The Environment Chronicle Notable environmental events between 2016 and 2016 Deselect
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- 2008 119 Events
- 2009 286 Events
- 2010 315 Events
- 2011 293 Events
- 2012 231 Events
- 2013 331 Events
- 2014 366 Events
- 2015 374 Events
- 2016 341 Events
- 2017 306 Events
- 2018 25 Events
- 2019 4 Events
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To learn more about the specific impacts of climate change and the research work being conducted in the region, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks visited Svalbard from 11 to 15 July 2016. Her trip to the Norwegian Arctic was conducted in cooperation with the Norwegian environment ministry. The Director of the AWI, Professor Karin Lochte, accompanied Minister Hendricks on her trip.
On 11 July 2016 Norman Duke, spokesman for the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network, said an ‘unprecedented’ event has now been confirmed to have occurred, with surveys showing thousands of hectares of mangroves on the Gulf of Carpentaria suffering a severe dieback. Dr Duke of James Cook University said scientists first heard anecdotal evidence about the scale of the dieback in early 2016, and this has now been confirmed by aerial and satellite surveys. Dr Duke said around 7000 hectares of mangroves, or more than nine percent of the mangroves in the area stretching 700km west from Normanton, have been affected. He said it is the first recorded instance of its kind attributed to drying conditions and high temperatures and is likely associated with global climate change. He said current evidence favours the proposal that the mangrove dieback is most likely caused by the extended dry season rather than high temperatures alone.
During its meeting in in Istanbul, Turkey, from 10 to 17 July 2016, the World Heritage Committee inscribed 21 sites on the World Heritage List: 12 cultural sites, six natural and three “mixed” sites that are both natural and cultural. The World Heritage List now numbers 1052 sites in 165 countries.
Plans to update EU type approval rules and emission limits for internal combustion engines in non-road mobile machinery (NRMM), such as lawn mowers, bulldozers, diesel locomotives and inland waterway vessels, were backed by MEPs on 5 July 2016. NRMM engines account for about 15% of all NOx and 5% of particulate emissions in the EU. The legislation defines engine categories, which are divided into sub-categories according to their power range. For each category, it sets emission limits for CO, HC, NOX and particulate matter (PM) and deadlines for implementing them, starting from 2018. The plans include a new in-service engine performance monitoring system which should close the current gap between laboratory emission test figures and those measured in the real world.
With increasing water temperatures comes an increasing likelihood of potentially pathogenic bacteria appearing in the North and Baltic Seas. AWI scientists have now proven that a group of such bacteria known as vibrios can survive on microplastic particles. In the future, they want to investigate in greater detail the role of these particles on the accumulation and possible distribution of these bacteria.
From 3 to 5 July 2016, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Moroccan Foreign Minister and President of the next climate conference (COP 22) in Marrakesh, Salaheddine Mezouar, hosted the seventh Petersberg Climate Dialogue. 35 ministers from regions across the globe have been invited to participate. After the historical success of the Paris summit last December, this year's Climate Dialogue focused on promoting an ambitious and swift implementation of the Paris Agreement. There was consensus at the talks that the climate targets laid down in Paris must be implemented as quickly as possible in concrete policies. A further focus of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue was exploiting synergies to step up implementation of the Paris Agreement. At the talks, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller jointly presented a global partnership to support the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Participants in the Climate Dialogue also hope to inject futher impetus by shifting global finance flows to be consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development, one of the goals of the Paris Agreement.
