Scientists warn emissions need to be halved to avoid 3.0°C warming


New research by scientists shows emissions need to be halved by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius but temperatures are on track to reach double that by the end of the century even if countries’ current plans are fully implemented.

A group of European researchers, Climate Action Tracker, tracks countries’ progress towards the globally agreed aim of limiting warming to well below 2.0°C and a more ambitious target of 1.5°C.

Reuters Newsagency reports public concerns about climate change are growing and have led to protests around the world. However, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were at a record high last year and new renewable power capacity has stalled after years of strong growth. At the same time, methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, has risen in recent years due to oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

An assessment of 32 nations’ climate plans by Climate Action Tracker shows that only the plans of two governments’, Morocco and Gambia, are enough to meet the 1.5°C limit. If nations fully implement the plans they made under the 2015 United Nations sponsored Paris Agreement, temperature rise is on track to reach 3.0°C by the end of the century, just slightly lower than the 3.3°C rise the tracker forecast last December.

“Public concern is rising fast, with global movements like Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion pushing governments toward action as people take to the streets,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, one of the organisations that provides analysis for the Climate Action Tracker. “As we turn from climate change to a climate crisis, the public priority is rising, and we expect governments to take bold action,” he added.

The new analysis comes just a day after United Nations’ climate chief Patricia Espinosa told government representatives and UN officials meeting in Bonn, Germany, they were falling far short of what was needed to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 to limit global warming.

However, some countries have announced new targets, such as Britain’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and Chile’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 and shut all coal plants by 2040. Currently, five countries, including India and Costa Rica, have targets compatible with limiting a temperature rise to 2.0°C, the Climate Action Tracker report said.

Ten more, including Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, have plans compatible with a 3.0°C limit; nine more, including Japan, China and Chile, have targets compatible with a 4.0°C limit. Five countries, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States, have targets compatible with a world experiencing temperature rise above 4.0°C, the report said.

Governments have been urged to put forward new plans to increase efforts to combat climate change at a United Nations summit this September in New York.


What is World Environment Day 2019, and when is it?


World Environment Day is held on Wednesday June 5th 2019, and is on June 5th every year. It isn’t a public holiday, it is an environmental awareness day, run by the United Nations. It is sometimes also unofficially called Eco Day or Environment Day. The aim of the Day is to raise awareness of the environment and specific environmental issues.

Wold Environment Day (WED) was established in 1972 but first held in 1974, which shows that concern about the environment goes back several decades at least. 143 countries take part in World Environment Day, and the day focuses on environmental concerns ranging from pollution to global warming and sustainable food production to protection of wildlife.

Every year there is a new main focus for WED. This year (2019) the focus is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, and the press and media are already gearing up for this by reporting on events and efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

Participants of WED include NGOs, governments, communities, individuals, charities, organizations and celebrities, and together they raise awareness of environmental issues. Each year a country or Nation hosts WED, and this year India is the host, last year Canada hosted it, and the theme was ‘Connecting People and Nature’. World Environment Day has had its own anthem since 2013.

World Environment Day can be celebrated in many ways, activities such as clear up campaigns are popular and will be prominent this year, also concerts, conventions and parades, tree planting, and lectures. Promotional materials for the day tend to be created using natural environmental colours.




Guterres: end fossil fuel subsidies, stop using taxpayers’ money to destroy world


“We need to tax pollution, not people”, and “end subsidies for fossil fuels,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the World Summit of the R20 Coalition, a UN-supported environmental organisation, founded by former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The idea that subsidising fossil fuels is a way to improve people’s lives could not be more wrong, said the UN chief in the Austrian capital, Vienna, because it means spending taxpayers’ money to “boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals: to destroy the world.”

Mr Guterres went on to call for the decarbonisation of urban infrastructure, a halt to coal plants, and the promotion of sustainable consumption and production: “in short, we need a green economy, not a grey economy.”

In the lead up to the UN Climate Summit this September, the Secretary-General has enlisted the President of France, the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Emir of Qatar to mobilise international support to secure the US$100 billion goal agreed by UN Member States at the Paris climate conference in 2015, necessary for advancing climate mitigation and adaptation in the developing world.

Investors need to stop “financing pollution”, scale up green ventures and increase lending for low-carbon solutions”, he insisted.

Mr Guterres added that the private sector and investment communities must support a “bold and ambitions climate agenda”, because climate action was not only good for people and the planet, it can also be good for business.

