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EU passes law to restore 20% of land and sea by 2030, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

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Land and sea.

The EU is committed to restoring one-fifth of its land and sea. Image: Unsplash/Nick Perez

Michael Purton
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: Centre for Nature and Climate
  • This weekly round-up contains the key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate news: EU passes law to restore 20% of land and sea by 2030; 52% rise in number of days over 35°C in 20 capital cities; Nations told to dig deeper to finance climate crisis solutions.

1. EU passes law to restore 20% of land and sea by 2030

The European Union (EU) has passed a landmark law to restore one-fifth of its land and sea by 2030.

With specific targets and obligations for restoring ecosystems across terrestrial, marine, freshwater and urban landscapes, the new law requires EU member states to submit national restoration plans that outline their strategies and progress.

The regulation also focuses on preventing further degradation of restored areas and addressing declines in wild pollinator populations by 2030, and EU member states must restore drained peatlands and help plant at least 3 billion more trees.

The law, which was passed on a knife-edge, has proven controversial, The Guardian reports, with farmers protesting across Europe over a number of issues – including EU regulations and environmental policies – they claim are threatening their livelihoods.

Austria’s Green climate minister, Leonore Gewessler, whose vote was credited with saving the new EU law, wrote after the proposal was passed: “Today’s decision is a victory for nature. My conscience tells me unmistakably [that] when the healthy and happy life of future generations is at stake, courageous decisions are needed.”

Land use over the long-term, Europe
New EU legislation will require some changes in how land is used. Image: Our World in Data

2. 52% rise in number of days over 35°C in 20 capital cities

There has been a 52% rise in the number of days when the temperature has reached 35°C in 20 of the world’s most populated capital cities in the past 30 years, a study has found.

Research by the UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) mapped the temperature rises in the cities – including Paris, Dhaka, London, Cairo, Manila, Kinshasa and Paris – home to 300 million people.

From 1994 to 2023, there were 16,586 days where temperatures hit at least 35°C across the cities.

The number of days at 35°C or above has risen every decade, from 4,755 days between 1994 and 2003, to 5,343 between 2004 and 2013, and 6,488 between 2014 and 2023.

More extreme heat in the world's biggest capital cities.
Many of the world’s largest cities are experiencing more days of extreme heat. Image: IIED

Capital cities including Delhi, Dhaka and Manila have already been plagued by dangerous heatwaves this year, leading to a spate of heat-related deaths.

IIED senior researcher Tucker Landesman said: “Climate change is not just a future threat – it’s already happening and getting worse.

“In just one generation, there’s been an alarming increase in the number of days of extreme heat affecting some of the world’s biggest capital cities – made worse by the urban heat island effect.

“Millions more people are experiencing heat stress as temperatures reach dangerously high levels in some cities, which is having a profound impact on people’s health.”

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

Nations must dig deeper to deliver the finance and policies needed to tackle the climate crisis. That was the message to delegates at London Climate Action Week, as they were warned that concrete commitments will be required at the global climate conference in Azerbaijan in November where there are plans to agree a new annual target for investment in developing countries.

The Arctic Circle is once again being ravaged by wildfires. The EU’s climate change monitor, Copernicus, says higher temperatures and drier conditions in Sakha, Russia, have provided the ideal conditions for wildfires once there is a spark, reports the BBC. This is the third time in the past five years that high-intensity fires have swept across the region.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says artificial intelligence (AI) will help rather than hinder the world in achieving climate goals, despite fears an increase in new data centres for AI could drain renewable energy supplies. According to The Guardian, he told journalists AI could make electricity grids and technology more efficient, thereby reducing countries' energy use.

There has been a 25% increase in greenhouse gas emissions by air freight operators since 2019, according to a new study. The report by campaign group Stand.earth said that in 2023, air freight operators ran about 300,000 more flights than in 2019, an increase in flight volume of almost 30%.

Climate lawsuits against companies are on the rise across the world, and most of them have been successful. That’s according to a new report by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which found that around 230 climate cases have been brought against trade associations and corporations since 2015, with more than two-thirds of them filed since 2020.

More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

To ensure a safe water future for all, more investment in water is needed globally, but long buying cycles, risk-averse institutions and complex regulations are putting potential investors off. Now, the World Economic Forum has co-published a guide designed to demystify water investment.

Around 600 million additional housing units need to be constructed to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Here’s how low-carbon cement can help achieve this goal.

There are 'positive tipping points' that could help the world accelerate out of climate disaster, according to Professor Tim Lenton. Find out what they are.

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1. EU passes law to restore 20% of land and sea by 20302. 52% rise in number of days over 35°C in 20 capital cities3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this weekMore on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

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