1. Sea-level rise not only affects settlement areas for large parts of the world population but also numerous sites of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is shown in a study by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, published on 5 March 2014 in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The UNESCO World Heritage List comprises a total of more than 700 cultural monuments. If global average temperature increases by just one degree Celsius, already more than 40 of these sites will directly be threatened by the water during the next 2000 years. With a temperature increase of three degrees, about one fifth of the cultural world heritage will be affected in the long term.

  2. on 27 February 2014 the Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released a joint publication that explains the clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change, and that addresses a variety of other key questions commonly asked about climate change science.

  3. On 26 February 2014, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera, visited the Bay of Tic-Toc to inaugurate the new Tic-Toc Marine Park. The reserve spans a marine area of 87,500 hectares, stretching from Punta Yeli to Punta Guala on the southern border of the Los Lagos region. From now on it will be used only for scientific and recreational activities; all industrial activities are prohibited. Located off Chile’s southern coast, the new Tic-Toc Marine Protected Area is an important feeding and nursing ground for the blue whale. In addition to blue whales, unique species of dolphins such as the Chilean dolphin and Peale’s dolphin, as well as two endangered species of otter are found in the Tic-Toc Marine Protected Area ecosystem, says the global conservation organization WWF. The achievement is the result of 15 years of work by several conservation groups to protect the waters against threats such as overfishing and aquaculture activities.

  4. New rules designed to achieve the CO2 emission reduction target of 95g/km for new cars by 2020 were endorsed by Parliament on 25 February 2014. The text retains this target, albeit with a one-year “phase-in” period in 2020. It also allows “super credits”, whereby the cleanest cars in each manufacturer’s range count for more than others, to apply from 2020 to 2022. The text was approved by 499 votes in favour, 107 against and 9 abstentions.

  5. A man in a smog-ridden northern city has become the first person in China to sue the government for failing to curb air pollution, a state-run newspaper reported on 25 February 2014.

  6. On 24 February 2014, a Cabinet Office official told reporters that Tamura city, located around 20 kilometers away from Fukushima, will be open to its former residents, as “The formal lifting of the evacuation order will come on April 1, affecting around 300 people.” .

  7. The Lao government’s decision to forge ahead with the Don Sahong hydropower project in southern Laos, located just one kilometre upstream of the core habitat for Mekong dolphins, could precipitate the extinction of the species from the Mekong River, warns a new WWF brief. According to the WWF paper, the dam builders intend to excavate millions of tonnes of rock using explosives, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill dolphins which have highly sensitive hearing structures. Increased boat traffic, changes in water quality, and habitat degradation represent other major direct risks to the dolphins, along with the cumulative indirect effects of disturbance and stress. The dam will block the only channel suitable for year-round fish migration, putting the world’s largest inland fishery at risk.

  8. The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas. The UK Supreme Court has already declared that air pollution limits are regularly exceeded in 16 zones across the UK. The Court also noted that air quality improvement plans estimate that for London compliance with EU standards will only be achieved by 2025, fifteen years after the original deadline, and in 2020 for the other 15 zones. EU legislation contains flexibility as regards the deadlines for returning air pollution to safe levels. Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with Member States which had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plan for the zones in question. The Commission is therefore of the opinion that the UK is in breach of its obligations under the Directive, and a letter of formal notice has been sent. The UK has two months to respond.

  9. On 20 February 2014, the third “World Ocean Review” (WOR 3) was presented to the public with the motto, »World Ocean Review 3 - Raw materials from the Sea - Opportunities and Risks. The WOR 3, published by the non-profit organization maribus gGmbH with the support of the magazine »mare«, the International Ocean Institute (IOI) and the Cluster of Excellence »The Future Ocean«, describes in detail the known metal and energy commodities in the oceans and illuminates in a scientifically sound and for the layman comprehensible manner the opportunities and risks of mining operations and the use of raw materials in the sea. The new report provides facts about the amount of known oil and gas reserves and the solid gas hydrate deposits below the seafloor. Furthermore, it elaborates on the potential of mineral resources such as manganese nodules, cobalt crusts and massive sulfides. In addition, the report focuses on the responsibility of the international community for environmentally sound exploitation and the international legal challenge for socially just distribution of resources in international waters.

