By Sharon Kimathi, Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital
Stark warnings came from the United Nations this week as an analysis found that countries’ current emissions pledges would still put the world on track to warm by nearly 3 degrees Celsius this century.
The annual Emissions Gap report, which assesses countries’ promises to tackle climate change compared with what is needed, finds the world faces between 2.5C (4.5F) and 2.9C (5.2F) of warming above pre-industrial levels if governments do not boost climate action.
At 3C of warming, scientists predict the world could pass several catastrophic points of no return, from the runaway melting of ice sheets to the Amazon rainforest drying out.
“Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end 3C temperature rise,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “The emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon.”
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This comes as a majority of European Union countries ask for stronger EU action to prepare for the health consequences of climate change and global warming’s potential to spread vector-borne diseases, a document seen by Reuters showed.
Europe is experiencing severe health impacts as a result of the changing climate.
Around 61,000 people are estimated to have died in sweltering European heatwaves last summer, suggesting countries’ heat preparedness efforts are falling well short.
In a joint paper, 20 of the EU’s 27 member countries including Croatia, Germany, Greece, Malta and the Netherlands, have urged the EU to increase its surveillance of the threats to health and healthcare systems posed by extreme weather, to help countries prepare.
The EU will also draft plans for infections of zoonotic and climate-sensitive vector-borne diseases, and strengthen its early warning and response system for disease-spreading vectors, the countries said.
A 370% surge in heat deaths
The EU’s plan comes as a report from the Lancet medical journal found that heat-related illnesses and deaths are rising as the world warms.
An international team of health experts forecast a 370% surge in yearly heat deaths by mid-century if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Already, at roughly 1.1C (2F) of warming, people experienced about 86 days of health-threatening high temperatures on average in 2022, the report from the medical journal found.
People over 65 have been the most vulnerable to soaring temperatures, with deaths in this age group attributed to rising temperatures up 47% in the past decade compared with how many people died during the period from 1991 to 2000.
The findings, assembled by more than 100 experts from 52 different research institutions and U.N. agencies including the World Health Organization, deepen concerns over the health impacts posed by heat.
Waste from global clothing brands stored before being used to fuel kilns at a brick factory. Outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. LICADHO/Handout via Reuters
Waste from at least 19 international brands including Adidas and Walmart is being used to fuel kilns in brick factories in Cambodia, and some workers were falling ill, according to a report by The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights.
Plastics treaty: A third round of United Nations negotiations to try to deliver the world’s first treaty to control plastic pollution has drawn more than 500 proposals from governments, participants said.
United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials have told lobbyists and corporate executives in recent days that the agency’s long-anticipated climate rules may scale back some of the most demanding greenhouse gas emissions disclosure requirements that it had proposed.
A U.S. judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Black Louisiana residents alleging their local government racially discriminates through land use policy that has concentrated polluting petrochemical plants in minority neighborhoods, finding the lawsuit was filed too late.
Reparations: Financial reparations are long overdue to Africans and the diaspora as compensation for the enslavement of people of African descent, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said during a conference on how to address such historical injustices. Click here for more on the story.
Nigel Brook, global resilience and climate change risk practice leader at global law firm, Clyde & Co, shares his thoughts on accelerating the energy transition as a goal at COP28:
“The Paris Agreement has galvanized climate action globally, and the deployment of solar, wind, batteries and electric vehicles is now rising exponentially (from a low base).
“But emissions need to fall rapidly to avert the very worst consequences of climate change, and under current policies they have yet to peak.
“A headline goal for COP28 in Dubai this year is agreement on a roadmap to accelerate climate action, mainly by fast-tracking the global transition to clean energy and decarbonising the energy industry. Observers will be looking for more ambitious and credible targets and policies for 2030 and beyond.
“Success on this score (which is far from a given) would hasten the peaking of emissions and force coal, oil and gas companies to change their investment plans, likely leading to further stranding of assets.”
A private fund that plans to build power projects on sites such as hospitals and data centers to reduce energy wastage has secured backing from the European Union’s investment arm.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) said it had invested 125 million euros in the ‘Green Energy Solutions Fund’, which is run by Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL). The investment helped the fund hit its fundraising target of 650 million euros ($707 million) last month.
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland attends the Canada-CARICOM Summit in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. REUTERS/Blair Gable
Carbon capture seizes today’s spotlight as Canada sets up a $20 billion plan to support carbon capture and storage projects (CCS), while a Norwegian fertilizer maker signs an agreement for a CCS project deep beneath the Norwegian North Sea.
Canada’s government will present legislation this month to start paying subsidies for carbon capture and net-zero energy projects, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, part of a plan worth around $20 billion over five years.
A long delay in state support for carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects and for equipment used to produce low-carbon energy prompted industry lobbies to warn in September that some C$50 billion ($36 billion) worth of investments were at risk if the government did not act soon.
It will be included in the Fall Economic Statement (FES) legislation to be sent to parliament later this month, the source said. Previous budget documents estimated all five of the investment tax credit (ITC) programs together would funnel an estimated C$27 billion ($19.7 billion) during their first five years in operation.
Smoke rises from a chimney of Yara France plant in Montoir-de-Bretagne near Saint-Nazaire, France. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Fertilizer maker Yara said it has signed a binding agreement to capture CO2 emissions from its Dutch ammonia plant and transport it to the Norwegian North Sea for storage deep beneath the seabed.
The carbon capture and storage project (CCS) will cut annual emissions of CO2 by 800,000 tonnes over a 15-year period, the Norwegian company said in a statement.
When operation begins in 2025, it is expected to become the first time that CO2 from one nation is transported across borders for storage by another, Yara said.
Nov. 22, Massachusetts, United States: The Biden administration is expected to file papers opposing a bid by a group that successfully challenged race-conscious collegiate student admissions policies in the U.S. Supreme Court to block affirmative action policies at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that it says “unconstitutionally discriminates against white applicants”.
Nov. 22, Bangalow, Australia: Australian environmental group on way to replant 500,000 trees for Koala wildlife corridor.
Nov. 24, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: The East African Community trade bloc will admit Somalia as a member on Friday, the group said. The EAC common market, which consists of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, was set up in 2010 to allow the free movement of goods and people across borders, and is one of the most advanced trading blocs on the continent.
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