zero waste

zero waste

Introducing zero waste systems in cities around the world would be one of the quickest ways to reduce global heating, finds a new report. The waste sector accounts for 3.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and a fifth of global methane emissions.

Better waste management could cut total emissions from the waste sector by more than 1.4 billion tonnes. That would be equivalent to the annual emissions of 300 million cars – or taking all motor vehicles in the U.S. off the road for a year.

But this figure underestimates the potential impact of waste management reforms. At least 70% of global emissions come from the manufacture, transport, use and disposal of goods, and a focus on waste reduction could significantly reduce the emissions in these sectors too. For example, manufacturing something from recycled aluminium uses 96% less energy than starting with raw materials.

Potential for zero waste

The potential for zero waste policies to reduce methane emissions is also critical. Methane is over 80 times as potent as CO2 but lasts only a short time in the atmosphere. Reforming the waste sector could cut global methane emissions by 13% globally. This would bring enormous climate benefits within the next few decades and ‘buy time’ to cut other emissions.

Report co-author Dr. Neil Tangri at GAIA, said: “Better waste management is a climate change solution staring us in the face. It doesn’t require flashy or expensive new technology – it’s just about paying more attention to what we produce and consume, and how we deal with it when it is no longer needed.”

“Previous climate talks have largely overlooked the potential of reforms to the waste sector, particularly for reducing methane, which over 100 countries have now pledged to do. Zero waste strategies are the easiest way to rapidly and cheaply bring down emissions while building climate resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies,” stated co-author Mariel Vilella, Director of GAIA’s Global Climate Program.

Missing the target

“As we prepare for another round of UN climate negotiations, we have a unique opportunity to put waste firmly on the agenda. Without a concrete commitment from global leaders to zero waste, we will not be able to meet the 1.5° C climate target.”

GAIA’s report modeled potential emissions reductions from eight cities around the world. They found that on average, these cities could cut waste sector emissions by almost 84% by introducing zero waste policies, with some, such as São Paulo and Detroit, able to reach net-negative emissions by 2030.

“GAIA’s report scientifically demonstrates that zero waste can actually get São Paulo to net-negative emissions from the waste sector while promoting new jobs, providing a decent dignified livelihood to waste pickers and compost to support local agro-ecological farmers, groups who have been historically marginalized,” stated Victor  H. Argentino de M. Vieira of Brazil-based organization Instituto Pólis. “What are our leaders waiting for?  The time is now to prevent waste and reduce poverty in São Paulo.”

The report also maps out how zero waste systems could help cities adapt to the escalating climate crisis, preventing flooding and droughts, strengthening soil and agriculture, reducing disease transmission, and generating employment opportunities.

Waste sector neglected

Despite this, more than a quarter of countries’ current climate plans neglect the waste sector. Waste management will be one of the critical topics tackled at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in November, where host nation Egypt plans to put forward the Africa Waste 50 Initiative, aimed at treating and recycling 50% of waste produced in Africa by 2050.

In order to keep global warming below 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement, and prevent catastrophic climate change, GAIA is urging global leaders to take urgent and bold action on zero waste by:

  • Incorporating  zero waste goals and policies into climate mitigation and adaptation plans.

  • Prioritising food waste prevention and single-use plastic ban.

  • Instituting separate collection and treatment of organic waste.

  • Investing in waste management systems, recycling, and composting capacity.

  • Establishing institutional frameworks and financial incentives for zero waste including regulations, educational and outreach programs, and subsidies to recycling and composting.

Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel of the UN Environment Programme, former European Commissioner for the Environment states: “This report demonstrates the huge importance of aligning our waste systems with climate goals. It shows how cities are already working to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from waste while building climate resilience and creating livelihoods. It highlights the absolute necessity of reducing root sources of waste through changing our production and consumption patterns – using all the tools at our disposal to achieve the deep emissions reductions we need.”

elephant in Namibia

endangered elephants in Namibia

In March 2022, a group of endangered elephants from the wild in Namibia landed in the UAE. The sale served to simulate an African safari experience in Emirati zoos. No benefits for the animals and Namibian locals are observed, and international protocols were violated.

Initially captured from their natural habitat in Kamanjab, north-western Namibia in early September 2021, these African elephants — an endangered species — spent six months in quarantine captivity. They were heavily sedated before being loaded into shipping containers, onto a plane, and transferred to their final destinations: the Sharjah Safari Park and Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ain Zoo. That was revealed by an exclusive investigation by The New Arab.

