The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2010 and 2010 Deselect

  1. The German environment associations NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) has named Jürgen Großmann, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) RWE AG, as its “Dinosaur of the Year” in 2010. NABU has presented the award every year to personalities who distinguish themselves with “antiquated ideas about environmental protection” since 1993.

  2. Beginning in the year 2011, Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Emergency Situations Ministry said on 20 December 2010. Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova said experts are developing travel routes that will be both medically safe and informative for Ukrainians as well as foreign visitors. She did not give an exact date when the tours were expected to begin.

  3. A new international body aimed at catalyzing a global response to the loss of biodiversity and world's economically-important forests, coral reefs and other ecosystems was born on 21 December 2010 by governments at the United Nations 65th General Assembly (UNGA). The adoption, by the UNGA plenary, was the last approval needed for setting up an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Governments gave a green light to its establishment in June at a meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), but this required a resolution to be passed at the UNGA.

  4. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on 15 December 2010 that the Justice Department has filed a civil lawsuit against nine defendants in the matter of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The lawsuit asks the court for civil penalties under the Clean Water Act and to declare eight of the defendants liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages caused by the oil spill, including damages to natural resources.

  5. On 11 December 2010 the Climate Change Conference in Cancún agreed on a comprehensive package of measures. The Cancún package includes mitigation action by developed and developing countries, the establishment of a Green Climate Fund and arrangements on adaptation to the consequences of climate change, forest conservation, technological cooperation and capacity building in developing countries. A procedure was agreed to review which additional measures will be needed to meet the two-degree target. Moreover, basic agreements were made regarding the transparency of countries’ climate protection activities. The developed countries have pledged to mobilise 100 billion US dollars annually from 2020 for climate protection measures in developing countries.

  6. With the slogan “Biodiversity is Life. Biodiversity is our Life”, the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) won the coveted 2010 Green Award for best Global Campaign in recognition of the strength of a campaign that inspired activities throughout the world that showcase the value and beauty of biodiversity. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has served as the United Nations’ focal point for the Year. The award ceremony took place at London’s Natural History Museum on 2 December 2010 with more than 400 guests. The ceremony was attended by Sir David Attenborough, Britain’s best loved naturalist with more than 50 years of broadcast experience including the BBC Life series. Sir David Attenborough received the lifetime achievement award.

  7. On 2 December 2010 the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 were revealed during an outdoor celebration that took place in front of financial winner's office ISDA in Brussels. In the climate category, German energy giant RWE’s subsidiary npower, nominated for claiming to be green while lobbying to keep its dirty coal- and oil-fired power plants open, won with 58% of the total vote. BusinessEurope took second place with 24% of the total votes and Arcelor-Mittal came in third with 18% of the total votes. The Worst EU Lobbying Awards were born in 2005 out of the willingness of four organisations – Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, Lobby Control and Spinwatch – to publicise their campaigning on transparency and lobbying through a publicly appealing event.

  8. Marine species of Decmber 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is the Ceratoserolis trilobitoides. Ceratoserolis trilobitoides numbers among the largest and most charismatic crustaceans in the Antarctic. The species grows to a length of eight to nine centimetres and is a typical example of the Serolidae. It has a relative that very few would recognise as such at all, though even laypersons are familiar with it: the common woodlouse.

  9. Research on biodiversity conservation is the key to fight the problems which are addressed by the UN Development Goals for 2015. This is the main message conveyed by the “Frankfurt Declaration” which has recently been adopted at the conference “Biodiversity and the UN Millennium Development Goals”. About 200 leading experts on biodiversity from 30 countries agree that environmental targets and developmental targets have to be pursued in a coordinated approach. The “Frankfurt Declaration” is the concluding statement to a conference that had been organized by the German Leibniz Association, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in cooperation with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). It was one of the first events which focused on the interrelated subjects of biodiversity research and sustainable development.

  10. By the REACH deadline of 30 November 2010, 24,675 registration dossiers have been successfully submitted for 4,300 substances including nearly 3,400 phase-in substances. The first registration deadline is an important milestone for the new EU chemicals policy. This deadline applied to the most hazardous substances (e.g. those that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction) manufactured or imported in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year per company, substances very toxic to the aquatic environment manufactured or imported in quantities of 100 tonnes or more per year per company and substances manufactured or imported above 1 000 tonnes per year.

  11. On 30 November 2010 the Federal Cabinet adopted the Environmental Report 2010.

  12. WWF has introduced a new file format to discourage unnecessary printing and help preserve the world’s forests. “Save as WWF, save a tree” is a plug-in enables documents to be disseminated as pdf files that cannot be printed. It joins the existing global WWF "Think before you print" initiative as one of a number of practical and educational consumer oriented measures to reduce market pressure on the world's forests. The WWF format, launched on 30 November 2010 by WWF Germany, advertising agency Jung von Matt and Dederichs Reinecke &Partner, is currently available from for recent Mac operating systems, with a Windows version following soon.

