By Sharon Kimathi, Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital
It’s that pivotal time of year when New York’s Climate Week and the United Nations General Assembly converge.
With the world on track to break the record for the hottest year in history, world leaders, business leaders, celebrities and activists gather in midtown Manhattan to focus the world’s attention on the climate crisis in a year marked by a record number of billion-dollar disasters, including eight severe floods.
The main event will take place on Wednesday when U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will host his own Climate Action Summit, a high-profile event meant to reverse backsliding on Paris climate agreement goals and to encourage governments to take serious new steps to combat climate change.
Over 100 countries’ officials have told Guterres they want to speak, but his team has been weeding out the applications over the last few days, prioritizing countries that plan new actions to advance their previous climate targets.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the opening of the Climate Summit 2023, at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., Sept 18, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Small Island States
The meeting comes 10 weeks before the COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, and is one of the last high-profile gatherings aimed at getting countries to come forward with new climate actions and plans after earlier global summits this year fell short of getting leaders to agree to phase out fossil fuels.
The nearly 40-member Alliance of Small Island States will use Climate Week as a platform to call on the leaders of developed countries to make stronger commitments to end the use of fossil fuels and to support the global ramp-up of renewable energy such as wind, geothermal and solar power.
“It is disheartening to witness the lack of ambition on what truly ails us – emissions from fossil fuels,” the small islands alliance said in a statement. “We implore the international community to use the platforms of the UNGA and New York Climate Week to signal unequivocal support for Small Island Developing States,” it said, using the acronym for the U.N. General Assembly.
Thousands of protesters kicked off “Climate Week” and filled the streets of Midtown Manhattan, on Sunday, calling for President Joe Biden and world leaders to end fossil fuel use.
With parades, music and drumbeat, some of the 15,000 expected carried signs that read “End Fossil Fuel Use” and “Fossil Fuels Kill” and “Declare a Climate Emergency.”
One man was dressed as a melting snowman warning of rising sea levels. The message was for world leaders to save the planet from the use of oil and gas believed to be driving global warming.
Sunday’s protests were part of a week-long international effort by Climate Group, a non-profit whose purpose is to drive climate change action and stop global warming, with more than 500 protests planned in the U.S, Germany, England, South Korea, India and elsewhere, 54 countries in total.
Bills and pledges
On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power and Norwegian Minister of International Development Beathe Tvinnereim pledged a total of $70 million to launch a fund to help farmers and agricultural businesses in Africa.
Elsewhere, California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters in New York ahead of Climate Week that he would sign legislation that would require large companies to disclose their carbon footprints, potentially putting the state ahead of federal regulators on managing corporate climate risks.
The State senate approved the bill mandating greenhouse gas emissions disclosure last week, leaving Newsom with the final say. Last week, California sued major oil companies, alleging they had played down the risks posed by fossil fuels.
Volunteers carry dead bodies before burying them at a mass grave, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya September 19, 2023. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
A week after the flood that swept the center of the city of Derna, Libya into the sea, families are still coping with the losses of those who died – and haunted by the unknown fates of the missing. The center of Derna is a wasteland, with stray dogs standing listlessly on muddy mounds where buildings once stood. Click here for an in-depth graphic feature on the damage caused by the flooding.
More than a year after Canada first announced incentives to jumpstart clean technology projects there is still no money flowing, and if they are not in place soon, more than C$50 billion ($37 billion) in investments could be at risk, industry groups said.
Sweetgreen is being sued by a group of Black and female employees at seven of the salad chain’s New York City locations who claim they faced racial slurs and female employees were subjected to sexual comments and unwanted touching.
Lawmakers in the European Parliament plan to grill Wopke Hoekstra, who is poised to be the EU’s next climate change chief, on how he would phase out fossil fuel subsidies and set a new emissions target for 2040, a document seen by Reuters showed.
Climate change and conflict are hitting efforts to tackle three of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, the head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has warned.
