Nature and Biodiversity

The US website to help people cope with heatwaves, and other environment stories you need to read this week

Heatwave environment climate change

Climate change is driving heatwaves. Image: Unsplash/Lucian Dachman

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of the Environment

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  • This weekly round-up brings you key environment stories from the past seven days.
  • Top stories: Rich nations fail to deliver on climate pledge - OECD; US launches Heat.gov as record heatwave continues; Europe needs to move faster on renewables to reach climate goals.

1. News in brief: Top environment and climate change stories to read this week

Rich nations failed to meet a pledge to deliver billions of dollars to help poorer countries cope with climate change, the OECD said on 29 July. In 2009, developed countries promised that by 2020 they would transfer $100 billion per year to vulnerable states hit by increasingly severe climate-linked impacts and disasters. In 2020, they provided $83.3 billion.

US Senate Democrats have struck a legislative deal that would divert nearly $370 billion to climate and energy security measures with the aim of slashing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and curbing consumer energy costs at the same time.

Climate shocks could quickly ripple through the eurozone economy as financial interlinkages amplified dangers and losses, a study by the European Central Bank and the EU's risk watchdog, the European Systemic Risk Board, said on 26 July.

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Australia sees the world's climate emergency as an opportunity to create jobs, the new Labor government said on 27 July, introducing legislation to enshrine an emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050.

Three quarters of the world's sovereign wealth funds now have a formal policy on environmental, social and governance investing, yet just 30% have set a target to reduce carbon emissions across their investments, a study has shown.

China's clean energy transition will continue despite the challenges to global energy security posed by the conflict in Ukraine and a return to coal in Europe, and it remains on track to meet its carbon goals, energy officials said on 27 July.

The recent heatwave which scorched Britain was made at least 10 times more likely because of climate change, scientists reported on 28 July. On 19 July, temperatures climbed above 40°C (104°F) at Heathrow Airport and records were broken at 46 local monitoring stations across the country.

Global coal demand is set to rise slightly this year to match a record high reached nearly a decade ago, the International Energy Agency said, as gas prices have soared.

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2. US launches Heat.gov for communities facing heatwaves

President Joe Biden's administration launched a new website on 26 July - Heat.gov - to provide resources for the public and decision-makers to cope with heatwaves.

Heat.gov is the platform for the US' National Integrated Heat Health Information System, which is on a mission to "identify needs for extreme heat services, develop science-based solutions", and "empower communities with improved communications, capacity building, and decision-making".

The website features interactive heat maps, information on urban heat islands, and tips for how to stay cool in hot weather.

A heat-related illness and temperature map of the US. heatwave climate change environment
This map shows the rate of emergency department visits associated with heat-related illness per 100,000 in the US. Image: Heat.gov/CDC

It comes as north-western regions of the United States experienced another record-breaking heat wave for the second summer in a row. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for northwest Oregon on 28 July, with forecasts in some inland areas running as high as 110°F (43°C).

The extreme heat fuelled a fast-moving California wildfire just west of Yosemite National Park on 22 July that firefighters have been working to get under control.

3. Europe needs faster renewables growth rate to reach climate goals

Wind and solar energy deployment in the European Union is not proceeding fast enough to meet global climate goals due to a slow permitting process, a report by independent climate think tank Ember showed on 27 July.

In order to reach the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the EU will need an additional 76 gigawatts (GW) of the renewable sources by 2026, though Ember forecasts show only an additional 38GW will be deployed over the next four years.

Finland, Croatia, Lithuania and Sweden are the only countries currently expected to achieve sufficiently high annual wind capacity increases to align with the 1.5°C goal, Ember said.

"Europe no longer lacks renewables ambition, but it is now facing an implementation gap. Higher targets have not yet translated into accelerated deployment on the ground," Ember analyst Harriet Fox said.

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