A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl. Environment Aotearoa is the first major environmental report in four years, and was compiled using data from Statistics New Zealand and the environment ministry. It presents a sobering summary of a country that is starkly different from the pristine landscape promoted in the “Pure New Zealand” marketing campaign that lures millions of tourists every year. It found New Zealand is now considered one of the most invaded countries in the world, with 75 animal and plant species having gone extinct since human settlement. The once-vibrant bird life has fared particularly badly, with 90% of seabirds and 80% of shorebirds threatened with or at risk of extinction. Almost two-thirds of New Zealand’s rare ecosystems are under threat of collapse, and over the last 15 years the … [Read more...] about ‘Decades of denial’: major report finds New Zealand’s environment is in serious trouble
The Social Democrats (SPD), along with the Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), have agreed in principle on a coalition deal. The SPD is expected to take control of some major portfolios, including finance, foreign affairs, labor — and environment, with current acting minister Barbara Hendricks likely to retain her position. Read the full coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD (PDF in German). The Greens, who tried to form an earlier coalition together with the conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats following the September 24 election, have welcomed the new agreement — but said it had been cobbled together, and left too many gaps. "Climate protection, the central future challenge, has been essentially sidelined," said new Green party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck in a statement. So what are the provisional agreement's key points on the environment? CLIMATE/ENERGY … [Read more...] about Germany’s new government: Same old story for environment?
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is twisting reality on gun control and the environment. Pressed over the weekend for his position on gun legislation, the president declined to answer whether he would support expanded background checks in the wake of deadly mass shootings and blamed Democrats in Congress for “doing nothing” on the issue. That’s not true. The Democratic-controlled House in February approved legislation, which has since stalled because the Senate hasn’t acted. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he won’t move on it or any gun legislation until Trump says what he wants. And on the environment, Trump and his team are dismissing the reality of stalled U.S. progress in air quality. In revoking California’s authority to set stricter fuel economy standards on cars than Washington, they claimed that more lenient rules would be “good” for the environment. His administration’s data show … [Read more...] about AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s twisted reality on guns, environment
Homes near high-risk rivers and stretches of coast should fit their plug sockets higher to protect against flooding, the head of the Environment Agency has said. Emma Howard Boyd, the organisation’s chairwoman, said that while at least £1bn needs to be spent on traditional flood defences, "we cannot win a war against water" and homes needed to be built to withstand flooding better. She called for improvements such as raised electrics and hard flooring, but conceded that some communities may have to be helped to move in the face of growing risks of flooding and coastal erosion. The warning comes as the government agency publishes its long-term strategy for managing the risk of flood and coastal erosion. It is planning for the potential of up to 4C of warming, well beyond the 1.5C or 2C limits which have been agreed internationally and are seen as thresholds beyond which dangerous climate change will occur. The Environment Agency (EA) also predicts that climate change and … [Read more...] about Move power sockets higher to survive flooding, says environment chief
The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, yesterday, amid a cynical attempt by Labour and the Lib Dems to turn the flooding in northern England into an election row. It is understandable that there should be pressure for swift action, but it helps no one, least of all the people affected by the flood waters, if the situation becomes merely another occasion for a photo opportunity for the opposition leaders. In any case, to a great extent, criticism should be aimed not at the Government but the Environment Agency. This is the quango responsible for environmental protection in England, and it has suffered from many of the problems endemic in these semi-detached non-governmental bodies, including a lack of accountability, incompetence, and ideological capture (its chief executive last month expressed his support for most of the aims of Extinction Rebellion). The agency’s behaviour on this occasion is not to its credit. Residents of … [Read more...] about Environment Agency cannot escape blame for its role in flooding