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People Cheer On Same-Sex Penguin Couple Who Stole An Egg To Parent As Their Own

A same-sex pair of African penguins living at a Netherlands zoo stole an egg from another a heterosexual couple to raise as their own, and many people can’t help but root for them.

DierenPark Amersfoort, a zoo in the Dutch province of Utrecht, posted about the bold males on social media earlier this week.

And so far, they seem to be great dads.

“The gay couple are looking after the egg very well and take turns in keeping it warm,” zookeeper Marc Belt told Dutch News. 

Belt said the penguin couple “acquired” the egg when no one was looking, but added that the penguin couple whose egg has been appropriated has already produced a new one. It’s also not totally clear yet whether the stolen egg has been fertilized.

While taking other parents’ offspring is generally frowned upon, these plucky penguins had people celebrating on social media.

The Dutch penguins are not to be confused with a different same-sex penguin couple who made headlines earlier this month. Those penguins, Sphen and Magic of Australia’s Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, are being lauded as a “power couple” after fostering an egg for the second time. Unlike the rogue Netherlands penguins, however, Sphen and Magic did not steal the egg in question. Instead, zookeepers gave it to them because the biological parents had two eggs and were having difficulty taking care of both.

Stories about same-sex penguin couples pop up relatively frequently. One of the most famous examples is Stan and Olli, two king penguins at the Berlin Zoo. Stan and Olli, two males, had initially been part of a breeding program but turned out to show interest only in each other, the zoo told HuffPost in 2016.

And penguins aren’t the only birds to couple up in same-sex pairings. In June, the Denver Zoo marked LGBTQ Pride Month by celebrating two male flamingos, named Freddie Mercury and Lance Bass, who had been a couple for several years.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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General election 2019: Lib Dems pledge £100bn climate fund over five years

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Media captionSir Ed said Labour and the Tories are “competing to bankrupt Britain”.

A Liberal Democrat government would spend £100bn tackling the effects of climate change and protecting the environment, the party’s deputy leader has announced.

Sir Ed Davey said the five-year investment would “jump-start” efforts to combat the “climate emergency”.

The pledge would be funded through borrowing and tax changes, to be set out in detail in the party’s manifesto.

The Conservatives and Labour both have targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Sir Ed, who served as secretary of state for energy and climate change in the coalition government, said his party would “decarbonise capitalism” if elected.

He said a Lib Dem administration would be a “government of business” by stopping Brexit, increasing investment in infrastructure, and promoting new green jobs.

Speaking in Leeds, he also pledged his party would build a new tram or metro system in the West Yorkshire city.

Sir Ed, who is also the party’s finance spokesman, said the climate investment would include a new £10bn “renewable power fund” to leverage more than £100bn of extra private climate investment.

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Environmental campaigners recently floated a replica of a British home in the River Thames to highlight rising sea levels

“This will fast track deployment of clean energy, to make Britain not just the world leader in offshore wind, but also the global number one in tidal power too.

“And we will invest £15bn more to make every building in the country greener, with an emergency ten-year programme to save energy, end fuel poverty and cut heating bills.”

The party said the policy would be funded through £85bn of borrowing and £15bn raised through tax changes, which will be detailed in its manifesto.

Sir Ed also attacked the “fantasy economics” of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that the spending plans unveiled by the two parties represent a “debate between fantasies”.

“Fantasies born of nostalgia for a British Imperial past. Competing with fantasies from a failed 1970s ideology.”

‘Remain bonus’

He said his party would not do any kind of deal with Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn if no party wins a majority on 12 December.

But he said they would vote “issue by issue” with a minority Conservative or Labour government, in an effort to make them more “moderate”.

“What we will not do is have a coalition or have a supply and confidence relationship, because we think these parties have become too extreme,” he said.

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Media captionCould your vote save the planet? This Matters looks into what’s really going on in this election

He also repeated his claim that stopping Brexit would deliver a £50bn “Remain bonus” for public services, due to better economic growth.

BBC Reality Check correspondent Chris Morris said the vast majority of forecasts do expect the economy would be bigger if the UK were to stay in the EU.

But he added the size of that “bonus” cannot be predicted with any certainty, and £50bn was not a hugely significant amount in terms of overall government expenditure.

The Lib Dem climate pledge follows the Green Party’s promise to appoint a “carbon chancellor” to allocate £100bn per year towards climate change.

Labour has announced it would make all new-build homes “zero carbon” by 2022, as well as reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by 10% through a huge home improvement programme.

