Ten Environmental Reports

April 2024

1.  Economic threats from climate change for US ski industry

Daniel Scott & Robert Striger, “How climate change is damaging the US ski industry,” Current Issues in Tourism (13 Feb 20224). bit.ly/4bWwvs5

Since the mid-twentieth century, warming in mountain regions has outpaced the global rate, with important regional implications for snowpacks and the ski industry. Recent climate litigation by communities in the State of Colorado signals the need to assess how observed changes in climate may have damaged the ski industry. This study presents a novel application of the SkiSim2.0 ski operations model at 226 ski areas across 4 US regional ski markets to assess what the ski industry could have looked like if post-1970s anthropogenic climate change had not occurred. Relative to 1960–1979, modelled average ski seasons (with snowmaking) in the 2000–2019 period have shortened between 5.5 and 7.1 days. National direct economic losses associated with lost skier visits and increased snowmaking costs are estimated at US$252 million annually. For the 2050s, regional ski seasons are projected to shorten between 14–33 days (low emissions) and 27–62 days (high emissions). The associated national direct economic losses range from US$657 to 1352 million annually. Climate change is an evolving business reality for the US ski industry. The economic damage already done is clear and the extent of future damages is dependent on the success of Paris Climate Agreement.

2.  Failures of north sea oil countries to follow Paris Accord

Oil Change International, Troubled Waters: How North Sea Countries Are Fueling Climate Disaster (12 March 2024). bit.ly/3TZhDSX

For the first time ever, a new report has developed a set of benchmarks for rating North Sea countries’ oil and gas production policies by their level of alignment with the Paris Agreement. By assessing the oil and gas policies of all North Sea countries (Norway, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark), we reveal that none are aligned with the Paris Agreement, nor are contributing their fair share towards the global transition off of fossil fuels.

See also,  Ajit Niranjan, “No big North Sea fossil fuel country has plan to stop drilling in time for 1.5C goal,” The Guardian (12 Mar 2024). bit.ly/3Tx7Bbe

3. EEA’s first-ever European Climate Risk Assessment

European Environment Agency, Europe is not prepared for rapidly growing climate risks  bit.ly/43uWB1L

“Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world, and climate risks are threatening its energy and food security, ecosystems, infrastructure, water resources, financial stability, and people’s health. According to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) assessment, …  many of these risks have already reached critical levels and could become catastrophic without urgent and decisive action.

Extreme heat, drought, wildfires, and flooding, as experienced in recent years, will worsen in Europe even under optimistic global warming scenarios and affect living conditions throughout the continent. The EEA has published the first ever European Climate Risk Assessment (EUCRA) to help identify policy priorities for climate change adaptation and for climate-sensitive sectors.”

4. Dramatic improvement in London’s air quality since 2016

Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL), Air Quality in London 2016-2024. (8 March 2024)  bit.ly/4cewZKs

“Since 2016, London’s air quality has improved dramatically, and the number of Londoners living in areas that exceed the UK’s legal air pollution limits has decreased significantly. Drawing on data from London’s comprehensive monitoring network and the latest modelling from the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI), this report evaluates how air quality in London has improved between 2016 and 2024 and assesses the ambitious policies that have contributed to these changes.”

See also, Peter Walker, “Ulez helped London cut road pollution faster than rest of UK, report says,” The Guardian ( 8 March 2024).  bit.ly/48WFUx4 via @guardian

5.  Rapid growth in clean energy

International Energy Agency, Clean Energy Market Monitor – March 2024 bit.ly/4cRtt9d

Clean energy is growing rapidly, as annual deployment of a number of key technologies has accelerated in recent years driven by policy support and continued cost declines. From 2019 to 2023, clean energy investment increased nearly 50%, reaching USD 1.8 trillion in 2023 and growing at around 10% per year across this period. The clean energy economy is a major industrial sector and an important contributor to the global economy. However, its benefits remain too concentrated with most of clean energy deployment occurring in China and advanced economies.”

See also, Kevin O’Sullivan, “Global carbon emissions near peak as use of clean-energy technology accelerates, says report,” The Irish Times (1 March 20224).  https://bit.ly/3VevpSI

“The world may be close to peak levels of carbon emissions, according to a new analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Without clean-energy options, the global increase in CO2 emissions in the past five years would have been three times larger, it concludes.”

