• This weekly round-up brings you some of the key environment stories from the past seven days.
  • Top stories: Pollution levels dangerously high in India's New Delhi; COP26 ends with Glasgow Climate Pact; EU proposes law curbing import of goods linked to deforestation; China could hit peak coal by 2024.

1. Environment stories from around the world

More children are in hospital with breathing problems as pollution levels remain dangerously high in New Delhi, doctors warned on Wednesday. The government shut five power stations and extended school closures to try to contain the crisis.

COP26 ended on Saturday with a deal that for the first time targeted fossil fuels as the key driver of global warming, even as coal-reliant countries lobbed last-minute objections. The Glasgow Climate Pact keeps alive the hope of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. “If it’s a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable,” US Climate Envoy John Kerry said. “And this has been, I think, a good negotiation.”

“If it’s a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable. And this has been, I think, a good negotiation.”

—US Climate Envoy John Kerry

Major multilateral organizations will launch a new initiative next week aimed at developing a system of standards for companies, investors and financial institutions to measure their impact on global sustainability. The new Impact Management Platform is founded by organizations including four UN agencies, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank.

The United States will join talks on a new global treaty to curb plastic pollution, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday, marking its first support for the initiative. The US produces more plastic waste per capita than any other country. It will join talks at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in February 2022 on protecting oceans from the "growing global harms of plastic pollution", Blinken said.

Energy producers gathered in Abu Dhabi called, on Monday, for greater inclusivity that would see more investment in hydrocarbons for energy security as they work to reduce emissions while developing their economies. The world could not "simply unplug" from hydrocarbons and the oil and gas industry needs to invest over $600 billion a year until 2030 just to meet expected demand, said Abu Dhabi National Oil Co-Chief Executive Sultan Al Jaber.

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a revamp of EU rules on waste shipments to make it harder for member states to offload their trash in poorer countries.

The Basel Committee of regulators from the G20 economies and other countries on Tuesday proposed its first set of principles for dealing with climate-related financial risks as debate continues over how far and fast regulators should move.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a three-year $1.4 billion plan to help California achieve its electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling goals. The CEC said the plan, approved on Monday, will support California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order phasing out the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2035.

Seed-scattering drones are crisscrossing Croatia's skies in an airborne attempt to replant remote forests damaged by fire, an initiative its backers aim to promote internationally.

Singapore is teaming up with Airbus to study the potential use of hydrogen in aircraft operations as part of a broad agreement on sustainable aviation, the city-state's aviation regulator said on Thursday.

Emergency crews were still trying to reach 18,000 people stranded on Thursday after floods and mudslides destroyed roads, houses and bridges in British Columbia in what could be the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?

Halting deforestation is essential to avoiding the worst effects of global climate change.

The destruction of forests creates almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as global road travel, and yet it continues at an alarming rate.

In 2012, we brought together more than 150 partners working in Latin America, West Africa, Central Africa and South-East Asia – to establish the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020: a global public-private partnership to facilitate investment in systemic change.

The Alliance, made up of businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people, communities and international organizations, helps producers, traders and buyers of commodities often blamed for causing deforestation to achieve deforestation-free supply chains.

The Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020, summarizes the areas in which the most urgent action is needed to eliminate deforestation from global agricultural supply chains.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is gaining ground on tackling deforestation linked to the production of four commodities: palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper.

Get in touch to join our mission to halt to deforestation.

2. EU proposes law curbing import of goods linked to deforestation

The European Commission has proposed a law aimed at curbing the import of commodities linked to deforestation by requiring companies to prove their global supply chains are not contributing to the destruction of forests.

The proposed law sets mandatory due diligence rules for importers of specific commodities into the European Union market: soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee and some derived products including leather, chocolate and furniture.

While many European companies have sprawling global operations, including in countries where environmental abuses are rife, there is currently no EU-wide requirement for them to have a due diligence process in place.

The proposed law comes after world leaders from countries including Brazil, China and Malaysia promised to end deforestation by 2030 at this month's COP26 summit.

"To succeed in the global fight against the climate and biodiversity crises we must take the responsibility to act at home as well as abroad," EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said.

Global coal power falls in 2020.
How coal power generation has dropped in the past five years.
Image: Statista

3. China's key industries could hit peak coal use by 2024

China's major coal-consuming industries, including power, steel, cement and coal chemical production, could hit peak use of the dirty fossil fuel around 2024, according to a government researcher.

Beijing has pledged to bring its carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 and to start phasing down coal use after 2026.

The four industrial sectors made up more than 86% of total coal consumption and more than 70% of total carbon emissions in China, the world's biggest coal user and greenhouse gas emitter.

Coal use in those four sectors could peak at 2.48 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent, said Cao Dong, principal expert from the Chinese Academy of Environment Planning, a research institute affiliated to China's environment ministry, at a seminar.

"Coal use at steel and cement sectors should have reached a peak (in 2020 and 2021), followed by coal chemicals by around 2024," Cao said.

The power sector, however, would only hit peak coal consumption by around 2028 due to growing electricity demand and concerns over energy safety, Cao said, adding that carbon emissions would hit a high one year after coal use peaks.

More than 60% of China's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, and a shortage of coal this year has caused widespread power outages.