The Environment Chronicle Notable environmental events between 2014 and 2014 Deselect
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- 2011 293 Events
- 2012 231 Events
- 2013 331 Events
- 2014 366 Events
- 2015 374 Events
- 2016 341 Events
- 2017 306 Events
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The fifth Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place in Berlin from 14 to 15 July 2014. Federal Environment Minister Hendricks and her Peruvian counterpart Manuel Pulgar Vidal, who will chair the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is to be held in Lima, invited some 35 ministers from all regions of the world to the fifth Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Peruvian President Ollanta Humala also gave keynote speeches. The aim of this year's Petersberg Climate Dialogue was to introduce new ideas into the negotations and discuss new strategies in preparation for the World Climate Conference in Peru in 2014 (COP 20 | CMP 10).
On 11 July 2014, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium jointly published the ‘Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes 1970-2012,' which describes the distribution and impacts of weather, climate and water-related disasters, and highlights measures to increase resilience. The Atlas indicates that from 1970 to 2012, 8,835 disasters, 1.94 million deaths and US$ 2.4 trillion in economic losses were reported as a result of hazards, such as droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, tropical cyclones and related health epidemics. The ten worst reported disasters in terms of lives lost occurred primarily in least developed and developing countries, while economic losses mainly took place in developed countries. The Altas highlights the importance of historical, geo-referenced information about deaths and damages to estimate risks prior to the next disaster so that decisions on reducing potential impacts can be taken. The Atlas was published ahead of the First Session of the Preparatory Committee Meeting for the Third UN World Conference on DRR, and aims to inform the debate on the post-2015 framework for DRR and sustainable development.
The European Commission is urging Germany to take stronger measures to combat water pollution caused by nitrates. The latest figures submitted by Germany in 2012 showed worsening nitrates pollution problems in groundwater and surface waters, including eutrophication of coastal and marine waters, especially in the Baltic Sea. Despite the worsening trends, Germany has not taken sufficient additional measures to reduce and prevent nitrate pollution as required under EU law. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion to ask Germany to comply with EU law in this area. If they fail to do so within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
Germany’s first UNESCO Water Institute is about to start operating. The new UNESCO Water Institute aims to strengthen global cooperation in policy, research and education about water resources and global change. The treaty was signed in Berlin on 9 July 2014 by the representatives of the German Federal Government and the UNESCO. The Institute has its headquarters at the Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz. It cooperates with the German National Committee for the Water Research programs of UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization. Worldwide, there are now 27 UNESCO Water Institutes and Germany now operates one of them.
On 8 July 2014, the World Biodiversity Council IPBES officially opened its Secretariat in the Federal City of Bonn on the Rhine river. The Federal Government has provided office space in the UN Tower (Langer Eugen). On behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Parliamentary State Secretary Florian Pronold attended the opening ceremony.
On 2 July 2014, NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket's second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit. OCO-2 will take NASA's studies of carbon dioxide and the global carbon cycle to new heights.
In accordance with last year’s EU Ecodesign Directive, new minimum energy efficiency requirements have been applying to PCs, laptops and servers since 1 July.
Long-term studies conducted by scientists at the institute “Senckenberg am Meer” and the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt have revealed obvious changes in the North Sea’s biota. Studies during the past twenty years indicate that southern species increasingly expand northward. Surrounded by a team of scientists, the marine biologist from Frankfurt has studied the fauna at the bottom of the central North Sea for more than 20 years. Using Senckenberg’s own research cutter, samples are taken at approximately 40 stations at the same time each year and analyzed in detail. Long-term studies in the Helgoland Trench (“Tiefe Rinne”) south of the North Sea island in the German Bight confirm this trend. Since 2000, the ratio of warm-water species there has steadily increased and is becoming more stable. Overall, 41 species were collected in the Helgoland Trench in the course of Senckenberg’s long-term study.
On 11 April 2014, the Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council of the European Union (COREPER) acknowledged the agreement reached by Member States on the Commission's proposal to amend the 2009 Nuclear Safety Directive. This agreement follows the supportive opinion adopted by the European Parliament in April 2014. The Council still needs to formally adopt the new Directive. The new Directive builds on the lessons learned from Fukushima and the nuclear stress tests and is based on the latest international standards.
The European Wilderness Society have published a new European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System. This is a standardized and applicable wilderness standard that serves as a basis for effective wilderness protection, designation, restoration, and promotion initiatives across a range of geographic and cultural circumstances in all European Countries.
