Climate change, uncertainty & security May-December 2023

Written by  //  December 11, 2023  //  Climate Change, Security  //  Comments Off on Climate change, uncertainty & security May-December 2023

UN Climate Change Conference COP28
United Arab Emirates 30 Nov-12 Dec, 2023
Anthropocene Working Group

Net Zero Readiness Report
Examining steps taken by 24 countries as well as key economic sectors to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
(KPMG) The last two years [since COP26 Glasgow] have seen many countries taking steps in the right direction towards net zero, even if most have a long way to go. Some have announced significant new policies to support decarbonization, including the REPowerEU in Europe. Emissions trading schemes are expanding in several countries and the EU is phasing in its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, an idea that other countries look likely to adopt. The bloc is also introducing regulations to block the import of products linked to deforestation, showing how some jurisdictions plan to go further faster to meet net zero pledges.
Next year will see companies in many countries starting to report on their climate change risks and plans.
Renewable energy production continues to expand rapidly around the world, investment is rising fast and there are indications that it is becoming harder to raise funding for some fossil fuel projects. Renewable production and the reshaped electricity grids it requires will inevitably impact on some local environments, their biodiversity and communities.
These issues are among those discussed in this Net Zero Readiness Report. It…also examines global trends in sectors that are key to tackling climate change: the economy, electricity, transport, manufacturing, buildings, infrastructure, oil and gas, agriculture and the blue economy. (September 2023)

11 December
At COP28, Indigenous women have a message for leaders: Look at what we’re doing. And listen
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a Chadian environmental activist and geographer, emphasized the importance of combining traditional knowledge with science to create effective solutions. “There is a need to get women from the Indigenous communities on the negotiation table because we have the solution and we are already implementing it on ground,” she said during a session focused on women’s contributions to building a climate-resilient world.

6 December
Carbon removal is needed to achieve net zero but has its own climate risks
Kirsten Zickfeld, Distinguished Professor of Climate Science, Simon Fraser University and Pep Canadell, Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Environment; Executive Director, Global Carbon Project, CSIRO
Carbon dioxide removal will be needed to balance emissions that are difficult to eliminate and increase the odds of meeting the Paris Agreement climate goal.
However, while CDR can play a crucial role in climate change mitigation, the current uncertainty around its full effects underscores the need to prioritize reducing emissions as rapidly and as much as possible.

(The Conversation) Net-zero carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions refers to a balance between CO₂ emissions into the atmosphere and CO₂ removals from the atmosphere, such that the net effect on CO₂ levels in the atmosphere is zero. It is often assumed that if such a balance is achieved, the net effect on climate would also be zero.
However, in a recent paper in Nature Climate Change, we show that unless we consider a number of other factors — such as permanence of carbon stored in vegetation and soils, changes in the reflectivity of landscapes and the full suite of greenhouse gases emitted — balancing CO₂ emissions with removals will not achieve the intended climate goal.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) refers to human activities that deliberately remove carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere. CDR can leverage either natural or technological systems, though in either case, it must be additional to the CO₂ removal that is driven by passive carbon sinks already at work, such as existing forests.
Examples of CDR include planting trees on previously deforested or unforested lands, producing bio-energy and capturing and storing the emitted carbon, fertilizing the ocean to stimulate biological production and capturing CO₂ directly from the air through chemical and technological means.
For CDR to balance the climate effects of CO₂ emissions from fossil fuel burning, it needs to result in permanent carbon storage, meaning that the carbon must remain undisturbed for centuries to millennia. However, carbon stored in trees is vulnerable to natural disturbances such as droughts, wildfires, insect outbreaks and other biotic disturbances and could be re-released much sooner.
Several CDR approaches, when deployed at a large-scale, affect fluxes of energy and water at the Earth’s surface, resulting in so-called “biogeophysical” effects on climate that are in addition to the effects of CO₂ sequestration.

3 December
Cop28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuelsThe president of Cop28, Sultan Al Jaber, has claimed there is “no science” indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C….
Al Jaber also said a phase-out of fossil fuels would not allow sustainable development “unless you want to take the world back into caves”.
The comments were “incredibly concerning” and “verging on climate denial”, scientists said, and they were at odds with the position of the UN secretary general, António Guterres.
Al Jaber made the comments in ill-tempered responses to questions from Mary Robinson, the chair of the Elders group and a former UN special envoy for climate change, during a live online event on 21 November.

As the World BurnsClimate Change’s Dangerous Next Phase
By Michael Oppenheimer
(Foreign Affairs November/December 2020) Many observers assess the threat of climate change in terms of the frequency or severity of extreme events. They have viewed each crisis—be it a Texas hurricane or a California wildfire—as distinct from others. But consider how people feel on the fourth day of a heat wave as opposed to the first. Their resilience begins to drain away. Viewing weather events as independent occurrences is like trying to understand a movie by looking at a series of brief clips; they are important plot points, but not the whole story. In fact, viewing climate change as the accumulation of individual events underestimates the threat, because such events do not take place in a vacuum. As recent research shows, features of the climate interact with one another—interactions that exacerbate the impact on people and ecosystems.
Two interactions are particularly worrisome. First, as extreme events become more intense and more frequent, they will increasingly occur close together in time and location, worsening the overall impact. … The second type of interaction is longer term. It happens when one of the earth’s mechanisms for regulating the climate—systems involving air, the ocean, land, or ice—runs amok, setting off a chain reaction involving other such mechanisms. (October 13, 2020)

