1. Vladimir Lukhtanov, entomologist and evolutionary biologist at the Zoological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, made a startling discovery: what people had thought was a population of a common species, turned out to be a whole new organism and, moreover -- one with an interesting evolutionary history. This new species is named Acentria's fritillary (Melitaea acentria) and was found flying right over the slopes of the popular Mount Hermon ski resort in northern Israel. It is described in the open access journal Comparative Cytogenetics. In 2012, Vladimir Lukhtanov, together with his students, initiated an exhaustive study of Israeli butterflies using an array of modern and traditional research techniques. In 2013, Asya Novikova (until 2012, a master's student at St. Petersburg University and, from 2013, a PhD student at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem) sampled a few fritillaries from Mt. Hermon. The Acentria's fritillary seems to be endemic in northern Israel and the neighbouring territories of Syria and Lebanon. This is the first new butterfly species discovered and described from the territory of Israel in 109 years.

  2. A team of European and Latin American scientists around has discovered five previously not listed subspecies of the marine iguanas. The researchers now have revised the taxonomy of this emblematic species on the Galapagos and distinguished 11 distinct taxa of marine iguanas, classified as subspecies. The new taxonomy permits a better protection of the marine iguanas. The research results were recently published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society on 10 May 2017. Five of these subspecies are newly discovered and described in their study. The most remarkable of the newly discovered taxa is the cryptic and highly threatened subspecies found only in the northeast of the oldest island of the archipelago, San Cristóbal. For this outstanding population, the scientists have dubbed this subspecies “the Godzilla marine iguana”(Amblyrhynchus cristatus godzilla), in honor of the fictional saurian monster Godzilla, which was in turn originally inspired by marine iguanas. As a species, marine iguanas are threatened. Many island populations are endangered by predation of feral animals, marine pollution and encroachment of urban developments, such as the building of new hotel complexes at the shore of the island of San Cristóbal.

  3. On 10 May 2017, Bonn Challenge crossed the 150 million hectare milestone with pledges form four countries. They have made restoration pledges to the Bonn Challenge – totaling 1.65 million hectares – at the first Asia Bonn Challenge High-level Roundtable in in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia. The new pledges include 0.75 million hectares by Bangladesh, 0.6 million hectares by Mongolia, 0.1 million hectares by Pakistan, and 0.2 million hectares by Sri Lanka. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030, and was launched at an event hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Germany in 2011.

  4. By the second half of this century, rising air temperatures above the Weddell Sea could set off a self-amplifying meltwater feedback cycle under the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, ultimately causing the second-largest ice shelf in the Antarctic to shrink dramatically. Climate researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), recently made this prediction in a new study, which can be found in the latest issue of the Journal of Climate, released today. In the study, the researchers use an ice-ocean model created in Bremerhaven to decode the oceanographic and physical processes that could lead to an irreversible inflow of warm water under the ice shelf - a development that has already been observed in the Amundsen Sea.

  5. The Peruvian mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya is taking his suit against RWE to the court of second instance. The 5th Civil Chamber of the Higher District Court Hamm (Germany) has scheduled an oral hearing for the appeal of Peruvian mountain guide and small farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya for 13 November 2017. The scheduled date lies in the middle of the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (Germany, 6 – 17 November 2017).

  6. On 15 May 2017, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) officially announced the start of the international research initiative Year of Polar Prediction. The goal of the two-year project, which involves partners from more than 20 countries, is to comprehensively improve weather, ice and climate predictions for the Arctic and Antarctic, so as to achieve two major milestones: more reliable risk assessments for shipping and other human activities, which will help to avoid accidents; and arriving at a better understanding of how climate changes at the Earth's poles shape the weather in the middle latitudes.

  7. On 17 May 2017 in Berlin, the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency launched the new International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) located in the UN-city of Bonn. 200 experts came together to discuss sustainable and innovative chemicals policy at the opening of the international conference Mainstreaming Sustainable Chemistry - Launch of ISC3. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks presented the foundation charter. The ISC3 will be the driving force enabling emerging economies and developing countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 20 employees of the ISC3 will also cooperate closely with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The aim of the ISC3 is to help make sustainable development a fundamental strategy of policies and in industry. The federal budget has earmarked 1.7 million euros in 2017 and from 2018 onwards 2.4 million euros annually for the support of the Collaborative Centre.

