Latest environment news

Great Barrier Reef UNESCO verdict confirmed but future status remains murky

Peter Hannam 9:52 PM   The status of the Great Barrier Reef has avoided being downgraded by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee but the future of the ecological treasure remains uncertain.

China's climate plan: how ambitious and what does it mean for Australia?

China has announced to the UN its plans to tackle carbon dioxide emissions from 2020

Tom Arup 12:07 PM   After a few false dawns China has submitted its plans for tackling climate change from 2020 to the United Nations climate negotiations. What does it mean?

NSW extends CSG buyback: 'multiple' parties interested

Anti-CSG activists outside AGL's Sydney annual general meeting in October 2014.

Peter Hannam 12:51 PM   The Baird government has extended its plan to buy back exploration licences for coal seam gas, prompting calls for AGL to ditch its permit for the Sydney region.

China intensifies carbon reduction and reaffirms 2030 emissions target

Chinese commuters wear face masks as heavy air pollution shrouds Beijing in February 2014. China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use.

Philip Wen 4:36 AM   China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has submitted a new carbon intensity reduction target to the United Nations while reaffirming its goal to curb carbon emissions by 2030, or 'even earlier'.

Earliest cyclone confirmed in Queensland zone

Cyclone Raquel makes history.

Peter Hannam 10:20 AM   Tropical Cyclone Raquel has formed in the south-west Pacific near the Solomon Islands, triggering the earliest cyclone warning issued on record for the Queensland zone.

Adani's 'miracle' mine is unbankable says Queensland Treasury

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with mining magnate Gautum Adani in Delhi, India.

Lisa Cox   Australia's largest new coal project, one hailed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a poverty-busting "miracle", is unbankable in the assessment of Queensland's Treasury.

Ex-Treasury head takes swing at RET

Former Treasury secretary Dr Martin Parkinson

Gareth Hutchens   Former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson has heavily criticised the Abbott government's renewable energy target and Direct Action policies, saying they will be a far costlier way to reduce emissions than an emissions trading scheme.

Government faces $1m compensation bill over Point Nepean

Protesters at Point Nepean last year objecting to the proposal to develop the quarantine station site.

Tom Arup 7:03 PM   The Andrews government is facing a compensation bill of up to $1 million after negotiations to wind back a resort development in the Point Nepean National Park fell over, killing the project.

Victorian solar feed-in-tariff set to be cut for 2016

Tilting: Victorians with solar PV were once paid as much as 60 cents per kilowatt-hour before tariff arrangements were changed in 2012.

Tom Arup 5:15 PM   Victorian households¬†with rooftop solar could get as little as five cents a kilowatt-hour for the power they pump back into the grid next year, under a proposed decision by the state's Essential Services Commission.

Babbler birds could shed light on human language

Language: The chestnut-crowned babbler.

Amina Khan 2:35 PM   Move over, parrots. There's another bird with some impressive "language" skills: the chestnut-crowned babbler, that lives in the Australian outback.

China, Brazil move climate talks into fast lane with pledges

The year-end climate summit gathers some more momentum.

Alex Nussbaum 7:13 AM   The push for a global deal on climate change picks up speed from Latin America to Asia, with the world's biggest greenhouse-gas emitter and the steward of its largest rainforest pledging new measures to curb warming.

RSPCA takes 147 animals and birds from overcrowded Banks site

Birds and animals have been found in poor conditions at a Banks property.

Christopher Knaus 11:30 PM   Thirteen of 147 animals and birds removed from an overcrowded site in Banks have had to be euthanised.

Rare tropical cyclone forming in the Coral Sea

Possible tropical cyclone forms over the Solomon Islands.

Peter Hannam   Australian meteorologists are closely watching a deep low pressure system north of the Solomon Islands that may develop into the first tropical system to enter the Queensland monitoring zone in July in at least four decades.

Weather forecast: Cold burst coming but little joy for the snow fields

Frosty times ahead: The first of the fronts should arrive on Thursday.

Peter Hannam   Time to dig out those woollen scarves and gloves if you haven't needed them so far this winter.

Say it ain't snow: winter blues for Victorian ski resorts

An image taken by the 'Ruined Castle' camera at Falls Creek on Tuesday.

Jessica Wright   A forecast of a single day of snowfall this week will be cold comfort to Victorian ski resorts starved of the white stuff.

100 billion reasons a global climate pact may fall apart

Heavy load: poorer nations often bear the bulk of extreme weather events.

Alex Nussbaum   The richest nations still haven't convinced the rest of the world they're willing to pick up the tab to help curb climate change, diplomats warned at a United Nations conference Monday.

US Supreme Court blocks Obama's limits on power plants

President Barack Obama suffers a defeat in the courts.

