Comment

Comment and opinion from expert environmental writers on green living and making a practical difference to energy, politics, social issues and climate change

Thick winter smog over London, 14th January 2012. Photo: stu mayhew via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The lesson of Dieselgate: time for strong, effective pollution laws

Keith Taylor MEP
| 4th April 2017
MEPs vote today on proposals to cut air pollution by setting up an independent EU monitoring body to ensure that a scandal like Dieselgate never happens again, writes Keith Taylor. However fears are growing that Brexit promises the UK a bonfire of environmental laws including those on air pollution. We need a strong, new Clean Air Act now!

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Energy Storage Solutions will help tackle Climate Change

Ian Larive
| 31st March 2017
The UK is placing energy storage at the heart of its new Modern Industrial Strategy, due to its potential to support smart energy systems and the automotive sector. As the energy industry moves away from carbon-heavy production, the twin-approach of renewable energy and storage will be critical for delivering on the demand while securing the future of UK energy, writes IAN LARIVE

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Dartford Warbler in the Thames Basin Heaths area at Chobham Common, Woking, Surrey, UK. Photo: Phil Fiddes via Flickr (CC BY).

EU wildlife laws must be celebrated and retained!

Jeremy Robson
Nottingham Trent University
| 30th March 2017
Government promises of 'leaving our environment better than we found it' are melting away in the heat of Brexit, writes Jeremy Robson. Ministers have said that a third of all EU environmental laws may never be transposed into UK statute, while many Tory MPs are anxious to rip away the 'red tape' that prevents building on precious nature sites. We must make British nature great again!

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Photo: VIVA & Allen Hanford Ltd.

Human rights are animal rights!

Peter Tatchell
| 28th March 2017
Abusing animals is no more justifiable than abusing people, writes Peter Tatchell. The moral touchstone is sentience, not species, and the 'humans first' ideology of speciesism is analogous to homophobia, racism & misogyny. Cruelty is barbarism, whether inflicted on humans or on other species. We need to recognise and accept our common animal nature.

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Organic beetroot grown at Sandy lane Farm, Oxfordshire: good for you, the farmer, wildlife and the wider environment. Photo: Sandy lane Farm via Facebook.

We need more organic farming!

Peter Melchett
Soil Association
| 23rd March 2017
A new study sets out the huge benefits of organic farming to people and the environment, writes Peter Melchett, including more wildlife, healthier consumers and farm workers, lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduced soil erosion and increased water retention. We need more of it, fast!

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So-called 'smart meters' add up to little but cheaper meter reading for power companies, unless we make them, and the grid, able to deliver variable pricing that reflects the balance of electricity demand and supply. Photo: DeptfordJon via Flickr (CC BY).

Green groups must denounce the sham 'smart meter' scandal

David Toke
| 22nd March 2017
So-called 'smart meters' are being rolled out across the UK, writes David Toke, but they don't support the dynamic pricing that's essential to expand renewable energy and decarbonise our electricity. It's time for green NGOs to get campaigning - and not leave vital decisions to a hostile government, a failing regulator and industry insiders.

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A forest? You might not think so, but according to the FAO's definition, oh yes it is! Photo: Balaji Kasirajan via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

FAO: Plantations are not forests!

World Rainforest Movement
| 21st March 2017
Since 1948 the UN's Food and Agriculture has been clinging to an outmoded definition of 'forests' that includes industrial wood plantations, writes WRM in this Open Letter for delivery to the FAO today, International Forests Day. This mis-definition seriously harms real forests and forest peoples as it justifies the clearance of real forests and their replacement with cash crops of trees.

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Badgered to death? Photo: Andrew Gray via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Badgered to Death? Now MPs have no excuse for ignorance

Dominic Dyer
| 20th March 2017
The badger cull is a clear failure on scientific, cost and humanity grounds, writes Dominic Dyer. Yet the government is planning a major extension of the cull in 2017. That's why he has just sent a copy of his acclaimed book to every British MP, before they debate the issue next week. Write to yours now demanding an end to the slaughter!

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Aviation or ice shelves? Thje choice is ours. Photo: NASA’s DC-8 flies over the crack forming across the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, 26th October 2011; by Jefferson Beck / NASA via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY).

Heathrow 2.0: a 'sustainable airport'? Or alternative facts on planes and pollution?

David Howarth
University of Essex
Steven Griggs
De Montfort University
| 17th March 2017
The facts are simple: a new London runway means more planes, more noise, more pollution and more global warming, write David Howarth & Steven Griggs. The 'Heathrow 2.0' initiative's conflation of 'sustainability' and 'sustainable growth' and its avoidance of climate change reek of Trumpian 'alternative facts'.

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Robin caught in a mist net on the British military base in Cyprus. Photo: RSPB / Birdlife Cyprus.

Cyprus: time to crack down on Mediterranean's biggest songbird massacre

Jamie Wyver
| 16th March 2017
The illegal trapping of birds on Cyprus is taking place on an industrial scale, writes Jamie Wyver, and the biggest hotspot is on a British army base where over 800,000 birds were killed last year. It's time for the British and Cyprus governments to confront the criminals, clear the acacia bushes in which the birds are trapped, and close the illegal restaurants serving them as 'delicacies'.

