ICYMI – eco news round up, 15 March 2019

Stella McCartney show featured ‘Upcycled’ clothes during Paris Fashion Week

Stella McCartney presented a new collection at Paris Fashion Week made from “upcycled” materials, unveiled during a show at the Opera Garnier. The collection sees discarded products reused to create a new product of higher quality, such as dresses made from vintage T-shirts stripped and knotted together.

Regarding her decision to embrace upcycling, McCartney told The Guardian: “There were second hand T-shirts that were going to get thrown away or burned or landfilled, which we cut into strips and made knitwear out of.” According to the designer’s Instagram, the show was “dedicated to the ones we love in the past, present and future”.

Alongside showcasing bright colours and statement shoulders through upcycled materials, the designer’s latest collection offered even more in terms of raising awareness and saving the environment; it was part of McCartney’s new campaign to protect the Leuser Ecosystem, an endangered forest in Sumatra, Indonesia, that is home to orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos. Invitations for the show included vacuum-packed oak tree leaves and invited guests to join the ”There She Grows” campaign by dedicating a tree to the forest.

Climate Change: Rain melting Greenland ice sheet ‘even in winter’

Rain is becoming increasingly frequent in Greenland, accelerating the melting of its ice, a new study has found. Scientists say they’re “surprised” to discover rain falling even during the long Arctic winter. If all of the ice were to melt, the sea level would rise by seven metres, threatening coastal population centres around the world.
On more than 300 occasions between 1979 to 2012, the scientists’ analysis found that rainfall events were triggering a melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, mostly in summertime when the air often gets above zero. However, a growing number happened in winter months when the permanent dark of the polar winter would be expected to keep temperatures well below freezing.
Although Greenland is extremely remote- a vast island lying at the northern end of the Atlantic Ocean- the sheer volume of ice covering it means its fate could have global repercussions. In stable times, snowfall in winter will balance any ice melted or breaking off into the ocean in summer, but research has shown how the ice-sheet has been losing large amounts of mass in recent decades. Although this only contributes a relatively small amount to the rise in the sea-level, the fear is that the flow of meltwater could accelerate as temperatures rise, which could disturb weather patterns in Europe and other regions.

After it rains the surface darkens, which speeds up melting- Photograph by Joseph Cook







‘We’ve been forced into this’: Australia’s school climate strikes to go global

On Friday, thousands of primary and high school students are again planning to walk out of classes across the country, protesting against the government’s inaction on climate change, and what they see as the destruction of their future. The time, the strike is taking on global dimensions as the students will be joined by others in America and Europe. At the November protests, thousands took to the streets but they were told by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to “go to school”, and by the resources minister, Matt Canavan, that they were “learning to join the dole queue”.

This year, the number of rally points has grown, mostly in regional areas. There are 18 in New South Wales alone – from Bowral to Byron Bay – and Khan, a student at Glenunga International high school in Adelaide, feels enthusiasm has risen, rather than quietened down. “This time our response rate has doubled,” she says. “Last time, a week before the strike, we had 1,000 responses on Facebook. This week we are over 2,300. We are now getting a hundred responses a day. That’s pretty cool – and this is just the Adelaide strike.” Shellie Joseph, a year 12 student from St Patrick’s College in Gympie, Queensland is also organising the strike at her school. She says “We’ve been forced into this by our government’s inaction. We shouldn’t have to be doing this.”

Students demand the Australian government take action on climate change in Sydney November 2018- Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images







Liberals attack Queensland Nationals’ push for coal-fired power stations

Moderate Liberals have unleashed a full court press against the Queensland Nationals’ push for coal-fired power stations, declaring that the Morrison government must not be in the business of building coal-fired power stations in circumstances when the market it not prepared to do so. The firm pushback by Liberals comes as the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce declared support for coal was National Party policy and the government should not “go silent or mute on issues we support”. The Liberals’ interposition is indicative of the anxiety many Liberals have that inaction on climate change could cost the Coalition coming federal election, with the MPs believing it is now necessary to draw a line.

Liberals Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and Trevor Evans have all voiced their opposition to the pro-coal campaign whilst Joyce told Sky News it was time to double down on supporting coal communities in Queensland, claiming that arguments like the one Morrison advanced should be left to the Labour Party. At this moment in time, deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, has attempted to hold the line on new coal development, saying he is not opposed to new plants, but the business case for any new development has to stack up.

Air pollution deaths are double previous estimates, finds research

Researchers have warned that polluted air is killing 800,000 people a year in Europe and urge the phasing out of fossil fuel burning. The scientists also found out that each life is cut short by an average of over two years. The analysis, published in the European Heart Journal, confirms that 8.8 million people worldwide die prematurely every due to outdoor air pollution, which is double previous estimates.

“To put this into perspective, this means that air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking,” said Prof Thomas Münzel at the University Medical Centre Mainz in Germany and one of the scientists behind the new study. “Smoking is avoidable but air pollution is not.” He went on to say “The EU is lagging a long way behind. “We as doctors and patients cannot alter the limits for air pollution, so the politicians have to stand up and give us an environment that keeps us safe.” Prof Jos Lelieveld of the Max-Plank Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and also part of the team, said: “Since most air pollutants come from the burning of fossil fuels, we need to switch to other sources of energy urgently”.

Münzel said small particles, less than 2.5 microns in size (PM2.5), are not paid sufficient attention when tackling cardiovascular disease. “The prevention guidelines for CVD must adopt air pollution as an important risk factor,” he said. The EU’s PM2.5 limit is more than double the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline used by Canada and Australia.

WA Watchdog abandons carbon-neutral push after oil and gas industry criticism

Western Australia’s environmental watchdog has abandoned a recommendation to the state government that new emissions-intensive projects should be carbon neutral following widespread criticism. The recommendation was criticised as it could jeopardise billions of dollars worth of new liquefied natural gas projects , thus the WA government quickly rejected the idea.

“I think that’s a good outcome for the state,” Mark McGowan, the premier, said. “I think it will provide more certainty and allow us to be part of a bigger national solution on this issue.” Last week, the Environmental Protection Authority’s chairman, Tom Hatton, told reporters in Western Australia the move was necessary because Australia was not on track to meet its Paris targets. Furthermore there were concerns that the guidelines, if adopted, would have been challenged in court for years.

However, Australia’s emissions continue to increase and the federal government faced criticism last week for suggesting the opposite, based on one particular measurement of data from a single quarter. Much of this increase has been attributed to rising emissions associated with the LNG industry, in particular Western Australia’s Gorgon LNG plant.

Photograph: Dazman/Getty Images/iStockphoto







Australia’s annual carbon emissions reach record high

Australia’s annual carbon emissions have reached a new record and drops in emissions from the electricity sector have been nullified due to increases from other industries, according to new data. Ndevr Environmental, an emissions-tracking organisation that releases quarterly greenhouse gas emissions data, said on Thursday that annual emissions for the year up to December 2018 increased to 558.4m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the highest level recorded when excluding unreliable land use data.

The Morrison government have claimed that the country will meet its Paris targets of a 26-28% reduction in emissions on 2005 levels, yet Nvedr’s data proves that Australia is not on track. The report shows emissions from the electricity sector continue to decline due to large-scale renewable energy projects, but this progress is cancelled out by increases in emissions from all forms of transport, stationary energy (fuels burnt in equipment or plants not involved in electricity generation) and fugitive emissions (leaks from other activities such as methane from a coalmine). “The electricity sector is not the problem” Drum Said. “The problem is all other sectors that aren’t subject to any real binding carbon emissions reduction target or policy.”

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