Recounting his recent trip to Tuvalu, a low-lying island state in the South Pacific that risks being inundated by rising sea levels, Mr Guterres highlighted the fact that “rarely a day goes by,” without news of yet another disaster, such as floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme storms.

However, there is a “silver lining to the looming cloud”, because, although the current situation is extremely serious, the shift to a green economy would see profound benefits for societies around the world.

He said these included cleaner water and air, less pollution, more chemical-free agriculture and reduced biodiversity loss.



Launch of ocean conservation event in Bali marred by ‘heartbreaking’ mass release of baby sea turtles


The mass release of baby turtles the day before the opening of an international marine conservation event in Bali has concerned environmentalists who say the hatchlings were not treated with due care.

One thousand hatchling olive ridley sea turtles, which are classified as vulnerable, were released by scores of tourists, company representatives and volunteers from local conservation groups on Kuta Beach on Sunday morning.

Upon release, most of the hatchlings did not show their characteristic behaviour of scampering towards the waves, and remained motionless on the beach. Participants were then encouraged to pick up the turtles and place them in the sea.

One participant, who did not want to be named, said the baby turtles were kept in buckets filled with water and made to wait on the beach until VIPs arrived.

“By the time that happened, it was already past 8am and the tide was out. Each turtle was put into smaller plastic containers with water so everyone could release one—the turtles were obviously getting very tired.”

She added that some participants were playing with the turtles before releasing them. “By the time they were released on the beach, they weren’t really moving. It was so sad to watch,” she said.

“Eventually the event organiser asked everyone to carry them to the water. People and children were picking them up and taking selfies with them. When placed in the water, some were too tired to swim. Many people were holding onto them for more photos. It was heartbreaking.”

Dr Uzair Rusli, a lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and research affiliate at the Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) of Institute Oceanography and Environment, faulted the procedure for the release.

Young sea turtles should not be released during the day, as they’re exposed to high temperatures and are more likely to fall victim to predators, he said. And they should not be handled. Sunblock, moisturiser, and the natural oils on human hands can interfere with female hatchlings’ natural process for remembering the beach it was born on, and it will one day return to to nest.

Richard Reina, associate professor of ecophysiology at Monash University and an expert on marine animals, said the usual practice for keeping turtles before release is to contain them on moist sand, covered and in a cool, dark place.

“It is not unusual if they [the turtles] initially look a bit lethargic, as it takes them a few minutes to become active after being held in the dark. But they should then start to crawl enthusiastically and swim vigorously when they reach the water,” he told Eco-Business.

The turtle release came ahead of Indonesia’s annual Our Ocean Conference (OOC), which convenes governments, businesses and civic society groups from all over the world on ocean conservation. The event opened with a clean up of Kuta Beach, one of the world’s most famous seaside tourist destinations. It was supported by corporations including Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Nestlé.


Supermarkets must cut food waste by half, government urges


More than 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year, with a large proportion from food manufacture and households.

Supermarkets must aim to halve their food waste by 2030, the government has urged. Action is also needed from manufacturers and suppliers will also have to dramatically reduce the amount of food that is thrown away. People’s individual roles in the fight against food waste is also being targeted, with social media influencers and chefs also being asked to pledge to cut waste.

More than 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year. Some 1.8 million of that waste comes from food manufacture, one million from the hospitality industry and 260,000 from retail. The rest is from households.

Ben Elliot, the government’s food surplus and waste champion, is leading the initiative calling on both suppliers and shoppers to be more efficient with food. He is asking nearly 300 organisations and individuals to adopt a package of pledges when they attend an event later this month aimed at tackling food waste.

Mr Elliot said: “Wasting food is an environmental, moral and financial scandal.” It’s expected that businesses will be encouraged to set their own targets and to adopt the food waste reduction roadmap to help companies measure and report effort to cut back waste.

Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons among those already signed up to the roadmap. However, only 90 out of the 250 largest food businesses targeted have joined the initiative. Mr Elliot will host the Step up to the Plate symposium alongside Environment Secretary Michael Gove at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 13 May.

Mr Gove said: “The UK is showing real leadership in this area, but I urge businesses to join me in signing the pledge so we can bring about real change.” The efforts will help align the UK with the UN sustainable development goal of halving global food waste by 2030 per person. The government has committed to investing £15m in tackling food waste.



Britain goes a whole week without burning coal for electricity


Britain has gone a week without burning coal for electricity for the first time since the 19th century. Power operator National Grid says coal hasn’t contributed to the U.K. electricity mix since the afternoon of May 1. The landmark was reached two years after Britain had its first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution.

