Climate Change Drives Europe Towards Record Fire Year

Tourists enjoy the beach in Phalasarna, northwest of the Greek mediterranean island of Crete on July 20, 2022, while temperatures remain at normal for the season levels despite the heatwave in northern parts of Europe. (Photo by Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)

 

The fires that have torched through Europe are on course to make 2022 a record year for forest loss on the continent, as scientists warn climate change is already contributing to ever fiercer blazes.

Fires in parts of France, Spain and Portugal have already burned more land so far this year than in all of 2021 — some 517,881 hectares (5,000 km2), or the equivalent area of Trinidad and Tobago.

“The situation is much worse than expected, even if we were expecting temperature anomalies with our long-term forecasts,” Jesus San Miguel, coordinator of the European Union’s EFFIS satellite monitoring service, told AFP.

San Miguel said there could be worse to come, adding that the hallmarks of global heating were all over this year’s fire season.

“Ignition is caused by people (but) the heatwave is critical, and clearly linked to climate change,” he said.

“The fire season used to be concentrated from July to September. Now we are getting longer seasons and very intense fire. We expect climate change to create higher fire conditions in Europe.”

Temperatures have warmed just over 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial era, and the United Nations Says Earth is currently on track to warm some 2.7C this century.

This additional heat is enough to make the kind of heatwaves that baked Europe this week more likely to occur and to last longer when they do.

– Rising fire risk –

EFFIS said close to 40,000 hectares of forest in France have been lost to fire so far this year, more than the 30,000 that burned there in 2021.

Spain — where more than 500 people died during a 10-day heatwave this month — has seen 190,000 hectares go up in smoke this year, compared with 85,000 last year.

EFFIS said that Europe could end 2022 with more land burned by area than 2017, currently the worst recorded year for wildfires with nearly 1,000,000 hectares lost.

In all of 2021, 470,359 hectares of forest were lost to fires in Europe, mainly in Italy and Greece.

Yet those two countries have had a relatively good year in terms of wildfires: Italy has lost 25,000 hectares compared with more than 150,000 in 2021 and Greece has lost 7,800 compared with 130,000 a year ago.

This week temperatures topped 40C for the first time on record in Britain, where a relatively high 20,000 hectares have burned since January.

A study in February found that the proportion of July and August days of extreme fire risk in Britain would increase from 9 percent currently to 26 percent with 2C of warming.

Mark Parrington, head scientist at the EU’s Copernicus atmospheric monitoring service, said climate change had already contributed to how long wildfires last when they break out.

“What is remarkable is just how long they burn,” he told AFP. “This is not the kind of thing we typically see in Europe.

Hotter temperatures combined with near-unprecedented drought conditions across much of Europe contribute to making forests tinder dry, providing the ideal conditions for wildfires to start and then spread.

“There is a lot of fuel,” said Parrington. “In central and southern Europe there is a clear upward trend for fire risk.”

As well as damaging ecosystems and removing carbon-absorbing vegetation from the land, wildfires themselves contribute to climate change by emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Copernicus this week said fires in June and July in Spain and Morocco had produced some 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 — the highest of any equivalent period since records began in 2003.

The blazes also affect air quality for nearby populations. In southwest France, elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide have been noted for days over the city of Bordeaux, just north of two major burn areas, and even in Paris, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) northeast.

AFP

Biden To Announce Climate Action As Heatwave Hits Europe

US President Joe Biden speaks about the counterterrorism operation in Syria from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 3, 2022. SAUL LOEB / AFP
File photo of US President Joe Biden. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden will announce Wednesday a series of executive measures to combat climate change, in an effort to push forward an environmental agenda stalled by an unsupportive Congress and a conservative Supreme Court.

Biden — who will deliver his address from a former coal power plant in Massachusetts — will make clear that time is running out to tackle global warming, highlighted by a devastating heatwave in Europe that has sparked fires, melted runways and spelled misery for millions.

But he will stop short of declaring a formal emergency, which would grant him additional policy powers.

“The president… is going to make it clear that just because Congress couldn’t get it done, he is going to move forward with every power available to him to make the change and the shift to clean energy,” White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy told CNN.

“The president will make very clear again that this is an emergency and we are going to act. But the president is going to outline that at his pace.”

For now, he is expected to use executive orders to provide additional funding for communities dealing with extreme heat and actions to boost US production of wind power.

The efforts are part of the administration’s goals to move “the US power sector away from the pollution, environmental injustice, and volatile price swings of the past,” a White House official said, and “toward the good-paying jobs, lower costs, and energy security of the future.”