Humanity has a ‘brief and rapidly closing window’ to avoid a hotter, deadly future, U.N. climate report says
Latest IPCC report details escalating toll — but top scientists say the world still can choose a less catastrophic path
Unchecked greenhouse gas emissions will raise sea levels several feet, swallowing small island nations and overwhelming even the world’s wealthiest coastal regions. Drought, heat, hunger and disaster may force millions of people from their homes. Coral reefs could vanish, along with a growing number of animal species. Disease-carrying insects would proliferate. Deaths — from malnutrition, extreme heat, pollution — will surge.
These are some of the grim projections detailed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body dedicated to providing policymakers with regular assessments of the warming world. (28 Feb. 2022)
Excerpt from Gwynne Dyer Climate Wars (2008)

23-24 November
Could biochar help limit carbon emissions?
A UAE-based research center is experimenting with limiting carbon emissions and improving soil quality by using a technology that transforms green waste into a charcoal-like material called biochar.
Biochar is carbon removal’s jack of all trades. Here’s why
Dr. Berta Moya
Biochar Carbon Removal is a way to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with wide-ranging co-benefits.
For example, Biochar’s use as a soil amendment can improve food security and soil health while removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Businesses seeking carbon removal credits should consider biochar as an avenue for maximum impact.

(WEF) Addressing the climate emergency demands reduced greenhouse gas emissions and effective Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) solutions to reverse harm already done.
Only carbon removal can balance hard-to-abate emissions and get us to the required net-zero emissions scenario. One CDR technology is leading the way: Biochar Carbon Removal (BCR), an innovation with game-changing potential. From its carbon removal capabilities to the vast array of co-benefits it offers, BCR is set to become an essential part of any carbon removal portfolio

16 November
COP28: 4 ways the world can curb loss and damage as climate change fuels hunger
How world leaders attending the UN Climate Summit can make a difference for people bearing up to the consequences of extreme weather events
(WFP) When world leaders meet in Dubai for COP28 – the UN Climate Change conference held from 30 November until 12 December – loss and damage connected to climate change will be high on the agenda.
Tackling the climate crisis starts by averting the problem in the first place, chiefly by reducing global emissions. But simultaneously we need to equip communities with the tools they need to deal with losses and damage to homes, crops, livelihoods and infrastructure such as roads and bridges. …
Acting before disaster strikes
WFP works with communities to build their resilience to withstand climate shocks, including through early-warning systems linked to anticipatory actions – acting ahead of time to reduce the severity of the impact.
Ahead of predicted worsening drought at the end of 2023, WFP activated a region-wide anticipatory-action response to protect people from failed harvests and disrupted markets in Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – providing cash to 555,000 people that enables them to protect their livestock and prepare for water shortages.

He won a Nobel Prize. Then he started denying climate change.
John Clauser shared the Nobel in physics last year. Now he’s a self-described ‘denier’ of the overwhelming scientific consensus on a warming planet.

15 November
What the EU and US want to get done at COP28
By Katherine Walla
(New Atlanticist) Two hundred countries are hurriedly assembling inventories on how they are doing on climate change—and where gaps remain—in the global stocktake. EU climate envoy Anthony Agotha predicted that the survey, set to conclude at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP28), won’t say that countries are “still on the path” to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Despite that outlook, Sue Biniaz, US deputy special envoy for climate change, said the landmark agreement from COP21 holds up: “The Paris Agreement is working,” she said, “it’s just not working fast enough, and we need to accelerate.
The two climate leaders spoke Wednesday at the EU-US Defense & Future Forum, cohosted by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States and the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center. There, the officials outlined their priorities for COP28.
… [Agotha] explained, it has become clear that “there is no dollar or euro [amount] in the world enough to redress the loss and damage that will happen,” even if global warming is kept in check. Biniaz and Agotha said they hoped that countries can design and adopt the loss and damage fund in the coming weeks at COP28 in Dubai, considering the urgency.
14 November
EU-US Defense & Future Forum
The third annual EU-US Defense & Future Forum gathers policymakers from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss how the EU-US relationship can further strengthen collective prosperity and security. This Forum will take place from Nov 14 – 15, 2023.

Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis
Recalling the meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Joseph R. Biden in Bali, Indonesia, the United States and China reaffirm their commitment to work jointly and together with other countries to address the climate crisis. In this regard, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua met in Beijing from 16 to 19 July 2023 and at Sunnylands, California, from 4 to 7 November 2023 and released the following….
China and US push through tensions in reaching climate deal
The two countries agreed to new commitments ahead of upcoming climate talks, but the relationship between the world’s top two emitters remains “challenging.”
(Politico) The statement announcing the deal issued by Special Climate Envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua comes just before nations meet for United Nations climate talks in Dubai, which begin Nov. 30. It offers momentum for those negotiations, which hope to bring the world close to the Paris climate agreement’s goals to keep temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius compared with the pre-industrial era.
China and the U.S. will begin more substantive dialogue, including restarting workshops on energy policy, strategies, technologies and broader climate actions. …
The relationship between the two nations is still “challenging,” said Li Shuo, a policy adviser for Greenpeace Asia. The joint statement amounts to “floor setting” rather than “tone setting,” but he said the pact would help “stabilize the politics” for the upcoming climate talks, known as COP 28.

‘Paying in lives’: health of billions at risk from global heating, warns report
Inaction on the climate crisis is ‘costing lives and livelihoods’ due to extreme heat, food insecurity and infectious diseases, say scientists
The climate crisis will have a catastrophic effect on the health and survival of billions of people unless the world acts to reduce global heating, according to a leading report that warns that heat-related deaths are soaring, dangerous bacteria are spreading along coasts, and economies are being hit as people struggle to work and food production shrinks.
The eighth annual report on health and climate change from the Lancet Countdown team shows that little account has been taken of past warnings. The world, it says, is “moving in the wrong direction”, and strongly criticises continuing investment in fossil fuels.
The report comes as Cop28 prepares to hold its first Health Day, focused on the links between the climate crisis and human health.