  8. On 17 May 2017, more than 30 foundation from eight countries announced a unique alliance for climate change and a global energy transition. The so called “Foundations Platform” (F20) aims at bridging the gap between the 20 most important industrial countries and emerging economies (G20), the private and financial sector as well as civil society. The Foundations Platform objective is to support the implementation of the Agenda 2030, climate projects, and the deployment of renewable energies. Further they aim at highlighting the strong role civil society plays in the transformation. In total, the foundations represent a capital in the double-digit billion range (US dollars).

  9. What started as a grassroots initiative through an EU funded LIFE project in Spain is now becoming an official European day. In a ceremony on 15 May 2017 Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, Adina-Ioana Valean, First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, and Neil Kerr, Deputy Permanent Representative of Malta signed a joint declaration to proclaim 21st May as the "European Natura 2000 Day", Europe's network of protected areas. It will be celebrated annually across Europe.

  10. A new study by an international team of researchers has determined that the pace of sea level rise is accelerating. In fact, their report says the world’s oceans are rising three times faster now than they did during the 20th century. The study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 22 May 2017.

  11. Attended by Ministers from 35 countries, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place from 22-23 May 2017, in Berlin, Germany. The Petersberg Climate Dialogue concluded with a clear commitment to the Paris Agreement and to its ambitious implementation. The key topic at this year's meeting was the preparation for the Climate Conference COP23, to take place in November 2017 in Bonn under the Presidency of Fiji. Ministers from regions around the world responded to the joint invitation from Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and the Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. The OECD report "Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth", which was drawn up as a part of the German G20 Presidency, was a topic of discussion at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Another focus of the talks was the preparation for the Climate Conference COP23, which will address the rulebook on the detailed implementation of the Paris Agreement. In addition, preparation for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue was discussed. This dialogue will assess in detail the progress the international community has made so far in climate action. Germany is supporting Fiji as technical host of COP23. In cooperation with the UNFCCC-Secretariat, Fiji and Germany have created a plan for a conference that will give space to climate diplomats as well as non-state actors. According to the principle "one conference, two zones" there will be the "Bula Zone" for negotiations and the "Bonn Zone" devoted to climate initiatives and projects.

  12. Investments in climate action promote economic growth, while neglecting to do so will lead to a decline in growth rates. This is the main conclusion reached by a study carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which was presentedon 23 May 2017 at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin. The study "Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth" was supported by the Federal Environment Ministry and prepared in the context of the German Presidency of the G20. It shows that adopting a climate policy that is supported structurally and fiscally will have a positive impact on the economic output of all G20 countries. According to the OECD study, we can only avoid declines in economic growth by taking immediate action to reduce greenhouse gases. The next 10 to 15 years will be the crucial as this is when we will be laying the foundation for constructing or upgrading public and private infrastructures. Even without climate action, around 95 trillion US dollars will be needed between now and 2030 to do this - which equates to 6.3 trillion US dollars per year. Adjusting plans to be in line with the Paris Agreement would require an additional 0.6 trillion US dollars more per year in investments. However, according to OECD calculations these additional investments would be compensated for by the resulting fuel savings of approximately 1.7 trillion US dollars a year. The OECD study also highlights the importance of long-term climate action plans. As the German Climate Action Plan 2050 already outlines, the interaction between different policy areas is crucial for driving ambitious climate action forward, promoting economic growth and making the transformation towards sustainable economic systems socially compatible.

  13. On 24 July 2017, Greenpeace Italy and Greenpeace Germany activists sent a message to US President Trump ahead of his meeting with Pope Francis, projecting the message of ‘Planet Earth First’ onto the dome of St Peter's Basilica in Rome. The message, a parody of Trump’s America First government policy, calls on the US administration to commit to global climate action and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

  14. The G7 Summit was held on 26-27 May 2017, in Taormina, Sicily, Italy. The summit ended without agreement on climate change. The G7 declaration will give US President Donald Trump time to decide whether to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the discussion on climate as "very unsatisfying." The declaration released by the Group of Seven (G7) leaders admitted that the US was still "reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics." All other six leaders pledged their commitment to the Paris deal.