For the fun of Emirati

For Emirati rulers, the tourism-driven African theme of their wildlife parks apparently mattered more than the success of breeding programs. It was made clear to Al-Ain Zoo Director Mark Craig that there were no imports from Africa with a European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA)-accredited breeding program because past ones had not been successful. Arne Lawrenz, the EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP) coordinator for elephants, described the “philosophy” of the Emirati zoos as “I got the money, I want to have it. I don’t care if that works.” The outcome was a lucrative deal finalized through middlemen rather than a non-commercial exchange between zoos.

After months of back and forth between The New Arab and EAZA officials, during which TNA shared the information it obtained and questioned the role of the European association’s members in the elephant sale, the EAZA decided to terminate the Al-Ain Zoo’s membership on September 15. John Grobler, a Namibian journalist involved in this investigation, is planning to draw on this exposé to call for sanctions against Namibia at the CITES CoP 19 meeting in November, which is considered the world’s most important annual summit on wildlife trade.

Wildlife trafficking is the world’s fourth most lucrative illicit trade, worth an estimated USD 15 billion annually. Is this a case of illegal elephant trafficking? This exclusive investigation sheds light on the involvement of shadowy intermediaries, the violation of international conventions on endangered species, the mistreatment of elephants, and the lack of long-term benefits for conservation or the African communities affected by their presence.

Namibia claims endangered elephants are sold legally

Namibia has defended its sale of 22 wild endangered elephants to a zoo in the United Arab Emirates as legal and needed to prevent human-wildlife conflict. But conservationists call it a legal loophole and excuse to make money. That was reported by VOA.

The chief of Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism described the sale as a private transaction, between buyer and seller, which could not be influenced by the Namibian government.

Speaking at a press briefing, Teofilus Nghitila said the transaction is lawful and in accordance with CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Michele Pickover is executive director of an animal welfare group, the EMS Foundation. She told VOA that Namibian authorities are being disingenuous by citing Article Three of the CITES, which deals with the export of endangered species from their natural habitats.

Pickover further said a legal opinion from the foundation’s attorneys said the transaction is illegal and that the main motivating factor for the export of the elephants is not to manage human-wildlife conflict but to make a profit.

 

food waste in Europe

food waste in Europe

The food waste in the EU is higher than its imports. The waste damages EU food security amid the cost-of-living crisis. That is the finding of a new report released by environmental NGO Feedback EU.

In 2021, the EU imported almost 138 million tonnes of agricultural products, for a total cost of €150 billion. At the same time, the report estimates that the EU wastes 153.5 million tonnes of food each year. A figure that is nearly double previous calculations, due to better availability of data on wasted on farms.

All in all, food waste is estimated to cost EU businesses and households €143 billion a year, and to cause at least 6% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, in a critical moment for our food systems, facing the double crisis of agricultural losses due to last summer’s unprecedented droughts and skyrocketing food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, about 20% of EU food production ends up in the bin.

Notably, the amount of wheat wasted in the EU is equivalent to approximately half of Ukraine’s wheat exports. Meanwhile, 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day in the EU.

In light of this scandal, an international movement called on the EU to set legally binding targets for member states to slash EU food waste.

EU laws to prevent food waste?

The EU addresses food waste within the Waste Framework Directive, which was last revised in 2018. The law requires member states to cut food waste at each stage of the food supply chain, monitor food waste levels and report back regarding progress made.

Notably, the directive reaffirms the promise, made by EU countries in 2015 within the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. However, without ambitious and binding targets for governments to attend, this objective is bound to fail.

Today, the Commission has the opportunity to propose ambitious legally binding food waste reduction targets for EU member states, within its proposal for a revision of EU waste laws expected for Spring 2023. Negotiations with the European Parliament and Council will then decide on the ultimate targets, which should ensure member states honor their international commitment to halve waste from farm to fork. If adopted, this would be the first legislation of its type in the world.

Halving food waste will also help the EU meet its commitments under the European Climate Law, the Global Methane Pledge, the Circular Economy Package, and the EU Green Deal.

If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emission in the world, after US and China.

Time to cover the field

Besides demanding legally binding targets, civil society organizations and businesses call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and member states’ governments not to forget the food loss and food waste that happen at the production and processing level.

The report by Feedback EU estimates that 89.8 million tonnes occur at primary production – three times as much as is wasted in EU households. Yet most of this waste is likely to fall outside of the scope of current EU food waste measurement and national reporting, which currently excludes food left unharvested or used on farms, locking it out of targeted reduction.

To address this gap, the joint statement calls on the Commission to expand the scope of food waste measurement and include “edible food left unharvested or used on farm at primary production”.