13 November
The Kenyan government has called a special holiday for its people to plant trees.
(BBC via The World) It’s part of a goal to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years with the initiative intended to help fight climate change. Each person is being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings, leading to a 100-million target. The government is providing around 150 million seedlings in public nurseries for free to be planted in public areas. It’s also encouraging Kenyans to buy at least two seedlings to plant on their own land. The country’s current forest cover stands at about 7%, and the government has set aside more than $80 million this financial year to increase tree cover to more than 10%.
7 November
Kenya makes 13 November nationwide tree planting day a public holiday
Move announced by interior minister is part of ambitious Kenyan plan to plant 15bn trees by 2032

6 November
Maps reveal biochar’s potential for mitigating climate change
By Krishna Ramanujan,
(Cornell Chronicle) Biochar, a charcoal made from heating discarded organic materials such as crop residues, offers a path to lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at a time when climate scientists warn that urgent action is needed limit CO2 in the atmosphere.
New maps, made from a first-of-its-kind high-resolution global dataset of crop residues, reveal areas where the residues may be sustainably used to produce biochar.
The research finds that 12 countries have the technical ability to sequester over 20% of their current total greenhouse gas emissions by converting crop residues to biochar. Bhutan leads the way with the potential to sequester 68% of its emissions in the form of biochar, followed by India, at 53%. The study, “Potential for Biochar Carbon Sequestration from Crop Residues: A Global Spatially Explicit Assessment,” published Oct. 13 in the journal GCB Bioenergy.

3 November
Climate crisis talks resume on ‘loss and damage’ funding for poorest countries
World leaders will reconvene in Abu Dhabi before UAE’s Cop28 after talks broke down two weeks ago
(The Guardian) Governments will meet this weekend for a last-ditch attempt to bridge deep divisions between rich and poor countries over how to get money to vulnerable people afflicted by climate disaster.
Talks over funds for “loss and damage”, which refers to the rescue and rehabilitation of countries and communities experiencing the effects of extreme weather, started in March but broke down in rancour two weeks ago.
Countries have reconvened in Abu Dhabi for a final two-day meeting, ending on Saturday night, to try to resolve the outstanding problems ahead of the UN Cop28 climate summit, which begins in the United Arab Emirates at the end of this month.
… there remains a chasm between developed countries, who want cash contributions to be voluntary and to come from large emerging economies such as China and Gulf petrostates, as well as traditional donors such as the US and Europe, and poor nations who are concerned over how the fund will be governed and how they will be able to access the rescue funds they desperately need.
[A deal on loss and damage, but a blow to 1.5C – what will be Cop27’s legacy?]
All of the world’s governments agreed last year at Cop27 in Egypt that a loss and damage fund should be set up – a historic first step that developing countries had been seeking for more than a decade. Poor countries have contributed least to the climate crisis, with tiny carbon footprints compared to the rich world, but they bear the brunt of extreme weather around the world, owing to geography, the basic state of their infrastructure and a lack of resources.
The floods that devastated Pakistan just over a year ago, and the drought that brought crippling hunger to the horn of Africa, are two examples of extreme weather driven and exacerbated by the climate crisis, where loss and damage funds could have helped vulnerable people in dire need.

31 October
Obituary – Professor Saleemul Huq
Dr Saleemul Huq was part of the author team of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Assessment Reports of the IPCC, spanning from 1997 to 2014.
He was an expert in the fields of climate change, environment, and development. His work focused on ways to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects from the perspective of Least Developing Countries (LDCs). He attended all the sessions of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) until he passed away. He played an active role as the adviser on adaptation, loss and damage and climate finance to the LDC group of negotiators in the UNFCCC. At the COP27 of the UNFCCC held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Dr Huq was instrumental to reaching the agreement on the establishment of a loss and damage fund, on which he has been working for many years.
Dr. Huq was honored with the Order of the British Empire for his efforts to combat climate change in the 2022 New Year Honors. He published hundreds of scientific as well as popular articles and was recognized as one of the top twenty global influencers on climate change policy in 2019. At the time of his passing, he was the director of the Dhaka-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), an organization he founded. He was also a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED) based in the UK and Senior Adviser on Locally Led Adaptation with Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA).

The ‘flickering’ of Earth systems is warning us: act now, or see our already degraded paradise lost
George Monbiot
Can you see it yet? The Earth systems horizon – the point at which our planetary systems tip into a new equilibrium, hostile to most lifeforms? I think we can. The sudden acceleration of environmental crises we have seen this year, coupled with the strategic uselessness of powerful governments, rushes us towards the point of no return.
We’re told we are living through the sixth mass extinction. But even this is a euphemism. We call such events mass extinctions because the most visible sign of the five previous catastrophes of the Phanerozoic era (since animals with hard body parts evolved) is the disappearance of fossils from the rocks. But their vanishing was a result of something even bigger. Mass extinction is a symptom of Earth systems collapse.

