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Weekly news wrap-up, April 15-20

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By illuminem

· 6 min read

illuminem delivers crucial climate updates from the past seven days, covering, among others, the decline in carbon pricing, alarming reports of coral reef bleaching, Dubai’ flooding, Scotland's abandonment of emission reduction commitments, and the EU's plastic product ban.

1. Scientists confirm fourth global coral bleaching event across 53 countries | Earth.Org
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Nature 🌿
A fourth global coral bleaching event, affecting 53 countries as of early 2023, has been confirmed due to record-high sea surface temperatures exacerbated by the recurring El Niño weather pattern. Coral bleaching events, linked to spikes in sea temperatures, can lead to widespread coral mortality, marking a significant environmental crisis. Coral reefs, vital for marine biodiversity and valued at approximately $9.9 trillion annually, are threatened by this decline, jeopardizing both marine life and the economic stability of communities reliant on reef ecosystems. 

2. No, Dubai’s floods weren’t caused by cloud seeding | Wired
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Climate Change🌡️ 
Dubai and other parts of the UAE faced severe flash flooding as heavy storms hit, causing widespread disruption such as flight cancellations. Initially, cloud seeding efforts were accused of contributing to the flooding, but experts and officials reject this idea. Despite conducting over 300 cloud seeding operations annually to augment rainfall, the National Center for Meteorology clarified that no seeding took place before the storms occurred. Dubai's rapid urbanization, coupled with inadequate green spaces and stormwater infrastructure, underscores its vulnerability to heavy rains, resulting in more frequent and intense weather events.

3. Scotland to abandon pledge to cut carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 | The Guardian
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Climate Change🌡️ 
Scottish government officials have abandoned their ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 75% by 2030, opting for less stringent, five-year carbon budgets instead, aligning policies more closely with the UK and Welsh governments' approaches. The original targets were deemed "no longer credible" due to inadequate progress in key areas such as home heating and transportation. The government plans to implement new measures, including expanding electric vehicle infrastructure and exploring a new public transport ticket system, but these initiatives have been criticized as insufficient given the scaled-back emissions targets.

4. Climate change is coming for our incomes | Euronews
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍,  Climate Change🌡️ 
A new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research predicts that climate change will cause significant global economic damage, with worldwide incomes decreasing by about 20% over the next 25 years compared to a scenario without warming. Southern European countries and the world's poorest regions are projected to suffer the most from these financial repercussions. The study, which examines the economic effects of climate change in 1,600 smaller regions worldwide, underscores the unequal burden placed on vulnerable populations, particularly those with lower financial resilience and historical low greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the urgent necessity for substantial carbon emission reductions.

5. Carbon price fall deprives Europe's green funds of billions | Reuters
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Carbon 🌫️ 
The European Union has seen a significant drop in carbon prices this year, leading to a €4.1 billion shortfall in expected revenues for green technologies. Carbon prices have halved compared to the previous year, attributed to decreased emissions from increased renewable energy usage and lower power demand. This decline poses a challenge to the EU's carbon pricing mechanism, intended to fund the transition to low-carbon technologies, as it generates less revenue than anticipated.  

6. EU calls for global ban on certain plastic products to combat pollution | European Commission
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍,  Climate Change🌡️
The EU advocates for a global ban on certain plastic products to combat plastic pollution, proposing a comprehensive lifecycle approach from design to waste management, discussed during UN Treaty negotiations in Ottawa. These talks aim to create a binding treaty to halt plastic pollution, focusing on eliminating problematic plastics and banning microplastics, with over 4,000 stakeholders involved. Negotiations continue until April 2024, with the EU aiming for high standards to end plastic pollution by 2040. Maroš Šefčovič, from the European Green Deal, emphasizes the urgency despite plastics' economic importance. Global plastic production hits 400 million tonnes yearly, with only 9% recycled, according to UNEP.

7. UK double counting millions of aid | The Guardian
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Climate Change🌡️
The UK government faces criticism for allegedly double counting £500 million of its aid budget as climate finance to meet international climate commitments. This involves reclassifying existing humanitarian aid to countries like Afghanistan and Yemen as climate-related expenditures. The shift comes amidst a reduction in the overall overseas aid budget, potentially compromising the UK's credibility and influence in international climate negotiations.

8. Earth’s record hot streak might be a sign of a new climate era | Washington Post
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Climate Change🌡️
A blistering heat wave in Mali and West Africa, with temperatures exceeding 110°F, is attributed to human-caused climate change and a strong El Niño, causing numerous deaths and health crises. This fits a global trend of record-breaking temperatures over the last ten months, driven by El Niño and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists monitor if this signals a new climate era or a temporary spike, with the shift from El Niño to La Niña possibly offering short-term relief amid ongoing challenges. 

9. Environmental damage could cost you a fifth of your income over the next 25 years | WIRED 
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Climate Change🌡️
Researchers predict a staggering 20% global economic shrinkage by 2050 due to ongoing climate change, based on a model analyzing local economies' responses to climate shifts over 40 years. This study, drawing from data across 1,600 global regions, correlates economic performance with climate variables like temperature and rainfall variability. The economic toll far surpasses the costs of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, estimated at $6 trillion, emphasizing the urgent need for climate action. Projections suggest wealthy regions might face an 11% income drop, while areas like Africa and South Asia could see reductions of 22%, underscoring the disproportionate impact on the Global South.

10. EU watchdog warns bloc still needs Russian LNG | Financial Times
Category: Energy ⚡, Oil & Gas 🔥 
The European Union’s energy regulator, Acer, advises caution in reducing imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) despite pressures to sever energy ties with Moscow. Acer emphasizes the need for a gradual approach to avoid an energy shock as pipeline gas supplies are expected to decrease. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the EU has increasingly relied on LNG, including from Russia itself. European officials are debating reducing reliance on Russian energy, with a proposed complete ban on Russian fossil fuels by 2027. Russia accounted for 16% of the EU’s total LNG imports last year, nearly a 40% increase from 2021.

11. UN livestock emissions report seriously distorted our work, say experts | The Guardian 
Category: Environmental Sustainability 🌍, Pollution 🏭
A UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on livestock emissions is under fire for allegedly downplaying the impact of reducing meat consumption on cutting agricultural emissions. Released at Cop28, the study used outdated and flawed methodologies, ignoring recent reductions in meat recommendations and influential reports favoring plant-based diets. The FAO has promised to review the report amid ongoing debate over dietary changes in climate strategies. Matthew Hayek, Assistant Professor at New York University, criticized the FAO's errors, highlighting agriculture's 23% contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, largely from livestock.

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