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In the context of the International Year of Biodiversity, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research intends to introduce a "Marine species of the Month" during 2010, as proxy for different and specific research topics of the Institute. The species of the Month will epitomize various aspects of climate change and its impact on the ocean as a habitat, as is seen for example in the decrease of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, or the warming and acidification of the oceans. Other topics addressed will be related to changes in species composition in coastal waters, e.g. the invasion of new species into the North Sea and the consequences.
Residents in the city of Kiel can now park for free in the centre if they drive low-emission cars cars. The new programme, which came into effect on 1 January 2010, provides drivers with low-emission cars with a “free parking sticker” valid in any city-owned parking space. With the sticker people will be allowed to park for two hours. Cars proven to emit less than 120 grammes of CO2 per kilometre will get the green light for the sticker at the Ordnungsamt, the office of public order, for the price of €5.
Marine species of January 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is the Molgula pedunculata.
BirdLife International has announced, in the 2010 IUCN Red List update for birds, the extinction of Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Restricted to a tiny area of east Madagascar, this species declined rapidly after carnivorous fish were introduced to the lakes in which it lived. This, along with the use of nylon gill-nets by fisherman which caught and drowned birds, has driven this species into the abyss.
Traditionally known as 'The Venice of the North', Stockholm has added more fame to its name. Throughout 2010, Sweden's capital was celebrated as Europe's first Green Capital. Stockholm, a fast-growing city of 800,000 inhabitants, has set itself the ambitious target of becoming fossil free by 2050. The city has an Integrated Management System that ensures environmental issues are included in the city’s budget, operational planning, reporting and monitoring. Some 95% of the population live less than 300 metres from green areas that improve the local quality of life, bringing recreation, water purification, noise reduction, and an enhancement of biodiversity and ecology. The city was commended for its extensive programme of future improvements to such areas, including the creation of more beaches for bathing. An innovative integrated waste system means high recycling rates, especially of bio-waste, using underground vacuum controlled systems. A pioneering Congestion Charging system has reduced car use, increased use of Public Transport and reduced emissions, and the city can boast a 25% reduction in per capita CO2 emissions since 1990, bringing the emissions to about half the national Swedish average.
Germany continued to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments during the 2010 economic recovery period. Based on the 1990 index year, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions had sunk by nearly 25 percent in 2010. Some 295 million tonnes CO2 less were emitted in 2010 than in 1990. Germany’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol is to bring its greenhouse emissions in 2008-2012 down to 21 percent below 1990 levels. In comparison to the 2009 crisis year when emissions rose again slightly by 2.7 percent owing to economic recovery, 2010 emissions nevertheless remained about 4 percent below those of the previous crisis year 2008. Emissions of carbon dioxide in 2010, with a share of 87.4 percent, were the main source of all greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which can be traced to the combustion of fossil fuels whose consumption rose slightly as the economy recovered. In contrast, there was an above average decline in other greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU-27) increased by 2.4 % (or 111 million tonnes CO2 equivalent) between 2009 and 2010. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU-27) increased by 2.4 % (or 111 million tonnes CO2 equivalent) between 2009 and 2010. These figures from the greenhouse gas inventory published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on 30 May 2012, confirm earlier EEA estimates.
Estonian environmental groups have asked the European Commission to take action against EU countries that have granted permission to construct the Nord Stream pipeline, accusing them of failing to comply with EU environmental laws. The Estonian Green Movement and the Estonian Fund for Nature sent an official complaint to the Commission on 7 January, arguing that the governments of Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden have violated EU directives on environmental impact assessment (EIA) and conservation of wild birds and habitats.
Hoping to save the dried wetlands of Las Tablas de Damiel National Park from underground peat fire, the Spanish government has unleashed floodwaters onto an expanse of the marsh now under threat due to past water mismanagement. Over the weekend, waters diverted 150 kilometres from the Tagus River began pouring from an underground pipe onto the wildlife sanctuary.
On 12 January 2010 the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave the go-ahead for a controversial paper-mill on the shores of Lake Baikal to start production again, despite decades of complaints about pollution.