  10. The Indonesian Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Pak Agus Dermawan, signed a new regulation,creating the world’s largest manta sanctuary, encompassing a massive 6 million square kilometers of ocean, enforcing full protection for Oceanic and Reef Manta Rays (Manta birostris and Manta alfredi) in Indonesia.

  11. On 20 February 2014 the European Commission published a new report paints a worrying picture of Europe's seas. The Commission's analysis, shows a marine environment that will require urgent efforts to reach good status by 2020. The report, together with the European Environment Agency's "Marine messages" offers the first comprehensive overview of the state of EU seas. Member States have reported on the state of their marine waters, on what they consider to be "good environmental status", and on the targets they have put in place to reach good status.

  12. A new leak of 100 tonnes of highly radioactive water has been discovered at Fukushima, the plant's operator said on 19 February 2014.

  13. The UK Government is set to examine the activities of Soco, a London-based oil company, over alleged violations of environmental protections and human rights abuses in a protected African World Heritage Site. It was announced on 14 February 2014, that a complaint filed by WWF has been accepted, and issues related to respect for human rights and the environment in Virunga National Park, will be thoroughly examined for the first time. WWF officially filed an OECD complaint against Soco, the oil company threatening Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in late 2013.

  14. The UK government hosted an international conference on illegal wildlife trade on 13 February 2014. The conference brought together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction. At the conference delegates from 46 different countries and 11 UN organisations have signed The London Declaration. The 46 countries have also committed to improving cross border cooperation - and to strengthening laws and policing.

  15. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the World’s largest solar thermal power project in the California Mojave Desert, formally opened on 13 February 2014.

  16. ECHA has recommended a new batch of substances for authorisation to the European Commission. Four of them have hazardous properties for human health being classified as carcinogenic, toxic for reproduction or respiratory sensitisers. The fifth entry comprises an SVHC which has effects to the environment due to its degradation to a substance with endocrine disrupting properties.

  17. On 6 February 2014, France destroyed three tonnes of seized ivory, two months since the announcement of its national action plan against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

  18. The cargo vessel Luno was en route to the port of Bayonne, France, when it suffered a total blackout and hit the Cavaliers breakwater (Anglet, Pyrénées-Atlantiques) on the morning of 5th February 2014. Blasted by 110 km/h winds from Storm Petra and 6 to 7-metre waves, the ship broke in two. A leak of marine diesel from the cracked bunker tanks was reported. During the night the stern section of the Luno broke off in two parts, which sank against the Cavaliers breakwater. The fuel contained in the rear bunkers was released into the marine environment.

  19. On 5 Febuary 2014, European Parliament calls on the Commission and EU countries, in its resolution adopted on Wednesday by 341 votes to 263, with 26 abstentions, to set a 2030 EU target to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels. It also wants an energy efficiency target of 40%, in line with research on the cost-effective potential, and a commitment to producing at least 30% of total final energy consumption from renewable energy sources. These targets should be binding, MEPs say, and implemented through individual national targets, taking account of each member state’s situation and potential.

  20. On 3 February 2014, a broad coalition consisting of 34 NGO’s, farmers’ and breeders’ organisations from 27 European countries filed an opposition to a pepper-patent from Syngenta. The company patented an insect resistance, which they copied from a wild pepper. Such patents are ethically questionable, increase the seed market concentration, hinder innovation, and consequently pose a threat to global food security. On May 8, 2013, the European Patent Organisation (EPO) granted a patent (EP 2140023 B1) to Syngenta for insect resistant pepper plants. A wild pepper plant from Jamaica was crossed with commercial pepper plants. Since the wild plant is resistant to various pests, the patented resistance already existed in nature. However, Syngenta claims the ownership to insect-resistant pepper plants, their seeds, and their fruits, although the patented plants are products of conventional breeding. Such plants should definitely not be patentable under European patent law.

