Natural Gas Spikes CO2 Emissions In 2019, As Coal Consumption Declines

A picture taken on November 30, 2019 shows smoke and vapor rising from the cooling towers and chimneys of the lignite-fired Jaenschwalde power plant in eastern Germany. Christophe Gateau / dpa / AFP
A picture taken on November 30, 2019 shows smoke and vapor rising from the cooling towers and chimneys of the lignite-fired Jaenschwalde power plant in eastern Germany. Christophe Gateau / dpa / AFP

 

Global carbon emissions boosted by soaring natural gas use are set to hit record levels in 2019 despite a decline in coal consumption and a string of countries declaring a climate emergency, researchers said Wednesday.

In its annual analysis of fossil fuel trends, the Global Carbon Project said CO2 emissions were on course to rise 0.6 percent this year — slower than previous years but still a world away from what is needed to keep global warming in check.

In three peer-reviewed studies, authors attributed the rise to “robust growth” in natural gas and oil, which offset significant falls in coal use in the United States and Europe.

“We see clearly that global changes come from fluctuations in coal use,” said Corrine Le Quere, from the University of East Anglia, an author on the Carbon Budget report.

“In contrast the use of oil and particularly natural gas is going up unabated. Natural gas is now the biggest contributor to the growth in emissions.”

Atmospheric CO2 levels, which have been climbing exponentially in recent decades, are expected to hit an average of 410 parts per million this year, Le Quere said.

That’s the highest level in at least 800,000 years.

The report will make for further uncomfortable reading for delegates gathered at UN climate talks in Madrid, with the warnings from the world’s top climate scientists still ringing in their ears.

Last week the UN said global emissions needed to fall 7.6 percent each year, every year, to 2030 to stand any chance of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C (2.6 Farenheit).

With just 1C of warming since the industrial era so far, 2019 saw a string of deadly superstorms, drought, wildfires and flooding, made more intense by climate change.

The UN said Wednesday that the 2010s was almost certain to be the hottest decade on record and as many as 22 million people could be displaced by extreme weather this year.

‘Urgency not sunk in’

The authors pointed out 2019’s rise in emissions was slower than each of the two previous years.

Yet with energy demand showing no sign of peaking even with the rapid growth of low carbon technology such as wind and solar power, emissions in 2019 are still set to be four percent higher than in 2015, the year nations agreed to limit temperature rises in the Paris climate accord.

While emissions levels can vary annually depending on economic growth and even weather trends, the Carbon Budget report shows how far nations still need to travel to drag down carbon pollution.

“Current policies are clearly not enough to reverse trends in global emissions. The urgency of action has not sunk in yet,” said Le Quere.

She highlighted anticipated emissions falls of 1.7 percent in the US and Europe as the power sector continues its switch away from coal.

The most polluting fossil fuel saw its usage drop by as much as 10 percent in the two regions this year, the report said.

But such savings were offset globally by the likes of India and China, the biggest overall emitter, and specifically by an increase in energy from natural gas.

“Compared to coal, natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel, but unabated natural gas use merely cooks the planet more slowly than coal,” said Glen Peters, research director at the CICERO Center for International Climate Research.

For Joeri Rogelj, lecturer in Climate Change at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, the small slowdown in emissions growth this year “is really nothing to be overly enthusiastic about”.

Without drastic and sustained reductions, he said, “it is clear that we are not only continuing to make climate change worse, we’re doing it at a pace faster than ever before.”

 

AFP

‘We Must Stop Our War Against Nature,’ Says UN Chief On Climate

“We must stop our war against nature,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday in Madrid ahead of a key climate conference, warning against the devastating impacts of global warming.

“For many decades the human species has been at war with the planet, and now the planet is fighting back,” he said, decrying the “utterly inadequate” efforts of the world’s major economies to curb carbon pollution.

“We must stop our war against nature, and science tells us we can do it.”