On 30 June 2016, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission reached an agreement on how to better protect deep-sea fish, sponges and corals while maintaining the viability of the European fishing industry. The agreement brings the EU rules on deep-sea fisheries, which date back to 2003, in line with the sustainability targets enshrined in the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The text agreed contains a number of provisions that will help better protect the European deep seas. From now on, fishermen may only target deep-sea fish in areas where they have fished in the past (their so-called 'fishing footprint'), thereby ensuring that pristine environments remain untouched. Trawls below 800m will be banned completely in EU waters, and areas with vulnerable marine environments (VMEs) will be closed to bottom fishing below 400m. To further protect VMEs, fishermen will have to report how many deep-sea sponges or corals they catch and move on to other fishing grounds in case a certain maximum amount has been reached. These measures are complemented by a reinforced observers' scheme that will improve the scientific understanding of the deep sea. Finally, specific measures, for example landings in designated ports, will be taken to improve enforcement and control. Fishing authorisations may ultimately be withdrawn in case of failure to comply with the new rules. In 2012, the Commission had proposed a package which included the full phasing out over two years of deep-sea gears in contact with the sea bottom. This proposal was rejected by the Council and the Parliament. Today's agreement offers alternative protection measures.
September ozone hole has shrunk by 4 million square kilometers since 2000. Scientists at MIT and elsewhere have identified the “first fingerprints of healing” of the Antarctic ozone layer, published on 30 June 2016 in the journal Science.
On 30 June 2016 the United Kingdom announced an ambitious new carbon target for the Year 2032. Amber Rudd accepted the advice of the government’s statutory climate advisers, setting a target on Thursday of reducing carbon emissions 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels.
On 6 June 2016, the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed failed to extend the licence for controversial weedkiller Glyphosate. Twenty member states voted in favour of the extension and only one against while seven abstained, including Germany and France.
Global warming results in fundamental changes to important ocean currents. As scientists from the Alfred-Wegener-Institute show in a new study, wind-driven subtropical boundary currents in the northern and southern hemisphere are not only going to increase in strength by the end of this century. The Kuroshio Current, the Agulhas Current and other oceanic currents are shifting their paths towards the pole and thus carry higher temperatures and thus the risk of storms to temperate latitudes. For this study, researchers evaluated a wealth of independent observational data and climate simulations. They showed the same pattern for all boundary currents, with the Gulf Stream as the only exception. According to the data, the latter will weaken over the next decades. On 28 June 2016 the study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research professional journal.
On 23 June 2016, the Berlin House of Representatives voted to blacklist investment into companies that are incompatible with the city’s stated goal of going “climate neutral” by the year 2050. The policy will ban coal, oil and gas companies from the city’s €750 million pension fund.
On 23 June 2016, five young elk that were imported from Sweden in November 2015 were released into nature after spending the past months in an enclosed area in the Lille Vildmose marsh in northeastern Jutland, Denmark.
On 22 june 2016, the world’s two primary city-led climate change and energy initiatives, the EU Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors, announced the formation of a new, first-of-its-kind global initiative of cities and local governments leading in the fight against climate change. This single initiative will create the largest global coalition of cities committed to climate leadership, building on the commitments of more than 7,100 cities from 119 countries and six continents, representing more than 600 million inhabitants, over 8% of the world’s population.
On 22 June 2016 the first eHighway system on a public road opened. For the coming two years, a Siemens catenary system for trucks will be tested on a two-kilometer stretch of the E16 highway north of Stockholm, Sweden. The trial will use two diesel hybrid vehicles to operate under the catenary system. During the two-year trial, Sweden's Transport Administration Trafikverket and Gävleborg County want to create a knowledge base on whether the Siemens eHighway system is suitable for future commercial use and further deployment.
Solar Impulse 2 has completed the first ever crossing of the Atlantic by a solar-powered aeroplane, landing in Spain early on 23 June 2016. On 20 June 2016 the solar aircraft took off from New York's JFK airport after mission engineers identified a narrow weather window in which to undertake the nearly four-day flight.
Norway has become the first industrialised nation to formally ratify the Paris Agreement, after its UN ambassador Geir Pederson deposited its "instrument of ratification" to the UN's climate change Secretariat in New York on 20 June 2016.