  21. On 30 January 2014 the EP Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety agreed on adopt the results from the trilogue negotiations on Fluorinated greenhouse gases. Result of the vote: 46 votes in favour, 3 against and 1 abstention.

  22. On 30 January 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis in its full and finalized form. The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I assessment report was approved in September 2013 by the member governments of the IPCC meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, who also accepted the underlying report, after which the Summary for Policymakers was immediately made public.

  23. On 30 January 2014, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted overwhelmingly to support and strengthen some elements of the Commission’s proposal for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of shipping emissions.

  24. On 29 January 2014, a new online Atlas of freshwater biodiversity presenting spatial information and species distribution patterns was launched at the land-mark Water Lives symposium bringing together European Union policy makers and freshwater scientists. This new Atlas provides policy-makers, water managers and scientists with an online, open-access and interactive gateway to key geographical information and spatial data on freshwater biodiversity across different scales. The Atlas is a resource for better, evidenced-based decision making in the area of water policy, science and management. The online Atlas adopts a book-like structure allowing easy browsing through its four thematic chapters, on I) Patterns of freshwater biodiversity, 2) Freshwater resources and ecosystems, 3) Pressures on freshwater systems and 4) Conservation and management. All of the maps are accompanied by a short article with further contextual background information.

  25. In a study published in PLOS ONE on 22 Janaury 2014, researchers announced the discovery of a new species of river dolphin in Brazil. The marine mammal is the first river dolphin to be described since 1918, the authors noted in the research.

  26. On 22 Janaury 2014, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation aiming to ensure that proper environmental and climate safeguards are in place for fracking. The Recommendation should help all Member States wishing to use this practice address health and environmental risks and improve transparency for citizens. The Recommendation is accompanied by a Communication that considers the opportunities and challenges of using "fracking", to extract hydrocarbons. Both documents are part of a wider initiative by the Commission to put in place an integrated climate and energy policy framework for the period up to 2030. The Commission will continue facilitating the exchange of information with Member States, industry and civil society organisations on the environmental performance of shale gas projects. EU Member States are invited to apply the principles within six months and, from December 2014 onwards, inform the Commission each year about measures that they have put in place.

  27. On 22 January 2014, the European Commission launched On 22 January 2014, the European Commission launched the 2030 framework for EU climate change and energy policies. Key elements of the framework are: a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% below the 1990 level, an EU-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27%, renewed ambitions for energy efficiency policies, a new governance system and a set of new indicators to ensure a competitive and secure energy system.

  28. On 22 January 2014, Network Rail, First Capital Connect and Solarcentury surprised passengers arriving at Blackfriars station with a free cuppa drawn from Britain’s biggest tea cup to celebrate the launch of the world’s largest solar bridge. The 4,400 photovoltaic panels cover the roof of the station and produce enough energy to make almost 80,000 cups of tea a day. In fact, London’s longest array provides up to half of the station’s energy, reducing its CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year – equivalent approximately to 89,000 (average) car journeys.

  29. Long term exposure to particulate matter in outdoor air is strongly linked to heart attacks and angina, and this association persists at levels of exposure below the current European limits, suggests research conducted at the Department of Epidemiology in Rome, Italy and published on bmj.com on 21 January 2014.

  30. Tougher penalties, mandatory destruction of illegal ivory and better training of police and prosecutors are needed to combat trophy hunting and the organised criminal killing of rhinos, elephants and other wildlife for profit, say MEPs in a resolution voted on 15 January 2014. The resolution was passed by 647 votes to 14, with no abstentions.

  31. Pine Island Glacier is the Antarctic glacier which contributes most to the rise in sea level. An international team of researchers led by the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement (Laboratory of Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics LGGE) in France has shown that this contribution could grow by between three and five times in the next twenty years increasing sea levels by up to 10mm. Scientists have also shown that the glacier is receding irreversibly and that it would, in all likelihood, not return to its initial state. Their work was published on 12 January 2014 on the website of the journal Nature Climate Change.

