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One in ten new cars sold in the UK in November were hybrid or electric

A record 10.2% of cars sold in the UK in November were plug-in hybrid or pure electric.

Lawrence Allan, writing in Autocar »

Hybrid and fully electric models reached a record market share of 10.2% last month, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Over 16,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric models were registered, with battery electric vehicles registering a 228% rise over the same period last year. That’s despite the overall UK car market shrinking by 1.3% year-on-year.

Amazon.com plans three solar power projects in the US and Spain

Jon Fingas, writing in Engadget »

Amazon continues to face criticism for its lack of environmental commitments, but it’s making at least some strides toward reducing its impact on the planet. The internet giant has unveiled plans for three new solar power projects, two of them in the US and one in Spain. The American plants in Lee County, Illinois and Northern Virginia will offer a combined capacity of 180MW and produce about 400,000MWh of electricity per year. A solar farm southeast of Sevilla, meanwhile, will offer up to 149MW of capacity for Amazon’s Spanish efforts.

Read the whole article in Engadget »

More » Amazon Press Release

An ocean current critical to world weather is losing steam

National Geographic »

Fram Strait and the waters to the south, in the Greenland, Norwegian, and Irminger seas, make up the control room of a global “conveyor belt” of currents that stretches the length of the planet. Only in this region and one other, in the Antarctic, does water at the sea surface become heavy enough—dense with cold and salt—to sink all the way to the seafloor and race downhill along the deepening ocean bottom. That sinking powers the conveyor, known as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC—which in turn regulates temperatures and weather around the world.

A new report warns that the AMOC is one of nine critical climate systems that greenhouse-gas-fueled warming is actively pushing toward a tipping point. Crossing that threshold in one of these systems could trigger rapid and irreversible changes that drive other systems over the edge—leading to a global tipping cascade with catastrophic consequences for the planet. The analysis, released last week in Nature by an international group of leading climate scientists, says the tipping point risks are greater than most of us realize.

Read the whole article at National Geographic »

Video » 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat and high-impact weather

 

World Meteorological Organization Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019

Press Release »

Madrid, 3 December 2019 – The year 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities. Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods are almost certain to be the highest on record. 2019 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The WMO provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate, says that the global average temperature in 2019 (January to October) was about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. CO2 lasts in the atmosphere for centuries and the ocean for even longer, thus locking in climate change.

Sea level rise has accelerated since the start of satellite measurements in 1993 because of the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, according to the report.

The ocean, which acts as a buffer by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide, is paying a heavy price. Ocean heat is at record levels and there have been widespread marine heatwaves. Sea water is 26 percent more acidic than at the start of the industrial era. Vital marine ecosystems are being degraded.

The daily Arctic sea-ice extent minimum in September 2019 was the second lowest in the satellite record and October has seen further record low extents. In Antarctica, 2019 saw record low ice extents in some months.

“If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human wellbeing,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.

“On a day-to-day basis, the impacts of climate change play out through extreme and “abnormal” weather. And, once again in 2019, weather and climate related risks hit hard. Heatwaves and floods which used to be “once in a century” events are becoming more regular occurrences. Countries ranging from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique suffered the effect of devastating  tropical cyclones. Wildfires swept through the Arctic and Australia,” said Mr Taalas.

“One of the main impacts of climate change is more erratic rainfall patterns. This poses a threat to crop yields and, combined with population increase, will mean considerable food security challenges for vulnerable countries in the future,” he said.

The report devotes an extensive section to weather and climate impacts on human health, food security, migration, ecosystems and marine life. This is based on input from a wide variety of United Nations partners.

Extreme heat conditions are taking an increasing toll on human health and health systems with greater impacts where there are aging populations, urbanization, urban heat island effects, and health inequities.  In 2018, a record 220 million more heatwave exposures by vulnerable persons over the age of 65 occurred, compared with the average for the baseline of 1986-2005.

Climate variability and extreme weather events are among the key drivers of the recent rise in global hunger and one of the leading causes of severe crises. After a decade of steady decline, hunger is on the rise again – over 820 million people suffered from hunger in 2018.  Among 33 countries affected by food crises in 2018, climate variability and weather extremes a compounding driver together with economic shocks and conflict in 26 countries and the leading driver in 12 of the 26.

More than 10 million new internal displacements were recorded between January and June 2019, 7 million being triggered by hazard events such as Cyclone Idai in southeast Africa, Cyclone Fani in south Asia, Hurricane Dorian in the Caribbean, flooding in Iran, the Philippines and Ethiopia, generating acute humanitarian and protection needs.

Read the whole press release »

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, HP, Tesla, and others sign letter backing Paris Agreement and urging U.S. President to honor the commitment

70 CEOs and labor unions releasing a joint statement calling for the U.S. to remain in the Paris Agreement.

Amazon, Facebook, and other big U.S. tech companies afraid of Trump and/or keeping commitments to the environment, did not sign the statement.

Jon Fingas, via Engadget »

The CEOs of many companies, including tech giants like Apple, Adobe, Google, HP, Microsoft and Tesla, have signed a United For The Paris Agreement letter calling on the US to remain part of the effort to keep climate change in check. They argued that the international pact would “strengthen [US] competitiveness” by helping it lead the way in technologies that will usher in an eco-friendly future. It also sets “clear goals” that help with planning and spur innovation, the companies said.

[…]

The letter isn’t a binding commitment, and it’s unlikely to persuade a White House that has both ignored and tried to censor climate science. Nonetheless, it makes clear where numerous companies stand — and might pressure holdouts into changing their tune, if just for the sake of a better public image.