30 October
Why many scientists are now saying climate change is an all-out ‘emergency’
Escalating rhetoric comes as new study shows there’s just six years left to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at current CO2 emissions rate.
(WaPo) On Monday, scientists released a paper showing that the world’s “carbon budget” — the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the world can still emit without boosting global temperatures more than 1.5 degrees Celsius — has shrunk by a third. The world only has 6 years left at current emissions levels before racing past that temperature limit.
[Assessing the size and uncertainty of remaining carbon budgets
(Nature) The remaining carbon budget (RCB), the net amount of CO2 humans can still emit without exceeding a chosen global warming limit, is often used to evaluate political action against the goals of the Paris Agreement. RCB estimates for 1.5 °C are small, and minor changes in their calculation can therefore result in large relative adjustments. Here we evaluate recent RCB assessments by the IPCC and present more recent data, calculation refinements and robustness checks that increase confidence in them. We conclude that the RCB for a 50% chance of keeping warming to 1.5 °C is around 250 GtCO2 as of January 2023, equal to around six years of current CO2 emissions. For a 50% chance of 2 °C the RCB is around 1,200 GtCO2. Key uncertainties affecting RCB estimates are the contribution of non-CO2 emissions, which depends on socioeconomic projections as much as on geophysical uncertainty, and potential warming after net zero CO2.]
“There are no technical scenarios globally available in the scientific literature that would support that that is actually possible, or can even describe how that would be possible,” Joeri Rogelj, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, told reporters in a call.
… After a few years of record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events …climate scientists — who once refrained from entering the public fray — are now using strident language to describe the warming planet. References to “climate emergency” and “climate crisis,” once used primarily by activist groups like the U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion or the U.S.-based Sunrise Movement, are spiking in the academic literature. Meanwhile, scientists’ communication to the media and the public has gotten more exasperated — and more desperate.
The language has spilled into academic publications as well. As recently as 2015, only 32 papers in the Web of Science research database included the term “climate emergency.” In 2022, 862 papers contained the phrase.
Gwynne Dyer: Never Mind the Climate, Watch the Wars
With practically all the media bandwidth for non-local news taken up by two tribal territorial struggles that would not have seemed out of place in the 15th century AD – or indeed the 15th century BC – you may have missed the latest release from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
That would be a pity, because it’s a lot more important than Gaza and Donetsk. The IEA’s annual ‘World Energy Outlook’ is the best one-stop guide to where we are now in the attempt to keep global warming below a disastrous level.
It says that we are still in the game, with a slim chance of holding the warming below a catastrophic level (+1.5°Celsius) through the rest of the century. (It was at +1.2°C last year.) Good news – but it has to be read with a lot of riders and codicils.
World Energy Outlook 2023
The energy world is set to change significantly by 2030, based on today’s policy settings alone
24 October
The 2023 state of the climate report: Entering uncharted territory
William J. Ripple et al.
(Oxford Academic Bioscience) As scientists, we are increasingly being asked to tell the public the truth about the crises we face in simple and direct terms. The truth is that we are shocked by the ferocity of the extreme weather events in 2023. We are afraid of the uncharted territory that we have now entered. Conditions are going to get very distressing and potentially unmanageable for large regions of the world, with the 2.6°C warming expected over the course of the century, even if the self-proposed national emissions reduction commitments of the Paris Agreement are met (UNEP 2022b). We warn of potential collapse of natural and socioeconomic systems in such a world where we will face unbearable heat, frequent extreme weather events, food and fresh water shortages, rising seas, more emerging diseases, and increased social unrest and geopolitical conflict. Massive suffering due to climate change is already here, and we have now exceeded many safe and just Earth system boundaries, imperiling stability and life-support systems (Rockström et al. 2023).

29 September
The Green Growth Mindset
By Gernot Wagner,
Senior Lecturer in Discipline of Economics in the Faculty of Business: Faculty Director, Climate Knowledge Initiative – Columbia Business School
Heated academic debates between proponents and opponents of traditional economic growth under capitalism might make for good television, but they offer little in the way of solutions. Climate change demands that we achieve both growth and degrowth, depending on the activity and economic sector in question.

13 September
Earth is outside its ‘safe operating space for humanity’ on most key measurements, study says
(AP) Earth is exceeding its “safe operating space for humanity” in six of nine key measurements of its health, and two of the remaining three are headed in the wrong direction, a new study said.
Earth’s climate, biodiversity, land, freshwater, nutrient pollution and “novel” chemicals (human-made compounds like microplastics and nuclear waste) are all out of whack, a group of international scientists said in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances. Only the acidity of the oceans, the health of the air and the ozone layer are within the boundaries considered safe, and both ocean and air pollution are heading in the wrong direction, the study said.
“We are in very bad shape,” said study co-author Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “We show in this analysis that the planet is losing resilience and the patient is sick.”
Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries
(Science Advances) This planetary boundaries framework update finds that six of the nine boundaries are transgressed, suggesting that Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity. Ocean acidification is close to being breached, while aerosol loading regionally exceeds the boundary. Stratospheric ozone levels have slightly recovered. The transgression level has increased for all boundaries earlier identified as overstepped. As primary production drives Earth system biosphere functions, human appropriation of net primary production is proposed as a control variable for functional biosphere integrity. This boundary is also transgressed. Earth system modeling of different levels of the transgression of the climate and land system change boundaries illustrates that these anthropogenic impacts on Earth system must be considered in a systemic context.

