By Sharon Kimathi, Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital
This week ends with a plea against rising greenhouse gas emissions. On the plus side, some countries like China and the European Union have started taking action and are decreasing their fossil fuel use.
But the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said, warning there was “no end in sight” to the trend.
In 2022, global average concentrations of carbon dioxide were a full 50% above the pre-industrial era for the first time, the U.N. weather agency said.
“Despite decades of warnings from the scientific community, thousands of pages of reports and dozens of climate conferences, we are still heading in the wrong direction,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Under current national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), emissions can be expected to rise 9% above 2010 levels by the end of this decade even if NDCs are fully implemented, the U.N. report found.
But some countries are switching gears and heading in the right direction.
China’s greenhouse emissions could start going into “structural decline” as early as next year as power generation from fossil fuels starts to fall, analysis from the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) showed.
Plus, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU fell by more than 5% in the second quarter of 2023, with the biggest decline recorded in electricity and gas supply, statistics agency Eurostat said.
The EU’s emissions between April to June amounted to 821 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents, down 5.3% from a year earlier, while the bloc’s economy remained almost stable, registering a year-on-year variation of 0.05% in the period.
1. ‘No end in sight’ to rising greenhouse gasses The WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said higher concentrations of greenhouse gases would be accompanied by more extreme weather events, including intense heat and rainfall, ice melt, higher sea levels, as well as ocean heat and acidification. “We must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels as a matter of urgency,” he said.
This comes as the United Nations report shows that governments are making insufficient progress in slashing greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts of global warming. Click here for more on the report.
People walk on ‘Kartavya Path’ amidst the morning smog as air pollution levels declined in New Delhi, India. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
2. Heat-related deaths could more than quadruple by mid-century Heat-related illnesses and deaths are rising as the world warms, an international team of health experts said, forecasting a 370% surge in yearly heat deaths by mid-century if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, writes Reuters climate and environmental correspondent Gloria Dickie.
3. Catastrophic flood drives Greek village of Metamorfosi to seek relocation When floodwaters gushed through the Greek farming village of Metamorfosi in September, residents fled. Now they want to relocate their entire community, terrified it cannot survive another bout of extreme weather driven by climate change.
4. US, China advance climate cooperation following California talks
The United States and China will back a new global renewables target and work together on methane and plastic pollution, they said in a joint statement after a meeting to find common ground ahead of COP28 talks in Dubai later this month. Partnership between the world’s two biggest emitting countries is seen as a crucial element to securing a consensus agreement at COP28.
5. Top companies’ lobbying undermines their climate pledges, study finds
Glencore, ExxonMobil and Stellantis are among companies lobbying for policies that conflict with their own pledges to cut carbon emissions, a study published by non-profit think tank InfluenceMap found. The report assessed 293 companies from the Forbes 2000 list and found that of those with a net-zero emissions or similar climate target, nearly 60% are at risk of “net zero greenwash” due to their lobbying.
Swiss commodity trading and mining company Glencore declined to comment.
A spokesman for ExxonMobil, when asked for comment, pointed to a series of announcements the oil giant had made in recent months, including plans to become a leading producer of lithium for electric vehicle batteries, and winning a carbon storage licensing round in the UK. Stellantis did not respond to requests for comment.
Floating solar panels on lakes and ponds are thought to be an economic way to maximize space for renewable energy generation. But what is the impact on the aquatic environment underneath the arrays of solar panels? Click here or on the image for more.
A vast treasure of critical minerals lies on the ocean floor, but should they be extracted? Click here to learn more about the Catch 22 of deep sea mining via a beautiful illustration and animation feature by Reuters correspondents Daisy Chung, Ernest Scheyder and Clare Trainor.
European Union member states have agreed to impose maximum methane intensity values on all producers sending fuels to Europe. But what does this mean for the U.S. gas sector? Read more here by Reuters Global Energy Transition Columnist Gavin Maguire.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) suggested that the peak of oil and gas production is “around the corner” as oil and gas firms are not slowing down the extraction. Find out what companies can do in the interim from a piece by Tatiana Boldyreva, associate director of climate change at non-profit CDP for Ethical Corporation Magazine.
Breakingviews: As part of the United Kingdom’s internationally pledged target to cut 2030 domestic emissions by 68% relative to 1990 levels, the country’s power sector needs to decrease its belching of carbon dioxide from 54 million tons in 2023 to around 15 million tons seven years hence.
The scale of offshore wind projects makes them a major moving part, which made it deeply concerning that nobody bid to build capacity in September’s Allocation Round 5, and that Sweden’s Vattenfall walked away from a North Sea project it was already working on in July. Want to know how other projects panned out? Then make sure you click here for the full feature by Reuters Breakingviews columnist George Hay.
Number of the Week
Kenya could lose up to 7.25% of economic output by 2050 if it does not take strong action to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects, the World Bank said.
Like other so-called frontier economies, the East African country has been suffering from the effects of global heating, including prolonged droughts, in recent years.
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