The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation has commissioned, along with the Environment Agency Austria and the Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland, a literature study with the aim to find out how the cultivation of herbicide-resistant, genetically modified (GM) crops has affected the environment. The results have been published in a joint report. As part of the study, the farming practices of GM crop production overseas and effects of GM crop management on associated field flora and biodiversity have been analysed. Intensive farming methods, which go hand in hand with the application of large quantities of plant protection products, are a major trigger of biodiversity losses. In North and South America genetically modified crops that are resistant to a variety of total herbicides (e.g. glyphosate) have been grown on a large scale for almost 20 years. The study shows that herbicide consumption has been rising steadily over this period. As a result, the biodiversity of arable land and adjacent areas has declined considerably.
El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, became the world’s first 100 percent renewable island on 27 June 2014, when it inaugurated a hydro-wind power plant that will be the island's new energy production system.
On 27 June 2014, in Cascais (Portugal), the OSPAR Commission adopted a landmark Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter along with measures to protect 16 vulnerable species and habitats. The Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter will enable OSPAR countries to substantially reduce marine litter in North-East Atlantic. The Plan will address litter from both land and sea based sources and will result in a reduction in marine litter on coasts and beaches. The Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter will enable OSPAR countries to substantially reduce marine litter in North-East Atlantic. The Plan will address litter from both land and sea based sources and will result in a reduction in marine litter on coasts and beaches.
The Wadden Sea World Heritage is now complete! On 23 June 2014, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to extend the Wadden Sea World Heritage site with the Danish part of the Wadden Sea and an additional German offshore part. The Wadden Sea World Heritage property now covers an area of some 11,500 km2 and constitutes the world´s largest tidal barrier island system.
The inaugural session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was held in the Kenyan capital at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) over the five days between 23 and 27 June 2014. The establishment of the UNEA is a result of decisions adopted at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 to upgrade the former UNEP Governing Council, making it into the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in which all United Nations Member States have a vote. The focus of the first UNEA session was a debate about global sustainability goals for the post-2015 agenda, which are to succeed the Millennium Development Goals set out in the year 2000. International cooperation on measures to combat the illegal trade in wildlife will also be discussed. Other items on the agenda include decisions on chemicals and wastes, improving air quality and protecting the marine environment.
The European Chemicals Agency has added cadmium chloride, a phthalate and two boron substances to the Candidate List, which now contains 155 substances.
On 17 June 2014, President Obama announced a commitment to protect some of the most precious U.S. marine landscapes. The Administration will immediately consider how it might expand protections near the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean, which contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world. Obama's proposal would expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the central Pacific from around 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles (225,000 to 2 million square kilometers).
The current study, however, reveals for the first time on a large scale the ecological risks emanating from chemical toxicants for several thousands of European aquatic systems. Chemical toxicity represents an ecological threat to almost half of all European bodies of water, and in approximately 15% of cases, the biota in freshwater systems may even be subject to acute mortality. Together with their French and Swiss fellow researchers the scientists from Landau and Leipzig have investigated the exceedance of risk thresholds in the river basin of major stream networks, such as the Danube and the Rhine River at a pan-European level. For the first time, the extent to which risk thresholds were exceeded for three groups of organisms, namely fish, invertebrates and algae / primary producers, was estimated for these major river basins. The data used originated from official water monitoring activities of recent years. The primary factors contributing to chemical contamination of aquatic ecosystems are the discharge from agricultural activities, urban areas and municipal sewage treatment plants. Pesticides were by far the major toxicants of freshwater systems, although, organotin compounds, brominated flame retardants and combustion-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also occurred at critical levels of concentration.
The Rhön biosphere reserve is part of the German central upland range and includes a mountainous region formed as a result of volcanic activity in the Tertiary era. With the extension of 58,113 hectares, the biosphere reserve will comprise a total surface of 243,323 hectares. In 2010, the biosphere reserve had over 135,000 permanent residents, the majority living in rural settlements. As a result of the extension, the population is now over 225,000.
On 11 June 2014 the European Commission continued its action to fight illegal fishing worldwide by warning the Philippines and Papua New Guinea that they risk being identified as countries it considers non-cooperative in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The decision highlights that these countries are not doing enough to fight illegal fishing. It identifies concrete shortcomings, such as lack of system of sanctions to deter IUU activities or lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries.