Climate Change: Nigerian Govt To Plant 25 Million Trees

A file photo of Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The Federal Government will soon commence the planting of 25 million trees, as part of efforts to check the menace of afforestation, desert encroachment, and erosion in the country.

The Minister of Environment, Muhammad Abubakar, announced this on Saturday called for actions to address the issue of climate change in the development of states across the nation.

He made the announcement at the 13th session of the National Council on Environment Kaduna State, attended by experts and various stakeholders in the sector.

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On his part, the Senate Committee Deputy Chairman on Environment, Hassan Hadeja, called on the states and Federal Government to make more investment in solar energy.

The lawmaker believes this will go a long way in reducing pollution of the environment.

Over the years, climate change has become a threat to global security going by the effects of flooding, earthquake, and fire outbreaks among others.

As part of this trend, the alarming rate of desertification in In Nigeria’s northern region has forced thousands of herders to move to the middle-belt and South, leading to incessant clashes with farmers in the regions.

The Guinea Savannah region is not spared either as logging and over-dependence on firewood for cooking have stripped a greater part of the area of its vegetation cover.

The situation is not different in the south-south region where the forest has reduced to grassland while erosion has continued to devastate many communities in Nigeria’s south-east zone.

The National Council on Environment is Nigeria’s highest policy-making body in the environment sector.

It facilitates inter-governmental deliberations and guides consultation on environment issues at all levels of the government.

Saturday’s event focused on safeguarding the environment through advocacy as experts and policymakers brainstormed and made suggestions on how to checkmate the challenges of climate change.

The meeting has the theme ‘Promoting Environmental Advocacy, A Panacea for Achieving the Next Level Agenda.”

According to stakeholders present, including the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Hadiza Balarabe, and the Guest Speaker, Professor Mohammed Ibrahim, positive engagements among critical stakeholders will ensure effective implementation of policies and laws that will help in tackling environmental challenges in the country.

Senate To Investigate NEMA Over ‘Selective’ Disaster Response

 

The Senate has directed its Committees on Special Duties, Ecology and Climate Change and Environment to investigate the effectiveness of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) over disaster response in 2019.

According to the Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, the Red Chamber also directed NEMA to immediately implement a response programme for the flood disaster that affected various communities in Demsa, Numa, Guyuk and Lamurde Local Governments of Adamawa State.

These were some of the resolutions reached at plenary on Tuesday sequel to the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Binos Yaroe (APC, Adamawa South).

According to Yaroe, NEMA was established by Act 50 of the 1999 Constitution as amended for the purpose of managing disasters in Nigeria.

The lawmaker who lamented a major flooding which occurred in October 2019 as a result of the release of excess water by the authorities of Lagbo dam in Cameroon, accused NEMA of being selective in its disaster response interventions.

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“NEMA performed a disaster response action by distributing relief materials to communities in Furore, Yola South, Yola North and Girei Local Governments of Adamawa State affected by the floods.

“This intervention by NEMA was not extended to other local governments in Adamawa State along the River Benue valley equally affected by the flood disaster.

“Although the attention of the Director-General of NEMA was drawn to the need to provide relief materials to communities of the four local governments in Adamawa State severely affected by the October floods, nothing has been done; and NEMA would appear to be selective in its disaster response interventions,” Yaroe said.

Meanwhile, the Senate also considered a Bill for an Act to amend the National Council on Public Procurement and Bureau of Public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007.

The bill which was sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Sankara is among the three bills up for amendment of the Public Procurement Act by the National Assembly.

According to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, an amendment to the Public Procurement Act would ensure a successful implementation of the 2020 budget when passed into law by the National Assembly.

The Public Procurement Bill sponsored by Senator Sankara was referred to the Senate Committee on Public Procurement for further legislative work.

