1. The International Polar Year 2007/08 was launched in March 2007, and will continue through early 2009. During this time, a regular sequence of International Polar Days will raise awareness and provide information about particular and timely aspects of the polar regions. September 24th, 2008 marked the sixth quarterly International Polar Day, this time focusing on people.

  2. Germany's Federal Office for Radioactive Protection (BfS) is to take over the Asse nuclear storage facility in the state of Lower Saxony. The site will now be treated according to nuclear laws and not mining laws as was the case so far. In future, the facility will be under the jurisdiction of the federal environment ministry instead of the research ministry.

  3. The first sustainable disco opened in Rotterdam on the 4th of September 2008. The flagship is a energy generating dance floor. The floor is made up of modules that move slightly in the vertical plane when a person is dancing on the surface. This movement is registered by advanced mechatronics, and converted into electricity. The savings on water consumption, for example, are achieved with a rainwater flush system for toilets.

  4. Above two thousand oil-slicked penguins have washed up dead on the beaches of a popular Brasilian resort in the south of Brazil.

  5. On 28 August at 23:31 the European Commission received an ECURIE alert notification from Belgium concerning a radiological incident in the Institut National de Radio-éléments (IRE) in Fleurus, Belgium. There had been a release of gaseous Iodine-131 from this facility. The incident had been classified Level 3 on the international INES scale on 26 August. On the basis of the analysis of environmental samples the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control has now decided to implement protective actions, in particular restrictions on the consumption of local food produce (vegetables and milk).

  6. Satellites images show that melting ice openend up North-west and North-east passages simultaneously. For the first time the North Pole can be circumnavigated.

  7. Registration of pollutant emissions by German corporations has made a successful start via the new European (E-PRTR). A new data collection software system known as BUBE-Online (Betriebliche Umweltdatenberichterstattung-Online) will make it easy for industrial corporations to report their emissions data via the Internet to the appropriate federal state authorities. The PRTR data will be forwarded upon review to the EU Commission via the Federal Environment Agency.

  8. Judgment of the European Court of Justice in Case C-237/07: Where there is a risk that the limit values for particulate matter may be exceeded, persons directly concerned can require the competent authorities to draw up an action plan. The Member States are obliged only to take such measures in the short term in an action plan as are capable of reducing to a minimum the risk that limit values may be exceeded and of ensuring a gradual return to a level below those values.

  9. The Federal Environment Ministry has launched the Internet database "Legal sources on the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES LEGAL)". It allows interested parties from the political sector, administrations, associations, companies and the scientific sector to research fundamental legal aspects concerning the promotion of and grid access for electricity from renewables from the EU Member States. The provisions for wind and solar energy, geothermal energy, biomass and hydropower are listed in detail. This database, unique in Europe, can be used free of charge.

  10. A team from Greenpeace dropped three ton boulders near the Sylt Outer reef off the coast of Germany in order to discourage bottom trawling. The area is near the North Frisian Islands near Schleswig Holstein and the South coast of Denmark.

  11. OneGeology is an international initiative of the geological surveys of the world and a flagship project of the 'International Year of Planet Earth'. Its aim is to create dynamic geological map data of the world available via the web. A fully operational edition was launched at the International Geological Congress (IGC) in Oslo, in August 2008.

  12. Scientists have spotted a humpback whale, which is estimated to be around 12 meters long, off Germany's Baltic coast near Cape Arkona on Friday 25 July, 2008. The last time a living humpback whale was spotted in German seas was nearly 30 years ago.

  13. Geneva, 15 July 2008, the CITES Standing Committee has approved, the one-off sale of 108 tonnes of legal ivory stockpiles from four southern African countries to Japan and China. This decision paves the way for the automatic start of the subsequent nine year moratorium on trade in ivory.

  14. On July 7, delegates of the EU member states and European Commission (EC) endorsed a proposal for a regulation reducing so-called standby power consumption in household and office products. Once approved by the EU Parliament, the new regulations on electronic devices will take effect as of 2010. The EC Regulation will also be effective in all 27 EU Member States immediately. According to the regulation, there will be a maximum allowed power consumption in standby mode of no more than one watt in office and household devices as of the year 2010. If the devices have a display, the maximum may be increased to two watts. The admissible levels will be halved three years later. This directive is the first measure under the Ecodesign of Energy-Using Products Directive (Ecodesign Directive).

  15. The Princess of the Stars went aground and sank on 21 June 2008 in the Philippines. The ferry was carrying various hazardous materials, in particular a 40-ft container containing 10 metric tonnes of endosulfan, a toxic pesticide.

