Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment
Mysterious metal monolith discovered in Utah desert
Mysterious metal monolith discovered in Utah desert
Credit: Courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol

State wildlife officials have discovered a strange metal object from the air while flying a helicopter in the wilderness of southern Utah. The men and the pilot Bret Hutchings had been out counting bighorn sheep when a biologist spotted the shimmering column hidden in a rock niche far from any civilization.

Hutchings cannot say what the thing is, but it reminds him of the moon monolith from Stanley Kubrick's famous science fiction film "2001: Space Odyssey". "I suspect that a New Wave artist set this up," he said.

Climate & Environment
UNO reports record high CO₂ concentration in the atmosphere
UNO reports record high CO₂ concentration in the atmosphere
Credit: unsplash.com / Ishan @seefromthesky

According to the annual greenhouse gas bulletin by the World Meteorological Organization directed to the UNO, the global average of 410 ppm carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) in the atmosphere has been reached for the first time in 2019 since the beginning of industrialisation in 1750.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taala stated that "The last time the Earth experienced similar CO 2 concentrations was three to five million years ago".

Climate & Environment
Top court: France has three months to show it's taking climate action
Top court: France has three months to show it's taking climate action
Credit: By Marie-Lan Nguyen - Own work / via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

France's government was hauled before the Council of State by the coastal town Grande-Synthe and has now been given a three-month deadline to show that it's taking action to meet its commitments concerning climate change. While the country "has committed itself to reduce its emissions by 40% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, it has, in recent years, regularly exceeded the 'carbon budgets' it had set itself", as was noted by the Council.

This means that "policies must be more than nice commitments on paper," said Grande Synthe's lawyer Corinne Lepage, calling the decision "historic".

Climate & Environment
Ban on new petrol cars by 2030 on Britain roads to net-zero emissions
Ban on new petrol cars by 2030 on Britain roads to net-zero emissions
Credit: CHUTTERSNAP

Five years earlier than previously planned, as part of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson is casting as a "green revolution", Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050.

In total the plan would mobilise 12 billion pounds ($16 billion) of government money, with as much as three times that amount coming from the private sector, and create and support 250,000 highly skilled green jobs by 2030, Johnson said.

Climate & Environment
Brown marmorated stink bug reaches Bavarian alpine uplands
Brown marmorated stink bug reaches Bavarian alpine uplands
Credit: Gary Bernon, USDA APHIS / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Due to globalization and climate change, a new vermin for gardening and agriculture has arrived in Bavarian fields and beds: The Brown marmorated stink bug originated in East Asia, menaces the harvests of fruit growers and vegetable farmers, experts warn. In the warmest regions of Germany in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the bug is already widespread for some time, now the bug has been detected nearby, in the colder Bavarian regions at the foot of the Alps.

Climate & Environment
Researchers report warmest October in Europe since 1979

According to the European Copernicus Climate Change Service the October 2020 has been the warmest since the service has started recording. The experts evaluated measurements since 1979.

Worldwide, it was the third warmest October, as the organization announced on Thursday in Reading, UK. Temperatures were well above the average from 1981 to 2010, especially over large parts of the Arctic and the Tibetan Plateau.

Climate & Environment
Putin aims to meet Paris climate goals
Putin aims to meet Paris climate goals
Credit: kremlin.ru / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In a new decree, the Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to try to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change.

However, all measures need to ensure that Russia can show strong economic development. but stressed that any action must be balanced with the need to ensure strong economic development.

Climate & Environment
The Philippines stops accepting proposals for coal-based power plants
The Philippines stops accepting proposals for coal-based power plants
Credit: Lawrence Ruiz (Epi Fabonan III) / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Filipino Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has announced a moratorium on endorsements for greenfield coal-powered plants.

Instead, the government will pursue natural gas as a major source of energy, not just for power generation but also for industrial, commercial and household sectors.

However, with the coal-based projects that are already in the works and proposals already submitted to the government not covered by the moratorium, coal is set to remain the dominant power source for years to come.

Cusi stated that "We see that we have enough supply for baseload power and we're looking at a more flexible source like gas, geothermal, hydro and others,".

Climate & Environment
The U.S. formally withdraws from Paris agreement

After a three-year delay, the US has become the first nation in the world to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement formally. In the wake of the President Donald Trump announcement back in 2017, several states and businesses have pledged to continue cutting carbon and to try and make up for the Federal government's decision to walk away from the US commitment under Paris.

"The EU green deal and carbon neutrality commitments from China, Japan and South Korea point to the inevitability of our collective transition off fossil fuels," said Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the Paris agreement and now chief executive of the European Climate Foundation.

Climate & Environment
Turkey, Greece: 7.0-magnitude earthquake hits Aegean Sea
Turkey, Greece: 7.0-magnitude earthquake hits Aegean Sea
Credit: ApChrKey, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Friday, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece and Turkey. The earthquake caused buildings to crash and triggered a mini tsunami.

At least 27 people were killed – 25 in Turkey, 2 in Greece – and at least 804 people were injured. 470 aftershocks have been recorded.

