By Sharon Kimathi, Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital
A new paper by a team of scientists, including from NASA and Columbia University, shows that the world could reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) warming threshold this decade. This comes as another report showed that cleaning the skies, while bringing health benefits and saving lives, accelerates climate change.
Most emissions scenarios under the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) envision the world breaching 1.5C during the 2030s. The world already has warmed by nearly 1.2C (2.2F) above pre-industrial temperatures.
“The 1.5C limit is deader than a doornail,” said the Oxford study co-author James Hansen of Columbia University’s Earth Institute who was among the first scientists to alert the world in the 1980s to the climate-warming impact of greenhouse gasses, “global warming will exceed 1.5°C in the 2020s and 2°C before 2050”, the report concluded.
Another unpalatable conclusion was reached by six leading climate experts poring over the results of China’s decade-long and highly effective “war on pollution”. The scientists said air pollution, a global scourge that kills millions of people a year, is shielding us from the full force of the sun. Getting rid of it will accelerate climate change.
The drive to banish pollution, caused mainly by sulfur dioxide (SO2) spewed from coal plants, has cut SO2 emissions by close to 90% and saved hundreds of thousands of lives, Chinese official data and health studies show.
Yet stripped of its toxic shield, which scatters and reflects solar radiation, China’s average temperatures have gone up by 0.7 degrees Celsius since 2014, triggering fiercer heatwaves, according to a Reuters review of meteorological data and the scientists interviewed.
“It’s this Catch-22,” said Patricia Quinn, an atmospheric chemist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), speaking about cleaning up sulfur pollution globally. “We want to clean up our air for air quality purposes, but by doing that, we’re increasing warming.”
1. Global warming will reach 1.5C threshold this decade Climate change is accelerating and the world will cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) warming threshold this decade, according to research published on Thursday that scientists said should raise alarm bells at this year’s COP28 climate talks. Click here for more on the story.
People cross a street amid a heatwave in Shanghai, China. REUTERS/Aly Song
2. Climate’s ‘Catch-22’: Cutting pollution heats up the planet The drive to banish pollution, caused mainly by sulfur dioxide (SO2) spewed from coal plants, has cut SO2 emissions by close to 90% and saved hundreds of thousands of lives, Chinese official data and health studies show. Click here for more from Reuters journalists Jake Spring and David Stanway.
3. Climate adaptation funding gap 50% higher than estimated Rich countries’ promises of help for poorer nations to adapt to climate change have slowed despite more frequent extreme weather, with a shortfall now 50% bigger than previously estimated, a U.N. agency said in a report. Developed countries pledged in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance to poorer nations, and mobilizing funds will be a key talking point in COP28 negotiations in Dubai at the end of November.
4. Honolulu climate case against oil conglomerates can go to trial
Hawaii’s highest court has allowed a lawsuit by Honolulu accusing fossil fuel companies, including Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Shell, of deceiving the public about climate change to go ahead to trial.
In a unanimous opinion, the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected the companies’ argument that the lawsuit seeks to regulate emissions or interstate commerce, powers reserved for the federal government. Read more about the case here.
5. Winter coming a week late in Beijing as northern China basks in warm weather
Winter is expected to arrive late, and suddenly in Beijing this year as daytime temperatures hovered above 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), bathing the capital in a warm smog, while other parts of China basked in record highs above 30C.
Sustainable Switch made its in-person event debut! Sharon Kimathi, energy and ESG editor at Reuters and creator/curator of Sustainable Switch spoke to Reuters journalists, experts and industry stakeholders in this two part special filmed at Reuters Impact. Click here for day one, here for day two, or on the image for more.
Ethical Corporation Magazine contributor Oliver Balch interviews the former Irish president, Mary Robinson, who was given the Responsible Business honouree award at Reuters Events’ annual Responsible Business Awards yesterday in London.
Reuters Events contributor Neil Ford shares his thoughts on rising congestion in the Southwest Power Pool prompting developers to shift south and turn to energy storage, while major transmission projects lift future prospects. Click here for more.
Ethical Corporation Magazine editor-in-chief Terry Slavin writes about Iceland’s Carbfix which is harnessing the power of turning CO2 into stone.
Toxic haze blanketed New Delhi, raising fears of another public health emergency in the Indian capital, as government agencies warned that pollution levels could worsen over the next few days despite efforts to reduce them.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 415 on a scale of 500 in the capital’s Anand Vihar area on Thursday, indicating “severe” levels of pollution that can affect healthy people and those with existing ailments. AQI between 0-50 is considered healthy.
Number of the Week
Fires caused by Israeli shelling in south Lebanon have burned some 40,000 olive trees and torched hundreds of square km (miles) of land, dealing a serious blow to a major Lebanese crop, the agriculture minister said.
Fires on Lebanon’s side of the border have flared daily since the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah and Israel began exchanging fire last month after war between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Palestinian Islamist group Hamas erupted.
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