-Repeated setbacks –

Biden began his term last year promising to fulfill campaign pledges to tackle the global climate crisis, but his agenda has faced blow after blow.

His first day in office, Biden signed an executive order to bring the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement, followed later by an ambitious announcement that he was targeting a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in US net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.

But his signature Build Back Better legislation, which would have included $550 billion for clean energy and other climate initiatives, is all but dead after failing to receive the necessary backing in Congress as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he would not support the bill.

And last month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot issue broad greenhouse gas regulations without congressional approval.

McCarthy insisted however that “regulatory action is still strong,” saying: “We are going to move, not just with the EPA, but with others.”

The Biden administration has framed climate policies as a national security issue, made all the more urgent by soaring fuel prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Not only does it affect our infrastructure… It has an impact on our readiness,” White House spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.

State Department spokesman Ned Price pointed to the extreme heat wave tormenting Europe this week — with Britain recording a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) — as more proof that climate action cannot wait.

“We are committed to taking advantage of this moment and doing everything we can, including on the world stage,” Price told reporters, “to ensure that this decisive decade does not go by without us taking appropriate action.”

AFP

Climate Change Responsible For Heatwaves Across Europe – Experts

A woman walks down a street pulling her cart during a heatwave in Bordeaux on July 18, 2022. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU / AFP)

 

Hotter, longer, more frequent. Heatwaves such as the one currently roasting much of Europe, or the record-shattering hot spell endured by India and Pakistan in March, are an unmistakable sign of climate change, experts said Monday.

– Humans to blame –

A woman walks with an umbrella to protect herself during a heatwave in Bordeaux on July 18, 2022. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU / AFP)

 

“Every heatwave that we are experiencing today has been made hotter and more frequent because of human-induced climate change,” said Friederike Otto, senior lecturer at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change.

“It’s pure physics, we know how greenhouse gas molecules behave, we know there are more in the atmosphere, the atmosphere is getting warmer and that means we are expecting to see more frequent heatwaves and hotter heatwaves.”

In recent years, advances in the discipline known as attribution science have allowed climatologists to calculate how much global heating contributes to individual extreme weather events.

The India-Pakistan heatwave, for example, was calculated to have been 30 times more likely with the more than 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming that human activity has caused since the mid-nineteenth century.

The heatwave that shattered records in North America in June 2021, leaving hundreds dead as temperatures soared to 50C in places, would have been virtually impossible without global heating.

And the last major European heatwave, in 2019, was made 3C hotter by climate change.

“The increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of these events over recent decades is clearly linked to the observed warming of the planet and can be attributed to human activity,” the World Meteorological Organisation said in a Monday statement.

 Worse to come

Smoke rises from a wildfire in the forested hills of the Kabylie region, east of the capital Algiers, on August 10, 2021. At least five people have died in raging wildfires in Algeria as firefighters battle more than 31 blazes amid blistering temperatures and tinder-dry conditions, officials said.
Ryad KRAMDI / AFP

 

However unbearable temperatures get this week, scientists are unanimous: there is worse to come.

At 1.5C of warming — the most ambitious Paris climate agreement goal — UN climate scientists calculate that heatwaves will be more than four times more likely than the pre-industrial baseline.

At 2C or warming, that figure reaches 5.6 times more likely, and at 4C heatwaves will be nearly 10 times more likely to occur.

Despite three decades of UN-led negotiations, countries’ climate plans currently put Earth on course to warm a “catastrophic” 2.7C, according to the UN.

Matthieu Sorel, a climatologist at Meteo-France, said that climate change was already influencing the frequency and severity of heatwaves.

“We’re on the way to hotter and hotter summers, where 35C becomes the norm and 40C will be reached regularly,” he said.

 Danger of death

The heatwaves of the future depend largely on how rapidly the global economy can decarbonise.

The UN’s climate science panel has calculated that 14 per cent of humanity will be hit with dangerous heat every five years on average with 1.5C of warming, compared with 37 per cent at 2C.

“In all of the places in the world where we have data there is an increase in mortality risk when we are exposed to high temperatures,” said Eunice Lo, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute for the Environment.

It’s not only the most vulnerable people who are at risk of health impacts frim heat, it’s even the fit and healthy people who will be at risk.”

There is a real risk in future of so-called “wet bulb” temperatures — where heat combines with humidity to create conditions where the human body cannot cool itself via perspiration — breaching lethal levels in many parts of the world.

As well as the imminent threat to human health, heatwaves compound drought and make larger areas vulnerable to wildfires, such as those now raging across parts of France, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Morocco.