Besides, focusing on retail and consumer food waste only risks creating perverse incentives to be offloaded onto producers and processors, rather than reduced.

Read more at EEB

 

fridays for future climate strike

fridays for future climate strike

Fridays for Future is going out on the streets across the world to demand climate finance and reparations for Loss and Damages. This is in time for the upcoming UN Climate Summit, COP 27 in Egypt.

From strikes outside fossil fuel companies to protests in different countries about upcoming or recent elections, young people continue to strike and come together around the world to fight for climate justice.

Youth strikers are fighting for climate reparations and justice not as charity, but as a transformative justice process in which political power will return to the people and the communities. Reparations cannot come in loans, but instead must be follow-throughs on the demands from Indigenous and marginalized communities: to get their lands back and to give resources for adaptation and Loss and Damages to those most affected by the climate crisis.

Strikers call for redistribution of global wealth, technology and information, and political power both from the Global North to the Global South and from the richest to the most marginalized.

Youth are tired of hearing the well-worded lies sowed by the publicists of big oil and even bigger governments that back them up. This time, we will take to the streets to not just put forth our demands but to create larger systems of love, empathy, and community care that will benefit people over profit.

“We are here to demand climate reparations for the Most Affected People and Areas. Global North governments should pay for the loss and damages in our communities, not out of a sense of solidarity, but because it’s their historical responsibility, and we are here to claim that debt,” said Edwin Namakanda, a climate activist from Uganda.

Fridays for Future come together to demand leaders and policymakers prioritize #PeopleNotProfit and we will keep coming together for our shared vision of a better planet that is equitable towards all its inhabitants.

For more information about the global strikes check fridaysforfuture.org/September23

lemu earth

lemu to protect ecosystems

A data-based global platform builds a community that supports people and organizations who want to protect ecosystems and the natural world. Technology and nature coexist in an app to learn, connect, and have a verifiable impact on nature.

What’s new? A tool to gather data on the environment without harming it. Data are offered to communities and support them to take action on climate and nature preservation.

Why is this important? The current state of the environment is far from ideal. But the climate crisis also offers opportunities. By using biology we can achieve sustainable solutions and protect ecosystems for the long term. Nature-based solutions allow for regeneration and a healthier environment.

Read the whole story

While it seems ironic advising companies and people that nature-based solutions are sustainable options, most of us have forgotten the true power that nature holds. Those of us in the technology industry have spent the past 100 years revolutionizing how we function as a society, yet we can protect ecosystems and work with nature to create innovative and sustainable technologies to combat the environmental crisis.

The current state of the environment is far from ideal. The climate crisis certainly comes with challenges, but also opportunities. If you haven’t already, now is the time to look around us and use those opportunities for the right reasons. For example, did you know farming without the use of pesticides can be achieved by combining certain plant species? By using biology (in this case intercropping) we can achieve sustainable solutions which are viable for the long term. Or, look at hydropower in Iceland or wind power across Europe. Nature-based solutions allow for regeneration and a healthier environment.

Learning to manage ecosystems holistically will help provide a multitude of essential benefits and services to people, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, securing safe water resources, making air safer to breathe, or providing increased food security. Nature-based solutions take these factors into consideration. Afterall a healthy environment equals a healthy society.

Why implement nature-based solutions?

We often undermine the impact that these solutions have. While change requires a conscious effort, often nature-based solutions are more effective and efficient. The Institute for European Environmental Policy created a report which highlights all the socio-economic benefits that come with this, such as creating more economic opportunities, employment, and well-being benefits. It also builds infrastructure, decreases pollution, promotes reforestation and regeneration, not to mention it helps to protect ecosystems, and allows for a healthier planet (and population) overall.

The UN estimates that ‘Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere.’ These results can be amplified only if we think about this in the long term. If we look at combining solutions and commit to it, we can achieve big results in our lifetimes and even better results for those who come after us.

