Tag Archives: environment

Australian scientists warn urgent action is needed to save 19 ‘collapsing’ ecosystems | Environment | Instant News

Leading scientists working across Australia and Antarctica have described 19 ecosystems collapsing due to human impacts and warned that urgent action was needed to prevent their complete disappearance.

A breakthrough report – the work of 38 scientists from 29 universities and government agencies – detailing the degradation of coral reefs, arid inland deserts, tropical savanna, waterways in the Murray-Darling Valley, mangroves in the Bay of Carpentaria, and forests stretching from rainforest far north to Gondwana-era conifers in Tasmania.

The list of damaged ecosystems extends beyond the continent to include the sub-Antarctic tundra on World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island and a moss bed in eastern Antarctica.

The study’s lead author, Dr Dana Bergstrom of the Australian Antarctic Division, said 19 of the 20 ecosystems examined were subjected to potentially irreversible environmental changes, including the loss of species and the ability to perform important functions such as pollination.

Bergstrom said the collapse was the result of an ecosystem undergoing a lot of stress simultaneously. Some, such as the increase in mean temperature due to the climate crisis, loss of habitat and invasive species, are chronic. Others are short-term acute events, many of which are exacerbated by global warming. They include heat waves, fires and storms.

While the report paints a chilling picture, Bergstrom says the key message is that action now can still make a difference.

“None of the 19 ecosystems collapsed in the entire region, but for all the case studies there was documented evidence of ecosystem collapse in several areas,” he said.

“Urgent action will be essential to prevent the complete loss of one of these ecosystems.”

Previous in-depth study – including government environmental state report and last year a review of national environmental laws by former chief competition watchdog Graeme Samuel – have found that Australia’s natural heritage is in a dangerous and deteriorating state, but they have mostly not considered deeply what is happening in the ecosystem.

The new report, published in the journal Global Change Biology, involves collecting peer-reviewed scientific papers and other reports to gather empirical data on ecosystem health, and assessing the results against criteria to determine whether they have changed state.

All but one ecosystem were found to have a low probability of recovery and are headed for permanent destruction. The exception is subtropical rainforest on the coast of New South Wales, which has been slightly damaged.

Illustration: Mary Cryan

The scientists recommend a new framework to try to prevent the ecosystem from collapsing completely which they call “3A”. It requires greater awareness of the value of ecosystems, better planning to anticipate risks, and quick action to reduce them.

Among the examples in the report is the alpine ash forests in Victoria, which were found to be hit so often by fire that they often did not have enough time to produce seeds. In response, scientists have started growing hybrid species that can better survive changing conditions.

Prof Euan Ritchie, from Deakin University and one of the authors, said the report is arguably the most comprehensive analysis of Australia’s environment to date. “It’s challenging and calming,” he said.

He cites examples of tropical savanna across northern Australia that have been degraded by frequent fires, overgrazing by livestock and wild animals, invasive species including gamba grass, feral cats and cane toads, and, increasingly, extreme weather events.

This means that once widespread native species such as the brush-tailed rats are now rare and found in some places where good habitat remains. “Improve fire management [and] Control of wildlife and weeds is an easy step we can take to protect this ecosystem and its extraordinary and unique species, which also have significant cultural and economic value, ”he said.

Bergstrom said while the idea that nature will take its own course is still pervasive, it is time “to really disturb nature because we lose too much if we don’t”.

He said it was important to recognize the work to support the environment that was taking place – from soil care and conservation groups and through actions supported by the federal and state governments, including indigenous safeguard programs – but the report indicated that a more urgent and targeted response was needed.

“People are talking about climate change as something in the future. “Climate change is here and collapse is coming,” he told Guardian Australia. “But we have the ability and we have the skills. We just need the will to make it happen.

“Protecting this iconic ecosystem isn’t just for the animals and plants that live there. Our economic livelihoods, and ultimately our survival, are inextricably linked with nature. “

The ecosystem report has been published as the government faces criticism for not acting immediately on many of the recommendations made in Samuel’s review of the national environmental law.