  15. On 31 May 2017, Climeworks launched the world’s first commercial plant that captures atmospheric CO2 for supply and sale to a customer. The Swiss direct air capture company launched the commercial-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant, featuring its patented technology that filters carbon dioxide from ambient air. The plant is now supplying 900 tonnes of CO2 annually to a nearby greenhouse to help grow vegetables. The plant is a historic step for negative emissions technology – earmarked by the Paris climate agreement as being vital in the quest to limit a global temperature rise of 2 °C.

  16. “The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States and its businesses, workers and taxpayers,” Trump said during a press conference in the White House rose garden on 1 June 2017. “This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.” The president added that “as of today,” the United States would stop implementing its Paris pledges, including contributions to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change. But Trump also pledged to “ensure that the United States remains the world leader on environmental issues”.

  17. The first United Nations Ocean Conference took place on 5-9 June 2017 in New York. Governments of Fiji and Sweden had the co-hosting responsibilities of the Conference. The 193 Member States of the United Nations unanimously agreed to a set of measures that will begin the reversal of the decline of the ocean’s health as the five-day Ocean Conference concluded on 9 June. The outcome document, together with more than 1,300 commitments to action, marks a breakthrough in the global approach to the management and conservation of the ocean. Recognizing that the wellbeing of present and future generations is inextricably linked to the health and productivity of the ocean, countries collectively agreed in the Call to Action “to act decisively and urgently, convinced that our collective action will make a meaningful difference to our people, to our planet and to our prosperity.”

  18. On 6 June 2017, European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis officially inaugurates the kick-off meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare. The Platform will gather 75 representatives from stakeholders, NGOs, scientists, Member States, EEA (European Economic Area) countries, international organisations and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). This is the 1st time that all key EU players will gather to exchange experiences and contribute to improving the welfare of animals. The Platform aims to promote dialogue among competent authorities, businesses, civil society and scientists on animal welfare issues that are relevant for EU citizens. The Platform will assist the Commission with the development and exchange of coordinated actions on animal welfare with focus on: 1. better application of EU rules on animal welfare, through exchanges of information, best practices and the direct involvement of stakeholders, 2. the development and use of voluntary commitments by businesses, 3. the promotion of EU animal welfare standards at the global level. The Platform will meet twice a year.

  19. TOn 14 June 2017 ECHA published a new website that gives citizens, workers and professionals access to information on nanomaterials on the EU market in 23 languages. It is the first phase of the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON). The EUON offers a unique web-based information point with factual and neutral content about nanomaterials on the EU market.

  20. On 14 June 2017, Sweden passed a new climate law. The Swedish parliament voted 254 to 41 to adopt the Climate Act, which commits the government to becoming a net-zero carbon emitter by 2045. Sweden becomes the first country to significantly upgrade its ambition in light of the international climate deal adopted in Paris in 2015. It was previously targeting carbon neutrality by 2050. The Climate Act will enter into force on 1 January 2018.

  21. The world's most important award for pioneers in sustainability research will be given to the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. This has been announced 14 June 2017 in Tokyo by the Asahi Glass Foundation. The Blue Planet Prize of 50 million Yen honours thinkers and doers for major contributions to solving global environmental problems. Schellnhuber receives the award for establishing the 2 degrees Celsius guardrail of global warming agreed by the governments of all countries at the UN climate summit in Paris. Furthermore, the physicist Schellnhuber shaped the science of Earth System Analysis and developed the most influential concept of tipping elements.

  22. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has classified bisphenol A as an endocrine disruptor and a ‘substance of very high concern’. Bisphenol A is already listed in the Candidate List due to its toxic for reproduction properties. The new European classification for BPA follows a proposal by the French food security agency from February 2017. ECHA’s member state committee, made up of representatives from all 28 EU countries, agreed the change unanimously on 16 June 2017.

