Environment

Environment Blog


Whose levy is it anyway?

Sara Phillips

Today, the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee is having another catch up in our nation's capital. They're having a chat about that pesky climate change problem and what on Earth to do about it. More

Love makes the world go round

Sara Phillips

Valentine's Day sucks, doesn't it? If you're not in a relationship there's all that smoochie-woochie gaga pouring out of otherwise sane and rational people, which is enough to turn you insane. If you are in a new relationship there's the delicate negotiation of precisely how much love to bestow upon your sweetheart (card: too little? Trip to Paris: too much?). And if you're blissfully ensconced in a rock-solid, joined-at-the-hip, finish-each-other's-sentences type of unit, there's the outrageous prices the restaurants and florists suddenly charge because it happens to be 14 February. More

Will Yasi be our Katrina?

Sara Phillips

Nearly 2,000 people died when Hurricane Katrina struck the coast of southern America in 2005. It caused an estimated US billion in damages. New Orleans, that once mad, pulsing jazz city, has still not fully recovered. More

BBQ: check. Mates: check. Radio: check. Last week TripleJ counted down its annual popularity contest, the hottest 100 songs of 2010. More

Fruit beauty is only skin deep

Sara Phillips

Bananas
Up to one-third of Australian bananas are thrown away because they are not beautiful enough for supermarket sale.

She looked so beautiful. A gentle blush to her soft skin. Firm, round, pleasing to the eye. But when I got the apricot home from the supermarket, I was disappointed. Juicy and soft on the inside, she unfortunately lacked entirely for flavour. More

The people who would spare the cane toad

Sara Phillips

"If the toad is facing towards the vehicle, the air that's inside the toad is trapped within the head and blown out towards the back end, and the toad really goes off with a bang - like a balloon going off." More

Off-the-screen experience

Sara Phillips

dolphin
Does looking at pictures of dolphins on the internet desensitise you to a real-life experience?

True to my word, I spent the summer relaxing at the family beach house. And the most marvellous thing happened: I swam with wild dolphins.

I'd spent the morning down at the beach. It was a scorcher of a day - the kind of weather that doesn't just invite bushfires, but almost commands them. The air was dry and the wind was like a hair-dryer, blowing a fierce, hot northerly. More

Relaxing for a good cause

Sara Phillips

beach
A day spent dabbling about on the sea shore is an important environmental choice.

ABC Environment is packing up for the year and taking a summer break. This summer I'll be returning to the summers of my childhood. When I was little, my family bought a funny little cottage near the beach. I liked it because it had a brick fireplace with crossed swords over it; I was going through a knights-of-the-round-table phase. Sadly, I found that when my family moved in, the swords had gone. More

Gannet
A northern gannet is cleaned after becoming mired in the US oil spill. The spill and its fall-out dominated the environmental year.

Year of the Oil Spill. That's probably how 2010 will be remembered from an environmental perspective. The world watched in horror as millions of litres of oil gushed from a broken BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. But beyond dramatic news coverage of the disaster, the oil spill had much wider implications, which eventually will come home to roost on your electricity bill in 2011. More

Making Christmas a festive green

Sara Phillips

Heaven preserve me. It's my turn to organise Christmas. In my family it goes around in no particular order, people volunteering when it feels about their turn.

It's definitely my turn. After years of fronting up to lunch with a plate of shortbread and a bottle of champers, it's high time I gave some back. More

Cancun
Despite Cancun being all but written off, it may yet be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

If we able to believe what the journalists, green groups and government representatives are telling us, the latest round of climate change negotiations in the ocean resort of Cancun, Mexico will be unmemorable. More

Nothing funny about no dunnies

Sara Phillips

toilet
Think toilets are gross? Imagine if you didn't have one.

It was in Thailand. We were on a bus from somewhere to somewhere and, after many hours, I was busting for a pee. Finally we pulled up at some sort of road-side shed that sold tourist trinkets, snacks and had a loo we were allowed to use, for a miniscule fee.

Fishing about in my wallet I located the required amount and placed it into the wrinkled palm of the elderly lady on the door. I pushed open the door and entered. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, they took in what my nose was already telling me. More

Life is 15 per cent better on a bike

Sara Phillips

Bike girl
Cycling advocates need hard data to support their case for more cycling support.