6 Tips to think long term:

  1. Learn, Discover, and Educate – understanding the context of our current climate
    1. While most of us have some understanding of the environmental crisis, most of us feel like we can’t make a difference, yet alone a long-term one. Educating yourself is easier than it seems – try a video online, or an environmentally focused online outlet. Understanding the environmental impact of our actions and learning to adopt more sustainable ways of doing the same things, bit by bit, could add up to sizable positive change.
  1. Join a community
    1. Take advantage of technology and look for like-minded people online. There are many initiatives, projects, and businesses that are discussing these problems and solutions. Social media can also be a great tool to introduce yourself to these networks. Our app was designed around this idea, allowing people from all walks of life to connect and discuss the climate crisis. These platforms are an easy and instantaneous way to understand different perspectives and start changing your mindset to think long-term.
  1. Be aware of environmental risks and challenges for restoration
    1. Challenges come with change. Reforestation will require investments, whether this be money, effort, or time. It’s also not a guaranteed solution. In our speech at COP26 last year we highlighted 3 global risks including climate action failure, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss. While often our first reaction is to think of an immediate solution, by shifting our mindset to look for long-term strategies, these challenges simply become things to overcome, not ones that hinder us.
  1. Keep an eye on advancements being made in Clean Tech
    1. Cleantech aid’s in nature-based solutions as it combines technology with pre-existing natural processes. Think about renewable energy or recycling – these practices are all considered clean tech.
    2. Look at technologies that use non-invasive methods. Lemu’s app relies on collective intelligence, which refers to a combination of different data sources, to gather data on the environment without harming it.
  1. Understand the relationships and conflicts between people and nature
    1. It’s not feasible for us to completely change how we live. There are pre-existing infrastructures which will take time to change. We will also change at a different pace – keep this in mind as you take your own steps.
  1. Practice a future thinking mindset
    1. Thinking long term can be difficult, however, investing in small things can help. Buy a reusable cup, recycle your food scraps, and try to reduce your use of plastics. Investing in these things all make an impact over time.

Conclusion:

While thinking of long-term solutions can be daunting, it’s much like everything else in life: we set goals and we take small steps towards achieving them. Nature-based solutions have existed for thousands of years. Harnessing these natural processes will take effort, however, it took us over 100 years to get to this point, so why do we assume it would take any less time to reverse this?

Investing in nature does not equal a monetary return, it means that we stabilize biodiversity loss, extreme weather, and climate change. Also, ‘Investing’ doesn’t always mean money, it can also refer to effort, or making habitual changes (such as choosing to stop using plastics). Restoring the planet will not only protect our home, it will protect our livelihood. It will allow for food security, it will maintain our climate, and most importantly, it will create a sustainable balance between society and the environment.

Interested in learning more about what you can do to help? Check out the Lemu App to register for early access.

About Lemu:

Lemu is a data-based global platform building a community around people and organizations who want to protect the natural world. A place where technology and nature coexist. Lemu is an app to learn, connect, and have a verifiable impact on nature. The app is still in the developing stage for beta users who want to try it out and help build the app. Interested in joining the Lemu community as an early member?

About Leo Prieto:

Leo founded Lemu with the vision of bringing the offline online. A seasoned entrepreneur who pioneered the Internet industry in Latin America, he has been working with digital data for over 25 years. He is passionate about the potential of collective intelligence and using the most advanced technology available to improve life for all the inhabitants of this planet, not just humans. When he’s not online or doing shinrinyoku with his family, he wishes he was underwater or exploring our planet. His experience leading large technology teams to happy outcomes earned him the selection of Endeavor Global Entrepreneur in 2009. He has won several prizes since then, such as Espirítu Emprendedor 2022.

Today Leo is also a board member of Fundación Chile.

emissions

climate gap emissions

There is a huge climate gap between aspirations and reality in emissions of greenhouse gases. As a result, climate change continues to head in the wrong direction, according to a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change will be increasingly devastating, it warns.

The report, United in Science, shows that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns. The ambition of emissions reduction pledges for 2030 needs to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 °C goal of the Paris Agreement.

The past seven years were the warmest on record. There is a 48% chance that, during at least one year in the next 5 years, the annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5°C higher than 1850-1900 average. As global warming increases, “tipping points” in the climate system can not be ruled out.

Cities that host billions of people and are responsible for up to 70% of human-caused emissions will face increasing socio-economic impacts. The most vulnerable populations will suffer most, says the report which gives examples of extreme weather in different parts of the world this year.

“Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency. Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States.

There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

United in Science provides an overview of the most recent science related to climate change, the climate gap, its impacts and responses. The science is clear – urgent action is needed to mitigate emissions and adapt to the changing climate, says the report. It includes input from WMO (and its Global Atmosphere Watch and World Weather Research Programmes); the UN Environment Programme, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Climate Research Programme, Global Carbon Project; UK Met Office, and the Urban Climate Change Research Network. It includes relevant headline statements from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report.

Climate gap, key messages

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Concentrations in the Atmosphere
WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW)

Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 ), methane (CH4 ) and nitrous oxide (N 2 O) continue to rise. The temporary reduction in CO2 emissions in 2020 during the pandemic had little impact on the growth of atmospheric concentrations (what remains in the atmosphere after CO2 is absorbed by the ocean and biosphere).