The Conservatives have announced a halt to fracking, the controversial process of extracting gas from shale rock, and, in government, the party set a target of “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

Labour, the Lib Dems, the Scottish National Party and the Green Party have called for a live TV debate on climate change before the 12 December election.

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Venice Council Chambers Flood After Members Reject Climate Change Amendments

The chambers of the Veneto Regional Council in Venice, Italy, flooded for the first time in known history Tuesday night — apparently right after its members rejected amendments to tackle climate change.

Flooding in the iconic Italian canal city has prompted discussions about the effects of climate change and rising sea levels on the city’s future.

In a Facebook post, Andrea Zanoni, the deputy chairman of the regional council’s environment committee, explained the circumstances surrounding Tuesday night’s event.

“The room flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia had failed our amendments to counter climate change,” he wrote, referring to two Italian right-wing parties and the center-right Forza Italia party.

Zanoni accused regional president Luca Zaia, who is a member of the far-right League party, of presenting a 2020 budget with “no concrete actions to combat climate change.”

Zanoni also blamed Venice’s high tide, which has peaked at more than six feet above the usual level and caused at least one death, on a combination of factors including rising sea levels due to glacial melt. He said that the rejected amendments had included requests for funding for more renewable energy sources, the replacement of diesel buses and measures to reduce the impact of plastic.

“If the voters of Veneto continue to close their eyes, Zaia’s League will bring us all underwater,” he said.

Alessandro Ovizach, a spokesperson for the regional council, confirmed in a statement to CNN that the council chambers flooded following discussion about amendments to the 2020 budget, but did not specify which ones.

Robert Ciambetti, the council’s president and a member of the League party, called Zanoni’s claims propaganda in a statement to CNN.

“Beyond propaganda and deceptive reading, we are voting (for) a regional budget that spent €965 million over the past three years in the fight against air pollution, smog, which is a determining factor in climate change,” he said.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted earlier this week that flooding had brought Venice to its knees, describing the conditions as “apocalyptic.”

The highest water levels in the region in more than 50 years will leave “a permanent mark,” he wrote. 

“Now the government must listen,” he added. “These are the effects of climate change … the costs will be high.”

Ciambetti also shared images of the flooding in the council chambers and around Venice.

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Bloodhound car returns to the track for brake testing

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The airbrakes are panels that open into the air stream, producing drag to slow the car

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The Bloodhound supersonic car returned to racing on Wednesday after four days of repairs in the workshop.

The vehicle swept down its desert track at 200mph (320km/h) – well short of its current best of 501mph (806km/h).

But Bloodhound’s goal on this occasion was not to go superfast, but rather to gather data on its airbrakes.

These are “doors” that will project from the side of the car to produce the drag needed to slow the vehicle when travelling at the highest speeds.

They’ll be an integral part of the running strategy during Bloodhound’s attempts to break the existing land speed record of 763mph (1,228km/h) in 2020/21.

Even though the racetrack on Hakskeen Pan, South Africa, is over 10 miles (16km) long, the car is certain to use every inch when setting a new mark. It will need the room to get up to speed but then, crucially, also the room to stop in a controlled fashion.

Wednesday’s outing was the first opportunity engineers have had to assess the airbrakes’ influence on the car since beginning high-speed trials on the dried-out lakebed in Northern Cape.

The doors are not quite ready for operational use. That’s because the full mechanism that would enable driver Andy Green to deploy them hydraulically from his cockpit has yet to be installed.

It means, therefore, the airbrakes must either be locked open or locked shut. And for the latest run, Bloodhound left the start line with the doors already ajar.

It will have given Wing Commander Green some initial understanding of how the airbrakes are likely to affect the handling of his car.

And for the aerodynamicists on the project – like Dr Ben Evans – the run will have provided data on how the doors change the air flows around the vehicle.

The Swansea University researcher is at Hakskeen Pan to watch the runs in person.

“Key for me in these high-speed trials are the 200 or so pressure sensors over the surface of the vehicle. They are what tell us whether the predictions we’ve made for the behaviour of the car in our computer modelling are correct,” he told BBC News.

“In any computer model, there are some big assumptions – assumptions, for example, about the dust entrainment behind the vehicle, or exactly how the wheels interact with the ground.

“It’s important therefore that we get a feel for whether those assumptions are sensible. So far in these trials, it’s looking good.”

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Media captionWatch Bloodhound race past a camera buried in the track (Video by WorkerBee)

The car had to be stripped down over the weekend to fix various teething issues, including the replacement of a damaged sensor system that monitors overheating in the engine bay.

