From green Cathedrals to A-list climate spoofs, BusinessGreen brings you this week's green business headlines from around the world
George Clooney trolls climate sceptics
US actor, producer, and director George Clooney has hit out at climate sceptics with the spoof launch of a new charity dubbed 'United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science or UDUMASS.
In a video made for the US late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Clooney argues his new charity is needed to counter the "rampant dumbf*ckery" of online climate 'scepticism'. The video features clips of US President Donald Trump claiming the sound of wind farms causes cancer, and US Senator Jim Inhofe presenting a snowball to Congress as proof human-induced climate change is a myth.
"Rampant dumbf*ckery now threatens our health, our security, and our planet," Clooney said. "Fortunately there is hope. At UMDUMASS your generous contribution will provide desperately needed knowledge to d*mb f*cking idiots on Facebook, and Twitter, all around the world."
Could Notre Dame get a solar roof?
Proposals submitted for a new roof for Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris include plans for a soaring glass dome that would deploy solar panels to generate clean energy. The vision put forward by French firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures would see diamond-shaped glass panels used to transform the Cathedral into an energy-positive building.
Electricity generated from the panels would be stored using hydrogen fuel cells and used to power the Cathedral and neighbouring buildings, the architects explained in a submission published this week. The roof would also include a rooftop garden where fruit and vegetables could be grown to help feed Paris' homeless population.
The architects say their design would transform Notre Dame into a "symbol of a resilient and ecological future". "The cathedral would become an exemplary eco-engineering structure and the Church a true pioneer in environmental resiliency," they argue.
It's one of a number of proposals suggested for the rebuild of the iconic Cathedral after a devastating fire swept the building last month.
Ireland declares 'climate emergency'
Ireland yesterday became the second country in the world to formally declare a 'climate emergency', following in the footsteps of the UK Parliament last week.
A Fianna Fáil amendment to the Oireachtas report on Climate Action was approved by government and opposition parties, with Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton now set to return to the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, with new proposals for reducing carbon emissions in the country.
But Ireland has been slow to reduce its emissions to date, with the latest information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing carbon emissions fell by just 0.9 per cent in 2017. Emissions in the last three years have increased by 6.4 per cent, or 3.65 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent.
McDonald's launches vegan burger in Germany
Just weeks after rival fast food chain Burger King announced trials of a new vegan burger in the US, McDonald's has followed suit with the launch of a new meat-free burger at restaurants in Germany.
The Big Vegan TS is modelled on the famous McDonald's Big Mac, but instead of beef the patty is made from soy and wheat protein engineered and flavoured with plant-based products to mimic the taste and texture of beef.
The burger is made by Nestle and has been available from German McDonald's since last month.
McDonald's Germany said the introduction of the new vegan patty was in response to a surge in consumer demand for plant-based products.
"Even though the proportion of strictly vegan people in Germany is still low, the social debate surrounding meat consumption and factory farming is becoming increasingly louder," McDonald's explains on its German website. "The proportion of so-called flexitarians is steadily increasing and interest in non-meat sources of protein is also growing in other population groups."
Brazil cuts climate budget by 96 per cent
The Brazilian government has slashed spending on environmental issues by 96 per cent, according to reports this week from Brazil newspaper Estadão. Spending has been cut from R$118M (£23m) to R$500,000 (£97,300), according to the paper. It's part of a wider tranche of cuts to government spending from recently elected President Jair Bolsonaro.
ArcelorMittal cuts EU steel production, citing rising carbon costs
Steel giant ArcelorMittal announced plans this week to temporarily shutter its steel production plant in Kraków, Poland and reduce production in Asturias, Spain, citing high energy prices, a surge in steel imports and rising carbon costs.
ArcelorMittal said the move would cut production by around three million tonnes.
The price of carbon under the EU Emissions Trading System has risen dramatically since the start of 2018, from €7.7 per tonne at the beginning of the year to around €26 per tonne today.
ArcelorMittal said carbon prices were placing further competitive pressure on European steelmakers. It is lobbying for the introduction of a green border adjustment, whereby steel imported into Europe has the same standards applied to its CO2 emissions as European produced steel under the ETS in order to create a more level playing field around the world.
Christiana Figueres wades in to Australian election
Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has thrown her weight behind three female independent candidates in the Australian general election, decrying "appalling inaction in Canberra" on climate change.
Figueres, who was one of the key figures involved in the passage of the Paris Agreement in 2015, said "the ridiculous climate wars in Australia… have led to a very damaging climate and energy policy vacuum for more than a decade", according to reporting from ABC.
She is supporting Zali Steggall, Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps, Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie, and Chisholm MP Julia Banks in the election, all of whom she says have a "strong policy platform" for tackling the climate threat in Australia.
Australians go to the polls on May 18.
New Zealand splits methane into separate goal under net zero plan
New Zealand has this week fleshed out its promise to become a carbon neutral country by 2050.
The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill proposes a target of net zero emissions for all greenhouse gas emissions, except biogenic methane, by 2050.
Under the proposals methane from farming - which currently accounts for around 35 per cent of New Zealand's total greenhouse gas emissions - will be dealt with under a separate target. The government is aiming for a 10 per cent cut in biological methane emissions by 2030, rising to up to 47 per cent by 2050.
"Carbon dioxide is the most important thing we need to tackle - that's why we've taken a net zero carbon approach," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the launch of the bill. "Agriculture is incredibly important to New Zealand, but it also needs to be part of the solution. That is why we have listened to the science and also heard the industry and created a specific target for biogenic methane."
The Bill would also set up an independent Climate Change Commission, which like the UK's Committee on Climate Change, would set five-yearly 'emissions budgets' for governments to follow.
But Greenpeace New Zealand has criticised the bill, labelling it "toothless" and arguing it includes no mechanism to enforce the targets. Meanwhile, farming groups accused the government of "giving up on pastoral farming".
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott ousted, but Australian voters opt to stick with ruling Liberal-National Coalition despite its inaction on climate change
Calls grow for Prime Minister to deliver net zero emission target before she steps down, as reports suggest government could beef up green Brexit deal
Environmental activists accuse oil company of 'fueling' climate emergency
A collaboration between Neste, Air BP, and Braathen's Regional Airlines fuelled a pioneering low-carbon commercial flight across Sweden on Friday