Environment

UK vows action after envoy slams plans for UN climate talks

By Alice RITCHIE Agence France-Presse London, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called for urgent action to deal with global warming, after his ex-climate envoy warned his own plans for UN talks later this year were “miles off track”. In a speech ahead of the COP 26 talks in Glasgow in November, Johnson said the evidence of climate change was “overwhelming”. At an event with naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough, he called […]

Bhutan makes Indians pay ‘sustainable development fee’

THIMPHU, Bhutan (AFP) — Bhutan is introducing a “sustainable development fee” for regional tourists following a spike in Indian visitors that has sparked worries for the unique Himalayan kingdom’s cherished ecology. The majority of tourists already cough up $250 per day in high season — including meals, transport, and accommodation — to visit the country of 750,000 people famous for putting happiness before economic growth and being carbon negative. But this “high value, low impact” […]

Blinded by the light, firefly species face extinction

by Marlowe HOOD PARIS, France (AFP) — Fireflies are in deep trouble, with many species facing extinction due to habitat loss and exposure to pesticides, according to the first major review of their global status, published Monday. Adding irony to injury, one of Nature’s most entrancing spectacles is also being snuffed out by artificial light pollution, researchers reported in the journal BioScience. More than 2,000 species of fireflies — which are, in fact, beetles — […]

Permafrost collapse is speeding climate change: study

by Marlowe HOOD PARIS, France (AFP) — Permafrost in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia is abruptly crumbling in ways that could release large stores of greenhouse gases more quickly than anticipated, researchers have warned. Scientists have long fretted that climate change — which has heated the Arctic and subarctic regions at double the global rate — will release planet-warming CO2 and methane that has remained safely locked inside Earth’s frozen landscapes for millennia. It was assumed […]

Uruguayan project uses virtual money to encourage plastic recycling

by Pablo IZMIRLIAN Agence France-Presse   PIRIÁPOLIS, Uruguay (AFP) — On a hot summer’s day in southern Uruguay, Graciela Martinez weighs her plastic waste before dropping it in a designated container by the beach. In return, she’ll receive some virtual money on her phone that she can use for discounts on purchases at restaurants or partnered shops. It’s part of a pilot environmental project called “Plasticoin” aimed at encouraging plastic recycling in the South American country. […]

How your clothes become microfibre pollution in the sea

by Amélie Bottollier-Depois Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — From the polar ice cap to the Mariana Trench 10 kilometres below the waves, synthetic microfibres spat out by household washing machines are polluting oceans everywhere. The world has woken up over the last year to the scourge of single-use plastics, from bottles and straws to ear swabs and throw-away bags, resulting in legislation to restrict or ban their use in dozens of countries. A lot of […]

Relative of extinct tortoise located in Galapagos

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — A scientific expedition to the Galapagos Islands has discovered a tortoise with a “strong” genetic link to a presumed-extinct subspecies made famous by the popular Lonesome George, national park officials said Friday. George, the last known member of the Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii Pinta tortoise species, died in 2012 in captivity aged over 100 after refusing to provide any offspring. The Galapagos National Parks (PNG) said the expedition had discovered a young, […]

Bangladesh capital awash with plastic-coated posters

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AFP) — Dhaka is awash with millions of plastic-laminated campaign posters ahead of elections in the Bangladeshi capital, and environmentalists are up in arms. These posters — of which there are an estimated 304 million — will likely end up in sewers, rivers and canals, says activist Sharif Jamil. “If they are burnt, they will pollute the air,” he adds. The city’s air quality has been ranked one of the worst in the […]

Release contaminated Fukushima water into sea: Japan panel

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Radioactive water from the stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima should be released into the ocean or vaporised into the air, an expert panel advised the Japanese government on Friday. The proposal is non-binding and sets no deadline for the government to decide or carry out procedures to deal with the water. The panel has been weighing the issue for more than three years, but a decision is becoming urgent as space […]

Record heat forecast for coming years

by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — The coming five years are anticipated to be warmest period on record, Britain’s Met Office said Thursday, warning of an outside chance of Earth breaching the Paris deal 1.5C temperature rise cap before 2024. In a regular “decadal forecast” looking at predicted near-term climate trends, it said that each year between 2020-2024 is set to be 1.06-1.62C hotter than historical averages. The Met Office forecast it “likely” […]

France cracks down on plastic waste, destruction of unsold clothes

PARIS, France (AFP) — The French parliament on Thursday passed a law forbidding retailers from destroying unsold clothes and banning single-use plastic containers by 2040, part of the government’s efforts to reduce waste. The bill adopted by the Senate, after being cleared by the lower house National Assembly last week, bans fast-food restaurants from serving food that is not for takeaway in plastic containers beyond 2023. All single-use plastic packaging will be banned 17 years […]

G20 funds fossil fuels $30 billon a year under the radar: analysis

  by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse   PARIS, France (AFP) — Rich nations are funneling cash through government-backed financial institutions to provide $30 billion to fossil fuel projects each year that “run counter to the Paris Agreement”, a new analysis showed Thursday. The export credit agencies (ECAs) of G20 countries currently provide more than 10 times more state-backed finance to oil, gas and coal projects abroad than they do to renewable energy schemes, the analysis said. […]