Past 7 Years: Hottest Ever on Record

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which is supported by the European Union, has released new data showing that the past seven years globally were the seven warmest on record.

Globally, noted a C3S report, 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record, but only marginally warmer than 2015 and 2018. The annual average temperature was 0.3°C above the temperature of the 1991-2020 reference period, and 1.1-1.2°C above the pre-industrial level of 1850-1900.

Compared to this latest 30-year reference period, regions with most above average temperatures include a band stretching from the west coast of the USA and Canada to north-eastern Canada and Greenland, as well as large parts of central and northern Africa and the Middle East, the report noted. The most below-average temperatures were found in western and easternmost Siberia, Alaska, over the central and eastern Pacific – concurrent with La Niña conditions at the beginning and the end of the year – as well as in most of Australia and in parts of Antarctic.

More data and details are available on the project’s website.

UN Leads Effort To Reduce Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels contribute to climate change.


The United Nations is urging the world to speed-up the worldwide transition to cleaner forms of energy and end the use of coal, if we are to stand a chance of limiting temperature rises.

According to the UN, under current plans governments will continue to produce energy from fossil-fuel sources in quantities that will lead to more warming, despite improved climate commitments.

Over the next two decades, the UN report notes, governments are projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a modest decrease in coal production. Taken together, these plans mean that fossil fuel production will increase overall, at least until 2040.

The fossil fuel findings were laid out in the latest UN Production Gap report, which included profiles for 15 major fossil fuel-producing countries, showing that most will continue to support fossil fuel production growth.

In an effort to change this trajectory, the UN held a summit on energy, the first of its kind in 40 years. National governments committed to provide electricity to over 166 million people worldwide, and private companies pledged to reach just over 200 million.

Governments also committed to install an additional 698 gigawatts of renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and renewables-based hydrogen, and businesses, notably power utilities, pledged to install an additional 823 GW, all by 2030.

Secretary-General Warns That More Effort Is Needed in Fight Against Hunger

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the world is off-track in its efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending hunger by 2030.

Guterres noted that hunger increased in 2020. Between 720 and 811 million people live in hunger, an increase of about 161 million over the previous year. Moreover, an estimated 3 billion people worldwide are under-nourished.

The world leader blamed systemic inequality, poverty, and climate change made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic — as a driving factor in persistent hunger. He questioned why hunger remains a problem despite an increase in food production of about 300% since the 1960s.

The Secretary-General raised these issues in the context of the SDGs, which seek to solve interconnected global issues. “Addressing hunger and malnutrition cannot be done in isolation of other global challenges,” Guterres said.

Reforming the current system will bring food to the undernourished, create millions of new jobs and opportunities, combat poverty, promote economic growth, and foster social inclusion.

Gutteres underscored  the need for large-scale efforts in support of the SDGs. If world leaders are unable to reverse current trends, the world will be unable to meet its goals of  ending poverty and hunger, lowering global inequality, and combating combat climate change.

The world needs a new food system that approaches hunger holistically, said the secretary-general. A new framework will help keep the world on track in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

Report: Measuring Global Engagement on Biodiversity

Biodiversity in the world is rapidly declining. According to a recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit — commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — “time is running out, and action to prevent fatal nature loss is urgently needed.” But the real question is: do people care?” The answer is “yes.”

The researchers discovered that public awareness and concern for biodiversity is growing rapidly. In fact, they found nature-related conversations increased 65% on twitter since 2016. News coverage of nature-related protests grew 103% between 2018 and 2019, up from 7% between 2016 to 2018. This indicates that people are becoming more outspoken about ecological conservation.

The report, titled “An Eco Awakening,” also found that people are more willing to make personal changes to protect the environment. Google searches for sustainable goods, for example, have increased by 71% since 2016 — suggesting that people want to make good choices as consumers.

Interestingly, the researchers found that increases in public sentiment were most prevalent in “emerging markets.”  Engagement and awareness grew 190% in India, 88% in Pakistan, and 53% in Indonesia. The report suggests that people living in developing countries are keenly aware of how they may be impacted by ecological decline.

The data from The Economist’s report has significance for environmental efforts, such as those related to the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs). Increasing consumer awareness will help to develop a more circular economy and phase out harmful consumption habits (SDG 12). Moreover, public outcry is likely to advance efforts for greater ecological conservation (SDGs 14 and 15). Generally, public support for sustainability efforts will allow for more large-scale, coordinated multi-stakeholder action (SDG 17).  