ADAM LIPTAK and CORAL DAVENPORT   The US Supreme Court on Monday blocked one of the Obama administration's most ambitious environmental initiatives: an Environmental Protection Agency regulation meant to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Heat-tolerant dwarf cow may be the answer for a warming planet

Bad cow: "High-yielding crossbreed varieties of cattle can faint or even die during hot and humid summer days," an animal breeding expert says.

K. Rajendran 11:00 PM   Worsening heat, fodder shortages and the threat of drought are forcing many hard-hit dairy farmers in the Anantapur area of India's southern Kerala state to consider a shift to heat-tolerant dwarf cows.

To save big cats from extinction, scientists want to redefine 'tiger'

There are up to nine commonly accepted subspecies of tigers in the world, three of which are extinct.

Robert Gebelhoff 11:45 PM   Researchers propose simplifying the nine types of tigers into two, offering flexibility in conservation.

Springvale mine expansion gets PAC nod despite concerns

Lake Burragorang, behind Warragamba Dam, Sydney's main reservoir.

Peter Hannam   The NSW Planning Assessment Commission has given conditional approval for the proposed extension of the underground Springvale coal mine despite concerns from government agencies that the expansion will affect Sydney's water quality.

Wind farm inquiry is not a case of nanny state intervention

Wind turbines emit infrasound but is it enough to cause illness?

Peter Hannam   Libertarian senator David Leyonhjelm says there is no contradiction between his role on a Senate inquiry into wind farm noise and his leadership of a separate committee investigating the rise of a "nanny state" in Australia.

People, not policy, are deciding on a future powered by renewables

Solar panels on the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club.

Kieran Gair   First, the local bowlo signed up. Then the churches. Step into the NSW town where people, not policy, are deciding on a future driven by renewables.

Deformed mutt named World's Ugliest Dog

Rascal, a Chinese Crested, is poses for a portrait after competing in the World's Ugliest Dog Competition in Petaluma, California on June 26, 2015. Quasi Modo went on to win first prize as the ugliest dog in the competition.  AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON

A 10-year-old mutt named Quasi Modo, whose spinal birth defects have left him a bit hunchbacked, is the winner of the annual World's Ugliest Dog contest.

Peabody shares dive after Moody's cuts biggest US coal miner's credit rating

Investors show their impatience with more bad news for coal.

Tim Loh   Peabody Energy Corp., the largest US coal producer, plunged to record lows Friday after Moody's Investors Service downgraded its credit rating.

Solar Impulse takes off on delayed Pacific flight

The ground crew pushes Solar Impulse 2 as pilot Andre Borschberg sits in the cockpit at Nagoya Airport.

The revolutionary Solar Impulse 2 aircraft has taken off for a flight over the Pacific Ocean, a spokeswoman says, the most ambitious leg of its quest to circumnavigate the globe powered only by the sun.

Climate marchers gather to show strong support for Pope

Bolivian faithful carry a statue of blessed Virgin at the end of a Sunday Angelus prayer by Pope Francis in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican.

ELISABETTA POVOLEDO   People from across the religious spectrum come out to back Pope Francis and his encyclical on the environment.

Home builders feel the cost of solar access rules

Karan Oberoi shows the excavation done at
his daughter's Bonner home to comply with solar overshadowing rules.

David Ellery   Solar access compliance costs family $35,000.

Women go ape over ripped gorilla

Giant male gorilla Shabani, weighing around 180kg, at the Higashiyama Zoo.

A giant gorilla with brooding good looks and rippling muscles is causing a stir at a Japanese zoo, with women flocking to check out the hunky pin-up.

Penguin-hunting fox shot dead at North Head

The lone fox that's been wreaking havoc on Manly fairy penguins is now dead.

Michael Koziol, Kate Aubusson   ¬†A lone fox's reign of terror in Sydney's northern beaches has come to an end, after rangers trapped and shot the predator early on Saturday morning.

Could dams destroy south-east Asia's greatest river and food bowl?

KHONE FALLS, LAOS - May 7, 2015: A local fisherman carries rocks to build a fish trap along the Mekong River.  Fisherman are worried that the construction of the Don Sahong Dam will disrupt the flow the Mekong and migration of fish.   
Conservationists and politicians are warning the quest for hydropower is threatening the food supply of more than 40 million people in the Mekong basin.
(Photo by Jason South - Fairfax Media)

Lindsay Murdoch   Conservationists and politicians are warning the quest for hydro power is threatening the food supply of more than 40 million people in the Mekong basin.

Carbon-polluting coastal developers headed for big blue

Scientist Peter Macreadie says wetlands bury carbon faster than trees and keep it from escaping for much longer.

John Elder   Coastal developers should be paying to offset air pollution from the tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere when wetlands are drained and dug up, says marine ecologist Dr Peter Macreadie.