‘We’re on a highway to climate hell,” U.N. Secretary-General says at COP27


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Grace Smith | November 8, 2022

United Nations secretary general António Guterres warned the world at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference on Nov. 7 that the world is headed to a “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” The COP27 Summit began on Sunday, Nov. 6, and world speakers addressed climate issues and gave speeches in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

The climate conversations are the 27th of the Conference of Parties to the U.N. convention. Over 44,000 gov. Representatives, business groups, and civil society groups are registered to attend the conference.

Guterres’ speech about the state of the world’s climate began after talking about a release of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) data on Sunday stating that the world has most likely witnessed the warmest eight years on record. According to the data, the rate of sea-level rise has doubled since 1993, and the past two-and-a-half-years have accounted for 10 percent of sea-level rise in the past 30 years.

“The greater the warming, the worse the impacts. We have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas. “All too often, those least responsible for climate change suffer most – as we have seen with the terrible flooding in Pakistan and deadly, long-running drought in the Horn of Africa. But even well-prepared societies this year have been ravaged by extremes – as seen by the protracted heatwaves and drought in large parts of Europe and southern China.” 

At this year’s COP27 summit, “funding arrangements” for vulnerable countries are on the agenda. Guterres spoke Monday strongly urging attendees at the summit to help vulnerable countries like Pakistan. An estimate between $290 billion to $580 billion is required for countries per year by 2030.

Current climate plans are not enough to avoid disastrous climate change, UN says


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Grace Smith | October 28, 2022

The world’s governments haven’t dedicated enough attention or promise to bypass the catastrophic climate change effects, the United Nations said in a released report on Oct. 26. This puts the world on course for a 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures by the end of the century. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that CO2 emissions need to be cut by 43 percent by 2030, but existing climate plans demonstrate a 10.6 percent increase instead.

“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year,” said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world,” Stiell warned.

Cutting methane emissions — the second largest contributor to climate change — would be the quickest and most effective way to alter the fast pace of global warming. Methane emissions have an 80 times more significant warming effect than carbon dioxide over 20 years.

Stiell suggested an urgent call for global leaders to seal the gap between where emissions are leaning toward and where science displays levels should be, calling for nations to be focused on a few key aspects: mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and finance.

33 million affected by climate change-induced intensity of Pakistan monsoon season


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Grace Smith | September 2, 2022

Pakistan is experiencing its worst monsoon season in over a decade. Over 33 million citizens have been impacted and over 1,100 people have been killed by the strong winds and increased rainfall that has submerged one-third of the country underwater. 

Although scientists are still determining how climate change has specifically affected the monsoon season, it is clear that global warming is increasing the likelihood of severe rain in South Asia

From June through September, rain falls and winds normally blow from the southwest, but, with global warming increasing, the warmer atmosphere is holding more moisture, creating a large increase in rainfall. Rainfall in Pakistan this year is three times the nation’s average in the past 30 years.

The monsoon-induced disasters have worsened the risk of diseases and caused 20,000 people in dire need of food and medical support. 

The United Nations established a joint appeal with Pakistan for $160 million. “The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said during the appeal’s launch. “…Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.”

UN panel warns time is short to stop climate change


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | April 6, 2022

A new road to limiting climate change appeared from a new major scientific report from the United Nations, however it shows there is very little time to stop the effects of global warming.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conducted the report. The document warns that countries across the globe must drastically accelerate efforts in the near future to slash coal, oil, and natural gas emissions to limit global warming in the next decade. The report once again places the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is projected that countries will reach that mark by the end of the decade.

Holding down warming will cause nations to work together and collectively reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030, according to The New York Times. It also calls for the end of carbon dioxide emissions by the 2050s. While the goals are tall orders, the panel and report say it is possible for countries to make the changes necessary to limit the biggest effects of climate change.

The report was approved by 195 governments across the globe. Climate scientists are clear in the report, stating there is an extremely small margin for delay. Any additional extensions would cause global warming to go past relatively tolerable levels.

United Nations develops ‘historic’ plastic pollution treaty


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | March 4, 2022

The United Nations if preparing to approve a plan to create the first-ever global plastic pollution treaty.

The resolution is a multilateral climate deal that would be the most consequential agreement since the 2015 Paris accord. Nearly 200 countries at the UN environmental assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, agreed on Wednesday to develop a treaty according to CNBC. The resolution would address the full lifecycle of plastic from production to disposal. The current plan suggests a full treaty will be written by the end of 2024.

The treaty has been touted as a triumph and significant even though it has yet to be written. Delegates are set to figure out finer details further into the treaty negotiation process. The treaty’s focus on the “plastic crisis” has yet to be attempted on such a broad scale, both in terms of countries and timeline of plastic development.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said the treaty’s development could be a “breakthrough.”

