Climate and Nature

A fifth of protected migratory species threatened with extinction, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

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Migratory birds fly through the sky of southern Lebanon.

Migratory birds fly through the sky of southern Lebanon. Image: REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Michael Purton
Senior Writer, Formative
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  • This weekly round-up contains the key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: 22% of protected migratory species threatened with extinction, says UN; Three COP summit hosts unite to raise climate ambitions; French minister calls for private-sector funding to combat climate change.

1. 22% of protected migratory species threatened with extinction, says UN

One in five migratory species under international protection are threatened with extinction, a new United Nations (UN) study has revealed.

The report by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has found that 22% of the 1,189 CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction, and 44% are showing population declines, with many under unsustainable pressure from habitat loss and overexploitation.

There is a high risk of extinction for 97% of sharks, rays and sturgeons on the list, with populations decreasing by 90% since 1970, the UN report said.

The research was published as governments gathered last week for a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to discuss how to better protect the world’s migratory species.

A chart showing CMS-listed species classified in each Red List category, by taxonomic group.
Proportion of CMS-listed species classified in each Red List category, by taxonomic group. Image: CMS

2. Three COP summit hosts unite to raise climate ambitions

Three UN climate summit hosts say they will collaborate to push for more ambitious emissions-cutting goals.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), host of last year's COP28, alongside Azerbaijan and Brazil, the hosts of the next two UN climate summits, say their collective focus will be on ensuring more ambitious CO2-cutting pledges are made between now and 2025.

Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE's COP28 president, told Reuters: "We cannot afford to lose momentum, we must do everything we can to keep 1.5°C within reach.”

The goal of keeping global warming from exceeding 1.5°C above preindustrial levels was set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

This year's COP29 summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, will focus on setting a new global climate finance target for developing countries.

But many diplomats are already looking ahead to the 2025 summit in Brazil as the next major milestone, as nearly 200 countries are required to submit updated national CO2-cutting pledges in time for COP30.

Global leaders sat together at COP28.
CNN host Becky Anderson with global leaders at COP28. Image: Reuters

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

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire emphasized the need for private-sector funding to combat climate change at an International Energy Agency conference on 13 February, as public financing from France and other European Union countries is limited. France is already investing around €40 billion per year ($42.85 billion) in climate change initiatives, including renewable energies and new technologies, he said.

Vegetation is growing on significant areas of Greenland’s melted ice sheet, posing a threat of higher greenhouse gas emissions, rising sea levels and instability of the landscape. A study documenting the change since the 1980s shows that swathes of ice have been replaced with barren rock, wetlands and shrub growth.

More than three-quarters of the UK’s great skuas on surveyed sites have been lost since bird flu struck in 2021, according to the first report quantifying the impact of H5N1 on seabird populations. The UK is internationally important for seabirds, and home to most of the world’s 16,000 pairs of nesting great skuas.

An oil spill from a capsized vessel off Tobago's coastline is entering Grenada's waters and could impact neighbouring Venezuela, Reuters reports. The Chief Secretary of Tobago, Farley Augustine, told Reuters that portions of the oil stain have so far moved about 144km (89 miles) into the Caribbean Sea, at a rate of 14 km per hour since 7 February.

New research published in Nature suggests the Amazon rainforest could approach a tipping point, leading to large-scale collapse with serious implications for the global climate system. Up to 47% of the Amazonian forest is threatened, say the researchers, who identify climatic and land-use thresholds that should not be breached to maintain its resilience.

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4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

The world just experienced its warmest January on record, marking the first 12-month period in which temperatures averaged more than 1.5°C (2.7F) above pre-industrial times, according to the EU’s climate change monitoring service. Could 2024 be hotter than 2023?

World leaders signed a landmark declaration at COP28 to help protect farmers, pledging over $2.5 billion to support food security and climate action. IFAD President Alvaro Lario explains why small-scale farmers can teach us a lot about climate change.

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Contents
1. 22% of protected migratory species threatened with extinction, says UN2. Three COP summit hosts unite to raise climate ambitions3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

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