Zebra_Botswana_edit02Africa’s big cats are facing a hungry future as human population pressure, hunting and habitat destruction for livestock farming needs reduce the number of their prey species. Zebras, antelopes, tapirs and giraffes are rapidly diminishing and sometimes facing extinction in grasslands, savannahs, deserts and forests according to the Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit who analysed data on the world’s largest 74 herbivores and said “without radical intervention [they] will continue to disappear from numerous regions. The Grevy’s Zebra population in the Horn of Africa has halved in the last 20 years with only 2,200 remaining in an area less than 10% of what it was, only 600 African wild ass remain on 2.5% of their natural range, the remaining 80,000 giraffe have just 11.3% of their former range and  2,500 pygmy hippos just 1.3%. Forest elephants in Africa were down 60% in the the years up to 2011 and poaching continues to decimate the elephant and rhino populations.

Edie.net reports that the pledges made by major international emitters ahead of the Paris UN conference are not strong enough to limit global warming to 2C, according to team of researchers led by Nicholas Stern.  The US is expected to offer emissions cuts of 26% to 28% by 2025 , the EU has agreed to cut its emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, while China has promised its emissions will peak by 2030. However, these proposed cuts put the trio on track to generate between 20.9 and 22.3 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent in 2030. Current and planned policies from the rest of the world suggest they will produce around 35 billion tonnes of CO2e, putting the global total at around 56bn tonnes CO2e.  At best, this is 12bn tonnes more than the level UNEP says would give the planet a 50-66% chance of limiting global warming to less than 2°C. “Countries should be considering opportunities to narrow this gap before and after the Paris summit,” said the paper overseen by Stern, who is chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

greenpeace adA few months ago Greenpeace published a newspaper ad stating: “Experts agree – [fracking] won’t cut our energy bills.” The ASA asked for evidence to back up the claim — so Greenpeace submitted statements from 22 experts and commentators including leading academics, the energy secretary Ed Davey, and even quotes from fracking firm Cuadrilla. This wasn’t enough for the ASA and they still said the ad was misleading. But the only evidence they could provide to back that up?… A quote from the prime minister. Greenpeace so pint out that the chair of the ASA, Lord Chris Smith, happens to be the head of the Task Force on Shale Gas (a group funded by the fracking industry).

Employment in renewable energy increased by 9% across all sectors last year, with biomass heating emerging as the best-performing sector in terms of recruitment.  The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has today (1 May) released its annual regional and national jobs analysis, revealing significant growth in the UK’s green energy labour market. The total number working in the renewables industry has risen to more than 112,000, outstripping growth in market values in many other sectors.  The UK now boasts the third largest utility-scale solar capacity in the world after a flurry of first quarter installations.  New figures from market analysts Wiki-Solar show that the UK added 1.5GW of utility-scale capacity, leapfrogging Germany and India for the third spot. And  Council recycling services in England saved 4% more greenhouse gas emissions in 2013/14 than in 2012/13, thanks mainly to increased captures of metals and plastics.  That’s according to the third annual Recycling Carbon Index Report from consultancy firm Eunomia, which shows that 64% of England’s local authorities increased their emissions savings over the past year, despite a levelling off of the country’s recycling rate performance. Wales and Northern Ireland faired even better, reducing overall emissions by an additional 6%, and 7% respectively.

airpollutionEU lawmakers have agreed to fastrack a reform to the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS), to deal with the surplus of allowances in the system. Representatives from the European Parliament and the European Commission decided to establish a market stability reserve (MSR) in 2019 – two years earlier than originally planned. Approximately two billion backloaded and unallocated allowances will be put into the MSR before they flood the market at the end of the decade.  The current surplus “surpresses the carbon price” and means Europe’s worst polluters are “not held to account over their emissions”, according to green groups.

Shipping owners using European ports will have to report on the CO2 emissions of their vessels, under a new proposal approved by MEPs. The new rules – intended to encourage efficiencies and cut emissions – will apply from 2018 for ships weighing over 5,000 tonnes. Warships, fishing boats and ‘wooden ships of a primitive build’ will be exempt. Maritime transport is not currently subject to any emissions reductions measures and shipping emissions have increased by approximately 70% since 1990. If that upward trend was allowed to continue, the sector would account for between 6-14% of global emissions by 2050.

The fossil fuel industry is a bigger threat to global health than tobacco and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust have a moral obligation to divest from it, an international organisation that represents 1 million medical students has said.  A letter to the charities from the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) called on the charities to drop their fossil fuel company interests, which amount to almost £1.5bn. The students said investments in coal, oil and gas companies were in direct contravention of the solemn Hippocratic 0ath, which doctors take before they begin their service.  The Church of England has pulled its money out of two of the most polluting fossil fuels as part of what it called its moral responsibility to protect the world’s poor from the impact of global warming.  In a move approved by the church’s board it divested £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal – the first time it has ever imposed investment restrictions because of climate change.

TropicalIslandLeonardo DiCaprio has announced plans to create “the world’s most sustainable island resort” which will push the boundaries of green design, architecture and eco-tourism. The Hollywood actor and environmental activist is working with Restorative Hospitality, a subsidiary of ethical real estate firm Delos, to develop a 104-acre ‘restorative island’ at Blackadore Caye in Belize. Upon its completion in 2018, the island will feature 68 villas, 48 estate homes, three restaurants, a spa and a private clubhouse – all incorporating sustainable building techniques that will restore and regenerate the surrounding ecosystem and reverse the effects of climate change.

The Foundation for Deep Ecology and the Population Media Center have released a collection of astounding photographs that illustrate the devastating effects of out-of-control growth and waste, and it’s breathtaking. “This is an issue that people care about, and oftentimes it’s just not discussed by mainstream media,” Missie Thurston, director of marketing and communications at the Population Media Center said.  In September, world leaders will try and agree on sustainable development goals that will take us through 2030. In December, in Paris, the United Nations will attempt to finally set binding limits on pollution. 2015 will dictate “how we address our degrading planet over the next few decades”. What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images.