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Hand Evolution by Megan Godtland

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2019 Science Stats

178 Global Warming News Articles
for November of 2021
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12-2-21 COP26: UK 'nowhere near' meeting targets agreed at Glasgow climate summit
The UK is "nowhere near" meeting emissions targets enshrined at the Glasgow climate summit, official advisers have warned. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) says that, at current rates, the UK will be contributing to a disastrous temperature rise of 2.7C by 2100. It says this could - in theory - be brought down to just under 2C. But this could only happen if ministers agree tougher policies, and if other nations slash emissions too. The government insists that it will meet all its climate change targets. Scientists say any temperature rise approaching 2C is extremely dangerous, so green groups want the UK to improve its emissions targets. But the CCC says Britain will set a better example to the world if it keeps the same targets but actually delivers them through stronger policies. It maintains that the government must nudge people towards greener lifestyles, and must tackle emissions from farming more aggressively. The committee's chief executive, Chris Stark, said: "The government is nowhere near achieving current targets. "If it sets tougher targets that will simply widen the gap between ambition and delivery. What we really need is to strengthen delivery - and show the world that it can be done." His group has produced a shortlist of ideas to support Britain's climate leadership. They include producing convincing plans to cut emissions by 78% by 2035; and drawing up agreements to radically reduce so-called "embodied emissions" from major polluters such as steel and cement. The CCC also says the UK should act to reduce embodied emissions in imported goods - the emissions created to make the stuff British residents buy. This could happen through taxes imposed on carbon-intensive goods being imported into the UK. Another proposed strategy could be based on the final agreement at COP to phase out inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.

12-2-21 2021 hurricane season was third most active
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has now officially ended, and it's been the third most active on record. Though the last month has seen little tropical storm activity, all the pre-determined names have been exhausted for the second year in a row. There were 21 named tropical storms, including seven hurricanes, four of which were major hurricanes - where wind speeds were 111mph or greater. This puts 2021 behind 2020 and 2015 - the first and second most active years. Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (Noaa) Climate Prediction Center in the US, said: "Climate factors, which include La Nina, above normal sea surface temperatures earlier in the season, and above average West African Monsoon rainfall were the primary contributors for this above average hurricane season." Hurricane Ida was the most powerful and costliest storm of the year in the region. It made landfall initially in the Cayman Islands on 26 August as a tropical storm. Then it intensified in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and became a powerful Category 4 major hurricane, with wind speeds of 150mph. Ida eventually made landfall in Louisiana on 29 August, becoming the most destructive to hit the US state since Hurricane Katrina in 2015. As well as the damaging winds, Ida produced a lot of rainfall. Between 120 and 250mm fell in Louisiana, bringing widespread flash flooding. While Ida weakened soon after landfall, it travelled north-east through the US and stayed as a potent weather system with heavy rain and floods. Newark, New Jersey, had its wettest day on record - 213mm, surpassing the previous record of 171mm. While the 2021 season got off to a busy start, tropical storm and hurricane activity tailed off over the last few months. Tropical storm Wanda formed at the end of October, but before that, the last named storm was Victor, which formed and decayed in the open waters of the Atlantic at the end of September.

12-2-21 Impossible Foods in talks with UK farmers to swap livestock for trees
Exclusive: CEO of plant-based "meat" firm plans to show economic and climate change benefits of planting trees on land used for cattle and sheep production. The chief executive of Impossible Foods is in talks with UK farmers for a pilot project to swap livestock for trees to fight climate change. Pat Brown, who founded the fast-growing plant-based “meat” firm in 2011, says he wants to demonstrate the economic benefits of taking farmland out of cattle and sheep production to allow forests to grow on it and absorb carbon. He argues livestock farmers would be financially better off selling carbon offsetting permits to airlines and other polluting industries. “It’s very nascent. What I’m interested in doing is kind of like a… demonstration project to show that it is actually very financially sound to buy land from livestock farmers and manage it for biomass recovery and sell carbon offsets,” Brown tells New Scientist. The Stanford University scientist is one of a growing number of experts proposing land for meat production will need to be freed up to grow trees that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere if the world is to meets its climate goals. The UK government’s statutory climate advisers want to see a fifth of UK farmland taken out of production and used to store carbon by turning it over to tree-planting. “Almost every livestock farmer on Earth would make more money at $50 (£38) a tonne [of carbon], accumulating [plant] biomass on their land as opposed to livestock,” says Brown. The price of a tonne in the EU’s flagship CO2 trading scheme has been over €60 (£51) for the past month. On a recent trip to the UK for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Brown spoke with UK farmers about hosting a trial project. He says there was some scepticism, but he believes the wider adoption of the idea could be enthusiastic because “those farmers are making a pittance right now”.

12-2-21 New plan to pay farmers who protect winter soil
The empty brown fields of England's winter countryside could be transformed under government plans for farming. Cold naked acres will in future be clothed in vegetation as farmers are paid for sowing plants that bind the soil together. The aim is to hold precious topsoil on the land, instead of seeing it washed into rivers during heavy rainfall. But critics say it is not ambitious enough to reverse the UK's nature crisis. The changes are being introduced as part of a broad post-Brexit reform of the subsidies paid to farmers. Under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, farmers received taxpayers' cash proportional to the amount of land they owned - the richer the farmer, the bigger the subsidy. Some £1.8bn in grants was dispensed annually under that EU scheme. But now the government is demanding what it calls "public money for public goods". That means payments will only be for protecting species, planting trees and hedges, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting water courses and the soil. The UK nations all have their own farm support plans, but ministers expect the scheme in England - the Sustainable Farming Incentive - will entice 70% of farmers to smother 70% of land in wintertime with "cover crops" such as grasses, beans, brassicas and herbs. These crops won't be planted for harvesting; they are for improving the soil. It's part of a widespread realisation that soils globally have been neglected, even though they are the foundation for ecosystems and crop fertility. Many British farmers are already protecting their soils through good practice. They will now be paid for the valuable work they are doing, whereas previously they weren't rewarded with grants. The new scheme will be rolled out in phases to avoid a "Big Bang" in farming. In future, landholders will be incentivised for reducing the amount of fertiliser and pesticide they use. They'll be encouraged instead to use low-impact methods such as integrated pest management, which uses pheromones to disrupt pest mating cycles, or adopts mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding.

12-1-21 Methane's climate impact was just one truth finally accepted at COP26
One of the positives to come out of last month’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow was official recognition of the central role that climate science must play both in understanding and solving the problem. That might seem an odd thing to say – surely science has always been at the heart of the negotiations? Sadly, it hasn’t. At COP24 in Poland in 2018, for example, a report on the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming – specially commissioned from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the meeting – was merely “noted” in the final text. On that front, the newly agreed Glasgow Climate Pact is a major improvement. The final text explicitly acknowledges the latest IPCC report and notes its findings “with concern”. One area where the science really cut through was on methane – a powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas that has hitherto been treated as a secondary problem. Scientists have been arguing for a decade that cutting methane emissions is an obvious, simple and cheap way to significantly slow the rate of warming, but to little avail. As one leading researcher puts it, methane is a massive lever for effecting positive climate action, but nobody was seeing it. No longer. Like London buses, you wait 25 COPs for action on methane, then two breakthroughs come along at once: the Global Methane Pledge and a declaration from the US and China to collaborate on climate action. Together, these could shave a not-insignificant 0.2°C off warming by mid-century, using existing methane-busting technology and at no net cost. As we explain on Methane is much worse than CO2 – here’s what we should do about it, this is great news, not something we are used to hearing when it comes to climate change. But it isn’t unequivocally good news. Grasping the methane lever doesn’t buy us extra time to deal with the real villain of the piece, carbon dioxide. We still have to decarbonise immediately. And making pledges is no substitute for making changes. Despite the sudden swerve to methane, the Glasgow Climate Pact merely “invites” nations to “consider further actions” to reduce it. It has taken 26 COPs to put science where it truly belongs, but we still have some way to go.

12-1-21 Why the myth of 'wilderness' harms both nature and humanity
Humans have affected every aspect of life on Earth – from hunting prehistoric beasts to changing the climate – and the illusion that pristine nature still exists undermines our efforts to make a better world, says environmental writer Emma Marris. What is nature? We tend to think of it as something “out there”, far away. We watch it on TV, we read about it in glossy magazines. We imagine somewhere distant, wild and free, a place with no people and no roads and no fences and no power lines, untouched by humanity’s grubby hands, unchanging except for the turn of the seasons. This is our mistake. This dream of pristine wilderness haunts us. It also blinds us. After many years thinking and writing about nature and wilderness, I have come to see these concepts as not just unscientific, but damaging. The notion of a pristine ecosystem is a myth. Over millennia, humans have stirred up the global pot and changed the entire planet so that all organisms alive today are influenced by us. And it goes the other way, too. We humans are deeply influenced by the plants and animals we evolved with; we are part of “nature”. Changing our ideas about nature isn’t easy. It is hard for you and me; it is probably hardest for those who have spent their lives studying and protecting wilderness. But it is crucial that we do. “Wilderness” rhetoric has long been used to justify denying land rights to Indigenous people and to erase their long histories. What’s more, thinking of nature and humans as incompatible makes it impossible to revive or discover ways of working with and within nature for the common good. All species that regularly interact shape each other’s evolution. Natural selection favours organisms that thrive in their environment, and the environment is as much the living species in a place as it is non-living factors like climate. So, like all animals on Earth, our species has been affecting other species for its entire run.

12-1-21 Plastic food packaging gets a bad rap, but does it always deserve it?
Social media can be a powerful force for positive change, especially when it comes to environmental issues. A seemingly perfect example is the drive to stem the tide of single-use plastic, particularly when it comes to food packaging. Huge campaigns – including organised groups descending on supermarkets to strip and dump all packaging from their purchases and leaving it at the till in what is known as a “plastic attack” – have led to some quite dramatic changes, both in business and government. But it is possible that these sorts of well-intentioned moves, based on simple, social-media-friendly messages, can have unintended consequences. The less geeky among us might overlook the fact that fruit and veg are still living plants, constantly interacting with the world around them in complex ways, some of which degrade the product. Under supermarket strip lights, they are still photosynthesising, making new compounds, breaking down others and even emitting growth regulators into the air that affect the behaviour of neighbouring crops on the shelves around them. Understanding these incredibly sophisticated interactions and how to control them has spurred the creation of a branch of study called post-harvest technology. Over the past half century or so, this has led to a suite of ingenious inventions, including wrapping, that have dramatically extended the shelf life of crops. Waste has been slashed and nutritional quality and flavour improved. Take, for example, a study published in 2011 showing that shrink-wrapped cucumbers lost a lot less water in a typical journey from farm to fork than the unwrapped equivalent, extending shelf life by up to 60 per cent. Ditching this wrapping would therefore have a significant impact on food as, much of the time, the crop would go off before being eaten.

12-1-21 Methane is much worse than CO2 – here’s what we should do about it
Methane is an underappreciated but potent greenhouse gas. How we deal with it will have a massive impact on averting the worst consequences of climate change. After a year of weather extremes, there can no longer be any doubt that the climate is warming rapidly, and no doubt that carbon dioxide is slowly cooking the planet. But the immediate culprit is a different gas altogether: methane. A potent greenhouse gas, methane is largely responsible for the current rate of warming. It is thus a vital target in the fight to keep global temperature rises below the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5°C – as well as offering some of the easiest wins. Yet it has been neglected. “Methane for so long has been a sort of Cinderella gas,” says Euan Nisbet at Royal Holloway, University of London. With methane kept below stairs, its ugly sisters carbon dioxide and, to a lesser extent, nitrous oxide (N2O) have got all the attention. No longer. At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, last month, methane finally arrived at the party and won over the assembled dignitaries. World leaders lined up to declare it the belle of the ball, and more than 100 nations signed a pledge to slash its emissions by 2030. Depending on how you measure it – which is one of the problems with curbing it – 1 tonne of methane has between 28 and 120 times more warming power than 1 tonne of CO2. However, it stays in the atmosphere relatively briefly – about 12 years – before mostly being converted to CO2, which hangs around for at least a century. Yet it is present in the atmosphere in tiny quantities – lower even than CO2, which accounted for 412.5 molecules per million in 2020. Methane is measured in parts per billion, and its current concentration is about 1880 ppb, up from 722 in pre-industrial times.

12-1-21 Lakes freezing later in winter leads to less algae in the spring
A unique experiment in a Canadian lake has found that the timing of when ice forms can have a big impact on the organisms that live in it the following year. The timing of when ice forms on lakes in the winter can have big knock-on effects on life in the water the next spring and summer, according to a study that sheds light on how climate change will affect such ecosystems. As the climate warms, lake ice is forming later and thawing earlier. But there hasn’t been much research done on lakes during the winter, partly because the ice-covered period has long been considered a dormant season for freshwater organisms, so how these changes might affect lake ecosystems is unclear. “This is rather alarming given that we do not know much about under-ice lake ecology, so it is even harder to anticipate the consequences of ice loss and predict future changes,” says Marie-Pier Hébert, an aquatic scientist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. To find out more, Hébert and her colleagues conducted a unique experiment to manipulate the timing of ice onset in one lake in Canada. They constructed a floating platform with several deep containers extending below it, essentially turning columns of lake water into giant test tubes. Then, once the lake froze, they broke up and melted the ice in each container twice a day at dawn and dusk, delaying the onset of winter ice cover for 8, 15 or 21 days. This delay had a profound effect on life in the water below. A later freeze meant that algae could continue photosynthesis for longer, which in turn allowed some of the tiny zooplankton that feed on the algae to fatten up more and so survive throughout the winter under the ice. Those surviving zooplankton then got a head start on eating the new batch of spring algae once the ice started to melt, leaving less food available for species that only become active once the ice is gone.

12-1-21 UK refuses to release document showing Net Zero Strategy CO2 savings
The UK government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has turned down a freedom of information request that would allow independent scrutiny of its plan for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The UK government has refused a freedom of information request to release a spreadsheet showing how much its landmark Net Zero Strategy will cut carbon emissions for individual measures, such as backing a new nuclear power station and fitting new electric car chargers. Withholding the document smacks of “secrecy and subterfuge” and prevents the public from being able to interrogate the estimated impacts of the measures, says Ed Matthew at climate change think tank E3G. The publication of the government’s Net Zero Strategy on 19 October was a key moment ahead of the COP26 climate summit, laying out in detail how the UK plans to reach its 2050 commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. Previous government blueprints for decarbonisation, such as the 2020 10-point green plan and 2017 clean growth strategy, have spelled out estimates of exactly how much individual policies will cut emissions. But the Net Zero Strategy failed to provide any such breakdown, which observers said showed a lack of transparency that hampered independent scrutiny. Government officials conceded that there was a spreadsheet containing all the figures, but said they wouldn’t release it. Now, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has refused a freedom of information request by New Scientist to publish the document. It declined the request on the grounds that it involves the disclosure of internal communications. Public interest doesn’t outweigh the need to keep such communications private, says the BEIS FOI team. “We have concluded that the net zero strategy itself contains appropriate detail at this stage for the public to engage with our decarbonisation proposals,” they wrote in a letter.

12-1-21 Victims of a historic flood in New York City reflect on the wreckage
Months after Hurricane Ida brought New York City to its knees with historic flooding that killed 13 people, victims are still reeling from the devastation. As they reflect on the storm, some wonder about the future of the city, as climate change makes extreme weather events more likely.

11-30-21 Arctic may switch from snow to rain-dominated as early as 2060
Parts of the Arctic are now predicted to be rain-dominated as early as 2060, two decades faster than previously expected. Climate change could see the Arctic switch from being dominated by snow to rain up to two decades earlier than previously thought, with major consequences that risk accelerating global warming and devastating local wildlife. Snow accounts for almost all current precipitation in the Arctic, but the region is warming faster than the rest of the world and is expected to become predominantly rainy this century. The transition has already begun: rain fell at Greenland’s highest summit this year, for the first time on record. Now, an international team has found that the switch from snowy to rainy conditions across the Arctic could happen in 2060 rather than 2080. It will occur first in autumn, the season expected to see the biggest changes. “It is all linked to the whole climate crisis, which is contributing to a much greater increase in rainfall. That has huge ramifications for all life in the Arctic and I’m not trying to be doomist,” says team member Michelle McCrystall at the University of Manitoba, Canada. Reindeer and caribou herders in the Arctic face a huge impact as rain falling on snow can cover vegetation in ice, leading to the mass starvation of the herbivores, she says. The switch to a mostly rainy Arctic would have global impacts too. It is expected to accelerate the thawing of frozen ground, releasing the greenhouse gases locked within, and speed up the already rapid loss of Arctic sea ice. Such positive feedbacks would fuel even faster climate change, the driver of the transition from snow to rain. “Generally speaking, if the warming will cause earlier onset of Arctic rainfall that would obviously be bad for all kinds of reasons,” says Richard Bintanja at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. A 2017 study he co-wrote warned of “widespread, long-lasting and possibly even irreversible consequences” from the transition.

11-30-21 Quest begins to drill Antarctica's oldest ice
Efforts are about to get under way to drill a core of ice in Antarctica that contains a record of Earth's climate stretching back 1.5 million years. A European team will set up its equipment at one of the highest locations on the White Continent, for an operation likely to take four years. The project aims to recover a near-3km-long cylinder of frozen material. Scientists hope this ice can help them explain why Earth's ice ages flipped in frequency in the deep past. "Beyond EPICA", as the project is known, is a follow-up to a similar venture at the turn of the millennium called simply EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica). The new endeavour will base itself a short distance away from the original at Little Dome C, an area located roughly 40km from the Italian-French Concordia Station, on the east Antarctic plateau. At an altitude of 3,233m above sea level and over 1,000km from the coast, Little Dome C will be an inhospitable place to work. Even in summer, temperatures won't get much above -35C. The camp where the drill team will base itself was set up in the 2019/20. This coming season will largely be about putting in the necessary drilling infrastructure. But the technicians do aim to at least start on their core quest by getting down beyond the first 100m. This should take the borehole past the lightly compacted snow layers, or firn, into the impervious ice layers that are the real interest for scientists. The deep ice in Antarctica contains tiny bubbles of air. These little gas pockets are a direct snapshot of the historic atmosphere. Scientists can read off the levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping components, such as methane. Analysing the atoms in the water-ice molecules encasing the gases also gives an indication of the temperature that persisted at the time of the snowfall that gave rise to the ice. When researchers drilled the original EPICA core, they uncovered a narrative of past climate temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide stretching back 800,000 years.

11-30-21 Fungi may be crucial to storing carbon in soil as the Earth warms
In laboratory tests, dirt home to only bacteria released more CO2 when heated than other soils. When it comes to storing carbon in the ground, fungi may be key. Soils are a massive reservoir of carbon, holding about three times as much carbon as Earth’s atmosphere. The secret behind this carbon storage are microbes, such as bacteria and some fungi, which transform dead and decaying matter into carbon-rich soil. But not all carbon compounds made by soil microbes are equal. Some can last for decades or even centuries in the soil, while others are quickly consumed by microbes and converted into carbon dioxide that’s lost to the atmosphere. Now, a study shows that fungi-rich soils grown in laboratory experiments released less carbon dioxide when heated than other soils. The result suggests that fungi are essential for making soil that sequesters carbon in the earth, microecologist Luiz Domeignoz-Horta and colleagues report November 6 in ISME Communications. Who is making soil matters, Domeignoz-Horta says. The study comes as some scientists warn that climate change threatens to release more carbon out of the ground and into the atmosphere, further worsening global warming. Researchers have found that rising temperatures can lead to population booms in soil microbes, which quickly exhaust easily digestible carbon compounds. This forces the organisms to turn to older, more resilient carbon stores, converting carbon stored away long ago into carbon dioxide. With the combined threat of rising temperatures and damage to soil microbe communities from intensive farming and disappearing forests, some computer models indicate that 40 percent less carbon will stick in the soil by 2100 than previous simulations have anticipated (SN: 9/22/16). To see if scientists can coax soils to store more carbon, researchers need to understand what makes soil microbes tick. But that is no simple task. “Some say soil is the most complex matrix on the planet,” says Kirsten Hofmockel, an ecologist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., who was not involved in the research.

11-30-21 A new book shows how animals are already coping with climate change
‘Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid’ offers both good news and bad news. As a conservation biologist, Thor Hanson has seen firsthand the effects of climate change on plants and animals in the wild: the green macaws of Central America migrating along with their food sources, the brown bears of Alaska fattening up on early-ripening berry crops, the conifers of New England seeking refuge from vanishing habitats. And as an engaging author who has celebrated the wonders of nature in books about feathers, seeds, forests and bees (SN: 7/21/18, p. 28), he’s an ideal guide to a topic that might otherwise send readers down a well of despair. Hanson does not despair in his latest book, Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid. Though he outlines the many ways that global warming is changing life on our planet, his tone is not one of hand-wringing. Instead, Hanson invites the reader into the stories of particular people, places and creatures of all sorts. He draws these tales from his own experiences and those of other scientists, combining reporting with narrative tales of species that serve as examples of broader trends in the natural world. A trip to La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, for example, has Hanson reliving the experience of tropical ecologist and climatologist Leslie Holdridge, who founded the research station in the 1950s and described, among other things, how climate creates different habitats, or life zones, as elevation increases. As Hanson sweats his way up a tropical mountainside so he can witness a shift in life zones, he notes, “I had to earn every foot of elevation gain the hard way.” I could almost feel the heat that he describes as “a steaming towel draped over my head.” His vivid descriptions bring home the reason why so many species have now been documented moving upslope to cooler climes.

11-30-21 Wood Wide Web: Scientists to map hotspots of fungal life
A science mission is set to explore one of the final frontiers of untapped knowledge on the planet - the fungal networks in the soil beneath us. Fungi form an underground network of connections with plant roots, helping to recycle nutrients and to lock up planet-warming CO2 in the soil. But little is known about this giant mesh of fungi and its role in fighting climate change. It is part of what's popularly known as the Wood Wide Web. This is an underground network of plant roots and fungi that, among other things, allows trees to share nutrients. And scientists say "underground conservation" has been long overlooked. The initiative to map and preserve the Earth's underground fungal networks is led by the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks. It is the start of an "underground climate movement" to protect "this ancient life support system" said Toby Kiers, professor of evolutionary biology at VU University in Amsterdam. Local experts, dubbed "myconauts" after mycology, the study of fungi, will collect 10,000 samples over the next 18 months to compile a global map of fungal hotspots. And machine learning will be used to build up a picture of the function of fungal networks and their role as carbon sinks - something that absorbs more carbon-containing compounds - such as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - than it releases. Scientists say fungal networks are under threat due to agricultural expansion, the use of fertilisers and pesticides, deforestation and urbanisation. Current estimates put the amount of carbon dioxide taken out of the air and locked up in the soil with the help of fungal networks at five billion tonnes - although it could be more than three times higher. "If we lose this system, this is going to have really serious consequences for our ability to fight climate change," Prof Kiers told BBC News. Fungi are "the invisible ecosystem engineers and their loss is totally undocumented", she added. Soils are home to 25% of all species on Earth, yet current plans to conserve biodiversity hotspots above ground fail to protect over 50% of biodiversity below ground. The total length of the fungal network in the top 10cm of soil is more than 450 quadrillion kilometres: around half the width of our galaxy.

11-29-21 More work needed to create green jobs, report says
Efforts to create so-called green jobs need to intensify if the UK government is to achieve its target of two million roles by 2030, according to a report. Jobs linked to the green economy accounted for 1.2% of all advertised roles in the year to July 2021, consultancy PwC said. That equates to just 124,600 new jobs. Boosting green job creation is part of the government's "green industrial revolution" plans. In November 2020, the government announced £4bn would be spent as part of its plans to create two million green jobs by 2030. The COP 26 summit held in Glasgow a year later has put the issue into sharp focus again. But there are concerns that the green jobs transition could pose some risks, as it will have an impact on traditional jobs, especially in polluting industries. In September, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) warned up to 660,000 jobs could be at risk if the UK fails to reach its net-zero target as quickly as other nations. The simplest answer is a job that directly contributes to tackling climate change, although many think it should also cover roles that indirectly support that ambition. Growing sectors where one might find more green jobs being advertised include low-carbon farming, heating without emissions, and wind turbine maintenance. In its research, PwC said jobs that support the green economy indirectly should also be considered green. Such roles might include environmental advisers or experts in environmental or sustainability research and education. PwC's report said work was needed to ensure the move to a net-zero economy does not add to regional inequalities. It found that Wales, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and the Humber lagged behind other parts of the UK in terms of transitioning to a greener economy. Scotland and London were the top performers, according to the research. PwC ranked areas in terms of how they performed in job creation, the benefits of green jobs, the loss of "sunset jobs", the carbon intensity of employment, and green workplaces. They hunted for online job ads that mentioned things like sustainability and environment - there had to be a number of mentions.

11-29-21 Corals may store a surprising amount of microplastics in their skeletons
It’s unclear what effect the sequestering might have on reef health. A surprising amount of plastic pollution in the ocean may wind up in a previously overlooked spot: the skeletons of living corals. Up to about 20,000 metric tons of tiny fragments called microplastics may be stored in coral skeletons worldwide every year, says ecologist Jessica Reichert of Justus Liebig University Giessen in Germany. That corresponds to nearly 3 percent of the microplastics estimated to be in the shallow, tropical waters where corals thrive. Corals have been observed eating or otherwise incorporating microplastics into their bodies (SNS: 3/18/15). But scientists don’t know how much of the debris reefs take up globally. So Reichert and colleagues exposed corals in the lab to microplastics to find out where the particles are stored inside corals and estimate how much is tucked away. Corals consumed some of the trash, or grew their skeletons over particles. After 18 months, most of the debris inside corals was in their skeletons rather than tissues, the researchers report October 28 in Global Change Biology. After counting the number of trapped particles, the researchers estimate that between nearly 6 billion and 7 quadrillion microplastic particles may be permanently stored in corals worldwide annually. It’s the first time that a living microplastic “sink,” or long-term storage site, has been quantified, Reichert says. Scientists are learning how much microplastic is being introduced to the oceans. But researchers don’t know where it all ends up (SN: 6/6/19). Other known microplastic sinks, such as sea ice and seafloor sediments, need better quantification, and other sinks may not yet be known. Reefs are typically found near coasts where polluted waterways can drain to the sea, placing corals in potential microplastic hot spots.

11-25-21 Fix the Planet newsletter: Can small nuclear power go big?
Small modular reactors are being pitched as an affordable and fast way to decarbonise power grids but questions about the technology abound. Hello, and welcome to this week’s Fix the Planet, the weekly climate change newsletter that reminds you there are reasons for hope in science and technology around the world. To receive this free, monthly newsletter in your inbox, sign up here. I’ve just about recovered from the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where 196 countries agreed to ramp up action on climate change. While wind and solar power often get a big airing at UN climate summits, nuclear has historically had little presence, despite offering a steady supply of low-carbon power. Unusually, nuclear power did have a showing in Glasgow, at official events in the conference, deals on the sidelines and cropping up as a subject during press briefings. One new technology popped up a few times: small modular reactors (SMRs), mini nuclear plants that would be built in a factory and transported to a site for assembly. A UK consortium led by Rolls-Royce wants to build a fleet in the country to export around the world as a low carbon complement to renewables. During COP26 the consortium received £210 million from the UK government. More private investment is expected soon. Yet questions abound. Why should this technology succeed where large nuclear plants have failed to take off in recent years, beyond China? If they are small, will they make a sizeable enough dent in emissions? And will they arrive in time to make a difference to a rapidly warming world? Read on. Large new nuclear plants, such as Olkiluoto 3 in Finland and Hinkley Point C in the UK, are infamous for running over schedule and over-budget. Assuming Olkiluoto 3 achieves full power next year as planned, it will be 13 years late. And the huge upfront costs – around £23 billion in Hinkley’s case – means it can take a long time to get a final investment decision on new plants, as shown by the slow progress in green-lighting one on the other side of the UK.

11-25-21 Megafauna extinctions led to more grassland fires worldwide
Continents that lost the most large grazing herbivores over the past 50,000 years have seen the biggest increases in grassland and savannah firesv. From the giant armadillo to the giant bison, many large plant eaters have been wiped out in the past 50,000 years. Now a study has found that the continents that lost the most of these grazing megafauna had the biggest increases in wildfires in grasslands and savannahs. “There’s evidence today that herbivores can limit fire by reducing fuel load,” says Allison Karp at Yale University. In fact, some advocates of rewilding argue that restoring large herbivores can help reduce wildfires. A few studies have already found that there were more fires in specific regions after the loss of megafauna during the past 50,000 years. Karp and her colleagues decided to look at the global picture by analysing two existing databases. One, called HerbiTraits, has information on all herbivores larger than 10 kilograms lived that have lived in the past 130,000 years. The other, called the Global Paleofire Database, has records of charcoal deposited in lakes from 160 sites worldwide, which reveal changes in fire activity nearby. The team found that the biggest increases in fire activity were in the continents, such as South America, that lost the most big herbivores, with lower increases where there were fewer extinctions, such as in Africa. However, Karp didn’t find a strong link between the loss of browsers – tree feeders – and fire activity in woody regions. “The relation between extinctions and changes in fire activity was only really strong if you looked at grazer extinctions, so herbivores that eat grass,” she says. Karp says her study cannot tell us anything about the effects of this increased fire activity. But other studies suggest that they were dramatic. After humans wiped out Australia’s megafauna, for instance, increased fire activity may have transformed the continent’s vegetation.

11-25-21 Roman mosaic and villa complex found in Rutland farmer's field
A Roman villa containing a rare mosaic that depicts scenes from Homer's Iliad has been found beneath a farmer's field. The mosaic, found in Rutland, has been described as the first example of its kind in the UK. It was discovered by the landowner's son and investigated by archaeologists from the University of Leicester. Historic England described the mosaic as "one of the most remarkable and significant... ever found in Britain". The mosaic and surrounding villa complex have now been protected as a Scheduled Monument by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England. The complex is thought to have been occupied by a wealthy individual from the late Roman period. Jim Irvine, son of landowner Brian Naylor, made the initial discovery after spotting "unusual pottery" on a walk during the 2020 lockdown, and contacted the archaeological team at Leicestershire County Council. He said: "My family have been farming this land for 50 or 60 years. "During lockdown last year, I noticed some pottery on the ground which didn't look like any pottery I'd seen before. "We came down here with a spade and I dug a shallow trench and I was in exactly the right place." Historic England then funded urgent excavation work at the site by the University of Leicester. The mosaic, which forms the floor of what was thought to be a dining or entertaining area of the villa, measures 11m x 7m (36ft x 23ft). Mosaics were regularly used in private and public buildings across the Roman Empire, and often featured famous figures from mythology. However, the Rutland mosaic is thought to be unique in the UK as it features Achilles and his battle with Hector at the conclusion of the Trojan War. Investigations have revealed the large villa is surrounded by barns, circular structures and possibly a bath house. The complex is likely to have been occupied by someone with a knowledge of classical literature, between the 3rd and 4th Century AD.

11-24-21 North American monsoon triggered by air currents over Mexico mountains
The North American monsoon is caused by the flow of air over mountains, according to computer modelling. It may be one of the only monsoons to be triggered this way. Monsoons typically occur in the summer when land rapidly warms, which transfers energy to the atmosphere above, creating air circulation patterns that can produce heavy rainfall. William Boos at the University of California, Berkeley, wondered how much of a role the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in western Mexico might play in the North American monsoon, because mountains can deflect the path of winds. The North American monsoon hits Mexico and the south-western US every summer, bringing rain and thunderstorms between July and September. To investigate, Boos and his colleagues ran global simulations of the atmosphere under two scenarios: one with normal geographical conditions and one with the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains flattened to 0 kilometres above sea level. The team also modelled the impact of mountain ranges on winds. The group’s model suggests that the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains deflect the jet stream – a band of eastern moving air – southwards over the mountains, where it cools and condenses into clouds. “The physics that governs the water supply to a vast region of North America, including much of Mexico and the US Southwest, is very different from what we thought it was,” says Boos. His team hopes the findings can be used to improve monsoon forecasts.

11-24-21 How to slash the shipping industry's enormous carbon emissions
The climate crisis means we must urgently cut the huge emissions from sea transport. Engineering tricks, cleaner fuels and a return to the age of sail could all help swab the decks clean. IN FEBRUARY 1925, a strange kind of ship put out from the wharves of Kiel, Germany, onto the cold Baltic Sea. It sliced through the water, with two towers resembling giant smokestacks rising from its deck. But according to accounts from the time, no smoke was to be seen and no engine noise could be heard. This could have been the start of a new age of shipping. Created by German engineer Anton Flettner, those towers were clever devices that harnessed the power of the wind better than any piece of cloth. They worked well – but alas, they didn’t catch on. The designs languished in dusty bottom drawers for nearly a century, as ships relied instead on cheap fossil fuels to ply the oceans. That reliance on fossil fuels has become a huge problem. Shipping is a vast industry that underpins the global economy, helping to deliver all manner of goods, from food to fridges to fidget spinners. Yet it is a horror to the environment, with vessels burning dirty fuel and spewing vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Now, shipping is beginning to grapple with its climate conscience and serious efforts are under way to cut those emissions. Inventions like Flettner’s could be part of the solution, along with sleeker vessels, smarter navigation and greener fuels. There are choppy waters ahead, to be sure, but the technology we need to make our sea transport environmentally shipshape is on the horizon. “We’re steering towards zero-emission transport,” says Héléne Smidt at the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association. Shipping has come a long way since 1925, not least thanks to the invention of the shipping container in the middle of the 20th century. This standardised and industrialised ocean transport, helping it grow to epic proportions. Add in oil tankers, tugs, ferries, bulk carriers that bear minerals and ores – and all the rest of the world’s vessels – and there are more than 110,000 large ships on the oceans today. Some have grown to colossal sizes. The Ever Given, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March, is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall – and it isn’t even the biggest ship out there.