  32. Officials said that up to 5,000 gallons of an industrial chemical used in coal processing seeped from a ruptured storage tank into the Elk River, just upstream of the intake pipes for the regional water company. Authorities struggled to determine how much danger the little-known chemical, MCHM, or 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, posed. The chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, and difficulty breathing from prolonged exposures at high concentrations, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

  33. The West African lion once ranged continuously from Senegal to Nigeria, but a new study reveals there are now only an estimated 250 adult lions restricted to four isolated and severely imperiled populations. Only one of those populations contains more than 50 lions. Led by Panthera’s Lion Program Survey Coordinator, Dr. Philipp Henschel, and co-authored by a team from West Africa, the UK, Canada and the United States, the paper The lion in West Africa is critically endangered was published on 8 January 2014 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. The lion's historic range in West Africa was drastically reduced by large-scale land use changes, Henschel said. As people planted farms, cut down trees, and hunted wildlife, the big cats had few places to go. The small islands of protected parks became their only hope. But in the past few years, lions in those parks have been killed by local people in retaliation for killing some of their livestock. An even bigger problem, Henschel said, is poaching of the lions' prey to supply local bushmeat markets. With the economy in the region depressed and fish stocks off the coast depleted, hungry people have increasingly turned to hunting animals in protected areas.

  34. On 6 January 2014, some 6.15 tons of confiscated ivory were destroyed in a ceremony in Dongguan, Guangdong province. It's the first time China, which accounts for around 70% of global demand for ivory, has destroyed any of its stockpile. The fact that China is taking a public stance against the practice is an encouraging sign, says Jeff He, special assistant to the Asia Regional Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

  35. Three FSC Forest Management certificates held by Resolute Forest Products, Canada’s largest forest enterprise, will be suspended beginning January 1, 2014. The decision by the Rainforest Alliance comes following the finding of major non-conformances and non-compliances on the part of Resolute Forest Products, and affects a forest area of over 8 million hectares. The three affected forests are Lac St-Jean and Mistassini-Péribonka in Quebec, and Black Spruce& Dog River in Ontario. The major non-conformances and non-compliances relate to indigenous Peoples’ rights, environmental impact, forest benefits,monitoring and assessment, and High Conservation Value forests.

  36. The European Union is on track towards meeting and overachieving its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse emissions by 20%, according to a report published on 20 October 2015 by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The "Trends and projections in Europe 2015" report reveals that greenhouse gas emissions in Europe decreased by 23% between 1990 and 2014 and reached the lowest levels on record.

  37. Tree of the year 2014 is the sessile oak (Quercus petraea), also known as the Cornish oak or Durmast oak.

  38. Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary XTO Energy will have to face criminal charges for allegedly dumping tens of thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing waste at a Marcellus Shale drilling site in 2010, according to a Pennsylvania judge’s ruling on 1 January 2014. Following a preliminary hearing, Magisterial District Judge James G. Carn decided that all eight charges against Exxon — including violations of both the state Clean Streams Law and the Solid Waste Management Act — will be “held for court,” meaning there is enough evidence to take the fossil fuel giant to trial over felony offenses. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General filed criminal charges back in September 2013, claiming Exxon had removed a plug from a wastewater tank, leading to 57,000 gallons of contaminated water spilling into the soil. The Exxon subsidiary had contested the criminal charges, claiming there was “no lasting environmental impact,” and that the charges could “discourage good environmental practices” from guilty companies.

  39. On 29 June 2012, the Danish city of Copenhagen won the European Green Capital Award for 2014. The award was presented by EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik at a ceremony in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, the current holder of the title. Copenhagen received special praise for its achievements, notably in terms of eco-innovation and sustainable mobility, its commitment to act as a role model for the green economy, in Europe and beyond, and for an exceptionally promising communication strategy.

  40. On 23 January 2014, the Berne Declaration (BD) and Greenpeace Switzerland gave away the Public Eye Awards. Gazprom and Gap are the winners of the 2014 Public Eye Awards. The Public Eye sheds a critical light on irresponsible business practices and provides a platform to publicly criticize cases of human and labor rights violations, environmental destruction or corruption. The date and location of the Public Eye Awards are set deliberately to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.