According to the present state of knowledge, the best variant of how to further deal with the radioactive waste emplaced in the Asse II mine is retrieving the waste. This is the result of the comparison of options for decommissioning Asse. "Not only do we confront a great scientific-technical challenge, but we will only be able to walk this road to permanent safety together with the people living in the area," Wolfram König, President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), said on 15 January 2010 in Hanover when the result was presented. Apart from the retrieval of the waste, the complete backfilling of the mine and the relocation of the waste to deeper parts of Asse were examined, too. According to the present state of knowledge, proof of long-term safety can be furnished regarding the option of retrieving the waste. All three decommissioning options have been evaluated with the help of previously established evaluation parameters and criteria. The result of this comparison is that on the basis of today’s state of knowledge one must aim at completely retrieving the waste from the Asse mine. One argument against choosing the option of complete backfilling is the fact that it is currently not known whether it will be possible to furnish proof of long-term safety for this option. The relocation of the waste additionally involves the risk of not finding an appropriate emplacement area. Besides, this decommissioning option requires by far the most time. None of the three variants is optimal, all of them involve uncertainties as to their realisation.
Within the European Union, liquid / transport biofuels may only be financially supported or be counted towards renewable energy targets if the biomass used is produced in a sustainable way. Germany is now the first EU member state to have developed a certification scheme for sustainable biomass production. The preliminary approval of this certification system, the “International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISSC)“, by the German Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) means Germnay is transposing European requirements into national law.
In the field of consumer electronics it is now possible to label TV sets, DVD recorders, Blu-Ray and DVD players as well as compact hi-fi systems with the Blue Angel. The requirements of the Blue Angel for TV sets are aligned with those of the European Ecolabel, but are even more ambitious. The highest admissible power consumption, for example, is 160 watts. And for DVD recorders (with and without hard disk) and players as well as Blu-Ray disk players (DVD players with high memory capacity, improved picture quality, different sound formats) power consumption is likewise the key award criterion. The Blue Angel for compact hi-fi systems in addition demands a non-deactivatable automatic switch-off at the latest after 15 minutes of non-use, and it must be possible to take the device off the grid completely. In the kitchen the Blue Angel is establishing benchmarks for more and more appliances. Exhaust hoods with the Blue Angel must be low noise and easy to disassemble. Furthermore, spare parts have to be available long-term. Energy-saving electric ovens for use in the home may now be labelled with the Blue Angel as well.
Since 2000, one scientific discipline has chosen to be the topic of a Year of Science. The BMBF together with research organisations and industry has founded Science in Dialog to establish the process of "Public Understanding of Science and Humanities. The eleventh Science Year in 2010 is the Year of the Future of Energy.
On 29 January 2010 Germany submitted the nomination of the outstanding German beech forests for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage List. For this ambitious endeavour a comprehensive nomination dossier was elaborated by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Länder Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia. Expert support came from Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Germany's "old beech forests" are to supplement the existing world heritage site "Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian in Slovakia and Ukraine". A decision from UNESCO is expected for the summer of 2011. Selected areas in five protected areas in Germany have been proposed for nomination: Jasmund National Park, Serrahn in the Müritz National Park, Grumsin in the Schorfheide-Chorin UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Hainich National Park and Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. They represent valuable relics of Germany's large-scale semi-natural beech forests and thus supplement in an ideal manner the UNESCO world heritage site Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian listed in 2007.
Marine species of February 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is the Sargassum muticum.
On 8 February 2010 scientists at the Centre of Scientific Diving of the Biological Institute Helgoland start a project that is unique thus far for the North Sea: “MarGate”, an innovative underwater experimental field. In future, scientists want to acquire marine biology data with a high resolution in terms of time and space there by means of state-of-the-art sensor technologies. These data will then be available online via the Internet. For instance, climatically and anthropogenically induced changes in the hydrography and ecology of the North Sea will be examined in order to gain a better understanding of and be able to model the mechanisms of changes in the ecosystem due to climate change.
On 16 February 2010 US President Barack Obama announced loan guarantees through the Department of Energy to operate two new nuclear reactors at a plant in Burke, Georgia. It will be the first new nuclear power plant in nearly three decades.
The Helsinki Commission (Helcom) has launched together with its partners a new project to curb eutrophication of the Baltic Sea through the promotion of advanced removal of phosphorus from the municipal sewage discharge. This project, named PURE (Project on Urban Reduction of Eutrophication), is part of the strategic HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan to radically reduce pollution to the sea and restore the good ecological status of the marine environment by 2021. The plan includes actions to curb eutrophication of the Baltic Sea, caused by excessive inputs of phosphorus and nitrogen loads originating from inadequately cleaned municipal wastewaters and agricultural run-off. PURE will prepare and implement investments that reduce phosphorus loads to the Baltic Sea. The Project targets selected municipalities and their wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and supports them in reaching a phosphorus content of 0,5 mg/liter in outgoing wastewaters. Altogether PURE aims at annual reduction of at least 300-500 tonnes of phosphorus from the Baltic Sea via investments in Riga, Jurmala and Brest water utilities. PURE is co-financed by the European Union. The Project has been approved for financing by the Baltic Sea Region Programme (BSRP) 2007-2013 and its total budget amounts to around EUR 3.2 million, with approximately EUR 2.0 million to be allocated as co-financing from the European Regional Development Fund and European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. The Project will last for 42 months, including 36 months of implementation period (2010-2013).