Fintan Slye, director of National Grid Electricity System Operator, said Wednesday that coal-free power would become the ‘new normal’ as Britain generates more power from wind, solar and other renewable sources. Earlier this month, Britain set a new record after the National Grid went coal-free for 100 hours.

The Government plans to phase out Britain’s last coal-fired power plants by 2025 in a bid to cut carbon emissions. Coal currently accounts for under 10 per cent of the country’s power output. Of the 31.45 gigawatts (GW) powering the UK on Sunday, none was accounted for by the use of coal-fired power stations. A GW of power will provide enough energy for about 700,000 homes.

Sean Kemp, a spokesman for the National Grid, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We broke the record this weekend for the longest period of time without coal. The continuous period of time without any coal generation on the system was just over 100 hours.

‘It’s becoming a more regular occurrence now. More people have installed solar, more coal is coming off and there’s more wind in the system.’ If the UK continues at the current rate, it is expected it will far surpass the 1,800 hours of coal-free power generated over the whole of 2018.

A government spokesman said: ‘Decarbonising our energy system is a crucial part of our commitment to ending our contribution to global warming. This year we’ve already reached the major milestone of 1,000 hours without using coal to power our homes and industry. We’re closing in on phasing out coal entirely from our power system by 2025 as our renewables sector goes from strength to strength on our path to becoming the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.’

A spokesman for the National Grid added: ‘As more and more renewables come onto our energy system weekends like this are going to increasingly seem like the ‘new normal’. We believe that by 2025 we will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon.

‘The transformation of how we get the energy to heat our homes and power our work is a massive change, but the advantages it brings in terms of green energy far outweigh any challenges.’


Climate change: UK 'can cut emissions to nearly zero' by 2050


The UK should lead the global fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050, a report says. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) maintains this can be done at no added cost from previous estimates.

Its report says that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100. A 1.5C rise is considered the threshold for dangerous climate change.

Some say the proposed 2050 target for near-zero emissions is too soft, but others will fear the goal could damage the UK’s economy. The CCC – the independent adviser to government on climate change – said it would not be able to hit “net zero“ emissions any sooner, but 2050 was still an extremely significant goal. The main author Chris Stark told me: “This report would have been absolutely inconceivable just a few years ago. People would have laughed us out of court for suggesting that the target could be so high.”

The main change, he said, was the huge drop in the cost of renewable energy prompted by government policies to nurture solar and wind power. He said the BBC’s David Attenborough climate documentary, protests by Extinction Rebellion and speeches by the teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg had persuaded the public that the problem needed urgent action.

But Mr Stark said there was no way the 2050 target would be achieved unless the government backed it with policies and money. He noted that the UK was already slipping away from a legal obligation to cut its emissions step-by-step between now and 2032.

The cost of the new proposal, the CCC estimates, is tens of billions of pounds a year and may reach to 1-2% of national wealth (as measured by GDP) each year by 2050. That doesn’t count the benefits of decarbonisation – such as cleaner air and water.

The CCC said England can eliminate emissions by 2050, while Scotland could go carbon-free sooner – by 2045. Scotland has exceptional potential for planting trees (which absorb carbon dioxide) and is more suited for carbon capture and storage.

Wales can only cut 95% of its emissions by 2050 because of its farm industry. Northern Ireland will follow England’s targets.

The government is studying the report, which has substantial implications for public finances, and says it “sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely”.


Food waste efforts could save Euro businesses €10bn


A new report by major Netherlands-based global financial institution Rabobank urges food retailers to work with their suppliers to encourage the use of innovative new technologies to reduce food waste.

Retailers and farmers across Europe could save up to €10bn a year if they work together to roll out innovative new technologies that could dramatically reduce food waste, according to the new report by Rabobank.

As consumers come under increasing pressure to reduce food waste, the report by the Netherlands banking group reveals how for every €30bn worth of food thrown away at home, €60bn is lost in the supply chain.

The biggest losses occur in the market for fruit and vegetables, where the supply chain accounts for 72 per cent and 66 per cent of waste respectively, and leads to total losses worth around €28bn each year. Wasted starchy root vegetables also account for around €8bn in industry losses.

Rabobank report author Paul Bosch said in a statement the potential for savings was huge. He recommends a series of new innovations, which combined could save the industry €10bn a year, while also helping the EU to meet its 30 per cent food waste reduction target by 2025.

