climate change tagged posts

Climate change: Net zero targets are ‘pie in the sky’

Sharp divisions between the major global emitters have emerged at a series of meetings designed to make progress on climate change. India lambasted the richer world’s carbon cutting plans, calling long term net zero targets, “pie in the sky.” Their energy minister said poor nations want to continue using fossil fuels and the rich countries “can’t stop it”. China meanwhile declined to attend a different climate event organised by the UK.

Trying to lead 197 countries forward on the critical global issue of climate change is not a job for the faint hearted, as the UK is currently finding out. 

As president of COP26, this year’s crucial climate meeting due to take place in Glasgow in November, Britain is charged with ensuring a successful summit of world leaders and their negotiators.

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5 Shocking Takeaways From ‘Seaspiracy’

Have you had a chance to watch the recent Netflix documentary Seaspiracy? Produced by Kip Anderson of Cowspiracy fame, Brit director Ali Tabrizi stars in the 89min feature about the plight of the world’s oceans. Spoiler alert: they’re basically fucked. Many of the themes explored in Seaspiracy are similar to those we discussed in June 2019, when the surf community’s – especially some of its favourite ocean advocacy groups – war on plastic was eerily all quiet on fishing front. 

It more or less still is.

In brief: Plastic is really bad, but at least half of ocean plastic comes from fishing, which also removes the fish being caught, sold and eaten from the sea, alongside some 30 million tonnes of others, in the process. 

Very few in the environmental advocacy space seem p...

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UK seeks to drill more oil and gas from North Sea

More oil and gas wells are to be drilled in the North Sea, the UK government has announced. The decision has angered environmental campaigners, who say the government should refuse new licences. Ministers say permission to drill will be granted as part of a careful transition away from fossil fuels, safeguarding jobs and the economy. But environmentalists say that enough fossil fuels to ruin the climate have already been found.

In light of this, they say, the government should have refused the new licences.

They add that the decision undermines the UK position as leader of the vital UN climate conference in November, known as COP26. 

But ministers insist that their strategy will work...

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Sea Levels Are Rising Faster Than Most Pessimistic Forecasts

A May 20 Sentinel-2 satellite image shows the Dutch province of Zeeland

Climate change is causing oceans to rise quicker than scientists’ most pessimistic forecasts, resulting in earlier flood risks to coastal economies already struggling to adapt.  The revised estimates published Tuesday in Ocean Science impact the two-fifths of the Earth’s population who live near coastlines. Insured property worth trillions of dollars could face even greater danger from floods, superstorms and tidal surges.

The research suggests that countries will have to rein in their greenhouse gas emissions even more than expected to keep sea levels in check. 

“It means our carbon budget is even more depleted,” said Aslak Grinsted, a geophysicist at the University of Copenhagen who co-authored the research...

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Drive to Protect 30% of the Ocean by 2030

sunset over the ocean surface

This year, the 196 parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will meet to agree to an ambitious new plan to safeguard life on Earth by 2050. If all goes as expected, the plan will be adopted at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Kunming, China; precisely when that meeting will happen is uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These global talks are a critical opportunity for world leaders to advance policies to halt the decline of biodiversity on our planet and ensure the long-term sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems on which human life depends. The plan would establish a “post-2020 biodiversity framework” for conserving and restoring nature that integrates many objectives included in the U.N...

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Global ice loss rate is accelerating, study finds

A stream of meltwater carves through Greenland's ice sheet, part of what researchers say is an accelerating rate of ice loss globally. Photo by Ian Joughin/Leeds University

A new survey of ice loss around the globe suggests the rate at which the planet’s ice sheets and glaciers are melting is rapidly accelerating. According the new analysis, detailed Monday in the journal Cryosphere, Earth lost roughly 28 trillion tons of ice between 1994 and 2017. In 1994, Earth experienced an annual loss of 0.3 trillion tons of ice. By 2017, annual losses increased to 1.3 trillion tons.

To illuminate the full scope of the problem, researchers compiled decades of satellite data on ice losses happening in different parts of the world.

The survey combined data on 215,000 mountain glaciers, as well as polar ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Scientists also accounted for sea ice losses, as well as melting along the ice shelves extending off the coast of Antarctica.

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Climate change: Biden’s first act sets tone for ambitious approach

Make no mistake, returning to the Paris climate agreement is not mere symbolism – it is an act cloaked in powerful, political significance. While re-joining the pact involves the simple signing of a letter and a 30-day wait, there could be no more profound signal of intention from this incoming administration. Coming back to Paris means the US will have once again have to follow the rules.

Those rules mean that sometime this year the US will have to improve on their previous commitment to cut carbon made in the French capital in 2015. 

This new target, possibly for 2030, and President Biden’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, will be the guide rails for the US economy and society for decades to come.

Coming back to Paris really means it is no longer “America Fir...

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Covid drives record emissions drop in 2020

Close up on Baltic Sea

The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War Two, say researchers. Their study indicates that emissions have declined by around 7% this year. France and the UK saw the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to a second wave of infections. 

China, by contrast, has seen such a large rebound from coronavirus that overall emissions may grow this year. 

The decline in carbon in 2020 has dwarfed all the previous big falls. 

According to the Global Carbon Project team, this year saw carbon emissions decline by 2.4 billion tonnes.

In contrast, the fall recorded in 2009 during the global economic recession was just half a billion tonnes, while the ending of World War Two saw emissions fall b...

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Coral Reefs are Changing Their Smells in a Warmer World

The aromas of a beach strewn with seaweed or a garden full of blooming flowers are more than just momentary sensory experiences. They also act as entryways into the world of ecosystem health and interspecies communication. Plants, for example, emit gases known as “biogenic volatile organic compounds” to adapt to heat stress, attract pollinators, defend against pathogens, deter predators, and more. 

Scientists have been cataloguing these gases on land for decades, but relatively little work has been done for marine ecosystems. To address this knowledge gap, a group of researchers led by marine biologist Caitlin Lawson at the University of Technology Sydney set to out to measure the full spectrum of gases that two common coral reef-building species emit...

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Climate change: Have countries kept their promises?

Agreed by 196 parties in the French capital in December 2015, the Paris climate deal aims to keep the rise in global temperatures this century “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C.” We look at five key countries and how well they have kept their promises.

Every one of the signatories to the Paris climate agreement has had to lodge a climate action plan with the UN to spell out what steps they are taking to curb carbon. 

Overall, according to a new assessment from global consultancy Systemiq, low-carbon solutions have been more successful in this period than many people realise. 

The growth in coal for energy outside of China has declined significantly. 

“We have to translate what we can do into what we will d...

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