The latest Climate Change News Digest, prepared for followers of the PLM Green Global Alliance, summarizes the most important monthly news from around the world about the changing climate and progress in decarbonizing the global economy. Our good news question of the month: what is the “First Movers Initiative” announced at the Davos World Economic Forum this year? Read on to find out and learn what you might have missed in your own news feeds during the past month.
CO2 in the atmosphere as measured at Mauna Loa hit another record at 421 ppm. April is the month when C02 is the highest in the Northern Hemisphere. The Keeling Curve shows no sign of slowing down and is expected to blow past 430 then reach 440. The last time levels were this high was over 4 million years ago on a planet that would not have been habitable for humans or the flora and fauna that we now enjoy.
Large regions of India and Pakistan reported all-time record temperatures for the month of April. Extreme heat waves have pushed temps to 114 degrees F in the capital Delhi. Rapid snow melt caused a glacial lake to flood in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Minister of Climate Change said his country went from winter to summer without a spring. Analysis from World Weather Attribution reports that human-generated climate change has made this type of heat wave nearly 30 times more likely.
A new study in Nature predicts that climate change will cause thousands of viruses to move through species of mammals with a growing risk of being transmitted to humans. Not good news after the world suffered millions of deaths from the coronavirus which likely came from a live-animal market in China.
👍 The Biden Administration is cancelling three oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. This is good news as the world desperately needs to leave remaining carbon reserves in the ground to avoid burning them into the atmosphere.
With a warming climate in North America that holds more moisture, ticks that cause disease in humans are migrating northward. The CDC estimates that in the last 15 years tick-borne diseases have more than doubled. The territory of the Lone Star tick is expanding and with it generating more disease, including an allergic reaction to eating mammal meats.
👍 Europe continues to move toward embargoing all Russian oil in response to its invasion of Ukraine and growing evidence of war crimes. Europe depends heavily on Russian oil and gas, accounting for more than 25% of its total imports. The EU has already banned imports of Russian coal.
A team of researchers from the World Meteorological Organization warns that there is nearly a 50/50 chance the globe will shoot past the Paris accord goal of 2.7 degrees F rise in average temperatures in the next 4 years. A decade ago, they said the chance was only 10%. They also predicted a 90% probability that the next five years will be the hottest on record.
As a historic mega drought continues, the risk of wildfires is spreading throughout the western and southern US. In some locales, there is now a 1 in 4 chance of homes being threatened by a fire over a 30-year period.
Marine scientists in Australia are reporting yet another massive coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. It will be the fourth occurrence in seven years with similar events in 2016, 2017, and 2020. The good news is that officials think the mortality to corals will not be as bad as in previous years.
United Nation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres repeated his warning that time is running out and that a newly issued “state of the climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption.” He called on governments and businesses to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources by tripling investments in them to nearly $4T a year.
In the US, President Biden’s climate initiatives were stalled last year when his Build Back Better plan could not pass Congress. It included over $500B to help the nation move from fossil fuels to renewables using a mix of green energy tax credits, methane fees, electric vehicle rebates, and funding carbon capture projects. Time is running out for the president and his party to make any progress before the next congressional elections in November of this year.
The German research organization The New Climate Institute has been studying the climate proclamations of large multinational businesses by monitoring their corporate climate responsibility statements. Their findings show that many companies are greenwashing their climate commitments by not fully accounting for all the emissions due to their products, services, and supply chains. The lack of accounting standards in carbon offset programs was also cited as being problematic.
Fisheries in New Zealand are blaming warming oceans due to climate change for a mass die-off of salmon. As a result, they are allowing some fish farms to fallow, waiting for cooler waters.
👍 The US Supreme Court ruled that the Biden Administration can include the costs to society of greenhouse gas emissions in their rule making. In doing so the court overturned an injunction from a conservative lower federal court judge in Louisiana.
Some US states are threatening to punish businesses and financial institutions that support climate action in addition to other ESG goals. They are being joined by a few business executives, Elon Musk of all people, who are claiming that that ESG is a scam. Energy producing states, like Oklahoma, are particularly upset by the growing movement they claim discriminates against investments in fossil-fuel industries.
Due to the war and energy crisis in Europe, Germany has said that coal power plants destined to be closed for good will instead by placed in reserve standby. Most of the natural gas that Germany used to power 15% of the country’s electricity came from Russia before they invaded Ukraine.
👍 At the Davos World Economic Forum, the two largest GHG emitters US and China were reported to have made progress to move faster in reductions. Targeting methane emissions and coal burning were said to be priorities of any prospective agreement.
👍 Also at Davos, more than 50 multi-national corporations and nine countries agreed to join “The First Movers Coalition” which is a buyer’s club for purchasing materials that are made with little or no carbon emissions. These materials include aluminum, steel, concrete, and chemicals and which with the heavy industries that process them collectively contribute some 30% of global GHG.
This month’s featured image is of the Keeling Curve from NOAA at https://gml.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/.