This is a trial series.


Greenpeace activist at the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, Australia 2009

Photo © Greenpeace

Australia's energy policy adds fuel to the fire

Business Week (Bloomberg) reported yesterday Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has ruled out introducing nuclear power into the country saying instead the country would pursue other low-carbon energy options, including "clean coal." Australia has the world's largest known uranium deposits. Rudd said coal's importance would remain "huge" until 2050 and carbon capture storage would make it "cleaner" he said. John Hepburn of Greenpeace was quoted saying CCS could create a "time bomb" for future generations. “There are concerns over whether it will actually stay underground, basically forever,” he said. “You may have to transport the carbon dioxide a long way to a suitable storage site, and there are risks associated with that.” Currently the country gets about 80 percent of its power from coal, and exports of coal in 2010 are estimated to be worth US$9.7 billion. Read more about Australia and its coal-dependency.

According to Reuters a climate scientist yesterday warned the permafrost in Canada around James Bay is retreating northwards, a decade long trend caused by climate change. The southern edge of permafrost in the James Bay area has moved about 80 miles north of where it was 50 years ago, Serge Payette of Laval University in Quebec City said. As it melts the permafrost releases huge quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that will escalate warming.

India GE Panel implements temporary ban

On the continuing GE debate in India, the Food and Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar has restated his firm belief that GE crops can solve the country's food security problems, although the Environment Ministry, which has delayed GE eggplant cultivation, has the final say. His statements came as a Genetic Engineering Panel was convened over the issue of BT-brinjal and moved to implement a law mandating companies in possession of any GE seeds to register them with the government.

An acclaimed scientist Shiv Chopra said in a public lecture that India was being used as a guinea-pig for multinational bio-tech companies like Monsanto, Bayer and others - calling them "modern avatars of the East India Company." He said “when a Chief Minister of a State asks me what Bt stands for, I am appalled and at the same time they say that Bt food is healthy.”

Whale sharks, primates under threat

In the Philippines WWF has called for the prosecution of people responsible for the killing of an 18 foot baby whale shark that was found on the beach with its pectoral and dorsal fins cut off. The area - Mabini-Tingloy - is a protected biodiversity hotspot where the gentle giant species can be seen from time to time. Fifty nations have recently ratified a memorandum of understanding to outlaw shark poaching, the first such measure to protect critically endangered species.

Elsewhere, an article in the Guardian today reported that 48 percent of all 634 primate species face extinction, under threat from loggers, hunters and smugglers. "The purpose of our top 25 list is to highlight those that are most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately needed conservation measures. In particular, we want to encourage governments to commit to biodiversity conservation measures when they gather in Japan in October. We have the resources to address this crisis, but so far, we have failed to act" said the president of Conservation International, Russell Mittermeier.

Illegal Congolese timber imports in Belgium

In Belgium yesterday Greenpeace took action to highlight imports of logged Congolese wenge-wood, temporarily stored in Antwerp. The story ran in Belgium news yesterday morning. The logs stored in Antwerp were cut by ITB in the area around the Lake Tumba. A recent review of logging concessions, which came at the request of the World Bank, found licenses had been invalidated by the lumber company for two mining areas in Equateur province, where the wood was from, Greenpeace said.

Meanwhile AAP reported, the Australian federal government has said it is considering a ban on the importation of illegally-logged timber and making this a criminal offence. Australia imports $840 million of illegally-logged timber products each year, including outdoor furniture, decking and pulp and paper. A Newspoll, commissioned by Greenpeace and supported by hardware giant Bunnings, found nine out of 10 Australians believe the government is responsible for stopping the imports.

Photo © Greenpeace; A Greenpeace activist holds a banner reading "Coal is powering climate change" after having shut down a coal digger at Hazelwood, the developed world's most polluting coal power station. Greenpeace calls for Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd take real action on climate change by transitioning away from coal and choosing renewables as energy security.