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Gathered on a remote stretch of beach at  Rekvik, Troms Fylke, Norway: 211 bottles and cans. Photo: Bo Eide via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

UN Ocean Conference: can the law protect our ocean ecosystems?

Elizabeth A Kirk
Nottingham Law School
| 1st June 2017
With the UN Ocean Conference beginning in New York next week, Elizabeth A Kirk asks: can we devise a legal system that promotes the ecological resilience of the oceans? To do so will mean placing ecosystems at the heart of decision making, over and above countries' selfish 'national interests'. It will be tough, but if we fail it's hard to see how the gamut of problems - from ocean acidification to plastic pollution and overfishing - can ever be solved.

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If you think fossil fuel lobbyists belong in UN climate negotiations, maybe you also think Santa smokes Lucky Strikes, and the tobacco industry belongs in the World Health Organisation. Photo: Phil Wolff via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Bonn climate talks' glacial progress shows why we must kick fossil fuels out!

Pascoe Sabido
Corporate Europe Observatory
| 25th May 2017
The participation of the fossil fuel industry in UN climate talks represents clear a conflict of interest, writes Pascoe Sabido. And nowhere has this been more apparent than at this month's UNFCCC meeting in Bonn, where fossil fuel representatives have slowed progress to a snail's pace. With just six months to go before November's COP23 negotiations, it's time to defy the US, EU and Australia, and kick fossil fuel lobbyists out!

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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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EURATOM was once a symbol of Europe's nuclear future. But it's true role may be to supervise the sector's decline. Photo: Euratom Inspectors inspecting URENCO, Almelo, Netherlands, 13 October 2015. Photo: IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The nuclear fallout from 'Brexatom': threat, opportunity, or plain bonkers?

Pete Roche
| 24th February 2017
The UK's inability to import radio-isotopes for cancer therapy is just the latest outcome of the UK's decision to leave EURATOM to hit the headlines, writes Pete Roche. It may also put a brake on the UK's plans to build new nuclear plants, and import and export nuclear fuel and wastes. The UK's exit from the treaty, as a strongly pro-nuclear state, could also mark an EU-wide anti-nuclear swing.

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Herbicide spraying in Arkansas, USA. Photo: Kevin Wood via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Suppressed EPA toxicologist: 'it is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer'

Carey Gillam
| 14th February 2017
Letters from an EPA toxicologist to the EPA official in charge of assessing whether glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, causes cancer, reveal accusations of 'staff intimidation' and 'political conniving games with the science' to favour pesticide corporations, writes Carey Gillam. Could this be a game-changer for cancer-suffering plaintiffs?

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Bottles of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller relabeled by Global Justice Now activists, April 2016. Roundup contains glyphosate, a chemical that the WHO classifies as 'probably carcinogenic'. Photo: Global Justice Now via Flickr (CC BY).

On trial: Monsanto's 'alternative facts' about glyphosate

Carey Gillam
USRTK
| 1st February 2017
Reeling from California's decision to ban glyphosate, fearful of 're-evaluation' by EU and US regulators, and facing ruinous cancer claims in federal courts, the US chemical industry are fighting back, writes Carey Gillam. Their key argument: don't trust independent doctors and scientists - trust us! And as they just told a California court, profit must come before people.

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The EPA building in Washington DC. Photo: Mark Ordonez via Flickr (CC BY).

EPA's systemic bias in hearings over glyphosate and cancer

Carey Gillam
| 19th December 2016
The US Environmental Protection Agency was on the defensive last week in its hearings to determine whether glyphosate, the word's number one herbicide, causes cancer, writes Carey Gillam, as it stood accused of giving preferential treatment to industry representatives, excluding evidence of cancer links, and refusing testimony from a world expert epidemiologist.

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Gene drives could be used, for example, to attack fast-breeding pest species like aphids. But with what consequences on other species and wider ecosystems? Photo: Nigel Jones via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Biodiversity Convention call to block new 'genetic extinction' GMOs

GMWatch
The Ecologist
| 6th December 2016
160 global groups have called for a moratorium on new 'genetic extinction' technology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Gene drive technology, they say, poses serious and irreversible threats to biodiversity, national sovereignty, peace and food security.

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A raging wildfire 24 km south of Fort McMurray 7th May 2016 - part of a 1,500 square kilometre inferno that prompted the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people from the northern Alberta city. Photo: Chris Schwarz / Government of Alberta via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

WMO: 2015 / 2016 temperature records creating surge of climate refugees

The Ecologist
| 14th November 2016
Record global temperatures in 2015 and 2016 are causing a humanitarian crisis that is more than double that of conflict as a cause of displacement and migration, the WMO stated today. Heatwaves, flood, drought and fires are all contributing to the declining food and water security affecting over 60 million people worldwide.

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Container ship MOL GRANEUR off the Japan coast, 18th October 2015. Photo: ARTS_fox1fire via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Shipping to go 'beyond Paris Agreement' without offsets

Oliver Tickell
| 8th November 2016
The International Chamber of Shipping has committed the industry to legally binding emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement. Unlike the aviation industry, it will make no use of carbon 'offsets', but will reach its targets by increasing efficiency and moving to lower carbon fuels.

