July 2023

1.  Rich nations underfunding work to help poor countries address climate change

Climate Finance Shadow Report 2023: Assessing the delivery of the $100 billion commitment (5 June 2023). bit.ly/3CdIfpG

Overview: “In 2009, high-income countries committed in the Copenhagen Accords to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for low- and middle-income countries. Oxfam reported on the progress of this commitment in 2016, 2018 and 2020. This year’s report finds that high-income countries have not only failed to deliver on their commitment, but also – as in previous years – generous accounting practices have allowed them to overstate the level of support they have actually provided. Moreover, much of the finance has been provided as loans, which means that it risks increasing the debt burden of the countries it is supposed to help.

This paper calls on high-income countries to accelerate the mobilization and provision of climate finance, and to make up the shortfall from previous years, in a way that is equitable and just. High-income countries must provide finance that is transparent, with genuine accountability mechanisms, and that allows for far more local ownership and responsiveness to the needs of communities it is intended to reach. People on the frontlines of the climate crisis must have the funding they were promised for adaptation and mitigation, and to address the loss and damage they are already experiencing as a result of climate impacts.”

See also, Fiona Harvey, “Climate crisis: rich nations undermining work to help poor countries, research suggests,” The Guardian (5 June 2023).  bit.ly/3Nb4zFx.

Only $11.5bn (£9.2bn) of climate finance from rich countries in 2020 was devoted to helping poor countries adapt to extreme weather, despite increasing incidences of climate-related disaster, according to a report from the charity Oxfam.

Nafkote Dabi, Oxfam’s international climate change policy lead, said this was inadequate given the scale of the problem… “People in the US spend four times that each year feeding their cats and dogs.”

2.  Ireland will miss 2030 climate targets by wide margin

Irish Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections, 2022 – 2040 (June 2023). bit.ly/3Ne3Ioy

See also, Kevin O’Sullivan, Ireland to miss 2030 climate targets by wide margin, EPA predicts,” The Irish Times (2 June 2023). bit.ly/42sWMbs
“Ireland will achieve a reduction of only 29 per cent in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, far short of a legally-binding target of 51 per cent that is core to the Government’s climate policy, according to the EPA’s latest projections.

Almost all sectors are on a trajectory to exceed their national ceilings – including agriculture, industry, electricity and transport.

The first two carbon budgets (2021-2025; 2026-2030) designed to impose limits on carbon arising from economic activity and households “will not be met, and by a significant margin”, it predicts in its starkest annual outline of projections out to 2040.”

3.  Ice-free Arctic is coming closer and sooner

Yeon-Hee Kim, et al., “Observationally-constrained projections of an ice-free Arctic even under a low emission scenario,” Nature Communications (6 June 2023).

Abstract:  The sixth assessment report of the IPCC assessed that the Arctic is projected to be on average practically ice-free in September near mid-century under intermediate and high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, though not under low emissions scenarios, based on simulations from the latest generation Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) models. Here we show, using an attribution analysis approach, that a dominant influence of greenhouse gas increases on Arctic sea ice area is detectable in three observational datasets in all months of the year, but is on average underestimated by CMIP6 models. By scaling models’ sea ice response to greenhouse gases to best match the observed trend in an approach validated in an imperfect model test, we project an ice-free Arctic in September under all scenarios considered. These results emphasize the profound impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the Arctic, and demonstrate the importance of planning for and adapting to a seasonally ice-free Arctic in the near future.

See also, Damian Carrington, “Too late now to save Arctic summer ice, climate scientists find,” The Guardian (6 June 2023). bit.ly/3WRwIpn
“It is now too late to save summer Arctic sea ice, research has shown, and scientists say preparations need to be made for the increased extreme weather across the northern hemisphere that is likely to occur as a result.

Analysis shows that even if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply reduced, the Arctic will be ice-free in September in coming decades. The study also shows that if emissions decline slowly or continue to rise, the first ice-free summer could be in the 2030s, a decade earlier than previous projections.”

4.   Adverse impacts from mining for minerals for renewables

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Transition Minerals Tracker:  Tracking the human rights implications of mining for key minerals for the transition to a net-zero carbon economy (June 2023).   https://bit.ly/3Joz7CD

“Responding to climate change with fast-paced deployment of renewable energy technologies has never been more urgent. Wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and battery storage require large quantities of minerals. Pressure to extract more cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, nickel and zinc is intensifying.

Human rights and environmental abuses associated with mining operations are rising. Local communities, Indigenous peoples and Human Rights Defenders bear the brunt of the abuses. Their right to live in a clean and healthy environment is jeopardised by the water intensity of mining.

Respect for human rights, recognition of hosting communities as equal partners entitled to sustainable benefit and commitment by the Global North to curb demand for transition minerals should be reflected in policymaking, investment decisions and operational approaches.”

