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. As the 2010 United Nations International Year of Biodiversity comes to a close, the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) announce the completion of The Plant List. This landmark international resource is a working list of all land plant species, fundamental to understanding and documenting plant diversity and effective conservation of plants. The completion of The Plant List accomplishes Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), which called for a widely accessible working list of known plant species as a step towards a complete world flora. The Plant List can be accessed by visiting

  3. On 21 December 2010 the European Commission presented draft legislation to strengthen rules on the control of major accident hazards involving chemicals. The revision of the so-called Seveso II Directive will align the legislation to changes in EU chemicals law and will clarify and update other provisions. This includes introducing stricter inspection standards and improving the level and quality of information available to the public in the event of an accident. The new Directive should apply from 1 June 2015.

  4. 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.

  5. On 20 December 2010 the EU Environment Council gave the green light for new provisions on CO2 emissions in light commercial vehicles. By 2020, these vehicles must reduce their emissions by around 27 percent on average, to 147 grams CO2 per kilometre travelled (about 5.6 litres of diesel). Moreover, an interim target of 175 grams CO2 per kilometre (around 6.7 litres of diesel) has been set for 2017. This will be introduced gradually from 2014. As an incentive to comply with the targets, vehicle manufacturers will face severe fines if they exceed them. The new Regulation also contains incentives for vehicles with particularly low CO2 emissions, such as plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. In addition, innovative technologies which bring further fuel savings - eco-innovations - are also being supported, for instance, LED lights or improved heat management for engines.

  6. 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.

  7. A representative survey polling 2008 people which the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) carried out in Spring 2010 revealed that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (62 percent) believe that the state should do more to protect the environment. 61 percent are in favour of Germany assuming a pioneering role in international climate protection policy. 85 percent agreed with the statement: “We need a resolute switch to renewable energies“. About three-quarters expect achievement of the environmental policy goal to increase energy efficiency through greater involvement of the state, e.g. cutting ecologically harmful subsidisation policies.

  8. 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.

  9. According to most recent measurements, the volume of radioactively contaminated saline solution which is collected in front of emplacement chamber 8 on the 750-m level of the Asse mine has doubled from four to eight litres per day compared to the amount measured half a year ago. The radiological analyses carried out on a regular basis show that the activity concentration of caesium-137 has increased from 2.4 to about 4.3 kilobecquerel per litre in the same period of time. Solutions that need to be pumped out of the collecting point are preliminarily stored underground in containers. The solution probably enters the mine through the overburden and takes up radionuclides on its path through chamber 8. In chamber 8, 11,278 waste packages containing low-level radioactive waste are being stored. The solution has been observed since 1991.

  10. 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.

  11. On 10 December 2010 the Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, published the report 'Environmental statistics and accounts in Europe'. This publication covers key environmental statistics available at Eurostat, the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission and the European Environment Agency.

  12. On 8 December 2010 Federal President Christian Wulff signed the four laws of the energy and climate package and ordered the laws to be promulgated. The package includes the controversial 11th amendment of the Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz – AtG) with the extension of the operating times of the German nuclear power plants.

  13. New rules to prevent illegal timber being sold on the European market have come into force across the EU. The legislation will strengthen efforts to halt illegal logging which causes serious environmental damage and biodiversity loss and undermines the efforts of those trying to manage forests responsibly. The Regulation, which was first proposed by the Commission in 2008, was adopted by the EU last month and will apply in all Member States from March 2013. The new Regulation will ban the sale on the EU market of illegal timber or of products derived from illegally harvested timber.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. The year 2010 is almost certain to rank in the top 3 warmest years since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2010 (January–October) is currently estimated at 0.55°C ± 0.11°C1 (0.99°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F. The final ranking of 2010 will not become clear until November and December data are analysed in early 2011. Over the ten years from 2001 to 2010, global temperatures have averaged 0.46°C above the 1961-1990 average, 0.03°C above the 2000-09 average and the highest value ever recorded for a 10-year period.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. On 30 November 2010 the European Environment Agency (EEA) released its fourth Environment State and Outlook report — SOER 2010 — a comprehensive assessment of how and why Europe’s environment is changing, and what we are doing about it. SOER 2010 concludes that a fully integrated approach to transforming Europe to a resource-efficient green economy can not only result in a healthy environment, but also boost prosperity and social cohesion.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

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

  23. The sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 16 ) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 6) took place in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. The Cancun Agreements were the first to officially recognise the two degree target in a UN decision and contain a reference to the submitted mitigation commitments from industrialised and developing countries, the establishment of a global climate fund, arrangements on adaptation to climate change, forest conservation (REDD+), technological cooperation and capacity building in developing countries. A procedure was agreed for reviewing whether measures taken will suffice to meet the two degree target. Moreover, basic agreements were made regarding the transparency of countries’ climate action (MRV – measurable, reportable and verifiable). Industrialised countries pledged under certain conditions to mobilise funding from public and private sources for climate action in developing countries. These funds are to total 100 billion dollars per year by 2020.