They also menace the food supply.

India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, chose to ban grain exports after the heatwave impacted harvests, worsening a shortage in some countries prompted by Russia’s invasion of key exporter Ukraine.

-AFP

African Nations Meet On ‘Critical’ Nature Conservation

 

Delegates from across Africa launched Monday in Rwanda the first continent-wide gathering about the role of protected areas in ensuring the future of our planet.

The IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) is being held just a few months before the COP15 summit in December when global leaders are aiming to adopt a much-delayed pact to shield nature from the damage wrought by human activity.

“Protected areas are critical for the survival of the planet,” International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) director general Bruno Oberle said on the opening day of the talks in the capital Kigali.

“And the more we manage them for the benefit of people and nature,the more we will build a future where everyone — human and animal — thrives,” he said on Twitter.

Organisers said APAC will aim to shape the role of protected and conserved areas in safeguarding Africa’s wildlife, delivering vital ecosystem services, and promoting sustainable development while conserving the continent’s cultural heritage and traditions.

“It is high time that African policymakers put in place strong measures and strategies to ensure that the devastation of our rich biodiversity is stopped,” Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said.

Last month, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) 196 members held negotiations on the draft global biodiversity framework in Nairobi, but made only limited progress in ironing out differences.

At the heart of the COP15 draft treaty is a provision to designate 30 percent of Earth’s land area and oceans as protected zones by 2030.

More than 90 world leaders have signed a pledge over the past two years to reverse nature loss by then, saying the interconnected threats of biodiversity loss and climate change are a “planetary emergency”.

According to the most recent Protected Planet report by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, only 17 percent of land habitats and around seven percent of marine areas were protected by 2020.

One million species are threatened with extinction, according to UN experts, and global warming is on track to make large swathes of the planet unliveable.

UN biodiversity experts warned this month that rampant exploitation of nature is a threat to the well-being of billions of people across the world who rely on wild species for food, energy and income.

The Kigali gathering runs until July 23 and has attracted more than 2,000 participants from across Africa and beyond, according to organisers.

Climate Activists Disrupt Traffic In London, Paris

Activits of the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion block the Paris Grand Boulevard during a demonstration in Paris, on April 16 2022. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
Activists of the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion block the Paris Grand Boulevard during a demonstration in Paris, on April 16 2022. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

 

Several hundred activists from the Extinction Rebellion activist group on Saturday blocked major roads in central Paris and London, disrupting traffic to protest “inaction” on climate change from world leaders.

Around 300 metres (980 feet) of a main thoroughfare in central Paris was taken over by activists over the Easter weekend, with some of them moving in hay bales and cement-filled containers to block traffic.

Extinction Rebellion tweeted “thousands” of protesters were “occupying” London’s Marble Arch roundabout during a sit-in close to Hyde Park, demanding an end to the fossil fuel economy.

Demonstrators also glued themselves to a limousine in central London.

READ ALSO: Less Than Three Years Left For World To Avoid Climate Catastrophe – UN

The Metropolitan Police said in a tweet that the protest caused “significant traffic disruption” and that the protesters “locked onto a stationary vehicle in the middle of the road… believed to be their own”.

Activists from the group had glued themselves to a tanker earlier on Saturday, blocking the vehicle on a road near Hyde Park.

Three activists including 2012 Olympic canoe slalom champion Etienne Stott climbed onto the tanker belonging to British energy giant Shell, unfurling a banner saying, “End fossil filth”, Extinction Rebellion said.

“I am aware that my actions will cause anger to many people and I am prepared to be held accountable,” Stott said.

“But our government should also be held to account for its decisions which are destroying our planet’s ability to support human civilisation.”

Six people were arrested, the Metropolitan Police said.

In Paris, activists hung out a large red banner that read: “This world is dying. Let’s build the next one.” The protest is scheduled to continue until Monday.

“Rebelling is our duty,” had been daubed in graffiti on a wall nearby.

“This is the only way of ensuring that everyone talks a bit about climate change,” Antoine, a young activist who declined to give his surname, told AFP.

A line of French riot police stood opposite the protesters, but officers did not intervene.

Anger over official policies

Extinction Rebellion has carried out a series of protests in Britain in the past week, including shutting down four of London’s busiest bridges on Friday.

A scientist from the group, Emma Smart, was freed on Saturday after starting a hunger strike following her arrest earlier in the week during a protest targeting the British energy ministry, Extinction Rebellion said.