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Rainbow-decorated fence at Greenham Common US military base near Newbury, England, 17th March 2007. Photo: Your Greenham via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Historic UN vote to negotiate a global nuclear weapons ban

Rebecca Johnson
| 31st October 2016
Last week the UN General Assembly's Disarmament and Security Committee voted for negotiations to begin next year on a new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, writes Rebecca Johnson, bypassing the stalled Non Proliferation Treaty. One immediate consequence is to make the UK's plans to replace its Trident nuclear missile system 'completely untenable'.

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Up, up, up ... the access road to the observatories near the summit of Mauna Loa, the Hawai'ian volcano on which official measurements of global CO2 concentrations are taken. Photo: Dave Strom via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

WMO: the world's new 400ppm climate reality

Alex Kirby
| 25th October 2016
Global CO2 concentrations have reached a historic new base of 400 parts per million, writes Alex Kirby, and are unlikely to fall below that level - 40% higher than the pre-industrial era - for many centuries to come. The WMO released the news just as the UK commits to a new London runway.

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Well cared-for animals are crucial to food security and sustainable farming systems around the world. Photo: Paul Woods via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The future of our food depends on small farmers and well cared-for livestock

Philip Lymbery
CIWF
| 19th October 2016
Abusive farming of animals in factory farms is one of the great cruelties of the modern age, writes Philip Lymbery. While some may justify it as necessary to 'feed the world', it is no such thing. The answer lies in supporting small scale traditional farmers, and respecting the livestock that are intrinsic to sustainable agriculture across the planet.

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Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, at the 14th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues - 27 April 2015, New York. Photo: via rightsandresources.org.

Vicky Tauli-Corpuz: 'The better protected areas are those where indigenous peoples live!'

Joe Eisen
Conservation Watch
| 19th October 2016
Indigenous Peoples are often the victims of nature conservation, according to a new report by Vicky Tauli-Corpuz presented to the UN this week, as they are expelled from lands they have inhabited for millennia. One reason, she told Joe Eisen, is that indigenous territories are precisely the places where biodiversity is best preserved - thanks to the protective, nurturing presence of their traditional owners.

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The HFC gases that run most of the world's heat pumps and air conditioners, like these ones in Singapore, are very powerful greenhouse gases. But now the world has agreed to solve the problem. Photo: Rym DeCoster via Flickr (CC BY).

Paris talks, Montreal delivers! Kigali's massive climate victory

Nigel Paul
| 17th October 2016
The 'Kigali Amendment' agreed this weekend to control HFC gases thousands of times more powerful than CO2 is the first major step in delivering the goals of the Paris agreement, writes Nigel Paul - and a second huge success for the Montreal Protocol, originally agreed to save the ozone layer from destruction by CFCs.

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Agroecology is not just for the developing world: Amish farmer, USA. Photo: Ashley Morris via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Agroecology cools the planet - so why are Governments backing agribusiness?

Kirtana Chandrasekaran
| 14th October 2016
It' a perfect win-win solution for World Food Day, writes Kirtana Chandrasekaran: agroecology that sequesters carbon into soils, making them more fertile, productive and resilient, while also supporting sustainable livelihoods and tackling climate change. But instead governments are desperately trying to attract agribusiness investment that does the precise opposite.

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Piglets living in cruel and unhygienic conditions on a factory farm somewhere in the UK Photo: FarmsNotFactories.

To stop antibiotic resistant superbugs, keep off factory farmed meat!

Alastair Kenneil
| 21st September 2016
All 193 UN states will sign a declaration today to fight the spread of drug-resistant 'superbugs', writes Alastair Kenneil. The problem is often blamed on over­prescription of antibiotics by doctors. But that's to ignore the massive use of antibiotics on animals in factory farms, both to prevent infection and to assist weight gain - turning farms into superbug breeding centres.

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G4S provides security systems for prisons which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel, in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Photo: Anti-G4S demo in London, June 2016 by Darren Joh

Corporations rule the world? Not quite. But we must stop them while we still can!

Aisha Dodwell
Global Justice Now
| 13th September 2016
Gigantic global corporations are seizing ever more power, writes Aisha Dodwell, as they reshape the world to serve their quest for profit: corrupting politicians, subverting governments, and breaking international law on labour, environment and human rights with impunity. We need a new UN Treaty to force corporations to act within international law - wherever they may be.

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Photo: Roo Reynolds via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Aviation industry's plan to 'offset' its emissions is crazy

Chris Lang
REDD Monitor
| 12th September 2016
Using carbon markets to 'offset' industrial pollution is a failed experiment of 19 years duration, writes Chris Lang. But the International Civil Aviation Organization, which holds its General Assembly later this month in Montreal, is determined to offset its emissions - up 76% in 12 years - rather than constrain or reduce them.

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The costs of 'growth': Shanghai skyscrapers barely breaking the all-engulfing smog layer. Photo: erhard.renz via Flickr (CC BY).

To deliver sustainable development, first give up on 'growth'

Jason Hickel
LSE
| 1st September 2016
The global economy has already outgrown the Earth, writes Jason Hickel. Yet even the UN insists that we need decades of continued economic growth to end poverty. The truth is the precise reverse: we must end growth - not just to save our planet but to refocus the economy on meeting human needs.

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