Data from all global locations, including flagship observatories at Mauna Loa (Hawaii, USA) and Cape Grim (Tasmania, Australia) indicate that levels of CO2 continued to increase in 2021 and 2022. In May 2022, CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa reached 420.99 ppm (419.13 ppm in 2021) and Cape Grim 413.37 ppm (411.25 ppm in May 2021).

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Budgets
Global Carbon Project

Global fossil CO2 emissions in 2021 returned to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 after fallingby 5.4% in 2020 due to widespread lockdowns. Preliminary data shows that global CO2 emissions in 2022 (January to May) are 1.2% above the levels recorded during the same period in 2019, driven by increases in the United States, India and most European countries.

Despite a strong fluctuation in global emissions over the past two and a half years, fossil CO2 emissions fell significantly in 23 countries (many European countries, Japan, Mexico and the USA) during the pre-pandemic decade of 2010–2019.

A quarter of GHG emissions from land-use change are associated with the trade of food between countries, of which more than three quarters are due to land clearing for agriculture, including grazing.

State of the Global Climate: 2018–2022
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

The most recent seven years, 2015 to 2021 were the warmest on record. The 2018–2022 global mean temperature average (based on data up to May or June 2022) is estimated to be 1.17 ± 0.13 °C above the 1850–1900 average. A La Niña event has had a slight cooling effect on temperatures in 2021/22 but this will be temporary.

Around 90% of the accumulated heat in the Earth system is stored in the ocean, the Ocean Heat Content for 2018–2022 was higher than in any other 5-year period, with ocean warming rates showing a particularly strong increase in the past two decades.

Global Climate Predictions for 2022–2026
Met Office, UK / WMO / World Climate Research Programme

The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year from 2022-2026 is predicted to be between 1.1 °C and 1.7 °C higher than pre-industrial levels (1850-1900).

The likelihood of the annual mean global near-surface temperature temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years is 48% and is increasing with time. However, there is only a small probability (10%) that the five-year mean will exceed this threshold. The Paris Agreement level of 1.5 °C refers to long-term warming, but individual years above 1.5 °C are expected to occur with increasing regularity as global temperatures approach this long-term threshold.

There is a 93% probability that at least one year in the next five will be warmer than the warmest year on record, 2016, and that the mean temperature for 2022–2026 will be higher than that of the last five years.

Emissions Climate Gap
UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Enhanced mitigation action is needed to prevent the goals of the Paris Agreement from slipping out of reach.

New national mitigation pledges for 2030 show some progress toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but are insufficient, thus widening the climate gap. The ambition of these new pledges would need to be four times higher to get on track to limit warming to 2 °C and seven times higher to get on track to 1.5 °C.

Global warming during the 21st century is estimated (with 66% probability) at 2.8 °C (range 2.3 °C–3.3 °C), assuming a continuation of current policies, or 2.5 °C (range 2.1 °C–3.0 °C) if new or updated pledges are fully implemented.

Collectively, countries are falling short of meeting their new or updated pledges with current policies.

Tipping Points in the Climate System
World Climate Research Programme /WMO

Further research on tipping points will be crucial to help society better understand the costs, benefits and potential limitations of climate mitigation and adaptation in the future.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is an important driver of the distribution of heat, salt and water in the climate system, both regionally and globally. Recent research suggests AMOC may be weaker in the current climate than at any other time in the last millennium.

The melting of the polar ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica is also considered a major tipping point and would have global consequences due to substantial additional sea-level rise for hundreds to thousands of years.

Regional tipping points, such as the drying of the Amazon rainforest may have serious local consequences with cascading global impacts. Other examples include regional droughts which impact the global carbon cycle and disrupt major weather systems such as monsoons.

The combined effects of higher temperatures and humidity in some regions could reach dangerous levels in the next few decades, with physiological tipping points or thresholds beyond which outdoor human labor is no longer possible without technical assistance.

Climate Change and Cities
Urban Climate Change Research Network

Cities – home to 55% of the global population, or 4.2 billion people – are responsible for up to 70% of human-caused emissions while also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as increased heavy precipitation, accelerated sea-level rise, acute and chronic coastal flooding and extreme heat, among other key risks. These impacts exacerbate socioeconomic challenges and inequalities.

Globally, by the 2050s, over 1.6 billion people living in over 970 cities will be regularly exposed to 3-month average temperatures reaching at least 35 °C (95 °F).