The United Auto Workers and Chrysler-parent Stellantis resumed bargaining talks as a strike against the Detroit Three automakers entered its fourth day. Union negotiators and representatives of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis held talks over the weekend in an attempt to end one of the most ambitious U.S. industrial labor actions in decades.
Commenting on the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) framework launch at New York Climate Week, Guy Williams, executive director at climate change investment and advisory firm Pollination and foundation member of the TNFD, said:
“Every business is dependent on nature. The impact of the newly launched TNFD framework must therefore not be understated, but it is not a ‘once and done’ situation.
“Nature is marvelously complex and endlessly evolving, however the way we value and take action to address nature-related risks does not need to be complicated.
“It is important to recognise that the TNFD’s launch may be seen as the start of the journey for many businesses. Several will only just be starting to get to grips with the monumental challenge of understanding how their operations, products and services interact with nature. And that’s fine, as the system-levels change we’re seeking will take time and cannot be enacted overnight.
“As it stands, most businesses are fundamentally nature-negative, as if sailing a Titanic towards an iceberg. But there is so much that every business can do now to start turning their ship towards nature positive. The sooner that businesses get to grips with their nature-related dependencies, and the sooner they can reduce their nature-related impacts, the better for us all.
“So, the launch of the TNFD’s final recommendations should be celebrated – and a huge amount of progress has been made to get us to this point – but amongst the celebrations, it must be remembered that this is only the start.”
Thailand’s water shortage is likely to worsen into 2024 as the dry El Nino weather phenomenon strengthens, according to government projections.
“There will be a consolidation of water management resources, innovations … to increase yields as well as finding new markets for agricultural products,” said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in his first policy statement before parliament last week.
“Extreme weather patterns brought on by the El Nino phenomenon are creating risks for farmers.” Rainfall this year has been 18% lower than normal and key reservoirs are filled to only about 54% of total capacity, according to the Office of the National Water Resources.
Tristan Thomas, CEO of Packfleet, demonstrates charging an electric van made by Chinese brand Maxus at the firm’s headquarters in London, Britain, Oct 27, 2022. REUTERS/Nick Carey
Today’s spotlight shines a light on emissions busting initiatives around the world as electric vehicle companies from Europe and the United States raise funds for scaling up, while China expands its wind and solar power projects.
A clutch of European and U.S. delivery startups are racing to serve the growing market for offering zero-emission, electric last-mile deliveries in cities to retailers and consumers before giant shippers do the same.
The likes of Germany’s Liefergruen, the UK’s Zedify and Packfleet, and New York-based DutchX are tapping into retailers’ need to hit environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and emission-reduction targets.
Collectively, zero-emission delivery startups have raised around $1 billion so far, according to Pitchbook and data collected by Reuters.
Wind turbines and solar panels by State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, China October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
China will actively expand the use of geothermal energy, Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing told a conference on Sept. 15, as the country seeks to adopt cleaner sources of power for heating.
China will also increase the scale of wind and solar power projects, while also safely advancing nuclear power plant construction, Zhang added.
Sinopec plans to add 75 million square meters of geothermal heating area to reach a target of 160 million square meters by the end of 2025, Ma Yongsheng, chairman of state-owned refiner Sinopec, said at the same conference.
Quote of the Day
“The world gathers in New York again to assess the progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which by almost every measure has been insufficient. This has never been more apparent as we teeter on the edge of catastrophe. The SDGs are on thin ice, and world leaders must act before we fall collectively through the ice.”
Professor Gail Whitman, founder of the not-for-profit science outreach organization, Arctic Basecamp
Sept. 20, New York, United States: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres holds Climate Ambition Summit during U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) week.
Sept. 20, Washington D.C., United States: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conducts 52nd Annual Legislative Conference at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.
Sept. 20, Lisbon, Portugal: Portugal’s teachers and school staff on national strike demanding higher wages and better work conditions.
Sept. 20, London, Great Britain: Junior and senior doctors in England are due to take joint strike action for the first time, threatening further disruption to the state-run health service in a long-running dispute over pay.
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