Samuel finds that the law is failing, and the government will accept the decline of celebrated environmental landmarks and the extinction of threatened animals, plants and ecosystems unless they embrace fundamental reforms.

The government has introduced laws for new national environmental standards as suggested by Samuel, but it has accused of only imitating existing laws and did nothing to strengthen the protection. “Bail commissioner” proposed to oversee the law will not have the power to investigate decisions about specific developments.

Meanwhile, official data shows that Australia has highest mammal extinction rate Over the past 200 years, most governments have rejected calls to increase spending on the environment.

Funding for environment departments and related programs was cut by more than a third after the Coalition was elected in 2013. Some were reinstated last year, mostly geared toward “congestion busters” – increasing the speed at which development proposals are assessed.

Alliance of more than 70 conservation, agriculture and land management organizations last year put forward a $ 4 billion plan to help improve the natural environment, said it could create 53,000 jobs and boost the regional economy after Covid-19. The government has expressed interest in the report, but has not accepted its suggestion.


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EUROPEAN POWER – Friday prices rose due to lower German winds, solar power output | Instant News

PARIS, February 25 (Reuters) – European spot electricity prices for delivery on Friday rose on Thursday due to lower forecasts for wind and solar power generation in Germany.

* Over-the-counter baseload prices for Friday delivery in Germany rose 6.2% to 48.30 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) at 1009 GMT.

* France’s future contract added 6.2% to 48.25 euros / MWh.

* Power generation from German wind turbines is expected to fall 1.8 gigawatts (GW) day-on-day to 13.4 GW, while solar generation is expected to drop 2.2 GW to 3.6 GW, Refinitiv data show.

* “We expect wind power output to fall in the first half of the day, and increase in the latter half of tomorrow,” Refinitiv analysts said.

* French wind power supply is expected to increase by 1 GW to 3.6 GW, data show.

* Refinitiv forecast shows the average daily German wind power supply will fall to around 3 GW early next week before rising to 8 GW next Friday.

* France’s nuclear capacity reaches 75% of the total installed.

* More than half of EDF’s nuclear reactors could be operational for a decade longer than planned after maintenance work was carried out, French nuclear security watchdog ASN said on Thursday.

* French electricity demand on Friday is expected to rise 700 megawatts (MW) to 56.9 GW and fall in Germany by 390 MW to 64.2 GW, Refinitiv data show.

* Further along the curve, German Cal ’22 baseload power edged up 0.1% to 53.20 euros / MWh, following higher fuel prices.

* France 2022 contract added 0.2% to 54.25 euros / MWh.

* European CO2 allowances expiring December 2021 edged down 0.1% to 39.10 euros per tonne.

* Coal for northern European delivery in 2022 rose 0.9% to $ 69.1 a tonne, after hitting the highest level since February 1 at $ 69.20 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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In Brazil, an indigenous woman joins Bolsonaro in the struggle for mining | Instant News

RAPOSA SERRA DO SOL, Brazil (Reuters) – Irisnaide Silva is female, Brazilian and native.

Irisnaide Silva, 32, an Indigenous leader of one of the two main indigenous groups in Roraima state in the Amazon, gestures at the Raposa Serra do Sol reservation, Roraima state, Brazil, October 5, 2020. Image taken October 5, 2020. REUTERS / Leonardo Benassatto NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

And for once, in her sight, she was heard.

For decades his family selected and panned the border near Venezuela, scouring the hills for diamonds and gold.

They continued digging even after Brazil marked the land in 2005 as indigenous territory, an act that banned mining despite protests from his family and other wildlife in his Macuxi tribe.

Now, Silva is none other than the ear of Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil.

A nationalist who deeply resents the global green movement for his desire to develop the Amazon rainforest, Bolsonaro has twice met Silva in the Brazilian capital.

He first saw him, along with several like-minded tribal leaders, soon after taking power in January 2019 discussing a bill that would allow mining on native land.

“Some people want you to stay on indigenous territories like prehistoric animals,” Bolsonaro said at the meeting. “Below the ground you have billions or trillions of dollars.”

