I first caught the travel bug when I moved to China aged 19. Ever since, I've spent every free moment and every spare penny exploring the world, from backpacking through southeast Asia to studying in Australia, the United States and all over Europe - and then later, visiting the friends I've made along the way. But after almost 200 nations came together last December to finally agree to a climate change plan to limit the rise of the global average temperature to maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), I came to a horrible realization: My travel habit is part of the problem we've agreed to fight. Flying all over the world - to South Africa, the United States, India and Egypt in just the past year - comes with a pretty hefty price tag. And I'm not just talking about my bank balance - I'm talking about the future of our planet. Flying is an environment killer Travel-related activities account for up to 14 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions each year, according … [Read more...] about How to be a travel addict and still spare the environment
Would you avoid shopping online if you thought that would help the environment? That’s what Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks does. She recently told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that she refuses to buy anything over the internet because it results in too much packaging waste. But is buying online really more damaging for the environment than heading into a bricks-and-mortar shop? Packaging overkill? Hendricks told the newspaper: "Ordering goods over the internet is a big problem regarding rubbish. Also, in some cities nowadays, more and more food is delivered by ordering online. There are also increasing numbers of single-person households. That means that more ready meals and smaller portions are being bought. That leads to a lot of packaging waste." Shopping online in many countries around the globe is growing fast - in the US, market analysts have predicted that between 2013 and 2018, online grocery sales alone will grow annually at an … [Read more...] about Online vs offline shopping: which is better for the environment?
A six-hour standoff ended on Tuesday when a group of demonstrators were removed from the environment ministry building in Beirut, where they had staged a sit-in calling for environment minister Mohammed Machnouk to step down. "Out, out, out!" the group of about 30 protestors from the "You Stink" movement had shouted while holed up in a corridor. Police shut off air conditioning, electricity and bathrooms to try and get the protesters to leave. "The police used excessive force to expel us from the building," said one of the main organizers, Marwan Maalouf. Hundreds of people had also gathered outside the building. Lebanon's Red Cross reported treating dozens of people injured in scuffles with security forces. Machnouk, who took refuge in a nearby office during the standoff, has refused to resign from his post, but on Monday did step down from a committee set up to deal with the trash crisis. The "You Stink" campaign was sparked by the failure of Lebanon's government to find a … [Read more...] about Lebanon ‘You Stink’ protesters dragged out of environment ministry
Watching the news or browsing through your Facebook timeline, you might get the impression that our planet is doomed. Resource extraction, mass extinction of species and climate change - the list of reasons to worry is long. But it's not all bad. There are plenty of conservation successes; they just don't hit the headlines often. For example, did you know that lynxes are successfully being reintroduced to their old haunts in Central Europe or that the tiger population in India is increasing for the first time in a century? That's not all. Manatee populations have rebounded by 500 percent over the last 26 years and some species we thought were extinct have been "rediscovered." The first Conservation Optimism Summit aimed to celebrate such conservation successes and shift the focus to a more cheerful narrative. Eleanor Jane Milner-Gulland, Professor of Biodiversity at Oxford's Department of Zoology, is one of the figures spearheading the event, which was … [Read more...] about Cheer up! Can optimism help protect the environment?