11-24-21 Atlantic Ocean water began warming the Arctic as early as 1907
A sediment core from Svalbard has revealed a sudden influx of warm water in the Arctic in 1907, which is evidence of a process that is spurring ice loss. Salty Atlantic waters may have been seeping into the Arctic since the early 20th century, several decades earlier than previously believed. The Arctic is warming faster than any other part of the world and the increasing influence of water from the Atlantic Ocean, which is on average warmer and saltier than the Arctic Ocean, is likely to be leading to further ice loss. This effect is known as “Atlantification”, says Tesi Tommaso at the Italian National Research Council Institute of Polar Sciences. But it is hard to quantify because we only have 20 years of confirmed data about the interaction between these waters, he adds. He and his colleagues studied the Fram Strait in the Arctic Ocean between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard. They collected a 112-centimetre sediment core from the bottom of one of Svalbard’s inlets to reconstruct the history of the strait. “The rock is in the ocean,” says Tommaso. “What we see is a reflection of the water’s properties.” The layers of the core correspond to sediments laid down over the past 800 years, which hold clues to the time they were deposited. “Every centimetre gave us climate information for about four to five years,” says Tommaso. The team found that for the earliest 700 years or so, nothing changed in the composition of organic matter in the sediment. But in samples corresponding to the year 1907, they saw a sudden change in the oxygen isotopes in the organic matter. “This change suggests the waters became a lot warmer and saltier,” says Tommaso. The team is unsure what caused this dramatic shift in temperature. “It could be a natural event that propagated from the subpolar regions to the gate of the Arctic Ocean,” says Tommaso.

11-24-21 50 years ago, corporate greenwashing was well under way
Excerpt from the November 27, 1971 issue of Science News. A new report published by the Council on Economic Priorities clearly outlines facts showing that much corporate advertising on environmental themes is irrelevant or even deceptive.… A large percentage of the environmental advertising comes from companies that are the worst polluters. Concerns about “greenwashing,” a term coined in the 1980s to describe the practice of organizations marketing their products as environmentally friendly when they are not, have persisted into the current climate crisis. As more consumers have become environmentally conscious, corporations’ greenwashing tactics have evolved. For instance, some energy companies in the United States have claimed that natural gas is a “clean” energy source because the power plants emit less carbon dioxide than coal plants. But natural gas plants can emit large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In 2022, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission plans to review its “Green Guides,” rules for companies that make environmental claims.

11-23-21 Trees cool the land surface temperature of cities by up to 12°C
An analysis of satellite data from 293 cities in Europe has found that trees have a big cooling effect while other green spaces don't. The cooling effect of trees reduces the surface temperature of European cities in the summer by up to 12°C in some regions. In contrast, green spaces without trees have a negligible effect, according to a study that strengthens the case for tree planting to help cities adapt to global warming. Jonas Schwaab at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and his colleagues used land surface temperature data collected by satellites to compare the temperature differences between areas covered by trees, treeless urban green spaces, such as parks, and urban fabric such as roads and buildings. They analysed 293 cities from across Europe. The land surface temperature measured by satellites isn’t the same as the air temperature, which is more closely linked to what humans would feel, says Schwaab. “Usually, the air temperature difference between tree-covered areas and built-up areas would be much smaller than the land surface temperature differences,” he says. The team found that tree-covered areas in cities have a much lower land surface temperature compared with surrounding areas. The differences were between 8°C and 12°C in central Europe and between 0°C and 4°C in southern Europe. The cooling effect of trees comes largely from shading and transpiration, which is when water within the tree is released as water vapour through their leaves. This process takes heat energy from the surrounding environment for evaporation, lowering the surrounding temperature. In the warmer climate of southern Europe, the soil and vegetation are typically drier, so the cooling effect of transpiration is lower than in regions further north, says Schwaab.

11-23-21 Tropical trees grow less in warmer years so they take in less CO2
A 21-year study of a patch of tropical forest shows that the trees produce less wood in years when temperatures are higher, suggesting these forests will mop up less carbon dioxide in future. Trees in tropical forests grow more slowly in years when the nights are warmer than average or dry-season days are unusually hot, according to a 21-year study. This suggests such forests will grow less as the world warms due to climate change – potentially taking up less carbon dioxide from the air and exacerbating warming. “For the first time, we have a window on what a whole tropical forest is doing,” says Deborah Clark at the University of Missouri-St Louis. “It is very scary.” Tropical forests contain an enormous amount of carbon, because the trees take in CO2 from the air and use it to grow. Droughts, which are becoming more severe due to climate change, may harm the forests and release some of the stored carbon. For over two decades, Clark and her husband David Clark, also at the University of Missouri-St Louis, lived at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. From 1997 to 2018, they took detailed measurements of the surrounding tropical forest, tracking how much new wood was produced and the amount of leaves and other material that fell as litter. The pair, with Steven Oberbauer at Florida International University, discovered that wood production fell in years with warmer nights – something previous studies had already suggested. The team also found that the trees produced less wood in years when temperatures in the dry season exceeded 28°C more often than usual. While this hadn’t previously been shown, Deborah Clark says it was expected because photosynthesis dramatically slows above this temperature.

11-23-21 Australia declares La Niña phenomenon has begun
Australia has said a La Niña event has developed for a second consecutive year, meaning there is a greater risk locally of floods and cyclones. Last time the weather phenomenon contributed to "once in a century" rains battering parts of Australia. But La Niña can lead to significant weather changes in different parts of the world. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is yet to declare a La Niña but has warned one may re-emerge. This year's event could be weaker, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (Bom). "Climate models suggest this La Niña will be short-lived, persisting until the late southern hemisphere summer or early autumn 2022," it said on Tuesday. La Niña is described as one of the three phases of the weather occurrence known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This includes the warm phase called El Niño, the cooler La Niña and a neutral phase. A La Niña develops when strong winds blow the warm surface waters of the Pacific away from South America and towards Indonesia. In their place, colder waters come up to the surface. In Australia, La Niña increases the chance of cooler daytime temperatures - reducing the risk of heatwaves and bushfires. But it tends to create wetter than normal conditions and can increase the frequency of tropical cyclones. Queensland has been warned of heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding this week. Last week, floods prompted evacuation warnings in Forbes, New South Wales. Recent torrential rain in South Australia also led to the stranding of a young family in the outback. During the last La Niña, thousands of Australians were displaced amid flooding which caused over A$1bn (£540,000m; $720,000m) in damage. La Niña can increase the risk of storms in Canada and the northern US, often leading to snowy conditions. In the UK and Northern Europe, a very strong La Niña event may also lead to a very wet winter.

11-23-21 Why green energy firm Bulb's collapse is not a big blow for renewables
The collapse in the UK of green energy champion Bulb would seem to be a blow for the country's efforts to decarbonise, but the way that the UK's energy market works means investors are still likely to continue piling billions of pounds into new wind farms. Green energy pioneer Bulb went from start-up to the UK’s seventh biggest energy supplier in six years by pricing electricity from wind and solar power at aggressively low levels, backed up by good customer service and technology. Yesterday, it effectively collapsed under the ongoing shock of high gas prices, which has fed into wholesale electricity prices too. The large size of the company means that its 1.7 million customers will not immediately be switched to a rival supplier, but the firm will instead continue under a special administrator appointed by the country’s energy regulator, Ofgem. It is the biggest UK energy supplier to fail in 19 years. On the face of it, the collapse of a green energy champion would seem a blow for the UK government’s new ambition to fully decarbonise its power grid by 2035. However, the way the UK’s energy market works means Bulb folding is unlikely to deter the investors who are putting billions of pounds into gargantuan new wind farms off the country’s coast. “I don’t think the Bulb collapse will have a big bearing on renewables’ investment,” says Richard Howard of analyst Aurora Energy Research. The “vast majority” of investment in new wind and solar projects today hinges on a tried-and-tested financial model of winning contracts from the UK government for a guaranteed price for the power those projects will generate, so-called Contracts for Difference (CfD), notes Howard . The next round of CfD auctions starts in December, with £265 million allocated by the government for the incentives.

11-20-21 British Columbia: Petrol rations after Canada storm
A Canadian province is rationing petrol over fuel shortage fears after a major storm cut off road and rail links. Canadian Armed Forces personnel have begun arriving in British Columbia to help with recovery efforts in the flood-stricken region. On Friday the province issued travel restrictions and rations on petrol, just a few days after declaring a state of emergency. At least one person has been confirmed dead, but more deaths are expected. British Columbia Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said non-essential traffic would be restricted while they rebuild the highway network. Fearing a fuel shortage, he called on people only to fill their vehicles with 30 litres per trip to the petrol station until 1 December. He did not say how close the province was to running out of gas, and said he would not send police to enforce the ration. "It's 10 to 11 days where we have to pull together as a province, if we're greedy, we'll fail," he told media on Friday. "The overwhelming majority of people will do the right thing," he added. With major highways shut and the Canadian Pacific rail line facing multiple track outages, the federal government is looking into alternatives to help supplies flow into the affected area. US border officials have allowed truckers who don't usually cross the border to access roads so they can deliver supplies, the province says. As of Friday, approximately 14,000 residents were still displaced from their homes. A major agricultural region, almost 1,000 farms are under an evacuation order and thousands of farm animals have already been trapped and killed by the floods. More than 100 soldiers have been deployed to the area so far and more stand by. Helicopters stationed on Vancouver Island and other's parts of British Columbia might also be called on to ferry supplies and emergency personnel or evacuate residents.

11-20-21 New plastic made from DNA is biodegradable and easy to recycle
A plastic made from DNA and vegetable oil may be the most sustainable plastic developed yet and could be used in packaging and electronic devices. A new plastic made from DNA is renewable, requires little energy to make and is easy to recycle or break down. Traditional plastics are bad for the environment because they are made from non-renewable petrochemicals, require intense heating and toxic chemicals to make, and take hundreds of years to break down. Only a small fraction of them are recycled, with the rest ending up in landfill, being incinerated or polluting the environment. Alternative plastics derived from plant sources like corn starch and seaweed are becoming increasingly popular because they are renewable and biodegradable. However, they are also energy-intensive to make and hard to recycle. Dayong Yang at Tianjin University in China and his colleagues have developed a plastic that overcomes these problems. It is made by linking short strands of DNA with a chemical derived from vegetable oil, which produces a soft, gel-like material. The gel can be shaped into moulds and then solidified using a freeze-drying process that sucks water out of the gel at cold temperatures. The researchers have made several items using this technique, including a cup (pictured above), a triangular prism, puzzle pieces, a model of a DNA molecule (pictured below) and a dumb-bell shape. They then recycled these items by immersing them in water to convert them back to a gel that could be remoulded into new shapes. “What I really like about this plastic is that you can break it down and start again,” says Damian Laird at Murdoch University in Australia. “Most research has focused on developing bioplastics that biodegrade, but if we’re serious about going towards a circular economy, we should be able to recycle them too, so they don’t go to waste.”

11-19-21 Brazil: Amazon sees worst deforestation levels in 15 years
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has hit its highest level in over 15 years, official data shows. A report by Brazil's space research agency (Inpe) found that deforestation increased by 22% in a year. Brazil was among a number of nations who promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 during the COP26 climate summit. The Amazon is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people. It is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. According to the latest data, some 13,235 sq km (5110 sq miles) was lost during the 2020-21 period, the highest amount since 2006. Environment Minister Joaquim Leite said the data represents a "challenge" and said: "We have to be more forceful in relation to these crimes." He added that the data "does not exactly reflect the situation in the last few months". Deforestation of the Amazon has increased under President Jair Bolsonaro. who has encouraged agriculture and mining activities in the rainforest. He has also clashed with Inpe in the past over its deforestation, accusing the agency in 2019 of smearing Brazil's reputation. But at November's climate conference in Glasgow, Brazil was among a number of nations who signed a major deal to end and reverse the practice. The pledge included almost £14bn ($19.2bn) of public and private funds. Some of that will go to developing countries to restore damaged land, tackle wildfires and support indigenous communities. Close links have previously been uncovered between the deforestation of the Amazon and international supply chains. Last year, a Greenpeace investigation discovered links between the mass deforestation of the region and food sold in British supermarkets and restaurants. The investigation found that Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Nando's and McDonalds were selling meat, sourced from a UK supplier, which had been fed on soy grown on farms built in deforested areas.

11-19-21 A new map shows where carbon needs to stay in nature to avoid climate disaster
Releasing the carbon stored in vulnerable ecosystems could push global warming past 1.5 degrees Celsius. Over decades, centuries and millennia, the steady skyward climb of redwoods, the tangled march of mangroves along tropical coasts and the slow submersion of carbon-rich soil in peatlands has locked away billions of tons of carbon. If these natural vaults get busted open, through deforestation or dredging of swamplands, it would take centuries before those redwoods or mangroves could grow back to their former fullness and reclaim all that carbon. Such carbon is “irrecoverable” on the timescale — decades, not centuries — needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and keeping it locked away is crucial. Now, through a new mapping project, scientists have estimated how much irrecoverable carbon resides in peatlands, mangroves, forests and elsewhere around the globe — and which areas need protection. The new estimate puts the total amount of irrecoverable carbon at 139 gigatons, researchers report November 18 in Nature Sustainability. That’s equivalent to about 15 years of human carbon dioxide emissions at current levels. And if all that carbon were released, it’s almost certainly enough to push the planet past 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels. “This is the carbon we must protect to avert climate catastrophe,” says Monica Noon, an environmental data scientist at Conservation International in Arlington, Va. Current efforts to keep global warming below the ambitious target of 1.5 degrees C require that we reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and that carbon stored in nature stays put (SN:12/17/18). But agriculture and other development pressures threaten some of these carbon stores.To map this at-risk carbon, Noon and her colleagues combined satellite data with estimates of how much total carbon is stored in ecosystems vulnerable to human incursion. The researchers excluded areas like permafrost, which stores lots of carbon but isn’t likely to be developed (although it’s thawing due to warming), as well as tree plantations, which have already been altered (SN: 9/25/19). The researchers then calculated how much carbon would get released from land conversions, such as clearing a forest for farmland.

11-19-21 How climate change may shape the world in the centuries to come
As 2100 looms closer, climate projections should look farther into the future, scientists say. It’s hard to imagine what Earth might look like in 2500. But a collaboration between science and art is offering an unsettling window into how ongoing climate change might transform now-familiar terrain into alien landscapes over the next few centuries. These visualizations — of U.S. Midwestern farms overtaken by subtropical plants, of a dried-up Amazon rainforest, of extreme heat baking the Indian subcontinent — emphasize why researchers need to push climate projections long past the customary benchmark of 2100, environmental social scientist Christopher Lyon and colleagues contend September 24 in Global Change Biology. Fifty years have passed since the first climate projections, which set that distant target at 2100, says Lyon, of McGill University in Montreal. But that date isn’t so far off anymore, and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions emitted in the past and present will linger for centuries (SN: 8/9/21). To visualize what that future world might look like, the researchers considered three possible climate trajectories — low, moderate and high emissions as used in past reports by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and projected changes all the way out to 2500 (SN: 1/7/20). The team focused particularly on impacts on civilization: heat stress, failing crops and changes in land use and vegetation (SN: 3/13/17). For all but the lowest-emission scenario, which is roughly in line with limiting global warming to “well under” 2 degrees Celsius relative to preindustrial times as approved by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the average global temperature continues to increase until 2500, the team found (SN: 12/12/15). For the highest-emissions scenario, temperatures increase by about 2.2 degrees C by 2100 and by about 4.6 degrees C by 2500. That results in “major restructuring of the world’s biomes,” the researchers say: loss of most of the Amazon rainforest, poleward shifts in crops and unlivable temperatures in the tropics.

11-18-21 Over three-quarters of the world’s vital carbon stores are unprotected
Ecosystems such as forests and peatlands are vital stores for carbon, but less than a quarter of these areas worldwide have protected status. Only 23 per cent of Earth’s most vulnerable and crucial carbon storage ecosystems are in protected areas. But a study that pinpoints these carbon stores could help inform initiatives to keep them safe from development, while also protecting biodiversity. Our planet stores carbon in a range of ecosystems, such as forests and peatlands. When humans degrade these ecosystems for commercial purposes, such as agriculture, large amounts of carbon may be released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Once released, it can take years, centuries or even millennia for carbon to be stored in such ecosystems again. The carbon that can’t be recovered by 2050, which is when the world must reach net-zero emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, is known as irrecoverable carbon. To map the areas of irrecoverable carbon globally, Monica Noon at Conservation International, an environmental charity based in Virginia, and her colleagues aggregated several carbon storage data sets. They found that half of the planet’s irrecoverable carbon is stored on just 3.3 per cent of its land. The highest concentrations of irrecoverable carbon reserves are in the peatlands and forests of the Amazon and Congo basin, the forests of North America and Siberia, and in mangroves and wetlands elsewhere. Less than a quarter of these lands fall under protected status. By identifying the irrecoverable carbon hotspots, Noon hopes to encourage better nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and policies to manage and protect these crucial carbon storage ecosystems. In the short term, this could include paying governments to reduce deforestation. In the long term, it could mean strengthening the rights of Indigenous people, who look after over a third of the land that contains irrecoverable carbon, and financing the expansion of protected areas around the world.

11-18-21 'I've seen irreversible change but hope too for planet'
As he leaves the BBC after decades of reporting, the BBC's science editor David Shukman reflects on how climate change became our most pressing problem - and how he's witnessed the natural world itself drastically altering. His face was flushed and his voice was loud. You're making it all up about global warming, a man shouted as he approached me. We were in the Royal Society, the UK's leading scientific academy, and a panel discussion about climate change had just finished. It's nothing to do with carbon dioxide, he bellowed, before security guards led him away. Climate change has aroused passionate debate because it raises questions about our lifestyles and modern economies. And in the early days of my reporting, the picture was not as clear as now. The basic physics had long been understood: that adding certain types of gases to the air will trap more heat. But nearly 20 years ago, the United Nations climate science panel was still cautious, saying it was "likely" not "certain" that human activity was driving up temperatures. Researchers were gathering more evidence all the time and I witnessed much of their work: in a crevasse in Antarctica where bubbles of air, trapped in the luminous blue ice, held clues about the ancient atmosphere; watching an Oxford professor kneeling in the Kalahari desert to count grains of sand to calculate how far the dunes might spread with global warming; and riding an armoured vehicle through Siberia to research how the permafrost is melting. And this fieldwork, combined with data from satellites and results from models run on supercomputers, led to a landmark conclusion recently: that it's now 'unequivocal' that it's us heating up the planet. At the same time, the implications of a more hostile climate were becoming clearer. A rise in the global temperature of up to 2C used to be thought of as "safe". And on my first trip to the Greenland ice sheet, in 2004, researchers were talking of the melting ice as more of a problem for the future. That was soon to change.

11-18-21 Vancouver storm: A state of emergency has been declared in British Columbia
A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian western province of British Columbia after a major storm cut road and rail links in the region. The Canadian Armed Forces are being deployed to help thousands of stranded residents who have been trapped since the storm hit overnight on Sunday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged assistance during a visit to Washington DC and said troops would help rebuild. One woman was killed in a landslide, and two people are missing. Thousands remain evacuated after an "atmospheric river" - a long strip of moisture in the air that transports water from tropical areas towards the poles - dumped the region's monthly rainfall average in 24 hours. Officials in the region have attributed the natural disaster to the effects of climate change. The impact of climate change on the frequency of storms is still unclear, but we know that increased sea surface temperatures warm the air above and make more energy available to drive hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons. As a result, they are likely to be more intense with more extreme rainfall. The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions. British Columbia Premier John Horgan said the emergency order took effect at 12:00 local time (20:00GMT) in a news conference on Wednesday. He said that travel restrictions will keep people off flooded roads, and ensure that essential goods will "reach the communities that need them". "There's not a person that hasn't been affected or will not be affected by the events of this past weekend," he said, adding: "These events are increasing in frequency due to human caused climate change." Mr Horgan said British Columbia must "bring the seven billion other souls that live on this planet to understand that we need to act now… to protect us from these types of events that will happen in the future".

11-17-21 COP26 could never be a true success without delivering climate justice
To be effective, global action on climate change must be just. That means compensating Indigenous people, but also learning from them, writes Graham Lawton. MY FIRST few days at the COP26 climate summit felt like an extended metaphor for the state of the planet. I was due to arrive on Sunday, but my train was cancelled because of extreme weather. When I finally got there, chaos reigned and tragedies of the commons were playing out. The venue in Glasgow, UK, was so overpopulated that accessing sessions was all but impossible. Chairs, tables and wall sockets had sprouted what looked like shanty towns around them as delegates fought to corner scarce resources. Food outlets ran short, bins overflowed and tempers frayed. But these problems were for the little people. As I searched for my bearings, I was brushed aside by security guards clearing a path for two figures whose body language exuded “VIP”. It was prime ministers Narendra Modi of India and Boris Johnson of the UK, who strode purposefully through the crowds before quickly disappearing into a gated area out of bounds to the plebs. Amid the disarray, a palpable sense of progress was emerging. However, as the first week wore on, a familiar sense of gloom and despair began to descend. Pledges are easy. Action isn’t. Brazil backtracked on its deforestation promise. Reports that emissions cuts promised thus far would keep warming below 2°C turned out to be so much hot air. I grabbed a word with Gabriel Kpaka of the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency, who speaks on behalf of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Least Developed Countries Group. He was less than impressed, pointing out that billions pledged to help the poorest countries – often the most affected by climate change though least responsible for emissions and least able to cope – had still not materialised. The pledges were made in 2015.

11-17-21 Climate change: What did the scientists make of COP26?
Scientists and leading climate experts have voiced concerns about the outcomes of the COP26 climate conference, in Glasgow. Those who spoke to the BBC praised the conference for getting countries to agree to meet again next year to pledge deeper emissions cuts. And they welcomed agreements on forests, innovation and especially methane - from fossil fuel extraction and livestock. But the scientists fear politicians won’t deliver. And they say the hope of holding temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is far too unambitious anyway. The experts say that with a temperature rise so far of just 1.1C, the world is already in a state of dangerous heating, with record temperatures, wildfires, floods and droughts Prof Sir David King, former UK chief scientist,told me: “Of course heating is already at a dangerous level. Greenland is sitting in blue sea for three months losing ice. Temperatures in the polar summer were 32C … the forests were on fire. “Even if we cut emissions completely we’d still be in a difficult place because of the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere already.” There's a similar message from Prof Piers Forster, coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “People are already dying and species are becoming extinct with current temperatures," he said. "We have locked in centuries of sea level rise. “1.5C has become the talisman for the safest we can hope for this century. But the more we learn the more we realise there is no safe limit [for emissions].” The scientists we contacted appreciated that COP offered practical solutions. There’s relief that after 22 previous COPs, there is at last reference to the need to phase down fossil fuels - although there’s dismay that India and China watered down the wording at the last minute. And there are widespread fears that politicians won’t keep their promises.

11-17-21 COP26: The truth behind the new climate change denial
As world leaders met at the COP26 summit to debate how to tackle climate change, misleading claims and falsehoods about the climate spiralled on social media. Scientists say climate change denial is now more likely to focus on the causes and effects of warming, or how to tackle it, than to outright deny it exists. We've looked at some of the most viral claims of the past year, and what the evidence really says. People have long claimed, incorrectly, that the past century's temperature changes are just part of the Earth's natural cycle, rather than the result of human behaviour. In recent months, we've seen a new version of this argument. Thousands of posts on social media, reaching hundreds of thousands of people over the past year, claim a "Grand Solar Minimum" will lead to a natural fall in temperatures, without human intervention. But this is not what the evidence shows. A grand solar minimum is a real phenomenon when the Sun gives off less energy as part of its natural cycle. Studies suggest the Sun may well go through a weaker phase sometime this century, but that this would lead, at most, to a temporary 0.1 - 0.2C cooling of the planet. That's not nearly enough to offset human activity, which has already warmed the planet by about 1.2C over the past 200 years and will continue to rise, possibly topping 2.4C by the end of the century. We know recent temperature rises weren't caused by the changes in the Sun's natural cycle because the layer of atmosphere nearest the earth is warming, while the layer of atmosphere closest to the Sun - the stratosphere - is cooling. Heat which would normally be released into the stratosphere is being trapped by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from people burning fuel. If temperature changes on Earth were being caused by the Sun, we would expect the whole atmosphere to warm (or cool) at the same time. Various posts circulating online claim global warming will make parts of the earth more habitable, and that cold kills more people than heat does. These arguments often cherry-pick favourable facts while ignoring any that contradict them.

11-17-21 Deadly storm cuts transport links around Vancouver
A deadly storm described by officials as a once-in-a-century weather event has severed road and rail links around Vancouver, Canada. Two motorways connecting the West Coast city were closed after being damaged by severe flooding. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes due to the massive storm, which struck on Monday. A woman was killed in a highway landslide, and rescuers say at least two other people are missing. The woman's body was found near Lillooet, about 250km (155 miles) from Vancouver, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). RCMP Sgt Janelle Shoihet said that rescuers had not yet determined the number of occupied vehicles that were lost in the slide, according to AFP news agency. Motorist Kathie Rennie told CBC News she saw the landslide come down on traffic that was already at a standstill south of Lillooet. "No sooner do we get back into our vehicles, the people that were in front of us are just screaming and running," she said. "The look on their faces, it was like a tsunami was coming. It was the scariest thing that I've ever seen. "I just turned around, and I'm just watching the whole side of the mountain coming down and taking out these cars... everything just being swept away. Just complete panic." The provincial minister of transportation, Rob Fleming, told a news conference it was the "worst weather storm in a century". Minister of public safety, Mike Farnworth, said he had "no doubt" that the storm was linked to climate change. Thousands of homes in British Columbia were evacuated after an "atmospheric river" - a long strip of moisture in the atmosphere that transports water from tropical regions towards the poles - dumped the region's monthly rainfall average in just 24 hours. All 7,000 residents of Merritt, about 120 miles north-east of Vancouver, were ordered to flee their homes on Monday. Snow fell on there on Tuesday, and cars could be seen floating in icy flood waters in town.

11-17-21 Delhi smog: Schools and colleges shut as pollution worsens
Authorities in the Indian capital, Delhi, have shut all schools and colleges indefinitely amid the worsening levels of air pollution. Construction work has also been banned until 21 November but an exception has been made for transport and defence-related projects. Only five of the 11 coal-based power plants in the city have been allowed to operate. A toxic haze has smothered Delhi since the festival of Diwali. The levels of PM2.5 - tiny particles that can clog people's lungs - in Delhi are far higher than the World Health Organization's (WHO) safety guidelines. Several parts of the city recorded figures close to or higher than 400 on Tuesday, which is categorised as "severe". A figure between zero and 50 is considered "good", and between 51 and 100 is "satisfactory", according to the the air quality index or AQI. Some schools had already shut last week because of pollution and the Delhi government said it was mulling over a lockdown to improve air quality as dense clouds of smog engulfed the city. A mix of factors like vehicular and industrial emissions, dust and weather patterns make Delhi the world's most polluted capital. The air turns especially toxic in winter months as farmers in neighbouring states burn crop stubble. And fireworks during the festival of Diwali, which happens at the same time, only worsen the air quality. Low wind speed also plays a part as it traps the pollutants in the lower atmosphere. Every year as winter approaches, there's a sense of déjà vu for us living in Delhi. The morning skies take on an ominous grey colour, we complain of stuffy nose and itchy eyes, and hospitals start to fill up with people complaining of wheezing and breathing difficulties. Those of us who can afford it, rush to buy expensive air purifiers. The mere act of breathing in Delhi becomes hazardous. The city routinely tops the list of "world's most polluted capitals" and we obsessively start checking apps that provide a reading of the air quality index. We look at the levels of PM2.5, the lung-damaging tiny particles in the air that can exacerbate a host of health issues, including cancer and cardiac problems, and PM10 - slightly larger particles, but still pretty damaging.

11-16-21 What difference will the COP26 climate summit make?
Despite last-minute changes, the final agreement made at COP26 still amounts to an important ratcheting up of climate ambition. Is the 1.5°C goal still alive? The answer is a good way to boil down the mind-boggling complexity of whether the COP26 summit, which finished in dramatic fashion last Saturday, puts humanity on the path that climate science calls for. Six years ago in Paris, 195 countries committed to this temperature goal as their line in the sand for limiting future global warming, in addition to holding it “well below” 2°C. Yet the emissions-cutting plans put forward in 2015 left the world facing a cataclysmic 3.5°C of warming by 2100. That is why nations in Paris also agreed a “ratchet mechanism” to upgrade the plans by the end of 2020. Many missed the deadline, so COP26 in Glasgow, UK, became the de facto cut-off point. This first crank of the ratchet yielded a mixed bag of plans. Some big emitters, including the European Union, Japan, the UK and the US, significantly deepened how much they say they will cut emissions by the end of the decade. China and India upped their ambition, but their emissions will still rise this decade. Many other sizeable polluters, including Australia, Brazil and Indonesia, didn’t issue improved plans. The net result leaves us in a better position, but one that is still nowhere near good enough: an Earth about 2.4°C hotter than pre-industrial times, according to an authoritative analysis by Climate Action Tracker, a non-profit scientific body in Germany, that assumes countries deliver on their 2030 emissions targets. That is why the inconspicuous paragraph 29 of the newly forged Glasgow Climate Pact, gavelled in late on Saturday, is so crucial. It requests countries submit stronger plans next year for how much they plan to curb emissions by 2030. And those plans must also be aligned with the 1.5°C goal, a more precise and tougher requirement than the pre-COP26 commitment for a “progression” in successive plans.

11-16-21 Covid denial to climate denial: How conspiracists are shifting focus
Members of an online movement infected with pandemic conspiracies are shifting their focus - and are increasingly peddling falsehoods about climate change. Matthew is convinced that shadowy forces lie behind two of the biggest news stories of our time, and that he's not being told the truth. "This whole campaign of fear and propaganda is an attempt to try and drive some agenda," he says. "It doesn't matter whether it's climate change or a virus or something else." Originally from the UK, Matthew has been living in New Zealand for the past 20 years. The country is one of several that have aimed to completely stamp out Covid-19 through strict lockdowns. Troubled by the New Zealand government's approach, he turned to social media for news and community. The online groups he joined - opposed to vaccines and masks - exposed him to completely unfounded conspiracies about sinister global plots behind the Covid-19 pandemic. His immersion in this conspiratorial world has coloured his outlook and affected his relationships. He's speaking to me on a video call while hidden away at the end of his garden, because he's afraid his partner - who doesn't share some of his views - might hear him. And recently, groups like the ones he's a part of have been sharing misleading claims not only about Covid, but about climate change. He sees "Covid and climate propaganda" as part of the same so-called plot. It's part of a larger pattern. Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine Telegram groups, which once focused exclusively on the pandemic, are now injecting the climate change debate with the same conspiratorial narratives they use to explain the pandemic. The posts go far beyond political criticism and debate - they're full of incorrect information, fake stories and pseudoscience. According to researchers at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a think tank that researches global disinformation trends, some anti-lockdown groups have become polluted by misleading posts about climate change being overplayed, or even a so-called "hoax" designed to control people. Increasingly, terminology around Covid-19 measures is being used to stoke fear and mobilise against climate action," says the ISD's Jennie King.

11-16-21 Nord Stream 2: Germany halts approval of Russian gas link
Germany's energy regulator has suspended the approval process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. It said the pipeline's operating company needed to be compliant with German law before it would certify the €10bn (£8.4bn) project. The decision sent UK and mainland Europe wholesale gas prices, already under pressure, to three-week highs. Critics fear the pipeline will increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia. Russia's state-owned Gazprom said the pipeline was ready in September, but it has been beset by delays. Running under the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream 2 will double Moscow's gas exports to Germany, but it will also circumvent Ukraine, which relies on existing pipelines for income and would be hard-hit by the loss of transit fees. German businesses have invested heavily in the 1,225km (760-mile) pipeline and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has played a big role in its development. The German regulator said "it would only be possible to certify an operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if that operator was organised in a legal form under German law". The decision is likely to set the project back several months and even when it receives German approval it will require a green light from the European Commission. The regulator said its approval procedure would remain suspended until "the main assets and human resources" had been transferred from the Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 parent company to its German subsidiary, which owns and operates the German part of the pipeline. Ukraine has opposed Nord Stream 2, described by President Volodymyr Zelensky as a "dangerous geopolitical weapon". This week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a choice was coming shortly "between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability".

