UN climate conference: Silence over emissions targets
Politicians at a UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany are refusing to discuss whether their polices will actually protect the climate. Nations have jointly promised to keep the global temperature rise below the 2C danger threshold. They are informing the UN how they will each cut their domestic emissions of greenhouse gases. But key countries are refusing to discuss whether the sum of these cuts will do the job. The EU, supported by African nations, wants to make countries face up to...Roadside verges 'last refuge for wild flowers'
More than 700 species of wild plants - almost half of the native flora of the British Isles - are found on road verges, according to a study. Many plants once found in meadows now only thrive beside roads, where they provide essential habitat for insects, says charity Plantlife International. But it says one in 10 of the plants is at risk of extinction, in part because councils cut verges too early. Local authorities say shorter verges are safer for drivers and pedestrians. Dr Trevor D...US scientists: Global warming pause 'no longer valid'
US researchers say new evidence casts doubt on the idea that global warming has "slowed" in recent years. A US government laboratory says the much talked about "pause" is an illusion caused by inaccurate data. Updated observations show temperatures did not plateau, say National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) scientists. The warming rate over the past 15 years is "virtually identical" to the last century, they report in Science. Dr Thomas Karl of NOAA, who led the n...Great Barrier Reef 'should not' go on danger list
The Great Barrier Reef should not go on a World Heritage danger list, according to a United Nations draft report. However, it says Australia must carry out commitments to protect the reef, including restoring water quality and restricting new port developments. The final decision on its status will be made at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Germany next month. Conservationists have warned that the outlook for the reef is "poor". A report published in 2014 concluded that the con...'Loud wakeup call' over critically endangered dolphin
The smallest and rarest marine dolphin in the world could be extinct within 15 years if protection is not stepped up, new research suggests. Conservationists say the remaining population of Maui's dolphins has dropped below 50. The critically endangered species is found only in waters off New Zealand. Measures to prevent dolphins dying in fishing nets must be extended, according to the German conservation organisation Nabu. Fishing should be banned across the dolphin's entire habitat r...California oil spill sparks state of emergency
A state of emergency has been declared in southern California in the US after two oil slicks, stretching nine miles, formed off the coast. The spill near Santa Barbara was caused by a ruptured onshore pipeline. Officials said the pipeline was running at full-capacity when it broke on Tuesday and about 105,000 gallons (400,000 litres) may have spilled. While it has now been switched off, it is unclear how long the clean up will take. Earlier estimates said a single slick had formed, str...Unilever boss urges world leaders to reduce carbon output
The head of Unilever has called on world leaders to raise their game in the battle against climate change. Chief executive Paul Polman said governments must set clear CO2 targets to force low-carbon innovation. Speaking ahead of a business climate summit in Paris this week, he urged fellow chief executives to help create a “political licence” for politicians to promote clean energy. But firms dependent on cheap fossil fuel energy are unlikely to agree. “It’s clear that, increasingly, t...Arctic pollution rules 'not enough'
New guidelines have been passed to prevent pollution from ships in polar waters. The Polar Code, passed at a meeting in London of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ban ships from releasing oil, sewage, chemicals and waste into the sea. The measures are set to come into force in 2017. But environmentalists say the regulations do not go far enough. WWF said a strong, legally binding Polar Code was particularly urgent in the Arctic, where new sea routes are expected to open u...Record number of England's beaches face water quality failures
A record number of England's beaches are at risk of failing to meet EU water quality standards this year, the Environment Agency has warned. It suggests new EU regulations will make it much harder for beaches to attain the top "excellent" rating. More than 99% of English beaches passed last year's tests, but this is forecast to drop by 6%, with the water of 25 beaches possibly classed as "poor". Among those at risk are ones in Margate, Ilfracombe and Blackpool. Others at risk are in La...Climate drives 'new era' in Arctic Ocean
Changes in the Arctic Ocean are so profound that the region is entering what amounts to "a new era", according to Norwegian scientists. A switch from a permanent cover of thick ice to a new state where thinner ice vanishes in the summer will have far-reaching implications, they say. The Norwegian Polar Institute has been mounting an expedition to the Arctic Ocean during the year's coldest months. Scientists have to brave extreme temperatures and total darkness. Their aim is to gather...Wildlife decline may lead to 'empty landscape'
Populations of some of the world's largest wild animals are dwindling, raising the threat of an "empty landscape", say scientists. About 60% of giant herbivores - plant-eaters - including rhinos, elephants and gorillas, are at risk of extinction, according to research. Analysis of 74 herbivore species, published in Science Advances, blamed poaching and habitat loss. A previous study of large carnivores showed similar declines. Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University, led the ...Heatwaves 'more likely' in England
England is set for more record-breaking warm years like 2014, say scientists. The chances of England experiencing an exceptionally warm year is 13 times more likely due to human influences on climate, a study suggests. 2014 was the UK's warmest since records began in 1910. The research, published in Environmental Research Letters, is based on climate models and temperature records for England dating back to 1659. Dr Andrew King from the University of Melbourne is the lead researcher....'Airspace reserves' could protect wildlife
"Airspace reserves" should be created to protect wildlife, scientists say. They warn that growing numbers of skyscrapers, wind turbines, power lines, planes and drones are threatening billions of flying animals. Researchers in Argentina and Wales have called for airspace zones where human activity is partially or totally restricted to reduce the aerial conflict.Sergio Lambertucci, from the University of Comahue and the Argentina Research Council (Conicet), said: "Most of the conservation i...Climate change risk to 'one in six species'
One in six species on the planet could face extinction if nothing is done to tackle climate change, analysis suggests. If carbon emissions continue on their current path - and temperatures rise by 4 degrees - 16% of animals and plants will be lost, according to a review of evidence. The study, published in Science, shows risks are highest in South America, Australia and New Zealand. Previous estimates range from 0 to 54%. Dr Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut, US, analysed d...
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