After several oil depots were targeted by the campaign group Just Stop Oil in recent days, many companies including ExxonMobil successfully took out injunctions to stop such actions, the government in London said.

The British government last week presented a new energy security strategy after the war in Ukraine and soaring inflation, with a greater focus on nuclear power and renewable energy, but also oil from the North Sea.

The strategy has angered many activists who believe the government is not doing enough to move away from fossil fuels.

Many French environmentalists have been left despondent after the first round of presidential elections last weekend in which Greens candidate Yannick Jadot and hard-left ecologist Jean-Luc Melenchon were eliminated.

A second round run-off will be held next Sunday between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

 

AFP

Less Than Three Years Left For World To Avoid Climate Catastrophe – UN

Residents watch a wave crashing into rocks at Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 2, 2022, amid danger warnings issued for most of the coast in New South Wales as strong winds whipped up damaging waves. Muhammad FAROOQ / AFP
Residents watch a wave crashing into rocks at Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 2, 2022, amid danger warnings issued for most of the coast in New South Wales as strong winds whipped up damaging waves. Muhammad FAROOQ / AFP

 

Humanity has less than three years to halt the rise of planet-warming carbon emissions and less than a decade to slash them by nearly half, UN climate experts said Monday, warning the world faced a last-gasp race to ensure a “liveable future”.

That daunting task is still — only just — possible, but current policies are leading the planet towards catastrophic temperature rises, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made clear.

The world’s nations, they said, are taking our future right to the wire.

The 2,800-page report — by far the most comprehensive assessment of how to halt global heating ever produced — documents “a litany of broken climate promises”, said UN chief Antonio Guterres in a blistering judgement of governments and industry.

READ ALSO: Nearly Entire Global Population Breathing Polluted Air – WHO

“Some government and business leaders are saying one thing — but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” Guterres said.

In recent months, the IPCC has published the first two instalments in a trilogy of mammoth scientific assessments covering how greenhouse gas emissions are heating the planet and what that means for life on Earth.

This third report outlines what we can do about it.

“We are at a crossroads,” said IPCC chief Hoesung Lee. “The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said these tools “are firmly within our grasp”: “Nations of the world must be brave enough to use them.” 

The solutions touch on virtually all aspects of modern life, require significant investment and need “immediate action”, the IPCC said.

The very first item on the global to-do list is to stop greenhouse gas emissions from rising any further.

That must be done before 2025 to have a hope of keeping within even the Paris Agreement’s less ambitious warming target of two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Barely 1.1C of warming so far has ushered in a surge of deadly extreme weather across the globe.

The report makes clear that investments to cut emissions will be far less expensive than the cost of failing to limit warming.

Scientists warn that any rise above 1.5C risks the collapse of ecosystems and the triggering of irreversible shifts in the climate system.

To achieve that target, the report said carbon emissions need to drop 43 percent by 2030 and 84 percent by mid-century.

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C,” said Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and co-chair of the working group behind the report.

“Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

Slashing coal, oil, gas

To do that the world must radically reduce the fossil fuels behind the lion’s share of emissions.

Nations should stop burning coal completely and cut oil and gas use by 60 and 70 percent respectively to keep within the Paris goals, the IPCC said, noting that both solar and wind were now cheaper than fossil fuels in many places.

But cutting emissions is no longer enough, the IPCC said. Technologies to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere — not yet operating to scale — will need to be ramped up enormously.

While government policies, investments and regulations will propel emissions cuts, the IPCC made clear that individuals can also make a big difference.

Cutting back on long-haul flights, switching to plant-based diets, climate-proofing buildings and other ways of cutting the consumption that drives energy demand could reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050.

Those with the most, also pollute the most, the report said.

Households whose income is in the top 10 percent globally — two thirds of whom are in developed countries — emit up to 45 percent of carbon pollution.

“Individuals with high socio-economic status contribute disproportionately to emissions and have the highest potential for emissions reductions — as citizens, investors, consumers, role models and professionals,” the IPCC said.

Fuel for war

For 2019, if energy consumption is included, industry accounted for 34 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions; agriculture, forestry and land use was 22 percent; transport 15 percent; buildings 16 percent; and the energy supply sector 12 percent.

The report’s finding will feed into high-level UN political negotiations, which resume in November in Egypt at COP 27.

Recently updated national climate pledges emerging from these talks still put the 1.5C target “beyond reach”, the report warned.

With war in Ukraine spurring efforts to transition away from Russian oil and gas in the West, observers said the report should sharpen nations’ focus on climate commitments.

