Noxious fumes | Dumps and landfills near South Asian megacities are huge emitters of methane, highlighting a major challenge in the global climate fight. More clouds of the greenhouse gas — which has 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere — were spotted in India than any other country except for the US during the first half of this year, according to satellite observations. Pakistan ranked fourth and Bangladesh sixth.
A Chinese Environmental Artist Stirs Climate Action With Toxic Soup
Nut Brother, a performance artist who has been stirring up public opinion over pollution in the country for seven years in the belief that environmental activism that is humorous and creative can have a powerful effect.
Nut Brother has been able to keep exposing some of China’s more egregious pollution problems partly because his campaigns align with President Xi Jinping’s own policy goals of cleaning up the nation’s environment and building a more sustainable economy. China has made huge efforts to strengthen environmental protection in the past decade. Artists such as Nut Brother help that goal by raising awareness of environmental issues among the public, said Ellery Li, a project advisor at Beijing-based China Youth Climate Action Network.
“are all very close to everyday life, like music, hotpot, or drinking water, but once you go closer you find the messages are so striking,”
“China relies on government policies to solve environmental problems, but projects like this are as important because they let people realize that there are so many problems that are unseen but do exist.”
Yet the government prefers that the changes be made from the top-down and provincial authorities are wary of public criticism. Some domestic environmental groups have been silenced and international NGOs are now under additional scrutiny as the result of a 2017 law.
Some good news:
- China’s clean power growth outlook for 2022 keeps getting bigger
- Hackers are helping to speed up the electric scooter boom
- An oil giant brings forward its key carbon deadlines
And some bad news:
- Surging solar prices threaten to slow clean energy installations
- Russia has made $24 billion selling energy to China and India
- China’s coal demand is rebounding as the weather heats up
Egypt’s goal is to prevent that from happening, Shoukry said. As the first African country to host a COP meeting in six years, it also wants to focus on how developing nations can get funding to adapt to the changing climate and to finance the green energy transition.
“We hope that COP27 will first confirm the political commitment to climate change and the agreed transition at the highest level,” he said. The main focus of COP27 is to “raise ambition” and confirm “no backsliding or backtracking on commitments and pledges” made in past summits, he said.
Thousands of climate diplomats representing virtually every country in the world meet every year at COP. The gathering also attracts tens of thousands of activists, observers, businesspeople and media, making it the world’s largest international summit by number of people. COP26 talks in Glasgow last year — the first to happen after the coronavirus pandemic — saw 40,000 people and 120 world leaders attending.
COP meetings are the vehicle through which the global community coordinates actions to cut planet-warming greenhouse-gas emissions. The ultimate goal is to cap the rise of global average temperatures which, at the moment, are headed for an increase of around 2.7°C or more by the end of the century, from the average of pre-industrial times.
Such an increase would be catastrophic, threatening life as we know it today, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The global community agreed at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015 to take steps to keep the temperature increase at 2°C, and ideally close to 1.5°C. The world has already warmed about 1.2°C, and the window to meet the Paris commitment is shrinking, Shoukry said.
“The science is clear and indicates that we are still not on track with regard to achieving the temperature goal, preparing for the adaptation challenges, or meeting the finance targets,” he said. “These gaps need to be bridged.”
But the global fight to tackle climate change is rubbing against a scramble for fossil fuels — including Egyptian natural gas — as Europe tries to move away from using Russian oil, gas and coal. That’s caused prices of natural gas to spike and led to a revival of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, with countries burning whatever they can get their hands on.
“This is a major concern,” Shoukry said. “It is jeopardizing decarbonization and the energy transition.”
The plummeting cost of renewable power should lead to large investments into cleaner forms of energy, Shoukry said. But the current geopolitical situation suggests the switch to renewable power will take longer than the global community anticipated at the COP meeting in Glasgow last year, the minister said.
At the heart of the matter is how developing nations, and particularly African nations, implement this transition while making sure economic growth is not impacted. At Glasgow last year, poorer nations argued they shouldn’t be deprived of the opportunity to exploit their oil and gas reserves. Since then they have been stressing the priority of this year’s meeting should be on getting rich countries to pay more to help them transition to clean energy.
“It’s incumbent upon us to listen carefully to African concerns and to ensure that African priorities, such as adaptation and resilience,” Shoukry said. Adding that negotiations on finance should take into consideration “the needs of communities across Africa, who are suffering more than any other continent from the impacts of climate change.”
Salma El Wardany, Laura Millan Lombrana, and Akshat Rathi
Japan hasn’t been spared by the brutal summer that’s hitting the northern hemisphere. In June — typically a cool, rainy month — temperatures in Tokyo exceeded 35° Celsius (95° Fahrenheit) for a record six days in a row. Now, two of the country’s biggest insurers are offering policies designed to cover medical expenses arising from heatstroke. One such policy costs as little as 100 yen (73 cents) for a day’s coverage. If purchased before 9 a.m., it can take effect from 10 a.m. that morning, covering hospitalization and other medical costs caused by the heat and sun.
- One Los Angeles neighborhood is trying a different fix to fight deadly heat: reflective pavement coating that lowers ambient air temperatures.
- Staying cool can save energy. That’s why Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez is giving up on wearing ties, and asked his ministers to ditch them, too.
- Faced with risks of crippling blackouts, global utilities are starting to reward people for using less energy. Free Peloton, anyone?
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