8 September
Experts Warn of ‘Denialism Comeback’ Ahead of November’s Global Climate Talks
Even amid a disaster-filled summer marked by record heat, climate misinformation continues to spread online at alarming rates. Some experts fear it could slow progress at COP28.
(Inside Climate News) A “heat wave scam” is what one social media user called the record-high temperatures reported by European scientists late last month. In a separate post, another account referred to new policies aimed at reducing the carbon emissions of buildings as “climate communism.” As of Friday, the two social media posts have been viewed at least 2 million times—more eyeballs than some of the biggest primetime cable news shows will average in a week.
The internet is awash with misinformation about the climate crisis, even as its effects on the planet couldn’t be more clear. The summer of 2023 is officially the hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization reported this week. That historic heat has fueled deadly extreme weather across large swaths of the world and pushed global sea temperatures to record highs, disrupting ocean ecosystems and putting countless marine species at risk.
In fact, more than 3.8 billion people—or nearly half the world’s population—experienced extreme heat between June and August that was made more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a new analysis by Climate Central. This week alone, Britain recorded its hottest day of the year so far and several regions in the United States are once again under heat advisories, as yet another series of brutal heat waves test struggling power grids, damage critical water systems and raise the cost of doing business in industries like farming.
Yet despite those impacts playing out in real time, conspiracy theories and misleading claims about climate change continue to spread online at alarming rates, muddying public debate and exacerbating political divides at a time when scientists say some of the worst consequences of global warming can still be avoided if societies can just find a way to cooperate. Recent reports show climate misinformation has become a growing issue not just in Western countries like the U.S. or Britain, but also in Latin America and China.
“Denialism is making a real comeback, but in a way that is framed for the current conspiratorial universe,” said Jennie King, head of climate research and policy at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, a watchdog group focused on combating disinformation and human rights abuses, in an interview last month with Carbon Brief. “So, rather than ‘don’t trust the science,’ it is much more ‘don’t trust the scientists.’”
Some surveys in recent years suggest that public trust in scientists, experts and government officials [is] falling to historic lows. A Pew survey from last year found just 29 percent of U.S. adults said they have a great deal of confidence that scientists will act in the public’s best interests. Two other Pew surveys, conducted this spring and summer, found that nearly a third of Americans don’t believe humans are causing climate change at all, with 26 percent saying natural patterns in the environment are mostly to blame and another 14 percent saying they don’t believe there’s even evidence the Earth is warming.

6 September
49 million people in the U.S. may be exposed to dangerous heat today
Extreme heat kills more people in the United States than any other weather hazard, and the risk of longer and more frequent heat waves is only expected to increase as climate change worsens.
The Post is tracking the potential for dangerous heat using the heat index, which accounts for the combined impact of temperature and humidity — the higher the humidity, the more difficult it is for the body to cool itself off through sweating.

5 September
Billions pledged for green energy as Africa climate talks enter second day
The three-day Nairobi summit, which began on Monday, is meant to define a shared vision for green development in Africa.
The United Arab Emirates has pledged $4.5bn in clean energy investments in Africa at a landmark climate summit aimed at showcasing the continent’s potential as a green powerhouse.
Kenyan President William Ruto has sought to use the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi to shift the narrative on the continent, presenting the clean energy transition as a unique opportunity for Africa – if it can attract the financing to realise its potential.
Sultan al-Jaber, who heads the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC and government-owned renewable energy company Masdar, said the investment would “jumpstart a pipeline of bankable clean energy projects in this very important continent”.
Al-Jaber, who is also president of the COP28 climate summit, said a consortium including Masdar would help develop 15 gigawatts of clean power by 2030.

The IPCC’s Lack of Geographically Diverse Expertise May Be Stymieing Climate Efforts
Alexander Csanadi
(Carnegie) Africa Climate Week 2023, which is being hosted in Nairobi on September 4-8, is the first of four regional climate weeks (RCWs) held in the runup to the Twenty-Eighth United Nations Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai later this year. The RCWs are designed to gather governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders together to address the most pressing climate issues, such as implementing nationally determined contributions—essentially countries’ roadmaps for their climate objectives and how they fit into global goals—and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to climate issues. The other purpose of the RCWs is to build momentum ahead of COP28. This year’s COP is particularly significant, as it will see the conclusion of the first “global stocktake”—a process that takes place over five-year intervals during which countries assess their progress toward meeting the Paris climate goals.
While climate change is a global challenge, the principal policy responses are not developed with geographically representative input —beginning crucially with the scientific assessments underpinning said policy. Without representative input into the scientific foundations, effective policy making is impossible. …
Adaptation initiatives—such as more resilient infrastructure and effective early warning systems—will be a critical component of sustainable development on the continent in the coming decades. But despite their recognized importance, adaptation initiatives are still often prioritized behind mitigation efforts. For example, an analysis from the [OECD] found that, while the share of climate finance for adaptation has been growing, as recently as 2019 adaptation only accounted for around a quarter of all climate finance, with an additional 10 percent being labeled as cross-cutting. …
One possible reason for this discrepancy between the importance of adaptation and funding for adaptation projects: researchers from the Global South are drastically underrepresented among leading climate scientists. Underrepresentation of researchers at the highest levels of climate debates can translate into distortions in research area priorities relative to the true global needs, which in turn impacts which issues get prioritized.

18 August
Maui Wildfires Show That ‘Risk Is Ubiquitous Now’
A wildfire resilience expert talks about what communities everywhere can do to prepare for disasters, even in places some may not expect them to occur.

