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Google maps will help tourists to find the most eco-friendly routes

Driving and flying are huge contributors to carbon emissions and climate change. So Google is helping users make more informed decisions about how they travel, CNN informs.

The company is releasing features on Google Maps and Google Flights to show how travel plans may contribute to climate change.

Eco-friendly routes

In addition to showing drivers the fastest way to get to their destination, Google Maps will now show the route that’s the most fuel-efficient. 

To provide the new feature, Google incorporated data from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which estimates that eco-friendly routing has the potential to prevent more than one million tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere per year. That’s the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the road, Google claims.

On the Google Maps app, the most eco-friendly route will display with a small green leaf next to it. The route option will include information about how long the trip will take and how much fuel the driver could save. 

Options for bikers

It’s no secret that biking is a more eco-friendly travel option than driving, and the use of biking directions on Maps has increased by as much as 98% over the past year, according to Google. The tech company is focusing on tapping into bike riders with a new feature called “lite navigation” that gives cyclists important details about their routes.

This feature is being introduced after Google heard from cyclists who were sick of following turn-by-turn directions on their phones. Bikers tend to tuck their phones away for most of the ride, after all.

With lite navigation, bike riders will be able to see details about their route without needing to keep their screen on or engage turn-by-turn navigation. 

Cyclists will also be able to track their trip progress, see their ETA updated in real time and find details about the elevation of their route.

Bike and scooter sharing

In addition to the biking feature, in 300 cities — including Berlin, New York and São Paulo — Google Maps is introducing a feature that will provide more information about bike and scooter sharing. With this new option, Google Maps users will be able to find nearby docking stations and pinpoint how many vehicles are available at that moment.

To make this feature possible, Google is partnering with bike and scooter companies including Europe-based Donkey Republic, Tier and Voi, as well as Bird and Spin, which are based in the US.

Finding flights with fewer carbon emissions

Alongside price and trip duration information, Google Flights users will now be able to see carbon emissions estimates for nearly every flight in the search results. The estimates are “flight-specific” and “seat-specific,” Google said. 

“Newer aircraft are generally less polluting than older aircraft,” the company said in its press release. “Emissions increase for premium economy and first-class seats because they take up more space and account for a larger share of total emissions,” Google added.

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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has erupted again

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting Wednesday afternoon for the first time since May, spewing lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, CNN reports.

Officials note that while there is no present danger to nearby residents on Hawaii’s Big Island, the situation will be monitored for further escalation.

The US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory had raised its watch alert level earlier in the day after it recorded an increase in seismic readings.

“Increased earthquake activity and changes in the patterns of ground deformation at Kilauea’s summit began occurring as of approximately noon on September 29, 2021, indicating movement of magma in the subsurface,” USGS said.

The agency said it detected with observatory webcams a glow within Kilauea’s summit crater at around 3:20 p.m. local time, indicating that an eruption had commenced.

David Phillips, the observatory’s deputy scientist-in-charge, told CNN that evidence of change at the site had been noticed the night before.

“Just after midnight, we started to get some increase in earthquake activity and seismic swarms,” he said.

The eruption is entirely within the boundaries of the park. There is no current threat to life or infrastructure, Phillips said, but the eruption could potentially last for months.

Last month, a recorded increase in earthquake activity led the observatory to increase its volcano alert from “advisory” to “watch,” USGS said.

Kilauea’s most recent eruption began last December, and locals were asked by authorities to stay indoors to avoid exposure to ash clouds. The volcano continued to discharge lava for five months.

In 2018, an eruption destroyed more than 700 homes and forced residents to evacuate.

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The last Norway’s Arctic coal mine will be closed until the 2023

OSLO, Sept 30 – Norway’s state-owned coal company will close its last mine in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago in 2023, it said on Thursday, causing the loss of 80 jobs and ending 120 years of exploitation, Reuters informs.

While Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK) has shut its major mines in the islands over the past two decades, it had kept the smaller Mine 7 open, primarily to ensure supplies to a local coal-fired power plant, as well as some exports.

The Arctic islands are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth, highlighting the risks to fragile ecosystems from climate change, and Norway aims to cut its overall emissions, although it also remains a major oil and gas producer.

Svalbard’s main settlement will temporarily switch its energy source to diesel in 2023 before establishing a permanent renewable electricity supply, negating the need for a local coal supply, SNSK said.

“Now that the contract to supply the power plant has been terminated there will no longer be a basis for operating the mine,” Chief Executive Morten Dyrstad said in a statement.

In the meantime however, Mine 7 will increase its output to a rate of 125,000 tonnes per year from the current 90,000 tonnes, taking advantage of high global prices to boost exports for the remaining two years.

But the volumes are small compared to SNSK’s historical output of several million tonnes annually, and the local economy is now primarily geared towards tourism and scientific research.

Located around 700 km (435 miles) north of the European mainland, Svalbard is governed under a 1920 treaty giving Norway sovereignty but allowing all nations signing it to do business there and to exploit its natural resources.

