Environmental Policy

Air pollution in Europe and the EU lack of action
February 3, 2016 06:40 AM - Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, The Ecologist

Air pollution from vehicles is killing tens of thousands of people every year in the UK alone, write Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, an outrage set into stark focus by VW's 'test cheating'. The EU's response? To relax tests and allow cars to be more polluting - with the full support of the UK government.

Rather than clamping down on the car industry's irresponsible approach to pollution, EU governments and the Commission instead want to rewrite existing law, providing loopholes which will allow cars to legally pollute more.

Faced with a public health crisis, responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths in Europe each year, we would expect an emergency response.

Iowa - first in primaries, first in wind power
January 31, 2016 08:25 AM - Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk, The Ecologist

As presidential contenders gather in Iowa for the beginning of the party selection season, they may have noticed a lot of wind turbines, writes Zachary Davies Boren. And if they have any sense, they will find only nice things to say about them. Wind supplies 30% of the state's power, more than any other US state, and Iowans are all for it. Ted Cruz, mind your words!

Today, there are 12 factories in Iowa that build wind-related parts and materials, and wind supports as many as 7,000 jobs. Furthermore, the steady long-term costs of wind power promise to keep Iowa's electricity prices stable for many years to come.

All eyes are on Iowa, the midwestern state set to kick-off the US presidential election next week with its folksy first-in-the-nation caucus.

Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN
January 30, 2016 08:06 AM - United Nations News Centre

Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

“Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN
January 30, 2016 08:06 AM - United Nations News Centre

Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

“Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

Flint's Water Crisis 'infuriating' given knowledge about lead poisoning
January 27, 2016 07:13 AM - Harvard School of Public Health

Flint, Michigan temporarily switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014 to cut costs. Should officials have known that lead contamination would result?

Hyperloop moving to full-scale testing
January 24, 2016 09:05 AM - Mary Mazzoni , Triple Pundit

Clean-tech visionary Elon Musk first unveiled his idea for a high-speed ground transport system called Hyperloop back in 2013. The concept — in which passengers are transported in magnet-propelled capsules at more than 750 miles per hour — was quickly dismissed by many as a pipe-dream.

But, while most of us weren’t paying attention, a handful of private companies have been quietly working to make Musk’s vision a reality. Now two of these firms (both unaffiliated with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO) say they are ready to begin testing the technology.

California, Feds Reject Volkswagen Recall "Fix"
January 14, 2016 07:16 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said “no deal” to Volkswagen’s proposal to buy back some of the vehicles that were outfitted with cheat devices. According to CARB, the plan, which would see the recall of only a fraction of the 600,000 U.S. cars affected in the latest VW scandal, does “not adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety,” and would not fix the cars’ pollution problems quickly enough.

The Porter Ranch gas leak update
January 12, 2016 06:28 PM - NRDC

Senators Kevin de León and Fran Pavley announced a package of new legislation that builds on Gov. Brown’s state of emergency declaration to ensure protections for Californians impacted by the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch. 

The new legislation will require: 

  • a moratorium on new injections into the Aliso Canyon  storage facility until experts determine it is safe to resume and a study to see whether it makes sense to continue using the facility. (SB 875)
  • that response costs – such as greenhouse gas mitigation, relocation, and emergency response costs – will be funded by the Gas Company shareholders, not the ratepayers who are suffering from this disaster. (SB 876)
  • stronger laws regulating gas storage facilities, including increased inspections and health and safety measures. (SB 877)
  • setting state climate pollution reduction targets and holding polluters accountable for meeting those targets. (SB 878)

Recycling on the ropes, France has a plan to fix the industry
January 11, 2016 05:29 AM - EurActiv

Low raw material costs have dealt a heavy blow to the recycling industry. The French recycling federation (FEDEREC) believes the sector needs a complete overhaul to stay afloat in the coming years.

FEDEREC published its view of the future of recycling in a white paper entitled "The recycling industry by 2030." In the preface to this 70-page document, a frank discussion of the problems facing the industry and how they might be solved, Corinne Lepage, a Republican politician, evoked a sector "devastated by an oil price that is so low that it is driving us back towards a linear economy, as it is cheaper today to buy primary raw materials than recycled raw materials".

Natural carbon sinks and their role in climate
January 10, 2016 11:32 AM - Mark Dwortzan | MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

Protected areas such as rainforests occupy more than one-tenth of the Earth’s landscape, and provide invaluable ecosystem services, from erosion control to pollination to biodiversity preservation. They also draw heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in plants and soil through photosynthesis, yielding a net cooling effect on the planet.

Determining the role protected areas play as carbon sinks — now and in decades to come — is a topic of intense interest to the climate-policy community as it seeks science-based strategies to mitigate climate change. Toward that end, a study in the journal Ambioestimates for the first time the amount of CO2 sequestered by protected areas, both at present and throughout the 21st century as projected under various climate and land-use scenarios.

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