Italy’s Venice Braces For More Flooding

People walk in the flooded street near Rialto bridge, on November 15, 2019 in Venice, two days after the city suffered its highest tide in 50 years. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
People walk in the flooded street near Rialto bridge, on November 15, 2019 in Venice, two days after the city suffered its highest tide in 50 years. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Venice was on red alert for more floods and fierce winds on Saturday after an exceptionally high tide swamped the city of canals, where authorities have declared a state of emergency.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro ordered the iconic St Mark’s Square closed on Friday as the latest sea surge struck with strong storms and winds battering the region.

It reached a high of 1.54 metres (five feet) just before midday — lower than Tuesday’s peak but still dangerous.

“I’m forced to close the square to avoid health risks for citizens… a disaster,” Brugnaro said.

In the afternoon the square reopened as water levels receded.

But civil protection authorities issued a weather “red alert” for the Venice region on Saturday, warning of violent winds.

Churches, shops and homes in the UNESCO city have been inundated by unusually intense “acqua alta”, or high water, which on Tuesday hit their highest level in half a century.

“We’ve destroyed Venice, we’re talking about one billion (euros) in damage and that’s just from the other day, not today,” Brugnaro said.

The crisis has prompted the government to release 20 million euros ($22 million) in funds to tackle the devastation.

“It’s shocking to see this, having water up to your knees,” Mexican tourist Oscar Calzada, 19, told AFP Friday.

Surveying the damage, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini warned the task of repairing the city would be huge. More than 50 churches had suffered damage, he said.

“Seeing these places first-hand gives the sense of a much greater disaster than TV images show,” Franceschini said.

Hotel reservations cancelled

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared a state of emergency for the city on Thursday.

Residents whose houses have been hit are eligible for up to 5,000 euros in immediate government aid, while restaurant and shop owners can receive up to 20,000 euros and apply for more later.

Mayor Brugnaro on Friday also announced the opening of a fund where people in Italy and around the world could contribute to the historic city’s repair.

One tourist, Italian Nicole Righetti, said she would be willing to pitch in.

“It would be a shame to no longer be able to see these places, and I think everyone should give,” Righettii said.

Some Venetians, used to the inconvenience of their city’s rising waters, nevertheless expressed frustration.

“All the stock in the basement is lost,” lamented Luciano, a worker at a shop along St. Mark’s Square.

He said he remembered well the infamous “acqua alta” of 1966, when the water rose to a level of 1.94 metres, the highest-ever since records began in 1923.

“These so frequent high waters have never happened before… this time there’s so much more damage than in the past,” he said.

Hotels reported cancelled reservations, some as far ahead as December, following the widespread diffusion of images of Venice underwater.

Climate change warning

Tuesday’s high waters submerged around 80 percent of the city, officials said.

Many, including Venice’s mayor, have blamed the disaster on global warming and warned that the country prone to natural disasters must wake up to the risks posed by ever more volatile seasons.

The Serenissima, as the floating city is called, is home to 50,000 residents but receives 36 million global visitors each year.

A massive infrastructure project called MOSE has been under way since 2003 to protect the city, but it has been plagued by cost overruns, corruption scandals and delays.

 

AFP

Climate Change, Corruption Blamed For Venice Flood Devastation

A tourist takes a photo from the flooded embankment by the Rialto bridge, after an exceptional overnight “Alta Acqua” high tide water level, on November 13, 2019 in Venice. Venice was hit by the highest tide in more than 50 years late November 12, with tourists wading through flooded streets to seek shelter as a fierce wind whipped up waves in St. Mark’s Square. PHOTO: MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Much of Venice was left under water after the highest tide in 50 years ripped through the historic Italian city, beaching gondolas, trashing hotels and sending tourists fleeing through rapidly rising waters.

The government in Rome was expected to declare a state of emergency at a cabinet meeting on Thursday after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as “a blow to the heart of our country”.

Officials blamed climate change while shopkeepers on the Grand Canal raged against those who have failed to protect the UNESCO city from the high tide.

They said corruption had repeatedly delayed a barrier protection system that could have prevented the disaster.