Read the whole article at Engadget »

More » United For The Paris Agreement, Tim Cook (Twitter), CNet, Apple Insider, 9to5Google, TechCrunch

EU to update rules on aviation with clampdown on CO2 output

Ewa Krukowska, writing in Bloomberg »

Ministers meeting in Brussels on Dec. 5 will ask the European Commission to present updated rules on the taxation of biofuels and sectors such as aviation, “taking into account their specificities and existing exemptions,” according to a draft of their communique seen by Bloomberg News. The wording signals that the preferential tax treatment of aviation fuel could be phased out, under a new set of regulations.

Tackling transport emissions is one of the biggest challenges for the EU, which is weighing a commitment to climate neutrality by 2050.

Carbon discharges from international aviation have more than doubled since 1990, bucking a broader European trend that’s seen total emissions drop 22% over that period. The United Nations says the industry is set to overtake power generation as the single biggest CO2 producer within three decades.

Read the whole article at Bloomberg »

Climate » It’s too risky to bet against

Timothy M. Lenton,
Johan Rockström,
Owen Gaffney,
Stefan Rahmstorf,
Katherine Richardson,
Will Steffen,
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
»

In our view, the evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute (see ‘Emergency: do the maths’).

We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best. Hence we might already have lost control of whether tipping happens. A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping — and hence the risk posed — could still be under our control to some extent.

The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril. International action — not just words — must reflect this.

Read the whole article in Nature »

It may already be too late » The world ‘may have crossed tipping points’

This is more than just a little horrifying.

Damian Carrington, writing in The Guardian »

The world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points, according to a stark warning from scientists. This risk is “an existential threat to civilisation”, they say, meaning “we are in a state of planetary emergency”.

Tipping points are reached when particular impacts of global heating become unstoppable, such as the runaway loss of ice sheets or forests. In the past, extreme heating of 5C was thought necessary to pass tipping points, but the latest evidence suggests this could happen between 1C and 2C.

The planet has already heated by 1C and the temperature is certain to rise further, due to past emissions and because greenhouse gas levels are still rising. The scientists further warn that one tipping point, such as the release of methane from thawing permafrost, may fuel others, leading to a cascade.

Please read the whole article at The Guardian »

More » Phys.org, The Independent

UN calls for large cuts of greenhouse gas levels to avoid climate chaos

Without drastic action, our planet is headed toward warming of 3.2 C by 2100.

Global carbon dioxide emissions went up to more than 55 gigatonnes in 2018, and have risen by an average 1.5% a year for the past decade, according to an annual report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The UN warned countries must collectively make major cuts to their emissions every year between now and 2030 to remain under the 1.5C ceiling on temperature rises that scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences.

China and the U.S., the world’s biggest polluters, expanded their carbon footprints last year.

Nicole Mortillaro, writing for the CBC »

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its annual Emissions Gap Report on Tuesday — 168 pages, compiled by 57 leading scientists from 33 institutions across 25 countries — calling on governments to act immediately, within the next decade, to limit global warming to 1.5 C or 2 C by 2100.

“By now, we know all we need to know. The science is pretty clear, and very frightening,” said Anne Olhoff, head of strategy, climate and planning and policy at UNEP. “But we also know we have the technological options that are needed, at least to the short to medium term.”

The report assesses scientific studies on both current greenhouse gas emissions and estimated future emissions, comparing them with possible reduction targets to avoid warming the world more than 1.5 to 2 C.

Some key highlights from the report include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) have increased 1.5 per cent annually over the past decade.
  • By 2030, annual emissions need to be 15 gigatonnes of CO2 lower to reach the 2 C goal, and 32 gigatonnes lower for 1.5 C.
  • GHG emissions have to drop by 2.7 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 for the 2 C goal, and by 7.6 per cent per year for the 1.5 C target.

Fiona Harvey, writing for The Guardian »

Global emissions must fall by 7.6% every year from now until 2030 to stay within the 1.5C ceiling on temperature rises that scientists say is necessary to avoid disastrous consequences. The only time in recent history when emissions have fallen in any country at a similar rate came during the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the financial crisis and recession, emissions in the US and Japan fell briefly by about 6% but soon rebounded.

However, technologies such as renewable energy and electric vehicles are now available, and increasingly cheap, which could enable deep cuts in carbon without jeopardising economic growth.

John Christensen of the Technical University of Denmark, a co-author of the report, told the Guardian the cuts in emissions now required were “unprecedented”.

More » NY Times, Reuters, ABC News

 

Airborne particles of metal contaminants from Alberta’s oil sands are carried over long distances and affect weather patterns in the surrounding regions

Also, the World Health Organization has singled out pollution as a culprit in eight million premature deaths every year around the world.

Levon Sevunts »

The scientists also found that the snow in the Athabaskan oil sands regions of northern Alberta contains up 100 times more nano-sized particles of metal contaminants such as chromium, nickel, copper than snow samples taken from downtown Montreal, indicating that air pollution is much greater close to the oil sands.

“Fresh snow is a snapshot of atmospheric processes,” Ariya told Radio Canada International. “The snow absorbs the hard metal particles and embeds it and this allows us to see things that we might not be able to see otherwise.”

The results of the study presented in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution are of concern since both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have identified nanoparticle pollution as a major challenge in climate change, Ariya said.

Read the whole article at Radio Canada International »

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