“It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it,” Andersen said.

The UN Warns of Increased Wildfires this Century


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Josie Taylor | February 24, 2022

A new landmark United Nations report has reported that the risk of wildfires around the world will likely surge by over 50% in coming decades as climate change further intensifies what the report described as a “global wildfire crisis.” 

The scientific assessment was made as a result of deadly wildfires around the world, like in Australia and even the Arctic. It is the first by the organization’s environmental authority to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide. 

The report, produced by more than 50 researchers from six continents, estimated that the risk worldwide of highly devastating fires could increase by up to 57% by the end of the century, primarily due to climate change. Some regions are expected to experience much more severe fires than others. It is a stark warning about the increased heat and dryness that human-caused global warming is bringing about. 

In a moderate scenario for global warming, the likelihood of extreme, catastrophic fires could increase by up to 33% by 2050 and up to 52 percent by 2100, the report estimates. If emissions are not curbed and the planet heats up more, wildfire risks could rise by up to 57% by the end of the century.

Compromise met at the COP26, some say it isn’t enough


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By Eleanor Hildebrandt | November 15, 2021

After two weeks in Glasgow, 200 countries adopted a document regarding climate policies and action at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The agreement includes agreements to reduce fossil fuel and coal subsidies, specifically calling for a “phase down.” John Kerry, U.S. special envoy for climate change, called fossil fuel subsidies the insanity at the meeting, calling for the rapid phase out of their use immediately.

The U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres said more work needs to be done when it comes to the climate crisis. In a video address, he said the planet is fragile and “hanging by a thread,” as the world gets closer to a “climate catastrophe.”

Alongside other decisions, more than 100 world leaders—including the U.S. and China—committed to ending deforestation in the next nine years. COP26 President Alok Sharma told NBC News that this year’s summit was still an important stepping stone when it comings to climate change and global warming.

“We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive,” he said. “But its pulse is weak, and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action.”

Climate activists, like Greta Thunberg, said the real conversation and work regarding climate change continues outside of meetings with governmental officials.

WHO sets tougher regulations for air quality


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | September 28, 2021

The World Health Organization set new standards for air quality guidelines for the next 15 years on Sept. 22.

The standards are set for policymakers across the world to lower pollutants that impact air quality. According to the Associated Press, more research and monitoring has cleared up previous questions regarding the impacts pollutants have on the health of human beings and animals. The United Nations health agency said 90 percent of the global population currently live in environments with at least one harmful type of pollutant.

Pollution of the air is concerning to global health advocates, as it becomes comparable to smoking tobacco. The guidelines are not legally binding, and they ask policy makers to focus on reducing the concentrations of six pollutant. The concerning pollutants include two types of particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

Some of the guidelines also encourage individuals to do their part to improve air quality by changing their behaviors through reducing use of plastics and using public transportation instead of driving cars. Air pollution is decreasing in several countries and has over the past few years, especially in Europe and North America. The change of guidelines could see improvements across many other continents.

Joe Biden has a New Goal of Cutting Down Methane Emissions


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Josie Taylor | September 27, 2021

The United States and European Union are working on a pledge to cut methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, President Joe Biden announced on Sept. 17, 2021. He urged countries around the world to join before the U.N. climate summit later this year. 

Cutting out methane would be beneficial for both slowing climate change and for the health of every citizen. There is less methane in the atmosphere than there is carbon dioxide, however it is a much more potent greenhouse gas when it comes to warming the planet. Methane also causes unhealthy air pollution. 

Methane emissions have been going up very quickly recently, and research shows they need to drop by almost half by 2030 to meet the Paris climate agreement goals. This means that the entire world needs to cut methane emissions. 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, but it also contributes to surface ozone, which is a toxic air pollutant. Reducing methane improves air quality, while reducing the effects of climate change. Another benefit is that the results are almost immediate. 

Climate Change is a Human Rights Issue, UN Rights Chief Warns.


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Josie Taylor | September 16, 2021

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned the UN of what she called the biggest challenge to human rights- climate change. She said on Monday climate change, pollution, and nature loss are severely affecting human rights, while countries across the globe fail to take the necessary action. 

“As these environmental threats intensify, they will constitute the single greatest challenge to human rights of our era,” Bachelet said at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The UN has many goals they hope to reach by 2030. These goals include ending poverty, ending hunger, access to clean water worldwide and more. All of these issues are directly impacted by climate change. 

Bachelet said that climate change is putting people in extremely vulnerable situations, and it is “murdering” people. Not only are people dying directly from climate disasters, they are hungry from droughts and homeless from fires. All of these should be considered human rights violations, according to Bachelet.