Brazil losing three football pitches of rainforest a minute
Deforestation in the Amazon has surged to its highest level in years this month, with three football pitches of rainforest being cleared every minute.
According to the latest government data, reported by the Guardian, clearance so far this month has hit 1,345 sq km of forest. It continues a worrying trend of accelerating deforestation: in June 2019 deforestation in the rainforest was 88 per cent higher than in June 2018.
The news has stoked fears that President Jair Bolsonaro is tacitly approving the deforestation to make way for farmland. Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, told the Guardian that the rainforest is edging “very close” to a tipping point where it won’t be able to recover from damage by loggers.
World’s longest EV trip: Man drives from Amsterdam to New Zealand
It took more than 1,200 days, 100,450 kilometres, and 34 countries, but earlier this month Wiebe Wakker completed his epic journey across the world in an electric car.
Wakker said he set himself the challenge to prove the viability of electric vehicles, in a bid to “accelerate the transition to a zero carbon future”. He originally planned to drive from Amsterdam to Sydney, but extended his trip on to Bluff, New Zealand’s most southerly tip, arriving on July 19.
The Dutch driver was on the road for more than three years, letting his route be dictated by his social media followers and relying on the hospitality of strangers to charge his vehicle along the way.
Wakker said that throughout his route, which took him through India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, he only got stuck with a flat battery “six or seven times” – all in Australia.
After 1.222 days, 100.450 kilometres and 34 countries I reached the end! The end of the world and the end of my journey.
This signpost marks NZ’s most southern point Bluff and that’s as far as you can go by car. Proud that I made it, sad it’s over but excited about the future. pic.twitter.com/QtwkbDz5Av
— Plug Me In (@WiebeWkkr) July 19, 2019
California bypasses Trump rules with own auto-emissions deal
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has this week inked a deal with four major carmakers – Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW – requiring them to deliver an average fleet efficiency of 51 miles to the gallon by 2026.
It’s a compromise on the original efficiency target set by President Obama, for carmakers to hit an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, up from around 37 today.
But it marks a major blow to President Trump’s efforts to roll back President Obama’s rules entirely, as carmakers will be unlikely to make cars to two different standards, particularly given California is one of the largest auto markets in the US.
The EPA dismissed the news as a PR stunt, although many now believe Trump’s efforts to rescind the Obama-era legislation have been stalled permanently.
“This voluntary framework is a PR stunt that does nothing to further the one national standard that will provide certainty and relief for American consumers,” said EPA spokesman Michael Abboud. “As the Administration stated earlier this year, despite our best efforts to reach a common-sense solution with CARB, they continually refused to produce reasonable and responsible proposals.”
First Saudi wind farm reaches financial close
A 400MW onshore wind farm has received the final go-ahead in Saudi Arabia, with construction expected to start in a matter of weeks.
The Dumat Al Jandal wind farm reached financial close this week, and will be developed by French energy giant EDF Renewables and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, also known as Masdar.
The wind farm will produce power at a price of US$21.3 per MWh, with operations expected to start in 2022.
Palm oil giant Korindo cleared forests for palm oil, FSC concludes
Palm oil firm Korindo Group has cleared forests in Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations, resulting in “the destruction of high conservation values”, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has concluded.
Following an investigation into a complaint brough by NGO Mighty Earth, the FSC said it had decided to “impose improvement and remedy requirements” on Korindo for breaching its rules.
The FSC defended its decision not to expel Korindo for the breach by claiming that “simply expelling companies does not provide any solutions to the environmental and social damage done by the companies”.
“After thorough consideration of the case and after receiving clear indications from Korindo of their commitment to work for constructive solutions, we firmly believe that disassociation would not yield any constructive mechanism to ensure that conversion stops and that Korindo improves its forestry practices and secures remedy for past issues,” said FSC International director Kim Carstensen.
Reports: Trump shelves ‘adversarial’ climate review
A proposed panel to conduct a review into climate science for the White House has been shelved as Trump battles to defend his environmental record ahead of the 2020 Presidential election, reports suggest.
According to E&E News, plans to allow the National Security Council to review climate science have “stalled indefinitely amid internal disagreements within the White House”, with many concerned about the impact the panel could have on the President’s re-election hopes.
San Francisco bumps up plastic bag prices
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted this week to hike the price of plastic bags to 25 cents, more than double the 10 cent fee introduced in the city in 2007. The board also voted to ban plastic produce bags altogether, in a move which will require retailers to provide paper or compostable alternatives.
The city is also considering new legislation that would impose a 25 cent charge on single-use food and drinks containers, and would also require restauranters to provide reusable crockery to eat-in customers.
“The amount of plastic waste we dump into our environment is a crisis on the level of climate change, and the plastics and petroleum industry has emerged as the worst offender,” said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin who introduced the legislation.
“We will pay the costs of this harm one way or another, whether through the increased cost of waste management, or the enormous cost of cleaning up our oceans and waterways. We must take steps now to change our behavior and hopefully prevent the worst of the worst harm to our planet,” he said.