As luck would have it, Wednesday’s run threw up another sensor issue, although the team was able to correct it after just a few hours’ investigation.

The car will be back on the pan early on Thursday for a tilt at 550mph (885km/h).

The modelling suggests Bloodhound should be capable of posting a speed in excess of 600mph (965km/h) even though it’s yet to be fitted with a rocket motor. Currently, its sole power unit is a Rolls-Royce jet engine from a Eurofighter.

With a rocket firing in tandem with the military turbofan, a speed above 800mph (1,285km/h) might be possible.

Bloodhound’s probably got another couple of weeks of testing in Northern Cape before going home to England.

An attempt on the land speed record won’t take place for perhaps 12 or 18 months. And for this to happen, sponsorship must be found to fund the car’s return to Hakskeen Pan.

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Media captionThe supercar designed ultimately to go 1,000mph

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Greta Thunberg Will Set Sail Once Again En Route To The UN’s Biggest Climate Conference

Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg will soon set sail once again after a whirlwind tour of North America that saw her lead some of the planet’s biggest climate protests and hold world leaders’ feet to the fire over their inaction to address our warming world.

Thunberg said on social media that she would join the crew of a 48-foot catamaran en route to Spain on Wednesday, hoping to make it to the country in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP25), which is set to take place in Madrid in early December.

Earlier this month, Thunberg said she was looking for another ride back to Europe after traveling “half around the world, the wrong way.” The Australian couple who have been sailing the world on the boat dubbed La Vagabonde, offered up the vessel after responding to Thunberg’s message on Twitter.

“As #COP25 has officially been moved from Santiago to Madrid I’ll need some help,” the 16-year-old wrote. “Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November… If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”

Thunberg has been in North America since late August after traveling to the U.S. aboard an emissions-free racing yacht to join an international day of climate action that became one of the biggest environmental protests in history. The teen doesn’t travel via plane, citing the high carbon emissions.

“I decided to sail to highlight the fact that you can’t live sustainably in today’s society,” Thunberg told The New York Times on Tuesday, just before her journey was set to begin. “You have to go to the extreme.”

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, aboard a catamaran docked in Hampton, Virginia, on Tuesday.

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, aboard a catamaran docked in Hampton, Virginia, on Tuesday.

In the intervening months, she has become a beacon of climate activism. Thunberg led protests in New York inspired by her school strike for the climate in her native Sweden last year. During an address before the United Nations, she excoriated world leaders, saying they had “stolen” her dreams with their “empty words.”

“I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Thunberg said at a climate action summit. “Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you!”

She later met with former President Barack Obama (who called her one of the “planet’s greatest advocates”), the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and had a brief run-in with President Donald Trump, who has spent years rolling back America’s environmental laws.

Thunberg had initially intended to stay on this side of the Atlantic for much longer, eventually making her way to Chile, where this year’s U.N. climate summit was meant to be held. But the event was moved to Spain after protests broke out in Santiago, leaving Thunberg in a tough spot with limited time to arrange other eco-friendly travel.

The Times noted that the journey to Spain should take about three weeks, ideally getting her to Madrid when the COP kicks off on Dec. 2.

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Bloodhound land speed car will be back racing next week

The car

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The upper-chassis was lifted off to one side of the car

The Bloodhound land speed challenger is likely to be back out on its South African lakebed track early next week.

Engineers are now satisfied they understand why a heat alarm has been triggering on the car when it runs.

Bloodhound was in the middle of trying to post a speed of 550mph (885km/h) on Friday when the sensor system alerted driver Andy Green that temperatures might be too high in the engine bay.

He aborted, pulling up early having reached only 481mph (774km/h).

Something similar occurred on Wednesday as well, although right at the end of the run when the vehicle was slowing down.

But by Saturday afternoon, the British Bloodhound team had split open the upper-chassis of the car for inspection, including of that troublesome sensor, and concluded there was nothing seriously awry.

Known as a “firewire”, the sensor is essentially two parallel wires running through a plastic sheath.

This wiring criss-crosses the engine bay. When it gets too hot, the plastic melts and the two metal cores touch, triggering the alarm.

Engineers could find sections of firewire that had bubbled and warped, indicating they had experienced heating, but separate temperature strips in the bay revealed that nothing had approached the level of a fire risk.

