Displaying items by tag: Climate change
COP26 will be held in Glasgow in November and countries must set ambitious goals for bold climate action. The G7 summit will be held in Cornwall in June. As host nation, the UK will have an important role in influencing the discussions of climate issues. This week the Government announced radical new commitments to cut carbon emissions by 78%, fifteen years earlier than the previous target. This would be a world-leading position. Covid-19 paused climate emissions - but they are rising again. Hitting targets requires more electric cars, low-carbon heating, renewable electricity and reducing meat and dairy consumption. Climate laws will extend to cover international aviation and shipping. Consequently, homes will need better insulation, people must drive less and walk and cycle more, and expect expensive aviation fees for frequent fliers. See also this week’s World article ‘Rising sea levels threatening my home.’
Those fighting to halt climate change call the Amazon rainforest the ‘lungs of Earth,’ and Brazil's current president has made his country a chain-smoker. A healthy Amazon is crucial for the fight against climate change. Human activity is pumping unsustainable amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, trapping enough heat to warm the planet and profoundly disrupt the climate. Trees, and the soils they grow in, store carbon that might otherwise reach the atmosphere, but cutting down or burning them releases more carbon into the air, making Amazon deforestation a problem for the entire planet. President Jair Bolsonaro has made matters much worse for the remaining 60% of Amazon tree cover. He deprived environmental protection agencies of funding and manpower, allowing farmers to cut and burn trees to open land for farms and cattle ranches. But now Joe Biden’s climate envoy is engaged in an international effort to raise $20 billion for Brazil's environmental protection agency, only to be given if deforestation is reduced.
New research raises the alarm for ecosystems and agriculture. Samples from 2015 to 2018 showed that summer droughts were the most severe Europe has seen in 2,110 years as climate change stokes punishing heat waves. Using data from tree rings in living and dead European oaks going back to the time of the Romans, scientists identified a long-term drying trend that suddenly intensified in 2015 beyond anything seen in two millennia. The researchers said that this cluster of abnormally dry summers was likely caused by human-driven climate warming and changes to the circulation of the jet stream. ‘Climate change does not mean that it will get drier everywhere. Some places may get wetter or colder, but extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could be devastating for agriculture, ecosystems and societies as a whole,’ said lead author Ulf Buntgen, professor of environmental systems analysis of Cambridge University.
With limited space and a lack of options for hydro-electricity and wind power, Singapore faces logistical challenges in the push towards renewable energy. Environmental advocacy groups have long accused the country of failing to do enough to address climate change, even as rising sea levels have become a growing threat. Climate Action Tracker said Singapore’s efforts to combat climate change have been weak. It is now investing in a huge floating solar farm at sea. Oceans are the ‘new frontier’ in electricity production, says Shawn Tan, the firm carrying out the project. The solar farm has 13,000 solar panels laid out at sea between Singapore and Malaysia, capable of producing up to five megawatts of electricity - enough energy to power 1,400 residential flats year-round. Meanwhile, Pentagon scientists are currently testing solar satellites to beam energy to anywhere on Earth.
The UK government, which hosts a climate summit this year, has allowed a coal mine at Whitehaven to go ahead. The leading climate scientist James Hansen has warned Boris Johnson that he risks ‘humiliation’ over plans for the mine to extract coking coal from under the Irish Sea. Dr Hansen, formerly Nasa's leading global warming researcher, urged the PM to halt production. No 10 said the UK was a world leader on climate change, but would not reverse the local council’s decision on the mine. They have stressed that industries such as steel production require coking coal - which would have to be imported if it were not produced in the UK. The mine will produce a grade of coking coal for steel-making; 85% of it is destined for export to Europe. Government sources hinted that the need for continuing domestic steel production was another reason for not opposing the mine.
Because of Brexit, the UK must submit its own national climate plan to the UN climate body. Nineteen church leaders have written to Boris Johnson asking him to set ambitious goals when he submits the country’s first climate plan under the Paris Agreement. This agreement commits countries to keeping temperature rises ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit them to 1.5C, which is seen as the threshold beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt. The letter to the Prime Minister was signed by the CofE's bishop for the environment, Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury; the Archbishop of Wales; and leaders from the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union, Methodist Church, URC, and Quakers, as well as 57,000 others who believe the UK could be a true global leader.
About nine million species of animals and plants are exposed to changes in the global climate. Monitoring how climate change affects wildlife and ecosystems has become critical for directing conservation measures where life is most at risk. Today the world's biggest iceberg is bearing down on South Georgia. The Antarctic ice giant, similar in size to the island or to the county of Somerset, is expected to anchor itself offshore of the wildlife haven; posing a grave threat to local penguins and seals. Their normal foraging routes could be blocked, preventing them from feeding their young properly. All creatures living on the seafloor would be crushed where it touches ground. David Attenborough said the world is a unique and spectacular landscape, if we act now we can put it right and save and protect the animals and plants we have endangered throughout centuries of changing the natural world.
Thousands of climate activists added their names to a Greta Thunberg campaign asking the European Commission to retract a farming policy which would make it impossible to reach the EU’s climate goals. Greta called on her followers to sign an open letter to EU leaders after the European Parliament endorsed the proposal across the bloc. The letter said that on 23 October they let us down once again, in voting for a dirty deal which betrays commitments to the Paris agreement and to justice and to democracy.
On 13 October, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN released a report saying the world needs rapidly to raise investment for early warning systems for extreme weather events. Over the past 50 years, recorded disasters have increased five-fold and could increase by 50% over the next decade; one in three people on Earth are not adequately covered by warning systems. The researchers are calling for a change in emphasis, from simply forecasting what the weather will be to showing the impact of that weather system. Pray for good-quality warning systems in the least developed countries and in small island states. The advent of coronavirus has made building early warning systems more difficult. Pray for governments to add climate change threat to pandemic threat as they strategise to save lives and livelihoods, and to focus investment on turning early warning information into early action. See
The Prince of Wales has warned the climate crisis will ‘dwarf’ the impact of coronavirus. In a recorded message at the virtual opening of Climate Week on 21 September, he said that Covid-19 provided a ‘window of opportunity’ to reset the economy for a more ‘sustainable and inclusive future’ and the pandemic was ‘a wake-up call we cannot ignore’. In his message, he said, ‘Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to “reset” for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The environmental crisis has been with us for far too many years - decried, denigrated and denied. It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.’ There is growing concern among citizens globally about climate change, although there are big differences about the level of urgency required to tackle the issue.