11-15-21 COP26: How might decisions at the climate summit change our lives?
Now that a deal has been agreed and signed at the climate summit in Glasgow, you might be left wondering what it will mean for you. A change in the way we get around: Switching to an electric car is among a number of lifestyle changes we're likely to be making. Experts predict that new electric vehicles could cost the same as new petrol or diesel cars within the next five years. It is also possible to lease an electric vehicle, and there's a growing second-hand market, where these vehicles are cheaper. Dozens of countries, regions and car companies have agreed to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and bring in new zero-emission buses and trucks. Meanwhile, others argue we need fewer cars on the road - walking and cycling more could also be among the changes we make. A switch to greener power: More than 40 countries have signed up to phasing out coal. A similar number have committed to ensuring that clean energy is the most reliable and affordable option for powering our homes and businesses. For countries like the UK, this will mean continuing the move towards renewable sources such as wind and solar energy - and possibly more reliance on nuclear energy. COP26 lacked a breakthrough announcement committing the world's biggest coal-users such as China and India to ending its use. However, it's hoped the announcements made at Glasgow will send a signal to the market that it is worth investing in renewable energy. Our homes get greener: Solar panels and heat pumps could become standard in our homes. We'll build new houses using low-carbon alternatives to cement and concrete - and try to re-fit old ones. There's also a focus on making sure our buildings, infrastructure and communities are able to withstand the current and future impact of climate change. Eva Hinkers, Arup Sustainable Development Director says: "We also need to make sure [buildings] are fit for more extreme scenarios." This could include improving green space in and around our homes to absorb extreme rainfall, installing "cool roofs" that reflect sunlight and prevent overheating, or introducing shutters so homes can withstand hurricane winds.

11-15-21 A watered-down COP26 deal as Delhi chokes
India is accused of watering down a COP26 climate deal to cut coal consumption even as toxic air chokes its national capital, Delhi. Air quality in the city has been hovering between "severe" and "hazardous" for several days now. The Delhi government on Sunday announced that schools would close for week and said it was mulling over a "lockdown" to improve air quality. Burning of crop stubble, industrial and vehicular pollution, and weather patterns turn the city's air noxious every winter. But the air in the capital - and large parts of northern India - remains poor most of the year. Pollutants from coal-fired power plants are among the culprits. Despite pressure on India and China, two of the world's top carbon emitters, to sign a deal to end coal use, the two big consumers of coal proposed a last-minute change in wording - countries have now agreed to "phase down" rather than "phase out" coal. The news of the change made big headlines around the world with many heaping scorn and disappointment on India for desperately clinging to coal. But in a growing country which still derives around 70% of its energy from coal, the decision was seen as pragmatic and assertive. India's Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, who was at the Glasgow summit, said India had achieved "remarkable results", but it's all about striking a balance. He said he had articulated the concerns and ideas of other developing nations, who also rely on fossil fuels to power growth. The narrative in many parts of the media was that India stood up to the world and came home with what it wanted. "India has maintained that the current climate crisis has been precipitated by unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns mainly in the developed countries. The world needs to awaken to this reality," Mr Yadav wrote in a blog. Jairam Ramesh, a former environment minister from the opposition Congress party, said the outcome this year was "the best India can offer". "India has to be responsive globally and responsible domestically," he said. And millions of Indians, who are still reeling from the effects of a devastating second Covid wave, see getting the economy back on its feet as the biggest priority. For now that means clinging to coal while scaling up cleaner alternatives.

11-15-21 Scientists are racing to save the Last Ice Area, an Arctic Noah’s Ark
The goal to preserve summer sea ice, and the creatures that depend on it, is ambitious. It started with polar bears. In 2012, polar bear DNA revealed that the iconic species had faced extinction before, likely during a warm period 130,000 years ago, but had rebounded. For researchers, the discovery led to one burning question: Could polar bears make a comeback again? Studies like this one have emboldened an ambitious plan to create a refuge where Arctic, ice-dependent species, from polar bears down to microbes, could hunker down and wait out climate change. For this, conservationists are pinning their hopes on a region in the Arctic dubbed the Last Ice Area — where ice that persists all summer long will survive the longest in a warming world. Here, the Arctic will take its last stand. But how long the Last Ice Area will hold on to its summer sea ice remains unclear. A computer simulation released in September predicts that the Last Ice Area could retain its summer sea ice indefinitely if emissions from fossil fuels don’t warm the planet more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, which is the goal set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement (SN: 12/12/15). But a recent report by the United Nations found that the climate is set to warm 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100 under current pledges to reduce emissions, spelling the end of the Arctic’s summer sea ice (SN: 10/26/21). Nevertheless, some scientists are hoping that humankind will rally to curb emissions and implement technology to capture carbon and other greenhouse gases, which could reduce, or even reverse, the effects of climate change on sea ice. In the meantime, the Last Ice Area could buy ice-dependent species time in the race against extinction, acting as a sanctuary where they can survive climate change, and maybe one day, make their comeback.

11-15-21 Trees are dying at increasing rates in forests across Europe
Annual mortality rates are rising for all major tree species in Europe, which means forests will soak up less carbon and wildfire risks will increase. A Europe-wide study has found that the drying out of soils across the continent as the planet heats up is leading to the deaths of more and more trees. “European forests are suffering,” says Jan-Peter George at Tartu Observatory in Estonia. “It needs to be made clear to everyone in Europe, regardless of whether you are in the north or the south, that this will become a huge problem.” There is already growing evidence that more severe droughts due to climate change are killing off more trees in Europe. But most previous studies have focused on particular areas or been based on satellite surveys, where it is hard to know whether a tree has died or been felled. George and his colleagues have instead analysed about 3 million on-the-ground observations made as part of an initiative called ICP Forests, which was set up in the 1980s. Using this data set meant the team could exclude tree deaths due to felling. The analysis also excluded ash trees, which are being wiped out by the double whammy of a fungal disease and an invasive beetle. The researchers found that annual mortality rates are rising for all tree species. Norway spruce has been hardest hit, with mortality rates 60 per cent higher on average between 2010 and 2020 than between 1995 and 2009. For Scots pine, rates are up 40 per cent, European beech 36 per cent and oak 3.5 per cent. What’s more, for all species and regions, annual mortality rates have been positive since 2012. A positive annual mortality rate means that more trees are dying than usual, compared with the long-term average. “This could mean that European forests reached a critical point in 2012,” says George.

11-14-21 COP26: New global climate deal struck in Glasgow
A deal aimed at staving off dangerous climate change has been struck at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases. The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money for developing countries - to help them adapt to climate impacts. But the pledges don't go far enough to limit temperature rise to 1.5C. A commitment to phase out coal that was included in earlier negotiation drafts led to a dramatic finish after India and China led opposition to it. India's climate minister Bhupender Yadav asked how developing countries could promise to phase out coal and fossil fuel subsidies when they "have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication". In the end, countries agreed to "phase down" rather than "phase out" coal, amid expressions of disappointment by some. COP26 President Alok Sharma said he was "deeply sorry" for how events had unfolded. He fought back tears as he told delegates that it was vital to protect the agreement as a whole. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped the world would "look back on COP26 in Glasgow as the beginning of the end of climate change". "There is still a huge amount more to do in the coming years. But today's agreement is a big step forward and, critically, we have the first ever international agreement to phase down coal and a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees," he said. John Kerry, the US envoy for climate, said it was always unlikely that the Glasgow summit would result in a decision that "was somehow going to end the crisis", but that the "starting pistol" had been fired. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the planet was "hanging by a thread". "We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe... it is time to go into emergency mode - or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero." As part of the agreement, countries will meet next year to pledge further major carbon cuts with the aim of reaching the 1.5C goal. Current pledges, if fulfilled, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C. If global temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, scientists say the Earth is likely to experience severe effects such as millions more people being exposed to extreme heat.

11-14-21 COP26 climate deal: 'It won't save us from drowning'
The climate deal struck in Glasgow plans to reduce the world's reliance on coal and promises more money to help poorer countries cope with the impacts of a warming planet. Campaigners on the frontline of climate change have been speaking to the BBC what that means for them. Largely pessimistic about the outcome of the summit, they passionately explained their fears that political agreements aren't enough to save their homes and cultures. Elizabeth Kité is an youth leader in Nuku'alofa, Tonga. The deal doesn't do enough to save her home in the Pacific islands from drowning, she says. The survival of their island is at stake. She calls the summit a stage for big countries to "flex how much they can pay small nations". She wanted to hear rich countries acknowledge responsibility for historic greenhouse gas emissions. "But they talk like promising money is a favour for us - it is not," she says. She became emotional when she was describing how proud she was to watch Pacific Island negotiators fight hard at the summit. Last week Foreign Minister Simon Kofe of Tuvalu gave a press conference standing in the sea, to highlight rising sea levels. "We are friendly people and usually very peaceful. It's unnatural for us to come out so strong - and I'm sad the deal doesn't reflect how hard we tried," she explains. She is frustrated by what she feels is a lack of urgency and immediate actions: "It's like rich countries are saying, 'Yes we'll let the islands die off and we'll try to figure something out along the way.'" But she sees signs of progress. It's the first time fossil fuel and coal have been included in the texts. And she says the agreement to discuss separate funding for loss and damage - money to help countries pay for the damage caused by climate change they can't adapt to - is another positive step.

11-14-21 COP26: China and India must explain themselves, says Sharma
China and India will have to explain themselves to climate-vulnerable nations, COP26 President Alok Sharma has said as the summit ends. It comes after the two nations pushed for the language on coal to change from "phase out" to "phase down" in the deal agreed in Glasgow. But Mr Sharma insisted the "historic" deal "keeps 1.5C within reach". It is the first ever climate deal that plans explicitly to reduce coal - the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases. The summit, which was initially due to end on Friday, had to go into overtime before a deal was agreed late on Saturday - following the late intervention from India to water down the language on coal. Later on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will join Mr Sharma to give a Downing Street news conference on the outcome of the climate summit. Mr Sharma said the deal struck in the Glasgow climate pact was a "fragile win" and urged China and India to "justify" their actions to nations that are more vulnerable to the effects of global warming. He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I am going to be calling on everyone to do more. "But as I said, in relation to what happened yesterday, China and India will have to explain themselves and what they did to the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world." Mr Sharma, who had to hold back tears as he closed the summit following the late intervention, added: "I wouldn't describe what we did yesterday as a failure - it is a historic achievement." One of the main goals set out by COP26 was to ensure we do not go above 1.5C by 2100 - which scientists have said would limit the worst impacts of climate change. As part of the agreement struck in Glasgow, countries will meet next year to pledge further major carbon cuts with the aim of reaching the 1.5C goal. Current pledges, if fulfilled, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C. Scientists have warned if global temperatures rise by more than 1.5C the Earth is likely to experience severe effects such as millions more people being exposed to extreme heat. The world is currently 1.2C warmer than it was in the 19th Century.

11-13-21 COP26: World agrees to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies and reduce coal
Nearly 200 countries at the UN climate change summit in Glasgow have also committed to revisit and strengthen their 2030 emissions reductions plans next year, keeping the door open to crucial 1.5°C temperature goal. Nearly 200 countries have made an unprecedented and historic pledge at the COP26 climate summit to speed up the end of fossil fuel subsidies and reduce the use of coal, after India pushed through an 11th hour intervention to weaken the language on coal. Crucially, despite almost a fortnight’s negotiations that ran more than 24 hours late, the 196 countries meeting in Glasgow committed to issuing stronger 2030 climate plans next year in a bid to avert dangerous global warming. Pledges at COP26 are expected to see Earth warm 2.4°C this century, better than the predicted 2.7°C predicted before the summit but still a rise that would bring extreme climate impacts and see countries overshoot their shared goals of 1.5°C and “well below” 2°C. The promise to “revisit and strengthen” new plans by the end of 2022 means the UK government hosting the summit can credibly claim to have delivered its aim of “keeping alive” the 1.5°C target. “It is a big moment,” says Chris Stark of the Climate Change Committee, an independent group that advises the UK government. Fresh plans submitted next year for curbing emissions in 2030 must be aligned with the 1.5°C goal, an important new requirement that means those governments who fall short will have to justify why to their citizens. Australia, Brazil and Indonesia are among many countries whose existing plans are inadequate and will need to be strengthened. Until today, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have never been explicitly mentioned in 26 years of treaties and decisions at UN climate talks, despite coal being one of the key drivers of global warming and $5.9 trillion of subsidies being given annually to coal, oil and gas.

11-13-21 COP26: Final push aims to strike new climate agreement
Delegates in Glasgow are in final talks over a deal that aims to avert the most severe impacts of climate change. Negotiators in the main COP26 hall are meeting in huddles to iron out differences over issues like climate funding and deforestation. COP26 president Alok Sharma told negotiators he wanted a deal done on Saturday. And he said the current draft "really moves things forward." "At the end of the day, what has been proposed is a balanced package" he said. The key achievements in the agreement so far are the unprecedented inclusion of a commitment to phase-out coal, re-visiting emissions-cutting plans on a more regular basis and increased financial help for developing countries. But developing nations are unhappy about a lack of progress on what's known as "loss and damage", the idea that richer countries should compensate poorer ones for climate change effects they can't adapt to. Promises in Glasgow will not be enough to limit global warming to 1.5C. It is a key part of the 2015 Paris agreement that most countries signed up to. Scientists say that limiting temperature rise to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels will protect us from the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Meeting the goal requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030 and to zero overall by 2050. One example of the impact of global temperature rise above 2C is the death of virtually all tropical coral reefs, scientists say. One estimate by the Climate Action Tracker calculated that the planet is still set to warm by 2.4C if the current pledges are all met. But experts say the current target is still achievable: at COP15 in Copenhagen more than a decade ago, estimates suggested the world was heading for between 3.5 and 4.2C of warming. The new version of the agreement released earlier on Saturday continues to refer to "accelerating efforts towards phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies" - watered-down commitments that have been criticised by campaigners, even though some observers underlined that it is the first time coal is explicitly mentioned in UN documents of this type.

11-13-21 COP26: How might decisions at the climate summit change our lives?
If and when a new deal is signed at the climate summit in Glasgow, you might be left wondering what - if anything - it will mean for you. Here are some ways in which the decisions made at COP26 could change your life. Switching to an electric car is among a number of lifestyle changes we're likely to be making. Experts predict that new electric vehicles could cost the same as new petrol or diesel cars within the next five years. It is also possible to lease an electric vehicle, and there's a growing second-hand market, where these vehicles are cheaper. Dozens of countries, regions and car companies have agreed to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and bring in new zero-emission buses and trucks. Meanwhile, others argue we need fewer cars on the road - walking and cycling more could also be among the changes we make. More than 40 countries have signed up to phasing out coal. A similar number have committed to ensuring that clean energy is the most reliable and affordable option for powering our homes and businesses. For countries like the UK, this will mean continuing the move towards renewable sources such as wind and solar energy - and possibly more reliance on nuclear energy. COP26 lacked a breakthrough announcement committing the world's biggest coal-users such as China and India to ending its use. However, it's hoped the announcements made at Glasgow will send a signal to the market that it is worth investing in renewable energy. Solar panels and heat pumps could become standard in our homes. We'll build new houses using low-carbon alternatives to cement and concrete - and try to re-fit old ones. There's also a focus on making sure our buildings, infrastructure and communities are able to withstand the current and future impact of climate change. Eva Hinkers, Arup Sustainable Development Director says: "We also need to make sure [buildings] are fit for more extreme scenarios." This could include improving green space in and around our homes to absorb extreme rainfall, installing "cool roofs" that reflect sunlight and prevent overheating, or introducing shutters so homes can withstand hurricane winds.

11-13-21 Can California save itself from the flames?
Unprecedented drought and heat, combined with bad land management, have culminated in wildfires of historic proportion in California. Nichoel lost her home to the catastrophic Dixie Fire, and towns across the area have been wiped off the map. What's more, some of the largest and oldest trees on Earth - the giant sequoias - are now under threat.

11-13-21 Iqaluit: A month without clean water in Canada's north
It was late September when Adamee Itorcheak, a 56-year-old resident of Iqaluit - the capital of Canada's northernmost and sparsely populated territory of Nunavut - noticed something was wrong with his water. "The kitchen sink was the first indicator," said Mr Itorcheak, recalling a chemical smell coming from the water. Mr Itorcheak, an indigenous Inuk, is one of the approximately 7,700 Iqaluit residents who have been left without potable water for over a month. It took numerous complaints of suspicious odours to get officials to confirm that the city's water supplies were contaminated with fuel. warned that local water supplies are unsafe to drink or cook with. The water was so contaminated that officials warned that it wouldn't be safe even after boiling. In an interview with the BBC, Iqaluit mayor Kenny Bell said that while officials are "pretty confident" that spillage of some type of fuel from an underground tank is the likely culprit, they aren't "100% sure". "There's still an investigation going on," he said. Officials hope to have more answers next week after some recent testing near the suspected leak site. Faced with the shortage, residents were forced to stock up on bottled water, quickly depleting supplies at the city's two main grocery stores. Many residents filled jugs in the icy waters of the nearby Sylvia Grinnel River just outside the city. The water issues, Mr Itorcheak said, were particularly hard on many of the city's low-income residents, particularly those without transportation of their own. "I'm constantly getting calls from friends or relatives and people looking for a ride to pick up water," he explained. "Even if they make it to the water, [a jug] is 50 pounds. Imagine trying to carry that over a distance." Francois de Wet, the chief of staff of Qikiqtani General Hospital - the only one in town - told the BBC that for an eight-day period starting in late October, the hospital was forced to cancel surgeries and procedures that it couldn't do without single-use instruments, as the machine used to sterilise instruments relies on tap water.

11-13-21 What it’s like negotiating at COP26 as a small island state
After a tough two weeks at the Glasgow summit, climate negotiators from small island nations reflect on their experiences. Climate summits are long, complex and emotionally taxing. But for negotiators hailing from the island states facing the worst impacts of climate change right now, these talks are critical to the daily lives of everyone they love. “It’s two weeks away from your family, from your friends, eating very bad food and not sleeping,” says Kristin Qui, a negotiator for Trinidad and Tobago, on the final Friday of negotiations at the COP26 climate summit. On Thursday she started work at 8am and finished negotiations at 10pm. “That was an early finish,” she says. For the last two weeks she says she has averaged about six hours of sleep. Qui is negotiating on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States coalition (Aosis) at the COP26 climate summit. It is a coalition of 39 countries – largely from the Caribbean and South Pacific, including Jamaica, Cuba, Fiji and Antigua and Barbuda. “We are a group of very small countries that don’t have a significant amount of political leverage,” says Frances Fuller, a negotiator for Antigua and Barbuda. “But we have strength in numbers and the moral high ground – though that’s sometimes not enough to move the needle.” “Negotiations are not only physically exhausting but emotionally exhausting too,” says Qui. “But you have to compartmentalise because if you engage with that exhaustion your body is going to be like – I can’t do this anymore. Climate negotiations comprise both public meetings and private talks. In public meetings, countries say which parts of the proposed climate deal they do and don’t like. “It’s where the theatrics happen,” Qui says. Meanwhile smaller, closed-door meetings revolve around specific topics such as climate finance and emission pledges and are moderated by facilitators. Qui for example has spent the summit negotiating Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which details how carbon markets will work. “But the real discussions happen in informal meetings where there are no facilitators,” she says.

11-12-21 COP26 news: Real progress made but more emissions cuts are needed
Before COP26, the world was on course for 2.7°C of warming – now it’s at 2.4°C, which is a significant improvement. Future summits will need to push further on cutting emissions and funding climate adaptation. Here we are at the end of the line – sort of. Today is notionally the last day of the COP26 climate summit, but it now seems almost inevitable that the talks will run into extra time. So while this is the final daily update, the conclusions are necessarily provisional. We’ll have more, conclusive analysis next week when the summit is really, truly over. We don’t yet know what the final decision texts from COP26 will say, but we do have the latest drafts. Expected last night, they were actually released a little after 7am GMT, after another overnight session. Hopefully the negotiators had plenty of caffeine. It does remind me of Jim Hacker on the BBC programme Yes, Prime Minister mentioning “statesmen such as myself jetting all over the world, attending major conferences on the future of mankind and we’re zonked”. Anyway, the new drafts have prompted a lot of discussion, focused largely on whether they are stronger or weaker than the originals. There are a few key changes. The original draft referred to phasing out coal. This has been softened to “unabated coal”, meaning coal-fired power plants that don’t have a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system to trap their greenhouse gas emissions and bury them underground. Your mileage may vary on this, depending on your faith in the usefulness of CCS. The technology would allow some fossil fuels to be burned without impacting the climate. It does seem to work, but it needs a lot of infrastructure and is consequently expensive. Most scenarios for limiting warming to 1.5°C do use some CCS, but there is a strong case that it ought to be reserved for processes like steel manufacturing that are inherently difficult to decarbonise, rather than to keep dirty coal-fired power stations running. At any rate, it seems clear that a world without unabated coal will be better than one with it, so this bit of the text does represent progress.

11-12-21 Where the COP26 negotiations stand on the summit's last day
Negotiations at COP26, the United Nations-backed climate summit in Glasgow, were supposed to conclude Friday evening, but, like any great group project, officials have already blown past their deadline, The Washington Post reports. Though it is "typical" for U.N. climate conferences to "go into overtime," notes the Post, COP26 President Alok Sharma declared as late as Friday afternoon his "sincere intention ... to bring this conference to a smooth and orderly close at the end of today." Negotiators, however, are still "wrestling with big differences over the wording of what they hope will be a meaningful agreement" to come out of the climate change summit, writes The Wall Street Journal. One big hang-up is climate financing — though rich countries have promised to funnel money to poorer countries to assist with climate protection and initiatives, they remain at odds over the amount. Another issue involves the language governing fossil fuel subsidies in the current draft deal, which critics claim allege is too weak and "corrupted by fossil fuel interests," per The New York Times. More specifically, the latest version of the text employs qualifying language like "inefficient" or "unabated," which activists fear will allow "big polluting nations to continue underwriting the use of [some] fossil fuels" rather than requiring them to phase out subsidies completely. After almost two weeks of talks, such outstanding differences "signaled that it would be difficult for negotiators to reach the sort of sweeping agreement that activists and scientists had urged before" the start of the conference, estimates the Times. Still, some experts see progress. "Overall, on balance, this is definitely a stronger and more balanced text than we had two days ago," said Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute.

11-12-21 COP26: People from climate-ravaged regions say we need action now
Severe flooding and droughts are displacing people from their homes, and attendees at the COP26 climate summit pushed for action on adaptation to climate change. A key issue at the COP26 climate summit has been whether countries around the world will act together to address adaptation, tackling the worst effects of climate change happening right now. Last year 30 million people globally were displaced from their homes due to extreme weather and the problem will likely only get worse. But how seriously was the issue taken in Glasgow? “My dad grew up in a village that doesn’t exist anymore,” Emi Mahmoud, a Sudanese activist, told a panel at the summit on the plight of those forced to flee their homes due to climate change. Hotter temperatures mean rising sea levels, shrinking coastlines and more flooding. This is happening right now, Mahmoud said. The failure of crops in her home country is leading to people starving and struggling for money, she said. Across the world, homes are being lost to extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires. Last year higher-income countries gave about $20 billion to poorer nations to help them adapt to the effects of climate change. In Glasgow they promised to double this figure by 2025 but many lower-income countries at COP26 have said this figure and timescale is simply not good enough. Lower-income countries, like Bangladesh, and island states, like Fiji, want more money now to tackle the worst of these effects. If it does not come, people may have to flee their homes. Arafat Jamal at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says about 780,000 Sudanese people have been affected by flooding this year alone, and their displacement could lead to violence. “People are not crossing borders yet. But in a country with 64 ethnicities and a history of conflict, you’re playing with fire when so many people are moving,” he says. Jamal says there were flashes of violence last year in Mongalla in South Sudan after displaced people from nearby Jongeli state moved in after extreme floods but he says no such violence has been seen this year. “People are just trying to survive,” he says.

11-12-21 COP26 may be the 'highest emitting United Nations environmental summit so far'
According to estimates from professional services firm Arup, the COP26 climate summit held in Glasgow, U.K. over the last two weeks will emit "about 102,500 tons of carbon dioxide," or the "equivalent of total average annual emissions for more than 8,000 U.K. residents," CNBC reports. In fact, this year's conference is expected to have a carbon footprint roughly double that of the global summit in 2019. Even with the "reusable coffee cups, the low-flush loos, the paperless draft documents," and the "locally-sourced vegetarian haggis," writes The Washington Post, COP26 may be the "highest emitting United Nations environmental summit so far." A majority of emissions — 60 percent — are projected to come from international flights, though other "large contributors include accommodations, policing for the event and transportation to and from venues," per CNBC. Of course, it's "hard to see" how so many delegates could have arrived in the U.K. by a method other than air travel, notes the Post, but ... "there's always coach." U.K. Prime Minster Boris Johnson particularly caught flack for returning the 400 miles to London from Glasgow via charterted Airbus A321 jet. Also important to note when considering emissions is that this year's COP was bigger than past years' events, with almost "40,000 registered participants, including delegates, observers and media," writes the Post. The British government, which hosted the conference, said that, for the first time, emissions were calculated as including not just the conference site, but a space across the river for "civil society events." To offset emissions, the Brits are said to be purchasing carbon credits. The final emissions tally will not be known until later. Read more at The Washington Post.

11-12-21 New COP26 draft text adds caveats to fossil fuel subsidies phase-out
Nearly 200 countries are on the verge of agreeing to submit more ambitious 2030 emissions plans next year to put world on track for its 1.5C climate goal, however some of the language in the draft agreement has been watered down. The COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow has entered its final throes with a second draft of an agreement calling for 196 countries to submit stronger emissions reduction plans next year. The new text, which was published shortly after 7am GMT today following overnight negotiations, still commits countries to accelerating the phase out of coal use and fossil fuel subsidies. However, delegates in Glasgow have added caveats to the phase-outs. Officially, COP26 is due to finish at 6pm GMT today, but governments and experts now believe it is almost guaranteed to run late, as most previous UN climate summits have done. Commitments at Glasgow so far still have the world on course for about 2.4°C of warming by the end of the century, far off the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goals to “pursue” 1.5°C and “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. To close that gap, the new draft text “requests” governments issue new 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022, a shift from Wednesday’s draft text which used the verb “urges”. Opinion among veteran UN climate talks observers is divided on whether the change is stronger or weaker. The UN considers “requests” to be weaker than “urges”, a view that Helen Mountford at the US non-profit World Resources Institute agrees with. However, Richie Merzian, a former Australian government representative now at the Australia Institute, says “requests” is better. Either way, a commitment to returning with new plans next year will allow the UK government to claim that COP26 has achieved its stated aim of “keeping alive” the 1.5°C goal.

11-12-21 COP26: Coal compromise as leaders near climate deal
A draft agreement at the COP26 climate summit has watered down commitments to end the use of coal and other fossil fuels, as countries race to reach a deal after two weeks of talks. While the language around fossil fuels has been softened, the inclusion of the commitment in a final deal would be seen as a landmark moment. A deal must be agreed by the end of the summit, which is in its final hours. The UN meeting is seen as crucial for limiting the effects of global warming. The draft agreement, which was published early on Friday following all-night talks, also asks for much tighter deadlines for governments to reveal their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And it also strengthens support for poorer countries fighting climate change. Negotiations over a final deal could stretch late into Friday, or potentially even longer. "This text is the bare minimum. The next few hours are going to determine the new dawn," says Simon Stiell, climate resilience minister for Grenada, a small island that is highly vulnerable to climate change. "If the text withstands the battering it may get, we are holding onto 1.5C by our fingernails," he says, referring to the ambition to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C degrees to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Negotiators from countries that depend on fossil fuels may still attempt to amend the text before the summit ends. Climate groups cautiously welcomed signs of progress in the draft but said there is a long way to go yet. "The key line on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been critically weakened, but it's still there and needs to be strengthened again before this summit closes," says Jennifer Morgan of Greenpeace International. "But there's wording in here worth holding on to and the UK presidency needs to fight tooth and nail to keep the most ambitious elements in the deal," she says.

11-12-21 COP26: Fear of failure on final day, and just how green was summit?
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Friday. 1. Fear of failure as climate talks enter final day As the UN's COP26 climate summit enters its final day, fears are growing it will not meet its goals. A final deal has been tabled in Glasgow but representatives must now discuss the details until all 197 countries agree 2. How green was the COP26 climate summit? While delegates work towards reducing carbon emissions, an initial assessment for the UK government suggests emissions from the summit itself are likely to reach the equivalent of 102,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That's similar to the annual emissions from about 10,000 UK households and double those from the last climate summit. 3. What happened on Thursday? Wales joined a new global alliance of countries pledging to stop licensing oil and gas production, along with Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, the Republic of Ireland, Quebec, California and New Zealand - but not the rest of the UK. Meanwhile, representatives from Ghana, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Tuvalu held a news conference claiming the US was blocking progress at COP26. 4. How will COP26 change our day-to-day lives? While climate scientists and politicians wrestle with cutting carbon emissions in a bid to limit climate change, you could be forgiven for wondering about the impact of policies on daily life. "How is the average family going to find the extra £20,000 needed to buy an electric vehicle?" 5. Obama praises 11-year-old's climate change song When Nandi Bushell, from Ipswich, penned a climate change song after learning about the subject in school, she couldn't have imagined it would end up being shared by Barack Obama. The 11-year-old had already performed with Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl after publicly challenging him to a "drum off".

11-12-21 How green was the COP26 climate summit?
If you are going to host a world summit on climate change then it really should attempt to be green as possible. The UK government says it is committed to making the event "carbon neutral" but a new report suggests its emissions will be more than double those from the previous summit in Madrid. More delegates, more emissions According to an initial assessment report for the UK government the carbon emissions for COP26 are expected to reach the equivalent of 102,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is similar to the annual emissions from about 10,000 UK households. The figure for COP26 is double the emissions from the last climate summit in Madrid in 2019. Some of that could be down to the size of this summit. The UK government says that, despite the Covid pandemic, the Glasgow COP attracted more than 39,000 participants as opposed to 27,000 in Madrid in 2019. International flights and private jets According to the report, about 60% of the COP26 emissions are estimated to have come from international flights. In order to avoid emissions from flights, attendees were urged to travel by land where possible. However many world leaders flew in by private jet, plus there were cargo aircraft which carried helicopters and vehicles for motorcades. Aviation analytics company Cirium told the BBC's Reality Check there was a total of 76 flights involving private jets, or VIP flights, arriving in and around Glasgow in the four days leading up to 1 November. Powering the venue The report, prepared for the government by sustainability consultant Arup, says that it is the "preliminary baseline assessment" for COP26 and it does not breakdown the figures for other emissions. Among the other factors included in the assessment is "energy, water and waste management" at the SEC campus where the summit is being held. According to the Arup report, a new mains power supply was installed at the SEC to provide power for temporary buildings to avoid the use of generators, except for backup power in certain circumstances. It said energy supply during the event would also use a renewable energy tariff.

11-12-21 Climate change: How could a 2050 weather forecast look?
The future climate could be determined by the level of emissions in the coming years, so how could a weather forecast in 2050 look? DescriptionThe UK could be as much as 1.5C warmer by then, according to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, based on the current trajectory. And there could be more extreme heat events and changes to the coastline. BBC News weather presenter Sabrina Lee put together a forecast for 30 years' time, if climate change were to remain unchecked.

11-11-21 COP26 news: US-China climate pact is important but largely symbolic
Two huge emitters agreed to work together to limit global warming, but the agreement is largely symbolic, as is an alliance to stop extracting oil and gas which hasn't been signed by the biggest oil and gas producers. There is only one day to go at the COP26 international climate summit – unless the talks go into extra time, as many previous COPs have. Because today is the penultimate day, the situation is highly uncertain. We don’t yet know what the final text will look like, because the negotiators are still scribbling away with pencils and erasers. A new draft was expected overnight but that hasn’t happened for whatever reason, and the redraft is now expected tonight. But in the meantime, there has been plenty of action. The big news overnight was the announcement of a pact between the US and China, boosting climate cooperation between the two countries. Both have said they will work together to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement. This includes “taking enhanced climate actions that raise ambition in the 2020s”. What are we to make of this? On the one hand, there is little of real substance in there. The declaration doesn’t include specific new targets or funding. So its value is largely symbolic. On the other hand, the symbolism is potent. Relations between the US and China are pretty bad at the moment, and yet the two governments have come together. Their doing so underscores the seriousness of the climate crisis, and sends an implicit message to other squabbling governments to resolve their issues: embrace the pain, spank their inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. Whether it will prompt a better outcome of the summit as a whole is anyone’s guess. In fact, that uncertainty is a common thread in expert discussions of COP26. According to Ed King at the European Climate Foundation in the Netherlands: “This is an incredibly hard summit to call. Perhaps one of the hardest I can recall after a decade covering these meetings… There is draining complexity to this meeting like no other, and with around 48 hours to run, people are getting tired.” Even the experts aren’t sure how successful the summit will be in the end.