Silva, 32, heads one of the two main indigenous groups in the Amazon state of Roraima. But other groups, and many other indigenous associations, see him as traitors manipulated by greedy intruders seeking to seize land and resources.

He doesn’t care.

“I’ve been called a white Indian,” Silva told Reuters of the chicks chirping in his steel-roofed home in the Raposa Serra do Sol reserve. Although his mixed-race background was unusual, critics used it to question his credibility.

“Others say I can’t lead because I’m a woman.”

His drive for development – and Bolsonaro’s desire to activate it – goes far beyond questions about mining and material wealth. It challenged decades of government policies trying to deter intruders and sparked a historical debate over whether some of the world’s most isolated tribes should be integrated into modern society or left alone, along with the Amazon.

Larger than Western Europe and home to nearly all of Brazil’s indigenous lands, the world’s largest rainforest is a bulwark against climate change, its vegetation serving as a giant filter for greenhouse gases.

The native land makes up 13% of Brazil – a protected area roughly the size of Egypt. But with indigenous people making up less than 0.5% of Brazil’s population, agricultural and mining groups have long watched this low-population area voraciously.

It is unclear whether Bolsonaro’s bill will pass the tough Brazilian Congress or how profitable mining is on this land. But the timing has never been more favorable for the president, with allies recently winning leadership in both assemblies and the COVID-hit economy desperately in need of investment. Bolsonaro has made the bill a priority for 2021.

By working with several indigenous people, activists say he is exacerbating tensions within tribes through division and conquest methods that have historically helped destroy native lands around the world.

“Bolsonaro is using a colonial strategy,” said Antenor Vaz, a former veteran field agent for Brazil’s customary affairs agency Funai.


The prospect of legalization has led thousands of prospectors to venture into indigenous territories.

The Bolsonaro bill lays down a regulatory framework to open up this area to legal mining for the first time. Controversially, it will not give indigenous peoples veto power.

Many indigenous communities continue to lead rural lifestyles, pursuing little modern development beyond small-scale agriculture. But Silva and people like him believe that natives have the same rights as other Brazilians to exploit their resources.

The state of Roraima, with a small mining industry due to its large reserves, is already attracting investors. Anastase Papoortzis, head of state development company Codesaima, told Reuters the company had 29 exploration permits in indigenous territories and would attend a mining fair in Canada this year.

“It’s been set for us to go and present Roraima as a new mining frontier, the new El Dorado,” he said.

Lust for treasure, and the destruction it causes, has shaped this northern part of the Amazon basin since the Europeans arrived in the 18th century. Early maps even place El Dorado, the legendary city of gold, somewhere between green hills and scarred purple stone.

Since then the seekers have come.

In the 1950s, Silva’s grandfather arrived from northeast Brazil to try his luck. He married a local Macuxi woman and started a family. Silva Celson’s father, now 68, has been out digging with his father since the age of eight.

Silva was also looking forward to his childhood, but only during the holidays because his father insisted he stay at school, walking three hours a day to attend class. “I’m still mine sometimes,” she said, “but it’s bad for my nails.”

In the 2000s, when he finished school and was trained to become a teacher, indigenous factions competed over how to protect their homeland. The struggle at Raposa Serra do Sol has become a symbol of the Brazilian debate on indigenous policies.

While the larger Roraima Adat Council (CIR) wants sustainable nature reserves that remove outsiders from the area, Silva’s Society for the Defense of the United Indians of Roraima (Sodiurr) believes peasants should be allowed to stay, defining tribal areas as islands in around them. property.

Sodiurr argues that rice and cow farmers, who moved there in the previous decades, brought jobs and development.

After April 15, 2005, when the government ratified the Raposa Serra do Sol as a sustainable nature reserve, many farmers resisted eviction. Sporadic attacks on indigenous enemies raged for several years, injuring more than a dozen people.


Silva didn’t fight, but it did inform his politics.

After a tenure as a city councilor, he won the leadership election of Sodiurr in 2019 and amplified his pro-development, pro-integration message. As he put it: “Nobody here wants to walk around with their sobs.”

