Latest environment news

Warm oceans keep world on course for hottest year

Peter Hannam   Ongoing record warmth in the world’s oceans has increased the likelihood that 2014 will be declared the hottest year since reliable data began more than a century ago, US and Japanese agencies say.

Science funding snarled by stalled education bill

Astronomy under a cloud - and much else besides.

Peter Hannam   Scientists in fields ranging from astronomy to nanotechnology and cancer research face an uncertain few months with at least $150 million in key funding tied to the Abbott government’s blocked higher education reform bill.

Fire ants threaten 2000 Sydney homes

Fire ants

Josh Dye 1:46 PM   There are renewed concerns the outbreak of fire ants in Sydney could spread to backyards and playgrounds as the government expands the eradication efforts.

Firefighters braced for swift burning fires this summer

A bushfire that ignited at the bottom of Mount Dandenong or Mount Macedon under dangerous conditions could reach the top of these mountains in less than 10 minutes, the chief officer of the CFA warns.

Darren Gray   A bushfire which ignited at the bottom of Mount Dandenong or Mount Macedon under dangerous conditions could reach the top of these mountains in less than 10 minutes, the chief officer of the CFA has warned on Victoria's worst fire weather day since last summer.

Turtle season begins in Queensland

green sea turtle

Cameron Atfield   Turtle power has been on display up the Queensland coast as shelled reptiles young and old entered or re-entered the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.

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Sydney weather: Dry, gusty thunderstorms headed for the city

Another stormy afternoon ahead for much of Sydney.

Peter Hannam   Gusty winds buffeted parts of Sydney late on Tuesday as a band of dry thunderstorms moved across parts of eastern NSW.

'World's biggest orgy' at Great Barrier Reef

 A perfect storm of weather and marine conditions has led to a mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef.

Kim Stephens   Rare mass coral spawning delights marine scientists.

Heatwave stays away for Santa's big day

Christmas is set to be mild and sunny.

Robyn Grace   Santa looks set to bring Melburnians a mild and mostly sunny Christmas Day.

Total fire ban in Canberra cancelled

ACT Emergency Services have declared a total fire ban and issued a severe fire danger rating for Tuesday.

Emma Kelly   A total fire ban has been cancelled after stormy weather brought rain to much of the Territory on Tuesday morning.

GPS tracking of feral pigs in WA bushland

A group of feral pigs will be monitored to assess the environmental impact they have in WA

Aleisha Orr   The every move of a number of feral pigs will be tracked as part of a research program investigating the life of swine.

Firefly flirtation turns Blue Mountains grove into an enchanted wood

Magical: Fireflies blinking among Australian ferns in the early evening in a sheltered canyon west of Sydney.

Stephanie Wood   A canyon walk to find glow-worms takes another luminescent turn.

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NSW cabinet to consider container deposit scheme

NSW consumers would receive a 10-cent refund for recycling bottles and cans under a contentious proposal to go before cabinet on Monday.

Nicole Hasham   NSW consumers would receive a 10-cent refund for recycling bottles and cans under a contentious proposal to go before cabinet on Monday.

Lima tensions may bring storm clouds to Paris

Delegates talk during a break at a plenary session of the UN Climate Change Conference.

Marcus Priest, Lima   Negotiators agreed to a highly watered-down deal that stripped out a formal review.

Marine sites to be studied before protection declared

Long Reef aquatic reserve is one of the marine sites which will be studied by the state government

Peter Hannam   The government is to conduct a year-long study of 11 aquatic sites in the Sydney region as the first step to increasing protection of threatened marine ecosystems.

Lines drawn in shifting sands over climate change

Marcus Priest

Marcus Priest   Countries came to climate change talks in Lima to agree on roadmap to Paris in 2015. They left having faintly drawn lines in the shifting sands of the Peruvian coastal plains.

Rio Tinto linked to collusion on Warkworth coalmine

A Rio Tinto coal truck in the Hunter Valley.

Peter Hannam   The NSW government has been accused of working in “partnership” with mining giant Rio Tinto to circumvent court rejections of a coal mining expansion project in the Hunter Valley.