Wealthy oil nation lays groundwork for ‘eye-popping’ climate fund: The United Arab Emirates is considering creating a multibillion-dollar fund to spur clean energy investments across the world that it plans to unveil at this year’s U.N. climate talks in Dubai, according to people familiar with the plan.
The fund could amount to tens of billions of dollars, with a sizable slice of the money coming from the UAE’s sovereign wealth reserves, according to seven people with knowledge of the discussions. A G-7 government official said envoys from the oil-rich Mideast nation had privately mentioned the idea of a fund of at least $25 billion.
Creation of the fund would be one of the largest ever state-sponsored financial efforts to help countries fight climate change. And it comes as the UAE and Sultan al-Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. who is leading the climate talks, have drawn criticism from environmental advocates and some U.S. and European lawmakers for hosting the international gathering despite being one of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gases.
The summit, known as COP28, starts on Nov. 30.
The fund would help fill a financial chasm to shift nations’ energy economies off fossil fuels, with the aim of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Experts have said the effort will require trillions of dollars in spending to avoid catastrophic, irreversible effects of climate change.
… The oil-rich UAE is under pressure to use its wealth to help prepare the world’s poorest countries to adapt to climate change that has been primarily caused by rich, developed economies. U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry has openly pushed for the Gulf nation to join the list of countries that are climate donors.

Climate adaptation finance in Africa
Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Jamal Saghir
(Brookings) Climate change continues to cause devastation in Africa. The impacts of climate change in Africa are being further exacerbated by the impact of global shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, food and energy crisis, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. The financing needs to help Africa enhance its resilience and be better prepared for a rapidly changing climate are enormous.
A recent analysis by the Climate Policy Initiative and the Global Center for Adaptation shows that an annual average of $29.5 billion in climate finance was committed to Africa in the years 2019 and 2020. Further analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) also indicates that the adaptation finance needs for the continent over the period 2020-30 are close to $580 billion. Unless adaptation finance increases substantially in Africa, a gap of $453 billion will accumulate over this decade.

26 July
British professor elected to lead UN climate panel in key decade
British professor Jim Skea was elected to lead the UN’s climate expert panel Wednesday, taking the helm of the organization charged with distilling the best science to inform global policy in a critical decade for humans and the planet.
Skea, a Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London who co-chaired the report on curbing planet-heating emissions in the latest round of assessments, was elected chair at a meeting of the 195-nation organization in Nairobi.
“Climate change is an existential threat to our planet,” he told delegates.
With impacts already sweeping the planet—from devastating floods to blistering heatwaves—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) plays a key role in the growing scientific knowledge on climate change.

11-12 July

Earth may be starting a new geological chapter. What is the Anthropocene?
(WaPo) A lake in Canada serves as the best proof that humans have caused lasting and significant environmental changes to the planet since the mid-20th century — so much so that a group of scientists says a new formal chapter, called the Anthropocene, should be added to the planet’s official history.
The body of water, Crawford Lake, has layered sediments that record more than a thousand years of environmental history, including proof of humanity’s adverse impacts on the planet since the mid-20th century…. Many of the changes “will persist for millennia or longer, and are altering the trajectory of the Earth,” according to the Anthropocene Working Group.
Crawford Lake shows humans started a new chapter in geologic time, scientists say
(WaPo) A humble lake in a Canadian suburb may soon become the symbolic starting point for a radical new chapter in Earth’s official history: the Anthropocene, or the age of humans.
Canada’s Crawford Lake could mark the beginning of the Anthropocene
The proposed geologic epoch denotes when humans began profoundly changing the planet
(Science News) Scientists are one step closer to defining a new chapter in geology, one in which humans have become the dominant driver of Earth’s climate and environment.
Out of 12 locations around the world, Crawford Lake in Ontario, Canada, has been selected as the site that would mark the official beginning of the Anthropocene, a proposed geologic epoch starting in the 1950s, researchers announced at a July 11 news conference during the Max Planck Society Conference for a Sustainable Anthropocene in Berlin.
Scientists say new epoch marked by human impact — the Anthropocene — began in 1950s
(NPR) From climate change to species loss and pollution, humans have etched their impact on the Earth with such strength and permanence since the middle of the 20th century that a special team of scientists says a new geologic epoch began then.
Called the Anthropocene — and derived from the Greek terms for “human” and “new” — this epoch started sometime between 1950 and 1954, according to the scientists. While there is evidence worldwide that captures the impact of burning fossil fuels, detonating nuclear weapons and dumping fertilizers and plastics on land and in waterways, the scientists are proposing a small but deep lake outside of Toronto, Canada — Crawford Lake — to place a historic marker.
Canada’s Crawford Lake chosen as ‘golden spike’ to mark proposed new epoch
Sediments from Ontario’s Crawford Lake picked as ‘golden spike’ showing global human impact on Earth
(CBC) Scientists have picked the bottom of Crawford Lake in Ontario as the “golden spike” to mark the start of a new proposed geological epoch — the Anthropocene. The announcement was made at a media conference in Berlin Tuesday by a group of scientists called the Anthropocene Working Group — more on them later.
Here’s why the lake was chosen and what evidence it provides that humans have made such big changes to the Earth that we may be in a new geologic time period.

13 July
‘Things Don’t Always Change in a Nice, Gradual Way’
Climate change feels more real now than ever.
By Jacob Stern
(The Atlantic) It’s getting hard to keep track of all the overlapping climate disasters. In Phoenix, Arizona, the temperature has broken 110 degrees for nearly two weeks running. The waters off the Florida coast are approaching hot-tub hot, and before long, marine heat waves may cover half the world’s oceans. Up north, Canada’s worst wildfire season on record burns on and continues to suffocate American cities with sporadic smoke, which may not clear for good until October. In the Northeast, floods have put towns underwater, erased entire roadways, and left train tracks eerily suspended 100 feet in the air. Also, the sea ice in Antarctica—which should be expanding rapidly right now, because, remember, it’s winter down there—may be losing mass.
In one sense, this pile-up of crises is exactly what climate scientists expected. Global temperatures are rising at pretty much the anticipated rate, Simon Lee, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University, told me, and natural disasters are corollaries to that fact. There will be some year-to-year variation in what happens—and this one may clock in with slightly worse conditions, overall, than trend lines would predict. But the fact is, climate change is implicated at least to some extent in all of these disasters.