  23. After analyzing satellite and model data, NOAA’s experts say coral reefs around the world may finally catch a break from high ocean temperatures that have lingered for an unprecedented three years, the longest period since the 1980s. “This global coral bleaching event has been the most widespread, longest and perhaps the most damaging on record,” said C. Mark Eakin, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch Coordinator.

  24. On 19 June 2017, EU Member states approved the inclusion of 12 new species to the EU’s “List of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern”.

  25. The economic analysis firm Deloitte Access Economics has valued the Great Barrier Reef, a vast system of coral reefs located off the coast of Queensland, at 56 billion Australian dollars (37.9 billion euros, $42.4 billion). Its report, which was commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, said the Great Barrier Reef is worth 29 billion Australian dollars in tourism. It also assigned a further value of 24 billion more in "indirect or non-use value" – people who know about the reef but have not visited it yet. Another 3 million dollars came from recreational use, like beach visits or diving, Deloitte found. The assayers said that the Reef had contributed 6.4 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2015 and 2016 combined, supporting 64,000 jobs including 33,000 in the state of Queensland.

  26. On 30 June 2017, the Mexican Government enacted a permanent ban on gillnet fishing in the northern Gulf of California to protect the critically endangered porpoise known as vaquita marina.

  27. On a proposal of the European Patent Office its Administrative Council took a decision to amend the relevant Regulations in order to exclude from patentability plants and animals exclusively obtained by an essentially biological breeding process. The new provisions will apply with immediate effect starting on 1 July 2017.

  28. On Monday, 3 July 2017, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute of Transport Research signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Berlin that aims to promote cooperation between the two institutions in the field of sustainable urban mobility. The MoU provides a framework for cooperation within which the organisations will work together on issues related to sustainable urban mobility. They will also further discuss transport solutions and technologies aimed at improving urban mobility under the scope of the New Urban Agenda adopted adopted during Habitat III in Quito in October 2016. The collaboration will focus particularly on developing mobility concepts in the fields of the digital economy, accessibility and inclusive mobility, climate change, electro-mobility and non-motorised transport. UN-Habitat and DLR will deliver their complementary expertise in these fields. Due to its multi-disciplinary approach, DLR's Institute of Transport Research has extensive expertise in addressing a broad spectrum of research topics in the field of mobility utilising both quantitative and qualitative methods. UN-Habitat is in a position to advocate more sustainable approaches for improved mobility in cities. Both institutions aim to deliver applied and feasible solutions for the mobility challenges cities face in the 21st century. They also want to coordinate in tracking progress towards the transport related targets of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly the transport target SDG 11.2 – 'Access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all'.

  29. On 4 July 2017, the World Heritage Committee meeting in Karakow decided to take Comoé National Park, the Ivorian World Heritage site, and Simien National Park, the Ethiopian World Heritage site, off the List of World Heritage in Danger. In its decision, the World Heritage Committee congratulated Côte d’Ivoire for its work to fight poaching. It noted that populations of iconic species such as elephants and chimpanzees that were thought to have disappeared from the site are reproducing again and that the state of conservation of habitats is now very positive. Targets for fauna conservation have in fact been met and even surpassed. The World Heritage Committee welcomed Ethiopia’s commitment in building an alternative road to alleviate the disturbance of traffic on the main road that crosses the property, reduce cattle overgrazing and visitor impact. The Committee furthermore welcomed the stabilization of the site’s endemic animal populations of, notably, Walia ibex and Gelada baboons.

  30. On March 28, 2017, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) posted a Notice on its website that glyphosate (CAS No. 1071-83-6) would be added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65[2] with a delayed effective date due to the pending case Monsanto v OEHHA. Monsanto’s challenge was unsuccessful in the trial court. Although the case has been appealed, no stay of the listing has been granted. Therefore, glyphosate is being added to the Proposition 65 list on July 7, 2017. The move makes California the first state to take a step toward requiring Roundup to come with a warning label.