6.  Climate change, altering snowfalls and global ski areas

Veronika Mitterwallner, “Global reduction of snow cover in ski areas under climate change,” PLOS ONE (13 March 2024).  bit.ly/48Yjsn6

Ongoing climate change substantially alters snowfall patterns with severe but diverging consequences for global ski areas. A global assessment as well as the investigation of potential implications for mountain ecosystems is currently lacking. We quantify future trends in natural snow cover days under different climate change scenarios until 2100 in seven major global skiing regions and discuss implications for mountainous biodiversity by analysing how natural snow cover days relate to regional human population density. Within all major skiing regions, snow cover days are projected to decrease substantially under every assessed climate change scenario. Thirteen percent of all current ski areas are projected to completely lose natural annual snow cover and one fifth will experience a reduction of more than 50% by 2071–2100 relative to historic baselines. Future skiable areas will concentrate in less populated areas, towards continental regions and inner parts of the mountain ranges. As skiable areas will be located at greater distances to highly populated areas in the future, we expect an expansion of infrastructure and increasing intervening actions (i.e., artificial snowmaking, slope grooming) to prolong snow duration. Our results are concerning for both the recreational and economic value of skiing as well as for mountain biodiversity since vulnerable high-altitude species might be threatened by space reductions with ski area expansion.

See also, Rafqa Touma, “Australian Alps face world’s largest loss of snow by end of century, research shows,” The Guardian (15 Mar 2024).  bit.ly/3TE1p17 via @guardian

7.  The 2024 UN World Water Development Report

2024 United Nations World Water Development Report, Water for Prosperity and Peace (UNESCO). bit.ly/3x9e6s7

The 2024 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report highlights how developing and maintaining water security and equitable access to water services is essential to ensuring peace and prosperity for all.

Equitable access to water resources, to safe and affordable water supply and sanitation services, and to the multiple benefits they generate are essential to building and maintaining prosperous and peaceful societies. Recent events, from global epidemics to armed conflicts, have emphasized that the socio-political conditions under which water is supplied, managed, and used can change rapidly.

See also Fiona Harvey, “Women and girls suffer first when droughts hit poor and rural areas, says UN,”  The Guardian (21 March 2024).  bit.ly/3IRMk67

“Women and girls are the first to suffer when drought strikes poor and rural areas, and water strategies around the world must reflect this, the UN has said in a plea to countries to mend conflicts over water resources.
Stress on water resources, which is being exacerbated by the climate crisis, as well as overuse and pollution of the world’s freshwater systems, is a large source of conflict, according to the latest UN world water development report.

The impacts of sharing water, and the possibilities of harnessing cooperation over water resources into wider peace strategies, are often overlooked, the report’s authors found. Better cooperation over freshwater access would also play a role in improving the lives of women and girls.”

8.  PM2.5 air pollution in Killarney, Enniscorthy and Birr

John Wegner et. al., Source Apportionment of Particulate Matter in Urban and Rural Residential Areas of Ireland (SAPPHIRE) (Report 318).  bit.ly/4a997q0

In this research project, the contribution of residential solid fuel burning to ambient levels of wintertime PM2.5 was determined in the towns of Killarney, Enniscorthy and Birr. The results show that the burning of peat, coal and wood for home heating is by far the largest source of PM2.5 air pollution in these locations.

9.  Few countries meet WHO limits for fine-particulate pollution

“Only seven countries meet WHO air quality standard, report finds:  Almost all countries fail to reach guideline World Health Organisation limit for harmful fine-particle pollution, The Irish Times (19 March 2024).  bit.ly/43FcbaX

Just seven countries met World Health Organisation (WHO) standards on international air quality in 2023, according to a new report.

Of 134 countries and regions surveyed, only Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius and New Zealand are meeting a WHO guideline limit for harmful fine-particle, or PM2.5, pollution – caused by tiny airborne particles expelled by cars, trucks and industrial processes…

Ireland was ranked 119 out of the 134 countries in terms of 2023 average PM2.5 concentration.

10.  Petrochemicals are killing us

Tracey J. Woodruff, “Health Effects of Fossil Fuel–Derived Endocrine Disruptors,” The New England Journal of Medicine (6 March 2024).  bit.ly/49hI2j5

See also, Liza Gross, “Petrochemicals Are Killing Us, a New Report Warns in the New England Journal of Medicine: It’s well known that fossil fuels are the primary driver of climate change. A dirty secret is that they’re also the source of toxic chemicals linked to rising rates of chronic and deadly diseases,” Inside Climate News (18 March 2024).  bit.ly/3TTEfnH

“Use of petroleum-based chemicals skyrocketed during the postwar era, most of them entering the market with little concern for safety. Now, mounting evidence links petrochemicals to the rapidly rising prevalence of a slew of chronic and deadly conditions, a review published in the New England Journal of Medicine warned earlier this month.

Petrochemical production is 15 times higher today than it was in the 1950s, with about 350,000 chemicals now approved for use globally. Yet only 5 percent of these compounds have undergone rigorous safety tests—even as the rates of numerous ailments they’re linked to continue to rise.

“You can feel the effects of climate change, and know they’re connected to fossil fuels,” said author Tracey Woodruff, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco who directs the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment. “But the idea that fossil fuels are also connected to these chemicals we’re exposed to, and are impacting our health, I thought, wow, there’s a really important link here.”

Phasing out fossil fuels, Woodruff realized, wouldn’t just benefit the planet. It would also reduce the heavy toll hormone-scrambling petrochemicals are taking on health, particularly in low-income communities of color.”

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