23 June
Rich nations pledge to unlock hundreds of billions of dollars for climate fight
Rich nations close in on $100 bln climate finance pledge
(Reuters) The leaders, gathered at a summit in Paris to thrash out funding for the climate transition and post-COVID debt burdens of poor countries, said their plans would secure billions of dollars of matching investment from the private sector.
An overdue pledge of $100 billion in climate finance for developing nations was also now in sight, they said.
The announcements mark a scaling up of action from the development banks in the fight against climate change and set a direction for further change ahead of their annual meetings later in the year.
However, some climate activists were critical of the results.
“While the roadmap from the Paris Summit acknowledges the urgency for substantial financial resources to bolster climate action, it leans too heavily on private investments and ascribes an outsized role to multilateral development banks,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.
Many of the topics discussed in Paris took up suggestions from a group of developing countries, led by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, dubbed the ‘Bridgetown Initiative’.
(Explainer: What is the ‘Bridgetown Initiative’ asking for at Paris financial summit?)

22 June
Climate impact of shipping under growing scrutiny ahead of key meeting
Court has been told states are legally responsible for tackling sector’s emissions as IMO talks loom
Governments are under growing pressure to tackle the huge climate impact of the shipping industry, before a key International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in the summer.
With talks about regulating the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions coming up, the world maritime court has been told that states are legally responsible for tackling the climate impact of shipping.
The international tribunal for the law of the sea has been asked by a group of island nations to give its opinion on the climate crisis and marine responsibilities.

21 June
‘A green transition that leaves no one behind’: world leaders release open letter
(The Guardian) We, leaders of diverse economies from every corner of the world, are united in our determination to forge a new global consensus. We will use the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact on June 22-23 as a decisive political moment to recover development gains lost in recent years and to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, including just transitions.

16 June
Air and sea surface temperatures hit new records
(WMO) Global-mean surface air temperatures for the first days of June 2023 were the highest – by a considerable margin – for the time of year in the data record of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) operated by ECMWF. This is after one of the warmest Mays on record.
Global sea surface temperatures hit a new high in May for the second consecutive month and in June are tracking at unprecedented levels for this time of year, in particular in the North Atlantic. Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record low monthly value in May, the third time in 2023 that the monthly value has reached a record low.
The extraordinary sea surface temperatures are ringing alarm bells, according to Dr Anthony Rea, Director of Infrastructure at the World Meteorological Organization and head of the Global Climate Observing System.
“Globally, sea surface temperatures are on average 0.2 degrees warmer than at the same time last year. This may not sound like much but considering the total surface of the global oceans and their calorific capacity, it represents in fact an enormous amount of heat energy absorbed by the ocean. This comes with a cost, including likely impacts on weather patterns, cyclone intensification and loss of biodiversity, such as coral reef bleaching, “ said Dr Rea.

9 June
Climate Action Network Position on Debt Swaps
(Relief Web) Debt-for-climate/nature swaps are not an adequate solution to the debt and climate crises. Furthermore, their implementation can pose significant risks and challenges, causing harm to Global South governments and citizens. Instead, our attention must remain focused on the solutions that will adequately address both crises – large-scale debt cancellation for all countries that need it across all creditors, a renewed consensus on responsible lending and borrowing, and significantly scaled-up new, additional and grant-based climate finance.

Your Guide to Understanding the East Coast Smokepocalypse
The Canadian wildfire smoke that made New York City look like Mars this week has moved on. Here’s a look at where it’s going, how to protect yourself and climate change’s potential role.
Millions of East Coasters awoke to clearer skies today after ash-laden smoke from raging Canadian wildfires turned much of the Northeast this week into a toxic, crimson hellscape.
The smoke, which began to billow into the U.S. from Quebec on Tuesday, engulfed entire skylines in a thick haze of soot, aggravating asthma attacks and prompting officials to declare air quality alerts from Pittsburgh to Baltimore to Provincetown, Massachusetts. By Wednesday afternoon, the haze had swallowed all of New York City, blotting out the sun and tinting the sky an ominous dark orange—like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie.
It was some of the worst air pollution the region had experienced on record, causing major disruptions as schools and restaurants opted to close, professional sports leagues delayed their games and federal officials curbed air travel due to poor visibility.

7-9 June
After oil exec named COP28 president, fake accounts rally to his defence
Disinformation expert says network of bots supporting UAE oil exec heading up UN climate conference
(CBC As It Happens) A disinformation expert says a network of fake accounts are defending the United Nations’ decision to host this year’s COP28 climate talks in the oil-rich country, and to appoint UAE oil company CEO Sultan al-Jaber as the conference’s president.
Marc Owen Jones — a professor of Middle East studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar who researches disinformation and digital media — says he first noticed the deception campaign after the controversial news of Jaber’s appointment made headlines.
“Suddenly, all these accounts appeared and started tweeting in defence of him,” Jones, author of Digital Authoritarianism in the Middle East, told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. “I thought that was quite suspicious.”
Jones says he has identified a network of about 100 fake accounts and 30,000 tweets, all posting similar messages in defence of the UAE, Jaber and COP28.
Army of fake social media accounts defend UAE presidency of climate summit
Sultan Al Jaber – Cop28 president and CEO of state oil firm – is ‘ally the climate movement needs’, posts say
‘Absolute scandal’: UAE state oil firm able to read Cop28 climate summit emails
Exclusive: UN conference president Sultan Al Jaber is also head of oil firm, which was consulted on how to respond to a media inquiry
(The Guardian) The UAE is hosting the UN climate summit in November and the president of Cop28 is Sultan Al Jaber, who is also chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). The revelations have been called “explosive” and a “scandal” by lawmakers.
The Cop28 office had claimed its email system was “standalone” and “separate” from that of Adnoc. But expert technical analysis showed the office shared email servers with Adnoc. After the Guardian’s inquiries, the Cop28 office switched to a different server on Monday.