“The city is on its knees,” Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro said in an interview with national broadcaster RAI.

“There’s widespread devastation,” he said in the famed St Mark’s Square, which bore the brunt of the flooding. “In all likelihood the damage from last night runs into hundreds of millions of euros.”

The state of emergency for a natural disaster will allow the government to use “exceptional powers and means” to intervene more quickly, and Conte said his government was ready to allocate funds.

“The disaster that has struck Venice is a blow to the heart of our country,” Conte said at the scene. “It hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage threatened.”

St Mark’s Square was calm on Wednesday evening, with just a smattering of tourists walking through the relatively dry square marked with occasional puddles.

Four Venetian friends who had gathered in the square, all wearing boots, said the relative quiet and lack of tourists was upside of an otherwise harrowing few days.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Alvise, 19.

Earlier, tourists lugging heavy suitcases waded in thigh-high boots or barefoot through the submerged alleys, as gondola and water taxi drivers baled sewage-tainted water out of their trashed vessels.

Schools would stay closed on Thursday, authorities said.

‘We can’t live like this’

Dirty water was swirling around the marble tombs inside the 12th-century crypt of St Mark’s Basilica, which suffered untold damage when an unprecedented high tide swept through the city.

It was closed to tourists as were many other Venice highlights including the Fenice Theatre and the Ducal Palace.

“We said last year that the basilica had aged 20 years in a high tide. It risks having aged much more than that in this one,” said the building’s procurator Carlo Alberto Tesserin.

A 78-year old was killed by an electric shock as the waters poured into his home.

“We ask the government to help us, the costs will be high,” mayor Brugnaro tweeted. “These are the effects of climate change.”

“The future of Venice is at stake,” he warned. “We cannot live like this anymore.”

Environment Minister Sergio Costa blamed climate change and the “tropicalisation” of violent rainfall and strong winds.

“This is what is happening more and more often in the Mediterranean,” Costa said on Facebook.

“Global warming will destroy our planet if we do not immediately reverse the direction.”

 ‘Acqua alta’

The exceptionally intense “acqua alta,” or high waters, peaked at 1.87 metres (six feet). Only once since records began in 1923 has the water crept even higher, reaching 1.94 metres in 1966.

“It was unbelievable. The water rose so quickly,” said resident Tiziano Collarin, 59, as he surveyed the damage.

“Windows were blown out, there are those who have lost everything,” he said as the flood alarm rang out to warn those in the canal city that the tide, which had receded somewhat overnight, was rising once again.

The fire brigade said it had carried out over 400 operations as well as laying on extra boats as water ambulances.

Around 160 firefighters were deployed to rescue people stranded on jetties and to recover boats broken free from their moorings.

President of the Veneto region Luca Zaia said 80 percent of the city had been submerged, causing “unimaginable damage” to the city, which has 50,000 residents but receives 36 million visitors each year.

A massive infrastructure project called MOSE has been under way since 2003 to protect the city, but it has been plagued by cost overruns, corruption scandals and delays.

The plan involves 78 gates that can be raised to protect Venice’s lagoon during high tides — but a recent attempt to test part of the barrier caused worrying vibrations and engineers discovered parts had rusted.

Outside historic Venice, the Lido and Pellestrina islands were also hard hit by flooding.

AFP

Climate Change Amplifies Conflicts, Hinders Peacebuilding In Somalia – Report

AFP photo

 

 

Climate change poses serious challenges to current and future peacebuilding efforts and can amplify conflicts, according to a report on years of devastating violence and drought in Somalia released Wednesday.

Researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) looked at how conflicts and the peacebuilding efforts of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) have been affected by climate change, and found that it “amplifies existing challenges and strengthens radical groups”.

“What it shows is that the security landscape is changing with climate change,” Florian Krampe, senior researcher at SIPRI’s climate change programme, told AFP, adding that many of the findings are applicable to other conflicts.

