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Solar project has 'life changing' impact in rural Malawi
21 January 2019 - A solar power project to connect villages in Malawi has had a 'life-changing' impact for rural communities. The initiative, led by Strathclyde University (in Glasgow, Scotland) researchers, has seen affordable energy supply businesses set up in four villages. ... Two schools in Mandrade and Gola, with a combined pupil roll of more than 12,000, are now also supplied by solar energy, along with two health clinics. (more)

74 percent of India's new power capacity addition in 2018 was renewables
21 January 2019 - India added a total (net) of 17.6 gigawatts power generation capacity in 2018, a record percentage (74 percent) of that capacity was based on renewable energy technologies -- primarily solar power. The huge capacity coming online from renewable energy sector has made 2018 the greenest year in terms of new capacity addition so far. (more)

German farmers call for climate-friendly agriculture and healthy food.
21 January 2019 - Thousands of farmers from across Germany and their supporters have protested at Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, calling for climate-friendly agriculture and healthy food. Organizers say 170 tractors drove in from farms around the country to join 35,000 other protesters for the Saturday (19 January) demonstration ... The protest was called to coincide with the German capital's 'Green Week' agricultural fair. (more)

How the cargo industry is cleaning up its act
20 January 2019 - Air pollution from cars and factories has been regulated in much of the world since the 1970s. When it comes to the smoke-belching ships that carry global trade, the rules have been a lot looser. Big changes start next January, though, when long-debated standards from the International Maritime Organization mandate steep cuts of sulfur emissions associated with respiratory disease and acid rain. Necessity being the mother of invention, some of the world's most conservative companies are starting to experiment with cleaner fuels and cutting-edge technologies. (more)

Top Senegalese chef backs ancient grain as next superfood
19 January 2019 - For centuries, women in West Africa's cereal belt have relied on fonio, a small, nutty grain, to feed their families. Now, Adja Aissata Aya Ndiaye, a farmer in Kedougou in southeastern Senegal, thinks fonio could become a staple across the continent, and eventually around the world. Over in New York, Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam has the same aim. He is on a mission to raise fonio's profile at home and abroad, believing it can generate much-needed income for West African farmers hit by shifting weather patterns. (more)

EU Chemicals Agency proposes ban on deliberately added microplastics to combat pollution
18 January 2019 - The EU Chemicals Agency ECHA on Friday (18 January) proposed a ban on deliberately adding microplastics to products such as cosmetics, detergents, and agricultural fertilizers in the EU by 2020 to combat pollution. The tiny bits of plastic pollution in waterways and oceans are causing growing concern among scientists about their effect on marine ecosystems. (more)

New Infiniti president goes all-in on electric vehicles
18 January 2019 - 'The purpose for the next two to three years is not to grow,' Christian Meunier, president of Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti unit said [speaking to Bloomberg News during the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit]. 'It's to consolidate and to prepare for the launch of all these cars. It's to get ready for electrification.' By 2025, the company plans to sell only vehicles with electric or hybrid-electric powertrains. If all goes as planned, the first batch will roll off the line by 2021. (more)

US: Cleaning New York City's harbor with one billion oysters
17 January 2019 - The New York Harbor for years has been polluted and depleted of marine life. But one nonprofit is working to clean the murky water and revive its long-lost ecosystem -- one oyster at a time. The Billion Oyster Project has worked since 2014 to rebuild oyster reefs in the waters surrounding New York City. The creatures are natural purifiers: A single adult oyster can cleanse about 50 gallons of water per day. (more)

Plastics, consumer goods makers in $1.5 billion pledge to rein in waste
16 January 2019 - Global companies including BASF, DowDuPont, Procter and Gamble and SABIC have formed an alliance to fight plastic waste, pledging to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), unveiled by its 28 founding companies on Wednesday (16 January), convened amid reports of a worsening environmental crisis ... the alliance's spokesman said more would likely join over the next few weeks. (more)

French court cancels Monsanto weedkiller permit on safety grounds
15 January 2019 - A French court canceled the license for one of Monsanto's glyphosate-based weedkillers on Tuesday (15 January) over safety concerns, placing an immediate ban on Roundup Pro 360 in the latest legal blow to the Bayer-owned business. A court in Lyon in southeast France ruled that the approval granted by French environment agency ANSES in 2017 for Roundup Pro 360 had failed to take into account potential health risks. (more)

Luxembourg makes all public transport free
15 January 2019 - With a population of 602,000, Luxembourg is one of Europe's smallest countries -- yet it suffers from major traffic jams. But that could be about to change. Last month, it announced plans to make all public transport -- trains, trams and buses -- free from March 2020. The government hopes the move will alleviate heavy congestion and bring environmental benefits ... (more)

City bees: allotments and gardens can help arrest decline - UK study
14 January 2019 - Allotments, weedy corners, and fancy gardens are all urban havens for bees and other pollinators, a study has found. The first research to examine all types of land use in cities has identified pollinators' favourite places and flowers, many of which are often considered weeds. (more)