He has expanded their social media presence and aligned organizations with right-wing state and federal governments.

Membership has also increased, according to Silva. Seven communities have changed allegiance, leaving CIR to join him, while eight others are in conversation, he said. There are about 350 indigenous communities in the state.

Edinho Batista de Souza, a CIR leader, said he was not aware the community was changing sides.

“The presidency (Sodiurr) does not speak the same language as the people,” he told Reuters. “The government is trying to manipulate some of the leaders, including the president, but the bases don’t agree with this idea.”

Although Sodiurr’s membership is less than half the CIR, smaller organizations now have support in Brasilia.

“It’s an old problem, but they used to be in the minority, now they have the President of the Republic … now they are in power,” said Marcio Meira, a former head of Funai who worked closely with both sides during the demarcation.

Funai, responding to a Reuters question, said he did not know the size of each group or how they might change. He declined to comment on the competition, other than saying it did not condone violence.

Bolsonaro’s agenda appears to trigger change before a vote on his mining bill.

Near Napoleao, a customary town of 1,200 people in the mountains south of Raposa Serra do Sol, workers sweat from dawn to dusk, cutting deep into the rocks.

Some have pneumatic workouts, but most chase purple veins with only muscles and pickaxes. Miners of wood from the rock face, bent under the lucky sack.

The “mountains”, as the five feral cat mines are known, have been running since July 2019. It has driven the change that Silva so desperately wants.

The city gets 4% of mining profits, according to Carpejane Lima, 38, the town’s traditional leader and ally of Silva. The diggers took 74% and those with the machines to extract gold took the last 22%.

“The power company has cut off electricity because we can’t pay the bills,” said Lima, in the shade of a mango tree. Now a cavalry of diesel generators is turning next to the general store which is reopening. Across the street, there is a stand selling replica soccer shirts.

“We can make this a prosperous city,” said Lima, a 48 gram gold bracelet gleaming on her wrist.

But mining brings in outsiders. Some tribes have the skills or capital needed to crush and process ore. This arrival, say critics, brought drugs, prostitution and disease. Mercury, which is used to separate gold, also appears at alarming levels in the blood of some indigenous people.

Since Bolsonaro was elected, CIR said 2,000 miners had trespassed on Raposa Serra do Sol to work on mines like this. Silva emphasized that only the native wild in the country.

In a hole by the river near Silva’s house, where his father lived under a tarp for weeks, a small group dug in the scorching sun.

“We will fight for what is ours,” said Celson. “If people who don’t belong come here to try and stop us, there will be blood.”

Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Additional reporting by Leonardo Benassatto; Edited by Brad Haynes and Andrew Cawthorne


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The EU says it doesn’t need Nord Stream 2, but only Germany can block it | Instant News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union does not need the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for its energy security but any decision to stop a project bringing Russian natural gas to Germany must come from Berlin, a senior European Commission official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen at the gas pipeline construction site Nord Stream 2, near the city of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019. REUTERS / Anton Vaganov

The $ 11 billion pipeline project led by Russian state energy company Gazprom, whose completion is more than 90%, will double the capacity of an existing submarine pipeline passing through Ukraine and eliminate Kyiv’s transit costs.

The project pits Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, against central and eastern European countries that say it will increase the bloc’s dependence on Russian gas.

“For the EU as a whole, Nord Stream does not contribute to the security of supplies,” Ditte Juul Jorgensen, director general of the Commission’s energy department, told lawmakers on the European Parliament’s industry committee.

Investments over the past decade in other pipelines, liquefied natural gas import terminals and interconnectors in Europe have secured sufficient supplies to meet the bloc’s energy needs, he said.

Any decision to stop the project must be made by Germany, said Juul Jorgensen.

“Actually stopping development requires a decision at the national level. That is not a decision that can be taken at the European level, “he said.

Nord Stream 2 is facing increased scrutiny as European relations with Russia deteriorate over the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

The European Parliament last month asked the European Union to stop building a pipeline in response to Navalny’s arrest.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin, in large part symbolic action on the issue.

