IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [6/16 - 6/22/2018]
01 Flooding from Sea Level Rise Threatens Over 300,000 US Coastal Homes
Sea level rise driven by climate change is set to pose an existential crisis to many US coastal communities, with new research finding that as many as 311,000 homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years.
The swelling oceans are forecast repeatedly to soak coastal residences collectively worth $120bn by 2045 if greenhouse gas emissions are not severely curtailed, experts warn. This will potentially inflict a huge financial and emotional toll on the half a million Americans who live in the properties at risk of having their basements, backyards, garages or living rooms inundated every other week.
This persistent flooding is likely to rattle the housing market by lowering property prices and making mortgages untenable in certain areas. Flood insurance premiums could rise sharply, with people faced with the choice of increasing clean-up costs or retreating to higher ground inland.
Source: The Guardian
02 Foreign Donations Prop Up Australia’s Endangered Parrot Response
The Turnbull government helped broker a $200,000 agreement for a German not-for-profit to fund conservation work for a critically endangered Australian parrot, bolstering criticism it is shifting the cost of protecting threatened species to community and philanthropic organisations.
The western ground parrot is one of only three ground nesting parrots found in Australia and is one of 20 birds the government has committed to helping as part of its threatened species strategy. Conservation groups say the international donation is an example of the government increasingly trying to move the cost of threatened species work onto volunteers and charities and at a time when it has been trying to stop not-for-profits from accepting overseas donations for political advocacy work.
It’s estimated less than 150 of the parrots remain in the wild after fire ripped through their habitat in 2015. Volunteers working with the species say the bird urgently needs funding for a translocation study to see if an alternative wild population can be established in another part of WA to try to save it from extinction.
Souce: The Guardian
03 “Huge Mistake”: Britain Throwing Away Lead In Tidal Energy, Say Developers
Britain is throwing away its opportunity to rule the global wave and tidal energy sector due to lack of government support, a series of leading developers have told the Guardian. The nation is currently seen as a world leader in capturing renewable energy from the oceans but some companies are already heading for new shores. This is putting other countries, such as France and Canada, in prime position to capitalise on the jobs being created by the emerging industry, the companies say.
Tidal energy has the particular advantage of being entirely reliable and the European Union predicts 100GW of ocean energy will be installed by 2050, the equivalent of 100 large conventional power stations. But despite good UK government funding for research and development, support to put the devices into commercial use is now missing. Ministers are soon expected to reject a tidal barrage scheme in Swansea as too costly, but to back a new nuclear plant in Wales.
Sustainable Marine Energy, a British company that developed and tested its floating tidal turbines in Scotland, is now taking its device to Canada, citing “more support” from the government there. Another tidal turbine company, Atlantis, whose MeyGen project in Orkney is the world’s first large-scale tidal array connected to the grid, is looking to France, where a major government tender is expected in the coming months.
Source: The Guardian
04 174,000 Tonnes of Plastic Packaging Lost Annually in Kenyan Environment
A new report finds that 260,000 tonnes of plastic packaging enters Kenya each year, and of that an estimated 174,000 tonnes are left in the environment or dumped illegally.
The report, ‘Plastic Packaging Waste Flow in Kenya’ – commissioned by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and delivered by Eunomia Research and Consulting in partnership with Capital Operating Partners – also found that around 48,000 tonnes are sent to landfill and 37,000 tonnes are sent for recycling. These figures result in an estimated recycling rate of 15 per cent – placing Kenya at a similar level to countries in the Western Balkans, where materials for recycling are mainly collected by waste pickers.
The report comes almost a year after Kenya introduced a ban on carrier bags in August of last year after research revealed that around 100 million plastic bags were handed out annually in supermarkets alone, with many ending up in the natural environment. It followed in the footsteps of other African countries such as Rwanda, Mauritania and Eritrea and was seen as one of the toughest in the world, with culprits found selling or producing bags facing a potential fine of up to four million Kenya shillings (£30,000) or up to four years in jail.
Source: Resource Magazine
05 Climate Change and Severe Storms in Europe
As experts around the world consider ways to stabilize global temperatures at either 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, scientists are meticulously analyzing the risks of a world that warms by that additional half a degree. A growing number of studies have found that a 2 degree Celsius world is far worse than a 1.5 degree Celsius world. One of those new studies, published in Earth System Dynamics, shows how severe winter storms in Europe will become even more severe.
Severe European winter storms may include even more precipitation (rain, freezing rain, and snow) and higher wind speeds as the world warms from 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius – making the already severe storms even more severe. The severity of stormy weather is expected to intensify, largely because of the intensification and northeastward shift of large-scale atmospheric circulation and the associated mid-latitude westerly winds over the North Atlantic.
