Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment
Mount Sinabung Volcano in Indonesia erupts
Mount Sinabung Volcano in Indonesia erupts
Credit: Screenshot YouTube

Located on Sumatra Island, the Mount Sinabung volcano has erupted in Indonesia on Sunday with a second eruption on Monday.

Indian authorities have stated that the ashes from the volcano have reached multiple miles high and pose a risk of poisoning for the nearby population.

The volcano has erupted multiple times since last year before it had been inactive for 400 years. No injuries or fatalities caused by the last eruption have been reported.

Climate & Environment
Mauritius: Satellite image show ship spilling fuel; environmental emergency declared
MV Wakashio
MV Wakashio Credit: Nagashiki Shipping

The Japanese vessel MV Wakashio ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25th. It was reportedly carrying 4000 tons of fuel. New satellite images from Friday show dark oil spreading in the turquoise waters, near an area that is "very sensitive" according to the Mauritian.

The coasts wildlife has been brought from the island Ile aux Aigrettes to the mainland to avoid contact with the oil. Greenpeace reports that "thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security and health." The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is asking why authorities haven't acted earlier. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has asked France for help because Mauritius "doesn't have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships."

The weather has made work on the ship nearly impossible. Jugnauth worries "hat could happen Sunday when the weather deteriorates" and the oil pushes to the mainland's shore.

Volunteers have started building makeshift barriers.

Climate & Environment
Iraq experiences hottest day in recorded history at 51,8°C
Tahrir square in Baghdad, Iraq
Tahrir square in Baghdad, Iraq Credit: Aziz1005 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

With the previously hottest recorded temperature in Baghdad in June 2015 being 51°C, the country has now reported 51,8°C on Tuesday, and 51,1°C on Wednesday.

In other countries of the Middle East such as Lebanon temperature records of 45,4°C have been documented. The capital of Syria, Damascus has recorded 46°C - tying with the hottest previously recorded temperature.

Climate & Environment
New NASA satellite images reveal disappearance of St. Patrick Bay ice caps
Satellite images of the location of the St. Patrick Bay ice caps. Left was taken on August 2015, right on July 2020.
Satellite images of the location of the St. Patrick Bay ice caps. Left was taken on August 2015, right on July 2020. Credit: NSIDC (Reproduction)

Recent NASA satellite images show the disappearance of two Canadian ice caps, known as St. Patrick Bay ice caps, northeast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. A 2017 published paper by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) had predicted the melting of the ice caps within five years. Current images show the ice caps have completely vanished.

"When I first visited those ice caps, they seemed like such a permanent fixture of the landscape," Mark Serreze, the director of the NSIDC, said in a statement. "We’ve long known that as climate change takes hold, the effects would be especially pronounced in the Arctic. But the death of those two little caps that I once knew so well has made climate change very personal. All that’s left are some photographs and a lot of memories."

Climate & Environment
Hurricane Hanna makes landfall in South Texas, causes flooding and power outages
National Hurricane Center's 5-day track and intensity forecast cone of Atlantic AL072020 Tropical Depression Eight.
National Hurricane Center's 5-day track and intensity forecast cone of Atlantic AL072020 Tropical Depression Eight. Credit: National Hurricane Center / Public domain

Hurricane Hanna has made landfall in South Texas and Northeastern Mexico and left over 280,000 without power in Texas on Sunday morning. Flash flood emergencies have been declared in Mission and Hidalgo County.

Meteorologist Chris Birchfield warns that the hurricane is far from over and that they were "still expecting catastrophic flooding."

"Any hurricane is an enormous challenge," Texas Governor Abbott said on Saturday. "This challenge is complicated and made even more severe, seeing that it is sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for Covid-19."

Climate & Environment
Australia: Sydney switches to 100% renewable electricity
Australia: Sydney switches to 100% renewable electricity
Credit: Azri (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The city of Sydney has announced that it has begun switching 100% of the electricity for the city to energy from renewable sources. According to the official announcement on the cities website they struck a deal to purchase energy from three different generators in New South Wales that is equivalent to 100% of the city's usage. The electricity comes in 3/4 from wind generation and 1/4 from solar generation and will be added to the electricity grid of the city.