The report highlights how a range of new packaging technologies, such as It’sFresh! and PerfoTec, which prolong the life of fruit and vegetables, new harvesting machinery that can reduce damage to crops and the use of new food storage systems, can all help slash waste levels. However, current business models do not always reward this kind of efficiency.

Mr Bosch said retailers needed to work with growers, packagers and wholesalers to overcome these challenges and incentivise them to invest in new technologies.

“Overcoming this ‘split incentive’, where costs and benefits fall to different parties, requires an innovative approach to supply chain partnerships and business models,” said Mr Bosch.

Benefits would not only include increased shelf life, but also opening up new geographical markets and reducing the cost of dealing with stock that has passed its use by date, the report argued.

“Implementing innovations for food waste reduction should start with selecting partners that understand and attach a value to all of the potential benefits of reducing waste, partners that are willing to work towards realising these benefits,” Mr Bosch added.


UN chief: ‘eco friendly, green economy is the future'

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said winning the race against climate change to keep the planet livable and on a healthy trajectory required action rooted in sustainable solutions aligned with the Paris Agreement and the UN-driven 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

“To put it simply, we need green developmentWe need sustainable development.  And we need it now.Painting a sobering picture of the challenges ahead, for the planet and the broader effort to secure improved human well-being while reducing environmental risks, Mr Guterres recalled that the past four years were the hottest on record and that natural disasters have wreaked havoc in nearly every region of the globe.

No country or community is immune, and, as we know, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer, and the worst hit,” said Mr Guterres, warning that the climate crisis threatens decades of progress and jeopardizes all our plans for inclusive, sustainable development. “And the clock is ticking.  Science has clearly told us that we have only 12 years for this transformation, if we want to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Yet the race to head off a climate catastrophe and ensure a safe and secure planet for all can be won, he said, with global action rooted in solutions that are sustainable and aligned with the landmark Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda.

“I am calling on leaders to show concrete, realistic plans to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020,” he said, referring to efforts by each country under the Paris Agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt faster to the impacts of climate change. The Secretary-General said these plans must show how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 45 per cent over the next decade and how the world can get to net zero emissions globally by 2050 through strong mitigation and adaptation measures.

“It is why I have been asking leaders around the world to adopt carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, end subsidies on fossil fuels, and stop construction of new coal plants beyond 2020,” he explained. “The momentum for transformational change is growing,” said the Secretary-General, stressing that the “green economy is the future,” and more governments, cities and businesses than ever understand that climate solutions strengthen economies and protect the environment at the same time.

New technologies are delivering energy at a lower cost than the fossil-fuel-driven economy, he continued, and solar and onshore wind were now the cheapest sources of new power, in virtually all major economies.

Source: EcoNews is an independent publication that relies on contributions from its readers.

UN: waste food world’s third-biggest carbon source


According to a United Nations report the world’s food waste accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than any country except for China and the United States.

The UN says every year about a third of all food for human consumption, around 1.3 billion tonnes, is wasted. Along with that goes all the energy, water and chemicals needed to produce the food and dispose of it.

Almost 30 per cent of the world’s farmland, and a volume of water equivalent to the annual discharge of Europe’s River Volga, are in effect being used in vain. In its Food Wastage Footprint report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated the carbon footprint of wasted food was equivalent to 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. If it were a country, it would be the world’s third biggest emitter after China and the US.

This suggests that more efficient food use could contribute substantially to global efforts to cut greenhouse gases to limit global warming. The FAO estimated the cost of the wasted food, excluding fish and seafood, around $US750 billion a year, based on producer prices.

In the industrialised world, much of the waste comes from consumers buying too much and throwing away what they do not eat. In developing countries, it is mainly the result of inefficient farming and a lack of proper storage facilities.

“Food wastage reduction would not only avoid pressure on scarce natural resources but also decrease the need to raise food production by 60 per cent in order to meet the 2050 population demand,” the FAO said.

It suggested improving communication between producers and consumers to manage the supply chain more efficiently, as well as investing more in harvesting, cooling and packaging methods. It also said consumers in the developed world should be encouraged to serve smaller portions and make more use of leftovers.

Businesses should give surplus food to charities and develop alternatives to dumping organic waste in landfill, the report said. The wasted food consumes about 250 cubic kilometres of water and takes up about 1.4 billion hectares, much of it diverse natural habitat that has been cleared to make it arable.