Firefighters race to protect giant sequoias in California fires

LOS ANGELES, California (AFP) – Hundreds of firefighters were battling to protect several groves of giant sequoias in the United States on Monday, warning the enormous ancient trees were at risk from out-of-control blazes. A number of separate fires were converging on the California woodland that is home to the huge trees, highlighting the terrifying power of wildfires to consume everything in their path. Incident commanders said the Windy Fire, which has already charred 25,000 […]

UK rules out gas supply emergency as prices soar

by Véronique DUPONT Agence France-Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Britain’s government does not expect a gas supply emergency during the winter as soaring prices threaten energy groups, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted on Monday. “We have sufficient capacity, and more than sufficient capacity, to meet demand and we do not expect supply emergencies to occur this winter,” Kwarteng told parliament after holding an emergency meeting with gas and electricity suppliers and consumer groups. Kwarteng […]

UK PM Boris Johnson cautious over fulfilling UN climate fund pledges

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Forcing wealthy nations to honour their UN climate fund pledges this week will “be a stretch”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted ahead of a Monday meeting with global leaders aiming to do just that. At the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, rich nations promised to provide annual funding of $100 billion from 2020, for poorer nations to counteract the effects of climate change. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said […]

Endangered penguins in South Africa die from bee stings

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AFP) – A swarm of bees has killed 63 endangered African penguins on a beach outside Cape Town, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds said on Sunday. “After tests, we found bee stings around the penguins’ eyes,” said the foundation’s David Roberts, a clinical veterinarian. “This is a very rare occurence. We do not expect it to happen often, its a fluke. “There were also dead bees on […]

Iraq launches project to reduce flaring at oilfields

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) – Iraq has launched a new project that aims to recover gas normally set alight during oil extraction at two oilfields in the country’s south. Flaring, or burning off excess gas during oil extraction, is a highly polluting practice but far less costly than processing it for sale. According to the World Bank, Iraq is the second-biggest user of flaring worldwide after Russia. The new project, signed in 2017 with oil services company […]

Japan message in a bottle washes up in Hawaii … 37 years later

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — A message in a bottle released 37 years ago by Japanese high school students has been found — around 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) away in Hawaii. Members of a natural science club at Choshi High School in Chiba, east of Tokyo, released 750 bottles into the sea between 1984 and 1985 to investigate ocean currents. The bottles — which contained messages in English, Japanese and Portuguese asking the finder to contact […]

Desolate villages face famine in Madagascar drought

by RIJASOLO Agence France-Presse Nothing to eat, nothing to plant. The last rain in Ifotaka fell in May, for two hours. Across Madagascar’s vast southern tip, drought has transformed fields into dust bowls. More than one million people face famine. Across tens of thousands of acres, the countryside is desolate. Harvest season begins in October, leaving long, lean weeks before the meagre crops come in. Some villages are abandoned. In others, people should be working […]

Southern EU leaders target climate change at Greek summit

ATHENS, Greece (AFP) – Greece is hosting a summit of southern EU leaders on Friday that will focus on climate change and “security challenges” including migration and the Afghan crisis. Greek government spokesman Yiannis Economou said the one-day meeting, with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen in attendance, will address issues “jeopardising safety and stability in the Mediterranean”. The agenda includes migration and the situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover but Economou said Athens was placing […]

Giant sequoias wrapped in foil to protect from US forest fires

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The world’s biggest trees were being wrapped in fire-proof blankets Thursday in an effort to protect them from huge blazes tearing through the drought-stricken western United States. A grove of ancient sequoias, including the 275-foot (83-meter) General Sherman Tree — the largest in the world — were getting aluminum cladding to fend off the flames. Firefighters were also clearing brush and pre-positioning engines among the 2,000 ancient trees in […]

Climate activists heckle Germany’s Laschet at election rally

BREMEN, Germany (AFP) – Climate activists on Thursday heckled Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate seeking to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel, disrupting a rally just over a week before general elections. Holding posters reading “the climate crisis kills” and “our lives in your hands”, the militants booed Laschet as he sought to address the gathering in the northern city of Bremen. “We came from all over Germany. We intend to carry out this kind of action at […]

Faroe Islands to re-evaluate dolphin-hunting after outcry

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AFP) – The Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory of Denmark, said Thursday it would take another look at the practice of dolphin-hunting after the slaughter of more than 1,400 of the mammals earlier this week sparked an outcry. “The government has decided to start an evaluation of the regulations on the catching of Atlantic white-sided dolphins,” the northern archipelago’s prime minister, Bardur a Steig Nielsen, said in a statement. “Although these hunts are considered […]

World leaders will hold closed-door climate meet at UN

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a closed-door meeting of world leaders Monday on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York to boost climate commitments. The roundtable comes less than six weeks before a major United Nations climate meeting, COP26, in Glasgow, aimed at ensuring the world meets its goal of holding century-end warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “UNGA is the […]