Since the 1st of July, the city has started getting electricity from these generators with the aim of completing the switch to getting 100% of the cities electricity from these sources in 2021.

Climate & Environment
Portugal adjusts plans to end energy from coal by 2021
Portugal adjusts plans to end energy from coal by 2021
Credit: Paulo Valdivieso from Lisboa, Portugal / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

According to the energy company EDP its Sines coal power plant will be shut down in 2021, accelerating the original 2023 shutdown plans. This will make Portugal the third country in the European Union to end the energy production from coal-fired power plants.

EDP has stated that they are "now evaluating the development of a green hydrogen production project in Sines" and are "committed to fulfill all labor obligations towards the 107 workers at the plant".

Climate & Environment
Prime Minister of Canada announces ban of single-use plastic by 2021
Prime Minister of Canada announces ban of single-use plastic by 2021
Credit: unsplash.com / Jasmin Sessler

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will ban single-use plastic "such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks" in 2021 "and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging".

In a press release, the Government states that less than 10 percent of the plastic in Canada gets recycled and that by reducing plastic waste a reduction of "1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution" could be achieved, as well as the creation of assumed 42,000 jobs and "billions of dollars in revenue" as a result of investments in new and innovative technologies.

Climate & Environment
Over two million Indians have planted 250 million trees while socially distancing
Farm Fields of Munnar, India
Farm Fields of Munnar, India Credit: unsplash.com / Ravi Pinisetti

In order to work against climate change over two million people have gathered in northern India to plant 250 million trees. The government has initiated the project and officials in Uttar Pradesh have provided the saplings across the state.

According to Associated Press the volunteers, lawmakers and government officials that participated maintained social distance as the Covid-19 pandemic is still going on with India the country with the fourth most infections in the world.

Climate & Environment
Greenpeace puts a banner on Notre-Dame de Paris to denounce Emmanuel Macron's climate inaction
Greenpeace puts a banner on Notre-Dame de Paris to denounce Emmanuel Macron's climate inaction
Credit: Greenpeace France (Twitter Reproduction)

Some Greenpeace members climbed to a crane involved in the cathedral rebuilding and deployed a banner urging France president to turn talk into action regarding climate change.

Climate & Environment
Japan implements mandatory fee for plastic bags
Japan implements mandatory fee for plastic bags
Credit: unsplash.com / Brian Yurasits

The Japanese government has implemented a mandatory rule for all retail outlets to charge costumers for plastic bags. The previously free plastic bags will now only be handed out for a fee.

The goal is to reduce plastic waste as the bags often end up in oceans and decompose there into microplastics which enter the food chain.

Climate & Environment
Ocean Voyages Institute removes 103 tons of fishing nets and consumer plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Plastic fished out of the ocean on a ship
Plastic fished out of the ocean on a ship Credit: Ocean Voyages Institute

The Ocean Voyages Institute has more than doubled their previous record during the 48-day expedition and removed 103 tons of finish nets and consumer plastic from the ocean before returning to Honolulu, Hawaii. The executive director and founder of the group, Mark Crowley has stated that he is "so proud of our hard working crew" and that they exceeded their "goal of capturing more than 100 tons of toxic consumer plastics and derelict ‘ghost’ nets—and in these challenging times, we are continuing to help restore the health of our ocean, which influences our own health and the health of the planet".

Climate & Environment
Higher-than-usual radioactivity detected near Baltic Sea, origin and source unknown
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map.
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map. Credit: @SinaZerbo (Lassino Zerbo), via Twitter

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has detected slightly increased levels of isotopes produced by nuclear fission near the Baltic Sea. The CTBTO is a network of hundreds of monitoring stations checking for nuclear weapon tests worldwide but is also able to identify other nuclear activities. One CTBTO station detected higher-than-usual levels of the radionuclides caesium-134, caesium-137 and ruthenium-103 earlier this week that are "certainly nuclear fission products, most likely from a civil source," but "it’s outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin," so a spokesperson of the Vienna-based CTBTO.

