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Making money from CO2

Imagine if waste carbon dioxide in the air could be turned into useful products such as fuels, building materials or even baking powder. At a stroke it would help get rid of a greenhouse gas, slow down climate change and make money from a major pollutant.

If that sounds like cloud cuckooland, the technology is already being used and companies are turning waste CO2 into commercially viable products.

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Source: Guardian Environment

All-blue skies in Paris as city centre goes car-free for first time

One-day scheme promoted by mayor Anne Hidalgo sees city centre mostly free of cars and lower speed limit in other districts

The lack of sound on the Champs Elysées was striking.

With the eight lanes of France’s most famous avenue cleared of all traffic on Paris’s first car-free day, the usual cacophony of car-revving and thundering motorbike engines had given way to the squeak of bicycle wheels, the clatter of skateboards, the laughter of children on rollerblades and even the gentle rustling of wind in the trees. It was, as one Parisian pensioner observed as she ambled up the centre of the road taking big gulps of air, “like a headache lifting”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Sweden's multiplying moose pit farmers against powerful hunting lobby

Sweden abounds in moose, cheering the country’s passionate hunters but not its agriculture and forestry sectors which say profits are being munched away

A mild-mannered monster of the Scandinavian forests is setting Swede against Swede as farmers and hunters bicker over how to coexist with the world’s largest population of moose.

Hunting season will open in the south of Sweden on 12 October, when more than a quarter of a million Swedes will fell about 90,000 moose in a matter of weeks.

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Source: Guardian Environment

UK to spend £5.8bn on tackling climate change in poor countries

David Cameron says cash spread over five years will come out of foreign aid budget as he meets Ban Ki-moon and François Hollande at UN

Almost £6bn of the UK’s foreign aid budget will be spent on tackling climate change in poor countries over the next five years, David Cameron has said, as Britain steps up its contributions by 50% to help meet international targets.

The prime minister will unveil the UK’s offer at the United Nations general assembly, before crucial international climate change talks in Paris in December where nations are expected to collectively pledge $100bn (£66bn) a year by 2020.

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Source: Guardian Environment

VW urged to come clean over which UK diesel vehicles are affected

Lawyers acting for Volkswagen drivers in UK attack ‘lack of clarity’ while German press reports Bosch warned VW over emissions-rigging devices in 2007

Lawyers for UK drivers have urged Volkswagen to “come clean” over exactly which cars have been affected in Britain by the emissions-rigging scandal that has rocked the global car industry.

The call came as German newspapers claimed the company had been aware of the cheating several years ago. At its near-10-hour meeting in Wolfsburg on Friday, the company’s 20-member board discussed an internal report that showed an employee warned in 2011 about the illegal use of software for emissions tests, according to the Conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing sources close to the board. Bild reported that Bosch, which supplied the software for test purposes in 2007, warned about its planned illegal use at the time.

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Source: Guardian Environment

El Niño takes toll on US rice farmers – and points to even higher prices

Weather has caused planting delays in the southern states and while the price hike is limited to the US, experts wonder if parts of Asia will be next

Blame El Niño. The weather phenomenon is causing havoc for US rice farmers and a sharp price spike in the world’s most important staple food may foreshadow possibly higher prices in Asia in the coming months.

While other commodities have hit recent lows, US rice futures prices are up nearly 40%, to about $12.90 per hundredweight, their highest level since August 2014. In sharp contrast, soybean and cotton prices are at their lowest level since early 2009, while sugar prices are just off their lowest levels since 2008. And matters are likely to get worse.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Hinkley Point: what price avoiding humiliation?

Every sensible investor has avoided this nuclear power plant project. Not George Osborne

Why did chancellor George Osborne have to scuttle off to China last week to round up funding for Hinkley Point, the expensive nuclear power station he wants to build in Somerset? The short answer is that every sensible investor decided long ago to give this troubled project a wide berth.

Centrica, owner of British Gas, was the most high-profile refusenik. In 2013, it decided it could no longer throw good money after bad and took a £200m write-off rather than commit to a 20% stake. Former chief executive Sam Laidlaw’s investment record at Centrica was patchy but his judgment on that occasion was impeccable. “Since our initial investment, the anticipated project costs in new nuclear have increased and the construction timetable has extended by a number of years,” he said. Since then, Hinkley’s costs have ballooned to £24bn and the timetable been stretched ever further.

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Source: Guardian Environment

If this scandal goes beyond VW, the wheels will come off an entire industry

Other carmakers deny they have cheated tests. But the consequences will be seismic if the guilt spreads to Volkswagen’s rivals, or to petrol engines

Everyone does it. These are the words that have often sparked history’s great corporate scandals. Companies or industries become detached from reality, and illegal or improper practices become seen as normal. It eventually ends in disaster.

This was the case for traders and Libor, and now it could be the case for the automotive industry.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Ministers hint at possible rethink of environmental 'lawfare' crackdown

George Brandis won’t rule out a review of the policy, saying he cannot ‘pre-empt what discussions may occur in the future’

Senior members of the federal government have indicated that a review of proposed laws that would restrict environmental groups’ ability to challenge development projects could be on the cards, in the leadup to a Senate inquiry issuing its findings on the controversial bill.

Related: Coalition MPs on ‘green lawfare’: mung bean soup to treasonous sabotage

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Source: Guardian Environment

The eco guide to plastic bags | Lucy Siegle

Here’s how to change your shopping habits when one-use disposable bags are taxed in England from 5 October

The disposable shopping bag’s moment has come – 5 October marks the introduction of a long-awaited bag tax in England, which should put a massive dent in the 8bn plastic bags a year dispensed by supermarkets. In Wales and Scotland, people have been living (in most cases very happily) without free plastic bags for some time.

To carry on polluting, it’ll cost you 5p per new bag, while online grocery delivery services will continue to infuriate by using loads of plastic bags and charging a flat fee.

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Source: Guardian Environment