Nature and Biodiversity

Climate tipping points and other environment stories you need to read this week

A man pushes his stalled motorbike on a flooded street as a truck drives past after heavy rains in Gurugram, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, 23 September 2022.

Heavy flooding has hit New Delhi. Image: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of the Environment

This article is part of: Centre for Nature and Climate

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  • This weekly round-up brings you key environment stories from the past seven days.
  • Top stories: China urges Europe to take positive steps on climate change; Japan starts carbon credit trading trial; World at 'positive tipping point' in fight against climate change – Al Gore.

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

Young activists rallied for climate action on 23 September, staging Fridays for Future protests in countries from New Zealand and Japan to Germany and the Democratic Republic of Congo to demand that rich countries pay for the damage that global warming is inflicting upon the poor.

The world is at a "positive tipping point" in the fight against climate change as surging oil and gas costs spur governments to decarbonize faster, former US Vice-President and co-founder of sustainable investment company Generation Investment Management Al Gore has told Reuters.

Authorities in a suburb of the Indian capital New Delhi where many companies have offices ordered schools to close and urged residents to work from home on 23 September after heavy rain brought widespread flooding.

The death toll from malaria and other diseases in Pakistan's flood-ravaged regions reached 324, authorities said on 21 September. Actress and humanitarian campaigner Angelina Jolie said she feared many people she had met during visits to flood-hit areas this week would "not make it" if more aid did not arrive.

A total of 19 companies applied to develop carbon dioxide (CO2) storage offshore Britain in the country's first such licensing round. Britain aims to use carbon capture and storage to hold 20 million to 30 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. The technology involves filtering out CO2 from industrial smokestacks before it hits the atmosphere, then storing it underground.

Banks face the risk of being sued if they don't stick to their climate goals or if they try "greenwashing" their image, a top European Central Bank supervisor said on 22 September. "If banks do not meet the targets they have announced or follow the climate strategy they have communicated, they expose themselves to litigation and reputational risks," Anneli Tuominen told a conference in Frankfurt.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched an $85 million campaign to block the planned construction of plastic and petrochemical plants across the US. The plan is modelled on his decade-long effort to shutter coal-fired power plants.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new office that will focus on the needs of minority communities overburdened by pollution. It will oversee the delivery of $3 billion in environmental justice grants.

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2. China urges Europe to take positive steps on climate change

Europe and other developed countries must take "positive action" to implement climate change goals as geopolitical uncertainties threaten to undermine their efforts, China's top climate envoy has told his German counterpart.

Xie Zhenhua, who leads China's climate negotiations, told Germany's special climate envoy Jennifer Morgan via video link late on 21 September that global climate governance is facing "multiple challenges and uncertainties".

"The climate policies of some European countries have shown a 'backswing', and it is hoped that this is just a temporary stopgap," he said, according to a summary of the meeting released by China's environment ministry.

As Western countries raise coal consumption to offset gas supply disruptions brought about by the conflict in Ukraine, China's foreign ministry says its own green and low-carbon development path remains firm – "in contrast with the European Union".

The EU insists that its rising coal use is only a temporary measure that will have no long-term impact on its target to cut emissions by 55% between 1990 and 2030.

China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, is expected to focus on the issue of financing at this year's COP27 global climate talks, which will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in November.

Xie told Morgan that "implementation and action" should be the major theme of the meeting, and that he hopes industrialized countries will quickly meet their pledge under the Paris Agreement to transfer $100 billion a year in climate funds to developing nations.

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3. Japan starts carbon credit trading trial

Japan started trial trading of carbon credits on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) on 22 September, as the world's fifth-largest carbon emitter aims to create a nationwide market mechanism to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The TSE has been commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to conduct the pilot project as the ministry prepares to set up the first exchange-based market for trading carbon credits in Japan, to help participants offset their emissions or monetize reduced emissions.

"The use of carbon credits is an essential initiative to achieve efficient emission reductions throughout society," said Makoto Nagamine, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of METI. "Putting a price on the value of carbon reductions through the credit trading will increase the predictability of decarbonization investments."

Under the trial, registered members – of which there were 145 on launch day – can trade existing carbon credits, known as J-Credits, certified by the government. These have been traded on a voluntary basis and outside an exchange system since 2013.

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