  16. Marburg has become the first municipality in Germany to impose a requirement for solar construction throughout its area. 20 June 2008, the City Council approved a Solar Code. According to the code, any building owner who builds or renovates a building, fixes its roof or replaces its heating system, muss install a certain number of solar collectors on the roof in the process. The primary purpose of these devices is to heat water for household use and to heat the rooms.

  17. The International Polar Year 2007/08 was launched in March 2007, and will continue through early 2009. During this time, a regular sequence of International Polar Days will raise awareness and provide information about particular and timely aspects of the polar regions. The IPY Day on June 18th will focus on Land and Life: the plants and animals of polar lands and the changing permafrost and hydrologic systems.

  18. The Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)comes into force on 15 July 2008. The objective of the agreement is to achieve the good environmental status for the European Union's marine waters of by 2020.

  19. The EU will have new waste legislation which includes targets for re-use and recycling of waste to be attained by 2020. The directive sets out rules on recycling and requires Member States to draw up binding national programmes for waste prevention. Waste prevention targets will be considered by the Commission in the future. Incineration of waste will be categorised as a recovery operation rather than disposal, provided it meets a certain energy efficiency standard. It is expected that the directive will be adopted formally by the Council in autumn.

  20. An increased level of radioactivity was detected in the Asse II nuclear waste disposal site near Wolfenbuettel. A radioactive salt solution in the research mine is eight to nine times more radioactive than maximum acceptable limits. In addition to caesium, strontium, radium and plutonium have been measured. Recently it has become known that there has been a continuous flow of radioactive brine into Asse II for several years, which has been pumped into the deeper areas of the former salt mine by the operators. Asse was the world’s first underground nuclear waste disposal site. Since 1967, experiments for permanent and safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste have been performed in this site. The former salt mine has become a repository particularly for low- and medium-level radioactive waste from clinics and laboratories (approximately 130,000 barrels).

  21. The Krsko NPP was safely shut down on 4 June, after a primary circuit leak was detected at 3:07 p.m. The reactor power was zero at 8:10 p.m. The event was classified as an unusual event.

  22. A further break-up phase started at 30 May 2008. In this break-up event 160 km² got lost until 31 May 2008. This is the first documentation of a break-up event in winter. This break-up has not finished yet , as a high-resolution image of the German TerraSAR-X (DLR) satellite from 10 June 2008 shows.

  23. Starting in 2010, one European city will be selected as the European Green Capital of the year. The award will be given to a city that has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards, is permanently committed to ambitious action, further environmental improvement and sustainable development, and can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices in all other European cities. All EU cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants can apply for the European Green Capital Award. Entries will be assessed on the basis of ten environmental criteria. The jury is composed of representatives from the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E), the Union of Capitals of the European Union and the Committee of the Regions.

  24. The European Maritime Day will be celebrated on 20 May each year. It is an occasion to highlight the crucial role played by the Oceans and Seas and will contribute to a better visibility of the maritime sectors and more recognition of the importance they play in everyday life.

  25. From 19 to 30 May 2008 Germany will host the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. With Germany as chair, the global community will discuss measures against the ongoing destruction of nature over the coming weeks. The key international instrument for the protection of biological diversity is the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is one of the three agreements under international law that were passed at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The approximately 190 Parties to the CBD convene every two years. These conferences are the highest–level decision-making body of the Convention. In addition to the national delegations, a broad spectrum of environmental and development organisations participate actively in the UN conferences.

  26. The first ‘Tag der Sonne’ was celebrated in Austria in 2002. The idea was then taken up by Switzerland and Germany where, in the case of Germany a whole week is now dedicated to this successful renewable energy awareness-raising campaign. As an awareness raising campaign, the European Solar Days aim to promote the use of the sun as an energy source for all solar applications, Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic, throughout Europe. The first European Solar Days were celebrated in May 2008 when over 4000 different events were staged in 13 European countries.

  27. The research icebreaker Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research finished first Antarctic field season within the International Polar Year. 58 scientists from ten countries were on board the Polarstern in the Southern Ocean from 6 February until 16 April, 2008. The Antarctic deep sea gets colder, which might stimulate the circulation of the oceanic water masses. This is the first result of the expedition. At the same time satellite images from the Antarctic summer have shown the largest sea-ice extent on record. In the coming years autonomous measuring buoys will be used to find out whether the cold Antarctic summer induces a new trend or was only a „slip“.

