The German city of Hamburg has announced a ban on the purchase and use of coffee pods in all government-run buildings and institutions across the city. “Capsule-coffee is expensive and the pods don’t have a good ecological balance sheet,” said Jan Dube, media spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment and Energy. “They have lots of packaging compared to the small amount of coffee and we just decided we don’t want to buy those products anymore with public money.” Hamburg has also banned a number of other environmentally polluting hazards including plastic water bottles, disposable cutlery, paint containing biocides, and chlorinated cleaning products. Hamburg also plans to increase the number of electric vehicles in the city’s fleet. Though other cities in Germany have taken progressive measures when it comes to the environment, Hamburg is the first to go this far. The new environmental guidelines, passed in January and published in the form of a 150-page text, are the result of years of work. “We prepared these guidelines and the details for several years within the administration,” said Dube. “The main aim was to use this purchasing power of the city administration — of more than 250 million euros per year — to give better chances to ecologically friendly products and not to environmentally harmful products.” As Senator for the Environment Jens Kerstan explained in a press release, “From now on, mandatory environmental criteria such as raw material consumption, durability, and transport distances will play an even more important role in purchasing decisions. It sends out an important signal to business and private individuals, encouraging them likewise to take greater account of the consequences of their purchasing decisions and to pay attention to each product’s history.” The UK Government? Wants to sell of school playing fields, allow the poison of fracking and wants to kill bees. Great.
A post-mortem was conducted on 13 beached sperm whales, found ashore near the town of Toenning in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, showed their stomachs were full of plastic This included a 13-metre-long (43-foot-long) fisherman’s net and a 70-centimetre (28-inch) piece of plastic from a car. But the sperm whales probably didn’t die by being poisoned by plastic, however. Scientists thought it was likely they perished from heart failure due to starvation “These findings show us the results of our plastic orientated society,” Schleswig-Holstein environment Minister Robert Habeck told the Daily Mail – animals starving with full stomachs – full of our discarded waste.
The World Bank has made a “fundamental shift” in its role of alleviating global poverty, by refocusing its financing efforts towards tackling climate change, the group said on Thursday. The world’s biggest provider of public finance to developing countries said it would spend 28% of its investments directly on climate change projects, and that all of its future spending would take account of global warming. At last year’s landmark conference on climate change in Paris, the World Bank and its fellow development banks were made the linchpins of providing financial assistance to the poor world, to enable countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of global warming. More here.
Last week, marine biologists dropped some horribly depressing news: the Great Barrier Reef is dying. The world’s largest reef is in the midst of a widespread coral bleaching event, and scientists aren’t sure whether it will fully recover. Over the past few days, Terry Hughes of James Cook University has led aerial surveys of more than 500 reefs from Cairns to Papa New Guinea, including the most pristine sections of the Great Barrier Reef. Everywhere Hughes traveled, he was met with a nightmarish scene—the ghostly white remains of a once vibrant ecosystem. All told, Hughes estimates that 95 percent of the northern Great Barrier Reef is “severely bleached,” marking the worst such event on record. More on Gizmodo here.
The Guardian reports that climate change could cut the value of the world’s financial assets by $2.5tn (£1.7tn), according to the first estimate from economic modelling. In the worst case scenarios, often used by regulators to check the financial health of companies and economies, the losses could soar to $24tn, or 17% of the world’s assets, and wreck the global economy. The research also showed the financial sense in taking action to keep climate change under the 2C danger limit agreed by the world’s nations. In this scenario, the value of financial assets would fall by $315bn less, even when the costs of cutting emissions are included.
The first critically endangered Sumatran rhino to be found in an area of Borneo for 40 years has died, wildlife experts said. The species had been thought to be extinct in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, until a few years ago when surveying found evidence through camera traps and footprints of 15 Sumatran rhinos in the area. Last month conservationists hailed the first physical contact with a Sumatran rhino for decades when a four- or five-year-old female was safely captured in Kutai Barat, with plans to move her to a protected forest around 90 miles away. But now wildlife charity WWF has said it is saddened by news the animal had died.
And tigers are “functionally extinct” in Cambodia, conservationists conceded for the first time on Wednesday, as they launched a bold action plan to reintroduce the big cats to the kingdom’s forests. Cambodia’s dry forests used to be home to scores of Indochinese tigers but the WWF said intensive poaching of both tigers and their prey had devastated the numbers of the big cats. The last tiger was seen on camera trap in the eastern Mondulkiri province in 2007, it said. “Today, there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct,” the conservation group said in a statement.
Scrapping plans for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset and building huge amounts of renewable power instead would save the UK tens of billions of pounds, according to an analysis that compares likely future costs. The Intergenerational Foundation thinktank calculated that Britain would pay up to £40bn less for renewable alternatives that would generate the equivalent power to Hinkley over the plant’s planned lifetime. A final investment decision by EDF on the nuclear power plant’s expansion is expected in May. The deal involves the government committing £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for its electricity output, more than twice the current wholesale price. But a report published by the thinktank “The Toxic Time Capsule – why nuclear energy is an intergenerational issue” which campaigns on fairness between generations, found that onshore windfarms would cost £31.2bn less than Hinkley, and solar photovoltaic power £39.9bn less over 35 years to build and run. The estimate is based on both the value of subsidies paid by the taxpayer for the electricity and the cost of building the infrastructure. http://www.if.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Toxic-Time-Capsule_Final_28-Mar.pdf