The European Commission has taken a number of decisions to implement the organisational consequences of the allocation of portfolios to Commissioners. Two new Directorates-General have been created: DG Energy (ENER) and DG Climate Action (CLIM). The Energy DG consists of the departments in the former Transport and Energy DG dealing with energy issues and of the Task Force Energy which will be transferred from the External Relations DG. The departments responsible for transport policy will remain in the renamed Mobility and Transport DG (MOVE). The Climate Action DG will be created from the relevant activities in DG Environment, the activities in the External Relations DG related to international negotiations on climate change and the activities in the Enterprise and Industry DG related to climate change.
On 17 February 2010 Kenya launched a national largest carnivore conservation and management strategy. The Africa’s first ever such strategies provide a clear roadmap for the conservation of cheetahs, lions, leopards, stripped and spotted hyenas and the African wild dogs. The number of lions in the East African country has dropped to 2,000, from 20,000 about 50 years ago. The cheetah population has plunged to 1,160, compared with 10,000 a half-century ago.
On 22 February the European Commission proposed that the European Union should press for a ban on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna to enter into force within the next year. The Commission is deeply concerned that overfishing of Atlantic bluefin tuna driven largely by international trade is seriously depleting stocks of the species. The proposal will be discussed with Member States in order to reach a common EU position for the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), taking place in Doha, Qatar, from 13 to 25 March 2010.
On 25 February 2010 the largest solar-powered boat in the world was unveiled to the press and public in Kiel, Germany. The catamaran-style yacht is nearly 102 feet long, and almost 50 feet wide, has over 5,000 square feet of solar panels covering an arrow shaped deck perched atop two hulls. The goal of this worldwide unique project is to sail around the world in 2011 with a multi hull vessel powered solely by solar energy. The trip will take approximately 140 days at a average speed of 8 knots.
On 26 February 2010 Adventure Ecology founder and environmentalist David de Rothschild unveiled the Plastiki, a pioneering 60ft catamaran made from approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and srPET: a fully recyclable material. The Plastiki crew is making final preparations to embark on an adventure taking them 11,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney. The Plastiki will be drawing attention to the health of world oceans, and in particular the large amounts of plastic debris, by showcasing waste as a resource and demonstrating real world solutions through the design and construction of the Plastiki.
Marine species of March 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is a free-living marine nematode (Nematoda)
On 2 March 2010, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper which sets out options for a European Union approach to the protection of forests and to information about forest resources and their condition. Responses to the Green Paper from the public, Member States, EU institutions and other stakeholders will guide the Commission on whether additional action is needed at EU level. The Green Paper 1 sets out the main challenges facing Europe's forests. It presents existing forest information systems and the tools available to protect forests, and raises a series of questions relevant to the development of future policy options. The paper is part of the follow-up to the White Paper 2 on adapting to climate change adopted by the Commission in April 2009. Since competence for forest policy lies primarily with the Member States, the debate should focus on how climate change is modifying forest management and protection in Europe and how EU policy should evolve to enhance its contribution to Member State initiatives.
The United Nations Secretary General and the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced on 10 March 2010 that they asked the InterAcademy Council (IAC) to conduct an independent review of the IPCC’s processes and procedures to further strengthen the quality of the Panel’s reports on climate change. The IAC is the umbrella organization for various national academies of science from countries around the world. The review will examine every aspect of how the IPCC’s reports are prepared, including the use of non-peer reviewed literature and the reflection of diverse viewpoints. The review will also examine institutional aspects, including management functions as well as the panel’s procedures for communicating its findings with the public.
On 8 March 2010 police stopped a tractor-trailer transporting a uranium hexafluoride cylinder on the A1 motorway in Bremen. The cylinder was mounted on a flat rack with essential components rusted through. The police ordered the flat rack to be replaced, before the transport would be allowed to continue. The cylinder had arrived in the Hamburg port from the USA and was on the way to Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant.