On 15 June 2016, the European Commission presented criteria to identify endocrine disruptors in the field of plant protection products and biocides. The Commission proposes to the Council and the European Parliament to adopt a strong science-based approach to the identification of endocrine disruptors and to endorse the WHO definition.
University of Queensland and Queensland Government researchers have confirmed that the Bramble Cay melomys – the only mammal species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef - is the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change. In published report on 14 June 2016, the scientists conducted a comprehensive survey in 2014 but failed to find any trace of the rodent. The rodent was known only to live on a small (4 ha) coral cay, just 340m long and 150m wide in the Torres Strait, between Queensland in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
On 10 June 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for the European Union to ratify the Paris Agreement. The Commission's proposal for the ratification of the Paris Agreement on behalf of the EU is now with the European Parliament and Council for their approval. The Commission's proposal takes the form of a Council decision. The consent of European Parliament is required prior to the adoption of the decision by the Council. Once approved, the Council will designate the person(s) who will deposit the ratification instrument, on behalf of the European Union, to the United Nations Secretary- General. In parallel the EU Member States will ratify the Paris Agreement individually, in accordance with their national parliamentary processes.
On 8 June 2016, Shell Canada announced it has voluntarily contributed offshore rights to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support the establishment of a national marine conservation area off the coast of Nunavut.
In June 2016, a slow-moving weather system unleashed several days of heavy downpours on western Europe, pushing the Seine River to heights not seen in 34 years. With the Seine’s water levels 6.1 meters (20 feet) above normal in Paris, flood waters knocked out electricity for thousands of people, interrupted road and rail traffic, shut down schools, and caused an estimated 1 billion euros of damage. During the worst of the flooding, the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre, closed as employees scrambled to move artwork out of basement areas that were at risk of flooding.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 8 June 2016 calling for the Commission to take immediate action on the definition of endocrine (hormone) disruptors. The executive was supposed to publish its scientific criteria for the identification of chemical substances that affect the human endocrine system by December 2013 at the latest.
On 5 June 2016, a key international treaty aimed at combating illegal fishing came into force. The Port State Measures Agreement, adopted and promoted in November 2009 by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, allows countries to keep illegal operators out of their ports and to prevent them from landing illegal catches. It requires that countries officially designate ports for use by foreign fishing vessels. These vessels should send prior notifications to enter designated ports and provide port authorities with information, including on the catches they have on board. The Agreement also calls on countries to deny entry or inspect vessels that have been involved in IUU fishing and to take appropriate actions.
Temperature records were broken in Greenland 2016 after parts of the territory's vast ice sheet began melting unusually early, the Danish Meteorological Institute said on 13 September 2016. And with abnormal temperatures continuing through the summer, three stations, Narsarsuaq, in the south, and Danmarkshavn, in the north-east, and Tasiilaq, on the eastern coast, all ended the June-August period with the highest average temperature on the books. In Tasiilaq, the summer average of 8.2°C was the highest since record keeping began there in 1895, and exceeded the 1981-2010 average by 2.3°C.
Mass bleaching has killed 35 per cent of the corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, Australian Coral reef scientists said on 30 May 2016. After months of intensive aerial and underwater surveys, researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have released an initial estimate of the death toll from coral bleaching. The impact, which is still unfolding, changes dramatically from north to south along the 2300km length of the Reef. “We found on average, that 35% of the corals are now dead or dying on 84 reefs that we surveyed along the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Papua New Guinea,” says Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
Climate change is fast becoming one of the most significant risks for World Heritage sites, according to the report “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”, released on 26 May 2016 by UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The report lists 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites in 29 countries that are vulnerable to increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, intensifying weather events, worsening droughts and longer wildfire seasons. At the request of the Government of Australia, references to Australian sites were removed from the Report. The report initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef.
Lab studies revealed that dung pats from cattles given a common antibiotic gave off more than double the methane, a potent greenhouse gas, than those of non-treated cows, a team wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 25 May 2016.
