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Al Gore puzzled by UK cuts to renewable energy support

Former US vice president says he does not understand Conservative cuts to solar and wind subsidies, and wants UK to regain leadership on climate change

The former vice president of the US, Al Gore, has called on the British government to resume its former leadership on climate change, in order to forge a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions this December at a crunch conference in Paris.

While saying he would not interfere in other countries’ politics, Gore said he was “puzzled” by the Conservative government’s measures to roll back support for renewable energy.

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Source: Guardian Environment

High pressure: the pipeline that could destroy New York state – video

In December 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlawed fracking in New York, citing the method as unsafe for both the health of his citizens and their surrounding environment. However, the ban did not take into account the transportation of fracked natural gas liquids through the state.

Now, Spectra Corporation, one of North America’s leading pipeline and midstream companies, is moving forward on a project to expand the Algonquin Pipeline.

The new path will bring the pipeline within 110 feet of sensitive materials at Indian Point nuclear power plant, and straight through the surrounding communities. If something were to ever go wrong, the lives of over 20 million people would be put in jeopardy

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Source: Guardian Environment

Europe Plans For Increased Plastics Recycling

A recent study conducted by a Cologne-based research consultancy GmBH has predicted that around 300 new sorting and recycling plants for plastic waste will be commissioned by 2025 with the capacity process more than five million tonnes of plastic waste.

In 2014, there were reportedly over 66 billion PET bottles recycled alone, but the study suggested that the new EU Waste Directive Framework was likely to incentivise a strong increase.

The news suggests optimism for the creation of more effective infrastructure for plastics recycling, it also highlights the potential impacts that government legislation can have in the marketplace.

Of course, developing logistics structure and recycling are just a part of the picture. The transition to a more effective circular economy model still requires new product design with a better and healthier selection of materials, including plastics, which can be more effectively disassembled, reused and recycled (as a last resort).

Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Lisa Risager

The post Europe Plans For Increased Plastics Recycling appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

VW emissions scandal could snare other firms, whistleblower claims

Billions wiped off value of industry heavyweights as Congress confirms it is investigating

The emissions-fixing scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen in the US could extend to other companies and countries, one of the officials involved in uncovering the alleged behaviour has told the Guardian.

Billions of pounds have been wiped off the value of global carmakers amid growing concerns that emissions tests may have been rigged across the industry.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Sumatran rhinos likely to become extinct, warn environment experts

Conservation group IUCN wants Indonesia and international donors to take urgent action to save ‘weirdest of all rhinos’

Earth’s last remaining Sumatran rhinos are edging perilously close to extinction, according to one of the world’s top conservation bodies.

There are fewer than 100 of the animals left in the rainforests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Kalimantan province of Borneo. The last Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in Malaysia was spotted two years ago in the Sabah region of Borneo but experts last month declared the species extinct in that country.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Bill Shorten backs windfarms and pans royal commission in solo outing on Q&A

Asked if he would automatically step down if investigation into trade union corruption made adverse findings against him, Labor leader says no

Bill Shorten has said he will not automatically step down as leader of the federal branch of the Labor party if the royal commission into trade union corruption makes adverse findings against him.

He also shot down a windfarm sceptic who tried to draw out the Labor leader on what she described as the “dangerous” use of the renewable energy source during an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Osborne expected to back Chinese nuclear power station in Essex

Chancellor, who is on trade mission in China, believed to have agreed to Chinese constructing their own plant at Bradwell to secure backing for Hinkley Point

China is expected to be allowed to build a nuclear power station in Essex as George Osborne embraced the world’s most populous country as an ideal partner for British business.

The chancellor, on a trade mission to the country, argued that Britain should “run towards China” to help boost the UK economy and signalled that China could build a nuclear site in Bradwell, Essex, as part of a wider nuclear co-operation worth tens of billions of pounds.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Filthy air and foul weather

Too much pollution makes us cough and wheeze, but did you know that it can also change our weather? In July 2013 Beichuan County, a mountainous region in southwest China, was devastated by a catastrophic flood, with 94cm of rain falling in just two days. It was the worst flood the region has seen in over five decades. Nineteen people lost their lives and the city of Qushan was submerged under 7m of water.

A model of this extreme weather event shows that it was driven by excessive pollution in the neighbouring Sichuan basin. Running the model first with clean air and then with the choking Sichuan haze, scientists found that the heavy air pollution increased rainfall over the mountainous region by as much as 60% in July 2013.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The Guardian view on Hinkley Point C: overcomplicated, overpriced and overdue | Editorial

Nuclear power may be necessary to limit climate change, but this is the wrong nuclear option

The case for decarbonising power supplies in order to limit climate change is now beyond challenge. The best way of doing it is as contentious as ever. Every option – carbon capture and storage to reduce coal-fired power stations’ emissions, expanding wind and solar power, developing other renewables such as tidal power, cutting consumption and bringing new nuclear capacity on stream – each has its own daunting problems, although some look a lot cheaper to fix than others. In China this morning the chancellor, in his role as prime-minister-in-waiting, dangled yet another carrot in front of nervous investors, promising a further £2bn of credit guarantees for investment in EDF’s new European pressurised reactor at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. Two-thirds of the estimated £24bn cost of building the power station is now covered by government guarantees, even though EDF has agreed a “strike” price – what it will be paid for its electricity – that will make it the most expensive in the world while earning the company, when fully on stream, an estimated annual profit of £5bn.

The need for a non-polluting, reliable source of energy has changed attitudes to nuclear power. It is now accepted, at least by some ex-critics, as the least bad option in a world where a fast-growing population and the multiplication of energy-hungry tech devices will hugely increase demand for the foreseeable future. That was why the last Labour government gave the go-ahead to third-generation nuclear power at Hinkley, and why neither the coalition nor this Conservative government imagine cancellation is an option. Yet it is looking more and more like a bum deal. Overpriced, overcomplicated and overdue, as the UK’s three most prominent green converts to nuclear energy, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall, argued last Friday when they wrote an open letter calling for the project to be abandoned and for nuclear generation to be concentrated on small modular reactors, cheaper, factory-made and – a bonus – highly suitable for export to developing countries.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Hinkley Point fails on cost and reliability, but the show must go on

George Osborne, instead of travelling to Beijing, should have stayed at home and ordered an independent review of Hinkley’s economics

Infrastructure analysts know the phenomenon well. A project becomes so expensive and difficult during the planning stage that the sensible course would be to abandon it altogether. Yet the backers plough on regardless because they have invested so much time, money and energy. As financial assumptions are undermined, and delays occur, new reasons to proceed are invented. In this way, the project acquires a life of its own. Completion, at almost any cost, becomes the priority.

Related: Hinkley Point: Osborne seeks to ease doubts with £2bn guarantee

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Source: Guardian Environment