Brazil is handing over the Amazon rainforest to mining companies and big agriculture


Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the massive swath of vegetation that accounts for 10 percent of the world’s known species, is again under siege. Last year alone, over 3,000 square miles were deforested, and if Brazilian President Michel Temer gets his way, a host of new infrastructure projects — dams, man-made waterways, mines — will only accelerate the degradation.

Deforestation in Brazil is nothing new. Since 1970, nearly 300,000 square miles have been destroyed. But the rate of deforestation had actually slowed for much of the past decade, reflecting the “Save the Rainforest” initiative supported by countries around the world, including several countries that share the Amazon with Brazil, to reach zero net deforestation by the year 2020.

Now, however, the easing of environmental regulations in Brazil and the desire to combat the country’s brutal recession appear to once again be accelerating the demise of Brazil’s portion of the Amazon, known as Amazonia — deforestation rates were up 29 percent from the previous year. Low humidity caused by the loss of rainforest has already triggered record droughts in Brazil’s northeast. And scientists and environmentalists worry that the construction will not only have its own detrimental effects but also make way for more destructive projects in the world’s largest remaining rainforest, covering an area more than half the size of the contiguous United States.

The government plans to build more than 40 hydroelectric dams in the area by 2022. Scientists expect the resultant industrial waterways to flood tens of thousands of hectares of land in the Tapajós, including ribeirinhos and indigenous communities that have been inhabited for generations.

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1.7 million Children Die Every Year Due to Environmental Pollution – Says a WHO Report


For every country, the economic development comes with a cost, and most of the time it’s the environment that is affected directly by the activities related to development. A recent report by World Health Organization says  more than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

The first report, “Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment” reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Harmful exposures can start in the mother’s womb and increase the risk of premature birth. Additionally, when infants and pre-schoolers are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke they have an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. Exposure to air pollution may also increase their lifelong risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

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Climate change impacts are already hitting us, say Europeans


The citizens of four major European countries think the impacts of climate change such as severe floods and storms are already affecting them, according to a major new polling study.

The research dispels the idea that global warming is widely seen as a future problem, and also shows strong support for action to tackle global warming, including subsidies for clean energy and big financial penalties for nations that refuse to be part of the international climate deal signed in Paris in 2015 – as US president Donald Trump has threatened. There was also strong support for giving financial aid to developing nations to cope with the impacts of climate change.

Renewable energy was viewed very positively in all nations, but fracking had little support, with just 20% of people seeing it positively in the UK, 15% in Germany and 9% in France. Nuclear power was also unpopular: only 23% of those in France, where it supplies the vast majority of electricity, have a favourable opinion.

Overwhelming majorities of people in the UK, Germany, France and Norway said climate change was at least partly caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels. But only a third thought the vast majority of scientists agreed with this, despite about 97% of climate scientists doing so.

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Barcelona to ban old cars from roads to tackle air pollution


Barcelona will ban cars that are older than 20 years from the roads during the week to cut traffic emissions by 30% over 15 years. The measure – a joint initiative between the city council, the Catalan government and other metropolitan bodies – will come into force on 1 January 2019 and will cover Barcelona and the 39 surrounding municipalities.

Under the terms of the agreement, it will be prohibited to drive private cars registered before January 1997 and vans registered before October 1994 on working days. Although the ban does not come into force for two years, those vehicles will already be banned from the roads during periods of high pollution from 1 December this year.

According to the city council, the move is likely to affect about 106,000 cars – 7% of the total in the area – and 22,000 vans (16% of the total).

“The aim is to reduce emissions by 10% over the next five years to gradually reach the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation and accelerate the adoption of more intensive local measures in order to reach the levels set by the EU before 2020,” the city council said.

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Marshall Islands first to ratify global HFC greenhouse gas pact


The Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean became the first nation on Tuesday to ratify a 2016 accord to cut the use of powerful factory-made greenhouse gases, saying the survival of the nation was at risk from climate change. The parliament of the Marshall Islands, with a population of 53,000 vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by melting ice, approved the plan to curb use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are used in refrigerants and air conditioning.

The decision is a sign of continuing action to limit global warming despite uncertainty about future U.S. climate policies under President Donald Trump.

“My country will not survive without urgent action to cut emissions by every country and every sector of our economies, including HFCs,” said Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine.

“This deal is good for our people, the planet, and the profits of those that follow in our footsteps,” she said in a statement, which said the country was the first to ratify the HFC agreement worked out in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2016.