  13. The EU would be acting in its own economic interest if it raised its 2020 CO2 reduction target to 30%, says a European Parliament resolution approved on 25 November 2010. The resolution - narrowly adopted with 292 votes in favour, 274 against and 38 abstentions - sets out the European Parliament’s position ahead of UN climate talks in Cancún (29 November - 10 December).

  14. On 22 November 2010 mayors from around the world signed an agreement to address climate change at the World Mayors Summit on Climate, hosted by the Government of Mexico City and Marcelo Ebrard, mayor of Mexico City and chair of the World Mayors Council on Climate. A total of 135 cities signed the Mexico City Pact to establish a monitoring and verification mechanism for cities to address climate change. The Mexico City Pact calls for cities to develop and implement climate action plans that promote local laws and initiatives to reduce GHG reductions. To establish and follow up on cities' commitments, the signers will establish their climate actions in the Carbon Cities Climate Registry (CCCR) at the Bonn Centre for Local Climate Action and Reporting (carbonn).

  15. The European Week for Waste Reduction will take place from the 20th to the 28th November 2010. The European Week for Waste Reduction is a 3 year project supported by the LIFE+ Programme of the European Commission until 2011.

  16. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas held its 17th Special Meeting from the 17th to the 27th of November 2010 in Paris, hosted by the French Government. This year several proposals to protect endangered shark species were considered and important new conservation measures were adopted by consensus for the conservation of whitetip, shortfin mako and hammerhead sharks. These measures forbid the retention and trade of white tip and hammerhead shark species (except for the Sphyrna tiburo and for the developing coastal CPCs local consumption) in order to increase their survival. While for sea turtles strict measures to minimise catch rates and to maximise the chance of survival of released individual were agreed.

  17. Stefan Merker of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and colleagues have now found a new species of tarsier in Central Sulawesi. They have named it Wallace's tarsier, after Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of natural selection. The new species looks pretty similar to other Sulawesi tarsiers, but differs genetically in many ways. It also has a characteristic copper-coloured throat, and males and females sing unique songs to each other.

  18. On 10 November 2010 the European Commission presented its new strategy for a competitive, sustainable and secure energy. The Communication "Energy 2020" defines the energy priorities for the next ten years and sets the actions to be taken in order to tackle the challenges of saving energy, achieving a market with competitive prizes and secure supplies, boosting technological leadership, and effectively negotiate with our international partners.

  19. In November 2010 the 12th Castor transport of high level radioactive waste was shipped from the plutonium factory La Hague in France to a temporary repository in Gorleben, federal state of Lower Saxony. The transport of 11 containers carrying highly radioactive nuclear waste arrived at the Gorleben on 9 November 2010 after a 92-hour journey - the longest ever for such a shipment.

  20. On 4 Novemder 2010 the European Commission proposed to ban the use of phosphates and to limit the content of other phosphorous containing compounds in laundry detergents. The draft Regulation aims to reduce the phosphates found in waste water and to improve water quality. The draft Regulation does not affect detergents for automatic dishwashers or those used by professionals as technically and economically feasible alternatives are not yet available throughout the EU. However, Member States can regulate the phosphate content of these detergents in specific circumstances.

  21. On 3 November 2010 the European Commission proposed safety standards for disposing spent fuel and radioactive waste from nuclear power plants as well as from medicine or research. In this Directive Member States are asked to present national programmes, indicating when, where and how they will construct and manage final repositories aimed at guaranteeing the highest safety standards. With the Directive internationally agreed safety standards become legally binding and enforceable in the European Union.

  22. Marine species of November 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is the Stephos longipes – an ice copepod. Stephos longipes is a small neritic calanoid copepod that is native to waters surrounding the Antarctic continent. Copepods are crustaceans that range from less than one to twelve millimetres in size and occur in the ocean from the shallow shelf areas to the deepest depths. In most marine regions they represent both the most frequent and the most diverse species of zooplankton.

  23. On 1st April 2010, the British Government announced designation of the British Indian Ocean Territory – or Chagos Archipelago – as the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA). Commercial fishing around Chagos ended on 31 October 2010 making it officially the largest no-take marine protected area (MPA) in the world.

  24. On 29 October 2010 the European Commission published guidelines for wind energy development in protected natural areas. The guidelines are aimed at avoiding conflict between wind energy development and biodiversity conservation in Natura 2000 protected areas. The guidelines apply to the Natura 2000 network, a cornerstone of EU biodiversity policy and a key tool to achieve the EU target of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2020. Wind energy has an important role to play in meeting the EU target of 20% renewable energy in Europe’s total energy consumption by 2020, and its deployment in Natura 2000 areas is not automatically excluded. But such developments need to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

  25. German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the special MIDORI Prize for biodiversity in recognition for her special contribution to saving biodiversity during the International Year of Biodiversity. The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity was announced at an awards ceremony held 27 October at a reception hosted by the Japanese Minister of Environment in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, on the margins of the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention. The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to conservation and sustainable use at local and global levels, and who have developmentally influenced various biodiversity-related efforts, as well as raising awareness about biodiversity.