Imagine if you could take a pill that "reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, type-two diabetes, some cancers and a variety of other chronic conditions." There were no nasty side effects, and in fact, your general mood, sense of well being and even your sex life might be improved by taking this pill. Oh, and it can help you lose a few kilos too. More

toads
The Kihansi Spray Toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis), which was originally found in waterfalls in Tanzania is listed as extinct in the wild by the IUCN.

Let me throw a few phrases at you and get your reaction: "under threat from logging"
"dangerous climate change"
"critically endangered"
More

No excuses for Murray-Darling Basin plan

Sara Phillips

A paddlesteamer on the Murray
As the driest inhabited continent in the world, Australia should get water management right.

From the red dust and slow pace of outback Queensland, past the carpeted halls of Parliament House, to the thunder of the surf at the Coorong, the Murray-Darling River system manages to flow through so many aspects of Australian life. More

Violent ending to climate change ads

Sara Phillips

10:10
The 10:10 campaign shows a bloody end for students who do not want to reduce their carbon emissions.

Timed to capture the zeitgeist generated by the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen last year, the British government's Department of Energy and Climate Change released a TV advertisement outlining the dangers of climate change, and encouraging people to take action. More

A taxing debate for climate change

Sara Phillips

Gordon Campbell
Premier of British Columbia after announcing a carbon tax for the Canadian province.

A carbon tax appears to have wangled a place back on the national agenda. Marius Kloppers, chief executive of the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, last week said a global price on carbon is inevitable, and so the proper thing for BHP and Australia would be to be prepared for this eventuality. More

Dogs don't go to heaven

Sara Phillips

Angel dog
Dogs don't go to heaven: this way of thinking has caused us environmental harm.

Dogs don't go to heaven. Or so I was told by those who sought to give me religious education when I was young. Then, as now, I was particularly fond of my dog and found the idea of a heaven without dogs to be rather unattractive. God made dogs, I reasoned, He must like them, so why wouldn't He let them into heaven? More

Garrett
Peter Garrett is a cautionary tale for the Greens party.

Penny Wong is not expected to reapply for the position of Minister for Climate Change in the next cabinet. After a furious three years, she is believed to be looking for a change of pace. The embarrassment for the government over the insulation debacle has also left Peter Garrett's position open to change. More

How citizen science can save us

Sara Phillips

willy wagtail
Willy wagtails are just one of a number of species being observed by citizen scientists.

In the sparkling light of a Sydney spring morning last week, I stood waiting on a lower North Shore pier for a boat to arrive so that I could go hunting for rats. Not some kind of adorable marsupial rat, just the ordinary kind.

With me were a few other journalists and co-ordinators for Landcare and Earthwatch. The sky was impossibly blue; the water impossibly clear. Under the pier a school of large fish cruised by. More

Can cans cause cancer?

Sara Phillips

Cans
Cans have a plastic lining which contains a chemical called BPA that is suspected of causing cancer.

Imhotep might have been the first to document it. An Egyptian surgeon who lived around 3000 BC, he is thought to be the original author of the "Edwin Smith" papyrus. In this ancient textbook (named after its discoverer) is the first known mention of cancer.

"If thou examinest a man having tumors on his breast, (and) thou findest that swelling has spread over his breast; if thou puttest thy hand upon his breast upon these tumors, (and) thou findest them very cool, there being no fever at all therein..." says the text. More

Batty Katter not mad about flying foxes

Sara Phillips

Katter
Bob Katter is not a batty as some would think. (digitally altered image)

Bob Katter is mad, right? Crazy guy in a big hat raving on about random things. On the 7.30 Report on Sunday night he was in full flight: "We've got a terrible problem with the deadly flying foxes. They're going to kill many more people than Taipan snakes do in Australia. But ... these are issues that there's just a different paradigm needed." More

Where did our environmental concern go?

Sara Phillips

Drought
The drought may have affected Australian's interest in environmental issues.

On The Drum yesterday, John Connor, director of the Climate Institute lamented our political leaders' lack of enthusiasm for environmental issues in the current campaign.

"This has been a campaign where both parties have fundamentally misjudged the mood of Australians," he says. "They have misjudged public concern about pollution and climate change and their concern about the need to shift from a pollution dependent economy to a low-pollution economy." More

Sun
Belief in climate change has nothing to do with being rational, and everything to do with pre-exisiting ideology.