11-11-21 The People’s Summit: An alternative to COP26 led by activists
In Glasgow, much attention has been paid to the COP26 climate summit, but an alternative meeting called the People’s Summit brings together environmental activists and campaigners. The COP26 climate summit in the UK is a lot. There are thousands and thousands of people in suits and lanyards walking very quickly from room to room. The hastily assembled floor reverberates throughout the day with drumming footsteps. Everything about COP26 is utterly overwhelming, but it isn’t the only event in town. For the second week of November, Glasgow has been home to an alternative climate summit as well. The People’s Summit is a gathering of activists and campaigners that has hosted talks and workshops – both online and throughout the city – on issues including environmental activism, Indigenous rights and air quality. I met Lina Gobbelé, a student from Germany, at a workshop on the various forms climate activism can take. The room was cold, starkly lit and on the outskirts of Glasgow. It was filled with about 20 people, some from Belgium, another from Israel, and another who works for Caroline Lucas, a Green member of parliament in the UK. Gobbelé says she went to COP26 for the first week but didn’t enjoy it. “It was just people in suits trying to look important,” she says. “I didn’t see what the point in me being there was.” She has been an activist since she joined the Fridays for Future movement at age 16 and says the value in meetings like the People’s Summit is that she gets to meet people who care about the same issues as her. Johanna Ellerhoff, an 18-year-old activist from Germany, says she came to the People’s Summit because she is scared for her future. “I feel hopeless sometimes, but I feel like we are the actual leaders of the movement, not the people at the climate summit,” she says.

11-11-21 COP26: How much is spent supporting fossil fuels and green energy?
The burning of fossil fuels is one of the primary causes of global warming. But despite pledges to phase out support, governments around the world spend more than $420bn (£313bn) each year subsidising the non-renewable energy, according to the UN Development Programme. How do fossil fuel subsidies work and which countries are spending the most? What are fossil fuel subsidies? Fossil fuel subsidies are measures taken by governments that artificially lower the price of coal, oil, or natural gas. These take two forms: 1. production subsidies - tax breaks or direct payments that reduce the cost of producing fossil fuels. 2. consumption subsidies - energy price cuts for consumers, such as setting fixed prices at petrol stations. Transparency on fossil fuel funding is generally poor, but about three-quarters of the world's subsidies are estimated to be focused on consumers, and a quarter on producers. Consumption subsidies are often seen in lower-income countries - largely to help alleviate poverty through measures that can make cooking gas cheaper, or lower the cost of transport. Iran topped the list for consumption subsidies for 2019 - according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) - followed by China and India, all of whom subsidise petrol prices. What action is being taken to phase them out? A draft agreement published at the COP26 climate summit has called on all countries to accelerate the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels - but no firm dates have been set. All countries in the G7 - representing the world's largest advanced economies - have previously committed to phase out "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. "If you look globally, you can see there is progress on phasing out subsidies, but it is slow," says Peter Wooders, senior director at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). "Within the G7 members there's been some progress on subsidy reform, but it's been quite limited - they really need to do better and it's obviously inconsistent with climate pledges," he adds. Support for fossil fuels across 81 major economies has been declining in recent years but was still more than $350bn in 2020.

11-11-21 COP26: Cautious welcome for unexpected US-China climate agreement
Activists and politicians have cautiously welcomed an unexpected US-China declaration that vowed to boost climate co-operation. The EU and UN described the move as encouraging and an important step, but Greenpeace said both countries needed to take concrete action. The US and China are the world's two biggest CO2 emitters. They said they would work together to achieve the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Scientists say that limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C will help humanity avoid the worst climate impacts. This is compared with pre-industrial temperatures. While the latest pledge is short on detail, analysts say it is a tacit acknowledgement by China that the crisis warrants urgent attention and that it will play a bigger role in confronting the global challenge. The announcement by the two global rivals was made on Wednesday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, which officially ends on Friday. US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are now expected to hold a virtual meeting as early as next week. According to China's climate envoy, the declaration was agreed following some 30 meetings with the US over the past 10 months. It pledges close co-operation on cutting emissions, while a joint working group will also "meet regularly to address the climate crisis" over the next decade. The reaction to the surprise agreement has been largely positive, but experts and activists have warned that policies must now be enacted to support the promises. Genevieve Maricle, director of US climate policy action at pressure group WWF, said the announcement offered "new hope" that the 1.5C limit might be achieved. But she added that "we must also be clear eyed about what is still required if the two countries are to deliver the emission reductions necessary in the next nine years". Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan warned that China and the US needed to show greater commitment to reaching climate goals.

11-11-21 COP26: US-China climate agreement and fossil fuel spending
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Thursday. 1. Cautious welcome for US-China climate agreement: There's been a cautious welcome by activists and politicians to the unexpected announcement that the US and China would work together to tackle climate change. 2. How much is still spent supporting fossil fuels? Despite promises to invest in green energy, many governments still financially back the fossil fuel industry - emissions from which are one of the primary causes of global warming. 3. 'I grew up seeing typhoons in my community': Mitzi Jonelle Tan from the Philippines, Gaston Tenembaum from Argentina, and Dominique Palmer from London are passionate about the environment. 4. Murals to remember COP26: Every year the Artivist Network - a group of artists and activists - find a space to paint a mural during COP, to leave something permanent and thought-provoking behind after negotiations. 5. Turning cities into giant sponges to soak up floods: Instead of fearing floods, one man has come up with an idea to embrace them by creating sponge cities to soak up rainfall.

11-11-21 The man turning cities into giant sponges to embrace floods
Yu Kongjian can remember the day he nearly died in the river. Swollen with rain, the White Sand Creek had flooded the rice terraces in Yu's farming commune in China. Yu, just 10 then, ran excitedly to the river's edge. Suddenly, the earth beneath his feet collapsed, sweeping him into the floodwaters in one terrifying instant. But banks of willows and reeds slowed the river's flow, allowing Yu to grab the vegetation and pull himself out. "I am sure that if the river was like it is today, smoothened with concrete flood walls, I would have drowned," he tells the BBC. It was a defining moment that would impact not only his life, but the rest of China as well. One of China's most prominent urban design thinkers and Dean of the prestigious Peking University's college of architecture and landscape, Yu Kongjian is the man behind the sponge city concept of managing floods that is being rolled out in scores of Chinese cities. It is an idea he believes other places can adopt - even as some raise questions of whether, in the face of more extreme floods linked to climate change, sponge cities can truly work. What if a flood could be something we embrace rather than fear? This is the central idea of Prof Yu's sponge city. Conventional flood water management often involves building pipes or drains to carry away water as swiftly as possible, or reinforcing river banks with concrete to ensure they do not overflow. But a sponge city does the opposite, seeking instead to soak up rainfall and slow down surface run-off. It tries to do it in three areas. The first is at the source, where just like a sponge with many holes, a city tries to contain water with many ponds. The second is through the flow, where instead of trying to channel water away quickly in straight lines, meandering rivers with vegetation or wetlands slow water down - just like in the creek that saved his life. This has the added benefit of creating green spaces, parks and animal habitats, and purifying the surface run-off with plants removing polluting toxins and nutrients. The third is the sink, where the water empties out to a river, lake or sea. Prof Yu advocates relinquishing this land and avoiding construction in low-lying areas. "You cannot fight the water, you have to let it go," he says.

11-11-21 Coastal saltmarsh 'engineered' to fight climate change
Re-flooding coastal wetlands could provide an opportunity to "work with nature" and use sea level rise to fight climate change, scientists say. An ongoing study of a coastal marsh in Scotland has shown the potential to lock carbon emissions into mud. A stretch of the Skinflats RSPB reserve near Falkirk was restored in 2018. "It's now pretty much indistinguishable from the saltmarsh that's been here for hundreds of years," said the RSPB's Allison Leonard. "We carried out lots of surveys and studies before we did it, but then when it actually came to breaching the seawall, it's really quite simple. You get a digger and just go for it." "We're really seeing the wildlife respond," she said. Prof William Austin from the University of St Andrews, who has been studying the site's natural restoration explained that "allowing the sea to come back in" created habitat and an opportunity to store what is known as blue carbon. "That's the carbon stored in plants and soils," he explained. "These [saltmarshes] are places that will build up stores of carbon that would otherwise be in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. "We can count the plant species here, we can count the animals, we can look at the wading birds that start to come in and use the site," he told BBC News. "But as well as nature positive changes, we're starting to see an accumulation in the soil of organic material that is rich in carbon. This is why these habitats are such great interest to us." As the COP26 climate summit draws to a conclusion in Glasgow, he suggested that the protection, restoration and even the creation of new wetland habitat could be a valuable part of Scotland's efforts to reach net-zero emissions. "These sites take in some of this greenhouse gas for us. So we need to work with nature to achieve that balance of net zero," he said. "But of course, we have to reduce our emissions in the meantime."

11-11-21 COP26: New alliance commits to ending oil and gas extraction
Denmark, France and Ireland are among the countries pledging to end oil and gas production within their borders, but big producers decline to join. France, Sweden and Ireland have joined a Denmark and Costa Rica-led alliance of countries committed to ending future oil and gas production within their borders. Portugal, California and New Zealand stopped shy of that pledge, but committed to “significant concrete steps” to curb oil and gas production. Italy, the European Union’s second biggest oil producer, made a less ambitious promise, saying it would align future oil and gas extraction with the 2015 Paris Agreement. The new Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) was hailed as important by campaigners who have been pushing for a global treaty on stopping fossil fuel extraction, modelled on nuclear weapons proliferation treaties. Similar international coalitions have already been established on coal, but not yet on the other two major fossil fuels. However, the alliance, launched at the COP26 summit in Glasgow today, lacks any significant oil and gas producers promising to end extraction. The UK government, which is hosting the summit, hasn’t signed up to the new initiative, an absence that the charity Oxfam said was disappointing. UK prime minister Boris Johnson told reporters in Glasgow yesterday that he will look at what Denmark and Costa Rica announce, but didn’t explain why the UK wasn’t joining. The core members of BOGA are Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales and the Canadian province of Quebec. Wales doesn’t have the ability to issue oil and gas licences; that power lies with the UK government. Portugal, California and New Zealand are “associate” members of BOGA, while Italy is deemed a “friend” of the coalition. “Our goal is not small, our ambition is not modest. We hope today will mark the beginning of the end of oil and gas,” said Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s minister for climate, energy and utilities.

11-11-21 COP26: How much is spent supporting fossil fuels and green energy?
The burning of fossil fuels is one of the primary causes of global warming. But despite pledges to phase out support, governments around the world spend more than $420bn (£313bn) each year subsidising the non-renewable energy, according to the UN Development Programme. How do fossil fuel subsidies work and which countries are spending the most? Fossil fuel subsidies are measures taken by governments that artificially lower the price of coal, oil, or natural gas. These take two forms: production subsidies - tax breaks or direct payments that reduce the cost of producing fossil fuels. consumption subsidies - energy price cuts for consumers, such as setting fixed prices at petrol stations. Transparency on fossil fuel funding is generally poor, but about three-quarters of the world's subsidies are estimated to be focused on consumers, and a quarter on producers. Consumption subsidies are often seen in lower-income countries - largely to help alleviate poverty through measures that can make cooking gas cheaper, or lower the cost of transport. Iran topped the list for consumption subsidies for 2019 - according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) - followed by China and India, all of whom subsidise petrol prices. What action is being taken to phase them out? A draft agreement published at the COP26 climate summit has called on all countries to accelerate the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels - but no firm dates have been set. All countries in the G7 - representing the world's largest advanced economies - have previously committed to phase out "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. "If you look globally, you can see there is progress on phasing out subsidies, but it is slow," says Peter Wooders, senior director at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). "Within the G7 members there's been some progress on subsidy reform, but it's been quite limited - they really need to do better and it's obviously inconsistent with climate pledges," he adds. Support for fossil fuels across 81 major economies has been declining in recent years but was still more than $350bn in 2020.

11-11-21 Climate change: Iran says lift sanctions and we'll ratify Paris agreement
Iran will ratify the landmark Paris agreement on climate change only if sanctions against it are lifted, a senior leader has told the BBC. Ali Salajegheh said sanctions were impeding Iran in areas like renewable energy. Iran is the world's eighth largest CO2 emitter, yet is one of the few countries not to ratify the Paris pact. Emissions have soared in recent years as overseas investments in renewable energy have collapsed. The government has also violently suppressed protests about water shortages. While the country's president Ebrahim Raisi has chosen not to come to the UN climate change summit in Glasgow, the Iranian team is here to plead for relief from the economic blockade. "Iran has been impacted by climate change like every other place in the world," said Mr Salajegheh. "This has reduced our rainfall per annum and also the inflow of water into our rivers has reduced by 40% this has affected our agriculture and affected our industrial and drinking water." However, Iran has been criticised for damaging its own water supply by drilling over a million wells and building around 700 dams. On the issue of the Paris climate agreement, Mr Salajegheh said the pact had to be a "two-way street." "When you have oppressive sanctions in force it does not allow for any kind of imports even medicine which is a human fundamental right," he said. "If the sanctions are removed, then we have a commitment towards the international community, it is at that time that they can transfer modern technology and finance to us especially in the area of renewable energy so we can modernise our deteriorating infrastructure," he told BBC News. But can Iran be trusted on climate change? The country had originally said that even if sanctions weren't removed they promised that CO2 would be reduced. The reality is somewhat different, carbon pollution has in fact gone up, and the country is rated as "critically insufficient" on climate change by the Climate Action Tracker.

11-11-21 Our AI is exposing climate misinformation throughout COP26
There is a kind of climate pollution that we can’t see clearly. It isn’t in our rivers, lands or skies, it is in our minds. When climate disinformation goes unchecked, it spreads like wildfire, undermining the existence of climate change and the need for urgent action. In the past year, thousands of articles denying the climate crisis were posted on Facebook, receiving hundreds of thousands of interactions online – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Like the biosphere that sustains us, the health of our information ecosystems is vital to our survival. As an artist, I feel a responsibility to create new ways of seeing the disinformation that has come to define the age of fake news. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are honed to grab our attention. Using sophisticated algorithms, the corporations behind them decide what billions of people see around the world. This is dictated by what keeps you hooked, but also by what the companies paying social media sites choose to put in front of you. Powerful corporate actors deploy clever influence campaigns via ads targeted at specific users based on what social media companies already know about those people. Major oil and gas companies have spent billions of dollars over the years persuading consumers about their green credentials, when only 1 per cent of their expenditure in 2019 was on renewable energy. This is known as corporate greenwashing. Still, fossil fuel companies maintain that their climate policies are “responsible” and “in line with the science”. To expose the sheer scale of corporate greenwashing online, I was part of a team that recently launched Eco-Bot.Net. Co-created with artist Rob “3D” Del Naja of band Massive Attack and green entrepreneur Dale Vince, Eco-Bot.Net’s AI-powered website will run throughout the COP26 climate summit, exposing climate change misinformation by releasing a series of data drops for heavily polluting sectors, including energy, agribusiness and aviation.

11-10-21 COP26 news: Draft text calls for phasing out coal and fossil fuels
The first COP26 draft statement was released, with an acknowledgment of the role of fossil fuels in climate change. Plus, 24 countries and several car-makers pledged to end the sale of cars run on fossil fuels by 2040. Just before 6am UK time, the first draft of the COP26 final statement was released. It was expected to come out around midnight, but instead, the negotiators had to work through the night. The text gives us our first concrete notion of what the world’s governments will agree to this week. Of course, it is still a draft, and the final version may look significantly different. But let’s take a look at what we have. New Scientist’s Adam Vaughan was up painfully early this morning and has summarised what is in the text. He highlights several key points. First, the text “calls upon Parties to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”. That’s remarkable for one simple reason: it explicitly mentions fossil fuels. Ed King at the European Climate Foundation in the Netherlands tweeted that analysts reckon this is the “first time fossil fuels have been called out in a draft UN #climate decision text” – a point echoed by others – and called it “a moment”. “We’ve never had a text like that before in the COP, a reference specifically to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies or to phasing out coal,” Helen Mountford at the World Resources Institute, told Vaughan. To readers out there in the normal world, this may seem utterly bizarre. Climate change is driven in large part by our use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they release. Obviously. And yet in the topsy-turvy world of international diplomacy, many countries have simply refused to formally commit to this basic fact. It would be possible to write quite a long book exploring the psychological, economic and political reasons for that – but the fact is they haven’t said it before. If this line makes it into the final document, for the first time all the world’s governments will have admitted that fossil fuels are the problem.

11-10-21 U.S. and China issue surprise joint climate pledge during COP26: 'A step we can build on'
The U.S. and China issued a joint statement during Wednesday's COP26 talks that pledged climate action and cooperation from both of the world's superpowers, including working to cut emissions this decade and committing to addressing methane emissions, The New York Times and The Washington Post report. The surprise declaration included few (if any) hard deadlines or commitments, "and parts of it simply restated efforts that were already underway," writes the Post; but still, the announcement's "timing and tone seemed intended to grease the Glasgow negotiations as they entered their crucial final stretch." "The United States and China have no shortage of differences," said U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry from Glasgow. "But on climate, cooperation is the only way to get this job done." He called the pledge "a step we can build on in order to help close the gap" on emissions, per the Post. Both China and the U.S. are the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters. Chinese President Xi Jinping chose not to travel to Glasgow, which had early on subdued hopes "a far-reaching" greenhouse gas deal could be reached, notes the Post. "As two major powers in the world, China and the United States, we need to take our due responsibility and work together and work with others in the spirit of cooperation to address climate change," said China's climate envoy Xie Zhenhua, who announced the so-called "Glasgow Declaration" before Kerry spoke immediately after. The agreement, which has won praise from leaders and but some criticism from experts, per the Times, declares both America and China's "intention to work individually, jointly, and with other countries during this decisive decade" to "strengthen and accelerate climate action and cooperation aimed at closing the gap." Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times.

11-10-21 Clean energy tech needs to be pursued despite the mining it involves
ENVIRONMENTALISTS making the case for a transition to renewable energy have often found the prevailing wind blowing in their faces. Solar and wind power have been dismissed as too expensive, too inefficient, too unreliable or too ugly. In recent years, however, the wind has changed direction. Even if these criticisms were once true, they no longer are. But there is a counterblast that may yet force the wind to do another U-turn: green energy is very resource-hungry. Building an offshore wind plant, for example, consumes 13 times as many minerals as erecting a gas-fired power plant of equal capacity. According to the International Energy Agency, to hit net zero by 2050, the world will have to increase its production of minerals such as lithium, copper, nickel and the rare earth elements sixfold. On the face of it, that presents a dilemma. Our planet holds more than enough of the minerals, but getting them out of the ground is difficult without making a hell of a mess. Humans have a huge impact on landscapes generally, creating mountains of waste. Mining is particularly bad for the environment, though, consuming vast amounts of energy and producing more waste than any other human activity. Scale that up six times and it is tempting to dismiss the renewables transition as a green herring, potentially creating something worse than we already have. Tempting, but wrong. Yes, mining as practised is an environmental disaster, but as Will a scramble to mine metals undermine the clean energy revolution? reveals, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are huge gains to be made. Chile, for example – which is rich in copper and lithium – is pioneering the transition to zero-carbon mining. New mining technologies likened to keyhole surgery are in development too.

11-10-21 COP26: Governments and industry aim for zero-carbon shipping corridors
Governments joined industry leaders to create the Clydebank Declaration, committing to creating zero-carbon corridors along major shipping routes – but big questions on cleaning up a heavily polluting industry remain unresolved. Politicians and industry captains came together at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow today to launch a new initiative on establishing global “green shipping” corridors along which ships can travel burning zero-emissions fuels. It is a first move towards decarbonising a notoriously hard-to-abate sector, but critics question whether it does anything like enough to turn the tide. Shipping blasts over a billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, accounting for 2.9 per cent of all human-made emissions. Under a business-as-usual scenario, that figure could double by 2050. The 19 initial signatories to the initiative, known as the Clydebank Declaration, commit themselves to develop technology, expertise and port infrastructure that will allow key international shipping routes to go zero-carbon, as part of a strategy to decarbonise the entire industry by 2050. “It’s easy to say, but to do it means we have to act now,” said Robert Courts, the UK’s shipping minister, during the declaration’s launch. Initial analysis has focused on two promising candidates for developing green corridors, said analyst Faustine Delasalle at the UK-based think tank Energy Transitions Commission: the iron ore route from Australia to Japan, and container shipping from Asia to Europe. The latter is currently responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other route – some 22 million tonnes a year, or as much as the nation of Panama. Australia in particular has ambitious plans for expanding production of “green” hydrogen made by electrolysing water. It might be used to fuel ships on its own, or to make ammonia fuel. The first ships could be plying the route to Japan by 2026, according to a report by the Getting to Zero Coalition, which is working to decarbonise shipping.

11-10-21 Youth activists demand UN declare a climate emergency: 'We have had 26 COPs that have been failures'
With the COP26 climate summit nearing its end, Greta Thunberg and other youth activists are petitioning the United Nations to declare a "system-wide climate emergency." A group of 14 youth climate activists, including Thunberg, is filing a legal petition calling on United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to declare the climate crisis a global level 3 emergency, The Guardian reports. A draft of the petition reportedly argues the "climate emergency — which threatens every person on the planet into the foreseeable future — is at least as serious a threat as a global pandemic and similarly requires urgent international action." The petition also calls for Guterres to "mobilize a UN comprehensive response to the climate emergency" and name a crisis management team to "oversee immediate and comprehensive global action on climate," according to the report. Human rights lawyer Scott Gilmore noted to The Guardian that doing so could involve creating a "climate tsar" to coordinate United Nations efforts. The petition comes after Thunberg blasted the ongoing COP26 climate summit in Glasgow as a "failure" and a "PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action." Alexandria Villaseñor, a climate activist who signed this week's petition, told Earther she hopes it sends a "message of urgency" after "we have had 26 COPs that have been failures," adding, "It's young people and youth who are continuously reminding those in power that we need to do something right now, and this petition is an important way to do that." According to The Guardian, the United Nations has seen a draft of the climate activists' petition, and declaring a level 3 emergency is "under discussion."

11-10-21 COP26: Draft deal calls for stronger carbon cutting targets by end of 2022
Countries are being urged to strengthen their carbon-cutting targets by the end of 2022 in a draft agreement published at the COP26 Glasgow climate summit. The document says vulnerable nations must get more help to cope with the deadly impacts of global warming. It also says countries should submit long-term strategies for reaching net-zero by the end of next year. Critics have said the draft pact does not go far enough but others welcomed its focus on the 1.5C target. The document, which has been published by the UK COP26 presidency, will have to be negotiated and agreed by countries attending the talks. Scientists have warned that keeping temperature rises to 1.5C - beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt - requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030 and to zero overall by mid-century. With the world off track to meet the goal, the draft document urges countries to "revisit and strengthen" the targets for cutting emissions by 2030 in their national plans to align them with the Paris Agreement goal of well below 2C or 1.5C by the end of 2022. Loss and damage - an issue of key importance to the developing world - has been included in the draft, calling for more support from developed countries and other organisations to address the damage caused by extreme weather and rising seas in vulnerable nations. It also recognises that more finance is needed for developing countries beyond the long-promised $100bn a year by 2020, which will not be delivered until at least 2022. But campaigners said these parts of the text were weak and were essentially a "box ticking exercise". The document also calls on countries to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels - but has no firm dates or targets on this issue. It also asks UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to convene world leaders in 2023 to consider how efforts to reach targets for 2030 are shaping up. (Webmasters Comment: All talk and no action!)

11-10-21 First draft of COP26 agreement urges countries to revisit their plans
Published early this morning, the first draft of the COP26 cover decision that is due to be agreed this week urges countries to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022. The first draft of the COP26 summit’s final statement urges countries to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022 to meet the world’s targets of holding global warming to 1.5oC and well below 2oC. Countries have also agreed to accelerating the phasing out of coal and of fossil fuel subsidies in the draft so-called cover decision to be reached in Glasgow in coming days. If that reference remains in the final statement agreed by 196 countries later this week, it will be the first time in history that the outcome of a UN climate summit or international climate treaty has explicitly mentioned fossil fuels, the main driver of global warming. The text was expected around midnight but negotiators worked through the night, with a version finally published just before 6am this morning. The current draft is far from set in stone, and the reaction of countries today will dictate what stays in, what gets improved and what gets cut. Despite progress at Glasgow, with a new 2030 pledge from India and several ‘sectoral deals’ covering deforestation and more, an analysis found yesterday that the world is still on course for 2.4oC of warming by the end of this century, well off the 2015 Paris Agreement’s temperature goals of 1.5oC and 2oC. The cover decision this morning acknowledges that gap. The document “recalls” an article of the Paris Agreement that allows countries to deliver a better 2030 climate plan at any time, and “urges” countries to “revisit and strengthen” those plans by the end of 2022 to “align” with the temperature goals. Before Glasgow, they were not expected to bring forward new plans until 2025, and those would be for action on emissions post-2030, not by 2030.

11-10-21 Ocean's climate change 'buffer' role under threat
Researchers studying the ocean at depths of up to 6km have found that climate change has a "worrying" effect on its ability to lock away carbon. The latest discovery comes from the International "i-Atlantic" project. It has revealed that - if global temperatures increase to levels predicted - the ocean will not be able to provide what is currently Earth's largest long-term carbon store. One third of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere dissolves in the ocean. It therefore acts as an important buffer against rising temperatures. Carbon is one of the chemical elements in the key planet-warming gas carbon dioxide (CO2). When that gas dissolves in the ocean, it is taken up by marine plants and animals becomes part of an ocean cycle that results in some of it being locked into the deep ocean mud for centuries. Billions of tonnes of carbon is buried in the deep ocean's muddy floor. But this latest research shows that this cycle is disrupted by rising ocean temperatures. The study revealed a "cycle of warming"; ocean temperature rise causes more of this buried carbon to be released as CO2, where it can contribute to yet more global warming. In experiments carried out from the Spanish research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa, scientists used tethered, robotic sample collectors to bring tubes of seafloor mud into their ocean laboratories. They then incubated those samples at deep ocean temperatures that are currently predicted for the end of this century. "This deep 'abyssal' ocean covers 60% of our planet and we're finding that, under higher temperatures, we can store less carbon in these places," said Prof Murray Roberts from the University of Edinburgh. "The ecosystems are turning the carbon over faster. They're running at a higher temperature more quickly, and they're going to release more carbon in the future." Prof Roberts said these experiments, which were led by Prof Andrew Sweetman's team at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, showed that human activity had changed the "very nature" of the vast ocean. "As well as our carbon emissions, the ocean has absorbed over 90% of global heating," he explained. "And if we don't understand [the impact of this] well enough, we can't make the most accurate models in the future." The need to understand more about the ocean's response to climate change, he added, was being brought into sharp focus by the negotiations at the COP26 climate summit - about how global leaders tackle the crisis.

11-10-21 COP26: PM’s summit plea and axing trees to save water
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Wednesday. 1. Pull out all the stops, urges PM on COP26 return. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging nations to "pull out all the stops" as the first draft of an agreement on how countries will cut emissions to avoid temperatures rising by more than 1.5C is published. 2. Why Cape Town is axing trees to save water. In a seemingly odd counter-intuitive battle to limit the impact of climate change, trees are being cut down to save a city from drought. 3. Should carbon labels be on all products? There's a new movement "exploding right now, and it makes sense," says Lou Palmer-Masterton, the owner of three vegan restaurants. 4. Carbon-counted sandwiches and Irn-Bru. She spends much of her day at a socially-distanced desk existing on a diet of carbon-counted sarnies and Irn-Bru in the Press Centre 5. Capturing climate change. While discussions are under way about tackling climate change at COP26, photographers have captured the effects of global warming for the annual Environmental Photographer Of The Year competition. The world is heading for 2.4C warming, according to new analysis. So what would happen to the world at 2C and 3C? At 2C, all tropical coral reefs would be destroyed and flooding would worsen. Animals and plant species would lose their habitats and many more people would face extreme heat. Warming of 3C upwards would see hundreds of millions of people displaced from their homes due to sea level rises.

11-10-21 How much nuclear power does the UK use and is it safe?
Rolls-Royce is receiving more than £400m from the government and private investors to develop small nuclear reactors. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) work in the same way as conventional nuclear reactors, but on a smaller scale. Rolls-Royce says one SMR would take up the space of roughly two football pitches, about a tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear plant and would power approximately one million homes. The company hasn't announced where SMRs would be built if approved, however, production is expected to be focused in the north of the UK, where there is existing nuclear expertise. About 16% of Britain's electricity is provided by nuclear power from 13 reactors, according to the UK government. But it wants around a quarter of Britain's energy to come from nuclear by 2025. The government's plan to reach "net-zero" emissions by 2050 says nuclear power provides a "reliable source of low-carbon electricity". Aside from SMRs, the government has backed the construction of Hinkley C in Somerset. It will be the largest nuclear station in Britain, delivering 7% of the UK's electricity. There are also proposals for a nuclear plant on the coastline of Suffolk, known as Sizewell C. These have not yet been approved, and local objections remain. In mid-2021, 415 nuclear reactors were operating in 33 countries, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status report. This doesn't include military reactors, such as those on nuclear submarines. Together, the "big five" - the US, China, France, Russia, and South Korea - generated 72% of all nuclear electricity in the world in 2020. The industry report says nuclear's share of the global energy market is steadily declining. But two countries, Belarus and the United Arab Emirates, started their first reactors last year. The International Atomic Energy Agency, part of the United Nations, says nuclear power plants are among "the safest and most secure facilities in the world". They are subject to stringent international safety standards.

11-10-21 Haiti water shortage: 'We pray for rain every day'
A fuel shortage brought about by gangs blocking the access roads to distribution terminals is throwing Haiti into further chaos. Residents of the capital Port-au-Prince say they cannot get hold of drinking water as water pumps have stopped running due to the lack of petrol. Deliveries of bottled water have also been disrupted meaning that many residents have to rely on rain water. "We pray every day that it rains," one woman told Reuters news agency. National Police Chief Frantz Elbé said on Tuesday that measures taken so far to allow for the safe distribution of fuel had failed to work. Mr Elbé said that the police had set up a security corridor from the Varreux terminal in Port-au-Prince and that goods such as rice, cooking oil and cement were getting through to consumers. But tanker lorries carrying fuel were not being allowed to pass by gang members blocking the entrances to the port. Haitian gangs have long extorted delivery drivers, but the situation has escalated since the assassination by mercenaries of President Jovenel Moïse in July. In the power vacuum following the president's killing, gang leaders have become more brazen and stepped up their criminal activities, which include kidnappings for ransom and extortion. Jimmy Chérizier, better known under his alias, Barbecue, is one of them. The former police officer, who leads an alliance of nine of the most powerful gangs in Port-au-Prince, demonstrated his power last month when his followers opened fire at a monument just as Prime Minister Ariel Henry was about to lay a wreath. The prime minister and his security detail fled, and surrounded by heavily armed masked men, Barbecue made a show of laying a wreath himself. In a news conference last month, he said that his criminal alliance, G9 and Family, was behind blockades around the fuel terminal. He said he would not allow fuel to be delivered until Prime Minister Ariel Henry stepped down. The fuel shortages have been so severe that they have threatened the lives of patients in hospitals, which rely on fuel-powered generators to run life-saving equipment.

11-10-21 Will a scramble to mine metals undermine the clean energy revolution?
Creating green technologies like batteries and solar panels requires a lot of minerals, and a lot of mining. The challenge now is to extract what we need without destroying the environment. F THE unofficial rallying cry of the fossil fuel lobby is “drill, baby, drill”, renewable energy should have one too: “dig, baby, dig”. If we are going to hit our climate targets, the world is going to need a lot of new mines. “Minerals are essential ingredients of the future clean energy system,” says Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). “If we try to visualise our future clean energy systems – millions of electric vehicles, cars, buses, windmills, solar panels – they need minerals to build. Huge amounts of minerals.” He isn’t exaggerating. According to a recent IEA report, if the world is to reach its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, overall demand for what it calls “critical minerals” – including lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel and the rare earth elements, all of them vital ingredients of clean energy tech – will increase sixfold. Another recent estimate from Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies forecasts that electrifying transport and expanding renewable power generation will increase demand for minerals about seven times by 2050. That presents a huge challenge to the realisation of our clean energy dreams. While there is no shortage of the minerals themselves, getting them out of the ground in time, in sufficient quantities, and without creating another environmental monster, is a different matter. Ultimately, we have no choice. “We need to do it,” says Kingsmill Bond, a strategist at energy think tank Carbon Tracker. “But we need to do it the very best way we can, so that we don’t trash the planet again.”