“It is heart-breaking for me, as a Ukrainian climate activist, to be living through a war which has fossil fuel money at its core,” said Olha Boiko, an activist from the Climate Action Network, based in Ukraine.

“The money, that we begged not to invest in dirty energy, is now flying over our heads in the form of bombs.”

AFP

World ‘Sleepwalking’ To Climate Catastrophe, Says UN Chief

In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

 

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Monday the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe”, with major economies allowing carbon pollution to increase when drastic cuts are needed.

The planet-saving goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius is already “on life support,” he told a sustainability conference in London.

Keeping 1.5C in play requires a 45 percent drop in emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But even if nations honour newly revised pledges under the Paris Agreement, emissions are still set to rise 14 percent before the decade ends.

“The problem is getting worse,” Guterres said in a pre-recorded video message. “We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe.”

“If we continue with more of the same, we can kiss 1.5C goodbye,” he added. “Even two degrees may be out of reach.”

His comments came only hours before the 195-nation IPCC kicks off a two-week meeting to validate a landmark report on options for reducing carbon pollution and extracting CO2 from the air.

The report is expected to conclude that CO2 emissions must peak within a few years if the Paris temperature targets are to be met.

Guterres described covid recovery spending as “scandalously uneven” and a missed opportunity to accelerate the turn toward clean energy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added, could further derail climate action with importers locking in fossil fuel dependence as they scramble to replace Russian oil and gas.

– ‘Addiction to fossil fuel’ –

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap (climate) policies,” Guterres said.

“This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

A bombshell report last year from the intergovernmental International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that a 1.5C world was incompatible with any new oil or gas developments, or new coal-fired power plants.

Breaking with the usual practice of not singling out countries, Guterres called out Australia and a “handful of holdouts” for failing to lay out “meaningful” near-term plans to slash emissions.

He also said the development needs and economic structures of China, India, Indonesia and other “emerging economies” prevent them from making similar commitments, especially on coal.

Rich nations should provide money, technology and knowhow to help these emerging economies purge coal from their energy portfolios, he added, pointing to a pathbreaking deal for South Africa unveiled at the COP26 climate summit last November in Glasgow.

“Our planet can’t afford a climate blame game,” he cautioned. “we can’t point fingers while the planet burns.”

Wealthy nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) must phase-out coal by 2030, and all other countries by 2040, Guterres said.

China and India — both heavily reliant on coal — have resisted a full embrace of the 1.5C goal, along with pressure to set more ambitious short-term emissions reduction targets.

Both nations, however, have set long-term “net-zero” goals for carbon neutrality, 2060 for China and 2070 for India.

G20 countries account for about 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

A landmark IPCC report on climate impact and humanity’s capacity to adapt, published last month, details an atlas of human suffering and warned that far worse is to come.

Unprecedented floods, heatwaves and wildfires seen across four continents in the last year will all accelerate in coming decades even if the fossil fuel pollution is rapidly brought to heel, the report concluded.

Guterres was addressing a four-day conference organized by The Economist.

AFP

Global Warming: IPCC Warns World About Unavoidable Multiple Climate Hazards

This photograph taken on April 10, 2021, shows a helicopter flying as lava is erupting from Piton de la Fournaise volcano, on the southern side of the volcano, on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion. PHOTO: Richard BOUHET/AFP

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report has warned that the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks.

The report released on Monday by the IPCC says people and ecosystems least able to cope are hardest hit.

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity, and infrastructure, the scientists advised that ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group II report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability were approved on Sunday, February 27, 2022, by 195 member governments of the IPCC, through a virtual approval session that was held over two weeks starting on February 14.

The Working Group II report examines the impacts of climate change on nature and people around the globe. It explores future impacts at different levels of warming and the resulting risks and offers options to strengthen nature’s and society’s resilience to ongoing climate change, to fight hunger, poverty, and inequality, and keep Earth a place worth living on – for current as well as for future generations.

 

 

– Urgent action required –

Increased heatwaves, droughts, and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central, and South America, on Small Islands, and in the Arctic.

So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks, the new report finds. These gaps are largest among lower-income populations. The Working Group II report is the second installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.

“This report recognises the interdependence of climate, biodiversity, and people and integrates natural, social, and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments,” said Hoesung Lee. “It emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option.”

 

– Safeguarding and strengthening nature –

There are options to adapt to a changing climate. This report provides new insights into nature’s potential not only to reduce climate risks but also to improve people’s lives.

“Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-critical services such as food and clean water”, said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner. “By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 percent of Earth’s land, freshwater, and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential.”