Our politicians' beliefs about climate change divide up neatly along party lines, according to a new survey from University of Queensland researchers.

Just over a third of Liberal/National politicians believe climate change is attributable to human activity, compared with 89 per cent of Labor politicians and 98 per cent of Greens. More

Who are the Greens voters?

Sara Phillips

Busy street
One in eight people are voting Green in this election. They don't fit neatly into a demographic category.

It's no wonder Bob Brown is laughing off suggestions he might retire soon. The venerable leader of the Greens party has never seen his party looking quite so good. More

One swallow does not a summer make

Sara Phillips

Among Aristotle's many famous sayings is "one swallow does not a summer make". In other words, seeing just one sign of a change in the weather does not necessarily imply that a permanent change has occurred. Impeccable logic from a chap that was famous for it. However where Aristotle went wrong as far as modern climatologists are concerned, is that he neglected to mention exactly how many swallows we are allowed to notice before declaring summer to have commenced. More

This morning amid the slings and arrows of rowdy protestors, Julia Gillard ploughed through her much anticipated announcement on climate change. Even the rough arrival of a young man shouting about a wasted three years was not able to break Gillard's stride. More

Eco-volunteers earn their sticky-bun

Sara Phillips

There's something nice about putting your fingers in soil. True, it's cold and soggy and gritty and there might be worms and spiders, but it's strangely comforting. It's very... well... grounding. More

A starting point for negotiations

Sara Phillips

solar thermal
Solar thermal plants, like this one, have this ability to provide baseload power for Australia.

This evening at the University of Melbourne, the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 report will be unveiled. Produced through the donated time of Melbourne Uni researchers and a small green group, Beyond Zero Emissions, the report outlines how Australia could realistically move from our current electricity situation, to one which releases no climate changing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. More

Gannet
A northern gannet is cleaned after becoming mired in what could become the biggest oil spill of all time.

London's The Times is reporting (log in to read) that the British government is drawing up contingency plans for the possibility of petroleum giant BP collapsing. For those who have just arrived from Mars, BP is the company responsible for the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. More

thermometer
The credibility of climate researchers has been examined in a controversial new study.

Every time there is an article open for comments on the ABC about climate change, a phalanx of climate sceptics make comments to the effect that there are plenty of credible researchers in the area of climate science that doubt humans' role in climate change. More

Julia Gillard Confirmed As New Australian Prime Minister
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard smiles during a press conference following the Labor leadship spill which saw Gillard call a leadership ballot for the role of Prime Minister at Parliament House on June 24, 2010 in Canberra, Australia.

Julia Gillard ought to be wary of climate change. Not because it might wash away coastline or dry up our farms - although it might - but because it has claimed the scalps of three party leaders in Australian politics. If she does not treat the issue carefully, there is every evidence that hers could be next. More

whale
Whaling may soon be allowed under a proposal under consideration at the IWC meeting in Morocco

The world's environment ministers and environment groups have gathered again. This time in Morocco. The world's environment journalists have duly followed and are sending home reports on the progress (or lack thereof) of the negotiations. More

A sign of the cities to come

Sara Phillips

Melbourne
Melbourne has good strategic plans in place according to KPMG, but is only middle ranked on sustainability according to the ACF.

Most Australians live in cities. Our last census (2006) found that two thirds of us were based in a 'major city'. Apart from having implications about what this means for how we connect to nature, it also means that if we want an understanding of how sustainable we are as a nation, we need to look to our cities. More

Journalism works best when there are two sides to a story. Put another way, conflict sells. This is the basis for all of the political reporting that absorbs most of our media. Throw in the sport results - stage-managed conflict - and that's pretty much the whole news bulletin. More

Why can't we see the climate change?

Sara Phillips

environment volunteers
Environmental volunteers are briefed before their working-bee

It's World Environment Day tomorrow. All over Australia, concerned individuals will be rolling up their sleeves and joining in the many working-bees planned to celebrate this occasion. Trees will be planted, weeds uprooted and walking tracks restored.

But it will not be a majority of Australians doing their bit on World Environment Day. This is not "the race that stops a nation", it's not a football grand-final, or even a breast cancer awareness day. While there are many concerned and environmentally committed Australians, they are not in numbers so great as to warrant a public holiday (or even a pseudo public holiday). More

Melbourne bike share not a sure thing

Sara Phillips

Melbourne became the first Australian city this week to launch a bicycle sharing scheme. But there are already doubts about whether it will prove to be successful.