On 23 May 2016, the Earth passed another unfortunate milestone when carbon dioxide surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) at the South Pole for the first time in 4 million years, NOAA confirms.
The World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) is a one day global celebration to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. On World Fish Migration Day organizations from around the world organize their own event around the common theme of: CONNECTING FISH, RIVERS AND PEOPLE. WFMD is celebrated every second year on the 3rd Saturday in May.
On 20 May 2016, a city in northern India shattered the national heat record, registering a searing 51C – the highest since records began – amid a nationwide heatwave. The new record was set in Phalodi, a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, and is the equivalent of 123.8F. It tops a previous record of 50.6C set in 1956.
On 19 May 2016 a committee of representatives from the 28 European Union member states met again to vote on whether to extend the authorization of glyphosate - the most commonly used herbicide in the world - which is set to expire in the EU at the end of June. But the committee could still not get a majority of countries for or against reauthorization.
On 18 May 2016, German federal cabinet agreed to set aside some 600 million euros to encourage people to buy electric cars - via an "environmental bonus." The costs of the scheme will be shared with the auto industry, which is also putting up 600 million euros. New car-buyers stand to get a 4,000-euro subsidy if they buy a purely electric car, and 3,000 euros if they opt for a hybrid car, which combines a battery and a small combustion engine. Not only that, electric cars will be exempt from motor vehicle taxes for 10 years.
On 17 May 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found in favor of four youth plaintiffs, all supported by Our Children's Trust, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, in the critical climate change case, Kain et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The Court found that the DEP was not complying with its legal obligation to reduce the State’s GHG emissions and ordered the agency to “promulgate regulations that address multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gas emissions, impose a limit on emissions that may be released . . . and set limits that decline on an annual basis.”
On 13 May 2016, a waste ground containing tons of vehicle tires caught fire near Madrid. The local government has issued a catastrophe alarm due to the extremely dangerous and highly carcinogenic fumes produced by the blaze. The waste ground stretches over some 10 hectares and contains an estimated five million vehicle tires weighing 100,000 tons, news agency Efe reported.
On 12 May 2016, the Brazilian Government announced the creation of five new protected areas in the State of Amazonas. These lands together stand for 2.69 million hectares. All of these areas are located in the Madeira River basin , in the southern Amazon. They were established due from studies funded by the Amazon Protected Areas Program (ARPA) – a Brazilian government initiative supported technically and financially by WWF for more than a decade. The Conservation Director of WWF-Brazil, Mário Barroso, celebrated the creation of the new areas. “Creating protected areas is one of the most effective strategies to protect and promote the conservation of biodiversity. So, we welcome the action of the Brazilian Government and found this decision very interesting and important”, he said.
On 9 May 2016 environmental officials in El Salvador announced a three-month emergency over a molasses spill in a river in the Santa Ana department. The civil protection service issued the alert after 3.4 million liters of sludgy, brown, hot molasses was released into La Magdalena river near the town of Chalchuapa, 55 kilometers (35 miles) west of the capital San Salvador. The environment ministry said the spill occurred on 4 May 2016.
On 9 May 2016, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew released the first annual report on the State of the World’s Plants. The World's Plants report, which involved more than 80 scientists and took a year to produce, is a baseline assessment of current knowledge on the diversity of plants on earth, the global threats these plants currently face, as well as the policies in place and their effectiveness in dealing with threats. The first section focuses on the diversity of plants on earth, noting that there are now an estimated 391,000 vascular plants known to science of which 369,000 are flowering plants -- with around 2,000 new vascular plant species described annually. In terms of the uses of plants, the report collates data from multiple data sources to reveal that at least 31,000 plant species have a documented use for medicines, food, materials and so on. The majority (17,810 plants) of those now documented have a medicinal use. A large movement of invasive alien plant species is also occurring. Nearly 5000 plant species are now documented as invasive in global surveys. These plants are causing large declines in native plants, damaging natural ecosystems, transforming land-cover and often causing huge economic losses.