An agreement announced on 11 June 2014 between SOCO International PLC and World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) could prevent oil drilling in a national park in Africa where 200 endangered mountain gorillas live. A joint statement by SOCO International PLC and WWF said there will be no exploratory drilling in Congo's Virunga National Park, which is Africa's oldest, unless the government and the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO agree it would not threaten the park's world heritage status.
On 10 June 2014, the European Commission hosted the launching ceremony and first working session of the EU platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores. In an effort to solve the social and economic problems that sometimes result from the new expansion of Europe's brown bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx, the European Commission has launched a platform where farmers, conservationists, hunters, landowners and scientists can exchange ideas and best practices on sharing the same land with large carnivores.
On 5 June 2014, the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a global strategy to prevent extinction and promote recovery of sawfishes, which have been devastated worldwide by overfishing and habitat loss. The strategy is being launched at the Sharks International conference in Durban and coincides with announcements that two West Africa countries -- Guinea and Guinea Bissau -- are proposing the listing of sawfishes under the Convention on Migratory Species in November, which could significantly boost protections.
Cross-border trips with oversized lorries remain banned. This was specified by the EU transport ministers on 5 June 2014, in Luxemburg. The Council thereby followed the European Parliaments position which earlier also rejected border crossing journeys proposed by the European Commission. Instead the ministers agreed to the proposal to make trucks more safe and aerodynamic – without increasing the loading space.
The fortieth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 40) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 40), as well as the June session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) took place from 4-15 June 2014 in Bonn, Germany. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks regards the negotiations as an important step on the path towards a new comprehensive climate agreement to be adopted at the end of 2015 in Paris. During the negotiations, countries were able to gain more clarity and develop a common understanding of the possible options regarding important issues on the structure and content of the future climate agreement. This year's Bonn Climate Conference, which takes place every summer, included a meeting of the ministers for the first time. A new climate agreement taking effect after 2020 is to be adopted at the Climate Change Summit in Paris 2015. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, this new climate agreement will contain commitments to be upheld by all developed countries, emerging economies and developing countries for the reduction of emissions. At the last Climate Conference in Warsaw in 2013, it was decided that by March 2015 all countries would submit concrete proposals for the commitments to be taken on in the new agreement. Negotiations in Bonn helped clarify what background information must be supplied by each country in their target proposals so that proposals will be transparent and comparable.
A new initiative by governments and the private sector aims to achieve a noticeable increase in the level of private investments in climate action and adjustment in developing countries. The "Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance" is taking up its duties in London, started on 3 June 2014. This new kind of public-private joint platform is being built up by the governments of Germany, USA and United Kingdom.
On 10 May 2014, the Knowledge Platform „Earth and Environment – Earth System Knowledge Platform“( ESKP) went online. Under www.eskp.de scientists from eight centres of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres present their latest research results as well as scientifically sound background knowledge on the topics of “Impact of Climate Change”, “Natural Hazards” and “Spread of Pollutants in the Environment”. ESKP is an information pool and a focal point for the general public. The existing knowledge of the Helmholtz-Centres participating in ESKP will be made available for the respective target groups (including public authorities, politics, decision makers, press, and the general population). The broad supply of information includes texts, interviews, real-time data, graphics, photographs and film material. References to peer-reviewed publications but also to general brochures complete the range of material on offer. Experts from the respective centres are also available to answer any further questions.
On 29 May 2014, the Spanish government gave oil giant Repsol the green light to explore for oil and gas off the coast of the Canary Islands. The environment ministry said the exploration would take place around 60 kilometres from the shores of the archipelago.
Researchers have documented the longest-known terrestrial migration of wildlife in Africa – up to several thousand zebra covering a distance of 500km - according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Using GPS collars on eight adult Plains zebra (Equus quagga), WWF and Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, in collaboration with Elephants Without Borders (EWB) and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, tracked two consecutive years of movement back and forth between the Chobe River in Namibia and Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park, a straight-line distance of 250km (500km round-trip). The findings are detailed in the study, A newly discovered wildlife migration in Namibia and Botswana is the longest in Africa, published on 27 May 2014 in the journal, Oryx.
Greenpeace International activists from eight countries have scaled a Statoil contracted oil rig to protest the company’s plans to drill the northernmost well in the Norwegian Arctic, close to the Bear Island nature reserve.