US: Minnesota-Vermont project offers low-income families solar
12 January 2019 - When a Minnesota nonprofit partnered with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to build a community solar array in 2017, they believed their model could scale nationally. That theory is being tested as the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance travels east to Vermont's Windsor and Windham counties where they are working with Southeastern Vermont Community Action to provide solar power to 50 low-income households. (more)

New Zealand rangers hope webcam can save endangered albatross
11 January 2019 - Footage of tiny colony of birds on the southern tip of New Zealand has captivated millions around the globe. New Zealand conservation teams set up a 24-hour live-stream of an albatross nest at Taiaroa Head on the Otago peninsula in 2016. Three years on, the feed has become an unexpected global hit. Department of conservation (DoC) ranger Jim Watts said viewers' investment in the birds' lives had financial and conservation pay-offs, and donations to the royal albatross centre had increased since the cam went live ... (more)

India will add a record level of solar power capacity in 2019
10 January 2019 - India's solar capacity addition is set for a record in 2019. New installations this calendar year will reach nearly 14 gigawatts (GW), which is about 50 percent more than the capacity added last year ... The new capacity addition will take India's installed solar capacity to about 38 GW by the end of the year. Overall, the country is estimated to add nearly 16 GW of clean energy capacity in 2019, driven by large-scale solar projects. (more)

Milan, Italy: The grey city is going green
10 January 2019 - Milan, the city of Italian fashion and the economic capital of the country, is going green. Local authorities have announced plans to plant 3 million trees by 2030, believing that the increase in greenery will have a positive effect on the quality of air, and consequently on the health of the people. According to Italian media, the city's authorities are planning to create 20 new urban parks, to extend the already existing ones, and to make the most out of discarded areas like an abandoned freight railway network which will be turned into seven parks. Trees will also be planted in more than 2,000 schoolyards and in private gardens, parking lots will be reconverted into parks, and greenery will be also planted on flat rooftops, with 10 million square meters already fit for the project. (more)

US: In first, Native American tribe displaced by sea gets land to relocate
10 January 2019 - A small Native American tribe in Louisiana whose land has nearly vanished into the sea has moved a step closer to relocating its community further inland after authorities acquired new land for the move, part of a first-of-its-kind project. Pat Forbes, an official with the state of Louisiana, which handled the purchase, said he hoped this first attempt in U.S. history to move an entire community losing its home to water would serve as a blueprint for generations to come. (more)

US: New Jersey port to be 1st to use electric container carrier
10 January 2019 - The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will conduct the first test at a U.S. port of an electric vehicle to move cargo containers, with an eye toward eventually replacing the current gas-powered fleet. The pilot program is part of a broader effort by the Port Authority to reduce greenhouse gases at the ports, which handle billions of dollars in cargo annually. (more)

Ethiopia-Eritrea border: Smiles as ex-enemies cross frontline to shop
9 January 2019 - The reopening of the border between former enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea has dramatically changed the towns near the frontier ... The reopening of some of the border crossings, including one earlier this week, is part of the peace deal signed last July by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The agreement has also seen diplomatic ties renewed and phone links between the two countries restored after being cut off for nearly two decades. (more)

'Right to repair' gathers force
9 January 2019 - It is frustrating: you buy a new appliance then just after the warranty runs out, it gives up the ghost. But help is at hand, because citizens in the EU and parts of the USA will soon get a 'right to repair' -- of sorts. This consists of a series of proposals from European environment ministers to force manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend. (more)

900 MW solar farm approved for Australia's Riverina region
9 January 2019 - In the final days of 2018, Australia's New South Wales government gave its tick of approval for the construction of the state's largest solar farm to date, rounding off a year that saw a flurry of utility-scale solar construction activity and an unprecedented number of big solar additions in the state. The Yarrabee Solar Farm costing almost $1 billion will be located in southwest of Narrandera in the Riverina region of western NSW. The project is said to have the potential to power a city of almost one million people. (more)

Mysterious radio signals from deep space detected
9 January 2019 - Astronomers have revealed details of mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy, picked up by a telescope in Canada. The precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown. Among the 13 fast radio bursts, known as FRBs, was a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away. ... The research has now been published in the journal Nature. (more)

China: Anti-pollution effort pays off along Yangtze
7 January 2019 - Zhang Liangcai used to be a fisherman on Taihu Lake in the 1990s, but now he works as a lake cleaner since the city government of Wuxi, Jiangsu province, started to restore the lake's ecology in 2002. The environmental campaign accelerated in response to a water crisis in Wuxi caused by pollution in 2007, and a 'river chiefs' system was established in which government officials are assigned to protect waterways in their area. 'Now the water is much cleaner, and more birds rest here during the winter migration in recent years,' said Zhang. (more)

Germany: Renewables overtake coal as main power source
3 January 2019 - Renewable energy became Germany's dominant source of electricity in 2018, beating coal for the first time in history, experts from the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute said on Thursday. Germany has set ambitious energy targets for the upcoming decade, aiming to have renewable sources provide 65 per cent of energy by 2030. (more)

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