11-9-21 COP26 news: First draft of Glasgow agreement expected today
The key outcome of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is known as the cover decision, a draft of which is expected to be published soon. Plus, the UK announced plans to fund nuclear technology. There are three days left of COP26 and the talks are entering their final stretch. Everyone is tired and a bit fed up, but the negotiators are still pushing each other – and up in space, satellites are helping track our greenhouse gas emissions. Tonight, the first draft of how nearly 200 countries will strengthen their ambition on climate change is due to be published. The text is known as the cover decision, and will specify what countries have promised on revisiting their 2030 climate plans. The contents will be crucial to putting the world on track for the targets of holding global warming to 1.5°C and “well below” 2°C. COP26 president Alok Sharma wouldn’t be drawn on what the decision might say. However, he told journalists at a press conference today: “We are making progress at COP26, but we still have a mountain to climb over the next few days. What has been collectively committed to goes some way, but certainly not all the way, to keeping 1.5°C within reach.” Another senior figure also appeared to be managing expectations. Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was asked by the BBC if the negotiations would achieve everything that is needed on both emissions reductions and climate finance. Her response: “Of course, this week we will not be able to solve it.” Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, told New Scientist that the Glasgow agreement needs to commit countries to issuing more ambitious plans next year. “The decade of action is now. For these things to have impact and to make sense and actually do what you need them to do, you have to start next year.” Similarly, James Murray, the editor of BusinessGreen, tweeted that there was “growing concern” that the agreement won’t do enough.

11-9-21 COP26: World on track for 2.4C warming despite climate summit - report
Despite pledges made at the climate summit COP26, the world is still nowhere near its goals on limiting global temperature rise, a new analysis shows. It calculates that the world is heading for 2.4C of warming, far more than the 1.5C limit nations committed to. COP26 "has a massive credibility, action and commitment gap", according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT). The Glasgow summit is seen as crucial for curbing climate change. But the prediction contrasts with optimism at the UN meeting last week, following a series of big announcements that included a vow to stop deforestation. COP26 is expected to finish this week. The projection comes as the UK's Met Office warns that a billion people could be affected by fatal heat and humidity if the global average temperature rises by 2C above pre-industrial levels. The report by Climate Action Tracker looks at promises made by governments before and during COP26. It concludes that, in 2030, the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet will still be twice as high as necessary for keeping temperature rise below 1.5C degree. Scientists say that limiting warming to 1.5C will prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change from happening. The COP summit held in Paris in 2015 laid out a plan for avoiding dangerous climate change which included "pursuing efforts" to keep warming under 1.5C. But when governments' actual policies - rather than pledges - are analysed, the world's projected warming is 2.7C by 2100, suggests Climate Action Tracker. The Tracker is backed by a number of organisations including the prestigious Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. "This new calculation is like a telescope trained on an asteroid heading for Earth. It's a devastating report that in any sane world would cause governments in Glasgow to immediately set aside their differences and work with uncompromising vigour for a deal to save our common future," said Greenpeace International's executive director Jennifer Morgan. However, the world's outlook has improved since the Paris climate summit in 2015 when Climate Action Tracker estimated the policies put the planet on track to warm by 3.6C. Climate Action Tracker blames "stalled momentum" from governments for limited progress towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

11-9-21 Current COP26 climate plans would lead to 2.4°C of global warming
An analysis of the pledges put forward by countries at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow so far finds that emissions by 2030 fall short of the cuts needed to limit warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. Researchers have poured cold water on the idea that new emissions plans put forward for COP26 in Glasgow, UK, set the world on track to meet targets to limit dangerous global warming. Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent, non-profit scientific body based in Germany, said today that governmental pledges to curb carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 were “totally inadequate” and would lead to emissions roughly double the level needed to hold the temperature rise to 1.5°C this century. The findings are published in a report called the Warming Projections Global Update. The group’s analysis shows that looking only at new country-level targets for 2030, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the world will warm by 2.4°C on average. That is better than the 2.7°C of warming projected before the meeting started in Glasgow, but a far cry from the agreement that 195 countries made in Paris in 2015 to keep warming “well below” 2°C and “pursue efforts” for 1.5°C. The 2.4°C projection also offers a far more sobering view of how much the Glasgow summit has shifted the dial on future temperatures than three rapid analyses last week, by the International Energy Agency, the Energy Transition Commission and a University of Melbourne team. Those variously suggested that the latest NDCs put the world on a path for warming as low as 1.8°C to 1.9°C. “The CAT report is a timely cold shower of reality,” says Piers Forster at the University of Leeds in the UK, who wasn’t involved in the work. The report notes there has been big progress on long-term net-zero pledges, with more than 140 countries representing 90 per cent of global emissions now having one, including India. Those send an “important signal”, according to the report, but the lack of action and commitment this decade casts “a long and dark shadow of doubt” over net-zero goals. For example, if countries stick to current policies, temperatures are expected to rise by as much as 2.7°C. At the opposite end of the spectrum is an “optimistic scenario” – if all countries match their net-zero pledges with new policies in the 2020s, it would lead to 1.8°C. The authors say that is a big if.

11-9-21 Climate change: Seven ways to spot businesses greenwashing
Most of us are trying to be greener and for some that means seeking out brands and companies that are environmentally-friendly. But how can you check firms really are as green as they make out? Greenwashing - branding something as eco-friendly, green or sustainable when this is not the case - misleads consumers into thinking they are helping the planet by choosing those products. And businesses are being held to account on this in the way they advertise. But what do customers need to look out for to spot greenwashing? 1. False claims or vague language: The Advertising Standards Authority says this is the area it receives the most complaints about. And some firms have already had adverts banned. In 2019, the advertising regulator banned a Ryanair ad claiming it was the airline with Europe's lowest emissions without sufficient evidence to support the claim. And a Hyundai advert, claiming a car "cleaned the air", was also judged by the ASA to be misleading. 2. Images of nature or 'green' buzzwords: Phrases such as "eco", "sustainable" and "green" are commonly used by companies to make the business appear environmentally conscious - but they rarely pertain to any scientific standards. A website for HDS Group's Amazing Cleaners, seen in July 2016, featured the claim "100% eco-friendly". A complaint was upheld after it was found the statement was made without any evidence or explanation. 3. Hiding information: Fashion brands may promote clothes made of "sustainable" fabrics, even if the rest of their clothing line is damaging to the environment. For example, a firm could claim to be environmentally-friendly, but not take into account supply-chain emissions from a coal-powered overseas factory used to make part of a product. 4. Look out for carbon offsetting: A government, business or individual can attempt to balance their own emissions by finding other ways to remove an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The process is called carbon offsetting. But environmental groups argue this is kicking the problem into the long grass rather than dealing with the issue of actually cutting emissions. 5. Check company ownership: Larger firms, or conglomerations, with a high environmental impact have often bought smaller brands to target environmentally conscious customers who otherwise might not have chosen to spend with them. So knowing what, or who, the ultimate owner of a firm is could be important if you want to find out their entire environmental impact. Accountability and authenticity, Prof Eccles says, are serious problems. An entire businesses' carbon emissions, he says, should be like calorie labels on a product, where "everyone pays attention to them, they are certified independently and they influence consumer decisions". 6. Eco-friendly products in a wider range: Some firms will market environmentally beneficial products, but will omit information about the impact of their other products. Food company Quorn had an ad banned which involved the way carbon was certified for one of their products. ASA said the advert did not clarify what the claimed reduction of the carbon footprint was being measured against, and viewers would therefore not know what the basis of the reduction was. 7. Is the product and its packaging recyclable? The "recyclable" label on some plastic items can be used for products that are not easy to recycle. In 2018, McDonald's announced it was going to get rid of single-use plastic straws in its restaurants, and offer paper straws instead. But the following year, it was accused of greenwashing when it was revealed the straws weren't actually recyclable.

11-9-21 COP26: Focus on gender as giant puppet takes centre stage
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Tuesday. 1. Focus on gender as giant puppet takes centre stage: The inequalities that make women and girls more vulnerable to the effects of climate change are high on the agenda today. They form a large majority of the world's poor, often depending on small-scale farming for their livelihoods. The UK government is set to announce £165m to tackle climate change while addressing and empowering women to take climate action. And we can expect an appearance from Little Amal, the giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, meeting activists from the countries through which she has "walked" during a four-month, 8,000km (4,970-mile) journey from the Syrian border. 2. What do climate scientists want from COP26? With negotiations in Glasgow at a critical phase, we asked more than a dozen climate scientists, negotiators and economists what they wanted to see agreed. Top of their list is a greater commitment to "net zero" emissions targets - in other words not increasing the amount of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, produced when we burn coal, oil or gas to generate power) in the atmosphere. As Prof Martin Siegert from Imperial College London puts it: "The longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to deliver net zero by 2050." 3. Catch up on Monday's events: Former US President Barack Obama earned a standing ovation for a speech declaring the world "nowhere near where we need to be" to avoid a climate catastrophe. He took aim at Donald Trump's "active hostility toward climate science" and chided Russia and China for their absence, calling on young people to "stay angry" while harnessing their frustration to press for political change. However, some activists pointed out the US had failed to honour key pledges made by Mr Obama's administration. 4. How not to be fooled by 'greenwashing': Want to shop sustainably but flummoxed by the language around "eco-friendly" products? Our business reporter Beth Timmins runs through seven ways to spot "greenwashing" - when companies make statements that make them sound more environmentally friendly than they really are. 5. The Scottish inventor 'drilling the sky' for energy: At his home in Shetland, he might be closer to Norway than Glasgow but engineer Rod Read's big idea is one that would doubtless fly with a lot of the delegates. He's developed a “turbine kite” technology that he says could be cheaper, more portable and even "cleaner" than static wind turbines.

11-9-21 Climate change: What do scientists want from COP26 this week?
As the COP26 climate summit enters its second week, negotiations in Glasgow have hit a critical phase. The conference is seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control. So we asked more than a dozen climate scientists, negotiators and economists from around the world what they wanted to see agreed this week. Cut emissions now: The scientists all wanted to see more countries commit to net zero by 2050 at the latest. Yet many said changes in the next decade would be the most impactful. Governments must agree to "cut emissions by half in the next 10 years", says Prof Mark Maslin, who researches the impact of humans on the environment at University College London. The Paris climate agreement in 2015 committed countries to reach net zero between 2050 and 2100. But reaching net zero is not easy and means big changes to transport, manufacturing, food supplies, construction and almost every aspect of life. And many of the scientists think 2050 might be too late, particularly if countries don't cut emissions drastically before then. "The longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to deliver net zero by 2050," says Prof Martin Siegert, who researches changes in glaciers at Imperial College London. More than 100 countries have made the 2050 commitment, yet dozens have not. Others big emitters, such as China and Saudi Arabia, have made a net zero commitment - but by 2060, not 2050. One of the world's largest emitters, India, says it will get to net zero by 2070 - 20 years later. The scientists said countries must sign up to go quicker. "We've got to get international consensus at least in principle around the notion of net zero by 2050," says Prof Siegert. "If that can be done at least in principle at Glasgow, it will be a major step forward." The scientists we spoke to said investment in fossil fuels also had to be stopped, with money instead going into renewables like solar and wind. Last week at COP, there were announcements on cuts to coal and methane, but many scientists say they don't go far enough. "There needs to be a blanket stop on any foreign investment that builds and supports coal power plants or any other fossil technology" says Prof Malte Meinhausen, of the University of Melbourne.

11-9-21 We need behaviour change to beat climate crisis, says Patrick Vallance
Speaking at the COP26 summit, the UK's chief scientific adviser says the country must do more to change lifestyles in order to meet its climate goals. People in the UK are not doing enough to change their behaviour to tackle climate change, according to the country’s chief scientific adviser, who says he has made changes including eating less meat and cycling more. “It’s starting,” says Patrick Vallance, speaking at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. “Is it where it needs to be yet? Probably not. I think there’s more to go. There’s a willingness and there’s an engagement taking place.” Vallance’s comments contrast with the approach taken by the UK government to date. UK ministers and officials have focused on technology change – such as swapping petrol vehicles for electric ones – rather than behaviour change, such as shifting diets or flying less. Yet the UK’s statutory climate advisers believe much of the action needed to reach net zero emissions requires behaviour changes. Tim Peake, the British astronaut, also spoke to New Scientist at COP26 about the need for lifestyle changes. “It is going to be difficult for everybody. Everybody is going to have to change.” Peake says that he recently fully reinsulated his loft at home. “These are the small steps that everybody can make. But lots of small steps add up to a huge impact.” Asked if the UK government is doing enough to encourage people to change their habits, he says: “It needs to be done in a positive way. We need to make the green choice the easy choice, because there’s lots of people struggling at the moment, inflation is going up and the cost of living is going up. “We do need to be aware of people’s budgets at this time, to make sure we’re encouraging them to use public transport not just because it’s clean and green but it’s easier than driving somewhere.”

11-9-21 Rwanda goes electric with locally made motorbikes
For 12 years Didier Ndabahariye has been ferrying passengers around the streets of Kigali - one of the thousands of motorbike taxi drivers, known locally as a motos. Recently, he switched his usual ride for getting around Rwanda's capital for one of the first electric motorbikes on the African continent. "In the first days, things were not good because I was not used to riding e-motos and the bike sometimes cut-off. "However I went on working, and soon I knew many things about how the bike works and how to ride it. Then I started saving more money," Didier explains. He is one of 60 drivers riding an electric motorbike from the Rwandan firm Ampersand. "Now I like the bikes - an e-moto can last for a long time without any problems unlike with an engine motor - and it goes well, it is very smooth to ride." The start-up Ampersand is pioneering the switch and hopes that over the next five years almost all of Rwanda's motorbikes will be electric. It is an ambitious dream - there are around 25,000 motorbike taxis operating in Kigali, some driving up to 10 hours a day, often covering hundreds of kilometres daily. "Motorbikes make up more than half of all vehicles in this part of the world," says Ampersand chief executive Josh Whale. "Their simple engines lack the sort of costly emissions reduction tech that you see in modern cars, or in motorbikes in the global north. Meanwhile they are being run for over 100km per day, so that's a lot of pollution, a lot of carbon [dioxide]. "In Rwanda, drivers spend more in a year on petrol than the cost of a new motorbike. We've shown that we can offer an alternative in the same style as their current motorbike [that] costs less to buy, less to power and less to maintain." Ampersand says that savings on fuel and maintenance can double a driver's income. With an estimated five million motorbikes on the roads of East Africa, there could be big savings in CO2 emissions if Ampersand and its rivals take a significant share of the market.

11-8-21 Silk modified to reflect sunlight keeps skin 12.5°C cooler than cotton
Silk has been modified through the addition of nanoparticles to reflect 95 per cent of sunlight, which means the material stays extra cool on a hot day. A fabric made of engineered silk keeps skin about 12.5°C cooler than cotton clothing and provides relief from hot weather. Approximately 15 per cent of global electricity goes towards keeping us cool. To reduce this energy demand, scientists have been searching for passive ways of cooling us that don’t require electricity. Jia Zhu at Nanjing University in China and Shanhui Fan at Stanford University and their colleagues were inspired by silk, which feels cool against the skin because it reflects most of the sunlight that strikes it – mainly the infrared and visible wavelengths – and also readily radiates heat. They were able to engineer silk to block even more sunlight – about 95 per cent – by embedding the fibres with aluminium oxide nanoparticles that reflect the ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight. When the researchers bathed this engineered silk in sunlight, they found that it stayed 3.5°C cooler than the surrounding air because of its ability to reflect most sunlight and radiate heat. It is the first fabric to be developed that stays colder than the surrounding air when in sunlight. The researchers also found that when they draped the engineered silk over a surface designed to simulate skin, it kept the skin 8°C cooler under direct sunlight than natural silk did – and it kept the skin 12.5°C cooler than cotton did. The simulated skin was made of silicone rubber that was wrapped around a heater to mimic body warmth. In the final part of their experiments, they made a collared long-sleeved shirt from the engineered silk and asked a volunteer to wear it while standing out in the sun on a 37°C day. Infrared images revealed that the shirt stayed cool. Similar infrared images captured of the volunteer wearing shirts made of natural silk or cotton showed that these fabrics warmed up. “Wearing the engineered silk on a hot day under sunlight, one feels much cooler than wearing normal textiles such as cotton,” says Zhu. The engineered silk is comfortable to wear, with good breathability, and can be washed and dried repeatedly without falling apart, says Zhu. It is cost-effective to make and could be mass produced, he says.

11-8-21 COP26 news: Obama says world must ‘settle for imperfect compromises’
Consensus on the text of the final COP26 agreement has been hard to come by so far, and former US president Barack Obama today encouraged negotiators to take partial victories. It’s the start of the second week of the COP26 international climate summit in Glasgow, UK. After the many announcements and promises in the first week, the focus is now shifting to the actual negotiations. How far have they come – and what is left to do? The situation today looks decidedly tangled. Former US president Barack Obama tried to cut through the thicket with a full-throated speech this afternoon, imploring negotiators both to celebrate the achievements so far and to push for more. In a speech directed as much to people watching from outside the conference as to the negotiators themselves, Obama said that solving the climate crisis will be a long job. The most important output of COP26, as with any summit, is a text that all the countries involved can sign up to. This text will set out what they have promised to do. It is in effect a new international treaty. Negotiators have been quietly plugging away at this for the past week. The result has been a torrent of draft documents, queries, responses, redrafts, fiddles, quibbles, quibbles about the quibbles, metatextual quibbles about the existence of quibbling as a concept and much more – all helpfully available on the COP26 website under the heading “documents”. It is perhaps best understood as the Wikipedia edit thread from hell: the use of one unwelcome word among 10,000 can lead to intense discussions lasting days. The underlying difficulty is that every country has to agree or there is no deal, so countries that are desperate for urgent emissions cuts have to sign up to the same text as countries whose economies currently depend on oil exports. And they need to follow through on those commitments, not just make the pledges.

11-8-21 Satellites find close to 800 methane leaks in past four years
Earth observation satellites have detected leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, in the US, Algeria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan Satellites have discovered close to 800 methane leaks from just four countries since November 2017. Using a new approach to identify sources of the powerful greenhouse gas, the researchers behind the work found that more than two thirds of the leaks they identified are recurring, suggesting that they could be fixed through improved maintenance of leaky fossil fuel infrastructure. Methane accounts for 16 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, but has up to 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. Leaks usually arise from fossil fuel infrastructure such as oil rigs, gas wells and pipelines, and stemming them could buy us more time in our efforts to tackle climate change. Last week at the COP26 summit, 105 countries pledged to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. Figuring out better ways to monitor global methane levels will be key to achieving this goal. To identify some of the sources of leaked methane, Thibaud Ehret at ENS Paris-Saclay in France and his colleagues used NASA’s Landsat 8 and the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellites to look for major methane leaks across seven countries between November 2017 and June 2021. Of the 793 leaks they detected using infrared, 786 came from Algeria, Turkmenistan, the US and Uzbekistan. The problem with methane detection is that it is difficult to have both good temporal and spatial resolution, says Daniel Varon at Harvard University, who wasn’t involved in the study. “In other words, aircraft can see much smaller plumes than satellites, but they can’t observe the whole world every few days.” Satellites can see far more of the world than aircraft and for far longer, but it is more difficult to pinpoint where leaks are coming from and to discover smaller leaks. “This is the first study to use this capability [of the two satellites] to scan for plumes across wide areas of the world,” says Varon.

11-8-21 COP26: Fossil fuel industry has largest delegation at climate summit
There are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country, analysis shared with the BBC shows. Campaigners led by Global Witness assessed the participant list published by the UN at the start of this meeting. They found that 503 people with links to fossil fuel interests had been accredited for the climate summit. These delegates are said to lobby for oil and gas industries, and campaigners say they should be banned. "The fossil fuel industry has spent decades denying and delaying real action on the climate crisis, which is why this is such a huge problem," says Murray Worthy from Global Witness. "Their influence is one of the biggest reasons why 25 years of UN climate talks have not led to real cuts in global emissions." About 40,000 people are attending the COP. Brazil has the biggest official team of negotiators according to UN data, with 479 delegates. The UK, which is hosting the talk in Glasgow, has 230 registered delegates. So what counts as a fossil fuel lobbyist? Global Witness, Corporate Accountability and others who have carried out the analysis define a fossil fuel lobbyist as someone who is part of a delegation of a trade association or is a member of a group that represents the interests of oil and gas companies. Overall, they identified 503 people employed by or associated with these interests at the summit. One of the biggest groups they identified was the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) with 103 delegates in attendance, including three people from the oil and gas company BP. According to Global Witness, IETA is backed by many major oil companies who promote offsetting and carbon trading as a way of allowing them to continue extracting oil and gas. "This is an association that has an enormous number of fossil fuel company as its members. Its agenda is driven by fossil fuel companies and serves the interests of fossil fuel companies," Mr Worthy said. (Webmasters Comment: Protecting their billions in profits is their only interest!)

11-8-21 COP26: Rich countries ‘pushing back’ on paying for climate loss
Vulnerable countries at COP26 say rich nations are pushing back against their attempts to secure compensation for the damage caused by climate change. Poorer countries see it as critical that money for loss and damage be part of negotiations this week. Negotiators agreed in Paris in 2015 to address the issue, but there is no agreement on who should pay for it. Rich nations are said to be resisting any commitments as they do not want to accept liability and risk being sued. Developing countries argue that rich countries are responsible for most of today's climate change impacts because they started emitting carbon much earlier than the rest of the world. "Loss and damage is still a taboo for developed countries," said Alpha Oumar Kaloga, one of the lead negotiators of the Africa Group, who also represents Guinea in the Least Developed Countries bloc (LDC). The majority of the 46 countries in the LDC bloc are in Africa. "During negotiations, we have been repeatedly arguing that loss and damage needs to be mentioned in a separate column in the climate finance reporting papers of developed countries, because such losses and damages are happening all over the world," Mr Kaloga said. The resistance from rich countries behind closed doors is particularly frustrating when they are at the same time "talking about transparency in this whole process. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this year showed that in 2019, about 25% of climate finance from developed countries went towards adaptation - preparing for extreme weather events, or building seawalls, for example - while the rest went to fund projects to reduce carbon emissions. Poor countries say climate change is impacting on communities with such intensity that they can no longer adapt, but instead need financial support to rebuild, or to move away. As holder of the COP presidency, the UK has been co-ordinating the talks. A spokesperson said the UK was "listening to the views of all parties and the final text will be agreed by consensus".

11-8-21 COP26: UK asks world leaders to recognise urgent need for action
Recognising the “urgency of action” needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees is on the UK COP26 presidency’s wish list for the crucial climate summit – but the list doesn't include any detail on when countries need to demonstrate that urgency. Nearly 200 governments in Glasgow, UK, are being asked to recognise the “urgency of action” needed to meet the world’s climate change targets, in a final statement to be presented at the COP26 summit this week. After a first week of eye-catching deals on deforestation, methane and more, this week COP26 turns to the hard work of agreeing the final rules for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, a new global goal for climate adaptation and what financing for vulnerable countries may look like beyond 2025. On Sunday, the UK presidency of the COP26 summit released an elements paper, effectively a wish list for the final “decision texts” to be determined by the time the conference is scheduled to close on Friday. The paper says those texts should recognise the “urgency of action to keep 1.5 [degrees Celsius] alive”. However, the document lacks a detailed timeline for how countries should demonstrate that urgency. The hopes also include declaring the 2020s as a “critical decade” to keep alive the Paris Agreement’s goal of pursuing efforts to hold global warming to 1.5oC. Within the paper, countries are told to admit they aren’t doing enough and to “acknowledge the gap” between what their current plans would mean for annual global carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 and what is needed for 1.5oC. That gap is currently vast: in the region of 28 billion tonnes of CO2 a year, though rapid analyses published last week suggest that this number has fallen. Further items on the wish list include a meeting of world leaders before 2023 to consider the level of ambition in their 2030 plans. Countries that have set a net-zero goal for mid-century, such as Russia, are told to “align” their short-term goals with those long-term ones. There is an explicit call for nations that haven’t yet submitted a more ambitious 2030 plan to do so in 2022. That would include Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Saudi Arabia among other countries, says David Waskow at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a US non-profit.

11-8-21 COP26: UK pledges £290m to help poorer countries cope with climate change
The UK is pledging £290m to help poorer countries cope with the impact of climate change, as the COP26 climate change summit enters its second week. Government ministers from around the world are in Glasgow for more talks. They will discuss how to support poorer countries and if reparations for damage from natural disasters should be paid. Poorer nations have called for $100bn of financial help, arguing they are already suffering and will be worst affected by climate change. Developing countries have historically contributed a very small proportion of the damaging emissions driving climate change - while currently the wealthiest 1% of the global population account for more than double the combined emissions of the poorest 50%. The majority of the money from the UK will go to help Asian and Pacific nations plan and invest in climate action, improve conservation and promote low-carbon development, the government said. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office described the £290m as "new funding" from the foreign aid budget. The government said last month that cuts to the UK's foreign aid spending, to 0.5% of national income, will stay in place until at least 2024-25. Senior government climate change advisers previously warned the cuts showed the UK was "neither committed to nor serious about" helping countries vulnerable to climate change ahead of COP26. The UN summit will continue until Sunday, with much of the focus of the talks over how to limit global warming to the target of 1.5C. Monday will see negotiators discuss how best to mitigate the impact of a warming planet, particularly for poorer countries. Developing countries are asking for $100bn (around £73bn at current exchange rates) annually to help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change and reaching net-zero targets on emissions well before 2050. A pledge for $100bn from wealthier nations was made as long ago as 2009, but the plans to have it in place by 2020 have not been realised and current targets aim to reach it by 2023 - an offer which has been described as "extremely disappointing". International trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the world "must act now" to prevent more people being pushed into poverty by climate change.

11-8-21 COP26: Fossil fuel industry's delegation and the UK's £290m pledge
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Monday. 1. The fossil fuel industry's delegation: The COP26 climate conference is entering its second and final week. While there are representatives from different countries in Glasgow, there also delegates associated with the fossil fuel industry - emissions from which are causing global warming. There are more of those delegates - 503 - said to lobby for oil and gas industries than from any single country, according to Global Witness analysis shared with the BBC. 2. UK's £290m pledge to help poorer nations: At COP, the UK is seeking an over-arching deal that it will hope to agree with all parties. The deal will need to tackle issues including cutting carbon emissions and money for countries to adapt to rising temperatures. This comes as UK pledges £290m to help poorer countries tackle the impact of climate change. 3. A fight to save a forest: A forest in central India is under threat from a new diamond mine. Mining 382 hectares of Buxwaha forest - which would unlock billions of dollars - will bring jobs, the government says, but local people believe their lives will be destroyed. They're fighting to save the forest. 4. How the humble battery can help save the world: It made its commercial debut in a camcorder 30 years ago and lithium-ion batteries are now found in many gadgets including power tools, toothbrushes and smartphones. The Nobel Prize winning battery's been hailed a climate hero and could be a key part of a low-carbon future. 5. Banking body heat: Getting hot and sweaty while busting moves on the dancefloor is a given, and so could reusing that energy you've expended. Glasgow nightclub SWG3 is going to trial capturing body heat from dancers to create renewable energy to warm up or cool down its venue. It could save around 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide, C02, per year.

11-7-21 COP26: Countries must make bold compromises at summit - PM
Ministers and negotiators at COP26 should "pull together and drive for the line" to secure ambitious action on climate change, Boris Johnson has said. The prime minister said countries must be ready to "make the bold compromises and ambitious commitments needed" at the final week of the climate summit. Talks will continue in Glasgow, including on what is needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. Thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday in cities around the world. About 100 climate change demonstrations were held in parts of the UK - including Glasgow, London and Cardiff - while events also took place in Kenya, Turkey, France, Brazil, Australia and Canada. Glasgow's rally was the largest the city had ever seen, police said, with about 100,000 people taking part. The police arrested 21 scientists at the march. The individuals arrested had chained themselves together and blocked a road bridge to the River Clyde. Meanwhile, in a new development, Environment Secretary George Eustice - who is at the summit - has suggested the government is looking at introducing a carbon border tax. This would be a tax on goods - such as food, mobile phones or cement - coming to the UK from countries that do not meet the UK's obligations on climate action. He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show it would take time to do and ideally would be done multilaterally. "We are not going to export pollution," he said. "If you don't want to do that, you do want to consider something like a carbon border tax." The parts of the Paris Agreement - the world's first comprehensive deal to tackle climate change - that still need finalising involve markets for trading carbon emissions, transparency over what countries are doing, and common timeframes for action. Discussions will also continue on negotiations on finance for poor countries to adapt to a changing climate as well as on a "cover decision" pledge from the summit. This will set out how countries will close the gap between the action to cut emissions they have pledged and what is needed to avoid dangerous temperature rises of more than 1.5C. The world is now about 1.2C warmer than it was in the 19th Century - and extreme weather events like heatwaves, floods and forest fires are already becoming more intense. But unless more is done, the planet is already on course to warm by more than 2C by the end of this century.

11-7-21 Climate change: National Trust joins international call for peat product ban
The National Trust is calling on the government to ban peat being used in compost, as part of efforts to try and limit climate change. It is one of more than a dozen international organisations asking for a switch to sustainable alternatives. Peat bogs are a carbon sink - meaning they soak up carbon dioxide emissions that exacerbate global warming. The UK government has already said it intends to ban the sale of peat compost to the public in England by 2024. But in a joint statement on peat, the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland - as well as similar groups including from Ireland, Korea and Indonesia - urged the government to "act now" and ban the sale of peat products in horticulture entirely. They made the call to coincide with the COP26 climate summit negotiations. Peat is the surface layer of soil, made up primarily of partially decomposed plant material which has developed in waterlogged and low oxygen conditions. It is filled with nutrients ideal for plant growth and is often used in compost, as well as harvested and burned as fuel. Research shows peatland traps almost twice as much carbon as forests, despite covering just 3% of the earth's surface. But peat bogs that have been drained, dug up for fuel or used in compost have the opposite effect and contributes to carbon emissions. The National Trust said healthy peatlands also help to control flooding and encourage vegetation that can provide homes for wildlife. The organisation, which is one of the largest landowners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said it was taking action to eliminate the use of peat in its gardens and supply chains. National Trust director general Hilary McGrady said the international organisations were "all taking action" to eliminate the use of peat, but added "we can't end this practice alone".

11-7-21 COP26: Thousands march for Glasgow's biggest protest
About 100,000 people marched in Glasgow to demand more action on the climate crisis, organisers have said. The protest was the biggest so far during the COP26 summit and took place alongside hundreds of similar events around the world. Greta Thunberg joined the march but did not speak, leaving activists such as Vanessa Nakate to address a rally. Police arrested 21 scientists who chained themselves together and blocked a road bridge over the River Clyde. Officers also contained a group of socialist activists after pyrotechnics were set off during the march - one person was then arrested. However the force said the day passed "largely without incident". The "Global Day of Action for Climate Justice" march started at Kelvingrove Park in the west of the city and Queen's Park in the south at about midday and made its way along a pre-agreed three-mile route to Glasgow Green. About 100 climate change demonstrations were held in other parts of the UK while events were also taking place in a further 100 countries including Kenya, Turkey, France, Brazil, Australia and Canada. In London, protesters marched from the Bank of England to Trafalgar Square while another large demonstration happened in Cardiff. The opening speeches at the protest rally at Glasgow Green came from representatives of indigenous people around the globe. Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate later told protesters: "The climate and ecological crises are already here. But so are citizens from around the globe. "Leaders rarely have the courage to lead. It takes citizens, people like you and me, to rise up and demand action. And when we do that in great enough numbers, our leaders will move." It was understood that Greta Thunberg decided to give space to other speakers as she had already addressed youth activists in a march and rally on Friday.

11-6-21 Participants in massive Glasgow protest demand immediate climate action
Tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through Glasgow on Saturday, calling on world leaders to make drastic, immediate changes to fight climate change before it's too late. Glasgow is hosting the U.N. climate summit COP26, and coordinated protests were held in other cities across Europe, including London, Copenhagen, Paris, and Zurich. Negotiators are working on draft agreements of major commitments, including capping global warming at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and providing more financial support for poorer countries. The climate activists carried signs reading "COP26, We Are Watching You" and "Stop Big Polluters," and demanded world leaders curb the use of fossil fuels, which produce heat-trapping gases. Marcher Daze Aghaji told The Associated Press conversations are being held, but "there's no policies to actually back them." Aghaji echoed the concerns of other protesters who think COP26 should include more public participation, saying, "How are we expecting to make decent policy when the people who are the stakeholders of this aren't even present in the room?" Elizabeth May, a Canadian member of parliament who has participated in COP talks, was at the march, and told AP that "overwhelmingly, the protests make a difference. Most of the people on the inside are here in their hearts and sometimes physically."

11-6-21 COP26: Greta Thunberg tells protest that COP26 has been a 'failure'
Greta Thunberg has told a mass rally in Glasgow that the COP26 climate summit has been a "failure". The Swedish activist had earlier joined thousands of young people - including striking school pupils - for a march through the city. She addressed the crowd when it arrived in George Square, saying "immediate and drastic" cuts to emissions are needed. The march was organised by Fridays for Future Scotland, a group founded by youngsters inspired by Ms Thunberg. It was one of the largest of a series of demonstrations taking place throughout the summit, which is being held in the city. Ms Thunberg said: "It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve a crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place." She said: "We need immediate drastic annual emission cuts unlike anything the world has ever seen. "The people in power can continue to live in their bubble filled with their fantasies, like eternal growth on a finite planet and technological solutions that will suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere and will erase all of these crises just like that. "All this while the world is literally burning, on fire, and while the people living on the front lines are still bearing the brunt of the climate crisis." She described the UN climate change summit as a "two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah" to "maintain business as usual" and "create loopholes to benefit themselves". Ms Thunberg added: "We know that our emperors are naked." Activists from several other countries also gave speeches about how climate change is already affecting their homelands. They included including Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, who said: "Historically, Africa is responsible for only 3% of global emissions and yet Africans are suffering some of the most brutal impacts fuelled by the climate crisis. "But while the global south is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, they're not on the front pages of the world's newspapers."

