Murray gums dying at a rate of knots: Two new reports that paint a dire picture of the Murray River say 70% of red gum forest on Australia’s greatest waterway is in poor health and declining. According to a leaked copy of the most comprehensive analysis of Victorian Murray River red gums undertaken, 54% of the forest is in a deteriorating state, while 16% is rated poor to dead. Commissioned by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and four northern catchment management authorities, the report says rainfall and flooding levels are insufficient for gums to stay healthy west of Yarrawonga. The Age

The road to enlightenment: At the start of this year the Guardian wrote to all English and Welsh local authorities asking if they had planned any climate change schemes to improve household behaviour. Most, it seemed, were doing nothing and did not even reply; 64 admitted they had nothing on their books; 26 said they had introduced limited incentives to encourage better green behaviour; and only six said they were taking “significant steps” to curb household emissions. Almost 12 months later, with a phenomenal amount of new awareness at all levels of government and society, there is a real sense that things have moved on. Now, some 277 authorities have signed the Nottingham declaration – a voluntary pledge to tackle climate change – a 30% increase on last year. The Guardian

Low-lying states open meet to battle rising seas: Dozens of small island nations opened talks in the Maldives Tuesday to draft a strategy to combat rising water levels in the world’s oceans, which are threatening their very existence. Delegates from 26 low-lying nations at risk — including Tonga, Micronesia and Kiribati — are meeting to craft a proposal ahead of global climate change talks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in December. “Time is running out for us to ensure the survival of our future generation,” Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said in a speech to open the two-day meeting. AFP

EU wants tougher green plane laws: The European Union’s parliament wants stricter aviation emission targets as part of plans to tackle climate change and cut levels of greenhouse gases. At present airlines are not part of a EU-wide carbon trading system that applies to other polluting industries. Under the plans, airlines operating to or from the EU would have to join a cap-and-trade emissions system by 2011.  Critics say the tougher rules would increase ticket prices for passengers, and do little to slow global warming. BBC

Peter Fray

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