The report concludes that individuals, policymakers, and private sector companies are all calling for change. As the report notes, “The fatal risk of species extinction can be avoided if individuals, organizations, businesses and policymakers unite to identify, assess, disclose, mitigate and overcome the issues to preserve nature for all the generations still to come.”

Africa Has Desperate Need for Climate-resilient Water and Sanitation Infrastructure

The international community must prioritize water and sanitation access in Africa, a according to recent joint statement from UNICEF and The Global Water Partnership.

Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF and Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania and currently chairman of the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa and Africa Coordination, raised concerns about the lack of progress in expanding access to key services in communities throughout Africa. The two leaders noted that water and sanitation investment shortfalls will impede other development markers, and called for greater action by the international community. 

Fore and Kikwete argue that “investment in climate-resilient water infrastructure in Africa currently stands far below the levels necessary to ensure water security for the continent’s people.”

In fact, the African Development Bank estimates that $64 billion is needed annually to meet existing needs. Current global investment is less than $19 billion a year, well below the target threshold.

The situation in parts of Africa is dire, with about 220 million children and families facing shortages. Moreover, 58% of children in Eastern and Southern Africa live in high or extremely high-water vulnerable conditions, and 31% of children in West and Central Africa live in a similar situation. Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating the problem.

Ongoing water-related problems have a direct impact on the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs). For example, children who live in water insecure settings often miss school because they have to collect water for their families (SDG 4). These children are also vulnerable to poor nutrition, food insecurity, and commutable diseases from contaminated water (SDGs 2 and 3). More broadly, time and money spent on water issues can reduce funding for other economic development opportunities (SDG 8).

In their call to action, Fore and Kikwete urge world leaders in all sectors — including governments, private businesses, and NGOs — to increase support for solutions to the global water crisis. Improving water and sanitation infrastructure, they noted, will “contribute to a peaceful, prosperous, stronger and equitable Africa, now and in the future.”       

Learn more about The Global Water Partnership

Not a Single G20 Country Is in Line with the Paris Agreement on Climate, Analysis Shows

CNN reports that one of the world’s major economies — including the entire G20 — have a climate plan that meets their obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to an analysis published Wednesday, despite scientists’ warning that deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are needed now.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a clear message: The human-caused climate crisis is worsening extreme weather around the globe.

UN Report: Global Warming Means Code Red for Humanity

   

A new United Nations report on climate change includes a “code red” for humanity. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that persistent, sustained global emissions have now made it impossible to prevent a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that irreparable damage is being done to the planet.

According to AP News, the UN report should be a wakeup call for governments and the international community to acknowledge the severity of anthropogenic climate change and to take immediate action toward lowering emissions, alleviating poverty, and protecting the planet.

The IPCC study notes that temperatures are rising due to inaction. As a result, the planet is likely to experience increasingly devastating environmental changes, and an increase in natural disasters in the years ahead. The report notes that the planet will also continue to experience a loss of biodiversity and large-scale species extinction.

Moreover, the IPCC report warns that continued inaction will likely cause global temperatures to continue to rise between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius, putting the planet at even greater risk for catastrophic environmental consequences. Risks include a complete collapse of the ice sheets, and a slowing down of thermohaline circulation, which regulates global weather patterns.   

According to the IPCC, the Earth is at a pivotal turning point – with a narrow window of time to take large-scale action to reduce emission and prevent temperatures from warming uncontrollably over the next 30 years. The IPCC report is the most dire warning ever issued on climate change.   

Creative Economy for Sustainable Development

The UN General Assembly declared 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. Indonesia was the main sponsor of the proposal, which was presented by a global group of countries, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines and Thailand.

The proposal recognized the need to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, foster innovation and provide opportunities, benefits and empowerment for all and respect for all human rights. It also identified the ongoing need to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition in diversifying production and exports, including in new sustainable growth areas, including creative industries.

The declaration encourages governments and organizations to raise awareness, promote cooperation and networking, encourage sharing best practices and experiences, enhance human resource capacity, promote an enabling environment at all levels as well as tackle the challenges of the creative economy. 

UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network: 2021 Annual Report

The annual Sustainable Development Report (SDR) tracks progress on the SDGs and analyzes key issues in sustainable development. It is written by a group of authors led by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, President of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Women Work To Rebuild War-Torn Congo

United Nations – After more than a decade of war, women are rebuilding the Republic of Congo, from a vegetable farm to the whole country…