Scientists point out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources, growing urbanization, social inequalities, losses and damages from extreme events, and a pandemic, jeopardizing future development. “Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone – governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritize risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment,” said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.

“In this way, different interests, values, and world views can be reconciled. By bringing together scientific and technological know-how as well as Indigenous and local knowledge, solutions will be more effective. Failure to achieve climate-resilient and sustainable development will result in a sub-optimal future for people and nature.”

 

– Cities: Hotspots of impacts and risks –

This report provides a detailed assessment of climate change impacts, risks, and adaptation in cities, where more than half the world’s population lives. People’s health, lives, and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly adversely affected by hazards from heatwaves, storms, drought, and flooding as well as slow-onset changes, including sea-level rise.

“Together, growing urbanization and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services,” Debra Roberts said.

“But cities also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society.”

There is increasing evidence of adaptation that has caused unintended consequences, for example destroying nature, putting peoples’ lives at risk or increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be avoided by involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge.

 

 

A narrowing window for action

Climate change is a global challenge that requires local solutions and that’s why the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) provides extensive regional information to enable Climate Resilient Development.

The report clearly states Climate Resilient Development is already challenging at current warming levels. It will become more limited if global warming exceeds 1.5°C (2.7°F). In some regions, it will be impossible if global warming exceeds 2°C (3.6°F). This key finding underlines the urgency for climate action, focusing on equity and justice. Adequate funding, technology transfer, political commitment, and partnership lead to more effective climate change adaptation and emissions reductions.

“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner.

 

 

Africa Needs International Partnership To Tackle Terrorism, Climate Change – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said on Friday that there are giant strides recorded across Africa but there are still challenges to overcome for which reasons, “we need partnerships that help to tackle climate change, address security concerns, promote economic prosperity, combat disease, and improve governance”.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this in a Special Address delivered at the virtual edition of the 2022 World Economic Forum featuring leaders from across the world.

According to a statement by his special media aide, Laolu Akande, the Vice President was chosen to deliver one of the 12 Special Addresses at this year’s event.

In all, about 25 Heads of State and Government featured generally at the virtual forum since Monday.

The 2022 virtual edition of the forum features a mix of visionary “state of the world” special addresses and ambitious high-level leadership panels focusing on critical collective challenges, among others.

The VP listed some of the progress on the African continent, including the recovery from the global pandemic, economic growth by 3.7% last year, and a projected 3.8% growth in 2022.

He also noted that there is now in place an African Continental Free Trade Area agreement to fast-track economic transformation just as the continent is making giant strides in agriculture, manufacturing, and digital technology. He added that in Nigeria for instance, 6 unicorns have emerged in the past six years.

Prof. Osinbajo who spoke on a wide range of issues noted that it was time for the international community to “walk the talk” by meeting its commitments towards advancing growth in developing economies, especially climate changes obligations.

On the issue of peace and security, the Vice President said “African countries face a serious threat of terrorism arising from the encroachment of global terror groups and their franchises into Africa.

“It is imperative for the international community to make more robust interventions to clear terrorists from Africa just as it did in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The United Nations Security Council must find unanimity in working with and assisting African countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism in the continent once and for all.”

On the climate change challenge, Prof. Osinbajo acknowledged that “it is now common knowledge that Africa contributes least to climate change but has been most negatively affected by it. We must not allow this worrying situation to be compounded further by global inaction, processes and rules that make it difficult for Africa to adapt to climate change or indeed to develop.”

He then urged “the international community to meet its pledge recently re-affirmed at COP-26 of providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to support climate change efforts in developing countries.”

Continuing, the VP explained that “although we in Africa are working towards the globally accepted net-zero future, we are also conscious that our energy needs are increasing with the growth in our economies.

“We need to ramp up energy access in response to this situation which is why the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies must be just and fair.”

“We are emphatic in our view that natural gas which Africa has in abundance must be accepted as a transition fuel. Moves in the international community especially by development finance institutions to defund gas projects will have severe implications in the medium to long-term for African economies and will slow down the process of phasing out more polluting fuels such as coal, diesel, and heavy fuel oil (HFO),” he added.

In addition to climate finance, the Vice President called for a partnership to tackle poverty, access vaccinations and achieve debt sustainability.

“Economic recovery in Africa is contingent on the containment of the pandemic including through wide-spread vaccinations. Right now, less than 10% of African countries have vaccinated 40% of their population.

“The reality is that due to resource constraints, there will be a relatively slow rollout of vaccinations in Africa and that full national rollouts may take several years.