The idea of a bike-sharing scheme is not new. On and off they have been run in European cities for decades. The trouble in the past has usually been that malfeasants steal or damage the bicycles. (It's well known that there is a special circle of Hell reserved for bike thieves). More

Forest tax breaks led to their downfall

Sara Phillips

Plantation
A scheme designed to promote investment in forestry has ironically led to the collapse of four forestry companies.

In the last 13 months four Australian forestry companies have gone into voluntary receivership. Meanwhile, Gunns, probably Australia's most famous forestry company, today had shares trading at around 28 cents a pop - their lowest level in 20 years. More

Internet: the great facilitator

Sara Phillips

Rhodes protest
The online nature of the palm oil campaign is a sign of the times.

"Technology has always been a double-edged sword, empowering both our creative and our destructive natures," wrote Ray Kurzweil, American futurist, back in 2003. "It has brought us longer and healthier lives, freedom from physical and mental drudgery, and many new creative possibilities. Yet it has also introduced new and salient dangers." More

A clean green budget to save their seats?

Sara Phillips

Much is being made of tonight's federal budget and the role it will play in the government's standing. After a couple of weeks of stinging polls, the government needs to get back on the front foot.

Most of the commentary so far has been on health, and the mining companies in the wake of the great big new tax on their profits. More

End of the line for seafood

Sara Phillips

tuna
The southern bluefun tuna is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

Environmentally themed documentaries are increasingly the forum for activism. The Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth paved the way for a rash of activist films, including this year's Oscar winner, The Cove.

The latest to hit Australian cinemas is a film about sustainable fishing called The End of the Line. More

No expense spared on oil clean-up

Sara Phillips

BP oil spill
BP will probably lose a year's profit cleaning up the mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

"We're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster," said US President Barack Obama after visiting the oil-affected coastline of Louisiana yesterday.

An oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, in which BP had a 65 per cent interest, exploded 14 days ago, killing 11 workers and sending oil spilling into the sea. More

Wong to blame for the CPRS's failure

Sara Phillips

Wong
Penny Wong insists the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is the right tool to deal with climate change

In politics, it's not necessarily the party with the best policy that gets elected; it's the often party with what looks to be, on a cursory glance, the best policy. And perhaps the most personable leader.

Leaving aside for a moment the question of whether or not the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) was any good, the question then is whether or not it looked any good to the voting public. More

Nagasaki bomb
One of the first nuclear weapons goes off, destroying Nagasaki in August 1945.

"Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." These were the words that went through J. Robert Oppenheimer's mind as he watched the test of the world's first atomic bomb in 1945.

"We knew the world would not be the same," he later remarked. More

Gaylord Nelson
Gaylord Nelson, a US senator, was the brains behind the original Earth Day in 1970

There are a lot of days in a year. To be precise: 365.24 and a bit. But that's just the ordinary days. There are also the Days, with a capital D that celebrate something. There's Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Anzac Day and so on.

And there's also the made up Days. I'm not just talking about greeting card-manufactured days like and Mothers' and Fathers' Days and Valentine's Day, there are also the charity run awareness days. More

volcano 2
Mt Eyjafjallajokull's ash, sulphur and carbon dioxide emissions are mild compared to Pinatubo in 1991

Back in 1991, Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines. It was an enormous explosion that is estimated to have thrown out 10 billion tonnes of magma and sent ash clouds 34 km up into the atmosphere. It was one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century. More

iThink this will add to eWaste

Sara Phillips

Old mobile
Remember when these were the latest must-have item? E-waste is a growing problem

Because the ABC is a non-commercial entity, I am prevented from mentioning by name the new device that was released in the US on April 3, and is due to hit Australian stores later this month. Let's just say it starts with i and ends in Pad. More

coal ship
The Shen Neng 1 is carrying 970 tonnes of oil, but its load of coal contributes to a greater danger to the reef.

"From my point of view as Prime Minister of Australia, there is no greater natural asset for Australia than the Great Barrier Reef," said Kevin Rudd today after he flew over the reef to survey the damage caused by a Chinese coal ship that ran aground. More

GB
The greater bilby is threatened by rabbits

Lester lives in Queensland, but he's been to Perth, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. This would not be remarkable except for the fact that Lester is an endangered animal. More

Japan heading for a sea of isolation

Sara Phillips

Tuna market
Japan's diet is highly reliant on bounty from the sea.