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Media captionWatch the Bloodhound supercar get off the line

Chief engineer Mark Chapman told BBC News: “The temperature stickers on the walls of the bay tell us it wasn’t really hot enough in there that firewire would normally trigger. So, it’s possible there may have been some local heating, but it could be as simple as the firewire touching the hot engine casing. We’ll replace it and then get back out there.”

Wednesday looks to be the next day of running.

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The firewire quite likely came into contact with the hot engine casing

Bloodhound has been steadily winding up its speed here on Hakskeen Pan as it works towards a challenge on the land speed record in 12 or 18 months’ time.

Its fastest outing so far was on Wednesday when it posted 501mph (806km/h). This is a long way short of the all time record of 763mph (1,228km/h) set 22 years ago, but Bloodhound is currently still operating well within its performance limits.

Its Rolls-Royce EJ200 Eurofighter engine should be capable of pushing the car beyond 600mph (965km/h), and with the coming addition of a rocket motor from the Norwegian Nammo company – a top speed of more than 800mph (1,287km/h) ought to be a realistic goal.

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Removing the Eurofighter engine made space for other fixes

Bloodhound team owner Ian Warhurst is relieved Saturday’s inspection didn’t throw up anything serious. And while splitting open the upper-chassis is no easy task, he says it’s allowed engineers to fix one or two other technical niggles as well.

“The systems guys can dig in deep; they’ve got all sorts of things they’ve been desperate to do. And we haven’t been getting data from the right-rear suspension. There are computer boxes in that corner we just couldn’t get to without taking the top off. We can now,” the Yorkshire businessman said.

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The run planning desk: Bloodhound has been increasing its speed in 50mph increments

The Bloodhound team arrived in the Kalahari Desert in mid-October and probably has another couple of weeks of testing before packing up for the season.

Next week will see the car try once again to post a 550mph, followed by a 600mph.

To some extent, the top speed this year is irrelevant; what’s more important is that the team leaves Hakskeen Pan with the data to validate its design models and that driver Andy Green is attuned to – and comfortable with – Bloodhound’s handling.

All this would be seen as very sound progress.

But it would be great also to lay down a marker for the future.

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Friday saw driver Andy Green abort the day’s run early

Only six vehicles in the history of the land speed record have raced above 600mph: Sonic 1, Blue Flame, Thrust2, Budweiser Rocket, Sonic Arrow and Thrust SSC, the current record holder.

A 621mph would be a nice-to-have here on the Pan before going home. It’s a pleasant round 1,000km/h.

“I’m well aware of that,” said Ian Warhurst with a grin on his face.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter.

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Poppy-Stealing Pigeon Offers Poignant Reminder Of War Anniversary

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A pigeon has been pinching poppies from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Australia’s national war memorial in Canberra and using them to build a colorful nest in the lead-up to Remembrance Day commemorations.

The pigeon has created the nest with the red flowers under the soft light of a stained glass window at The Australian War Memorial, the West Australian newspaper reported.

The poppy is a symbol used by Commonwealth countries to recognize the sacrifice made by armed forces members who have died in the line of duty.

“The wounded soldier symbolizes the defining quality of endurance, and the nest of poppies nearby is a poignant reminder of the powerful bond between man and beast on the battlefield,” a War Memorial spokesperson told the West Australian.

Remembrance Day is commemorated on Nov. 11 each year.

pigeon stealing poppy

pigeon stealing poppy

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Boston Dynamics boss learned by unbalancing toddler

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Boston Dynamics’s quadruped robot, Spot, can be leased at the same cost as a luxury car

The boss of robotics company Boston Dynamics has confessed he once nudged his one-year-old daughter over to work out how people balance.

A YouTube video of Marc Raibert’s humanoid robot Atlas remaining upright while being poked with hockey sticks has 34 million views.

He no longer knocked his robots over just to show people they could get themselves back up again, he said.

But when he had done so, it was because he had felt like a “proud parent”.

“In fact, I have video of pushing on my daughter when she was one year old, knocking her over, getting some grief,” he told BBC News, at Web Summit in Lisbon.

“She was teetering and tottering and learning to balance and I just wanted to see what would happen. But we’re still good pals.”

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Media captionWATCH: Atlas and Spot robots’ skills are put to the test

Boston Dynamics began by designing robots suitable for military use but is now seeking to lease them to industries such as oil, gas and construction.

And Mr Raibert told BBC News he had had more than 3,500 queries about leasing its quadruped robot, Spot – at the same cost as a luxury car.

The company, which has yet to make a profit, was once owned by Google’s parent, Alphabet, but has since been acquired by Japan’s Softbank Group.