  31. On 7 July 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs published initial results of a consumer survey conducted in preparation of the review of the EU Energy Labelling Regulation on washing machines. The study aimed at gaining better insights into consumers' behaviour, for instance when selecting washing cycles. The results were also passed on to the European Commission by the ministry, so as to encourage the Commission to adjust the EU Energy Label to make it more relevant by improving the criteria and requirements under the relevant energy efficiency tests. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has worked with the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control in commissioning a study that seeks to identify better requirements to be imposed on efficiency testing procedures for washing machines. The study, which was conducted by Ökoinstitut and the University of Bonn, serves the purpose of developing testing procedures that better replicate actual consumer behaviour. It found that, whilst the label refers to the appliances' energy-saving cycles, consumers tend to use the shorter standard cycles for cotton materials much more often than the energy-saving programmes; that they are willing to opt for more energy-efficient cycles provided that these last no longer than three hours; that they are using the new energy saving cycles “Eco 30-60°C” for laundry that requires only a light wash and “Eco 40-60°C” for laundry that requires a normal wash, and that they are mixing loads more; and that these new combined programmes use up to 8% less water and up to 15% less energy.

  32. A one trillion tonne iceberg has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The calving occurred sometime between Monday 10th July and Wednesday 12th July 2017, when a 5,800 square km section of Larsen C finally broke away. The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, weighs more than a trillion tonnes.

  33. On 13 July 2017 the European Commission decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for increased logging in the Białowieża Forest, which is a protected Natura 2000 site. As logging operations have started on a significant scale, the Commission is also requesting the Court for interim measures compelling Poland to suspend the works immediately.

  34. On 14 June 2017, the European Parliament narrowly endorsed a ban on the use of pesticides on “ecological focus areas“. This was proposed by the European Commission to protect biodiversity on farmlands. Under the approved legislation, farmers who receive subsidies from the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for improving biodiversity on land set aside for nature conservation will no longer be allowed to spray pesticides there.

  35. Boreholes in the North Sea could constitute a significantly more important source of methane, a strong greenhouse gas, than previously thought. On 1 August 2017 scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the University of Basel published online new data in the international journal Environmental Science & Technology, indicating that gas migration along the outside of wells could be a much bigger problem than previously assumed. This type of leakage is currently neither considered by operators nor regulators, but could be just as important as fugitive emissions through damaged wells, which are usually recognized and quickly repaired. During expeditions to oil and gas fields in the central North Sea in 2012 and 2013, the scientists discovered a number of methane seeps around abandoned wells. Interestingly, the gas originates from shallow gas pockets buried less than 1,000 meters below the seabed. They are simply penetrated when drilling into the underlying, economically interesting hydrocarbon reservoirs. Seismic data from the subsurface of the North Sea further show that about one third of the boreholes perforated shallow gas pockets and may thus leak methane. According to the team’s calculations shallow gas migration along wells may release around 3,000 to 17,000 tonnes of methane from the North Sea seafloor per year. In the ocean, methane is usually degraded by microbes, thereby locally acidifying the seawater. In the North Sea, about half of the wells are located in such shallow water depths that the methane leaking from the seabed can reach the atmosphere, where it is acting as a potent greenhouse gas – much more efficient than carbon dioxide.

  36. On 2 August 2017, humanity will have used nature’s budget for the entire year, according to Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that has pioneered the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric. Carbon sequestration makes up 60 percent of human demand on nature. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day has moved from late September in 1997 to August 2 this year, the earliest date since the world first went into overshoot in the early 1970s.

  37. On 4 August 2017 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres received a notification from the delegation of the United States expressing the country's intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change as soon as it is eligible to do so, his spokesman has confirmed.

  38. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has launched THETIS-MRV, a monitoring, reporting and verification system aimed at reducing carbon emissions from ships calling at European ports. On 7 August 2017 THETIS-MRV went live. The system will enable companies responsible for the operation of large ships using EU ports to report their CO2 emissions, as required by law from 1 January 2018 under the EU’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Regulation. The move is expected to encourage the uptake of greenhouse gas emission-reduction measures within the maritime sector, as the emissions data will be made public and updated yearly. In order to maximise the impact of the regulation and minimise the administrative burden on shipping companies and operators, the rules apply only to ships above 5000 GT which account for around 55% of ships calling at EU ports and yet represent around 90% of the total share of related emissions.