  24. Newly published figures from the Lower Saxony state cancer registry show that in the area around Asse, the site of a controversial nuclear waste dump near Wolffenbuettel, some cancer rates are higher than normal. Between 2002 and 2009 there were 12 cases of leukemia in the greater Asse region. The area had twice the rate expected for men. While there was no significant increase in leukemia for women, their rate of thyroid cancer was three times as high as normal.

  25. Researchers in Thailand say they have discovered a new ancient crocodile species after finding a fossil in the country's northeast. Komsorn Lauprasert, a scientist at Mahasarakham University, said on 25 November 2010, the species, believed to have lived 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, had longer legs than modern-day crocodiles and probably fed on fish, based on the characteristics of its teeth. The species has been named "Khoratosuchus jintasakuli, after Khorat" the province where the fossil was found, and the last name of the director of the Northeastern Research Institute of Petrified Wood and Mineral Resources, Pratueng Jintasakul.

  26. 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).

  27. The main greenhouse gases have reached their highest levels recorded since pre-industrial times, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The report also highlights concerns that global warming may lead to even greater emissions of methane from Arctic areas. According to the Bulletin, total radiative forcing of all long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 27.5% from 1990 to 2009 and by 1.0% from 2008 to 2009, reflecting the rising atmospheric burdens of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

  28. On 23 November 2010 thw World leaders and countries that have wild tigers endorsed a major plan to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 underscoring their commitments at the historic International Tiger Conservation Forum. Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments capped a year-long political process with about USD 127 million in new funding to support the plan, known as the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.

  29. In the first comprehensive global survey of temperature trends in major lakes, NASA researchers determined Earth's largest lakes have warmed during the past 25 years in response to climate change. Researchers Philipp Schneider and Simon Hook of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used satellite data to measure the surface temperatures of 167 large lakes worldwide. They reported an average warming rate of 0.45 degrees Celsius (0.81 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade, with some lakes warming as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. The warming trend was global, and the greatest increases were in the mid- to high-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

  30. 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).

  31. 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.

  32. On 18 November 2010 the Vice President of the European Parliament, Diana Wallis, introduced a new report, the EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment, in Brussels. The EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment is another step towards a comprehensive EU policy strategy for addressing challenges in the Arctic. In 2009, the EU Council adopted the “Council conclusions on Arctic issues”, emphasising the need for gradual formulation of a policy on Arctic issues to address EU interests and responsibilities in the region.

  33. The first World Ocean Review (WOR) was launched on 18 November 2010 in Hamburg. The non-profit company maribus gGmbH was established two years ago with the aim of raising the public's awareness of the interconnectedness of the marine environment, thus contributing to more effective protection of the world's oceans. The partners who have made such a vital contribution to the production of maribus's first publication, the World Ocean Review, have many years of commitment and expertise in studying the seas at the highest scientific level. They are: the International Ocean Institute (IOI), the Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" and "mare" - the German-language magazine which focuses on the topic of the sea. The result is a comprehensive, detailed and unique report about the state of the world's oceans and their interplay with ecological, economic and sociopolitical conditions.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. On 8 November 2010 the European Council adopted stricter rules on industrial emissions. New EU legislation will bring down industrial emissions from large combustion plants across the EU, bringing several environmental and health benefits to Europe's citizens, like an expected reduction in premature deaths of 13,000 per year. The stricter legislation on industrial emissions was proposed by the European Commission in December 2007. The new rules will also lead to significant savings through the reduction of administrative burden and provide a more level playing field for industry. The Directive on industrial emissions updates and merges seven pieces of existing legislation.

  38. On 6 October 2010 thirty-three whales died in a mass beaching off the coast of County Donegal, in Northern Ireland. It's thought they were the same group spotted in the Outer Hebrides at the end of October. Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said it was one of the biggest mass deaths of whales in Irish history.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.