Despite US sanctions on the pipeline, Berlin is sticking to Nord Stream 2, which it says is a commercial project.

(This story adds the dropped “official” word)

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Edited by Sonya Hepinstall


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Australia’s recent emissions cuts are likely to turn around in recovery from Covid and drought | Environment | Instant News

Much of Australia’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions last year is likely to be wiped out as transport recovers after the Covid-19 lockdown and agriculture recovers from a long-term drought, according to a national climate data audit.

Scott Morrison to the National Press Club earlier this month the government “resumed” emission reductions, citing official data that found emissions fell 3% in the year to June to the lowest level since 1998. He stated “this is a fact”.

An audit by Hugh Saddler, an energy consultant and honorary professor at the ANU Crawford school of public policy, suggests at least some of the decline is likely to be lost.

Graph of greenhouse gases by sector

The monthly national energy emissions audit, published by the Australian Institute, found a reduction in carbon pollution of about 4.5% over the two years to 2020. This is largely due to surges in solar and wind power, but also related to the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown, especially on transportation, and the continuing effects of long-term drought, which significantly reduced the numbers of sheep and cattle.

The audit found cuts in the last two categories were unlikely to continue.

The end of lockdowns and restrictions on domestic travel means emissions from road and aviation traffic are likely to “revert to previous upward trends”.

Likewise, agricultural emissions are likely to increase as drought conditions subside and livestock numbers and crop production increase, in line with government projections. Nearly 80% of agricultural emissions come from livestock and agriculture.

Saddler said it underscored that recent national emission reductions were largely due to external conditions, not climate policy. The Morrison government does not have a comprehensive policy to reduce emissions from transportation or agriculture.

He said the government’s discussion paper on “future fuels” on reducing emissions from transportation did not offer “almost nothing”, and the government had no plans to reduce agricultural emissions. Several Members of the National Parliament argued that the sector should be excluded of climate commitments, a stance that has put them at odds with farmer groups who are calling for a net zero emissions target by 2050.

“Power plant emissions will continue to fall but, in the absence of significant policy changes, the reduction from this sector will be offset by continuing to increase transportation emissions,” said Saddler.

“Total emissions from all sectors other than power generation will remain almost unchanged from 2018.”

The audit is consistent with official emission projections released in December, which estimates national carbon pollution will fall by less than 7% over the next decade under current policies.

The projection report shows that the Morrison government is not yet on track to meet Australia’s 2030 emissions target under the Paris climate conference (a 26% to 28% reduction to 2005 levels). Conversely, the policy set will result in a 22% cut during that time period. More than half were achieved before the Coalition was elected in 2013.

Morrison said the government wants Australia to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050, through a “technology, not tax” approach, but has not explained how its policy will achieve that.

Richie Merzian, director of the Australian Institute’s climate and energy program, said emissions from vehicles and agriculture are now almost the same as emissions from the entire electricity sector.

“There is a real opportunity for the federal government to set the country towards net zero emissions by 2050, if not sooner, but this will require sector-level plans for transportation and agriculture,” he said.

The audit has looked at changes in emissions in the national electricity market, which includes five eastern states and the Australian Capital Territory, since 2008.

Change in energy fuel type graph

They fell 26.5% during that time as coal-fired power plants shut down and reduce their operating capacity, and wind and solar energy made up a larger share of the electricity supply.

The surge in renewable energy investment has been driven largely by national renewable energy targets – which are filled in 2019 and not renewed or replaced – and aided by country targets and rapid reductions in the cost of solar and wind energy technologies. Renewable energy including solar power on the roof now provides about 27% of the annual electricity.

Even though Covid-19 was under lockdown, electricity use fell only 0.6% between February and November last year. But the amount of electricity generated by burning coal fell by nearly 8% in New South Wales and Queensland between late 2019 and late 2020.

Saddler said the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act, which is bypassing the state parliament in November and pledging to cover 12 gigawatts of new solar and wind power and 2GW of long-term storage, will be a significant development in managing the switch to variable renewable energy.


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