1 June
Celeste Saulo of Argentina appointed first female Secretary-General of WMO
(WMO) – Prof. Celeste Saulo of Argentina has been appointed as the first female Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), taking the helm of an organization at the fore of international efforts to monitor and tackle climate change and increasingly extreme weather.
Prof. Saulo, has been Director of the National Meteorological Service of Argentina since 2014 and is currently the First Vice-President of WMO. She will take office on 1 January 2024 and succeeds Prof Petteri Taalas, who has completed his two-term mandate.
Prof. Saulo was appointed after receiving the requisite two thirds majority of votes from delegates at the quadrennial World Meteorological Congress, the top decision-making body of the 193-Member WMO.

UN Climate Change News, 1 June 2023 – This year’s Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB58) launches next Monday, 5 June, designed to prepare decisions for adoption at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates in December.
Building on the many mandates that emerged from COP27 in Egypt last year, the conference will convene the 58th session of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies, including a large number of events, and continue discussions on issues of critical importance.

31 May
Earth is ‘really quite sick now’ and in danger zone in nearly all ecological ways, study says
By Seth Borenstein
(AP) Earth has pushed past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into “the danger zone,” not just for an overheating planet that’s losing its natural areas, but for the well-being of people living on it, according to a new study.
The study looks not just at guardrails for the planetary ecosystem but for the first time it includes measures of “justice,” which is mostly about preventing harm for countries, ethnicities and genders.
The study by the international scientist group Earth Commission published in Wednesday’s journal Nature looks at climate, air pollution, phosphorus and nitrogen contamination of water from fertilizer overuse, groundwater supplies, fresh surface water, the unbuilt natural environment and the overall natural and human-built environment. Only air pollution wasn’t quite at the danger point globally.

23 May
Quantifying the human cost of global warming
(Nature sustainability) The costs of climate change are often estimated in monetary terms, but this raises ethical issues. …
Calls for climate justice highlight the vital need to address the social injustices driven by climate change6. But what is the human cost of climate change and who bears it? Existing estimates tend to be expressed in monetary terms7, tend to recognize impacts on the rich more than those on the poor (because the rich have more money to lose) and tend to value those living now over those living in the future (because future damages are subject to economic discounting). From an equity standpoint, this is unethical8—when life or health are at stake, all people should be considered equal, whether rich or poor, alive or yet to be born.
A Fifth of the World Could Live With Dangerous Heat by 2100, New Study Warns
Most people live in a place with a mean annual temperature of 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But billions of people could see that figure jump to 84 degrees or higher, research say
(Inside Climate News) One in five people could live in dangerously hot conditions by the end of the century if global warming continues at its current pace, even if nations uphold their pledges under the Paris Agreement, scientists warned in a new peer-reviewed study. It’s the latest research published in recent days that points to the stark human and societal costs of the accelerating climate crisis as global carbon emissions continue to rise to unprecedented levels.
Quantifying the human cost of global warming estimates that some 2 billion people would see a mean annual temperature of 84 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, starting in as early as 2070, when Earth’s population is expected to reach at least 9.5 billion. Most people live in a “human climate niche” that ranges between a mean annual temperature of 55 degrees and 80 degrees, the researchers said, so that many people experiencing a major uptick in regional heat would be unprecedented
Middle East countries face extreme heat risk, study finds
New research suggests several regional countries may have entire populations exposed to extreme temperatures due to climate change.
(Al Jazeera) Countries across the Gulf region and the wider Middle East are highly vulnerable to extreme heat borne out of climate change, with poorer populations being particularly at risk in the decades ahead, a new study has warned.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE may be facing a dire situation in either temperature rise scenario as a majority of their populations are also projected to be exposed to extreme heat even if global temperatures rise by 1.5C (2.7F)
Last week, the World Meteorological Organization said the next five years will be the warmest period ever recorded as for the first time, global temperatures were now more likely than not to exceed 1.5C (2.7F) of warming until 2027.
These countries will be dangerously hot within the next century
(WaPo) India, Nigeria and Indonesia were the countries with the largest populations at risk if temperatures rise 4.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

US, European lawmakers call for head of UN climate talks to be removed over fossil fuel links
(AP) — Scores of members of Congress and the European Parliament called Tuesday for the designated chair of the next United Nations climate summit to be replaced over his ties to the fossil fuel sector and for the industry’s influence at the upcoming talks to be sharply limited.
The United Arab Emirates has been strongly criticized by environmental advocates for nominating Sultan al-Jaber, the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to preside over the Nov. 30 – Dec. 12 meeting in Dubai known as COP28.
In an open letter, the lawmakers urged U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, U.S. President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.N. climate chief Simon Stiell to “engage in diplomatic efforts to secure the withdrawal of the president-designate of COP28.”
Citing the presence of hundreds of oil and gas industry lobbyists at last year’s climate talks in Egypt, the lawmakers also called on leaders to “take immediate steps to limit the influence of polluting industries, particularly major fossil fuel industry players whose business strategies lie at clear odds with the central goals” of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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