11-6-21 Death of the ancients
Even 2,000-year-old sequoias can’t survive a changed climate. For centuries, sequoias were largely invulnerable to fire. The world's most massive trees, sequoias have insulating bark up to 3 feet thick and canopies 200 to 300 feet above the forest floor, so that flames from wildfires could only lick at their trunks. Perfectly adapted to their environment, these majestic trees thrived in their own Eden in the Sierra Nevada, with some reaching the age of more than 2,000 years. Then mankind intervened. Climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels brought in hotter weather, prolonged droughts, and more-intense wildfires. In 2020, the huge Castle Fire incinerated an estimated 10,000 mature sequoias — wiping out up to 14 percent of the tree's population. This year, as more fires raged, parks officials resorted to wrapping some sequoia trunks in protective foil. People are making bucket-list pilgrimages to the groves as sequoias join a list of endangered natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef, glaciers from Montana to the Himalayas, the Amazon rain forest, and on and on. In Glasgow, world leaders have signed more proclamations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After another year of startling weather extremes, the rhetoric of leaders has become more urgent. But averting a global temperature increase of 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) would require determined efforts of a kind not yet in evidence. In a recent poll by Nature, most climate scientists think we're headed for 5 degrees F — nearly triple what we've already experienced. President Xi Jinping of China, the world's largest emitter, didn't even bother to show up in Glasgow. In the U.S., Sen. Joe Manchin, owner of a coal company that's made him at least $4.5 million, vetoed a proposal to reward power plants for weaning themselves off fossil fuels. Why not, asks Senator Joe, wait a few more years? This week, hundreds of sequoias perished in another high-intensity wildfire. If you want to see a sequoia, you'd better go soon.

11-6-21 Climate change: The US state taking on an oil giant for greenwashing
The question of responsibility for the effects of global warming is - slowly - being tested in court. One case in Massachusetts is using consumer laws to take on oil giant ExxonMobil. If the US state wins, it will be the first case in the world to successfully prosecute a fossil fuel company for greenwashing and misleading the public. How much is the fossil fuel industry actually doing to tackle climate change? If you listen to the companies themselves, quite a lot. ExxonMobil, the American oil and gas giant, says it's committed to new energy solutions that don't contribute as much to global warming - such as fuel made from algae. The firm claims it could "one day power planes, propel ships and fuel trucks and cut their emissions in half". One of its adverts says: "Every technology we're working on helps lower our carbon footprint. Because when it comes to addressing climate change, our actions make a difference." But not everyone's buying it. "There's this giant disconnect," says Naomi Oreskes, a professor at Harvard University, who's been monitoring disinformation tactics used by big businesses for years. "The reality of their business model is to continue to exploit, develop and sell oil and gas. But their advertising, their communications, make it seem as if they're these great guys committed to sustainability and renewable energy." It's what ExxonMobil's critics have described as greenwashing - pretending to be greener than you actually are. In other words, a form of alleged deception. And - partly because of that - Exxon and other oil companies are fighting various forms of legal action across the US. The state of Massachusetts is taking on Exxon in court using consumer protection laws alleging the company continues to deceive the state's consumers and investors about the damage caused by its oil and gasoline products. Exxon strongly denies the allegations. The company has tried - and failed - to get the whole case dismissed on the grounds that many of the allegations made in this case fall outside the jurisdiction of Massachusetts courts, and the ads were not made in or specifically directed at residents in the state. But it's partly because of what climate change is doing to the people of Massachusetts, that the state decided to take Exxon to court. Among other things, the lawsuit specifically mentions the threat against fishermen, and their way of life.

11-6-21 COP 26: What Alaska’s shrinking island means for all of us
The village of Shishmaref, in Northern Alaska, may have to be relocated due to rising temperatures, thawing permafrost, and rapid coastal erosion. Denis, who has lived here for 20 years, says he hopes the rest of the world takes notice before other communities are lost to the water.

11-6-21 COP26: What African climate experts want you to know
Africa is the continent likely to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change even though studies show it has contributed least to the crisis. So even though Africa has released relatively small amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, those living on the continent are likely to be the victims of climate emergency disasters. It is already suffering from extreme weather events and changes to rainfall patterns linked to climate change - leading to droughts and flooding. With a rapidly rising population, this has knock-on effects for food, poverty and gives rise to migration and conflict. Here five climate experts tell the BBC's Dickens Olewe the issues world leaders need to remember as they hammer out solutions to rapid climate change at COP26. The average African uses less electricity each year than one refrigerator consumes in the US or Europe. But this is going to grow - especially as temperatures rise - as Africans will have to have more energy to cool their homes and irrigate farms. Africa too must be allowed to develop and build up its infrastructure - something that requires more energy. So we must simultaneously have more power for rapid economic growth and quickly find alternatives to fossil fuels to provide this energy. Yet African countries are being constrained by rich nations who make grand statements about their commitments while continuing to burn fossil fuels at home. Kenya already generates a far greater share of its renewable power than the US or Europe. This is because there are schemes that enable rich countries to offset their emissions by paying poorer one to switch to cleaner fuels. While Africa welcomes partnerships, countries on the continent cannot sacrifice their ambitions. More thought needs to be given to what Africa needs in terms of industrialisation and creating jobs. This means that richer nations need to actually reduce their own emissions and they need to live up to funding promises - in the past there have been pledges but little upfront money.

11-6-21 Earth’s lower atmosphere is rising due to climate change
Higher temperatures are forcing the upper boundary of the troposphere to expand upward. Global temperatures are rising and so, it seems, is part of the sky. Atmosphere readings collected by weather balloons in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 40 years reveal that climate change is pushing the upper boundary of the troposphere — the slice of sky closest to the ground — steadily upward at a rate of 50 to 60 meters per decade, researchers report November 5 in Science Advances. Temperature is the driving force behind this change, says Jane Liu, an environmental scientist at the University of Toronto. The troposphere varies in height around the world, reaching as high as 20 kilometers in the tropics and as low as seven kilometers near the poles. During the year, the upper boundary of the troposphere — called the tropopause — naturally rises and falls with the seasons as air expands in the heat and contracts in the cold. But as greenhouse gases trap more and more heat in the atmosphere, the troposphere is expanding higher into the atmosphere (SN: 10/26/21). Liu and her colleagues found that the tropopause rose an average of about 200 meters in height from 1980 to 2020. Nearly all weather occurs in the troposphere, but it’s unlikely that this shift will have on a big effect on weather, the researchers say. Still, this research is an important reminder of the impact of climate change on our world, Liu says. “We see signs of global warming around us, in retreating glaciers and rising sea levels,” she says. “Now, we see it in the height of the troposphere.”

11-5-21 Lowest level of the atmosphere getting thicker due to climate change
The lowest level of the atmosphere, called the troposphere, has been growing warmer and gaining thickness at a rate of 53 metres per decade since 2000. The tropopause – a boundary within the atmosphere – is increasing in altitude due to climate change. The lowest layer of the atmosphere where we live and breathe is called the troposphere, and it is separated from the stratosphere above – which is where the protective ozone layer sits – by the tropopause. There is natural variation in the altitude of the tropopause: it lies roughly 18 kilometres above sea level at the equator and around 10 kilometres above sea level at the poles. But Jane Liu at the University of Toronto in Canada and her colleagues have found that its altitude across the northern hemisphere has risen in recent decades. The researchers analysed atmospheric data such as pressure, temperature and humidity collected by weather balloons, and also used data from GPS satellites, to track changes in the tropopause between 1980 and 2020. The team focused specifically on the northern hemisphere, where changes to tropopause height are thought to have been larger than in the southern hemisphere. The team found that the altitude of the tropopause in the northern hemisphere has steadily increased between 1980 and 2020. Between 2001 and 2020, the altitude increased at a rate of around 53.3 metres per decade, which is a slightly higher rate of increase than between 1980 and 2000. This increase excludes any impact of natural climate variations, such as volcanic eruptions and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which were factored out, and so is due to climate change alone, according to the researchers. They suggest warming of the troposphere due to its increasing concentration of greenhouse gases is expanding this layer, driving the tropopause to greater altitudes. An additional, less significant driving force is that the stratosphere has decreased in volume due – somewhat counterintuitively – to cooling of this layer induced by, for instance, ozone deterioration.

11-5-21 COP26: Climate summit mood is positive as first week draws to a close
A blitz of announcements during the first week of the COP26 climate summit has been positively received, but the real hard work happens next week as almost 200 governments must agree a final deal. It has been a good first week for COP26. The start of the climate summit in Glasgow, UK, has been blessed by glitzy speeches, shiny deals and little public bickering. But how good? We have already had three assessments of what all the commitments add up to – from a team at the University of Melbourne in Australia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UN’s own climate body. The first two said we are now on target for a 1.9°C and a 1.8°C world by the end of the century, respectively, far closer than before to the Paris deal’s goals of “well below” 2°C and to “pursue efforts” for 1.5°C. Yet the UN still sees global annual emissions up around 14 per cent by 2030 against 2010 levels, which a UN official says puts us “close” to 2.7°C. And we know that getting to 1.5°C requires a 45 per cent cut by 2030. The sunnier views assume net-zero carbon emissions goals for 2050, 2060 and 2070 are acted on, and also account for other deals announced this week, including India’s promises on Monday. Simon Lewis at the University of Leeds in the UK says the IEA analysis is flawed because it assumes countries such as Saudi Arabia and Australia will meet their net-zero goals when it is unlikely they will. “It’s based on very optimistic assumptions,” says Claire Fyson of the non-profit organisation Climate Analytics. This debate over how much COP26 pledges have shifted the temperature dial will rumble on in coming days. It is clear there has been concrete progress, but it is also clear we aren’t on track for 1.5°C yet. John Kerry, the US climate envoy, said of the analyses: “Let me emphasise as strongly as I can: job not done.”

11-5-21 COP26 news: Greta Thunberg leads protest march at Glasgow summit
Youth activists have played a big role in promoting the urgency of acting on climate change, and they showed up in massive numbers at the COP26 summit. It is the last day of week one of the COP26 international climate summit. The week has been fast-paced, packed with frantic announcements and a certain amount of chaos. Hopefully, it isn’t overly prophetic that one of the cubicle walls in the Media Zone fell down this morning. Friday saw demonstrations on the streets of Glasgow organised by Fridays for Future, the movement inspired by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and her long-running school strike. New Scientist’s Graham Lawton was there and reports that the march was “massive”, with around 25,000 people joining the protest, according to its organisers. A survey published this week hints at the strong feelings held by many young people about climate change. Conducted in January and February by research firm Ipsos and the Futerra Solutions Union, the survey asked 19,520 people aged 16 to 74 in 27 countries whether they thought it was possible to reduce climate change. Of those people, 58 per cent were at least somewhat optimistic, but 31 per cent were fatalistic (“humanity cannot reduce climate change”) or defeatist (“humanity is able to reduce climate change, but we are not going to do it”). These pessimistic attitudes were significantly more common among young people than among people over 50. No wonder so many young people are making impassioned speeches at COP26. As we have noted, the first week of COP26 has seen a flurry of announcements, many of them positive. So what are the protesters concerned about? One crucial issue is the lack of support for adaptation: that is, help for people whose lives are being affected by climate change. Developed countries have promised to give $100 billion a year to developing countries by 2020, but they haven’t completely come through.

11-5-21 COP26: Emissions of rich put climate goals at risk - study
The carbon footprint of the world's richest 1% is on track to be 30 times higher than what's needed to limit global warming to 1.5C, a study says. But emissions of the poorest 50% will continue to be below climate goals. The research, carried out by two European environmental agencies, comes as world leaders meet at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. "A tiny elite appear to have a free pass to pollute," says Naftoke Dabi at Oxfam. The charity commissioned the study from the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Institute for European Environmental Policy. "Their over-sized emissions are fuelling extreme weather around the world and jeopardising the international goal of limiting global heating." Climate scientists warn that there is a finite amount of greenhouse gases that we can continue to release into the atmosphere before the planet warms to more than 1.5C from pre-industrial levels. By 2030, they say, we need to only emit as much carbon as the planet can absorb. If this amount were split evenly and every adult on the planet had a share, by 2030 we could each emit 2.3 tonnes of CO2 every year. The super-rich - many of whom have multiple homes, private jets and superyachts - emit a lot more than others. A recent study that tracked the air travel of celebrities via their social media accounts found some emitted over a thousand tonnes a year. But the global 1% are not just billionaires, or even millionaires - it includes anyone earning over $172,000. This study also looked at the world's richest 10% - anyone earning over $55,000 - and found emissions were still high. The richest 10% will emit nine times more carbon than their share. One example of people in the top 10% is the Curths, a family of four in the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio. Traci Curth, her husband and her teenage daughter each drive a car. "The suburb I live in, that's pretty much how everyone gets around," says Traci. Toledo has hot summers and cold winters, so the air-conditioning is on when the heating isn't. The family has a freezer loaded with chicken breasts and mince beef - they eat meat about four or five times a week. "I would say that's pretty normal for most American families," says Traci.

11-5-21 Electric cars expected to outsell diesel ones in the UK next year
For the first time ever, sales of electric cars are forecast to exceed those of diesel ones in the UK next year, thanks to a fall in up-front prices and improvements in public charging infrastructure. More electric cars are expected to be sold in the UK than diesel models next year, in what experts say will be a “watershed moment”. Fully electric battery cars have already outsold diesel cars for several months this year, but 2022 is now projected to be the first time it happens across a year. A total of 260,000 electric cars are expected to be sold in 2022 versus 221,000 diesel models, according to figures published yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK automotive trade body. The figures do not include hybrid models. “It’s brilliant. I think it is a watershed moment in terms of EVs [electric vehicles] finally coming in from the cold and being a mainstream solution for people,” says David Bailey at the University of Birmingham, UK. He says the surge is being driven by a “massive” new range of vehicles, a fall in up-front prices and improvements in both battery range and public charging infrastructure. Electric vehicles are seen as critical for meeting air pollution and climate change goals, such as those being discussed at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, this week. The SMMT figures also show that nearly 10 per cent of new car sales so far this year are for electric models, up from 5.5 per cent last year. “We are seeing rapid uptake. It wasn’t long ago we saw 2 per cent. We are going to see a tipping point around the middle of this decade where EVs outcompete the internal combustion engine: it will be cheaper, full stop,” says Bailey. While electric car sales are anticipated to overtake diesels next year, Bailey says he expects they won’t accelerate past petrol cars until around 2024. Beyond 2025, he says: “I can’t really see any good reason to buy a petrol car.” The UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

11-5-21 COP26: Duke of Edinburgh-style climate award to launch
Pupils will be recognised for their efforts to protect the environment in a new Duke of Edinburgh-style award. It is one of a series of measures aimed at putting climate change at the heart of education. The plans are being set out by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Staff will also be supported to teach children about nature and their impact on the world through a "model science curriculum", to be in place by 2023. Climate change is already taught in science and geography lessons in England as part of the curriculum. Mr Zahawi told BBC Breakfast the model science curriculum would "support and enrich" the teaching of climate change for primary school pupils. The education secretary - who is also the climate change minister for his department - said the "education and empowerment of youth" was important and education ministers from other countries are coming together at COP26 on Friday to learn from each other. The Climate Leaders award will help children to develop their skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability, with their work recognised at an annual national awards ceremony. Pupils will be able to progress through different levels of the award - bronze, silver and gold - in a similar way to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which includes volunteering and extracurricular activities. The education secretary will also confirm plans to pilot "energy pods" that can replace gas and coal boilers to supply a school's heating and hot water without carbon emissions. The pods are being tested in some schools first and could be rolled out more widely to other public-sector buildings if successful. Mr Zahawi said that all new schools being built in the country, including 50 this year, would have "net zero in operation". Schools, colleges and nurseries are also being encouraged to improve the biodiversity of their grounds. And from next month, all further education teachers trained via an apprenticeship will be required to integrate sustainability into their teaching. The measures are form a draft sustainability and climate change strategy. These measures will be built on over the next six months - in collaboration with young people, teachers, sustainability experts and environmentalists - before a final strategy is published in April 2022.

11-4-21 COP26 news: Coal phase-out boosts hope for limiting warming to 1.5°C
Wednesday at COP26 was largely disappointing and rather chaotic, but Thursday has been rather more successful. While some new reports have hammered home the severity of the climate threat, there have also been major advances towards reducing the use of fossil fuels and thus cutting greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s a bit early to say whether we’re on track for a fully successful COP but the early signs seem reasonably good,” according to Jacob Werksman, the EU’s top climate negotiator. First, 23 countries have promised to stop new coal power schemes, and to phase out existing ones. They include five of the top 20 coal-using countries: South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Poland and Ukraine. The plan requires more urgent action from richer countries – high-income countries are to phase out coal some time in the 2030s, while low-income ones have until the 2040s. As always, there are caveats. First, the proposed timings are a little late: the International Energy Agency estimates that those dates need to be no later than 2030 and 2040, if we are to limit warming to 1.5°C. Second, in one of those tedious little twists that come up so often, Poland has classified itself as a low-income country, despite being one of the world’s 25 largest economies. And finally, the list of countries doesn’t include the three largest coal users: China, India and the US. Nevertheless, the phase-out of coal is unalloyed good news. Coal is arguably the worst fossil fuel, because it emits the most greenhouse gas per unit of energy generated – so stopping its use is a vital step. Furthermore, what often happens with climate promises is that countries don’t go far enough the first time, and then in subsequent years they get pushed further and further. As a result, the ditching of coal may well happen faster than was promised today, provided the pressure is maintained.

11-4-21 COP26: Countries promise coal phase-out and end to fossil fuel finance
Canada, the UK and the US are among 20 countries that pledged to stop $18 billion of finance a year to international fossil fuel projects, while 23 countries agreed to phase out coal. Efforts to end the world’s reliance on fossil fuels received two major boosts at the COP26 summit today, as 20 governments promised to stop financing oil, coal and gas projects beyond their borders, and several countries pledged to phase out coal power. Ending the use of coal, oil and gas isn’t on the official agenda at the meeting in Glasgow, UK, but is a key aim of campaigners and several countries. A recent analysis found that if the world is to meet its most ambitious climate goal of holding warming to 1.5°C, 89 per cent of coal, 58 per cent of oil and 59 per cent of gas reserves must stay in the ground. Canada, the UK and the US are among the 20 countries that signed a statement today committing to halt the use of public funding for international fossil fuel energy projects by the end of 2022. It is also backed by five public banks, including the European Investment Bank. Collectively, the group is estimated to provide $18 billion of finance a year, through lines of credit and other measures. “This is fantastic news,” says Nina Seega at the University of Cambridge. “We know that the US is among the top five G20 countries for international public finance for fossil fuels. Their inclusion in the list is absolutely key.” However, the move doesn’t preclude backing domestic projects and allows for exceptions in “limited” circumstances if they are deemed consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goals. “It needs to be complemented by similar domestic announcements,” says Seega. Meanwhile, the world’s seventh-biggest user of coal power, Indonesia, and the 13th biggest, Poland, were among 23 countries that committed to stopping new coal power schemes and phasing out existing infrastructure. “The end of coal is in sight,” said COP26 president Alok Sharma today.

11-4-21 Cutting ammonia emissions may be the best way to reduce air pollution
Emissions of ammonia can lead to tiny particles in the air that damage our health, but many countries have no policies on limiting its release into the atmosphere. Aiming to reduce ammonia emissions may be a more cost-effective way to mitigate air pollution than focusing on nitrogen oxides alone. Fine particulates less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are formed when ammonia reacts with nitrous oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide. These particulates, known as PM2.5, can pass from the lungs into the bloodstream and cause illnesses such as asthma, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nitrogen is an important precursor that can lead to air pollution, so if we want to control air pollution, we have to control nitrogen emissions to the air,” says Baojing Gu at Zhejiang University in China. “But there are too many different types of nitrogen emitted to air.” Gu and his colleagues developed a new way to calculate the contribution of nitrogen compounds to PM2.5 pollution called the N-share. They estimate that, in total, nitrogen emissions caused roughly 23.3 million years of lost life in 2013, with an economic cost of $420 billion. The team found that targeting ammonia emissions – the majority of which come from agricultural sources such as livestock production – would be a more cost-effective way to reduce PM2.5 pollution than focusing on NOx emissions, which are produced chiefly by combustion, such as in car engines. Updating the way we produce meat, for example via changes to animal housing and diet, could help reduce ammonia emissions, since about 80 per cent comes from agriculture, says Gu. Currently, most places around the world focus on reducing sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides to tackle fine particulate air pollution. While ammonia reductions have been suggested as a focus for the European Union, other countries, including China and the US, have no policies on ammonia emissions.

11-4-21 Consistent climate action wasn't on the menu at COP26
In between urging each other to "get real about climate change," world leaders and activists attending this week's COP26 climate change conference reportedly dined on a menu including venison, haggis, burgers, and farmed salmon. "It's like serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference," Joel Scott-Halkes, a spokesperson for Animal Rebellion, told The Big Issue, which broke the story. "As long as such illogical decisions are being made, the climate emergency will never be resolved." I don't think Scott-Halkes is far off the mark. The optics of serving dishes that exceed the carbon footprint goals of the Paris Agreement by nearly sevenfold are profoundly stupid. But choosing this menu for a climate conference also emphasizes how little thought our supposed leaders on this issue have given to vegetarianism and veganism as responses to the unfolding climate crisis. "Meat is basically fossil fuels, except more delicious," writes Emily Atkin in her essential newsletter Heated. Yet there are few subjects more touchy, particularly among Americans, than limiting meat consumption. Even progressive climate writers and activists have dismissed plant-based diets as "virtue signaling" or a "cop-out," despite mounting evidence that animal agriculture must be drastically reduced if we're to slow our planet's warming. As Atkin goes on to note: Industrial animal agriculture is one of the largest sources of water contamination in the country. It is a massive contributor to drought in the West; the #1 reason for Brazilian Amazon deforestation; and responsible for up to 18 percent of global carbon pollution. It has been a huge source of suffering and death for workers, particularly during the pandemic. If meat and dairy consumption continue apace, there could be an 80 percent spike in global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. [Emily Atkin for Heated] Solving the climate crisis requires people and governments to go beyond what's merely convenient and take steps that are perhaps uncomfortable, unwelcome, or disruptive to the way we've structured our lives. Short of meaningfully recognizing that, climate conferences like COP26 amount to nothing more than flashy "greenwashing," as vegan climate activist ??Greta Thunberg accused officials of doing on Wednesday. Serving something like farmed salmon — one of the most egregious examples of an unsustainable and environmentally-damaging agricultural practice — suggests no one at COP26 wants to do real work when they can performatively finger-wag at China instead. A vegan menu (or even one promoting the sustainable, underutilized, and surprisingly tasty consumption of insects as a meat alternative) could have sent a message about actually getting real about climate change. Instead, we're glutted on the empty calories of hollow promises.

11-4-21 COP26 promises could limit global warming to 1.8C
Carbon emissions show rapid rebound after Covid dip; COP26 - so far, so good-ish. 1. Promises made at COP26 - if fully kept - would limit global warming to 1.8C, says the influential International Energy Agency. 2. It comes on day five of the global climate summit - the focus is on energy and how the world can move away from fossil fuels. 3. More than 40 countries commit to shifting away from coal but huge users and producers like China, India, Australia and the US don't sign up. 4. The meetings in Glasgow come against the backdrop of a global energy crisis, with gas prices surging amid the pandemic recovery. 5. COP26 president Alok Sharma says the "end of coal is in sight" but more work needs to be done. Facebook fails to flag climate change denial, study finds. While much of the focus at COP26 so far has been on what countries can do to tackle climate change, companies and organisations can also play a part. Two studies have found climate change denial is spreading unchecked on Facebook, despite a pledge from the tech giant earlier this year to flag such content. The Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue said less than 10% of misleading posts were marked as misinformation. And the CCDH researchers linked the majority of these to just 10 publishers. They found that of 7,000 misleading posts describing climate change as "hysteria", "alarmism", a "scam", or other related terms, only 8% were marked as misinformation. Facebook said this represented a small proportion of climate change content. Protestors target UK government office in Glasgow. While the speeches, debates and negotiations continue inside the COP26 conference venue, outside Glasgow is alive again today with the sights and sounds of climate protestors. Around 100 activists have gathered outside the UK government's visa and immigration offices in the Cessnock area, not far from the Scottish Event Campus on the River Clyde. The crowd is chanting “Extinction Rebellion”, accompanied by a drumming band. The group wants to highlight the connection between climate change, war and refugees. Meanwhile, police earlier surrounded Baile Hoose, a former homeless shelter in central Glasgow which has reopened to house climate campaigners during COP26. Activists have now been advised they are free to come and go again after talks with police liaison officers.

11-4-21 More than 40 countries agree to phase out coal, but critics say it's 'not a game-changer'
A group of countries has backed an agreement to phase out coal-fired power, but critics are underwhelmed. More than 40 countries including Canada and Poland have agreed to phase out the use of coal-fired power either in the 2030s or 2040s, depending on the country, though the United States and China were among those missing from the agreement, The Guardian reports. Separately, more than 20 countries including the United States agreed end public financing of international fossil fuel projects beginning in 2022, The Washington Post reports. "Today marks a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change, as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no part to play in our future power generation," U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said. "Today's ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight." But Jamie Peters, director of campaigns for the environmental group Friends of the Earth, wasn't impressed, telling The Guardian, "The key point in this underwhelming announcement is that coal is basically allowed to continue as normal for years yet." Climate Action Network Europe senior coal policy coordinator Elif Gündüzyeli similarly took issue with the agreement's timeline, telling The Guardian the deal is "not a game-changer" while arguing a "2030 phaseout deadline should be a minimum, and this agreement doesn't have that." Global Witness campaign leader Murray Worthy also said the agreement "falls spectacularly short of what this moment requires," as "an agreement that only tackles coal doesn't even solve half the problem — emissions from oil and gas already far outstrip coal." Worthy, who said a "truly ambitious agreement" would phase out coal, oil and gas, described this as a "small step forwards when what was needed was a giant leap."

11-4-21 COP26: Quitting coal and rebounding CO2 emissions
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Thursday. 1. Pledge to quit coal: Countries such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile, which rely heavily on coal - the single biggest contributor to global warming - are committing to move away from it. More than 40 countries have signed up to a statement to quit the use of the fossil fuel, and the UK government says 190 nations and organisations have pledged to stop using it. 2. Rebounding CO2 emissions: Global carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions are set to rebound to near pre-Covid levels. Gas emissions fell by 5.4% during lockdowns in 2020 but the scientific Global Carbon Project report predicts they will rise by 4.9% this year. Scientists, surprised by the findings, say this increase underlines the urgency of action at summits such as COP26 in Glasgow. 3. Climate change and disability: When Israeli minister Karine Elharrar couldn't attend COP26 because it wasn't wheelchair-accessible, it was a reflection of how many disabled people often feel - ignored and left out of climate change conversations. This is despite the United Nations Human Rights Council saying those with disabilities are among the people most "adversely affected in an emergency". 4. 'My police dog gets on with the job': Sgt Lynsey Buchanan-Barlas and her police dog Nico have been searching Glasgow's streets for explosives weeks before and during COP26. Although there are different things going on with lots of important people at the summit, it's all about keeping everyone safe. 5. Hydrogen hope: Its chemical symbol is H and it's once again been hitting the headlines. Hydrogen is being mooted as a clean fuel source that could help curb greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. So what exactly is hydrogen energy and how could it be used as an alternative to fossil fuels?

11-4-21 COP26: More than 40 countries pledge to quit coal
More than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal, in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit. Major coal-using countries including Poland, Vietnam and Chile are among those to make the commitment. But some of the world's biggest coal-dependent countries, including China and the US, did not sign up. In a separate commitment, 20 countries, including the US, pledged to end public financing for "unabated" fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022. Such projects burn fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas, without using technology to capture the CO2 emissions. Coal is the single biggest contributor to climate change. Signatories to the agreement have committed to ending all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally. They have also agreed to phase out coal power in the 2030s for major economies, and the 2040s for poorer nations, the UK said. Dozens of organisations also signed up to the pledge, with several major banks agreeing to stop financing the coal industry. "The end of coal is in sight," UK business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said. "The world is moving in the right direction, standing ready to seal coal's fate and embrace the environmental and economic benefits of building a future that is powered by clean energy." But UK shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said there were "glaring gaps" from China and other large emitters, who have not committed to stop increasing coal use domestically. He also noted that there was nothing on the phasing out of oil and gas. Mr Miliband said the UK government "has let others off the hook". Although progress has been made in reducing coal use globally, it still produced around 37% of the world's electricity in 2019. Countries like South Africa, Poland and India will need major investments to make their energy sectors cleaner. Juan Pablo Osornio, head of Greenpeace's delegation at COP26, said: "Overall this statement still falls well short of the ambition needed on fossil fuels in this critical decade." "The small print seemingly gives countries enormous leeway to pick their own phase-out date, despite the shiny headline," he added.

11-4-21 Global CO2 emissions have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels
Global CO2 emissions fell by 5.4 per cent during 2020 because of the pandemic, but they are estimated to have risen by 4.9 per cent this year. Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are on track to rebound so much in 2021 that they will almost wipe out the unprecedented decline caused by the pandemic last year. The bad news from an international team of researchers comes amid the COP26 summit in Glasgow, UK, where nearly 200 countries are trying to drive down global emissions by almost half by 2030 to meet the world’s target of holding warming to 1.5°C. Emissions fell by 5.4 per cent in 2020 due to covid-19 restrictions, but are estimated to rise 4.9 per cent this year to 36.4 billion tonnes of CO2, according to the Global Carbon Budget report published today. That puts emissions almost back at 2019 levels. The steep rebound is on a par with that seen after the 2009 financial crash, in a sign that governments’ promises of a post-pandemic “green recovery” haven't been delivered. “It’s not fantastic. It’s not entirely surprising. Certainly the rise in emissions in 2021 occurred very quickly,” says Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia, UK, a co-author of the new report. Glen Peters at CICERO climate research centre in Norway, another co-author, says the rebound is bigger than expected. The report shows the scale of the challenge facing governments in Glasgow. If emissions continue at this year’s rate, there will be just 11 years left until the world reduces its chances of keeping warming to 1.5°C this century to less than 50/50. Strong growth in coal and gas use are responsible for much of the emissions increase this year, with oil picking up more slowly. While US and European emissions are down this year on 2019 levels, China is expected to be up 5.5 per cent and India by 4.4 per cent.

11-4-21 Climate change: Carbon emissions show rapid rebound after Covid dip
Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rebound to near the levels they were at before Covid, in a finding that has surprised scientists. The amount of planet-heating gas released in 2020 fell by 5.4% as the pandemic forced countries to lock down. But a scientific report by the Global Carbon Project predicts CO2 emissions will rise by 4.9% this year. It shows the window is closing on our ability to limit temperature rise to the critical threshold of 1.5C. This rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere underlines the urgency of action at summits like COP26 in Glasgow, scientists say. Important deals have been struck at the meeting this week, on limiting emissions of methane and on curbing deforestation. Yet emissions from coal and gas are predicted to grow more in 2021 than they fell the previous year - though carbon released from oil use is expected to remain below 2019 levels. Dr Glen Peters, from the Center for International Climate Research (Cicero) in Oslo, Norway, said: "What many of us were thinking in 2020 - including me - was more of a recovery spread out over a few years, as opposed to a big hitch in 2021. "That's where the surprise comes for me - that it happened so quick, and also there's a concern that there's still some recovery to come." This rapid rebound in emissions is at odds with the ambitious CO2 cuts required in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. This is the increase viewed by scientists as the gateway to dangerous levels of global warming. The 16th annual Global Carbon Budget report was compiled by more than 94 authors who analysed economic data and information on emissions from land activities, such as forestry. It shows that, if we continue along as we are and don't cut emissions, there's a 50% likelihood of reaching the 1.5C of warming in about 11 years. This concurs with the findings in a recent UN report that suggested we would get there by the early 2030s.

