The Weekly Roundup – Dec 07, 2018

World / Climate Change

1/ This week brought us the COP24 on climate change in Poland. We’re rounding up the major articles from that below for ease. We have just 12 years left to reduce emissions and achieve the Paris Agreement’s highest ambition of limiting warming to 1.5°C.The collapse of civilisation and the natural world is on the horizon, Sir David Attenborough has told the UN climate change summit. (UN)

  • Today’s generation is the last that can prevent catastrophic global warming, as well as the first to be suffering its impacts. (The Guardian)
  • Here’s what must be agreed to keep warming at 1.5°C. (The Conversation)
  • Taking bold climate action now, could help save a million lives and a lot of money by the middle of the century, said the World Health Organization. (The Guardian / UN)
  • While the world gathers to negotiate on climate change, governments must recognise the public desire for action on plastic pollution and work together to solve it. (The Conversation)
  • Ignore climate change at your own peril. (NYT)
  • Private finance crashed the economy and is too consumed by the profit motive to be a reliable ally against climate change. We should not allow COP24 to be their board meeting. (The Conversation)
  • The naturalist David Attenborough has said climate change is humanity’s greatest threat in thousands of years. (BBC)

  • The US got its own section in the G20 statement on climate change. It reiterates Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement. (Vox)

Indonesia / Animals

2/ Sumatran tiger numbers are dwindling due to rampant poaching, but it’s not just hunters that are pushing them to extinction — their habitats are being destroyed to make way for lucrative plantations like palm oil and rubber. Without a normal food supply, tigers are being pushed into areas they would once never go — namely villages and urban areas. Attacks on humans are not uncommon. Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. (ABC)

World / Plastics

3/ Microplastics found in guts of every species of sea turtle across world in a new study spanning the world’s oceans. A large proportion of the material extracted came in the form of fibres like those used in clothing, cigarette filters and fishing nets, but the scientists also found microbeads of the kind used in cosmetics. (The Independent)

US / Animals

4/ The biggest untapped onshore trove of oil in North America is believed to lie beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For more than a generation the refuge has been largely unscathed, but now the Trump administration, and a wealthy Alaska corporation, is clearing the way for oil exploration along the coast. Decades of protections are unwinding with extraordinary speed as Republicans move to lock in drilling opportunities before the 2020 presidential election. The area is also home to about 900 polar bears, which are already struggling because of climate change. 70 percent of registered voters in the United States opposed drilling in the reserve. (NYT / NYT2)

5/ Greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are growing at an accelerating pace this year, researchers said Wednesday, putting the world on track to face some of the most severe consequences of global warming sooner than expected. Scientists compared it to a “speeding freight train” and are laying part of the blame on an unexpected surge in the appetite for oil as people around the world not only buy more cars but also drive them farther.

The good news…

Norway / Palm Oil

1/ Norway is to become the first country to stop its biofuel industry buying palm oil that is linked to catastrophic deforestation. A report released by environmental consultancy earlier this year showed that under current biofuel targets, global demand for palm oil will increase by six times over the next decade. (Independent)

World / Climate Change

2/ The World Bank is to make about $200bn available to fund action on climate change from 2021-25, helping countries adapt to the effects of warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The sum is a doubling of the five-year investment plan in place after the Paris agreement. The president of the World Bank, said the poorest and most vulnerable people were at the greatest risk, and urged other financial institutions to follow its lead. (The Guardian)

US / Climate Change

3/ Xcel Energy, one of the biggest utilities in the US, has committed to going completely carbon-free by 2050 (and 80 percent carbon-free by 2030). It has already reduced its carbon emissions by 35 percent since 2005. (Vox)

Other notables…

  • The Western Australian Government lifted its moratorium on fracking. Unconventional gas industries were given the green light to develop. Following the Northern Territory government’s decision to lift its temporary fracking ban, this decision paves the way for future growth of the industry across much of northern Australia. (The Conversation)
  • The ban on single-use plastic bags by Australia’s two largest supermarkets prevented the introduction of an estimated 1.5bn bags into the environment. (The Guardian)
  • Trump administration to allow airgun testing in search for oil and gas could harm hundreds of mammals such as dolphins and whales off the Atlantic coastUnder the Obama administration, offshore drilling wasn’t allowed within 50 miles of the Atlantic coast. But the Trump administration has reduced this to three miles, as part of its “energy dominance” agenda whereby vast swathes of ocean and land has been opened up for drilling. (The Guardian)
  • The EPA is lifting greenhouse gas limits on coal power plants. It’s a striking move for two big reasons: No new coal plants are being built in the US, and the EPA itself recently put out a sweeping report detailing the need to reduce emissions from fossil fuels because of the grave threat of climate change. (Vox)

  • A sweeping new study issued Wednesday by the World Resources Institute, warns that the world’s agricultural system will need drastic changes in the next few decades in order to feed billions more people without triggering a climate catastrophe. (NYT)

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