Welfare groups call on RSPCA NSW to relinquish powers

Animal welfare groups and NSW's chief Animal welfare enforcer, the RSPCA, are at loggerheads over the prosecution of several cases of animal cruelty.

Eryk Bagshaw   Aussie Farms and Animal Liberation NSW have called on RSPCA NSW to relinquish its role as a prosecutor.

Lima climate talks: tough decisions deferred as UN meeting winds up

Environmental activists perform representing leaders, including Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, at climate talks in Lima.

Marcus Priest   Negotiators in Peru are struggling to reach agreement and Australia has been accused of "creative accounting" in the dying hours of the United Nations climate change talks.

World Heritage listed river under threat from pollution -

Clean above mine: The Wollangambe River in the Blue Mountians.

Natalie O'Brien   The world-heritage listed Wollangambe river which runs through some of the most spectacular canyons in the greater Blue Mountains is under threat from  pollution flowing into its upper reaches from a Lithgow coal mine.

Endangered rainforest being stripped


Natalie O'Brien   Minister's office disagrees with conservationists who say the new 10/50 bushfire laws are to blame.

When circumcision becomes an amputation: climate change talks in peril

Members of representative commissions of the countries participating in the climate change conferences, attend the seventh plenary meeting of the COP20 on December 13, 2014 in Lima, as they continue working on a final document draft. The UN 20th session of the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP20) and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP10), which should have finished Friday, extended their negotiations Saturday.

Marcus Priest   Climate change talks in Lima are on the verge of collapse with claims that countries are being asked to swallow “dead rats” and that an already watered-down deal is now in danger of being turned from a “circumcision” into an “amputation”.

Super mutt to save endangered species

Unlikely match: Guardian dogs are being trained - initially with plush toys - to protect endangered eastern barred bandicoots before they are released into the wild together.

Alana Schetzer   Specially trained dogs will guard over endangered eastern barred bandicoots in an initiative to re-establish the bandicoots in the wild.

California battered by Pacific storm that triggers mudslides and floods

Buried: A TV news crew files a report behind damaged homes after a mudslide struck at least 18 homes during heavy rains in Camarillo Springs.

Steve Gorman and Michael Fleeman   Hundreds of homes have been evacuated in southern California as heavy rains and wind lash the drought-stricken area.

Lima climate talks at crossroads on ways to fight warming

Oxfam members hold a banner at the archaeological site of Huaca Pucllana in Lima.

About 190 nations were at a crossroads about how boldly to combat global warming on the final day of United Nations talks in Lima on Friday amid fears that low ambition could undermine a UN climate summit in Paris next year.

Abbott sniffs the wind on climate change

Peter Hartcher dinkus

Peter Hartcher   From absolute crap to absolutely positively must do something, Tony Abbott is slowly shifting on climate change

Storms no drought breaker for many

A low pressure trough system passing over NSW has brought wide spead, unstable weather to much of NSW including the drought ridden North West. On 'Yuma'  property owned by Neil and Anne Kennedy in Coonamble shire, severe but extremely isolated storm cells are skirting over and around their property but are receiving little water. Photograph by Dean Sewell/Oculi. Taken Sunday 7th December 2014.

Peter Hannam   Thunderstorms may have drenched Sydney and other parts of the state but many parched regions of the state largely missed out.

And the weather on Christmas Day will be...

Good weather predicted for at least the start of Christmas Day.

Peter Hannam   What weather will Santa deliver for Christmas Day?

'Do the maths' on coal and oil, says Kerry

Plea for action: US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima.

Marcus Priest   Developed and developing countries must stop arguing about who has the responsibility for addressing climate change and act, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

As Japan burns more coal, climate policies come under pressure

Japan's domestic energy woes have sparked international criticism.

Once at the forefront of the fight again global warming, Japan is now facing calls from other big economies such as China to set fresh emissions targets as Tokyo increases its use of dirty coal energy to replace nuclear.

Penguin study tracks genomes

An Adelie penguin is seen near Commandante Ferraz Brazilian Antarctic Station.

Cameron Atfield   Summer-soaked Queensland isn't the first place that comes to mind when considering penguin research, but a Griffith University scientist has bucked that trend as part of a groundbreaking genome study.