Environment news

A carbon-free future for the Canary Islands possible by 2050

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
The Canary Islands have the potential to become carbon neutral by 2050, a new study indicates. This could be achieved by shifting to a 100% renewable energy supply, improving energy efficiency and building new grid connections between islands. Energy solutions for small island regions, such as the Canaries, could act as role models for larger systems, as well as similar islands, the researchers suggest.
Categories: Environment news

Review confirms climate change is threatening many ecosystem services

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Climate change is having mixed — but mostly negative — impacts on ecosystem services, suggest data analysed by a new study. The research, which brings together the findings of over 100 other studies, found that 59% of reported impacts of climate change on ecosystem services are negative, while just 13% are positive. However, the method of research was shown to strongly influence whether impacts are reported as positive or negative, with expert opinion studies far more negative than other types of study.
Categories: Environment news

Additional legislation and enforcement needed to protect threatened and rare reptiles from the pet trade in Europe?

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
The prominent role of EU countries in the international trade of reptiles for pets, including many rare and illegally traded species, is highlighted in a recent study. The researchers call for better enforcement and tighter legislation to control the trade, which is a major threat to global biodiversity. In particular the researchers appeal for legislation to be passed for species protected in their native range countries, which can currently be freely traded in the EU if they are not subject to international trade conventions such as CITES.
Categories: Environment news

Europe could suffer major shellfish production losses due to ocean acidification

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Ocean acidification threatens marine ecosystems worldwide, but economic assessments of its impact are lacking. A recent study has predicted the future cost of ocean acidification on mollusc production in Europe and showed that the highest economic impacts would be in France, Italy and Spain. For Europe overall, the annual damage could be in the region of €0.9 billion by 2100.
Categories: Environment news

Risk of silver nanoparticles to terrestrial plants is low, but increased by chlorine

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Silver nanoparticles are used in a range of household products. This study investigated the risk to plants of these nanoparticles in soil, showing that risk was overall low but increased when soils contained high levels of chlorine. The researchers, therefore, suggest that the risk of silver nanoparticles to plants may increase in salty soils or those irrigated with poor-quality water. These findings could be important for future risk assessments.
Categories: Environment news

Europe's rivers ‘highly contaminated’ with long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are persistent chemicals with proven toxic effects. This study estimated the emissions and concentrations of two such chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in 11 of Europe's most populated river catchments. Estimated emissions were lowest in the Thames and highest in the Rhine, while the EU environmental quality standard for PFOS was exceeded in all rivers. This study provides a picture of PFAAs contamination in rivers across Europe, and makes recommendations for achieving reductions.
Categories: Environment news

Diverse plant communities improve soil structure and, therefore, ecosystem services

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Plant diversity improves soil stability, the results of a greenhouse experiment and a long-term field study show. This study, which covered a range of different soil types, is one of the first to investigate the effects of plant diversity on soil structure, which is important for provision of ecosystem services, such as carbon storage and the mitigation of excessive run-off. The findings could help tackle the problem of soil degradation, the researchers suggest.
Categories: Environment news

Understanding uncertainty in air-quality modelling with new framework

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
A recent study develops a framework for implementing IAMs using the Lombardy region of Italy as a case study. Researchers have run an uncertainty and sensitivity analysis with an environmental model, specifically with an Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) for air quality, demonstrating how model components are sources of uncertainty in the output of an integrated assessment. Policy responses should therefore consider uncertainty and sensitivity when developing measures to improve air quality.
Categories: Environment news

Species diversity throughout the food chain maintains multiple ecosystem services more effectively

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Biodiversity’s contribution to ecosystem services in grasslands — at different levels of the food chain (known as trophic levels1) — has been assessed in a new study. Higher species diversity across trophic levels — particularly for plants, insects and soil microbial decomposers — is important for the provision of multiple ecosystem services related to food production, recreational benefits, or climate regulation. Species diversity across different trophic groups was also found to be just as important in controlling ecosystem functioning as the management intensity of grasslands and environmental factors, such as climate or soil type.
Categories: Environment news

Which factors make drugs persistent? A look at sulphonamides in Polish rivers

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Up to 90% of consumed drugs enter the environment. This may have negative effects on wildlife, especially when the drugs take long periods to break down. This study assessed the breakdown of sulphonamides — a class of antibacterials — in samples from two rivers in Poland. The results showed that sulphamethoxazole, a common veterinary antibiotic, was the most persistent and that various factors inhibit degradation, including low temperatures, heavy metal pollution and low pH.
Categories: Environment news