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According to the report, decades of conflict in Somalia — described as “among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world” — have been magnified by a series of severe droughts, which adds pressure to the country’s state-building process and makes UNSOM’s work more challenging in a number of ways.

For instance, the frequency and severity of conflicts between herders and farmers in the country’s rural regions have increased as changing seasons and weather means herding nomads have to adjust their routes.

Droughts and floods also displace more people, who seek shelter in camps which then serve as recruitment grounds for radical groups like al-Shabaab.

The displacement of large groups into new areas can also undermine the governance of those areas, as existing power-sharing agreements no longer represent the “demographic composition” on the ground.

While Krampe was hesitant to say that climate change by itself could cause conflict, he thought the evidence was clear that “climate change increases the probability of conflict and of violence”.

According to the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR, some 2.6 million people are currently internally displaced in Somalia and more than 800,000 remain displaced in neighbouring countries as a result of armed conflicts and recurring droughts.

AFP

Climate Change Protesters Target BBC HQ

 

Extinction Rebellion climate protesters on Friday blocked the main entrances at the BBC’s London headquarters, with one journalist reporting that the building was on “lockdown”.

The group has carried out a wave of demonstrations in the British capital and around the world since Monday, primarily attempting to blockade city centre streets.

In the latest protest, around 50 activists set up camp in front of the main doors at the BBC’s Broadcasting House, in central London, prompting the reported shutdown.

BBC financial journalist Paul Lewis tweeted: “No one in no one out. Locked down.”

Videos of the action posted on social media showed several demonstrators had scaled an awning above the entrance and displayed the group’s flag — an hourglass symbol — on the building as staff looked on through windows from inside.

“We, the people, have decided to do your job and Tell the Truth from the BBC Broadcasting House about where we’re headed if we don’t change course,” Extinction Rebellion said in a statement on its Facebook page about the latest stunt.

“We hold you accountable for your criminal and corrupt complacency for totally marginalising the seriousness of the #PlanetaryEmergency.”

 

 

A BBC spokeswoman said the news company “already covers many climate change and environmental issues across its output”.

“We know how important these issues are to audiences and will continue to focus on them across both news and non-news programmes,” she said in a statement.

The demonstration is the latest in a week of long-planned protests by Extinction Rebellion in countries around the world to highlight what it claims is the inadequate response of governments to climate change.

The protests in Britain have seen more than 1,000 people arrested since Monday.

Thursday’s actions included an attempted “Hong Kong-style occupation” of the terminal building at London City Airport in the east of the capital, with hundreds blocking the main entrance.

One demonstrator, identified by the protest group as former Paralympic cyclist James Brown, climbed on top of a British Airways jet.

That prompted criticism from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick who called the act “reckless, stupid and dangerous”.

Canadian PM Trudeau To Participate In Climate Change March

 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he will take part in a climate action march led by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg — as the environment emerges as a key election issue.

His main rival Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will be campaigning in Vancouver, but Friday’s rally in Montreal is expected to draw local Tory candidates as well as Trudeau.

Trudeau, who faces elections October 21, paddled up in a canoe Thursday in Sudbury, Ontario to make announce he would be marching in Montreal with thousands of other Canadians to “fight for the environment.”

“There has been an extraordinary amount of mobilization by young people and by Canadians across this country and indeed around the world calling for real action on climate change,” he said.

The Montreal event coincides with similar so-called “climate strikes” around the globe.

Schools, colleges and universities have suspended classes for the day, and the city government has encouraged staff to take the day off.

Thunberg, 16, on Monday accused world leaders in a rousing “How Dare You?” speech at the UN climate summit of betraying her generation.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she thundered, visibly angry and close to tears.

The teen has spurred millions of youths to protest, drawn by her steely determination despite her years.

Organizers said Thunberg also will take aim at airlines’ skyrocketing CO2 emissions in a speech outside the UN aviation agency in Montreal, which is holding its annual conference.