Between March and May 2022, Delhi experienced five heat waves with record-breaking temperatures reaching up to 49.2 °C (120.5 °F). With half of Delhi’s population living in low-income settlements and highly vulnerable to extreme heat, this heatwave led to devastating socioeconomic and public health impacts. Low-lying coastal cities and settlements, such as Bangkok (Thailand), Houston (USA) and Venice (Italy), are highly likely to face more frequent and more extensive coastal flooding due to sea-level rise, storm surges and subsidence.

Cities have an important role in addressing climate change by implementing inclusive, urgent and scaled-up mitigation action and increasing the adaptive capacity of billions of urban inhabitants. Now is the time to integrate adaptation and mitigation, coupled with sustainable development, into the ever-dynamic urban environment.

Extreme Weather Events and Socioeconomic Impacts
WMO World Weather Research Programme (WWRP)

The number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years, causing US$ 202 million in losses daily.

As attribution science continues to improve, evidence of the link between human-induced climate change and observed extremes, such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation and tropical cyclones, has strengthened.

Extreme weather events cause long-lasting socioeconomic impacts especially in the most vulnerable communities, which are often also the least equipped to respond, recover and adapt.

Successive tropical cyclones hit south-eastern Africa, causing devastation in Madagascar. The World Weather Attribution initiative found that climate change likely increased the intensity of the rainfall experienced due to these storms. As the atmosphere becomes warmer, it holds more water, which, on average, makes wet seasons and events wetter. With further emissions and rising temperatures, heavy rainfall episodes will become more common.

In June and July 2022, Europe was affected by two extreme heatwaves and drought. Portugal had a new July national temperature record of 47.0 °C, and for the first time on record, temperatures in the UK exceeded 40 °C. According to the World Weather Attribution initiative, human-caused climate change made the heatwave in the UK at least 10 times more likely.

Summer heatwaves pose a significant risk to human health, especially the elderly and infirm.

Other factors – such as socioeconomic conditions, urbanization (the urban heat island) and levels of preparedness – can also increase vulnerability. First reports indicate that the heatwaves led to several thousand deaths.

Early warning systems: Adapting to climate change and reducing disaster risk
WMO/ UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

With 3.3 to 3.6 billion people living in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change, it is more important than ever for the international community to take ambitious action to not only mitigate emissions, but also adapt to climate change, particularly extreme weather and compounding events, which can lead to long-lasting socioeconomic impacts.

Early warning systems are effective adaptation measure that save lives, reduce losses and damages, and are cost-effective. Less than half of countries in the world have reported the existence of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS), with coverage particularly low in Africa, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

A top international priority is to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected by MHEWS in the next five years. This will require collaboration across diverse actors and innovative financing solutions

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

deforestation

deforestation

A new report by WWF assesses the quantity and provenance of the Netherlands’ import and use of eight deforestation and conversion risk commodities: soy, palm oil, maize, coconut, cocoa, coffee, beef & leather, and timber. It estimates the area of land required to supply these imports, the risk of deforestation and conversion, and social issues associated with that land footprint, and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. It provides recommendations for governments, businesses, the financial sector and citizens.

Eighty percent of global deforestation results from agriculture which produces the commodities we consumers take for granted and increasingly demand. Furthermore, the conversion of natural ecosystems often results in local and indigenous peoples losing their customary land, and along with it, part of their traditional livelihoods and cultural reference.

Trading deforestation

The Netherlands is a significant global actor in the trade of many of these commodities. For example, it imports 23% of the cocoa produced globally. The Netherlands exports a high proportion of these imported commodities to other countries, often after additional processing (for example of cocoa into chocolate). For example, 85% of soy imports are exported to other countries, and over half of all imported palm oil, cocoa, coffee, coconut, timber and beef and leather are exported.

Exports of products from the Netherlands require an estimated 57% of the total land footprint (9.9 million hectares) emphasizing the Netherlands’ critical role in international trade, and the country’s global responsibility for ensuring that commodities are free from deforestation and conversion and social harm.

High risk footprint

Forty-three percent of the imported land footprint – 7.5 million hectares – is from countries that have a high or very high risk of deforestation, poor rule of law and a poor record of labor rights. A high proportion of the land footprints of imported palm oil (86%), cocoa (80%), coffee (69%) soy (48%) and timber (30%) is produced by countries assessed to have a high or very high risk. Large areas of land in high-risk countries are also required to supply the Netherlands with commodities such as maize and coconuts, which have received less attention for their environmental impacts.

Legal framework needed

The European Commission is developing legislation making it mandatory for companies to conduct due diligence on deforestation and degradation associated with the commodities they place on the European market.

