Scarred for life: the Himalayan towns sinking into oblivion

The construction of vast dams and a network of roads and railways have taken a heavy toll on the state of Uttarakhand, with buildings in Joshimath and other settlements collapsing and residents blaming government indifference

Beneath the dark, jagged peaks of the Himalayas, Ashish Joshyal surveys a crater where his house once stood. Behind him, the bright green walls of his kitchen and living room tilt at jarring angles, some collapsed altogether. The floor is a sea of rubble and stone.

Not long ago, Joshyal’s house stood upright. But, like hundreds of others in Joshimath, a sacred town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand high up in the Himalayas, his problems began one night in early January. Cracks appeared in his roof, then crept down the walls. They got wider and wider until they were gaping chasms.

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Coalition creaks as New Zealand Greens watch Labour dump climate policies

Greens co-leader James Shaw says Labour shouldn’t count on its support in upcoming election amid glacial progress on emissions

Speaking to a room full of supporters in downtown Auckland on Sunday, New Zealand climate minister James Shaw’s frustration had reached a steady simmer.

“You’re fed up,” he tells the room. “So am I.”

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Indian state to open new Asiatic lion sanctuary as numbers soar

Gujarat accused of being possessive after conservationists pleaded for more of the endangered lions to be moved to other areas

Lion conservation efforts in the Indian state of Gujarat have been so successful that a new sanctuary will be opened to house the abundant numbers of big cats.

Gir national park is home to the world’s only Asiatic lion population and the only place outside Africa where a lion can be seen in its natural habitat.

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What is the Aukus submarine deal and what does it mean? – the key facts

The four-phase plan has made nuclear arms control experts nervous … here’s why

In a tripartite deal with the US and the UK, Australia has unveiled a plan to acquire a fleet of up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, forecast to cost up to $368bn between now and the mid-2050s. Australia will spend $9bn over the next four years.

From this year Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with US and UK navies, including within both countries’ submarine industrial bases. From 2027 the UK and the US plan to rotate their nuclear-powered submarines through HMAS Stirling near Perth as part of a push to step up training of Australians.

Embedded personnel and port visits: Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with the the allies’ navies. US nuclear-powered submarines will increase their visits to Australian ports, with Australian sailors joining US crews for training.

Submarine rotations: From 2027 the UK and the US plan to rotate one UK Astute class submarine and up to four US Virginia class submarines through HMAS Stirling.

Sale of US Virginia-class submarines: From the early 2030s – pending approval by Congress – the US intends to sell Australia three Virginia-class submarines, with a potential option for two more if required.

SSN-Aukus: A combination of UK submarine design and US defence technology will contribute to the development of the new SSN-Aukus submarine – intended as the future attack submarine for both the UK and Australia. Both Australia and the UK intend to start building SSN-Aukus submarines in their domestic shipyards before the end of this decade. The first such boat may enter into UK service in the late 2030s, but the Australian navy will receive its first Australian-built SSN-Aukus submarine in the early 2040s.

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Ruthless Chris Hipkins backpedals on climate action as New Zealand elections near | Henry Cooke

Jacinda Ardern called climate change the ‘nuclear-free moment’ of her generation. Her replacement doesn’t seem so sure

Chris Hipkins loves to cycle.

New Zealand’s newish prime minister, who stepped into the job after Jacinda Ardern’s shock resignation earlier this year, has been pedalling the 30km from his home in Upper Hutt to parliament for years. It’s not a particularly safe route, with many sections where Hipkins would be riding right alongside 100kmh traffic. It’s this kind of danger that stops cycle commuting from being particularly mainstream – just 2% commuted by bike at the last census – but this is far from a political priority for Hipkins. He loves to cycle, but the main thing he wants to do is win.

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My Cyclone Diary: after the flood, the dread that replaces panic

In the second instalment in a series of diaries about Cyclone Gabrielle’s aftermath in New Zealand, Anna Rankin describes the fears, rumours and unexpected effects of a lack of internet in the town of Wairoa

It is difficult to record historical events that will in time determine policy decisions and economic outcomes, and the lives of those affected, while events are still unfolding. There are the quick impressions – men wrestling escaped bees on a roadside deep in flood waters, a flattened cornfield marked by the shape and force of the torrent, a mud-soiled child on a stoop, wide plains transformed into lakes, the eerie chime of a stuck train signal. Then there are the pecuniary matters – the financial loss of a corn yield – and the interviews with the afflicted.