  28. The world's oldest recorded tree is a 9,550 year old spruce in the Dalarna province of Sweden. The spruce tree has shown to be a tenacious survivor that has endured by growing between erect trees and smaller bushes in pace with the dramatic climate changes over time.

  29. The fourth amendment to the Genetic Engineering Act entered into force in April 2008.

  30. In late April and early May 2008 a bee mortality occurred in parts of South-West Germany, which affected approximately 11,000 colonies of bees. After this became known, an intensive search for the causes of these incidences was started. Soon, maize seeds which had been treated with the insecticidal substance clothianidin were suspected as a possible cause. In the meantime, a clothianidin poisoning has been confirmed by the Julius Kühn-Institute. It is assumed that the detected clothianidin originates from treated maize seeds where the active substance did not adhere well enough to the grains. This minor dressing quality led to a strong abrasion. In the Upper Rhine Valley pneumatic seeding machines with vacuum systems were employed, which, due to their construction, release abrasion dust into the air. This way the abrasion dusts could settle on blooming plants.

  31. On Sunday 16 March 2008, a pipe leak caused a spill of an estimated 400 tonnes of bunker fuel during the loading of a vessel at Donges Refinery, Loire-Atlantique, France.

  32. According to the UNEP-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), data from nearly 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled. The centre, based at Switzerland's University of Zurich, has been tracking glaciers for more than one century, and has noted that while between 1980-1999 average ice loss had been 0.3 meters per year compared to 0.5 meters after the start of the new millennium.

  33. The International Polar Year 2007/08 was launched in March 2007, and will continue through early 2009. During this time, a regular sequence of International Polar Days will raise awareness and provide information about particular and timely aspects of the polar regions. March 12th, 2008 was the third International Polar Day - Changing Earth; Past and Present.

  34. For the third time since 1996, United States officials have flooded the Grand Canyon, in an effort to preserve local ecology and species. The water was released from the Glen Canyon Dam, which dams up the Colorado River and creates the reservoir Lake Powell. The ecosystem was altered when the Glen Canyon Dam was constructed in 1963. When the dam was opened Wednesday, March 5 for 60 hours the Grand Canyon Researchers hope the flood will help to restore Colorado River habitats for endangered species in the Grand Canyon. Subsequent scientists will document habitat changes.

  35. The extraordinary warming along the Antarctic Peninsula has led in the past to the disintegration of seven ice shelves. The recent break-up of nearly 400km² happened between 28 and 29 Feb 2008 in less than 24 hours. Previous to that event, in July 2007 a rift of 52km length was formed, probably with the speed of sound in less than a minute. The central part of Wilkins ice shelf was formerly connected by a 20km wide bridge of 200-250m thick ice to two islands, which stabilised the whole ice shelf. This connection is now narrowed to only 6km. The fact that the remaining ice mass is already fractured, let us fear that the connection will soon disintegrate.

  36. On 26 February 2008 the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, receiving inaugural shipments of 100 million seeds that originated in over 100 countries. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections from around the globe. If seeds are lost, e.g. as a result of natural disasters, war or simply a lack of resources, the seed collections may be reestablished using seeds from Svalbard.

  37. The Blue Angel has stood for high standards in environmental protection for 30 years. It is an important instrument in achieving the goals set by the federal government in climate and resource protection. Its success and worth have high credibility among consumers, for 80 per cent of citizens in Germany recognise the Blue Angel, and many consumers use the environmental label for orientation when making daily purchases.

  38. Construction of Masdar City has now officially commenced with a formal ground-breaking ceremony on February 9, 2008. The City will be constructed over seven phases and is due to be completed by 2016. Masdar is a planned city in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Designed by the British architectural firm Foster and Partners, the city will rely entirely on solar energy, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. The initiative is headed by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC). The city will cost $US22 billion to build and be home to 50,000 people. The car-free city is intended to cover six square kilometers, with no point further than 200 m from a public transport link. Masdar will be the site of a university, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The project is supported by the global conservation charity World Wide Fund for Nature and the sustainability group BioRegional.

  39. In a ruling on 16 January 2008, the Criminal Court of Paris condemned the world's fourth largest oil group Total SA to a fine of €375,000 – the maximum allowable penalty for maritime pollution – claiming "ecological prejudice" caused by the sinking of the Erika. The case represents the first time that a French court has handed down a conviction for environmental damage and the landmark ruling could establish a legal precedent for suing companies or persons over major ecological disasters.