“The international community must accordingly support Africa with the resources including vaccine doses that will assist in making vaccinations available to all,” Prof. Osinbajo emphasized.

Another point made by the VP in his special address is the call on the international community to support African countries overcome fiscal challenges arising from their limited revenues.

According to Prof. Osinbajo, “the creation of $650 billion in new Special Drawing Rights last year was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to enable African and other developing countries access the SDRs that are not needed or being used by developed or emerging economies.”

The Vice President also urged multilateral organizations to consider the huge obligations placed on African countries and adopt debt relief initiatives such as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the Common Framework for Debt Treatments in a manner that will not further constrain the resumption of growth to the continent.

With regard to governance, Prof. Osinbajo called on the international community to support the efforts of West African leaders under the auspices of ECOWAS particularly, their condemnation of the incidences of coups and unconstitutional changes in government.

Global Warming Is Real In Nigeria, Says Minister

A file photo of the Minister of Science and technology, Ogbonnaya Onu.

 

Minister of Science and Technology, and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, on Friday said global warming is a reality in Nigeria.

The Minister made the comment at the virtual meeting organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in his office on Friday in Abuja, a statement signed by ministry spokesperson Afonja Ajibola said.

Dr Onu noted that one evidence for global warming in Nigeria is the drying up of Lake Chad, desertification and coastal flooding affecting many parts of the nation.

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He called for inclusive energy transmission in Africa as this will support the social and economic prosperity of African nations.

According to the Minister, Africa accounts for 2-3% of world’s carbon dioxide emission that has varied enormous and energy resources which includes Natural Gas, Hydro Power, Biomass, nuclear and coal.

Onu further added that the enormous advantage to be derived from the Energy System can be effectively processed into final energies in the areas of abundance and be transported through inter-regional electric-grid connections, pipelines, roads/infrastructure to regions of resources deficiency.

Onu reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment in providing the enabling environment for private sector participation in the energy sector, adding that the Petroleum Industry Act of 2021 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari among other things seeks to promote investment in Natural Gas, Nigeria’s transition Fuel for electricity, fuel and non-energy usage.

The minister commended IRENA for its role in promoting renewable energy globally and for organizing the Ministerial meeting on just and inclusive energy transition in Africa.

Climate Change: FG Is Focused On What Works For Nigerians, Says Osinbajo

A file photo of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

 

As the global conversation on the transition to cleaner energy continues, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government would keep to its Climate Change commitments and focus on how to do that in a way that works best for the needs of the Nigerian people.

The Vice President said this on Friday in Abuja when he received a delegation from the World Bank, led by its Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, Dr. Mari Pangestu, as well as its Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri.

He also interacted with officials of the International Monetary Fund on the IMF Article IV bilateral consultations.

The Vice President has been advocating for a just transition to global net-zero emissions, particularly calling on multilateral agencies, and Western countries to stop the planned defunding of fossil fuels/gas projects in developing countries as part of the energy transition plan towards the global net-zero target by 2050.

At both meetings with the World Bank MD and IMF officials, Prof. Osinbajo again noted that Nigeria remains committed in helping to reduce global greenhouse emissions, even as the needs of Nigeria and other developing countries should also be taken into account.

“I think it is very important, at least this is what we are trying to do, to keep our sights on what would work for the majority of our people.

“The truth, of course, is that we have fossil fuel resources, we have all of that, but we have energy issues, distribution and quality of access to energy, as well as clean energy.

“So, those are the issues; access to energy and education, then renewable energy, and how to be able to move quickly enough in terms of putting renewable energy in place,” the Vice President was quoted to have said in a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande.

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The VP also highlighted funding challenges for developing countries in its response to climate change and preparation for adaptation, alongside other implications of the Paris Agreement.

As part of that Agreement, a $100billion per year was pledged by the wealthier economies to help developing economies to respond to the challenges of climate change and support mitigation and adaptation.

In her remarks, Dr. Mari Pangestu, expressed her delight to visit Nigeria, saying this is her first country mission since assuming her current position in March.
According to her, following COP26, the global body was considering ways to “address both development and climate crisis in developing countries, noting that the development crisis has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The way we are trying to approach it is the Green, Resilient, and Inclusive recovery and growth strategy which must start with developing countries.”
Commending Nigeria’s energy reforms, Pangestu noted that the World Bank would explore ways to ensure developing countries attract the needed financing so as to achieve its climate and development objectives.

During the interaction with IMF which was virtual, the VP restated Nigeria’s position on Climate Change adding, however, that no developed economy grew its industrial base on renewable energy alone and so developing economies should not be asked to do that.