Banned pesticides continue to affect toxicity in streams

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Many toxic pesticides have been banned by the EU, however some can remain in the environment for many decades. Aquatic invertebrates are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, which can alter their feeding behaviour, growth and mobility. New research has found that persistent pesticides can increase toxicity in streams by up to 10 000 times compared to the residues of currently used pesticides. The researchers recommend these be taken into account when calculating overall toxicity.
Categories: Environment news

QUICKScan: a quick, participatory method for exploring environmental policy problems

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Policymakers often have to make decisions under great complexity, uncertainty and time pressure. A new study presents a support tool for the first stage of policymaking: identifying and exploring alternatives to solve problems. The software tool, called QUICKScan, increases the speed of this process and combines the input of many stakeholders in participatory workshops. It has been applied 70 times in 20 different countries, for a wide range of environmental policy issues.
Categories: Environment news

Half of the land area in Europe is within 1.5 kilometres of transport infrastructure, with large-scale impact on wildlife

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Transport infrastructure is so widespread in Europe that half of the land area is within 1.5 kilometres (km) of paved roads and railway lines, researchers have calculated. The researchers found that in Spain, transport infrastructure has an impact on the abundance of birds in almost half of the country and is affecting the abundance of mammals across almost all of the land area.
Categories: Environment news

Solar park impacts on microclimate, plants and greenhouse gas emissions

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
A UK solar park has been found to change the local microclimate, reports recently published research. Moreover, the microclimate coupled with management activities had an impact on greenhouse gas emissions and plant-community diversity and productivity under the solar panels. The study’s authors say their research provides a starting point for considering how to improve solar-park design in order to deliver co-benefits for biodiversity and farming, and minimise any negative environmental effects.
Categories: Environment news

Green buildings: researchers call for fuller environmental assessment

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Over half of a low-energy building’s environmental impact occurred before it was even occupied, a new case study from Italy calculates. The researchers recommend expanding the environmental assessment of buildings from just the operational stage of a building’s life, when it is in use, to include production and transport of materials, construction activities and building maintenance. A wide range of environmental impacts should also be considered, they argue, and not just energy use.
Categories: Environment news

Ocean acidification — caused by climate change — likely to reduce the survival rate of Atlantic cod larvae

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
The impact of ocean acidification — caused by increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dissolving in sea water — on Atlantic cod larvae has been assessed in a new study. The researchers estimate that, under scenarios which might be reached at the end of the century, ocean acidification could double the mortality rate of cod larvae, reducing replenishment of juvenile fish into cod fisheries to 24% of previous recruitment.
Categories: Environment news

New system to convert food waste into fertiliser for greenhouse use gives potential 95% reduction in CO2 emissions

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
A new method of processing food waste into fertiliser has been outlined in a recent study. The process uses a digester system with microorganisms to break down organic waste into fertiliser. The resultant fertiliser was used in a low-energy greenhouse to produce a range of food crops. The method is a potential way to utilise food waste and reduce the energy consumption of food production as part of a circular economy.
Categories: Environment news

High lead exposure for griffon vultures in Spain correlates with soil lead and ammunition from game hunting

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
Maps of the risk of griffon vultures’ exposure to lead in north-eastern Spain have been produced in a new study. High-risk places are mountainous areas where there are high levels of bioavailable sources of lead in the soil, but also where game hunting is prevalent, and carcasses scavenged by the birds may contain lead ammunition.
Categories: Environment news

Switching to LED street lighting could alter urban bat behaviour

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
The effect on bats of the replacement of mercury lamps with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in street lighting has been investigated in a recent study. Artificial light affects bat species differently and the activity of species normally more sensitive to light were affected less by the new LED street lamps than by traditional mercury lamps. Use of LEDs may, therefore, help to reduce the impacts of outdoor lighting on light-sensitive bats, if used at an appropriate level.
Categories: Environment news

Legal analysis finds REACH authorisation rules on imported substances of ‘very high concern’ would not violate WTO law

DG ENV - Fri, 09/02/2018 - 16:06
The EU would not be breaking World Trade Organization (WTO) rules if it chose to extend REACH’s authorisation scheme on substances of very high concern (SVHC) to products imported to Europe, a recent legal analysis concludes. At present, the scheme — which is effectively a ban on SVHC, with some exceptions — applies only to products made within the European Economic Area (EEA).
Categories: Environment news

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