens

NEW DELHI, India (AFP) – Delhi shut down schools until further notice, urged people to work from home and banned non-essential trucks from entering the Indian capital due to dangerous levels of air pollution. One of the world’s most polluted cities and home to some 20 million people, Delhi is cloaked every winter in a thick blanket of smog. On Saturday, the Delhi government had ordered schools to close for a week and banned construction […]

GM factory launch ushers in Detroit’s EV pickup campaign

by John BIERS Agence France-Presse NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – General Motors takes a leap Wednesday towards its much-touted “all-EV” future when it officially opens its first electric pickup truck factory. The auto giant will unveil Factory Zero, a 36-year old plant in Hamtramck, Michigan that has been retooled for electric vehicles (EV), commemorating the occasion with President Joe Biden. The celebration at the Detroit-area plant comes ahead of initial commercial deliveries of the […]

Top banking regulator urges climate rules for lenders

ZURICH, Switzerland (AFP) – The top international banking supervisory authority on Tuesday said lenders should account for climate risks when managing their business, suggesting a list of 18 “principles” to guide banks and national supervisors. Banks should “consider the potential impacts of climate-related risk drivers on their individual business models and assess the financial materiality of these risks,” the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision said in a consultation document. The BCBS is charged with creating rules […]

India welcomes back tourists but smog shrouds Taj Mahal

by Laurence THOMANN Agence France-Presse AGRA, India (AFP) – Foreign tourists have been welcomed back to India after pandemic travel bans but intrepid travellers will have to brave the intense pollution season to visit the country’s most famous attraction. Around the palatial gardens of the Taj Mahal, air quality deteriorates each winter, enveloping the white marble mausoleum in a thick coat of hazardous smog. The problem is replicated across whole swathes of northern India, where […]

‘The water is poison’: Chinese activist spends life protecting polluted lake

by Patrick BAERT KUNMING, China (AFP) — Environmental activist Zhang Zhengxiang is almost blind, and lives in poverty — but he has successfully faced down hundreds of companies on the banks of one of China’s most polluted lakes. The 74-year-old strident campaigner has spent his life trying to protect the sprawling Lake Dian in southwestern China, challenging businesses to clean up their act around the local beauty spot and reporting those who pollute it. “When […]

Glasgow: industrial canal’s climate-fighting future

by Anna CUENCA Agence France-Presse GLASGOW, United Kingdom (AFP) – Glasgow was a vital cog in the machine of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, which brought the baleful impact of carbon emissions and eventually climate change to the world. Today, the venue for the COP26 environmental summit is home to a pioneering project to counteract the effects of planetary warming, centred on Glasgow’s Forth and Clyde Canal. Coinciding with COP26, its managers have launched “Europe’s first ‘smart […]

‘Down’ but not ‘out’: Growth needs fuel India’s coal addiction

by Abhaya SRIVASTAVA Agence France-Presse NEW DELHI, India (AFP) – Even as its capital was blanketed by toxic smog, India led the charge to weaken anti-coal pledges at the COP26 summit, with experts saying it is prioritising its economic growth over the planet’s future. The world’s third-largest emitter teamed up with China to water down language on fossil fuels at the Glasgow conference, forcing a compromise: a climate deal that bound countries to “phase down” […]

Drought, overpumping cut Morocco river link to sea

by Kaouthar Oudrhiri SAIDIA, Morocco (AFP) — Moroccan environmentalist Mohamed Benata stood taking photos of what should be the mouth of the Moulouya river — but after years of drought and over-pumping, it comes to a halt just short of the sea. One of the longest rivers in the North African kingdom and a vital lifeline for farmers in the area near the Algerian border, the final few paces of the 500-kilometre (310-mile) waterway are […]

Drought forces Iraqi farmers to leave their land

by Raad Al-Jammas Agence France-Presse Iraqi wheat farmer Khamis Ahmad Abbas lost it all when his battle with drought forced him to abandon his land, pushing him into unemployment. Experts have warned that record low rainfall, compounded by climate change, are threatening social and economic disaster in war-scarred Iraq. “Growing wheat and barley is a gamble. It all depends on the rain,” said the 42-year-old father of nine. Unable to make ends meet, Abbas quit […]