Any large-scale traumatic event, be it a natural disaster or a war will often provoke reminders of previous traumatic episodes; instances that have remained abstract, placeless or locked within the mind. A flood might breach other instances of grief, loss, degradation, violence. It may be the interminable and sour stench of silt and sewage, children’s toys and clothing heaped in brown puddles, humble and cherished items stacked in ruins or the ceaseless clack of helicopters flying low through ashen skies that prompt the return of a painful memory; it could be the sight of broken walls, sagging houses, a wrecked car submerged in mud.

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Chiang Mai to hand out face masks as dust from fires hits hazardous levels

Thai authorities struggle to contain forest fires, a persistent cause of air pollution during the dry season

The Chiang Mai authorities in northern Thailand will hand out face masks to the public as the province struggles with dangerously high levels of air pollution caused by persistent forest fires.

The fires are an annual problem between the months of December and April, when farmers set light to their fields to clear the land ready for the next crop cycle.

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Philippine officials believe they have located leaking oil tanker

Officials believe MT Princess Empress, which sank last week, is 400 metres below surface off island of Mindoro

Officials in the Philippines believe they have located a leaking oil tanker that sank last week and has since coated nearby shorelines in thick sludge, threatening areas of rich marine biodiversity.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it “may have detected the possible site where the vessel is actually located”, adding that the site was about 1,200ft (400 metres) below the surface.

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We can’t afford to choose adaptation over cutting emissions – suggesting otherwise is dangerous | James Shaw

Despite what some New Zealand right-wingers are arguing, adaptation will not help us in a world three degrees warmer

I cannot say how the world will look for our kids, but what I do know is that it will reflect the decisions we take today. The past two years we’ve witnessed a seemingly never-ending cascade of climate-turbocharged disasters. Canterbury, the West Coast, Nelson-Tasman, Tairāwhiti, Auckland, Waikato, and Northland. Aotearoa New Zealand knows clearer than ever the immediacy of the climate crisis. We simply cannot rest. Far from it: despite huge progress, we are still nowhere near where we need to be.

A slew of opportunistic right-wing voices is lining up to use recent disasters to argue that the government should shift its efforts away from cutting emissions towards adaptation. This is as unscientific as it is dangerous. It is also utterly out of touch with the needs of the people they purport to represent. It is a disingenuous, harmful and bad faith argument that distracts from the conversations we need to be having.

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Philippines oil tanker spill prompts fears for protected marine areas

Authorities scramble to contain leak from sunken tanker that was carrying about 800,000 litres of oil

Authorities in the Philippines are scrambling to contain an oil leak from a sunken tanker that could threaten the rich biodiversity of more than 20 marine protected areas.

The MT Princess Empress, which was carrying a cargo of about 800,000 litres of industrial oil, sank on Tuesday off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro province, after it experienced problems with its engine and began to drift due to rough seas. A passing cargo ship rescued the 20 crew onboard.

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Confusion surrounds China’s energy policies as GDP and climate goals clash

Wave of permits for coal-fired power plants sparks concern as ambitions for GDP growth and lowering emissions come into conflict

China’s energy policies are fast creating a type of “emissions ambiguity”, as the twin goals of boosting GDP growth and reducing carbon emissions come into conflict.

The uncertainty is whether and when the world’s biggest carbon emitter will start to curb greenhouse gas pollution. The release of the country’s annual statistics communique on Tuesday did not clear things up.

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China approves biggest expansion in new coal power plants since 2015, report finds

Concerns about energy shortages drive increase as projects progress at ‘extraordinary’ speed

China approved the construction of another 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity last year, four times higher than a year earlier and the highest since 2015, research shows.

Over the year, 50GW of coal power capacity went into construction across the country – up by more than half compared with the previous year – driven by energy security considerations, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM) said on Monday.

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Shark attack kills Australian tourist at crowded beach in New Caledonia

Nouméa beaches closed after man, 59, dies at the scene after being bitten several times

A shark has killed a 59-year-old Australian tourist near a crowded beach in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia.

The man was swimming close to a pontoon about 150 metres from the beach in the capital, Nouméa, on Sunday when the shark attacked, biting him several times, authorities said.

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New Zealand minister decries climate crisis ‘lost decades’ in wake of Cyclone Gabrielle

James Shaw says country is entering ‘period of consequences’ for inaction over climate change as extreme weather wreaks havoc across the North Island

New Zealand’s climate change minister has made a furious speech excoriating parliament for lost decades of “bickering” over the climate crisis, as Cyclone Gabrielle devastates the country.

“As I stand here today, I struggle to find words to express what I am thinking and feeling about this particular crisis,” James Shaw told parliament on Tuesday.

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