See also, Katie Surma, “Mining Critical to Renewable Energy Tied to Hundreds of Alleged Human Rights Abuses,” Inside Climate News (7 June 2023). bit.ly/3MWvYKV
“A report released Wednesday faults the U.S. and other nations for providing incentives for the mining of rare metals like lithium and cobalt without enacting adequate labor and environmental safeguards.”

5.  More air turbulence in flight as result of climate changes

Mark C. Prosser, et. el., “Evidence for Large Increases in Clear-Air Turbulence Over the Past Four Decades,” Geophysical Research Letters (8 June 2023).

Abstract:  Clear-air turbulence (CAT) is hazardous to aircraft and is projected to intensify in response to future climate change. However, our understanding of past CAT trends is currently limited, being derived largely from outdated reanalysis data. Here we analyze CAT trends globally during 1979–2020 in a modern reanalysis data set using 21 diagnostics. We find clear evidence of large increases around the midlatitudes at aircraft cruising altitudes. For example, at an average point over the North Atlantic, the total annual duration of light-or-greater CAT increased by 17% from 466.5 hr in 1979 to 546.8 hr in 2020, with even larger relative changes for moderate-or greater CAT (increasing by 37% from 70.0 to 96.1 hr) and severe-or-greater CAT (increasing by 55% from 17.7 to 27.4 hr). Similar increases are also found over the continental USA. Our study represents the best evidence yet that CAT has increased over the past four decades.

See also, Matthew Taylor, “Climate crisis leading to more turbulence during flights, says study,” The Guardian (8 June 2023).   https://bit.ly/3Nrrw8A via @guardian
“The climate crisis is leading to more turbulence during flights, driving up costs and increasing the risks for passengers and crew, according to new research.”

6.  Efforts to annually updated reliable global climate indicators

Piers M. Forster, et al., “Indicators of Global Climate Change 2022: annual update of large-scale indicators of the state of the climate system and human influence,” Earth Syst. Sci. Data (June 2023).  bit.ly/3Np3xHc

Abstract. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments are the trusted source of scientific evidence for climate negotiations taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement that will conclude at COP28 in December 2023. Evidence-based decision-making needs to be informed by up-to-date and timely information on key indicators of the state of the climate system and of the human influence on the global climate system. However, successive IPCC reports are published at intervals of 5–10 years, creating potential for an information gap between report cycles.

We follow methods as close as possible to those used in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Working Group One (WGI) report. We compile monitoring datasets to produce estimates for key climate indicators related to forcing of the climate system: emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate forcers, greenhouse gas concentrations, radiative forcing, surface temperature changes, the Earth’s energy imbalance, warming attributed to human activities, the remaining carbon budget, and estimates of global temperature extremes. The purpose of this effort, grounded in an open data, open science approach, is to make annually updated reliable global climate indicators available in the public domain (doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8000192, Smith et al., 2023a). As they are traceable to IPCC report methods, they can be trusted by all parties involved in UNFCCC negotiations and help convey wider understanding of the latest knowledge of the climate system and its direction of travel.

The indicators show that human-induced warming reached 1.14 [0.9 to 1.4] ◦C averaged over the 2013–2022 decade and 1.26 [1.0 to 1.6] ◦C in 2022. Over the 2013–2022 period, human-induced warming has been increasing at an unprecedented rate of over 0.2 ◦C per decade. This high rate of warming is caused by a combination of greenhouse gas emissions being at an all-time high of 54 ± 5.3 GtCO2e over the last decade, as well as reductions in the strength of aerosol cooling. Despite this, there is evidence that increases in greenhouse gas emissions have slowed, and depending on societal choices, a continued series of these annual updates over the critical 2020s decade could track a change of direction for human influence on climate.”

See also, Caroline O’Doherty, “All climate change indicators worsening, scientists behind new public data project warn,” Irish Independent (8 June 2023). bit.ly/3qCUcCC

7.  Climate change is scarring Europe but renewables offer hope

UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and EU Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS).  European State of the Climate: Summary 2022bit.ly/3CCvLbe

See also, Kevin O’Sullivan, “Climate change is scarring Europe, and southern countries most of all:  Joint UN-EU report finds Europe was 2.3 degrees above the pre-industrial average for 2022, but renewables offer hope,” The Irish Times (19 June 2023).   bit.ly/42Oo2Bz
“Europe continues to warm twice as fast as the global average as the climate crisis takes an increasing “human, economic and environmental toll” on the Continent…

Last year was marked by extreme heat, drought and wildfires, while sea surface temperatures around Europe, including the Atlantic, reached new highs, accompanied by marine heatwaves and unprecedented glacier melt, the report found.