As it stands now, this regulation will have a profound effect on companies operating in the Netherlands – obliging them to be truly vigilant and transparent about the environmental harms embedded within their global supply chains. It is crucial that the EU legislation is strong and effective, covering the conversion of all natural ecosystems and all relevant commodities and their products.

A robust legal framework is an important starting point to motivate businesses to reconsider their impact on deforestation and conversion. Yet, they should not stop at meeting the bare minimum legal requirements of this regulation and use this opportunity to eliminate deforestation and conversion and human rights abuses from their supply chain and that of their suppliers. The purpose of this report is to highlight the critical role that the Netherlands plays in importing and trading agricultural and forest commodities that are associated with deforestation and conversion.

plastic waste from gpgp

plastic waste from gpgp

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is largely composed of fishing-related plastic waste, with 75% to 86% of all plastic waste identified as coming from offshore fishing activity. The Ocean Cleanup has published new research in the journal Scientific Reports showing that.

Analysis of over 6,000 plastic objects also found that major industrialized fishing nations (including the United States, China, Japan and Korea) are the principal producers of the fishing waste found in the GPGP, an area three times the size of France and the world’s most significant accumulation of floating ocean plastic.

From rivers

At a global level, emissions from rivers remain by far the largest source of plastic pollution in the oceans. However, specifically for the GPGP, this is not the case, which confirms that the GPGP requires an approach involving cleanup and interception; this ‘other source’ of GPGP pollution – i.e., plastic originating from fishing activities – must also be tackled.

The Ocean Cleanup conducted research on plastic objects and fragments captured in the GPGP during cleaning operations of its System 001/B solution in 2019. Researchers painstakingly investigated the origins, sources and ages of these objects to create the most comprehensive picture of GPGP plastic so far presented, building on The Ocean Cleanup’s previous research, conducted in 2018.

“This research significantly expands our understanding of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Matthias Egger, Ocean Plastic Researcher at The Ocean Cleanup. “In order to solve this problem we need to understand it, and identifying the origins of GPGP plastic is essential to our cleanup efforts, and the efforts of other organizations, to reduce this other source of pollution.”

“To stop the inflow of plastic into our oceans, addressing river emissions – the largest source – must remain the core priority,” said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “However, to ensure our work to clean up the GPGP is truly sustainable, fishing gear inputs must also be stopped. We hope our latest study will enable organizations and the fishing industry to address this other source of plastic pollution to the GPGP.”

fossil emissions and ccs

fossil emissions and ccs

Underperforming carbon capture projects considerably outnumber successful projects globally, and by large margins, with both the technology and regulatory framework found wanting, finds a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The report, The Carbon Capture Crux – Lessons Learned, studies 13 flagship large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS)/carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects in the natural gas, industrial and power sectors in terms of their history, economics and performance. These projects account for around 55% of the total current operational capacity worldwide.

Author Bruce Robertson says seven of the thirteen projects underperformed, two failed, and one was mothballed.

“CCS technology has been going for 50 years and many projects have failed and continued to fail, with only a handful working.

“Many international bodies and national governments are relying on carbon capture in the fossil fuel sector to get to Net Zero, and it simply won’t work.

“Although some indication it might have a role to play in hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, fertilisers and steel, overall results indicate a financial, technical and emissions-reduction framework that continues to overstate and underperform.”

IEEFA’s study found that Shute Creek in the U.S. underperformed its carbon capture capacity by around 36% over its lifetime, Boundary Dam in Canada by about 50%, and the Gorgon project off the coast of Western Australia by about 50% over its first five-year period.

“The two most successful projects are in the gas processing sector – Sleipner and Snøhvit in Norway. This is mostly due to the country’s unique regulatory environment for oil and gas companies,” says co-author Milad Mousavian.

“Governments globally are looking for quick solutions to the current energy and ongoing climate crisis, but unwittingly latching onto CCS as a fix is problematic.”

Last week the Australian government approved two new massive offshore greenhouse gas storage areas, saying CCS “has a vital role to play to help Australia meet its net zero targets. Australia is ideally placed to become a world leader in this emerging industry”.

CCS not a climate solution

However, Robertson says, carbon capture technology is not new and is not a climate solution.

“As our report shows, CCS has been around for decades, mostly serving the oil industry through enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Around 80–90% of all captured carbon in the gas sector is used for EOR, which itself leads to more CO2 emissions.”

About three-quarters of the CO2 captured annually by multi-billion-dollar CCUS facilities, roughly 28 million tonnes (MT) out of 39MT total capture capacity globally, is reinjected and sequestered in oil fields to push more oil out of the ground.