Russia operates a coal mine at its Barentsburg settlement, supplying a local power plant.

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Biodiversity loss and climate change are similar to each other and should be talked together

Biodiversity loss has been eclipsed by climate change on the global agenda but the two issues are closely linked, have similar impacts on human welfare and need to be tackled urgently, together, scientists said on Thursday, Reuters informs.

The destruction of forests and other ecosystems undermines nature’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and protect against extreme weather impacts – accelerating climate change and increasing vulnerability to it, a report by the U.N. agencies on climate change and biodiversity said.

The rapid vanishing of carbon-trapping mangroves and seagrasses, for example, both prevents carbon storage and exposes coastlines to storm surges and erosion.

The report calls for governments to enact policies and nature-based solutions to address both issues.

“For far too long, policymakers tended to see climate change and biodiversity loss as separate issues, so policy responses have been siloed,” said report co-author Pamela McElwee, an ecologist at Rutgers University, told a virtual news conference.

“Climate has simply gotten more attention because people are increasingly feeling it in their own lives – whether it’s wildfires or hurricane risk. Our report points out that biodiversity loss has that similar effect on human wellbeing.”

The report marks the first collaboration of scientists from both the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Calling on countries to protect entire ecosystems rather than iconic locations or species, the report’s authors hope to influence policy discussions at both the U.N. conference on biodiversity in October in Kunming, China, and at the U.N. climate talks being held a month later in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The report will connect the two COPs (summits) in terms of thinking,” said Hans Poertner, IPCC co-chair.

Ahead of the Kunming conference, the U.N. has urged countries to commit to protecting 30% of their land and sea territories by 2030. Experts say at least 30% of the Earth, if not 50%, should be under conservation to maintain habitats under a changing climate.

So far more than 50 countries, including the United States, have made the 30% pledge.

“With this report, the two issues are married now, which is really powerful,” said James Hardcastle, a conservationist at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “We can use the momentum to get more commitments from countries on conservation.”

Since 2010, countries have collectively managed to add almost 21 million square kilometers – an area the size of Russia – to the global network of protected lands, bringing the current total to nearly 17% of the Earth’s landmass, according to a report published last month by the IUCN.

Yet less than 8% of these lands are connected – something considered crucial for ecological processes and the safe movement of wildlife. Meanwhile, total marine conservation areas lag at 7%, below the 2020 target of 10%.

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Investors managing $41 trillion issued are calling world leaders to stop their climate game

A group of 79 company bosses and investors managing $41 trillion issued separate calls on Thursday for world leaders to accelerate action on climate change by enacting more ambitious policies in areas including carbon pricing, Reuters informs.

In an open letter to all governments as leaders of the G7 group of industrialised nations meet in Britain, and ahead of a global climate summit in November, the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders called for “bold action” now to meet future emissions targets.

To force corporate action, governments needed to change the rules of the game, they said, including by developing a market-based carbon pricing mechanism.

Countries should also force all businesses to establish “credible” decarbonisation targets, plus disclose emissions across all parts of their business, said the CEOs who include Swiss Re’s Christian Mumenthaler, Boston Consulting Group’s Rich Lesser and Royal DSM’s Feike Sijbesma.

The bosses also backed an elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, cuts on tariffs for climate-friendly goods, a boost in research and development funding for green technologies.

A separate statement backed by 457 investors warned governments that those countries to take the lead would become “increasingly attractive” investment destinations, while laggards would find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Key to that was for countries to commit to tougher emissions reduction cuts by 2030 and implement the domestic policies necessary to become net zero by 2050, added the investors, who include the likes of New York State, Fidelity International and Legal & General Investment Management.

“Strong policies, in line with limiting global warming to no more than 1.5-degrees Celsius, can accelerate and scale up private capital flows towards the net-zero transition,” said the 2021 Global Investor Statement to Governments on the Climate Crisis.

Founded in 2014 and hosted by the World Economic Forum, the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders aims to help drive the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Ahead of the COP26 climate summit on Glasgow, governments need to publish plans to halve emissions by 2030, commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 and put in place “robust” policy roadmaps and interim targets, the CEOs said.

Developed countries also needed to exceed their $100 billion commitment to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, and ensure development finance bodies commit to science-based targets across their lending portfolios.

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Four countries have already declared climate emergencies, still investing billions in fossil fuels

Canada, the UK, Ireland and France have already declared climate emergencies, alongside investing billions of dollars in fossil fuel industry at home and abroad.

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Denmark announces green policy as a high priority

Today the government of Denmark declared a “new political policy” based on an ambitious climate manifesto.

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Natural environment promotes good bacteria

Researchers discovered that rebuilding environments with a wider range of species promote ‘good’ bacteria over ‘bad’, giving potential benefits for human health.

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Former environment minister of France proposes new ecology program

France’s ex-environment minister Nicolas Hulot and a group of NGO’s and trade unions presented a new pact for ecology and society on Tuesday, 5th of March, aiming to address global warming and social inequality.

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