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Who says nature is not worth valuing in economic measurements? Sadly, most mainstream economists. Photo: Golden Pond on the University of Victoria campus, BC, Canada, by Nick Kenrick via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Measures of poverty and well-being still ignore the environment - this must change

Judith Schleicher
Bhaskar Vira
University of Cambridge
| 15th March 2017
Orthodox economic measures like Gross Domestic product fail to measure the things that matter most, write Judith Schleicher & Bhaskar Vira: like human wellbeing and ecological health. This creates a systematic bias in 'development' policies that must urgently be addressed if we are to build an inclusive, equitable and sustainable society

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International Women's Day: Voices from Friends of the Earth's women environmental activists around the world

Friends of the Earth International
| 8th March 2017

Today - International Women's Day of Struggle - we share the voices and experiences of Friends of the Earth women and transgender environmental activists. The national and regional contexts described by these activists are diverse. But the challenges they face are a common expression of the linked oppressions based on class, gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, disability and other power relations.

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Officially designated as a 'rural road': the M25 Dartford Crossing on the QE2 Bridge. Photo: highwaysengland via Flickr (CC BY).

Britain's eight-lane 'rural road' evades air quality reporting

Keith Taylor
| 7th March 2017
The government's 'misclassification' of an eight-lane M25 road bridge over the river Thames East of London as a 'rural road' meant they did not have to report the illegal levels of pollution found there, writes Keith Taylor - getting off the UK off the hook for a 17th breach of EU air quality standards. What an unfortunate error!

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Druridge Bay, Northumberland - just the place for an opencast coal mine? Photo: SAGT via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The end is nigh for coal - the UK must stop digging!

Deniz Kemal
| 6th March 2017
The UK Government is planning a coal-free energy future by 2025, writes Deniz Kemal. But it has failed to take the first step to make it happen: give clear guidance to local planners to block new coal mines on climate change grounds - like one application going to public inquiry this summer for a huge opencast mine on the Northumberland coast.

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Wind and solar power at work on the Westmill Cooperative Open Day 2015. Photo: Richard Peat via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Budget 2017 - wind and solar are essential to combat climate change!

Ervin Bossanyi
| 1st March 2017
David Cameron's Conservative government did its best to kill off the UK's lowest-cost renewable energy technologies, onshore wind and solar. But in next week's budget, the Chancellor can put that right. Renewables are low carbon, quick to deploy, have low environmental impacts, and enjoy high public support, writes Ervin Bossanyi. It's time to give them a break!

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A village being destroyed with fire, bulldozers and elephants as the Kaziranga Reserve doubles in size into local farmland and settlements. Photo: still from video by BBC Newsnight.

Are India's 'shoot on sight' wildlife guards doing more harm than good?

Bhaskar Vira
University of Cambridge
| 28th February 2017
Ruthless conservation policies at India's Kaziranga reserve claimed 20 lives in 2015 alone, writes Bhaskar Vira. Now, after a BBC film revealed the grim reality of life for local people, the BBC itself is in the firing line - banned from all India's tiger reserves for five years. Successful conservation must build bridges with communities - not fight them!

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The nuclear dream is turning into a nightmare! EDF's Cattenom 5.5 GW nuclear plant in Lorraine, France, built on the border with Luxembourg. Photo: Matthieu Nioufs via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

'Picking losers' - UK must not risk taxpayers' billions on failed nuclear dream

David Toke
| 27th February 2017
With the world's leading nuclear corporations facing bankruptcy due to ever escalating costs, 'unconstructable' reactor designs and financing risks, there's an easy way to finance the UK's new nuclear power stations, writes David Toke: pin the cost onto taxpayers. As for schools, hospitals, pensions, housing, social care and other public services, who needs 'em?

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Climate change is a white swan

Rupert Read
| 23rd February 2017
There's nothing unexpected about the coming catastrophe: it is approaching us ‘smoothly'. And yet we're doing so little to stop it. What gives? asks Philosopher, RUPERT READ

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Radical roots ... radishes in a Boston farmers' market. Photo: WBUR Boston's NPR News Station via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Brexit and the future of farming: threat or opportunity?

Molly Scott Cato MEP
| 21st February 2017
With most of our food exports going to the EU, and most of our food imports coming from the EU, Molly Scott Cato wondered what plans the government had for the sector after Brexit. The answer? None! Two reports published today map out a positive future of sustainable farming, local food, thriving rural economies and abundant biodiversity. But is the government on the same page?

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Bisect this landscape with a wall, and how will the wildlife fare? Photo: Near the US-Mexico border in Arizona by Corey Taratuta via Flickr (CC BY).

Trump's 'beautiful wall' threatens 111 endangered species

Shonil Bhagwat
The Open University
| 20th February 2017
The 3,100km concrete wall Donald Trump plans to build along the US-Mexico border would be a disaster for the border zone's ecosystems, writes Shonil Bhagwat. Among the species at risk: ocelots, bears, Bighorn sheep, the US's last wild jaguars facing genetic isolation north of the border, and the Bald eagle, the US's national bird.

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Luz Ángela Uriana Epiayu with her son, Moisés Daniel. Photo: Bianca Bauer via Coal Action Network.

RWE npower, Colombian coal is killing our children! Close Aberthaw!

Luz Ángela Uriana Epiayu
| 16th February 2017
The coal power station at Aberthaw is not just polluting much of South Wales with its filthy emissions. It could also be seriously damaging the health of children in Colombia with coal dust from BHP Billiton's massive Cerrejón coal mine. In this open letter, Luz Ángela Uriana Epiayu implores RWE npower to shut down its stinking, obsolete and illegal power station.

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