On 26 May 2014 the European Commission presented a revised list of Critical Raw Materials. The 2014 list includes 13 of the 14 materials identified in the previous list of 2011, with only tantalum moving out of the list (due to a lower supply risk). Six new materials appear on the list: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal bringing the number up to 20 raw materials which are now considered critical by the European Commission. The other 14 raw materials are: antimony, beryllium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, indium, magnesium, natural graphite, niobium, platinum group metals, heavy rare earths, light rare earths and tungsten (MEMO/14/377). The list should help to incentivise the European production of critical raw materials and facilitate the launching of new mining and recycling activities. Furthermore, the list is being used by the Commission to help prioritise needs and actions.
On 26 May 2014 a group of 30 activists in the Dutch port of IJmuiden occupied the GSP Saturn, a rig contracted by Russia’s state owned energy company Gazprom on its way to the remote Pechora sea. They were removed after five hours and six activists remain under arrest.
The Chinese government announced on 26 May 2014, the country will eliminate 6 million high-polluting vehicles before the end of 2014 in a move to bring down air pollution. The mandatory rule applies to vehicles that do not meet exhaust emissions standards.
A 33 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide iceberg that broke off Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier in early November 2013 is headed for the open ocean, scientists said on 23 April 2014. A time lapse video that was released this week shows how the ice island, named B31, was calving from the Pine Island Glacier, in western Antarctica.
Fishing for Litteris an initiative based on cooperation with fisheries associations, in which fishermen bring ashore, voluntarily, the litter that is collected in the nets during the normal fishing operations. Fishermen are not financially compensated for their engagement, just the disposal logistics are for free. In 2011 NABU adopted the KIMO approach developed in year 2000 by launching first 2 harbours in Schleswig-Holstein Germany and therefore in the entire Baltic region. Today 9 harbours and more than 75 fishermen have joined the scheme.
The Brazilian government, WWF and partners have committed $215 million for the protection of a vital part of the Amazon rainforest following an agreement signed on 21 May 2014. The move will guarantee funds over the next two decades to ensure long-term protection of the world's largest network of protected areas, 60 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest. The funding is part of a program called the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA), which aims to permanently protect 15 per cent of the Amazon, an area equivalent to the size of Spain.
On 22 May 2014, the International Day for Biological Diversity, the European Commission launched the Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) flagship initiative to halt biodiversity loss and eradicate poverty in developing countries. The initiative is designed to help the poorest countries protect ecosystems, combat wildlife crime and develop green economies. B4Life will be financed initially from the EU Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) thematic programme as well as from regional and national development cooperation envelopes, with an estimated budget of up to €800 million for 2014-2020.
On 21 May 2014, the winners of the first Natura 2000 Awards were announced at a ceremony in Brussels. The winners received trophies from the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, along with members of the award Jury. Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 – businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, land owners, educational institutions or individuals – could apply for this Award, and a total of 163 applications from across Europe were received. From these, a shortlist of 22 applications was submitted to a high-level jury, who then selected the winner of each category. Following the interest shown in this Award, the quality of the submissions and the importance of highlighting the fantastic conservation work being carried out across Europe, the European Commission aims to make this Award an annual event.
On 21 May 2014 the European Commission sets out strategy to curb CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. The strategy focuses on short-term action to certify, report and monitor HDV emissions. The Commission has developed a computer simulation tool, VECTO, to measure CO2 emissions from new vehicles. With the support of this tool the Commission intends to bring forward proposals for legislation next year which would require CO2 emissions from new HDVs to be certified, reported and monitored. Studies carried out while preparing the strategy suggest that state-of-the art technologies can achieve cost-effective reductions in CO2 emissions from new HDVs of at least 30%.
On 21 May 2014, the Board of the Green Climate Fund successfully reached agreement on essential requirements for the Fund to move towards commencing its initial resource mobilization, among them, a results management framework, the initial proposal approval process, the guiding framework and procedures for accrediting entities, and the Fund’s financial risk management and investment frameworks. Speaking immediately after the Board meeting, Co-Chair Mr. Manfred Konukiewitz (Germany) stated: “We have taken the final steps for the fund to become operational and to start the initial resource mobilization process. With the decisions taken at this meeting, especially on the investment framework and the proposal approval process, we have designed the fund to be ambitious and effective in supporting developing countries in their way towards low-emission and climate-resilient development. This was a very crucial meeting and we have made the essential progress needed.”