German federal environment minister Norbert Röttgen has lifted a 10-year moratorium on exploratory work at the Gorleben salt dome, a potential repository for Germany's radioactive waste.
The German Meteorological Service has defined the Brocken observatory as climate reference station for climate observations. Twelve National Reference Stations (Aachen, Brocken, Fichtelberg, Frankfurt/Main, Görlitz, Helgoland, Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, Hohenpeissenberg, Konstanz, Lindenberg, Potsdam and Schleswig)were established in the national network to monitor climate developments.
The Plastiki and crew have reached the end of their voyage which has taken them through the Pacific Ocean on an 8,000 nautical mile adventure lasting over 130 days. On 26 July 2010 the team arrived on at Sydney’s Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour.
The signatories to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have come one important step closer to a global agreement on biopiracy. Delegates from the 194 states met in Cali, Colombia, and agreed on a common basis for negotiation of an international regime on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources. Its purpose is to create a global legal framework that regulates both access to genetic resources and the distribution of the profits made through their commercial use.
Portuguese authorities have announced the establishment of four marine protected areas on the extended continental shelves of the Azores as well as mainland Portugal. The four sites – on the southern Mid Atlantic Ridge, Altair Seamount, Antialtair Seamount and Josephine Bank - together cover an area of 120,000 square km rich in vulnerable deepwater communities, including cold-water coral reefs, sponge fields, coral gardens, and deep sea bony fish, sharks and rays. The announcement of marine protected area status was made at an international North Atlantic environmental commission (OSPAR Convention) meeting attended by UN fisheries and seabed agencies in Funchal, Madeira. It follows three of the four sites being declared off limits to the use of destructive bottom fishing gear just under a year ago.
On 26 March 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposal under the Clean Water Act to significantly restrict or prohibit mountain top mining at the Spruce No. 1 surface mine in Logan County, W. Va. Spruce No.1 mine is one of the largest mountaintop removal operations ever proposed in Central Appalachia. The project was permitted in 2007 and subsequently delayed by litigation. The Spruce No. 1 mine would bury over 7 miles of headwater streams, directly impact 2,278 acres of forestland and degrade water quality in streams adjacent to the mine. EPA’s proposed determination comes after extended discussions with the company failed to produce an agreement that would lead to a significant decrease of the environmental and health impacts of the Spruce No. 1 mine. EPA has used its Clean Water Act veto authority in just 12 circumstances since 1972 and never for a previously permitted project.
On 29 MArch 2010 Russia signed a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to set up the world's first nuclear fuel bank of low-enriched uranium for countries that need fuel for civilian purposes, including nuclear power plants.
Marine species of April 2010 in the International Year of Biodiversity is the unicellular alga Emiliania huxleyi.
On 7 April 2010 the Solar Impulse HB-SIA underwent an extended 87 minute test flight. The flight reached an altitude of 1,200 m (3,937 ft). The Solar Impulse is designed by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard's team - there are plans to fly it around the world in 2012.
Europe's first mission dedicated to studying the Earth’s ice was launched on 8 April 2010 from Kazakhstan. From its polar orbit, CryoSat-2 will send back data leading to new insights into how ice is responding to climate change and the role it plays in our Earth system. The CryoSat-2 satellite was launched at 15:57 CEST (13:57 UTC) on a Dnepr rocket provided by the International Space Company Kosmotras from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The signal confirming that it had separated from the launcher came 17 minutes later from the Malindi ground station in Kenya. CryoSat-2 replaces the original CryoSat satellite that was lost in 2005 owing to a launch failure. The mission objectives, however, remain the same: to measure changes in the thickness of the vast ice sheets that overlie Antarctica and Greenland, as well as variations in the thickness of the relatively thin ice floating in the polar oceans.
Professor Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven has been awarded the 50,000 € “Bayer Climate Award 2010” by the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. He is being honoured for his groundbreaking research and pioneering contributions to the understanding of the role of sea ice in the climate system. Werner Wenning, Chairman of the Board of Bayer AG, presented Lemke with the award at the international climate conference “Continents under climate change” organized by the Humboldt University, in Berlin on April 22, 2010. An independent international board of experts selected the winner from 16 candidates, nominated by the presidents of major European research associations.
After intensive negotiations, two German environmental groups – BUND Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania and WWF Germany – have reached an agreement with Nord Stream AG on further far-reaching environmental steps to protect the Baltic Sea. Plans for the long-term storage of excavation material from construction works at the landfall, and for environmental monitoring during construction have been modified. Furthermore, an additional “close season” of ten days for herring has been agreed for next year.