Nuclear fission products are atomic fragments that are left after an atom is split into two or more smaller nuclei and are radioactive.

Climate & Environment
Germany and Netherlands to ban disposable plastic in 2021
Germany and Netherlands to ban disposable plastic in 2021
Credit: Twentyfirstidentity (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The State Secretary Van Veldhoven of the Netherlands has announced that the country will ban disposable plastic such as cups and cutlery from July 3, 2021.

The ban is part of a directive by the European Union which requires all EU countries to put similar measures in place to reduce plastic waste. Germany had already announced similar measures.

Climate & Environment
Highest Arctic temperature recorded in Siberia
Temperature anomaly 2m Arctic Analysis, 20 June 2020
Temperature anomaly 2m Arctic Analysis, 20 June 2020 Credit: karstenhaustein.com/climate

The northeastern Siberian town Verkhoyansk has hit a new record temperature high at 38°C (100.4°F) in the Arctic Circle on Saturday. The town is located at 67.5 degrees north latitude and 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometres) east of Moscow with an average June temperature of 20°C (60°F).

The town with a population of 1,300 has a significant temperature range, with temperatures below -45°C (-50°F) during Winter. Saturday's data has not been verified by another entity yet but, as Sunday's temperature was recorded at 35.2°C (95.3°F), it does not seem likely that the Saturday reading was a mistake.

Climate & Environment
Côte d'Ivoire: Landslide killed 13, several missing
An aerial photograph of flooding on the Tana River, Kenya
An aerial photograph of flooding on the Tana River, Kenya Credit: SGT R.A. Ward, U.S. Marine Corps / Public domain

A landslide caused by heavy rain in Anyama, Côte d'Ivoire killed 13 people. Several people are still missing. Flooding risk still remains high as search for missing people continues.

Abidjan's Prefect Vincent Toh Bi: "The provisional death toll is 13 and searches are continuing. 20 houses were swept away."

Climate & Environment
2020 expected to be one of the warmest year on record globally
2020 expected to be one of the warmest year on record globally
Credit: unsplash.com/Luis Graterol

In an announcement on Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) reported that May 2020 was the warmest May recorded in history. NOOA has been keeping record since 1880 and, according to climatologist Karin Gleason, 2020 will "virtually certain" be among the five warmest years. The agency warns that 2020 could surpass 2016, the warmest year ever recorded.

Climate & Environment
Spanish government proposes new energy plans, aims for 100% renewable electricity
Spanish government proposes new energy plans, aims for 100% renewable electricity
Credit: unsplash.com/Nicholas Doherty

The Spanish Government has proposed a new energy plan to surpass the efforts made by the European Union. The goal is to cut greenhouse gas reductions by 20 percent compared to 1990, which would be six points higher than the requirement of the European Union. In addition, Spain aims to revoke all fracking permits after 2040, ban the registration for CO2-emitting vehicles by 2040 and in the same year abolish all subsidies for fossil fuel emissions.

Climate & Environment
Trump re-allows previously banned hunting methods

While the Obama administration had banned multiple hunting methods such as the use of doughnuts soaked in bacon grease to bait grizzly bears, the Trump administration has now reversed those bans. The new rules that are stated in the Federal Register and published by the National Park Service policy now state that the practices will be allowed again in 30 days.

Climate & Environment
Unilever announces it will invest one billion euros in climate change fund

Unilever Plc has announced that it plans to invest one billion euros over the course of ten years into a fund for climate change projects. The goal is to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions for the entire product offering to zero by 2039. The projects include reforestation and water preservation.

Climate & Environment
Pakistan's creative fight against continuing locust plague
Pakistan's creative fight against continuing locust plague
Credit: Binemarina (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The locust plagues that have been terrorising East Africa, India, and Pakistan in the past few months have still not disappeared. The unusual amounts of precipitation have caused the insects to reproduce 400 times faster than normal. Many fear the plagues to continue as the monsoons seasons are beginning in Pakistan and India.