The International Energy Agency says annual carbon capture capacity needs to increase to 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030 to align with a net zero by 2050 pathway.

“In addition to being wildly unrealistic as a climate solution, based on historical trajectories, much of this captured carbon will be used for enhanced oil recovery,” says Robertson.

History shows CCS projects have major financial and technological risks. Close to 90% of proposed CCS capacity in the power sector has failed at implementation stage or was suspended early — including Petra Nova and the Kemper coal gasification power plant in the U.S. Further, most projects have failed to operate at their theoretically designed capturing rates. As a result, the 90% emission reduction target generally claimed by the industry has been unreachable in practice.

Finding suitable storage sites and keeping it there is also a major challenge—the trapped CO2 underground needs monitoring for centuries to ensure it does not come back to the atmosphere.

The report identifies interim considerations for CCS projects if no alternative solutions to emissions reduction are found.

  • Safe storage locations must be identified, and a long-term monitoring plan and compensation mechanism in case of failure developed.
  • The CCS project must not promote enhanced oil recovery.
  • To avoid project liability being handed over to taxpayers, as is currently the situation with Gorgon, large oil and gas companies mainly benefiting from CCS at their gas developments must be liable for any failure/leakage and monitoring costs of CCS projects, specifically if they get subsidies, grants and tax credits for capturing the carbon.
  • It must not be used by governments to greenlight or extend the life of any type of fossil fuel asset as a climate solution.

Robertson says more research could be done on CCS applications in industries where emissions are hard to abate such as, cement, as an interim partial solution to meeting net zero targets.

“As a solution to tackling catastrophic rising emissions in its current framework however, CCS is not a climate solution.”

Read the reportThe Carbon Capture Crux – Lessons Learned

ccs at Yara Sluiskil, NL

ccs at Yara Sluiskil, NLFertilizer producer Yara and Northern Lights have signed the world’s first commercial agreement on cross border CO2 transport and storage. This is groundbreaking for the decarbonization of European heavy industry, opening the market for cross border CO2 transport and storage as a service. It is also a major milestone towards achieving Yara’s own net zero targets.

Yara and Northern Lights have agreed on the main commercial terms to transport CO2 captured from Yara Sluiskil, an ammonia and fertilizer plant in the Netherlands, and permanently store it under the seabed off the coast of western Norway. When the final contractual details are firmed up, this will be the first ever cross border CO2 transport and storage agreement. It will set the standard for other industrial companies across Europe looking to use Northern Lights – and other emerging CO2 transport options and stores in the North Sea – as a key part of their decarbonization strategies.

Decarbonizing heavy industry with CCS to reach climate goals

Yara Sluiskil has already cut 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year from its ammonia and fertilizer production since 1990. Significant volumes of carbon dioxide are reused in greenhouse plant production, as an ingredient for carbonated drinks and for other purposes such as urea and AdBlue, a high purity urea-based solution for diesel engines. From early 2025, 800,000 tonnes of pure CO2 will be captured, compressed, and liquefied in the Netherlands, and then transported to the Northern Lights store at 2,600 metres under the seabed off the coast of Øygarden.

“Action to decarbonize industry is urgent and Yara is a frontrunner. I am very pleased to announce that we are now on our way to removing CO2 emissions from our production plant in Sluiskil. This will take us a step further towards carbon-free food production and accelerate the supply of clean ammonia for fuel and power production,” said Svein Tore Holsether, CEO Yara International ASA.

“Yara is our first commercial customer, filling our available capacity in Northern Lights. With this we are establishing a market for transport and storage of CO2. From early 2025 we will be shipping the first tonnes of CO2 from the Netherlands to Norway. This will demonstrate that CCS is a climate tool for Europe”, said Børre Jacobsen, Managing Director of Northern Lights.

Safe and proven ccs, capture, transport, and storage of CO2

Northern Lights is the transport and storage part of the Longship project, funded 80% by the Norwegian government. Building on over 20 years of offshore CO2 storage in Norway, the government has worked closely with Norwegian industrial emitters and Northern Lights to create the world’s first open access full value chain CCS model. As part of its funding, the government stipulated that Northern Lights develop a commercial business model and offer its service to the rest of Europe.

The Longship model shows that CCS is doable, safe, and cost-effective. It has also helped to develop a commercial model and a market to support it. Longship provides a platform for Norwegian businesses and service providers to innovate, leveraging experience, first-mover advantage, and significant offshore storage capacity – and it offers European industry a crucial decarbonization option and solutions to replicate.

However, the press info does not address the remaining problems with CCS so far.