“If you look at our YouTube videos, it’s always above a 95% thumbs-up from our followers,” Mr Raibert told BBC News.

“I take that as a sign people are positive about what we are doing.

“When people see the robots at conferences, they want to take selfies, people want to pet the robot.

“So that’s a positive thing.

“On the other hand, if you read the media, blogs and stories about our stuff, the words ‘creepy’ and ‘terrifying’ are in the titles and I’d like to know if that’s based on any real information from the public.”

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Co-founder of Boston Dynamics Marc Raibert is often at technology conferences, explaining his work

Mr Raibert himself once called his robots “nightmare-inducing”, however – although he now says he was joking.

“I was teasing myself and the media when I said it,” he told BBC News.

“It was supposed to be a closed meeting with no media and I was joking among a crowd of friends. I was teasing us and them.”

Boston Dynamics robots are among the most sophisticated in the world – but for time being, the company is content with developing “athletic intelligence” rather than integrating cognitive artificial intelligence.

As for the increasingly vocal debate about the how robots will work alongside humans in future, Mr Raibert said others had more expertise.

“I’m interested in getting the robots to do stuff,” he said, “really functional stuff – mobility dexterity, perception in the world so they can manoeuvre.

“Those are the key functionalities that will make robots interesting and useful.”

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25-Year-Old Lawmaker Drops ‘OK Boomer’ Retort At Heckling Rival

A lawmaker in New Zealand jeered a 25-year-old rival after she used her age to make a point about climate change and elicited a stinging remark that’s now going viral.

Green Party member of Parliament Chlöe Swarbrick was on Tuesday heckled by a National Party MP less than a minute into her address on the country’s efforts to combat the climate crisis, reported New Zealand’s Stuff website.

“In the year 2050, I will be 56 years old. Yet, right now, the average age of this 52nd parliament is 49 years old,” she said, before being interrupted.

“OK Boomer,” Swarbrick quickly fired back, before continuing with her speech.

Check out the video here:

According to Swarbrick, she received backlash for the retort ― which The New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz last month explained had become millennials’ and Generation Z’s go-to response to “the problem of older people who just don’t get it” with regards to issues including financial inequality and climate change. “Boomer” is a reference to the baby boomer generation, or those born between 1946 and 1964.

“Today I have learnt that responding succinctly and in perfect jest to somebody heckling you about *your age* as you speak about the impact of climate change on *your generation* with the literal title of their generation makes some people very mad,” she wrote on Facebook in response to the video.

“So I guess millennials ruined humor. That, or we just need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and abstain from avocados,” she added, referencing an oft-suggested and misguided financial tip for younger generations. “That’s the joke.”

The New Zealand Parliament’s social media team also apparently didn’t get the memo about the “OK Boomer” meme, as it incorrectly subtitled her response as “OK, Berma.” It later apologized for the gaffe on Twitter:

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Climate change alters Highland red deer gene pool

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Red deer in the Highlands are evolving because of climate change, a 45-year study has found.

Scientists say they have seen genetic changes in birth patterns of deer on the Isle of Rum.

Not only do warmer temperatures encourage deer to give birth earlier in the year, it has also meant the gene for breeding earlier has become more common among Rum deer.

Researchers said it was “rare” to see evolution over such a short period.

Why has it happened?

Previous studies have shown that the deer have been giving birth earlier since the 1980s, at a rate of about three days per decade.

This is partly due to the effects of warmer temperatures on the deer’s behaviour and physiology.

Now researchers are saying that the deer who give birth earlier have more calves over their lifetime – which means they have more reproductive success.

The gene which causes earlier birth is therefore much more common among the Rum deer population over time.

This is an example of natural selection, the theory of evolution developed by Charles Darwin.

‘Evolution in action’

A team, including scientists from the University of Edinburgh, made the discovery using field records and genetic data collected on Rum over a 45-year period since 1972.

The research also involved scientists from the Australian National University and the universities of St Andrews and Cambridge.

Dr Timothée Bonnet, of the Australian National University, who led the study, said they had “documented evolution in action”.

He added that the research showed that natural selection “may help populations adapt to climate warming.”

However, Robin Parker from WWF Scotland said urgent action was needed to reduce climate change.

He said: “Climate change is here and this report highlights the impact our changing climate is already having on animals.

“In order to tackle the joint nature and climate emergencies we face, it’s vital we accelerate action to slash our emissions.

“In doing this we can protect our precious wildlife, while also creating a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland for us all.”

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