January 2023

1  Air pollution from construction, and the lack of policies and action to address it.

Centre for Low Emission Construction, Air quality and emissions in construction (Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3TLDieq

See also, Gary Fuller, “Building works responsible for 18% of UK large particle pollution,” The Guardian (18 Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3MVAkSh

A new report and survey highlights the air pollution from construction, and the lack of policies and action to address it. The latest estimates show that construction is responsible for about 18% of the large particle pollution in the UK and this share is growing. In London it is more than 30%

The survey, by Impact on Urban Health and the Centre for Low Emission Construction, reveals that more than 90% of people working in the industry recognise the sector’s impact on air pollution. When asked for a way forward, people pointed to better information and clearer, stronger regulation. They felt that widespread adoption of new practices and use of less polluting equipment would only come about through regulation that produced a level playing field between contractors.”


2. Spillover benefits in marine protected areas

Sarah Medoff, “Spillover benefits from the world’s largest fully protected MPA,” Science (20 Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3so6sog

“Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been shown to protect local populations of fishes. Questions have remained, however, about whether they would also work to protect species that migrate or travel over large distances. Medoff et al. looked at the effectiveness of a recently established—and thus far the largest—fully protected MPA located near Hawai’i, and found clear evidence that the protections afforded to two migratory species, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, led to spillover effects previously only seen for resident fish populations. —SNV”

See also, Karen McVeigh, “World’s largest ocean reserve off Hawaii has spillover benefits nearby, study finds,” The Guardian (21 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3MVIRVo


3. Industry blocks biodiversity policy

Influence Map, Industry Influence on Biodiversity Policy:  A Pilot Study Demonstrating Industry Associations’ Engagement on Biodiversity-related Policy and Regulations (Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3z4yhFB

See also, Phoebe Weston, “Business groups block action that could help tackle biodiversity crisis, report finds,” The Guardian (24 Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3VZxoIj

Industry groups representing some of the world’s largest companies are “opposed to almost all major biodiversity-relevant policies” and are lobbying to block them, according to a new report.

Researchers found that 89% of engagement by leading industry associations in Europe and the US is designed to delay, dilute and block progress on tackling the biodiversity crisis, which scientists say is as serious as the climate emergency. Just 5% of support was positive and the remaining 6% was mixed or neutral, according to the climate thinktank InfluenceMap.

The researchers focused on associations representing five key sectors – agriculture, fisheries, forestry and paper, oil and gas, and mining – which have the greatest impact on biodiversity loss.


4.  Toxic PFAS, ‘forever chemicals,’ in blood samples

Nadine Kotlarz et al., “Measurement of Novel, Drinking Water-Associated PFAS in Blood from Adults and Children in Wilmington, North Carolina,” Environmental Health Perspectives (22 July 2020).  bit.ly/3SREEmM

See also, Tom Perkins, “PFAS left dangerous blood compounds in nearly all US study participants: The toxic ‘forever chemicals’ can stay in human blood for years, and are linked to cancers, kidney damage and heart disease,” The Guardian (29 Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3sMqWqV

Nearly all participants in a new study looking at exposure to PFAS “forever chemicals” in the US state of North Carolina have multiple dangerous compounds in their blood, and most at levels that researchers say requires medical screening.

The North Carolina State University study, which is among the largest ever conducted, checked about 1,500 blood samples from people living in the Cape Fear River basin over several years. It’s the first study to recommend screening for cancers, kidney damage, heart disease and other health issues linked to the chemicals, using newly developed physicians’ guidelines for PFAS exposure.

In most cases, the PFAS levels were much higher than the national median, and participants were “scared” by the results, said study co-author Jane Hoppin.

5.  Global carbon emissions from energy will peak in 2025

International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook 2022 bit.ly/3TQaimf

See also, Jasper Jolly, “Carbon emissions from energy to peak in 2025 in ‘historic turning point’, says IEA,” The Guardian (27 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3TQkdYJ

“Global carbon emissions from energy will peak in 2025 thanks to massively increased government spending on clean fuels in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to analysis by the world’s leading energy organisation.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that government spending on clean energy in response to the crisis would mark a “historic turning point” in the transition away from fossil fuels, in its annual report on global energy.

The invasion of Ukraine has prompted an energy crisis around the world, with global gas prices initially surging. The crisis has caused steep inflation that has made households poorer around the world.

… Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director and one of the world’s most influential energy economists, said the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion “is in fact going to accelerate the clean energy transition”


6. Fossil fuel profits can pay for loss and damages from climate change

Loss and Damage Collaboration, The Cost of Delay: Why finance to address Loss and Damage must be agreed at COP 27bit.ly/3DorZSO

See also, Caroline O’ Doherty “Reports shows six biggest fossil fuel firms could pay the cost of climate disasters and still have billions to spare,” Irish Independent (24 Oct 2022).  bit.ly/3Wvg12D

“A half-year’s profits by six of the biggest fossil fuel companies would cover the cost of climate-related disasters in developing countries, with billions to spare, a new report shows.

Oxfam Ireland is among the 100 organisations behind the report which shows that oil companies could more than pay for the damage their products cause…

The ‘Cost of Delay’ report, by Oxfam and the Loss and Damage Collaboration, shows that BP, Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Total and Eni between them made profits of $95bn (€96.33bn) between January and June this year.

Over the same period 119 extreme weather and climate-related events were recorded in developing countries, with costs running to $26.2bn (€26.57bn).”


7. Huge service value of trees

DEFRA and Forest Research, Valuing Non-Woodland Trees bit.ly/3F1EwMT

See also, Damian Carrington, “A UK tree provides hundreds of pounds of benefits a year, report finds,” The Guardian (2 Dec 2022). bit.ly/3XURhkU

“The huge value of trees standing alone and in small groups in the UK has been revealed in a new report, which found they provide billions of pounds worth of benefits to people every year. The trees capture climate-heating CO2, reduce toxic air pollution and slow the flow of rainwater, cutting flood risks.

There are millions of such trees across the country, covering a combined 750,000 hectares, and making up 20% of all the nation’s trees….

It found the value of the services from non-woodland trees ranges from £1.4bn to £3.8bn a year, depending on the methodology used. The researchers said the estimates were conservative, as many benefits were hard to quantify, such as the boost to wildlife and to people’s mental health.”


8. Extreme temperatures and cardiovascular diseases

Barrak Alahmad et al., “Associations Between Extreme Temperatures and Cardiovascular Cause-Specific Mortality: Results From 27 Countries,” Circulation (12 Dec 2022). bit.ly/3iXpWyr


“Background: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Existing studies on the association between temperatures and cardiovascular deaths have been limited in geographic zones and have generally considered associations with total cardiovascular deaths rather than cause-specific cardiovascular deaths…

Conclusions: Across a large, multinational sample, exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures was associated with a greater risk of mortality from multiple common cardiovascular conditions. The intersections between extreme temperatures and cardiovascular health need to be thoroughly characterized in the present day—and especially under a changing climate.”


9. More than 1 in 10 species could be lost by end of century

Giovanni Strona and Corey J.A. Bradsshaw, “Coextinctions dominate future vertebrate losses from climate and land use change,” Science Advances (16 Dec 2022). bit.ly/3WuWfTI

See also, Patrick Greenfield, “More than 1 in 10 species could be lost by end of century, study warns,” The Guardian (16 Dec 2022).  bit.ly/3FYj78R

Earth could lose more than a tenth of its plant and animal species by the end of the century on current trends, according to new research which comes as nearly 3,000 scientists call for action from governments to stop the destruction of nature in the final days of negotiations at Cop15.

The climate crisis will drive an accelerating cascade of extinctions in the coming decades, as predators lose their prey, parasites lose their hosts, and temperature rises fracture Earth’s web of life, according to the researchers, who warn of the risk of co-extinctions in a paper published on Friday in Science Advances.


10.  Emperor penquins and 2/3 of Antarctic native species at risk of extinction

Jasmine R. Lee, et al., “Threat management priorities for conserving Antarctic biodiversity,” PLOS Biology (22 Dec 2022). bit.ly/3WUxKjl

See also, Donna Lu, “Emperor penguin at risk of extinction, along with two-thirds of native Antarctic species, research shows,” The Guardian (22 Dec 22). bit.ly/3hXf6Zh

Two-thirds of Antarctica’s native species, including emperor penguins, are under threat of extinction or major population declines by 2100 under current trajectories of global heating, according to new research that outlines priorities for protecting the continent’s biodiversity.


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