Floods and heatwaves threaten lives across the globe – plus other nature and climate stories to read this week

Top nature and climate stories: Flooding in India and China; Heatwaves across Europe and the US; and more.
Top nature and climate stories: Flooding in India and China; Heatwaves across Europe and the US; and more.
Image: REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
  • This weekly round-up contains the key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: Flooding in India and China; Heatwaves across Europe and the US; COP28 president urges countries to be "brutally honest" about climate action.

1. Floods force evacuations in India and China

All schools were closed in India's capital New Delhi and people were urged to work from home on 13 July, as the river Yamuna reached its highest level in 45 years following record rainfall.

Hundreds of people were evacuated to relief camps on 12 July, as the water level of the river passed its "danger mark" – and submerged some adjoining parts of Delhi.

The city, home to more than 20 million people, has recorded 113% more rain than average since monsoon season started on 1 June, according to the India Meteorological Department.

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned that water supplies would be affected and appealed to residents of Delhi "to cooperate with each other in every possible way in this emergency".

At least 88 people have died in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, as flash floods swept away bridges, cars and homes.

It comes as more than 40,000 people were evacuated due to flooding in China's Sichuan province, state media reported on 12 July, due to unusually heavy rains.

Floods and mudslides have destroyed homes, damaged infrastructure and killed several people.

Centre: Nature and Climate

How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

The Global Risks Report 2023 ranked failure to mitigate climate change as one of the most severe threats in the next two years, while climate- and nature- related risks lead the rankings by severity over the long term.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Nature and Climate is a multistakeholder platform that seeks to safeguard our global commons and drive systems transformation. It is accelerating action on climate change towards a net-zero, nature-positive future.

Learn more about our impact:

  • Scaling up green technologies: Through a partnership with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, and over 65 global businesses, the First Movers Coalition has committed $12 billion in purchase commitments for green technologies to decarbonize the cement and concrete industry.
  • 1 trillion trees: Over 90 global companies have committed to conserve, restore and grow more than 8 billion trees in 65 countries through the 1t.org initiative – which aims to achieve 1 trillion trees by 2030.
  • Sustainable food production: Our Food Action Alliance is engaging 40 partners who are working on 29 flagship initiatives to provide healthy, nutritious, and safe foods in ways that safeguard our planet. In Vietnam, it supported the upskilling of 2.2 million farmers and aims to provide 20 million farmers with the skills to learn and adapt to new agricultural standards.
  • Eliminating plastic pollution: Our Global Plastic Action Partnership is bringing together governments, businesses and civil society to shape a more sustainable world through the eradication of plastic pollution. In Ghana, more than 2,000 waste pickers are making an impact cleaning up beaches, drains and other sites.
  • Protecting the ocean: Our 2030 Water Resources Group has facilitated almost $1 billion to finance water-related programmes, growing into a network of more than 1,000 partners and operating in 14 countries/states.
  • Circular economy: Our SCALE 360 initiative is reducing the environmental impacts of value chains within the fashion, food, plastics and electronics industries, positively impacting over 100,000 people in 60 circular economy interventions globally.

Want to know more about our centre’s impact or get involved? Contact us.

2. Heatwaves in Europe and US – as El Niño forecast to continue

The Southwest of the United States and Southern Europe were continuing to swelter under intense heatwaves this week, as forecasters predicted the El Niño phenomenon behind them would continue into next year.

As of 14 July, around 100 million Americans from Florida to California were under excessive heat advisories, watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

It came as the Climate Prediction Center said there was a greater than 90% chance that El Niño conditions, which bring periods of intense heat, would continue to grow over autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and peak in the winter.

Map of heatwave across Europe. climate news
The European Space Agency uses satellites to monitor temperatures.
Image: European Space Agency

Warnings were also in place across much of Southern Europe, as the heatwave named "Cerberus" by Italy's Meteorological Society, pushed temperatures to near-record levels.

The Greek authorities were anticipating temperatures as high as 43°C or 44°C over the weekend, Reuters reports.

"Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heatwave with temperatures expected to climb to 48°C on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe," said the European Space Agency, which monitors temperatures on land and sea.

As many as 61,000 people are thought to have died in Europe's heatwaves in summer 2022, according to research released on 10 July.

On the same day, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed the first week in July was the hottest on record.

3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week

The UAE's COP28 president, Sultan al-Jaber, has laid out a plan for the climate summit to be held in Dubai in November. He urged countries to be "brutally honest about the gaps that need to be filled" and agree on a plan to get back on track to meet climate targets.

John Kerry, the US special envoy on climate change, made it clear that the United States will not provide reparations to developing countries affected by climate-related disasters. He was speaking at a congressional hearing on 13 July.

The ocean is becoming more green due to the climate crisis and changes in plankton, according to research that used NASA images, The Guardian reports.

A new analysis reveals the plastics consumed annually by Australians have a greenhouse gas emissions impact equivalent to 5.7 million cars – more than a third of the total number of cars on Australia's roads.

Britain has announced plans to eliminate the current limit on fines for polluters. The limit, which is currently set at £250,000 ($322,375), will be removed. Additionally, the number of offences that can be prosecuted by environmental regulators will be expanded.

The European Parliament on 13 July voted to pass a law to restore degraded natural ecosystems, which had been hotly contested.

4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

Long lead times are hampering the speed of renewable energy build-out worldwide. Digitalizing the processes for permit application as well as the stakeholder engagement can cut down lead times so clean energy projects can get built faster, according to four clean energy experts.

Young people are becoming catalysts for change in the face of growing climate crisis issues. The world's youth are at the forefront of building a sustainable future with cutting-edge technology and circular economic models. Here are some of the youth-led initiatives driving real solutions for a sustainable future.

The climate crisis is accelerating the global food crisis. Extreme weather, fuelled by rising temperatures, causes short-term disruptions in crop growing and long-term changes in regional growing conditions. We must act now to protect the most vulnerable, writes Himanshu Gupta, CEO of ClimateAI.

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