Since the swarms have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, farmers in Punjab, the most important agricultural region of Pakistan, received ten euro cents for every kilogram of locust. The collected insects were then turned into chicken feed. Since this solution helps both to compensate farmers for their lost income and to eradicate the plague, the Pakistani government is now planning to expand the programme to the entire country.

Climate & Environment
United Kingdom reaches longest period without coal energy since industrial revolution
Cottam Power Station, viewed from the north in July 2019 - months prior to official closure
Cottam Power Station, viewed from the north in July 2019 - months prior to official closure Credit: Ncary95 / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

With a decreased electricity demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic of 15-20%, the United Kingdom has hit the milestone of two months without the need for coal based energy. In addition to the decreased demand renewable energy sources have generated and contributed more electricity than ever before.

Climate & Environment
Kenya: Single-use plastic ban takes effect on Friday
Plastic bottle on beach
Plastic bottle on beach Credit: unsplash.com/Ishan @seefromthesky

Kenya forbids single-use plastics in the country's protected areas like national parks, forests and beaches. These include water bottles, straws and other single-use packaging. This ban was first announced three years ago and takes effect on June 6th, World Environment Day.

Climate & Environment
Report shows: Costs for solar energy have dropped 82% since 2010
Solar panels at the top of Mt Tripylos, Troodos Mountains, Cyprus
Solar panels at the top of Mt Tripylos, Troodos Mountains, Cyprus Credit: Michal Klajban (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has published a report called "Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019". The organization concludes that "Since 2010, the cost of energy has dropped by 82% for photovoltaic solar, by 47% for concentrated solar energy (CSP), by 39% for onshore wind and by 29% for wind offshore".

Climate & Environment
Northern Chile hit by 6.8 earthquake

Northern Chile has been hit with an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.8. The German research center for geosciences has stated that the epicenter was 62 km southwest of San Pedro de Atacama and close to several copper mines - none of which were damaged due to the earthquake.

Climate & Environment
Germany starts commercial operation of new coal-fired power plant
Datteln IV coal power plant
Datteln IV coal power plant Credit: Frank Vincentz (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The energy company Uniper has started operating the new Datteln 4 coal power plant despite ten different protests being registered with the police. The German government and the regional government of North Rhine-Westphalia have stated that the new power plant won't add more emissions to the air, because older coal power plants will go out of operation until 2025. The so-called "coal commission" that advises the German government on the exit from coal energy has previously recommended finding different solutions to compensate the energy company in order to prevent Dattel 4 from going into operation.

Climate & Environment
Taiwan's Green Island introduces project for waste reduction
Sign for a water refill station
Sign for a water refill station Credit: unsplash.com/Meritt Thomas

Green Island, a small volcanic island and tourist attraction east of Taiwan, is introducing a plan to reduce plastic waste. To counteract the use of bottled water, the island will grant access to 33 potable water facilities in public locations where travellers can refill their own water bottles.

Climate & Environment
Hambacher Forst: Police handed over GPS data and photos to RWE

In 2018, the Ministry of the Interior passed on a roughly 77-page document to the energy group RWE, which is contained a detailed list of tree houses and GPS data. The supposed reason to hand over the documents was to enable RWE to file conclusive eviction suits against the protesters.

Climate & Environment
Ashaninka indigenous people win lawsuit against illegal logging

With the lawsuit being handed in during the 1990s, the Ashaninka group has won a decades-long dispute against forestry companies that illegally cut down parts of the Amazon forest. The companies and their legal teams have agreed to $3 million in compensations and have stated publicly their acknowledgement of the "enormous importance of the Ashaninka people as guardians of the forest, zealous in the preservation of the environment".

Climate & Environment
Scientists estimate 17 per cent decline in carbon emissions due to Covid-19

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change states that following the movement restrictions, closure of workplaces and factories as well as the closure of borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists estimate that the daily carbon dioxide emissions have declined an estimated 17 per cent.