The Marshall Islands was also the first to ratify the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which seeks a radical shift from fossil fuels this century to help avert heat waves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

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90 Percent of New Power in Europe From Renewables


Renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels. But industry leaders said they were worried about the lack of political support beyond 2020, when binding EU renewable energy targets end.

Of the 24.5GW of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21.1GW — or 86 percent, was from wind, solar, biomass and hydro, eclipsing the previous high-water mark of 79 percent in 2014. For the first time windfarms accounted for more than half of the capacity installed, the data from trade body WindEurope showed. Wind power overtook coal to become the EU’s second largest form of power capacity after gas, though due to the technology’s intermittent nature, coal still meets more of the bloc’s electricity demand.

Germany installed the most new wind capacity in 2016, while France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania all set new records for windfarm installations. The biggest project was the Gemini windfarm off the Netherlands’ coast, which was connected to the grid last February and will be the world’s second largest offshore windfarm when finished this year.

“The installation numbers for now look OK, and the investment number is very good,” said Giles Dickson, chief executive of WindEurope. “But on the longer term outlook, only seven out of the EU’s 28 countries have clear policies and volumes [for wind power] in place for the period beyond 2020.

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Cameroon to restore 12 million hectares of forest in species-rich Congo Basin


Cameroon has committed to restoring over 12 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030 as part of the Bonn Challenge initiative. The pledge is the biggest made so far in the species-rich Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest.

The Bonn Challenge, launched in 2011 at an event hosted by Germany and IUCN, is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. With Cameroon’s commitment, the Challenge has reached over 148 million hectares pledged in total.

Cameroon is delighted to join this ambitious movement,” says Cameroon’s Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, Pierre Hele. “By restoring our unproductive landscapes, we will help local communities develop sustainably, increase their resilience to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation.”

Deforestation and land degradation are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions globally, and the Bonn Challenge pledge brings Cameroon closer to its national goal of cutting carbon emissions by 32% by 2035 – part of the country’s Paris Agreement commitment as announced by President Paul Biya at the COP21 in Paris.

Forty-six per cent of Cameroon is covered in forests that are highly regarded for their biodiversity,” says Cameroon’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Philip Ngole Ngwese. “In recent years, we have seen an upward trend in deforestation and degradation. Restoring these valuable ecosystems will help us protect our natural heritage and contribute to our carbon reduction targets.

Follow the link to learn more about that serious issue, and probably do the same effort,by helping the environment: Article from: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

Here Are the 10 Best (and Worst) Countries for the Environment


In spite of a tumultuous year, 2016 laid a foundation of promise for taking better care of the planet. 170 countries agreed to ban a major climate change contributing chemical, and 130 countries signed the United Nations Paris Agreement pledging to curtail efforts to reduce global climate change on Earth Day.

However, the top country when it comes to investing in the environment for its own society’s prosperity  might surprise you more than this year’s progress toward environmental care. The top spot for the country with the highest quality of environment, and pressure to preserve natural habitats goes to a country that doesn’t hit top 10 in any other category — Slovenia. The tiny country has been investing in protecting the environment to boost economic and social prosperity for years. Slovenia has been No. 1 on Legatum’s list since 2012.

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Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits


Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

The submerged islands were part of the Solomon Islands, an archipelago that over the last two decades has seen annual sea levels rise as much as 10mm (0.4in), according to research published in the May issue of the online journal Environmental Research Letters.

The missing islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5-12.4 acres) were not inhabited by humans. But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found.

The Solomon Islands, a nation made up of hundreds of islands and with a population of about 640,000, lies about 1,000 miles north-east of Australia. However, the study raises questions about the role of government in relocation planning, said a Solomon Islands official.

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HSBC funding destruction of vast areas of Indonesian rainforest, new report claims


A major British bank is financing the destruction of vast areas of rainforest in Indonesia, a new report claims.

HSBC has allegedly helped provide billions of pounds in funding for companies that destroy natural forests to make way for palm oil plantations – despite the bank promising to not finance deforestation.

The London-based bank is part of a group that provided over $16 billion (£13.2 billion) in loans and a further $2 billion (£1.7 billion) in corporate bonds to palm oil producers, according to Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace alleges the companies have been involved in destroying vital rainforest without permission. Some producers are also accused of exploiting workers and using child labour.

HSBC’s sustainability policy says it does not “knowingly” finance deforestation. 

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