  26. The German city of Freiburg has been elected Federal capital of climate protection 2010 (Hauptstadt im Klimaschutz) by the German Environmental Aid (Deutschen Umwelthilfe).

  27. An electric car drove from Munich in southern Germany to Berlin without recharging its battery on on 26 October 2010, setting what organisers hailed as a new world distance record for an everyday vehicle.

  28. Federal Cabinet adopted on 17 November 2010 the first report tracking indicators for the National Strategy on Biological Diversity. The report gives an account of the positive progress of nature conservation in Germany. In November 2007, the German Government adopted an internationally acclaimed National Strategy on Biological Diversity. It contains some 330 objectives and 430 specific actions that are assigned to both state and non-state actors. The report lays the foundation for a reliable and transparent performance review. It contains 19 indicators for this purpose, covering a wide range of topics.

  29. On 16 October 1990, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands signed the first Agreement under the Bonn Convention. The Agreement on the Conservation of Seals in the Wadden Sea was concluded after the first distemper in 1988, when almost 60% of the seal population in the Wadden Sea died. The recovery of seals in the Wadden Sea is a true success story of the Agreement. For Seal numbers in the trilateral Wadden Sea are on the rise. In total, about 21,600 Harbour Seals were counted in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands during the seal census in 2009. Also for the Grey Seals, though formally not covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Seals in the Wadden Sea but protected indirectly through the Agreement, the increasing population trend has continued during the last years. In 2009, around 2,800 Grey Seals were counted in the entire Wadden Sea area.

  30. On 15 October 2010 a new international treaty, “the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety”, was adopted at one of the largest intergovernmental meetings ever held on the safe use of modern biotechnology in Nagoya, Japan. The adoption of the new treaty came at the end of the five-day meeting of the governing body of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (known as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol or COP-MOP 5) and concluded six years of negotiations. The new supplementary Protocol provides international rules and procedure on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from living modified organisms (LMO). The new treaty shall be open for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 7 March 2011 to 6 March 2012 and will enter into force 90 days after being ratified by at least 40 Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

  31. On 9 October tens of thousands of people took part in Munich anti-nuclear protest. A focus of the protest was the formation of a human chain, about 10 kilometers long, through the center of the city. Organizers said that some 50,000 people in all took part in the day's events, while police put the number at around 25,000. The event was the largest of its kind in Bavaria for more than two decades.

  32. Brüssel, 07 October 2010: With easy-to-reach oil becoming harder to find, there has been an increase in potentially hazardous deep-sea exploration and drilling. While the Environment Committee and many MEPs favoured a moratorium on any new deep-sea drilling in the EU, a majority (323 votes to 285) considered this a step too far.

  33. Ursula Heinen-Esser, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry accepted the UNESCO certificate recognising the German-Dutch Wadden Sea as World Natural Heritage on behalf of the German government on 2 Oktober 2010. The ceremony took place aboard a ship in the German Wadden Sea.

  34. Marine species of October 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is the Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina). The southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, is the biggest species of seal and its total number is estimated at 750,000 animals. To gain an insight into the underwater world of the seals, marine biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven have been using special satellite transmitters on the animals for several years. The data obtained in this way are of the utmost interest for oceanographers as well.

  35. The European Commission is urging five Member States to comply with EU air quality standards. Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia have so far failed to effectively tackle excess emissions of tiny airborne particles known as PM10. The Member States have two months to comply with the reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. In the absence of satisfactory responses from the Member States concerned, the Commission may refer them to the European Court of Justice. Airborne particles (PM10) are mainly present in pollutant emissions from industry, traffic and domestic heating. They can cause asthma, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer and premature death.

  36. On 28 September 2010, the German Government adopted its new Energy Concept for the period until 2050.

  37. On 27 September 2010,the world’s largest solar boat MS TÛRANOR PlanetSolar started on its journey around the world in Monaco. With this expedition, the iniatiors of this project would like to focus the public awareness on the importance of renewable energies for environmental protection.

  38. On 24 September 2010, the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) designated the first ever network of marine protected areas in the high seas beyond national jurisdiction. With the decisions, the area covered by marine protected areas in the North-East Atlantic has been expanded to 433,000 square kilometres, which is equal in size to the Baltic Sea. Now a total of around 3 percent of the North-East Atlantic is under protection. Two of the six areas designated today lie beyond national jurisdiction in the high seas.

  39. On 23 September 2010, Vattenfall inaugurated the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, off the south east coast of England, currently the largest offshore wind farm in the world. With its 100 turbines, the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm has a combined energy capacity corresponding to the annual electricity needs of over 200,000 households.