Nature and Biodiversity

Tropical forest loss slows, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

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Top nature and climate stories: Tropical forest loss eases in 2023; EU emissions fall; and more.

Top nature and climate stories: Tropical forest loss eases in 2023; EU emissions fall; and more. Image: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly/Files

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
Meg Jones
Writer, Forum Agenda
  • This weekly round-up contains key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: Tropical forest loss eases in 2023; EU emissions fall; New US green investment grants announced.

1. Less tropical forest loss in 2023, but threats persist

A new report from the Global Forest Watch monitoring project shows tropical forest loss declined in 2023, while highlighting that the world's forests remain under significant pressure, Reuters reports.

Loss of primary forests in the tropics fell by 9% last year compared to 2022. Primary forests are those untouched by people, with tropical primary forests considered among the world's most vital as a result of the large volumes of carbon they store.

However, the world still lost around 37,000 square kilometres of tropical primary forest in 2023 – an area nearly as big as Switzerland.

Tropical primary forest loss in the past year resulted in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to half of the annual emissions from burning fossil fuels in the US.

Tropical primary forest loss, 2002-2023. climate nature
20 years of tropical primary forest loss. Image: Global Forest Watch/World Resources Institute

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?

2. EU carbon market sees record emissions drop

CO2 emissions regulated under the European Union's (EU) emissions trading system (ETS) fell a record 15.5% last year, the European Commission has announced.

Some 45% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions are regulated by the trading system, which charges for the right to emit carbon dioxide.

"Last year’s emissions under the EU’s Emission Trading System show the most significant annual emissions reductions since the ETS was launched in 2005," the Commission said in a statement.

It confirmed that the power sector saw the biggest drop, with a 24% decline in emissions compared to 2022. "This decrease is due to a substantial increase in renewable electricity production (primarily wind and solar), at the expense of both coal and gas."

Emissions from industry fell 7% and, following significant drops as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while emissions from the aviation industry rose by around 10%.

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

The world added less than half the new renewables capacity needed last year to reach climate goals, according to think tank REN21. The warning comes despite a record-breaking year for new capacity additions.

Rising temperatures are causing precipitation in Arctic Norway to fall as rain instead of snow. Sami herders now need to provide reindeer with animal feed, since they are unable to access natural food sources like lichen with the rain having turned to ice.

An estimated 180,000 gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees are at risk due to habitat loss caused by the increased demand for the critical minerals required for clean energy technologies, new research shows.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about the circular economy?

Colorado State University weather forecasters have predicted an "extremely active" Atlantic hurricane season this year, as a result of warm sea surface temperatures and less wind shear.

The US has doubled its pace of cutting carbon emissions since the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, according to the Clean Investment Monitor. However, experts warn there's still a long way to go to achieve net-zero goals.

The Biden Administration has announced $20 billion in grants to fund clean energy and transportation projects across disadvantaged communities in the US.

A new study has warned of megadroughts in Australia that could last more than 20 years. The modelling was conducted by the Australian National University.


4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

At Davos this year, Jane Goodall spoke about her early life, climate action and resilience, and why young people give her hope for the future. Having just celebrated her 90th birthday, here are some key lessons she has learnt about climate action.


Hydrogen offers a viable solution to decarbonize our energy systems and bring in a new era of sustainability. As a clean energy carrier, it has the potential to revolutionize various sectors, from transportation to industrial processes. Here's how.

A circular economy approach could reduce the volume of municipal solid waste from more than 4.5 billion tonnes a year to less than 2 billion tonnes by 2050, according to a new UN report. Learn more about the circular economy in these charts.

Related topics:
Nature and BiodiversityClimate Action
1. Less tropical forest loss in 2023, but threats persist2. EU carbon market sees record emissions drop3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

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