11-4-21 Greeks fear megafires could be new normal for Med
World leaders at the COP26 summit in Glasgow are under pressure to respond to global warming, and intense heatwaves and frequent forest fires are becoming an increasing threat around the Mediterranean. This summer alone Greece was hit by thousands of wildfires, fanned by its worst heatwave in decades. Turkey, Italy and Spain all witnessed dramatic fires in recent months and the fire on the Greek island of Evia was the biggest in Greece since records began. What happened on Evia was a megafire, an intense conflagration, which took almost two weeks to bring under control. With more heatwaves forecast for future summers, there are fears that megafires could become the new normal. "We never expected this," says Nikos Dimitrakis, a farmer who was born and raised in northern Evia. "We thought a part might burn, as in previous fires. But now the entire area was burned." When the fire reached his land, he told me there was no-one there to help. Surrounded by flames, he grabbed tree branches in a desperate attempt to put out the blaze. "The fire was coming uphill, there was so much noise and I was just sitting and watching. At some point I burst into tears and left. There is nothing you can do unless you have a fire truck nearby, something. Alone, what can you do?" Like many people in Evia, Nikos relied on the forest for his livelihood. "We lost our treasure, our forest, we lived from it. We lost our pine trees from which we'd take resin, we lost the chestnut trees, we lost some walnut trees. The point now is how the state will support us." Nikos says the authorities mishandled the fire. "I feel angry, because I didn't expect this catastrophe to happen. For sure, climate change is a factor but the fire shouldn't have been allowed to grow so big. They are responsible. They burned us and they know it." Many locals say the authorities didn't do enough to stop the spread of the blazes, but firefighters say this year's megafires were unprecedented.

11-4-21 2021: A year of wild weather
Europe can expect 50C heatwaves every three years if global emissions continue rising, according to new Met Office new data analysis undertaken for BBC Panorama. This is under what's described as a "medium" emissions scenario – and the Met Office says that, unless the world takes significant action on climate change, by the year 2100 the continent can expect a similar heatwave every year. Ahead of a special programme, Wild Weather: Our World Under Threat, BBC Panorama has been looking back at the extreme weather events already recorded in 2021. The COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow is seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control. Almost 200 countries are being asked for their plans to cut emissions, and it could lead to major changes to our everyday lives.

11-3-21 Has COP26 put the world on track for holding global warming to 1.5°C?
One analysis says that new pledges made at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, have put the world on track for a 1.9°C of warming, but experts caution it takes a very optimistic view. Is the world any closer to its goal of holding climate change to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels? Four days into the COP26 summit, 120 world leaders have departed Glasgow, UK, and the dust is settling on a series of side deals around cutting methane and halting deforestation. India made the biggest concrete pledge by promising the use of far more renewables by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2070. We knew before the conference that emissions pledges had the world on track for 2.7°C of warming by the end of the century, well off course for the 1.5°C milestone. Despite that huge gap, a largely positive gloss has been put on Glasgow’s prospects for “keeping 1.5°C alive”, the stated aim of the summit’s host country, the UK. “We are off to a good start at COP26,” said Alok Sharma, the COP26 president. “Leaders came armed with the ambition that they should rightly be showing. It is clear there is no turning back.” He cited the rapidly growing number of countries setting net-zero targets, which now cover around 90 per cent of the world economy. Others agree that COP26 has seen progress. Monday and Tuesday’s leaders’ event made a difference, according to Sonam Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries Group on climate change, a coalition of 46 nations representing a billion people. “I believe most of the statements were for a 1.5°C world. They were quite clear it’s time to act.” On climate policy, he said the wind was “blowing in the right direction”. Former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed says the most exciting move was by India. “When you add all the numbers, I believe 1.5°C is now reachable. We need 1.5°C for us to survive and I think this is the case for many vulnerable countries,” he says. Nasheed also welcomed the methane deal, though one rapid assessment found it would only avoid 0.1°C of warming by 2050.

11-3-21 COP26 news: Toothless net-zero plans and lack of disability inclusion
Organisational chaos continues at the COP26 climate summit, with disability access issues keeping key players out, while the UK’s net-zero business plans are mostly symbolic. Most of the world leaders have now left the COP26 climate summit. US president Joe Biden flew home last night as did many others. From now on, the negotiations will focus on more detailed, nitty-gritty matters, and are being handled by lower-ranking diplomats. One of the biggest challenges for anyone attending COP26 is simply getting into the building and the various meetings. It seems fair to say that this aspect of the summit isn’t working well so far. It seems like a trivial thing, but there are delegates from indigenous groups and vulnerable communities on the front lines of climate change, all of whom are trying to get their message across to the negotiators – and they can’t even get in. “Queuing to get into the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, it is easy to see why negotiating a global deal on climate change has been so difficult. Pushy queue-jumping and the need for sharp elbows mean the self-entitled get ahead and the community minded get left behind… Once inside, the tide of humanity barely subsides. Getting into meetings is practically impossible. Social distancing is actually impossible, though masks are strictly enforced and everyone has to show a negative covid test to gain entry. Unoccupied chairs, tables, plug sockets or media desks are hard to find. Scarcity extends to the food outlets, though the bins are overflowing.” Yesterday, Graham tried to attend the press conference at which Joe Biden announced the US plan to cut methane emissions. But he literally couldn’t get into the room. Later in the afternoon, the media centre started advising journalists to watch the sessions online because they were unlikely to be able to attend in person. Somehow COP26 has become like Formula 1: you get the best view watching it from home on the television.

11-3-21 Is it true that use of synthetic fertiliser is increasing everywhere?
THE interconnectivity of our world never fails to amaze me. Even as a plant scientist fascinated by food production, I am often astonished by the extent to which changes in a seemingly unrelated industry on a distant part of the planet can affect our dinner plates – and the reaction of pundits to these impacts. Recently, news broke that soaring global fertiliser costs, created by factors such as rising energy prices in China, would be likely to have a devastating knock-on effect on the food security of some of the poorest people on Earth. Surprisingly, some activists and thought leaders saw this price hike as a good thing, because it would provide a market mechanism to force farmers to reduce their “addiction” to fertilisers. According to this narrative, fertiliser use has gone “up and up”, and masked a “terrifying and accelerating” collapse in global soil health, which is often worse for people in low-income countries trying to feed themselves. Given the frequency and conviction with which this view is expressed, and the devastating impact it could have, I thought I should go in search of the facts. So, the first thing we need to acknowledge is that overuse of fertiliser is a problem. It is well established that run-off of excess nutrients pollutes water courses, with a destructive impact on the environment. The extent of this effect can be wide-ranging, with farmland run-off in the US Midwest contributing to algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico hundreds, sometimes thousands, of kilometres away. That is before we talk about the greenhouse gas emissions produced in the manufacture of fertiliser. Alone, the Haber-Bosch process – which captures atmospheric nitrogen and converts it into a soluble form that plants can more readily use – produces roughly 1.4 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. That might sound like a small amount until you compare it with the emissions associated with all of the aviation industry, which are around 2 per cent.

11-3-21 COP26: Leaders agree global plan to boost green technology
More than 40 world leaders say they will work together to turbo-charge the uptake of clean technologies by imposing worldwide standards and policies. The announcement will be made at the climate summit COP26 in Glasgow on Tuesday. Five high-carbon sectors will be targeted at first, including agriculture and electricity. It aims to encourage global private investment in low-carbon technologies. Similar international attempts have been made previously to push clean tech - but nothing as ambitious as this multi-lateral agreement. Its backers want to reassure investors that global markets will be created for green technology and that it is a good financial bet. It is hoped that eventually the initiative will help draw in trillions of dollars in private finance for cutting emissions. The five sectors that the plan will cover at first are steel, road transport, agriculture, hydrogen, and electricity. The initiative, known as the Glasgow Breakthroughs, was applauded by Nick Mabey from the climate think tank e3g. He told me: "This potentially has real muscle. It takes climate change out of the negotiating halls and into the real economy. "Imagine if major nations agreed to set a target for the amount of 'green steel' to be made. (That's steel made with hydrogen or electricity.) That would be really powerful by creating a market." The plan has been launched by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alongside representatives from the USA, India, EU, and - importantly - China. The signatories are said to represent more than 70% of the world's economy and every region. A similar approach has been running in the EU where law-makers have steadily increased efficiency standards on electrical goods so they run creating fewer emissions. Crucially, firms wanting to export into the EU must reach the same standards - it's proved that higher standards in one part of the world can influence technology in another. It's hoped this process could be embraced and greatly expanded with the "Glasgow Breakthroughs".

11-3-21 COP26: Low-carbon firms and Biden hails progress
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Wednesday. 1. Low-carbon planning for UK firms. Today is finance day at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to set out plans to encourage large firms to work towards the UK's 2050 net-zero target. Under new Treasury rules most big UK firms and financial institutions will be forced to publish details, 2. Biden leaves hailing summit progress. The vast majority of world leaders viewed COP26 as an opportunity to "press the restart button", US President Joe Biden said, hailing the progress of the conference as he left. His visit ended following the conclusion of the world leaders summit, which kickstarted the conference. 3. South Africa's deal to end coal reliance. To help end its reliance on coal, South Africa is set to receive $8.5bn (£6.2bn) from wealthier nations in what President Cyril Ramaphosa says is a "watershed moment". The deal could have global and local implications as the country is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, which cause the planet's temperature to rise. South Africa uses coal to generate electricity. 4. 'We have no hill to run to'. The Republic of the Marshall Islands - a sprawling nation of more than 1,200 low-lying atolls and isles in the Pacific Ocean - are only 2m above sea level. Sea level rise caused by climate change means it is one of the most threatened countries in the world, says poet and activist Kathy Jetn¯il-Kijiner, adding that unlike other island nations, there are no mountains and there's no higher ground to go to. 5. Changing carbon A bubble playground's making an impression on children and there's a hope it could make an impression on the world. With each bounce, microscopic algae in the inflatable turn carbon dioxide, CO2, and other minerals from the air into oxygen. Delegates have been given a flavour of the carbon footprint of their meals at the summit. But can we reduce it through our diet? Switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change, according to a major report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says the West's high consumption of meat and dairy is fuelling global warming.

11-3-21 COP26: UK firms forced to show how they will hit net zero
Most big UK firms and financial institutions will be forced to show how they intend to hit climate change targets, under proposed Treasury rules. By 2023, they will have to set out detailed public plans for how they will move to a low-carbon future - in line with the UK's 2050 net-zero target. An expert panel will set the standards the plans need to meet to ensure they are not just spin. Any commitments will not be mandatory. Green groups say this is not enough. Net zero is when a business or a country achieves an overall balance between the amount of carbon it is emitting and the carbon that it's removing from the atmosphere. Firms and their shareholders will be left to decide how their businesses adapt to this transition, including how they intend to decarbonise. And although the plans will need to be published, the government said "the aim is to increase transparency and accountability" and the UK was not "making firm-level net-zero commitments mandatory". The market will decide whether firms' plans are credible, the Treasury said. Speaking at the COP26 climate summit, Chancellor Rishi Sunak claimed the UK was leading the world in becoming the "first-ever net zero aligned global financial centre". He said the changes would mean: "Better and more consistent climate data; sovereign green bonds; mandatory sustainability disclosures; proper climate risk surveillance; and proper global reporting standards." In total, 450 firms controlling 40% of global financial assets - equivalent to $130tn (£95tn) - have agreed to commit to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. However, campaign group Global Witness said that without regulation the pledges were "doomed to fail". "Banks and financiers are the lifeblood of the fossil fuel companies and destructive agribusinesses fuelling the climate crisis - so it's right that focus should be on them at COP26. "However, today's announcement by banks risks amounting to more greenwashing if it's not legally binding," said Veronica Oakeshott, head of forests policy and advocacy at Global Witness.

11-3-21 Black black oil: The challenge of giving up North Sea extraction
The North Sea still contains large quantities of oil and gas but, in the midst of a climate emergency, how much longer can it continue to be extracted? To keep the world safe, scientists say that global heating has to be limited to 1.5C by the end of this century. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency set out a road map to this which said there should be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects - in other words no new oil and gas fields. This causes a problem for oil and gas producers around the world but also for how countries function. "I guess we have an addiction to oil and gas in our society," Deirdre Michie, the chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, tells the BBC documentary Black Black Oil. "Just to stop it for the sake of stopping it is not going to stop the demand that is associated with it," she says. Climate activists say the failure to act quickly enough to move away from fossil fuels is allowing the oil firms to carry on, making the climate emergency more difficult to tackle. Young Scottish activist Holly Gillibrand says: "I think people will look back at this era of oil and think about how ridiculous it was. "We know the climate and ecological crisis is happening, we know how bad it could get. How could you worry about such a massive issue and still worry more about profit?" In the documentary, James Marriot, the author of Crude Britannia, explains how speculative North Sea exploration in the late 1960s became a gold rush after BP found oil in the massive Forties field, 100 miles off to the north east of Aberdeen. The first North Sea oil came ashore in June 1975 and is thought to have peaked in 1999, with about 45 billion barrels extracted so far. Although the oil and gas is now tougher to extract, the reserves are substantial, with another 20 to 30 years of production thought to be possible. The Cambo oil field, west of Shetland, which contains more than 800 million barrels of oil, has proved particularly controversial.

11-3-21 Tackling climate change: how will the world pay for it?
A simple guide to COP26 | What does 'net zero' mean? | Behind the scenes at COP26. 1. On day four of the climate summit, the focus turns to how the world finances the transition to green economies. 2. World leaders have left Glasgow with some important deals agreed but many difficult issues remain on the negotiating table. 3. Developing countries are angry that $100bn in promised annual climate finance is yet to materialise. 4. They say that those with the most historical responsibility for climate change should pay for efforts to tackle it and adapt to its effects. 5. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak promises to accelerate that finance and says the global financial system is being rewired for net zero. 6. COP26's overarching goal is to keep the world on track for 1.5C of warming, which scientists say will help us avoid the worst impacts. What does 'net zero' mean? Net zero - it’s a phrase you might have heard a lot in recent weeks and months. If you haven’t, you’re certainly going to be hearing it mentioned again and again during this conference. So, what does it mean? In simple terms, that means not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases like CO2 are released when we burn oil, gas and coal for our homes, factories and transport. Net zero can be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and balancing out any that remain by removing an equivalent amount. For example, almost every country is planting trees as a cheap way of absorbing carbon. Why are we talking about it? In order to limit temperature rises well below 1.5C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, experts say countries will need to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050 and many governments have already pledged to do that. But there is some controversy about how some states might try to reach net zero. For example, Country A might record lower emissions if it shuts down energy-intensive industries such as steel production. But if Country A were then to import steel from Country B, it's effectively handed on its carbon emissions to Country B, rather than reduce the sum total of greenhouse gases.

11-3-21 What is it like to be at COP26? Utter chaos, huge queues and FOMO
The global climate summit has had a chaotic start, with delegates struggling to enter the venue and attend meetings, and journalists being told they’d be better off watching online, reports Graham Lawton. Queuing to get into the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, it is easy to see why negotiating a global deal on climate change has been so difficult. Pushy queue-jumping and the need for sharp elbows mean the self-entitled get ahead and the community-minded get left behind. It does not help that it is cold and the queue is enormous. It takes a good 30 minutes of jostly shuffling to get to the entrance hall, only to be confronted by another even bigger queue, reminiscent of Heathrow Airport arrivals on a busy August weekend. And with good reason: the final hurdle is an airport-style security screen. Once inside, the tide of humanity barely subsides. Getting into meetings is practically impossible. Social distancing is actually impossible though masks are strictly enforced (and everyone has to show a negative covid test to gain entry). Unoccupied chairs, tables, plug sockets or media desks are hard to find. Scarcity extends to the food outlets, though the bins are overflowing. As I tried to get my bearings yesterday, I was brushed aside as two boisterous figures strode past, cocooned in security. President Modi of India and UK prime minister Boris Johnson, locked in what looked like mutually-appreciative conversation, disappeared into a gated area inaccessible to me. It felt extremely apt as a metaphor for the state of the planet. Once I managed to get into a meeting, it turned out to be a bit dull and I was gripped by FOMO – surely there is something more newsworthy going on elsewhere? Soon enough, there was. At 1 pm the US was scheduled to announce a breakthrough global deal on methane emissions. I made my way over but it was already busy, and soon turned to mayhem as more and more delegates joined the clamour. Tempers frayed and scuffles broke out as security staff tried to get speakers and VIPs into the meeting, past the rest of us. The US special envoy on climate John Kerry and his entourage swept in; Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett followed in his slipstream.

11-3-21 Biden says China made a 'big mistake' by skipping COP26 climate summit
President Biden called out Chinese President Xi Jinping for not attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, saying it was a "big mistake." Dozens of leaders from around the world participated in the event, and several major announcements have been made, including more than 100 countries committing to ending deforestation by 2030 and others reducing their overall methane emissions. This is "a great example of the kind of ambition you need" to fight global warming, Biden said, and he can't "think of any two days where more has been accomplished on climate than these two days." China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gas, and the country's absence was glaring, Biden said. "We showed up, and by showing up, we've had a profound impact on the way, I think, the rest of the world is looking at the United States and its leadership role," he told reporters. "I think it's been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world is going to look at China and say, 'What value added are they providing?' And they've lost the ability to influence people around the world and all the people here at COP." Xi sent a written statement to the summit, which did not include any plans to take action against climate change.

11-3-21 COP26: Biden attacks China and Russia leaders for missing summit
US President Joe Biden has criticised the leaders of China and Russia for not turning up to the COP26 climate summit. In a speech on Tuesday night, Mr Biden said climate was "a gigantic issue" and China "walked away" - adding it was the "same thing with Russia and Putin". Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese leader Xi Jinping are at the summit in Glasgow. Both countries however have sent delegations to the talks, which are due to run for two weeks until 14 November. China is the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, followed by the US. Russia is the fifth largest after the EU and India. More than 120 leaders turned up at the conference in Scotland's largest city. Countries have already announced major deals, including a global pledge to slash methane levels by 2030 as well as to end and reverse deforestation by the same year. Both China and Russia are signatories of the pledge to reverse deforestation. Before Mr Biden's speech, Mr Putin virtually addressed a meeting on forest management at the COP26 summit on Tuesday, saying that Russia takes the "strongest and most vigorous measures to conserve" woodlands, according to a Kremlin press release. The US president made his comments when asked about the role that other countries - including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia - had played in talks so far. "The fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader - not showing up, come on," Mr Biden said, adding that Xi Jinping's absence was a "big mistake". He said the same about Mr Putin, saying that Russia's wilderness was burning and their president "stays mum" about the issue. Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave no reason why the Russian leader would not attend when they announced the decision in October, although he said climate change was an "important" priority for Russia.

11-3-21 Buying fewer snacks and ready meals could slash US carbon footprint
By comparing the grocery shopping of people in the US to recommended dietary guidelines, researchers found that reducing overconsumption could cut carbon emissions by a similar amount as going vegetarian. Cutting snacks and pre-prepared meals from your diet may have as big an effect on your carbon footprint as going vegetarian, at least if you live in the US. Hua Cai at Purdue University in Indiana and her colleagues analysed the grocery shopping of over 57,000 demographically representative people in the US for the entire year of 2010. The data set was provided by marketing firm Nielsen, which asked participants to record every item they bought using a handheld scanner. The team chose the year 2010 to avoid the impact of the rise of food delivery service apps, which may skew people away from grocery shopping. The researchers grouped the purchases into 83 food categories, such as milk, sweets and ready meals. Next, they calculated how much carbon was required on average to produce a kilogram of each item, but didn’t include emissions from packaging and transporting the product. “This is too variable to calculate effectively,” says Cai. The team then looked at how a household’s average grocery shop compared with the recommended US dietary guidelines, and found that if people in the US reduced their diets to the recommended levels, it would lead to a 31 per cent cut in total carbon dioxide emissions. “That’s the equivalent of 45 million kilograms of carbon dioxide a year,” says Cai. “We believe that reducing overconsumption will achieve similar carbon reduction benefits as compared to big structural diet changes – like going vegetarian.” Previous research suggests going vegetarian cuts your diet’s carbon footprint by 20 to 60 per cent.

11-3-21 UK's 'longest-lasting' snow patch melts away
What is historically the UK's longest lasting patch of snow has disappeared for "only the eighth time in 300 years". Dubbed the Sphinx, the patch on remote Braeriach in the Cairngorms has melted away more frequently in the last 18 years. Snow patch expert Iain Cameron said climate change was a likely factor. According to records, the Sphinx previously melted fully in 1933, 1959, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2017 and 2018. Before 1933, it is thought to have last melted completely in the 1700s. The Sphinx had shrunk to the size of an A4 piece of paper in recent weeks before finally disappearing in mild weather. Stirling-based Mr Cameron has been studying snow patches in Scotland for 25 years and is author of the book The Vanishing Ice, which he describes as a "lament" to snow and ice that lingers high in Scotland's hills. He worked alongside the late Dr Adam Watson, a biologist dubbed Mr Cairngorms because of his many years studying the mountains. Some of Dr Watson's research on the Sphinx drew on information handed down by generations of people who worked and visited the Cairngorms, which suggests the patch may have only melted a few times in the last 300 years. From the 1840s the Scottish Mountaineering Club began noting the fortunes of the patch, and more recently scientists and ecologists have gathered information. Mr Cameron told BBC Scotland that historically the Sphinx was the UK's "most durable" snow patch. But he said: "That is being challenged because it is disappearing more often." Mr Cameron said warmer weather due to climate change "seemed to be the logical" explanation for the increased rate of melting. He added that the conditions were affecting snowy areas high on other Scottish mountains including in the Ben Nevis range in Lochaber. Aonach Beag, near Ben Nevis, also has a patch of snow that has often survived from one winter to another. But Mr Cameron said: "What we are seeing from research are smaller and fewer patches of snow. "Less snow is falling now in winter than in the 1980s and even the 1990s."

11-2-21 COP26: 105 countries pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent
More than 100 countries, including the US, Japan and Canada, have pledged to significantly cut emissions of methane, a short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas. The Global Methane Pledge announced today at COP26 in Glasgow, UK, commits signatories to reducing their overall emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared with 2020 levels. The US government also published a detailed blueprint of how it intends to meet the goal. The new initiative emphasises making cuts by tackling methane leaking from oil and gas wells, pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Significant amounts of the gas also come from other sources, such as livestock farming and decaying waste in landfill sites. While international climate summits usually focus mostly on carbon dioxide, the dominant driver of the 1.1°C of global warming that has occurred since pre-industrial levels, methane is responsible for about 30 per cent of global warming to date, and atmospheric concentrations of the gas have surged since 2007, sparking concern from scientists. “Cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep to 1.5°C,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement’s toughest climate goal. The voluntary pledge is backed by 15 of the world’s biggest methane emitters including the European Union, Indonesia and Iraq. In total, 105 countries have signed up and John Kerry, the US president’s special envoy on climate, said he expects the number to grow. However, there are some significant omissions. Missing from the pledge are China, India and Russia, with the latter notorious for leaky fossil fuel infrastructure. It also doesn’t include Australia, where major plumes of methane from coal mines have been identified. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced his country would cut methane emissions from its sizeable oil and gas industry by 75 per cent by 2030. That is how fast the International Energy Agency says methane emissions will need to be cut if the world is to reach net zero by mid-century.

11-2-21 COP26 news: A day of promises on water, methane and fossil fuels
On the second day of COP26, countries made progress on limiting methane emissions, capping oil and gas emissions, and cooperating on water issues that are increasingly urgent. On the second day of the COP26 summit, the US announced measures to significantly cut emissions of methane: an important greenhouse gas. The US is pledging to cut these emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared with 2020 levels. Several dozen countries have signed up to the pledge – although China, India and Russia haven’t, even though they are major methane emitters. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. It has a stronger warming effect than CO2, but it is also much more short-lived in the air. As a result, CO2 is more important in the long term. The advantage of cutting methane emissions is that it provides a short-term win, slowing the rate of warming and buying time for cuts in CO2 emissions. The US aims to cut methane emissions by targeting leaks from oil and gas facilities such as pipelines and offshore rigs. The details are spelled out in the US Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. The US Environmental Protection Agency will play a key role. Because oil and gas facilities are easily identifiable sources of the gas, they are fairly easy to regulate and control. In effect, the US is picking some low-hanging fruit. “Its been a huge day for methane abatement,” says Tim Gould at the International Energy Agency. “Huge credit to the US and EU for giving it the momentum it needs.” A number of smaller announcements have also been made. None is world-changing in itself but each has some potential to do good. The UK and other countries announced a new initiative to help small island states, which are arguably the countries most threatened by climate change. Due to rising seas, many may find themselves literally underwater. The new scheme is called the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) facility. It will help small island states to build up resilient infrastructure. The UK is contributing £10 million in the initial phase.

11-2-21 Air pollution from G20 consumers caused two million deaths in 2010
More than half of premature deaths from air pollution worldwide in 2010 were the result of economic consumption in just 11 G20 countries. Nearly two million premature deaths from air pollution in 2010 were caused by the production of goods for consumers in G20 nations. That’s according to a model by Keisuke Nansai at the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan, whose group sought to identify the impact of each nation’s economic consumption on air pollution and the health problems they cause. In 2010, the latest year for which all figures were available, consumption of goods in the 19 nations of the G20 (the European Union is the other member) resulted in almost two million air pollution-related premature deaths worldwide, with 78,600 of these in infants. The team has called for more collaboration between G20 countries to curb air pollution-related deaths caused as a direct result of the purchasing of goods. To calculate these figures, the team mapped ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – microscopic particles that are small enough to enter the lungs and blood where they can cause disease – and estimated the health impacts in 199 countries. These fine particles arise from the manufacture, transport and disposal of goods. They include black carbon, or soot, which is emitted when diesel, coal and other biomass fuels are burned, together with secondary particles that form in the atmosphere as a result of other emissions. Globalised trade means that consumption in one country can lead to PM2.5 pollution in another, so the team used trade data from 19 of the G20 nations to create “footprints” that represented the health impact of one country’s consumption in another. China had the largest number of premature deaths caused by PM2.5 particles, followed by India, the US, Russia and Indonesia. With the exception of the US, most of these deaths were within their own borders. However, the consumption of goods in the US and 10 other G20 nations resulted in more than 50 per cent of the PM2.5-related premature deaths in other countries.

11-2-21 COP26: US to tackle methane leaks from oil and gas wells
The US is set to announce measures to prevent millions of tonnes of the greenhouse gas methane from entering the atmosphere. The measures will target methane leaking from oil and gas rigs across the US. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and responsible for a third of current warming from human activities. A global partnership to cut methane is to be announced at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow on Tuesday. Dozens of countries have joined the initiative led by the US and the EU to cut emissions of the gas by at least 30% by 2030, compared with 2020 levels. However, China, Russia and India - some of the world's top methane emitters - are not among them. The main focus of efforts to curb global warming is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted as a result of human activities such as generating power and clearing forests. But there has been a growing focus on methane as a way of buying extra time to tackle climate change. Although there's more CO2 in the atmosphere and it sticks around for longer, individual methane molecules have a more powerful warming effect on the atmosphere than single CO2 molecules. Mr Biden will announce his plan at the conference in Glasgow, where countries are trying to hammer out plans to limit global warming in order to avoid a climate catastrophe by the end of this century. In the US, the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions, responsible for approximately 30% of total emissions of the gas, the White House says. Under the Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will propose new regulations that will broaden and strengthen methane emissions reduction for new oil and gas facilities. But it will also propose regulations to require states develop plans that will reduce methane emissions from existing sources across America, including some 300,000 oil and gas well sites.An "aggressive" programme would plug abandoned orphan oil and gas wells, including many that are still venting methane.

11-2-21 Biden unveils sweeping new U.S. methane emission rules at COP26 climate summit
President Biden and his administration unveiled a series of policies Tuesday to limit methane gas leaks from oil and gas wells and pipelines. Biden is at the United Nations-sponsored COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where methane emissions are a major agenda item. Methane, a key component of natural gas, isn't the largest greenhouse gas — it is No. 2 to carbon dioxide — and it dissipates more quickly than carbon dioxide, but it is 80 times more powerful in the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. The U.S. and European Union are encouraging other countries to join them in signing the Global Methane Pledge to cut emissions 30 percent by 2030. Brazil joined the growing list of signatories on Monday, but some of the world's biggest methane emitters, notably China and Russian, have not signed on. A new Environmental Protection Agency rule to be finalized next month will require oil and gas wells — including older, more leak-prone wells — to monitor for methane leaks, capture natural gas typically released alongside oil drilling, and require emissions-free control valves at oil and gas sites. The EPA says the new rule will cover about 75 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, and the Biden administration will tackled more with future regulations. Separately, the Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is finalizing a rule that extends leak monitoring and other safety requirements to 400,000 miles of previously unregulated pipelines between gas wells and centralized sites. The Obama administration issued rules to curb methane and methane leaks from new oil and gas equipment and on federal lands, but the Trump administration rolled them back. The American Petroleum Institute lobbying group has opposed previous efforts to regulate methane emissions, but it says it now supports one central "cost-effective rule" and has been working on the regulation with Biden officials since before the inauguration.

11-2-21 COP26: US and EU announce global pledge to slash methane
The US and the EU have announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden made the announcement at the COP26 summit on Tuesday. The Global Methane Pledge aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and responsible for a third of current warming from human activities. More than 80 countries have signed up to the initiative, first proposed by the US and the EU in September. The main focus of efforts to curb global warming is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted as a result of human activities such as generating power and clearing forests. But there has been a growing focus on methane as a way of buying extra time to tackle climate change. Although there's more CO2 in the atmosphere and it sticks around for longer, individual methane molecules have a more powerful warming effect on the atmosphere than single CO2 molecules. And while one of the key goals of COP26 is to get countries to commit to achieving net zero by 2050 - meaning not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - both leaders stressed that they needed to act now. "We cannot wait for 2050," EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the summit. "We have to cut emissions fast." She said cutting methane was "one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming", calling it "the lowest hanging fruit". US President Joe Biden echoed her words, calling methane "one of the most potent greenhouse gases there is". The pledge covers countries which emit nearly half of all methane, and make up 70% of global GDP, the US president said. Around 40% of CH4 comes from natural sources such as wetlands but the bigger share now comes from a range of human activities, ranging from agriculture such as cattle and rice production to rubbish dumps.

11-2-21 COP26: Why India's 2070 net-zero pledge is better news than it sounds
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said at the COP26 summit that the country will hit net-zero emissions by 2070. Although this is later than many other nations, the pledge means that the world's major emitters now all have an end in sight for fossil fuelsL. India has said it will reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. This is decades later than many other countries, but it marks the first time the country has put an end date on its contribution to climate change. The target was announced by prime minister Narendra Modi at the COP26 summit in Glasgow yesterday, amid warnings by world leaders about the dangers of failing to act fast enough on emissions. “A year ago no one would have expected India to announce a net-zero target at COP26,” says Thomas Hale at the University of Oxford. “But that’s the nature of tipping points. Once critical mass is reached, it is very hard not to join in.” He says that countries representing 90 per cent of global GDP are now covered by a net-zero target. However, India’s 2070 date is 20 years later than the 2050 pledged by the UK, US and other high-income countries, and later than the 2060 chosen by China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. “The date is late, but more important is that India committed to zero at all, which was thought to be unlikely by many,” says Niklas Höhne at the New Climate Institute, a German non-profit organisation. The long-term commitment will also shape investments today, he adds. With a population of 1.38 billion and growing, India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter after China, the US and the European Union. But it has some of the lowest per capita CO2 emissions, at 1.9 tonnes per person in 2019, compared with 5.5 tonnes in the UK and 16 tonnes in the US, a point Modi has repeatedly emphasised in the past.

11-2-21 India sets 2070 as target for net-zero carbon emissions
India has now set a deadline for when it will reach net zero emissions: the year 2070. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement Monday during the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, less than a week after the country declined to set a target date. The United States, China, and India are the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, and during his speech at the summit, Modi pointed out that India has 17 percent of the planet's population but is responsible for 5 percent of global emissions. Scientists say the world needs to cut global emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to avert catastrophic climate events, Reuters reports. The U.S., Britain, and European Union have set 2050 as their target date to hitting net zero, when the amount of greenhouse gases emitted can be captured by forests, crops, and soils. It's not just greenhouse gas emissions that need to be put in check, Modi said during his speech. He called on people to live more sustainable lives, thinking about the choices they make when it comes to their diets and how items they buy are packaged. "Instead of mindless and destructive consumption, we need mindful and deliberate utilization," he said. "These choices, made by billions of people, can take the fight against climate change on step further."

11-2-21 COP26: World leaders promise to end deforestation by 2030
More than 100 world leaders have promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, in the COP26 climate summit's first major deal. Brazil - where stretches of the Amazon rainforest have been cut down - was among the signatories on Tuesday. The pledge includes almost £14bn ($19.2bn) of public and private funds. Experts welcomed the move, but warned a previous deal in 2014 had "failed to slow deforestation at all" and commitments needed to be delivered on. Felling trees contributes to climate change because it depletes forests that absorb vast amounts of the warming gas CO2. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the global meeting in Glasgow, said "more leaders than ever before" - a total of 110 - had made the "landmark" commitment. "We have to stop the devastating loss of our forests," he said - and "end the role of humanity as nature's conqueror, and instead become nature's custodian". The two-week summit in Glasgow is seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control. The countries who have signed the pledge - including Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the UK (the full list is here) - cover around 85% of the world's forests. Some of the funding will go to developing countries to restore damaged land, tackle wildfires and support indigenous communities. Governments of 28 countries also committed to remove deforestation from the global trade of food and other agricultural products such as palm oil, soya and cocoa. These industries drive forest loss by cutting down trees to make space for animals to graze or crops to grow. More than 30 of the world's biggest financial companies - including Aviva, Schroders and Axa - have also promised to end investment in activities linked to deforestation. And a £1.1bn fund will be established to protect the world's second largest tropical rainforest - in the Congo Basin.