Climate & Environment
Venezuelan oil tanker now under "minimal" risk to sink
Nabarima
Nabarima Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

After taking on water and tilting to one side, a damaged Venezuelan oil tanker poses no significant risk of spilling and causing an environmental catastrophe, officials of Trinidad & Tobago said Thursday.

The Venezuelan-flagged Nabarima, a 264-meter (866-foot) long ship believed to be almost filled to its capacity of 1.4 million barrels of crude — had fallen inactive with the recent plunge in global energy demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic and to U.S. sanctions on the Venezuelan government that have scared away potential buyers of the country’s heavy crude.

Climate & Environment
Japan aims for zero emissions by 2050
Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga
Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga Credit: 内閣官房内閣広報室 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Japan will aim to become carbon-neutral by 2050, said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in his first policy speech since taking office in September. The country emitted 1.24 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018.

Environmental groups have criticized Japan in the past for its slow progress in cutting emissions. This new commitment was commented by Greenpeace as "precisely the kind of action the world needs" while cautioning that it must be met by the policy.

Climate & Environment
South Korea commits to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050
South Korea commits to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050
Credit: unsplash.com / Shawn Ang

Following a visit by Cop26 president-designate Alok Sharma, president Moon Jae-in has announced that South Korea will commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. “By replacing coal power generation with renewable energy, we will create new markets and industries and create jobs,” he said.

Earlier this year, Moon presented plans for a Green New Deal investing $37 billion in clean energy, green infrastructure and electric vehicles by 2025. A further $7 billion investment in carbon-cutting measures was announced last week.

Climate & Environment
Southern Californian fires: Nearly 70,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders
Southern Californian fires: Nearly 70,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders
Credit: Pacific Southwest Forest Service, USDA from USA, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

As the wildfires in Southern California spread rapidly, nearly 70,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. The Silverado Fire and Blue Ridge Fire, fueled by high winds and low humidity, have been increasing since Monday and have grown to nearly 30,000 acres combined in the past 48 hours.

Climate & Environment
Report: Solar energy now cheapest form of electricity
Report: Solar energy now cheapest form of electricity
Credit: unsplash.com / Science in HD

International Energy Agency has reported that solar is now the cheapest form of electricity for utility companies to build.

In their report, they claim that risk-reducing financial policies around the world have benefited this development and underlines the importance of these for the future development of renewable energy sources.

Climate & Environment
September 2020 was the hottest ever recorded
September 2020 was the hottest ever recorded
Credit: unsplash.com / niklas_hamann

Globally, September 2020 had the highest temperatures since the beginning of modern weather recording. It was 0.63°C above average, which is 0.05°C hotter than even September 2019, which previously held this record.

As of now, it is virtually certain that 2020 will be among the five hottest years on record, with a 98% propability.

2020 has been accompanied by many climate disasters. The rising global temperatures have brought record-setting wildfires in the U.S. West, one of the most active hurricane seasons on record in the Atlantic and the second-lowest Arctic sea ice levels ever recorded.

Climate & Environment
Most key habitats in Europe are in poor or bad condition
Most key habitats in Europe are in poor or bad condition
Credit: R Boed (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

80% of Europe's key habitats are found to be in bad or poor condition according to the State of Nature in the EU 2013-2018 report by the European Environment Agency (EEA). About one-third of the 233 listed habitats is in an unfavourable condition and getting worse, while the condition is unfavourable but stable in about the same number of habitats.

At the same time, only a quarter of Europe's species are found to have good conservation status. Reptiles and vascular plants are faring best among species types. The situation is improving for mammals, while it's getting worse for birds and fish.

Urbanisation, pollution and lack of water are playing a role in the loss of habitats and biodiversity. But the biggest reason is intensive farming, which tends to be favoured by the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP). An upcoming CAP reform will be voted on in the European Parliament and EU council. But groupings on the political right are expected to reject most measures that would prioritise the environment. According to WWF's Jabier Ruiz, "the future of the CAP looks grim".

Climate & Environment
European Parliament about to decide over EU's Common Agricultural Policy
European Parliament about to decide over EU's Common Agricultural Policy
Credit: Tobias Nordhausen (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The European Parliament and the council of member states are about to decide over the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the years 2021-2027. With the animal farming industry in Europe emitting more CO2 than all EU cars and vans combined, this will be an important decision for the environment, biodiversity and small farms.

Until now, the CAP has mostly benefitted large agribusinesses while failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or the loss of biodiversity. Between 2005 and 2013, almost 3 million small to medium-sized had to close down. Existing ecologic measures implemented in the CAP have not proven to be effective.

In the current negotiations, a coalition of political groups in the European Parliament led by the right-wing EPP is trying to keep the CAP this way, while environmentalist groups are calling for a "greener" CAP that serves the environment, farmers and rural communities.

Climate & Environment
Research suggests Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its corals within three decades
Research suggests Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its corals within three decades
Credit: Robert Linsdell (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

According to findings by researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the "number of small, medium and large corals on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by more than 50% since the 1990s".