You thought the saga over whaling was bad. Japan is set to become one of the most unpopular countries in the world in coming years. The reason is simple: the Japanese diet is heavy on fish, and the fish are running out. More

One hour crowded with messages

Sara Phillips

Earth Hour
The Sydney Harbour Bridge during last year's Earth Hour

This Saturday night at 8.30pm, the world will be switching its lights off, according to green group, the WWF.

This year, 120 countries will take part in the event, up from just one - Australia - in 2007. More

Yo! Where my bees at?

Sara Phillips

Bee on lavender
The disappearing bees have spawned a series of silly videos on the internet

Colony collapse disorder is the name given to a phenomenon experienced in many parts of the world, which Australia, thus far, seems to be immune to. It is the mystery of the disappearing bees. More

Craig Venter
Craig Venter has created new life forms which could help solve the energy problems of the world

Craig Venter sure doesn't look like Dr Frankenstein. He's a genial looking bloke: bald and sun-damaged on top and whiskery, like the keen sailor he is, on the chin.

But like Mary Shelley's hero, he has created life from spare parts. He's re-thinking Darwin and he's trying to solve the world's environmental and health problems. More

Bike
Commuting by bicycle is becoming marginally more popular, but still poses risks for those who ride.

I've never ridden my bicycle naked. Personally, I find clothes to be preferable when commuting to work en velo. If for no other reason, they save your skin if you take a tumble.

But I tip my hat (or helmet, as the case may be) to those brave men and women who took part or will take part in this year's World Naked Bike Ride. More

Oscar for activist dolphin film

Sara Phillips

The Cove
Promotional image from the Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove

"They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning..."

So went the theme song to the 1960s TV series which featured a friendly dolphin who helped catch criminals and do good in the style of Lassie and Skippy the bush kangaroo. Conveniently, in this show most of the bad guys tried to escape by boat, which is where Flipper came to the fore. More

We love a blooming good idea

Sara Phillips

Bloom's production facility
Bloom Energy's production facility

Have you heard about the Bloom Box yet? The web has been buzzing this past week following the launch on February 24 of US company Bloom Energy's new fuel cell.

Touted as an energy solution that has no emissions, runs on any fuel, can be made with readily available materials, and is compact and easily scaled up, it sounds simply too good to be true. More

name card
What exactly should those who distrust the evidence for man-made climate change be called?

In response to a blog post last week, an ABC Environment reader with the handle SED commented, "The label of 'critic' or 'sceptic' should not be used with climate change deniers. In their core arguments, deniers exhibit [strong] anti-intellectual discrimination, using the complexity of an argument as a reason for distrust." More

Everybody's a greenie now

Sara Phillips

SLF
Spot the greenie

"Six years ago Dr Bob Brown and Mrs Christine Milne were reviled by west coast Tasmanians...Visitors yesterday remembered that in 1982-83 the wearer of a bushwalker's oiled jacket was automatically a target of abuse in Queenstown's streets, and 'Fertilise SW Tas - Doze a Greenie' stickers adorned many local cars."
So wrote Andrew Darby in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1989. More

Science in public ain't pretty

Sara Phillips

thermometer
The IPCC says temperatures could rise by 6.4 degrees by 2100. There are plenty of scientists with different viewpoints, however, even within the IPCC.

The heavy movers of Australian science sat down to morning tea this week. The Prime Minister, the federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and Australia's chief scientist had morning tea with Australia's first female Nobel Laureate. More

Nuclear debate on the horizon

Sara Phillips

nuclear power station
Nuclear power will be back on the agenda will many environmentalists supporting it.

Expect to see nuclear energy back in the media this year.

It's an issue that raises its head periodically, only to be beaten back by the strong public sentiment against nuclear power.

More

A foil to the insulation debate

Sara Phillips

insulation
Batts are fantastic insulation, but foil has a role to play in hot climates

It must have seemed like such a vote winner when the Labor policy people came up with it. Installing insulation - it lowers our energy use, creates jobs and stimulates Australian manufacturing. How could it possibly go wrong? More

Greenhouse gas a misnomer

Sara Phillips

clouds
Water vapour in the form of clouds is not technically a gas but is still the most powerful influence on the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Here's a test for you: name the number one greenhouse gas affecting our climate. Did you say carbon dioxide? Well, you're half right.

