Global warming could be kept under 1.5°C thanks to green energy surge, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

Top nature and climate stories: Green energy surge keeps 1.5°C chances alive; Brazil taskforce to tackle drought; and more.
Top nature and climate stories: Green energy surge keeps 1.5°C chances alive; Brazil taskforce to tackle drought; and more.
Image: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
  • This weekly round-up contains the key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: Green energy surge keeps 1.5°C chances alive; Brazil taskforce to tackle drought; Climate change lawsuits filed against 32 governments in first-of-its-kind case.

1. Global warming could be kept under 1.5°C thanks to green energy surge, says IEA

The world's chances of limiting global warming to 1.5°C have been strengthened by record growth in clean energy, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Solar power capacity and electric car sales are rising at unprecedented levels – a fact the IEA describes as "significant", given that these two technologies can deliver a third of the emissions reductions needed this decade to put the world on track to reach net zero by 2050.

But "bolder action" is still needed in the rest of the 2020s to keep the 1.5°C goal alive, with spending on clean energy needing to more than double by the early 2030s, from $1.8 trillion a year to $4.5 trillion, the IEA says.

"Staying on track means almost all countries must move forward their targeted net zero dates," the IEA says.

Climate risks will rise if clean energy supplies do not increase rapidly, the IEA says.
Climate risks will rise if clean energy supplies do not increase rapidly, the IEA says.
Image: IEA

Failing to boost clean energy fast enough by 2030 will create additional climate risks, the IEA says. This follows the world recording its hottest summer on record in 2023, as well as a string of wildfires, storms, floods and droughts around the world this year.

Droughts have reduced water supplies in the US and led to cuts in forecasts for hydropower generation this year. Hydropower is the world's largest renewable source of electricity and production is required to grow by 4% a year through to 2030 under the IEA's scenario for reaching net zero by mid-century. However, it has been rising at just a third of this rate over the past five years.

“Keeping alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires the world to come together quickly," says IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. "The good news is we know what we need to do – and how to do it. But we also have a very clear message: Strong international cooperation is crucial to success. Governments need to separate climate from geopolitics, given the scale of the challenge at hand.”

2. Brazil taskforce to tackle drought

Lower river levels have led to large numbers of fish dying, robbing local populations of their primary protein source. More than a hundred dolphins have been found dead as a result of high water temperatures.

Up to half a million people could eventually be affected, Brazil's civil defence agency says.

"We have a very worrying situation. This record drought has disrupted river transport routes threatening food and water shortages, and a large fish mortality is already beginning," Environment Minister Marina Silva told Reuters.

Team Europe – which brings together EU members and bodies such as the European Investment Bank – will funnel €260 million ($277 million) into initiatives to halt deforestation.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about nature?

Biodiversity loss and climate change are occurring at unprecedented rates, threatening humanity’s very survival. Nature is in crisis, but there is hope. Investing in nature can not only increase our resilience to socioeconomic and environmental shocks, but it can help societies thrive.

There is strong recognition within the Forum that the future must be net-zero and nature-positive. The Nature Action Agenda initiative, within the Centre for Nature and Climate, is an inclusive, multistakeholder movement catalysing economic action to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

The Nature Action Agenda is enabling business and policy action by:

Building a knowledge base to make a compelling economic and business case for safeguarding nature, showcasing solutions and bolstering research through the publication of the New Nature Economy Reports and impactful communications.

Catalysing leadership for nature-positive transitions through multi-stakeholder communities such as Champions for Nature that takes a leading role in shaping the net-zero, nature-positive agenda on the global stage.

Scaling up solutions in priority socio-economic systems through BiodiverCities by 2030, turning cities into engines of nature-positive development; Financing for Nature, unlocking financial resources through innovative mechanisms such as high-integrity Biodiversity Credits Market; and Sector Transitions to Nature Positive, accelerating sector-specific priority actions to reduce impacts and unlock opportunities.

Supporting an enabling environment by ensuring implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and mobilizing business voices calling for ambitious policy actions in collaboration with Business for Nature.

3. News in brief: Top climate crisis stories this week

Lawsuits over climate change have been lodged against 32 governments in a first-of-its-kind case at the European Court of Human Rights. The filing by a group of six young people in Portugal accuses the governments – including all EU member states – of insufficient action over climate change and failing to cut emissions enough to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C.

Indonesia will seek to take legal action against palm oil companies that use land illegally. Around 20% of its palm oil plantations are in areas designated as forest.

Switzerland's glaciers have lost a tenth of their volume in the past two years, monitoring body GLAMOS says. The glaciers have melted at their second-fastest rate ever this year after breaking records in 2022. Overall, they have lost as much ice in the previous two years as in the entire three decades before 1990.

A new investor initiative aims to push the world's top companies to do more to preserve and restore nature. Nature Action 100 brings together 190 investors and calls for companies to commit to minimizing ecosystem damage throughout their supply chains by 2030.

The first-ever system of tariffs on CO2 emissions generated in the production of imported goods has begun its launch phase in the EU. The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will at first demand that importers report emissions embedded in the production of imported iron, steel, aluminium, cement, electricity, fertilizers and hydrogen, before tariffs come into force in 2026. Here's everything you need to know about the CBAM.

Farmers will get help adopting regenerative agriculture methods from a new framework launched by nonprofit the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, GreenBiz reports. Climate change could cut the productivity of global farming by around a third, meaning farmers need to adapt to meet rising food demand, the group says.

NASA has returned its first asteroid sample to Earth. The material was collected from the Bennu asteroid by the OSIRIS-REx explorer, and it is expected to help scientists improve their understanding of the origin of organics and water that led to life on Earth, NASA says.

4. More on the climate crisis on Agenda

Rising water vapour caused by the oceans warming up is exacerbating climate change because it traps heat. Human activities such as burning fossil fuels also increase the amount of vapour in the atmosphere.

Farmers in Spain and Italy are turning to technology as well as ancient traditions to safeguard their crops as climate change forces them to rapidly adapt.

The 15 finalists of the Earthshot Prize 2023 have been announced. The annual competition recognizes those who find and develop new solutions to help protect the environment.

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