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s 193 member states this week are taking stock of the implementation of a climate plan unveiled at its last general assembly in 2016.

Aviation accounts for about two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the ICAO.

Under its so-called Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), participating airlines are expected to stabilize their CO2 emissions by 2020, and buy offsetting credits thereafter if they exceed set limits.

Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic for the UN climate summit in New York specifically to avoid flying.

AFP

Climate Change: Protesters Call On Govt To Protect Citizens

Photos: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV

 

Protesters took to the streets of Abuja on Friday to call on the government to protect citizens against the effects of climate change.

Bearing various placards, they called on the government to focus on massive public financing of agro-ecology both at local, states and federal level.

See photos below.

WHO Urges World Leaders To Protect Health From Climate Change

 

 

The World Health Organization says climate change is one of the defining issues of our time.

In a communique by its Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the health organization stressed that climate change is also one of the world’s most urgent health threats.

Mr Ghebreyesus who noted that in less than two weeks’ time, he will join the UN Secretary-General and other world leaders at the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations General Assembly, revealed that this landmark summit will showcase the concrete commitments governments are making to address climate change and to secure and improve the health and well-being of their citizens.

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“Two of those commitments have been developed by the World Health Organization and its partners. The first is a pledge to ensure that air meets WHO safety standards by 2030 at the latest, and to align climate change and air pollution policies. Many of the same practices that lead to climate change also result in deadly air pollution.

“The second is to provide financial resources to protect people from the detrimental health impacts of climate change. Today, less than 0.5% of international finance for climate change is allocated to health, and the most vulnerable countries, particularly small island developing states, receive only a fraction of that. Countries are being asked to allocate more to protect people against the ravages of the climate crisis.

“Twelve days remain for leaders to sign up to those commitments: I urge those who have not yet made their commitments to join those who have pledged action to protect people from the devastating heatwaves, floods and cyclones linked with climate change, and to reduce the risk of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress,” Mr Ghebreyesus stated.

The Climate Action Summit takes place on the same day as the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage.

The WHO DG stated that it is significant that these events will run in parallel.

He stressed that “Taking steps to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change, and to ensure that everyone can access the health services they need, when and where they need them, are two of the top priorities in global public health”.

According to the WHO boss, it is only when countries can provide health services to all, including those in greatest jeopardy from climate change, that “we will achieve our goals of promoting health, keeping the world safe, and protecting the vulnerable”.

London University Bans Beef Products To Fight Climate Change

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2014 an employee prepares a hamburger at Bolt Burgers in Washington, DC, February 25, 2014. Students at London’s Goldsmiths will no longer be munching on canteen staples such as burgers and chilli after the prestigious university announced it would ban all beef products to fight climate change. PHOTO: Saul LOEB / AFP

 

Students at London’s Goldsmiths will no longer be munching on canteen staples such as burgers and chilli after the prestigious university announced it would ban all beef products to fight climate change.

Professor Frances Corner, the new head of Goldsmiths, said that she was taking the drastic action to pull beef from campus cafes and shops from next month because “declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words”.

“Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help,” she added.

Goldsmiths hopes to become carbon neutral by 2025, and is not the first university to alter menus in a bid to reduce emissions.

Cambridge University’s catering services have not served beef or lamb since 2016.

Students at Goldsmiths will also face a 10p levy on single-use plastic items when they return after the summer break.

Climate campaigner Rosie Rogers called the move “encouraging”.

“We call on others to urgently follow suit, and to include cutting all ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate emergency response,” said the Greenpeace UK activist.

But Stuart Roberts, vice president of the National Farmers’ Union, accused the university of a “lack of understanding or recognition between British beef and beef produced elsewhere”.

“Tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time but singling out one food product is clearly an overly simplistic approach,” he said.

Famous Goldsmiths alumni include artist Damien Hirst, Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen and members of British indie band Blur.

AFP