Climate & Environment
UN report: Fivefold increase in disasters related to climate change
UN report: Fivefold increase in disasters related to climate change
Credit: unsplash.com / Chris Gallagher

Disasters related to weather, climate and water have increased fivefold over the past 50 years. In this time period, over 11000 disasters of these kinds have been recorded, connected to 2 million deaths and 3.6 trillion US-dollars in economic losses.

Climate & Environment
Study: Germany needs to stop CO2 emissions by 2035 to stay in line with Paris agreement
Study: Germany needs to stop CO2 emissions by 2035 to stay in line with Paris agreement
Credit: unsplash.com / Kurt Cotoaga

A new study by the Wuppertal Institute gives an overview of what has to be done if Germany wants to stay within its 1.5°C CO2-budget. The findings include the necessity to reach zero CO2 emissions by 2035 and to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies by a factor of at least 2.5.

More sector-specific findings can be read in the study. It was published today in a press conference together with activists of Fridays for Future, who had assigned the scientists with this study.

Climate & Environment
Fire has erupted on Mount Kilimanjaro
Fire has erupted on Mount Kilimanjaro
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

On Sunday a fire has erupted on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The fire could be observed near the middle of the mountain and "efforts to extinguish it are still ongoing" according to the Tanzania National Parks service.

According to the newspaper "The Citizen", people from neighboring communities helped to combat the fire, but because the fire broke out at a higher altitude, the extinguishing work was difficult.

Climate & Environment
IKEA ends sale of disposable batteries
IKEA ends sale of disposable batteries
Credit: Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

From October 2021, the "IKEA" Group will stop selling disposable alkaline batteries to reduce waste. According to its own information, the Swedish company sold about 300 million alkaline batteries worldwide between September 2018 and August 2019. By replacing this amount with rechargeable batteries, IKEA calculates that 5,000 tons of waste can be avoided annually.

Climate & Environment
EU climate law approved with emission reduction now aimed at 60%
EU climate law approved with emission reduction now aimed at 60%
Credit: unsplash.com / Martin Sepion

The European Parliament has ratified the latest proposals regarding environmental protection. Greenhouse gas emissions are now targeted to be reduced by 60% compared to 1990 levels. Previously adopted goals for 2030 had aimed at a 40% reduction.

Climate & Environment
New wildfires emerge in California, thousands evacuated
New wildfires emerge in California, thousands evacuated
Credit: Daniel Swain courtesy Twitter

Threatening to reach Santa Rosa, California, new wildfires have grown in size in California's wine country. One of them has burned over 1000 hectares of Napa Country on the weekend.

Evacuation warnings for the city limits of St. Helena have been issued.

Climate & Environment
General Electric announces it won't build new coal-fueled power plants
General Electric announces it won't build new coal-fueled power plants
Credit: Tedder / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

General Electric Power CEO Russell Stokes has stated that "with the continued transformation of GE, we are focused on power generation businesses that have attractive economics and a growth trajectory".

In the future, the company won't build new coal-fueled power plants after the acquisition of Alstrom's power business for $9.5 billion has not paid off for the company.

Climate & Environment
Arctic sea ice shrank to second smallest summer size ever recorded
Arctic sea ice shrank to second smallest summer size ever recorded
Credit: Paul Gierszewski (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven announced on Thursday that, since the satellite-based observations began in 1979, the sea ice around the North Pole shrank to its second smallest extent with only 2012 being on recording with less ice.

The ice cover on the Arctic Ocean is now only 3.8 million square kilometres.

Climate & Environment
Smoke from US wildfires has reached Europe, satellite images reveal
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the United States on Sep. 15, 2020, showing the fires in the West, the smoke from those fires drifting over the country, several hurricanes converging from different angles, and Hurricane Sally making landfall.
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the United States on Sep. 15, 2020, showing the fires in the West, the smoke from those fires drifting over the country, several hurricanes converging from different angles, and Hurricane Sally making landfall. Credit: NASA

According to scientists from the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, smoke from the wildfires in the western United States has travelled 8,000 kilometres and reached Britain and other parts of northern Europe.

Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the Copernicus Service has stated that "the scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than in any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers, since 2003".

Climate & Environment
United Nations members failed to reach goals to safeguard biodiversity, UN reports
United Nations members failed to reach goals to safeguard biodiversity, UN reports
Credit: Andreas Weith / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to the United Nations' Global Biodiversity Outlook report, zero of twenty goals that had been established in 2010 with the goal to preserve nature have been met fully.

Six of the 20 goals have been "partially achieved" namely preventing invasive species, conserving protected areas, access to and sharing benefits from genetic resources, biodiversity strategies and action plans, sharing information, and mobilizing resources.

The other targets only show slow progress or move in the opposite direction.

Climate & Environment
Google says its carbon footprint is now zero

Google says it has wiped out its entire carbon footprint by investing in "high-quality carbon offsets". It became carbon-neutral in 2007 and says it has now compensated for all of the carbon it has ever created.