The world has to change - so does the way the chemical and pharmaceutical industries work - this was the consensus at the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Berlin. Chemists from all over the world came to the German capital to discuss how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. "I think green chemistry can make a significant contribution towards saving the world," said James Clark, a green chemist at University of York in the UK. This relatively young field in chemistry has emerged over the past two decades. It is by definition "the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances." "Historically there has been a focus on how to make chemicals that provide [a] certain performance," Paul Anastas, a green chemist at Yale University in the US told DW. "For example, [scientists designed] a plastic that is either flexible or brittle, without thinking about if it is going to hurt humans or the environment," he … [Read more...] about Benign by design: how chemists aim to end pharmaceutical pollution of the environment
"We will not do it," Gabriel, a Social Democrat, told the television channel ARD on Friday, April 4. "It is not a measure dealing with environmental policy, but a measure destined to aid the automobile industry." The news dealt a blow to so-called green fuels, which have been seen as a way to reduce global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Mixing plant-based ethanol with fossil gasoline can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, one of several so-called greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate change. But ecologists have complained about the practice not least because a number of countries destroy tropical rain forests in order to cultivate the plants used to make biofuels. Damaging older cars Drivers would pay the price, had the plans gone ahead Germany had initially hailed biofuel blending as a way of achieving reductions in greenhouse gases without imposing restrictions proposed by the EU, which could hit the country's performance car industry. The German E10 … [Read more...] about German Environment Minister Calls Off Biofuel Plans
Nicolas Hulot, France's most famous environmental activist, is known for making waves. As a famous television personality, he has used his television show as a platform to attack pesticides, nuclear power, and even capitalism as a whole. "Our model is not sustainable," he has declared. Last week, France's new president Emmanuel Macron nominated Hulot, widely known for his nature documentaries, to be the country's next environment minister. It was a surprising name in a list of cabinet nominations that were mostly center-right and market-friendly. Hulot, who supported Macron's far-left rival Jean-Luc Melenchon, has been a noted opponent of free trade deals - something Macron champions. Hulot ran unsuccessfully as a Green political candidate in 2012. He stands in particular contrast to Macron's nominee to be prime minister, the center-right Edouard Philippe. Philippe worked as a lobbyist for French nuclear energy group Areva from 2007 to 2010. Now, companies are scrambling to … [Read more...] about Macron’s new environment chief: Greenwashing or green leading?
Stoltenberg denied that a new Cold War with Russia was dawning and rejected the suggestion that NATO had failed to deter Russia both in Syria and Crimea, saying the alliance's primary responsibility was to protect its members. "We are not in a Cold War. Partly because we don't have the two military blocks confronting each other, the Warsaw Pact and NATO. The Warsaw Pact doesn't exist anymore, the Soviet Union doesn't exist," the former Norwegian prime minister said. He conceded that "we are in a difficult and challenging security environment in Europe, we are not in the partnership we tried to develop after the Cold War." Stoltenberg said: "I see a more assertive Russia which has implemented a substantial build-up and that is exactly why NATO has implemented their biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War with deployment of troops in the Baltic region and Poland. We have tripled the size of the NATO response force to 40,000 troops and we have … [Read more...] about Stoltenberg: ‘We are in a difficult and challenging security environment in Europe’
The black spiders from which the contentious letters take their collective name do not refer to a species Prince Charles would like to see granted greater protection - rather, to the scribbled writing with which he opens each missive. Written between 2004 and 2005 to British politicians of the era, the correspondence takes up environmental issues including farming methods, climate and overfishing. In a letter to Elliot Morley, who was environment minister at the time, the long-standing heir to the throne praised efforts to "bring to heel the recalcitrant counties who sanction, either directly or by turning a blind eye, pirate and illegal fishing." Charles continued by defending the fate of the Patagonian toothfish, saying he hoped unlawful fishing of the species would be given high priority. "Until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross," he wrote. He said he would continue to campaign for the birds, which become snagged on fishing boats' lines when … [Read more...] about The environment according to Prince Charles
DW: Why have environmental issues been largely absent from the political debate? Niklas Höhne: The issue that has been quite prominent is around 'Dieselgate' - so the issue of cars and their emissions. But other than that, climate change and other issues have been quite absent. I assume that is simply because other topics, like the refugee crisis and our education and social security, have been more prominent and basically put the environment in the backseat. Which environmental issues are most important for German voters? I think right now, because of the diesel scandal, the most important one is air pollution, and being able to breathe in cities. But I think after that comes climate change, because it deals with so many things we do today. What effect do you think 'Dieselgate' will have on the election? I think it will have quite a significant impact. Transport is one of the important areas within climate policy that need to be tackled, and this diesel scandal … [Read more...] about Why isn’t the environment a German election issue?