The IMF Article IV Consultation Mission team was led by Ms. Jesmin Rahman, Mission Chief for Nigeria at IMF.

The consultations, based on the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, involve bilateral discussions between a member country and the IMF.

An IMF staff team “visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies.”

Climate Crisis Could Give Nuclear Energy A Second Wind

In this file photo taken on October 15, 2021 smoke billows from a chimney from a plant in Lyon, south-eastern France on October 15, 2021.
Countries’ latest climate plans will deliver just a tiny percentage of the emissions cuts needed to limit global heating to 1.5C, the United Nations said on October 26, 2021, in a damning assessment ahead of the COP26 climate summit. PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

 

For more than two decades, promoters and purveyors of nuclear energy felt shunned at UN climate change conferences.

At the COP26 summit underway in Glasgow, however, they have been welcomed with open arms, the UN’s top nuclear regulator told AFP.

The spectre of Chernobyl and Fukushima, along with the enduring problem of nuclear waste, kept energy generated by splitting atoms on the sidelines, even if that energy was virtually carbon-free.

But as the climate crisis deepens and the need to transition away from fossil fuels becomes urgent, attitudes may be shifting.

“Nuclear energy is part of the solution to global warming, there’s no way around it,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in an interview.

It already accounts for a quarter of “clean” — that is, carbon-free — energy worldwide, and Grossi said this COP is the first where it has “had a seat at the table”.

“The winds are changing.”

To have even a 50/50 chance of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the threshold for dangerous tipping points that could trigger runaway warming — global greenhouse emissions must be slashed by almost half within a decade, scientists say.

But things are still moving in the wrong direction: a report on Thursday said emissions in 2021 are approaching record levels.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned they could hit new heights by 2023.

That is helping refocus attention on nuclear.

“At the 2015 COP in Paris, nuclear wasn’t welcome,” said Callum Thomas, head of a recruitment firm for the nuclear industry, who was spotted at COP26 sporting a T-shirt saying “Let’s Talk Nuclear”.

“There was a belief it was not needed. Now many countries are looking at the feasibility, especially with the rise in gas prices.”

‘Never Stops’

From the time he took the IAEA’s helm nearly two years ago, Grossi, an Argentine diplomat, has been a tireless advocate for the industry.

At his first COP in Madrid he “went in spite of the general assumption that nuclear would not be welcome”.

On the contrary in Glasgow, where nearly 200 countries are still trying to put flesh on the bone of the 2015 Paris Agreement, he said “nuclear is not only welcome, but is generating a lot of interest”.

Grossi argues that the technology can not only speed the transition away from fossil fuels, but also power research on technologies needed for adapting to climate impacts, from finding drought-resistant crops to eradicating mosquitos.

He acknowledges that it carries serious risks.

The meltdown of three reactors at Japan’s Fukushima power plant in 2011 following an earthquake and a tsunami profoundly shook confidence in nuclear.

The industry also has yet to find a way to dispose of nuclear waste, which remains highly radioactive for thousands of years.

But Grossi said these issues are not disqualifying, arguing that statistically, the technology has fewer negative consequences than many other forms of energy.

It could also be a complement to renewables.

“Nuclear energy goes on and on for the entire year, it never stops,” he said.

Even so, with prolonged construction times, many argue that it is too late to build enough nuclear capacity to effectively join the battle against global warming.

But Grossi said he thinks part of the answer lies in keeping existing reactors up and running.

100-Year-Old Reactors?

Many power plants designed to run for 40 years are now licensed for 60 years under strict national safety standards supervised by the IAEA, he said.

“What could be more efficient than a facility that you build that gives you energy for close to 100 years?” he said.

He acknowledged that plants running that long might be a “bit of a provocation”.

“But it still might be possible.”

In their projections on how to limit the rise in global temperatures and satisfy a growing global demand for energy at the same time, the IEA takes all non-carbon sources on board.

The UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, has also given a place to nuclear in its models, even as it says that its deployment “could be limited by social preferences.”

Indeed, attitudes towards nuclear power vary sharply across nations.

While New Zealand and Germany are opposed, India is in discussions with French energy giant EDF to build what would be the largest nuclear power plant in the world.

Meanwhile, both Canada and the United States are developing so-called “small modular reactors”, although only Russia has put into operation a floating reactor using this technology.

Price is also not the barrier it used to be, said Grossi.

“Countries see in smaller units a very interesting alternative, which is not in the range of billions but of hundreds of millions,” he said. “When it comes to energy projects, this is quite affordable.”