11-2-21 COP26: Leaders agree global plan to boost green technology
More than 40 world leaders say they will work together to turbo-charge the uptake of clean technologies by imposing worldwide standards and policies. The announcement will be made at the climate summit COP26 in Glasgow on Tuesday. Five high-carbon sectors will be targeted at first, including agriculture and electricity. It aims to encourage global private investment in low-carbon technologies. Similar international attempts have been made previously to push clean tech - but nothing as ambitious as this multi-lateral agreement. Its backers want to reassure investors that global markets will be created for green technology and that it is a good financial bet. It is hoped that eventually the initiative will help draw in trillions of dollars in private finance for cutting emissions. The five sectors that the plan will cover at first are steel, road transport, agriculture, hydrogen, and electricity. The initiative, known as the Glasgow Breakthroughs, was applauded by Nick Mabey from the climate think tank e3g. He told me: "This potentially has real muscle. It takes climate change out of the negotiating halls and into the real economy. "Imagine if major nations agreed to set a target for the amount of 'green steel' to be made. (That's steel made with hydrogen or electricity.) That would be really powerful by creating a market." The plan has been launched by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alongside representatives from the USA, India, EU, and - importantly - China. The signatories are said to represent more than 70% of the world's economy and every region. A similar approach has been running in the EU where law-makers have steadily increased efficiency standards on electrical goods so they run creating fewer emissions. Crucially, firms wanting to export into the EU must reach the same standards - it's proved that higher standards in one part of the world can influence technology in another. It's hoped this process could be embraced and greatly expanded with the "Glasgow Breakthroughs".

11-2-21 Climate change: Is Greta Thunberg right about UK carbon emissions?
The climate activist Greta Thunberg has claimed the UK overstates how much it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The government says annual emissions have fallen by 44% since 1990. But she told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme: "For example the UK, one popular thing to say is that you have reduced your emissions by 44% since 1990, and of course that sounds good... but if you look at the actual emissions that's not the case." So who is right? It all depends on what you count as a country's emissions. The UK's 44% reduction refers to 'territorial emissions'. These measure what happens within a country's borders - including things such as heating and powering homes, transport, domestic industry and agriculture. But they exclude emissions from international aviation, shipping and imports. The UK is not unique in producing its figures like this, though. Each year, countries that are signed up to an international agreement called the Kyoto Protocol submit their overall emissions figures to the UN. That reporting is all done on a territorial basis - so they all exclude international aviation, shipping and imports. Miss Thunberg has also criticised other countries for using these same methods. The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), produces figures on "consumption emissions" - a measure based on everything the UK uses, including imports. These take into account emissions associated with producing goods overseas (in places such as China) which the UK then imports. They also include emissions from international aviation and shipping. These are not used by the government as official figures though. On this measure, Defra estimated the UK's overall carbon footprint in 2018 was about 26% lower than in 1997, when it first published these figures. The WWF - a non-governmental organisation focused on the environment - has factored in 'consumption emissions' dating back to 1990, and estimates that up until 2016, UK emissions declined by 15%. The UK says its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 will factor in both aviation and shipping following pressure from campaigners.

11-2-21 6 charts that show what climate change is doing to our planet
As the COP26 summit in Glasgow meets to discuss global action on climate change, atmospheric scientist Betsy Weatherhead explains what the science says about greenhouse gases and global warming. With the United Nations’ climate conference in Scotland turning a spotlight on climate change policies and the impact of global warming, it’s useful to understand what the science shows. I’m an atmospheric scientist who has worked on global climate science and assessments for most of my career. Here are six things you should know, in charts. What’s driving climate change: The primary focus of the negotiations is on carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is released when fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – are burned, as well as by forest fires, land use changes and natural sources. The Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s started an enormous increase in the burning of fossil fuels. It powered homes, industries and opened up the planet to travel. That same century, scientists identified carbon dioxide’s potential to increase global temperatures, which at the time was considered a possible benefit to the planet. Systematic measurements started in the mid-1900s and have shown a steady increase in carbon dioxide, with the majority of it directly traceable to the combustion of fossil fuels. A few reasons for hope: On a hopeful note, scientific research is improving our understanding of climate and the complex Earth system, identifying the most vulnerable areas and guiding efforts to reduce the drivers of climate change. Work on renewable energy and alternative energy sources, as well as ways to capture carbon from industries or from the air, are producing more options for a better prepared society. At the same time, people are learning about how they can reduce their own impact, with the growing understanding that a globally coordinated effort is required to have a significant impact. Electric vehicles, as well as solar and wind power, are growing at previously unthinkable rates. More people are showing a willingness to adopt new strategies to use energy more efficiently, consume more sustainably and choose renewable energy. Scientists increasingly recognize that shifting away from fossil fuels has additional benefits, including improved air quality for human health and ecosystems.

11-2-21 Scotch whisky-makers rely on peat smoke – but it's a climate concern
The UK’s peatlands store vast amounts of carbon and need protecting – but is that compatible with the traditional use of peat smoke as a flavouring in whisky-making? The UK is the world’s largest exporter of whisky, which has been distilled in Scotland for 500 years. But the peat used to flavour some Scotch whiskies is increasingly under the spotlight as the fight against climate change steps up. The conservation of peatland will be a key talking point at the COP26 climate summit now under way in Glasgow, UK, because peat stores large amounts of carbon. Some estimates suggest that UK peatlands contain more than 3 billion tonnes of it – about the same as all the forests in France, Germany and the UK combined. When peat is dug up, often to use as fuel or to make compost, carbon is released – and because peat takes thousands of years to form, it cannot be considered a renewable resource. This raises difficult questions for whisky producers. For generations, peat smoke has been used to enhance the flavour of the barley that goes to make whisky. It is still used in about a third of malt whiskies produced in Scotland, and accounts for about 6 per cent of the peat dug up in the country, according to an analysis of the latest UK government figures, from 2014. While it is plentiful in Scotland, the peat used in whisky is largely extracted from two areas: the Isle of Islay off the west coast, and Aberdeenshire in the north-east of the country. NatureScot, a government agency responsible for Scotland’s natural heritage, has had a deal with one whisky producer, Diageo, since 1974 to extract peat on Islay. However, the nature of that deal may change in the years ahead. “Extraction rights were granted to Diageo to support the whisky industry and prevent damage to other peatlands,” says a NatureScot spokesperson. “However, as part of a review of our landholdings with the aim of delivering on net-zero targets we are urgently exploring with Diageo the opportunities to reduce emissions from the site.”

11-2-21 The pandemic showed us humanity could beat climate change, if we wanted
Humanity is capable of great things when sufficiently motivated. Will we save our planet? The coronavirus pandemic is the most globally disruptive event in decades. The official death toll is around 5 million, but the final tally is certain to be far greater. We'll be dealing with the side effects of this suffering for decades. But that's not the full story. The fight against COVID-19 has also demonstrated anew that humanity is capable of great things when sufficiently motivated. The pandemic has been a reminder that political capacity isn't set in stone. It has given us a model for the necessary scale of climate policy. Surely the most impressive accomplishment of the pandemic is the vaccines. All previous vaccines took at least several years to go from design to production to studies demonstrating their efficacy. Most required well over a decade. The first inoculations against COVID-19 were designed in days or hours — and approved for administration about 11 months later — using a near-miraculous mRNA technology that shows great promise in halting other diseases. That success was thanks largely to government action in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Europe. The Trump administration and a split Congress directed virtually limitless resources to anyone who could make a safe and effective vaccine. Additionally, mRNA technology had been greatly advanced by decades of grants from the National Science Foundation and work from scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). One NIH scientist — a government employee — designed the core of the Moderna vaccine over a single weekend. However, Big Pharma must also be given its due. Moderna may be essentially an unlabeled government department, but Pfizer and BioNTech (a German company heavily subsidized by their government), Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson spent gobs of money on initial research and crash effectiveness studies. In normal times, pharma companies spend more on advertising than they do on research — and what research they do fund is often concerned with finding some minor tweak for an existing drug so they can extend the patent and keep charging eyewatering markups. Still, these companies have thousands of the best scientists on the planet, and it turns out, if you can just get them pointed in the right direction, they can work magic. The vaccine rollout has been no less staggering. Thus far over seven billion doses have been administered — enough to fully vaccinate roughly 45 percent of the world population. Rich countries got first dibs, unsurprisingly, but India and China together account for nearly half the global total. After some delays, most of Southeast and Central Asia as well as Latin America are catching up to wealthy countries. Only Africa remains mostly unvaccinated, though even there progress is being made. All told, this is by far the largest and fastest vaccine rollout in history. The second-most impressive aspect of the pandemic was the direct policy response. When the virus initially struck, almost every country in the world instituted panicked shutdown efforts to slow the spread. Public businesses closed, people stayed in their homes, and most governments set up test-trace-isolate systems to contain infection. The bulk of Western countries had middling to poor records at controlling the spread (the U.S. was a dismal failure, while Norway and Finland were quite successful), but Eastern nations like China and Vietnam managed to squelch the initial outbreak so successfully they could cautiously remove most of their controls by mid-2020. To this day China — the largest country in the world, with many incredibly dense and heavily-connected megacities — has managed to keep a lid on the virus after the initial surge, even granting some fudging of the numbers (if there were an out-of-control outbreak, it would be impossible to hide). The much more contagious Delta variant is spreading there, but with over 80 percent vaccination, the worst of the danger has likely passed. (Alas, this summer, before mass vaccination, Vietnam suffered a Delta outbreak that escaped controls and caused thousands of deaths.)

11-2-21 COP26: Act now for our children, Queen urges climate summit
The Queen has urged world leaders at the COP26 climate summit to "achieve true statesmanship" and create a "safer, stabler future" for the planet. In a video message, she said many people hoped the "time for words has now moved to the time for action". She urged them to act "for our children and our children's children" and "rise above the politics of the moment". The Queen added she took "great pride" in how her "dear late husband" Prince Philip promoted environmental issues. The 95-year-old monarch had been scheduled to attend the United Nations conference in Glasgow. But she pre-recorded her address last week at Windsor Castle after being advised to rest following medical checks. The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge are both attending the COP26 conference, which is seen as a crucial gathering if temperature increases and climate changes are to be limited. In her address, the Queen recalled how the "impact of the environment on human progress was a subject close to the heart" of the Duke of Edinburgh. She referred to his warning at a 1969 academic gathering of the dangers of failing to address pollution. The Queen said: "It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet, lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. Even though not there in person, this was a surprisingly personal message from the Queen. She mentions how the environment was a subject close to the heart of "my dear late husband" Prince Philip and says she "could not be more proud" that it was an interest sustained by her son Charles and grandson William. She also seems to make reference to her own mortality: "None of us will live forever." But there is also the authoritative voice of someone looking back after almost 70 years as head of state, telling world leaders to take the long view and "rise above the politics of the moment".

11-1-21 COP26 news: World leaders give dire warnings on the summit's first day
After an unpromising start, the COP26 climate summit began with leaders acknowledging the urgency of the problem of climate change and warning that action is needed. The COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, UK, kicked off today with an undeniable sense of urgency. A series of speeches underlined how scary the climate situation has become. The UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, likened climate change to a “doomsday device” that urgently needs defusing. Nevertheless, Johnson’s speech was infused with his usual upbeat boosterism, with the phrase “we can” cropping up repeatedly. Like Prince Charles, who also spoke, he emphasised markets, private finance and technology as potential solutions. In contrast, UN secretary-general António Guterres was far harsher, highlighting the many missed opportunities and broken promises over recent years. The key to understanding his frustration is in the name COP26: this is the 26th annual meeting the world’s leaders have held to try to stop dangerous climate change. Guterres accused world leaders of “treating nature like a toilet” and complained that “we are digging our own graves”. World leaders have left it terribly late to get a real handle on this problem. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s new report, State of the Global Climate 2021, the last seven years were the warmest on record. For the first time, the 20-year global average temperature is 1°C above pre-industrial levels – a worrying marker point when we are supposed to be trying to limit warming to 1.5°C. While countries have made various pledges to cut their emissions in the past year, the pledges still leave us on track for a 16 per cent rise in emissions by 2030, as opposed to the 45 per cent reduction we actually need. So the question is whether the articulate acknowledgements of the problem will translate into meaningful action.

11-1-21 Over 100 countries at COP26 pledge to end deforestation by 2030
he declaration on deforestation comes alongside £14 billion of new funding to combat forest loss over five years. Countries representing 85 per cent of the world’s forests have committed to ending deforestation within nine years, in a renewed effort to stem the carbon dioxide emissions released by trees being cleared, overwhelmingly for agriculture. The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, to be issued on 2 November by over 100 countries plus the European Union at the COP26 climate summit, comes alongside £14 billion of new funding to combat forest loss over five years. The money is being supplied by 12 countries including the UK, plus private organisations including the Bezos Earth Fund. In a further initiative, 30 financial institutions managing $8.7 trillion in assets, including the UK-based firms Aviva and Schroders, will announce on 2 November that they will no longer invest in activities linked to deforestation. Experts welcomed the renewed focus on forests and the new funding, but warned that the way deforestation is tackled will be key to whether the 2030 goal is met. “We cannot reach climate goals if we don’t keep trees standing,” says Frances Seymour at the World Resources Institute, a think tank in Washington DC. She says it is good that trees are one of the UK government’s four priorities at COP26, along with climate finance, ending coal use and phasing out cars that use fossil fuels. The 2030 goal is identical to one made seven years ago by a smaller group of countries, known as the New York Declaration on Forests. They also set an interim goal of halving deforestation by 2020, a target that was missed by a wide margin. However, a key difference is the new plan is signed by several countries that were missing last time, including those with the worst levels of deforestation. Brazil, where deforestation rates have rocketed under President Jair Bolsonaro, is chief among those. “Having all the main players on it is significant, that is a big step,” says Stephanie Roe at the University of Virginia.

11-1-21 Britain says 100 countries have committed to ending deforestation
More than 100 countries have come together at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and pledged to end deforestation by 2030, the British government announced on Monday. Deforestation is the removal of a wide swath of trees from an area that is then converted to non-forest use, a practice that scientists say is fueling climate change. Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, is absorbed by forests, but they are being cleared out around the world because of the high demand for wood and pastoral land. The countries that committed to ending deforestation are home to more than 85 percent of the Earth's forests, and include the United States, Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Russia, and Indonesia. More than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged for the plan, The Associated Press reports.

11-1-21 Boris Johnson warns of judgment from 'children not yet born' if COP26 climate action fails
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged world leaders to "get real" on the issue of global warming during his opening remarks at the U.N.-backed COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Monday, even quoting Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in his appeal. The "long-awaited" climate talks formally opened Sunday and will run through Nov. 12, as leaders tackle "humanity's last and best chance to secure a livable future," per CNBC. The summit has been called "one of the important diplomatic meetings in history." "Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change," Johnson said Monday. "It's one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now." The prime minister noted that the climate agreements and promises made in Copenhagen 11 years ago and Paris six years ago "will be nothing but blah, blah, blah" if leaders do not act, he said, invoking Thunberg. "The anger and the impatience of the world will be uncontainable unless we make this COP26 in Glasgow the moment where we get real about climate change." Johnson also appealed to the mortality of aging world leaders, who may not be around to experience the worst of climate change — though their posterity might. "The children who will judge us are children not yet born," said Johnson. "We are now coming center stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity." "If we fail," he added, "they will not forgive us." "Yes, it's going to be hard," Johnson said, rounding out his remarks. "But yes we can do it." "Thank you very much, and good luck to all of us."

11-1-21 COP26: The limits on Biden's power to help save the planet
When Joe Biden took to the stage in Glasgow to deliver his speech to COP26, he made sure to underline one thing. Just as he did at his news conference last night in Rome at the G20, he wanted to set out his green credentials; American leadership on climate change. He can point to a gargantuan spending bill about to go before Congress, which has an eye-watering $555bn (£400bn) for clean energy credits and incentives. It will be the biggest investment in US history to tackle global warming. But, but, but - this legislation hasn't yet been passed because he's not sure he's got the votes. One of the most significant proposals - a programme that would reward power companies for moving away from fossil fuels and penalising those who don't - was nixed by a Democratic senator from West Virginia coal country, Joe Manchin. The failure to make progress on this legislation has been frustrating as hell for the White House, who wanted to have the measures passed before Air Force One arrived in Italy. It doesn't exactly give the president added leverage over his counterparts. How much moral force is there in saying "look what I would do, if I only had the votes..?" There was something else in the Rome news conference which made my internal ironymeter hit 10, and it perfectly encapsulates the drag imposed on the US president's green ambitions. Whilst attempting to show his leadership on climate, Biden was at the same time trying to persuade the OPEC oil producers to increase production, so as to keep petrol prices down for US consumers. Drivers are up in arms that they're having to pay over $3 a gallon. Perhaps Biden should organise for them to visit a few British petrol stations to make Americans thank their lucky stars. The US is a country where there is an obsession about weather - and it gets a huge amount of it - tornadoes, polar vortexes, hurricanes, eviscerating heatwaves and on and on. But that is not matched by a similar interest in climate - even though the country has been experiencing the worst wildfires in history, flood- inducing hurricane seasons, freezing temperatures in Texas and on and on.

11-1-21 Ships could clean up the ocean by turning marine plastic into fuel
Clearing up marine plastic pollution is energy intensive – but ships could convert the plastic they collect into fuel and create a self-sustaining clean-up operation. Specially equipped ships could filter plastic from the ocean and convert it into a fuel that would provide power not only for the conversion, but also to drive the ship, creating a self-sustaining clean-up operation. As much as 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans each year and it is eventually ground into tiny particles that can get into the food chain. Present clear-up efforts use ships that collect and store plastic before returning to port, often thousands of kilometres away, to unload the waste and refuel. This is time intensive and uses a lot of fossil fuel. But Michael Timko at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, and his colleagues believe this plastic can be converted into fuel on a ship while at sea using hydrothermal liquefaction. This involves the material being broken down into constituent polymers at temperatures of up to 550°C and pressures of 27,500 kPa. They believe enough fuel could be created from plastic to sustain the conversion process, power the ship and even store an excess. Timko says that his team’s modelling suggests that large booms placed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), an area believed to cover 1.6 million square kilometres where waste naturally collects, could gather enough plastic so that a single ship could convert 11,500 tonnes each year. Timko adds that data about the density of plastic in the GPGP is scarce. However, at all but the very lowest density estimates a ship could be entirely self-sufficient while harvesting plastic from a boom and even generate enough excess fuel to travel between booms and eventually back to port.

11-1-21 Climate change: Extreme weather events are 'the new norm'
Extreme weather events - including powerful heat waves and devastating floods - are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation. The State of the Climate report for 2021 highlights a world that is "changing before our eyes." The 20-year temperature average from 2002 is on course to exceed 1C above pre-industrial levels for the first time. And global sea levels rose to a new high in 2021, according to the study. These latest figures for 2021 are being released early by the WMO to coincide with the start of the UN climate conference in Glasgow known as COP26. The State of the Climate report provides a snapshot of climate indicators including temperatures, extreme weather events, sea level rises and ocean conditions. The study finds that the past seven years including this one are likely to be the warmest on record as greenhouse gases reached record concentrations in the atmosphere. The accompanying rise in temperatures is propelling the planet into "uncharted territory" says the report, with increasing impacts across the planet. "Extreme events are the new norm," said WMO's Prof Petteri Taalas. "There is mounting scientific evidence that some of these bear the footprint of human-induced climate change." Prof Taalas detailed some of the extreme events that have been experienced around the world this year. 1. It rained - rather than snowed - for the first time on record at the peak of the Greenland ice sheet. 2. A heat wave in Canada and adjacent parts of the USA pushed temperatures to nearly 50C in a village in British Columbia. 3. Death Valley, California reached 54.4C during one of multiple heat waves in the south-western USA. 4. Months' worth of rainfall fell in the space of hours in an area of China. 5. Parts of Europe saw severe flooding, leading to dozens of casualties and billions in economic losses. 6. A second successive year of drought in sub-tropical South America reduced the flow of river basins and hit agriculture, transport and energy production. Another worrying development, according to the WMO study, has been the rise in global sea levels.

11-1-21 COP26: World at one minute to midnight over climate change - Boris Johnson
The world is at "one minute to midnight", having run down the clock on waiting to combat climate change, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. He was speaking as world leaders arrived for the landmark COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Johnson said leaders needed to move from "aspiration to action" to slow global warming. He added the summit was a "critical" moment for him, and said an ambitious outcome was still "in the balance". For the first time, Mr Johnson also confirmed he did not want to see a controversial proposed coal mine in Cumbria go ahead. "I'm not in favour of more coal," said the prime minister. "But it is not a decision for me, it is a decision for the planning authorities." The government has been criticised for not stopping the mine project going ahead. This is the strongest statement the prime minister has yet made on the subject - and could help negotiations, because persuading nations to phase out coal is one of the central goals the UK government has set for the crucial UN conference. The UK is hosting the summit amid mounting concern among scientists that countries are not doing enough to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases, which have caused average global temperatures to rise. The 2015 Paris climate conference called for average temperatures to rise by well below 2C, and preferably only 1.5C, when compared to pre-industrial averages. World leaders arrived at the venue in Glasgow - which has officially become United Nations territory - for the official opening on Monday. Later, they will make statements setting out what their countries are doing on climate change. As UN territory, the venue is being patrolled by armed UN officers and Police Scotland is only allowed to enter if they are invited by the UN secretary general - or if they believe there is a threat to life.

11-1-21 Boris Johnson warns of judgment from 'children not yet born' if COP26 climate action fails
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged world leaders to "get real" on the issue of global warming during his opening remarks at the U.N.-backed COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Monday, even quoting Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in his appeal. The "long-awaited" climate talks formally opened Sunday and will run through Nov. 12, as leaders tackle "humanity's last and best chance to secure a livable future," per CNBC. The summit has been called "one of the important diplomatic meetings in history." "Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change," Johnson said Monday. "It's one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now." The prime minister noted that the climate agreements and promises made in Copenhagen 11 years ago and Paris six years ago "will be nothing but blah, blah, blah" if leaders do not act, he said, invoking Thunberg. "The anger and the impatience of the world will be uncontainable unless we make this COP26 in Glasgow the moment where we get real about climate change." Johnson also appealed to the mortality of aging world leaders, who may not be around to experience the worst of climate change — though their posterity might. "The children who will judge us are children not yet born," said Johnson. "We are now coming center stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity." "If we fail," he added, "they will not forgive us." "Yes, it's going to be hard," Johnson said, rounding out his remarks. "But yes we can do it."

11-1-21 COP26: Charles to say 'war-like footing' needed
The Prince of Wales will tell the COP26 summit that a "war-like footing" is needed to tackle the climate crisis. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference in Glasgow, Prince Charles is due to call for a "vast military-style campaign" to channel the resources of the global private sector. The prince will be the most senior royal at COP26 after doctors told the Queen to avoid the summit and rest. The heir to the throne has described COP26 as "the last-chance saloon". Prince Charles, who has long been a champion of environmental causes, is expected to emphasise the urgency of dealing with the climate crisis. "We have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing," he will say, as he urges world leaders to work with business to tackle climate problems. He is due to say: "We need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at its disposal." Prince Charles addressed world leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Rome on Sunday - calling for "fine words" to be translated into "still finer actions". "It is surely time to set aside our differences and grasp this unique opportunity to launch a substantial green recovery by putting the global economy on a confident, sustainable trajectory and thus save our planet," he told the G20. And the future king gained a new public ally for a cause he has held dear for many decades. He met Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, one of the world's richest business people, and Mr Bezos later posted on Instagram: "The Prince of Wales has been involved in fighting climate change and protecting our beautiful world for five decades - far longer than most. "We had a chance to discuss these important issues on the eve of #COP26 - looking for solutions to heal our world, and how the BezosEarthFund can help." Prince Charles' son, the Duke of Cambridge, has been critical of the group of entrepreneurs, suggesting they should focus on saving Earth rather than "trying to find the next place to go and live".

11-1-21 COP26: World needs to act, says PM, as Prince Charles joins call for action
Here are five things you need to know about the COP26 climate change conference on Monday. 1. World is at one minute to midnight, says PM. As world leaders gather in Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says they need to move from "aspiration to action". He claims the world is at "one minute to midnight" as concerns grow that countries are not doing enough to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases, which have caused average global temperatures to rise. Mr Johnson says progress was made during the G20 summit in Rome, which took place before COP26, but acknowledges there's still a "huge way" to go, warning an ambitious outcome remains "in the balance". Follow our updates as world leaders prepare for tense negotiations. 2. 'War-like footing' needed on climate - Prince Charles. At the opening ceremony, the Prince of Wales will say the summit is "the last-chance saloon". Prince Charles, a long-standing champion of environmental causes, believes a "war-like footing" is needed, with a "vast military-style campaign" to tackle climate change. Scientists believe keeping global warming below 1.5C above pre-industrial times - a target world leaders agreed to work towards at the Paris climate conference in 2015 - will avoid the worst climate impacts. 3. Five key issues. There'll be two weeks of intense talks during COP26 - and here, our environment correspondent Matt McGrath looks at five of the main challenges for negotiators: trust; credibility; workload; process; and spin. 4. Too hot to work, too hot to sleep. Some nights it's too hot to sleep indoors, says Shakeela Bano, and the roof of her and her family's one-storey house in India can be too hot to walk on. Meanwhile in northern Mauritania in west Africa, Sidi Fadoua says the temperatures "are like fire". 5. How the climate's changed in Africa. "We are quickly losing our hope in you." "It's the people who have least contributed to this crisis that continue to suffer the most." These are some of the messages from climate activists in Africa You will have heard the term climate change, but what exactly does it mean? The simplest way of explaining it, is that climate is the average weather in a place over many years, so climate change is a shift in those average conditions. Those conditions are shifting because of greenhouse gas emissions. Find out here what change will look like for you.

11-1-21 We are digging our own graves - UN cheif to COP26
Why do I keep hearing about 1.5C? It's a figure that will come up again and again today... We know that human activity has had an impact on our planet's climate. Our industrial development - burning fossil fuels which expel gases like carbon dioxide - has led to global average temperature increasing because of a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Scientists tell us that keeping the rise below 1.5C - compared with pre-industrial times - will avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change but we're already at least 1.1C warmer so radical action is needed. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to keep global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial times and "pursuing efforts" to limit them even more, to 1.5C. But we are way off track from achieving that. On current plans, the world is expected to breach the 1.5C ceiling within decades and to hit 2.7C-3C of warming by the end of the century. Scientists say there simply isn’t time for inaction if 1.5C is to be achieved, while some believe we’ve already left it too late. 1. UN chief António Guterres tells world leaders that we are "digging our own graves" by failing to act fast enough on climate change. 2. Echoing that, UK PM Boris Johnson says that the world is running out of time. 3. The COP26 host says he wants countries to end the use of coal, phase out petrol-powered cars, and reverse deforestation. 4. More than 120 leaders are in Glasgow - and they will later outline their climate commitments. 5. Major polluters including China, India, Australia and Brazil are in the spotlight. 6. The goal is to keep warming limited to 1.5C, or at worst 2C, by 2100 but we are on track for 2.7C - which the UN says would result in "climate catastrophe". 7. Small island countries sound the alarm, saying they face "terrifying" impacts

11-1-21 COP26: The limits on Biden's power to help save the planet
When Joe Biden takes to the stage in Glasgow later to deliver his speech to COP26, you can be sure he will want to underline one thing. Just as he did at his news conference last night in Rome at the G20, he will set out his green credentials; American leadership on climate change. (Webmasters Comment: But the United States has twice the emissions per person than China does!) He can point to a gargantuan spending bill about to go before Congress, which has an eye-watering $555bn (£400bn) for clean energy credits and incentives. It will be the biggest investment in US history to tackle global warming. But, but, but - this legislation hasn't yet been passed because he's not sure he's got the votes. One of the most significant proposals - a programme that would reward power companies for moving away from fossil fuels and penalising those who don't - was nixed by a Democratic senator from West Virginia coal country, Joe Manchin. The failure to make progress on this legislation has been frustrating as hell for the White House, who wanted to have the measures passed before Air Force One arrived in Italy. It doesn't exactly give the president added leverage over his counterparts. How much moral force is there in saying "look what I would do, if I only had the votes..?" There was something else in the Rome news conference which made my internal ironymeter hit 10, and it perfectly encapsulates the drag imposed on the US president's green ambitions. Whilst attempting to show his leadership on climate, Biden was at the same time trying to persuade the OPEC oil producers to increase production, so as to keep petrol prices down for US consumers. Drivers are up in arms that they're having to pay over $3 a gallon. Perhaps Biden should organise for them to visit a few British petrol stations to make Americans thank their lucky stars.

11-1-21 We are digging our own graves - UN cheif to COP26
Why do I keep hearing about 1.5C? It's a figure that will come up again and again today... We know that human activity has had an impact on our planet's climate. Our industrial development - burning fossil fuels which expel gases like carbon dioxide - has led to global average temperature increasing because of a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Scientists tell us that keeping the rise below 1.5C - compared with pre-industrial times - will avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change but we're already at least 1.1C warmer so radical action is needed. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to keep global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial times and "pursuing efforts" to limit them even more, to 1.5C. But we are way off track from achieving that. On current plans, the world is expected to breach the 1.5C ceiling within decades and to hit 2.7C-3C of warming by the end of the century. Scientists say there simply isn’t time for inaction if 1.5C is to be achieved, while some believe we’ve already left it too late. 1. UN chief António Guterres tells world leaders that we are "digging our own graves" by failing to act fast enough on climate change. 2. Echoing that, UK PM Boris Johnson says that the world is running out of time. 3. The COP26 host says he wants countries to end the use of coal, phase out petrol-powered cars, and reverse deforestation. 4. More than 120 leaders are in Glasgow - and they will later outline their climate commitments. 5. Major polluters including China, India, Australia and Brazil are in the spotlight. 6. The goal is to keep warming limited to 1.5C, or at worst 2C, by 2100 but we are on track for 2.7C - which the UN says would result in "climate catastrophe". 7. Small island countries sound the alarm, saying they face "terrifying" impacts

11-1-21 G20 pledge climate action but make few commitments
The leaders of the world's richest economies have agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming with "meaningful and effective actions". But the agreement from the G20 summit in Rome made few concrete commitments, disappointing activists. Host nation Italy had hoped that firm targets would be set before the COP26 summit in Glasgow, which has now begun. UK PM Boris Johnson, who is hosting COP26 said leaders' promises without action were "starting to sound hollow". "These commitments... are drops in a rapidly warming ocean," Mr Johnson said. US President Joe Biden said there were a "series of very productive meetings" at the G20, adding that he was "looking forward to continuing to make progress" on climate issues in Glasgow. He also said China and Russia - who are among the world's biggest polluters - "basically didn't show up" on matters of the climate, which was "disappointing". The G20 group, made up of 19 countries and the European Union, accounts for 80% of the world's emissions. The communiqué, or official statement released by the leaders, also makes no reference to achieving net zero by 2050. Net zero means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, until a country is absorbing the same amount of emissions from the atmosphere that it is putting out. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi did however say in his closing statement that all of the G20 countries are committed to reaching the target by the mid-century. Scientists say this must be achieved by 2050 to avoid a climate catastrophe, and most countries have agreed to this. However China - the world's biggest polluter - and Russia have pushed that target out to 2060. Neither China's President Xi Jinping, nor Russia's Vladimir Putin were in Rome for the conference, instead joining via video link. Their absence raised concerns that a deal would not be easy to reach. Mr Putin said his plan was to "not just to reach carbon neutrality, but to make sure that within the next three decades, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Russia is lower than, for instance, that of our neighbours and colleagues in the EU."

11-1-21 Atlantic hurricane season runs out of names for the 2nd year in a row, 3rd time in history
The National Weather Service identified Subtropical Storm Wanda on Saturday, the 21st named storm of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season — and, for the second time in two years, the end of the regular list of names. If any more storms form after Wanda, the National Weather Service will have to turn to a list of supplemental names for just the third time ever, after 2020 and 2005. Last year there were a record 30 named storms, and the last nine were Greek letters. There won't be Greek letters this year. In March, the World Meteorological Organization said Greek letters were too generic and confusing. "Zeta, Eta, Theta — if you think about even me saying those — to have those storms at the same time was tough," Kenneth Graham, the National Hurricane Center's director, said earlier this year. "People were mixing the storms up." The meteorologists instead came up with a supplemental list of names, starting with Adria, Braylen, and Caridad. If The Atlantic somehow gets 42 storms, the last two would be Viviana and Will. The alphabetical list of names, regular and supplemental, skip Q, U, X, Y, and Z. The Atlantic hurricane season ends Nov. 30. There have been seven hurricanes among this season's 21 storms. In its updated predictions in August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 15 to 21 storms, including seven to 10 hurricane, by the end of the season.


178 Global Warming News Articles
for November of 2021

Global Warming News Articles for October of 2021