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‘I’m Freezing and Shaking’: China’s Winter Heating Crisis, Mapped

By Emma Howard

While people in Beijing enjoyed the benefits of a record air pollution drop this winter, those in the provinces were left unable to keep warm, cook or sleep for lack of heating.

Reports on the heating crisis that was triggered by the government's anti-pollution drive have largely focused on the areas surrounding Beijing, but mapping of social media data by Unearthed now shows that people were complaining of the cold more than 1,000 kilometers (approximately 621 miles) away.

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Neighborhood homes destroyed in the Thomas Fire burning in the Ventura area of California. KTLA / Twitter

Our Favorite Environmental Journalism of 2017

By Joe Sandler Clarke and Unearthed reporters

From the finest American journalism chronicling the worst excesses of the Trump administration to international stories showing the impact of climate change on the developing world, here are the stories we wish we had written this year.

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Plastic Pollution Is ‘Low Priority’ for Shoppers, Soft Drink Execs Tell Policy Officials

By Alice Ross

Soft drinks executives told government officials most shoppers don't care much about the environmental impact of the plastic drinks bottles they buy, according to documents seen by Unearthed.

Coca-Cola, Lucozade Ribena, Danone and Nestle were among those invited to a soft drinks roundtable to discuss the problem of plastic bottle waste and recycling at Defra's headquarters in October.

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Animals
Scientists have been shocked at the depth and size of the Amazon reef. Greenpeace

Amazon Reef: BP Drilling Plans Dealt Another Blow by Brazilian Regulator

By Joe Sandler Clarke, Unearthed

BP's plans to drill for oil near a huge coral reef in the mouth of Amazon river have been dealt a further blow after a regulator questioned the company's environmental risk assessment.

Ibama, Brazil's federal environmental agency, rejected an environmental study from the British oil giant, further delaying the company's plans to drill in the region.

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Animals
Palm oil survivors. Wildlife Photographer of the Year / Aaron Gekoski

The Palm Oil Industry Promises Reform, But There’s Still No Sign of Change

It was 10 years ago that Greenpeace first published an investigation into Indonesia's palm oil industry.

We showed that the world's biggest brands got their palm oil from companies destroying Indonesia's rainforests—threatening local people as well as tigers and orangutans.

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A 40-megawatt floating solar farm in China's coal-rich Anhui province. Sungrow Power Supply Co., Ltd.

China's Solar Surge Hits New Heights

By Zachary Davies Boren, Unearthed

It's no secret China has been installing solar panels at a record-breaking rate—it's been happening for years now.

But in 2017 China took its solar drive even further, deploying more PV capacity in one year than any other country has—or at least had at end of 2016.

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Energy
Radioactive sampling from the Techa river near the Mayak complex, from July 2017. Greenpeace

The Mysterious Radioactive Cloud—Why the Ruthenium-106 Story Matters

By Jan Haverkamp and Andrey Allakhverdov

A week ago, the Russian meteorological service, Roshydromet, reacted to a month-long standing request for information from Greenpeace. It triggered extraordinary interest among journalists world-wide in a rather unknown bit of nuclear physics: the radioactive substance ruthenium-106.

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Amidst a carpet of green lichen, flowers blossom on a fallen tree trunk in the Bialowieza forest. Konrad Skotnicki / Greenpeace

In Photos: The Battle for Poland’s Ancient Bialowieza Forest

By Janice Pereira, Unearthed

Despite repeated warnings from the European Union, the Polish government continues to defy orders to stop logging operations in the ancient Bialowieza forest.

It started more than a year ago as a formal request by the European Commission, asking Poland to stop logging activity that violates the bloc's wildlife protection laws. Now the battle between the European Commission and the Polish government is being fought in the highest court of the European Union.

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Business
Since China launched its "action on air pollution" local governments have been shutting down smaller outdated steel plants.

Beijing Starts the Biggest Shutdown of Steel Factories in History

By Lauri Myllyvirta, Unearthed

Earlier this month and without much comment, dozens of huge steel mills in China stopped or curtailed their operations. In northern China cement plants are preparing to shut down entirely before Christmas.

The measures are a part of an aggressive action plan that aims to cut wintertime particulate pollution by 15 percent year-on-year over the next five months. These cuts are badly needed as Beijing and the surrounding industrial provinces have suffered the winter's first serious episode this week, with PM2.5 levels across several provinces reaching "very unhealthy" levels.

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