Future of the Environment

Nature needs $384 billion a year, and other climate change stories you need to read this week

This weekly round-up brings you key climate change stories from the past seven days.

This weekly round-up brings you key climate change stories from the past seven days. Image: Unsplash/ Matt Palmer

Kate Whiting
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Future of the Environment

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  • This weekly round-up brings you key climate change stories from the past seven days.
  • Top climate change and environment stories: UN says more investment is needed to protect nature, as COP15 gets under way; Air pollution is affecting health and economic growth in Bangladesh; Energy efficiency has grown in 2022.

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

Hurricane Ian and other natural catastrophes have caused an estimated $115 billion of insured losses so far this year, well above the 10-year average of $81 billion, Swiss Re estimated on 1 December. Natural and man-made disasters caused economic damage of $268 billion, of which $122 billion was covered by insurance, making 2022 one of the most expensive yet for the sector, it said.

Investments into protecting and better managing the world's ecosystems need to reach $384 billion a year by 2025 – more than double their current levels – to guard against the threats of climate change and loss of natural resources, the UN's environment watchdog says. The calculation will inform the COP15 biodiversity summit starting on 5 December in Montreal, Canada, where countries will try to agree on a deal to protect nature and wildlife from further losses and degradation of species and landscapes.

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India's capital, New Delhi, was engulfed in thick smog early on 5 December as cooler weather exacerbated pollution and the government banned private construction in and around the city to try to limit dust and emissions. Residents of New Delhi endure poor air every winter as colder, heavier air traps construction dust, vehicle emissions and smoke from the burning of crop stubble in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana.

Air pollution in Bangladesh is robbing the South Asian nation of economic growth as well as causing premature death and illness, the World Bank says. Pollution reduced gross domestic product by 3.9-4.4% in 2019 and was the second-biggest cause of death and disability, the global lender said in a report.

Relative sizes of particulate matter
The size of particulate matter affects how harmful it can be. Image: World Bank

Australia's Great Barrier Reef should be listed as a world heritage site that is "in danger", according to a UN panel. It says the world's biggest coral reef ecosystem has been significantly impacted by climate change and ocean warming.

Germany will set up so-called climate protection contracts with industrial companies next year to support a transition towards cleaner production and a switch to hydrogen, Economy Minister Robert Habeck says.

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's incoming administration aims to create a new federal police unit focused on environmental crimes, the transition team's public security chief told Reuters.

The European Union has set out plans to certify removals of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while leaving key details to be worked out later – including how these removals will count towards EU climate change targets.

Companies are not doing enough to stop biodiversity loss, and most have no idea about the damage to nature their supply chains are causing, according to a report from environmental disclosure platform CDP.


How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

2. Energy efficiency rate accelerates amid high prices – IEA

Global progress towards energy efficiency has accelerated this year as a result of high energy prices and disruptions to fuel supply, but not by enough to meet climate change targets, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

The Paris-based watchdog has called for governments to prioritize efforts to improve energy efficiency in buildings and transport, as ambitions to reduce emissions and curb rising temperatures cannot be met by only focusing on building out renewable energy.

"The oil shocks of the 1970s led to a massive push by governments on energy efficiency, resulting in substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of cars, appliances and buildings," IEA head Fatih Birol says. "Amid today's energy crisis, we are seeing signs that energy efficiency is once again being prioritized."

Preliminary data indicate that global investments in energy efficiency such as heat pumps and building insulation will increase by 16% this year to $560 billion, according to the IEA.

3. More on climate change on Agenda

The EU has lost around €145 billion ($153 billion) in a decade due to climate-related events, according to Eurostat. And temperatures in Europe have risen faster than in any other continent over the past 30 years, the World Meteorological Organization says. The EU says its Green Deal initiative will focus on both climate mitigation and adaptation to help the bloc become carbon neutral by 2050.

Paralympic gold medallist Susie Rodgers spoke to the Forum's Laura Beltran about how climate change affects people with disabilities. Since retiring as an athlete, Susie has dedicated her life to advocating for climate and disability inclusion. People with disabilities often face extra barriers during climate emergencies such as floods, drought or heatwaves – and they're often excluded from the solution-finding process too.

Climate change is leaving a growing list of countries facing water challenges – and Singapore is one of the most water-stressed places in the world. But it's recycling its wastewater so it’s clean enough to drink.

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