The State of the Climate in Europe 2022 shows how Europe has been warming twice as much as the global average since the 1980s, with far-reaching impacts on the region’s socioeconomic fabric and ecosystems. Europe last year was approximately 2.3 degrees above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average used as a baseline for the Paris climate agreement.

In a sign of hope for the future, however, it says renewable energy generated more electricity than polluting fossil last year in Europe – wind and solar power generated 22.3 per cent of EU electricity, overtaking fossil fuel (20 per cent).”

8. Water, ice, society, and ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

CIMOD. (2023). Water, ice, society, and ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalaya: An outlook. (P. Wester, S. Chaudhary, N. Chettri, M. Jackson, A. Maharjan, S. Nepal & J. F. Steiner [Eds]) International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, doi.org/10.53055/ICIMOD.1028

Unprecedented and largely irreversible changes to the Hindu Kush Himalayan cryosphere, driven by global temperature rises, threaten two billion people and are accelerating species extinction.

ICIMOD’s new report – Water, Ice, Society, Ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalaya – is the most accurate assessment of changes to the Asia high mountain cryosphere to date. It is also the first time their impacts on water, biodiversity and society have been properly mapped.

The report urges policymakers to prepare for the cascading impacts of climate change in this critical mountain biome, which provides freshwater services to a quarter of the world’s population.

It calls for urgent international support and regional cooperation for inevitable, near-term loss and damage, and to help communities adapt.

Key Findings

Glaciers disappeared 65% faster in the 2010s than in the previous decade

On current emissions pathways 80% of glaciers’ current volume will be gone by 2100

Availability of water is expected to peak in mid-century and then decline

Vulnerable mountain communities are already experiencing major adverse impacts: loss and damage to lives, property, heritage, infrastructure

Floods and landslides are projected to increase

Impacts on fragile mountain habitats are particularly acute

9.  Mitigating climate change by protecting areas

L. Duncanson et al., “The effectiveness of global protected areas for climate change mitigation,” Nature Communications (01 June 2023).  go.nature.com/3pjZz9p

See also, Bob Berwyn, “New Research Shows Global Climate Benefits of Protecting Nature, but It’s Not a Silver Bullet,” Inside Climate News (1 June 2023).  bit.ly/3NNoY50

“All major recent climate reports say nature plays a crucial role in the effort to stop global warming, and many countries are relying on forests and other ecosystems to help fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement. Research published Thursday in the journal Nature Communications quantifies the climate benefits of protecting natural areas—especially carbon-storing forests—at a global scale.

The researchers used more than 400 million satellite measurements to draw a detailed 3D snapshot of global forests in 2020, which they compared to another set of satellite images from 2000 to 2020. They matched each protected area to ecologically similar unprotected areas based on climate, human pressure, land type, country and other factors, and were able to show how much more carbon the protected areas stored.

Since 2000, the researchers reported, protected forests worldwide have stored 9.65 billion metric tons more carbon in their trunks, branches and stems than ecologically similar unprotected areas. That is equal to about a year’s worth of annual carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. But that doesn’t mean that nature is a silver bullet that will stop climate change, said lead author Laura Duncanson, an assistant professor and remote sensing scientist at the University of Maryland who studies global carbon stocks.

“We don’t want this to be interpreted as another ‘forests could save us’ paper, because while absolutely critical as part of the solution, they don’t come even close to offsetting fossil fuel emissions,” she said. “Our results showed that in approximately 20 years, protected areas effectively avoided the equivalent of one year of annual fossil fuel emissions.”

10.  Community activists detect methane leaks in local streets

Ananya Chetia, “Methane Activists in Richmond Detect Potentially Dangerous Gas Leaks: Beyond Methane RVA obtained documents from the Richmond Gas Works that revealed hundreds of leaks and significant costs to city ratepayers—and the climate,” Inside Climate News (22 June 2023).  bit.ly/3r2CVmJ

“RICHMOND, Va.—Guided by a fistful of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Lee Williams sniffed the smell of rotten eggs on Grove Avenue earlier this month, took out a methane tracking device and registered a “100 percent” reading, meaning a single lit match could ignite a blaze on the street.

She and other volunteers with the community organization Beyond Methane RVA have discovered 25 gas leaks severe enough to catch fire with a spark, Williams said, and only two of them have been fixed. The pipeline on Grove Avenue is not scheduled to be repaired, she said, until sometime between December 2023 to January 2024.

With over 900 gas leaks confirmed via FOIA requests, Beyond Methane RVA has found 150 of them using their two Sensit Methane Gas detector monitors. Richmond Gas Works, the supplier of natural gas in the Greater Richmond region, takes 245 days on average to repair public gas pipelines, according to the FOIA documents and calculations by Beyond Methane RVA.”

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