The intensity of wind extremes will also increase over the northeast Atlantic and northern Europe, which may impact inland and coastal infrastructures as well as offshore wind farms.
Source: Environmental Defense Fund
06 In Indonesia, Villagers find innovative ways to adapt to climate change
Climate change is already affecting people around the world - so adapting is crucial. In some places, people are finding ways to adapt, according to new research. A new study shows that using nature to adapt to intense storms and drought can be effective for thriving in a changing climate.
In some Indonesian villages on Borneo Island and Java, people cut down trees along the banks of rivers to sell or use for fuel. Without the trees there as a buffer, the soil erodes into the streams, swallowing up the water or turning it murky brown. At the same time, these islands are experiencing more instances of intense rain and drought, making it more difficult to grow food.
In another case, the village chief noticed that the forest was getting very degraded. There was more soil going to the river and this was increasing floods. The very progressive village chief made a rule that people couldn’t cut the trees at the top of the river anymore. They could use the branches and the leaves, but not the trees, so they would help to stabilize the soil. In this case, some products decreased, like the wood because they couldn’t use it, but the long-term benefits compensated for it. This was the initiative of one village chief, but the people followed it. There was some social pressure not to be “that person” who cuts the trees along the river.
Source: Conservation International
07 “Time Running Out” for UK Parks, Government Told
A coalition of countryside groups and environmentalists are calling on the government to protect the UK’s parks and green spaces which are at “crisis point” following years of swingeing budget cuts.
The group has today put forward a “Charter for Parks”which calls on ministers in England, Wales and Scotland to make it a legal requirement for all parks and green spaces to be maintained and managed to a “good standard.” It also calls on them “to recognise the right of every citizen to have access within walking distance to a good-quality public green space.”
Helen Griffiths, chief executive of Fields in Trust, one of the groups supporting the new charter, said its research proved parks and green spaces “have proven physical and mental health benefits.” “These are valuable places; places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. We need to champion and support these precious spaces by protecting them for people to enjoy in perpetuity. Because once lost, they are lost forever.”
Source: The Guardian
08 Germany ‘To Be Fined Billions’ for Breaking EU Environmental Laws After ECJ Ruling
Germany could be fined billions of euros by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after being found guilty of breaking environmental laws.The ECJ ruled that Germany breached a Brussels directive by failing to take enough action to tackle water pollution. The verdict by the EU's highest court, based in Luxembourg, came after growing concerns about the levels of nitrates in German water. Nitrates are widely used as fertilisers, but the chemical can harm the environment and cause health risks through water pollution.
The ECJ said Germany’s government needed to take extra measures to protect drinking water. Pregnant women and babies can be particularly badly affected if they drink water with high levels of the chemical. Germany has the second-highest level of nitrate in groundwater in the EU, behind only Malta. Germany was first sued by the European Commission over the issue in November 2016, and could now face a heavy fine.
09 Scottish Water and Scottish Environment Protection Agency Sign New Partnership
Experts will examine ways to recycle the resources contained in Scotland's sewage through a partnership between Scottish Water and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). The two organisations have signed a Sustainable Growth Agreement (SGA) focused on finding new ways to recover more resources from the waste Scottish Water manages and generates.
Under the agreement, Sepa and Scottish Water have pledged to develop, trial and then seek to deliver innovative ways of helping "generate wealth not waste" by maximising the recovery of resources from Scotland's sewage and putting them back into a "circular economy". Scottish Water said the partnership will contribute to the Scottish Government's Energy Strategy core objective of decarbonisation of energy by 2050, and will also help towards achieving the carbon emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050 set out by the Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan.
10 China Just Handed The World a 111 Million Ton Trash Problem
Few people consider used plastic to be a valuable global commodity. Yet China has imported 106 million tons of old bags, bottles, wrappers and containers worth $57.6 billion since 1992, the first year it disclosed data. So when the country announced last year that it finally had enough of everybody else’s junk, governments all over the world only knew they had a problem. They just didn’t know exactly how large it was.
Now they know. By 2030, an estimated 111 million metric tons of used plastic will need to be buried or recycled somewhere else—or not manufactured at all. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis of UN global trade data by University of Georgia researchers. Nearly four-fifths of all that plastic has been thrown into landfills or the environment. A tenth of it has been burned. Several million tons reach oceans every year, sullying beaches and poisoning vast reaches of the northern Pacific. Just nine percent of the total plastic ever generated has been recycled. China took in just over half the annual total in 2016, or 7.4 million metric tons.