Some of the top "greenhouse gases" are not actually gases. It's a mistake as common as the belief that the greenhouse effect is a man-made disaster that will end in the ruin of the planet. More

Monckton: the times will suit him

Sara Phillips

Lord Christoopher Monckton
Lord Monckton is winning fans because his message come at a time of climate change fatigue.

Environmentalists have every right to be worried about the public mood revealed by Lord Christopher Monckton and his grand Australian tour. The Viscount and climate change sceptic is a political figure not a scientist. Yet he is a canny polemicist and who dabbles in scientific minutiae and wins converts.

He spoke yesterday at the National Press Club in Canberra and was a guest of Alan Jones on his popular radio show.

At his events so far, he has been greeted by enthusiastic supporters of his stance of climate change scepticism. He has had extensive coverage, especially on broadcast outlets. More

Deadline for the world

Sara Phillips

Yvo de Boer
Even UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer was not customarily upbeat about the Copenhagen Accord commitments submitted by the world

Following the nebulous conclusion of the Copenhagen meeting on climate change last December, countries of the world were given some homework. They were asked to go home and think about what kind of greenhouse gas cuts they were prepared to make.

The Copenhagen Accord, as the concluding document has been named, even came complete with a little worksheet for countries to fill in their responses. More

relaxing
Holidays....

This is the time of the year when many Australians take a breather. Some even escape our burrows for adventures in exotic locations.

Tourism Australia says that more Australians than ever are flying for their holidays. More

Illegal timber is legal in Australia

Sara Phillips

Indonesian timber
Is this timber in Indonesia legally or illegally logged? It's hard to tell.

If you buy a nice outdoor setting for summer barbeques that has been made from wood stolen from rainforests on the other side of the globe, you're not doing anything wrong, according to the Australian government.

At the moment, timber logged illegally in its source country is not illegal to import into Australia. You don't even need a licence to sell it. Any Joe with a bit of marketing nous and good connections overseas can set up shop selling timber goods and he doesn't have to prove where it came from. More

A Danish canvas for climate message

Sara Phillips

greenpeace protest
Protesters unfurl a climate change protest banner on the Opera House roof

The Sydney Opera House was designed by a man from Copenhagen. Jorn Utzon was born in Copenhagen in 1918. So it is fitting that climate change protesters used an Australian link to Copenhagen for unveiling their message to the climate change negotiators there.

But the Opera House is more than just a little piece of Copenhagen in Australia. It is Australia's most iconic building. It graces thousands of postcards and is front and centre of millions of happy snaps made by passing tourists. More

UN babble on

Sara Phillips

Australia at the UN

The United Nations conference on climate change that is currently taking place in Copenhagen is all over the news at the moment. It's big deal status in the media is entirely justified. With climate change the major risk to our way of life, it is ultimately the conference that will determine all our fates. As a journalist, I am peculiarly interested in language and what I find amusing is the UN's own little patois that has sprung up and is now being repeated in newspapers, TVs, radios and the Internet across the globe. More

Emissions get a Brazilian

Sara Phillips

Amazon River
A fisherman and his canoe in the Brazillian rainforest. The government hopes to cut carbon emissions by reducing land clearing

Brazil announced to the world in the lead-up to the climate change talks in Copenhagen that it would reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions by at least 36 per cent by 2020. China went in for a whopping 45 per cent.

Almost all of the discussion about international climate change efforts has been about what role the developing nations should play in comparison to the developed nations. So Brazil and China's announcements, as developing nations, was met with some excitement. But exactly what these cuts mean should be understood before everyone breaks out the champagne. More

Welcome to the environment portal

Sara Phillips

Inside the Bella Centre in Copenhagen
Inside the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, where international talks on climate change are being held.

'It's the environmental showdown of the century: at stake - the future of the world's climate and the preservation of its ecosystem. At risk - the continued domination of the world's energy system by the fossil fuel industry.'

Sounds like something written recently about the climate change meeting in Copenhagen, doesn't it? In fact, these words are lifted directly from the ABC's online coverage of the Kyoto conference on climate change held in 1997. More